how to handle a pushy job candidate

A reader writes:

I am in the process of scheduling interviews for a new opening on our team. I called a batch of candidates this morning and left messages for a few of them. I was then in a meeting, and when I returned I had four phone calls from one candidate, who apparently was quite nervous when I didn’t pick up and immediately respond to the voicemail she left with her first call. Today is just one of those days where I didn’t have time to pause and didn’t want to break my focus on a project. So I figured, it sucks that I can’t answer her right now but I’ll call back first thing tomorrow morning once I have the bulk of my project finished.

Fast forward to this afternoon. She then sent me a message about how she’d called several times and “for some reason, nobody was returning my calls.”

Am I crazy for being irritated with this? Considering the magnitude of the project I’ve been working on and my stress levels when she messaged me, it rubbed me the wrong way. I think it’s pretty common to not answer a phone call within a day if you’ve got a lot going on, and it seems to me like she’s not really understanding professional norms.

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • My employee won’t wait until work hours to answer emails
  • Can we push a retiring employee out early?
  • Should I use fancy resume paper?
  • Informal salary negotiation when I wasn’t prepared for the question

{ 189 comments… read them below }

  1. Triumphant Fox*

    That is a hard no from me. I want to avoid hiring people who will pester me every 2 minutes with questions, and this is a red flag for me. It didn’t even occur to this person how off-putting this would be and I do not want that person in front of clients or working with others.

    1. Jane Austin Texas*

      My thoughts exactly. Is this someone you want on your team? Probably not.

      I would go with a short, perfunctory call, followed by a “thanks but no thanks.”

      1. Ego Chamber*

        Rude. Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve been looking for a job but it’s super easy to get passed over for an interview if you don’t answer the phone when they call to schedule (during work hours, natch).

        Calling multiple times and leaving increasingly desperate VMs isn’t ideal but I’ve straight up had a hiring manager say “It’s a good thing you called a second time, I was about to move to the next person on my list!” I’ve also had a hiring manager tell me I didn’t call back fast enough because they just kept working down the list and leaving VMs until their interview schedule was full.

        Unfortunately, pandering to shitty hiring managers tends to select for really shitty jobs since the decent managers will generally be purposeful in their tactics instead of just hiring the first five people who call back.

        1. Louis Clarke*

          My job I’ve been in for 16 years was with a newish company and the HR person was TERRIBLE. Never responded to my first resume but told my friend they would be calling to bring me in. She wouldn’t pick up the phone, so I just called (did not leave messages – and also at that time my friend said the system wouldn’t record it) until one time she did and she was like “yes! let’s schedule an interview!” When I did have my interview, it was clear hiring managers had seen the resume a while ago because one said “oh I loved your resume, was wondering why you didn’t come in for an interview”

          Now, I’m not suggesting people do this, and I would NEVER act put out or entitled, but in that situation, I probably just would have never gotten my interview.

          This company has grown to 700 employees and has an HR staff of about 7 now. We’ve obviously grown and improved a lot.

        2. JSPA*

          To your reaction: I suppose if this were something either very entry-level, or a situation where one hires multiple people with the same job description, restaurant or retail, you’d expect that. But “person on my team” sounds more specialized.

          To the overall situation: calling back several times out of nerves might be excusable. But if someone does their research they should probably figure out that this isn’t such a behemoth of a company that there are multiple people who handle all hiring and whose primary job is to call people back ASAP. And above all, getting snarky or low-level complain-y or “someone must have screwed up” about not being called back yet is the bigger flag. If your default read on an ambiguous situation is, “best to imply that there’s someone else who screwed up,” you’re possibly not going to be a great person to work with.

    2. juliebulie*

      This is the person who sends you an email or even an IM and then runs to your desk to ask if you got it.

      1. Jane Austin Texas*

        Ughhhhh you just gave me a flashback to a woman I used to work with. She would send you an email and 30 seconds later call you with, “Did you read my email?”

          1. highbury house*

            You should be careful with those, too. I’ve heard stories of Land Sharks presenting themselves as candygrams as pretext to eat you…

          2. Jane Austin Texas*

            I don’t know about you, but I always send my resume via signing telegram. Impossible to ignore.

            1. Jean marie*

              Just make sure you know how many bullets are left in the revolver. 1 and 1 and 2 and 1.

              1. Elitist Semicolon*

                “Are you trying to make me look stupid in front of the other guests?”

                “You don’t need any help from me, sir.”

                “That’s RIGHT.”

      2. Wendy Darling*

        I had to do an intervention on two of my coworkers for @ing me in the jira ticket (which generates an email), sending me an email to let me know they @ed me in the jira ticket, and IMing me first thing when I logged on in the morning to let me know they’d @ed me in a jira ticket. The only reason they don’t show up at my desk is they’re in a different time zone.

    3. Paulina*

      Sometimes candidates may not realize that the contact person for the interview is the hiring manager (person who also runs the existing team and has a lot of other things to do that don’t involve hiring) rather than a recruiter or HR. It’s still rude to be all “nobody called me back right away!” when there’s actually one specific person that they called, who may be busy.

    1. BaileyDog*

      I might be misinterpreting the question, but isn’t this basically giving the employee a chance at an even earlier than imagined retirement? I know it’s not explicitly mentioned, but I would think they’re offering some sort of severance. If I were planning to retire in a year and the company said, “how about 6 months instead?” I would take it as a great opportunity if the (financial) circumstances allowed for it.

      1. Katrinka*

        Except that the LW said that one of the choices was to terminate her prior to her retirement. With no mention of a generous severance package.

          1. rayray*

            And this is why people don’t feel loyalty to their employers. So many employers are not loyal to their employees and don’t care at all that they are people trying to make a living. It’s too bad that his person is just another worker to their boss, but I do hope the boss is decent enough to just communicate with this person and let them take their retirement as planned.

            On that note, the more you see employees as actual people, the happier they may be. If I worked somewhere that did this, I’d start searching elsewhere and I’d seriously consider quitting with no notice.

            1. Figgie*

              And this is type of behavior by companies is exactly why my spouse will only give 5 weeks notice to retire and lied when he was asked by his boss the other day if he was thinking of retiring (another employee in his department gave notice yesterday that he is retiring).

              After having watched people who have worked at the company for over 20 years get fired when they mentioned the possibility of retiring in the next 6 months, he has learned to never, ever, ever give any substantial notice. And the company has pretty much earned that lack of loyalty by the way they treat people who are retiring.

              1. Ego Chamber*

                Why would he give them five weeks tho? He should give them five minutes. Call them from the cabin at the lake on Monday and let them know he decided to retire. On a whim, like you do, definitely hadn’t been planning on it for months or years. :)

                1. doreen*

                  Because sometimes there are reasons to give notice – I have an actual pension and must give the pension system two weeks notice of my retirement. I don’t have to give my actual employer any notice at all – I can walk in and say “Today’s my last day”. But if I leave without a certain amount of notice , I won’t be paid for my accrued vacation time up to 30 days. And if I want to use up the 8 weeks of leave exceeding the payout, it will only be approved if I am leaving (retire or resign) at the end of it.

      2. AnotherAlison*

        Some may welcome an earlier retirement, some may not. It’s a big decision and transition, even if finances are no issue.

      3. schnauzerfan*

        I’m eligible to take early retirement and I would be very upset if my employer forced me into it. My pension would be reduced, my social security would be reduced and worst of all, I’m not old enough for medicare so I’d be left with an insurance gap. No, you’d not be doing me any favor at all by uping my exit date.

        1. TardyTardis*

          I dealt with a four year insurance gap and It Was Not Fun. Those are good to avoid.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      And unnecessary. Maybe I’m just stupid, but I can’t figure out why it would be necessary to push Jane our early – wouldn’t OP#3 want her to use her institutional knowledge and expertise to train her replacement as much as possible for the busy season? Confirm she’s retiring for sure, hire her replacement, and have her train them and write up documentation before she retires.

      Will it cost more in the short-term? Of course! But it’s got a number of upsides, so take the hit for the quarter of salary overlap and say thank you to Jane for her years of service.

      1. I'm just here for the cats!*

        That’s what I was thinking too. I can understand getting a date from Jane so they can be ok if you want to retire in December we will start interviewing in September so we can hire and you can train before you leave.

      2. tangerineRose*

        Yeah, the OP’s ideas seem like this will be tough on Jane, will scare the other employees, and will make it tougher for their team to get work done. Sort of a lose-lose situation.

    3. Snark no more!*

      In some situations it could also be seen as a hostile environment for workers over 40. This company should ask their lawyers. Even repeatedly asking someone when they’re going to retire can be actionable if they are big enough jerks about it.

  2. The New Wanderer*

    OP3, don’t punish your long-standing employee by forcing them out early. The potentially-retiring employee might have to or want to change their plans and put off retirement, and you’d be shooting yourselves in the foot to force them out anyway. And unless you’re planning to give them a decent severance to compensate, terminating them for giving notice is just crappy and will look crappy to the remaining people in a company where you admittedly have a retention issue.

    Concentrate on hiring for the vacancy you already have and maybe staff up one more (in advance of the employee potentially retiring) to manage the busy season in the event that any staff might be out for some part of that period anyway.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Will look crappy to the remaining people in a company where you admittedly have a retention issue.
      This. If you want to guarantee that everyone who leaves after this says nothing, then gives you 1 hour’s notice at 4 pm on Friday…

    2. AnotherAlison*

      My mom mentioned possibly retiring in 2019, and then was pestered about her end date until she set it, but she was still pretty apprehensive about the whole retirement and felt forced into it. The company also shifted all her work to others in advance, which makes sense for the business, but then she didn’t have anything to do and time just dragged on. You aren’t ready till your ready. It’s a major life stage like getting married or having a child. Companies shouldn’t look at it like, “Well, she was going to leave in November, she should be happy about getting to quit work in July.” I’d jump at 4 months off now, but it’s different when it’s a complete transition to not working forever. Who needs 4 months when you’ve got 20 years off? Still, others may welcome an earlier date with severance. It should be a two-way conversation, but never should the long-term retiree be forced out like they’re getting laid off.

      1. Temperance*

        I can see how that was really difficult for your mom, but I also can see how difficult is to handle planning when you have an employee who said that they want to retire, but they haven’t actually given any notice or a timeline.

        One of my coworkers was laid off after she had said for about two years straight that she wanted to retire. There were planned layoffs, and she was SHOCKED when her name came up. They cut administrative positions, and it made sense to pick the person who said that she didn’t want to work any longer.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          Sure, but anyone can quit with 2 weeks notice. The company could easily say that they’ll assume nothing is official for the employee until they receive formal notice or a timeline, but they appreciate updates in what she’s thinking. My mom was 66.5 at retirement — no big surprise it was coming anyway.

          In my mom’s case, most of their accounting operations had moved to an acquiring company in another state, and my mom wanted to be sure her one coworker was retained instead of her in the event that they made any more cuts.

      2. Anonymous for this*

        “You aren’t ready till your ready.” I love this. My younger sister got ready one day, so she went to HR in the morning and at the end of the day left her badge on her supervisor’s desk along with a note saying she wouldn’t be back.

    3. Mazzy*

      The OP left out a huge part – are they paying them off or paying them out? They mention a busy period but don’t mention budget implications. If they handed them $40K or $60K or whatever amount to equate how much salary and 401K contributions they would have made, I think that’s not a horrible thing to do. But you’d probably need to add a buffer of $20K or so to make up for the recent market crash that this employee wasn’t planning for because they thought they’d have that year for their 401K to recover. So the question for me would become, is it worth paying someone $80K to retire early to protect the business down the road?

    4. Name of Requirement*

      Plus people usually time retirement based on Medicaid and SS eligibility and possibly pension- it’s less the loss of income for a few months, more insurance and other matters. Don’t mess with that.

      1. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

        If you’re paying into a pension, the retirement date matters a lot. A co-worker felt ready, had a date picked and then spoke to the pension people.

        Because she was not yet 60, there were some financial penalties for starting the pension payouts early…and they were significant enough for her to postpone her retirement by a full year.

        1. Doreen*

          Yeah, if I had retired with 29.5 years of service my pension would have been. 12k less a year than if I had waited six months.

        2. Temp Anon*

          Carefully look at the pension calculation, whether for a layoff or retirement!

          When I was laid off, I had to choose whether to let the pension stay and start collecting at 65 or get an immediate payout. I got a payout offer that it turns out used my wrong date of hire, wrong date of separation, and wrong ending salary. They did get my date of birth correct, but 3/4 factors were wrong. And all in their favor. I got it recalculated and took the payout, which was nearly 50% higher than the original offer. I was fortunate that I had my 1099’s, documented date of hire, etc. Imagine if I had waited 20 years and had to depend on their calculation. Assuming the company was even still around.

  3. AdminX*

    #1 I can spot a pushy interviewee at a hundred paces. The managers always capitulate until the end when they finally have to say no. Never goes well.

    #4 I STILL have a pack of fancy linen paper and envelopes from the late 90s when things were JUST starting to become obsolete in person.

    1. old curmudgeon*

      Literally just this past weekend, I did some cleaning/purging in the room that is evolving into my home office, and one of the things that went into the recycle bin was the packet of linen paper and envelopes. I’m in my 60s at this point, probably in the last-ever job of my professional career, and if I decide to pick up a part-time gig after I retire, I seriously doubt that the grocery store on the corner is going to care about what kind of paper my resume is on – if they even want it at all.

      Kinda hate to see it go, in a way, because I do love beautiful stationery, but continuing to give something space in my house just because it was appropriate to use three decades ago is so not where I am right now.

      1. resumes on good paper*

        “…but continuing to give something space in my house just because it was appropriate to use three decades ago is so not where I am right now”

        Loved this. I had to have a similar conversation with myself over the gorgeous paper I’d purchased… for my word processor… in the late 90s. I decided that as much as I liked it, that $5.00 I spent has probably since been covered.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        As a kid who grew up in a print and copy shop where I had every type and color of paper you could imagine at my finger tips, I would ask if you could donate this to an art teacher or camp or other sort of creative endeavor. The linen-blend papers actually wick up watercolors (or even inkier markers) nicely and you can make neat things with them. It is obsolete for job-searching but the paper itself could have a second life in a craft kit.

        1. New Job So Much Better*

          My grandfather was a printer/stationer and had a whole room above a garage filled with paper samples and other office supply type goodies. It was so awesome.

          1. AnotherAlison*

            My grandma worked at a printing company, and the bottom of her dining hutch was filled with weird paper. I’d get random things like 4×6 notepads of cardstock in different colors. That’s like one example of the ~50 different types of paper she had. I loved to draw, and I thought this was the best thing ever.

      3. Ginger ale for all*

        You can always donate it to an elementary school teacher. I had one who taught us how to write a letter and I heard that this lesson is still being taught today in schools.

    2. juliebulie*

      I too have a collection of nice paper that I’ve used for resumes over the years decades. I’d still use some of it for an in-person interview, but only the plain white high-cotton stuff (luckily that’s what I have the most of).

      No colors, no speckles, no textures. I feel like that would be like wearing a bridal gown to the neighbor kid’s birthday party. I mean, it’s pretty… but even ivory or cream (my favorites) seem like too much for an interview now. Bummer. Not sure what to do with the rest of my stash now that TP is back in all the stores…

      1. Artemesia*

        It is great for kids to color on — see if a teacher in your district or a school in your district collects such things for the classroom. Our grandkids used up ours.

          1. juliebulie*

            I’m a little sad I didn’t think of that myself. I used to write great letters.

      2. Arts Akimbo*

        “like wearing a bridal gown to the neighbor kid’s birthday party.”

        That is an image I shall treasure for the rest of my days!

    3. Jessen*

      Maybe next weekend thread I should make some linen paper posts. Add in some modge-podge or some furniture varnish and you can get some lovely designs for around the home.

    4. Project Manager*

      Last time I cleaned out my home desk, I found a whole box of transparencies intended for use with an inkjet printer. That’s Generation Oregon Trail in a nutshell – old enough that we were still using overhead projectors in college, but young enough to have printed the transparencies via inkjet printer. That’s maybe a 5 year window.

      1. Me*

        Ha! Sooo true.

        I left a position to SAH with my kids and then returned to the same job right 8 years later. My employer still had a box of my old work files and had me go through them.

        In the box were some of those printed transparencies for use on a projector. Of course when I returned to the job, we’d all moved on to PowerPoint so the transparencies were quite obsolete.

        Nice walk down memory lane. Thanks.

        1. Former prof*

          When I retired I found *mimeos*. Gave them a sniff for old times sake and out they went. But I’m generation Roy Rogers, mother to generation Oregon Trail.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Started my first job search in 2002 and most certainly have my old linen paper from then. But we were in a pocket of the country that we didn’t start actively using Craigslist until like 2005/2007ish so I had to also fax resumes, mail them physically or drop them off. My first job used MSN messenger to talk to our South American offices hahahaha hahahah.

      But I am also a fan of stationary in general, so I have some weird crap tucked away LOL.

    6. mgguy*

      I still write a lot of letters by hand-mostly personal-and it gives me a lot of satisfaction to write with a fountain pen on even just generic cotton rag business/resumé paper.

      Even up until like 2012 or 2013, my university also required physical copies of your thesis/dissertation printed on 25% cotton rag(I think the library would then bind them). Fortunately, by the time I did mine in 2015, the only paper I had to turn in was the signature page, and everything else was fully electronic. In any case, though, departing students invariably left partial boxes of rag paper around since they’d often end up with the remnants of a 500 sheet box to print their 200-300 page dissertation, and when the physical copy requirement went away I scavenged the leftovers that otherwise were getting thrown away. I still write from that stash of paper.

      About the only business correspondence I send out anymore is the occasional letter of recommendation that requires mailed submissions in a sealed envelope(there are a few) and if I do that, or did need to send a resumé, I’d do it on rag paper. That’s just me because I have it and like using it, but I wouldn’t look down on receiving one on plain paper.

  4. Bookworm*

    #1: You absolutely have the right to be irritated. In fairness, they may be anxious, they may really want this job, etc. but what you described is a bit much.

    I knew someone who said he applied for a job and when he didn’t hear back he went as far as having other people from other areas (so different US area codes would appear on the caller ID) call the office and even drove by the office to see if they were open. I don’t quite remember why there was a delay in getting back to him (they were just short-staffed and busy at the time they were trying to hire), but he got the job. I didn’t know him very well but based on our interactions I could imagine it didn’t work out but I don’t know how that ended. Someone who is THIS anxious before hiring will likely need (at best) a ton of hand-holding. I doubt you want to deal with that!

    Good luck!!

    1. rayray*

      As someone out of work, I can understand feeling anxious about getting back in touch with someone if I missed their call. I’d personally try to use my willpower and not pester them, but honestly, I kinda see where the feelings come from. These people would do well to take a deep breath and just give the hiring manager a chance to get back to them before calling over and over in the same day.

      1. ampersand*

        I can see where that feeling comes from, too (I’m also out of work and would like not to be), but it’s weird to me that someone could behave this way and not understand how it’s not a good look to a potential employer. The interviewee is choosing to manage anxiety by making repeated phone calls, not doing *literally anything else* to calm the feeling of anxiety.

        1. Another freelancer*

          This is where I land. BTDT with being unemployed and very much wanting a job, but this is not an acceptable way to behave. I had an instance where I missed a call from a recruiter, and it was so, so hard to only call back once and then go do literally anything that was not involve staring at my phone.

        2. Ego Chamber is a bad guy (duh)*

          It sounds like they learned the tactic somewhere. I was encouraged to call multiple times when I signed up with a temp agency (which I know isn’t a recruiter or an employer but it’s work so please cut me some slack for being confused about professionalism after that shitshow).

          I went on to do similar inadvisable things when I first started working and could only get the bad jobs that hire literally the first five people who call back, no questions about knowledge or experience, just need a warm body to park at each desk. The implied history is enough reason to be hesitant about someone who is so persistent/anxious but I also get it and it can be unlearned if you stop taking bad jobs.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Currently unemployed and know this feeling oh so well (I have issues with paranoia too, thanks schizophrenia..). I’ve taken to playing Diablo to stop myself from chasing places I’ve applied to. In fact I’m off to go blast demons for 4 hours right now…

        1. Harper the Other One*

          Diablo is weirdly great for that. Something about the pace of the game makes it so well suited for mental distraction.

    2. no thanks*

      Yeah, that’s creepy. Don’t stalk us. If we want you we want you. If not, don’t be that creepy candidate we’ll be telling stories about.

  5. silverpie*

    #2: Also, see if your email program will let you send the mail with a delay, so it lands in her inbox a few minutes before she (normally) arrives. She’s not tempted to answer during her off-time, she still sees it when you want (maybe even quicker, if her client shows in reverse chronological order), seems a win-win.

    1. Mazzy*

      Yup. In Outlook, you start an email, then go to Option, then on the right you’ll see Delay Delivery, then you pick a time….

      1. KayDeeAye*

        My Outlook doesn’t work that way. It acts like it will, but the reality is that it sends email only when I’m logged on. So if I have something set to go at 8 a.m., it will go at 8 a.m. only if I’m logged on right then. This seems to be a problem with my employer’s system rather than Outlook…but I can’t say for sure.

        1. Coalea*

          No, it’s not your employer’s system – it’s a limitation of Outlook. If I draft an email at noon and select “delay delivery” and set the delivery time for 7 PM, it will only work if I stay logged into my email until 7 PM. If I log off before then, 7 PM will come and go and my email will not get sent. I can’t remember for sure, but I think it will just chill out in my outbox until I log back in. I’m a huge Outlook fan, but this is one issue that really annoys me!

        2. E-Mail Behavior and Expectations?*

          Your Outlook trouble is probably that you’re using the desktop version and it’s failing to tell you whether a given feature is run locally or server-side. Outlook is *filled* with “features” that behave this way, it’s a holdover from the days when servers *didn’t* have the space to just store all the things, and it’s a total pain these days.

          I’d have to double-check, but maybe OWA (Outlook Web App) supports this too, and that would probably do it server-side instead of client-side? In my experience, checking if OWA has the feature seems to be a pretty reliable way to verify if Outlook (desktop) is doing a poor job conveying that something will only run locally.

          Also, related to #2: I just wanna throw in here here that while I agree with the reply to #2 on paper, I might add that part of the talk needs to address that maybe this worker was previously in a field that does a thing I’ve seen plenty of.

          Working in or near academia where work e-mail and school e-mail are the same and we have to deal with off-hour checking all the time (because please stop checking work, but we can’t and shouldn’t stop you from checking class/homework/stuff), a kind of culture builds up where everyone simultaneously speaks to the importance of guarding one’s off-hour time, but everyone still checks stuff anyway. Someone coming from an environment like that (whether academia or otherwise) might need more explicit wordage about how in some contexts the spoken rule is openly ignored, while in others it is actively enforced.

          It sounds very much like #2’s problem worker’s past role behaved in this way, and systemically did so in a way where it’s hard to fault the worker (at least in the short term?) for operating this way because it gets passively rewarded and deviation gets passively punished. Not an expert on how to approach this, just inclined to suggest an explicit acknowledgement of the issue *somehow* might help.

      2. HS Teacher*

        There is a Google Chrome extension that does the same thing, so if OP uses gmail, she could do this as well. It was going to be my response, but I saw that someone already had it covered.)

        I think OP should still have a conversation with her employee about working during those off hours.

        1. Dahlia*

          Gmail just has it built in. When you’re looking at “send” there should be a little arrow you can click to select “Schedule”

      3. Lifelong student*

        OMG- I just looked at my email and the options had a delay in my sending as a default! No wonder I don’t get prompt answers. I unchecked the box!

    2. tangerineRose*

      I agree that scheduling the e-mails for her work time is a great idea. That way the employee doesn’t feel tempted to work on the stuff outside of normal hours. I mean, I know the employee shouldn’t, but I can understand why it might be hard not to.

  6. Falling Diphthong*

    #3 What is with managers who want to fire someone for possibly considering possibly leaving in months or years? That describes ALL your employees, as far as they’re going to let you know.

    1. rayray*

      Really. Employees are there for the paychecks, and when better opportunities come their way, they will take them. Sounds like this person deserves a nice retirement, and it would be incredibly crappy to terminate them ahead of time with no warning. It’s hypocritical to worry and freak out that someone might inconvenience you, and yet you want to strip their livelihood with zero warning. The logic is ridiculous.

      LW3, please try to find some compassion and reason. Just communicate with the employee so you can have a plan in place for when they do retire. There’s no good reason to punish them just because you guys will be stressed out. Communication and planning. It’s not that hard. Lots of people are looking for work right now, an open spot or two should get filled quite easily.

  7. Jean*

    OP1, this candidate is showing you that they allow their emotions to have a significant negative effect on their judgment. Proceed with caution.

    OP2 – We had a couple of repeat offenders on my team for this problem as well. My manager called a team meeting and straight up told everyone that they were endangering HER job by doing that – which is true – and if it happened again they would be terminated. It’s that serious of an issue. You have to be crystal clear that it can’t happen again, not just because of your preferences, but because of the law.

    1. Massmatt*

      This seems awfully excessive. If you don’t want/absolutely cannot have employees doing work off hours then don’t send them work emails off hours. Maybe your employees just should not have work email on their phones or online and have it on work desktops only. I can see being annoyed to have an email “where is the Schlumberger report” and know you can answer it right now, only to be forced to hold off on answering the question until you are back in the office.

      And I bet there are more managers peeved to have to wait until the next morning (when employees are greeted with a bunch of questions etc stacked up in their inbox) for the information than there are understanding ones that are fine with waiting.

  8. Anon nonnie non*

    I call and schedule interviews for others in my department and this happens so often. I had one person call me 6 times in the course of an hour and didn’t leave a voicemail once. It drives me crazy. Please do not do this to those that are scheduling interviews.

    1. this*

      Seriously. Often it’s an admin doing that type of work, and you don’t want that admin passing along that info to the hiring manager. That would not sit well in our office at all. Total disrespect for others’ obligations to other tasks. In other words, it’s not all about you, candidate.

    2. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I once left voicemail for several applicants, asking them to call me the next day between 9 am and noon, then dialed into a day long training call. One of those applicants called me every 5-10 minutes for the whole day, according to Caller ID. The next day, he started again at 7:30 am, I happened to be in early and answered. He did not appreciate my ‘dismissal’ of him the previous day, and I said, ‘Then you really won’t like what I’m about to tell you…’ Sorry, dude, staffing teams do lots of things besides set up interviews.

    3. Someone*

      This should be a rule for not job applicants, too. I frequently get a few calls in a row with no voicemail from the same person. Usually, they’re spam, but occasionally they’re legitimate work contacts and I have to wonder who told them that is a reasonable thing to do?

  9. Altair*

    I don’t really understand LW#3’s stated logic. Why would it be better to force the retiring employee out now rather than, for example, hire their replacement ASAP so the retiring employee can help train the replacement? Besides paying two salaries for a few months, but I have been given to understand that salaries are not the only costs a business incurs. And it might end up costing more both emotionally and financially to demoralize the other employees by punishing someone for daring to retire.

    1. hbc*

      Me too. A retirement during the busy season and an open position leaves them too short-staffed, so they’re going to…become short-staffed sooner? Zero sense.

      If you have an accountant resigning/retiring in the first week of April, you have them training people starting in February. Or you ask that if they’re willing to stay on an extra couple of weeks. Or if you absolutely can’t manage the overlap in headcount (which doesn’t seem to fit here since there’s a vacancy and talk of training), you *ask* them if they’re willing to go sooner due to business circumstances.

      1. crabbyabby*

        Seems they’re trying to punish the employee, like “How DARE you, two can play this game! We’re gonna fire you first!”

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I don’t really understand why they can’t continue with their hiring process, but wait to see whether they’re hiring one or two people (or keep the promising candidates on file).

      Pushing the retiring employee out is gross, and I doubt that hiring and onboarding a replacement will be as different as LW fears.

    3. Marthooh*

      I took it to mean “We’re already short-staffed, and this retirement will make it even worse! I want to punish the employee in advance, to teach her a lesson.” Not really a matter of logic, at all.

      1. Wehaf*

        It’s very possible their budget (or rules from higher ups) won’t let them be overstaffed, even for a short transition period. They may not be able to hire anyone until the retiring employee is gone, which means they’d be running a hiring process and/or onboarding someone during their busiest time, while simultaneously being short-staffed. That doesn’t mean they should push out potential retirees, of course, but there are plenty of explanations here other than “I want to teach her a lesson.”

  10. Elenia*

    The conversation about hours is really one that needs to be explicitly had. Too many people don’t know that it is a problem if you are working off the clock and you are hourly. They don’t mean it badly, they just literally don’t know. When you have the clear conversation to say – I have budgeted you for 35 hours a week, and I can’t afford more than that, and this is a major problem if you do more than that – usually they get it then!

    1. Snark no more!*

      I don’t think that they do get it. If the work is there and they want to stay ahead of it, they’ve been told there’s only so many hours in the budget – it doesn’t matter to them. They must be told no off-hours work AT ALL or we’ll get in trouble with the DOL.

      1. Ego Chamber*

        Yeah, the “no working off the clock” part of the discussion cannot be silent or there’s a good chance the employee will just hear “We’re only going to pay you for x” the same way a lot of employers have said it to me in the past: with the implication that I stop getting paid but I still keep working.

    2. mgguy*

      When I was an hourly employee(in my current role), I was often stuck between a rock and a hard place for this. My supervisor would say “don’t ever answer emails/take calls off hours” but when I’d stick to that there’d be hell to pay the next day because “so and so needed you last night and called me at 9:00 because you wouldn’t answer your phone or email and you know I can’t answer questions for you.” So, even though I knew the rules full well about not going into OT and recording after-hours time on my time sheet(and how I didn’t have authorization for that time) the “don’t go into overtime” discussion was better for my sanity than the “why didn’t you answer?” discussion.

      Fortunately, two things happen-the first was that the terrible supervisor was “given the opportunity to resign.” The second was that her replacement fought HARD to get the higher ups to recognize first of all that my job description to the letter matched the FLSA “professional exemption” test, and also get the boost that comes with it(our exempt salary standards still follow the 2017 FLSA revision even though that never went into affect). That gave me all the positives-and negatives-that come with being an exempt employee.

  11. another scientist*

    I seem to be in the minority here, or maybe not: I agree that the candidate totally overdid it by calling 4 times over the course of one meeting. But it struck me as strange that the hiring manager picked the phone for mode of communication, but then wasn’t reachable in that same mode for the rest of the day. Why not try to schedule by email then? This is probably a very millenial filter on things, but I think email signals that everyone will respond when they get a chance, whereas phone/voicemail use signals ‘I was hoping to reach you to get an answer from you asap’, so trying to call back to provide that answer asap is the expected response. Obviously not 4 times. But being unreachable for the rest of the day after calling is a little strange.

    1. one more scientist*

      I was thinking the exact same thing—who calls and then goes dark for the remainder of the day? Weird.
      I also agree (at least in my field among my colleagues) that a phone cell/text =something urgent, while email = answer when you can.

      1. EnfysNest*

        Also, I still tend to assume that if I’m calling a business number, it’s going to a landline. Whereas I’ll only call a cellphone once (maybe twice if it’s urgent) because I know it saves a note saying that there’s a missed call, I’m more likely to try a little more with a landline since I’m assuming it’s not recording the number of times I called. So I assume that if a landline isn’t answered, it probably just means that the person is away from the desk and might be back in a couple minutes. It probably wouldn’t have occurred to me that someone who asked me to call them would just be ignoring the phone when I did so, so I would think they were just away and there wouldn’t be any harm trying again in a bit. I probably still would have given up after 3 tries, but that’s another element to factor in.

        Similarly, the wording of “nobody was returning my calls” indicates they might have also thought they were calling a main company number instead of a direct line straight to the hiring manager, which would make it seem even stranger that the call wasn’t being answered, if they thought it would go to a receptionist of some kind and get redirected from there.

        So, yes, 4 calls during one meeting is still a bit much, but does it change the perception at all if you assume the applicant thought they were getting no response from a company switchboard landline, rather than the LW’s personal (cell?) phone?

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Every business phone I’ve had absolutely shows missed calls, so assuming there’s no record of times you called just because it’s not a mobile phone is probably not a great assumption.

          1. mgguy*

            Yep-the Cisco VOIP phone everyone at my work has on their desk shows how may calls I’ve missed and lets me quickly scroll through/return them as soon as I return to my desk and have a chance to.

            From what I see, those VOIP phones are fairly ubiquitous in offices across the board these days.

            Also, VOIP makes it cheap and easy for even my big employer to give everyone their own unique number. When I give you my work phone number, I’m giving you a number that will ring to the phone sitting on my desk.

            BTW, too, the nature of my job is that I spend a good part of my day up and away from my desk. In fact, on many days, if I’m sitting at my desk all day I’m probably not doing my job. Because of that, I often set up forwarding to my cell phone, especially if I know I won’t be periodically popping in and out of my office(as happens in a normal day). I also see missed calls there if you repeatedly call me.

          2. Prof. Space Cadet*

            I agree that nowadays everyone should assume their phone calls to a business are being logged even if they don’t leave a message. But it may also be the case that the person calling is naive about the way the world works.

            A few years ago, someone called my office phone 76 times in one week without leaving a message. It was spring break and I was out of the office. The next week, I figured out from a Google search that it was a textbook sales rep and sent her a polite email asking that she stop trying to contact me. She STILL kept calling. When I finally took the call, I listened to her sales pitch for about 30 seconds and replied “I don’t want to make trouble for you with your employer, but calling people 76 times is not going to lead to the outcome you want. Let me explain why.” The poor woman was completely mortified. Aside from having no idea that her calls the previous week had been logged, she was a new college grad working for an unethical company with a ruthless sales quota. I tried my best not to make her feel like a complete idiot, but I’m sure she did anyway.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Also millennial, and I think that’s fair. Phone calls are urgent. I would worry that if I’d missed the call in real time I might have missed my chance.

      1. Uncivil Engineer*

        You didn’t miss your chance… at least, not in a sane work place.

        We call to schedule interviews because we want you to pick an interview slot. If we send an email, you may reply and choose a slot someone else picked in the time between when the email went out and when you responded. It’s so much easier on the phone. In this case, the phone call doesn’t mean “urgent”, it means “efficient”.

        1. Ego Chamber*

          It’s only more efficient to schedule by phone if your scheduling software is hot garbage. I hate scheduling things by phone with a white-hot passion because it almost always goes like this:

          “Can you come in on Tuesday?”
          “No, sorry, Tuesday’s no good for me. I can do Wednesday or Friday?”
          “What about Thursday?”
          “Thursday doesn’t work. I can do Wednesday or Friday.”
          “Oh. Okay. We have some times on Wednesday. Do you prefer morning or afternoon?”
          “Mornings are better for me.”
          “Oh we’ve only got afternoons available. 2pm or 4pm. Is that still okay?”
          “Sure! 2pm on Wednesday sounds great!”
          “No, this is for Thursday. Wait. What’s the 18th? Is that Wednesday or Thursday?”
          (Kill me.)

          Compared to clicking a link and seeing a calendar with all the available days and times, selecting one and knowing it’s all sorted because you can see it on the calendar and also you get an email confirmation.

    3. Oof*

      From my perspective, if I am scheduling more than 3 meetings/interviews, I find it’s faster to do so by phone, as I can get immediate answers, and can keep the schedule current as I go. There are always a few I have to speak with later, but having the others filled has really made a difference for me. Incidentally, I’ve found by phone has helped me work with candidates to not overanalyze the schedule, whereas in email people don’t always believe me when I say I have some flexibility.

    4. MollyG*

      #1 So you called a left a message, then intentionally did not return their call because you wanted to finish a project? It seems to me that you a very one sided view of your workplace, where you as the manager can be inconsiderate all you want, but have zero patience with others. You are trying to show them that working for you would be good, and you are showing them quite the opposite.

      1. hbc*

        Well, it’s not exactly equal situations. If OP was complaining that the candidate took 12 hours to get back to her when she made them wait, or if she called 4 times and then got ticked off about 4 calls, that would be inconsiderate and hypocritical.

        Where I think both the OP and the candidate were failing was projecting what they wanted and needed without regard of the situation of the other person. For the candidate, it was in not realizing that a hiring manager isn’t only doing hiring. For the OP, it was kind of blaming the candidate for being a pest during a busy time, when the candidate has no way of knowing it was an unusually busy time.

        1. tangerineRose*

          Seems like the candidate should have known calling several times would be annoying at any time.

          Hiring managers can’t necessarily sit by their phones – they may have other work to do that requires them to be elsewhere.

      2. Ashley*

        There are many times I go through and make all my calls and then get dragged into things where I can’t get back to voicemails. Granted where I have a relationship with the person sometimes they get a quick text or email (and most people don’t even both with leaving a vm and will just text or email), but there is no way I would want to work with a person who can’t understand that I might have other stuff happening for a full day. They don’t know what was going on for the person doing the hiring for all they know the person could have gotten food poisoning from breakfast. If it had been a few days maybe an email followup but all this says is I don’t want to hire you.

        1. this*

          Yes. exactly. It’s not that people don’t care, it’s more that the candidate needs to be aware that there are other things going on in the scheduler’s day.

    5. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      It also eliminates some other contexts where rushing to call right back is the right thing to do, professionally. If you work at a temp agency and miss a call, you miss that assignment. If you work shiftwork and you miss a call for an extra shift, you miss the shift. If you applied for a job without a specialized skillset, they may just interview the first five people who answer the phone.

      This may be the context and past experience this candidate has, and why they are so panicked about having missed the call.

      1. HS Teacher*

        Agreed. I think OP should have mentioned in the voice mail that she’d be unavailable for however long she would be unavailable. Voice mails are seen as a priority to return nowadays.

    6. Mazzy*

      This is a good point, less people leave VMs nowadays, so getting one is seen as a bigger deal than it used to be, so it is kind of wrong that they left a bunch of VMs not realizing that, you know, the people might actually try to call someone back. Add to that record low labor force participation rates and a horrible economy, yeah, people are going to be anxious now and may do silly things.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I don’t think that’s the situation though – a single return call probably IS expected (as directed in the voicemail, unless it explicitly mentioned that OP would call again at X time). Multiple calls after leaving the first voicemail and a semi-accusatory message within a few hours is overkill.

        1. Kesnit*

          It wasn’t within “a few hours.” The “accusatory” call was the next day. (The OP says “fast forward to this afternoon.”

          1. Jennifer Strange*

            OP states that she called the candidates “this morning” and the one candidate called four times and then again “this afternoon” so it was all within the same day.

          2. fhqwhgads*

            Even so, to presume they’re not bothering to return the call when it’s been less than 24 hours is…weird.

    7. whistle*

      This is a good point that I did not pick up on in my first read of the letter.

      LW, I think it’s important what you said in the voicemail you left for the pushy candidate. If you stated or implied that you would like to hear from the candidate the same day in order to get things scheduled, I can kinda see why the candidate called so many times.

      If someone leaves me a voicemail in the morning, and I call back in the morning, I’m gonna be a bit annoyed to get no further communication for the day. (I personally would not call several times because I have anxiety about being the person who calls too much, but that’s another issue.)

    8. Kesnit*

      I had the same thought. I also note OP1 said the candidate called back again the following afternoon. So contrary to what OP1 said, she did not actually return the candidate’s call “first thing” the next morning.

      1. Temperance*

        Read it again. The candidate called 4x while she was in a meeting, and then followed up again the next day, via email, in a rude tone.

        1. Kesnit*

          That is what I said. The OP called. Candidate called her back 4 times, leaving 1 voicemail. OP decides she will call Candidate back the next morning. OP does not call back the next morning. Candidate sends message the next afternoon.

          I did miss that the “no one is calling me back” was probably an e-mail, not another call.

      2. Social Commentator*

        My understanding of the timeline is:
        1. Manager called first thing in the morning, left a voicemail, then went into a meeting.
        2. Candidate called back soon after, left a voicemail.
        3. Candidate called 3 more times during the morning, trying to connect, but left no voicemail.
        4. Candidate ”sent” a follow-up message (email? text?) the afternoon of the same day saying that no one was returning her calls.

        1. Kesnit*

          From the context, it seems like the OP decided not to call back that day, but planned to call the next morning. OP did not call, so Candidate sent an email (which I originally read as another voicemail) the next afternoon.

          1. Social Commentator*

            That’s not the way it’s written, though. OP clearly describes all messages as having been sent/received on one day from “this morning” to “this afternoon.” At the time the submission was written, “the next morning” had not yet occurred.

      3. Jennifer Strange*

        You’re misreading the letter. OP states that the calls to the candidates went out “this morning” so it all took place in the span of one day.

      4. Dancing Otter*

        I read that as the afternoon of the same day, before the OP’s intended call back the following morning.
        Really pushy, and not someone I want in my workplace.

    9. KayDeeAye*

      Yeah, calling back once is OK (at least it would be OK with me). Calling back four times is ridiculous. I’m not saying the candidate is ridiculous, but her actions absolutely are.

    10. Temperance*

      Another millennial, totally disagree with you. When it comes to scheduling multiple people, it’s much, much less of a headache to deal with it on the telephone, from a scheduler’s perspective. Say you have 10 times that might work, and 9 candidates. Go down the list, call each person, block off times that they’re not available. Easy! Sending 9 emails and juggling all that is a nightmare.

      1. KayDeeAye*

        Yes, scheduling 1 or 2 people via email generally works OK (although even there, you can end up quite a bit more juggling than you’d expect). But more than that and it just gets so complicated. You need to actually be able to TALK to people and say things like, “3 p.m. is already taken – how about 4? No? OK, then let’s look at Tuesday.”

        And so on. You really can’t do that by email.

      2. crabbyabby*

        That makes sense. My most recent phone screening actually had a program where I could click and view a calendar and select a time slot. I wonder if more places might look into scheduling programs like that to make it easier and to remove the back-and-forth. It’s also nice to be able to look at it and not be put on the spot.

        I’ve had others where they asked me about days and times that worked for me, and another that asked me to select three time slots. I gave some options that would work for me and then got a reply “How about *totally different timeslot*? I just thought it was funny though.

        1. KayDeeAye*

          I do think that sounds like a great system, but….there was a letter a couple of years back from someone whose company used one of those, and a candidate changed his/her interview time several times. Presumably she didn’t realize that a notice was sent to the organizer every time a change was made in the calendar. Oopsie! Awkward.

        2. MsChanandlerBong*

          Those programs are great, except for when a candidate schedules using a different name and email than the one he applied with, so you have no idea who he is, and then when you cancel the interview because you don’t know who it’s with and can’t prepare for it, the ticked-off applicant leaves your company a bad review on Google Maps that mentions you by name and talks about how horrible you are. :D

      3. Anon Nonnie non*

        Yes, Temperance! I have to look 2-3 peoples schedules, plus meeting rooms and the candidates schedule. Sorry this needs to be done over the phone! I don’t have time nor the desire to email back and forth for hours to schedule a 30 min interview.

      4. another scientist*

        that sounds totally reasonable, it’s just not that obvious for someone who doesn’t regularly have to schedule stuff like that. I also overlooked earlier that the letter originally ran a while back (not sure how many years), but maybe the tools we have now to schedule conveniently via email weren’t around then.

    11. EvilQueenRegina*

      I went back to the old post from years ago to check if the way I remembered it was right, and what it said then was that OP’s boss had actually given her a task after she made the calls, something that meant she had to be away from the phones, but she didn’t know about it until after calling the candidate. Also in the update, OP had found out this candidate actually worked in that team previously. The candidate was hired.

      1. juliebulie*

        Wow! Thanks for this update rerun. The candidate’s… enthusiasm is easier to understand, knowing that she’d worked in that team before. Though I think it still would have been smarter to play it cool.

        1. EvilQueenRegina*

          According to the second update, once she actually started she was fine. She’d worked there in OP’s predecessor’s time, and apparently the predecessor wasn’t the best, and the candidate’s response was also based on memories of the predecessor.

    12. Artemesia*

      Everyone has heard of the person who didn’t get the interview because they didn’t call back fast enough ad get scheduled and were told when they did get through that the interview list was full. So a little sympathy — but it is a waving red flag, so if you do interview them look carefully at references and at other signs they would be a PITA needing constant caretaking.

      1. juliebulie*

        Yes, I am one of those people. It was before most people had cell phones. I was checking my answering machine every hour, but apparently I was 50 minutes too late.

        My best friend got the job… and it kind of sucked. I cursed my bad luck, but I ended up getting a great job a few weeks later.

    13. crabbyabby*

      THANK YOU. You put into words what I was feeling but couldn’t quite put my finger on. An email would have been super easy to respond to and let go, where as the phone call feels more urgent. I would definitely be worrying that they might pass me over since I missed the call.

      Yes, this candidate could have taken a breath after the first call. I actually think I may have tried a couple times. People are super on edge when job hunting, and this may have been one of the first call-backs they got after tons of copied and pasted rejection emails. Maybe it was a company they were excited about.

    14. Georgina Fredrika*

      no, not if it’s scheduling for interviews. Emails are a huge hassle for figuring out time slots for multiple people.

      Let’s say you have 5 ideal empty time slots and 3 candidates.

      If you call, and people are waiting for a call, there’s a good chance they will pick up and you can give them an open slot. You can inform the candidates as you go along of slots still available.

      If you email 3 people, one might get back to you immediately, one opts for the end of the day, and one replies at night. But you are either giving them fewer time slots to choose from (so that they don’t overlap) or risking an overlap (and having to potentially re-contact people to find another timeslot).

      It creates a lot more work for someone who is already busy.

      1. Georgina Fredrika*

        and a phone call might feel urgent in this case because it IS urgent. If people think an email is inherently leisurely and you’re planning time slots for next week, you might not get a reply back for another 2 days.

      2. Kesnit*

        “If you call, and people are waiting for a call,”

        That’s a pretty big “if.” How is a job-seeker going to know that the hiring manager is going to call them between 3 and 5 on Thursday? Even if I am hoping for a call, I am not going to be sitting around, doing nothing, waiting for days for a call that may never come.

        “there’s a good chance they will pick up”

        As I said, people are not going to be sitting around and waiting for a call that may never come. If someone has a job, they may be tied up with their current job and not able to answer the phone. Or they could be driving. Or in the bathroom.

        “and you can give them an open slot. You can inform the candidates as you go along of slots still available.”

        That could work, or it may not.

        You have 5 slots – 1,2, and 3 on Day 1, and 4, and 5 on Day 2
        You call Candidate 1. Candidate 1 takes slot 4
        You call Candidate 2. Candidate 2 takes slot 5.
        You call Candidate 3. Candidate 3 is completely unavailable on Day 1, but would be available on Day 2. Except you don’t have any slots on Day 2. Of course, you can decide that you don’t want to interview Candidate 3. Or you could try calling 1 or 2 back to see if they are available on Day 1. But that kind of defeats the purpose of trying to call and fill slots as you go along.

        1. Georgina Fredrika*

          Sure, people may not be doing something, but I have a phone and I’m around people with phones quite frequently, and most people tend to be around their phone when it rings. Not ALWAYS, and yes sometimes they’re peeing or whatever, but frequently they are around it or can call back right after (if you can step outside).

          However, like most people I get like 50 emails a day and I can’t have my phone dinging that constantly so they get checked a lot less frequently.

          And yeah of course no system is perfect, might involve problems etc., but I can almost guarantee you people are worse about replying back in a timely manner for emails and that is a big roadblock for scheduling.

          On a phone you can often be more flexible. If your backup when you run out of 5 slots is to go into next week, you can take care of that with candidate 3 *right then* instead of emailing back with a new set of possibles and waiting for their reply.

    15. Jaybeetee*

      As a Millennial myself, I don’t think it’s unreasonable, but but might depend on field of work. As Alison here has said in the past, if they want to interview or hire you, they’re not going to forget. I think if I left a vm and hadn’t heard back for a few days I might try again – but I wouldn’t be too alarmed not hearing back the same day, and would probably assume myself the hiring contact was busy in meetings, etc. Calling multiple times in a couple of hours, then sending an email, would absolutely ping my radar.

    16. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Oooh, that’s a good point.

      Back in the late 90s, I heard about someone that was blacklisted, by a company that was then on “Best places to work for” lists, for not calling back in a timely manner. The employer called her twice, first time, they left a message on her answering machine and a family member accidentally erased the message. Second time, her school-aged child answered the phone and the employer (my brain is about to explode as I type this, because it is such a wild thing to do by today’s standards, but it did happen) asked the kid to give mom a message that such-and-such company had called about scheduling an interview and to call back. The kid, naturally, said “yes” and forgot. They put the candidate on a black list, never to be considered for hire again. This is all to say, a phone call does imply a sense of urgency and of the employer wanting a direct phone conversation for some reason, and an email really would’ve been better.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Yeah, I’m really skeptical of their place on a “best places to work” list.

      1. cncx*

        yup. this happened to me, i literally got chastised by a hiring manager for not calling back fast enough. this was a big accounting firm. so i can see the person calling freaking out based on that. i wouldn’t have sent the rude morning email but i probably would have called two or three times tbh

    17. cncx*

      yup this is where i am at- no one looks good here. yes the candidate was pushy but the hiring manager should have been available-ish on the medium they used. Not waiting by the phone but at some point in the afternoon yeah.

  12. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    I find that fancy paper doesn’t go through a normal domestic printer very well. Nice paper with slightly smudged text is definitely not as good as normal copy paper neatly printed!

    1. juliebulie*

      Now that you mention it, I have a lot of trouble getting high-cotton paper to go through my printer when it’s really humid. It gets almost soggy. So if I were going to interviews now I’d have to use plain paper (but maybe 24# instead of 20#).

  13. ThePear8*

    #4, I fell prey to some internet job advice that resumes should be printed on nice paper. I didn’t want to pay for printing service but discovered my printer at home could actually print on card stock with some adjusted settings. Of course job applications are all online now, the only time I’ve printed resumes are for career fairs, and only one or two people I talked to there ever seemed impressed by the paper. Otherwise I don’t think anyone really cared. Alison is right that what will help you stand out is the quality of skill and experience demonstrated in your resume, not the paper it’s printed on.

  14. Mockingjay*

    LW2, I’ve seen this “gotta respond to the boss after hours” happen with many hourly employees, especially those who you really rely on. It’s a bad habit. You’re treating an non-exempt employee as salaried. Her working hours are much different than a salaried manager and should be respected.

    If you really need someone available, consider reclassifying her role (with commensurate compensation).

    1. KayDeeAye*

      But…the OP isn’t treating her employee like a salaried worker. The employee is acting like one, but at her own instigation, not the OP’s. It really does read to me as though the person with the bad habit here is the employee, not the OP.

      1. Mockingjay*

        You are correct; I rushed when I read the article. Thanks for catching that!

        My response was influenced by seeing the opposite in my own job. I work on a federal contract with a government agency requiring support 24/7, and our non-exempt employees can feel pressured to respond. I’ve reminded them to log their hours for evening and weekend calls, emails, and extra work in general. (It starts with a single text or call after hours, and morphs into more and more…) It’s gotten better – we have a new program manager who is really thorough in sticking to the terms of the contract, monitoring employee hours (OT is not authorized), and pushing back on the agency when they demand too much.

        1. RG*

          I think it’s still worthwhile for OP#2 to reflect and make sure she really DOESN’T expect the employee to respond after hours. All signs point to that being the case, which is awesome, and in that case the onus is definitely on the employee to respect the manager’s instructions. But sometimes you say one thing directly but set indirect expectations that are in conflict. I had a manager once (as an hourly employee; I logged my time and there were no issues there) who INSISTED that I should never log in after 5 pm, evenings were my own personal time, etc., but would then send me spreadsheets to review at 7 pm that she needed for her 8 am meeting, knowing that I got into the office at 8. So OP, just make double-sure your actions are backing up your words here.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            Yep. When you say one thing, but your actual expectations contradict it, people are generally going to go with your expectations. Especially since there’s *so much* hypocrisy on this issue from employers who make mouth noises about “work-life balance” and “being off in your off hours.”

  15. YoungTen*

    This is an excellent way to show an employee they hold absolutely no value to your firm.

  16. Clorinda*

    After hours email: Maybe you can set your emails with a future send time, or maybe you can save them as drafts and send them in the morning, but I don’t think you can get this employee to stop looking at her email after hours. She sounds like the sort of person who would find that incredibly stressful–knowing that there are emails and she’s not supposed to look. If there’s a burden here, it should be yours, not hers.

    And for the manager who heard a rumor that someone’s thinking of retiring: since you already have a vacancy in that area, your first priority should be filling that so you’re not down two people during your busy time, not preemptively firing someone you still need.

    1. Dancing Otter*

      Maybe IT could block her access outside normal business hours. I admit that’s killing a gnat with a sledgehammer, but if she is absolutely not authorized for extra hours, that would stop it. Or, assuming they are working in the office, rescind her remote access credentials.
      I don’t know how old the letter was, but if they are working from home due to COVID, is it possible that the employee has shifted some of her hours because of, well, Life Stuff getting in the way? The manager definitely needs to discuss the issue – it ought to be reflected in the employee’s timesheet if that’s what’s happening.

  17. I'm just here for the cats!*

    For letter 2 I am interested in emails outside of work hours. I am on a 10 month contract, so I am currently not working. However we are expected to check our email ever week or for updates. ( I work at a university and COVID cases went up again in our area. We are still ironing out some details.) If needed we are expected to reply. Most of the rest of the staff are also 10 month contract, however they are salaried and I am hourly. I wonder if by requiring us to periodically check and or reply to emails if it’s legal to do so.

    1. Her_bert*

      My work just did a furlough and asked everyone to update a way to reach them outside our work emails. I think they should have a way to reach you if they NEED TO (emphasis important!) that doesn’t require you to log into your official work email.

    2. generic_username*

      My university was very strict with the people they furloughed and very strict with the people who were not furloughed that furloughed employees cannot answer any work emails. They are being asked to check their emails because that is how they’ll be recalled, but they cannot respond to anything work-related while logged in (and are being asked to not even read those messages).

  18. TimeTravlR*

    Somewhat related anecdote. Our friend had a job offer in hand but not for the Job She Wanted She was hoping to get an offer for the Job She Wanted. She kept asking us if she should call Job She Wanted and see where they are on things? Should she take Job She Didn’t Want and then bail if she got Job She Wanted? She was making us crazy so I can only imagine if she’d actually followed through with calling either hiring manager. Fortunately, we talked her down and told her to have a little patience as Job She Doesn’t Want weren’t pressing her for an answer and knew she wanted time to think about it. Job She Wants came through with an offer today so now she can shut up about it already! LOL

    1. Jane Plough*

      This was me many years ago when I was more naive about the workplace – I had a job offer and the company was pushing me for an answer, when I was waiting to hear back from a job I preferred. I didn’t leave lots of voicemails (the HM didn’t have voicemail set up) but I do remember calling his office about 15 times over the course of a couple of days to ask if I was at least out of contention so that I could accept the other offer. I’d never do that now and I must have come across as super high maintenance but hey – folly of youth (plus I was living with my parents at the time and desperate for a job). I did get the job I wanted in the end, and it turned out that the hiring manager (who I was replacing – he didn’t end up being my line manager) was also clueless about office norms and generally quite hard work. So I guess I got lucky in that respect that he wasn’t put off by my desperation :-D

  19. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    With pushy candidates like this, I always dump them as soon as I get the whiff of their pushiness. When I was younger, I downplayed it, gave them all the benefit of the doubt. And not a single one worked out well, many don’t even show up to the GD interview, no joke. My “favorite” actually did start the job and walked off on day 3, then was a nightmare when I mailed their check and of course it got lost in the mail because they gave us the WRONG ADDRESS on their paperwork. Yikes!

    It’s giving you a lot of information about someone. Yes, job searching sucks. Yes it’s anxiety inducing, lots of us struggle with anxiety, it’s very common! I completely understand that hardship. However I have a job that needs someone to slide into it and 99.9999% of my positions require someone to have the ability to stay cool in standard yet sometimes stressful conditions. This is someone who blows up something very important in the course of their career into a huge drama. This is the person who chases away others because they need others to manage their emotions for them. Nope. Nope. Nope.

  20. Phil*

    Terminating someone just before they retire could not only be age discrimination but here in The Great State Of California open you to an unlawful termination suit.

  21. ArtK*

    #4 I haven’t sent a paper resume in years. I’m a little startled that anyone would need to use them, but then I work for tech companies who usually have electronic systems. Or can at least read a PDF.

  22. KOKO*

    On the paper resume, I still think it matters if you’re in a creative field. I always print my resume on nicer, heavier paper (at FedEx) and hand those out at interviews (even if the interviewers have printed them out at work. Sometimes they only print out in black and white). I’ve been complimented most of the time on the paper quality and have been asked where I print it. I’m a designer so this absolutely matters in my field and is a nice added touch. But for other fields, it’s not important. It’s something I notice when I interview others as well.

  23. Jonquil*

    An office job that requires you to mail in your application in the year of our lord 2020 would be a red flag for me.

  24. Turtle Candle*

    Hey Alison–I wanted to let you know that their ad display on mobile renders the site useless. Not in the sense of ‘there are too many ads’ or ‘the ads autoplay’ or anything straightforward, but in the sense of large ads covering parts of the questions/answers, rendering them incomprehensible. Whole chunks of the question or answer (in one case, a couple weeks ago, an entire question) are covered by ads; watching the ads just leads to another ad, as does closing the ad, so there’s no way at all to see what the question was. The pages work fine on desktop, with or without adblock.

    I have messaged Inc. about this directly (or I think I did; their contact process is pretty opaque and for all I know my note is languishing in the subscription department), but I wanted to let you know, because at this point I’m starting to simply not read articles on Inc at all–not punitively and not becasue I resent ads (I am fine with ads, since publications and writers deserve to get paid) but for the simple reason that I cannot actually read the articles at all unless I take my blog reading to a desktop.

    1. virago*

      There’s a link by the comment box that states “You can report an ad, tech, or typo issue here.” (I’m not including the hyperlink because then my comment will be hung up in moderation.)

  25. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

    #3 – The employee is apparently planning on retiring during a very busy period, and I can see how that would be difficult particularly if you are unable to hire their replacement until they’re gone. Is there a possibility of just talking to the employee, explaining that the timing could cause difficulties with workload/deadlines etc., and asking if it’s possible for them to push back their end date until after the busy period?
    Of course the answer may be no, but then you’d just be back where you are now. And if the answer is yes, then that could give you some breathing room with expert support over the busy period and time to train their replacement when things slow down again.

  26. justabot*

    Regarding the question about answering emails during non-work hours. This is such an issue with being an hourly employees. Yes, it’s important to have boundaries and feel “off the clock.” It’s important to have accurate legal tracking of hours. But mentally – when you get emails when you are “off the clock” – it’s very hard to ignore them or push them out of your mind. It’s already intruded into your mental space and ruined your peace and a lot of times it really is easier to respond to it in the moment and be done with it instead of having it hang over your head all night. I will never again take an hourly position for most jobs that involve an email address or any type of project work- even if you don’t “have” to check email. The reality is that work does hang over your head for a whole lot of hours that aren’t being compensated. Hourly pay should be for jobs like retail or any type of job that when you are there, you work hard, but when you clock out, you are off the clock and your time is your own and you take zero work – or mental “to do’s” – home with you. Maybe some people are better at compartmentalizing. I cannot work like that. Those type of jobs need to be salaried. It’s actually really annoying to have all these loose ends, know there are emails or work to do on them, and take on the all the low grade nagging feeling of what you have to do – with your hands tied from knocking them out or having to wait until the next day. The only way to do it is to keep very, very firm boundaries (which a lot of managers actually do try to overstep), because a lot of the time, this work actually IS time sensitive even though you are an hourly employee. You either have to reconcile your mind around the fact that you need to mentally check out and not care or get a salaried position where you can work the way you like. And yes, something to be said for totally disconnecting when you are off the clock – but if the nature of the work has a lot of moving parts, it’s really hard to turn your brain off and even more irritating to have to hold off on a reply and carry that stress with you instead of just replying and then feeling “done” and able to enjoy your evening in peace without the mental weight. (fyi, never take an hourly position, even a good one, in marketing or events.)

  27. Bob*

    LW2: Does your e-mail client allow you to schedule e-mails for a future date/time. If so (like GMail) schedule them for the start of the next workday.

  28. sleepylibrarian*

    I once had a candidate call me EIGHT.TEEN.TIMES.IN.A.ROW. Hardest pass of my life.

  29. Workfromhome*

    #2 While I agree that it is the bosses prerogative to send emails when they want and it is fair to explicitly instruct the employee not to do any work off the clock I think that the boss has more responsibility to adjust their own behaviour than is being discussed.
    Many people who were working from offices and shut down their computer and did not see emails until the next day are now working from home with access to email 24/7. This particular individual is a ” a remote employee who was assigned to my department from another area of the business”. They would not interact face to face with the boss so and are “new” to the boss so would not have any basis to trust that the boss really doesn’t want them available. There are two ways to solve the issue of the person working off hours when they shouldn’t. 1. Have a serious conversation where you tell them are forbidden to do it and there will be serious consequences if they continue (now that its been explicitly told to them no worries about prior incidents because they weren’t told) OR 2Stop send them emails after hours. Either as others have mentioned put it on delay or put it in a draft and sent it out in the AM. If you don’t expect them to read it till they come in then simply don’t send it till they are “allowed” to read it.

    Which solution is simpler? Which solution ensures you don’t have to break someone of a habit that really isn’t an unreasonable habit? (My new boss who ive never met sent me an email at 6 about project X at 6 pm guess I better be ready for project x first thing in the AM otherwise why would they email me at 6pm?) Unless there is some technical reason that prevent s the boss from delaying or sending in the AM then why not just make a little extra effort and set a good example? Otherwise its Do as I say not as a I do” which while is the bosses prerogative come off as tone deaf.
    Especially if people have work mobile devices.

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