coworkers’ kids are noisy at work, SAT scores in a cover letter, and more

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

1. My coworkers’ kids are making it hard for me to focus

I am a little over a month in at a new job that I really like. Most of the staff is working out of the office most days (we are in the health field). Two colleagues regularly bring their kids to work. I am assuming this is because schools/camps/daycares are still closed in our area, and I am extremely sympathetic to working parents who are trying to juggle it all!

The problem for me is, two of these kids are usually set up in the empty cubicle next to mine. They usually play games together on a computer or tablet and often get loud and animated, as kids do. I have tried to wear headphones and tune out the noise, but I find it pretty distracting, especially as the noise isn’t typical office background noise.

Any advice? I feel if I had worked here longer, I would have more standing to bring this up, but I know I am still new and don’t want to rock the boat with coworkers. Should I just try to ignore it?

It’s not okay for people to bring their kids into work if they’re not going to take responsibility for ensuring they don’t disrupt others. But you’re right that this would be easier to bring up if you’d been there longer. As a new hire, you don’t necessarily know all the politics that might be involved in this.

In your shoes — having been there only a month — I’d ask your boss if there’s somewhere else you could work because the kids are sometimes loud. That would bring it to your boss’s attention without you complaining about it and might spur her to intervene in some way. Or it might just get you a quieter work area, which would be a good outcome too.

2. Should I talk about my SAT scores in my cover letter and interview?

I am currently in the process of switching careers. The career I would like to move towards is much more technical and mathematical than what I’ve previously been doing (I’m going from a manager-level job in entertainment marketing to something in data science/data analysis). I’ve been studying programming languages and I have reason to believe I would be very good at what I’m trying to do, but this new career path is not anywhere close to what I studied in college and it’s only a small part of my job currently.

My parents have repeatedly encouraged me to bring up my SAT score in cover letters and interviews. While my score was very high, it feels weird to me to bring up a test score from nearly a decade ago in an interview. But on the other hand, it is something impressive from my past that objectively shows I am good at logic and math, which might be helpful going into a new career path where that’s important. I did add it to my LinkedIn, not prominently, just under the “test scores” section. Are my parents right? Should I bring it up? Or will it make me seem young, immature, and out of touch?

Noooo, do not bring it up, and take it off of your LinkedIn! Test scores from high school don’t belong in job application materials, especially when you’re 10 years out.

The exception to this is if you’re applying in a very small number of fields that actually consider them still relevant (some segments of finance and consulting, but even then generally only if you’re a student or a recent grad). To everyone else it will look strange.

3. I share a name with someone with a weird reputation on the internet

I graduated with my bachelor’s last May and am still job searching. When googling my name, I’ve learned that I share it with a YouTuber who has reached minor fame. He seems to be very well-known in his niche hobby and Internet community, but I imagine that the average person would be unaware of him. But he seems to be a rather contentious figure with as many critics as fans. The majority of criticism is focused on continuous unprofessional behavior on his part, with a deluge of screenshots and video evidence (things like making inflammatory statements in his videos, getting defensive in response to negative feedback, and writing divisive political posts when politics is not the focus of his community).

I have a LinkedIn profile, but when I google my name, almost all the links on the first page are about him. I like the advice you gave to previous letter-writers to use my middle initial and to make my LinkedIn picture look as distinct as possible from his online pictures, but his sheer online presence dwarfs mine. Since I’m fresh out of school, I feel like it’s too early in my career to get my own domain or write articles like you suggested to the previous letter-writers. I also don’t use Facebook or any other social media with my real name, nor do I post photos online aside from my LinkedIn photo.

The people I networked with from previous positions know who I am, but what about recruiters who google me? My LinkedIn link is on my resume, but I’ve also heard advice from a close friend of mine that I might not get a position if a company feels they should not risk any mistaken association by hiring me. Is this true? (Even though my namesake has, from what I’ve read, never gone to college or been employed?) How do I build a solid Internet presence when this person has not only seven years’ worth of his own content online but also seven years’ worth of critics talking about him, all across different social media platforms?

Would you be open to including your full middle name rather than just an initial — so you’d be, for example, Xavier Falcon Mulberry rather than just Xavier F. Mulberry? The middle initial is good, but the full name would differentiate you even more.

It’s not too early to get your own domain (anyone can get their own domain!), but it also isn’t likely to solve the problem unless you post prodigiously there, which likely doesn’t make sense. But I might consider having more of a social media presence with photos if you’re up for it — just to create more of an “obviously not the other guy” trail.

I don’t think many companies will not hire you out of fear someone could associate you with the other person; the concern is really just about employers thinking you are him. The middle name should help with that.

4. Job listings that say “remote” when they’re not

I’m looking at remote positions and have noticed a glut of job listings that will say they’re remote only, but then find out that they’re only temporarily remote due to COVID. Should companies really be listing these jobs as remote? It’s driving me batty to see what looks to be a promising job listed as remote only to click on the listing and find that it’s not a permanent situation. Is this common practice right now? And if it is, can we all collectively will it to stop?

We can and should try collectively willing it to stop because you’re right — if these positions are only temporarily remote, it makes no sense to advertise them as remote to someone across the country. Those aren’t remote jobs. They’re on-site jobs, temporarily being done from home.

5. Paying taxes on gifts from employers

Last night, my mother-in-law was talking about her job. She’s a nurse at a local hospital that has numerous locations in multiple cities. She told us that gifts from the hospital are added to their salary and they have to pay taxes on them! What? She has had to pay taxes on gift cards and cheap mugs that have the company’s name on them. Is this normal practice? Taxes on gifts seems to defeat the purpose of a gift.

IRS rules do indeed say that most gifts from employers are considered taxable income because they’re a form of compensation. The only exceptions are gifts that qualify as “de minimis fringe benefits,” defined as goods or services where the value is so small that accounting for it would be unreasonably or administratively impracticable. Exceptions include “traditional birthday and holiday gifts of property (not cash) with a low fair market value,” “occasional cocktail parties, group meals, or picnics for employees and their guests,” “coffee, doughnuts, and soft drinks,” and “flowers, fruit, books or similar property provided to employees under special circumstances (for example, on account of illness, outstanding performance, or family crisis).”

Typically companies use $25 as a cut-off (so I’m somewhat surprised by the mugs), but cash and gift cards are always taxable, no matter their amounts.

{ 431 comments… read them below }

  1. Bostonian*

    For #3, I would also add that unless you also live in the same area as the other person, or have other similarities in background (eg college, which you said isn’t the case), hiring managers who google you may not assume you’re the same person. If I’m looking for a candidate on the internet, I try to match up some key demographic/background factors other than the name before assuming I’ve found the right person.

    1. valentine*

      It sounds like only the name is (two-thirds?) the same, so, after verifying they don’t share the middle name(s) as well, OP might consult a marketing person to see if it would help to get a Twitter that maybe doesn’t use any part of the name and whose bio has details that differ, like hometown and industry, with a link to their LinkedIn. If the name’s part of the handle, it could backfire, with people looking to chastise the other person addressing them by OP’s handle or OP’s timeline being full of the person’s mess. Going by XF or X. Falcon online might also help.

      But even if the name isn’t common, I would expect that, once they land on the other person, anyone investigating OP would filter and narrow their search.

    2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Also, the more common your name, the less likely it is that someone will think you might be the same person. If I saw a resume from a Will Smith, I wouldn’t assume it was the actor; if I got one from a Renée Zellweger… well, I’d still assume she wasn’t changing careers to apply to my workplace, but I’d take a few more milliseconds to come to that conclusion.

      1. kathlynn (Canada)*

        I have an uncommon name, and relatively rare last name (at least where I live). I’m so glad that the other person who pops up on Google with my name lives in a different country than me. Or I’d be more worried about this.

        1. Kumajiro*

          Despite our extremely uncommon last name, my dad shares his full name with someone practicing law in our state. Down to the odd spelling of his first name. His current manager asked in the interview about his change from practicing law, and my dad said he had to be a good boss because “he took being told he was wrong very much in stride.” So far that has held true.

          1. Quickbeam*

            My husband has an extremely uncommon name which he happens to share with a legendary ornithologist in California. We get bird mail all the time.

            1. CmdrShepard4ever*

              I did not realize birds used our same mail system, how many seeds does it cost to send a letter? Or by bird mail did you mean mail delivered by birds like a carrier pigeon or owls?

              1. Erstwhile Lurker*

                Honestly, I sent a semi large parcel last week, couldn’t have weighed more than a pound and it cost me two worms. TWO WORMS¡ has the world gone mad¿

            2. PeanutButter*

              I have a middling-unusual first name (it’s just very old-fashioned) with a common-sounding last name that is usually spelled with a different combination. I share it (and my middle initial) with a former Olympian FROM MY HOME TOWN. When I walk in the room for an interview it is very obvious that I am a short, pudgy white person and not a tall, athletic Black person, but I have gotten a few questions about it. Fortunately after looking me over everyone is very willing to believe I have never, ever been in the Olympics.

              1. JJ Bittenbinder*

                Something about the way you wrote this just delights me. I love your gently humorous style.

            3. Indigo a la mode*

              I now aspire to one day be referred to as a legendary [field not known for glory].

              A legendary piano tuner. A legendary plaster craftsman. A legendary ghostwriter.

        2. Rachel in NYC*

          I have a common first name and a pretty rare last name but there are other people with the same first and last names as me. But it’s pretty obvious- we’re in distinctly different fields, live in different states. One is a well known set designer (she’s basically the 1st page on google). There’s another who is married to a sheriff’s deputy in colorado (the deputy actually shares my uncle’s name and the two of them are FB penpals.)

          I’m sure there are a few others but as someone who has to find people as part of my job- I assume that there are going to be multiple people with most names, no matter how unique. And I will look for things to confirm that the person I’m looking at is actually the person I’m looking for beyond the name. Initials. Pictures. Schools. Fields of study. You name it, I’ve probably considered it.

          1. JJ Bittenbinder*

            That reminds me of the British comedian Dave Gorman, who travelled the world meeting other Dave Gormans, in the early 2000s. He had a BBC series about it, as well as writing a book.

      2. Gen*

        I have the misfortune of having a very common stripper/drag alias name and ended up changing the spelling of my first name 15 years ago to get unique search results. These days I wish I’d left it because most people are going to realise it’s a semi-common name and frankly I miss the anonymity.

      3. Turtle Candle*

        I just got the giggles imagining that Renee Zellweger had decided on a new life path and that it was documentation for data management software, so thank you for that. :D

      4. LW #3*

        Hello, LW #3 here.

        In terms of commonality, I think a good comparison for our names would be “Michael Wazowski.” Our names are not particularly eye-catching on their own, but they’re not common enough to be considered average. If our names were both “Michael Smith,” I would not have worried so much, and I also would not have worried so much if the other Michael Wazowski was some big-name Hollywood actor.

        1. Quill*

          Both my first and last names are uncommon, together, they’re very uncommon. But if I’d been named something more common in my age cohort, like Ashley, Lindsay, Sabrina… I’d have probably run into a double by now.

          1. Pomona Sprout*

            I had forgotten who Michael Wazowski is and decided to google.

            It was well worth the effort! :-D

        2. SomebodyElse*

          Honestly I wouldn’t worry much about this. If you are going to be screened out based on an internet search without verification, it’s a clear indication that the organization is either lazy, judgmental, or both.

          I have an uncommon name with an uncommon spelling. I have found 3 “Petuniaa Warblesworth” in my country; myself, a professor, and professional photographer. The professor even lives in my former big city. I think I’m about 10 google pages in and it’s such a weird obscure reference that nobody would ever bother actually checking (think sports team participant list from 20 years ago).

          Toss in your middle initial and call it job done. If the other Michael Wazowski is not a serial murder, racist, or anything else I doubt people are going to jump to the conculsion that you are the same people.

          1. Jack Be Nimble*

            “If the other Michael Wazowski is not a serial murder, racist, or anything else I doubt people are going to jump to the conculsion that you are the same people.”

            I think a big part of the issue is that a lot of the lightning-rod-of-controversy youtubers are known for racism (or at the very least, for producing racially insensitive content), among other seriously unsavory behavior.

            I think I know which youtuber OP shares a name with, and if I’m guessing correctly, his issue is not ‘this other Mike Wazowski has controversial and hostile opinions about continental vs. English knitting,’ it’s ‘this other Mike Wazowski is a thoroughly loathsome human being who may have committed crimes.’

            1. SomebodyElse*

              Fair enough, but if I’m honest, I’m not going to jump from Mike Wazowski who is a thoroughly loathsome human being who may have committed crimes and is a youtuber/IG/whatever the cool kids are using to Mike Wazowski who is applying to be an accountant/logistics manager/programmer.

              And if I did, I’d probably ask… “So what’s the deal with the internet search results”

              1. Jack Be Nimble*

                Oh definitely! I don’t think there’s an inverse relationship between ‘severity of YouTube crimes’ and ‘benefit of doubt given to schmoes with the same name.’ I don’t think the advice to the OP changes based on the first metric, but I don’t think the OP’s concern is totally misplaced, either!

                Hopefully, anyone who recognizes the name of a minor internet jerk would be savvy enough to realize that their job applicant isn’t the same person. In OP’s place, I’d be a little more concerned about either fans or critics finding OP’s phone or email somewhere, assuming it belonged to the youtuber, and things getting out of hand. It’s a slim probability, but I think it’s a good idea for OP to make sure their middle name is on their social media as a precaution.

            2. LW #3*

              My doppelganger’s controversy, fortunately, is moreso like the former than the latter. He’s never committed any crimes or has done anything that could be considered criminal behavior. He has, however, recently made some very insensitive, baffling, and misanthropic posts regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

              His channel is focused on reviewing chocolate teapots, with his main series on teapots and teacups he doesn’t like. He seems to try making a persona of “angry Internet reviewer,” but this seems to be more of his actual personality than a persona. I imagine he is not alone on a lot of his opinions, but his critics commonly point out that since he has only ever seen finished teapots, some of the criticism he gives in his videos are a result of ignorance of the teapot production or marketing process. Some of these are coming from either students majoring in teapot production or people who are actually in the teapot industry. Once in a while, he’d choose a teapot to review if it had a political or social message that he didn’t like and go at length on the politics related to the teapot.

              In one video, he reviewed a specific teacup he didn’t like in particular, and he ended his video with saying that the teapot-makers who made it should be blacklisted. This resulted in his fans flooding those teapot-makers’ social media with harassment. The YouTuber has since apologized for this incident, but his critics still bring it up sometimes because although he doesn’t say in his videos anymore that people should be fired or blacklisted, he still often makes negative character judgments of teapot-makers in his videos.

              This is not all that he’s done, but it’s all within this vein.

              1. Jack Be Nimble*

                That’s really fortunate! I was definitely assuming you shared a name with any one of the many, many, many beauty youtubers who’ve been outed as really despicable humans, but it sounds like it’s more fringe than that!

                I’m very delighted to be wrong about this one!

              2. SomebodyElse*

                Teapot = Gaming? -Don’t answer that, but I’m going to answer as if it is.

                Unless his niche is related to your industry, what you describe would not even trip my radar as a hiring manager. If I google Mike Wazowski and see this person’s hits, I might glance, look to see if it’s you (generally I don’t google until after my first interview) but that’s going to be about it.

                I think sometimes we put a little too much stock in online presence. For sure it’s important in some industries, but it’s just as irrelevant in others. Now add into the mix a niche hobby and I think that for a lot of hiring managers and companies it’s just not going to be a big deal. Chances are something just as easily and weird will knock you out of the running for a job.

                Even what you described would not raise the ‘but what about our corporate image’ question. Even with your comments on the recent Covid situation, not everyone has the same views, hell I disagree with a lot of the posts in this site about Covid and the workplace, people get to disagree and have an opinion. At worst even if I did believe you were out there saying things like rutabagas can prevent Covid… all I would do is ask questions to suss out of you can separate personal opinions and company policy and professionalism.

                I giggled at the person who mentioned knitting style debates… I’m assuming they are one and I’d point them to some of the knock down drag out baby killer acrylic vs. hoity toity wool and ask them if some of those debaters don’t look a little deranged and unbalanced :)

            3. Reba*

              So, I share a name with someone who was convicted for murder. There are a lot of results on her because she also appeared on what seems to have been a horrible, salacious documentary TV series about it.

              I don’t worry that I’ll actually be confused with this person, but it makes for a very unpleasant google for the prospective employer.

              I have my own website (the domain is my name) that talks about who I am, and if a searcher adds a keyword that’s at all related to what I do, they get correct results — my website or LinkedIn.

              So that’s my advice to LW #3. Try to make it easy for the searcher to get from the wrong result to you.

        3. specialist*

          When I first opened my practice, I found that I share a name with a pornography author. Of course, it couldn’t be just regular porn. My namesake writes incestuous lesbian pornography. It took awhile, but my namesake is now several pages back on google. This did lead to an interesting conversation with the BBB representative. She couldn’t say it. It was a long conversation with multiple repeats of “due diligence” “ummm” and other things before I figured out that they found the incestuous lesbian pornography. I survived. You will, too.

        4. Anon4This*

          I share a full and not terribly common name with both a Hooters waitress from Georgia with prolific and questionable social media content and a nurse in Utah who leads a women’s organization related to the LDS Church. This far, I’ve not been confused with either, though a candidate was the one who alerted me to the existence of the former (which was a bit of an odd icebreaker at the interview).

      5. BethDH*

        One problem I have seen is people who don’t realize that a name they haven’t encountered is very common, but just not in their area. My spouse’s org has an office in India and new hires in their American office will often email the wrong person not realizing that a name they haven’t encountered is incredibly common. For that matter, my own name uses a less common spelling that is still incredibly common but people are more likely to think it’s unusual because it isn’t as common as the first version. It means that even my middle initial isn’t enough to clearly disambiguate in my wider field but people aren’t likely to guess that.

    3. Alianora*

      Yeah, there are several different weirdos with my name who show up in internet searches, but as far as I can tell, no one’s ever mistaken me for them. A couple of them are pretty out there.

      We’re in different locations, and if anyone is looking at my resume, it’s easy for them to tell I’m not the other Alianoras.

    4. Anonys*

      I think especially with the other person being a semi famous, presumably full-time youtuber, I wouldn’t assume they are the same person when getting a resume from someone with relevant experience for the job advertised. I would just think: Oh, this person is hard to google which is the case for many people, such as those with very common names. I think with many people the first google search result isn’t necessarily about them unless you include details other than first and last name.

      1. Taniwha Girl*

        I honestly don’t know if there is anything for OP to do here? By OP’s own estimation this person isn’t well known outside his niche, and if it has nothing to do with OP’s field, I don’t see why any reasonable person would think they’re the same person.

        If tomorrow I were to get a resume IRL from someone actually named Xavier Mulberry, I might raise my eyebrows and say, “No way…” and then skim the resume, maybe google the YouTuber and applicant, and conclude, “Haha, what a weird coincidence. Small world.”

        I don’t see the need for OP to out-compete someone whose job it is to garner attention on social media. Most people won’t notice and most people won’t care.

        1. Myrin*

          Yeah, I think OP might be overthinking this a bit or at least giving it more weight than it actually holds.

          I have nothing to prove this in any way, but my gut instinct tells me that actually more people are likely to NOT think that this guy is OP than the other way around. I know that at least where I am, people are always incredibly disbelieving when they meet someone they’ve seen in the paper or on the news, even if it’s the local paper or the local news and it’s actually quite likely the same person, and I’d assume that extends to internet personalities as well, maybe even moreso.

          So while you of course can’t guarantee that someone is going to come to a false conclusion, I’d generally say that it’s unlikely to become a problem in any way since most recruiters and hiring managers know that there are usually more than one person bearing a name in this world.

          I especially like your last paragraph, Taniwha, and want to emphasise it once again – it sounds like simple advice but it’s definitely advice for OP to live by.

        2. Venus*

          I completely agree. Does LW3 have a need for an online presence, like a portfolio for their work? If not then a link to their LinkedIn would be more than enough. If I did search a potential candidate (which I don’t, because it isn’t relevant to their work for me, the focus is on the interview) then I would know it wasn’t the same person and would feel badly for them because it’s a shitty coincidence.

        3. Boris Badenov*

          Yeah I totally agree with this. I share a very uncommon last name and common first name with a fashion designer who has worked with some very controversial figures and has an enormous internet presence. Never once been asked a question about it. Middle initial (or full name) is as far as I’d go here.

    5. Ginger ale for all*

      We had a new hire years ago at the library and we googled him. We all knew immediately that he wasn’t moonlighting as a porn star as his Google results seemed to suggest. I think things like this happen enough for most people to realize that many times strangers will have a name in common with other people.

    6. LW #3*

      Letter-writer here. That’s good to hear, because we also both live in different parts of the country as well. Thank you!

    7. Richard Hershberger*

      Google my name (I use my real one on the internet) and the first page comes up with me, a biochemist, and a vascular surgeon. This is weird mostly because my family is rife with chemists, and he looks a little like me. Furthermore, put the name into Google Scholar and papers from all three of us turn up, my baseball history papers intermingled with chemistry and medical papers. We should get together over beers and compare notes.

      1. lost academic*

        I’ve got someone with my same name whose academic publishing has started to have a very slight overlap in topic relation to my primary field to the point that it really confuses Google Scholar. I don’t publish as much anymore and it’s not relevant to my career right now but it was amusing in grad school!

      2. Quill*

        That sounds fun. I’m just steamed that when my brother and I worked (separately) on cleaning the same dinosaur bone as volunteers, we both got listed by just last name, making it impossible to determine, when in the museum, that I was even there. (My brother’s been published twice now, meanwhile I’ll have to wait to sell a book or short story…)

      3. Rock Prof*

        There’s another person with my same first, last, and middle name (one of those super common white woman middle names from the 80s) who has also published and has a PhD in an earth-science-related field. She uses her maiden name in her full name and initials, so while I’m just ABC, she’s ABDC. Of course, Google scholar and similar can’t tell the difference. I actually emailed her when I was applying for academic positions just in case someone accidentally tried to get in touch with her.

      4. Environmental Compliance*

        I have someone with my name, which isn’t incredibly common at all, apparently recently get really active in the astronomy research community, with a crap ton of big, highly cited articles…. and since I am also on Academia (for invasive species papers), I keep getting alerts from this with Academia thinking it’s me.

      5. Humble Schoolmarm*

        My name twin is a doctor doing my dream job (in a fairly niche specialty). It makes me oddly happy that there’s at least one Humble Schoolmarm making a name for herself in chocolate neuroscience, even if it isn’t me.

      6. Nesprin*

        I’ve written papers with another firstinitial Nesprinlastname- thank god someone had the right idea to come up with ORCiDs. there’s another Nesprin in my discipline, and a prolific anthropologist

        I’ve done my best to ensure that all the places you’d look for my work are very clear on what is mine and not mine, and no one has ever worried.

      7. Prof. Space Cadet*

        I have a very common American first name and a last name that is uncommon in the United States but one of the 5 most common surnames in the lesser-spoken European language of my ancestors (think along the lines of Basque or Estonian). As a result, there are about a dozen people in the United States who have the same First and Last Name as me, but they are pretty boring for the most part. One is a physics professor at a university about 8 hours away from me, another is a medical doctor, and another worked as low-level White House aide during Barack Obama’s second term. It’s only the last one who’s casused some minor confusion, because we’re about the same age have a few 3rd-degree connections on LinkedIn. (I’ve even received a few messages from old high school acquaintances asking “Are you the same James Worbleworth who went on to. . . ?”). But that James Worbleworth (not my real name) went to an Ivy League college and I didn’t, so people figure out pretty quickly that we aren’t the same person.

        Another thing that helps is that my first name naturally lends itself to a number of diminutives. So there’s a Jim Worbleworth, a Jimmy Worbelworth, a Jimmie Worbleworth, a Jamie Worbleworth, etc., which seems to reduce confusion as well.

    8. AnotherAlison*

      My boss sent us an interview notice for a candidate without a resume attached. Let’s just say his name was Jason De Rulo. The Google search first hits were for a guy who graduated with an engineering degree, MBA, and worked in private equity. He was from a city about 3 hrs from us. I thought this was the guy. It seemed a little off for the specific job (asset planning manager), but close enough. When we did get the real guy’s resume, it was not that guy. The right guy had an engineering degree, BBA, and worked at a competitor as an asset planning manager. He lives locally now, but went to college in the state that the other guy was in. It was very confusing, and even though the current locations were different, it seemed plausible that either were the candidate.

    9. Marketing Automation Guru*

      I agree with this! When I got married and changed my name, I knew that there was an adult film actress who had my nee name.

      She was older, and we look nothing alike, but still, in the early days of my career I seriously debated adding a PS to my cover letters saying that while I knew it was common to Google candidates, I wanted to clarify that any results were NOT me. That was when Google was still in it’s early days, and returned search results for everything.

      I opted not to add the PS, and it worked out ok. Once LinkedIn became much more popular, a direct link to my LinkedIn profile in the signature area of my cover letter really solved the problem, and then when Google got better at their algorithm, things got even better. Now search results return local community first, so my name really does not come up with hers anymore.

    10. The Grey Lady*

      I share a name with a rather prominent person who was murdered by terrorists (if you Google my name, you’ll see). Unfortunately, there’s not much I can do about it and obviously I’m not her, but it does make me feel strange when employers research me.

    11. Ms. Ann Thropy*

      I know of someone who belongs to an entertainment industry guild (not SAG/AFTRA, but similar) and there are five other members with the same name.

      1. But what if ...*

        I think that SAG/AFTRA has a policy that member names have to be unique. So, for example, Michael B. Jordan (who is primarily known for acting) needs to use his middle initial, because Michael Jordan (who is primarily known for basketballing) was SAG-eligible from his role in Space Jam and registered for SAG without a middle initial.

        But you said that it wasn’t SAG/AFTRA, so my point is completely irrelevant. :)

        1. Schuyler Seestra*

          Fun fact: Micheal Keaton’s real name is Micheal Douglas. He changed his name due to SAG rules.

        2. The Grey Lady*

          Yeah, this is true and happens with a lot of actors. Elizabeth Banks is another example–her real name is Elizabeth Mitchell, but there was already a registered actress with that name.

    12. Sharkie*

      Exactly this. I share a very uncommon first and last name (with a slight spelling difference) with an olympian, think Katie Rodgers vs. Catie Roders, and we graduated the same year of high school. When people are not quite sure on how I spell my name, she pops up and vice versa. Thankfully we grew up on opposite coasts so people seem to figure it out with a bit of digging but I had random people congratulate me for making the olympics a few years ago.

    13. JJ*

      Definitely snap up a URL with your name if you can, particularly if your name is on the more common side. I agree with AAM that putting your full middle name in is great, plus if you do get the full-name URL and put up a simple site (could just be a short bio + a link to your LinkedIn), it’ll start to get crawled and you WILL begin to show up when people search your full name.

      1. Remote HealthWorker*

        Eh I don’t think this is needed. Not everyone need their own website. OP #3 you can change the URL of your linkedin to match your name on your resume if you want. It’s free.

    14. Remote HealthWorker*

      Yep. As as a woman with a common name. Porn has always been the first link if you Google my name. Hasn’t been a problem for my career.

    15. Alias Madison David*

      My first name is a place and my last name is a common first name, so I am difficult to google. However, as far as I know, only two other people have this same combo: one starred on a trashy reality TV show in her country and one has a website where she posts sporadically about her job accomplishments.

      I, too, have a website where I post sporadically about my job accomplishments, as well as a public Instagram where I display anodyne hobbies like going to the beach, baking cinnamon rolls, and hiking with my friends. But my IG description box includes both alma maters and the city where I live. So if a potential employer wanted to google me, I’m hard to find with just my name, but easy to find with one additional descriptor.

  2. Butter Makes Things Better*

    OP #2, you’ll probably do a lot better to highlight your logic/math skills via the parts of your current job that are transferrable to data science vs. hoping potential employers will extrapolate that from an old test score. You might consider making a list of every nugget that applies and bullet pointing those. Good luck!

    1. Is It Performance Art*

      I’m in an analytics role and I agree about highlighting your transferrable skills. The demand for people with analytics skills far exceeds the supply where I am, so we interview people who are trying to move into the field from another one. One of the things we look for is communication skills. A brilliant analysis isn’t worth much if you can’t communicate it. We also look for people who can communicate how they performed the analysis and why, in this case because we might need to re-run it and we want to run the analysis the same way every time. Another thing we look for is problem-solving skills. We look for people who will work through a problem logically and know when to try to figure out the answer on their own and when to ask someone else. If you’ve been working in marketing, you probably have plenty of examples of using these skills. And if you’re working with people in marketing analytics, you may have more transferrable skills than you might think.

      1. Butter Makes Things Better*

        This peek into the hiring process is gold, OP #2 — hope you see this!

      2. Catwoman*

        Yes, I agree with all of the above! I am also in an analytics role, and, like OP 2, my degrees are completely unrelated. For every analytics position I’ve been hired for, a skills demonstration was part of the hiring process. My current position provided me with a data set to analyze, but a former employer asked for a past example. Put some effort into a work sample and be able to thoroughly present it and communicate your findings effectively. If you work with confidential data, develop some examples of what you can do with a publicly available data set. You can publish these somewhere like Tableau Public or your own domian to create a “technical portfolio”.

    2. tamarack and fireweed*

      Yes, this! The OP is likely to have to overcome the preconceived notion that they aren’t math-y enough. For someone very close to high school, the SAT scores *could* be useful to dispel the notion, but now 10 years on, the OP should find something different and more recent to point to. For example, more recent academic/non-academic classes, coding-related hobbies or volunteer engagement, geeky pursuits…

      It would also be helpful to position yourself when speaking with potential employers as someone who *of course* is a total numbers nerd. No defensiveness or apologetic attitudes – your pathway is yours only, and it led you wherever it did.

      1. Nesprin*

        Eh- as a mathy sort of person, at no point beyond college admissions has my SAT score come up.

    3. Mystery Bookworm*

      Yes. The thing with impressive high school (or university) qualitifications is that people expect to see them translated into work after a certain period of time. I actually think this is *especially* true for really impressive credentials, where bringing them up runs the risk of both looking a little like bragging, but also like you don’t have more relevant things to talk about.

      I know some people who were exceptional students who really struggled to transition to the working world, and you don’t want to give that impression either.

      I think you’re far more likely to find success with looking for places to demonstrate transferable skills, and even just writing/speaking passionately about your career change.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        This, exactly.

        I graduated 1st in my HS class and 3rd in my college major. My ACT wasn’t exceptional by today’s standard, but it was in the 30s in a time when people (where I’m from, with cheap parents) did less prepping and take it once. I’m pretty good at test-taking in general and have other licensing, certification, and a GRE score to prove that.

        However, my boss is some middle-of-the-class dude I graduated with. My job isn’t exactly a loser job, but he’s the one that’s the SVP despite my early potential. There are lots of reasons completely unrelated to either of ours talent or work, but my point is, I would never share my HS and college info because it has a peaked-in-high-school flavor.

    4. Jenny*

      SAT math is also not very high level math. It’s certainly not that relevant to IT. It would very honestly be a red

      1. Jenny*

        Sorry accidentally hit submit too early.

        It would be a red flag for an adult to be emphasizing a high school achievement in a cover letter. Even putting in GRE scores would frankly be bizarre. It’s just not relevant.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Because my social group at the time tilted heavily toward the hard sciences, everyone whose GRE Math score I know got a perfect one. It’s just taken for granted at that level, that the score was perfect or very high and so it would be weird to mention. Like people who want to include refinancing their mortgage as a skill.

          1. Reba*

            I have ranted about the GRE on this website before, I hate it so much! I’m a good test-taker, I just believe standardized tests are deeply BS. I understand some applications/fields may ask for scores, but I’d be pretty taken aback by someone using space in a cover letter for them.

            The GRE math, ahem quantitative reasoning, is baffling. It tests concepts that, at least in my area, are usually taught around 8th to 10th grade. If you are going to be using math in your graduate studies, you are well beyond geometry!

            If you are not going to be using math in your graduate studies…. you are not going to be using math in your graduate studies! Who cares!

        2. Dagny*

          Exactly. SAT math is geometry and algebra I; algebra II helps with the speed of the calculations.

    5. Artemesia*

      Including SAT scores as an adult several years out of college is not just unwise it would earn ridicule. Noone will be impressed by the score; they will be impressed by the cluelessness. Definitely don’t take advice from Mom on your job search. I had astronomical GREs and the only place I ever shared them was on grad school applications. Even for the first post grad job, the scores were not on the resume (and my resume was a vita that is lengthier and more inclusive than a resume.)

      1. all my test scores were high, but they're irrelevant now*

        Exactly. My MCAT scores were fantastic (I actually got an interview at Biggest Name University that was almost certainly based on that alone — did not get in because I am otherwise boring). The only time I’ve ever put them anywhere was on my medical school applications. They would be beyond weird to put anywhere else.

        1. JustEm*

          Exact same situation. Astronomical MCATs, interviews (but not acceptances) at top schools as a result. I do not list my MCATs on anything, as they are completely irrelevant to attending jobs (and sadly my USMLE was not as impressive as my MCAT)

        2. Doc in a Box*

          Ditto. I barely even recall what my MCAT score was (having taken it 15 years ago, back in the stone age of Scantrons). I do remember sitting in a hallway at Georgetown University miserably eating a yogurt that had burped on my jeans. It’s well-established in the medical education world that MCAT does not correlate with being a good doctor or not. It’s a gatekeeper test, that’s all.

          That’s not even getting into all the issues with implicit bias those standardized tests can hide. It takes a certain amount of privilege to be able to afford test prep classes. If I saw a residency applicant (~age 26) list their MCAT score, or their SAT score (!!), I’d wonder just how out of touch the candidate was.

    6. JQWADDLE*

      I came here for this response…analytics is a different ball of wax than the stuff you are tested on with the SAT. Understanding math is important, but most of the math is completed by the visualization tools anyway. In addition to showcasing your communication skills, you will want to demonstrate a high level of attention to detail. The biggest time consumer in analytics is building your models (queries) and validating correctness. The next thing that I find challenging is the end to end analysis/thought process. You have to understand IT and the business and the capabilities/limitations of both.

      I moved from IT to analytics 9 months ago…it has been a harder transition than I anticipated. If your transition is hard, it might not be because you came from a non-technical role…analytics is complex.

  3. Lady Heather*

    Oh, I would not like to have to pay taxes on a mug. I hope your mom at least gets the opportunity to decline the gifts, OP.

    1. Lady Heather*

      I mean, I don’t mind paying for a mug with a funny quote or cat photo that I bought because I needed a new mug – but a mug with company logo? That I got not because I needed a mug, but because the company needed me to have one?

    2. Rebecca*

      I suspect it’s not up for discussion, because that would add even more work for someone, like keeping track of which employees accepted which gifts that need to be taxed at the end of the year. All in all a pretty crappy process. I’m sure it’s supposed to be some sort of morale builder, but I’d be not happy if I was forced to accept “gifts” that ended up with me paying an additional tax, no matter how small it might be.

      1. OP5*

        I asked my MIL, and they don’t actually have to accept the gifts. They sign for them when they pick them up, which is how the hospital knows who to tax. She’s definitely going to be more picky about which gifts she accepts!

        1. Artemesia*

          It is ridiculous that they are taxing for small gifts if that is the case. I have never heard of a business taxing on coffee mugs, logo bags etc.

      2. CAA*

        Gifts from your employer get taxed as income in the next paycheck after you receive them, so it’s not something you do extra tracking on all year. They just get added to the year-to-date amounts at the time they’re given, the same as any other bonus.

        It’s really not normal for things like mugs, t-shirts, pens, water bottles, etc to result in a tax to the employee. Those should always be below the de minimis amount. I suspect that is the case at #5’s MIL’s employer too, and there was some mix-up in how the story was related, because no large multi-site employer wants to figure out who got a mug from their manager.

    3. Anon Admin*

      Heavens forbid if the IRS doesn’t get “their” cut of my company branded logo mug that will end up donated, given away or used for a pencil holder. This reminds me of the fact that moonshine is only illegal because the IRS doesn’t get a cut. Moonshiners pay taxes on all their materials but the IRS still wants a cut of the profit.

      1. wittyrepartee*

        Ah yes, but they pay those taxes to the state government. Not the federal government. Please see: our tax structure is really weird.

    4. Schuyler Seestra*

      I’m really surprised about the company mug. I’ve been taxed on door prizes at company parties(I worked for a hotel and twice won overnight stays at sister properties), but never what’s considered swag. I still have several mugs, t-shirts and hoodies from my last job.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Would a company mug even be considered a “gift” since it’s basically a walking advertisement for the company? The firm would have included the cost of the mug in its expenses for the year, so it seems weird to also include it as a form of taxable income for the employee.

        1. Nonprofit Nancy*

          I agree, this is making me re-think our year end company branded bags, backpacks, and jackets … but I kind of assumed those were coming from the marketing budget and were not considered gifts, since they basically made us into walking advertisements from the org. Lord I would hate to go back and add up all that swag to pay taxes on it now.

  4. Observer*

    #3 – Create a web presence. That’s really the best thing you can do. Using your full middle name, is also better than just your middle initial.

    Post regularly to your LinkedIn. Find an affinity group or something like that and post there – it can be work related or not, but just get your name there. As long as it’s not controversial, it doesn’t really matter much what it is as the idea is to create a pretense that is not Other Your Name. Make a Facebook account. You don’t even have to post much to your account. What can work nicely is to find a group or two to join where you can post in the discussions.

    I get the impression that you don’t really want your private life all over the internet, and I get that. What I’m suggesting doesn’t require too much disclosure. If you have a hobby you don’t mind sharing, or you can find a group related to your professional life, that would work just fine. Like I work in the non-profit field and I’m a member of a few non-profit related groups on Facebook.

    1. snowglobe*

      The thing is, if this you-tuber has been around a while and has lots of followers + online controversy, the LW is unlikely to be able to create an online presence that would move them anywhere close to the top in a google search. Google search results are based largely on how much traffic the various web pages generate, and Lw can’t compete with that.

      1. Observer*

        If they are also using their middle name that definitely helps, especially if they are putting that on all job related correspondence and resumes.

    2. LW #3*

      Thank you, I appreciate the advice. I don’t think I would be able to compete with my namesake’s web presence without using either my complete middle name or using the F. Middlename Lastname, as Snowglobe said below, but combined with either of those, your advice is helpful.

      You’re correct. I generally prefer to keep my private life off of the Internet, and the web accounts that I do have aside from LinkedIn have usernames where I don’t put enough identifiable information for anyone to figure out that it’s me. I’ll admit that Facebook kind of repels me, especially since it had been on the news for selling user information, but then I would be very short-sighted to say that Facebook is the only site out there that does this. (Although I had taken some small pride in the fact that Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t know who I am.) Nevertheless, your advice still stands.

      In terms of job-related aspects of life, I was always advised that having minimal content on the Internet was the best thing you could do. When I was in middle school and high school, it was always stressed to us that our future universities and employers would always google us and look through our internet history. The precautions they always told us to follow were to either put nothing online or to put as minimal content online as possible.

      I remember a particular incident where one of my high school’s volleyball coaches bragged about kicking a girl off the varsity team because the girl had posted a picture of herself in a bikini at the beach on her Facebook page. That coach also told us that any respectable university or employer would deny admission or employment because of it, and I regret to say that I didn’t see anything wrong with what the coach said then. It wasn’t until I recalled the incident in college that I realized the implications of the coach’s decision. (Or perhaps this sentiment is more common than I thought, depending on the field at least? I feel like this is starting to touch on a different discussion altogether.)

      1. Formerly Ella Vader*

        Particularly weird (and sexist) of the volleyball coach, given the chance that many indoor volleyball players also play beach volleyball as adults, wearing team uniforms that aren’t much different from swimsuits.

      2. Observer*

        The advice to not post anything is kind of right but also a lot wrong.

        I do tell people to not post anything anywhere that they wouldn’t want their parent / grandparent or their boss to see, and the they don’t want to see on the front page of the local news outlet or a national news outlet. So in SOME fields your coach would have been right, but for the most part he was being a jerk.

        In your case, just kind of disappearing from the internet is probably not really a choice. So create a presence that’s not likely to get you in trouble, and use your full name so if someone does google you, the right presence will show up.

        1. Artemesia*

          One problem is that Google has changed how they do searchers over time. I used to be able to use a specific name and find anyone including people I went to college with 50 years ago. Now the algorithms don’t go for your precise search term but will prioritize similar names that are better known. So Phinneas T Bluster will still be behind Phinneas A Bluster or just Phinneas Bluster if that name gets a lot of traffic even where you have specified the unique name. It is frustrating how difficult it is now to find people with low web presence.

          1. Timothy (TRiG)*

            This is one instance where DuckDuckGo, which does not attempt to customize results to what it imagines are your interests, will likely produce higher quality results than Google.

      3. Paulina*

        I work for a university that would likely be classed as respectable. I care very little what my students wear to class, and not at all about what they wear outside it. I also find the “we have to teach you what to wear in the real world” puritanical dress codes in high schools to be inapplicable and largely invented by school officials.

        It’s still a good choice to keep your life off the internet, and especially out of the reach of those who would sell your information or use it against you. That doesn’t make it right for things people post to be used against them, though.

      4. Catwoman*

        Hi LW 3, I’m wondering if you could add a note at the bottom of your resume to indicate that you are not this famous person? There is a risk that this could come across as unprofessional, but I think you could get away with it depending on your industry (highly conservative probably not).

        I’m thinking something like:
        Note: While we share the same first and last names, I am not the Adam Smith of YouTube fame.

        What do others think about this?

        1. Catwoman*

          After I commented, I scrolled to find the discussion related to this, so future commenters might want to direct their discussion there instead.

      5. Nanani*

        I agree with you. I also don’t use my real name for social media of any kind, including hobby groups.
        I am also self employed and have no trouble finding and keeping clients.

        Keep your face and name offline if you prefer. Don’t let people peer pressure you.

        It’s 1000% easier to clear up misunderstandings than to … make accounts you don’t really want in the hope that IF you are googled, they might see your tiny profile instead? While also fighting off the negative consequences of social media you have avoided so far?

        TL;DR you don’t have to join Facebook.

    3. BethDH*

      I find a professional twitter account useful for this. Follow people in your field and the accounts for the relevant professional orgs, maybe your alma mater too, and make the handle and display name plausibly match your resume (that middle initial!). You don’t have to post much so it doesn’t have to take time, just retweet and like enough to establish a track record.
      If you’re following good orgs in your field, your interviewers may well follow the same people and you’ll appear more readily in their results. It can also help you stay on top of bigger issues and controversies in your field that can be useful to know in interviews.

    4. Nanani*

      Yeah no. And also no to the suggestion to use more social media with photos from the top answer.

      When a LW says they don’t use social media with their real name, there is probably a good reason for that (and not one they are obligated to disclose here!)

      “Do this thing you explicitly said you don’t want to do” isn’t good advice, especially when it has such a low chance of making a difference.

      LW3 – Don’t make a facebook account. Don’t feel pressured to put your pictures on social media. Your reasons for not being on those sites already are valid whatever they may be.

  5. Sandi*

    I learned a long time ago that high test scores and good grades usually mean that someone is good at tests, and sometimes memorization (depending on the test). There is often limited correlation with thinking logically or writing code (I did well on my tests but really sucked at coding for years). I agree with Alison on removing the scores from everywhere. I don’t know if it would hurt on LinkedIn but why take the risk?

    1. Something Clever TBD*

      And vise versa. I have a degree in mathematics from a top 10 university, magma cum laude.
      And my test scores were abysmal.
      I actually am smart – and I’m very successful in my career. Basically the only thing I’ve over bombed are standardized tests!

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        Yup. I don’t have a math degree but it was always my best subject. And I was always forced to repeat a math class when I moved from middle school to high school, and then to college because I suck at taking standardized tests. Those tests have very little to do with a person’s abilities and intelligence level.

    2. Ping*

      This is important. All SAT scores indicate is your ability to take tests. They are a qualifier for university and that is it.

      The SAT scores don’t really indicate proficiency in things employers actually care about. Employers care about your skill sets and how you can work well with others.

      1. serenity*

        Many top colleges in the US are also moving towards removing standardized test scores from the admissions process entirely (and this includes the SAT, of course).

        There’s just too much material we have now to suggest that such scores are not indicative of much, apart from the fact that there are massive socioeconomic and racial factors which play into the results of those scores.

        OP shouldn’t even be mentioning their scores to people 10 years out of high school, let alone displaying them on LinkedIn profiles or on resumes. They just aren’t being taken seriously now, for good reason.

    3. Another Emma*

      SAT math scores are indicative of your ability on the math portion of the SAT. I have no sense of numbers (4+7 = 13 right?), but aced the math SAT.

      1. Dan*

        Heh. I grew up in the upper midwest, where ACTs were king. Everybody took them. The only people who took SAT’s were those who wanted to go to school out of the region, e.g., the east coast or something.

        I missed one question on the ACT math portion. SAT Math? I didn’t even crack 700.

        BTW, the answer to “7+4” is “about 10”. If “11” is that important, grab a calculator. You’ve got one on your phone. You’ve got one on your computer. And these days, you can probably just ask Alexa or “ok google.” I’m not joking about this stuff. Nobody needs to do “computation” anymore (that’s all 7+4 is). You need to do first-order estimation and logical reasoning. 10 is going to be good enough in most circumstances.

        1. Not Australian*

          And where are you if all your technology fails and you can’t add 7 + 4 in your head, counting on your fingers?

          1. ceiswyn*

            And that is why my school-aged self devised a method that could be used to count up to 100 on my fingers.

            By the way, I’m excellent at maths. I just hate arithmetic.

            1. me, in Canada*

              me too. Calculus, great. Algebra, bring it on. Adding, subtracting, and multiplication tables, I still cannot do in my head.

              Ended up an engineer :)

              1. voluptuousfire*

                I’m the opposite. Algebra and logic always confounded me. I barely passed math and went to summer school for math in high school. When I passed my last math Regents test with a 77, my parents took me out to dinner to celebrate. Having said that, I can add and subtract easily in my head due to a teenage job that had a cash register that didn’t give you the change and I had to figure it out myself.

          2. Harper the Other One*

            I’m pretty sure if there is no form of technology I can access within a few minutes to check, 7+4 is not my biggest problem!

            I’m being a little flippant, obviously, but in my opinion we put too much weight on math facts and not enough on understanding concepts. In many ways understanding that 7+4 is “a little more than ten” is more useful than memorizing 7+4=11.

            1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

              Math is not subjective, so how is understanding that 7+4 is “a little more than 10” useful? While technology is readily available most of the time, I’ve been in many situations where someone knowing how to do basic math would have helped them when that technology failed.

              1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

                It helps you catch certain kinds of errors. If you know that 7+4 is about ten, and someone tells you to pay $20 for a $7 pizza and $4 side order, you’re more likely to say “wait a minute” than if all you know is that 7 is more than 4.

                Math isn’t subjective, but if I know that the total is a little more than ten, and that I only have ten dollars, I know I can’t afford both a $7 and a $4 item.

                What’s more useful now that most of us have pocket computers is orders of magnitude: 37 times 41 obviously isn’t less than a hundred, or more than ten thousand. And it’s very easy to enter “337” instead of 37. If the answer looks wrong, redo the calculation, even if you don’t bother redoing most of the math on things like phone bills.

                My credit union has automated a version of this–once in a while the online bill-paying site tells me “this is a lot more than you usually pay this company.” Sometimes I really did spend more, and sometimes I missed entering a decimal point.

                1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

                  All this.

                  Knowing this “easy math” very deeply and easily can help with harder stuff or with moments needing quick estimates. It clears head space for other things like noting errors or dealing with more important issues.

              2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                If I’m a carpenter nailing boards, and you tell me there are two boards approx. 7′ and 4′, and I’m driving 2 nails every 12″ on center, then 7+4 ~ 10 is useful. I know approx. 30 nails will cover that with spare. Excess nails can be returned to the stockpile.

                If I’m a cashier making change, 7+4 ~ 10 is useless trivial.

            2. Alex*

              Agreed. Understanding that 7+4 is just over ten, and is equivalent to 5+6 and 8+3 is a lot more useful, than knowing 7+4=11, but not having a clue about 5+6.

          3. Maths teacher*

            If it gets you the answer, counting on your fingers is a perfectly valid strategy!

            1. Luffy*

              Thanks for the validation! I still count on my fingers and I get a lot of mockery from my friends :)

          4. Vina*

            There are still ways of doing it other than rote memorization. I doubt the abacus will fail, after all.

            FYI, I have several people who are close to me who went to CalTech. All tests there were open-book. Why? They teach you how to think, not how to memorize. They don’t care if you can memorize the formula for X, only that you can take that formula and apply it to X, Y, and Z.

            I once knew a man who could recite all the US presidents, their VPs, and the years they served. Yet he knew noting about politics.

            Memorization of facts is no where near as important as application of facts. This is particularly true in the age of the internet. But it’s not solely likened to technology. It was true even when the “look it up” meant an abacus or a book.

            1. MCL*

              I wish that had been emphasized more when I was a kid. I was overall a good student, but the rote memorization of math facts killed me. I always had to stop and think through even simple problems (and still do), so time tests completely stressed me out. I could do the math; I just couldn’t do it fast!

              1. Paulina*

                I was the same — the tests we had for arithmetic rewarded kids who guessed quickly and mostly correctly over those like myself who thought things through. Once I survived those years (barely) I got into the fun stuff with lots of reasoning, and on that I shone. I love mathematics, but not arithmetic.

            2. anon for this*

              That’s such a lovely interpretation ;) (and you’re probably right). The way we looked at it when I went to Caltech was that THE BOOK WOULDN’T EVEN HELP BWAHAHAAHAhhhaaasob.


              As a current data scientist, don’t put the SAT score on there, letter-writer. No one cares. Put your Github profile up and show you’re decent at (whatever software you’ve decided to use) and also emphasize the transferability of your communications skills. Yeah, this next three weeks I’m going to be trying to applying probabilistic graphical models and Monte Carlo simulation to our pricing data, but the last three weeks I spent working on pretty graphs for execs — pretty graphs that communicate in an instant the analysis the exec needs to understand. My PhD taught me very little in that regard, though I’ve learned a lot other places, and part of the work was coaching my fellow PhD in what to present since her initial instinct was a list of important definitions and key questions with no images. Totally appropriate for an academic presentation; not going to be read by the execs. If you can combine your other skills with the data wrangling and analysis, you’ll have a very attractive package.

            3. Kate 2*

              On the other hand all the critical thinking skills in the world won’t help you if you don’t have any facts to think about. So many people now make ignorant ridiculous claims that show they don’t know the facts about our political system, 8th grade earth science, history, etc.

        2. Emi.*

          I totally disagree with this — if you want to do any kind of higher-than-grade school math (and maybe you don’t, but grade school is very very early to make that decision), you need to have the computational foundation in place. You can’t reasonably factor polynomials unless you know your times tables, and you can’t understand a lot of proofs unless you understand more basic things like polynomial factorization. I’ve tutored college students with no computational foundation in even freshman math, and it’s like trying to drive a train across the prairie with no track.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I’d agree with this–basic computation is sort of akin to a basic reading level, a building block so “4 + 7” is instantly dealt with and you can focus on the rest of the problem.

            I get that knowing “a little more than 10” is useful in a lot of applications, but you get that sense of it being a little more than 10 from a lot of experience with adding numbers.

            1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

              “I’d agree with this–basic computation is sort of akin to a basic reading level, a building block so “4 + 7” is instantly dealt with and you can focus on the rest of the problem.”


              My child just finished up second grade and they want the kids to have foundations to make things easier as they go along.

            2. Paulina*

              It varies a great deal with the application — sometimes precision is needed, sometimes not. And yes, to progress mathematically you need to be able to work with its building blocks easily. But I’ve also seen significant differences in retaining those blocks between those who rote-memorize and those who consider and use, with the former retaining less even of the formerly memorized precise answers and far less of the estimates useful in many applications.

              Maybe the fetishization of rote memorization of arithmetic has diminished since my grade school days; I certainly hope so. Even those who did well at it then didn’t seem to find it useful. Repeated use, applied, was more productive.

          2. blackcat*

            IDK. I kind of suck at arithmetic. Addition isn’t a problem, but I totally turn 3^2 into 6 or things like that.
            I hold a PhD in a quantitative field, and took graduate level mathematics along the way. I’m plenty good at math, and I can do the arithmetic when I slow down. But I’m not that attentive to detail by default.

        3. Amy Sly*

          I’d like to play blackjack with people who round to the nearest ten rather than actually do the math …

        1. Vina*

          Mine absolutely did. Grew up poor in a rural, isolated area. When I took a standardized test in HS, my verbal score was low. Retook it a few years ago as a practice run. Didn’t miss a question.

          What changed? My social class and exposure to how upper-middle class white people in suburban America speak.

          It is highly, highly biased.

            1. Vina*

              That’s exactly how correlation works. Maybe you meant to say correlation does not equal causation?

              I’m pointing out an example from my own personal life. The test is KNOWN to be biased. It’s known to reflect a certain type of vocabulary that is class and race linked.

              “ averaged over 1100, while all other groups averaged below 1000. With regard to income, a 2015 analysis found that students with family income less than $20,000 scored lowest on the test, and those with family income above $200,000 scored highest. And we’re not talking about just a couple of points. The average reading score for those students whose family income is below $20,000 is 433, but the average for those with income of above $200,000 is 570. Clearly, there is disadvantage.”

              There’s also substantial evidence that test prep courses and college prep courses in the high schools matter. None of which I had as a kid.

              So, yeah, it is absolutely biased. This is not even something that can be disputed in good faith.

              I’m really not sure what you are trying to argue against.

              1. Poke*

                Correlation between SES and test scores has nothing to do with what you experienced. Your score improved because you were a few years older, you had been exposed to additional experience that high schoolers don’t have, and you had already taken the test once. 

            2. anon for this*

              While correlation doesn’t in general correspond to anecdotes, Vina’s anecdote is very illustrative. Here’s another one: in my hometown, researchers were looking into differences in test scores in elementary school students and wondering why inner-city immigrant kids were doing so poorly. Digging deep into the questions, they found examples like, “Danny has seven tulips and Julie has eight daffodils and Annie has a basketball. How many flowers did the three children have all together?” The immigrant kids didn’t know what tulips were and so skipped the question. Knowing what a tulip is at age 8 certainly correlates with SES.

              I’ve written many, many tests, and have encountered so many such oddities. They change; I’ve more recently had problems with questions about old technology. Amusingly, I wrote a test question a few years ago about the probability of getting 15 cents worth of money showing heads if you flipped a dime, a nickel, and a quarter. Many students did not know the monetary values of a dime, a nickel, and a quarter — and they were all from one background, which shared in common no elementary school in the US. I had to write the values on the board.

              Looking at the SAT back when it had the analogy section, one most famous example was choosing which relationship was most like runner:marathon. You choose: envoy:embassy, martyr:massacre, oarsman:regatta, horse:stable. I would not necessarily have gotten this right (although I did get a perfect SAT score thank you very much) because I didn’t know what a regatta is; I grew up a kid of an immigrant and we did not have regattas nor did I read books about them (Agatha Christie was more my style). According to a paper by Garfield in 2006, 53% of white kids got the right answer and 22% of Black kids got the right answer. Lived experience definitely plays a role.

              1. Poke*

                I’m a researcher who specializes in SES. I know all of this. None of it is relevant to Vina’s scoring higher the 2nd time she took the test. Most people would score higher the 2nd time they took it regardless of change in their income.

          1. Pip*

            I’d say your age is the larger contributing factor. Most people score better and better on verbal/vocabulary/reading comprehension tests the older they get. It’s one of those skills you keep building on throughout your life regardless of what you do. The reverse tends to happen for the maths/logic bits, unless you use those skills in your everyday professional life.

    4. Dan*

      I co-op’ed for a big name defense contractor in college, and one of the hiring managers I worked for said she and a few others *hated* 4.0 GPA grads, because it was an indicator they spent a lot of time in the library… and not much else. Knock it down a few pegs, and you could find smart people who could actually see the forest from the trees. And it matters, because the more experience I get, the more useless smart people become if they can’t communicate their work. A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t communicate the TL;DR in one sentence, you need to try harder.

      That may sound trite, but I’ve become a bit of a subject matter expert in my field, and I’ve learned that if you can’t explain the basics in a sentence, you’ve lost your audience. Your job isn’t to give them a thorough answer the question, your job is to solicit the response, “ok, I get it, tell me more.” If someone asks you a yes/no question but the answer is nuanced, the proper response is “yes, but” or “no, but”.

      1. Jenny*

        The defense contractor is a bit off if the 4.0 grad has other stuff on their resume. I’d say an 4.0 resume with no research or internships or co op (I am assuming engineering here) could be a red flag because work experience does matter.

      2. Canadian Yankee*

        I used to work for a high-tech company that did almost all of its hiring right out of school and our “sweet spot” for GPAs was in the 3.5 – 3.8 range. I wouldn’t auto-reject an applicant with a GPA over 3.8, but I’d go into the interview on the lookout for the negative pattern of someone who is very, very good at finding the One Correct Answer that a professor has hidden in a homework or test problem. This is a definite skill, but it can be counterproductive in the real world where you’re faced with problems that were not deliberately designed by a human to have One Correct Answer. The risk is that they’ll never finish anything because they’re always trying to find a better solution.

        1. BethDH*

          My experience was that 4.0 students took a fair amount of micromanaging overall. They wanted to know the “right way” to do something and were often afraid to test doing something in case they “failed” (failure meaning less than perfection). It was even harder to train them out of the mindset that they should work on something until it was as good as they could make it no matter how long that took.
          I was one of these students until after my first B in a relatively low-level class. Then I took the class that was a step harder and did better in it and realized that the B still meant I knew enough of the concepts to build from them and that I could learn/do a lot more with those four years if I didn’t insist on a 4.0. I still have to fight the urge for As at all costs, though.

          1. Quill*

            I honestly don’t remember what my exact GPA ended up being but I spent the first semester of Junior year in a walking stress coma, so it cant’ have been that high.

          2. A*

            This is very, very true. Unfortunately I didn’t have a choice as I went to school on a merit scholarship that required keeping above a 3.8, but it really highlighted to me how arbitrary the difference is when comparing what was actually learned and internalized.

        2. Dagny*

          3.5 – 3.8 in what field? I seem to recall that only one or two students (out of 25) in my department had GPAs that high; the average was a 2.6 or a 2.7. That’s engineering for you.

          1. Canadian Yankee*

            Mostly engineering – personally I had a 3.9 in physics and I definitely had more than a bit of this “must find the One True Answer!” habit that I had to outgrow. It’s true that not a lot of people have GPAs that high, but we were quite selective.

            Sometimes, that employer was way too credentials-oriented. I was unable to promote a talented person because he had a three-year technician degree instead of a four-year engineering one (it didn’t matter that he was doing great work). Now he and I are peers at another company!

          2. A*

            I was in a research methods based study, so definitely different than engineering, but in my case I went to college on a merit scholarship that required keeping a 3.8 or above (standard 4.0 cap system). Getting below that wasn’t optional. Or at least, would have been an extremely expensive venture.

            1. Canadian Yankee*

              Yeah – I was in the same boat. Merit-based scholarship, forfeited if I ever slipped below 3.8 for required courses or 3.5 overall.

        3. Paulina*

          Some 4.0 GPA students also get used to the other artificial aspect of test questions — that they’re testing the specific material covered. It’s a narrow view. I’ve certainly met top undergraduate students who made very poor grad students, because “search a narrowly defined area for the answer, that looks like what you’ve been taught” proficiency doesn’t transfer well to research. Meanwhile, some excellent researchers struggle with artificial test questions.

        4. Ralph the Wonder Llama*

          “someone who is very, very good at finding the One Correct Answer that a professor has hidden in a homework or test problem. This is a definite skill, but it can be counterproductive in the real world where you’re faced with problems that were not deliberately designed by a human to have One Correct Answer.”

          Oh dear heavens, suddenly my life makes sense. I’m only slightly joking.

          Very truly yours,
          Former 4.0 who stalls
          at work when she can’t
          clearly see the one true

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        My husband went to a seminar at his university for recent-ish PhDs who’d gone into industry, and one of the questions was about what you could have used more training in. “You will have to explain your ideas to other people using words” was a recurring theme.

        Daughter has a range of elevator pitches to summarize her undergraduate thesis work, based on how many words in the title you understand.

      4. AnotherAlison*

        I think if you’re debating hiring 3.5 gpa grads vs. 4.0 gpa grads, you’re missing the forest. . .

        I have an engineering degree, so I have been heavily exposed to the brilliant people who can’t communicate, etc. (I actually don’t think most of those people are 4.0 grads because they bomb their comms elective or something, ha, but I get the point being made.)

        However, I’ll take that 4.0 guy over the 2.5 candidate. At some point along the gpa continuum, are you sure that candidate knows the fundamentals or grasps the technical topics important in your field?

        I also think if you may discount someone who got a lower gpa because of extenuating circumstances, you better do the same for the high gpa person. I didn’t finish college with a 4.0, so I’m not personally offended here, but I had scholarships that required high gpas to keep, and as a married mom/college student, I really needed those! I had to strive for a 4.0, even if I didn’t quite hit it.

        1. Schuyler Seestra*

          Would you consider a candidate that didn’t finish or attend college? GPA’s are not indicators of a employees worth.

          1. A*

            “GPA’s are not indicators of a employees worth.”

            I don’t think anyone is arguing otherwise. However the letter was specifically about SAT scores, so it’s a natural segue into the discussion of GPAs on resumes etc., not necessarily the merit of having a completed GPA or SAT score.

          2. AnotherAlison*

            Not typically – I’m an engineering project manager in an industry that requires licensing. It’s not relevant to the type of positions I would be hiring for. Sometimes we can hire a unique candidate with 30 years experience who worked their way up and doesn’t have a degree, but it’s a one-off scenario. People come up the construction side of my company without degrees and are extremely knowledgeable and valuable, but I usually need people who can seal a drawing or have the right credentials for specialized consulting work.

      5. Mama Bear*

        I had a friend in HS who was very smart – but not well-rounded. Our middle of the road classmates seem to have fared better. There’s something to be said for working, volunteering and/or having hobbies that require soft skills.

      6. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

        “*hated* 4.0 GPA grads, because it was an indicator they spent a lot of time in the library… and not much else.”

        Depends where they went to school and how hard the school is. And maybe their aptitude to school.

        In high school I never got any grade other than an A. Did sports, led a club, was in student govt, did internships in senior year. I did spend a lot of time in the library too!!!!

        I was so close to a perfect score in grad school – just made a dumb mistake on a key exam (showed all the work in huge details – but forgot to write the answer! Which the prof, who loved me, noted). I could easily have had 4.0. I was also working 32 hours a week and doing one day a week internships sometimes.

    5. blackcat*

      Back in the day, I was a standardized test machine. Near perfect SATs. Perfect SAT subject test *in a subject I didn’t take.* 5 on an AP exam for a course I didn’t take. Near perfect general GREs (perfect on Verbal/Math, 5.5/6 on writing).
      It’s a game. A game I *rock* at. But totally a game.

      That experience has made me really thoughtful about how I design assessments as a teacher and professor. I don’t want to see how well students play a certain game. I want to see how they think and what they’ve learned. I don’t want them to simply memorize that of Machiavelli is an option, Machiavelli is always the right answer.

      1. Teapot Librarian*

        I am totally a standardized test machine! Give me a multiple choice test, and I’ll pass. I took a certification exam having barely studied–though at least it is in the field I work in!–and passed every part on the first try. One of my coworkers has taken the first part three times, studies super hard, and hasn’t managed to pass. I’m convinced it’s because standardized tests are a game, and playing them is a skill completely separate from knowing the material.

      2. TL -*

        I took the GRE twice, a year or two apart. For the writing, the second time, after I wrote the essay, I went back and replaced as many words as I could with multi-syllablic synonyms.

        I hadn’t done any academic writing since the first test, which I took right out of college. My writing skills were definitely weaker. But my score went from average to outstanding.

    6. A*

      Exactly. As far as I’m concerned, intelligence is all in the application. I don’t care what your SAT or IQ score is, I care what you do with it.

    7. Remote HealthWorker*

      If you are a woman it can also work against you. I mean SAT looks out of touch on almost all apps but including your 4.0 GPA was shown to be neutral for men and a net negative for women. Better off leaving grades off unless specifically asked.

  6. Heffalump*

    I don’t remember if it specifically addresses OP #3’s issue, but Job Searching with Social Media For Dummies by Joshua Waldman has good information about getting your own domain. He does discuss what to do when you have a very generic name like John Smith, so there may be some overlap.

  7. Zombeyonce*

    #3: If I were you, I might actually call this out just to be sure, but in a discreet way. Something as simple as an asterisk next to your name in your resume, then at the very bottom, ” * Not the YouTube celebrity”. This would not only remove all doubt, but might actually make your resume a bit memorable. Not in a gimmicky way, but this seems like something that would be helpful for people that may have heard of this person or immediately Google potential hires.

    1. Zombeyonce*

      This also has the benefit of being a lot easier than making your own website and constantly fighting with this guy’s web presence. I doubt people searching your name are going to be putting in your middle name to differentiate you.

      1. TechWorker*

        Yeah I don’t really get the middle name thing, surely that only helps if the online presence also has a middle name and it’s different?

        1. TechWorker*

          Sorry I mean ‘also includes their middle name in public info’ whether they have one or not is a bit irrelevant…

      2. LW #3*

        Letter-writer here. I appreciate the advice. However, if I remember right, I think that one letter-writer who had the same name as a porn star suggested this, and Alison discouraged it because it gave attention to the issue unnecessarily. (Unless I’m wrong here?)

        1. Pip*

          You’re not wrong. This would make you look weirdly focused on this issue. It’s just not a big enough deal that you need to get out in front of it like this.

          1. Quill*

            It would be one thing if you were an internet comedian going up against a public figure. (Think if Michael J. Fox had a name twin trying to break into standup,) or something else where drawing attention to the shared name would both be within your field’s professional norms and the other person was an actual celebrity. Even then, it would be more of a thing to do on a casual personal website or twitter profile, one that announces when you’re doing standup at a bar, not a resume.

            Doing that on a resume for a technical role and your nameshare is a niche youtuber? Doesn’t work well.

            1. NotMyRealName*

              This made me laugh because the reason Michael J. Fox has the “J” is because there was a working actor named “Michael Fox” when he joined SAG.

        2. Observer*

          I think you are right. I wouldn’t do that. Especially since not everyone is going to google you anyway.

        3. specialist*

          No, I never did that. I just focused on being me and eventually my “star” grew and the pornography “star” faded.

      3. Dagny*

        I would just put a line at the end of my LinkedIn summary: “Not the YouTube celebrity.”

    2. Zoe*

      That’s what I thought too. Seems like something Allison would say not to do but as a hiring person I’d appreciate it and it would make me smile.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      It makes me think of the disambiguation pages on Wikipedia.

      A brief note saying “In spite of the similarity in names, I am not the YouTube personality Fergus Wobblebottom.” sounds like a lot less work than developing a social media presence you don’t really want solely in order to stake a claim to your name.

    4. MK*

      Actually that does sound gimmicky, or at least oddly drawing attention to something most people weren’t even aware of. I can see doing this if the other person is very famous and/or working in the same or adjacent field.

    5. Alex*

      Yes, I’d do something similar – a small note in a covering letter to say that you’re aware of a prolific/semi-well known youtuber with an identical name and you’re not that person.

      On a related note, British comedian Tony Hawks got so fed up of receiving email from people thinking he was Tony Hawk the skateboarder asking him how to execute various skateboarding manouevres he wrote a book about the experience called “The A-Z of Skateboarding”. He also chose Tony Hawk the skateboarder as his specialist subject on an episode of Mastermind.

      1. Carlie*

        And Tony Hawk the skateboarder has made a thing of noting that no one ever quite recognizes him! He gets a lot of “Oh, you have the same name as the skateboarder.”

        1. DiscoUkraine!*

          I sat next to him in a restaurant in downtown Huntington Beach a few years ago and didn’t know it until after he left and my server said something.

          1. Vina*

            I once had an hour long conversation with a man next to me at a bar where the topic was how X sports franchise has went downhill under the new owners who didn’t have proper respect for the history and the legacy the old owner had built. After he left, the bartender told me he was the old owner. No wonder he thought I was brilliant.

    6. Poke*

      I disagree. This isn’t discreet at all. It draws way more attention to it than is necessary. If I saw it on a resume, I would think its gimmicky and weird.

      1. snowglobe*

        Then put it in the cover letter, with a brief explanation that it case the hiring manager decides to google the name, they are likely to see a similarly named you-tuber. In context, the manager would understand why you felt the need to mention it.

        1. Poke*

          I don’t think that really changes anything though. Whether its in the cover letter or the resume, it would still be weird to me as a hiring manager. I would wonder why the applicant thinks its so important for me to know that they are NOT a youtube celeb. Most hiring managers are aware that most people share a name with someone else, so if I googled an applicants name, I wouldn’t assume that every result that came up with the person who applied for the job.

          1. iambrian*

            To me, a small article on your LinkedIn is the way to do this. You gave them your LinkedIn address on the resume, use that space for whatever explanation you need.

      2. Carina*

        Yeah, this is frankly just weird and would make me question the professionalism and maturity of the person sending that resume.

        People really aren’t going to assume you’re a YouTube celebrity merely because you have the same name as one (anyone who does so is exhibiting terrible reasoning skills and you don’t want to work for them!). This just isn’t a big problem that needs addressing up front.

        Get a FB account and stick a few photos up, if you feel the need to do something, but frankly I would just try to stop thinking about this altogether.

      3. fhqwhgads*

        For me, I probably wouldn’t do it because I wouldn’t want to draw attention to it. At the same time, if I were hiring and someone did, I would not assume they were being gimmicky or weird, I’d assume they must’ve been getting asked about it in other interviews or jobs and were trying to get that to stop. Even if it would not remotely have been on my radar without the note, the note’s presence would make me think it must’ve come up before with someone else. So I’d not judge the candidate for doing it.

  8. R.S.*

    I think I have an exception to the SAT thing, but I’d love to know if I’m wrong!

    I got a perfect score on the verbal SAT, and I mentioned that once when applying for a copy-editing position. I figured it showed I had a solid grasp on the rules of writing and grammar. I got the job, but was it in spite of my doing that? X)

    1. TiffIf*

      Eh, I still wouldn’t see it as really relevant. Also what the “Verbal” section contained depends greatly on what year you took it–it isn’t even called the verbal section anymore. (And I have a minor in editing and some job experience doing it–I don’t see a verbal SAT score as a good indicator for the job.)

      The only place where I might see mentioning an SAT score would be appropriate is if you are going to be working as an SAT tutor/SAT prep teacher.

      1. NotMyNick*

        Am SAT prep tutor; can confirm.

        I scored a 1580/1600 back in the day, so I mention that as one of my specific credentials in this field. I haven’t and wouldn’t mention the score when applying in any other field.

      2. Barbara Eyiuche*

        Yes, there is a chain of test prep centres where I used to live, and you had to have proof of your score on whatever test you were going to be teaching. They would only hire people in the top 10%.

      3. Jenny*

        The Verbal section, when I took it, was mostly a reading comprehension and analogies section. Not terribly relevant for copy editing. When I was a Junior they added thr “

        1. Jenny*

          Sorry something about an ad keeps making my phone submit early. They added the “Writing” section when I was in high school which was more grammar focused. The joke was you could brag about a 1600… out of 2400.

    2. mystery bookworm*

      I think you really risk it coming off as a brag, honestly. It’s just not that relevant to most jobs. If it came up naturally in the conversation, that would be the only exception I can think of.

    3. Taniwha Girl*

      Were you in your early 20s?

      Anyone past 25 talking about their SATs sounds like Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite bragging about how good he was at football in high school.

      1. Dagny*

        I only bring it up when accused of being an affirmative action admit or when people go the Larry Summers route of talking about how inherently incompetent women are in math.

        1. Artemesia*

          Which is hilarious. Women on average have much higher test scores than their male peers in advanced programs admissions. This was incredibly true 40 or 50 years ago and less so today when more women are in the professions, but affirmative action has pretty much never benefited women in scholarly programs unless a racial minority.

    4. Jenny*

      Hah, I got an 800 on the writing section and I was initially horribly typo prone and have had to teach myself to read through slowly.

    5. Yvette*

      But you “mentioned” it, so I am taking that to mean in a conversation/interview. You didn’t put it in your resume/cover letter. Done with an “Oh, by the way…” attitude it becomes more of a fun fact/amusing anecdote than something you feel is resume-worthy.

      1. KayDeeAye*

        Exactly what I was thinking. Mentioning it in an interview might be OK if you can make it sound casual and as though you know perfectly well that it’s not, like, a key indicator of employability or anything. But in a cover letter or – worse yet – resume? Eeek! No no no no no.

        1. Artemesia*

          There is no way to drop that into an interview unless the interviewer asks about test scores or mentions them in some way.

    6. hbc*

      Honestly, if I had been hiring, this would have been a mark against you unless it was told as a joke or as one item in a pile of “here are all these little signs that I can English good.” I also got a perfect score on the verbal section, and I know I’m a piss-poor copy editor.

    7. Celeste*

      It’s not an exception.

      You probably didn’t get the job “in spite” of it, but it is vanishingly unlikely that it helped. I’m an editor and someone mentioning this would come across as very inexperience and naive. It doesn’t show what you think it shows.

      You demonstrate your grasp of the rules of writing and grammar through the work you’ve done, not a test result from years ago that is also the wholly irrelevant.

      1. Vina*

        Agreed. Test scores and achievements in college should only appear on resumes for your first few years out. They should drop off as you have real-world experience to replace them.

    8. Georgina Fredrika*

      another perfect score verbal here ;) And my career has been in copy editing.

      I still wouldn’t mention it in a cover letter or resume unless you just graduated high school, which is unlikely to be the case.

      I think it would be fine to have it come up in conversation, maybe in a sort of jokey way (I’m now like… 13+ years past taking that test so it would be really weird otherwise, personally), but that’s it.

      If it worked for you that’s great, and I don’t think people will necessarily throw the cover letter out the window, but it’s a pretty odd flex and IMO doesn’t even necessarily correlate to the skills needed in the field. You can be great at picking out grammatical errors but most of my work is a lot more complex/just requires a different skill set because the writing is “technically” correct, but doesn’t work for the brand/topic/flow whatever.

    9. Anon4This*

      Eh, I wouldn’t mention an SAT score for that purpose, mostly because I don’t see how it demonstrates attention to detail for copy editing. I’d rather have a student newspaper editor or a research/writing assistant/intern.

      And, back in the dark ages, when I took the SAT, the verbal was analogies, reading comprehension, and sentence completion. I am vaguely aware an essay was added shortly after I took it, but, having no need to keep up with the test after I got into college, I’d never draw a straight line between perfect written copy and the SAT.

    1. cncx*

      i have a friend who does that because his internet doppelnamer is a convicted felon
      he now just goes by his middle name too

      1. blackcat*

        I just do my full name First Middle Last everywhere official. I have a very common name and for a time the biggest internet presence with my name was an adult blogger. At the time, I was a high school teacher. It was never a problem.

    2. Mama Bear*

      Good idea. Most companies will then also allow some flexibility on your nameplate so you could still go by your chosen first name once hired.

  9. CuriousO*

    #5 – Gross-up the taxes on gifts. Employers who reward employees with gifts are usually generous enough to gross-up the value to include the tax. This ensures the employee receives the full amount of the gift.

      1. Lady Heather*

        If the mug is 6 dollar and the tax rate is 40 per cent, the employer gifts 1 mug + 4 dollar. The 4 dollar goes to taxes, the employer keeps the mug.

        I think.

          1. Iron Chef Boyardee*

            And you’re not going to. The employer gets to drink all the coffee. :-D

        1. Random Person*

          It’s usually a bit more then that since you’ll be taxed for the extra $4 of income as well as the $6 for the mug. And adding to that, the gift plus gross up might bump you into the next income bracket, making the calculations harder. I’m sure there’s a formula for doing gross ups calculations.
          After saying all that, Lady Heather’s point still stands. The point of gross up is for the employer to pay the income tax on their gift for you.

          1. Alex*

            $4 takes into account the tax on the income as well as the mug based on a 40% tax rate. It would break down as $2.40 tax on the mug and $1. 60 tax on the $4 itself.

          2. snowglobe*

            My employer does the gross-up, and also assumes highest tax bracket (since an employer can’t know an employee’s actual tax bracket, as there could be other income.) So if you are in a lower-tax bracket, you actually get extra from the gross-up.

          3. Natalie*

            Gross ups for cash gifts are usually based on the 25% supplemental withholding rate, so the employee’s actual effective tax rate (which is usually lower) is irrelevant. A mug almost certainly meets the de minimis threshold so the average employer wouldn’t bother, but there’s no reason you couldn’t use the supplement rate for gifts of goods as well.

            1. X*

              My former employer did gross ups at 50% of the value, but only for gifts that were over $100. We weren’t allowed to do gift cards at all, for this very reason. Later, they switched to all cash gifts for everything and then just calculated the gross up based on the highest tax bracket. Every time employees got gifts or awards, we had to explain it to them. It was exhausting. Just give people raises, it’s easier all the way around.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Yeah, I just got an email from my employer saying “hey, heads up, your next paycheck will look a bit weird because it includes the taxes on those gift cards we got you for teaching remotely during a pandemic.” I’m glad they did because I wouldn’t have known to put them in as income otherwise.

      1. Something Clever TBD*

        Haha. I was trying to figure out how getting multiple mugs would help the taxes.

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yes, that’s how it should be done. At my company if you get a gift card for something they do the math and increase your pay by the correct amount so that after taxes are withheld you should end up with your normal pay + the value of the gift card.

    2. Staja*

      My company, which is generally great, doesn’t gross-up…which was helpful when I found out last month our gift card emails now go to The Junk Email folder. It ended up taking 6 weeks for me to get the gift card my boss sent me.

      (I’ll say it louder for the people in the back, we would rather just have the cash equivalent)

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I can’t believe places are still doing giftcards and collecting taxes on them. The whole point of giving giftcards originally was to skirt the taxable income issue. Then the IRS was like “WE SEE YOU” and told them to give them the taxable rate…so really, it’s just so much more reasonable to say “We’re putting an extra $25 bonus on your check, we’d usually send a giftcard but since those are taxable and the accountant says no-no-no, here you go!”

        The people “in charge” now, must have not been aware of the history of why companies started the tradition of gift cards as incentives. Blaaaaaah

        1. fhqwhgads*

          I’m sure this is not universal, but a previous place I worked had a habit of giving gift cards because they could use the rewards from the company credit cards to get said gift cards. Consequently they could give people gift cards without spending money on the gift cards. That was the entire reason behind the gift cards.

    3. Damn it, Hardison!*

      My company does the gross up as well. All employees recently got a not insignificant sum of money for “covid expenses” and all taxes were taken out. They announced that everyone would receive the same after tax amount, e.g $1000, which was nice, so you didn’t have to wonder how much you would actually get minus taxes.

    4. HM Revenue & Santa*

      My company takes the other approach: every christmas we have a raffle. There are 20 employees and 20 prizes. Everyone gets to buy one ticket, which costs 1p. Usually someone who doesn’t have a penny pays 20p to cover everyone’s tickets.

      All the winners get a gift card.

    5. Syfygeek*

      My company gives the equivalent of cash on a card that can be used on campus, and at select merchants in town, including a gas station chain, mechanic, drug stores, restaurants, sporting goods store, etc.. We get taxed on that, but it’s worth it considering where all we can use it.

      We also get a physical gift each year(probably not this year) that are probably worth a couple of hundred dollars, and we don’t get taxed on those.

    6. Van Wilder*

      Agreed, gross it up. It’s chintzy not to, although maybe common in healthcare. And also agree with Alison, it’s super weird that they’re taxing mugs when they don’t need to.

  10. Something Clever TBD*

    #1 I love Alison’s suggestion.
    Also, if you wanted to approach parent first, not sure if this would work based on set up of the office, but could you offer something under the guise of helping (when you are really just dropping the hint that this is a distraction).
    Something like “Jane, would it help if we traded spaces for the day, so you can be closer to the kids?” Or “I know how hard it is to sit still all day – would they be more comfortable in the break room where they can talk?”
    Or “I watched Elf over the weekend, and Buddy had such a great time in the mailroom” (jk on the last one.)

    1. Yvette*

      I don’t know about Alison’s suggestion. Personally I think asking my boss if there’s somewhere else I could work because the kids are sometimes loud would come across as a complaint. I really can’t see any way of phrasing it where it wouldn’t sound like a complaint. Not that this is not an entirely valid and justified one. Any way you could sometimes take your work elsewhere and do it? Maybe someone will notice put two and two together? I know this is passive aggressive but as Alison noted you are new and may not aware of any politics or special circumstances involved.

      1. Beth Jacobs*

        This is office dependent, but in most offices with assigned seating, changing it yourself would be weird, not to mention the logistics (landline, computer, monitor!). I like Alison’s approach.

        1. Yvette*

          I just meant some of the time, not to effect a permenant change. It depends on what LW needs to do. Laptops can be taken to empty conference rooms, one place I worked everyone logged on to a virtual desktop even from their own physical workspace, meaning they could log in from any available computer. At one job, people were known to “hide” by working from places whose normal occupants were on vacation so they could get things done uninterrupted.

      2. X*

        I would definitely be going straight to either my boss, the parent or whoever told me “this will be your desk, welcome to the team” and stating the problem outright. It’s entirely possible that that is the cubicle or office where the kids were told to hang out 4 months ago when they had to start coming to work with Mom and no one has put 2 and 2 together yet and realized that it is no longer the place in the office where they are the least disruptive. Only having been there a month shouldn’t disqualify OP from a quiet workspace.

        1. Rachel in NYC*

          I was thinking some version of the same thing. This is where the kids have always spent their days and no one thought about the fact that we have a new co-worker and that isn’t going to work anymore.

          1. Mama Bear*

            We had a sister office and I worked out of an empty cube now and then when I was on site. One day I went to that cube only to find that someone had been assigned there but the nameplate wasn’t up yet. That was kind of embarrassing. Since OP is new, I’d start with talking to the parent about finding a new place for the kids to sit and if that doesn’t work, see about where else I could be moved. Kids in the office is a nice to have for the parents but it shouldn’t be an inconvenience for everyone else.

      3. Observer*

        Yeah, it’s a complaint. So?

        It’s one thing if the OP goes to their boss and says “Those kids are terrible. whine whine Do something!” That’s not good.

        But bringing a problem to your boss is not a terribly thing to do. Doing so in a way that doesn’t focus on how terrible the other person is but DOES provide a provide a potential solution is (or should be!) a perfectly normal and reasonable thing to do.

        1. UKDancer*

          Agreed. I think unless you work somewhere really awful it’s not a bad thing to identify a problem to your boss. You’re not saying the children are awful or badly misbehaving. You’re just saying that you’d prefer to sit further away so you could concentrate. It may be there’s nowhere else to sit or that’s the only desk they have, but if you don’t mention it, you’ll never know. Obviously this doesn’t apply if you’re in a hot desking environment where people move all the time. If you’re hot desking then just go and sit elsewhere.

          Also I would, as a manager, much prefer my staff told me when they had a matter affecting their ability to work whether that be a noise issue, a reasonable adjustment issue or anything similar. Obviously I’m not there to solve every single problem they have but I’d rather they were as happy as possible.

    2. RestroomTimeExtraordinaire*

      I really am wondering the kids’ distance from their parent in this scenario…whether they are getting adequate supervision. Also details of their ages – are we talking 5 & 6 yo or older, almost tweens? I understand the new(ish) person’s reluctance to big deal this, but there are plenty of not-criticism, not-judgment ways to approach the co-worker prior to getting the boss involved!
      – asking if they can use headphones while playing anything with in-game noise
      – asking if there are other independent activities they can do which don’t involve noise
      – asking if they need run-around time (like away from cubicle recess to burn off some energy)
      – asking if parent minds you giving them coke & candies/chocolate all day

      Joking on the last one of course, but on the third item, if they are stuck in the office for more than an hour or so and depending on their ages, no wonder they maybe getting fractious with each other.

      If there are tasks that require deeper concentration, or are less forgiving of distraction, LW1 can potentially work to schedule those early in the day or over a lunch time when the kids aren’t there.

      1. Notapirate*

        I feel strongly that the OP shouldn’t have to troubleshoot the kids. It’s not OP’s job to tell them to use headphones or find a different activity for the kids or remind their parent that kids can’t sit still for 9 hours. I suspect the parents know the kids are loud, else why wouldn’t they keep the kids with them in their own cubes or offices?

        Childcare emergencies happen. Right now especially. OP has already been polite about dealing with the noise. The parents aren’t finding a different solution. It is affecting OP work output. Looping in your boss on reduced productivity is the correct response.

      2. Ann Perkins*

        Yeah, it’s not the OP’s place to troubleshoot how to get the kids involved in a more quiet activity or whether they need exercise time. The OP simply needs to ask her boss whether there’s a more quiet place she can work.

    3. KimberlyR*

      I agree with this. I would’ve already wanted my kids by me but maybe the parent didn’t want to inconvenience LW#1 and doesn’t realize how disruptive they are. If the LW offered to trade desks with me so I could supervise my kids, I would be really grateful.

      1. Artemesia*

        In my miniscule experience with this sort of thing, the kind of parent who thinks nothing of bringing the kids in day after day, is pleased to not have them near him or herself while they work. This is even more likely if it is Dad bringing them in who will be likely to expect women to deal with supervision while he gets his work done.

        1. Dahlia*

          Considering schools and daycares are closed, I’d highly doubt that this is the way these parents normally do things. Unless they can work from home, there are very limited options right now.

          1. Artemesia*

            The parent is still sticking the noisy kids next to someone else not themselves. This is not an accident.

        2. KimberlyR*

          I would have to bring my kids into the office daily right now if I wasn’t allowed to work from home. During the school holidays last year, I brought my 10 year old and 6 year old daily (with permission.) My kids were seated right next to me and kept quiet the entire time. I also asked my coworker (multiple times) if my kids were bothering her or if she needed me to do anything to mitigate their presence there. I didn’t have any childcare options so my company was generous enough to let me bring my kids, but I did my absolute best to make it as easy for my coworkers as I could. I appreciate that not all parents would care about the disruption, but many would. I choose to assume this parent would, unless told otherwise.

          1. valentine*

            I also asked my coworker (multiple times) if my kids were bothering her or if she needed me to do anything to mitigate their presence there.
            Your coworker might be reluctant to say anything, especially if there’s an issue that’s obvious to them that no one is acting on, and it’s best not to make them the judge/bad guy. Rather, you could do whatever you plan to do, and also let them know: “If they’re too loud, I’ll have them wear headsets, pipe down, and move to the conference room.”

            I would’ve already wanted my kids by me
            Unless OP1’s space was occupied when the kids arrived, I think both the kids and OP1 were put in the available space, with no thought to how the established kids would impact work there, so OP1 bringing it up may be less of a deal than they fear.

    4. Letter Writer #1*

      Hi! OP #1 here. The potential issue with approaching a coworker is that the noisy kids belong to 2 diff coworkers. They are both bringing 1 kid to work because of COVID, but the kids enjoy playing together. Space is fairly limited, but it is possible there would be an open office for me to work in during noisy times, or even better, have the kids be moved there. I probably should have mentioned this, but my manager isn’t the supervisor for either of the employees that are bringing in the kids.

  11. All Outrage, All The Time*

    #3 I share a name with a famous transgender porn star! No one has confused me with her yet to the best of my knowledge. I wouldn’t care if someone did think we were the same person, but your situation is different. I have a relative with the same name as someone infamous online and what he ended up doing is using his middle and last name professionally, instead of his first name. He actually received death threats in cases of mistaken identity. If you’re not super attached to your name, you could always change it if the reason is critical enough. Maybe use your mother’s maiden name or some such.

    1. Retail not Retail*

      When I was younger, a porn star was using the same first name, down to the specific spelling. And if you search my name without quotation marks, my last name has… or can have… sexual connotations.

      I was actually happy about that because it meant googling my name brought up so much useless stuff I was safe!

    2. hbc*

      Yeah, I think the only reason to do something about it is if you’re getting noticeable negative repercussions, and I just can’t imagine that many employers are getting hung up on it. They google the name of the prospective accountant, they get a porn star/blogger/attorney/felon/block-chain specialist, and they assume they’ve got the wrong guy. Maybe they give up, or maybe they add “accountant” or “CPA” or your last company to the search. Anyone who assumes you’re on the first page of results is going to be painful to work for.

    3. LW #3*

      Letter-writer here. Oh no! Your poor relative!

      I luckily haven’t gotten any flack for my name, and I hope he doesn’t get any more either. Thank goodness for middle names.

    4. Clorinda*

      I have the same first and last name as a relative, and we are both authors. She uses a middle name and I do not, but we both show up on each other’s Amazon page. We write in wildly different genres, so it’s pretty funny. Neither of us has bothered complaining to Amazon, though, since it means we both get more visitors to our pages.

  12. phira*

    Not posting this to continue to double down on the LW–it sounds like they already had the sense that it was something they shouldn’t do, and Alison already gave good advice that included advice to remote the SAT score from LinkedIn.
    I used to teach for a test prep company, and I’ve taken my fair share of SATs (main and subject tests) and I’ve taken the GRE. I’ve learned a lot about standardized testing from it!

    – The most that your scores say about you is that you are 1) good at taking standardized tests and/or 2) you come from a privileged/wealthy background. Even if 1 is really that you worked your butt off to prepare for the test, the tests are honestly not designed to test your understanding/intelligence/capabilities.

    – Neither the math section on the SAT nor the one on the GRE are really all that informative about your math skills (GRE especially). The math only goes up to a certain level (GRE, for example, can only assume up to Algebra 2), and the difficulty is added in using a couple of techniques, such as word problems (it takes more time to process/translate them into plain math, which slows people down and makes questions take longer) or asking for an unusual term as the answer (for example, you have to solve for X, and it equals 3, so you select “3” as your answer and move on, but the question was asking, “What is 5X?” so the correct answer was 15).

    – The reason for all that stuff above about the math is … that otherwise, a lot lot lot lot LOT of people do well on the math. On the GRE, at the time I took it, this was especially true, to the point where my nearly perfect score was not even in the 90th percentile because so many other people did even better. They’re basically increasing the difficulty artificially because otherwise it’s too easy for too many people.

    – The only two things that I learned were truly impressive on either the SAT or the GRE were (1) a perfect essay score on the writing SAT subject test (12/12), and (2) a high/perfect score on the GRE verbal. The latter because of the sheer number of words you have to study and hope are on the test, and the former because it’s very hard to write a compelling, organized, clear essay in 20 minutes. Neither one is all that impressive outside of the tests themselves.

    So … yeah. Your math score is great as an SAT score, but it doesn’t tell potential employers anything about you except that you’re sharing your decade(s) old SAT math score. It doesn’t mean you’re good at logic or math, especially not in a way that’s necessary relevant to potential jobs.

    1. Retail not Retail*

      I don’t remember my SAT score (it was the first year of the 2400 scale) but I do remember my ACT score (i went to school in ACT country). I also took the GRE much more recently and only remember that I passed the math barely and did better on it than a classmate who did not have a concussion at the time.

      All that to be said, once you got your admission and your scholarships, pfft! Forget the entire process.

    2. blackcat*

      The year I took the general GRE, the math section actually involved a lot of data interpretation. They’d present charts or graphs of data and ask questions based on that. As a scientist, I really liked it! I thought it was actually a pretty good way to assess mathematical reasoning without strongly favoring those with strong algebra skills.

      And, yeah, when I applied to grad school, EVERYONE commented on my perfect verbal score. Perhaps it was more of an outlier in science, too. I got comments on it for my first few years in grad school (from the faculty on the admissions committee). Perfect math didn’t get any comments, but perfect verbal seemed really unusual.

      1. Artemesia*

        I took the GRE long after graduating since I didn’t go to grad school immediately but worked first. I apparently took it with a bunch of engineers. I remember the verbal and was through it in half the allotted time while all around me guys were moaning and chewing their pencil. And got a perfect score. Then the math section and I was moaning and chewing my pencil when most of the guys around me were getting up and leaving. Did okay, but far from a perfect score — good enough to do advanced stats but not a main strength. I had not had a formal math class since high school and the last one I took was advanced algebra — not calculus.

    3. Remote HealthWorker*

      Just a psa that those perfect essays were not planned and crafted in 20 minutes. I had a couple of friends who had pre-written essays usually about Gahndi, MLK, etc ready to go that they had practiced for months. The only part they had to come up with on the fly was the “pivot your prompt to your essay” part which they would come up with during the planning portion and then could belt out their memorized essays in 10 minute and spend the rest of the time editing. Some prompts were easier then others – but they all got perfect writing scores with their essays.

  13. A, no nymous!*

    LW2, I’ll share my view. I don’t know much about the SATs, but I know that a high score on the SATs does qualify you for membership of the Triple Nine Society.
    I am qualified for the Triple Nine Society by way of having a high IQ. (Cut-off for Triple Nine is 146-173, depending on the test taken.)
    So I have experience from that side of things, and the two are comparable at least for Triple Nine’s standards.

    Don’t use your test scores as proof of anything. It makes you look out of touch. Most people with high test scores will agree that test scores do not indicate intelligence, do not at all indicate skill, and even that intelligence and skill do not indicate being a good employee.
    When you mention test scores, people with lower test scores often think you are out of touch, arrogant, or if your test score is very high, too smart to be a normal person/too smart to be willing to work. (Mistakenly – test scores do not say anything except how well you did on the test, but this is often the perception.) You can also mention it to someone who themselves had a higher test score, or knows someone who had a higher test score, and then they will not be impressed by the test score, not be impressed you think the test score is special, and not think the test score makes you especially suitable for employment.

    Just do not mention it. You can’t win. Sell yourself on your achievements, not on your tests.

    [Anonymous because I do not like to have my IQ attached to the rest of my identity.]

    1. Jenny*

      I will also say having something like Mensa or other high IQ society stuff on your resume will also make you seem out of touch. I’d be

      In the professional world no one cares about how smart you are. They care about how you can apply your skills to the relevant job.

      1. Georgina Fredrika*

        I feel like the fact that someone even decides to try to join Mensa is something I would judge them for. I’ve just met too many dumb “intelligent” people haha

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes — definitely no Mensa or other IQ societies on your resume! Not resume-worthy. (Potential really isn’t resume-worthy; achievements are. Show what you did with the IQ.)

  14. Bowserkitty*

    OP #2 – as someone who used to WORK at one of the Big Two Testing Companies, I can tell you even the company itself won’t care about your scores. (Occasionally me and my coworkers would joke about our scores months down the road after I was hired!) So I say with 100% certainty your parents are misguided, everything is made up and the points don’t matter. XD

    1. Dan*

      I once… wrote to the second of the big two testing companies asking about a score I received. This was in the late 90’s before the internet was common place and there was no google. And to this day, I’m not embarrassed about the question I asked, because it was actually a legit question from a math point of view.

      1. Bowserkitty*

        Oh, it very much matters in the moment, especially if you need it for schools! But it doesn’t seem to matter in the workplace.

    2. Junior Assistant Peon*

      Sounds like they pretty much admit they’re getting rich selling snake oil!

      1. Bowserkitty*

        They’re definitely hurting from the anti-standardized testing movement. I was just one casualty of many group lay-offs that have happened in the past 5-6 years.

  15. Social Commentator*

    “Or will it make me seem young, immature, and out of touch?”

    This one. I know how hard it can be to ignore persistent parental advice, especially if they have often ”right” about other Big Life Things, but in this case your judgement and instincts are spot on. Stick with them, and scrub your scores off your resume.

    1. Jenny*

      It’s such classic bad out of touch parent advice it makes me wince. I bet they also insist he should just show up and insist on talking to the manager.

      1. Liane*

        And don’t forget to both type the test scores and walk in to see the hiring manager With Gumption!!
        (No, I have no idea how to type numbers, or anything else, with gumption. Is there an animated font for Word, or do I use 72 pt purple Comic Sans?)

    2. EPLawyer*

      As soon as I saw it was parental advice, I groaned. LW you did the exact right thing by writing to Alison to test what job search advice your parents gave you against what other advice is out there. Parents mean well. They want us to get a job that will be fulfilling and let us pay the bills. They (not all parents) are just a tad out of touch of how to do it. Because they haven’t searched for a job for awhile.

    3. JustaTech*

      I can kind of understand why they would suggest putting your SAT scores on your resume. For a very (very) brief time SAT (and ACT and GRE) scores matter so, so much, to realize basically the next day that no one cares about the thing you studied for and practiced for and (probably) freaked out about is pretty mind bending.

  16. Dan*


    “I’ve been studying programming languages and I have reason to believe I would be very good at what I’m trying to do”

    The rest of the commentariat will hammer you about your test scores, but I’m going to touch on a side point. In terms of programming skills, “your portfolio” speaks for itself. I don’t use it personally, but a public github repo is an acceptable way of publicizing your skills. It’s the programming version of an artist’s portfolio. If you *dare* talk about your test scores and you don’t have a github for everybody to look at, you’ll just get laughed at and thanked for playing. So if you done any real work, put it on github and stick it on your resume. *That* is legit.

    Also, programming is just a part of data science/data analytics. In fact, programming is the easy part, because most code on the DS/DA side is pretty simple, at least compared to that on the software engineering side. Logical reasoning and communication skills are *huge* in the DS/DA world. If you can’t communicate, you’re sunk. When people are trying to break into a career, my advice is that if you have just one skill, you’re a dime a dozen and good luck. If you have two solid skills, you may very well be able to punch your own ticket. In your case, you have management skills, knowledge of the entertainment biz, and some technical chops. You know what sticks out to me? Nielsen. They have a huge analytics department (hell, that’s all they do). But entertainment is a huge part of their portfolio, so if you know entertainment from the biz side, and you have some legit DA/DS chops, I assume you could get somewhere.

    Just don’t stick your SAT score on your resume, because everybody in the DS/DA world is a smart cookie and you’ll just get laughed at.

    1. TechWorker*

      Does the mathematics on the SAT… mean anything? Like is it actually difficult mathematics?

      I am UK based and if someone was coming into a role that needed some maths from a role/degree that didn’t have any, you bet I *would* care about whether they studied maths at any point (say, at A Level, which is usually taken at 18). This is not because I think they’ll remember it or anything, but if you were good at maths once you’ll pick it up. (Eg, it’s not the only way to demonstrate mathematics ability, but it’s definitely one way). I don’t know if the SAT translates in the same way or not though.

      1. Alex*

        A quick google of some maths SAT questions suggests the level is around that of GCSE A-C grades, or numeracy level 2 – certainly not A level or higher.

        1. TechWorker*

          Thanks :) (Jenny unfortunately the terms ‘freshman’ and ‘sophomore’ mean basically nothing to me in terms of how difficult that might be academically :p)

          1. Surprised*

            Canadian chiming in to say that “freshman/sophmore” jargon means nothing to me either. None of these terms surfaced during my years attending university and working post degree at a university. Both institutions were in western Canada, if that has any bearing.

            1. fhqwhgads*

              Freshman in high school = first year of high school = grade 9. Sophomore in high school = second year of high school = grade 10.

        2. Frankie*

          Oof! I see Americans talking about this so much and always assumed it was at least A Level equivalent, from the emphasis placed on it! GCSE level? Yeah, don’t bother telling anyone, that’s really not significant!

          1. UKDancer*

            Indeed. Most entry level jobs I’ve gone for when I was at that stage of my career required GCSEs or equivalent in maths, English and 3 other subjects as a minimum.

            The jobs I go for now, 20 years on, tend to ask for more specific professional requirements and skills.

      2. Georgina Fredrika*

        I did fine on the math section (610?) yet spent my junior year of math hovering around a 75 average and passed the final exam by like… 1 point. I also took the SATs in 8th grade and my math score wasn’t far below that one (and I wasn’t in advanced math or anything, I was able to take it b/c of my English class).

        It’s definitely a lot of foundational math because I wasn’t secretly retaining everything and just bombing my regular tests for fun, haha. I do think foundational math is important, but it’s odd how much of the test you can pass with just an 8th grade knowledge.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Seconding the Github advice. I’ve worked both as a programmer (I’m better at quick and dirty fixes than long code though) and as a manager with hiring authority of programmers and other techies.

      Someone who puts their GCSE (kinda equivalent to SAT I think) and A level grades on their application doesn’t interest me. Nor does membership of MENSA or similar organisations. Because I score high on all those myself and it’s really just an indicator of how well you do in tests.

      Now, the guy who had proof of the various code patches he’d created (unofficial patches for notoriously buggy games) got my immediate attention.

    3. Summer Anon*

      Agree. I have been a programmer and now do small programming work/analytics for the role I have now.
      The programming part/learning the language is the easier part. What is hard is when a client comes to you and says “I want to be able to see X”. You have to be able to talk to them to understand what questions they are trying to answer with the data and then go back and translate that into code. This is where business analysis skills come into play. I work with a client that doesn’t understand data at all and I am constantly trying to explain to them you can’t create charts/graphs for data that doesn’t exist and against data that is not correlatable.

      OP: I used to be a business analyst and that role got my foot in the door for a lot of the things you are mentioning. As a BA you have to use the same skills and are often pulled into projects that may require light coding or analysis. It may not be a bad place to start. It is a great skill set to have that transfers across many industries. Google BABOK. It is the standard for business analysis and a great resource. You can get a certification through them as well.

  17. The Other Nigel*

    Hi there LW #3,
    Cheer up. You may be over-thinking the problem, and worrying too much. I’ve hired many many people over the years, and have gotten quite adept at the quick “let’s see what the internet knows about this one” search. But it’s a curiosity, not a deal breaker *unless* the person whose resume I am holding is in fact the loud idiot with the YouTube channel. We tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, and would certainly get as far as a phone-screen (and possible in-person interview) if your resume was impressive enough.
    You probably should expect a question about your namesake, and it would be good to have a canned neutral answer — “Him? Yes, I’ve heard of him, but never really gotten into the stuff he is doing. I’m glad he’s not from this area otherwise it might get complicated…”
    Example: a few years ago, we had a candidate resume offered for a job. When we searched his name, the first few hits were for a porn actor with the same name. We still brought him in for an interview, and NO, for once we didn’t ask if he knew about the other person. Nothing against porn or sex-workers, but it’s definitely not work-related in our industry, and none of us fancied sitting in a conference room while HR and senior management explained how a PIP worked.

    1. LW #3*

      Letter-writer here. Thank you for the input. I’m saving that answer in the event that I would need it.

      I feel a bit silly over-thinking and worrying about this in hindsight, but I’m glad to have been proven wrong and not have anything to worry about.

  18. introverted af*

    Tangential to LW4 – where do you all look for remote jobs?

    I’ve just discovered that I really love WFH, and I’m not ready to leave my current job, but I have never found a good resource on this. I like to keep ideas in my back pocket and know what’s hypothetically possible, have goals in my performance reviews that set me up for the future jobs I want, know if there are options or if the market is slim, that kind of thing.

    1. Audiophile*

      A lot of job sites are now including a remote jobs tag. I’ve come across it on LinkedIn and Indeed, specifically.

      I’ve discovered I also really like working from home and would prefer to do it full time, I’d be willing to go into an office a few times a week if necessary.

      I’d also love to hear others suggestions for sites that are geared towards remote work.

    2. Poke*

      Everyone I know who worked from home full time before the pandemic have a position that was not originally planned to be a full time WFH position. They either worked full time in an office and eventually convinced their employer to let them WFH (usually because their family was moving) or they applied for a job that was supposed to be full time in an office and negotiated WFH when they were hired. These people usually have highly sought after skills/experience, so they employer was willing to be flexible.

      I do think it will become more common for positioned to be planned as full time WFH when the pandemic ends, but I think a lot of employers are unsure about their longterm plans for WFH, so these positions may be hard to find right now.

    3. Amariy*

      They’re relatively common in my industry for higher level positions! I work in clinical trials. I have a lower level position but even that usually has some wfh flexibility (think 1-2 days a week from home). The industry is so global and teams are so spread out across the world, I don’t actually work with a single person in my office and there’s no real reason for me to ever go in to the office really, other than that the bosses don’t trust us and want to snoop on our work.

      I also have a friend in technical writing, she’s been full time remote for years, kind of the same situation – she works with folks all over. That might be the common thread; if you can’t have an in person meeting, why have an office at all?

    4. voluptuousfire*

      I found flexjobs dot com and remote dot co had decent jobs. Jobpresso dot co can be OK for more tech-heavy roles. Flexjobs is probably the best, but you have to pay for it. They vet the companies so the jobs are legit.

      Google “companies with distrubted workforce” and it will bring up lists of companies that are remote first.

  19. Everdene*

    LW#4 – I’m recruiting just now and trying to draft an advert and JD that says in a catchy manner, ‘usually we work out of office x, at the moment everyone is remote, I have no idea when we will return to the office or if we do how much remote working will be feasible/required’. I don’t want to mislead people but also don’t know the answers. You’ve reminded me I need to be extra clear though that due to our client base the person would be expected to be available for the office when possible.

    1. Alex*

      I think it’s OK to be uncertain, even in a job ad. Something like “all roles are currently working remotely due to the pandemic, but we expect the role to be office based in some form in the future and we will only accept candidates who are prepared for that”. Or something.

      I think you’ll still get some chancers who will think “if I can show them I can rock this job remotely, I bet they’ll keep me as remote even when they go back to the office”, but making it clear throughout the entire hiring process that the current WFH full time setup is temporary, that they will be expected in the office in some way in the future even if you’re not sure what that looks like just yet, and stress that the position is NOT a long-term full-time remote job should weed out all but the most determined.

      1. Everdene*

        Thank you, I can work with that phrasing! I think I’ll definitely have a bit in the interview to discuss ability to WFH now plus the need for office time in future and how they feel about the uncertainty.

        Whatever I do I can guaratee some completely unqualified and unsuitable applications- just to make the screening process fun!

    2. Retail not Retail*

      If your work is currently remote, does that make your more or less interested in candidates who don’t live close?

      Because a temporary remote job would make moving so much easier! You’d have more money and time.

    3. Database Developer Dude*

      Seems to me everyone’s giving the employer a pass on this. No. If the ‘from home’ part is temporary, that needs to be crystal clear in the advertisement. Prospective employers should not be able to get away with a bait and switch, and you know there are employers who as we speak ARE getting away with it. It’s wrong, and they need to be taken to task for it.

      1. Poke*

        Employers should be clear if they know for certain that WFH is temporary, but a lot of employers are unsure about their longterm plans for WFH and won’t figure it out until the pandemic is over, so it may not necessarily be a bait and switch.

        1. Oryx*

          I get that for a lot of companies they still aren’t sure about long term plans. But unless you have explicitly said to your current employees “You never have to return to the office” then I think you still need to make it clear to prospective employees that there is a chance somewhere down the road that they will be expected to work in the office.

          1. SomebodyElse*

            As a perspective employee wouldn’t you interpret “we don’t know what the WFH situation will be in the future” as just that. It would be only your extreme optimists or people with no comprehension who read into that statement “YYYAAA WFH Forevehhhhh”

            1. Alex*

              I think expectations need to be crystal clear on both sides throughout the hiring process. Employers definitely need to be clear in their job ads whether remote working is temporary or permanent – and if they’re unsure themselves, they should be advertising it as temporary. Telling an employee they’re now WFH full time instead of having to come into the office is a lot easier than telling an employee who thought they’d be remote permanently that they have to come into a physical office.

              Jobseekers however also have a responsibility to clarify the expectations with their potential employer, and make sure those expectations align. It’s dishonest of the potential employee to take a job knowing it’s only temporarily remote, and then hoping/expecting to make remote working a permanent feature.

              Basically – clear communication on all sides is needed, and if neither party is getting clear information from the other then they should take that as a red flag, whether employee or employer.

      2. Laura H.*

        I’m gonna be nit picky….

        “Temporary” and “due to COVID” aren’t the same thing. The use of temporary implies that there’s an acknowledged end range. Due to COVID implies that it’s set up so that the work that’s normally done can get done, and it’s not a firm end date/ date when a transition to pre-COVID working locations can be achieved.

        But that info does need to go in the ad.

    4. Dagny*

      “Temporarily remote; expect to transition to the Des Moines or Dubuque office around February 2021.”

    5. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk ox*

      The MAIN issue I personally see is a job being tagged as remote in the location only to find out it will become on-prem as soon as COVID calms down. Like, mention working remotely in the body of the listing, sure, but don’t tag the job as remote.

    6. Filosofickle*

      I really appreciate that you’re trying!

      90% of the ads I’ve seen in the past few weeks do not mention anything at all about their expectations about onsite/remote work, be it now or later. Sometimes they say “onsite in San Francisco” and I assume it’s old ad copy because I would not expect to be onsite right now in SF! (Not in my easily-remote-non-essential line of work anyway.) It would make life a lot easier if recruiters took a few minutes to add a note that at least acknowledges the current situation.

    7. MissDisplaced*

      Please don’t advertise the job as remote!
      When you start you phone screens, then is the time to tell people the office is remote for the time being due to COVID. Saying it’s remote seems to mess up the search criteria.

  20. scribblingTiresias*

    As someone who spends a lot of time on the video game and doll collecting ends of the internet- most of the time, I don’t recognize folks by anything but their screenname + first name. If I watched Jon McYoutuber (who goes by controversytube), and then I saw a resume for Jonathan McYoutuber cross my desk? Wouldn’t even think of controversytube. And googling would make that more complicated, but… still.

    Which is to say- yeah, F. Middle Lastname, with a twitter and facebook, would probably be enough.

    1. LW #3*

      I like the X. Paul Mulberry approach as well, and I’m glad to hear about your line of thinking when you see a resume with the same name. Thank you!

  21. Yvette*

    With regards to #4, this is especially common in IT where remote work is not unusual. I have had calls from recruiters (external, generally third party) about remote positions (generally the same 2 or 3) but they were many states away so they were not coming up on my searches. When pressed, the recruiter would admit to the position being remote during Covid 19 but on-site eventually, so I would mention that I had no desire to re-locate and say thanks but no thanks. I did have one who said, “Oh but you could take it for now and then later tell them you changed your mind about re-locating.” For anyone who wonders why recruiters get a slimy reputation, this is one of the reasons.

    1. Sunset Maple*

      I’ve had similar experiences; recruiters are acting like the insane commute is just a problem to be pushed off and ignored. One thought I was unreasonable for not wanting a job in NYC, which is over 2 hours from me (assuming perfect traffic conditions). “But we don’t really know when this pandemic will ease up!” Okay, but it will probably be over before teleportation is perfected.

  22. ResuMAYDAY*

    LW3, write a lighthearted article about how odd it is to have the same name with someone who is internet famous, and post it to your LI profile and home page. Consider reaching out to other people in the same boat to see if they’ll give you a quote or two about their experiences.

    1. Everdene*

      Your comment reminds me of the comedian Dave Gorman who has a whole career built from a live show/book/TV series called ‘Are you Dave Gorman?’ He was challenged by his flatmate to find a certain number of Dave Gormans and meet them in real life. He calculated things like MPDG (Miles per Dave Gorman) and created lots of maps and charts.

      If LW3 wrote such an article it could lead in all sorts of currently unforseeable directions.

      1. Lady Heather*

        Now I’m reminded of the CSI:NY episode “My Name Is Mac Taylor” where someone was killing Mac Taylors in New York City.
        (SPOILER: IIRC it was because a Mac Taylor had bought a secondhand car, and then the original owner realized that there was something in the car – like a bag of diamonds or a murder victim – and wanted the car back and the evidence gone.)

        1. tangerineRose*

          In an episode of Monk, 2 women named Julie Teager were killed, and a 3rd Julie Teager seemed to be in danger.

    2. LW #3*

      Letter-writer #3 here. I love this idea!

      On a serious note, however, I probably wouldn’t, not only because my namesake reacts to criticism pretty poorly, but also because his fans seem to have the unfortunate habit of brigading posts. Maybe sometime in the future when things have died down, though. I’d be interested to talk to others in my shoes, though.

  23. Paperdill*

    Re OP5:
    Different country, so different rules, but….
    For years, all the employees at my husband’s law firm would receive gift vouchers for $399 for Christmas because any gifts of $400 or over were taxable.

    1. EPLawyer*

      Now I understand why my husband’s crappy company keeps sending gift cards that are valued at $25. That must be the cutoff.

      I kid you not, for thanking them for coming back to work during their pandemic (like they had a choice, it was work or don’t get paid/get unemployment) they sent us a branded travel mug and another stupid company t-shirt. And a form letter thank you note. Even the $25 Amazon gift card would have been better. I hate this company but the pay is amazing so for the time being that’s where he is.

  24. Myrin*

    #3, the part of your question that stood out to me was the following: you speak about “advice from a close friend of mine that I might not get a position if a company feels they should not risk any mistaken association by hiring me”.
    And I think that is severely overestimating a) the amount any company would care about one of their employees sharing their name with a controversial youtuber, b) the amount of recognition value and influence this, by your own words, niche youtuber has, and c) the likelihood that anyone would even think that you guys are the same person.

    If I’ve worked with Tiny Teapots for years and they tell me they’ve assigned a new guy to be my go-to person, I first of all probably wouldn’t google that person at all so I would never find out about the namesake in the first place. And if I DID google him and the first page of search results only brought up the youtuber, I still wouldn’t sever all ties with Tiny Teapots or even just think ill of them because I’d suddenly be convinced they’d hired some internet celebrity – in fact, I’d be outstandingly surprised if at the next meeting with the Tiny Teapots rep, there’d be Xavier Mulberry, professional toy car race competitor, standing in front of me.

    1. LW #3*

      LW #3 here. Your last sentence made me laugh.

      The friend who gave me that advice was considering it from the perspective of clients, visitors, or public relations in general rather than co-workers and managers. Since YouTuber Xavier Mulberry generates so much regular controversy online, some of it could bleed into company social media in which people would mistakenly believe that I am the same Xavier Mulberry and do things like clog company tags or (worst case scenario) harass other employees.

      On its face, the risk itself might not be that great since the online community my namesake is very niche, but he also has almost 280,000 subscibers on YouTube. (I realize now that I should’ve mentioned this despite the fact that this is still a niche community with a very narrow interest, but from reading the other comments, maybe the amount doesn’t matter in the long run.)

      Simply put, my friend was worried that I would become a PR liability for the company even though my co-workers and bosses have no problem with me.

      1. Colette*

        If you’re at a small company where they publish the names of their employees, I guess that could be an issue? But if you’re working at a larger company, your name isn’t going to be public unless you are in a specific set of roles (except if you make the association yourself on LinkedIn – so if you do that, make sure you have a picture on your account.)

        1. LW #3*

          Thanks! My previous internship was at a local branch for a large, nationally-known company, and roles at that company or similar companies are what I’m aiming for. I already list my previous positions on my LinkedIn, however, so I’ll make sure my LinkedIn photo is very distinct.

      2. EPLawyer*

        Clients are not going to waste time googling your name, unless they are looking to hire YOU specifically. If they are retaining the Law Firm of Dewey, Cheatham and Howe, they get assigned the associate they get. Chances of them already knowing this person exists prior to googling your name are slim. Your friend is definitely overthinking this.

      3. Observer*

        The friend who gave me that advice was considering it from the perspective of clients, visitors, or public relations in general rather than co-workers and managers. Since YouTuber Xavier Mulberry generates so much regular controversy online, some of it could bleed into company social media in which people would mistakenly believe that I am the same Xavier Mulberry and do things like clog company tags or (worst case scenario) harass other employees.

        That’s a highly, highly unlikely scenario though, and one most rational hiring managers are not going to base themselves on.

      4. Bella*

        honestly, a more likely scenario for PR liability is people putting companies in their FB profile they don’t actually work at. I’ve seen this way too many times, where internet commentators decides to spam someone’s place of work after they say something terrible, only to find out that they don’t actually work there anymore/ever.

        Similarly, Home Depot has got a ton of negative press lately specifically because of their founder donating to conservative interests… despite the fact that he hasn’t been working for the company for nearly 20 years since retiring.

        Even people you DON’T EMPLOY can become a liability so I doubt anyone really uses it to make hiring decisions.

      5. Annony*

        The odds that a client or visitor will even have heard of the semi-famous internet troll that shares your name are low. The odds that they will know who he is and assume you are him are even lower. Maybe it would be a problem if he was in your field but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

      6. BethDH*

        While that number of subscribers probably makes you feel like they’re everywhere, I did a quick search and there are something like 160,000 YouTube accounts with more than 100,000 subscribers.m. It feels like they’re everywhere because that’s a huge number to an individual, but as a percentage of the people in the internet-using world it’s tiny. Those subscribers are not likely to be seeking you out in the nth page of google results or on a company website, and unless you’re in some related business, it seems very unlikely that one of those thousands would come across you accidentally.

  25. Mel_05*

    OP 4: YES. Such a nuisance.

    Also, jobs that put “NOT REMOTE” in the job description. If they never used the word it wouldn’t come up in remote searches, but since they do I’m wading through a sea of “not remote” to find the two or three that are.

    1. Emma*

      If the site has a reasonable search tool, you should be able to exclude the specific phrase “not remote” – try looking at the advanced search options, if there are any, or just appending ‘ -“not remote” ‘ to your search

  26. Mighty Mouse*

    #5 I remember at a previous job being blindsided by personal use tax on the company car we were required to bring home 25% of the time. Boss didn’t mention we would get hit with taxes on $3/day and didn’t take it out of our checks for 6 months! I didn’t make a lot of money and it was a big hit. When he did explain it he didn’t make any sense and made it sound like it wouldn’t affect our net pay at all (it definitely did). They also did the math wrong since we had to have a garage in winter to take it home and I didn’t, but still got taxed. The logistics of not taking it home were a nightmare so that wasn’t an option except a short period every year. I quit that job for SO MANY reasons.

  27. LW #3*

    Hi, everyone! I’m the third letter-writer.

    I can definitely use my complete middle name, and I can also find places to upload some more photos to distinguish myself. I’m open to getting my own domain, but I think I’ll start with making a more distinguishable presence on present platforms. My main hurdle on the domain is that I’m not really sure what exactly I would put on there, but I imagine there’s a lot of advice out there on how to start. I’m also happy to see that the worries about mistaken association are not accurate.

    Thank you for answering my letter!

    1. Jenny*

      I do thinknit also matters where on the spectrum of rareness your name falls. If your name is more like John Smith then people are going to know it’s not likely you versus, say Kilgore Trout.

      1. LW #3*

        I mentioned this in another comment, but a good comparison for our shared names is “Michael Wazowski.” It’s not uncommon enough to turn heads on its own, but it’s not a John Smith type of name either.

        1. Cat*

          Honestly I wouldn’t give it another minute’s thought. I do sometimes google people I meet at other firms and the like. But there are always other people with the same name. I add something like “lawyer” and “Seattle”. Otherwise the results are useless. If your name was, like, Shooting Star Apple I might be concerned but otherwise you’re fine.

          Adding a picture to your LinkedIn is a good idea for employers just in case but otherwise I doubt it will ever be an issue.

    2. Marketing Automation Guru*

      On your own domain you can just post your resume (not the PDF, but the content) with your headshot, and link to your LinkedIn profile. Yes it’s sort of a duplicate, but that’s ok. It’s just to claim the space/create a presence.

      Having an email address at your own domain looks fancy!

    3. Student*

      Something to keep in mind – not all hiring managers will bother to search for your social media.

      It varies a lot by field, so if you can, ask someone with actual hiring experience in your field how often this comes up. Some fields it’s guaranteed. Others NEVER read your social media or google you. In a lot of jobs that fall in between, it probably ends up being a random influence based on how much your interviewer personally uses or cares about social media.

      My field is one of the latter – we don’t bother with it as a screening or informational mechanism for hiring. It’s not central to our work, and we have so many other things to do. It’s also not going to be indicative of the type of skills you need to have in my particular field, as social media writing styles and topics have no real overlap with my work. We expect you to cram any interesting work highlights that we ought to pay attention to into the resume, and to come to the interview prepared to tell us more details.

      I’ve only heard social media stuff brought up on hiring boards a handful of times, and usually by “that guy” in a meeting who’s trying to derail the meeting with gossip. Think: “Did you SEE that he has an artisanal bread baking hobby?!” in a non-bread-related job. Personally, I roll my eyes, don’t give either credit or demerit for the bread-baking hobby, and try to steer the convo back to your suitability for the job based on your skills and fit.

      There is the rarer, but more obnoxious “Did you SEE that he is tenuously connected with someone I consider a personal friend / mortal enemy?! We must / must not hire him!” Usually, if that type of connection is going to move the needle on hiring for you, we know about it well before your resume ever hits our desks. In more casual hiring conversations, this usually manifests as college sports rivalries and also gets a hearty round of eye-roll.

  28. Roeslein*

    Consulting firms insisting on copies of my high school transcript when I have 10 years of professional experience and an advanced degree is something that has never failed to confuse me. If I have a PhD, it’s reasonable to assume that I at some point did graduate high school, and even if I didn’t (I do in fact know someone dropped out of high school and is now a university professor), I doubt it’s relevant at this point.

    1. Jenny*

      What? Seriously? I honestly have no idea what I would do if someone asked for my high school transcript. It’s probably in my parents basement somewhere. I honestly probably would just not apply to that job.

      1. Jenny*

        I’ll also note: my Dad is a doctor but technically doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree because he did an accelerated program. We’ve looked into it a handful of times but it’s too much of a hassle to get the official diploma.

      2. Environmental Compliance*

        I have dropped out of hiring processes because the system insisted on me uploading my high school transcripts. I have a BA & MS, both of which are a thousand times more relevant than what random classes I took in high school, I have been out of high school & working in the field for several years, and I have no idea where my HS transcript is, or if I even had a copy to begin with. I have never listed my high school in a resume past the obligatory “I’m trying to find a job in high school and need something to put on this mostly blank piece of paper”.

        1. Clisby*

          I don’t think I ever had my high school transcript, either. Presumably the guidance office sent it to the university I attended. Everything seems to be electronic now – my son got a copy of his HS transcript each of the 4 years he attended.

      3. Last Name clearly not Smith*

        I don’t think I have one. I guess I have the diploma somewhere….otherwise never received it from the guidance department. presumably it went to colleges I got into.

        1. Bella*

          your colleges don’t receive the diploma, they receive your transcripts, I believe. Most things you can order online today, or call to get a copy for a fee!

      4. UKDancer*

        No idea where my GCSE and A level certificates are either. Somewhere in my parents house I think. I’ve not been asked for them since I did my degree.

        I think my degree certificate is in the same place in their house. I imagine I’d need to ask the university to confirm I was there.

        I’ve never been asked for any of them. People have just taken my word for it and checked whatever they want to check I guess.

        1. Batgirl*

          When I switched careers into teaching I had to request reprints of my GCSE English, Maths and Science certificates. It’s usual to produce these certificates physically whenever you interview. Why, I don’t know; they won’t give you access onto a teaching course, allow you to get your PGCE or qualified teachers number unless youve got Cs and above in these subjects.

    2. Anon because it may be identifying*

      I had a coworker who suspected a job applicant hadn’t graduated from high school because it wasn’t listed on his resume. To which the rest of us replied, even if that were true (which no one believed), that means he got this master’s degree and accomplished all of these things without graduating from high school, and isn’t that *more* impressive?

      1. Jenny*

        I haven’t listed my high school education on my resume since my first year of college. Why would anyone think someone with a post college degree would list high school info?

    3. dragocucina*

      I don’t list mine on my resume, but I have had to upload it into systems. They have all been state or county, cookie cutter applications. There would often be a supplemental portion for the executive positions to which I was applying.

      My husband was involved with a real case of a fake medical doctor when he was in the Army. They worked in the anesthesia department. This was pre-Internet and his documentation was always “on the way”. His care was so bad that my husband made formal complaints. He was told that he was “just a nurse” and shouldn’t rock the boat. He wrote a letter to the hospital commander. It stated that if anything happened to him or his family, Dr X was not to provide any care. After a very tragic incident all his written complaints magically disappeared. Well, except for the letter of response telling him to shut up. We kept that one.

  29. James*

    LW #3: My name is a family name–the oldest male child of the oldest male child gets the first name. This has led to some…amusing….situations. For example, when I bought my engagement ring for my wife they ran my father’s credit score. I hadn’t told my parents I was thinking of getting engaged, and my parents had their accounts set up to alert them whenever someone ran a credit score. That was not the most enjoyable conversation I’ve ever had! Another time my father was asked if he’d transferred jobs–he was working with someone from the company I work for, and that person saw my name on an email list while on the phone with my father, and got very confused.

    What we did is use our middle initials (which are all different) on EVERYTHING. People still screw it up, but at least it allows us to figure out how to fix the mistake.

    1. Emma*

      I have some relatives who, years ago, both worked as judges at the same court. They are brothers, and the usual practise in that country was to address all correspondence to “Judge Lastname”

      They both got so aggravated with constantly receiving each others’ post, that they both changed their last names by adding their middle names to the beginning. So Judge Smith became Judge Andrew-Smith, and Judge Smith became Judge William-Smith.

      It did solve the problem, at least!

    2. Pretzelgirl*

      This happened to my husband. My husband and father in law had their reports crossed at some point and it was a mess to unravel. My husband had a credit card with a large balance on it, dating back to the early 80s. My husband was a baby then. It took many months of convincing people that my husband could not have a credit card dating back to the 80s and to please take it off his credit report. Huge headache.

    3. LW #3*

      Yikes! I’m starting to see a common theme of middle names in this thread. They’re more useful than I initially thought.

  30. For #3*

    For #3, something like this happened to me. Someone with my name was trying to become a pinup girl and had posted some NSFW pictures of herself on her website. I have a pretty unique-sounding name, so it became an issue. I just included a note at the end of my cover letter that made it clear I was not the owner of her site. What else can you do? Eventually she gave up her dream, so it’s no longer an issue

    1. LW #3*

      I won’t rain on the lady’s parade for not being able to accomplish her dreams, but at least you don’t have to deal with that anymore. It’s comforting to see that this issue is more common than I thought.

      How did employers respond to the note?

      1. For #3*

        You know, nobody really said anything to me about it. But I mentioned it to my boss after I got hired for a job (this all took place during my early- to mid-20s), and she thought it was hilarious.

  31. Girl Alex PR*

    #3: Before I married, I shared the same exact name (first and last) as a prominent pornstar, who looks a little like me in small social media pics- we’re both brunette and Caucasian. I used my full middle name in my resume and never had an issue. I also served in the military, so it’s pretty unlikely someone would confuse us now that I have a decent work history, even if I were to go back to my maiden name for some reason.

  32. Jean*

    OP3, I know this isn’t who you’re talking about but I immediately thought of Chris Chan and felt bad for job searchers named Christian Chandler. Best of luck in your search!

    1. LW #3*

      Haha, nope, it’s not Chris-chan, but my doppelganger has been compared to Chris-chan by his detractors.


      1. specialist*

        Seriously, just do the First Middle Last or First M Last name thing and don’t give it another thought. You’re going to be fine.

  33. straws*

    Somewhat related to #4 and the post from yesterday that was withing 100 miles of the ED’s home. What would be the best way to post a truly remote job that’s limited to certain locations? Our company is contemplating moving to full remote. We’re located in a small East Coast state that has many border states nearby, so we would have to be set up in probably 4-5 states, but we’re a tiny company and wouldn’t be able to handle the admin for much more than that. It seems lengthy to list all potential states in the title, but we wouldn’t want to mislead anyone that they could work from anywhere.

    1. Ali G*

      I’m a fan of giving all the info. I would put “this is a fully remote position, however all employees are required to reside one of the following states:…”

    2. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk ox*

      I’ve seen loads of listings that say something like “remote in states X, Y, and Z” and I’ve gotten the message pretty clearly.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      You could say candidates need to reside within XX miles of City, or candidates need to reside in A, B, or C states.
      I’ve even seen regions, such as New England, Mid-Atlantic, or West Coast, etc., if you can go a little broader.

  34. Impska*

    I share a name (and general appearance) with an award winning trick horse rider. She does gymnastics and on the back of a horse, competitively. Lots of videos and accolades.

    When I first started out, she was a lot more internet famous than me. And if you knew me and saw her riding in full make up and costume, you could be forgiven for wondering if I was her.

    Sadly, no one ever even asked if I was a trick horse rider. Now my boring career is more internet famous than hers, as trick horse riding is a young person’s game and she retired.

  35. Last Name clearly not Smith*

    My ex has the same name as the former President of Russia. Not a common name in the US – I’m fairly certain no one thought he had been meeting with country heads of state.

  36. Anon Admin*

    OP #1- I’m surprised they are allowing children in the office. I know parents of children have it hard now with camps and daycare centers closed and the usual family or friend backups may not be able to help. Do they children have to wear masks? I don’t see how it’s safe for them or you to have more people than necessary in the office.

    If you try Alison’s approach maybe you get a quieter space to work. Good luck!

    I was/am a working mom (my kids are early 20’s) so I have sympathy for the struggles they are facing. It’s increasingly difficult to work and make sure your children are cared for during this pandemic.

    1. Rebecca*

      There are no children or any family members allowed in our office, delivery persons must put on a mask to step into the building, etc. I agree with the mask issue – if the children aren’t wearing them, you’re sitting in an enclosed area with unmasked people and this is exactly how the virus spreads. It doesn’t matter if you’ve worked there for 1 month or 10 years, you have standing to say something because your health is literally at risk.

        1. blackcat*

          Depends on how young. The strong evidence for kids not spreading seems to come from the 0-6 age group. It’s more mixed the older they get.
          But even if it’s rare for kids to spread it, it is *possible.*

      1. Anon Admin*

        Same at my office. Everyone has to submit to a temperature scan, too, even if they just open the door and hand the package to Security.

  37. JPVaina*

    OP#3 – You could always use a less serious social media platform to joke about not being the person who shares your name. I had a friend who shared a name with a famous female who was doxed and harassed a ton online, so she did this, as a way to let employers know that she wasn’t THAT lady.

  38. bananab*

    Some folks say the SAT props up a racist system, or at the very least just underscores imbalances in privilege and opportunity, so there’s a nonzero chance that someone reviewing your resume will find boasting about it kind of tonedeaf. Also, one data point: I got a fairly high score and “boast” about it to this day as a joke, specifically because it is really corny. Like Al Bundy bragging about his HS football career at the shoe shop corny.

    1. Batgirl*

      How does this advice affect a person who is obviously from a deprived background/lacking privilege but who beat the odds and did quite well?

      1. bananab*

        That’s entirely up to them, I’d wager that a lot of folks that take issue with the SAT would probably not make an exception for “against all odds” scenarios. Tough to know and might be an edge case anyway. Just not something I would bother to mess with, especially given all the other advice here.

  39. So they all rolled over and one fell out*

    Since only “occasional meals, picnics, etc” are not taxable, does that mean that the free breakfast lunch and dinner that some tech companies provide, are actually taxable income?

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s really about the amount in the end, the “percentage” of their income that they’re allotting to these programs. It’s a very little expense in the scheme of things. Like less than 1% of their income kind of thing. It sounds expensive to feed everyone every day, one or two meals. But it’s really not because when you buy in that kind of bulk, you’re paying pennies for each employee in the end.

      There’s a lot of check points when it comes to what is an expense and what’s actually deemed compensation or what’s just deemed meals/entertainment which is only a 50% write off [which is why they get ugly about tipping in some businesses, sigh.]

  40. Fabulous*

    I’ve had a relatively uncommon name my entire life, but there was one other person with it – extended family I didn’t know in another part of the state – but there really wasn’t any confusing us because of a significant age difference. My brother then married someone with my same first name. Now THAT was confusing (until they divorced at least)!

    When I got married, I changed my name to another equally-if-not-more uncommon last name. Upon googling my new name, I discovered I was now a semi-famous Italian fashion designer with a storefront and decent online presence.

    If it’s not one thing, it’s another!

    1. humans are weird*

      My maiden name was Joanne Schwalbe (not really, fictitious example). My male cousin on my father’s side (so, also a Schwalbe) married a woman named Joanne. So for a while there were two Joanne Schwalbes in the family. Then I got married and changed my last name. Then my cousin and his wife divorced — amicably, they’re still friends and co-parents — and a few years later he married *another* woman named Joanne. At family gatherings it gets fun trying to distinguish which Joanne people are referring to, especially since in that context I will always be a Schwalbe…

  41. Exhausted Trope*

    OP4, In SPADES! I, too, am going bats over postings for “remote” jobs. As an active job seeker, it’s extremely disappointing to click into a posting only to find that it’s not really remote or is only remote for those living within an hour or two from the office. It’s really a time waster for everyone and I wish it would just stop or employers would make it clearer exactly what these positions really are.

  42. Retired with my feet up*

    Years ago my DH received some kind of award at work. Included with the attaboy was a really nice piece of Etched crystal. Turns out it was a $500 piece of glass on which we ended paying taxes. He told them not to give him anymore ‘Awards.’ Later that crystal was on top of a buffet in our house and nearly started a fire. The afternoon sun was hitting it just right and it actually put a burn hole in the buffet. Then it would have been an even more expensive ‘award’

    1. Batgirl*

      You had to pay tax on the purchase price yourselves? Surely it cant be the amount it’s objectively worth; no one else is going to want to buy an engraved award?

  43. Batgirl*

    I think No.2 really emphasises a blind spot only parents could have. High school results are more important to parents than anyone else. It’s the end result of years of making sure their kid gets to school on time, does homework, catches up when falling behind etc. I’m not saying parents are always wrong but they usually have had very little to do with the sort of skills you’ve independently developed as an adult.

    1. Remote HealthWorker*

      SAT scores are empirically tied to income and not IQ. So it’s not even that. It indicates someone either paid for testing coaching or went to a school (typically in an affluent neighborhood) that knew the tricks to score well.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        I think that’s a bit far in the other direction based on my personal experience. Yes, it’s a meaningless test because there are so many ways to pay for test prep now, and yes some schools do “teach to the test”, but one doesn’t need to “know the tricks to score well”. If you have a big vocabulary and are advanced at math, you could do zero prep, have no specific test prep from your school, walk in and score high. The problem is because the first two scenarios exist, the test isn’t actually measuring anything useful. There’s no way to tell the difference between kid who memorized a ton of shit in the 2 months before the test and the kid who just already knew that stuff (and will actually still remember it after the test is over).

  44. Remote HealthWorker*

    #4 I feel you on finding this annoying!!! I applied to half a dozen jobs that didn’t even mention in the job add it was remote due to Covid. They were reposted a few weeks later with a disclaimer buried in the description saying *will be expected to return to the office after it is safe due to Covid19.

    I get employers want to emphasize they are being safe and working remotely, but putting REMOTE in the title is not accurate at all. I’ve stopped those searches. They are just full of not remote jobs right now. It’s very frustrating as a job seeker.

  45. Cheesehead*

    To Letter Writer #3, somebody on the internet made a blog with the URL “My First and Last Name” so I can understand your pain. It is the first search result that comes up when I search for my name and I have been trying to get it taken down for years now. In case you are wondering, whoever made the blog also made it their email domain.

    And to the person that shares my name from Canada, stop sleeping with other people’s husbands please.

      1. Cheesehead*

        Nope… The only redeeming thing is that it says that this person is middle aged and lives in Canada while I am in my 20s and live in the States… Honestly I have kind of given up on ever getting it taken down and just try to laugh it off now.

  46. OhBehave*

    #1 My first thought is to shush the little cherubs but most parents take offense to others disciplining their kids.
    Definitely ask your boss what you should do. Or maybe there is a better area for the kids. I’m sorry your coworker isn’t being respectful of the office.
    (Some day cares in my state (IL) are open to essential workers.)

  47. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Making people sign for and collecting/remitting taxes for mugs…at least it’s healthcare, where absurd amounts of paperwork is pretty common, so this probably doesn’t strike many in the administration offices to see what a waste of frigging resources that is! I’d seriously just stop handing out anything of limited value first, nobody is going to miss those sweet branded mugs.

  48. Kisses*

    If someone has a perfect score on a standardized test, isn’t it ok to mention it, even like 20 years later?
    I’ve never been at a “real” career based job- only under $10 an hour and under. My only accomplishments I can back up are my GPA, my diploma, and my test scores. I still put it on my resume under education because otherwise all I have is experience like this:

    1. fhqwhgads*

      It’s not that it’s not ok to mention it, it’s just most likely not useful and doesn’t really prove or disprove anything. If the test was more than 3 years ago, it’s pretty much irrelevant for everything. I don’t think it’ll necessarily ding you for having it there, but it’s also very unlikely to be helping.

  49. blaise zamboni*

    My boyfriend literally came home an hour after I read this post and told me that his company is giving everyone $150 gift cards – they explained that they’re doing that instead of bonus cash because the gift cards are “not taxable” so it’s better for ~everybody~.

    So thanks to my new knowledge, I got to explain that, yes, it’s not taxable….for the company. Super cool trick!

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