I’m being flooded with business offers from friends and family, hair and job interviews during quarantine, and more

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

1. I’m being inundated with business offers by family and social contacts

I work in an industry and on a product that is not only generally unaffected by COVID-19, but business is actually booming. We’re making headlines internationally and people are flocking to the product.

With this attention, though, has come a very large amount of in-bound sales offers from other companies. Software, insights tools, celebrity talent agents, you name it. If I were interested in their offer, I would have already reached out myself. My inbox is flooded and I have account managers calling my personal cellphone. I went on a FaceTime date with someone who pitched me their business product and pretended he didn’t have a girlfriend in order to go on the date.

Not only this, but they’ll reach out via “warm intros” through friends who I can’t really be very blunt with, and it’s at the point where even lovely family members are sending me business proposals for consulting, etc. It feels like a lot of pressure because we are actively and obviously spending on many things.

How can I say we’re not interested? Normally I’ll say something like, “Thanks, we will reach out if it makes sense for us.” But in these times, many of these personal connections are very low on business. They do good work but I just don’t have a business reason to use their services. It’s feeling very awkward and I’d like to be kind. I feel like I’m in a position of financial power for their lives and the guilt is something I haven’t dealt with before, especially for family. I suppose I’m looking for something a little more sensitive to say. Anything that I think of that shuts the conversation down is just feeling quite harsh when I know that they are struggling for business, and it feels a bit like being a lottery winner when others are struggling and have something to offer.

I think you’re overthinking it somewhat! Your normal response of “Thanks, we will reach out if it makes sense for us” is probably still fine. But if you want to say more, you could say, “Thanks, I appreciate it! We’ve been inundated with offers, and I want to be up-front that while this looks really cool, it’s probably not something we’ll pursue — we’ve got our hands full right now (or “our budget is fully allocated in this area” or “it’s not quite in line with what our major focuses are right now” or whatever makes sense) — but I appreciate you sending it along.” Or even just, “Thanks for getting in touch! It’s not quite right for us right now, but I appreciate you sending it.”

I think you are looking for a response that does more to affirm their worth, but really, people generally know the answer could be no, figure they’ll take the shot anyway, and just want a straightforward answer. There’s no language you can use that will change their circumstances (short of saying yes, which you can’t do), so just being kind but direct is the best way to go.

The exception to this is anyone who contacts you under false pretenses. That fake “date” guy deserved, “Wow, this is incredibly skeevy and I hope you don’t do this to anyone else, goodbye.”

2. Hair and interviews during quarantine

My question isn’t huge in the grand scheme of things, but it is stressing me out: I’m continuing my job search through the quarantine, and recently applied for a job I’m an excellent match for. But we’ve been in quarantine long enough for my roots to grow out very noticeably. (For context, I started going gray when I was a teenager, and I’ve been completely gray since my early 30s. I dye my hair back to my original color.)

Normally, of course, having noticeable roots at an interview would be unpolished, but salons are closed (and even if they weren’t, I wouldn’t love the idea of putting others at risk so I don’t have gray hair). I’m afraid to try dying my hair on my own, in case I end up doing something horribly wrong, mismatch the colors, etc. Is there more leeway for obvious root growth in interviews right now, or do I just need to steel my spine and dye it myself?

There is much more leeway for weird hair situations right now — but I wouldn’t even put grey roots in that category! You’re allowed to decide to let your grey grow out even when we’re not in a pandemic, and you’re still allowed to interview for jobs while you’re doing it. But if you do feel your hair looks less polished than you’d ideally like for an interview, interviewers are going to get it. Feral is the new normal.

Make a point of being especially polished in the areas you can control (other grooming, clothes, jewelry, interview background) and you should be fine. Good luck!

3. How do I get colleagues to back off from constantly checking in during our furlough?

I am currently furloughed due to the lockdown and am maintaining social contact with friends and family virtually. It’s not easy but it needs to be done, so I’m just getting on with it. I am, however, beginning to feel somewhat stalked by some of my fellow furloughed coworkers. I live alone and they seem to feel the need to check up on me constantly via phone and text. I wouldn’t speak to any of them this often if we were at work. Yes, I consider them friends but have very little to say when they ask how my day is going, etc. — every day is pretty much the same these days! I don’t want to be ungrateful, although I also don’t like feeling like I’ve been put on some kind of pity contact rota because I live alone, but the level of contact is beginning to really get to me.

It’s not about work stuff. It seems to be mainly checking in. It’s not like I can ignore the phone, as they know I’ll be in! And I need to leave my phone on in case my family needs to get hold of me or I would have turned it off by now. Any advice as to how to ask them to cut back the contact a bit without ruining work relationships if and when we eventually do go back?

No, wait, you can ignore the phone! You could be out on a walk, or taking a nap, or watching a movie, or talking to someone else — or just ignoring your phone because you don’t feel like picking up right now, which is completely fine to do. The phone is not a summons. You’re allowed to ignore it, whether or not you think people expect will you to be available. So really, stop picking up! (I ignore my phone constantly, and it is wonderful.)

Also, if your phone allows it, there’s nothing wrong with muting calls and texts from these particular coworkers’ phone numbers. Then, if you want, send a return text a day or two or three later — which will begin to reset expectations about how available you are. Or, if you want to, you could say, “I’m finding all the checking in has turned out to be a little overwhelming, so you probably won’t hear from me as much as we’ve been talking — but I’ll check in with you later in the summer!” Or you can just let the contact taper off on your side.

For what it’s worth, these may not be pity calls; they may be looking for social contact themselves. But you’re allowed to put up your own boundaries around that too.

4. Should you paste the job description in tiny white font at the end of your resume?

I had a question about a trend I’m seeing pop up more and more as I scroll TikTok. This seems like a definite “no, you should not do this” to me, but I’ve seen multiple people, including people claiming to be hiring managers, recommend doing the following trick: copy and pasting a job description into the body of your resume, making it all white, and shrinking the size so it doesn’t show up. They claim this trick will bypass hiring software big companies use (and submitting it in Word vs. PDF so it works) so your resume gets through. I understand the appeal since software may automatically reject someone who could be a great fit for a job, but with TikTok such a big platform now, especially for the younger generation who are first time job seekers, this doesn’t seem like genuine advice.

No, it’s terrible advice. Don’t do it. This “trick” has been recommended for over a decade, and it’s always been bad advice.

If your resume is going into an electronic application system, the formatting will get stripped out and those words are all going to appear, no longer in white and no longer tiny, and you’re going to look like you (a) inexplicably and sloppily pasted the entire job description into your resume or (b) are trying to game the system.

5. Should I really check back with these employers?

I’ve been applying to several jobs and I have gotten several generic emails that positions have been put on hold.

Recently, two employers reached out to me without a generic form email. I had extensively interviewed with one employer. They didn’t feel I fit the position I applied for, but they said they liked me and were looking for another role. HR then called and said due to the current situation, they couldn’t make it work but to keep in contact and check back in a few months and to reach out if I see any other roles at their company.

The second one was in early stages (first interview). HR said that the position was on hold and they didn’t have a time line, but she asked me to reach back out in several weeks.

Is it worth it to put a reminder on my calendar and reach back out at the end of summer? Do the employees mean it when they ask you to keep in touch? Maybe I’m overthinking it, but it’s been a tough hiring process lately.

Yes, it’s worth it to make a note to check back with them. Employers don’t generally ask you to do that unless they mean it, since otherwise they’d be flooded by contact that they don’t want. Take them at their word.

{ 335 comments… read them below }

  1. Jackalope*

    “Feral is the new normal” is definitely my favorite quote of the day. And so true!!

      1. Alston*

        It hit me right kn the funny bone.

        I am thinking print it on your mask. Really grt the point across

        1. Quill*

          Just don’t embroider it on a mask we don’t want to make unnecessary holes in those.

      1. Swiper*

        I don’t know that anything will ever top “Of course, this may just get you added to the list of people she’s cursing, but black magic is one of many occupational hazards.”

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            I don’t need another hobby, but there’s so many glorious one liners here that I feel the distinct need to needlepunch. I need a whole wall of “black magic is one of many occupational hazards” and “feral is the new normal”.

            1. Roy G. Biv*

              Those are the phrases to go on one of those reversible signs. Instead of Open/Closed, it says “black magic is one of many occupational hazards” on one side and “feral is the new normal” on the other. Flip to the appropriate sentiment according to mood.

    1. Suibhne*

      Agreed! My hair is also currently going back to nature and I am also afraid of self-dyeing, so my solution has involved a variety of DIY headbands. You can fold a scarf into a wide band or even buy a stretchy head wrap a couple inches wide (there are a million on Etsy). In a solid, dark color, this has been hiding my significant roots during client-facing Zoom calls and doesn’t look out of place with a blazer. I’ve also found that brightly lighting your face makes your hair sort of blur on camera, and it’s almost impossible to see roots that are glaringly obvious in person. My work look tends femme so I don’t know if this will help everyone, but it’s helped *me* ignore my feral hair, which is really what matters!

      1. Shannon*

        Second the scarf/headband!

        And there are several options for color depositing conditioners – I use overtone to camouflage my super gray roots if my hair appointment is delayed for whatever reason. It’s worth a quick internet search if this is something that concerns you.

      2. Jdc*

        Also for LW those root touch up sprays really get the job done short term. I just got one to hold me over as at 37 I’m about 80% grey and I wish I’d had it years ago just to hold me over between salon visits.

        1. snowglobe*

          Yes, I was going to suggest the touch-up spray. I use one that washes right out, so you don’t need to worry if the color isn’t right. And even if it’s off, it’s probably less noticeable on video than the contrast with gray hair.

          That said, I agree with Alison that no one will hold roots against you these days.

        2. Roots McGee*

          I use a root touch up powder. I got mine at the salon where I get my hair dyed but there are also kinds you can get at a retail store.

        3. Media Monkey*

          just be careful to wash it out before you go to the hairdressers to get the roots covered properly – mine won’t dye on top of those sprays so they had to wash it out of my hair and then blow dry (no mean feat – i have a lot of hair) before they could start with the colour.

        4. WiscoKate*

          Was coming to see if anyone had recommended this. I’ve been using root spray and a ‘coloring’ conditioner that deposits a little color to hold me over. It works really well for video meeting purposes.

          1. Karyn*

            Yes! Depending on the color, Overtone is great (I have red-dyed hair and their red-for-brown-hair is a lifesaver). I’m going back to dark brown when I see my stylist again, but for now, that stuff is great. If you have natural colored hair, the root powders are also excellent. Bumble makes a great one.

        5. TootsNYC*

          there are also powders to brush on as well; I have one of those that I used when i noticed, as I was recording the alto part for a choir compilation, that the lighting in my recording corner makes the gray really show up.

          But I also noticed the when I tipped my head down to turn the page that it really showed that I hadn’t extended the treatment all the way to the back of my head.

      3. dashielle*

        I have a friend who actually uses dark eyeshadow as makeshift root powder in a pinch! My instinct, though, is that if your hair is pulled straight back into a bun or half up clip, it probably won’t read as roots, and if anyone even notices the color differentiation it won’t seem so extreme.

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      I always have a beard, because I hate shaving, but I usually have the barber whack it down pretty close when it starts to look scruffy. Nowadays I am aiming for the Civil War General look, but I fear I am hitting closer to Crazed Frontier Preacher.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        So, not knowing too much about beards, can you just use a electric clippers with a #2 or #4 comb to crop it?

  2. Jillian*

    #2 – If you really want to do your roots, Clairol Root Touch-up is really easy; I’ve been using it when necessary. You can buy it just about anywhere, including Amazon.

    1. nnn*

      Another touch-up option is hair mascara, which washes out with shampoo, so any mistakes aren’t permanent.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Yep. You can also get any wash-out hair color and likely be safe; if you’re worried about using dyes at all, get hair colors from a theatrical shop that are designed to shampoo out after the show. Or if you’re really worried and don’t want to have to deal with the growth at all in the meantime, wigs work.

        1. Airy*

          Wigs can be expensive if you want a natural/human-looking one, and putting them on properly so they don’t shift around or slide back is a technique in itself. You also have to spend enough time wearing one to get used to how it feels and not look awkward. That’s such a lot of preparation that I wouldn’t recommend one as a practical solution for someone who just doesn’t want their grey roots to show in interviews.

          1. Bibliovore*

            I do amateur theatre, and have seen lots of people who’ve never worn wigs before successfully put a cheap one on themselves in very few minutes and wear it comfortably, so mileage may vary for that. There are plenty of videos online showing how to put on and anchor a wig. It’s certainly more cumbersome in the moment than dyes, which is why I listed those options first, but it’s never going to get roots. :)

    2. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      I second this! The key to choosing the right color is this- find the color that looks closest to yours and then buy one shade lighter than that. For example, if you are #7 dark blonde, then buy #8 medium blonde because hair color always comes out darker than the model’s hair on the box.

        1. soon to be former fed really*

          Oh I see, the number increases as the color lightens, I would have thought the opposite. Never mind.

    3. Sarah*

      The clairol root touch-up dye is great — I’ve used it a lot and it’s super easy. But they also make a version “root touch-up concealing powder” that is kind of like an eyeshadow that you apply to your hair, which also works well and washes right out.
      The dye runs true to color. But the powder version runs dark — I have dark brown hair and bought the medium brown powder, which is almost too dark.

        1. Jdc*

          I just bought this one and agree. Also my neighbor, who is a 30 year stylist, also said the Clarol root touch up is the way to go and shouldn’t mess anything up, and if it isn’t perfect once you go to the salon will be easily gone over.

          I’ve done both before. I like the spray a lot more than the powders though as it’s quicker since I have sooo much grey. I’d be working with the powder for hours I fear.

          1. Jdc*

            Oh also to note. Many many stylists are offering root touch up kits made just for you to their clients. Mine will let you come pick it up and even send a video tutorial.

            1. Uranus Wars*

              I think this might vary by state. If stylists in my state did this and were found out they could lose their license. They can sell generic color or make recommendations but can’t “mix up” your special color and sell for home use.

              1. Goliath Corp.*

                Out of curiosity, why would that be? How is it different than ordering hair colour online? presumably they’d still be giving you the colour and developer separately, since it wouldn’t last long once mixed.

                1. Beth*

                  In my state, NC, it’s because the dyes are only sold to licensed cosmetologist/stylists, and they are responsible for the results, so they can’t give it to an unlicensed, unsupervised person.

          2. alienor*

            I’m doing the Clairol touch-up right now too. I have brown hair and in the past I’ve found it works best to get a shade darker than I think I need–most people’s roots are darker than the rest of their hair anyway because of sun, etc., and it seems to cover everything up better. I figure my regular stylist can fix any mismatches once I can finally see her again.

        2. Proofin’ Amy*

          I use the L’Oreal spray to cover big areas and then a Bumble and Bumble crayon for more tricky spots at the sides and front. Also I have hair bands.

      1. ASW*

        I second the concealing powder. I use the root touch up dye too, but if you really don’t want to attempt dye, the powder works great for me. I can even sleep with it on and it still looks fine the next day, but then it washes right out if there are any problems. I also started going gray as a teenager. I’m in my 30s now and I only go to the salon every other month because I can’t bring myself to burn half a Saturday morning there every month, plus the cost. I usually use the touch up dye after about four weeks and then I use the powder in between as soon as the gray starts showing. My hair is dark and completely gray in spots on top, and I usually only get a week or so before the gray is noticeable again.

    4. Jimming*

      I recommend Overtone – it’s a colored conditioner and I love it!

      That said, my roots are growing in and I am just letting it go for now. (I’ve also seen more of my coworkers in hats on zoom!)

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Color depositing shampoo comes in natural colors yes? We’ve used it in rainbow shades in this house.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Be cautious with color enhancers. (Not the powders, they seem to do well.) I have doing my hair red for years and decided to try a color enhancer. I bought dark auburn and…it turned my hair pink!! Definitely not the look I was going for, but didn’t look bad, and the grandchildren thought it was great!!

        1. Karyn*

          When I worked at Sephora I had an older client (around 60-ish) who had bright purple and blue hair. She was a BADASS.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I want to do this if my hair ever goes completely white!

            Right now, I’ve touched up with a professional-grade color recommended by my old stylist that I nabbed at Sally Beauty before everything closed down. I bought two, plus the developer, and I still have one left. It’s not so much about video interviews, just that not having an inch of roots makes me feel less like I’m failing at everything.

    6. MicroManagered*

      I immediately thought of L’Oreal Paris Magic Root Cover Up . You can get it at Target. It’s just a spray that lasts until you shampoo it out–not a dye. (OP2 said she was leery of coloring her own hair.)

      I’ve only seen it in very generic colors (light or dark brown/blonde, a red color) but for a video interview, it’d probably pass.

      1. Beth*

        I used it last week, and it was great, until I walked outside in 85 degree heat and got a little sweaty. The color held, but I had to delicately dab at the edges. I also forgot I had it on and got into bed and laid down on my WHITE pillowcases.

    7. East of Nowhere South of Lost*

      I took the plunge, i picked a color that was super close to what my hair has faded 2, did a test strand so I knew how it would come out,then applied it. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, and my roots are covered, so I’m happy.

    8. RC Rascal*

      Another shout out for Clairol Root Touch Up. It’s affordable and available at Walmart/Target and Walgreens. It’s easy to use, too. A word of caution: If you are working with hair dye at home it will discolor your sink/vanity. If you have a natural stone or marble one please cover with plastic sheeting prior to dyeing. The stuff wipes off acrylic and porcelain easily so no need to cover those.

      I would not be afraid to try a home dye product as long as you are coloring close to your natural color. If you are changing colors drastically, thats a different story.

      Like OP, I started going gray as a teenager so I can relate.

    9. Dr Rat*

      I’ve tried it all (my family has hair that gets gray early – some members in their teens!) For powders, I’m a big fan of Everpro Gray Away. You can get a little pot and applicator or it comes in a stick. I’ve tried the L’Oreal Magic Root Cover Up spray and am not a fan…misses some areas, hits the scalp if you part your hair and darkens the scalp, etc. One thing to consider for a solution that will last a few weeks is a semi-permanent box color with no ammonia. It colors only the outside shaft of the hair and is designed to wash out in about a month. It won’t cover the gray 100% but will tone it way down. I used Clairol Natural Instincts last month and it’s just about gone. And if you don’t like the color – you just shampoo several times over a couple of days and use really hot water and it will come out. Because there is no ammonia it should not interact badly with a professional color.

  3. Kiltswinger*

    #2 if you want a cover up, but don’t want to make a commitment go with a spray or powder cover up that’ll wash out. I think that’s what I’ll end up doing if I have to. My hairdresser told me that box dye doesn’t play nice with her formulas.

    Besides, I don’t know if should go with brown, blonde or purple

    1. Windchime*

      Yes, this. I used to use a temporary spray product on my roots before I finally stopped coloring. It really did a good job and I was pretty happy with it.

      I’ve let my color grow out and have gone silver now, but man do I need a haircut! My mom usually gets her hair cut every 4 weeks; she has thick, wavy, silver hair and says that she looks like Queen Elizabeth now. :)

      1. snowglobe*

        Me too on the haircut. I normally wear a short, pixie cut style, and am at that terrible stage where it looks like a short shaggy mop. Awful.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          Same on the needs-a-haircut-pixie-now-weird-shaggy-half-mullet-weirdness. I’m only somewhat joking about taking the horse clippers to it. Started with about 3-4 inches on top, now it’s past my nose by a good inch, inch and a half. My hair randomly curls in places, so my duck curls are back on the nape of my neck, and on the sides where it’s somewhat shorter. It’s…..a look.

        2. tink*

          Ugh, my undercut has grown out because my stylist moved a few months before all of this and I hadn’t found a new one, so I’ve got this weird pixie mullet with wispy bits happening.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          Mine is long and I got a haircut before the lockdown, but the ends are starting to get messy again.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Mine said she had grown a mane. She gets hers cut every 3-4 weeks usually. The Lion Mom.

        1. Nessun*

          I use “mane” for my hair in the best of times – it is long, fairly loose curls, and goes wherever it wants. I’ve said in the past that when I stop dyeing it I’ll keep the length and rock the silver all the way down! …right now there’s about 2 inches of very bright roots which I’m just not bothering about. I’ll keep it clean and healthy, and the stylist can fix the colour later. But still – when I’m 80, oh yeah, we’re going full-on Brian May silver mane o’ hair.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I saw a woman with really long white hair at a very small nerd con in OldCity a couple of years ago, and it was GORGEOUS. #hairgoals

    2. Wallacd*

      I actually contacted my hairdresser to ask her what dye she uses on my hair so I could color it myself. I never realized just how much white I have and looking at it was just depressing the crap out of me. The sides were almost pure white. She said while she normally wouldn’t recommend I try it myself, these aren’t normal times so I should go for it. The dye and developer were available on Amazon amazingly and she told me the how much to use and for how long. It was messy and took me way longer than it does her and I hope I never have to do it again, but the color is right and the gray is covered and now I only cringe about the length (I have short hair – I have never gone this long without a hair cut). Dying yourself can be scary, but it can be done.

    3. Anon Anon*

      I’ve colored my hair, but only using what my colorist recommended. Box dyes can totally screw things up if you get it professionally colored, and I think it’s also very easy to pick a color that is simply too dark.

      1. TootsNYC*

        this is the time when I’m glad I’ve always just done it myself at home with box dyes.

      2. Sally*

        I discovered this when I was making enough money to have my hair dyed at the salon instead of doing it myself at home: If your hair is dyed a dark color, you can’t then dye it a lighter color without using bleach. I had no idea. My stylist did balayage on my hair so we could put a lighter red at the roots without a line showing where the color was different. When I eventually decide to let the white grow out, I’ll have her do the balayage again so the color change can be a little more subtle.

        1. Andraste's Knicker Weasels*

          Any time you want to make your hair lighter, you’ll need bleach, whether or not the current color is dye or natural. The lighter you want to go, the stronger the bleaching needed.

    4. Not a Blossom*

      Yeah, I have a powder that works wonders and washes right out, and it is terrific. It’s simple and you don’t have to worry about it messing with your hair permanently or it making things trickier for your hair colorist once you finally do get back to the salon.

    5. Curmudgeon in California*

      When I dye my hair, it’s purple. I have quite a bit of gray coming in at 58, but where I work it’s not an issue. If I were interviewing, I’d go back to purple.

      I have to admit, I’m waaaay too cheap to pay a salon to dye it. For one, they seldom have the color purple I want, for two it takes hours to set the dye, and for three it is easily $50 at a beauty school, and more anywhere else. To maintain it I would have to pay that cost monthly, or every other month at best. I can buy food or hobby stuff regularly for that kind of money.

      The nice thing about going with dye that is very different than your natural color is that you don’t have to worry about mis-match. Just write down the shade you picked, and stick with it.

      I feel sorry for the people in the hair, nails and waxing industry. I can see little or no way for them to do their jobs safely.

  4. Heidi*

    For Letter 4, even if the hidden description didn’t get detected and made it to a set of human eyes, they would probably find it odd that the resume doesn’t list any of the skills and experiences they were screening for. If you have the skills and experiences, it makes more sense to incorporate the keywords from the job description into the actual text of the resume, doesn’t it?

    1. nnn*

      Yes, that’s what I came to post. If you use the wording in the job description to describe the relevant parts of your skills and experiences, you’ll have a resume that’s effective for humans as well as algorithms.

    2. Mookie*

      Yep. It’s the laziest possible means of tailoring application materials to fit the job description, verbatim or otherwise. If you can’t actually substantiate, in resume-style terse sentences, that your experience meets the needs and skills, why even apply?

    3. HR Parks Here*

      Exactly. Use the job description to target your resume to that job and put key words in it without seeming hokie.

    4. Venus*

      I have applied to jobs that had really basic requirements, and as an example it felt weird putting “U.S. Citizen” as a skill (I wasn’t sure where else to list it), yet it was a better way to add keywords into the application without playing tricks that are likely to backfire. I put all the basic requirements that they mentioned at the end of the skills list, to make it clear that I was adding them just to satisfy the request. It may not have helped, but I did make it through the filter!

      1. TootsNYC*

        make it “Skills and Qualifications”? Then listing citizenship and other requirements wouldn’t feel quite as weird.

        And then I’d agree with you about putting that sort of thing at the end.

    5. HairApparent*

      Yep. This “trick” is nothing more than a digital version of go-get-‘em gumption.

      1. Stormfeather*

        It’s the job-search version of increasing your font and the margin size to magically make your printed-out paper fit the criteria given by your teacher/professor.

    6. Allison*

      Right, someone is gonna read that resume, the ATS robots don’t instantly schedule someone for an interview just because the resume is flagged as a match. Don’t insult the intelligence of HR and TA professionals.

      1. Whatsit*

        To be fair to the job seekers following this bad advice, I think it’s actually the opposite – people aren’t trying to trick HR with this; they’re trying to trick a computer program so that their resume can get in front of human eyeballs for a fair evaluation. Those ATS systems have a reputation of sucking resumes into the void and rejecting people for silly reasons. (Whether deserved or not. I understand they serve a purpose, but I’ve definitely been frustrated by these systems as a job applicant, so I get why people try these tricks.)

        1. Searcher*

          A service like jobscan.co can help here. It will you customize the resume to the posting to legitimately get through the ATS.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Yeah, I always thought this is what you’re supposed to do, tweak your resume for the job. It’s a marketing document, not your permanent record.

  5. Courtney*

    I am blown away by the fake date for OP#1. SO inappropriate! I feel like it would even be a kind of catfishing (deliberately misrepresenting yourself to another person while dating, and for financial gain no less)

    1. WorkIsADarkComedy*

      This would make a great premise for a movie. But I wouldn’t want the standard rom-com version, where they end up falling in love. Much better would be a film noir version, where she leads him on, he gets interested, becomes the fall guy, and spends a couple decades in jail.

      1. Marthooh*

        “…a film noir version, where she leads him on, he gets interested, becomes the fall guy, and spends a couple decades in jail.”

        Add a social-distancing plot twist (maybe security camera + mask?) and call it .

    2. A*

      In my book it absolutely is catfishing! I had it happen once back when I lived in a metro city that was extremely competitive / high COL. Met through an online dating platform, but they must have found me on LinkedIn because the ‘date’ quickly turned into a cold product pitch (at the time I was a buyer for a prominent brand known to make/break smaller brands).

      It was depressing, and beyond rude. I told him as such, and to date it is one of the only ‘dates’ I’ve ever walked out on. And the only time I stuck them with the bill.

    3. MicroManagered*

      Yeah… I think I’d actually contact that guy’s employer. Kinda curious why Alison didn’t recommend that? I know generally, cold-contacting someone’s employer to tattle is not recommended here. I think this is an exception because he is using cat-fishing as a sales tactic (and he’s a sales rep).

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, this is so over the line, I would have to seriously consider contacting the company. I wonder if he has done that to other women in other companies. If so, then this really needs an email to HQ.

      2. White Peonies*

        I was thinking this too. I would have outed him and his tactics on social media and tagged his company, this is so far out of normal bounds.

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I would definitely spread the word about the guy’s company and product. (I somehow assumed he’s the owner of the business.) After what he pulled on OP, I don’t care how amazing his product is, I would not buy it. If I needed this product, I would buy from his competitor. If he’s that devoid of ethics, how else will he try to rip me off if I buy from him? Not taking that chance.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Adding: if he is a sales rep for a company, then I agree that notifying his boss/HQ is the way to go. He’s making them look horrendously bad and they might not even be aware.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          This is a very fair point. MY dad many moons ago was briefly teamed with a sales guy who pulled stunts like this – and never warning my dad what was planned (my dad was the tech expert assigned to this team). The first time this guy pulled a stunt dad warned him not to do it again. The second time dad directly reported the guy to HR for the company, third time my dad went to the regulatory board for their industry. Dad was not about to loose his professional licenses for an idiot who couldn’t play by company and industry rules.

          (No my dad didn’t get in trouble for reporting this guy – HR thanked him. My dad apparently was the last resort team for reforming a sales guy who thought that “as long as I make sales the rules are for suckers” who had been reprimanded a bunch of times. Some people will never learn.)

    5. Kelly L.*

      This is apparently pretty common in MLM, among other things. People will set up accounts on Tinder or Bumble or whatever pretending to want dates, when really they just need someone to pitch Amway to.

    6. Richard Hershberger*

      I work for a solo practitioner lawyer. I often answer the phone, a substantial fraction of which are sales calls. I have a very good idea of what sort of marketing call he might actually be interested in. Those calls I will ask him if he wants to take it. The others don’t get that far. The marketers regard me, not without reason, as the obstacle to get past to my boss. I get that. But I wonder about the ones who lie about their call. Is this really effective?

      A classic example in the lawyer biz is a call from some other state, saying they have a case to refer. This is a real thing. A Californian gets in an auto accident in Pennsylvania. It is perfectly reasonable for this person to go to a California lawyer, who will try to settle the case himself. But if it doesn’t settle and they need to litigate, the California lawyer needs to bring in co-counsel in Pennsylvania. He probably doesn’t know one, so he will ask around for recommendations, and if that doesn’t pan out he will just call someone with the right specialty. So the premise of a cold call with a referral from out of state is plausible, and definitely a call we want to take. It has an excellent chance of getting past me. But when the actual pitch is something entirely different? What was the point of this? Even in the unlikely chance that it is for something we might actually want after all, the salesman has just shown himself to be dishonest.

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        What are people thinking when they do this? “I know you’re looking for a lawyer in Pennsylvania, but I think you could REALLY clean up this case with Sham-Wow!! May I put you down for 1000?”

    7. tink*

      I would literally put that company on Do Not Contact/Do Not Do Business with and let them know that my company’s not in the business of working with liars with bad boundaries. I’d also have some words for the people contacting me on my personal device–namely, how did you get my personal number and why on earth do you think it’s appropriate to contact me on it for sales pitches?

    8. guest*

      I work for a high-profile company that attracts media attention and we were explicitly warned during orientation that journalists will do this to random employees just looking for any sort of scoop, which is just sooo skeevy

    9. I'm just here for the cats*

      Why do people do this? Like how do they think it’s going to work. Even if he wasn’t catfishing, If he legitimately was on the date and found out about her work, a date is the wrong time to do the business.
      If OP hasn’t already I would try and contact the dating website customer service and report him.

    10. ECHM*

      So glad the date was on FaceTime rather than in person so OP could just “hang up”!

  6. SS Express*

    OP2, as a few people have mentioned, there are heaps of products that can temporarily cover grey roots! Lots of them are from drugstore brands, so fairly affordable and accessible (depending on your circumstances of course). I have a great pressed powder that you apply with a little brush almost like makeup (it was expensive but I think the Clairol one is similar), and I saw Eva Longoria demonstrating L’Oreal Magic Retouch Spray on instagram and it looked really effective. There are mascaras and crayon/stick products too. Just make sure you buy something that’s a temporary wash-out one. If you have a regular hairdresser you could even ask them for a recommendation.

    But if you don’t want to deal with that I certainly think you’d be absolutely fine interviewing as you are, nobody is perfectly groomed right now!

  7. lazuli*

    LW3, I joked a couple weeks ago that suddenly all my coupled and familied friends (I live alone) decided I needed checking on, and that I worried if I didn’t answer my phone they were going to think my cats had eaten my body and call the police for a welfare check. (OMG the phone kept ringing so much!) Joking about it with a couple people seems to have helped calm them down, and I’ve noticed that this just goes in waves. I’m in California and we’re entering week 9 of stay-at-home orders; it feels like every three weeks people just get irrationally concerned about me, even if I’ve generally been staying in touch with them. I’m trying to accept their concern as a statement of their care for me and I’ve decided (with no corroborating evidence) that it must be that three weeks is about when people quarantined with others hit a breaking point and so assume it’s worse for those of us who choose to live alone, even if it’s not! I figure letting them check in on me is a kindness I can give to them.

    1. NoLongerStuckInRetailHell*

      The advice to just ignore the calls is terrible. The callers are going to imagine the OP is lying on the bathroom floor bleeding to death after hitting her head on the toilet, or coughing her lungs out dying of Covid 19 unable to use the telephone, and they are going to keep calling or show up at her door or call the police for a welfare check. OP needs to proactively set boundaries, perhaps reassure them she is in daily contact with family/friends and coworkers need not feel obligated to check up on her constantly.

      1. Neyla*

        Wha…? The OP is allowed to not answer her phone if she doesn’t feel like talking. The advice didn’t say to disappear forever, it said you don’t need to answer every time and it’s okay not to return the call immediately. Sensible people are not calling police for a welfare check because someone didn’t return a phone call same day.

        1. Dragoning*

          For days, though, when a fatal pandemic is happening and they’re already worried about her?

          1. LJay*

            And there has been a lot of concern about mental health – especially for people isolating alone – as well. And being furloughed can be traumatic even in the best of times.

            I would absolutely be worried about a friend isolating alone, who just lost their source of income, who didn’t respond to me for days with no explanation.

            A simple “Hey I’m going to be deep in working on projects for the next couple days and might not be too responsive to calls or texts – the phone distracts me so I’m going to keep it in the other room” (even if their project was seeing how much Netflix they could watch in a week) or an honest “I’m really touched by the care everyone is showing, but I’m really fine. All these check-in calls from everyone are getting a bit overwhelming so I’m not going to be responding as much, but I’ll reach out if I do need anything. Let’s touch base next week,” would do a lot to assure me that they weren’t in a bad spot (or that I had at least done all I could if they were).

            I don’t expect a response immediately or even necessarily the same day. But a few days in this situation would have me concerned when in normal times I would just generally assume that they are busy.

        2. The pest, Ramona*

          I’m old enough that when I first moved (1000 miles) away from home we had land lines and no answering machines. And I was a college student who had classes all day and study groups/sports at night. My mom was very worried when she didn’t reach me for over a month (I couldn’t afford to call home, and honestly didn’t think they would worry). When we finally connected we agreed that we would connect at certain intervals.
          Perhaps not being tied to our phones is not such a bad thing? Tell your friends/family/coworkers that you’ve decided to go on an electronic ‘cleanse’ and let them know when/if they can expect to hear from you. It’s that easy. Really, it is.

      2. Myrin*

        I mean, I would second the advice to establish boundaries proactively and would definitely suggest a general conversation about it, but if my coworkers assume I’m bleeding out on my bathroom floor just because I’m not picking up my phone once, that seems like a Them Problem to me, not a Me Problem.

        1. The Rural Juror*

          Exactly! It’s not the coworker’s responsibility to ensure the OP’s safety. Alison’s advice to pull back somewhat, but not totally disappear, is good advice. Boundaries are healthy!

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            Yes. I often screen my calls, and only answer unknown numbers when I’m bored. If people start calling me for trivial reasons, they get blocked. I don’t need to talk to everybody. After a couple phone jobs, I hate the telephone.

      3. PollyQ*

        Even people who are in stay-at-home on their own may be going for a walk, running to the grocery store, taking a shower, etc., etc. Ignoring any given call, as long as they return it or touch base later in a reasonable time period, shouldn’t trigger great desperate fears in someone unless they’ve got some kind of anxiety disorder.

        1. Batty Twerp*

          I had a “concerned” follow-up call because I didn’t pick up the phone within two rings. So I returned awkwardness to sender with complete honesty: “I didn’t answer the phone because I was peeing.”

          You are allowed to screen your calls and texts messages.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            Love it. I even have to do that with family – “Sorry, I was peeing” or “Sorry, I don’t get up at 8 am on weekends”.

        2. UKDancer*

          Quite. I don’t always answer the phone because I’m doing something else such as attending a virtual meeting, walking to the shops or watering the pots on my balcony. Sometimes I don’t want to talk or I’m busy with a particular piece of work. I will note who has called and ring them back when it suits or send a text / email if that’s easier for me.

          I think as long as one returns the contact in a reasonable time period then reasonable people shouldn’t get too concerned. Anyone who leaps to the assumption that I’m dead on the floor really needs to sort out their priorities.

        3. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Right. The phone is for MY convenience. This was true even before mobile phones became more prevalent. If I’m out walking the dog, I carry my phone for emergencies but I don’t answer it. If I’m in the bathtub, I’m not going to answer it. Maybe I’m taking a nap. Reading a book. Fighting with my boyfriend.

          I have anxious, bordering-on-paranoid family members and even they have learned that I will get back to them within a day or two. And I do, because I don’t want to deal with their guilt trips any more than I have to. But that doesn’t mean I have to cater to their needs over my own all the time. I call them back– and my call is on my time and when it’s convenient for me. And if they don’t pick up when I call back, I… leave a message.

          1. Gumby*

            The phone is for MY convenience.

            Exactly! The first time I read something this sentiment I was in college (and we were mostly still on land lines) and it was one of those “how *obvious* why did I never think of that?” things. Pretty sure it was in reference to a farmer not picking up his phone in the barn? Possibly in Technopoly.

      4. Mx*

        That would be weird if people thought she’s dead just because she doesn’t pick up the phone. Generally people don’t pick up the phone because they don’t want to talk. And they are only coworkers, not family/friends.
        But I agree OP should set boundaries.

      5. Freefall*

        What a bizarre comment! If that’s how you respond to someone not answering their phone, you’re the one with the problem. And probably need professional help to deal with the thought processes that led you there.

        So. Weird.

      6. Asenath*

        I don’t think they’ll do anything like that unless they can’t reach her for a longer period. I’m still pretty isolated, but I’ve ignored calls that came in while I was on an online meeting (not a work one, since I’m not working), and no one assumed I was dead or dying. I do return the calls when convenient, saying I was online and missed their call.

      7. hbc*

        I don’t know if you count yourself among those callers who imagine those things or just have those kinds of callers in your life, but it is really, really important for everyone to break the mental connection between random contact and survival. And it certainly isn’t the OP’s responsibility to manage what’s in everyone else’s heads.

      8. CheeryO*

        You’re getting piled on, but I agree. No one said that the LW needs to answer the phone every time it rings, but if she ignores everyone for days, these people are going to be more concerned, not less. It’s definitely a use your words situation.

        1. Dragoning*


          “if you want, send a return text a day or two or three later —”

          Is more of an issue than not answering the phone. Because if I called to check on someone who had been responding to me regularly, during a pandemic that is killing people and didn’t hear from them for three days? Yeah, I’d be calling someone.

          1. Alli525*

            This is assuming that these calls/texts are the ONLY contact they have with OP. If OP is responding to emails (whether to the coworkers or to her boss) and/or attending meetings, there’s no problem. And if they ARE concerned, they should be contacting her boss to say “hey we haven’t heard from her, is she ok?” and not, for example, directly contacting the police for a welfare check.

            I once had a coworker who would occasionally (like once a year) go MIA, but it was always because he’d partied too hard the night before and missed his alarm. We always talked with our boss (who would also try to contact him directly) before reaching out to his emergency contact. Chains of command, people!!

          2. Uncle Waldo*

            That’s a very strong reaction. I would warn you against thinking it’s a universal truth.

            Personally, I wouldn’t reach that assumption unless that person and I were explicitly each other’s emergency contacts. It’s very different with other people.

            Not everyone likes to answer calls every day. These days, I talk to my friends throughout the week, but I only have three people I message every day (not always a phone call, either). People have a right to monitor their phone usage, and they have a right to change their mind about how frequently they answer, especially if it is causing stress.

          3. RagingADHD*

            OP said these are coworkers they don’t normally have such frequent contact with.

            So they are not besties.

            You don’t get to appoint yourself someone’s primary emergency contact, when you’re an ancillary person in their life. If you want someone to report in to you regularly to ease your anxiety, you can request that, but they don’t have any obligation.

            And honestly, expecting everyone you work with, even the ones you normally deal with a couple times a month, to make responding to you a top priority? That’s a big overstep.

      9. Librarian1*

        No they won’t. Or at least most of them won’t. If someone doesn’t answer the phone when I call or respond to a text I just assume they’re doing something else, I don’t automatically go the worst case scenario. I think most people are the same.

      10. Archaeopteryx*

        What? Only abusers expect people to jump to answer the phone every single time it rings no matter what they’re doing. Normal people get that sometimes you let it go to voicemail and return the contact when it’s convenient for you. The idea that someone must be in trouble because they did not pick up a call is truly bizarre.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Nah, my MIL is a call-until-you-pick-up sort, and she’s not abusive, just a worrier. We live in the big, bad city (really, the very safe suburbs), which she sees as much riskier and more dangerous than the rural area they’re from. A common refrain in my house is, “You’d better answer that because she’s going to call back until you do… or call the police for a welfare check.” But she’s also not calling every, single day, and it’s also gotten better since we got her a smartphone and she can text.

          It’s weird to me because my family is more of a someone-would’ve-called-us-if-you-were-sick/hurt/dead sort of people (which my spouse finds weird), but it comes from a place of love and concern, not control.

          1. Lucy*

            Speaking from experience I understand the urge to respond to your MIL because it’s easier in the moment, but it really doesn’t help them in the long run. You’re reinforcing adverse behavior (and calling for a welfare check because you don’t answer the phone once really is inappropriate). The cycle looks like this-MIL has irrational fear that something has happened to you, calls you and to reassure her, you answer and her anxiety is temporarily curbed. It reinforces using external sources to quell her anxiety instead of identifying the true source of it and learning strategies to manage it herself. It still is controlling in its own way. She controls how you respond to her calls (not allowing you to answer on your terms) in order to manage her anxiety.

          2. RagingADHD*

            Having grown up with an anxious parent, I can tell you that “it’s your job to manage my anxiety” is not an expression of love.

            There may also be sincere love, but that is not loving behavior. And unmanaged anxiety gets worse as we age.

          3. Mily*

            As someone with an anxiety disorder, I appreciate your MIL’s situation, but she is still being controlling.

      11. Not So NewReader*

        Agreeing with NoLongerStuck. I think OP would be better off stating how she wants to handle these check-ins. Perhaps email is a solution. If OP promises to respond to email that may satisfy their check-in.
        I’d like to point out that the people calling may actually need OP to check on THEM. Sometimes we project on others what we need ourselves.

        While it is technically correct that you do not have to answer your phone, OP, it is also reasonable to assume that people will stop calling after a bit. You don’t have to answer and they don’t have to call. Ever. Again. Please think about what you want out of this situation. I don’t believe you can ignore their calls and still maintain a good relationship with them. But life is nothing but a long list of trade-offs.

        I don’t want people dropping out of my life or just not calling to check on me. What I actually want is to go to bed at a decent hour and try to get a good night’s rest. And there are times when I am working online and cannot deal with interruptions. These are the things I actually want. I have ended up in a few “When is a good time to call” discussions. This actually makes sense because we don’t know what the other person is working around in order to have phone time.
        People are great, they seem to be really understanding about this stuff.

        You say that you feel it’s some type of pity thing that is why they are calling you. If this is the case, then why not try to find out why the rotation and what is actually happening here. You are making a huge leap in logic. Many, many people live alone. Perhaps some of the folks calling you also live alone. I hope you can let go of the “pity” framing, I don’t think this framing is going to help you here.

        You may find that this is not an organized thing and it just sprouted up on its own.

      12. Annony*

        This is a former coworker, not someone the OP is particularly close with. If they jump to the conclusion that the OP is dying because she didn’t answer the phone (an unreasonable assumption) then maybe she should let a welfare check or whatever else the coworker decides to do happen rather than catering to their repeated demands for attention. If they do go off the rails, the OP can have a stern talk to them about not calling so often and not showing up or calling the police if she doesn’t answer her phone.

      13. JSPA*

        This is a very strange statement. It’s not “mom, whom I’ve religiously called twice a day for years.” It’s coworkers. People who have ZERO reason to elevate themselves to, “the check-in squad.” If they’re having those sort of anxiety attacks and run-away thoughts because a furloughed coworker doesn’t choose to talk, their next call should be to 24 hour crisis support. For themselves, not for the coworker. In the USA that’s 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

        Yes, I can work up a set of circumstances where this strong a reaction might be borderline normal. If the company had just gone to furlough, and there had been a bunch of cases in the workplace, and OP was known to have no family, and people had opted in to “check in with each other” calls…sure. (Well, at least, in the back of one’s mind.) In that case, OP would reasonably want to opt out of the check-in tree.

        But it’s not our coworkers’ job to handle our runaway thoughts; to make us feel needed; or to buy into our conviction that we’re providing an essential service by checking up on them, without so much as a check-in, to see if it’s welcome (and if so, at what frequency). Certainly not for days and weeks and months on end.

      14. Dahlia*

        …what, you can’t even ignore your phone if you’re pooping because your friends have runaway imaginations?

      15. schnauzerfan*

        I have one staff member who lives alone, recently moved to town, has some health issues, no neighbors that she knows well enough to notice if her dogs haven’t been out… So, I’ve asked for a “proof of life” message once a day. If shes active on slack or replying to an email I sent that’s fine. But if for some reason she’s got nothing to say on work matters, just send me a quick text “OK here” “Still alive” or whatever. Just for everyone’s peace of mine. If I don’t here from her, I’ll will call, if I don’t get an answer we’ll take steps.

      16. Uncle Waldo*

        I understand that you are being empathetic to the person on the other end of the line, but I really don’t think this warrants a formal conversation. The possibility of not being available to answer a phone call is such a given that we have voicemail and a log of all our missed calls within our reach. Even in this crisis, we all have lives to live.

    2. londonedit*

      I’m finding a similar thing! It was hilarious when people first started doing concerned check-ins with me, as if I’m 94 and unable to get out of the house. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice that people are thinking of me, but it took some getting used to! Then I stopped using Facebook because I was sick of all the coronavirus ranting, and it took about three weeks for people to notice but since then I’ve had several people getting in touch saying they haven’t seen me online for a while and wondered whether I was OK. I like your theory about the three-week thing!

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I have to admit that I go through cycles of not wanting to have anything to do with the people I have been in the same building with. Their family and I love them. But how can I miss you if you won’t go away. 40 minutes on the phone with a co-worker a few days ago was the best break I’ve had in a long time.

    4. WellRed*

      This advice to single people is about as disrespectful as the comment several weeks back that if you are looking for a gift for a single person staying in place, don’t give them alcohol.
      We’re fully formed, functioning adults. We can handle things.

        1. UKDancer*

          Absolutely! I mean I am a grown adult. I am not going to become inebriated to a dangerous level if you give me a bottle of wine. I will probably drink it in the course of a week slowly.

          1. londonedit*

            To be fair I’ll probably drink it in the course of an evening, but as a grown adult that’s also my lookout :)

            1. UKDancer*

              No I’m just a lightweight I think and I tend to fall asleep if I have more than 1 glass so I tend to limit my consumption.

      1. JSPA*

        “don’t drink alone” (along with “don’t drink when you’re feeling down,” “don’t drink to get drunk” and a couple of others) was, for decades, standard advice on how to avoid developing alcohol problems.

        By strict definition, if you live alone, and we’re in “stay home” mode, people who follow those rules would have no use for alcohol.

        This of course ignores video dates, video dinner parties, cooking with alcohol…and the fact that those “rules” didn’t actually prevent people from becoming alcoholic.

    5. Paulina*

      IMHO this is a job for social media, if one has or can set up an account that they’re willing to tell coworkers and acquaintances about. Post a basic update a day and nobody should legitimately worry that you’re dead. Bonus, it’s a decent way to communicate on your timetable, not when someone decides to call. Extra bonus if there are cat pictures.

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        See, to me, once per day sounds incredibly intrusive. Once a week is more my comfort level. But then, my friends and family know this, and they also know to text rather than call, etc. Everyone has to find a level of contact that works for them.

  8. Tomalak*

    LW1, just to add that it’s not a kindness to make people think you might spend money if you won’t. Nobody likes a no, but a direct no after 24 hours is so much better than hearing it a month later, after pointless work has been done (like formal proposals reviewed by bosses). I was damaged internally when pursuing someone who in retrospect clearly didn’t have the heart or budget to take on my company, but gave every impression that he was a realistic prospect. You can’t just hide these leads from your bosses but you can end up looking naive or unable to secure business when you fail to deliver. Just psychologically as well, it’s so much better hearing this stuff sooner rather than later.

    1. Tomalak*

      Sorry what I mean is he didn’t have the heart to say no but didn’t have the budget to say yes.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      LW1 needs to let themselves off the hook! They’re not wielding power over these people’s financial lives. They can’t possibly be expected to do business with everyone who comes down the pike.

    3. shhhhimhiding*

      This, so much this. I sometimes feel like saying “No” is a skill that a lot of us weren’t taught as kids and never got practice in, and it very much is a skill. I think of all the times someone told me no, and how I was never offended by it, but I still struggle to feel like I’m not disappointing someone by saying it.

      But sometimes no is the kind answer, because its the honest one. OP, these people are hearing no’s from a lot of other people too. Trust me, they’re used to it.

    4. TootsNYC*


      I came to make this comment, but I’ll just amplify yours.

      It is not a kindness to let people hope when hope is futile.
      In fact, it is a GIFT to say to someone, “the answer is no.”

      “I must be honest: I don’t see us using your services/product. Thanks for thinking of us, and I’ll put the info in the hands of the right person, but it would surprise me if you ever hear back.”

  9. Cambridge Comma*

    OP1, I wondered about ask vs. guess culture while reading your letter. Maybe you’re finding this annoying situation more uncomfortable because you’re a guesser?

    1. Avasarala*

      I live in a strong guess culture and I’m not sure that is at play here–I think the discomfort comes from companies and consultants using OP’s family and warmer relations to worm their way into an introduction. It’s a lot harder to tell your relative “Not interested *click*” vs. a stranger calling you on the phone. This is exactly what those people are banking on and that is why they are going about it this way. I’d be uncomfortable too, it feels very underhanded and manipulative.

      1. EPLawyer*

        OP1 needs to tell family members to not pass on these leads to her. Just tell them to stop. that is presuming these are not the family member’s companies using the family member to make a connection. If it is that, then a longer conversation about how it is not going to work needs to be had. But if its just people leveraging a connection with family member to get to OP, then she needs to tell family members to shut them down.

        OP1, you are getting too emotionally caught up in these contacts. it’s not emotional, it’s business. yes, people are struggling right now. But it is not your problem to single handedly solve thus leaving to guilt feelings when you can’t. It’s not their fault they are struggling — but it’s not YOUR fault either. Focus on what you can do — your job. Let the rest go.

        1. Annony*

          I agree. When family or friends try to connect the OP with someone looking for a job or business, you can outright tell them that you are swamped at work right now and really don’t have the capacity to talk to their friend right now. You can add in that your company is overwhelmed with requests and most likely will not have any business for them but they are welcome to contact your business directly (same as everyone else). Then tell the friend/family who brought up business that you really want your time with them to be business free because you really need the social outlet. They should understand.

        2. Jennifer Thneed*

          >> through friends who I can’t really be very blunt with,

          This is the bit that confused me. You absolutely can be straightforward with your friends. “Blunt” has an overtone of thoughtlessness, of not caring how the other person feels, I get it. But you can tell your friends (and family) quite plainly that you’re overwhelmed with requests like this, because most people don’t realize that they’re not the only one. Make it about them being kind to you, explain how horrible it makes you feel when you can’t help at all, but you really can’t!

    2. Dust Bunny*

      I’m pretty direct about asking for stuff I need and I don’t think we need to go this far down the rabbit hole with this. I think the sheer volume of requests and the fact that they’re often transmitted by people with whom the LW has an emotional connection would be uncomfortable for anybody, especially in the current situation where so many businesses are suffering so badly and so many people are out of work. It’s hard to say no to friends and family when you know they need the business!

  10. Artemesia*

    Remember the movie the Fabulous Baker Boys where the Beau Bridges character sprays his bald spot with ‘spray on hair’ i.e. essentially paint for the head. Well when my grey roots were looking bad 2 weeks after a dye job 30 years ago I got on the internet and found some — it worked great to cover the line between touch ups. Now they make tons of product specifically marketed for this purpose for women — there are powders and sprays. They do a good enough job for computer cameras (as would home touch ups — I could not use the products specifically to touch up gray — my gray was too resistant, but I found painting on more serious hair color would work pretty well.)

    You are probably good right now with crazy hair but if you are not comfortable with it, I’d either just touch up the roots at home or use a temporary product like these sprays and powders to get ready for a phone interview.

    1. Batgirl*

      I think sprays are easy and look surprisingly effective but they are no friend to your pillow. If OP wants to spray then wash her hair after the interview, it would definitely work.

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      When I think of The Fabulous Baker Boys, all I can remember is Michelle Pfeiffer atop a piano singing “Makin’ Whooppe.” In fairness, though, I am a very shallow person.

      1. Artemesia*

        Great scene. Good movie. And my introduction to head paint — all those touch ups for women were not on the market then.

  11. Not Australian*

    If it’s any consolation, OP#2, I’ve recently steeled myself to try a home-dye kit for the first time, I didn’t get it quite right, but it still looks okay for ordinary purposes. (Maybe not interview-ready, though.) What I failed to do, and what I would wholeheartedly recommend to you if you try it yourself, is to watch some YouTube videos to get a clear idea of how to ‘section’ your hair properly when you’re applying the colour. Also, try to take it slowly if you can; rushing and panicking is not conducive to a polished result. If you try it and it works, you’ve acquired a useful skill for the future. If you try it and it fails, you still have all the cover-up options other commenters have recommended. Frankly I think you have nothing to lose, but then it *did* take me many years and a global pandemic to summon up the courage myself and I completely understand your reticence!

    1. Constance Lloyd*

      Semipermanent color is also a solid option if OP1 does want to cover her roots but doesn’t want the risk of a permanent box dye. I’ve used a couple different drug store options and they’re pretty reliable. (I’ve also used an awful lot of Manic Panic, but I’m willing to wager OP1 isn’t interested in blues and purples).

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        Yeah I had bought the purple dye from Overtone a few months back and decided to use it again to try and cover the gray. It worked briefly, but now it’s back so I have Halloween hair.

  12. All Outrage, All The Time*

    OP3. I hear you loud and clear! I am overwhelmed by the amount of social contact wanted from me since lockdown that I made a statement on my FB page (friends/family only, no work colleagues) saying that I wouldn’t be checking social, text messages or email for the forseeable future and to call my cell if it’s an actual emergency. (No one has called) I have taken to Skyping (as in messaging, not the video or audio conferencing) work colleagues back when they call if I am not expecting a call or it’s not immediately obvious that it’s work related. Mostly they are just calling to “check in” so I just message back saying some variation of “hihihi!! I’m just on a deadline can I catch you later?” and then I don’t. I feel really put on the spot when someone calls me during the work day just to chat.

  13. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

    #2, and anyone else thinking about self dying – e-salon is your friend! It really is a custom color. They ask you a ton of questions to get the right shade. And it’s very easy to make changes. I used it for a number of years, until I injured my shoulder & couldn’t do my own hair anyone. And then I was really liking the calico cat look – Hahahaha!
    One thing – it it very messy, don’t use your sink!!

    1. Batgirl*

      I like them too. Particularly the way the colourist takes a picture of you and tells you how to get your own colour to match the desired colour. They make me two bottles; one to cover grey roots and another to blend together the root colour and the previously dyed hair.

      1. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

        Yeah, I was very happy impressed with how many questions they asked. What is your natural hair color, what color is it now and what color do you want it to be, to start. I’d been self coloring for years and my ends started turning orangish. That was addressed as well. I never had that happen with e-salon.
        I really like the white in my hair now, but all the red is gone and I miss that. I’m thinking about adding some red streaks back in.

  14. LDN Layabout*

    I don’t think you need to worry OP#3 but if doing a bit of root disguise would make you feel better, look at one of the coloured dry shampoos (if you can, where I am they only come in blonde, brunette and dark brunette).

    I use the Batiste one because my hair’s dark enough that the non-coloured versions just don’t work for me but this one just matches my hair colour and is good for a bit of volume at the roots too.

    1. Dissenting Opinion*

      I’ve landed more than one job with roots showing. Polished is also about how you dress and how you carry yourself. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect someone to always have their color touched up and perfect if the hair is presented in a way that obviously showed effort to be styled neatly.

  15. Shetraveler*

    The L’Oreal spray (in little blue can) is the bomb! If you are worried about how to use check out You Tube videos. Foolproof because it’s temporary…

    Scarves and headbands are also perfect for your stripe.

    1. White Peonies*

      I’ve used this between coloring’s (I can’t color my own hair) its quick and rinses out quickly.

    2. riverflows*

      I also agree scarves and headbands can be a great solution but I don’t see many comments suggesting this, would it be considered unprofessional to wear one (e.g. muted color, coordinating with the rest of your outfit) to an interview?

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        Yes. Headbands (and scarves tied behind your neck) are too casual, and headscarves are unusual enough in mainstream American culture that they will draw attention to themselves.

        (I also don’t understand how a headband would help?)

  16. Nobody Special*

    OP In most places going on a first date would be a disservice to your community… not socially distant. I can’t imagine good reasons to risk it. Did no one else notice this?

  17. Ayanimea*

    Hi Hirings Managers & people from HR,

    Do you know whether one of those electronic application systems are available to the common Muggle?
    I wonder how the formatting is stripped and what happens with arrays.


    1. AllTheLeaves*

      I’d think that copying the text from the document and pasting it into a text editor (think Notepad on a Windows PC) would produce equivalent results.

    2. HR Chickie (formerly TeapotSweaterCrocheter)*

      I work in HRIS and I can tell you that arrays (tables?) are… not great. The formatting is definitely stripped or the ATS will skip over that section entirely, not knowing how or where to bucket that information (at least in the HRIS system I work in).

      I strongly recommend Word or PDF documents that do not use a lot of fancy formatting – not even the resume “templates” you can sometimes find in Word. The ATS will scan for anything that looks like a new job title, dates of employment, different company name, etc. and it seems like a lot of it is based on headings, subheadings, etc. so be consistent with your formatting. For example, on my resume I listed several job titles under a single company heading, with bullet points under each, and it couldn’t figure out the company to match with each job title. But for each new company heading, it parsed the company, job title, location, and bullet points pretty well.

      Full disclosure – I do not code my HRIS system to do this, I work as an analyst with the HRIS system my company bought :)

    1. Barney*

      I’ve never used tiktok. I thought it was just dancing videos, so I’m confused about why people are getting resume advice from it.

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        From my understanding it’s like mini YouTube videos. There are professional people like doctors that put out educational and fun videos. You can really put anything out.

    2. No Tribble At All*

      A bit harsh, it’s a dumb distraction. It’s the same as someone sharing this on Facebook. Plus now we have a canonical answer for that little ‘hint’.

      1. Fieldpoppy*

        I work with a lot of physicians and scientists who use Tiktok to communicate unknown things in a simple way — like the purpose of palliative care or what a virus is. It’s not all crap — some of it is ingenious.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Seriously, using FB for personal entertainment (disclaimer: I do it) is probably just as embarrassing to admit, if not more so. It would certainly date me.

        And, not to veer into politics on here, but I saw a phenomenal TikTok video being shared on other platforms this week, of a man (apparently a pastor in FL) who filmed himself going on a 2.3 mile run, shirtless and carrying a TV, to prove a point about a recent tragic event. Goes to show that any platform can be as good or bad as the people using it.

      3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        Scrolling through TikTok for fun is one thing. Getting resume advice from a total stranger over social media is another.

        1. lil falafel wrap*

          Alison is a stranger to all of us and gives great advice about resumes. I don’t even like TikTok, but you’re awfully dismissive of something pretty analogous to what you yourself do.

          1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

            I’m sorry but I don’t think dismissing taking job advice from social media is out of the ordinary. But you do you.

            1. I'm just here for the cats*

              You do realize that this wetechnically this website is social media.

          2. Jennifer Thneed*

            But Alison isn’t really a stranger in that way because she’s a professional doing her actual job. We may not have met her, but she’s fully accountable by virtue of being a real person, using her real name, with a professional history, plus she’s been published other places besides just her blog.

        2. I'm just here for the cats*

          You do realize that this website, a blog, is considered social media. The definition of social media is;
          websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. Blogs are considered a form of social media.

    3. Batgirl*

      I find the platform super annoying as I’m around someone who uses it a lot without headphones and it is loud and distracting to hear mini sound bites in a way a podcast wouldn’t be.
      However I know a lot of teaching colleagues who’ve put great stuff on there so I think it’s really what you make it.

      1. Phoenix Wright*

        I get what you mean, and it sounds annoying indeed, but that’s a usage problem. It’s not the platform’s fault that people use it without headphones. The same would probably happen if someone nearby was playing Pokemon aloud, or any other game that changes music/sound effects constantly and suddenly. And I say this as someone who never used TikTok (but who plays a lot of Pokemon!).

  18. un-pleased*

    LW#1, I concur with Alison’s advice that you should try to pay attention to clothing, accessories, or make-up if you use it, but I think it’s overstating the case to say that feral is the new normal. At least in my industry, so don’t take that as a general truth. As well, for some people, doing what they can to appear kept up during this time is a way of coping emotionally. I’ve been experimenting more with makeup and skin care because that matters to me.

    We do a lot of both client-facing and internal-only video calls. On the latter, we’ve definitely joked about having weird hair, but on client-facing calls, we do our best to counteract what we can with professional dress and a professional demeanor.

    If you have to be on camera, do try to look as polished as you can with clothing, and maintain a professional demeanor. The truth is, people think a lot less about how you look than you think. I certainly would not judge you harshly for having grey roots – that is a very common thing right now. But “feral” is perhaps an unhelpful exaggeration for interview advice.

    1. EPLawyer*

      I honestly don’t think having grey roots showing is “feral” at all. It’s just … grey. Even in normal times I don’t think it would lead to looking unpolished. Just make sure it is brushed, out of your face ( I had to dig out my hair clips from 10 years ago because my hair is back to long again) and clean.

    2. CRM*

      In my office, feral is absolutely the new normal. At the beginning of quarantine a lot of people were still making efforts to wear makeup, style their hair, and wear jewelry or generally nice clothes. Now we are nearing the end of week 10 and there are decidedly more hats, headbands, hoodies, and non-made-up faces on those Zoom calls. I’ve been on a few morning calls where I wondered if the person just got out of bed. I have even taken to wearing my favorite fuzzy robe in meetings now, and sometimes I put my hair up in a messy bun instead of brushing it.

    3. Snark no more!*

      I agree. When looking at people on camera, there’s also sometimes weird lighting that causes hair to look different.

    4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Pretty sure Alison was making light of the situation. But honestly if a company is going to decline to move forward with me because my roots are gray, knowing full well that we have all been stuck at home with hair salons closed for the last 2+ months, I wouldn’t want to work for them anyway. If I’m dressed appropriately and well groomed outside of gray roots, that’s being way too particular for something I have little control over, and I’d wonder what other insignificant things they’re going to nit pick.

  19. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

    I’m floored by the number of comments suggesting hair dye products for #2. They are clearly nervous about doing this themselves, and NO ONE is going to care about hair right now.

    Even *before* a global pandemic…an employer who is actually turned off by roots showing in someone’s hair is not someone you’d want to work for!

    1. Jdc*

      You’re floored someone offered up root touch up spays and temporarily solutions? Why!

        1. McMonkeybean*

          She wrote in because she is nervous about what interviewers will think of her. It is 100% true to say no one is likely to care at all–but that is often not enough to stop someone from feeling nervous! You can know logically that no one cares but still feel self conscious. If the OP is good to go after just reading the advice, then that’s great! But if there’s any chance she would still feel self conscious then people sharing their experience with things like touch up sprays may be useful.

          1. Annony*

            Yep. Why not share other options instead of just telling her it will be fine? No one is saying that she must use these products, just that they are available.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          When someone says “I’m worried about X,” you can try to convince them X is not a problem, or you can give them a stupidly easy way to take care of X. Neither is inappropriate.

    2. londonedit*

      Maybe, but interviews are nerve-wracking things and a lot of people calm those nerves by making sure they look their best. If someone’s worried about their hair or the stain on their jacket or whatever, they might not give their absolute best to the interview. And it’s especially true at the moment, when a lot of people are losing their sense of self among all the things we’d usually take for granted that we’re not allowed to do. It’s a perfectly valid thing to be concerned about when you’re trying to present your best self to an interviewer.

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        Thank you. It’s not a matter of “an employer who is … turned off by roots”, it’s about walking into a situation feeling your absolute most confident best. We don’t get to decide for other people what they need in order to feel that.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      She’s also self-conscious. Why not give her suggestions to ease that?

      Personally, I think an interview is very different from a regular video call. If I get the opportunity to have one, I’ll be in office dress with my makeup and hair done to the best of my abilities. It won’t be to quite the same standard, but I will do it– not because I deeply care what the interviewer thinks about my appearance, but because I want to be as much in “interview mode” as I can.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Yes, I think this is different from an internal Zoom or even a meeting with an existing client, where you have an existing relationship. An interview is where you make your first impression so the stakes are higher.

        And I’m surprised we have ignored that grey roots are not just evidence of an interrupted grooming regime (as dark roots or scraggly ends would be) but also evidence of ageing – which is additionally coded differently for women than for men. There has been some unkind ad hominem commentary on grey roots on the wider internet recently and age discrimination protections are weak where they exist at all.

        And yes that’s gross, but an interview may not be the opportunity to change the system.

        So it shouldn’t matter, for reasons both current and eternal, but if it does matter to the LW then we accept her reading, in which case hints helping her to mimic her usual preferred style or disguise her current colour are valid and constructive.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      Some of us are still maintaining normal standards of grooming, you know. Granted, in my case that doesn’t involve hair color, but I’m still showering and doing laundry and getting dressed every day and all the other things people are joking a lot about having abandoned. It’s a job interview: There is zero reason not to try to look your best, even if it’s not going to be quite what it might have been otherwise.

      1. londonedit*

        Exactly. People on video calls keep asking me why my hair still looks good, and it’s simply because the way I choose to start my day, whether I’m going to the office or not, involves having a shower, putting on clothes that are not pyjamas, and drying my hair. Not everyone does that, and it’s totally fine that they don’t. I’m certainly wearing more casual clothes than I usually would in the office. But showering and getting dressed into non-pyjama clothes helps me to feel focused and ready for the day, and as a side-effect of that, my hair looks nice. If I was getting ready for a job interview, I’d definitely put on a nice dress and some make-up, because it would get me into ‘professional mode’ and help me put my best foot forward.

        1. Oh No She Di'int*

          Gray roots are ungroomed if you personally decide that for your personal standards of grooming you prefer to keep them colored. That’s a personal choice. For me keeping my hair extremely short is groomed. Anything longer feels “ungroomed” to me. Others have long hair. And that’s fine for them. There’s no single right answer.

          1. cubone*

            The OP asked if grey roots were bad in a video interview though. No ones saying they can’t have their own standards or define roots as something that makes them feel ungroomed. But none of us live in a vacuum and unfortunately some of our own personal standards happen to align with cultural expectations that are deeply harmful and based on prejudice. The idea that “grey” is bad, unprofessional, or otherwise lazy is harmful and based on prejudice.

            I’m personally not saying what the OPs standards should be – maybe other comments are, but for the purpose of what the actual question was, I think this is an important discussion about what is and isn’t acceptable in the workplace. And the implication that grey roots are harmful is hugely gross for a ton of reasons, the same way a lot of other “grooming standards” as it relates to hair are gross for a ton of reasons. It doesn’t take away the OPs choice or personal preference to acknowledge that.

            1. Oh No She Di'int*

              True. OP did say this: “Normally, of course, having noticeable roots at an interview would be unpolished” It was framed as a general social norm, not as strictly a personal choice. So, you are right to call that into question.

              1. cubone*

                Thank you – I’m really not trying to be argumentative or question the OP’s preference. I just feel like this is important and worth examining.

            2. Jennifer*

              I think Alison acknowledged that there’s nothing wrong with having gray roots at work at any time.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Agreed. For some of us, the act of getting dressed (or showering at the same time as we normally would, or even doing makeup) helps us maintain a sense of self and normality. I’m not telling my friends they should wash themselves or put on something other than leggings, and I have also had plenty (PLENTY) of moments where I don’t use my webcam during work calls because my hair is a mess and my face doesn’t look right. But for a job interview, where it’s important to me to look more polished than usual? The effort helps my state of mind. Granted, it’s not the same for everyone, but many of us who want to keep up our routines aren’t doing it because we’re superficial and shallow and care too much about appearances.

        1. cubone*

          Why are you comparing taking a shower and getting dressed to having grey roots? Of course “personal hygiene” matters to normalcy right now and I highly doubt anyone here would suggest you show up on a video interview in a dirty tshirt with messy, dirty hair.

          Having grey hair is not a lack of “hygiene” and these comments seem to imply it is.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            As was mentioned above, keeping our hair in a particular style is part of grooming. I’m not comparing taking a shower to coloring one’s hair– I’m using “taking a shower” as part of a regular grooming routine. Note that I also mentioned getting dressed. It’s all part of the same package.

            Personally, my hair is terrible right now. It’s at a weird length. It’s very dry. The way it looks is not the way I usually have it look. I don’t feel ashamed because of this (that would be a terrible thing to be ashamed of), but for a job interview, I would put extra effort into making myself feel “normal” because I don’t want to be sitting in a job interview wondering what people are saying about me, for starters, and also because I feel my best when I like the way my hair looks.

            Also, saying that we’re equating have grey roots with grey hair is being really obtuse. I love grey hair. I have grey hair. Anyone who has ever colored their hair and had it grow out to the point where you can see a clear line between the roots and the color knows that they are not the same thing. Having grey roots is certainly not the end of the freaking world, and yes, most people won’t care these days, but if it makes the LW feel self-conscious, she has options so she will feel less so. During an interview. Where she wants her hair to be the last thing she worries about.

            1. cubone*

              The LW didn’t write in asking if their personal preference to dye their roots was acceptable or if they were wrong to want to look their best in interviews. They asked if there was more leeway for obvious root growth in interviews right now. Allison (rightfully) responded that there is always leeway for grey roots, as they’re not unpolished, unprofessional, or bad.

              I’m not sure why the response to raising this is that it’s denying the LW some of agency or the right to have their own standards. Of course the LW is allowed to feel better with their roots dyed or have a particular preference of dress and “best self” for job interviews.

              The OP asked if grey roots were bad in a video interview though. No ones saying they can’t have their own standards or define roots as something that makes them feel ungroomed. As I said in another comment above, I don’t think this disagreement is about whether or not the LW should have this personal preference. The question and the discussion to me is about what is and isn’t acceptable in the workplace (/interviews).

              I’ll restate what I said above and leave it at that: sometimes our personal preferences align with deeply harmful cultural expectations. It doesn’t deny someone’s right to their preference to acknowledge that their preference aligns with a problematic expectation, and to challenge that expectation in the workplace. The idea that grey roots are unprofessional or problematic in a job interview is hugely gross for a ton of reasons, the same way a lot of other “grooming standards” as it relates to hair are gross for a ton of reasons. It doesn’t take away the OPs choice or personal preference to acknowledge that (nor is it obtuse to suggest that the way we talk/think/feel about grey roots has a connection to the way we talk/think/feel about grey hair, but clearly we disagree on that).

    5. cubone*

      I agree – are people actually in agreement that grey hair/roots are “unpolished”?!? That’s pretty upsetting.
      (Yes, I get the LW doesn’t like it, and Allison challenged the idea too, but the once more for safety: there’s NOTHING wrong with grey hair)

      1. Batgirl*

        This comment shocked me so much -that people were actually saying that grey hair or roots were blanket-rule bad, regardless of personal preference – that I searched the comments looking for this terrible body shaming of the OP. I … didn’t find any. People were making suggestions the OP *might* want since she’s not presently happy (nor very unhappy ) with her roots. Some people described bad dye jobs as unpolished, which is particularly what the OP wants to avoid. The only person who said grey roots were definitely unpolished, was the OP and she’s allowed to think so when speaking about herself. I hope that’s reassuring to you. Nobody has it in for grey hair!

    6. hbc*

      I get your view, as I’m someone who has never dyed her hair or used makeup or had her nails done. But there are lots and lots of people who consciously notice these things and consider them requirements of looking professional, and many more who subconsciously register them and get a sense of “didn’t seem like she had it all together.” If the OP is someone who already considers this important enough to have regular appointments for, it’s not out of line to say “Lots of people aren’t at their usual level of polish right now so it won’t be held against you, but there might be some options if you want to be a little closer to your standard.”

    7. Batgirl*

      That is really OP’s call to make. Personally I know that no one notices my roots like I do, but it throws me off my game if I feel unhappy with my appearance. If you have rock solid confidence in that respect, then great.

    8. sb51*

      To be blunt: because we can’t in good conscience reassure OP #2 that potential employers won’t judge, even if we think we ourselves would refrain from judging.

      I absolutely think that some otherwise-reasonable employers might, at least subconsciously, be biased against someone, especially a woman, with visible roots.

      Now, my advice, since I know nothing about the hair products in question, would be to optimize one’s background/setup for the interview to be optimally flattering and that with the right lighting it shouldn’t matter.

  20. Boomerang Girl*

    LW#1: I am a consultant to c-suite executives and we’re seeing many companies in your position. They are simply trying to keep up with their business in the middle of huge, unexpected demand surges and are not ready to absorb some of these other ideas/services/products, even if they are good ideas.

    Please don’t feel bad about not being able to spend time with people who are trying to sell you things. As other commenters have said, a brief “thank you but I am focused on the pandemic right now” is really all you need to tell people.

    However, if there is anyone in your company who is able to do so, I suggest delegating to him/her/them the task of listening and organizing/evaluating these offers and requests. There will come a time in the near future when you are able to start thinking about post-pandemic business and having these ideas/solutions organized could be beneficial and allow you to move quickly. Plus, it’s a good opportunity for someone on your team to elevate themselves and show they can review these products and provide a recommendation to you on which ones matter.

    This is easy to do for emails and mail offers. For people who call your personal cell, just take their info and have someone else call them back. Those of us who have to sell to keep our jobs are struggling (as is everyone, of course) but we also know that listening to customers and meeting them where they are is essential too. It’s likely that the people with whom you’ll want to work understand the pressure you’re under right now.

  21. Jan was not robbed*

    OP#1: for family, you could say that your company has strict conflict of interest rules that prevent employees from enriching family members. My company has that as a rule.

    1. Mockingjay*

      This is perfect. OP #1 can have a few stock responses available, depending on who the contact is.

      Family: “I’m sorry, due to COI rules, I can’t accept leads from family members.”
      Friends: “It’s best if your friend from Company Z contacts our Sales Department. My department doesn’t handle those requests.”
      Sales Calls/LinkedIn/Etc.: “Thanks, but we are happy with our current supplier/system.” “Thanks, it’s best if you apply through our ATS. All the info is on our website.”

      It’s not unkind to say no and keep the interaction brief. Hope springs when the conversation keeps going. (“She must want to buy our widget, she’s still talking to me! Hey, Wakeen, I got a hot lead!”)

  22. foolofgrace*

    #3: I disagree with some of the Alison’s advice, the piece where you should ignore those phone calls. The possible problem with that is, if these folks are truly checking with you to make sure you’re all right, ignoring their calls is going to make it worse: they’ll think you’re not okay and double down and maybe get their associates into the act to try to get in touch with you. If it were me, I would just tell them that I appreciate their concern but please don’t check in with me every day, I’m fine.

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      I have a friend who routinely calls on the phone because HE’S lonely, but I hate to chat on the phone. He also is known to freak out if he doesn’t hear back. I just ignore the call and then sometime when either I don’t mind talking or have something I can switch to (gotta go make dinner!) I’ll text a quick funny meme or a quick update (my dog loves pizza!) and that usually satisfies him.

    2. CheeryO*

      Yeah, I don’t think ignoring their calls/texts for days is a good play here. If I was genuinely concerned about a friend living alone right now (and I have been), getting no response for three days would be alarming, especially if they hadn’t responded to anyone else in that time period either. What’s wrong with just saying, “I’m doing fine, please don’t feel like you need to check in on me so often”?

      1. WellRed*

        But why would you feel alarmed? Assuming they don’t have underlying conditions, etc, they are just as capable as you are of life.

        1. Jennifer*

          It may be a teeny bit irrational but there have been many stories in the news of people getting sick rapidly and dying in their homes alone, especially out of NYC. They were only found because of relatives calling the police to do a welfare check after not hearing from them for a few days. I remember a first responder being interviewed and saying many of his calls on a particular day were DOAs. It’s scary stuff.

          Of course, we know our friends that live alone are as capable as anyone else, but when you live with someone they can keep an eye on you and alert contact emergency services if you aren’t in a state to do it yourself.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          If this were a friend who ordinarily responded then that would jump at me as there might be something wrong.

          I think that 3 days is a very long time for no return call. Eh, the person can call to say, “Don’t call me” but at least return the call. Sometimes I send people an email, “Am okay, just really busy this week.” That’s it- that’s their return phone call from me.

          On some level we do have an unspoken obligation to check on each other. If a person doesn’t want to be a part of that loop that is their prerogative. They can just say, “Take me off your list, I am okay and do not need check-ins.”
          Why anyone would say that escapes me ATM. I have been on my own for quite a while now and check-ins (either well disguised or not well disguised) feel like a huge gift to me. I am not 94 and I am a capable adult. I remember waking up about 2 am and finding blood splattered all over my walls and rugs. I followed the droplets out to the living room. It took a moment, but I finally figured out my dog had broken a nail when he jumped off the bed. It was good to know that there were people I could call if I could not figure out what was wrong. Stuff happens and I know the door is open for conversation if something comes up. My neighbor called at 3 am to say her basement had 3 feet of water and it looked like the furnace was probably sitting in water. Feeling comfy enough with someone to call them with whatever is going on is better than pure gold.

          (The dog got sent out into the freshly fallen snow, which stopped the bleed and we went to the vet’s later. I googled for a better sump pump for my neighbor and we were at the store when it opened.)

        3. Kiki*

          It depends on the relationship and person– if someone I’m talking to is generally pretty responsive and we’re somewhat close, getting radio silence back from them would be concerning. And honestly you’d have to ignore a few calls and texts before someone gets the hint that you just don’t want to talk to them as much and then they may think they did something wrong and it could turn into a whole thing.

          I feel like this is a situation where being more upfront about your boundaries will both resolve the issue more quickly AND be taken better. I’ve had a lot of luck saying, “Hey, sorry I missed your call. I’ve been spending a lot of time on my phone and want to have more uninterrupted time to myself. Can we make this a monthly thing/take a break for a while? I’ll call you when I’m ready and actually have interesting things to talk about :)”

          OP can still ignore the phone calls, but sending over a text like this within a couple hours actually communicates what they’d like to happen going forward and is less likely to result in a wellness check or something.

    3. Jennifer*

      Agreed. Send a text message letting them know you’re ok and that there’s no need to check in so often.

    4. McMonkeybean*

      I think Alison just focused a lot on the ignoring calls piece because OP seemed to feel that they are obligated to be available to anyone who calls since they don’t have any plans, and she wanted to make it clear that’s not true.

      I definitely ignored a call from someone last week because I was watching TV and didn’t feel like pausing, calls from my dad went ignored because he kept calling during our weekly (online) DnD game, and I have ignored calls while I was out for a run on my neighborhood streets.

      Some of these I texted right away that I was busy but would get back to them, some I forgot to respond to for days. No one seemed to mind much either way.

    5. Barney*

      I don’t think Alison meant that OP should ignore these people for long enough for them to get concerned. OP can return the missed call on their own time if they feel like it or just send a text saying. “sorry I missed your call. I’m doing fine.”

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes, exactly. The OP feels they have to answer the phone at all times because the coworkers know she can’t go anywhere. But that’s not true; she’s still allowed to ignore calls and not pick up.

    6. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Nope. If you’re dealing with someone who is going to assume you’re dead if you don’t pick up the phone every single time and respond, that’s on them to get under control. If OP doesn’t want to talk to anyone, they are not obligated to pick up the phone ever, and take as much time as they need to respond.

    7. Uncle Waldo*

      It’s nice that people care so much to call every day, but, unless they are people who OP lists as an emergency contact, OP doesn’t owe them that at the expense of their own peace of mind. It’s gotten to a point where OP is the one feeling anxious and trapped. The first priority is to help OP see that they do not have to answer the phone if they don’t want to.

    8. Koala dreams*

      I agree with you. You are not obligated in any way to answer the phone, but if you want the calls to stop, it won’t be the best and quickest strategy. Especially if the people calling are worried about you, since then they will keep calling every day until you answer, or go to the next step (writing a text, a mail, asking for a welfare check…). On the other hand, if you answer and tell them you don’t have time for phone conversations any more, or send a text with a similar message, then they will probably either leave you alone, or at least cut down on their communication attempts.

  23. Just Me*

    OP 1 – What I’ve been saying is something like this, “I’m totally swamped with everything that is going on right now, but if you’d like to follow up with me in about 3 months you are welcome to.” That way I’m setting boundaries but not totally shutting the door to a future contact that could be helpful.

    1. Venus*

      I was thinking the same. I think that OP needs to have something more absolute, because they don’t necessarily want a flood of calls in 3 months (and they shouldn’t give people false hope), but there are plenty of companies and organizations that are saying something like “We greatly appreciate the interest and support that we have received, although it has meant that we are overwhelmed with work. As a result we are focusing on and are not able to respond to requests for at this time.”

  24. Oh No She Di'int*

    #2 — I don’t know if your interviews are by video or in person, but if they’re by video, I’ve found that computer video cameras are very forgiving. Obviously, you’ll have to judge the fidelity of yours yourself. But chances are, it’s not likely that an interviewer would notice a slight color mismatch or a temporary fix that might look bad in real life but looks fine on camera. I have taken this opportunity to experiment with drawing on slightly bolder eyebrows, and boy do they look FABULOUS on Zoom. They might be a touch less convincing in real life, but … we’re not in real life.

    1. Running on coffee*

      Yeah, my roots are a HOT MESS right now, and they’re barely noticeable on Zoom. For reference: Yesterday my 10-year-old asked me why I’d dyed just the top of my head silver.

    2. filosofickle*

      Agreed! I was surprised recently to hear a fashion blogger (talking about what to wear on video calls) say the camera picks up everything, even fabric differences. Uh, maybe with your fancy ring light, but not mine! Mine doesn’t have the fidelity to show the difference between a silk blouse and a nice t-shirt — just skip ones with ribbing and no one will know. Lipstick is the one thing that pops and makes me look good on camera, if I feel like it.

      Glad to see standards for what people expect to look like on video are relaxing. I’ve done video for a loooong time and a key to making it work is having it be okay to show up as you are, where you are. Your background does not need to be beautiful. Your hair does not need to be done. Be present, get shit done, and don’t worry about the rest.

  25. Jennifer*

    Re: gray hair

    I am job hunting as well but have only had some phone interviews, nothing on video yet. I’m terrible at doing my hair. Like really terrible. I like to have my hair professionally done for interviews which is obviously not an option right now. I definitely understand feeling self-conscious when you don’t think you look your best. I think Alison’s suggestion of making sure everything else is super polished and professional is a great one. If a root touch up would give you that extra boost of confidence on an interview I think you should go for it. Easily washes out so no worries about permanently damaging your hair.

    1. Amy Sly*

      Eh, it’s not so much going grey that looks bad as having a super obvious line where you were dying it and then stopped. I like seeing women sport their silver highlights with pride, and Meryl Streep’s white coiffure in “Devil Wears Prada” is a hair goal.

    2. No Tribble At All*

      Don’t worry, I’m pretty sure Alison doesn’t mean that having gray hair is feral. But most professional grooming services are unavailable right now, so the max level of fanciness has been lowered. Facials, root touch-ups, eyebrow waxing/threading, manicures, etc are gone. Unless you’re a very good DIY-er, you’re going to look a little more ragged than you usually would.

    3. hbc*

      I would say grey hair and having color lines are two very different looks. I’d say natural hair should never ever be an issue outside of certain fields like modeling, whereas someone can look pretty…striking if they let dyed hair grow out naturally. That’s why most people will dye their hair back to their normal color rather than having a phase where they’re brown to the ears and blond below.

      I wouldn’t try to draw a hard line where one is acceptable and one not, but they’re on a spectrum.

    4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Why are so many people on here taking that comment so seriously? Pretty sure Alison was making light of the situation, and talking about how most of us haven’t gotten out of their stretch pants and t shirts in months, and aren’t following the same grooming routines of the past.

  26. Amy*

    For video interviews, I think lighting and computer placement are more important than visible hair roots. (Though like everyone else, I recommend the temporary powder – it’s like hair spray and takes 20 seconds) I’m on a lot of WebEx calls right now and some people seem much more professional than others.

    I’m sure there are some how-tos somewhere. But what works for me is placing my laptop up at face level so you’re not staring down into the screen or peering up (which would also emphasize the roots.)
    I used 3 thick coffee table books. Then finding a soft light that shines from behind the computer into your face. Finally either blurring the background or making sure it’s very professional or bland.

    I’d much rather have visible roots but a very professional set-up, than perfect roots and awkward angles and bad lighting. Good luck.

  27. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

    OP1, I know how you feel… I’m in Software Development and recruiters are more desperate that ever! I get at least two LinkedIn requests each day from people claiming to be a friend of a friend, offering me “juicy” positions that either have nothing to do with my experience (like cashier jobs to a doctor) or with nonexistent benefits (one WFH day? In this situation? For less money that I’m making now? Good luck with that!)
    Set up automated spam filters, block all calls that aren’t from close friends and family and don’t be afraid to say no.

    1. Tidewater 4-1009*

      Yes, I’ve noticed that about LinkedIn and other job boards for years. I get emails with positions like CEO and physician and VP of finance. I’m not and never will be qualified for any of those.
      Hey job boards, get your programs together!

      1. A Penny for Your Idea!*

        A family member was just commenting today about quitting LinkedIn altogether — the free version — for that reason.

  28. Megumin*

    OP #2 – if it makes you feel any better, I got my current job (which I’ve been at a few years) with hair that was definitely in the “not polished” category: I was growing out an undercut, I had bleached the top layer (and did not do a good job), and my roots are dark brown. So I had this crappy bleach bob with dark brown roots and little brown tufts underneath. I styled it as nicely as I could (usually a low ponytail), and had 3 in-person interviews. No one batted an eye, and I am now in a great job that I love. I think most people barely notice something like grown out roots, because that is such a common thing now, with balayage and ombre styles, and many, many people who choose to let their gray grow in. I don’t think it’s even going to register for most people!

    But I also know sometimes you just need to do certain things to feel polished! I get that way with my shoes, I am meticulous about them. If you want to cover your grays, I recommend a temporary color, like a spray, or a brush-on color, or something like that. I would definitely not use permanent or demi-permanent at home unless you really know what you’re doing (trust me, I know from experience!). Semi-permanent can work, but it often stains gray hair and can be really stubborn to get out.

    Good luck!

  29. Malarkey01*

    LW3 if you don’t want to use the “I’m finding all the communication overwhelming” line you can also say “I’m starting a new project and won’t be very available for awhile”. It could change the dynamic from I’m struggling to I’m so adjusted and productive I just don’t have time for you….which tends to back people up a bit.
    Another idea if this is a big group is to start a group text (which you should mute) that you can send out a quick, funny message on every few days. I did that with my family to avoid every day multiple text chains and it’s worked great. Everyone gets to think they’ve checked in everyday, and I’ve gotten to do one test read wit dinner and be done. That also helps if it’s less pity and more them seeking a social outlet.

  30. anon for this*

    I don’t understand the situation OP1 is in. They have a product that’s successful (possibly as a result of the pandemic?) and people are trying to sell them things/services? Get hired? Get access to the company? Can I get an analogy, like “I work for a 3D printing company and now everyone wants X?”

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I don’t know that the specifics matter. OP has a company that uses products and/or services from other companies. These other companies are heavily (i.e. much more than normal) soliciting OP to use their products and/or services. OP feels bad saying no to them, knowing that many companies are struggling financially right now. At least that’s how I’m reading it.

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      My read is option a) other companies are trying to sell them things.

      So, “We’re a 3D printing company, business is booming, so now there are places trying to get us to buy customer relation management (CRM) software because they know we have money and most of their normal clients are cancelling.”

    3. I'm just here for the cats*

      Instead it that OPs business is going and other companies are trying to sell them stuff, think HR software

      Here’s a real life scenario (simplified to not give away personal details). Schools have gone online, so teachers are using video confrencing software. These video conferencing companies have been strongly soliciting schools to use their products, to the point that sales people have “bombed” virtual meetings to pitch their products to teachers and admins.

      If the LW is getting a lot of these calls/emails it can be very distracting and irritating. Especially when they use horrible sales practices like pretending to be available and go on a virtual date to get access to the LW to pitch her their product.

    4. anon for this*

      Thanks, ya’ll I get it now. I work in a “desirable” job: think Hollywood/New York publishing/the music business and so I also get slammed with a lot of requests from randos and friends of friends. I just wasn’t clear on this being B2B or job applicants for nonexistent roles, or what.

  31. Snark no more!*

    #3 Totally agree with the phone not being a summons. My phone is for MY convenience, not random people from work just wanting to check in with me. Now, when my daughter was a teenager, we had rules about”selective answering,” but that’s totally different. You have my permission to ignore too, dear letter writer.

  32. Raeldrele*

    OP 2: also note, Elsa and Anna have made grey and white hair, and streaks in hair cool. They’ve helped to normalize these hair colors in younger people. My friend also started going grey at 29 and had white hair before 50. Working in education, this hair color boosted her popularity and approachability with students.

  33. SWoods*

    #3- My father has always had a saying, going back to the days when phones only existed on walls: “The phone is there for my convenience.”

    It’s a life saver when my phone rings or pings with a call or text and my anxiety raises. I think you can ignore it, especially in the moment.

    1. Tidewater 4-1009*

      My brother also has anxiety (I do too but not as bad) and he mentioned he turned off most of the noises his phone makes and it helped him a lot.

  34. CupcakeCounter*

    #2 There is already some great advice on here but I’m going to add my ideas IF you are uncomfortable with the idea of your roots on camera
    – if your natural hair color is on the darker side, use some brown mascara on the front sections to blend the roots into the dyed part of your hair. I wouldn’t recommend this for an in person interview but looks fairly decent on camera especially if you have your hair pulled back.
    -try brow powder to get a blended look (won’t completely cover but will make it look less stark depending on your original hair color)
    -a lot of stylists are offering “hands off” services for about half their normal fee (cost of products plus $10-$15). They will mix your color and drop off/curbside and then use FaceTime or Zoom to help you apply. My stylist is doing this and I know of at least 3 people who have used the service.

  35. Anon Anon*

    LW2 – if you have a good relationship with your colorist you could always ask for a recommendation of a hair color that you could order online. I did that, and my colorist told me the color to get and which brand to buy. I was up front and told that I didn’t want to mess up the color she used and that it was a stop-gap until I felt safe to come into the salon. She was terrific and gave me a couple recommendations. My hair doesn’t look nearly as good as it does when my colorist does my hair, but it looks better, and I don’t feel quite so much like a mess.

  36. EAB*

    OP #4: Allison is 100% correct that the white text trick won’t help you get past application tracking systems. Not only will that show up as regular text and look weird, that’s just not how the flow of those systems works. You’re applying to a position, so your application shows up in the New bucket for that requisition. The hiring manager or assigned recruiter will spend a few minutes every day scrubbing through the New bucket, which is basically mousing over each resume. Most ATSes actually show an image of the whole resume, since that’s easier to skim and avoids any weird issues from parsing. It takes about 10 seconds to skim a resume and decide whether it’s interesting enough to merit a second look, or if it isn’t a fit and you get archived to the candidate pool.

    Everyone pretty much does that initial pass manually, since none of the fancy AI things are actually good enough to make reliable decisions about automatic rejections. The only scenario where automatic rejections come into play are if screening questions are used — “do you have a current nursing license?” for positions where that’s a hard requirement, that kind of thing.

    Companies do tap into their candidate pool with keyword searches on occasion when they are sourcing candidates, or buy resume database products where they’re doing full-text search. However, that’s a totally different scenario from trying to be a successful candidate for a specific posted position that you’ve applied to.

    Source: I headed the software development team for a major ATS for several years, which included innumerable customer observation sessions to watch HR and hiring managers use the ATS, as well as studying competitive research on other ATSes. I also did a couple of side projects around the resume parsing engine which converts resumes to text. I then spent a lot of time at a different company using Lever as a hiring manager. I now work for yet another HR tech company, and while I don’t work on the ATS product, I’ve watched a few demos out of curiosity.

    1. Tidewater 4-1009*

      Some companies misuse the hard rejection aspect. I applied for a job that was a 90% match for my experience, and I got automatically rejected because I didn’t finish a degree. I’m no longer interested in that company and the only way I’d take a job with them is if there was nothing else.

  37. Quill*

    The white writing reminds me of professors going on about how increasing your period font size to try and stretch a paper is obnoxious and doesn’t give you any more than writing an extra sentence.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      …going through and adjusting each period also sounds like way more work (or at least mind-numbing) compared to writing more.

  38. Tidewater 4-1009*

    #2, I used temporary color at a couple of points when I was covering my gray. I got it at the drugstore and it washes out in a few weeks so any mistakes aren’t permanent. You could ease into using color with it if you like.
    Going to the hairdresser for touchups was so expensive I started doing them myself with a natural product color. I only did the roots and it worked well. Doing only the roots made a little variation and that made it look more natural, which I liked. :)

  39. DQ*

    OP#2- I’ve used eye shadow to touch up my roots back when I dyed my hair. My experience was it was much easier to color match, came right out with shampoo or water, didn’t feel sticky like the sprays and was cheaper and more accessible. I’m talking about drugstore brands that you can get at a grocery store.

    Of course I’ll also add that I started growing out my grey last summer so I also think grey roots are beautiful and perfectly professional.

  40. Batgirl*

    OP, as a lazy person with grey hair, I have a bunch of solutions involving different effort levels:
    Effort Level 1: Ask someone you know if it looks all that bad. The typical response is “What are you talking about?” since grey roots are always more obvious to their owners than to others. Accept their opinion and stand down.
    Effort Level 2: Zig zag part (for fair colours usually). This just breaks up the tide line so while you’ll still have grey roots, it doesn’t feel like you have the same arrow pointing at your head.
    Effort Level 3: Alice band. It amazes me how effective this is. Choose a wide pretty one to cover the front of your part, and the bonus is it makes your hair look dressed up even when you’ve just bunned it at the nape of the neck.
    Effort Level 4: Scarf. Same as Alice band but you have to tie it.
    Effort Level 5: Root spray or powder. Very easy and takes a few minutes, but can be a bit messy with pillows and you might have to wash your hair before bed.
    Effort Level 6: Root touch up (by clairol). Takes ten minutes, you only paste it onto your part and hairline before washing off. I can use this to spin out another month before I need a full colour. You may be put off by the fact it only comes in four generic colours that my experience is they match well enough. (My colour is a very fiddly auburn copper, but the generic red looks fine on my roots).

    1. No skunk here*

      Effort Level 4.5: Hair “Mascara” “Gray away.” Available on Amazon Prime for $10-$20. Style your hair and brush in the hair mascara to cover any exposed gray in the front/top of your head.

    2. Tidewater 4-1009*

      I used hair mascara and it didn’t come off on my pillows between washings. I only used it at the part, so that may have been a factor. I got it at the beauty supply store, probably the same as on Amazon. It only came in a few colors, but it was a close enough match. Blending it so it doesn’t make a line helps a lot.

  41. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #1 – this is probably going to sound more harsh than intended, but you owe these people nothing but honesty. Sure you don’t want to be rude, but your usual response is fine. It’s not your job to fix everyone else’s financial problems.

  42. Mediamaven*

    LW 2 – not all that helpful but I find my roots are less noticeable right now when I pull back. Not sure if you have long hair or not.

  43. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

    I have been touching up my gray roots for years. The Revlon and Loreal products are both very good. Also, although I have not personally tried a spray, I was quite impressed by the Eva Lingoria video. I would, however, caution you not to color your roots the night before the interview because some of the product may get on your skin. If it does, nail polish remover will take most of it off. Also you can put petroleum jelly around the skin next to your hairline.

  44. Amber Rose*

    I have purposefully been dying/bleaching my hair in gradients this entire time, to experiment with how that looks. I have dark roots and pale blonde ends and it’s great.

    My coworker is rocking some faded teal ends and weird brown/blonde roots.

    Everyone is looking a little weird lately, and I love it. Make weird hair the new normal and let’s all come out of lockdown with anime hair.

  45. Missa*

    No one should judge you for your gray roots, but just in my experience boxed hair dye is very easy and will look fine when you are going the same shade or darker. It’s the bleach that can really mess you up if you don’t know what you’re doing.

  46. PrgrmMgr*

    #4: This kind of makes sense of a resume I received for a job I’ve had posted before social distancing. It’s a a kind of niche job, so I’m open to a wide range of backgrounds and was interested in a candidate with a background in retail until there were obvious responsibilities from my job description pasted into her resume. Instead of “merchandising chocolate teapots and marketing them to the customers through traditional and digital means”, her job included “underwriting loans to cocoa bean farms”. All relevant to getting chocolate teapots into the hands of consumers, but I’m pretty sure she wasn’t doing the things my office does at her retail job.

    I discussed it with friends in similar places in our professional lives and we concluded the applicant was a liar. Maybe we could have been more generous and said she got bad advice (like that in this letter) but it really wasn’t a good introduction to the candidate.

  47. New Name goes here*

    LW#1 — for the “warm prospects”, when I need to ‘soften’ a “No” message, I will sometimes caveat it with “I will let you know if anything changes”

    ie — “Looks interesting, but we are not likely to pursue this — I will let you know if that changes”

    This approach says no, but retains the power for myself. I started doing this after “Not in the budget right now” started to turn into “ok, I’ll check with you in 3 months, 6 months etc”

    For the date guy, he deserves to be laughed out the door – and at least you got a great story out of it!!

  48. GS*

    #4 – I’m a recruiter and even if you’re a good fit for the job, I’ll reject any candidate who does that. I work at a huge global company and I have enough candidates that if anyone is trying that kind of nonsense, it tells me you don’t have the kind of integrity we want to see in an employee. Your resume should stand on its own without weird tricks. Same with the one resume I got where they didn’t go to an Ivy League but tried that trick with all the Ivy League names. The way I quick-view resumes in our ATS makes all the font black and the same size. Not classy to say the least.

  49. PLM*

    I’ve dyed my own hair for years – never had a problem and actually get compliments on the colour. There is no secret skill, just follow the directions on the box.

  50. Bookworm*

    #2: Thanks for asking that question! I’m not there yet (but boy, I’d like to be >_<) for job interviews but yeah, same boat. I would also like a haircut for the sake of general self-care/it's time for one but I'm also absolutely not going out just for a haircut and putting others (or myself!) at risk.

  51. Join Us on the Grey Side!*

    I’m going to recommend just going grey. Coronavirus isn’t going to be over any time soon and you may be dealing with closures again (or will be uncomfortable with the thought of going to a salon for a long time), so why keep dealing with roots? Once you get past the first couple of inches of roots, it’s not so bad. I went grey a few years ago, and I love it. No more expensive salon visits, no more staring at my roots 10 days later, and my hair is so much healthier. You would not believe what dye does to your hair. I had no idea how shiny and soft my hair could be, or that my split ends were just dye damage.

    1. Running on coffee*

      I admire that approach, I truly do. However. I am 39 and graying rapidly. Psychologically, I do not feel ready to give up the dye. I have more gray hair than my 64-year-old mom. Maybe it shouldn’t affect how I feel about my appearance, but it does. Luckily I keep my hair short, so damage isn’t much of an issue.

      1. sb51*

        Solidarity from someone else with way more gray than her mom. Found my first at 18, and at 41 it’s starting to move on from “graying” to “salt and pepper” while my mom just has a few grays here and there. Though I’ve refrained from dyeing mine, mostly because I prefer to keep it long and the thought of either growing out a “dye line” for years if I stopped dyeing or having to cut it (I do have it trimmed to remove split ends and even the bottom, but no healthy length removed) was the only thing stopping me at times.

        I do, honestly, wonder if I’d have advanced more quickly if I dyed it and had a trendier style, or if I were thinner/more conventionally attractive, but I’m also really happy with where I am in my career and wouldn’t actually want some of the responsibilities of several faster-promoted colleagues who joined alongside me.

    2. emmelemm*

      I wouldn’t care too much about grey hair in my real life, but age discrimination in hiring is a real thing, and as I *am* of an age to have grey hair, I don’t feel like I can go into a job interview with grey hair. I need every trick in the book to make them forget I’m as old as I am.

  52. CommanderBanana*

    Re: the roots, you could always try spray-in root coverup that you can get at the drugstore for the video call. It washes out.

  53. Wednesday Addams*

    For OP #2, if you’re uncomfortable with your roots showing, a lot of drug stores sell “root touch up” spray for this specific situation. You can likely buy them from Amazon or Target, also. It’s temporary dye specifically for covering your roots that you just spray on instead of full on dyeing and you can wash it out after your interview if you want!

  54. pain olympics hypocrite*

    At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, but I wish people would reach out or check in. I feel like I’m making all the effort with everyone. Lucky to have immediate family but I miss my coworker/friends and friends.

  55. Chaordic One*

    OP2, generally I agree with Alison and most interviewers are going to be understanding about people’s appearance at this time. Still, there are a handful who are going to be a bit unreasonable, perhaps, on a subconscious level. The other commenters here have made excellent suggestions about how to cover your roots if you feel the need to.

    OP3, logically I can understand your annoyance. However, I’ve recently started WFH after being furloughed for the whole month of April and during that whole time, no one from work reached out to me to ask me anything and I’m mildly annoyed about that. I would have liked it if someone, anyone, had called just to check in and make some small talk for a few minutes. Ideally, it should have been my manager. The only person who called was someone from I.T. to ask about what kind of internet service I had and then they called back a week and a half later to tell me to come in and pick up a new laptop. I do sort of feel like a cog.

  56. Elm*

    Re: roots. Lots of cosmetologists are doing pre-mixed color deliveries to people’s homes and video calls to tell you how to apply. Others will walk you through normal hair dye or recommend powders or other products or styles that can help. Check online to see if anyone near you is doing these things. If you have a regular stylist call them.

    This is how a lot of them are making their money right now, so you’d be directly helping someone pay bills while getting to look your best and keep people safe!

  57. Karen*

    Re: gray roots, I suggest wearing thick headbands or using some discreetly sprayed dry shampoo spray in your dyed hair color during the online interviews.

  58. OpsAmanda*

    #2 Personally I think we should get over being ashamed of grey hair. I started getting grey hairs in high school and I’ve always thought they were cool. I’m 30 now and considering dying my hair grey or doing a grey streak like Rogue from X-Men.

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