my boss blocked me on LinkedIn, boss is giving me bad medical advice I don’t want, and more

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

1. My recent boss blocked me on LinkedIn

A week ago, I had it with my former manager. I was the team lead for our small team of seven, and during my 10 months on the job she was condescending, abrasive, close-minded, a huge bottleneck, and extremely high-strung. It caused me to take quite a few mental health days with my sick time, and when she was gone for three weeks in Europe on a vacation a month ago, I realized how much I enjoyed being without her. Things came to a breaking point when one team member didn’t do one of his responsibilities — which is understandably upsetting — but she started yelling and berating him and three team members reported the incident to me and how uncomfortable it made them.

I asked her manager if I could switch departments, and he graciously allowed the move (he is aware that my manager is hard to work with, having had other people who work directly with her voice the same complaints). She didn’t take my leaving very well, to say the least, yelling at her manager for allowing me to move and removing me from all private channels of communication on our primary internal IM system (Slack). I’m the number one performer on our team; I often go above and beyond what I’m called to do and I juggle multiple tasks.

I now just discovered that she has blocked me on LinkedIn. She is a 35-year-old professional, and while she may not have liked that I work for another team now I certainly don’t think that’s cause for blocking a former colleague. Should I just take the high road? Why do bad managers like this exist and continue to exist?

I was going to say just leave it alone — she can be connected to anyone she wants on social media, and while it comes across as spectacularly petty and immature (and that she’s really ill-equipped to be a manager), ultimately it’s not something your employer should order her to change.

However. It raises concerns for me about what she’d do if asked to give a reference for you, which could happen in the future even if you don’t explicitly list her as one. So given that, it’s potentially worth you saying something to her manager (the one who helped you switch departments and thus seems to be sympathetic and/or on your side), “Jane has now blocked me on all private channels of communication on Slack — and also on LinkedIn. Leaving aside the general weirdness of this, I’m concerned about how it indicates she might handle, for example, future reference requests about me. I’m certainly willing to wait and see if she cools off if you think that’s the best thing, but her vitriol seems so intense that I’m worried she won’t accurately represent my work in the future. I’d want the company to ensure that doesn’t happen.”

2. My boss keeps giving me questionable medical advice I don’t want

I found out a few months ago that I’m BRCA positive. This is a genetic mutation that raises my chance of several cancers high enough that I need to be checked for them frequently. Because of this, for the last two months, I’ve been averaging a half day a week off work so I can make appointments. I am also planning on having a double mastectomy and a hysterectomy.

I’ve only informed my boss that I’m having medical issues, because I don’t see a need to tell my coworkers, but my boss has decided that I need to hear her opinion about everything regarding my health and personal choices. She disagrees with my choice to have a mastectomy, she thinks that cancer is caused by negative emotions, she’s concerned that I’m having a hysterectomy before having children. I could go on and on.

Is there a polite way to shut this down without burning a bridge? I’ll admit, I’m very tempted to just say “This is my body and I did not ask for your opinion.”

Yes, you can and should shut it down — she’s being wildly inappropriate and, frankly, offensive.

The next time she starts, say this: “I’d rather not discuss my medical situation at work. I’m handling with my doctor.” If she keeps it up: “I really don’t want to discuss my personal medical situation at work” followed by an immediate subject change. (Or you could instead follow it by a pointed look and an awkward silence before the subject change.) Repeat as needed. If it becomes necessary, you could also say, “I’ve realized I shouldn’t have shared as much as I did about my medical situation. I feel strongly that I don’t want to discuss it at work. Going forward, I’ll of course keep you in the loop about what time I need off for medical appointments and procedures, but I don’t want to discuss my personal medical details any further.”

Also, definitely don’t give her any more specifics, just info on the time you’ll need off. For example, when you schedule the mastectomy, just let her know you’ll need X amount of time off “for a medical procedure.”

3. My client is always late paying me

I work right now as a contractor for a creative agency. There were always issues with my invoices, but it’s not getting resolved. I’ll send an email with an invoice and every single time I have to go back and remind them to pay me. It’s a great company and I’m the only staff not on actual salary, and I’m starting to get frustrated that I can’t send an invoice without having to go back a second time and ask them to please pay me.

How can I broach this? It’s embarassing to be in a position where I can’t ride out their inconsistencies, I don’t have a credit card and I feel legitimate stress anytime I have to go back and be like, hey, did you get my invoice? Sometimes they say they missed it, sometimes they apologize, but I eventually always get paid. I guess I’m just bothered because everyone else has a salary and health insurance and they can’t just seem to bother with my pay, or even send me a quick “got your invoice” email back and I have to keep going back to them. I will add, in this office a “read receipt” on email would come across as kind of hostile / weird since we can all talk to each other — it’s just that talking to them hasn’t changed anything. I feel insecure about all of it.

First, there’s absolutely nothing embarrassing about wanting to get money that you’re owed in the timeframe you that were promised it. You could be dripping in money and it would still be appropriate for you to follow up on late invoices as soon as they were late, because that’s just how business works — people need to pay you according to the terms they agreed to. (And really, there is nothing embarrassing about not being dripping in money either. If you’re chasing down invoices with more urgency because you can’t pay a bill this month otherwise, that just makes their delays more egregious — it doesn’t say anything negative about you.)

Anyway, address the pattern with them: “I’m finding that my invoices are always late and don’t get paid until I follow up with a reminder. What can we do so that they’re paid on time without me chasing them down?” It’s possible that just saying this will shame them into being better. But if it doesn’t, I’d just assume you’re always going to need to issue a reminder, put it on your calendar for a couple of days before the invoice is due, and just automatically send it every time. Figure it’s part of the package of working for them and try to take the emotion out of it.

You could also try building late fees into your contract with them. That may or may not be realistic depending on the relationship, but consider that the next time your contract is being renewed. (If it’s not realistic, consider just building in the late fee to whatever your normal fee for them is — they won’t know it’s a late fee, but you will.)

4. Sloppily written emails from a professional contact

I’ve been corresponding with a guy who works for a large national bank. His emails are riddled with punctuation, spelling, and grammatical errors, and it’s tough to take his correspondence seriously as a result. I asked him what his role is with the company (I had to — he has no signature on his emails) and he said he’s a “personal banker.”

The lack of proper writing skills is so egregious that I feel it should be addressed. Would you recommend contacting his higher-ups to bring it to their attention? They may not even be aware of his poor written communication skills, and it reflects poorly on this brand. If one of my team members were sending emails that were as ill-constructed as his, I would want to know!

Is it interfering with your ability to understand him or get what you need from him? If not, I’d leave it alone. If his managers don’t pay enough attention to his work to know about this, that’s on them.

That said, if it’s severe enough that you don’t feel confident working with him, that’s a different situation. In that case, you can indeed ask for a different rep and can explain the clarity of his writing is getting in the way of you getting what you need.

5. Should I make business cards to bring to a career fair?

I’m a masters student who is finishing up her degree. I am going to be attending several job and career fairs in the upcoming months and wondered what the protocol was for them. Some websites say that you should bring business cards whereas others say that recruiters and companies are just going to throw them out. I’m hesitant to spend $20+ on business cards if they are just going to be thrown in the recycling bin. What’s your say on this? Are business cards necessary for career fairs or should I just bring my resumé?

I’ve literally never once consulted a business card given to me by a job applicant. Don’t waste your money.

Resumes are what you want to give out — they have all the information on them that someone at a career fair will want about you. If you just give them a business card, they’ll have your name and contact info and nothing that’s actually relevant to them figuring out if they want you bring you in for an interview.

{ 357 comments… read them below }

  1. bookartist

    LW #3 – If you feel comfortable saying this, I suggest adding something like, “C’mon folks, this isn’t a surprise that every month you get my invoice.” to Alison’s script.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      I’m not sure I’d use that script, as it may come off as more sarcastic/exasperated or hostile than intended. But I do like Alison’s suggestion of adding in late fees, and I was going to suggest that OP#3 do the same.

      1. JSPA

        Give them a “discount for early payment.” (After you bounce up your standard fee to “late fee” levels.) Unless that makes your taxes more complex, of course–not sure about the legalities, but I do know that people will jump through hoops to get a discount, and thank you for the opportunity, while they’ll moan and resent a late fee. Funny thing, the human mind, right?

        1. Ron McDon

          That’s a great idea.

          My husband and I always pay our bills as soon as they come in (too many occasions where I’ve put them aside to pay later then forgotten!), but we love the fact that his accountant gives a 5% discount for prompt payment – so much nicer and more effective than late fees.

        2. Girr

          My partner, who owns a small machining shop, does this with some of his clients. The price quoted is Actual Quote + potential late fee. If paid within 30 days, there’s a discount where amount due is just Actual Quote.

        3. londonedit

          This is possibly ‘not everyone can have sandwiches’ territory, but I used to get this advice a lot when I was freelancing, and it’s just not a thing you can do in some industries. The way it works in my industry is that the client tells the freelancer their budget for the job, and while there is a little room for negotiation (if for example you get halfway through the job and realise it’s a mess that’s going to take you an extra 10 hours to sort out) generally the fee is the fee. If they’d given me a budget of £250 and I invoiced for £300 you can bet they’d come back to me and ask what the heck I was doing, and it would definitely reflect poorly on me as a freelancer. Now I’m working on the other side of things again, if I had a freelancer who was routinely adding extra money on to their invoices, or who routinely complained that the budget I’d given them wasn’t enough (without good reason), I’d definitely think twice about working with them in the future.

          1. John Thurman

            I think the suggestion implies communication. Like if the client wants something done for $250 you need to tell them “There is a fee for late payment” or “I would charge $300, but I can discount it to $250 for early payment” but it only works if you put it in the initial contract.

          2. Mystery Bookworm

            I mean, if you’re not paying your freelancers on time, then that seems like a perfectly good reason for them to charge a late payment fee, assuming such a thing was laid out in the contract. I’m a little unclear on your sense that the fee is just being added arbitraily.

            1. londonedit

              My point is that as a freelancer, in my industry, I am not in a position to add a late fee if the company I’m doing the job for is late paying me. I don’t set my rates; the company tells me in advance the fee they will pay for the work. ‘This book is 75,000 words in length and we have £400 available in the budget for the copy-edit’. So I can’t then go back to them after I’ve done the work and say sorry, you were late, I’m charging you an extra £50. That’s not how it’s done.

              I guess I could build a potential late fee into the overall fee that I negotiate in the first place, but that’s not generally how things work either, and if it means I get a reputation for always trying to negotiate the fee upwards, or a reputation for never being happy with the fee offered (or if I’m the only one doing this and everyone else accepts the fee without negotiating) then that’s going to make people less likely to want to hire me to do a job for them.

              1. Lynn Marie

                Do you not have a signed contract before you commence work? That sounds . . . unwise. I don’t understand.

                1. londonedit

                  These are very small jobs. Copy-editing one manuscript, proofreading one book. You sign an agreement to do that one job, yes, but you don’t have ‘a contract’. When you sign the agreement, you agree the terms, but the terms really come from the publishing company’s side. They say we want you to copy-edit this book, it’s £75,000 words, the fee is £400, we need it back by 12 August. And you sign that agreement. They don’t come to me and say ‘what would you charge for this’, so I don’t have an opportunity to say ‘well my rate is usually £20 an hour, but you have a history of paying late so I’d like to charge £22 an hour for this job’. Occasionally people do pay hourly, but again, the publisher sets the hourly rate that they will pay for editing/proofreading. Yes, in that case the freelancer can (and does) add on a couple of extra hours to the fee, but anything too much and the publisher will definitely query it.

                  I can absolutely say ‘Hmm, looking at this, I think £400 might be a little low as a fee – could we go up to £450?’ but as I said, if I’m always doing that, it’s going to make the in-house editor who’s booking me think ‘Ugh, I would use londonedit but she ALWAYS complains about the fee and it makes it really awkward, I’ll use Jane instead, she never tries to haggle’.

                  I mean…no, it’s not great. But it’s how things tend to work. Publishing companies don’t have much money and they’re stingy about how much they pay in-house and freelance staff.

                2. Anonymous Editor

                  Co-signing londonedit on this. I worked as a freelance book editor for over a decade and this is the way it works. You agree on a fee (or the company has a standard fee you agree to work for or not), and that’s what you get. It would be wildly out of line with industry norms to tack on a late fee, and unfortunately, many publishers pay late. I have told clients beforehand that I will offer a discount for early payment (setting a date that constitutes as early) and it works really well to get payments in a timely way. This won’t work for all publishers though.

              2. sofar

                Based on your follow-up, it looks like I work in your industry, too. I’ve worked on both sides (freelancer and full-time employee who manages freelancers). And you’re right — we have a very standard contract for freelancers. The payment amount can be negotiated, but the terms cannot. Freelancers who would try to negotiate things like “If you pay me early it’s this much, if you pay late, it’s this much” would be met with, “No, sorry, we don’t do that.”

                Late fees and early-payment discounts might fly in some industries, but does not at my company.

          3. Colette

            I think the concept is that when you agree to do the job for $250, you offer a discount of 5% if they pay early (so you would actually get $237.50). In order to do that, you need to make sure that you are OK with being paid 95% of what you agree to do the job for.

            So you wouldn’t bump up the price when you invoice, you would negotiate to do the job for slightly more than you actually want to make.

        4. Not So NewReader

          Yep. My oil company gives incentives for prompt payment. You can either use a budget plan with regular payments or you can pay in full each time there is a deliver (with a given number of days) and they will deduct x% off your total delivery.

          Then they have break points of anything past due for 30 days, 60 days and 90 days. The further out you go on this scale the more the late fees are. Granted it’s not a huge amount of money for the late fee but it does help motivate people to pay attention.

        5. Anon for this

          I was going to suggest this as well. I work with payables and frequently we are instructed to push back invoices as far as we can (typically at least 2 weeks past the due date). Anything that doesn’t include a late charge is going to get pushed back. If something has a discount for early payment, then we’ll make it a priority so we can save money. I’ve sadly worked several places with cash flow issues.

          I’d try with the next contract saying you are raising your rates plus 2-3 percent, but you will discount (by however much you raise it) if the invoice is paid within (whatever time frame makes sense). 10 days is really common, but if they should already be paying that quickly, then shorten it however it works for you.

          1. Important Moi

            This sounds like a greater offense that someone sounding sarcastic/exasperated or hostile for wanting to be paid in timely manner for their work.

            1. ChimericalOne

              I don’t think that’s offensive at all. One (sarcasm) is personal* while the other (adjusting your fees to better manage your own cash flow) is entirely business. Organizations do this all the time. The OP wouldn’t be doing it as a “jab” at them — she’d be raising her rates to compensate for the additional time she’s left waiting (time is quite definitely money), and offering a discount to incentivize faster payment (because faster payment eliminates the need).

              *Sarcasm is personal because it imputes a person’s competence to say, “C’mon, guys, this isn’t a surprise” — the implication is, “What, are you dumb or something?” Better to simply be matter of fact about what you need to sustainably do business with them.

              1. Lynn Marie

                I agree. It’s business. Decide what you’re willing to do for how much; structure it to discount for early payment and/or charge for late payment. They either agree to your terms or they don’t. Nobody gets offended over this stuff.

              2. Bookartist

                That’s funny because I had that scene from I guess it was the first Captain America movie in mind, where Cap is performing overseas and the audience is mocking him – he says essentially the same thing, “C’mon guys, we’re all on the same side here.” Not sarcasm, just a hurt and gently chastising tone.

                1. Glitsy Gus

                  Yeah, this is 100% going to depend on the OP’s personal relationship with the accounting department, but if you are friendly enough it can work. “Dude, Jane, work with me here. I always send this on the 15th, what do you need me to do to get it paid on time?”

                  If you know Jane pretty well, this can work great, if you don’t know Jane from Adam, it might not fly so well, especially if this is the first time you’re bringing up the issue.

          2. Rugby

            Your company purposely pays invoices at least 2 weeks late?! That’s awful, especially for freelancers.

            1. Artemesia

              Could be worse. We have the sterling example of a businessman who doesn’t pay contractors or pays them half and then tells them to sue. Works for him.

            2. Michaela Westen

              The corporate way – hang on to every penny as long as possible to earn that much more interest from the bank… who cares if freelancers and small businesses are hurting waiting for that money?

        6. Marina

          Never do this. Your rate is your rate. I tell clients up front that it’s 30 days net, and 10% added after 30 days.

    2. A Simple Narwhal

      While the idea of charging people late fees for non-payment is a good one, it isn’t always that simple. I read a really good piece recently by journalist Wudan Yan, where she chronicles the struggles she experienced trying to get money she was owed from various publications. It was absolutely insane, and she was even threatened with blacklisting simply because she asked for the money she was (over)due:

      wudanyan (dot) com/late-fee

      Not that I ever thought it was easy for freelancers to get paid, but this definitely opened my eyes to some of the insane hoops they have to jump through.

      1. pancakes

        It’s maybe worth checking local laws. In NYC we finally have the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, which took effect in 2017. In some circumstances employers have to pay double damages for infringing it. It’s not perfect but it’s a start.

    3. Mama Bear

      LW3 can also use a service that reminds them. I used to use FreshBooks and it would send a formal email/invoice to clients and remind them that per the contract they had x time to submit payment. It helped me get paid by a tardy client when the project went sour and they stopped responding to my emails. Secondarily, though I don’t suspect that the LW wants to ditch this business, it is not uncommon for companies to be put on a freeze for late payments or for contracts to end. I was once laid off b/c the company kept invoicing the client after the end of their fiscal year. The client ditched our company for one who understood fiscal year end. LW needs to remind the client that they have bills to pay, too, and whatever contractual obligation they agreed to. If a freeze or upfront payment is going to be required, tell them. I always had that they would pay within 30 calendar days of receiving the invoice.

  2. Ron McDon

    LW4 – does this person you’re corresponding with actually work at the bank?! This sounds like the emails people get from scammers pretending they work for a particular company …

    1. The Bimmer Guy

      It doesn’t sound like that’s the case. It sounds like the LW was paired with a real bank employee due to some kind of business relationship between themself and the bank, based on the letter’s title of “professional contact.”

      But it has a higher chance of biting the LW if they go above his head to report him to his superiors for having poor communication skills.

      1. valentine

        does this person you’re corresponding with actually work at the bank?!
        I wonder as well, because of the lack of skills/signature and “personal banker”.

        1. Enough

          Personal banker is not an unusual title. It would be an employee who handles advising (selling) you their services.

          1. The Other Dawn

            Exactly. The title “personal banker” simply (usually) means “teller.” At my previous bank, that’s what we called the tellers. Sometimes it might mean “customer service representative” or “new account representative.” Seems like every bank calls them something different.

            1. Busy

              Yeah. My ex worked in the banking industry. “Personal Banker” is another title for “Teller”. OP is communicating with a Teller, which is typically an entry-level position.

              1. DCR

                That varies by bank. I know of at least one where a personal banker is the person who sits at a desk and helps people open new accounts, do bank transfers, answers questions about accounts, etc. not necessary a position that requires experience, but it is not a teller

                1. Clisby

                  Yes, that’s the case at my bank. For example, one of the personal bankers handled wiring our mortgage payoff to the lending bank. The tellers mostly handle deposits and withdrawals.

                2. On a pale mouse

                  That’s the case at my bank, though the last two times I’ve been in there, someone at a desk helped me with regular teller stuff (ordinary checking account deposit / withdrawal). Not sure if they are flattening the hierarchy, or if the changing business means the personal bankers don’t have enough to do so they’re saving teller hours by having them do both.

                3. Cringing 24/7

                  Agreed – at both of the banks I’ve worked at and all 3 of the banks my spouse has worked at tellers ran transactions and personal bankers opened accounts.

            2. ThatGirl

              Not where I’ve banked – a “banker” is actually a higher up position than a teller, and handles things like setting up IRAs (for example).

            3. KnittyGritty

              +1 for the new accounts representative. Back in the stone age when I was a bank manager, “personal bankers” opened new accounts and handled low level customer service issues. Tellers were separate.

          2. Anna

            Also, a title doesn’t magically confer the ability to type, spell, use punctuation, or do any other arbitrary skill defined as professional.

        2. Anon for this

          I used to work for a BIG bank and they had personal bankers that were assigned to just a handful of VIP customers with a large amount on deposit/invested and they handled every aspect of banking for them. I have also seen it mean teller or new account rep like others have mentioned. Bank titles vary so much from one institution to another.

    2. PollyQ

      Good question. I’ve heard that scammers deliberately put language errors in their come-ons, on the theory that people who are bothered by them are less likely to buy the scam, so it’s a good way to weed them out. (No idea if that’s true though.)

      It wasn’t clear to me from her statement “I’ve been corresponding with a guy who works for a large national bank” whether she had a business or personal relationship with him, or how they connected in the first place.

      1. Chocolate Teapot

        When we had our email phishing dectection training at work, one of the points made was that poor writing/spelling is a major giveaway of a phishing scam. Another clue is when the logo in the address footer isn’t quite right. (e.g. Bank of New Yrok)

        1. Works in IT

          It’s not ALWAYS a red flag, but typos can be a sign that the people running the campaign are trying to get around a spam filter. It is very much not in their best interest to intentionally alert some of their attempted targets, because if they do that, the people who recognize the attack will report it.

          It’s also very true that it takes TIME to go over an email with a fine toothed comb to ensure it looks absolutely perfect, and unless they’re doing a more targeted spear phishing attack, the people who send these emails are relying more on quantity of messages sent out in the hopes that one or two gullible victims will fall for it than the quality of the messages.

          I say this while working on a BEAUTIFUL phishing email that looks absolutely real and official looking that I’ve been asked to have ready to add to our testing program. It is definitely going to be a lot harder to catch than the generic look at all the typos phishing emails.

          1. The Other Dawn

            My previous bank’s ISO had a lot of fun crafting phishing test emails. Some were very difficult to catch unless you were a fan or Marvel comics or something similar.

            1. Works in IT

              Yup. Making phishing emails is fun! You have to match them to what time of the year it is, and what current events are happening.

    3. Bilateralrope

      I’m think he works for the bank, but maybe not in the position he claims.

      Whatever the case, sloppy communication doesn’t look good for the bank. Especially with the risk of the bank being liable if he miscomunicates something.

    4. Andrea

      This was my thought as well. It is a huge red flag, especially if there is also no siguture with a logo

      I also do d it odd that they are emailing. Whenever I’ve had to writeto my bank I’ve had to use he secured message center on there banks website /app. I get an email that I have a message but to view the message I have to log in. If I were the op I would definitely look at the bank and possibly call their customer support.

      1. Triplestep

        Google the term “Personal Banker” to see what they do. They are a step up from Teller, and if you go into a retail bank branch to change a thing about your account (or open a new one) it’s likely one will help you. They are allowed to e-mail you if you provide your e-mail address, and have to follow strict protocol about what kind of information they cannot include in an e-mail. I am guessing the secure system you describe is not used when you’re dealing with someone at a retail bank branch who you have met in person – more like how you deal after calling customer service, or logging into your bank’s internet banking site.

          1. Anna

            She is. Everyone here talking about it possibly being a scam are purposefully looking for a crime where none was committed.

            1. Blossom

              Scammers can target people at work too. For example, a common scam is to impersonate the employer’s boss and ask for money to be transferred to a certain account. It’s certainly not beyond the realms of possibility that a scammer could pose as a bank employee and target someone working in finance, say. (though I know the OP has since commented to explain that this person is legit)

      2. Kim, No Longer Esq.

        Eh, I email with my bankers all the time (for the account for my workplace, not a personal account). Almost all my banking business is handled over regular email. They’ll send sensitive forms over the secured message center but I have a person who is my specific contact at the bank, who I reach out to with any concerns. I had this at a previous job too; not super uncommon, especially for business accounts.

    5. Blossom

      Exactly my thought! I suggest checking confidentially with the bank how you can verify that you’re speaking with a genuine representative of their company.

      1. Allypopx

        I agree. And this helps side-step the loss of face for “reporting” his communication issues to higher ups. It’s a genuine concern and something to check on. Particularly in banking they understand “better safe than sorry”.

    6. Triplestep

      I used to work at major US bank (not in financial services; I planned/designed bank branches) and “Personal Banker” is a real, retail banking job. You can google it and see the basic responsibilities and qualifications, but is basically a step up from Teller and does not require any college. So it could be that this person does not have a lot of experience writing, nor have they received a lot of critique for their writing.

      Lw4, this is not a “Financial Advisor”, and based on what I know, I am guessing they are corresponding with you because you opened an account, or are changing from one kind of an account to another, etc. You are not having to trust this person with investment advice, or long term financial planning. Given the low the stakes on your end, I am not sure why you care so much about this person’s writing. And since “Personal Banker” jobs tend to be a rung on the ladder for lots folks who land in retail banking, I would rest assured that someone in this person’s reporting line is aware of his or her skills.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        For many of us, bad writing skills are like fingernails on a chalkboard.

        1. Falling Diphthong

          Sure, but also something you will encounter in life, that is not on you to fix.

          I think LW may be thinking “highly trained financial professional” when “entry level service job” is more accurate. Just ask them to handle your basic banking functions and move on.

        2. Triplestep

          There’s an implied “But” before your comment, so I feel compelled to answer “And? So?” It changes nothing about what I wrote.

    7. Dana B.S.

      Yeah, I didn’t set up my email signature at any of my jobs except for when I worked at a small start-up – though I was given a template and expected to have it. IT always presets everyone’s signatures to be consistent.

      1. Knotty Ferret

        Neither LargeCorp Financial Institution nor SmallBank, my last 2 employers, had email signatures set up by IT. SmallBank recently sent out a request that we follow a provided template, but many employees haven’t made the change. While it’s a good idea for IT to set this up when creating the email address, it’s definitely not “always” or a automatic sign of a scam.

        1. Michaela Westen

          It’s a good idea because I don’t have time to do it myself. When my company changed their logo and wanted everyone to add it to their signature I added the words, but I don’t have time to futz around with getting the image, pasting it, sizing it, making sure the format doesn’t change when it’s sent somewhere…

    8. LW4

      LW4 here. Yes, the person really works at the bank. The company I work for is updating signature cards for all accounts, and this is the person who reached out to me following my initial email to this particular bank. No matter what the level of responsibility, this employee has no concept of proper email communication. While we are not exchanging sensitive information via email, there is still business being conducted between us. The “nails on a chalkboard” reference is right on. Even though I can get the gist of the messages, the fact of the matter is that this person is representing a huge bank, and is coming across as totally uneducated. It’s a turn-off to exchange communications with someone who is in a profession where exactness is a standard, but the emails say things like, “okay I can get them to you if you want will friday work for more signatires okay lets see!” And that’s one of the better written ones.

      1. valentine

        It’s a turn-off to exchange communications with someone who is in a profession where exactness is a standard, but the emails say things like, “okay I can get them to you if you want will friday work for more signatires okay lets see!” And that’s one of the better written ones.
        This is atrocious. (But I don’t mind actual nails on a chalkboard.) Report this guy. It’s hurting the business.

      2. cmcinnyc

        Yeah, I wouldn’t put up with that. You’re working on a fairly large project that affects a large number of your employees, and this person’s poor skills are making you doubt that it’s going to get done right. I’d forward the next sloppy email to someone higher up and ask the project to be reassigned to someone whose writing skills give me confidence that my needs are understood and my job is being handled properly.

        1. Sarah N.

          Agreed — I would not have confidence that someone with this level of writing wouldn’t make a serious error in whatever job they are actually performing for your company. And then you have even more issues to deal with! I would just ask for a different representative to handle the account.

      3. dramallama

        It sounds like what most people are saying; you’re dealing with an entry level customer service employee. You’re also being kind of a jerk about it. Do you also ask to speak to the management if your server has a thick accent? Because I see that as equivalent here: if it doesn’t actually affect you but you think your annoyance is a good reason to get someone lower than you in the pecking order shamed or possibly fired.

        1. Anna

          I kinda agree. There’s something a little “I want to speak to your manager” about this.

        2. New Jack Karyn

          There’s a difference between an accent and someone whose work emails are this bad. This isn’t a spelling or punctuation error or two; this is a lot of carelessness in a brief note.

          1. Sarah N.

            I agree, it’s not being a jerk to expect people to do very baseline level things that are a typical part of their job. Like, it would be jerky to complain about someone’s accent, but what if they literally do not speak the language they are supposed to be conducting business in AT ALL? That’s sort of what you’re dealing with here. This person didn’t just have one or two typos. They don’t seem to have any sense of appropriate written communication in a professional environment and have not done even a very basic level of proofreading.

            1. Big Bank

              Yeah, agree here. I work with a lot of folks around the world that English is not their primary language. They are still expected to write a clear email, especially in banking where things need to be precise. If he needs assistance doing this, it is not petty to flag to his manager.

        3. Michaela Westen

          The example makes me wonder if he reads well enough to understand what’s being said in the emails. I would be concerned because of that.

      4. Anonymeece

        Hmm. I may be off-base, but I’ve worked a lot with English-learners and that example honestly looks a little like he may be not uneducated, but not a native speaker. It’s hard to tell without seeing more examples, but it might be worth considering and taking into account when you’re seeing those emails.

        I agree that I would certainly pause if I saw something like that from my bank, but it changes the tone of the conversation for me.

        1. New Jack Karyn

          That’s reasonable–if the guy is still learning English, that’s a different story.

          1. Indigo a la mode

            But punctuation still exists in other languages. I’ll fight to the death for people to respect learners of English–they speak my language a whole lot better than I speak theirs, accents do not mean someone is stupid or ungrammatical, and don’t anglicize someone’s name against their will, for heaven’s sake–but I also believe that if you’re in a customer-facing role, you need to be able to communicate clearly, correctly, and in a way that inspires confidence in your client. Especially in something as black and white as banking!

            (Just in case this gets misconstrued: When I say “clearly,” I do *not* mean “without an accent” or even necessarily “with perfect grammar.” I mean “in a way that is understandable to the reader/hearer and would stand up as unambiguous in the event of, say, an audit.”)

            1. Anonymeece

              Punctuation does exist in other languages, yes, but it’s used differently and can be difficult to learn – particularly commas. I’ve also seen ESOL speakers who ignore it completely for fear of getting it wrong, or take the shotgun approach and spread it liberally throughout. Even something as straight-forward as you would think a question mark would be leads to confusion. Think of the inverted question mark and exclamation point in Spanish. I guarantee you Spanish-learners have used that incorrectly.

              Again, I agree that standard English is important when dealing with customers, but I also think it’s important to approach a conversation with someone learning English (if that’s the case) differently from someone who is a native speaker who just never learned it/never bothered to learn it.

      5. Jen2

        I think it’s worth raising the issue with a higher up. Just getting the gist is not really enough. In your example, are you supposed to respond? Wait until Friday for an update? Who knows! It sounds like he’s just talking to himself.

      6. CustServGirl

        I can’t say for certain, but is it possible the contact is not a native English speaker, or uses voice text over a work phone, or perhaps both?

        I have some colleagues with whom this is the case, and while it irritates the English major in me, I know I need to set it aside and as Alison said, leave it alone. I have great respect for people who know more than one language, even if their second language is “broken.”

        1. emmelemm

          Especially with the lack of punctuation in the LW’s example above, speech-to-text is a good possibility.

          1. pancakes

            Anyone using a speech-to-text app has the ability to proofread their correspondence before sending it, though.

      7. Spool of Lies

        Ugh, I totally get this. I work at a College and some of my colleagues write “your” instead of “you’re” and have no idea how to use apostrophes.

    9. Essess

      I have a friend/neighbor who also works as a financial professional at a big firm and has a position that is client-centered. I struggle to understand any email he sends me because it is so full of typos of grammar mistakes. I wouldn’t use him professionally because it’s so bad. I always hope that he proofreads his professional emails better.

  3. The Bimmer Guy

    I like Alison’s advice regarding #2. The LW really didn’t need to tell their boss about the nature of the medical condition at all, and it’s perfectly acceptable to walk that back.

    And if the LW feels awkward about doing that, they can take comfort in the fact that the boss is the one being inappropriate. Most people, were they privileged to know such sensitive information, would have more tact and not openly disagree with someone’s tough medical procedures.

    1. Maria Lopez

      I was thinking she could tell her boss that she shouldn’t practice medicine without a license, with a straight face.

      1. Avasarala

        Agreed. If the boss’s reaction to “I need to do X in order to avoid cancer” is “but positive thoughts!” then you can just conclude that your boss doesn’t get to weigh in on this anymore, so there’s no reason to tell them. All the boss needs to know is when you’ll be out and how long.

        1. Moray

          I was thinking that–just once–she could say “I’m trying to keep positive and avoid talking about it.

        2. Autumnheart

          I’d be like, “If you want me to have a positive attitude about my medical problems, you need to stop bringing it up and making me think about them. I can’t be positive when you’re constantly reminding me.”

    2. On Fire

      Eh. Given that the LW mentions she is going to have a double mastectomy, I can see why she explained the situation to her boss. That’s rather an obvious surgery. A former colleague was in the same situation as LW, with an extensive family history of breast cancer, so she had the same surgery. It required several weeks out for recovery; she looked different when she returned because she was still too raw for the … fillers? And there was a lengthy recovery period before she could have reconstruction. We all knew what was going on — the difference being that none of us were ridiculous enough to think she should just have lots of positive thoughts.

      Boss or not, I would adopt a single response and become increasingly cold as I repeated it each time Boss started yapping. “This is between me and my doctor” or “I’ve consulted with my doctors” or “Thank you, but I’m keeping my medical decisions between me and my doctor,” or “I’m going to trust my doctor’s expert opinion on this.”

      1. Just J.

        Writing in in support of the above, but wanted to offer another coping tool: When when your boss asks how you are doing, how your treatments are going, etc., when she is prying for an opening to “talk” to you, figure out and stick with one word answers.

        Boss: How are you doing?
        OP: Fine
        Boss: How many more appointments do you have?
        OP: A few.

        Give no details. No elaboration. Starve her out. Hopefully she will eventually get the point and stop asking.

      2. KoiFeeder

        My mom calls hers her prostheses, but the box says breastforms, so take that as you will.

        Quick tangent here just to say that LW hasn’t mentioned reconstruction, and that reconstruction isn’t necessarily in the cards for everyone who has a mastectomy. And, of course, no one is obligated to wear the prostheses, either. If that’s the route LW wishes to go (and more power to her if she does!), then it’s going to be rather more obvious still.

        1. roger that

          You probably mean expanders, which are used to stretch the skin before a permanent implant can be placed. They are involved in many different kinds of reconstruction, and differ from prostheses, which are external and can be taken on/off during the day. Either way – I agree with the spirit here that mastectomies are huge surgeries and can require anywhere from 2-12 weeks out of work depending on the kind of reconstruction (if any) that the person chooses. When I had mine, my boss was aware (but a reasonable human who just asked how he could help and sent well wishes).

          1. KoiFeeder

            I do not mean expanders. My mom had her mastectomy 20 years ago, and continues to wear the surgical breastforms as she was not eligible for reconstruction (and even if she was eligible at this point, which she is not, I don’t know if she’d go for it).

    3. Not So NewReader

      This boss made me chuckle but not in a good way.

      I am a fan of positive thinking and I do believe our health* sometimes* can go in the direction of our thoughts.
      BUT. (NB: HUGE “BUT”)

      The cancer is here, now. So this whole line of discussion is moot, okay, it’s absolutely pointless.
      Tell her the time for that advice to be useful has passed. Medical intervention is necessary at this time and you would appreciate it if she stopped mentioning it.

      I do believe in trying to as much as we can for ourselves and sometimes this can help. But when giving advice one has to look at the individual and the particulars of their setting. My dear family member had her breast cancer return. The doc said “mastectomy”. She called me up and said she had decided to go forward with that. I simply said, “One breast or both?” Not the answer she anticipated and she said so. I pointed out that the time for non-invasive help or self-help was over. The next step in logic was to figure out what is the most practical thing to do here. We chatted about this for a bit. (Given her setting, the doc did agree that a double mastectomy was the best idea. So that is what she did.)

      Now. I am talking about a dear family member. There is a huge difference between family members and a boss-employee relationship. Feel free to draw your line here, OP. Let her know that you told her the nature of the problem so she would have a better idea about what was taking so long. You did not tell her the nature of the problem so she could give you advice. Or more gently said, “I only told you, as my boss, because you need to understand the time consuming nature of this stuff. I have not told anyone else, because, honestly, I am not up for more advice. I’m just not.”

      Maybe you can gain an ounce of private relief by trying to think what it is like to be her, watching and worrying.
      Not up to you to console her or do anything. But speaking as a supervisor, I can think of a few times where subordinates told me things and I cried later. I had to act professional in the moment. Bosses are not unemotional Rocks of Gibraltar. Bosses can grieve an employee’s illness. Know that is okay to set boundaries and know that bosses grieve just like the rest of us. Again, not up to you to help her with her grief/worry. That is her job to help herself.

      1. WellRed

        The boss’s advice was never useful and I could see this comment making things worse.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood

        Technically the cancer is not “here now” — she’s having a *preventative* mastectomy because testing showed she carries a gene that is strongly statistically linked to the formation of breast cancers. If you’re curious, there’s a *ton* of good coverage about this dating back to when Angelina Jolie went through the same preventive procedure.

        1. callthedogtor

          Everyone has the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. They are tumor suppressor genes and actually help prevent cancer. The OP has a pathogenic mutation in one of her BRCA genes that greatly increases her likelihood of developing certain types cancer.

      3. Sedna

        “I am a fan of positive thinking and I do believe our health* sometimes* can go in the direction of our thoughts.” I respect your personal beliefs, but I hope you have considered the implications of this to people with illnesses or disabilities – namely, that we have brought our heath troubles upon ourselves by not being sufficiently positive. That’s a heavy burden to lift on top of the many difficulties of getting through illness/living as chronically ill.

        1. Michaela Westen

          If it were true that negative thoughts and stresses cause severe illness, I and my immediate family members would have died long ago.
          Having a positive attitude can make a difference in life, but that’s not the same thing as a severe physical medical problem.

        2. Jessen

          I kind of wish there were a less blamey way to say it. I’m dealing with a few chronic health conditions that are likely a result of fairly significant long-term trauma followed by some pretty impressive failure at mental health care. It’s absolutely the case that long-term elevated stress levels can cause these sorts of issues. So in some sense I really do think that my “thoughts” are causing this. But I also hope we all realize that mental health isn’t nearly as simple as choosing to think positively and it’s not like I can just decide tomorrow to get over everything.

          1. Michaela Westen

            Yes, it’s been shown that stress is a factor in my health conditions too. (A lot of allergies and sensitive digestion) But mine aren’t like cancer – they’re long-term management, not life-threatening acute.

        3. Not So NewReader

          Yeah, I get that people jump to “well if you were thinking positive then you’d be healthy”. To me that is not the way the concept works or is meant to be used. If we could think ourselves well then all of us would be well. It’s a given that is not how things work. Some people just latch on to these huge leaps in logic (that really have NO logic) for various reasons.
          At any rate, the advice is not applicable to OP’s situation.

      4. Gaia

        I fully support the OP doing whatever they and their doctor feel is best in their situation but I want to push back on “the cancer is here now.” Being BRCA positive does *NOT* mean you definitely will get one of these cancers just like being BRCA negative does *NOT* mean you definitely will not get one of these cancers. There are some really shady genetic testing companies out there telling people to “test to find out if you will get breast cancer” and it is causing some people who test negative to be more lax than they should be in other preventative steps.

        BRCA tests indicate a higher than average likelihood and can be very helpful, especially if you have a family history of certain cancers. They do not, however, indicate a guarantee. Talk to a genetic counselor and no matter what your results keep getting regular screenings and doing monthly self exams!

        1. SV ME

          +1

          I know a lot of people who have taken the positive BRCA test as being positive for breast cancer… it’s simply a statistical marker, not a death warrant.

          1. callthedogtor

            SV ME, are you BRCA positive? If I told a friend that I was BRCA positive and they responded with “it’s simply a statisitcal marker” I would be pretty put-off and hurt by that. It’s a very minimizing statement. Finding out you have BRCA mutation honestly feels like a death sentence for many people. Many doctors will say something akin to “it’s not a matter of IF you get cancer, but WHEN.” The choices are either intense surveillance for the rest of your life and/or invasive surgeries for prevention. It is life-changing information. Please educate yourself more before making that kind of statement to anyone who is BRCA positive.

    4. edj3

      I have breast cancer right now and it’s astounding to me how many people want to figure out what I did wrong to get it.

      News flash: nothing. For whatever reason, my cells mutated. End of story and nobody’s business on the cause.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz

        Ugh, edj, I’m sorry about that. It’s exceedingly unfair of people to victim-shame someone getting sick. I think it’s because they need a reason to think it won’t happen to them, but that doesn’t excuse that behavior. I’m with you: cells mutated, who knows why, end of story. The most positive-thinking people in the world get sick; positive thinking is not a vaccination against germs. (OP, I’d suggest you say that to your boss but you might get fired, so probably don’t.)

      2. Dana B.S.

        I’ve been in conversations with people who are playing the speculation game with others and it always make me sick. Once someone gave me a raised eyebrow “yeah, sure” when I mentioned that horrific bad luck that led to my father dying in his early 50’s as if they didn’t believe he did nothing to deserve it.

      3. wittyrepartee

        Have you considered magical tea and/or carrot juice instead of medication to fight the cancer? /s

      4. KoiFeeder

        But how will they, a healthy person, be able to feel intrinsically superior to you if they can’t blame you for your own illnesses?

        I don’t suppose you can cut all of them off, can you?

        1. Gazebo Slayer

          For the people who can’t actually, say, fire you, I’d actually suggest calling them on precisely this!

          “It’s interesting that you feel the need to blame me for my own illness so you can feel superior to me.”

        2. Gaia

          I don’t know if it is an effort to feel superior, or an effort to feel like we have some control over a very scary thing. It is still really, really gross.

          1. KoiFeeder

            I have a chronic illness, so I tend to get the superiority thing, but I should hope that it’s different for cancer.

          2. pancakes

            I’ve been in remission from breast cancer for around 5 years and get this too. I think a lot of people who say things like this are heavily invested in the illusion that their life & their body are within their control. My mother had cancer as well, years before I did, so I was expecting it to some extent, but it still shocks me how many people have nothing but dreadful, ignorant things to say on the subject.

      5. londonedit

        Best of luck with your treatment. My mum also had breast cancer and it was the same – people were desperate for it to be hormonal, or genetic, or something. Nope, it was entirely random. Just one of those things. She also chose to have a mastectomy straight away and then chemo after, and apparently that was wrong too – didn’t she want to give chemo a chance to shrink the tumour? Didn’t she want to try and save her breast? That’s a valid choice of course, but in her case no, she wanted to get rid of the whole thing and then do chemo as a safety net. And then, people were bizarrely disappointed that there was no ‘big cure’, no trip to the doctor where she was declared ‘in remission’. People kept asking her if she was ‘cancer free’ and ‘in remission’ and it was like well, yes, I’ve been cancer free since they took away my entire breast and the tumour and all of the lymph nodes just to be on the safe side. But people see the whole ‘the doctor tells you you’re in remission and everyone hugs and it’s joyous’ thing in films and TV and that’s what they want everyone to do. People are weird about bringing their own baggage to other people’s illnesses.

      6. Evie K

        I think people do this in the same spirit as warding of the evil eye. If they can figure out what you did “wrong”, they won’t get cancer. I have cancer & have taken care of family members dying of cancer (3 totally unrelated kinds in 3 non biologically related people across 20 years now) and have gotten the “But why didn’t you just…” with all of them.
        I honestly think that in the moment, you aren’t a person to them anymore. You’re a threat & saying something so stupid is how they protect themselves.

        1. Gaia

          I agree. It always seems like a primal instinct. If we can identify the threat, we can protect ourselves and our loved ones. Cancer is so scary because we often cannot identify the threat until it strikes. We don’t often know what “caused” the cancer (and a lot of research suggests nothing, in fact, “caused” the cancer – it just happened) and if we don’t know what causes it, we can’t know what to do different. Random things are not something the human mind handles well. We often react really stupidly in the face of a random threat.

      7. nonprofit writer

        edj3, same here. My surgery and treatment are behind me now but comments like the boss’s (and Not So New Reader’s) still sting. We didn’t do anything “wrong.” There’s no “self-help.” Wishing you & all the other BC folks here (and OP#2) good luck and good health!

    5. Mama Bear

      I had an old boss who tried to micromanage the route I took to work. I started telling the boss very little about my outside life because I didn’t need the dissertation about what they thought I was doing wrong. I agree with Alison to pull back on oversharing with the boss. Boss only needs to know it’s a medical procedure and LW will be out for x days for recovery. If boss pushes back on the lack of info, LW should reiterate that her healthcare is between her and her surgeon and she will not discuss it further.

  4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    Ugh, if the Grandboss knows this is a recurring problem, I really wish he would be a manager and manage Jane. She sounds overwhelmed and out of her depth, and she’s behaving incredibly unprofessionally (this is an especially petty level of vitriol). If you have multiple good people leaving that department, at some point you have to figure out how badly you want to stop the bleeding.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      “She didn’t take my leaving very well, […], *yelling at her manager* for allowing me to move…”
      Jane is the symptom, not the problem – her manager is allowing this behaviour to continue.
      A fish rots from the head down.

      1. Avasarala

        Yeah, honestly, I’m not sure how LinkedIn/Slack/etc factors into this. It sounds like there is a lot of problem-solving that needs to happen where someone can cause MULTIPLE people have complained and asked to be transferred, and management has done nothing but allow people to leave. That’s not gracious, that’s called a missing stair.

        I would not be immediately concerned about social media blocking or a reference from her. I would be more concerned that she can still cause problems for you right now. It doesn’t seem like her manager is stopping her from continuing to create drama.

        1. Falling Diphthong

          I am also perplexed by Linked In being the one problem identified–a former coworker who loathes you doesn’t connect on outside social media, that’s to be expected. In all the sea of red flags here, that one isn’t.

          1. Samwise

            It sounded to me like the LinkedIn was the latest wierdness, or maybe the last straw.

            1. New Jack Karyn

              Yeah, seemed like last straw. Plus the idea that exboss could stifle future moves.

        2. Oryx

          I agree with LinkedIn, but I’m my office being blocked on internal channels would be a major obstacle to getting work done. All teams have their own channels and then there are dozens and dozens of cross-team channels. Many of those are private, meaning you can’t find them just by searching and need to be added by someone else. Slack is how my company communicates 90% of the time. Getting blocked from those would make my job very very difficult

          1. New Jack Karyn

            Maybe on her new team LW doesn’t need those Slack channels? If she did, she’d talk to her new team lead/boss about it, yah?

          2. Avasarala

            This is something I thought of as well. I would imagine that in the absence of everything else, blocking someone on Slack would be majorly unprofessional and worth raising to your current manager/hers on that merit alone.

    2. JayNay

      I do love the advice on #1 though! Such a good way to frame this as the company’s responsibility to take care of.
      And yes, I 100 percent agree that this manager needs to do something about Jane. Continually moving people away from her is NOT the way to adress her unprofessional and abusive behavior. Sadly all too common that people do everything to work around bullies instead of confronting them (using the term bc yelling at multiple colleagues/ bosses is bullying behavior to me).

      1. SezU

        I hate when higher leadership deals with problems (rather, doesn’t deal with) this way!

    3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

      That was my main concern. The bigger issue in this letter is that grandboss is aware of boss’s issues but doesn’t seem to be doing anything to resolve it. If I were OP, I’d pay a lot of attention to how they handle problem employees, especially managers. This may be a one off, but if they’re more willing to lose good employees or move them from department to department to avoid working with a certain manager, that’s a pretty big company problem.

    4. Busy

      I really wish managers would be more proactive with firing or demoting managers that lack a certain level of emotional maturity.

    5. The other Louis

      Yeah, this is a great example of a missing stair. I wonder if Jane has mad good technical skills, or is the only one who knows how Major Thing actually works–those are the times I’ve seen someone tolerate this kind of behavior.

      1. Manager grateful for AAM

        Yup, or she has a client with deep pockets who loves her! Sometimes people who are awful to coworkers can be amazing at client service…

  5. Uyulala

    #5 – I would make an exception for those in graphic design or art fields. Two sided business cards can be good. Side 1 is your best design work to get their attention. Side 2 is your contact info that includes a link to your online portfolio and resume (can use a QR code, but also write out the URL).

    But if you are something like a banker, then cards are less helpful.

    1. JCB

      I was absolutely going to say this! My relative has just gone through a graphic arts program and doing the business cards exactly as Uyulala describes was a big thing when they were going to job fairs, etc. Apparently the recruiters from the ad agencies and the various head hunters do collect them and save them for reference and the applicants really spend time figuring out the best design work to get the attention of the headhunter/recruiter. It’s a thing.

    2. Avasarala

      This is a great point. OP, what would the business card convey? Usually it’s a way to share individual contact information and the company name/website. Or as Uyulala points out, a personal website and even some design skill. But if you’re going as a student/applicant, what would you put on there? Your school name/old job? You’re not there representing them and “personal cards” aren’t a thing anymore.

      Where I work business cards are A Must and many inexperienced people brought them to a job fair I went to just because they heard they should. It was atrocious because clearly they hadn’t thought about the purpose of the card vs. their purpose at the fair. One fellow participant handed me an index card with her name in colorful marker on it. She ran out of space to write her email and the letters were all scrunched together at the end. It looked so sloppy and ill-prepared and I didn’t know why she was even giving them to other job seekers. She would have been better served by having a resume (prepared and printed in advance!) for companies and connecting with other job-seekers via social media or something.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        In some small circles, personal cards are a thing. I’ve seen them at hobby conventions & fairs, and at historic re-enactments (any time period where cell phones are hidden). Most useful for a hobby/fandom that involves two or more names for the same person, and where receiving a club award changes the individual’s status. (This person’s not a high mucketymuck…she’s a GRAND high mucketymuck!)

        That said… it’s sure not something to hand out as part of a job hunt!

      2. Bee

        I WISH personal cards were still more of a thing, in part because I think they’re handy and in part because of the scene in In Bruges where Clemence Poesy flicks her card over her shoulder as she’s walking away and it is the *coolest thing.*

    3. Kim, No Longer Esq.

      Yeah, I don’t hate personal business cards for networking, even outside of visual fields (though I agree they might have a specific place there). Resumes are great to have/hand out at networking events, but business cards are handy to have on your person all the time, so if you happen to meet someone in the line at checkout or at happy hour after work or whatever, you have something easy to give them. If a person is desperately penny-pinching, it’s probably not worth it, but if you’ve got $50 to spare, I think they’re worth having (especially if one is working in/trying to break into a networking-heavy field).

      1. Antilles

        I agree with you as a general thing – business cards can serve a purpose and have value to job seekers. Not only does it give you an easy way to provide your contact information to random potential opportunities (as you said), there’s also a bit of a ‘professionalism’ vibe with handing someone a business card. Maybe this will eventually go away, but personally, I still see business cards exchanged all the time – pretty much every time there’s a meeting with a bunch of people all meeting for the first time, there’s a flurry of cards in all directions.
        That said, I think this situation is a little different for OP due to being a student. Students who are job-searching typically aren’t going to have a lot of these ‘random encounter’ opportunities. Instead, their options are going to come primarily (almost exclusively?) in situations where you’re already handing out a resume – job fairs, having someone pass along your resume to a friend, online applications, etc. So the business card doesn’t really serve much of a purpose (outside of industry specific stuff like design where the look of the card itself serves as part of your pitch).

      2. Elizabeth West

        The only problem I have with them is constantly updating them. I end up with a ton of cards I can’t use because something changed. At least VistaPrint is pretty cheap, but it’s annoying.

        1. Michaela Westen

          Yes, I was coming to recommend VistaPrint! I’ve used them for several years. I just looked and their price today is 7.99 for 100 cards. I think there’s a shipping charge too.

        2. LunaLena

          Any print shop can do a small run for you for fairly cheap, especially if you already have a digital art file for it. I used to work at one and did that for clients all the time, usually in batches of 50 or less. Just make sure you get 80lb or 100lb cardstock, and if you want to be able to write on them, get matte instead of glossy paper (glossy is shiny and makes colors look better, but it’s difficult to write on).

    4. Psyche

      That’s a good point. If your business card also acts as a sample of your work then it serves a purpose.

    5. KoiFeeder

      Hm, now I’m wondering if I should go the two-sided route. Current version has some art behind the information. Might be more readable if I put the art on the other side. I could even add Cubert…

    6. miss_chevious

      I would have business cards for connecting with other candidates at the fair and general networking, but they aren’t especially helpful for actually applying for jobs.

    7. Cloudy with sunny breaks

      As this is a job fair, sure, resumes. However at industry events/networking I prefer to receive business cards. $20 for an easy way to hand out your contact info is not a bad investment.

  6. C Average

    I have a degree in English, impeccable spelling, and a strong point of view about the Oxford comma, and it always pains me when people send me sloppy, poorly written emails. But when those people have outranked me in a corporate environment, I’ve had to suck it up and decipher their digital chicken scratch to the best of my abilities, hoping they possessed other skills that balanced out their crappy written communication.

    The magic phrase I repeated like a mantra was “not a hill worth dying on.” I also reminded myself that I had not been asked to copy edit and shouldn’t provide such services for free.

    Let it go. Really, just let it go. I know it hurts.

    (All that said, I do not do freelance work for people who can’t be bothered with decent written communication, nor do I maintain friendships with them. Harsh? Sorry. I wish them well from a distance, but incoherent emails and texts make me feel rage-y.)

    1. Falling Diphthong

      I had not been asked to copy edit and shouldn’t provide such services for free.

      This. There’s no need to go around correcting the world’s use of commas. It almost always lands as rude, and diverts all attention to said rudeness rather than whatever actual problems are there.

      Though I do think there’s a fair point upthread re if this guy actually works at the bank in question.

    2. Not So NewReader

      I make a lot of mistakes with spelling/grammar. I try to catch them. Stones/glasshouse, all that.

      I have someone, who is further up the ladder, who does not try to catch their errors at all. Very fortunately, she is a super kind person and she is totally on top of her job. I would rather have those two characteristics than have someone who could just spell and punctuate well.

      Perhaps you can find something about this person that they do exceptionally well and focus on that. You can make it your goal to send him well-crafted emails as a role model for him to think about. This is a crockpot solution and not a quick resolve using this method. Give it six months or a year. My guess is that it will either change because he is invested in the job, or he will quit the job because he is really not invested in the job and his emails are a symptom of that lack of investment.

    3. Camellia

      You are my new hero. And they can have my Oxford comma when they pry it out of my cold, dead hands.

      Side note: I first encountered the Oxford comma as such in a contract law class in college. There can be a distinct difference in splitting your estate between “A, B, and C” and between “A, B and C”. In the first example they each should get one-third. In the second example, A could get one-half and B and C would have to split the other half. And yet, my company’s current policy is NOT to use Oxford commas. smh

      1. Blarg

        I had to revise some state regulations in a prior job because of a lack of an Oxford comma. If there’d been a comma, we could have just done what we wanted to do. No comma? Months long regulatory change process because the interpretation wasn’t certain.

      2. A Simple Narwhal

        I’m right there with you, I even have a sign at my desk that says “You can have my oxford comma when you pry it from my cold, dead, and lifeless hands.”

        There’s an amazing image that shows the importance of an oxford comma, I’ll post a link to it below.

          1. Anonymeece

            I adore that blog! Whenever I need a laugh, I go back to the maritime law case in Galveston.

    4. You can call me flower, if you want to

      I don’t know. I think sending an email full of typos says a lot about their attention to detail. Depending on the nature of your business relationship, I would carefully watch for any other issues. It’s going to be difficult to work with this person is they have more communication skills and very little attention to detail.

      1. AnotherAlison

        I think an email full of typos can also say a lot about someone’s education in the language arts and communications.

        My spouse is a self-employed electrician and possibly the worst speller I know, due to many factors, including learning disabilities, a disjointed primary education, barely graduating high school, and having a post-secondary education that did not require English courses. His emails are indeed riddled with typos, but he’s a great electrician and actually great with his customer relationships, in spite of poor written communication.

        I get where you’re coming from because I have a job that requires excellent written communication, but I think it’s also unfair to infer characteristics beyond poor written communication to someone based solely on their written communication.

        1. Sarah N.

          This is true, but this isn’t a trade like being an electrician. This is someone who is presumably dealing with financial details, spreadsheets, etc. where attention to detail and clear written communication is actually very important! What if the banker is communicating the LW’s requests to their coworkers in this manner and the requests get garbled?

    5. Kim, No Longer Esq.

      I think there’s a distinction between “a few typos here and there” and “incoherent.” In the vast majority of cases, it’s not spelling or proper grammar that actually makes a sentiment clear and easy to understand.

      I have pretty good grammar/spelling/etc, but I try hard to not be a snob about it. My threshold is “do I understand what they’re trying to communicate?” If yes, then they were successful at communicating it.

      (Also it’s worth noting for fellow Diversity, Inclusion & Equity enthusiasts that our detection of typos and other errors is often demonstrably racist: https://abovethelaw.com/2014/04/proof-that-typos-are-racist/)

      1. MediQueen

        Yep. Can also be construed as classist, ableist. It really irks me when people conflate education and itelligence with grammar and spelling.

        1. jamberoo

          My sentiments exactly. My thoughts, feelings, and value as a friend and person extend beyond my ability to use my language perfectly every time. Sheesh.

      2. Michaela Westen

        Growing up I knew a few too many people who would get hung up on correct use of words and grammar, and I agree with your standard. If the person receiving the communication understood it, it was successful.
        The people I knew who got hung up on this were trying to distract themselves, others or both from the real problems.

    6. Glomarization, Esq.

      I do not do freelance work for people who can’t be bothered with decent written communication, nor do I maintain friendships with them.

      Everybody’s got their own business plan, I guess. Personally my bank account would running on fumes if I turned down clients and vendors based on how well their e-mails to me adhered to the rules in my Chicago Manual of Style.

      Consider that written communication is a learned skill, not an inborn talent or intelligence, and not everybody has ready access to the training and milieu that will increase their likelihood of becoming skilled written communicators by the time they enter the working world.

    7. Le Sigh

      You won’t maintain friendships over grammar? Or am I misreading that? What if someone speaks English as a second or third language? Maybe has trouble with reading and writing due to a mild learning disability?

      Being able to communicate well is important, yes, and I’ve been on the receiving end of some very hard-to-decipher business communications. It’s frustrating and can cause problems. But while I used to enjoy a little sign on my desk that said, “I’m silently judging your grammar” I actually put that away a few years ago. I realized that there are a lot of reasons people don’t always have the best written skills (learning disability, ESL, or who knows, maybe it wasn’t taught well to them in school) and I felt like a snob looking down on people over it. And more often than not, they have other critical skills that frankly, I lack.

      I won’t hire people to *my* team who lack good written communication skills because it’s a job requirement. I’m certainly not saying it doesn’t matter. I’ve just gotten to a point where I don’t think crowing about looking down on people over grammar is a cute quirk or a point of pride. More often than not it comes across as gross. Life’s too short.

      (Also, there’s probably a typo or a mistake somewhere in this post, but it’s a comment on a blog post, so I think I can live with that.)

      1. C Average

        I know I’m probably missing out on some otherwise delightful people, but I really hate getting incoherent written communications. It really bothers me. So yeah, I have let some acquaintanceships die on the vine after getting a garbled message or two. I know there might be perfectly legitimate reasons the person communicates that way, but it bugs me enough that I know I wouldn’t want to deal with it on a regular basis.

        (I’m of the opinion that in optional relationships like friendship, romance, or freelance gigs, it’s fine to let my pet peeves limit my options, so long as I’m not unkind about it. They’re MY pet peeves. They may not be entirely fair, but they’re real. I wouldn’t let them interfere with a relationship with a colleague or relative or someone else I’m more or less obligated to have in my life, but they matter in voluntary relationships.)

        1. Nope, not today

          What I find is that for me, with most of my friendships, a large portion of our relationship is text based – either texting via phone/app, email, DM on twitter, etc. So if someone has really poor writing skills, either I get too irritated by it to keep a conversation going, or they aren’t able to converse via writing, and the relationship doesn’t progress very far. (I have one online friend that I don’t maintain a close relationship with purely because his excessive use of commas – as in, after every word or two, and never anywhere that makes sense – and I just can’t read long messages from him without being irritated. Not his fault I am picky, but it hampers our relationship for sure)

    8. Make a Comment

      For the party, Bob invited the strippers, Lenin, and Stalin.

      For the party, Bob invited the strippers, Lenin and Stalin.

      1. Corporate Lawyer

        I love that one! My other favorite is:

        In accepting this award, I’d like to thank my parents, Jesus, and Oprah.

        In accepting this award, I’d like to thank my parents, Jesus and Oprah.

    9. MOAS

      I have a degree in English (writing) as well, and I used to have a very strict, narrow view of people who couldn’t write properly. I’m in accounting now, and business writing is very different from creative writing, but I’ve always been tasked with training new staff on soft skills/written communication skills. My boss’s writing was really bad and I would always cringe when reading it. Now I realize he had really great skills in other aspects and we coached each other lol. he’s gotten way better with his writing but the experience was eye opening.

      (and no my posts on here or social media are not an indication of my writing skills)

      1. Elizabeth West

        Once, in a long-ago interview for a receptionist position, we were talking about my research on the company and I mentioned casually that the website copy seemed a little dense. In reality, it was a seething mess of posts containing run-on, repetitive sentences and ouroboros-like efforts that went round and round and never got to the point. The interviewer rolled her eyes and told me they knew the website was terrible, but the boss wrote all the copy himself and wouldn’t let Marketing or anyone else change it.

        That told me all I needed to know about what it was like to work for that guy. I was relieved not to get the job.

    10. DJ

      I have an English degree too. For me, it comes down to clarity. As long as I can understand what you mean, you can have terrible spelling/grammar and I won’t mind (too much). But I get very rage-y when I have to try to figure out a polite way to reply back to someone and say “I don’t know what you’re trying to say.”

    11. Snack Attack

      I appreciate your honesty. I for one would be much relieved to find out a friend prioritized my texting skills above all my other human qualities.

    12. Cheluzal

      English professor here. The Oxford comma is on my brother’s headstone, much to the initial consternation of the director. Guess I get it from my mom.

  7. namelesscommentator

    LW4, is that the worst example of his writing? It seems pretty out of touch with norms to raise alarms for an exchange that goes “What do you do at the bank?” “I’m a personal banker.”

    What about his writing makes it hard to understand or work with?

    1. Willis

      I got the impression that because the emails were so bad, she asked what his position was at the bank, not that that was intended to be an example of the poor writing.

      It seems pretty meddle-y to complain if you’re just annoyed by the poor grammar. But, if I was doing business with this person (either personally or for work) and their communication was so bad that I couldn’t understand them or lost confidence in their ability to handle stuff professionally, I could see mentioning it or asking to work with a different rep. I had a car insurance agent that was terrible to communicate with by email…I didn’t say anything about it but I did switch companies.

      1. Avasarala

        I had a similar issue where the person’s grammar, punctuation, and spelling was generally Not Good–which was annoying–but it was clearly a symptom of their inability to pay attention to details and communicate clearly, especially to non-native speakers. Not a good combo in a relocation specialist.

    1. Justme, the OG

      I knew someone who said that people got cancer because they didn’t have enough God in their lives, so there wasn’t good protecting you from bad. And my aunt was undergoing treatment for cancer at the time. That didn’t go over well. Thankfully it wasn’t my boss who said that to me.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Because we don’t have a heavily polluted world loaded with haz mat. And because there is no such thing as genetics and because…..

        Grr. I suspect your Someone has never had to deal with major health issues. It’s reasonable to assume their turn will come, as many of us will have a turn at this stuff, regardless of the depth of our faith.

        1. Justme, The OG

          I basically tuned out anything else they said after that because I thought they were full of it. As I would assume OP does to her boss after that comment.

    2. Tequila Mockingbird

      Yeah, I went blind for the rest of OP’s question after reading that part.

    3. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff

      It’s the infamous Hamer’s theory, aka “new germanic medicine”. Very popular, for reasons beyond my comprehension.

      1. Harper the Other One

        It’s because it gives people a sense of control over the uncontrollable. Getting cancer is scary, and the idea it could happen to ME is scarier, so something that tells you “here’s a bit of woo that will keep you safe from the scary thing!” is very reassuring.

      2. Harper the Other One

        It’s because getting cancer is scary, and the idea of it happening to ME is even scarier, so a bit of woo that says “do this and you’ll be safe from the scary thing!” is very compelling for a lot of people.

        1. Falling Diphthong

          Yup. There is a certain type of person who hears bad news and leaps right to figuring out what the person did WRONG to allow this to befall them. So long as the incanter doesn’t do this WRONG action, they are safe from the bad thing.

        2. Anon because this makes me ragey

          Yeah, well F that, they don’t need to vomit their self-soothing crap all over the OP, who’s in a scarier place. Speaking as someone who had to listen to that kind of bs when my child had cancer. Like a 6 year old is so negative that cancer came calling. “Positive emotions will magically change your dna!” arrrggghhhh

          1. Gazebo Slayer

            Damn straight. And I’m so sorry about your child’s cancer – and sorry that you had to listen to a whole bunch of scummy people BLAMING YOUR CHILD. I’d have a hard time not physically attacking someone who said something that cruel amd disgusting.

        3. wittyrepartee

          Well, and there’s very loosely a correlation between being healthy and having low stress. That doesn’t mean that positive thoughts are protection from cancer (and in fact, focusing on having positive thoughts is a stressful activity).

          Mostly people just want to know they and those they love won’t get cancer, and they’re trying to come up with something simple that isn’t “whelp, sometimes cells mutate! Hope that doesn’t happen!”

          1. BelleMorte

            I think that a lot of people say things about positive thinking when it comes to kids, because a lot of pediatric oncology docs really do push the positive thinking aspect to the kids along with visualizing their body killing cancer cells, as you probably experienced.

            The thing is this has less to do with “positive thinking solving things” and more to do with trying to empower kids to keep fighting when it’s hard for them to understand what is going on. Unfortunately, the message gets warped into “thinking positive prevents cancer” when it lands on people with lower deductive reasoning skills., which is utter bull crap.

        4. roger that

          Yep, agreed. I was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 27, and almost everyone asked me if it ran in my family. I think people want to know why it happened to me out of an instinct to prove to themselves that they are safe and it can’t happen to them. (It does not run in my family; no one found my answer to this question comforting.) I get the instinct, but it is *so* unhelpful to basically ask “how can I make sure my life doesn’t end up like yours?” – even if that’s not the intention, that is often how it feels to be on the receiving end.

      3. Marthooh

        Ugh, there’s nothing new or particularly germanic about magical thinking. And everyone knows wearing a bra is the actual cause of breast cancer.

          1. Environmental Compliance

            I guess I’m going to get a boob each of Bra Cancer and Heathen Bra-less Cancer, given that at any point in time it’s 50% likely I’m wearing a bra.

            Shout out to my MIL, who was *convinced* that every medical ailment is something you caused to yourself, including but not limited to my SIL’s late-term miscarriage (and yes, she asked to SIL’s face what she did to cause this, and SIL is about as careful & great a mom you could possibly be), Hub’s emergency appendectomy, my endometriosis, and an assortment of other family members’ cancers. It’s….frustrating. We actually no longer share any medical information with her, which really peeved her off when she found out I had a major surgery and never told her.

            1. Slartibartfast

              When it’s her turn to be ill, tell her it’s because she judged others when they were sick. If you don’t mind torching that bridge.

    4. Clementine

      I know a lot of people like this over the course of my life, although the exact specifics may vary. Their karma is bad, they didn’t trust God enough, they were out of God’s protection, they were attracting negative energy, God was punishing them, etc. Nearly as bad are all of the people who are absolutely certain that the cause is lack of exercise, some issue with a sub-optimal diet, stress, and so on. In an epidemiological sense at a population level, environmental factors can play a role in cancer. When you have an individual in front of you with cancer, it’s unlikely that the cause can be definitively narrowed to too little wheatgrass or too many Doritos.

      1. Jennifer Juniper

        Too much wheatgrass can cause severe diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.

      2. Observer

        When you have an individual in front of you with cancer, it’s unlikely that the cause can be definitively narrowed to too little wheatgrass or too many Doritos.

        More importantly, it does NOT MATTER.

      3. Decima Dewey

        They’d really be scared to learn that it’s possible to be successfully treated for Stage 2 Breast Cancer, do everything your doctor tells you do, and still have the cancer come back, this time as Stage 4.

    5. Sara without an H

      OP #2, this detail alone should tell you to limit anything personal you tell your manager. You’ll need x days for a medical procedure. No details whatever.

      Oh, and a mastectomy is major surgery. If your firm is big enough to qualify and you have HR, talk to them ASAP about FMLA. You can take it intermittently if you need it.

    6. no, the other Laura

      These people are why I generally recommend to people who have just informed me of their diagnosis of cancer or precancerous conditions that IMO it’s better to be REALLY careful who you tell, because there are FAR more unhelpful a-holes like OP’s boss than you realize, and you don’t need to be dealing with their bullcrap on top of everything else. First diagnosis I got, I was very open about it, because what the heck, it’s cancer, things happen, life’s not fair, I’m gonna need some down time and look a little weird FYI. All the friggin whackjobs like OP’s boss came out of the woodwork and gave me a raft of crap when I was trying to cope with this huge life-changing event, and it was beyond stressful – every day was a new person having their feelings AT me or telling me about the magical peach pit cure they heard about on Art Bell’s radio show. Second diagnosis I told only a few very close trusted friends who helped with chores and dropped off casseroles – everyone else just heard, “I have a personal medical issue to take care of, I will need X time off from work.” It was SOOOOO much easier for me to handle mentally than random people barfing their emotions at me and lecturing me about their magical unicorn fur or whatever.

      Between those diagnoses, I went to grad school and taught a college class about the vast catalog of things that cause cancer and its biological origins. What I learned from grading hundreds of final exams was, most people should not be expected to understand even very basic scientific concepts no matter how you offer the information.

      1. wittyrepartee

        The magic teas/peach pits/ancient remedies using garlic/tons of juice make me SO ANGRY.

      2. Michaela Westen

        You’ve probably heard this story, I’ve seen it in two different places. A cautionary tale about refusing cancer treatment.
        There was a young man in his early 30’s who was diagnosed with cancer. He refused the recommended medical treatment and said he would treat himself with dietary change, exercise, positive thinking, etc.
        Two years later he was dead.
        People need to be able to think logically in step by step progression to understand science – and unfortunately that’s not emphasized in American education.

    7. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool

      I have a (young, very healthy) family member who believes positive thinking can cure autoimmune diseases (among other things). As someone with multiple of those it’s both insulting and incredibly frustrating.

  8. Kella

    OP3 I second the late fee idea. My partner worked with a company that *didn’t do contracts* but was essentially hiring private contractors who had no recourse if they didn’t get paid, and they would sometimes be months late paying him. He got tired of it so he gave them two options: 1. Hire him at his new rate which included a sizeable “no contract” fee or 2. Charge a flat late fee plus an additional fee for every day after the check’s due date. He also added some provisions about at what point he would cancel the next project if he hadn’t been paid etc. Your equivalent of a”no contract fee” could be essentially a “no way of knowing when I will be paid and have to spend extra work to get you to pay me fee.”

    I’d also recommend building into your emails with the invoices this phrase: “Please email back to confirm that you’ve received my invoice, thank you.” If they don’t, and the pattern of not responding continues, contact them with concerns about your email system malfunctioning.

    1. Toads, Beetles, Bats

      If you feel comfortable sharing, may I ask how your husband’s new terms worked out?

    2. ChimericalOne

      Legally, even a simple verbal agreement can be an enforceable contract. Contracts don’t have to be in legalese, written, or signed to be “real” contracts. (Which is just to say, that company is wrong if it thinks it’s protecting itself by not writing out the terms of its agreements. The contracts still exist, even if they’re not written. As long as the contractor has evidence that they agreed on something or that something was a standard part of their practice together, the company can be found to be in breach of contract for violations of that agreement.)

      Agree with your points for this LW, definitely.

      1. Elizabeth West

        But verbal contracts are hard to prove in court unless you have a recording, which can be legally problematic in itself in certain states. It’s much easier to get it in writing.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch

        Yet the court costs to prove that they had a contract will usually eat up your capital and end you in the negative since they’ll drag it through the courts until you’re flatter than flat broke.

        It’s really important to just work for places that pay you and to leave anywhere that pulls this BS to limit your damages. Don’t depend on “the law” to have your back in the end.

        I’m a tired, jaded and angry accountant who has had to write things off because the cost of fighting them and the ability to collect is so awful.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch

      It depends on how important you are, most places who hire contractors aren’t going to bother with your late fees. Lots of places have policies about never paying finance fees and will just laugh them off. Then you get to sue them for them if you really want to go that far but again, you’re a contractor and will just be released if you’re in a position that’s easy to replace.

  9. Anon1

    #3: I’m sorry – I’ve had to chase down a lot of invoices & it is no fun. The ‘whoops didn’t see this!’ emails were always super frustrating and what I normally do now is say something like ‘Hi! Attached please find an invoice for x. Please confirm receipt. Thank you!’ It can feel a little blunt, but I find that people are really responsive when you give them a directive. If I don’t receive a response in 24-36 hours, I’ll follow up with ‘Hello! Checking in to make sure you received the below.’ That might feel too aggressive, but it’s been fine for my industry/role. Since it’s such a pattern with your agency, a convo along the lines of what Alison suggested is probably best, but wanted to share how I’ve handled something similar. However, I’m hunting down money for clients so I don’t feel guilty about being persistent. Advocating for yourself can be a lot harder.

    1. Clementine

      I have not done consulting for a while, but I wonder if it would work to send an invoice in the body of the email, and attach a PDF with the invoice, as well as a non-blocking calendar invite that had a subject line like “Pay XYZ $1283.71 for June 2019 work”. Probably a silly thought, but I would start feeling desperate too.

      1. Sara without an H

        I’ve found it helpful to put something in the subject line if I need a response by a specific date: “Deadline: September 1: INVOICE.” Or something along those lines.

    2. DCR

      I deal with a lot of vendors, and this would really annoy me! Don’t make me respond to something or bug me about something that doesn’t require a response. Having said that, I immediately forward all invoices to accounts payable with approval to pay. So either my vendors are getting paid on time (which I think is true) or they are not because of stuff out of my control

      1. Observer

        Well, if your invoices are getting paid on time, you can speak to your vendor and ask them to stop this as you have a good track record. Telling someone who is dealing with a pattern of late payment “don’t do this thing that annoys good payers” is not really helpful.

      2. anon1

        I can certainly feel annoying doing it, but I’ve been burned too many times. I’d rather annoy payroll then have to listen to my boss’ client cry on the phone that they can’t pay their mortgage that month. It’s part of my job to be bullish on clients’ behalves which payroll understands. Also, I am sending my invoices directly to payroll, not to the execs/attorneys with whom my boss brokers deals.

    3. CJ

      For bills that are paid by an automatic debit from my checking account, I get emailed invoices.

      For bills that I need to cut a check for or are paid online but aren’t automatic, I get paper paper invoices that I keep in a daily calendar, stuck in a day a few days before they are due. That’s how I remember to pay them and pay them on time. Maybe it would help if this person would mail an invoice, or drop it off with the accounts payable person if they are in the same building.

      Many companies would protest a large late fee, like 5 or 10 percent of the balance. Most places just charge interest, and even if it’s at a significant percentage, doesn’t really amount to all that much a month. The OPs company might figure it’s okay to pay late as long as they’re paying the interest. But the OP needs the money on the original due date, so I don’t think charging for late payment will help in his case.

  10. Jess

    For letter writer number one, I wouldn’t see a need to mention future references to your current employer at this time. It seems like it would just make them suspect you are planning to leave, which I assume you wouldn’t want them to think. If you do end up job searching outside the company and then taking another job that needs references, you could mention the concern about Jane to the upper level manager at that time.

    1. Clementine

      There’s no great way to frame this so that LW#1 doesn’t look like they are leaving. If they wait until they are actually looking, that could go badly. I think LW#1 is just going to have to leave Jane off her references.

      1. Psyche

        Since they transferred to a new team within the same company, I would think leaving Jane off would be less damaging than if they had no references from this company.

    2. BRR

      I was thinking the same thing. I really don’t think it’s a good idea to bring up the issue of a reference. I think the LW should keep this in mind during their next job hunt but I wouldn’t bring up the topic of references like this.

      1. Mostly here

        I think the point that Alison was making, though, was that when a future employer asks for references, they may approach LW’s previous manager, even without LW putting them down as a reference (which I understand they are perfectly at liberty to do). Therefore LW is right to be worried about what the ex-boss would say about her and it’s reasonable to address this now.

        1. Falling Diphthong

          I think she’s right to be worried, but that it’s largely out of her hands–the manager dislikes her and probably won’t give a strong recommendation. And she won’t even if senior boss sits the manager down and says “Should someone 5 years on ask you for a reference for OP, it needs to be glowing” and she says “Fine.” (Plus I think asking your senior boss to do that is weird. But more to the point is that it won’t work.)

          Blocking on internal communications seems like a major problem (though maybe it isn’t in this office) that would normally have been stomped, except that sorta keeping Jane handy, sorta working around her, seems to be the missing stair solution in this office. The Linked In connection and hypothetical future reference are an odd locus for the problems snaking out of this.

          1. ChimericalOne

            I don’t think Alison is thinking that senior boss will sit the manager down and say “Only give OP glowing references.” I think Alison is thinking that the company will make a note in OP’s file that reference-seekers are *not* to be referred to this manager at all (so that someone who calls in to HR wouldn’t be transferred to them). That seems like a perfectly reasonable request, to me.

            1. DJ

              Yes, this. The last job I left actually had HR go over this stuff in the exit interview they did (they went over the basics of what they had in my file, whether I left in good standing, etc.). In that context, I don’t think it would be unusual for the OP to ask about future references.

              Plus I would imagine most places who reach out to a past employer for a reference probably start with HR, rather than trying to track down the specific person who managed you.

            2. Ask a Manager Post author

              Yes, this — and also I want them to have a stern conversation with Jane where they make it clear that she is not to badmouth the OP in any way, to references or otherwise, and that they’re going to hold her to that.

    3. CM

      Agreed. Mentioning references makes it sound like you are job searching. And the bigger problem here isn’t LinkedIn. If Jane is doing anything to interfere with OP#1’s work or reputation, that needs to stop. If it’s just LinkedIn and a possible future reference, I wouldn’t bring it up.

      1. Manager grateful for AAM

        I agree with this. As a manager, I would worry that you’re job-searching. Whether I “should” worry is another issue, but I think I would at least wonder, and maybe worry.

    4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

      The only thing I may mention to grandboss is the blocking of OP on Slack channels, because if there ever comes a time where they need to communicate for work purposes, former boss is preventing OP from being able to do their job. But I agree, I wouldn’t mention the reference thing either.

      I mentioned above that I would be more concerned that grandboss doesn’t seem to be managing former boss, letting them get away with treating their employees poorly. It sounds like former boss has no business being a manager.

    5. CupcakeCounter

      Agree. I’m thinking the conversation needs to start with the Slack channel issues and how that may interfere with their ability to effectively communicate with various teams in the company. Then bring up concerns about any long-term retaliatory measure old boss might take i.e. OP has noticed X comment in an email about the OP’s “loyalty”, not providing correct information about a task to OP’s new team setting them up for failure, talking badly about OP to other managers in the company therefore potentially limiting OP’s chances of advancement within the company, etc…
      The concerns OP has with old boss and the future reference issue are highlighted without it being a “when I leave the company” thing.

    6. ChimericalOne

      I think it’s perfectly reasonable to imagine a future where you might not be working for your current company. It’s not like it was in the ’50s, when employers might be aghast at even the suggestion that you wouldn’t stay for life. If an employee expressed this concern to management where I work (that someday, they might need a reference & they needed to know that Awful Person X wouldn’t be allowed to give that reference for them), it wouldn’t be taken as a sign that they were leaving now or planned to leave anytime soon (or even had vague plans to leave in the future), but just that they had a reasonable expectation that things might change. “I might not be at this company forever” is not a shocking thing to say these days.

    7. gawaine42

      Agree. If you do leave, I’d expect you’d use someone else as a reference, not Jane.

      Meanwhile, there’s a long term benefit in not being connected on LinkedIn to someone who won’t give you a good reference, since it means third parties aren’t likely to ask about you. I’ve taken to disconnecting from former and soon-to-be-former employees if I’m not willing to give them a positive reference, since the alternative is usually the informal reference request or connection request even when they don’t list me as a reference. “Hey, I saw that you used to work with Jane Doe, she looks good for a job I have open. Could you tell me about her?” – which is followed by me either ignoring them or giving the standby: “I can provide you with the HR number to confirm the dates that she worked here.”

      If you have a bad working relationship with someone, I’m not sure why you’d want to connect with them on a professional social network.

      1. Alli525

        “I’d expect you’d use someone else as a reference, not Jane.”

        Sure, but companies who are really thorough with their due diligence are not always just going to contact the people whose names you’ve given them. They might call the HR office or find another way to reach someone who directly supervised you at the time. If Jane has moved on from the company by that point, great, but if she’s still there, there’s a distinct possibility that she could be cold-called for a reference.

  11. Blue Line

    Re: #5

    2010-grad-school-me is sad you wrote this (LOL).

    I made my own business cards printed on card stock to hand out at that time, just in case. Cringe. Bringing copies of your resume is a much better idea.

  12. Mannheim Steamroller

    Leaving aside the general weirdness of this, I’m concerned about how it indicates she might handle, for example, future reference requests about me.

    DO NOT count on a favorable reference from her. She seems like the type of manager who would have given an unfavorable (but false) reference to keep others from taking you away from her, and she might do so now just for revenge.

    1. JayNay

      agreed, but it’s still a good step to bring it up with Jane’s manager. Giving references is part of a manager’s job, and if nothing else, the company needs to be aware that this middle manager (jane) is acting very hostile toward former coworkers.

      1. Suspendersarecool

        If she’s not drawing that conclusion from the exodus, LW would most likely be putting herself in a vulnerable position for nothing.

    2. sunshyne84

      Right, I find it odd that that was even mentioned. I would never consider using her in the first place.

      1. CupcakeCounter

        OP was not planning on using her – more concerned that some digging would turn up that she was a previous manager and the new company would reach out to her on their own.

        1. ChimericalOne

          More likely, the company might just call her company’s HR and ask to speak with OP’s former boss(es) / supervisor(s) and get transferred to this person (rather than doing independent research and calling the ex-boss up directly). Alison is suggesting that OP basically get a note in her file saying that this former manager is *not* to be allowed to give references for her, so that doesn’t happen.

      2. Jennifer M

        Just because OP doesn’t list her as a reference doesn’t mean that a prospective employer may not reach out to her for a reference if they know OP worked for her.

  13. Mookie

    Only caveat re #5 is if she’s at all interested in and in a position to offer consultant work (and if her industry makes use of consultants as at her level). But, again, that’s contingent on her experience. Obviously, that’d provide a substantive reason for selectively exchanging cards (hers would identify her as a consultant, etc). But the preceding conversation would need to make that distinction clear and separate her roles as a potential contractor (card) from a potential applicant (CV).

  14. LGC

    Honestly, I want to solve letter 1 and letter 2 by telling them to both leave their terrible bosses on a desert island.

    With letter 1, I don’t even know if their terrible boss blocking them on LinkedIn really matters when compared to her blocking them on Slack. That’s the online equivalent of pointedly not speaking to a coworker, and I feel like unless it’s something serious like sexual harassment (and NOT like asking for a transfer), it shouldn’t be done in my opinion. When you bring this up with her boss, I think you should focus on Slack first.

    For letter 2, if she REALLY believes that negative feelings cause cancer…tell her that her unwanted advice is going to give you cancer if she keeps it up.

    (…okay, don’t do this. But you’re allowed to fantasize about it.)

  15. Magenta

    Can anyone tell me how the boss blocked her on slack?
    The people at slack are determined to claim this is a feature not a bug and cannot possibly see an instance where this might be useful to anyone. Their official response to requested to add a block option is:

    “If the company needs a way for some employees to block other employees in their internal communication service, then it has problems software is not going to be able to solve.”

    1. Purt’s Peas

      I believe it wasn’t a block, it was removing OP from private channels.m & group conversations.

      1. Magenta

        Ahhh makes more sense, thanks!
        I still think Slack needs to look into blocking people, their theory works in small/medium companies, but not huge ones.

        1. DCR

          I can’t think of anytime you would need to block someone on slack that isn’t really an HR problem. Can you give an example?

          1. MoopySwarpet

            An employee from another department that annoys you and has nothing to contribute to your work? I think this would be especially beneficial in the more informal channels where you just do not want to read about Joe’s evening, but Joe isn’t harassing you or doing anything that warrants a trip to HR.

            I would personally block (or mute) people who I have no need to interact with just to keep the clutter I have to read to a minimum. I don’t think not wanting to read anything a specific coworker writes is the same as an HR problem.

            I can see how this would cause problems if people block coworkers who are actually contributing, but in the social channels, this should definitely be allowed.

  16. Ms. Cellophane

    #3 Is asking for a retainer an option? Ask for a large sum up front roughly equal to the work expected to be put in, or for three month’s worth of time. Put it in the bank. Issue an invoice each month detailing the work you have done and deduct payment from the retainer funds. This invoice is still sent to the client so they can see what you have done. If you finish the job, and there’s month left over, you refund the difference. If the retainer gets used up, they need to replenish funds before your work can continue. You would need to detail all of this in your fee schedule or fee agreement from the start, which you would have them acknowledge by signature. Or, in the alternative, see if you can send your invoices directly to the person responsible for processing invoices for payment. We’ve had instances where invoices have been overlooked in the boss’ email. But when the secretary is copied on those emails, they are almost never any issues with payment being processed expeditiously.

  17. AdAgencyChick

    #3, can you diversify your client list at all so that it’s easier to drop this client or at least it doesn’t hurt as badly when you have to harass them for money?

    Unfortunately clients who don’t pay or are slow to pay are all too common. A big part of the issue is that the person responsible for paying you is probably not the person who reviews and uses your work. The former doesn’t care whether you have a good working relationship, the latter (hopefully) does care, but has a million things to think about besides whether or not you get paid, and helping you is not nearly as high on her list of priorities as, say, finishing the TPS reports that her boss wanted yesterday.

    This is not an excuse, just a common explanation. I’ve been on both sides of it and I admit that when I’m working with a freelancer and she tugs on my sleeve to ask me to help her get paid, I get annoyed that I have to drop what I’m doing during a busy period (it’s not like we’re allowed to hire freelance help unless my team and I are overloaded ourselves) to sort out the issue with the finance department. I have to remind myself of two things: 1) of course she wants to get paid, it’s her damn livelihood; and 2) the best freelancers book up very quickly, and if I want to work with a good person again, then yes, getting her paid needs to be as high on my to-do list as doing my own job.

    1. Not So NewReader

      This made me smile as I thought of my friend.
      He knew he had to add people to his customer list. So he did. Now he is at a stage where a “little” thing like not paying promptly causes that customer’s project to go to the bottom of his list. Some customers fall off the list entirely for repeated failures to pay promptly.

      When my friend comes here to help me, I make sure he is paid in full before he leaves that day. It’s huge incentive for him to come the next time I need help.

      Another thing I do with my friend is I set aside work for his slow season. So when his income flow has slowed way down, I have stuff here waiting for him to do. OP, I am not sure how this idea would work for you, but perhaps if you have slower periods of the year you can line up projects with folks who do not mind waiting on some stuff.

      I have always paid my bills on time. However, I can see with my friend that people who pay promptly get different courtesies extended than people who do not pay promptly. You might consider how to apply this to your work.

  18. Jennifer Juniper

    OP2, your boss really, really, really sucks. Cancer is caused by negative emotions?

    Hmmm…..that’s an opportunity to lay a guilt trip on the boss. Boss says something you don’t like? “That is making me feel negative emotions. You’re making my cancer worse!”

    NOTE: Don’t actually do this. I hate New Agers, though.

    1. KoiFeeder

      In my experience, they do not take that well. Like, shrieking at you and blaming you for having feelings levels of not taking that well.

      1. mark132

        I think the anger comes out because they really can’t logically support their arguments, so the only thing that is left is to get angry.

      2. lemon

        Exactly. If you try to tell them about any negative emotion you’re feeling (especially if it’s directly related to something they did), suddenly *you’re* the one who’s “toxic” for “dumping negative energy” all over them, and see, this is totally why you have Terrible Illness.

  19. SezU

    It doesn’t seem like this should be the case this time (late invoice payments letter) but I know some companies only pay on receipt of statement. So the vendor might invoice them weekly, but they only pay when they get the monthly statement and reconcile the invoices to the statement. Worth asking!

    1. Kim, No Longer Esq.

      My comment here is similar, in that I didn’t really understand how some companies operate until I was in one, but it’s a really common practice to pay people absolutely as late as you possibly can as a company. A previous company paid freelancers once per month, for all pieces published the *previous* month, so if you got published at the beginning of the month, you could be waiting 1.5 months before your payment would show up. So if OP’s payment is due Net 30, those companies will cut the check on the absolute last check-cutting day before that final deadline is up.

      A lot of freelancers I worked with weren’t professional writers, and didn’t submit invoices with “due by” dates at all. If you don’t have a date, most companies will presume Net 30 (due 30 days from receipt) but some will presume Net 60 or even Net 90. It might be worth OP asking a larger question about the cadence of payment at the company, and if there’s something they should be doing differently to get paid faster. Aka, is the payment truly late, or is the payment process just taking longer than OP would prefer, and how do you make those timelines match up?

      1. MoopySwarpet

        I’ve also had companies cut checks at the beginning of the week for everything due through the end of the previous week. A few companies also only run checks twice a month, which just compounds the problem. All of our invoices are net 20, but we don’t expect to actually receive the money until net 30 or 40 just because our terms don’t seem to matter much to most businesses. It seems like it’s a minority who actually pay so that we receive the money within terms. Most of their terms seem to be “we’ll pay you when we feel like it or when we get tired of you asking for your money.”

        A quick “When do you expect this payment to be scheduled?” sometimes helps.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch

        Net30 is 30 days after services are rendered, not receipt of invoice.

        Lots of companies don’t care what your net terms are though and will pay you on their own schedule. We have Net 30 on every single invoice and tons [about half of the clients, no joke] have their own systems. Ranging from 45-120 days, depending on whatever their finance department deems acceptable enough time to process invoices and run payments for them. Then it’s usually not cut until it’s aged to that exact date.

        So if they run every other week, you can easily always be paid 10-15 days late from THEIR terms. So if they’re operating at Net 45, you often are paid more like 50-55 days. [I am tired and this is my life]

  20. MeriBee

    I would be braced for “bad feelings cause cancer” boss to be very unaccommodating and difficult to work with when it is time for you to take time off for your surgeries. I really hope that you work for a company with a decent HR department or person, and that if you are in the U.S. you have a job that qualifies you for FMLA. Because I predict you are going to need people and laws on your side when it comes to facilitating your leave. And I can tell you from experience that public perceptions of recovery from a “small” surgery such as a laparoscopic procedure can be way out of line compared to what recovery really is like. Especially for something like a hysterectomy, which is considered a major surgery even if the cuts in your skin aren’t large. There is still a major disruption internally, and you will probably be short-changed by others’ exceptions and likely also short term disability’s estimates of when you are good to go. Fatigue, pain, and physical restrictions can last for weeks or months longer than people estimate. Or you could be fine and hopping to get back to work in 2 weeks. But it’s hard to predict, and probably less likely to be easy if you are also having your ovaries removed, which I would assume you are because of your genetic risks. This might be unwanted advice, or advice too early. But as someone who has been through similar things, and has friends who have experienced the same, please take care of yourself and go in with a plan for how you will take care of yourself despite a boss who is not going to be on your side when it comes to what you need in terms of recovery.

    1. Sara without an H

      Ditto. If your firm has an HR department, loop them in now. You can’t rely on your boss to know/do the right thing.

    2. Michaela Westen

      The Cancer Society in my area provides support including legal to patients. Maybe check with them and see what they offer and how they can help you prepare.

  21. SafetyFirst

    I wrote this comment out and wanted to add this at the top: it is reasonable to want to get paid regularly, and nothing I wrote below is meant to suggest otherwise. However, the reality of contract work is that getting paid regularly is harder, and I wanted to offer some advice from own experiences along those lines.

    #3, What does your contract say about payment terms? It would be worth understanding what they are actually required to do. If there is no term, that would be good to remedy at the next renewal, but you want to make sure you actually have standing to ask for faster payments before doing so. Otherwise you might remind them that they *don’t* have to pay you faster.

    I’ve done a fair amount of consulting, and have seen payment deadlines from 30 to 90 (!) days. Long terms are more usual in a business-to-business setting, but if those are the kind of terms that they are used to having in their contracts (you said you are the only contractor), they may not have processes in place to turn payments around more frequently. I mention this not because that makes it okay to delay paying you (depending on contract terms), but so you can understand what you may be asking them to do (fundamentally change their business process) in being more prompt, and especially so if your asking them to be faster than the contract terms.

    Finally, if you are considering late fees, there are two considerations I would offer: first, make sure that late fees are enforceable in the jurisdiction that governs your contract. The contract should say what it is, and it’s probably either your location or the location of the company’s home office. Where I live, those terms are generally not enforceable, so contracts here set the fee at the higher late payment rate and offer a discount if paid by X deadline.

    The second consideration is that late fees (and contract terms in general) are only going to be enforceable through legal action (at least in the US). So you should think about your relationship with the company and whether being on “friendly” terms is necessary for an ongoing relationship. It’s likely that legal recourse (suing the company if they are unwilling to pay fees that the contract says you are owed) will cost you money in attorney’s fees and sour or end future engagements. This is an unfortunate reality of contract work, but one that is important to understand. You may be better off just continuing to cajole them gently, and I hope that understanding that this is a normal part of managing your client can reduce your stress. If not, you should consider diversifing (as recommended by other commenters) or seeking a position as an employee so that you can more easily get paid regularly.

    A good contracts lawyer (to review and help you set terms in your contract) is expensive, but money well spent if you expect to have to rely on the contract terms. If you are in the “friendly reminders only” space, then it may not be worth the expense, but then you really have to keep in the mindset that you are asking, not telling, in your interactions.

    1. Pretzelgirl

      In addition to this, you may want to reach out to the internal AP department to see what their payment terms are as well. I worked AP for many years. Often times the company will pay on their own terms and disregard the due date given to them. I have seen companies have 90 day terms. I worked somewhere, that the terms were 38 days (totally random number I never figured out why it was 38 days).

      1. Jerusha

        1 week short of 45 days, maybe? So they could technically be on a 45-day cycle, with a week’s wiggle room? That’s the only idea I have…

  22. Ladylike

    LW #2 – I just wanted to say I’m sorry you got such sucky news about your health, and I wish you the best as you navigate through it.

  23. John Thurman

    In NYC there is a recently passed act called ‘Freelance Isn’t Free’ which provides independent contractors a lot of protections including the right to a written contract, prompt payment and free counsel for unpaid workers.
    Lacking public outreach though like so many programs.

    1. pancakes

      I mentioned it above, having not read all the comments yet. More jurisdictions should do this!

  24. MicroManagered

    My take on Letter #1 and the advice given was… “And then what?” What is Jane’s manager supposed to do about LW’s concern that Jane could give bad feedback about her in some hypothetical future reference check?

    It doesn’t sound like Jane blocked LW on Slack, but removed her. I don’t work with Slack — does that prevent LW from communicating with Jane for a work-related reason? I remove people from my frequent contact list on our instant message system all the time if they change teams and, well, aren’t going to be a frequent contact anymore. It doesn’t stop that person from contacting me for work-related reasons and it’s not done with any pettiness or malice in mind. I get that Jane is displaying a weirdly inappropriate level of hostility to LW, but until it starts affecting actual work, I don’t know what telling Jane’s boss will do. The best would be to add examples to a (hopefully growing) documentation of Jane’s behavior, ultimately leading to her removal. But the fact that Jane’s boss let LW move to another area, rather than deal with Jane’s behavior, doesn’t give me a lot of hope here…

    1. a1

      Plus, even if OP can’t contact her via slack, there is still email, phone, in person – many other methods – if communication is needed for work.

      1. MicroManagered

        Ehhh…. while that’s true, I would tend to think it’s not acceptable to block a coworker on a work-related communication channel, without a good reason. (“I don’t like you for moving to another department” is not a good reason.)

        That reminds me… I once had a coworker who would call me 5-6 times a day for nothing. Like he’d call to tell me he was sending me a work-ticket or calling to say he was sending me an email. Of course I had a worklist of tickets, and I have an email inbox–so the call was not necessary. The ticket or email was never urgent, he was just calling to “let me know.” It was such a nuisance that I involved his manager and said I would no longer be picking up calls from this person. I essentially blocked a work-related channel of communication, but when I did, I shared the reasoning with both his manager and mine (who both agreed it was appropriate to do so.)

    2. EventPlannerGal

      I agree. I do get the concern, but given their current relationship the LW would presumably not be asking her for a reference anyway, right? And if a company approaches Jane even the OP has not provided her as a reference, they are already working around the standard reference-check process and I don’t know if their current employer can do much about it. Presumably they could exert some sort of control over what she says in an actual reference check, but if (for example) Hypothetical Future Employer runs into Jane at an event and says “oh hey, what do you think of LW, we’re bringing her in to interview next week”, that seems beyond the company’s control.

    3. ChimericalOne

      I said this above, but I imagine that OP’s boss would put a note in her file so that HR knows not to transfer reference-seekers to this person. I imagine it’s not uncommon for reference-checkers to simply call HR and say, “Hi, I’m with Company X and I’m checking references for Jill Smith. Can you connect me with (or transfer me to, or give me the names of) her former supervisor or supervisors?”

      1. MicroManagered

        Um actually I would think that is pretty uncommon?

        Typically, a hiring manager asks a candidate for ~3 specific individuals to contact. They don’t cold-call the person’s current employer and ask to talk to whoever. That could potentially out the candidate as job-seeking, which is bad for all kinds of reasons. Also, a lot of larger organizations have a company policy against giving references that way. I worked for one that specifically prohibited employees from providing references for other current employees. (That policy is insane to me, but nevertheless.)

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          It’s not at all uncommon! And good reference checkers don’t limit themselves just to the list the candidate provides. (They don’t call current employers though.)

    4. Flyleaf

      As far as getting a good reference in the future from the former boss, the OP is out of luck. It is unlikely that the former boss would say something positive, so OP will need to find someone else. LI is irrelevant to this point, and can be ignored.

  25. The Bean

    My mother was a contract school psychologist, and she had this issue (and sometimes it would be way late) since the people who paid invoices were used to paying invoices for things like desks to the desk making company and not an individual’s equivalent of a salary. She finally fixed the issue after years of trying when her check was particularly late, going in in person and calmly but sternly asking the woman in charge if she would like it if her paycheck were late by two and a half months. It probably helped that my mother was well respected among the education community and in her fifties when she did this and was able to balance a dressing down against not looking unhinged.

    But really, if they’re not paying you, they have YOUR money. You are entitled to be angry.

  26. Jerk Store

    I’m surprised the bank employee doesn’t have an email signature – I worked at two financial firms and email signatures were mandatory per Compliance.

  27. Winston

    “Late fees” can be presented as “discount for early payment.” Take the cost including the late fee and call that the regular price.

  28. SheLooksFamiliar

    OP 2, I feel for you. It’s so frustrating when people give me ‘advice’ like you’ve gotten. Most of the time they mean well and feel helpless. When people care, they want to help, and advice is all they can offer. Still, some folks get really snippy when I don’t follow their directions. A good friend told me how she handled it: she practiced saying these things over and over, until they became a habit:

    Thank you for your advice, but my doctor and I have everything under control. Now, I have a question about (relevant work topic)…
    Thank you for your kind thoughts, but I’m fine. Now, I have a question about (relevant work topic)…
    Thank you for asking, I’ll update you if there’s anything you need to know. Now, I have a question about (relevant work topic)…

    Ignoring the advice, and saying the same thing over and over verbatim, and redirecting are all forms of a polite brick wall. But being non-responsive seems to work when a direct request to stop doesn’t.

    Please take good care of yourself and keep us posted.

  29. blink14

    Op #3 – are you dealing with one specific person or multiple people? My former budget manager was horrendous with paying anything on time, this included student and temp payroll (we’re at a university). You could ask her 20 times and it would still be late, you could send the invoice to her boss and it would still be late, you could bring a print out to her desk and sit and wait for her to pay it, but it’d still be late – all because our budget manager was sole person authorized to make payments, and everything bottlenecked through her, both because she never did anything on time and because she was the only person who could sign off.

    If you are only dealing with one person, it’s time to go around them – maybe to another person in that department, your manager, your manager going to their manager, etc. You deserve to be paid on time!

  30. Is it Friday yet?

    #2 – I had a similar thing happen about 10 years ago. I had some scary medical stuff happening to me that was going to require time away from the office to find out the cause so I made the mistake of giving my boss more details than he needed. The day after I told him, my boss’ WIFE (who I never met or have spoken to) called me and told me she and her work friends were all discussing it and thought they knew what my problem was and were offering up solutions. I wish I had Alison’s advice back then. I just put up with it and it still bothers me.

    1. SheLooksFamiliar

      Holy something-or-other. I thought you were going to say the wife called to tell you she and her friends added you to a prayer circle or something. But they were offering solutions, because they knew more than your own doctor? Wow.

      Information isn’t knowledge, you know?

      1. Is it Friday yet?

        It was humiliating. I mean, I know people tell their spouses things but for her to 1. phone me and 2. give medical advice? Unreal.

  31. Ali G

    #3 who are you chasing for payment? Is it the person who hired you, or the accounting dept.? Sometimes things get hung up in bad processes – if you are contacting the person who contracted your services, it might be that she is doing everything right on her end, but accounting is dropping the ball (this has happened to me so many times at my last job – accounting just ignoring my emails with invoices and approvals for payment. It’s was enraging because it reflected poorly on me and I never knew what was happening until someone contacted me because they didn’t get paid -AGAIN). Or if you are contacting accounting, they might be waiting for the person who hired you to approve payment. It’s worth asking the questions about how their process works to make sure all the responsible parties are looped in when you send the invoices. It could be something as simple as copying the right person on the email and saying something like “and I copied Jane so she can approve payment.” to make it easier for your invoice to move along the process.

  32. pleaset

    On #5 – if you might use them beyond career fairs – perhaps in networking events at which other, employed people, might have cards, it can be worthwhile to get personal cards made. This helps if people are handing out cards for contact info.

    I did this when in library school between about 10 and 7 years ago and found it useful. I still give out a couple a year instead of my ‘work’ cards with certain types of contacts – such as for possible side gigs.

  33. yams

    Seconding on diversifying the client list, and reaching out to their contact at the company to try and get issues sorted. It sucks, but AP really isn’t at all interested in maintaining relationships with vendors; I cannot count the times I have had to go up to the finance people to get invoices paid. A couple months back I had a vendor tell me they had gone 15 days overdue on a bunch of invoices and they needed to get paid asap, I was so mad at AP and annoyed at my vendor because he didn’t let me know. But yeah, reach out to your contact, he is way more invested in you as a vendor and hopefully will look out for you.

  34. AnonEMoose

    OP #2, I agree with the advice above to make sure you have things lined up for your leave, and that you should take the time you need for recovery, without apology.

    Sad to say, the thing that jumped out at me was the boss’s “concern” about having the hysterectomy “before having children.” OP, I’m glad for you that you’ve apparently found a doctor willing to do the hysterectomy for a woman who doesn’t have children. I’ve seen too many stories about doctors prioritizing a woman’s ability to bear children over pretty much every health concern, and it’s condescending and infuriating.

    No question that your boss is behaving intrusively and obnoxiously. I agree with the advice to stop sharing information with her, beyond what she really needs to know related to your work responsibilities.

    I wish you the very best for the surgeries to go as smoothly as possible, and for your recovery to be as easy as possible. If you’re willing, please let us know how you’re doing.

    1. On a pale mouse

      And like you haven’t already thought about the childbearing issue and need someone else to point it out to you? Sort of condescending. Hell, I thought about it before my hysterectomy (precancerous changes) even though I was 49 and single and probably didn’t want kids and almost certainly didn’t want to try a pregnancy with my age and health even if I suddenly decided I did want kids. My point is that no uterus owner can possibly not think about this issue when presented with the recommendation for hysterectomy. Even someone who absolutely knows they don’t want to bear children will have thought about it, even if their thought is “yay no more birth control.” Someone else pointing that out to you is super obnoxious.

      1. AnonEMoose

        Seriously obnoxious. I hate how women’s pain is minimized or ignored, how often women are not properly diagnosed or sent for testing…it’s all so frustrating.

  35. Koala dreams

    #3 It’s totally reasonable to want to be paid on time. After all, you are not volunteering, this is a business relationship. I think the script Alison gave you is the best starting point, hopefully it’s something that can be resolved with a conversation. If not, you can consider the options in the comments (I’ll add my own below) for making it more expensive for the customer to pay late. Sometimes customers will want to argue or negotiate when you add late fees etc, that’s the perfect opportunity for you to explain how you also have bills and can’t afford to work for free. You can generously offer to waive the late fee this time if they pay you ASAP, or you can calmly say that you need to be compensated for your time sending out reminders.

    Below are methods for dealing with late payment I’m seeing in my work as an accountant. Check what the rules are in your jurisdiction.
    1. Late fees and interest for late payments. They get a reminder with a flat fee to cover the time for sending the reminder, after that there is interest for every day they don’t pay you. The interest is put on next month’s bill or a separate interest bill.
    2. Tell the customer that if they don’t pay what they owe before (date), you will stop working for the customer until you get paid. Think of an electricity company, if you don’t pay they shut off the power. The days you are waiting for payment you can work on projects for other customers, look for new customers, do errands or take a day off work.
    3. Payment in advance. Ms Cellophane’s suggestion about a retainer is similar, but you can also consider demanding payment upfront before taking up the next project for the customer. Then you send the bills for the upcoming work, and start after they are paid. If you are paid per hour, you can decide they need to pay X weeks/months upfront, if you are paid per project, you can say that you need 50 % upfront.

    1. Happy Lurker

      Crazy 1980’s era suggestion…print and snail mail your invoices.
      We had a customer a few years back tell us they were going paperless – yay!
      Commence emailing invoices and backup. Commence era of not getting paid. Reminders at 30 days, 45 days, 60 days, 75 days. Ended up getting paid at 90 days. This went on for 5 or 6 months before I turned to my boss and said back to snail mail. Our payments have gone back to normal, 30 days. On a side note these were minimal invoices $100 to $250. It was a huge time suck to send that many emails considering it was solved with paper and a 55 cent stamp.

      1. Koala dreams

        Snail mail is not necessarily 1980s, some companies are a still far away from the paperless office even now. If the problem is that the bills get lost among all the other emails, snail mail might do the trick!

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch

        Except some places have actually started returning snail mail to sender.

        I’ve received them back more frequently over the years and snarky reminders [if I’m lucky] that everything must be submitted electronically or sometimes through their special “portal” or what have you.

    2. Happy Lurker

      Forgot to say that I like Koala’s list. I have yet to successfully implement late fees.

  36. Someone Else

    Does linked in have any purpose beyond generating spam and enabling creeps? Does anyone actually use it for good?

    1. Make a Comment

      This question comes up every time LI is mentioned in a post.

      Simply put, yes, it has its value for some. Just because you see it differently doesn’t make it so for everyone.

    2. no, the other Laura

      Yes, but it varies widely field to field. It’s used quite heavily in STEM fields, particularly for keeping track of old bosses, finding out who will be looking for a job soon so you can poach them, high level headhunters looking for new recruits. I am aware that many other fields prefer Facebook for this purpose, which has its own creep-enabling issues.

      Also, I know venture capital firms like to use LinkedIn as a way of tracking their investments’ success: if the startup can’t keep anyone experienced and is staffed entirely by people fresh out of academia and H1b visa-holders, they will take steps to minimize their investment because the company is likely to have some sort of management problem and will struggle with tasks that require significant industry experience to execute smoothly. This actually happened to two startups I worked for, and OH BOY were the senior managers angry to find out that having high turnover rates actually matter. One of the CEOs attempted to explain it publicly by saying “people who aren’t high performers don’t last long! We need workaholics hahahaha! If you don’t believe in our mission, eff you!” but it was obvious from the profiles of the people who left that he was blowing smoke and the stock price fell accordingly.

      1. lemon

        Whoah, that is fascinating insight into how venture capital firms use LinkedIn. Thanks for sharing!

    3. BethDH

      I use it (albeit rarely) to identify people in not-quite-adjacent fields we want to work with when we have a slightly unusual project. To use AAM phrasing, if I’m in llama grooming and I have a lot of friends in goat grooming, and we have a project where we need a goat trainer, it’s a good resource to see which goat grooming friends have contacts in training. I also occasionally use it when I change jobs and I’m at a large institution, to see whether I have acquaintances who I might run across, especially if I might be caught by surprise and forget their names.
      These scenarios are pretty rare for me, though. It’s just enough that I accept invites and don’t deactivate my account.

  37. A bookeeper to LW#3

    Hi! You should absolutely be getting paid on time! You know that and we all know that. As a bookkeeper and accounting manager, I have worked for organizations and companies that have paid loads of people late, and I hate it! (I have resigned from all of those places because as you guessed it, paying workers late is a symptom of all kinds of other problems). Here’s some context you might not know: it’s possible whoever you send your invoice to is not the person who approves payment or even decides when it gets paid. It’s possible they’re slow in turning them in to whoever does. It’s also possible the person who prints the checks is the slow person. It’s also possible the director/CEO/whoever’s in charge is the person who has to approve what gets paid that week, is the slow person. It’s also possible they have cash-flow issues which could stem from disorganized bookkeeping OR a director who is terrible at financial planning and doesn’t listen to their bookkeeper. Here’s what I suggest: contact as many people as you can who might be along the lines of payment. As an accounting manager at a very functional place of employment, I’ve been contacted by contractors who kept getting paid late and I didn’t even know it because the director of the project they were working on was holding their invoices and super late to get them to me. I told each of those people to cc me on the invoice they sent, so if the director didn’t approve to me to pay it right away, I could follow up with them on it. That solved that! I’ve also been the bookkeeper for a nonprofit with a terribly dysfunctional Executive Director who did not understand budgeting or finances at all – he would also hold payment for people to punish them (yeah, I know, insane. I quit that place for my mental health and told the board everything). He was terrible at using email and never handed me invoices in time. He also was supposed to approve payments before I cut checks, so I had to ask him each week which bills we could pay. I was able to help out some contractors there by communicating directly with them and placing their payments in high-priority and showing my boss that we did in fact have enough to pay them. I also coached one of them to say they couldn’t do more work for us until we had paid their last few months of invoices, and it worked. I also sent the Treasurer of the board the outstanding bills each month, who also put pressure on the Exec. Dir. to pay stuff. These examples might not be your situation exactly, but it might help to know there could be dysfunction holding up just one part of the process and people along the way who do want to pay you on-time if only they could. If you can contact the accounting person/bookkeeper directly, do it and see how they can help you. If you’re sending invoices to a project manager, start cc-ing their boss and the accounting person as well. Make sure everyone along the line of approving this invoice, paying it, or turning it in to the correct person to pay it… make sure they ALL have that invoice. Good luck.

    1. Happy Lurker

      This is probably the most constructive advice for #3 and well worth the read for anyone who has to hunt for payments from any organization.

    2. sofar

      These are some really great insights! So much can go wrong along the way.

      I manage our freelancers/contractors for my company, and I forward invoices I receive from contractors to accounts payable immediately. And then, 45 days later, I’m working up the chain of accounts payable command trying to figure out why they aren’t paying my people. Most of the time, an invoice is sitting in someone’s approval queue. Sometimes, an invoice gets assigned to the wrong person who, instead of thinking, “Hmm this isn’t mine to approve, let me find out who was supposed to get this,” just ignores it. Sometimes the person who is supposed to approve something is on vacation for two weeks, so the invoice never makes it to the “Approved to be paid” queue.

      Our company recently implemented a third-party service that was supposed to solve a lot of these issues and automate certain things (including an invoice-capture tool that’s supposed to recognize numbers on an invoice and automatically route them to the correct approval person). And that’s made things WORSE. Because, now, instead of invoices going to the inbox of a human, it goes into a general invoice capture email inbox (a black hole). I’m currently trying to get AP to pay an invoice that’s 3+ months late.

      The moral of the story to freelancers: Your assignment editor really really wants you to get paid (so that you continue doing the work). But your assignment editor has absolutely no power over getting you paid. And the humans that do are five degrees of separation from you and are also not empowered to solve problems.

    3. Koala dreams

      Thanks for an inside view from the customer side. It’s fascinating! I hope you have found a better job nowadays.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who runs away from the places that pull these kinds of stunts [both intentional and just out of ineptitude!] They don’t deserve us, we’re in high demand, our integrity is worth more than that.

      This is why I also yank credit from places who show signs of this kind of malarkey. I won’t work there and I won’t sell to you either if I get the choice [guess what, I get the choice most of the time, if I don’t and I love the place, I’m donezo as well.].

  38. Newington

    I can relate to #2. I work at a small company in $CREATIVE_TECH_FIELD, which is generally notorious for burning out workers. I opened up to my boss (the founder & CEO) about some health problems when I realised that a) they were affecting my work and b) I really care about this job. He and the lone HR person have been wonderful about it and the company is paying for some legit treatment for me (I live in a country with public healthcare so I wouldn’t be unable to get it otherwise, but there’d be a waiting list of about a year.) But my boss also keeps recommending supplements, buying ‘helpful’ e-books for me, and even gave me a bottle of mail-order pills which, after looking it up and talking to a friend with similar health issues, I don’t want to take and won’t. I’ve mostly ignored it but he occasionally asks me if I’ve tried them yet, and ugh.

  39. Nanani

    #5. There are cultures, fields, and places where business cards are absolutely expected, so do your homework. Random websites are probably not what you want to rely on though.
    Check for specific advice in your field and location to be sure.

    However, unless you were running say, a freelance consulting business, personal business cards aren’t likely to be useful. If anything a personal card will likely look amateurish.
    Jobs where exchanging business cards is normal will provide you with cards that match the company upon hire – I have stacks of them from jobs where I didn’t interact with outside people much but still got company-provided cards for those few occasions when I did. They all have the company’s info along with individual extension/email.

    1. Me

      I think the advice is specifically because she would be handing out business cards, not because she has a service or product, but because she is a job seeker.

      In other circumstances when representing a company, I agree it’s pretty normal to hand out business cards.

  40. JLaible

    Relative to sloppily written emails, there is a chance that he could be dyslexic or another issue that affects his ability to write. While there is a ton of technology to help people, it could be an issue that he’s facing. Hopefully, his information is good even if the spelling and punctuation are poor.

  41. LawLady

    #5 – I did some recruiting when I was in consulting, and personal business cards always felt a little… presumptuous? I can’t quite articulate why, and is sortof a strange convention, but making your own as a student can seem a little out of touch, at least in my industry. I certainly wouldn’t have rejected anyone for that, but I’d also immediately recycle the card. Just bring resumes.

  42. iglwif

    LW#3 — I freelanced full-time for a while (and freelanced on top of my day job for years before that), and as cheesy as it might sound, I did get better results once I was sending professional-looking PDF invoices with a due date and a late fee marked on them, through a system that tracked and auto-numbered them (think Harvest or Freshbooks), than when I sent Word files with “net 30” at the bottom. I’m not sure if this was a psychological effect or what, but it really helped. I needed the system anyway to do my time tracking, but the nice-looking invoices were an excellent bonus feature!

    It is incredibly frustrating to not get paid on time, especially when you are invoicing them literally every month. You shouldn’t ever feel bad about following up!

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      This is due to the fact a lot of accounting departments require things like terms and invoice numbers in order to crosscheck them with their system. So they will toss out or toss to the side anything that lacks them.

  43. donttalktostrangers

    I know you don’t want to go the sarcastic route, but my favorite way to shut down unsolicited medical advice is ask them to write down their name and cell number “so I can give it to my doctor in case he wants a consultation.”

  44. LapisLazuli

    OP #2: Your boss is essentially meddling with your right to take leave by making her comments and bringing her personal health “advice” into the mix. I would honestly go to your HR person (if you have one) and let them know she’s doing this. If you’re employed in the US and your employer is covered under the FMLA, you may be eligible. What your manager is doing could count as interference. The fact that she has zeroed-in on your private health choices regarding reproductive organs is also troubling. That it’s because you haven’t had children yet (??!!!!) only adds to that. If you have an HR person you can trust, please bring this to them and document all of this if you haven’t already. No good employer wants this to be going on.

  45. Eukomos

    LW #4, the typing issues may be a health problem. My boss’ typing is alarmingly bad, and I’m 90% sure it’s due to her eyesight deteriorating. I’ve found documents she typed 10 or 15 years ago that look pretty much fine and don’t have many of her now-signature errors. It’s possible your correspondent has something like that, and it’s nothing to do with his mental capacity to do his job.

  46. a good mouse

    LW5 – My mentor in grad school said business cards are for getting other people’s business cards back. They’re not useful for a career fair, but if you ever go to a networking event they can be helpful. Just realize – the other person is not going to reach out to you. You need to reach out to them.

  47. PennyLane

    LW#5- as someone who has attended many career fairs from the employer side, I agree not to waste your money on this. The resume is what I want- just be sure to have all your contact info on it (amazingly, some students forget or only put one form of contact)!! I usually lose most of those cards by the time I leave because they fall on the floor while I’m handling a stack of resumes or they get lost before I’m back to the office or I just throw them away because if I have the resume, what do I need that for?

    My one piece of advice is include a non-school email (you can include both if you want). A lot of people stop using that about a year after graduation, so it’s good to have your permanent one.

    1. a good mouse

      And if needed, make a non-work email that is a variation on your name and looks professional. I think everyone knows that by now, but it never hurts to remind that its easy to add new emails.

  48. Neil

    LW #5 – I am a temporary help worker and work short-term contracts with different Canadian federal government departments and agencies. Several years ago, I attended a job-seekers workshop where we were encouraged to use “business cards” detailing our skills and providing our names, email addresses and desired job title. I tried using these once at a library conference and the idea fell down like a wet balloon. In my experience, business cards are only useful if you are at the management level and dealing with people you might work with again. If you are not in a management level type position, people are more likely to look at the business card once and then throw it away.

  49. The Man, Becky Lynch

    Dear #3, do not, ever feel guilty about asking to be paid. Honestly, demand to be paid, don’t just ask. [Of course don’t curse out or get belligerent,but be firm.]

    BE THE GREASY WHEEL and get that grease! I’ve been in accounting my entire career and dealt with collecting on accounts 99% of the time. I’ve had it up to here *points to the sky* with the nonsense you’ll be fed over “oh I missed it” when it’s constantly missed. There’s always the occasional error and slip up, that’s natural and humans being humans. But to be honest with you, a lot of accounting departments are shady AF and it’s because their controllers or CFOs are bad at doing business or they are running on negative liquid capital [read the business is tanking and running on empty but they keep pushing along because they screw around with the vendors whenever possible.]

    So remind them on day 1 that you haven’t been paid. Remind them on day 3 you haven’t been paid. Be the squeaky wheel and they tend to remember that OP #3 doesn’t ef with late payments and will suddenly stop doing this if they’re just trying to shuffle you in with their lower-priority vendors. I had about 35 consistently late payers when I started a couple of years ago. Now I have 5. No joke. I smile when I see checks come in from accounting departments that used to forget about us because we were too nice to start squeaking until it was 30-45 days late. [We’re a business and we can technically afford it so really it’s the principal of the thing. I also used to work for people who were too kind and got taken advantage of fully for it, so much more bad-debt than when I was told here that it’s totally legit to just freeze accounts whenever I see fit, guess what, I see fit a lot.]

    I had someone actually squawk at me awhile ago for freezing their account of “just $200” and I was like “the sum isn’t the point, the point is that you owe us money and I’m not going to give you more credit and risk losing even more if you decide to hold up payment on those new ones.” They were speechless, good. Pay. Your. F. Ing. Bills. Or GTFO of business.

    You own you. You deserve to be paid. That’s your money. Get it.

  50. Noah

    #2 — you’re spending four hours a week (half a day) just MAKING APPOINTMENTS? This is nuts! It takes about 10 minutes to schedule an appointment.

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