did I send too many follow-up emails, I’m worried about working with a childhood friend, and more

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

1. Did I annoy this employer with too many follow-up emails?

I recently applied for what is essentially my dream job and got an automated response saying that all applications would receive a reply, whether positive or negative. A week and a half later, I sent a follow-up email, saying that I understood that the application deadline was still a week away but that I wanted to restate my interest in the position. I would normally have left it there, but because the automated response had specifically said that all applications would receive a reply, when I hadn’t heard anything a week before the posted start date I worried that my application might not have been received, so I followed up again, this time by emailing the person who would have been my supervisor had I gotten the job, explaining that while I was sorry to bother her, I worried that because the deadline had passed, I might not get a response to another email to jobs@company.org.

Three days after the posted start date, I sent another email to info@company.org, saying that while I of course understood if they had chosen not to interview me, I was worried that there might have been some problem with my application. I finally got a response from a member of HR, saying that there had been a delay in the hiring process and they’d let me know soon. I thanked her for letting me know, said again that I was just worried because I hadn’t heard anything, and restated my interest in the position (mostly because I thought not answering her at all would be rude). A week and a half after that, I got a form letter of rejection.

I know that most job applications end in rejection, but I was a little surprised that I wasn’t interviewed, as the qualifications for the position were quite strange and eclectic and I had all of them. Of course, plenty of qualified applicants don’t get interviews, but the required skills were such an unusual combination that I don’t think there’d be that many qualified applicants. Is it possible that I was too persistent and damaged my chances? Like I said, I normally wouldn’t have followed up so many times, and probably wouldn’t have followed up at all given that I wasn’t contacted for any kind of interview or skills test, but this company specifically said that all applications would receive a reply, so when I didn’t get one, I thought there might have been a problem. At every step, I tried to be very polite and mention that I understood if they just didn’t want to interview me, but do you think three follow-ups in a seven week period comes off as pushy anyway?

Yes. That was too many emails. I wouldn’t reject an otherwise excellent candidate because of those emails so I suspect it’s more likely that you got rejected for more routine reasons (i.e., that other people were a better match) — but the emails would be annoying and a strike against you.

One follow-up email is fine when it’s been a while and you haven’t heard anything. (Even then, I don’t recommend it if you haven’t reached the interview stage.) But first you emailed a week and a half after submitting your application just to reiterate your interest — that was unnecessary because you’d already indicated your interest when you applied. Then you sent two more emails on top of that.

And yes, I see why you were concerned close to the start date and you hadn’t heard anything — but at that point, what were you hoping to achieve? Either the start date got pushed back, in which case it was no longer relevant, or the start date remained correct, in which case you weren’t the one who was hired. In either case, it didn’t make sense to keep checking back with them after your initial email went unanswered. It especially didn’t make sense to try the same question but to a second email address — at that point you were coming across as panicky (which is unwarranted when you haven’t even had a conversation about the job with anyone there) and pushy.

It sounds like you got overly invested in this job opening — and hey, that happens. But if you’re not in active conversation with an employer, you really can’t keep sending email after email. You can do at most one follow-up, and then you’ve got to move on.

2. I’m not sure I should work with my childhood friend

I’ve been job searching for about a month now, and have received only one interview request out of my 10 applications. After mentioning the situation to a local childhood friend of mine, she very enthusiastically told me that her current workplace had a position open. As fate would have it, I had worked with the hiring manager before, and she fast-tracked me in for an interview and offered me the job on the spot.

I’m incredibly grateful to have this opportunity. However, I can’t shake my gut feeling that accepting this job would be a bad idea. I’ve known my childhood friend (and potential new coworker) since we were toddlers. Our friendship now is more based on shared history than an actual meshing of personalities/adult interests, but I still like her as a person. As a coworker, I’m wary. I worry that she’ll act less like a coworker and more like an older sibling once I’m in the workplace. She likes to joke about different childhood interactions — specifically, how I’ve always been a bookworm, had a resting bitch face, etc. I get an intense sense of dread just imagining dealing with this dynamic every day in a new workplace. (We would be in different departments but would spend a good chunk of time in the same open-plan office. The entire office is less than 15 people, and from what she’s told me, it’s very common for everyone to chat/joke as they work.)

Additionally, her workplace provides assistance to vulnerable populations, and she’s often joked about how she shuts down any rude clients by refusing to provide X program benefits (which isn’t immoral — it’s a limited-stock perk that her workplace provides to clients — but does rub me the wrong way). When I tried to speak with her about her workplace culture, she didn’t seem interested in talking about the work at all, and only focused on the great benefits package. I don’t know if this is just our workplace priorities not intersecting, or if it’s a red flag.

I’d be very wary of taking the job, based on what you’ve said here. It’s possible it would end up being fine, but you’re already feeling dread when you think about it. I’d listen to your gut.

If you were in a dire position and desperately needed work at all costs, that would be different. But you’ve only been searching a month and have only sent out 10 applications — that’s nothing! I’d make sure your resume and cover letter are as strong as they can be (most people’s have a ton of room for improvement) and keep searching.

I’m also slightly wary that they offered you the job on the spot after a single interview and without checking references. Certainly plenty of places do hire that way, but that also means that you’ll have coworkers who were hired that way as well — and that doesn’t always bode well. Ideally you want to see more rigor in how they hire. (Updated to add: Ignore this paragraph!  I’d missed that you’d worked with the hiring manager previously and she already knows your work.)

3. Figuring out office culture on coming in late/leaving early

I just started a new position that I’m really excited about, and it’s going well so far, three days in. My question is, how do I figure out the office culture around coming in late/leaving early as needed? My manager has two direct reports: me (I am exempt) and another employee (non-exempt, paid hourly). At my previous employer, the important thing was whether I produced quality, on-time work, and our hours in the office weren’t monitored closely. It was expected that employees would work about 40 hours per week, but we managed our own time and didn’t get scolded for working less than 40 sometimes. It was generally fine to leave a bit early or come in late if you had a doctor’s appointment, etc. If I was going to miss a half day or longer, I would take vacation or sick time. This what I expect at the new position, but I don’t want to make wrong assumptions. Should I observe what my manager does and follow suit, or ask her directly what her expectations are? How would I word this?

For the first month, just watch. Watch your manager, and watch what people in other departments at a level similar to your job do. The coworker on your team won’t be as useful to observe since she’s non-exempt. After a month of watching, you’ll have more data than you do now — but don’t just go on that. At that point, unless you have seen signs that this is very much a butts-in-seats kind of organization, talk to your manager and say this: “How do you normally like people in my job to handle our hours? Do you want me to manage my own time as long as all my work is getting done — staying late when work requires it but occasionally leaving earlier if it doesn’t? And if I have a doctor’s appointment, is it fine to just come in late as long as long as I make sure all my work gets handled, or would you want me to submit that as PTO?” (Alternately, you can just ask that now, but sometimes it’s useful to observe for a few weeks first.)

4. Employee isn’t reporting his hours correctly

I manage a non-exempt employee who regularly submits incorrect timesheets. His timesheet shows that he worked from 8:30 – 4:30 each day, although he typically arrives anywhere between 8:45 and 9:00. He doesn’t eat lunch, but he usually takes a half hour break away from his desk once or twice a day. He has been with our team for three months.

The quality of his work is acceptable, but he is getting paid for several hours of work that he’s not actually doing. There is plenty of work to do, and he could be accomplishing much more. My employer has a flexible work policy, and employees are free to flex their schedule as needed. He is free to take a break for lunch or any other reason during the day, but because he is non-exempt, he should be clocking out for those breaks. It has crossed my mind that there could be a medical issue for the long breaks, so I haven’t initiated a conversation about them. I don’t want him to feel self-conscious about bathroom breaks or medical issues if they exist, but should he be clocking out for these long breaks?

I’m a new manager (and admittedly type A) and I’m not sure how strict I should be about timekeeping or what a reasonable amount of flexibility looks like. I’m having a hard time trusting this person since he isn’t truthful about time worked. A couple of other incidents have raised trust issues as well. We are a high performing team and working less than 40 hours definitely doesn’t fit with our culture. Am I being unreasonable about timekeeping? How do I begin the potentially awkward conversation about the long breaks?

First, if your rule is that he should clock out for lunch, then he should clock out for lunch. But if he’s taking non-lunch breaks, the federal rule is that breaks under 20 minutes should be paid.

You’re not being unreasonable to expect that he report his hours correctly. But you do need to tell him that!

You can just be straightforward about all of this. Since it’s the first time you’re addressing it, treat it as a misunderstanding: “I’ve noticed you’ve been putting your arrival time as 8:30 even when you around at 8:45 or 9. Our timesheets have to be accurate, so can you make sure you’re filling it out correctly? Additionally, if you take a break longer than 20 minutes, you should clock out for that. Let’s go back and redo your timesheet for this week to make sure it’s correct and so that you’re clear on how to fill it out moving forward.”

Since you’d like to see him accomplishing more, you can be straightforward about that too: “I’m happy with the quality of the work you’re doing, but I’d like to see you completing more X and Y each week. Can you aim to (fill in with whatever markers you want to see)?” Or, depending on how your workflow works, you can just start assigning him more work or tightening deadlines or whatever would best reflect the expectations you have for him.

He’s relying on you to tell him if you need him to do something differently. This is the part where you tell him!

5. Company says they’re legally prevented from offering post-interview feedback

I recently completed in interview with a global tech company and something in the rejection letter seemed off to me. It said: “The volume of interviews we’ve been conducting combined with the quality of candidates that we’ve been talking to often forces us to make difficult decisions. Legally, my hands are tied in being able to provide any feedback.”

It’s a competitive field, so that part’s not surprising, but saying that they’re legally barred from giving feedback sounds off. I wonder if what they really mean is that their legal team prevents them from providing interview feedback to external candidates.

What’s your take on this? For context, I didn’t ask for feedback, it sounds like they wanted to preemptively cover themselves in case I wrote back asking for more details.

Yeah, assuming they’re in the U.S., that’s a weird and misleading thing to say. It’s only a legal problem for them to give feedback if that feedback would indicate that they illegally discriminated in their hiring.

I suspect you’re right that their company has told them not to give feedback “for legal reasons” and they’ve interpreted that as not being allowed to. Some companies do things that way because, even if they’re confident they’re not illegally discriminating, they don’t want hiring managers saying things that could later cause problems. For example, if they tell you they rejected you because they’re looking for more experience in X and later they end up hiring someone without that experience, and that person is a different race/age/gender than you (or you were pregnant or have a disability or so forth), now you might conclude that they didn’t tell you the truth and the real reason they rejected you was your race/age/gender/pregnancy/disability. And even if they can show that’s not the case (like the new hire didn’t have X but they turned out to have Y, which was even more important), they don’t want to deal with that headache.

But yes, it’s sloppy wording.

{ 343 comments… read them below }

  1. Theguvnah

    I would absolutely have rejected that candidate even if their resume was a perfect match. those actions are so far beyond professional norms there would be no overcoming that for me.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      If you’re hiring for a hard-to-fill role, it would be a mistake to reject someone solely for this. It’s certainly a mark against them, but people get told (by sources they rely on, like campus/government career centers) to follow up and be persistent. I’d be watching for other signs of pushiness/lack of understanding of norms, but you shouldn’t reject an otherwise stellar candidate for a tricky role over this. (That said, I have never seen a stellar candidate do this.)

      1. Christmas

        Oops, I posted my other comment before seeing AAM.
        It depends on the tone of the emails, too, I guess. There’s a fine line between eagerness/excitement for the opportunity (which is awesome!) and “I’m going to continue to hit up every contact/email address until someone answers me.” (Overwhelming)

        1. Stitch

          I have to agree. An aggressive tone in a single follow up would be enough to nix a candidate. There is this tone of “I should have been interviewed” in the letter, which, if present in the email could have been a red flag.

          1. boo bot

            Yeah, the tone matters a lot. I think when you’re applying for a job, being rejected over something like this (or just knowing it’s hurt your chances) can feel like you lost on a technicality.

            For the person hiring, the question maybe should be, am I disqualifying this person on a technicality (shouldn’t follow up more than once)? Or do those follow-ups reveal something about the person that would be disqualifying no matter how I found out about it?

            1. Name Required

              “For the person hiring, the question maybe should be, am I disqualifying this person on a technicality (shouldn’t follow up more than once)? Or do those follow-ups reveal something about the person that would be disqualifying no matter how I found out about it?”

              But the so-called technicality *is* showing something about the person. The mere fact of following up outside what the hiring person considers the norm shows whether the candidate is a good fit for the culture of the organization or not.

              Job seekers should try, to the best of our human abilities, to separate themselves from any job opportunities. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether you were reject on a “technicality” or not; you aren’t entitled to any specific job and you can’t really do anything about the rejection. If you fixate on having been rejected due to what you consider a technicality, there is an unhealthy attachment to a specific job opportunity.

              1. smoke tree

                The problem with putting too much weight on this kind of faux pas is that you could end up inadvertently screening out people who have had less exposure to hiring norms in your industry’s setting (or, as Alison notes, who may have been misled by career advisers). I wouldn’t want to punish anyone simply for not following an unspoken rule, which they may not have been aware of.

                1. boo bot

                  This is what I meant, more succinctly! In general, I’m not a fan of unspoken rules, and that’s the core of what’s bugging me here.

              2. boo bot

                Well, sure, but I’m thinking about the hiring side of this, not the candidate side. I’m not sure how helpful it is to focus on “no one is entitled to this job” when you’re the one trying very hard to find someone who will DO the job, if that makes sense.

                What I mean about a technicality (and I’m happy to discard that phrasing if it’s not useful) is that if somebody is following up because they’ve been told following up a couple of times is good and shows enthusiasm, that person actually could be a good fit for the culture of the organization. That’s just someone who needs to be told by a more reliable source, “next time, don’t do that.” And if you’re seeking a skill set that’s hard to find, or if the person would otherwise have been your top choice, then it doesn’t make sense to disqualify them, because they made an error based on faulty information that’s easy to correct.

                Whereas, if the person sounds aggrieved or angry, or if they follow up an alarming number of times, or if they refuse to take “We’ll be in touch if we’re interested, please stop calling,” for an answer – those aren’t things that can be fixed with a quick FYI, they indicate genuine concerns about how the person will behave once they’re in the workplace.

                1. Name Required

                  Whether you disqualify the candidate based on the tone of their follow-up is a reflection of what professional norms you expect a candidate to know before joining your organization. You seem to say that it is never disqualifying to have to teach a candidate not to follow up in this way. I don’t think that’s correct; I think it depends entirely on the role or the organization.

                  Having to teach a candidate that this type of follow up isn’t appropriate can reflect on a sincere lack of readiness to do the job for certain jobs, regardless of whether it is benign or based on in poor job-seeking advice.

                2. boo bot

                  What I’m saying is that someone who is hiring should consider whether or not they are basing their decisions on things that actually matter for the job they’re hiring for.

                  So, yes, it does depend on the role and the organization; that’s kind of my point. If the way the OP followed up shows that they’re not prepared for the job, then it’s an actual disqualifying factor – and I think it could be, depending on the position. I’m just saying it’s worth thinking about whether that’s the case.

        2. Falling Diphthong

          It’s also tricky because every once in a while there’s a situation where applicant never hears anything, mentions this to their inside source, and inside source is like “Wait, I know Hiring Manager and you are exactly what they’re looking for. Let me follow up” and lo the application really did go astray for some reason, and the new job all comes about because applicant DID have the gumption to follow up. And so people without an inside source try to duplicate the effect by emailing into the void.

          It’s less finding the one hiring manager who will be impressed by your writing the application on a banana, more that HR didn’t realize ABC certified and BC qual-A are the same thing.

          1. Name Required

            Following up with someone you know isn’t gumption, it’s networking. When people follow up into the void, it shows that they really don’t know the difference between the two.

            1. Dwight

              LOL I feel like the word gumption has been tainted so badly here, that it now must have a negative connotation.

              1. Falling Diphthong

                I sincerely find this pretty interesting, because a judicious amount of gumption is needed for most forms of success–jobs don’t come and hunt you down while you modestly sit indoors and don’t toot your own horn. But then people apply gumption without common sense, or restraint, or a connection to reality, or an awareness of basic workplace norms, and it just winds up underscoring–or introducing and then illustrating with footnotes–that they don’t have those things.

                1. Artemesia

                  Following up once is not going to quer the deal; nagging and pestering will. Repeated redundant messages is the latter. Every job I have ever had is the result of ‘gumption’ but none of it involved harassing the hiring manager endlessly or writing my resume on a bottled pear.

              2. Name Required

                It does have a negative connotation, because in the contexts where “gumption” is usually referenced, it isn’t about smart, proactive effort. There are more options than “pester HR with repeated emails” or “lay like a limp fish hoping and wishing for a job.”

                I’ll stop raising my eyebrow at gumption when the advice attached it starts looking like:
                – better your skills through independent study, meaningful certificates, etc. to make yourself a better candidate for preferred jobs
                – join organizations associated with your industry and participate sincerely
                – conduct information interviews outside the scope of a job search to better learn the pathway to become successful in your desires career, and perhaps connect with a mentor who can help you grow as a professional
                – join a club like Toastmasters or otherwise find concrete ways to improve your speaking skills, so that you can communicate effectively in interviews and your professional life

                Instead, the advice we see looks like this:
                – Show up at the organization and ask to speak to the hiring manager, to show “interest”
                – Offer to do the job for free for a trial period, to show that you are “dedicated”
                – Repeatedly find reasons to contact HR or the hiring manager, so they “don’t forget you”

          2. Oxford Comma

            That definitely happens. Sometimes the screening software kicks out valid candidates.

          3. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

            There was one IS/IT job I had applied for – and knocked the interviews out of the park.

            No response and they kept putting me off… finally they call and say they hired someone else. Seven months later I contact them again – they reply two weeks after the letter and say “it’s on US. Y’see the big boss thought you were not aggressive enough.”

            OK–??? Well, I traveled 1800 miles at my own expense, you let me in, I had six hours of interviews which I thought I did very well in (interrupts = “you DID”.) , so if that’s not aggressive enough for a tech job, I really can’t go more overboard than that.

            “Well, uh, big boss thought you were here for a sales job. When you left, he said he liked you but you weren’t aggressive enough. When you wrote back, we told him you were a techie and not a sales guy, he told us to call you back IMMEDIATELY and see if you can get (me) in again”

            Unfortunately I had just accepted a job here after having been out on the street for a short time but I did keep in touch with them over the years.

            SO — boys and girls, in your follow-up thank you note, specify the position you had applied for. It might overcome bad internal communication at the place you’re applying.

            1. PollyQ

              This sounds like it may have been a “bullet dodged” situation for you, though. If you had taken that job, you’d have been working under someone who was too dumb to know what position a candidate was interviewing for while he was conducting the interview. (Of course, when you need a job, that’s not necessarily a disqualifier.)

      2. RUKiddingMe

        OP with multiple emails ir someone maybe not “stellar” but close enough without a million follow up emails? I’ll take “close enough.” That many emails screams insecure and needy. I don’t need to take tge chance on that much potential drama.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          You’re not hiring based off of just an email correspondence. There will be interviews and reference checks and lots of opportunities to probe into whether the OP is problematically needy.

          Again, many, many people get counseled to do this kind of thing by sources that seem awfully credible.

          1. Asta

            Including old AAM posts! Have posted a link further down which has presumably gone to moderation – was very surprised to stumble on this advice right here on this blog.

            1. Asta

              As the link hasn’t gone through… it’s a post from 2008 called “following up when you have a friend on the inside” that specifically suggests you reiterate your interest. Nooo.

              1. boo bot

                That’s a very different context, though, where the OP knows his friend and the manager have been discussing his candidacy; his friend’s opinion will carry significant weight in the decision; and the manager knows the friend and the OP have been discussing the position. I don’t know whether or not Alison’s advice on that question would be the same today, but the situation isn’t very similar to the one described here.

          2. RUKiddingMe

            “…lots of opportunities to probe into whether the OP is problematically needy.”

            True.

            “Again, many, many people get counseled to do this kind of thing by sources that seem awfully credible.“

            Also true. And something to keep in mind, especially for new graduates, people entering/re-entering the work for for the first time or after an extended absence.

            Now that I’ve slept on it I think you are much more correct than I (duh?). I was having a knee-jerk “omg nooooo” reaction. I think references would be a very, even more than normal maybe, important too.

          3. AnotherAlison

            Yeah, I would want a little more evidence if it otherwise appeared to be the perfect candidate, but multiple follow-ups would be a huge red flag. I work with a peer and a project team member (2 different people) who are overly aggressive follow-uppers. The project team member will IM a team peer, not get a response in 2 minutes, IM me (the PM), call me, and send an email within 10 minutes. I have counseled and shut down individual instances (“Team member, I know Jeff owes you this, but Jeff has other priorities today that are more urgent for the project and will get it to you when it gets to you.”) It does not change his long term behavior. I haven’t crossed paths with a whole lot of these people, but when you find one, believe it that this is how they are!

            1. Amethystmoon

              Yeah, I had one in a previous job. He would walk over to my desk if I didn’t immediately reply to his e-mail, and wouldn’t wait at all, even though I was in the middle of things and trying to have some degree of focus on the task.

            2. Artemesia

              This. The judgment involved in constant emailing is a sign of how it will be to work with this person. Every person who showed a red flag during hiring that we have gone on to hire because we had a niche hard to fill has exhibited that behavior in spades once hired. After a few decades of this, I stopped ignoring the red flags.

          4. Sunscreen

            I think for some people the resume would be denied without looking at it at this point. One email you can overlook but this many would be a red flag. When I hire I look for people that have the basic skills for the position (I really don’t want someone with every qualification), but also fit in with the team and have the want to learn what we do. We can teach our job but not how to not annoy the team and everyone else. Someone sending this many emails before the close of the application wouldn’t make it to be interviewed for me. So I think OP getting the chance to prove they are not needy with an interview is a toss up at this point.

      3. Allison

        Right. If the job has both high demand and a wide talent pool, and you’re getting tons of perfectly good applicants and you really do have your pick of the litter so to speak, then yes, it’s fine to reject an otherwise good candidate due to their behavior during the process. For a hard-to-fill role with low applicant flow and a small talent pool due to needing a niche skillset, I’d be much more hesitant to reject someone just for being annoying. That said, at a certain point, a candidate might seem so aggressively entitled that the hiring manager really won’t want to work with them, and is okay dragging the search out another 3-6 months if it means finding someone who’s both qualified AND not a giant pain in the bum.

      4. Elle Kay

        I’d look at this the other way, I think. While I wouldn’t automatically disqualify someone based on this amount of emails it *would* be annoying & their resume would have to be really good to get an interview after all this.

        1. Joielle

          Yeah – for me, it would push someone in the “maybe” pile to the “no” pile, and probably from the “yes” pile to the “maybe” pile. The maybes only get an interview if there aren’t enough yeses. So not a complete disqualification, but a definite minus.

      5. TootsNYC

        I agree with Alison about how often people get told the wrong thing.
        And also, I think of this email thing as something I can actually coach them out of.

        I might be on the alert to see if this behavior is an indicator of other, more systemic problems I don’t want to deal with, sure.

        But people get all kinds of confusing instructions.
        I used to write a wedding etiquette column, and I realized that there are so many confusing instructions about the registry: Stores give you the business cards and tell you put them in your wedding invitations; shower hosts have opinions on how to do this; some aunts are greatly offended by the presence of registry info, and others are grateful to not have to call and ask anybody.
        And then there were the relatives that were offended beyond words because the couple didn’t mention a registry, so they all decided this meant the couple only wanted money, and they were SO RUDE for “asking for money.”

        So I think it’s best to not place too much emphasis on these kinds of missteps. They may not be much of an indicator at all.

        It’s OK to probe a little, but you’d be shooting yourself in the foot if this was the main reason you decided to not interview someone.

    2. Christmas

      Yeah, *one* eager “I’m still interested” e-mail is understandable… but *3* follow-ups in succession is overwhelming. Pushiness makes many people just shut down and close off.

      1. Devil Fish

        3 emails over several weeks to at least 2 different email addresses? I don’t know whether I’d even notice that.

        And one was a reply to a reply from HR, so I’m hesitant to count it as a 3rd follow up (especially after working at an office where the HR lady was really vocal about how underappreciated she was and would throw out applications if they didn’t “use manners” like sending a thank you response to the automated reply that confirmed their application was received—she had problems though).

        To clarify, I still think it was way too much and OP isn’t framing this correctly at all yet.

        1. Asta

          Well, she did those people a favour if that’s what she’s like. I wouldn’t want to work somewhere where HR was run by a loon.

        2. Daisy

          There were three emails even without the reply-to-the-reply. One to jobs@, one to the supervisor for the role, one to info@.

        3. The Man, Becky Lynch

          Well all 3 emails would have made it to HR with us. We forward applicant or job inquiries when they come through the wrong address. Which actually rubs me more raw that you’re sending them to info@ which tends to be more a CSR bulk box. It’s so inappropriate and desperate.

          1. ThatGirl

            Yeah, our info@___ is our main CSR box, so that would get forwarded to HR and I would be annoyed.

            I get being a little impatient/anxious, but timelines change – usually a target start date is a wish, a dream, a best-case scenario. When I first applied for a job here I was told the target start date was end of June and I didn’t even get the offer until early July.

    3. Artemesia

      This kind of behavior once caused me to drop a top ten candidate from further consideration. Ours was more unpleasant about it, but this level of pushiness suggests someone who will be difficult to work with; in my experience things that worry you during the hiring process ALWAYS come back to bit you when you hire them.

      1. Stitch

        I was once in the room where a guy took himself from a “yes” to a “no” by being pushy about why he hadn’t been hired the previous time he had interviewed.

      2. Tyche

        I think we should remember that, barring a few times when a candidate is so brilliant to outshine everyone, in most cases when you are hiring you have a pool of candidates, everyone with strengths and weaknesses. In these cases, candidates are judged for everything, and even some unsolicited emails can make the wrong impression and “ruin” your chances.

        1. Willis

          Yes, this. The emails wouldn’t be enough to take the most stellar candidate out of the running. But if I had several folks on pretty even footing and only wanted to interview a few, the emails could definitely impact my choice.

          Also, the whole premise for these emails – checking to see if OP’s application materials were received – is false. The OP got a confirmation response that her application was received and that she would be contacted later. To me, continuing to follow-up like this is just seeking attention for no reason.

          1. Michaela Westen

            As someone who has seen glitches and fails in many automated systems, I understand OP’s anxiety about this. An auto-reply does not mean the application was seen by a person or guarantee that it will be. It only takes one glitch for the application to fall through the cracks.

            Also the auto-reply said, “all applicants will receive a response from a person”. It’s completely understandable that when OP didn’t receive a response, they thought no one had seen their application.

            I haven’t done a job search since 2011 (thank God), but if I was seeing a system/process with this many ways to go wrong, I’d have doubts about working there. Especially if my work would involve relying on automated systems and people who are supposed to reply but don’t.

            1. Willis

              I don’t really understand why you think anything went wrong though. The OP applied, got a confirmation of receipt, and later got a response about her application status, as promised. OP wrote after a week and a half!

            2. Artemesia

              She was following up for the response before the application time even closed. Repeatedly.

              1. B.

                Not repeatedly. Once. She was then following up after the application deadline closed and shortly before the position was meant to start, and only because she was told to expect a response but hadn’t received one.

            3. B.

              Yes, this. And not even that something went wrong in the automation, but perhaps that the email had somehow been missed due to human error. I had something similar happen last week. Got an automated email confirming that my email was received. Did not get the expected followup. Called in and they were able to find the email after having overlooked it previously. I’m not sure I’d follow up if told I should expect a response and hadn’t, if only because I’d figure that most likely the opportunity had passed and they’d hired someone else, fair or not. But I get why OP did.

              If anything I’d say the first email is a worse impression. Granted I’m not good at follow up emails in general, but after only having sent the application and not having heard from them (besides the automated message) let alone interviewed yet doesn’t seem the appropriate time.

      3. Iconic Bloomingdale

        I co-sign this statement here. When applicants have exhibited behaviors like this during the application/pre-employment process and have been hired anyway, 9 times out of 10, they ended up being problematic employees.

        Lack of awareness of business norms, excessive neediness, boundary pushing and disregard for the rules tends to follow. The employee’s work product is generally subpar as well.

      4. AnotherAlison

        So true. The second pushy coworker mentioned in my comment above was someone I interviewed. I gave our manager the feedback that he talked over me in the interview and indeed seemed pushy. My manager dismissed that feedback, and guess what, after an offer was made and accepted a CLIENT gave feedback that was 10x worse than anything I said, but was just further extrapolation of my interview feedback. The hiring was a big mess, and now that coworker has proven to be in line with that feedback. He has done some work for different clients I’ve worked with in the past because I was not available for those jobs, and we got negative feedback.

        Meanwhile, I interviewed someone last week & gave my boss lukewarm feedback that the candidate could do the job, but “red flag” feedback on interview behaviors. We will see if he takes my feedback more seriously this time.

      5. MommyMD

        Yes. Never ignore your instincts or red flags. LW has the air of “I can’t believe you didn’t interview me” imo and the fallacy that others are not equally fit for the job. There are many people out there with the necessary qualifications for ANY job, niche or professional or otherwise. Who didn’t send multiple emails.

        1. Kathleen_A

          See, I don’t get the “I can’t believe you didn’t interview me” vibe from her actual emails. What I get is a “You say you reply to all candidates. How come you haven’t replied to meeeeeeeee? This is my dream job and you haven’t replied to meeeeeeeee!” vibe. It just reads really anxious and panicky. One or *possibly* two emails might not have been OK, but three? Ugh. I don’t know if it was enough to take you out of the running, OP, but you almost certainly raised a few eyebrows there at Dream Job Inc.

          1. Budgie Buddy

            I think it’s the part about the qualifications being unusual but a strong match for OP that might come off as OP believing the are owed an interview.

            1. Kathleen_A

              Well, sure, maybe – but the OP said that to us, here in the (relatively) safe and anonymous confines of the AAM comment section, not to any of the folks at Dream Job Inc. Assuming she didn’t say as much in any of those ill-considered emails, that wouldn’t affect her standing at DJI.

              But really, I wouldn’t interpret even what she says here as “I am owed an interview,” though I can see why other people might. How it reads to me is “I really wanted this job – really, really, really – and I thought experience+gumption would help me get it. What did I do wrong?” To me it sounds more sad and confused than entitled.

          2. SheLooksFamiliar

            Exactly. The OP didn’t give the employer a chance to follow up with her. They promised follow up, just not on her specific timeline.

    4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

      I agree. Based on the fact that OP had only submitted an application and had zero human contact with the company, this was way out of line. I interviewed for a job, and it was in December, so it was taking the recruiter time to get back to me because of the holidays so I did check in with her a few times after, but I had been interviewed. I would have never done that after only sending in an application, no matter how perfect I thought I would be for the job.

    5. SheLooksFamiliar

      I once interviewed an employee referral who was uniquely qualified for a role I was working on. She had good skills and produced documented results for a key competitor. I made sure she knew the hiring manager was traveling for 2 weeks, and that he wouldn’t even be able to read my emailed notes on candidates, let alone interview anyone. I also said I was to be her point of contact, and she agreed.

      A few days later the hiring manager called me, livid. The candidate tracked down his mobile number, and this was back when it would take a lot of effort. She called him while he was boarding a flight, telling him I gave her a song and dance with a BS timeline that couldn’t possibly be right. I explained how I set things up with her, and he said, ‘She ignored your directions and thinks she’s in such demand I’ll trip over my feet to hire her. Well, let some other lucky company snap her up. I’m not interested.’

      I told the candidate we were not going to consider her any longer, and couldn’t help but ask why she called the HM: ‘I told you he was not going to make any decisions for 2 weeks, and that I was your POC. Why’d you do it?’ She replied, ‘I wasn’t getting anywhere with you and needed a decision.’ I repeated myself, and she said, ‘I needed a decision.’ Not my best moment, but I replied, ‘Well, you got one. Hope it was worth it.’

      Okay, then.

      1. fposte

        I think that’s what people often don’t understand about pushing to get the results of a decision–it makes it much easier for that decision to be “No.”

        1. blackcat

          Yes. I got a job offer and they wanted an answer in 24 hours, when the job would involve moving my family across the country.
          My response was, verbatim, “I’m afraid I can’t give a positive answer in that time frame, so I’ll have to decline.”
          They then continued to follow up, clearly as other candidates also turned them down…. The first time they came back, I got it, but I had already decided no and they weren’t offering more money. The second time, I was pretty terse with my response, saying a more professional equivalent of “I said no.” I didn’t even respond to the third request.
          Turns out, the very short timeline was the yellow tip of a red flag.

      2. Andraste's Knicker Weasels

        I dunno, I love your reply to her. IF anything would actually get through to her, it’d be something blunt like that.

      3. Yikes

        I really like this story, a lot.

        If they don’t have their ducks in a row to make an offer, and you demand a decision when they cannot make an offer at that time, the only answer they can give you is no.

    6. Lemon Water

      Once upon a time I handled the recruitment ads for a major newspaper. In this era, newspapers were still the primary place to look for a job (c. 2002-ish). Because it was a major paper that everyone knows, there is an advertising integrity review process. Sometimes we’d get ads that had the strangest requirements like, must have 10 years of experience in ancient bread making, from growing the wheat to building the oven, fluent in whatever obscure language and be a CPA. Weird right? Turns out they’re placed when a company has hired a non-US citizen. They have to show they advertised the job and weren’t able to find anyone else. Hence listing the weirdly specific skills. That’s because they wrote the ad based on the person’s highly individual skills vs. what the job entails. I suspect since the job had a posted start date, that’s what this was. It’s nit that they weren’t interested in you, it’s more that they’d already hired someone and had to legally post the ad to cover their behinds legally. It happens more than you think.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

        LemonWater – in the IS/IT world, this was often done – so they could realistically reject ANY candidate that was otherwise qualified.

        For instance – someone wanted someone with five years experience in a particular platform that had only been released two years’ prior. And it still happens today, where an employer is seeking candidates with a compendium of skills that would be impossible to find in one person .

  2. Asta

    #1 I’m really sorry to say this, but I think the first email you sent was not ideal. Some people give really bad advice about things like ‘being persistent’ and ‘restating your interest’, which aren’t good things to do.

    In reality, if an employer has received your application (and you knew they had from the auto-reply which is the main point of them having one – to confirm receipt) then they won’t just forget to hire you, but they might decide against it for reasons other than your qualifications.

    As a general rule of thumb: never email before a vacancy has closed, assume all stated timelines will slip, and don’t send multiple emails for one purpose. Better luck next time.

    1. MsM

      And if there’s a specific jobs email, please don’t try going around that. Your prospective supervisor isn’t giving theirs because they don’t want to be bothered, and probably don’t have the answers you’re looking for. If you’re hoping to make a connection, try asking for an informational interview instead. (Just realize you shouldn’t be trying to use that to angle your way into the job unless things go really well.)

      1. Asta

        I disagree – I don’t think that’s an appropriate strategy either when you have applied for a job somewhere.

        The only thing to do at that stage is move on as if you don’t have the job.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Yeah, definitely don’t ask for an informational interview when you’re a current candidate for a job there; it will look disingenuous (because it is!).

      2. Stitch

        In my work, we actually aren’t allowed to say anything to candidates in this situation, all hiring stuff has to come from HR. So best I could do in this situation would be to direct them back to the jobs email.

      3. MommyMD

        No. Just follow the job posting guidelines. Employers don’t have time for “informational” interviews and well know this game.

    2. Thankful for AAM

      I think from the letter that OP did not receive an auto reply confirming receipt of the application? I think that fear that they did not get the application was behind some of this.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

        The first line of the letter states “I recently applied for what is essentially my dream job and got an automated response saying that all applications would receive a reply, whether positive or negative.” She got the auto response so they received it. The 3 follow ups were overkill, especially since she hadn’t gotten past the “sending in your application” stage.

        1. fposte

          Yes, I think the autoresponse statement is skewing things a little bit. The OP made the common error of impatience and emailed rather than waiting for an answer; it’s just a big bigger of an error here when a response indicated that the application had been received, so fear that it wasn’t is harder to justify.

        2. Sarah N.

          I agree, the thing is that just because a company promises “a reply,” they’re not committing to a certain time frame with that. I once received a rejection letter ONE YEAR after applying to a job (which at that point I barely remembered I had applied to it) — now, the one-year-later form letter rejection is poor behavior in my opinion (at that point I’d rather they not remind me of the failure!), but some companies legitimately don’t send out rejection letters until they have hired someone, which can take a while. So it wouldn’t be strange to get the rejection letter a month or two later, if that’s how long the hiring process took. Plus, in this case, you know for sure that they got the application since you received one email about it.

      2. MommyMD

        She did receive a reply after applying telling her she would hear a yes or no when the decision was made.

        Applying for a position is enough interest shown. Multiple emails kills it.

    3. Librarian of SHIELD

      Hiring ALWAYS takes longer than you think it will. Always. Take any dates from a job post as a best case scenario estimate, and know that this is probably not going to be the best case scenario.

  3. Mary Ellen Walton

    #5

    My guess would be that a better wording would be “It’s against company policy for me to provide feedback”

    The less an employer tells candidates the better because if every candidate gets the same boilerplate rejection email, it’s much harder for someone to successfully sue the company over not being hired.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      I don’t understand why they don’t use that old standard, “due to the high number of applicants, we are unable to provide individualized feedback.”

      1. Aquawoman

        The fact that it was pre-emptive and phrased that way made me think it’s highly likely that there is a backstory, either people who understood that the unwashed masses don’t get any feedback but they’re special or they’ve been sued based on the feedback they gave. I got a “once bitten, twice shy” kind of vibe off of that.

        1. Falling Diphthong

          So many lines in the Employee Manual that are due to Fergus–“Before your time, he was, but he proved once and for all that “just use your common sense” didn’t work as a business guideline.”

        2. Lynn

          I often tell my clients that a huge percentage of the nitpicky little rules that they have to follow are due to someone, back in the mists of time, getting away with something (or attempting to do so) and arguing that it wasn’t technically disallowed. There are even a few rules where I know the origin-and it was due to things that one or more clients tried to slip by with.

          1. Michaela Westen

            This is the story behind many laws, too. From medical device development to food safety, the rules happened because the companies did *not* do the right thing.

            1. Artemesia

              I’ve always wondered about the lawsuit that caused hair dryers to be labeled ‘don’t use in bed’. I assume some fool decided to have one under the covers to warm up the bed and burned the house down.

              1. Michaela Westen

                I recently bought a hair dryer and there are warnings all over the cord about not using near the bathtub, and not to let the cord rest on the hot part.

          2. noahwynn

            Agreed. Our tech pubs department actually tags the manuals so you can even go back and look at what caused each line to be added. It is so nice to be able to see why things are there when you want to change a manual section.

  4. John Thurman

    #1 I feel like in any other situation, this employer is a jerk who couldn’t meet their own timeline and didn’t care enough to tell you… But it’s sooo common & you should prolly just adapt to it

    1. Temperance

      I don’t think the employer is a “jerk” just because they haven’t been able to get back to all candidates immediately.

      1. Name Required

        Yes, they’re probably not jerks cackling to themselves that they “got those suckas” by not sending them a timeline update. Best laid plans, etc. … hiring is always a much bigger timesuck than you ever think it will be and not everyone has the benefit of an HR department to manage this process. For the times I was involved in hiring, it was always an extra 10-15 hours a week on top of my regular job for the 2-4 months it took to find, interview, and hire a qualified candidate.

    2. Safetykats

      The thing is, saying that all applicants Lon get a reply doesn’t clearly mean that you will get a confirmation that they got your application. It probably means that if you’re not contacted for an interview, you will get a formal rejection. Delaying selection (extending the posting) happens all the time, and since it’s often easier than getting a new posting approved, any hiring manager who hasn’t yet seen the quality of resume they are looking for is better off extending. It could be a holdup in HR – which doesn’t mean anyone is a jerk, as it could mean a small HR department and someone who is unexpectedly out of the office.

      I think OP’s error was in assuming that they would actually get more than one reply, since they assumed they would get confirmation of receipt, and then a contact to schedule an interview or a rejection. That’s not a response; that’s at least two.

      1. Washi

        Yes, came here to say this! The OP was very fixated on the “will get a reply” but that is not the same thing as “will get a reply within 2-3 business days confirming receipt of application.”

        They most like meant that they will send a rejection notice to all candidates not selected, which could have been rolling or could be once they have had an offer accepted by their final choice. Either way, OP followed up waaaaay too soon the first time.

        OP I think the big lesson in this is, as Allison says, asking yourself what following up will realistically accomplish – there has to be an urgent need beyond “I am anxious about this.”

        1. fposte

          And the OP *did* get a confirmation of receipt of application. It wasn’t written by a human, but it’s more than many places provide.

        2. Falling Diphthong

          I definitely see that line as something they added to the auto-reply to pre-empt all the applicants calling/emailing/popping out of the air vents to say “I haven’t heard back so I’m following up.”

        3. LJay

          Yeah. My workplace I don’t believe does rejection notices until the successful candidate has been offered the job and completed the background check (because if they don’t pass the background check for some reason we generally want to go back and offer to someone else from the same pool). So it can sometimes be a couple months between when they apply and when they hear anything. (But they will hear something eventually).

          1. Sarah N.

            Same with my job! We do send rejection letters (form letters to people who weren’t interviewed and a human-written email to those who were interviewed but not selected), but don’t want to do this until we know for sure that someone has been successfully hired…a lot could go wrong with background check, negotiating over salary, people getting a better offer, etc. so we don’t want to preemptively reject people. And our hiring process can take a long time because we fly our finalists out for a 1-2 day interview + there are multiple levels of approval that have to happen once we actually choose our final person to hire.

          2. TPS Cover Sheet

            My best gap back in the IT bubble years was a rejection letter something more than 6 months old … more like 8. I was looking at the letter in total amazement and wondering had I been sleep-applying… I was in Uni and I then remembered it was the previous summer’s internships or something like that. But at least they sent a letter!

            What I suspect though there was a glitch in the time matrix and a computer started spewing out form letters to all the thousands of applicants before someone noticed, and you can’t pull back an automated letter after it gets past a certain point.

            1. Ella bee bee

              I once got a rejection letter more than a year after applying for a job! It wasn’t a form letter either, it was actually the only time I’ve been given specific personal feedback on why I didn’t get the job.

              It was funny because the reason they gave for not hiring me was because I didn’t have any experience in one specific area they were looking for, but by the time they rejected me I had been working for almost a year at another job doing the exact thing they wanted me to have experience in. I’m still baffled by how it took them a year to get to applications.

        4. Zennish

          This. In my experience “Will get a reply” usually just means that at some point after the decision is made, the HR person/dept. will send all the unsuccessful applicants a “we hired someone else” form letter.

          …and this much follow up from a candidate would strike me as overly eager and needy, which would get a “no” if I already had a reasonable pool of interviewees.

      2. MusicWithRocksInIt

        I feel like most formal rejections I’ve gotten have come weeks after my last contact with a place – to the point where my feeling is mostly ‘oh yea, this place, kinda assumed it wasn’t happening’. I think most places will hold off on formal rejections at least until the person they hired starts, sometimes up until they can tell that person is working out, just in case the new person doesn’t work out and they have to pull someone else in.

        1. Antilles

          +1
          As far as I’ve seen, there’s pretty much two ways with formal rejections:
          1.) The rejection comes almost immediately. Your resume didn’t fit within the range of experience we’re targeting, your interview was a disaster, you’re missing a required certification, etc. Basically, there’s enough of a mismatch that it’s not happening and so there’s no real reason to keep our options open.
          2.) Way late, like weeks or months afterwards. You’re not in our Top __ candidates (who get calls/interviews), but you’re potentially viable, so we’re not going to slam and lock the door until we’re sure the position is filled successfully.

          1. Allison

            Yeah, basically this. It’s not unwise to keep some “qualified but eh” candidates on the backburner in case the whole shortlist falls through, but there’s gotta be a way to keep those candidates warm and not leave them to feel like they’re in hiring process purgatory.

          2. That Girl From Quinn's House

            Yeah, I had that happen. I applied to a job in July and got a rejection in mid-October. It was an internal posting so I knew what was going on. The applicant tracking system was set up so that, when you advanced 1 person to “Hired” for a posting that was open to 1 person, thus closing the posting, it would send a form email out to everyone who was declined.

            The funny part to me was that the form email said, “Your qualifications were not a match for this job,” but incidentally, the person who was hired was less qualified than I was for it, and ended up fired. But he went to the boss’s uncommon church and that’s what mattered, I guess.

        2. miss_chevious

          Yes, this. Quite often when we’re hiring we have a candidate or two that is on the cusp of yes, but may be the first or second runner up, so if things don’t work out with our first choice, we would be interested in the next candidate on the list. And sometimes it’s just because our HR department gets tied up with more urgent things and doesn’t send out rejections timely.

      3. Anne of Green Gables

        My guess is this is a case of misinterpreting what is meant by “all candidates will be notified.” At my employer, all applicants are notified–once the position has been filled. Which means that if you aren’t a top candidate who is contacted for an interview, you may well not be notified until two months or more after the position is first posted. By the time we let the mandatory 10-day posting close, select candidates, do a phone screen, schedule in-person interviews, and get HR approval to make an offer to a selected candidate, we’re looking at 2 months, easy. And that can easily get drawn out more by any number of simple factors.

      4. TootsNYC

        she GOT the confirmation that they got her application.
        That auto-reply is the confirmation.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      I don’t think it makes you a jerk not to meet your own internal hiring deadline. That timeline is more of an internal planning tool than a strict, deliverable-based deadline. It’s somewhat naive for someone who’s external to that process to judge the employer.

      There are too many unknowable factors (e.g., size and quality of the applicant pool, funding changes, internal realignment, external craziness) to assume an employer will always be able to hit their targets. It’s more helpful to view the timeline as an aspiration or “best case” assumption, not a strict commitment to candidates.

      1. Stitch

        My organization hires in classes and we hold off some rejecting people because we have people who end up not accepting the offer (we hire right out of school and they are usually interviewing multiple places) and then we can offer to the next choice. It isn’t consistent, though, so if someone is the #1 alternate, they might end up getting an offer but might not.

      2. CM

        Honestly, I have never been in a hiring process that kept to the initial deadline, whether the deadline was published or internal.

        1. NotAnotherManager!

          Same – hiring is a total timesuck. Delays are usually due to interviewer availability and existing business demands or a complete lack of qualified candidates rather than some HR power trip to mind game candidates. I WISH there was some magic wand to make hiring run on schedule!

          I just opened a position that I know is going to take months and a lot of frog-kissing to fill properly, and I’m dreading it.

    4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

      That’s a pretty big assumption and not even a little bit fair. There could be a ton of legitimate reasons (other than the employer being a jerk) for a delay in hiring. Have you ever been on the other side of the situation to see what it takes to get the necessary people together to find the right candidate?

      1. Colette

        Yeah, it’s easy to have the priority of one task drop when work gets busier than expected and people are out of the office. In the summer it is especially difficult to get all of the relevant people in the office at the same time.

        And candidates who send frequent requests for updates are making it slightly harder – the people involved in the hiring have to deal with those requests (and the annoyance they cause).

        1. MsChanandlerBong

          It’s especially difficult to stay on track if the person doing the hiring is responsible for more than just hiring. I do all the hiring at my company, but hiring is just an extra part of my job. My main job is editing/freelancer management. So if I intend to fill a position by X date, but it is a busy week and I am up to my ears in freelancer-management issues, there is no way I am going to hit my target.

      2. Massmatt

        I agree, in my experience even for small employers, or large employers that hired for jobs frequently (large staff and turnover) hiring often takes more time than estimated. Better to get the right people than hire a dud, and that often requires coordination of several people’s schedules. I wouldn’t say it was always like CM puts it above, but close.

    5. Aquawoman

      The company is trying to meet its own needs, and the timeline provided is provided toward that purpose. It’s information, not a commitment. I know job-hunting is stressful but that’s not really the company’s responsibility.

      1. Lance

        Just to add to that, outside of the application deadline, it doesn’t sound like the company gave the candidates a timeline to begin with in the auto-reply… so I’m not sure what the argument is here for calling it jerkish behavior.

        All the OP needed to do was wait, because these things take time; that’s a given in hiring.

    6. Ginger

      Anyone who believes a hiring timeline listed online is set in stone is very naive, IMO. The panicky follow ups would have raised a flag to me that they maybe don’t know professional norms. It would have been a point of further questioning if they had made it into the interview rounds.

      1. TardyTardis

        I know, it’s like expecting a publisher to look at a manuscript in less than five years…

    7. Artemesia

      Right. So 3 email demands when the job opening hasn’t even close to applications yet is perfectly understandable.

  5. Kimmybear

    #2- I worked at a place for a long time (probably too long) that hired me on the spot. It was overall a good place to work for me at the time but this was one sign of the many issues with hiring and HR. If you have a gut feeling that this will be bad, don’t take it unless you have to.

    1. Working Mom Having It All

      My read of the letter was that LW was offered a job on the spot because she had worked with the hiring manager before. Which makes sense: why would someone who would probably be one of your references need to check your references?

      I worked for a long time in a creative field that was somewhat outside the corporate world and had different hiring norms, and I’ve had everything from interviewing and hearing back same day and starting a day or two later, to being offered a job on the spot, to getting a job without actually having to interview due to all the relevant folks knowing me and my work. None of the above were sketchy per se or indicative of a toxic work environment. Just different professional norms in different fields.

      That said the childhood friend who openly admits to discriminating against sensitive populations would make me run far, far away from this job and probably far from that person TBH.

  6. Chocolate Teapot

    3. If the company has a staff handbook, then usually there is a section on working hours and requesting time off for doctor’s appointments. My company has a clocking system and core hours during which we need to be in the office, but there are certainly early bird and night owl departments.

      1. CanuckCat

        Agreed. My office goes by core hours of 9 to 5, and it says as much in our employee handbooks but some people, myself included, come in earlier or arrive later, due to arrangements worked out with their respective managers. Also some people do a lot more WFH than others but again, that’s a nuance they’ve agreed upon with their managers.

      2. Lily Rowan

        Yeah, I’m sure my job has a policy, but when I had been here a little while, I submitted for a couple of hours off one Friday, and my boss just rejected the request — she said not to bother charging PTO because I work plenty extra and get my work done, etc. Which is great, and just what I’d hope for from an exempt job! But is not always how the real world works.

        1. The Other Dawn

          My boss at a previous company was the same way. If I wanted to take four hours or less of PTO, he didn’t require me to submit it. It was understood that in some way, shape or form I’d get all my work done. I really, really miss that.

      3. noahwynn

        Agreed. Our employee manual makes it sound like you have to request time off and use available vacation or sick time for any time between 8am and 5pm when you’re not in the office. Totally not how it works in practice, in my department or any of the others I’m aware of. My boss has told me to take days off or take a few hours off because I completed work over the weekend or had to travel.

        For OP 3, I’m curious if her boss has managed an exempt employee before. It is different in some ways from managing a non-exempt employee.

    1. AnotherAlison

      Our policy has flexibility for manager discretion and different roles. Policy is you can have flex time and even a 4x-10 schedule, but it is workload and manager dependent and some roles (mine) can’t have a 4-10. I can work 5-10s with no extra pay, though, so it’s all good. Ha! You’ve got to interact with your manager.

    2. PretzelGirl

      Every place is different for sure. I’ve worked places where flexing your hours was frowned upon and places where not many people care as long as your work is completed. Its even varied by boss for me. \

      OP3- Frankly I would just ask. “Hey can I flex hours for my doc apt next week?” “Can I come in an hour early so I can leave an hour early…?” Etc.

      1. Antilles

        I’ve worked places where flexing your hours was frowned upon and places where not many people care as long as your work is completed.
        Agreed. It’s a whole range involved in the corporate culture.
        And many places even fall into a middle ground where leaving early for a doctor’s appointment is fine, but leaving early because you have tickets to the ballgame would raise some eyebrows.

    3. The other Louis

      It’s *really* important that this person is non-exempt–are you talking about non-exempt employees? I had a report that would NOT fill out their timesheets correctly. It was a mess because various other people (including me) had to sign the timesheet saying we knew them to be accurate when we knew they weren’t. My first choice would have been to make the position exempt, but that option was off the table.

      It isn’t okay to ask other people to lie for you, and that’s what this amounted to. The employee really didn’t see it that way, so it took some come to Jesus talks on the part of several people. It’s all straightened out now, and the whole situation is better.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        This is why time clocks or clock software is best. I’m still unimpressed that so many places just have people use a manual time sheet system and then get upset over rounding in their favor. Take that power away and pay the extra to have them punch a digital clock when they come in! It’s still something that’s able to be abused but less so than an honor system!

      2. Artemesia

        We had a very well regarded AA who almost lost her job because she allowed staff she supervised to do this and yet report regular hours. The staff worked the hours but were given comp time adjustments which were not easy to record on the time sheets so she let them just report regular hours. It took a lot of political capital from the Director to save her job. One of the easiest ways to get fired is violation of a clear rule like correct time sheets. Lazy people, people who troll the internet all day, even unpleasant and insubordinate people seem to keep their jobs, but violate a clear rule like ‘no personal long distance calls’ or ‘time sheets must be accurate’ and you are history.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Each position can be different.

      Our operation hours are listed but working hours are up to the managers involved. Only a handful of us are able to flex and that’s in our job offers. My job offer and description shows “core hours” and then is truly “come in wherever, leave whenever just be here no later than 9, leave no earlier than 2, unless authorized.”

      The key to is to ask. Every boss is different.

    5. Pennalynn Lott

      I’m a day late, but my team members and I were just discussing this today. Our manager is in another city. He makes us log every hour and record PTO for the slightest amount of time out of the office (even though the smallest increment is 1/2 a day). The other people in our office, who report to a Director on site with us, work from home whenever they feel like it, run errands during the day, take half- and whole-days off. . . all without recording anything against PTO.

      The only thing our employee handbook says is that, for exempt employees, PTO tracking is up to the individual manager.

      Which means you can be performing the exact same role as the person sitting next to you, but have a completely different experience re: PTO. [Even though I’ve only been here a few months, I’m looking for another job for this very reason.]

  7. Girr

    Agreed. You have such a small amount of data about a candidate that this amount of contact would make you question what kind of employee they would be once hired.

    Assume (for the most part) that after submitting your application, companies take a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” approach. Which is why I always appreciated the confirmation emails some companies send after receiving your application.

  8. Jen RO

    OP1 – I won’t reiterate what others have said, but I have a comment about the job start date. Our recruiting system forces us to choose a desired start date before we can raise the requisition, so I always put the earliest a candidate would start *if we found the perfect person today*. In practice, the real start date is ‘as soon as we can find someone suitable’ which very often is 3-4 months in the future.

    Luckily, the external site does not include these start dates, but if it did, it could be misleading.

    TL;DR The posted start date might not be the real one, ignore it.

    1. Anonymous Educator

      Having been in a candidate until recently, I’ve spoken to numerous potential employers who have said they want someone to start right away, but they’re also looking for the right candidate (this isn’t always the case—other employers have stated they have plenty of time and can start months from now), so the start date isn’t some hard deadline.

  9. Observer

    #1 – I’m going to be a bit more blunt than Alison. Your first email was an annoyance. Your second email would have had me scratching my head – Why would you think your email was not received – you got the auto-response. Obviously they got your application. But since you had already sent one unnecessary follow up, I would probably conclude that it was just an excuse to send another email. Because why else would you ask if your application showed up? Sending yet ANOTHER email, to a different address would just reinforce that conclusion.

    You should have skipped the first email. You could have emailed around the time frame for the start of the job – but not to ask if your application was received, since you should know that it had been received. What you could have asked was about the timeline. Once and once only.

    Did this knock you out of the running? Quite possibly. On the other hand, it’s also quite possible that your resume was not as stellar as you think. Or, to be honest, the hiring manager had someone else in mind from the get go. Which would stink, but at least they didn’t waste your time with an interview.

    1. Groove Bat

      In addition to being annoying, it sends a subtle message that the applicant thinks HR is somehow falling down on the job and can’t keep track of their own hiring process. It’s insulting.

      1. Justme, The OG

        And assumes that the job the applicant is applying for is the only thing that HR has on their plate at the time.

    2. Joielle

      Yeah, it’s such a transparent attempt to come up with some reason, any reason, to send an email. Like you said, the candidate knew the company received the application. There was no reason to think there might be “some problem” after that. Everyone should be on their best behavior during the hiring process, and if this is the candidate putting their best foot forward, I’d pass on them.

    3. kittymommy

      My thoughts on the second email going to the supervisor is that
      1. the supervisor may or may not be involved in the hiring process, depending upon the department the job is in. Where I’m at there are some roles where the department is so large that there are a lot of “supervisor” none of whom have any hiring role.
      2. Even if the supervisor is involved in the hiring process, depending on the internal policies of the company they may not receive applications until the deadline has passed. In some places HR weeds through all the candidates to those who meet minimum standards and then once the post has closed they all get sent to the director.
      3. by going to the supervisor, the email may have made HR look bad and implied they were not doing their job, which probably is not the impression one wants to leave with HR, especially if you are trying to work for them.

    4. Name Required

      This isn’t a fair assumption, because I know nothing about LW 1’s experience nor the job posting, but I tend to think that someone so off the mark on what is an appropriate follow up is also likely not a good judge of their own fitness for the job.

      Alison has pointed out further up thread that this type of advice is so common, so it shouldn’t knock someone out of the running, so perhaps this person received very poor advice on job seeking and is actually a great candidate for the position. But that poor advice might extend beyond how to follow-up and into their resume and cover letter, and the letter writer may want to consider if their resume needs a refresh.

    5. Blunt Bunny

      I agree it’s seems so bizarre to believe you would get a response 10 days after applying, even for an internal role that would be too quick. 3 weeks is average and it could be up to 6 weeks. I wonder if contacting the employer has ever resulted in a positive result.

  10. min

    #2 Wouldn’t the fact that she had worked with the hiring manager in the past make hiring without checking references less of a red flag?

    I’d absolutely listen to your gut about working with a childhood friend, but I wouldn’t worry about the hiring on the spot from someone who knows you and knows your work.

    1. Qwerty

      That’s what I was coming here to say. The hiring manager already knows what it is like to work with OP2 and it sounds like the interview was more of a formality to explain the role. Additionally, she’s being vouched for by a current employee (not sure if the hiring manager knows it is just a social connection instead of a professional one).

  11. Approval is optional

    LW2 had worked with the hiring manager before, so her being offered the job on the spot, doesn’t necessarily mean that is how the hiring manager/company usually operates: the HM in essence provided the reference.

    1. Koko

      This! It’s not THAT uncommon for someone who is in management to be enthusiastic about fast-tracking a candidate they have either worked with in the past or whose reputation is well known in the field as a rick star, etc. The job offer itself seemed only accidentally to have been the result of the ild friend connecting the OP with the manager she had worked with before.

      That still leaves the issue of working with the old friend. But I’m confused why the offer itself from a manager OP had worked with before raised red flags; networking like this is often how people land good jobs.

      1. voyager1

        I agree with this take too. The manager knows the LW, that counts for way more then references/work history.

        I do think the office culture may not be a good fit for the LW possibly.

    2. Kiki

      Yes, unless a significant amount of time had passed since the hiring manager worked with LW2, I think this aspect isn’t really a red flag. Granted, I think there are many hiring managers who would still want references on top of their own experiences to make sure their experience with the applicant wasn’t an anomaly, but for some people personal experience with someone speaks for a lot more than a reference.

  12. Anon this time

    I did have an interview first, but followed up with the employer every two weeks until they hired me six months later. The application deadline wasn’t until about two months after I sent them my resume. (Re: OP1)

    You tell OP2 that sending out 10 applications is nothing, but I’ve applied for 5 jobs during the 1 month I’ve been looking, and have had 4 interviews. (Small towns, small applicant pool)

    In contrast to advice you’ve given to other posters, there are many small employers here that would think nothing of an employee’s spouse secretly arranging for the employee to take time off for a surprise vacation. My brother in law did this for my sister, who is a tax preparer and it was during tax season. The boss was happy to arrange for the seasonal people to cover urgent work during that time because they know the value my sister brings to the firm. And that was in the States only metro area.

    I think the difference is that you seem to focus on more metropoliton areas, whereas I live in a town of less than 2,000 people, two of my intervews were in towns of less than 10,000, and two in a city of less than 40,000.

    In fact, the nearest town over 40,000 is 120 miles away from me, and that’s the only city over 60,000 or so in the entire state. And the state is not small.

    I think that job seekers should be aware of this when applying in these small markets.

    1. Anon this time

      And keep in mind that “fly over country” covers way more area than the more heavy populated coasts.

      1. Aquawoman

        I don’t understand the relevance of this–counties don’t read advice columns, people do. If the advice is applicable to more people, that is more relevant than if it is applicable to a larger geographic area.

    2. Avasarala

      If you’re in a small group–especially a small company in a small town–then it’s easier to evolve your own group culture “Galapagos style.” If you don’t have a ton of people going in and out, you’ll get fewer “fresh” points of view and it’s easy to develop in a certain direction and everyone has to adapt to that if they stay in the group. Plus, because there are fewer people in the group, you’re bumping up against each other all the time, and things that would be less of an issue diluted among many people will become concentrated when you only see 10 people all day.

      So if you look across the AAM blog you’ll see a lot of questions about these practices that might work in a small company, especially in a small company in a small town. It’s easier to do things “family style” when you know everyone, and to give exceptions/perks to valued employees who are hard to replace in your small pool.

      But AAM is read by people around the world, in groups of all sizes. So that’s why a lot of the advice might seem to skew towards “large markets” because Alison is speaking to the general median of a huge group. Ultimately it’s up to each reader to judge how to apply the advice here to their country, their market, their company, their situation.

    3. Colette

      I think a lot of the same issues apply, but you might be less likely to hit them. In your example of a spouse asking for time off for an employee, that would work out just fine for some people in metropolitan areas – but others would be annoyed (because they want to control their own time off, because their relationship is not going well, because they don’t want to go on that particular vacation). Those issues can still apply in a small town – but if there’s only one time where it happens, you might luck out and it’s fine.

      And some people have an easier time job hunting that others – it depends on your skills, the way you phrase them on your resume, your name/ethnic group, your job history, and the market you’re looking in. I’m sure there are people in your small town that are underemployed or unemployed.

    4. NothingIsLittle

      You make a fair point about a lot of the advice being geared towards more densely populated areas like cities or their direct suburbs, but I’m going to push back on the idea of the spouse arranging a surprise vacation being related. It might be acceptable to some employers, but it has more to do with it being a tighter knit business/department than being located in a small town (perhaps your point is that those types of businesses are more likely to be in a small town or less densely populated state?). It flys in the face of professional norms regardless, but certain environments allow more flexibility in terms of norms.

      In terms of the emailing, though, there are always exceptions that prove the rule. As a lot of experienced hiring managers have said in the comments, they wouldn’t think as highly of someone followed up as described. It is certainly true that in a small applicant pool, it may not knock you out of the running, or that a minority of hiring managers would think it showed “gumption,” but it feels deceptive not to admit that it’s unusual for that to be the case, or to not add the context that would make it seem more in line with professional norms. For example, if each follow up email received an enthusiastic response it would still seem abnormal, but it would be a conversation instead of a demand for attention.

      In terms of only sending out 5 applications in a month, that’s fine if you’re getting four interviews, but OP2’s gotten 1. If you’re getting interviews on 80% of your applications then, of course, you don’t need to send as many out as someone who’s only getting interviews on 10% of their applications (that’s not meant as a jab at OP, it could very well just be particularly competitive/not great fits/etc.). It’s fine to point out that in certain situations, like looking for a highly specialized position or within a small applicant pool, will mean that you’re more likely to send out fewer applications because fewer jobs meet the requirements you’re looking for, and to give some advice contingent on that distinction. However, given OP’s situation as described, 10 applications doesn’t sound like enough.

    5. Name Required

      You’ve listed anecdotal evidence as if it speaks for all of small town America; it doesn’t.

      1. Artemesia

        Exactly, a woman struggling in an abusive controlling marriage and perhaps trying to figure out a way to leave it may be horrified that her boss is conspiring with her husband to plan a ‘surprise vacation’ with her limited time off. This is as likely in a small town as in a city.

        I did my career in a big city and know someone who hired a guy off the street who came in and showed all sorts of gumption in proposing they hire him. I am sure someone somewhere tells the wonderful anecdote about the guy ‘who sent us a shoe in a box, to get a foot in the door’ and how they hired him. Doesn’t make it a reliably good idea.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I come from podunk middle of nowhere and this stuff also gets you fired and then you’re not employed in that town again if you think you can just schedule a “surprise!” vacation. There’s someone next door that will take your job or they’ll make due without you because they don’t like you much anymore.

      So this is pretty shaky advice and only works if you’re “well connected” and buttered the correct side of your tiny employers bread that allows you to take advantage of their generosity.

      I’m a champion for small business, I love my experience and my former bosses back home but this is the same bad advice of “just go in and ask for a job, tell them you’ll work for free for a week!” that grandpas give.

      1. NotAnotherManager!

        I could not agree more, particularly about the small-town rumor mill and not being the “right” type of people. I love my in-laws dearly, but, sweet Jesus, every time we visit, we get the run down on nearly everyone in town’s interpersonal drama, how corrupt the sheriff is, and how proud they are to have voted down a school improvement bond. Personal lives very much factor into who gets offered jobs. Just ask the teacher who just got run out of her job and then out of town for leaving her husband for another woman. I mean, what the hell kind of advice is Alison going to give for that sort of place that would be remotely helpful to anywhere else?

        Also, here’s my anecdata about small town employment for contrast: The main reason my spouse left his small, rural hometown and moved to the big city was lack of opportunities within an hour’s driving distance. Not all rural areas are bursting with job with no one to apply for them – my spouse was holding down three part-time, variable hour/week jobs before relocating to DC, and that was with being the “right” kind of person and “from a good family”. So far, they’re keener on the continuous full-time employment and healthcare, even if the traffic is real bitch.

  13. Too Old For This Nonsense

    OP#1, you mentioned that “the required skills were such an unusual combination that I don’t think there’d be that many qualified applicants.” That might indicate a post tailored for an internal candidate, so it may have been better to have had low hopes for this one. :-/

    1. SusanIvanova

      Or an external person who’d have to come over on a visa. I worked at a place once that wanted to hire someone who was *the* expert in a very obscure area, but we couldn’t do that without jumping through hoops first.

      1. RUKiddingMe

        Yup. I had someone I wanted to hire but had to go through the whole looking for an “American citizen who is exactly the same, etc.” dance first.

        1. DreamingInPurple

          You know, the type of jobs people typically get H1s for tend to be legitimately good jobs that people who are already here would be interested in. Having to search among existing citizens/residents is an important part of that process. Admitting that you didn’t take that seriously and sounding so flip about that is kind of gross :/

          1. MagicUnicorn

            Conversely, it is also kind of gross to pretend to look for a in-country candidate when the only strike against just flat out hiring the person you really want is that they are not a citizen.

            1. Birch

              +1 THIS. Especially in fields that value or require “mobility” but then make it as difficult as possible to actually BE mobile, or just flat-out don’t hire non-nationals because the visa process is complicated.

            2. DreamingInPurple

              The stated purpose of that program is to bring people over when there isn’t a comparable talent here, so yeah, anytime that someone is pretending/not taking that search process seriously that would be using the program in the wrong way. According to that program, there should be a genuine search, regardless of whether you have someone in mind or not. I’m not touching the issue you seem to be alluding to of what is right or the political implications of that program; that is just going to be a huge derail and not help anybody.

              1. MagicUnicorn

                In that case, I will assume that your intent was not to put forth a xenophobic view that interested citizens should be given preference for good jobs whether they are qualified for the roles or not.

                1. Artemesia

                  Hiring foreign nationals for roles for which there are many qualified American candidates is a strategy in many companies to suppress wages.

                2. MagicUnicorn

                  And refusing to consider qualified foreigners over unqualified citizens is xenophobic.

                  I admit that my view is biased because I work in an industry that has far more qualified candidates from overseas. My current company has struggled for *years* hunting for a qualified person to fill a badly needed C-suite role, has thrown ridiculous numbers of zeros onto the salary, and has yet to find someone who has the necessary background. In the meantime, they have turned away interested candidates whose work we know and admire because they are foreigners.

                3. DreamingInPurple

                  No, that’s not my intent at all – see my other comments – and that’s not at all what I did here, if you read my comment as it is written. What I have a problem with is the attitude that searching for a qualified candidate in the US is red tape or a formality. That’s why I mentioned that these are good jobs that people would be happy to take – for the applicants, it’s not a BS exercise, it’s them trying to get a job. If they don’t get it because they don’t have the necessary skills, then that is how it goes, but making light of that is crappy.

                4. MagicUnicorn

                  Apologies, after reading more of your responses I realize my take on your intent here was uncharitable.

          2. NothingIsLittle

            I think the point is that the job required skills so specialized that an incredibly small number of people worldwide fulfilled them, not because they were trying to exclude native applicants, but because the actual necessities for the position were unusual (At least, SusanIvanova says that pretty directly). It would be really strange for an employer to do that with a job that would have qualified candidates in their native country, but the point seems to be that there aren’t qualified applicants, likely because they’re already otherwise employed. My mom’s best friend has an incredibly specialized background to the point where maybe 5 people in the world can do her job (it’s something to do with the oil industry, but to be honest my chemistry is terrible and I don’t really understand it). It wouldn’t be strange for a company specifically needing one of those 5 people and knowing that one of them was open to the position to interview other people as a formality, because no one else would actually have the credentials to do the job.

              1. IEanon

                H-1Bs can be used to bring in cheaper labor, true. There are issues with the system, but those I know who’ve gone through the process of attaining an H-1B do not feel exploited. I work with a lot of students who go through the entire process, from F to residency, so I’m biased, but it’s an incredibly valuable program.

                This feels like an oversimplification of the visa.

                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  There’s enough data showing the pay disparities and enough instances of poor treatment that it’s truly endemic to the way the program is used and not individual aberrations. I don’t doubt that it feels valuable to many who go through the process (that’s why they’re doing it!) but the data shows it lowers wages overall and opens people up to exploitation.

                2. IEanon

                  AAM, I’m familiar with the data and I do recognize that exploitation is systemic rather than individual.

                  I’m really struggling with how to word this, but it feels that in many of the cases where exploitation of H-1B workers is raised as an issue, it’s not done with the rights of the visa-holders in mind. The WashTech lawsuit is a good example, as they’re using these lowered salary thresholds to argue that students on OPT are interfering with the labor market for American workers (at least, that’s part of the argument). They’re not interested in ending exploitation, but in eliminating the program which allows students to work following their degree program.

                  The issue is enforcement on the employer side, rather than the elimination or major restructuring of the visa program. Salary transparency, stronger protections for employees, and unionization are all better solutions for US and foreign workers and can be implemented without changing the H-1B. This is so, so off-topic, and I apologize for that. But this is sort of my bugbear, and I see a lot of simplification of the issue, to the detriment of the visa holders.

                3. Artemesia

                  THEY don’t feel exploited but unemployed US workers who could have done the job are being disadvantaged. It is a method of offshoring jobs while not offshoring the actual job.

                4. Anonymous Educator

                  It’s not always just low pay. Sometimes it’s “just” the poor treatment. Apparently, at Theranos, that’s how they kept around some very badly treated employees, because those employees were from India and on H1Bs, so they couldn’t just quit without also having to leave the country.

              2. Make a Comment

                Hear, hear! The pay disparity between American and European (white) developers and Indian developers is striking and problematic. I had projects where a citizen developer made 40% than a more qualified non-citizen.

            1. DreamingInPurple

              I get your point – but if it’s true that the qualifications for a job are so esoteric, then why couldn’t the search within the US be taken seriously, and genuinely turn nothing up? My issue isn’t with the fact that they couldn’t find someone here, it’s with the flippant characterizations of that process as a “dance” and “jumping through hoops”, which really make it sound like it wasn’t taken seriously. And as for why I feel it needs to be serious, see Alison’s comment.

              1. Artemesia

                One well known employer can’t find qualified waiters in Florida. The process is largely a scam to suppress wages and assure employees who don’t demand good working conditions.

    2. Borne

      It does seem like a purple squirrel ad and they already had their internal purple squirrel.
      Maybe they are required to post for all positions, whether they already have someone in mind or not.

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen

      Yes, I came here to say this. In which case, the chief distinguishing feature between LW and the successful candidate could well have been “familiarity with internal systems”. And if a hiring manager wants to hire/promote a particular internal candidate, I think I’d rather not be dragged in for a form interview just to satisfy their processes.

      I once started a new job only to discover that I had displaced a (less qualified) internal candidate. It was aWkWaRd!

    4. TPS Cover Sheet

      Yep, my sentiments exactly, the ” qualifications for the position were quite strange and eclectic” screams a tailored position. Either an internal candidate or existing contractor, who has done the job the past year so you lose out, or then hiring someone on a work permit so it matches on their CV, and those cases are full of shenanigans as you might want that person to do X, but to get a permit its Y and Z that are on the shortage list.

      Especially in public jobs where the people need to reapply for their own jobs, this is endemic. Sometimes theugh they have an ”internal candidates only” flag… that’s totally its own world to try and navigate.

    5. a1

      My thought was maybe it was such an unusual combination, after all. Like, it may not be the norm, but it’s also not super rare. So it could be feasible that OP hasn’t seen much of it yet, but there are more people out there with that combination that they realized.

    6. smoke tree

      Another consideration is the quality of your application materials–you know that you have the qualifications, but do your resume and cover letter clearly show it? I don’t mean to nitpick, just pointing out that there are a few different reasons why you might not get a job even if it appears to be a great fit.

  14. Clementine

    I would tend to rethink the idea of refusing a job because there is one person you are not so keen on. Any workplace is likely to have such a person; the main difference is that you won’t know who they are in advance. Here you have a hiring manager eager to hire you. That outweighs the childhood friend issue, in my opinion. Assuming the pay and role are what you had in mind, I would suggest you take this job, while keeping your eyes open for a clearly better role.

    1. WS

      +1, depending how much you’re going to be working with the childhood friend. If you’re going to be with her all day every day in a two-person sales team? Not good. If she’s going to show you around on your first day and then you meet every now and then and say hi? Perfectly fine.

      1. Yorick

        But OP says they’re going to work in the same open office that has about 15 people. That’s a pretty small office and means they’re going to interact with the childhood friend constantly.

        1. AnotherAlison

          Agreed. I have a childhood friend who works in my industry. We were in the same dance class 5th-8th grade, in the same band section, played on the HS tennis team (her mom drove us to private lessons together 1 season), and we crossed paths at summer college classes and at two jobs, but we were never BFFs or anything. In the 5 years she worked at my current company, I talked to her twice. It’s a 1,000 person office, but she was also a person with boundaries and never sought me out to talk about old times or joke about the goob I dated in high school. I would work with her anywhere, but the OP’s friend sounds like the type who would track you down even in a large office. I certainly wouldn’t work with her in a 15-person office. (The exception is, of course, if I have no offers & am running out of money to pay my bills!)

    2. Patty Mayonnaise

      I tend to agree – LW is worrying about her childhood friend based on her behavior in the friendship, but her work behavior is unknown since they’ve never worked together. Friend might be able to set boundaries at work and behave appropriately. Or LW can have a pre-emptive conversation with her friend to explain that her work behavior will be more professional and less familiar than Friend is used to, setting up that boundary before she starts. At the same time though, LW saying she has a feeling of dread is pretty intense, which makes me wonder if LW knows her friend is the kind of person who doesn’t respect workplace boundaries (or respect LW herself). If the feeling is strong enough to outweigh the positive of a manager that you know and likes your work, then LW should not take the job.

      1. Lily Rowan

        Yeah, I think this might (MIGHT) be a chance to reset the relationship with the childhood friend, and create a more professional adult relationship.

        I’d weigh how much the OP wants to work with the manager again more heavily here.

      2. OP #2

        These are all interesting points that I never considered! I didn’t really think about a difference between work vs. personal behavior; I could only imagine that she’d act that same at work as she does when we’re grabbing lunch together on the weekends (which isn’t terrible! She’s a great person! Just not what I personally prefer at work).

        I actually turned down the job a couple of days after I wrote in to Alison. My friend found out I had another interview set up elsewhere and sent a few very intense texts about how I’d “be such a great fit for the [workplace] family.” So I went with my gut, in the end.

        1. Matilda Jefferies

          Sounds like you made a good decision, in that case. Hope your other interview works out well!

        2. Massmatt

          Good point about how this person may a)have matured, and b) may behave differently/professionally in a work context, but I would say your gut feeling being one of DREAD is a big warning sign, I would pay attention to it unless I were desperate for a job or other perks were enough to outweigh it.

          Then her “we’re a family” stuff—bullet dodged!

        3. Peridot

          Oh, no, not the “family” line. Sounds like you were right to have concerns in the first place.

        4. emmelemm

          Yeah, the word “family” makes me want to run. Sounds like you made the right decision.

        5. JSPA

          If the friend had been someone you’d be OK losing as a friend, you might have chanced it, in that friend might be the only weird one there (and if that’s the worst you have to deal with, it’s…pretty good). But as she’s someone you actively enjoy outside of work, it’s probably better to not have taken it.

    3. Nanani

      This. Work Friend may not act the same as she does when she’s not at work being Childhood Friend, if that makes sense.

      Plus, you can practice exercising work/personal life boundaries just in case.

  15. Clementine

    “Legally prevented” can mean that the writer will lose his job if he provides feedback. Less dramatically, it can mean he is following the advice of legal counsel (and of course disregarding the advice of legal counsel could easily lead to firing).

    I don’t think anyone thinks it will mean he fears being arrested for doing so. The gist is that he does not want to provide feedback for reasons that are very significant to him.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      I have a strong suspicion that Legal has instructed hiring managers not to give feedback to prevent the risk of someone going off script in a way that opens the employer up to a hiring lawsuit.

      It’s likely that this manager doesn’t understand that a direction from counsel doesn’t mean “legally prevented.” So they’re coming up with Very Serious Sounding phrases to describe that legal (or company policy) does not allow them to comment or provide feedback to unsuccessful candidates.

    2. TPS Cover Sheet

      Yeah, it sounds like they don’t want to be liable for a lawsuit. Which then again for me that answer would make me write an official letter stating they are discriminating against me due to X and then they would need to spill their beans… A bit rude way to get your feedback, but they started it…

      1. Dick

        You are so keen to claim discrimination, it’s alarming. That’s multiple posts now where you’ve said that’s how you react to rejection. Like the threat of a discrimination lawsuit is a weapon you wield against employers to make them do your bidding.

        It’s gross.

        1. Artemesia

          LOL. The guy I didn’t advance to interview although he was in my top ten pile because of his annoying gumption behavior (and his email handle AND I talked with someone internally for whom he had done a short term contract who reinforced my concerns) went all the way to the CEO with complaints that it must be age discrimination after many long emails demanding to be considered. Everyone just laughed and laughed. The two people I hired for the role were a woman in her 50s and a man in his 60s.

      2. Colette

        Do you find that effective? I suspect that would just result in adding you to a “never hire this person” list.

      3. Holly

        This is very alarming that you would think that is an appropriate way to get feedback. I highly doubt it would work the way you think it would would.

      4. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device

        Or you might get a reply saying “In that case, any future communications between us will have to be through the legal department,” and legal in turn might tell you they can’t answer that sort of question. “I’m suing” may or may not be a reasonable thing to say, depending on circumstances, but it is an adversarial one. Telling people, or a company, that you will see them in court is unlikely to make them want to help you, or give you one scrap of information more than the law requires.

      5. Lance

        And… what, precisely, is that supposed to accomplish? That’s only going to give yourself unnecessary trouble, barring actual evidence of discrimination, and put a big, black mark on your name for anyone that comes to know about the incident.

        1. Antilles

          And by the way, even if there is actual evidence of discrimination, such lawsuits are usually expensive, draining, risky, and long. Do you know why there are stories of companies getting away with discrimination, bias, sexual harassment, etc for *years*? Because the whole process is sufficiently arduous and costly that even people with serious and clear-cut claims often decide it’s not worth their time, energy, and upfront cost.

        2. Artemesia

          And within professions there is a network so you may get a black mark across many organizations. While it is rare for information about candidates to be very public, when someone does something egregiously anecdote worthy they may end up having their story told at cocktail parties during conferences or other professional events. I have a few I still remember from my career.

          1. Falling Diphthong

            As a job applicant, one should strive not to be egregiously anecdote worthy.

            (Thinking of the poor person who filmed herself giving a video thank you to the handful of people who had interviewed her, and was surprised and puzzled as the YouTube hits on it climbed into the triple digits.)

      6. Anne Elliot

        Respectfully, in my government agency, sending a letter alleging discrimination in hiring triggers a whole ‘nother set of actions behind the scenes, none of which include “spilling our beans” to the candidate who made the allegation.

      7. Psyche

        That will probably just ensure all future communication is done though the legal department.

      8. Stitch

        That sounds like a great way to be blacklisted from the company. Baseless accusations of bias are an extremely bad idea.

          1. Stitch

            Simply not getting feedback on an application is a baseless reason to allege discrimination.

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                I’m not blocking the discussion — you are using multiple user names to comment (and now you’re being rude and I’m actually putting you on moderation).

          2. Antilles

            The awful truth is that even if it’s *not* baseless, it’s still a good way to hurt future employability within the industry.
            Even employees who are 100% justified in suing their employer tend to get a negative reputation in the industry. Future hiring managers might admit you were right, but they’ll still be wary of “yeah, the company was awful…but…do we really want someone with a history of lawsuits?”

      9. Falling Diphthong

        Write an official letter.
        What is an ‘official’ letter in this context? You can spend a few hundred dollars on a lawyer to write a cease and desist letter because some company offered you a job and is refusing to take no for an answer; it’s harder to find lawyers who will baselessly threaten legal action. And they won’t baselessly threaten for free.

        Then they would need to spill their beans.
        That’s not how this works. Anything that was not immediately circular filed and turned into a mild anecdote for dinner parties would lead to clamming up, not beans.

        A bit rude way to get your feedback.
        You are not legally–or any other way, but especially legally–entitled to feedback about why they didn’t hire you. No one reading this post is surprised they didn’t hire you.

        1. TPS Cover Sheet

          Well yes, there is a process to follow. To gather evidence I will need to write them a formal letter stating the facts and then see what they answer. If they answer, I just can’t waltz into ACAS and go to a tribunal on heresay. But getting the comparator data is enough as feedback.

        2. TPS Cover Sheet

          No, it is a default grievance procedure as per ACAS. You write and ask for an feedback, pointing out that you are not satisfied that their choice was based on the actual requirements. Then they answer, if they answer, and than you can see where the comparator was better than you were. Or if they weren’t, but I doubt even ACAS mediation that is a prerequisite for a tribunal would be able to definitely say either or. Unless they were blatantly oblivious to the Equality Act 2010 and wrote something that made the case.

          1. Lance

            I’m genuinely curious… why are you going this far with this? What exactly is it going to get you? This seems like a lot of unneeded stress over what is, most of the time, probably going to be a simple answer of ‘they just had the skills/experience/good interview to make it further’, unless they far more directly present evidence of likely discrimination.

            Even then… as others have mentioned, it’s not necessarily a battle you’ll win.

            1. TPS Cover Sheet

              No it is not a battle I would win, or necessarily take. I think my original was in the weekend thread.

              Basically, I applied for a job which fits pretty well in what my skillset is. Proprietary software maintenance. Went through an agency, did all the hoops and whistles, and went for an interview that was very cordial. The second round would have been with the overseas owners via skype.

              Now I have no problem if I get turned down on lacking some proprietary software skills or not having coded python or a dozen other ones. I know my limitations and lacking attributes extremely well. Too well, my job councellor told me to apply to all kinds of stuff I have no talent whatsoever. I apply for jobs I can and want to do.

              Now some of those lacking attributesI might fix if I was inclined, like take a night school refresher in python. Some of those as ”previous experience with NHS systems” brings you to the ”fresh graduate catch-22” when you can’t get the experience when you need the experience to get the experience… maybe not fair, but it is a measurable quality that you can state as a valid breaking point choosing between the candidates.

              What I am livid with is dismissing me because of ”they felt I would not be happy in the role and get bored due to my experience”. Now that is not anything objective or quantitative that was in the job specification or the requirements. Now I can’t take the Tardis back in time. And who they think they are telling me how I would feel? Just because I have ”too much experience” = I am too old. That is totally inappropriate. Same as telling a young woman they won’t get hired as they might get preggers.

              And yes, while this might be how things are in that certain overseas country, but I am damned if I am going to play by their rules. So the septics just may get a lesson what bored people in UK do to gain happiness.

              I took this one a bit personally and it got on my tits. The thing is I don’t really want to antagonize the agency at this point. Antagonizing the company… different niche but making the water purple in the kiddies pool is also not that wise even they are a small chipshop operation out of an office hotel. My younger self would have made an ”anonymous” scathing Glassdooor review, which the company already has Glassdoor glowing red from their overseas home office reviews. But they would exactly know who it was there too, and the ACAS route would cause them way more pain than a rant on the interweb. Hence the ”official” letter, totally following the union handbook on grievance procedures.

              At least I am not depressed, running on adrenaline actually makes me fill out those 20-page NHS applications I know I have no chances with.

              1. Falling Diphthong

                a) “You seem overqualified and we think you’ll get bored and leave” is a common reason not to hire someone. Frustrating if you need a job, but no originality points.
                b) It needn’t be sincere. So “You seem touchy” –> “We don’t think you’d be a good fit.”

      10. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        This is a joke, right? (I’m worried I’m misreading it as serious when it may just be a tongue-in-cheek or sarcastic observation.)

      11. That Girl From Quinn's House

        This is the sort of behavior that companies are looking to avoid, though. There are lots of people who cudgel and troll their way through social interactions to avoid or exact revenge for a consequence they do not like, ex: claiming discrimination to get feedback on an interview that they are not entitled to.

        Someone filing a legitimate and reasonable suit is easy to protect against, by comporting yourself professionally. Someone filing a troll suit is harder to protect against, because trolls don’t care about facts and reason, as you show in your comment.

    3. Delta Delta

      I’m a lawyer and I often tell clients not to say x or y, and if they get pushback to say their lawyer said they couldn’t say/do more. It’s good cover and makes someone else the bad guy. Saying nothing is safer than saying anything of substance, and it’s an easier policy to apply broadly. Sounds like the person in this example didn’t exactly get the phrasing right, but my guess is their corporate counsel advised a “say nothing” policy.

      1. TPS Cover Sheet

        I’ve got a nice letter from my previous employer stating they do not provide personal references as per company policy. I do understand why, but if someone refuses me a job due to this, whom should I sue?

        1. Colette

          No one. Why would your response be a lawsuit, rather than providing other references?

        2. fposte

          To expand on Colette’s point, at least in the U.S., nobody owes you a reference. You might be able to sue them if they lie about you (and those lawsuits are why they don’t provide references in the first place), but merely not receiving a favor you’re not owed isn’t grounds for a lawsuit.

          1. Red Swingline Stapler

            Question I am having is, howcome companies can require references, if at the same time they refuse to give them?

            1. Colette

              A lot of companies don’t require references. And even at places that don’t give references, it is possible to get references (such as from managers who have moved on to new jobs)

            2. Antilles

              Because companies are allowed to be hypocritical, just like everybody else.
              Should current employees point this out? Sure! “I’m a little concerned about our new policy against providing recommendations. I recognize the concerns of Legal, but since we’re an [industry leader/well respected small firm/trendsetter/whatever], if we change our current policy to bar recommendations, others would probably take note. So it would likely make it harder for us to hire effectively in the future”. Maybe you can get them to reconsider, maybe you learn that the policy is just for show, maybe it goes absolutely nowhere…but a current employee could make that argument.
              But as a candidate or an ex-employee? Not likely.

        3. Joielle

          What? You might be able to sue someone for giving out false information about you, but you can’t sue someone for not giving out any information about you. Obviously, nobody has a legal obligation to give you a job reference.

          1. Red Swingline Stapler

            That is the question.

            See now the premise is; the prospective employer insists ’as per company policy’ that you provide your previous manager’s name and contact details for a reference. Which I can not do due to ’company policy’, or even if I did, the manager would refer them to the HR, as per ’company policy’… it was one phishing test they did occasionally – giving any information of current or previous employees was a high level security So I really wouldn’t want to get anyone sacked either.

            Now lets say I get a refusal letter due to not being able to provide a personal reference from the previous employer. Which has nothing to do with me – it is two ’company policy’ issues fighting each other. So I am without my own fault, without a job because there is a ’company policy’ that is unfair.

            It is not a case of ”suing” someone rather than a question of who is at fault here?
            – The people asking for something that does not exist.
            – The people not providing something others demand.
            – The person caught in the middle.

            Maybe I should have gotten an insurance policy back in the day this in mind, and should sue myself going to work for that company. There was a case of a man throwing a boomerang and suing himself, so it isn’t totally out left field.

            1. Falling Diphthong

              Very often at AAM the answer is “No, thing you don’t is not illegal.”

              This is one of those times.

            2. Tractactus

              If it’s not a question of suing someone, why was your question “who do I sue”?

              You aren’t making sense. Your comments are increasingly rambling and illogical. Maybe that’s got something to do with why you aren’t getting hired!

            3. fposte

              I think both those policies are overdemanding, but if we say “It’s totally Lumbergh’s fault,” what does that get you? How does fault apportionment solve your problem here? You may be in a situation that you can’t make work. That happens not infrequently in the working world.

              Some companies do offer private unemployment insurance; I’m not sure how else you’d convince an insurance company to write policy for something they don’t cover.

            4. Antilles

              It might be unfair, but legally, both companies have a legally defensible policy.
              1.) Former company is fully allowed to make a policy that they do not provide references. In fact, I don’t think they’re even required to confirm former employment (though the vast majority of companies will even if they don’t provide actual references).
              2.) Hiring company is allowed to set a policy that they only hire employees with verifiable detailed references. That is also completely legal.
              As for what to do as the candidate, the usual advice is to either (a) ask your former co-workers directly since many people ignore that official policy if they’re giving you a glowing recommendation or (b) contact people who have left the company and therefore don’t need to worry about the company policy.

      2. Glomarization, Esq.

        Same: “Feel free to throw your lawyer under the bus on this one.” It’s why they pay us the big bucks.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          Agreed. I always tell the client to blame me. We’re used to taking flak—it’s just part of the job. :)

          (But can I note how exciting it is that people are actually listening to Legal? If only all my clients took my advice!)

          1. Delta Delta

            I know! When a client says, “I did what you advised” my heart soars. Usually it’s, “I know you said _____ but I thought I should _______, so how do we fix this?” That’s less heart-soaring.

      3. Observer

        I’m not a lawyer, but this is pretty much what I thought – they have a policy that was devices by legal, but no one bothered to get the actual messaging right.

      4. TootsNYC

        I’m a lawyer and I often tell clients not to say x or y, and if they get pushback to say their lawyer said they couldn’t say/do more. It’s good cover and makes someone else the bad guy.

        “I have to leave the party now, my mom will kill me if I’m out past 9:47.”

        “I can’t ride home with you, my mom will kill me if I ride with a friend who’s been drinking.”

  16. KayDay

    OP #1 – My general rule for following up is, if a job is a really good “on paper” match (i.e. if the list of requirements and my resume are basically one and the same) I will follow up, but only after the job has closed–by following up before that, you jumped the gun and because of that (a) didn’t get a meaningful response and (b) had used up your only non-desperate follow up. If the posting had said that all applications would recieve a reply, i do think it’s definitely fair to follow up, it was just a bit too early.

    OP #4 – please do tell the employee!!! A previous employer may have asked then to always base time sheets on standard hours rather than actual hours or something like that and they don’t realize you do things differently. I have worked at many different places with many different rules about time sheets, and at this point the only thing that surprises me is that people are surprised when employees fill them out wrong. At one place, I was specifically told during my on-boarding that I should always charge only 8 hours a day (in that job I was non-exempt, but salaried and not authorized to work any overtime) to a single project, as the full budget for my position went to that project. About 3 or 4 months later, our horrified director of finance scolded me for not charging my time exactly (to the quarter hour) and to all the projects I worked on. In my current job, the reverse happened, the time sheet instructions specifically say: “Hours worked must be entered in each cell against each Contract”. Well, no, apparently there is one project code and by using that project code our hours are automatically allocated correctly to the projects that our salaries are based on. I was literally laughed at (in a nice way) for having followed the instructions.

    1. TPS Cover Sheet

      Exactly the same with #4… I was contracting so I had to do at best 4 different timesheets, and all of them were different. In the latest one my own company only ”allowed you to work” 8 hours with a half an hour lunch. I’d signed off my 48-hours overtime, but in any case they wanted a standard week. Then at the client, the projects time was allocated according to the project budgets. So I would ask which project to allocate my time against, as different projects had more slack than the over-budget one I was trying to save… None of which had anything to do with the actual reality of things.

          1. Red Swingline Stapler

            Actually, if there would have been an audit, it would have been a very interesting disciplinary meeting indeed.

            1. Puppet String

              You have a truly fascinating line in bizarre suppositions and alternate histories, you know. I’m not sure if you just have an active imagination combined with a serious persecution complex, or if you are actually merely a liar and fantasist. But either way, there is something seriously wrong with your thought processes, and it’s both intriguing and very sad.

    2. Hamburke

      I was going to say something similar about OP4. I’ve had jobs where I had a paid lunch so only put in my start and stop times, jobs where I only put in the number of hours worked (not times) and jobs where I need to track to the minute for metrics but was salaried. In each case, my supervisor has helped me fill in the first few timesheets.
      Now I’m hourly and have billable hours – im grateful for a timeclock app which my boss did help me with the first week.

    3. NothingIsLittle

      Same thoughts! My current supervisor just has me put in standard hours because if I come in late, I’ll leave late and visa versa. Obviously, if I’m working extra hours for an event she wants me to put those in, but 15 minutes late or an extra-long lunch? Not a problem since she trusts me to make up the time somewhere (which I absolutely do, it’s an awesome perk that I don’t want to jeopardize!)

      That said, one of my temp jobs doing tech support calls needed to be accurate to the minute. (they monitored our bathroom breaks, thank god it was only for a month)

    4. TootsNYC

      If the posting had said that all applications would recieve a reply, i do think it’s definitely fair to follow up, it was just a bit too early.

      I wouldn’t follow up–that’s the classic oblique version of “don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

    5. Artemesia

      Yes. The OP here is responsible for those time sheets. She knows they are not accurate; her own job could be at risk if they are not properly done. She needs to inform her subordinates about how to do this properly and hold them to it.

    6. OP#2

      Thanks. HR meets with new employees to go over timekeeping, leave, benefits, etc., but I guess I need to reiterate…

  17. TPS Cover Sheet

    I wish ”someone would make up their mind” on these follow-ups. I think it is a newer thing, as I get these days reminders from the jobsites I use of my applications and then the emails to where I should contact… like for what reason? It’s like being a creep and sending flowers to someone who already said no for a date. Or are employers playing hard-to-get?

    1. Nanani

      That sounds like the jobsites are trying to be “halpful” and increase engagement despite what the actual humans involved want. Unless your field has different conventions, you should probably NOT follow the job site links and reminders. Your job search isn’t going to gain anything from increasing that site’s engagement metrics.

      1. Falling Diphthong

        Your job search isn’t going to gain anything from increasing that site’s engagement metrics.

        Excellent point about the likely reason for the prompts.

      2. Massmatt

        Good catch, add this to what Alison has said about many job seekers being told to be persistent etc from seemingly reputable sources.

      3. Red Swingline Stapler

        Oh, increasing engagements, you said it. I noticed Totaljobs is now an umbrella for a couple other sites, and if I apply something through LinkedIn, with luck it goes directly to the company or the agency, but then even if it is a job you need to apply at the actual website, most public players like NHS, universities, council etc. only work like this, you sometimes get put through 2-3 different jobsites… it’s a forward-a-rama and you have no clue where you applied for half the time. Nevermind LinkedIn and Indeed, indeed resurrecting zombie adverts. The gov Findajob has this annoying feature as well, but they do say they have a fixed 30-day rotation, so the jobs aren’t resurrected but will still pop up even they have been removed from the original site. The clickbait referrals is annoying enough when you manage to get yourself in a loop trying to buy stuff, but I’d thought jobhunting was a little less prone to this. Nevermind every site has the same CV-rewrite adverts.

      4. Mimmy

        Oooh that might explain the aggressiveness of the job search engine my university uses – it’s called HandShake. I (stupidly) signed up on it recently and I occasionally get emails with jobs matching certain criteria. If I even look at of the jobs but don’t follow through, I’ll get an email reminding me to finish applying.

  18. Dr Useless

    “the qualifications for the position were quite strange and eclectic and I had all of them […] the required skills were such an unusual combination that I don’t think there’d be that many qualified applicants”

    This really stood out to me and I don’t think anyone’s commented on it yet. Often a seemingly odd combination of requirements can indicate that they’ve already got a candidate in mind, but are required (for legal reasons or due to internal rules) to publicly advertise the job. They will then specifically target the ad to the candidate they have in mind to ensure they get to hire the person they want.

    I’m not saying this was necessarily the case here, but it’s something to keep in mind. Obviously that doesn’t change anything about the fact that those were definitely too many follow-up emails.

    1. Gidget

      Absolutely. I once was at an internship where they were trying to write a promotion job ad for one of their senior employees. (Often for fed employees you top out at like GS-13 and then have to apply to higher positions, which are often created for that person) Since the job had to be publicly advertised, they put in things like required to speak X and X language, plus experience working in this very specific area of the world, etc. etc.

  19. Not So NewReader

    OP#4. Some companies are super strict about this. Submitting a request for pay for even 15 minutes more than an employee worked is a huge transgression. It’s called time theft. And it’s a fireable offense.

    He may think that rounding the time is okay. I worked one place that rounding to the next quarter hour was okay. But you had to watch, if you were less than 7 minutes late you could round down to 8:30. If you were more than 7 minutes late you had to round up to 8:45. In the latter example you lost 15 minutes pay.

    Do speak with him and lay out your expectations. Follow up with an email recapping the discussion.

    1. Psyche

      Companies vary so widely in how accurately they want time sheets filled out! I am not hourly but have to fill out a time sheet and HR made me refill it out with standard hours when I tried to indicate that I took half a day off because they will only do full day increments (so the half day didn’t count against my PTO). It seems very likely that the employee in this case may have come from somewhere that did not want to keep track of half hour increments.

      1. Sarah N.

        Agreed that companies are super different! I’ve only worked one job where I filled out timesheets, but my supervisor told me to just fill out 9am-5pm every day regardless (unless I was taking PTO), even if I took a long lunch or flexed my hours to come in/leave early or late. I was still working around 40 hours per week (and wasn’t being asked to do any illegal overtime), but it was just simpler because they didn’t really care down to the minute or anything. I can see if I came from a job like that to a company with stricter rules, I might not realize that unless someone told me! Of course, after you speak to the employee, if the behavior continues, it would then be a big problem. But I’d make sure they actually understand how your company works first.

        1. noahwynn

          I have to do the same. It has something to do with our payroll system and we have to have a timesheet in there or we won’t get paid. Mine is 8am-5pm everyday with an hour break for lunch.

    2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

      #4 – depends on the environment – some people get more done in 6 hours than other people get done in two days.
      If this guy is your superstar/rock star, other than a friendly reminder I wouldn’t say much. If it’s viewed as nitpicking, it can have a negative effect on his performance. And attitude.

      Reminds me of the story of the sales rep who overspent his expense account by $2. Dergus, the accountant, (Fergus’ brother!) reminded the rep of it, who promptly told him, “Dergus, go ***t in your hat. ” Dergus ran to the sales manager “do you, do you know what Snidely just said to me when I reminded him of his overexpenditure? TWO DOLLARS! And he told me to go ***t in my hat!!!”

      The manager pulls out Snidely’s sales record for the month and remarks, “Dergus, go get your hat. And get mine while you’re at it.”

  20. Xarcady

    #4–Unless the OP is very familiar with the company’s rules for non-exempt time cards, she she might want to check them. Some places want time recorded to the exact minute, some want time rounded to the nearest quarter-hour.

    Lunch breaks could be a legal matter if your state has mandated breaks. My state requires a paid 20 minute break and an unpaid 30 minute meal break for any shift that is 5 hours or longer. Smaller employers might get away with the odd shift that doesn’t get a break, but larger employers are audited by the state.

    At my retail job I am often assigned shifts that are 4.75 hours long. If I get caught up belong customers and run over the 5 hour mark, I have to sign a form stating that I did this—no real consequences to me, but the store gets fined by the state.

    Mind you staffing has been cut so much that no one gets to take a 20 minute break, as there’s no one to cover for you, but since we wouldn’t clock out for those, the state has no way of monitoring that.

    1. lnelson in Tysons

      The employee really should be recording his time sheet correctly and clocking in and out for lunch. When I had to fill out a time sheet the only time I didn’t clock in and out for lunch was that the place actually paid for my lunch hour. Yes, this was spelled out in the terms of those temp assignments.
      Agreeing with Xarcady and Not so new reader, if in the US and depending which state you are in, there is no “de minimus” (I think that’s how you spell it) allowance. And if you ever get audited, incorrect time sheet can cost a pretty penny in fines and owed back-pay.
      I have an on-going battle with our California office and trying to get them to correctly fill out their time sheets.

    2. TiffanyAching

      I was coming here to mention the possible required lunch break, too. My state requires (with very narrow exceptions) a minimum 30 minute unpaid meal break if the shift is 6 hours or longer for non-exempt employees. Our non-exempts have to clock out for this time, and continual failure to do so can result in disciplinary action. Employees who aren’t even actually taking the break run us the risk of fines if we’re ever audited/investigated.

  21. Kelly Brown

    I started at a new school years ago. I was a month or so into the job before I found out we could leave on Fridays as soon as any students we were responsible for were gone. Someone noticed I was staying one day and let me know. It was one of those unofficial understood policies. I was the media specialist so I didn’t work closely with anyone else that would have told me.

  22. Purt's Peas

    OP #2 — don’t do it. I have probably the best possible work-with-an-old-friend situation and it’s still wearing thin. In my case, it’s a high school ex-boyfriend(!). But what makes it workable is that we’ve been on very good and yet very distant terms for ten plus years, and neither of us are inclined toward awkward ill-feeling; and we treat each other like pretty good friends and colleagues.

    That is not what you and your friend’s relationship is like–it sounds like you already have some stuff boiling under the surface. I get it, but it sounds like a recipe for a bad time.

  23. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

    #3 – As a new employee I would just work your stated hours, and observe others as Alison said. I’ve been lucky to have worked for many managers who don’t clock watch and trust me to get my job done. They know I will work extra hours when needed, and don’t nitpick when I need to leave early. But you have to build up that trust, so I always go into a new job working my stated hours and get a feel for what my manager expects. It’s definitely worth a conversation with your manager, but I wouldn’t do that right away because they may get the wrong impression (I’d wait at least a month or 2, or until you had a doctor’s appointment or a reason to leave early/come in late one day). Also know that a workplace culture may not be your manager’s style. At my last company, I had one manager who changed her policies on remote work, inclement weather, etc. on a daily basis.

    1. Liz

      Agreed. I work for a company where flexibility is a given. that being said, there are many who take advantage of it all the time, to the point where the joke is are they actually in the office today, or not? I’ve been here 19 years and i only try and come in later or leave early when absolutely necessary. Also, you don’t want to give your new manager or coworkers a bad impression of you.

      We have a fairly recent hire who I swear is out more than she’s in. And based on company policy etc. i’m pretty sure she doesn’t have much, if any, PTO. Not to mention her reasons for being out are well, less than convincing. from what I hear. But I don’t manage her or even work with her, so not my problem. However, it doesn’t give me the best impression of her either. I’ve always been someone when I start a new job, i work as hard as a ican, and try and avoid taking ANY time off, leave early etc. for as long as I can.

    2. Falling Diphthong

      It’s a good point that while OP is watching the manager for cues to the workplace’s norms, manager is watching her for cues to her norms–there are probably many scary tales of agreeing to flexibility for someone on Day 3 and only then finding out that they don’t work well unless they feel like someone is peering over their shoulder.

    3. TootsNYC

      I’m very much a “get the work done, be here when it’s crucial” boss, but I **also** do not want to deal with an employee who is always pushing that boundary. Especially because I want to be lenient–I will resent like hell that you made me have to get all “disciplinarian” on you when I don’t want to be.

      So please don’t ask me right away about how you can skate out of the hours. That will make me worry that I’ve gotten an employee that I’ll have to crack down on from time to time.

      Observe. And then when you have something specific come up, bring it up: “I’m going to have to schedule a plumber–is that something I can do early in the day and then just come in late, or do I need to take official time off?”

      Tie it to a specific need, so that the message you’re sending me is, “I need to manage my life and want to do it in a way that works with my job,” and does NOT send the message, “I like to get out of the office as much as I can, so I’m looking for where the boundary is so I can push right up against it.”

      1. Arjay

        I agree. I think this question may have different answers depending on the circumstances.
        There can be a huge gap in acceptability between leaving early for a doctor’s appointment and leaving early for no reason.
        The amount of acceptable time can vary as well. If I needed to leave one day at 3 for an appointment, that would be fine. And if I decided to skate out 15 or 30 minutes early on a slow Friday, that would usually be ok too. But if I started leaving at 3 on Fridays just to get a jump on the weekend, that could be a problem.

  24. Required Name

    I think OP#1 might have misinterpreted the “all applicants will receive notification” as meaning “You’ll receive confirmation that we got your application,” vs. “We’ll let everyone know when we’ve hired someone and won’t just leaving you hanging” ?

    1. Artemesia

      That is exactly what it means. They already confirmed they got her application. Their promise was that bye and bye they would let her know one way or the other. Well now they have.

  25. mcr-red

    “she’s often joked about how she shuts down any rude clients by refusing to provide X program benefits (which isn’t immoral — it’s a limited-stock perk that her workplace provides to clients — but does rub me the wrong way”

    #2 – I’m just curious, have you ever worked in the customer service industry before? Because you will quickly learn how horribly soul-crushingly rude people can be. The stories I could tell from my experiences in high school and college, and now my daughter’s experiences. If not, go to any store on Black Friday and watch how people treat the cashiers when something doesn’t ring up right.

    So I come back to your comment about your former friend not giving a limited-stock perk to rude people – I don’t blame her. If you can’t treat me like a human being while I’m serving you, no, I’m not giving you the “extra” perk.

    At my job, we have a due date of Monday for certain orders, so I know how many teapots to make for the week. Now, I don’t make the teapots until Wednesday, so technically if an order comes in on Tuesday, I can still sneak it in if I don’t already have a whole lot of order. If you come in and scream at me that you missed the due date and how dare I not know you were busy Monday, then, your order isn’t sneaking in. If you come in on Tuesday and act a bit bummed that you missed the deadline, but it’s no big deal, you can wait, I might be able to sneak your order in.

    1. Rugby

      It sounds like OP’s friend works for a social service agency, not retail. Dealing with rude clients in social services is very different than dealing with rude customers in retail. You generally can’t deny vulnerable people necessary services, even when their rude.

      1. mcr-red

        But OP said it is a limited perk, which doesn’t sound like a necessary service. So to me it sounds like they’re getting the necessary services, just not something extra. Like, I don’t know, a local store gave them so many gift cards to hand out to some of their clients.

      2. OP #2

        You’re correct! It’s a social service agency. I’ve also worked in retail for more than 5 years, and while I very (VERY) much understand not going out of your way for rude customers, I’m a little meh about a social services worker denying benefits to the population they serve. But again, it could be perfectly reasonable for that office– when I wrote in, I was throwing out every detail about the situation that I had.

        1. mcr-red

          Without going into specifics, can you say is this perk is a donation, like my gift card example, or a service, like in my county a certain number of seniors can get reduced cost heating/cooling?

          1. OP #2

            It’s a…donation that assists the clients with obtaining a service? I don’t want to get super specific, but it’s something the clients could technically do without, but it makes it much easier for them to access services provided to them.

            1. mcr-red

              Hmm, OK, I can see it could be problematic.

              I have to say, I’m probably a little too close to the situation in a way, because I have friends and family members that use social services. And it would be nice that my friend Pam, who has an appointment after Dwight, would get the last service available, because Dwight was a terrible jerk to the worker, so he missed out.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch

          There’s a huge difference in social services vs retail, that’s for sure.

          Vulnerable people are often under incredible stress and are tossed around relentlessly. So yeah, that causes a lot of folks to not “remember their manners” and sound hostile at times. When you take into consideration their hardships, you don’t punish them more by denying services.

          Honestly denying services over “well she was rude, so nope” goes against the idea of social aid. These assist usually with human rights and things that should be available to everyone. To deny them for not saying please or acting utterly grateful that by the grace of God, they can get food this month is pretty foul.

          It’s different than a store where someone is being uncivil. Go spend your money elsewhere it’s not with my headache. But I’m not selling medicine or live saving procedures or the only place that you can get food etc. So I have the luxury to demand decent behavior if you want to do business.

          1. mcr-red

            OP said this was a limited-stock perk her would-be coworker wasn’t giving to certain people, not the specific social aid they were going there to get. So her friend isn’t saying, “you didn’t said please, you don’t get your services” she’s saying, “you were unnecessarily rude, I’m not giving you this extra thing that was donated to give to X number of people”. (Which, I’m guessing is a phone or computer from the way she was talking and are things I know sometimes people get through services).

      3. Observer

        True. But there is still a limit. We’ve had clients who we just had to stop serving altogether. We try VERY hard to avoid that, but there is a limit. I’m not going to judge someone who is dealing with something on that border very harshly is they hold back a perk.

        For example, we don’t necessarily stop serving someone the first time they sling a slur at staff (I mean racial, sexual etc.) But are you really going to condemn the victim of that (or even another member of the department who witnessed it) for deciding to to just what is required and not more?

        1. mcr-red

          Yeah, when OP said “rude clients” I was picturing something along the line of what you’re talking about level of rude, not “they didn’t say please or thank you” level of rude.

    2. CM

      I agree, I thought the same thing about the “denying perks” comment. I don’t think it’s a sign that her friend is bad at her job or uncaring or anything, maybe she’s just dealing with unpleasant people and taking a little pleasure in shutting them down. (This could be really situation-dependent though — we don’t know if this “perk” would really make a difference in someone’s life or if it’s just nice to have.)

      Anyway, it sounds like it’s a lot more than that — it’s more that she and her friend have a dynamic that she doesn’t like, and in a 15-person open-plan office they will always be in each other’s faces. In this situation, I’d really hesitate to take the job too.

      1. mcr-red

        If it’s limited-stock, I don’t really know how it could be necessary, you know? Because at some point you run out and won’t get anymore to give, so everyone that comes in after that won’t receive whatever it is!

        1. MissBliss

          Social services orgs may very often have those necessary things as “extra perks,” though. For instance, an organization working with low-income families with infants may not always have diapers, but got a big donation for some reason. If a parent came in for assistance with locating child care, they might also be able to get some free diapers. Diapers are both necessary and expensive, but could be a perk at an organization that doesn’t ordinarily have them to provide.

      2. OP #2

        Oh geez, yes– I didn’t want to paint her as a bad person, or anything like that! I don’t doubt her dedication to her clients. I only mentioned it because I wasn’t sure if it could be a red flag about the workplace itself, because I’ve never worked for an organization that allowed employees to refuse clients services/perks.

        1. Observer

          A lot really depends on the situation. So, for one thing, there may just not be a formal policy – this is a small organization. The expectation is “use your judgement” and her judgement is “I’m not going to go the extra mile for someone this obnoxious.” In that scenario, I would also imagine that she’s never made that official, and if she did say to her boss “going forward I’m going to deny any client who is rude to me perk X” they would say to her “Don’t do that. That’s not how we decide this stuff.”

          Depending on how important this perk is, how often this happens, and how easily she decides to deny it, this in not necessarily a sign that the place is badly managed. (If she’s doing it every couple of days to people who she thinks didn’t greet her respectfully enough, that’s one thing. If it happens every couple of months to people who spew obscenities at her because they don’t like the rules, that’s another.)

    3. Name Required

      I’ve worked in retail, restaurants, and other service-based industries. Obviously, we go out of our way to do favors for our favorite customers … but to make a point of being rude back to rude clients? It feels good in the moment, but isn’t a healthy or productive way to manage your frustrations long-term. OP2’s friend’s behavior rubs me the wrong way, too.

  26. Malty

    #1 just sending some love. I know how I’d feel in your situation and the vibe I got was more of a trying to check the system is working because it stated there would be an email sent either way? It’s really easy from the hiring side to say well obviously the starting date moved but from the candidates side you’ve got very limited concrete information to work with so you want to check you’ve done everything you can especially if it seems like your ideal job and you’re qualified. To then have an expert like Alison essentially say yes you overdid it must feel disheartening, (no dig on Alison, she was asked and she answered!), so just sending some love. Plenty of people have done it, it is rough job hunting and it can be so easy to obsess. Try not to beat yourself up over it. (Unless you took this onboard as feedback for future and I’m just totally projecting!)

  27. Sleeplesskj

    LW1: the best rule is send it and forget it. I just finished a lengthy job search and it was not unusual at all to get a call of interest or a note of rejection MONTHS later.

    1. TootsNYC

      I did that “send it and forget it” thing once. I was absolutely certain they must have hired someone else, because I know my resumé should have made me a shoo-in for an interview at least. (Though, there had been a couple of openings where I’d thought that, and hadn’t gotten called.)

      Six months later, they called, and I’ve been working here for 6 years now.

      The thing is, when you first apply, your application is essentially marketing mail, not quite “junk mail.”

      So they don’t really have much incentive to get back to you; they’ll call if they’re interested.

  28. Heidi

    For OP1: Sometimes the number of emails that are appropriate can be a complicated issue. I definitely have colleagues that are just bad at email and need to be asked more than once to get anything done. Or I have to email them again to get my email back to the top of the Inbox. The primary difference here is that I know this about them and I’ve been told that this is okay. And they know me and trust that I’m not going to pester them for no reason. Now, there is a possibility that your application or your interview request got lost accidentally (I once had someone mistype my email address, for instance). However, this isn’t very likely and sending multiple emails to someone who doesn’t know you and can’t be sure you have reasonable boundaries probably will just create a bad impression.

  29. MommyMD

    If you want the job, take the job. Politely tell friend before you start, you want to keep friendship and work separated. You don’t work for her if you accept the position. Do good work and establish firm but polite boundaries. She may balk a bit but so what. She’s not that good a friend if she does.

  30. shh isa secret

    OP #2 –

    ” I’ve known my childhood friend (and potential new coworker) since we were toddlers. Our friendship now is more based on shared history than an actual meshing of personalities/adult interests,”

    Thank you, thank you , thank you. I have had this weird feeling about a friend I grew up with and you put my feelings into words.

    For what its worth, I wouldnt want to work with my friend either. I would steer clear and put your mental health first.

  31. Sharikacat

    LW #4, If he’s taking his 30-minute lunch break but not clocking out, that’s hurting the company more than just the extra half-hour of paid time. That gives the appearance on paper that the company is violating labor laws that require him to have a 30-minute break from work. The 5-10 minutes coming in late or leaving early might not be a huge problem (one of my workplaces had the timeclock round to the nearest quarter-hour, but thinking back, that probably wasn’t legal as someone coming in 5 minutes early was paid for the same start time as someone 5 minutes late).

    The company might not care to about losing a little on the fringes, but several hours per week is something they probably will care about, especially if he’s not clocking out for mandatory breaks. That conversation isn’t about potential medical issues, but if he brings one up that is relevant, then you can determine how to accommodate.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      5 minutes early =8am
      5 minutes late =8am is legal.

      The rule is it has to be by 7. So then 7 minutes early =7:45 and 7 minutes late =8:15. It’s to make sure it’s not only in the employers favor.

      Some states allow for meal period waivers as well. It states you’re given ample time to eat while working so waive you’re 30 minute meal period.

      But otherwise most places do want a documented rest and meal period for exactly why you’ve started. That’s why OP should chat with HR about their standards and requirements to make sure if they’re not. We have it in our handbook so it’s a hard “clock it or you’ll be disciplined and eventually terminated for this stuff.”

    2. OP#2

      Thanks for the information. My state doesn’t require breaks, and this person isn’t taking a lunch break. It’s usually a break mid-morning and mid-afternoon in which he takes his phone and disappears for half an hour, maybe to the bathroom, maybe somewhere else?

      1. bonkerballs

        Just because he’s not eating or not breaking right at noon doesn’t mean it’s not a lunch break. If he’s disappearing to play on his phone for half an hour mid-morning, that’s still a lunch break.

  32. The Man, Becky Lynch

    #1 It was bad enough to email 3 times. It’s even worse to have sourced other email addresses to follow up to. That’s what would have gotten you removed from candidacy. You’re now dragging others into the circle and that’s when you get the heads tilting even harder with a “wtf we list the jobs@ email on the ad, follow directions or gtfo.”

  33. SheLooksFamiliar

    OP 1 – I’m in corporate staffing, and just started looking for a new role myself. I understand how hard it is to wait for news. Even so, these comments really stood out to me:

    I wanted to restate my interest in the position.
    I was worried that there might have been some problem with my application.
    …but this company specifically said that all applications would receive a reply, so when I didn’t get one, I thought there might have been a problem.

    First, the ‘just re-stating my interest and checking in case there’s a problem’ tone worked against you. ‘Just checking!’ fools no one; as Alison said, you knew your application was received, so there was no problem to ‘check.’
    More worrisome: the employer promised follow up, but you wouldn’t wait for one. This is a pet peeve of mine: I’ve told candidates that our process was going to be delayed for X number of weeks due to hiring manager vacations, business travel, even medical leaves, and that I would reconnect with them the week of HM’s return. A few days later, the candidate emails or calls to see if there’s an update. I repeat myself, and a few days later they check in again. You can imagine how this approach makes employers wonder if you’ll bulldoze their team if you don’t get what you want on your particular timeline.

    As hard as it is, OP, be patient. Show employers you understand business norms. Professional behavior serves you far more than ‘just checking!’ emails. Good luck to you!

    1. Granger

      “This is a pet peeve of mine: I’ve told candidates that our process was going to be delayed for X number of weeks due to hiring manager vacations, business travel, even medical leaves, and that I would reconnect with them the week of HM’s return. A few days later, the candidate emails or calls to see if there’s an update. I repeat myself, and a few days later they check in again.”

      !!!! PLEASE for the love of Pete STOP CONTACTING ME!

  34. Jennifer

    #1 Yes, you did. A week isn’t very long to wait for a response. I know that the automated response said every applicant would get an answer, but I’ve applied to postings that said that and never heard anything back. At that point, they had never met you and had no obligation to contact you at all. That makes people wonder what it would be like to work with you. You know for next time.

    #2 I do understand your apprehension but I must say if I were your friend I’d be a bit annoyed that I put in a good word for you and helped get you hired at my workplace when you never mentioned these reservations to me. I know that doesn’t change anything now but it’s something to consider for the future. If I were you, I’d accept the job, but have a conversation with my friend about setting some professional boundaries at work. No childhood stories! You can’t really change how she feels about her job or the community she serves.

  35. Usually Lurks, Sometimes Comments

    Regarding #1:
    I think it is important to remember that workplace norms and unspoken rules are learned and some people have a distinct disadvantage in this arena. The rules and norms people are automatically supposed to know are actually taught. Depending on your background or environment, you might not know the “rules” that other people learned. So I think it is really unfair to discard applications based solely on the person annoying you. If they are an otherwise good candidate, this shouldn’t be the thing that prevents them from getting hired or pushes them into the reject pile. Stuff like this can reinforce systemic inequality as it is likely to disproportionately affect minorities. It just seems like too harsh a response when this is the kind of behavior that can be coached and since pushiness can be sussed out throughout other parts of the hiring process. Especially considering following up is advice that’s often given.

    1. Usually Lurks, Sometimes Comments

      Obviously, I don’t know the situation LW1 found herself in, but I think it’s something to remember from the other side of things for the folks saying they’d automatically disqualify someone based on three emails alone.

      LW1, I’m sorry this position didn’t work out for you.

    2. Granger

      @Usually – I LOVE your handle!

      You’ve made a good point here, but let’s assume you’re right and the candidate needs coaching in office norms – wouldn’t that just leave the hiring manager with more questions about what other norms the candidate is going to need coaching? That’s a lot for a manager to willingly take on for an unknown candidate (unless it was an internship or something).

  36. Anne

    OP1 sounds like she sent four, not three emails. “I thanked her…and restated my interest.” As others have said, send it and move on. Sending good luck vibes.

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