I was told to ask more questions, recommending high-priced products at work, and more

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

1. I was told to ask more questions while I’m being trained

I just started a new job two weeks ago. I received feedback that they want to see me ask more questions so they can see externally that I’m “getting it.” I tend to not have questions until I start actually doing things myself. I take notes and I’m paying attention, but currently everything seems very self-explanatory. How do I respond to this? Should I make up questions to ask?

I’ve had this feedback before from previous employers, and I’m concerned I’m giving off the impression I’m not interested or am worrying them somehow. I’m a hands-on learner, so watching people do things and taking notes doesn’t really help me until I can put it in practice.

If you’ve had this feedback from multiple employers, I’m betting that it’s not necessarily that you need to ask more questions, but that you’re not sending enough signals that you’re paying attention and processing things. Questions are one way to do it, but they’re not the only way.

Things you can do:
* After someone shows you how to do something, repeat back your understanding of the key takeaways. For example: “Okay, so after logging in, I’d go to A and do B, and if C happens, I should check D?”
* Nod and give verbal cues that you’re following along: “Okay, got it” … “That makes sense” … “Ah, I see what you’re doing!” … etc.
* Be explicit about what you said here about how you operate: “I think I’ve got it! I usually don’t have questions until I start doing things myself, but I’ve taken notes and this makes sense so far.”

The idea is to more actively engage in the training conversation, to show you’re taking it seriously and not tuning out (because some people do that). The more you’re not just silently absorbing information and instead are actively participating, the less likely people are to worry that you’re not getting things.

2. Is it tacky to recommend exorbitantly priced products at work?

With all staff members now working from home, my company has been holding weekly lunch Zoom meetings, where we’re invited to socialize and talk about anything outside of work. While the conversations have been around things like cooking, gardening, and other hobbies, we recently had a conversation around skin care. Several people, including our CEO, recommended a couple of products they liked. However, I was flabbergasted at the cost of some of the products our CEO mentioned: $800 eye serums, $200 face creams and $500 tools for “helping products settle into the skin better.”

I believe everyone has the right to spend their money how they want to and shouldn’t have to explain themselves. I also like my CEO and I’m sure she had the best intentions. But recommending these products to staff members during a time when many of us have had family members lose their jobs due to COVID rubs me the wrong way.

Furthermore, as someone who grew up seeing a dermatologist, I was often recommended products under $20. The acne medicine I use now costs $10 with insurance. The prices of the items she recommended are truly exorbitant for the general public.

Would you consider this behavior tacky and/or tone-deaf? Is the situation amplified due to COVID?

Yeah, it’s tone-deaf. She presumably has some idea of what salaries you’re all earning. Assuming those salaries aren’t high enough to make those prices de minimus to you, those recommendations come across as insensitive to her audience — and particularly ill-advised because they reveal what looks like a significant income disparity between her and the rest of you. That would be true at any time, but it’s especially insensitive at a time when she should know lots of people are struggling to pay for food and housing.

3. Interviewers who ask about salary history when it’s illegal

I live in a state where it’s been illegal for hiring managers to inquire about your current salary for a while, but I’m sorry to say that hasn’t stopped it from happening in literally every interview I’ve had since that law went into effect in 2017. What I’m struggling with is how to handle this. In the moment, I have tried to pivot — I’ll say, “Can I ask about the salary range you’re planning for this position?” or something like that. Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped interviewers from pushing further. One particularly tough interviewer refused to proceed with the interview until I provided an answer!

Because of wanting to present well, it’s hard to say anything that could come across as contentious. I’m uncomfortable saying, “I’m not going to answer that because it’s illegal for you to ask” because that’s obviously not a good way to make a strong impression. But there’s definitely a chance I’m leaving money on the table by being honest when I shouldn’t have to be. How can I best navigate this situation the next time it happens?

Say this: “Oh, there’s actually a new law in (state) that says we can’t talk about salary history in interviews. But if you can give me a sense of what range you expect to pay, I can tell you if we’re in the same ballpark.” Say it cheerfully, as if you don’t think you’re saying anything controversial — even like you’re offering helpful info.

(And to be clear, the law doesn’t really say “we” can’t talk about salary history. As the candidate, you can offer it up on your own if you want to; they just can’t ask. But you’re saying “we” because it’ll sound less adversarial.)

4. Giving feedback to a job-hopper

I was hoping to get some help with how to respond to an applicant asking for feedback on their resume and why they were not considered. This person has a long history of job hopping, with their longest stay around 1.5-2 years out of all 12 jobs listed from 2003 to the present.

How do I tell this person that they weren’t considered due to their job hopping, in the most respectful and professional way without getting any backlash to myself or the company?

Well, you don’t have to give feedback if you don’t want to. You’re not obligated to explain why you didn’t invite someone to interview; you can just explain you had a lot of highly qualified applicants and focused on the ones most strongly matched with the role.

But if you want to provide the feedback, I’d say, “For this role, we’re seeking stability and are focusing on candidates with a track record of longer stays at most of their jobs.”

5. I’m paid a day earlier than everyone else

I get paid a day earlier than the rest of my colleagues and have no idea if I should bring it up to payroll. Do I need to? Will it look bad if it’s discovered and has been happening for years (five, to be exact) without me saying anything? Can I just continue to get paid a day earlier and feel ethically okay not saying anything? It’s not like the 24 hours makes a huge difference in my life, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a nice convenience.

More info: We’re paid every other Friday, but I always receive my direct deposit around noon on Thursdays. It took me a few years to realize this was abnormal! About two years in, I mentioned it to a colleague who said they were paid Fridays, but she didn’t seem to find my early payday strange, and suggested it was just something with my bank or that perhaps there was a variation in pay schedules.

I didn’t give it much more thought until I was out for lunch with several trusted coworkers who were joking that they “can’t wait til payday tomorrow!” and I felt … weird. I asked a few others afterwards and confirmed that yes, every person I’ve talked to is paid Fridays. Except me. I get paid on Thursdays. What the heck? How has no one ever noticed this? Do I come clean?

I doubt your company is running two separate payrolls, one for you and one for everyone else, so the most likely explanation is that it’s something to do with your bank — like if you bank at the same bank your company uses, it’s possible the money shows up in your account earlier.

But if you’re curious, there’s no harm in asking! I’m sure your payroll people will be glad to explain whatever might be happening, and you’re not going to look bad for not speaking up earlier. (You’re not cheating or anything! It just shows up earlier for you. You’re not doing anything wrong, and it wasn’t something you needed to flag for them.)

Read an update to this letter

{ 650 comments… read them below }

    1. Katiekaboom*

      LW5- one of my coworkers gets paid a day early as well. It’s just how her bank works. I can see my “pending” deposit a day early, it’s just not actually there until pay day.

      1. MissGirl*

        In my state accounts at credit unions get paid one day earlier than accounts at banks. I’m not sure why.

        1. GammaGirl1908*

          Coming to say this! I split my direct deposit with a bank and a credit union.

          The credit union clears my paycheck on Friday.

          The bank clears it on Tuesday, and my colleagues mostly get theirs on Tuesday as well.

          The CU used to clear on Tuesday, and maybe 6-7 years ago, they cranked it back to Friday. I asked my colleagues about the shift in payday, and they all were like, “What are you talking about?” Theirs never moved. I even called the central paycheck company! Then, I noticed that the CU was advertising that a perk of joining was early paycheck-clearing!

          Moral: it can be individual to each bank or financial institution or credit union.

        2. bluephone*

          same here, my paycheck hit my credit union by 6 a.m. yesterday even though actual payday is today. Banks, man.

        3. Turquoisecow*

          I had a coworker with the opposite experience. Our official payday was Friday but direct deposits would show up on the back Thursday morning. A coworker switched to a credit union and one Thursday morning found her paycheck was not there. She was alarmed until someone else using the same credit union told her the deposits often didn’t show up until later in the day. I guess because it was a smaller operation than a national bank?

      2. Renata Ricotta*

        Can confirm, it’s the bank! My direct deposit is split into TWO banks – 80% is to Bank A and the remaining 20% to bank B (because I had to set up a direct deposit to get a bank bonus thing there – free money).

        The first 80% hits Thursday morning, the 20% in the other bank Friday morning

      3. Morte*

        I bank with a credit union and everyone I know who banks with them sees their pay a day before “payday”.p

        1. Grbtw*

          Yes, me too! My credit union advertises it as a perk. One girl who used to work in my office mentioned it was normal for her and her supervisor wanted me to investigate it with payroll. She didn’t understand my explanation, but I ended up having to talk to our payroll company to verify it was legal, lol, that was weird.

          1. Penny*

            Unfortunately it isn’t a bank vs. credit union thing (although you tend to see it more at credit unions, but not all). Companies send their internal payroll ACH file to financial institutions with a release date specified (your pay date, in this case Friday). However, some financial institutions release these funds early (often the day before). I work in financial services and this is pretty common and simply depends on your particular institution and their internal processes.

            1. HS Teacher*

              You’re correct. When I banked with USAA I got my paycheck a day early. Now I bank with Navy Federal Credit Union, and I can see what the pay will be, but it’s not available until midnight on payday.

              In my experience, it just depends on the banks.

              1. Rachael*

                I bank at USAA and I get it a day earlier too! My coworkers throw tomatoes at me because I always brag about it. I am a bit fuzzy about ACH since my banking days, but I do remember something about there being a date that the money is funded and the effective date. Some institutions will go ahead and deposit money earlier. It is a bit of a risk that they are taking, but I think credit unions consider their customers as part owners in the credit union and give it as a perk.

        2. Curmudgeon in California*

          Me too. I have my direct deposit split, and the part that goes into my credit union accounts is there the evening before, whereas for the other bank it’s 8 am on the day of.

      4. Musereader*

        Echoing everyone, it’s the bank

        The entire UK benefits service insists that Saturday and Sunday do not exist, but the amount of calls I have had from customers saying they get paid on a Saturday and will not listen when I tell them that is their bank depositing a 3 day payment on a non working day so that they get it early is insane.

        My bank shows me all my credits the day before I get them.

      5. JSPA*

        A lot of banks still take some “float” on the money–they use it as theirs, for a period of time between when it reaches them, and when they pay it into accounts. individually, it’s short periods, but when you do this with every transfer, the total is a huge sum.

        Even in-house, if they’re taking out of an interest bearing account and moving to an interest bearing account, a day in limbo also reduces the interest they have to pay. Credit unions are basically cooperatives, so they are in service of their member owners (vs stockholders). There’s no point in them taking float.

        There are also rules regarding verification and avoiding money laundering that apply to checks other than regularly deposited paychecks, but for a paycheck, that should not be in play.

        1. JSPA*

          Finishing the thought…

          And of course, for your paycheck to land as promised, your workplace will make the transaction go out early enough to deal with a brief period of float on the receiving side. People who bank at very low-fee banks will sometimes find that there’s extra delay in their paycheck, and be irate with their employer, but there’s only so much the employer can do. An entirely informal and non-scientific survey suggests to me that this behavior may be more common in underserved low income / minority communities. It was particularly bad when people who were “unbanked” are paid by money showing up on debit cards, with the debit card processor selected by the employer, and that processor still took variable and/or extensive amounts of float on the money. Again anecdotally, changes in the law and some fangs in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau cut back fairly dramatically on the worst abuses of paycheck float.

      6. SDSmith82*

        Also confirming- it’s the bank or Credit Union. I get paid at 9pm the night before our pay day because of this.

      7. Kimberly*

        I’ve seen this happen twice before
        1. I banked at the same bank as my employer. So my check was in my account 24 hours before coworkers that used other banks.

        2. My coworkers that used the district’s credit union got their pay 24 hours before the rest of us.

        In both cases we were told it had to do with how the payments were verified and fraud checks. It was simpler and faster in house.

    2. Phil*

      #5 It’s almost certainly what Alison said. I got the same thing going on with my pay. Before I got used to it, it was always a pleasant surprise to hear “you’ll get paid Friday” and then have my phone pop up a little notification a day early. I’m from a fairly large company so it’s not so unusual, but if you bring it up to your co-workers I doubt anyone will be that surprised.

      1. Anonariffic*

        Same here. Payday is Friday but you can pull up your payslip in the online HR self-service system on Thursday and a number of us with direct deposit have the completed deposit available in our accounts on the same day. Always nice to have it early but it really doesn’t make any difference.

        1. Dan*

          “it really doesn’t make any difference”

          It does when you’re broke. When you run out of money before you run out of month, the sooner you get paid, the better.

          I’m pretty sure I read something where pre-pandemic, fast food restaurants were offering some kind of “incentive” where employees could get paid same-day. The employers talking about it were claiming it was a “benefit” they were offering because actually paying employees more $ was too “costly” and same-day pay was actually a good recruiting and retention tool.

          Except it was a third party providing this service, and some charge the employees for it.

          1. Person from the Resume*

            Except if the LW is paid one day early every paycheck, she has the exact same gap between paychecks as everyone else so has the exact same number of days to be broke as any other person.

            The early pay day is only early the first time it happens and then the employee has the exact same length of pay cycle as everyone else.

            1. Taniwha Girl*

              I imagine it just feels “early” when bills are due at the end of the month/on the first of the month, so you get that money a bit earlier and you’re “rich” for longer.

              1. Dan*

                It’s no different than my rent, which is due on the 1st of the month, but there’s a 5 day grace period. Practically speaking, the rent’s due on the 5th, right?

                1. Anonymous Lawyer*

                  Maybe as far as whether you pay a late fee, but not if you find yourself in court! I represent tenants in eviction and housing conditions cases. They always tell me their rent is due on the 5th, and I always have to tell them that the court will find their rent is due on the 1st (or whatever day is in their lease). It’s sometimes possible to argue that a landlord has a pattern of accepting rent later than that, but I’ve seen so many people get burned . . . .

                2. Sneaky Ninja for this one*

                  Urgh. No. That’s like saying your mortgage is due on the 1st, but you have a 15 day grace period. By the time you get to the end you are going to have 15 days per month for the life of the loan in extra interest. That’s not small potatoes.

                  Since lots of us never pay off a house, same thing with your car payment. 15 days extra interest a month over 4-6 years is a decent chunk of money. I used to work in auto finance, and you’d be surprised how ticked people would get when they paid all the payments but they still owed because they paid late, but within the grace period every month.

                3. brightbetween*

                  Except that you don’t pay interest on rent, so if the landlord lets tenants pay up to the 5th with no late fee, it’s the same as the 1st.

              2. Person from the Resume*

                No. The LW says her co-workers are paid “every other Friday.” Unless rent is on an unusual cycle like “the last XXXday of the month” her pay cycle is not in a synch with her paydays. On the last day (a Wednesday) before her payday, the LW is just as eager for her paycheck as her coworkers are on their last day (a Thursday) before payday. Maybe it is psychology because she’s always a day ahead of her coworker, but she’s not getting anything special. The days may work out in her favor or they may not.

            2. Dan*

              Money is as much (if not more) about psychology than logic. Again, there are services that are *charging employees* to receive their pay “early”. And people pay it. So for something that doesn’t matter, there are businesses profiting off of the “convenience” and suckers paying for that convenience.

              I’ll be honest, I had a job that paid twice per month on the same calendar dates. That meant going 16 days between paychecks for one payout, and 14-15 for the other. That 16 day wait felt like forever. Every other job I’ve had, I was paid every other week. I prefer every two weeks.

              1. Sneaky Ninja for this one*

                I had a 15th and end of month pay scheduled once. It was only good in Feb, when we got paid “early.” For whatever reason, those 31 day months were the pits. Especially if the date ranges tossed an extra weekend in there. At least every two weeks, you have new money every other weekend.

                1. Roy G. Biv*

                  I also had that pay schedule at my previous job. Agreed – 31 day months felt like forever between paychecks.

                2. Software Engineer*

                  When I was an intern, I worked at a place where the full-timers were paid every two weeks. There was one month where they were all excited because there was an “extra” paycheck that month, since the pay days lined up just right. I didn’t understand what the big deal was, but apparently it made people feel much happier!

                3. Uranus Wars*

                  I worked a job for 4 years that had a “last working day of the month” payday. Which was generally great – until December, when we got paid on the 20th-22nd ish and then not again until end of January. You’d think after a few years I’d get used to making that check last an extra week but I never did! I mean, bills were the same but eeking out an extra week or so of groceries and gas (especially around this holidays) made things tight.

                4. Super Duper Anon*

                  @Software Engineer, I had an every two weeks pay at my last job, and the reason people are happy with the extra pay check is that 10 months out of the year, you only get two pay checks a month. So you plan your monthly budget out based on that amount of money. When you get into the month where you get three pays, it truly is like getting a bonus.

                5. NLMC*

                  @software Engineer we also don’t pay insurance out of that 3rd paycheck so it’s higher than the others which is always nice.

                6. LifeBeforeCorona*

                  I’ve had three different pay schedules. The weekly payday was actually my favourite because every Friday money was deposited. Every two weeks was good because twice a year you got a 3 paycheck month and the third one seemed like a bonus because fewer taxes were taken from it. The absolute worst one was the end of month pay. Even in December, the pay was not moved forward to before Christmas and people hated that so much. It didn’t help that the school absolutely refused to change the system because it worked for them.

              2. doreen*

                Right, but every two weeks on Tuesday ( because my bank/credit union processes it early ) isn’t any different than every Wednesday (official payday) after the first week. Both are are always 14 days apart. And the way I see it, even if you get paid twice a month, the gaps are the same whether you get your money on the official payday of the 1st and 15th or your financial institution make it available on the last day of the month and 14th.

              3. Wings*

                Definitely. We pay weekly and have tried to switch to biweekly due to staffing and cost reasons – and everyone was outraged about possibly making “less money.” They wouldn’t be, obviously! It’s just the money would come every two weeks instead of every week….

                Anyway, we didn’t make the change. Ha.

              4. Liz*

                That was me in my first job. 15th and last day of the month, and every now and again, because of when the days fell, i’d have to go 3 full weekends before I got paid. I wasn’t making much to begin with so i would be flat, dead broke those last few days. It was tough.

              5. Kumajiro*

                I just recently switched from a every two week schedule to a once a month on the 26th schedule. It’s taking a while to get used to the major shift.

            3. TootsNYC*

              I used to live in a rooming house that charged rent by the week. Many of us got paid every two weeks, and some of us got paid by the month. My friends would complain and complain that they ran out of money by the time they had to pay the second week of rent, and the monthly-paycheck folks REALLY complained.

              I was like, “Just pay two weeks at once–that’s what I do. Or, set it aside. It’s the same amount of money–it’s just the timing.”

    3. Emma*

      Yeah, that’s definitely your bank, not your employer. I’ve actually seen at least one bank offer this as a perk to having an account with them.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Yep, totally the bank. My coworker and I never get our money on the same day. I must admit I am a little jealous of #5, though. “Payday” at my company is supposed to be the first and fifteenth of the month, but what that really means is “My boss is *supposed to* run payroll on the first and the fifteenth, but sometimes he doesn’t do it until after the bank closes, so it doesn’t count as submitted until the next day, and then it’s two days after that before it’s in my account.” I hate when the first falls on the Friday of a three-day weekend. If my boss doesn’t run payroll before the close of business, the bank doesn’t consider it submitted until the next business day, which is Tuesday when Monday is a holiday. So then the money doesn’t arrive in my account until Thursday, basically one week after “payday.”

        1. Carrotstick21*

          That may not be legal, depending on where you are. In NY, for example, they take pay dates VERY seriously, and you cannot withhold or not pay on those days.

    4. Courtney*

      LW#5, my work uses the same bank I do, so my pay direct debit is instant, but my coworkers all bank with different banks. If I run payroll after about 11am their pay goes through the following business day (rather than later in the same day). I run payroll early in the morning to avoid this happening to them and messing with their automatic direct debits & bill payments. At my last job, my pay came through a day later than almost everyone else for the same reason – I was with a different bank to most of the people in the office & the company itself.

      1. Al*

        Also sometimes it’s your employer! if payday is Friday for the previous two weeks, they often run the pays on Tuesday night or Wednesday so that they know that your pay has hit by 9am Friday. It’s why things like timesheet cut offs are a few days before the pay run is processed.

        I mean, all I can say is that pay arriving early beats the boss I used to have who’d write a cheque to cash for the *entire organisation’s payroll* at 2pm on a Friday when he hadn’t put the pay through earlier in the week and send me to one bank to cash that $12,000 cheque and then walk to six or seven different banks around the CBD and deposit everyone’s pay as cash before 4 when the banks closed. (He wouldn’t just write 10 cheques, one per person and hand them out because “what if they lost them?”)

        1. Courtney*

          OH NO, this sounds AWFUL to experience, especially having to wander around with such large sums of money?! I’m young enough that I have only ever been paid by direct deposit into my account and I am glad for it, especially hearing a tale like this

          1. Al*

            It was so stressful. What if I lost the cheque? What if I was mugged? What if I filled the direct deposit slip out wrong? Can you really prove that the 2 day a week completely unqualified uni student you’re employing as an accounts clerk (me) didn’t just steal that cash? I mean, I was already arguing with them about paying under award rates and had a dispute with tax office about paying my superannuation.

            The worst part was that the company had some … cash flow issues and the boss sometimes had to cover pay from his personal bank account and this was the compromise position after I refused to go downstairs to the bank with his personal credit card and the pin number written on a postit and withdraw the pay that way.

            1. Courtney*

              I am stressed reading this, there is nothing ok with what your boss used to do. I can’t imagine the relief you felt getting out of that job.

              1. Al*

                The place was a complete train wreck but it got me through uni. I was so happy to be gone. :)

            2. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

              I see you also referenced the CBD. New Orleans by any chance?

              Definitely NOT the safest city in the nation, especially carrying around such large sums of money! (Or, at least, it didn’t used to be. I moved from one of the safest cities in the country to New Orleans in 1995. That was the first year New Orleans was called the Murder Capital of the United States.)

              1. Observer*

                Even in a relatively safe city, this is bananas level of stupidly unsafe. All it takes is someone to realize that this person might be carrying a significant amount of cash and you’ve set up a mugging.

                There is no city that is truly crime free. And a chunk of untraceable cash is a good incentive to crime.

              2. Aitch Arr*

                She also referenced ‘cheque’ so I’m going to guess she’s in the UK or one of the Commonwealth countries.

              3. Bethany*

                Use of the word ‘superannuation’ indicates Australia.

                The law says your employer has to pay 9.5% of your income into a superannuation fund you can’t access until retirement. Not paying it is a BAD warning sign and highly illegal.

                1. Courtney*

                  I thought you were talking about me, then I realised Al uses the same language I do – so I guess we both are Australian! I never even clicked on the Superannuation comment, because it’s normal language for me.

                  FYI – in my city, Perth, we refer to the city itself as the CBD and the surrounding suburbs as the metropolitan area.

            3. Alex (UK)*

              Oof. This reminds me of how one company used to distribute petty cash. It was an adult education centre, and we used to reimburse student’s bus fares & travelling expenses in cash as incentive for them to attend – we also needed to buy refreshment supplies fairly regularly (teabags, coffee, milk etc). As a result we’d get through a fair amount of petty cash. However, we were just one of several centres the company had across the country, and we only saw a manager inperson once a month or so. So whenever we needed petty cash, we would have to email the accounts person who would directly transfer £200 to my personal bank account, and I would then have to go to the cashpoint and take the cash out and deposit it in our petty cash tin.

              I had the same fears – what if I got mugged on the way back from the cashpoint? What if I wanted to steal it and *say* I was mugged? What if there was a bank error not-in-my-favour? It was horrible. I couldn’t even take another member of staff with me as insurance/just incase as the centre ran on just two staff and we couldn’t both be out of the office at the same during the day.

              Thankfully, nothing happened, and of course I was totally honest and transparent about the whole thing, but it still felt icky and incredibly unprofessional.

              1. LifeBeforeCorona*

                I had a side job and the owner used to give me his card and pin, tell me to withdraw hundreds of dollars, and then I would drive around paying other workers. There would be several thousand in cash in my glove compartment but it was a completely legitimate business. I had to issue and collect receipts from everyone, memories of counting hundred dollar bills in fast-food parking lots…

        2. Wired Wolf*

          An early retail job that I had did this. Eventually it got to the point where we would cash our paychecks from the register since we knew the money was there…somehow the store is still operating.

        3. Observer*

          He wouldn’t just write 10 cheques, one per person and hand them out because “what if they lost them?”

          So, basically your boss was someone who couldn’t get his act together, so he treated everyone else llike they couldn’t get their act together either.

          The guy must have a pleasure to work for. Not!

    5. Captain Kirk*

      #5, so it used to be with my local credit union, my paycheck wouldn’t hit the account until just before 7am on payday. But then I transferred to Charles Schwab Bank, and now my available balance shows the payroll hitting at about 9pm Pacific the night before payday (so presumably related to midnight Eastern), although the transaction doesn’t actually show until payday. I wouldn’t worry about it.

    6. Fulano*

      #5: it’s your bank. Mine deposits my pay one business day before payday (last day of the month). That means that if the last day of the month is a Tuesday and the Monday before is a holiday, I get paid four days early.

    7. Alan*

      LWR-do you use a credit union? At my last job several employees got their direct deposit a day early and they all used the same local credit union.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        It’s not specific to credit unions.

        I have two. One pends 2 days prior and hits at midnight day of. The other posts at opening on Payday morning.

        It’s whenever their settlement time and date is set to post. There’s a s start and cutoff time for each institution.

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

      #5 I’m 99% positive that it’s your bank. Typically they can see the deposit a day or more before it actually goes through. Many banks have a system where they see it’s payroll and make the deposit early. I would check with your bank first.
      I’ve actually been seeing a lot of advertising for different banks that offer this, and I know many people, who bank at different places who this happens for them.
      I wouldn’t even ask work, because they wouldn’t know. Maybe your he has a pay schedule that you could ask for, but I wouldn’t worry and enjoy getting paid a bit early!

    9. Payroll*

      The pay a day early has to do with the ACH clearing houses. As a payroll professional I can attest that your employer sends one file with all deposits. Then all the banks collect that information. Some smaller banks and credit unions post the money as soon as they grab if from ACH while other banks wait until the posting date.

      1. EPLawyer*

        thank you for the insider info. Nice to know this is how it works.

        #5 — as long you and your colleagues are being paid fully for the time you worked each pay period, then you are doing nothing wrong by it hitting your account early.

        Right now, I wish all the issues Alison has to deal with were this simple (HR lady telling someone to mind their own business about her sexually harassing a subordinate anyone?)

      2. Payroll Person Too*

        Yes, this. I also work in Payroll and the ACH file is sent all at once. We’ve determined a handful of credit unions are depositing a day earlier than banks (mine is one of them). Since the Covid stimulus checks starting going out however, we started noticing our direct deposits have been hitting two days early at these credit unions! We called our issuing bank to find out why and they told us as long as the stimulus checks are coming through, most banks are pushing through deposits as early as possible.

    10. LegallyRed*

      OP #5 — do you bank with USAA by any chance? Getting paid a day early is one of the perks/benefits of having an account there.

      1. Hamburke*

        Didn’t know that was a perk and it doesn’t work for me. I have my check split. Usaa posts at midnight, my regular bank posts at 9am.

        My boss runs our payroll but I get the reports notification – I know it’s processed before it’s due (I run payroll for several clients).

      2. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

        I use USAA and always wondered why I got paid 1 business day early by my MegaCorp.

    11. TiffIf*

      #5 I get paid on the 15th and on the last day of the month and my paycheck consistently shows up in my account two days early–and it has for everyone else who banks at the same institution.

      Likely if someone else banks at the same place you do they experience the same thing.

    12. Not a Malibu*

      I wasn’t going to reply, but I’m seeing the same comment a few times. I work for a credit union, and all those seeing deposits early at credit unions, it’s pretty much a coincidence.

      Your company sends the paychecks over via ACH. An ACH is pretty trustworthy, so banks process it “immediately,” which means next business day by 9 am for most, but never later. Our credit union posts ACHs at the end of the day, so if it comes to us before noon, you’ll see it in your account. Banks tend to maximize their money, so probably always post things next business day. If you have a bank, it’s likely that your company coincidentally uses the same bank, so they view it as a transfer, similarly to when you transfer money from one account to another.

      If you’re really curious, although I don’t know why you would be, you can learn more by going to the NCUA page and search for Reg CC.

    13. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I do payroll. Lots of banks allow this when direct deposits are presented.

      We hit the button and your bank can see it. Some advance the funds a day in advance because of policy or your account level.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        My company pays salaries from an account at Bank A. Payday is always on or around the 25th of the month, but might be the 24th if the 25th is a weekend or Bank Holiday.

        If you have an account with Bank A, then the salary will arrive almost immediately. Accounts with Banks B-Z will take at least another day.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          This is because as you’d imagine, if you have the same bank, they can see that Business Account is not in danger of bouncing payments. Whereas when you are getting it from another institution, you aren’t allotted that knowledge!

        2. Paulina*

          I had the same thing happen in my one and only US-based job, where my Friday pay always showed up on Thursday by end-of-workday. I inquired, and it was explained as being due to my account being at the same bank as my employer. It was even the same branch, though the bank was small (and it was the main branch) so that didn’t matter.

    14. Coverage Associate*

      Is there no time zone issue? I used to get my California pay into my Virginia bank account at 9pm California time the evening before pay day.

    15. Knitrex*

      I worked for a national payroll processing company for almost 9 years. Alison is 100% correct. I ran into this All. The. Time. It’s actually very common.

      Put very simply, some banks need more processing time than others. In order to ensure everyone gets paid on time payroll is processed by a standard deadline. Anyone with a bank that needs less time gets paid early.

      I’ve seen people get paid up to three days early.

    16. Anonymous Poster*

      I get paid 2 days ahead of when paper checks (for those who opt for this option) get mailed. Most folks do who use my credit union and work for my employer. People who use a regular bank get paid the day after I do.

      I think it depends mostly on your bank, since my employer does not run separate payrolls for this reason.

      If people want to get paid earlier and are asking you about it, I’d suggest telling them it’s likely with the bank and to change banks, if they’re getting direct deposit.

        1. noahwynn*

          We still have lots of hourly employees who prefer paper checks for one reason or another. Mainly our airport staff who are paid every week insead of twice a month.

          1. brightbetween*

            We have some employees who get paper checks too. Usually it’s because they don’t have a bank account for direct deposit

    17. Dan*

      I used to have a job (and bank) where payroll would usually post at like 1am. One night, on payday, I was out at the bar and flat broke until payroll hit. I figured as long as we stayed out past 1am, I was good.

      It did not occur to me what I would do if direct deposit didn’t process on time. Presumably, I would have hit my buddies up with the lame excuse?

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Haha I did that on Black Friday once. I’m not a fan of Black Friday, but I went shopping with my sister and niece because I wanted to escape family staying at my house and I couldn’t sleep. The store they wanted to go to opened at 4 am and my deposit usually came in around 3:30 am. I was standing in line checking my account to make sure I’d have the money to buy something when the store opened. I had the money by the time the store opened, but I wasn’t able to get what I wanted anyway.

      2. Forgot my username*

        Ha! I’ve done this too. My first job out of undergrad, we got paid on Fridays and the money was always in my account at midnight on Thursday. I still remember standing at the ATM in the basement of my favorite Thursday night spot, waiting till 12:01AM to get cash to pay my bar tab. Good times.

      3. LifeBeforeCorona*

        Sad to say but this happens at casinos, people waiting for their pay cheque to hit their account so they can continue to gamble.

    18. Person from the Resume*

      I find it sweetly naive that the LW asked this question. You’re not cheating anyone. It’s your bank‘s processing. Since it happens every single time you have the same gap between paychecks as everyone else does. If you’re paid every 2 weeks then you get a paycheck every 14 days like all your co-workers. You’re not extra lucky or anything. You’re just on a slightly different cycle and can’t wait for Thursday pay day while they can’t wait for Friday payday.

      1. Jennifer*

        I had the same thought. There’s nothing to “come clean” about. There’s nothing to worry about. No one is being cheated. I’ve heard about people getting paid a day early depending on where they bank for years. For me, it wasn’t worth the hassle of changing banks and my direct deposit info.

    19. cncx*

      i bank at the same bank my company pays payroll out of. i too get paid the morning the day before everyone else gets paid. we’re on a monthly schedule and our payday is supposed to be the 25th or the closest business day. i consistently get paid the 24th in the early morning. if the 25th is a weekend and payday is the 23rd, i get paid the 22nd. Sounds fun but it isn’t for budgeting sometimes lol. I’m almost positive it’s the bank, that’s the case with me.

    20. The Other Dawn*

      I work for a bank and yes, it’s most likely your bank. But it could also be your employer. Though, in this case, I’d say it’s not your employer because it doesn’t make sense they’d process two ACH files.

      In my case, it’s my employer. We normally get paid every Friday. Due to COVID they’ve implemented early direct deposit of payroll, which gave us access to our pay two days early. Normally the ACH file is sent on Wednesday as a pre-notification to the banks and is usually made available Friday, but we’re now getting it on Wednesday. So they’ve skipped the pre-notification.

    21. Sheldon Cooper*

      It’s because your company makes electronic payments using ACH transactions. To make these payments, your company provides payment instructions and funding to their bank generally on Wednesday or Thursday at the latest. Since your payroll amount is funded and in the payment channel, the recipient bank can safely allow you access to your funds early, if they choose to. Most bigger banks don’t choose to.

    22. AliceBD*

      Definitely the bank! I split my paycheck between two institutions. One of them I have the full value that goes there in my account to spend the day before payday. The other ones I get a pending notification on payday and it clears a day or two later.

    23. Phony Genius*

      This could become a tax issue this year, since January 1 is on a Friday. If you receive the money December 31, but the employer reports it as a January 1 payment, I’m not sure which tax year to count it towards.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Right. Unless you’re self-employed, it’s not a decision you have to make.

      1. Dweali*

        I’ve always reported it on the year it says on the “check” since that’s the W2 it’s going to be on.

    24. Rusty Shackelford*

      My deposit started showing up early (not just the day before payday, but 2 or 3 days early) in the last few years. Someone told me there was a new law that said we had to have access to those funds as soon as the bank got the info about the deposit, rather than them receiving the electronic transfer but not making the funds available until the specified date. I don’t know if that’s nonsense or not.

      1. Mary*

        #4 you don’t have to give feedback but I really wish employers would stop being fixated on this matter as there are many reasons someone now a “hopper”.
        My husband has a history of changing jobs on a course of 4 years while he was in college (he started going to collage after 25) and at the same time trying to maintain a full time job, working in 3 shifts. All of the companies he worked for later decided that they no longer want to keep a 3 shifts schedule so he had to search for a different job so he can attend classes too. After graduation, he has received an amazing job offer because, guess what, the employer decided to ask him first about it instead of just skipping him because they’ve decided to stay judgemental.

    25. Misty*

      #5 made me laugh because at my last job we all got paid on Friday officially but some peoples direct deposits would show up on Thursday and they would brag about it every week and high five each other like they were gaming the system. It was so funny.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        There’s a commercial for some online bank that has people saying they “walk into work bragging about getting paid” two days early and I’m like… who is your target audience? Who does that?

      2. Librarian1*

        haha. This is weird to me. I get my direct deposit on Thursday, but I’m not really getting it early. There’s still exactly two weeks between paydays for me, same as everyone else.

    26. Observer*

      OP, unless your company is a den of dysfunction or a hive of bees, you don’t need to speak up or let them know anything. Because even if it’s not your bank (and that is the almost certain explanation), there is no way any company that is even minimally functional would not know that a paycheck was going out “early”.

      As for the ethics of it, I’m not even sure of the question here, to be honest. When you get your paycheck doesn’t affect your coworkers, so there is no harm there. And you didn’t do anything, much less anything questionable, to make this happen.

    27. Jubilance*

      #5 – I guarantee it’s your banking institution. We use a credit union and they release direct deposit funds on Thursdays, while traditional banks do it on Fridays. I have no idea why they do this, but I greatly appreciate it!

    28. Always Late to the Party*

      Just another person confirming 100% it is your bank, OP5. I get my payroll direct deposited into two bank accounts and one of them gets the money the day before payday and the other gets it on payday.

      Also, even if your company was intentionally paying you a day earlier, how would that be unethical? You still have the same amount of time between paydays as all of your coworkers, and you’re all being compensated for the time you worked. Maybe you feel like you’re getting it “sooner” gives you some benefit, but it’s still two weeks (or whatever time) between paydays, right?

    29. TooTiredToThink*

      I completely agree with everyone else that its your bank. But one thing I would caution you to do is to no longer think of your payday as Thursday. It *is* Friday. I say this as someone where my previous company’s payroll person forgot to hit submit one day and I log in and no money. I contacted them and they found the issue and everyone had their paycheck’s the next day. If your company is regularly submitting on Wednesday (for example) and scheduling it (via ACH) for a Friday payday, but one day they mess up and it doesn’t get submitted until Thursday – your coworkers will never know because they’ll get paid on Friday, but you will surely notice :)

      1. Observer*


        Firstly, it’s not reasonable to plan around someone “forgetting to hit send”. It’s not a realistic scenario in any decently run company. Of course, if the place a mess, that’s a whole different issue, but there is no reason to think that this is the case here.

        Secondly, if someone DOES forget to submit the ACH, then everyone is going to see the same delay. Because the processing is not dependent on the work someone does before it’s submitted. It’s completely tied to when that button gets pressed and the file is sent.

    30. HR Exec Popping In*

      There is generally 3 day window of when a direct deposit will hit an account and this is fully dependent on the banks involved. Generally, if you bank at the same bank that the company is using, you will get the deposit a day early. If you are at a major bank and your employer is at another major bank, it will typically hit on pay day (the day after payroll is run) and if you are banking at regional bank it might take an extra day. Feel free to talk to your payroll department if you are concerned, but this not an issue and is very normal. I bank at a credit union that is connected to my employer and always get my pay early because of that.

    31. Librarian1*

      I’ve always received my direct deposit on Thursdays instead of Fridays. It has to do with how long my bank holds the funds before depositing them to my account compared to other banks. Mine just doesn’t hold onto them as long as other banks do.

    32. SbucksAddict*

      We provide payroll services to our clients and it is 99.9999999999% your bank. The file is transmitted directly to banks or to a third party provider who transmits to the bank. Most banks request a 48 hour turnaround time (usually with a lower fee associated) which leads to this happening if the employee’s bank is the same as the company’s bank. You can probably check this by looking at the date on your deposit advice ticket as those are usually dated with the official “check date.”

      So if payday is Friday, the bank gets the ACH/transmission file on Wednesday at the latest and starts to process it overnight that Wednesday. Employees will get their deposits on Thursday or Friday but all the deposit advice tickets/”check stubs” should show Friday’s date.

      If this were happening because your paychecks were dated differently than everyone else’s, it would sometimes result in the company owing your personal portion of the 941 deposit on a different day. That would be important for the business to know. It could lead to them being charged penalties and interest if they weren’t being paid promptly based on the check date being different. Companies are therefore very careful about check dates which is why I think it’s _very_ unlikely this is anything but the bank situation.

    33. Lady Blerd*

      I get paid on the 15th and the last day of the month unless this days are on a weekend, then I get paid on the Friday. But, if payday is a Monday, the money is available on the previous Saturday but that is not so for my colleagues. So like many I’m this thread, I’m guessing that’s it’s her bank’s quirk.

    34. AngelicGamer, the Visually Impared Peep*

      I got paid anywhere from one to two days later than a lot of other people when I was in retail. It turned out it was because I was using a small credit union and the majority of people were using big name banks. It’s not weird a thing to me about the pay hitting accounts on different days.

    35. The Tin Man*

      OP5 – I expect there are similar responses above but my bank pays me *two* days ahead with direct deposit – I get paid on Wednesday. Funny thing is I split my paycheck to have some go to another account with another bank so I get some of my paycheck on Wednesday and some on Friday!

      1. The Tin Man*

        I forgot to add that my credit union that gives me the money on Wednesday advertises this as a benefit to get people to switch to direct deposit with them so it’s definitely intentional!

    36. The0.00001%chance*

      For LW #5, it actually is possible to be paid from an incorrect, second payroll! For almost a year I got paid a day early and assumed it was due to being the same bank, but it turned out the international company I work for actually was paying me from the incorrect payroll. I had been registered incorrectly with Teapot Technologies rather than Teapot HQ when I started and this caused a mess for my taxes once I corrected it (and in my tax history it looks like I’ve had two jobs). So just confirm with a coworker that the company listed on your paycheck is exactly the same, if you don’t want to raise this with a manager.

  1. Lucille the Screaming Cat*

    LW1 – depending on the job and situations, you could also say, “okay, can I try that now?” and walk through a process you were shown to see if you have any questions. Obviously don’t do that for each thing, but I always find I have *better* questions once I’m trying things out.

    1. Heidi*

      You might also be able to ask about backup procedures. Like if technology fails, is there a low-tech workaround? Or who should we call if the supplies run low?

    2. Lilyp*

      Yeah, if you know you learn best from doing is there any way to restructure the training a bit so you can be more hands-on during the entire process? It sounds like that would be more effective for you, and possibly more efficient for your trainer if it means you’re not coming back later with questions after the fact.

      1. 30persians*

        There’s the additional layer of weirdness where everything is being done virtually due to Covid,

    3. Willis*

      Yeah, this is what I was thinking too. Ask to try doing a practice run of some of the processes you’re being trained on to see if other questions come to mind. Obviously, calibrate that based on the situation so you’re not derailing the training but probably could work in some instances. Plus actually doing the thing usually help me remember it better.

      1. 30persians*

        I did that yesterday and it was helpful. I’m going to keep doing that as I learn new processes.

    4. Taniwha Girl*

      Agree. There is so much that doesn’t click until you try. But as a trainer, my nightmare would be spending all this time training someone, then they go to do it, and they don’t remember the first step. Like “uh… what do I do again?” and it turns out their brain just turns off when you’re explaining it to them. So you end up explaining it again, step by step.

      It’s fine to do things a different way as long as the trainer sees you’re keeping up and engaged.
      I take copious notes as someone explains something to me, and sometimes they get impatient about taking the time or wanting to move on. But usually once I have notes, I never have to ask them questions again (also mine is the only documentation we have, ahaha…). So the important thing for me is to communicate that this is what works best for me, and show them I’m engaged and understanding as we go.

      1. Porpoiseful*

        Along those lines, when I’m doing quick demos one-on-one, I ask if people would rather watch or steer. I prefer the former myself—it will not go well if you try to train me without letting me take copious notes, which I can’t do if you’re asking me to do the thing at the same time. If you have a patient trainer and learn better by doing, you could ask to try the procedure yourself while they watch. (Ideally they’d be doing this anyway!) I’m usually training software, though, so it may not be possible in other scenarios.

        1. blaise zamboni*

          This is exactly what I was going to say. I train software too, and I’ve found it’s so much easier with most of my colleagues to give them the choice upfront. I do a lot of check-ins and open the floor for my trainees to voice their preferences periodically, but I would be 0% offended if someone asked for a change of training style without my prompting. Honestly, I’d appreciate it. I do my best to adapt to everyone’s style and pace and I think I do OK, but I can’t know if the concept is clicking for you if I get no feedback.

          I think people are sometimes nervous to “criticize” the people training them, but honestly, the main goal of a trainer is to prepare you to do XYZ procedure with minimal supervision. If you walk away not feeling confident that you can do XYZ, I’ve failed you as a trainer, and that’s what will stick in my craw. There are so many learning styles in the workplace; anyone who has trained more than a handful of people will be understanding and adapt to what works best for you.

          All that to say, OP, definitely ask for opportunities to practice the lessons yourself if that’s how you learn and formulate questions! The people training you just want to see engagement in some way, and it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for what actually works for you.

        2. Ace in the Hole*

          A lot of people learn better by doing, but if mistakes would be dangerous or expensive it’s not a good idea to let the trainee try themselves until you’re sure they understand the process. I work with heavy equipment and hazardous waste, so there’s a potential for catastrophe but also most of our employees are very hands-on learners. What I like to do is get people actively involved at early stages even if they’re not “hands on…” I find that for most hands on learners, the important element is any kind of active participation.

          For high-risk tasks I explain, then demonstrate, then have the trainee instruct the trainer (so the trainer is still in complete control), then have the trainee try it under close supervision. We repeat the trainee-instructs stage until they can walk me through the whole job without any critical errors. Having the trainee instruct the trainer means I can keep an eye on their understanding and have them actively participating early in the process without the safety risks involved in letting them get hands on.

        3. 30persians*

          I like to watch, take notes, then steer and make sure I haven’t missed anything.

    5. Smithy*

      Absolutely. While there are immediate responses that indicate “I understand what you’ve just said” – I think that finding ways to communicate how you learn best is a great way to ensure and reaffirm that a trainer’s efforts are reaching you. Asking to walk through a program, or conversely – if you learn best watching someone perform a function a few times in a row – ask for that.

      I’ve often heard things like “please ask questions!” more as an indicator to show that someone is learning or absorbing information. If you know that sometimes questions don’t necessarily hit you immediately, but after you’ve performed a function a few times – it can also be worth asking about 1 on 1 meetings or other opportunities where questions can be asked.

    6. A.*

      When I’m training, I’ll usually walk through the whole process and then have the person do what they just learned while I watch them. Because I’m the same way and I know that I’ll never know what I didn’t absorb until I actually try it, and I want to be there to help with anything that comes up for another person. Asking for that opportunity if it’s not part of the training is an awesome idea!

    7. HR Exec Popping In*

      Ask questions to confirm understanding. In other words, rephrase what you have heard into your own words and confirm that is correct. It is possible that you manager is seeing you raise follow-up questions after you have met to review the process and wants to resolve those during the initial discussion.

      1. Abogado Avocado*

        LW #1: There’s a technique called “looping” that communicates that you are actively listening. You
        “loop” by incorporating a phrase from a statement made by the speaker in your response. So, if the speaker says, “Our teapot handle design process begins with consulting the USDA Tea Drinkers Average Hand Size Report,” you loop by saying, “I understand you want us to consult the USDA’s Tea Drinkers Average Hand Size Report and my question is whether there’s a particular report year you want us to consult?”

        If you loop, no one will ever think you’re not comprehending.

      2. TootsNYC*

        right–sometimes you ask questions that you already know the answers to, “just to confirm,” but also to demonstrate that you are paying attention, and also it’s a good way to demonstrate that you actually know the answer, which reassures them.

    8. 30persians*

      I am LW 1…thank you! I usually try to phrase things like, so let me make sure I’m understanding this correctly, and then paraphrase. I’m a pretty quick learner, so often if I confirm that I’ve correctly understood what is being conveyed, I tend to not have additional questions.

  2. Kiitemso*

    OP #2 – yeah, it is gauche. I guess if you’d want to highlight it in chat, you could be like “Oh that serum has hyaluronic acid? I know a great similar serum from [cheaper brand] with the same active ingredient.” You are absolutely dead-on that there’s no reason to spend a huge amount on skincare, various good products with great ingredients and formulations exist at very affordable price points.

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

      I would only say something if it continues. Like the CEO is constantly bringing it up. But if it’s just this once, I wouldn’t say anything and just ignore it. But yeah, totally tone deaf.

      1. Pam*

        One of my university instructors would use Rodeo Drive as an example in her Marketing class. This to primarily first-generation minority college students at a state school.

        She also would refer to “college age” students, despite the first row consisting of myself and several other older students.

        1. NJBi*

          Jeez, that’s so out-of-touch and I’m sure very alienating for the students! You’d hope that a university instructor would learn to read the dang room. People sure don’t think sometimes.

        2. 1234*

          I don’t see the problem with using Rodeo Drive as an example, unless the professor was specifically talking about how much she shops there herself. If she is talking about marketing to a certain demographic, I can definitely see how Rodeo Drive is a good example.

          I agree, “college age” is a poor term to use in her class especially since she had so many students who weren’t college aged.

          1. TootsNYC*

            As an example of a business cohort, Rodeo Drive is the same sort of thing as Wall Street, Madison Avenue, Broadway, Napa Valley….

            It denotes an industry and a price point.
            So as an example, it wouldn’t bother me. But if it’s dropped in as though of course the students would shop there, then yes.

        3. TootsNYC*

          Ruth Whitney was the long-time editor in chief of Glamour when I was an intern. In a conversation with her about NYC provincialism, she mentioned that she’d had to put her foot down with an editor who wanted to use the phrase, “a third-floor Bergdorf look.”

          “Who knows what that is?” she asked. “I’m the editor in chief of Glamour, and even *I* don’t know what you mean.”

      2. Taniwha Girl*

        Agreed. “Dupes” for expensive skin care and makeup is a whole genre unto itself.

        The whole industry is oversaturated due to the influencer boom on social media, and has become a toxic trashpile and is basically how to signal your wealth in 2020. MLMs, racism from consumers and influencers and brands, harassment, the deceit of the capitalist “beauty industry” (think about that term) that makes money off your low self-esteem, the incredible amount of waste produced by manufacturing yet another brown eyeshadow palette and shipping it around the world…

        It has nothing to do with the quality of the product. It’s the mink fur coat of 2020. It’s the “let them eat cake” of YouTube.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Alison has definitely gotten at least one letter from someone whose boss was trying to sell her MLM stuff. Which, considering the power dynamic, has a definite whiff of extortion.

      3. jotpe*

        Tone deaf and poor taste — but I’d say — not MORE than tone deaf and poor taste. With the obvious caveat that I wasn’t in the conversation, this kind of chat about skincare, where it’s on the level of “cooking, gardening, and other hobbies,” isn’t a conversation where her “recommendations” are actually recommendations. I doubt she was actually saying “go spend $800 on face cream.” I’ve been a user of disproportionately expensive make up in the past (disproportionate to my salary like), and while I’d happily share with people that I was really liking the new Chanel foundation in a casual conversation like this, there’s a difference to saying “you should absolutely go buy this and if you don’t you’re disregarding my advice.” Similarly, if the conversation was about cooking there’s a difference between “we only cook vegan” and “how dare you not eat vegan” that’s probably useful to keep in mind. So I’d maybe roll my eyes about the CEO but not let this totally ruin my opinion about her — assuming her comments were in the former “sharing” mode rather than “hard sell.”

        1. Anonys*

          But I can totally imagine her saying something like: “Oh xy cream totally helped me with my dark circles. I can’t live without the stuff! Really recommend it to anyone looking for a good eye cream” about an 800 dollar product.

          It’s not about anyone making a hard sell, but OP explicitly says people were making recommendations (which totally makes sense in the context of a conversation about skincare products). Same as someone talking about cooking might say: “Oh, using beans is a good way to add protein to vegan meals, I especially recommend abc”

          These might not be recommendations the CEO is assuming everyone on the call is gonna immediately get up and follow but they are intended to help people out and inspire them to maybe try to products (quite possibly interest in the products is what got OP to googling them in the first place).

          This is a tricky issue, as I totally think people have every right to spend their money on fancy skincare if they want to and these are obviously products the CEO actually uses and enjoys but in this context it would have been better had she not participated in the conversation because it does come across as pretty tone-deaf.

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          It sounds like these types of discussion are being used to try to connect people on a more personal level now that they don’t see each other on a regular basis, and recommending products that are unaffordable to the vast majority of people is pretty tacky. This is not a peer with an overpriced beauty regimine, this is a leader within the organization and more tact and discretion is expected out of leadership. The CEO was incredibly tone-deaf, and this comment lends itself to the assumption, fair or not, that the CEO is being paid so much more than everyone else that she can afford beauty products that may cost the better part of many people’s rent. If this organization goes into cost-cutting measures, it’s going to leave a bad taste in people’s mouths that their benefits were cut while the big boss is spending thousands on chemicals for her face.

          1. Anonys*

            This is very well put. If the company has had any layoffs, furloughs or paycuts that would be even worse (though I think OP would have mentioned it for context) but even without, most people probably have friends and family who have been affected that way and may be struggling because a partner lost their job.

            Sometimes people who have (and especially those who always had) money are so oblivious to how normal people live. They might know they are privileged and rich in theory, but in practice they don’t think of their own spending as outlandish because “this product is great and works super well and just is really worth the price” or “it’s a good investment” without considering other people wouldn’t be able to rent and eat if they spend even a fraction of that.

            1. 1234*

              I had a friend during college who’s parents are well-off. (Example: They BOUGHT her an apartment in the expensive city we were in so she could go to grad school there and paid off the apartment in 2-3 years, according to her.)

              We were out one night and it was late, but not terribly late. Maybe around 8-9PM in a safe city. This city is known for people taking mass transit wherever we go. I was like “oh, let’s just take the train to Next Destination” and she said “We’ll just get a cab. It’s only $8 a person.” While $8 is not a lot of $, the train cost $2.50 and was a straight ride to Next Destination. I could’ve saved the additional $ for something else and didn’t “need” to travel via taxi.

            2. Triumphant Fox*

              In my experience, there are a lot of extremely wealthy people who don’t think they are wealthy because the next guy is always wealthier. The things they use to try to relate to people become more absurd and because of the power imbalance, no one says anything.

              1. NotAnotherManager!*

                I totally get that. I worked in the legal industry for a long time, and I come from a blue collar background. I had no idea how people could afford private schools and eating out every day for lunch, etc., much less the talk of extensive overseas vacations or cars that cost more than my college education (I am old) did, and it was pretty clear they couldn’t relate to someone on a strict budget who was getting zero financial help from my family like I was either. It was much easier for my upper-middle class peers who came from similar backgrounds as many of the attorneys (and were probably headed on the same trajectory) and could relate to spending their sixteenth birthday shopping in Paris.

          2. myswtghst*

            Agreed. When one of our new C-suite execs started, I had a one on one with her since she’s now my boss’s boss. While we were talking, we realized we live in the same general area – but she lives in the million dollar mansions neighborhood, while I live in a townhouse in a neighboring suburb. When I mentioned that we were hoping to move to a bigger place but stay in the area in the next few years, she started telling me all about a house in her neighborhood. She was very nice about the whole thing, but it felt SO tone deaf when I had just told her my husband is a stay at home parent and she knows how much I make. She’s generally been great to work with, but that always kind of sticks in the back of my mind, especially now that I’m working with her on diversity and inclusion stuff.

            1. TootsNYC*

              people can be so blind to their own blindnesses.
              And what makes it worse is if they really are only related to other people in a similar economic status.

              My sister and her family are all in the category of people who consider a move from Walmart to being a customer service rep at a car dealership to be a good move. They have all been close to the edge, financially, many times; one was even homeless for a bit, sleeping in the car or people’s basements.

              It’s good for me to remember that. Like my sister, I came from a small-town teacher’s household, but I now work with people who didn’t.

              1. myswtghst*

                And honestly, it happens at all levels. For years, I’ve been kind of in the middle – I work directly with VPs/execs, but I also work with a lot of frontline staff (entry level roles, including call centers) who make a fraction of what I do. So even though I’m not talking up super expensive skincare, I do have to remind myself sometimes that what seems like an inconvenience to me could be a make-or-break expense to someone else.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      Yeah, I once read an article that did long term studies of super expensive skin products, the in betweens and the super cheap kind (can’t link because this was something like 10 years ago), but the medium and/or cheap regularly outperformed the super expensive stuff. Not only is it gauche to recommend stuff that pricey, it’s bad advice.

      1. Annette*

        If people want to spend a lot on skincare. Let them do it. CEO is tone-deaf but the “no reason to spend more” crowd can also be aggressive and misguided. Yes I know about the Ordinary. No I don’t think it’s “just as good” as the products I pay more for. If I’m not borrowing money from you to afford my skinceuticals. Let me do it! This does not apply to CEO extracting wealth from her employees to afford skincare.

      2. Annony*

        That sounds like the study someone did on wine. They found that generally, people can tell when a wine is really cheap but can’t taste a difference between a $20 bottle and a $100 bottle of wine in a blind taste test.

      3. Who Plays Backgammon?*

        I remember watching a TV show with professional makeup artists giving makeovers with both drugstore and department store cosmetics. The audience and host could not tell the difference, and all the participants looked great. One of the makeup artists said the best makeup was the one that worked best on YOUR skin.

    3. Willis*

      I’m just assuming OP2 works at goop. (Or maybe she could just start name dropping some products from their site as recommendations for the CEO :) )

      1. OP2*

        Hello – OP 2 here! I won’t mention the actual product since a few of my colleagues read this blog, but she mentioned products that you can find at Saks Fifth and Bergdof Goodman.

    4. Caroline Bowman*

      Another way to do it is to say (knowing the answer perfectly well) ”that looks amazing, do you know what the price is?” then let her answer and just pause about 2 seconds. Just sit and be silent. Then say ”okay, thanks so much for the info” and continue. If your CEO is any kind of decent person (and thoughtless people can totally be well-intentioned), it will sink in and you will have remained cordial and not rude or unkind.

      Honestly, when will people learn to *think*? I realise we’re all on different incomes, that’s not a crime, but seriously, recommending ultra-luxe stuff to people whose salaries you personally know is awful.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Recommending it to your subordinates, whose salaries you likely have influence over, is especially tone-deaf.

      2. WellRed*

        I’m not sure I wouldn’t have then commented, “that’s more than my rent!” Or what have.

        1. AKchic*

          Or be very very explicit and say “wow… that’s about what I bring home weekly/biweekly” depending on your hourly wage.

          Some people really need it spelled out for them just how different their lives are from others.

      3. Lynca*

        You can be a decent person and not be able to parse that. That would trip up a lot of neurodivergent people like me.

        I’ve always fallen back on just calling it what it is: That’s outside my budget, That’s more money than I can spend on X product, etc. Always with a light tone. It’s incredibly tone deaf of them to recommend something so expensive but some people have little thought about what life is like for others or what being poor really is for some.

      4. Lady Meyneth*

        That’s the thing, ultra-luxe is different for different people.

        I volunteer a lot at the community center at a very poor neighborhood. I’m not rich *at all*, but I have to be very careful at all times over what I say about my spendings, because to a lot of them I’m CEO-level rich. In casual conversations, it can be really hard to have anything to say at all, since a lot of what I do in my day to day (going to restaurants or the theater or shopping for more than a pair of shoes, etc) seems like ultra luxuries to them.

        I’m a little more concious since I grew up in similar poverty, and even I come across as tone deaf sometimes. I can totally see a decent person making this kind of blunder purely by accident, and maybe not even noticing.

        1. BadWolf*

          One college summer, I worked at a local factory. I spilled something very smelly on my shoes and a couple days later at lunch, I mentioned buying new shoes. In my defense, the shoes did smell terrible (and not saved via a trip through the wash) and they were old and my feet hurt despite standing on rubber mats. One of the full time workers made a comment about buying new shoes just because they got dirty — “Must be nice.” My joking “Oh remember that day we worked with smelly stuff? I’m a klutz and had to get new shoes” sounded like a tone deaf brag of some sort “Oh yes, my shoes got a smudge so I had Mummy and Daddy pick me up a new shiny pair.”

          At my current job, we are well paid so I have to remember not to make stupid purchase suggestions to our interns and new hires (or anyone really — but asking why a new hire doesn’t get a new car because their current car keeps breaking isn’t the best plan).

          1. Batgirl*

            No sorry that’s a totally different ballgame and your co-worker was overstepping. Unless you were rocking a pair of Manolos? People are allowed to buy shoes! I’d give the colleague a pass on the snarkiness because it does genuinely and truly suck to not have the funds for new shoes when you need them, but I wouldn’t feel bad or class it with a boss recommending expensive serum.

            1. AKchic*

              Exactly. Walmart has shoes for $7-8 that you can buy to replace smelly, worn out shoes when you need a quick pair. I’ve had to do it a few times because that was all I could afford (I have inserts I can throw in).
              I’m lucky enough that I actually have two pairs of sneakers right now. My teens only have one pair each because they kept outgrowing them, but now that their feet seem to have settled on sizes, they are ready for more than one pair of sneakers (each) again.

        2. Delta Delta*

          This is a really good point. I have a Tiffany necklace with my initial. Once someone who I know doesn’t have a lot of money saw me wearing it and complimented it. She asked where I got it and I said, “oh, I think it came from some store in New York” and changed the subject. I wanted to gracefully accept the compliment and then also move on without making her feel awkward.

      5. Annette*

        Why do this. Putting people on the spot to make a point rarely reflects well on you. CEO is out of touch with the lives of her subordinates? News at 11.

    5. Lady Meyneth*

      A little tone deaf, maybe. But assuming she wasn’t doing some kind of hard sell, I’d guess she was just participating in the conversation. If all she uses is $300+ products, she would be virtually mute through this lunch if she couldn’t mention them.

      It might be useful to try to steer the conversation to more neutral subjects, or just casually say something in the moment, like “But isn’t that really expensive?”, and go on chatting.

    6. nodramalama*

      I honestly don’t think it’s that weird or gauche. a LOT of women I know splurge on skin care and makeup. I’m not sure I agree that talking about your skin care products, even if they’re high end, is inherently tone deaf

  3. AcademiaNut*

    For #1 – when you’re teaching someone, it’s really hard to tell the difference between someone who is quietly and efficiently absorbing material, and someone whose eyes have glazed over from some combination of lack of interest and incomprehension. And if you’re quiet during training, and then come back with a list of questions the moment you start doing things, it might be reinforcing the idea that you’re not paying attention.

    Something as simple as rephrasing what you’ve just been taught to check if you’re understanding it correctly could help. It might help to explain at the beginning of a training session that you tend to listen quietly and take notes during instruction, but it takes trying something yourself before you have questions. Sometimes it’s possible to split up a long training session into shorter ones interspersed with trying things out, or to arrange things so that you start the next session with questions after you’ve had time to digest the material.

    1. JobHunter*

      I used to get frustrated when people explained things to me repeatedly without me asking them to. I never realized that anything but quiet attention was expected until a professor told me that “no questions means no comprehension” to them. I still get frustrated sometimes, but now remind myself that the other person is carrying both sides of our conversation because I’m not contributing my expected share.

      1. Brooks Brothers Stan*

        As a naturally extroverted person, I have been on the other side of this issue. As frustrating as you may feel that it is to contribute to something that you feel needs no contribution, it’s just as frustrating for us that need it.

        It’s how we perceive the world around us, and just as I think we make a big push towards understanding introverts we should make sure it goes both ways. Us extroverts should make sure we attune more towards what is quiet understanding, while introverts should also make sure that they’re not causing quiet misunderstanding.

      2. Slogmeister*

        That is interesting. I’ve never thought of “no questions means no comprehension”. I’m sure that that was probably one of the reasons I’ve been given this feedback from multiple (but not all) employers. However, I’d like to present another possibility.

        In many cases where I’ve been frustratingly told to ask more questions, it’s because the company has either terrible/non-existent training materials or they don’t actually know what they’re doing, or both. I’ve learned that in this case there’s one key type of question to keep asking, but you have to start and stop at the right time. I’ll explain by modifying Alison’s example:

        Trainer: “After logging in, go to A and do B and if C happens check D.”
        Me: “Every time?”
        Trainer: “Yes.”
        Me: “So there’s no exceptions? No time when I do this differently?”
        Trainer: “No.”
        Part 1 complete. Questions asked. Understanding demonstrated. But if you’re not sure you actually understand, keep going. At this point, you’ve fulfilled the minimum requirement.
        Me: “What if C doesn’t happen?”
        Trainer: “Doesn’t matter.”
        Me: “What if I check D anyway?”
        Trainer: “You should be checking D every time.”
        Part 2 complete. Questions asked. New understanding demonstrated. But, any more and it will drag on too long. You have to stop here even though the Trainer has obviously contradicted themselves. If you don’t, you’re going to piss off the trainer. Nevertheless, for sake of example let’s continue the conversation.
        Me: “So, I should check D regardless if C happens or not.”
        Trainer: “No, only check D if C happens. Please try and pay attention.”

        Trainer (Later to Manager): I had to explain D, like, 5 times. I don’t think the new person is getting it.
        What happened? The Trainer thinks that I am not understanding when obviously the Trainer doesn’t know what they’re talking about! Many people would have various kinds of advice on what to do from here, but I’m going to continue under the assumption that there is *nothing* you can do to change the situation.

        So, what happened? Well, two things happened. First, the Trainer never actually contradicted themselves. They just never told you that C *always* happens. Why? Maybe they forgot. Maybe they really don’t know – in their mind they’ve just skipped to always checking D without ever realizing that C always happens. People do this. In any case, it doesn’t matter why. Keep reading.

        Second, you didn’t ask the *right* questions. That’s the problem with “ask more questions”. They expect you to magically ask all the right questions and have a full and complete understanding of everything because you are the Wizard of Speed and Time. So, the fact that you didn’t ask the right questions is all your fault even though the whole purpose of asking questions is to fill in gaps in understanding and it’s the Trainer’s responsibility to proactively answer the questions that you *don’t know to ask*.
        So, what do we do about this? Well, follow the example above. Stop at Part 1 or Part 2 because at that point you are armed with the ability to properly do your job. Never go to Part 3. If you really want to know, though, go ask someone else such as a peer or the person who is in charge of C. Peers may be able to give you a different perspective or at the very least different words. And, of course, the person in charge of C may be able to speak at length about it, even if it never answers your question as to why it always happens.

        But… but… I want to know!!!

        This may be a case of lost institutional knowledge. At some point it was thought that C may or may not happen. Nobody may be left there who really knows the “why” anymore. Eventually you’ll have enough experience and standing to go back and address it should you choose. In the meantime, take in the knowledge and BECOME THE TRAINER.

        1. Roxie Hart*

          Agree. The two bosses I had who told me to ask more questions were terrible communicators (and bullies but that’s a separate issue). They wouldn’t elaborate answers to the questions I would ask them on.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            Soooo… they encouraged you to ask questions, but wouldn’t answer them? WTF.

            I’ve had several bosses who seldom answered questions, but they certainly didn’t encourage me to ask them in the first place!

      3. Gazebo Slayer*

        Funny, that’s the opposite of one of my elementary school teachers, who claimed that “asking a question means you weren’t paying attention” and would sometimes send kids to the principal’s office if they did.

        (Yes, she was terrible in several other ways…)

    2. Esme*

      Co-sign on your second paragraph. I’m also a hands-on learner and just taking theoretical notes is of limited use for me.

    3. What's in a name?*

      Non-verbal communication is key here. Nodding, smiling, anything you can do to show that something is going on in your head will help the teacher know you are getting it.

      I had a college professor that would stop and make sure everyone was blinking. His thought was if people aren’t blinking than they aren’t getting it. It’s sort of a deer in the headlight type response where people who don’t get it won’t blink.

      1. JayNay*

        I’d also see if you can break up the training into smaller chunks with some hands-on time in between. It can be really hard to absord lots of info coming at you at once, especially if you’re more of a practical learner. You could suggest doing on of the tasks you were just taught, with your coworker there to give feedback along the way if necessary.

    4. straws*

      This is very true, and taking notes is definitely a big help. I have an amazing employee that we brought on recently, and he’s very much a hands-on learner. He let me know that up front, he takes succinct notes on everything we go over, and he comes back to me with questions when needed. However, note taking is not a cure-all. I’ve also had employees who took copious notes… writing down the wrong pieces of info, writing down so much that they could never find what they needed later on, taking fake notes while they zoned out. So the key is to show that you’re paying attention, write down the important pieces but not literally everything, and then prove yourself.

    5. londonedit*

      ‘And if you’re quiet during training, and then come back with a list of questions the moment you start doing things, it might be reinforcing the idea that you’re not paying attention.’

      This is what I was coming here to say. I think Alison’s suggestion of flagging that this is the way OP best absorbs information is a good one, because I can absolutely see people getting frustrated if someone sits there and nods their way through the training, only to pipe up with questions once the training has finished and they’re let loose on things for real. I have to admit my first thought would be ‘We covered all of this in the training and you didn’t ask any questions when you had the chance – were you actually listening to any of it?’

      1. Deliliah*

        I’m a hands-on learner as well. If someone explains a system to me and shows me what to do, I likely won’t have questions because they’re doing it for me and everything makes sense. But when I have to do it by myself, there are things I didn’t even realize I missed during the training.

      2. Smithy*

        Over time I’ve learned that I don’t have lots of very thoughtful questions on new processes until I get more involved into actually working on something. Letting your direct manager know that, asking questions about regularity of 1 on 1 questions, how best to submit questions (via email, chat function, etc.) can be helpful in providing context to quietly absorbing information during initial training.

    6. Batgirl*

      I know that people training in workplaces are not trained teachers, but is it really that difficult to ask a few questions of your learner to test the temperature? Maybe even let them get their hands on the task so they can show you what they’ve absorbed? Talking endlessly at someone is not only the worst teaching method ever (unless you’re trying to teach sleep), it’s also exhausting for the trainer.

      1. sb51*

        I think in most workplaces, it’s completely acceptable to at least ask “can we do this with a hands-on example, I learn better that way”.

        I’ve sometimes been frustrated trying to teach new colleagues (these were not reports) a thing and them wanting the entire decision tree up front. No, here’s the first three steps and an example, IM me when you get stuck, go try it yourself because there’s at least five different options for the fourth step and you don’t know enough to ask for the correct one yet.

        1. Batgirl*

          Oh from the learners side, there’s a bunch of things they can ask for; if they want to. When they don’t there’s a variety of reasons – like they don’t know that they don’t know something, or they’re just really confident they can figure it out on their own because they usually can and they prefer doing that.
          I just find it mystifying when the trainer wants some sign of knowledge, or wants some back and forth and doesn’t just…ask for it. Ask them if they can remember something. Ask a ‘what if’ question. Get them to show you how to do the task.

  4. JC*

    Re: LW2

    My organization’s CEO is very well-paid and has the same tone-deafness on money topics, especially since he lives in a wealthy neighborhood, socializes at an exclusive club, etc. He travels a lot, always first class, and frequently has told me that I “need” to get Clear for airport security, a $500 service that saves roughly four minutes over TSA Precheck at our local airport. He’ll mention things like taking his kids to see “Hamilton” at all-staff meetings. I think for him it’s just so normal, and $500 for a TSA shortcut or $1000 for a Broadway ticket is genuinely not real money to him, that he doesn’t bother to empathize.

    It definitely is noticed by his staff though.

    1. Taniwha Girl*

      It’s definitely not “real money”. It’s like as you become an adult, and suddenly quarters mean little. I remember when $50 felt like an incredibly amount of money to me. It’s like the wealth index that says it is literally a waste of Bill Gates’ time to pick up a $1000 dollar bill off the ground.

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        Aw, that reminds me of when I was in the second grade and Tanya told me that $100 wasn’t that much and my parents probably had $100.

        I was in such a state of disbelief and shock. (“$100??!? We’re rich! We’re rich!”)

        1. Asenath*

          When I was a child, I was with my mother at the bank eyeing the money the teller was counting out to her. I, used to the kind of sums I got once in a while as a present, said “Oh! You really have a lot of money!!”. My mother and the teller laughed. Of course, I know now it was all earmarked for things like groceries.

      2. Lizzy May*

        I don’t have a lot of money myself, but my first professional job was as a bank teller and that has completely desensitized me to money. When one of your jobs is putting $200,000 worth of twenties into the ATM every day, large sums of money just stop being shocking. If I were able to somehow calculate the amount of money I’ve personally handled, it would be a crazy number. You never forget its money, because there are security rules in place that are very strict, but for me, $5 and $500,000 feel the same on some level.

        1. Littorally*

          Same. I work in investing and regularly talk to people with account balances in the millions. I’m not sure I’d call it cognitive dissonance exactly, but having such a different metric between “a lot of money” in my professional life versus “a lot of money” in my personal life is a very weird feeling.

          1. Anon for this one*

            I was (sort of) on the other side of this one recently – as a higher earner (not in the millions like your customers, more like “higher level” salary, e.g. $80,000 vs $30,000)… And had to web chat the tax authority in my country due to a query/discrepancy about the amount of tax I owe them. The person on the other end of the chat, who was probably earning more like the $30k, had to go through all the calculations with me including salary and what not, and why I was wrong and the tax authority was right with their bill! I felt quite bad and guilty for the web chat person actually.

            1. Where Is That?*

              I’m curious where you live. Where I live (a Canadian city), I heard on the radio a few years ago around the winter holidays that a $90,000 family salary was considered to be low enough to qualify for benefits being offered to poorer families for the holidays.

    2. TechWorker*

      Dyou think all very high earners end up like this? Or do you have to also grow up very rich?

      Hell I didn’t grow up poor, and I cannot fathom the mindset that thinks saving even 30minutes is worth $500.

      1. Laure001*

        I do not have that kind of money, but to be honest it’s not 500 dollars to save 30 minutes, it’s 500 dollars to save 30 minutes everytime you go to the airport.
        I suppose…. If you travel a lot, and you’re not broke, it could feel worthwhile. My husband, who HATES airports with a passion, would do it if he was a frequent traveller I think.
        Let’s just say that it horrifies me less than the 200 dollars beauty products. But it’s still super tone deaf!

        1. Caroline Bowman*

          That’s a question of priorities and lifestyle. I also can 100% imagine thinking that the cost would be justified if I was regularly at airports for my job. I mean, that’s quite a big time-saving for a once-off payment. Same as you, I’d have to be super-wealthy to even consider spending $100 on any beauty product that wasn’t going to last a minimum of a year. It’s just not that much of a priority and also, crucially, I’d be broke in minutes!

          Then again, there are those who would, possibly because their appearance is very important to their careers / lives and so they see it as an investment, but when you know very well what the people you’re taking to earn, it’s really crass to suggest it.

          1. Eliza*

            Yeah, if he flies 10 times a year and saves half an hour per flight, he’s effectively paying $100 per hour saved. As a well-paid CEO, he’s likely making quite a bit more than $100 an hour, so that’s going to affect how he gauges the value of his time. He just isn’t making the connection that most people are both earning less and flying less, and what makes sense for him is not going to be reasonable for them.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              If I’m going on a business trip and a manager recommends a travel service, I’d ask in delighted surprise “Oh, the company covers that for us? How do I submit that request?”
              If we’re talking personal travel, I’d be more likely to deflect and say “Thanks…I’ll look into that when I’m flying more often.”

              1. Helen J*

                If the OP travels with the CEO often, the company should offer to pay for that service, since the CEO seems to think it’s a good investment.

            2. TechWorker*

              Half an hour was an example, the person who brought this up reckoned it saved 4 minutes per flight.

              1. Annette*

                Depends on location. In some cities it would save quite a bit more time. If I had the money, sure why not.

                1. Annony*

                  Yeah. If he flies often, he probably deals with many airports and some of them are probably ridiculous. Those return flights count too!

              2. hbc*

                At most, 50% of his flights are out of his home airport. This would have saved me at least an hour the last time I went through Miami.

          2. Hillary*

            I have it and I love it. It costs me about $120/year. I get to the airport 15-30 minutes before they start boarding my domestic flights and 30-60 before my international flights, basically enough time to go through security, fill my water bottle, and get a coffee or a glass of wine. I live in a hub city that also has a lot of vacation travelers so it’s worth it to me, as are PreCheck and Global Entry.

            I only had nine flights in Q1 before everything was shut down, my personal record is six countries and twelve cities in one month. I’m an infrequent traveler compared to our executives.

              1. Hillary*

                At my airport both is best – we’re a business hub so everyone has Precheck. Clear moves you to the front of the regular security line. Precheck reduces frustration substantially – for me the worst part of flying is standing in the x-ray line behind a family with three little kids, many bags, and strollers they don’t know how to collapse. I also like that I’m not going through the 3-d scanner most of the time and I can leave my shoes on and computer in my bag.

                Global Entry is worth every penny, and it comes with Precheck. When I fly home internationally I’m usually getting the the car before the baggage carousel starts moving. If everyone in the van has Global Entry we can go through the fast lane to/from Mexico, so it’s strongly encouraged at my work.

        2. Aquawoman*

          This is a side point but there’s some research showing that money used to save time creates more overall happiness than money used to buy stuff. Obviously, that scales according to both income and time saved.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            From personal experience, I can tell you this is true. I’ve been poor, and had to spend a lot of time doing stuff because I didn’t have the money to do it faster. If I have to pay $100 for a thing vs $100 for a service that allows me to spend another couple hours with my family? I will buy the service.

            1. jules*

              My dishwasher busted in March and I am officially so fed up with hand-washing that all other purchases were put on hold until we could replace it (we actually had enough last month, until the oven caught on fire). I CAN wash by hand, but I’d so much rather save that time for other things.

      2. Asenath*

        Some people who didn’t grow up rich really enjoy expensive luxuries when they can afford them. Others tend to stick more to the things they liked when they were poor, although possibly somewhat better quality or quantity. It depends a lot on the individual and the social circles they move in – and moved in when they were poorer.

        1. doreen*

          It does depend a lot on the individual – my two sisters and I grew up in the same financial circumstances and we are in relatively similar financial circumstances now. They bought their shoes from Payless until they closed and I buy better quality. Granted, I don’t have red bottom shoes, and I don’t buy this year’s shoes at full price- but my sisters can’t imagine paying more than $30 for a pair of shoes.

          1. tangerineRose*

            For a long time, I bought shoes that cost $30 or less. Then a pair of shoes I had worn for a long time caused a blister. I bought shoes that were more expensive and supposed to be made for walking, and they last a lot longer and are a lot more comfortable.

      3. GoingAnon4This*

        I grew up solidly middle class but with a lot of money struggles, and it took me until my late 30’s before I started to get any level of security. In my mid 40’s, my career took off, and I started earning a *very* comfortable six figures.

        A few of my colleagues have high earning spouses as well, and I definitely notice a blasé attitude they have towards expenditures like $800 serums, but with my higher salary, I’ve also noticed my own internal calibrations have shifted. For example, this summer I made a number of fairly visible improvements to our house. No single purchase was obscenely expensive, but the total was around $4K. In the past I would have only chosen 1-2 of them to do in any given year but I had no issues doing all of them this year. I sometimes forget that my reports (who are all decently paid, but not 6 figures), may feel like I’m showing off. They all make similar types of purchases, just not all at the same time.

        I even notice a difference in things that shouldn’t be an issue. For example I have been able to make thousands of dollars in donations over the past six months to charities, individuals, and local businesses. In the past, I would have used these donations to encourage others to donate, but now it is very different. It either comes across as bragging that I can give more than others, or I get criticized for giving to the wrong groups, not giving enough, not giving smaller amounts to more groups or not giving one big donation to one group, etc. I just keep my mouth shut and give quietly in the background because I don’t want others to feel bad about something I do to be nice.

        So yeah, I definitely notice my attitudes towards money have changed quite a bit with my higher salary. In some ways I’m more conscious of it, and in other ways I’m less. I’m not at $800 serum levels yet, but I can already see how the comfort level makes it much harder to remember/perceive what the struggles are like.

        1. Joielle*

          I really feel this! Just in the past few years, after a couple of solid promotions, my husband and I are making enough that it does start to quickly change the way you think about sums of money. Like, the other day I finally got sick of struggling with our old, crappy washer and dryer so we just… went to the appliance store and bought a new set. And it wasn’t even used or off brand or at a semi-sketchy discount store, and I didn’t spend months comparing models and finding the absolute best price (which is the only way I’ve made that kind of purchase in the past).

          And like you, our attitude toward monetary donations has changed quickly too – we’re not at the thousands of dollars level yet, but it’s not at all a big deal to toss a couple hundred dollars to people’s gofundmes or bail funds or political candidates.

          It’s pretty wild to think about how normal this feels now, and think back to just a few years ago when we were struggling with massive student loan debt and trying to break into our careers. So…. yeah, I kind of understand how the OP’s boss ended up talking about expensive skincare. I do make a conscious effort to keep perspective on wealth and class, but if you’ve been pretty wealthy for a long time and all your friends are wealthy and you’re not really steeped in social justice issues, I imagine it’s easy to lose that perspective (and end up talking to your subordinates about your $800 eye cream). That’s not to say it’s ok, but I would probably chalk this up to an unfortunate human misstep and not bring it up again unless it kept happening.

      4. hbc*

        If you do the math on your earnings at that level, 30 minutes may very well be worth $500. That time could be spent getting back to an investor with a well-crafted email or putting in two more sales calls that could bring in seven figures.

        Of course, if you get stupid rich like Bill Gates or a Kuwaiti oil baron, money almost ceases to have meaning. Buy a private island and reshape it to look like Bugs Bunny? Sure, why not?

      5. Lady Meyneth*

        It really depends on what’s a priority on your lifestyle. You wouldn’t pay for saving time on travel, but I doubt there’s not something expensive that you would or do pay for and call it worth it.

        I grew up *really* poor. I’m not rich now by any means, but I’m pretty comfortable. I still sometimes look at my groceries and realize half my family would think they’re luxury items (they’re not, just higher quality brands). I go to restaurants pretty frequently and usually don’t tink too much over the bill unless it’s a specially fancy place, but I know people who budget for months to be able to afford a mid-level birthday dinner out.

        It’s not necessarily that you grow up rich and don’t understand what life’s like, or that you want to rub it in to your “inferiors”, it’s that some things become normal to you, and you talk about it as just a regular part of your life.

        1. LQ*

          The not worrying about going out and the bill has been the biggest thing for me. I grew up extremely poor and one time my aunts came to visit and they ordered and then drove and picked up pizza. I was awe struck. In my 20s pizza delivery became sort of a metric of my own personal how am I doing. Can I afford to casually have pizza delivered. Now I can go out to a nice enough meal and not worry about the prices and not fuss over if I’ll have enough. It’s been a big change for me. I don’t forget what it’s like to tell my parents that I’m not hungry any more because I’m worried we won’t have enough food. But it’s not the loudest voice in my head anymore.

          Life changes all of us and I think that it’s ok that I don’t think much of saying I went out to eat. I think that when you are in charge of what people earn it’s more important to be mindful of it, but I don’t think that my coworkers who earn more than me are mean when they talk about home updates, or buying new homes. I think the CEO needs to be a little more thoughtful. But I don’t think that everyone who has more than I do not talk about the things in their life they enjoy.

          1. Lady Meyneth*

            “I don’t forget what it’s like to tell my parents that I’m not hungry any more because I’m worried we won’t have enough food. But it’s not the loudest voice in my head anymore.”

            Same. For me, my personal metric was being able to get a chocolate muffin on the way to work. For a looong time, that seemed like such an incredible luxury, I could only do it maybe once or twice a month. But that didn’t mean the people who always showed up with a pastry were being deliberately mean to me.

            That said, OP wrote downthread that after the lunch the CEO actually wrote an email with links (!!) of her $800 recommendations. So this CEO is clearly beyond tone-deaf and well into terrible-boss territory.

      6. blackcat*

        I think it’s a mix. My dad grew up solidly middle class. Like, no issues putting food on the table, but all the kids had to get jobs to help pay for college sort of middle class.
        He became a corporate lawyer.
        For him, 30 minutes is, in fact, literally work $500. I know that for some of the work he does, his time is billed as $1,000/hr. So my parents are rich. 1% rich, not 0.01% rich, but rich nonetheless. Part of why my father has TSA Clear is that he has a very common name, another person with the same name and date of birth is a felon, and he travels all the time. Pre-COVID, he’d be on 2-4 flights per week. TSA Clear definitely saves him a substantial amount of time and hassle.

        What has always got me since I became an independent adult is how they buy cars. They don’t like… discuss it with each other! If one of them decides their car has too many miles or is too temperamental or just… they want a new one, they just go out and buy a new one. They are in a financial position to treat a $50k car (they drive nice, but not super high end cars) the way I treat a pair of shoes. But my mom would not buy $800 beauty products. $100 ones? Sure. But not more than that.

        That said, a good friend from college substantially outearns my father, also after growing up middle class. He lives basically the same lifestyle that I do (I earn the median income for my town) and treats money like I do. The bonkers thing is that he hired a personal assistant (!!) whose entire job is to be his financial planner and decide what to do with the portions of money he invests and the portions of money he donates (most of his salary). It is weird AF because he complains about overpriced drinks, but will be like, “Ben decided to give 200k to X charity, which I googled, and apparently they do great work! So happy I have Ben to make these decisions.” (I think Ben is paid like 100k/year, more than me).

        People, including rich people, are weird about money!

      7. Curmudgeon in California*

        So, the way I figure it is that your time has a “cost” too, which is how to figure out if a time-saving expense is worth it.

        * For the high earning sales person who flies weekly, if their hourly rate would bill out at $100 an hour, and they fly every week, they would save $100 every two weeks, and $500 in 10 weeks. So, it would pay for itself in two months. If it’s good for a year for that $500, it’s a good bargain.
        * The casual traveler who travels twice a year? Even at the same billable rate they would only save $100 in time value for the $500 it cost.

        This can be applied to anything, including public transit and toll roads, where you often exchange time for reduced cost, or cost for time saving.

      8. Mary Richards*

        I don’t even think it has much to do with growing up with money, either. I mean, yeah, obviously, growing up with money means being exposed to more expensive things at a young age and seeing them as normal. It does not, however, mean living a lavish or high-flying lifestyle. I know lifelong one-percenters (and point-one-percenters) who would be horrified at the idea of $800 eye serum!

      9. Observer*


        I'm not rich and grew up fairly poor. I can't imagine that I'd ever be in a situation where this would make sense for me. But I know plenty of people who are not wildly wealthy who would absolutely find this worthwhile, especially if they travel often. These are not people who will spend money they don't have or that needs to go to obligations, etc. But they prioritize time over money, and if they have it they will spend money for things that genuinely save them time and stress. There is nothing tone deaf or extravagant about that.

        What *would* be tine deaf is saying things like "everyone should do this" or "you NEED to do this" to someone who doesn't travel much or is not wealthy.

    3. Ana Gram*

      A friend of mine is wealthy and grew up that way- literally on 5th Avenue. I grew up, um, decidedly less so and have a good job now but I’m solidly middle class. The things he’ll recommend to me really highlights that difference. I should fly first class overseas because I’ll be so much more rested when I land or I should look at Infiniti’s rather than Honda’s because of the quality. He’s a friend so I think it’s funny and tease him about it but if it was coming from my CEO? Yeah, that would sting.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Just as an aside? I’ve flown coach to Europe and I’ve flown business class. IMO, the business class for that long of a flight is worth it if you can afford it. Half again the room is the difference between being able to move at the destination and not.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          I buy 90% of my clothes on sales and clearance and do clothing swaps with friends. I keep shoes until they are thoroughly wrecked. My personal care stuff is entirely drugstore stock, and I still hesitate over the $12 bottle of wine instead of a $9 bottle.

          But I have flown business class on long international flights for work and now that I can afford it, I would pay for that over coach for personal travel.

    4. Asenath*

      I think it’s partly tone-deafness on the part of the speaker and partly the listener not realizing that some people actually do spend that much money on something. I, who never use makeup, was invited to one of those “parties” where they sell makeup that is definitely cheaper than the stuff mentioned in the letter. I went because it was held for a couple people I wanted to show support for. Anyway, I was absolutely astonished at the prices in the brochures, simply because the only thing of that type I buy is a basic brand of cream for dry skin, so I’m used to getting a large jar for less than $20, a lot less if there’s a sale. The guests of honour, I think you’d call them, enjoyed trying out the offerings, although their income was undoubtedly lower than mine, and there was no pressure to buy. Mostly, I take these sorts of things by thinking, with some bemusement, “So there are people who live like this, buying these things?”, but it can seem odd and tone-deaf in some circumstances, especially if there’s encouragement to actually buy the stuff, not just a comment on how good it is.

    5. Honoria, Dowager Duchess of Denver*

      I’ve had several CEOs like this – my guess is that the more they earn over time, they just detach from the real world the rest of us live in, and don’t realise that this is a lot of money to most people. They are surrounded by people at the same level of income as them, and it becomes their new normal.

      Case in point, my current CEO keeps telling my boss that he’s bored of his house in London, and has decided to move out of it to his second home in the Cotswolds for a change of scenery. My boss currently lives in a studio flat with her partner where they are both working from home. While in full lockdown, and no one was supposed to be moving regions!

      1. Jen*

        That works at any level, though. My boyfriend and I can afford to go on holiday abroad every year, rent a car, eat at a restaurant for lunch and dinner, and go shopping on top of that. We are quite well paid (we’re both in tech), but we live in a country on the poor side. This is our normal and we don’t feel that we go on luxury trips, but it would absolutely feel like uber-luxury for someone living off their land in a village somewhere. Hell, it sometimes feels like luxury when I think of 16-year-old me, who traveled to Western Europe and could only afford to eat sandwiches, stayed in hostels and walked everywhere, because public transport was very expensive when converted from our local currency to euros.

        Who gets to define what “the real world” is? This is *my* real world – multinational tech companies. I’m sure my CEO can book a hotel room that costs as much as I spend for an entire fancy holiday… but his “real world” is other CEOs.

        I try not to mention my “fancy” holidays when I am with friends who earn less money, but sometimes it does come up and what’s the option – lie and said I went to Sofia instead of Paris?

        1. Altair*

          No, but if someone else went to Sofia you can refrain from sneering at them and saying “the only city worth visiting is Paris”, for instance.

    6. Dilly*

      Sorry, CLEAR does not cost $500. It costs $179/year and an additional $50 for each family member. Also, I have multiple credit cards in my wallet that would allow me to get CLEAR for 50% off. I have chosen not to get it because I am not giving biometric information to a private company but for someone who travels regularly, it can be a good deal. Especially if you are at a really busy airport like ATL.

      1. Uranus Wars*

        I was actually thinking the cost seemed off to me. I don’t make a lot of money, but I do about 10 round-trip flights a year and I pay for this. My local airport isn’t too busy but the cities I visit usually are. If I traveled 1-2 times a year I probably wouldn’t do it.

        I agree with many of the other, though, that are saying that while $800 eye cream might be tone-deaf the reality is people put different value on different things. Some people might buy all groceries on the cheap or only buy secondhand clothes so they can travel more or spend more money on locally grown produce or other groceries.

      2. Nala*

        I came here to say this- it’s $179, but my company has a corporate agreement that gets you CLEAR for $75.
        A lot of credit cards and frequent flier programs also get you free Precheck and/or Global Entry.

      3. fhqwhgads*

        Yeah my employer tells staff who travel over X times a year for work (I don’t recall the exact threshold) to get it, and the company cards are the kind that give a discount on it. Anyone who travels that much gets issued a company card anyway. They’d never suggest someone pay out of pocket for it.

      4. Smithy*

        I think another aspect of money for those in professional leadership positions is that services like Clear, airport lounges, etc. can be covered or subsidized by work.

        Let’s say that your job has already paid for your TSA Pre-Check/Global Entry, you fly often enough so you have frequent flier status and all those perks, maybe your work credit card includes free entry into lounges, etc etc etc that by the time you get to spending your own money on either Clear or $800 facial products – there can be so many other aspects of comfortable travel that your job has already covered.

        My aunt and her partner are bi-costal, and while they both have good jobs – the vast majority of their vacations were piggybacks to work trips. Well, in the post-COVID world where work conferences/travel have almost entirely been canceled, she’s now utterly shocked with how expensive travel is. Technically, she’s been planning and billing these types of trips for years. But it’s one thing emotionally when it’s work’s dime, and another when it’s her’s.

        Just one more piece around how overall it’s more expensive to be poor than rich, and why it’s more critical for good leaders to be mindful that talking about money.

    7. MsChanandlerBong*

      My bosses are kind of like this. They’re not “elitist,” exactly, but they have no clue what it’s like to struggle. They constantly make last-minute changes to our payment procedures for freelancers, and when I try to say that we really should give people way more notice because people are counting on their payments to pay their bills, they look at me like I asked them to do nuclear fission. One time, my boss wanted to make a change that would result in PayPal fees being taken out of freelancer payments (we previously covered the fees). I was very against it (I was a freelancer for 10+ years before I started at the company, so I am very sensitive to the challenges of freelancing), and my boss said something like “Well it’s only $20. Why would they be mad?” And I wanted to say, “You’ve obviously never stood at the ATM crying because the minimum withdrawal was $20 and you only had $16 in your account, and it shows!” But I wisely refrained from doing so.

      1. Nanani*

        This freelancer would not complain if you left Lego in the walking path of your bosses.

    8. Tone Deaf and a Half*

      I will never, ever forget my first secretarial job, where I made minimum wage, was expected to regularly work unpaid overtime (it was a non-profit), donate 1% of my salary to United Way and also listen to the Executive Director talk about the $500 handmade quilt she bought, or to admire the actual sterling silver silverware she bought and brought into work to show off.

  5. MollyG*

    #4 You owe it to the applicant to ask why they are job hopping before you reject them. That is one purpose of phone screenings. You are making an assumption based only on a resume. And if you are worried about backlash then maybe that is a clue for you that what you are doing is wrong. And yes, you should them the reason you rejected them. Then at least they will be able to address that in their cover letter for future applications.

    It really bugs me when hiring managers make assumptions about applicants. Even if those are right most of the time, they can also be very wrong.

    1. MollyG*

      And for perspective, I have lost many great job opportunities because I have a PhD and hiring manages make assumptions about me when I apply to jobs that do not require a PhD (and yes, I do address that in my cover letter).

    2. BigTenProfessor*

      Hiring consists almost entirely of making assumptions, and hiring managers don’t “owe” anything to applicants. If the hiring manager in this case is able to provide quick and clear feedback, it would be a professional courtesy to do so, but if she has stacks and stacks of applications, it’s not her job to pick through the subtext of every single one of them.

    3. fhqwhgads*

      I mean….yes and no. If I get 400 applications and 50 of them on paper seem qualified and potentially a good fit based on cover letter and resume, I can probably hire someone from that 50. It’s possible the looks-like-a-job-hopper might also be great and I’d never know, but unless I’m hurtin’ for candidates it’s unlikely to be worth the extra effort. I also disagree that this is “owed” a prosptective candidate. It’s a nice thing to do, but no one is owed a phone screen or a reason for the “no”. It can be as simple as “a bunch of people already look like stronger candidates, I don’t need to go fishing for one who looks weaker to prove me wrong”.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Yes – it’s not an efficient use of time. If 98% of the time 12 jobs in 17 years means that the employee is going to be a poor performer (bad at the work, flaky, unrealistic expectations, difficult to work with), it’s not worth phone screening in the hopes of finding one of the 2% who are exceptions, *and* hasn’t addressed it in the cover letter because they are unaware that this is a potential problem.

        The reality is that if someone is getting 200 applicants for a position, 10 might get phone screens, 3 of those might get interviewed, and the remaining 190 will, at best, get a form letter saying no thanks.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      When you’re sorting through 200 or 300 candidates for a role and lots of them have the qualifications you need, you have to make some assumptions; that’s what screening is. You can’t phone interview everyone and it’s not always practical to ask for explanations; most of the time you need to just hone in on the clear top matches for what you’re looking for. You don’t “owe” candidates an extra chance beyond their original application materials.

      (And I imagine she’s worried about backlash because a not insignificant portion of candidates who receive feedback become rude or hostile about it or want to argue with you. It’s not because she’s doing something wrong.)

    5. Al*

      Yes, this, 100%! I’ve not stayed longer than a year and a half at any of my jobs in the past 7 or 8 years but they’ve all been fixed term contracts, where I was employed for certain periods of time on non-renewed funding.

      Thankfully, my industry is aware of the fact that a lot of people are on fixed term contracts but if I changed fields, I’d hate to be passed over when the reason I’ve changed some of these jobs is “they wanted to keep me but wouldn’t know if they had funding until the week my contract was due to end and I couldn’t take that risk”.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        You just need to note “(short-term contract)” next to those jobs. Job hopping is about leaving a series of jobs quickly that weren’t designed/intended to be so short-term; it doesn’t include short-term contracts.

        1. Al*

          Thank you! That is amazing! I will actually do that, because I don’t know that any interview panel would know that all the positions were either fixed term of casual.

          1. Summer Anon*

            Exactly! My industry has a lot of contractors and people will write “contract position” or “short term contract” next to the title. In those cases, I don’t count it against them. And often times based on their accomplishments for their contract it is evident they were brought in for something that wasn’t going to be long term or going to lead to full time employment…like Y2K remediation :)

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          That tactic is the single best thing I got from an outplacement service after a layoff. I added the words “fixed-term” into the title of my first after-college job and grouped all the long-term temp jobs together with the agency as employer. It even stabilized my “recession-driven move back home…I just listed both cities under agency location.

        3. Jaybeetee*

          Yes this is what I wound up doing during my temping days, when I had a slew of jobs lasting from a couple of months to about a year (I didn’t bother listing anything under three months, but without stipulating that those jobs were contracts, my resume would have looked… pretty chaotic).

        4. Database Developer Dude*

          Yeah, most employers won’t bother to take the time to look at the fact that most of those jobs were short term contracts. They’ll just look at the dates and file-13 the resume. Let’s not start ordering halos here.

        5. Career Hopper Wannabe*

          How do prospective employers interpret my application if all of my jobs, except my most recent one, are short-term contract positions?

    6. WS*

      Sure, they could be wrong, but it would be up to the applicant to address that in either the resume (if possible) or in the cover letter. My early 20s are a series of stop-start-stop jobs because I was also seriously ill at the time and kept going into remission and coming out of it. When that was my only job history, I had to explain that (though I have a lot more job history now!)

    7. allathian*

      It also depends on the reason for the job hopping. Say the main breadwinner of the household has a traveling job and the couple moves every year or two, and the person who’s looking for a job has easily transferable skills (data entry, admin, retail, etc.), then job hopping would be entirely reasonable. Doesn’t sound like it would work in this particular case, though.

      1. Beth Jacobs*

        Well, it is reasonable, but from the POV of the employer it’s the same result. They know the employee is likely to leave in a year or two. Depending on the learning curve for that job (and don’t be fooled: length of service matters in admin and retail), they may still prefer someone else. I know this might seem unfair, but it’s legitimate for the employer to consider.

        1. Mystery Bookworm*

          Exactly. A lot of roles (especially at higher levels) involve projects and initiatives that take years. It would really be a disservice to clients and other staff if you hire someone knowing they’re likely to leave in 1-2 years.

          1. Erin*

            This is why it is extremely frustrating looking for work as a military spouse. I am quite certain my application gets thrown out for that alone even if I try not to advertise it, all people have to do is look at where I’ve lived to figure it out. I know I’m a fast learner and adaptable, but few folks seem willing to give us the chance. My resume looks like I can’t hold a job, when I have literally zero control over where I’ve lived or how long I stayed there for the past 10 years.

            1. Anonymous Educator*

              That is frustrating because it’s totally not your fault. At the same time, if the employer wants someone who’s going to stay a long time, the employer doesn’t really care whether you leaving after a year or two is based on you being restless/incompetent or you having a spouse who has to move your family elsewhere often.

              1. Gazebo Slayer*

                I wonder if there are any companies that specifically go out of their way to hire military spouses and go on a PR drive about it? It could be a way to do something good and earn public goodwill. (I mean, there are “social enterprises” dedicated to hiring people with other barriers to employment. Sadly not nearly enough of them, but they exist.)

                Financial incentives from the government to hire military spouses might also be helpful, but 1. a lot of politicians like to pay lip service to sUpPoRtinG oUr TroOps while not doing anything else and 2. I’d worry that companies would pocket the money and renege on their promises the way a lot have with pandemic relief.

                1. Erin*

                  There are definitely more than in the past, which I’m grateful for. Then it becomes finding out whether a company is really spouse friendly, or if it’s just window dressing–if they’re located in our area–and if I can shoehorn my skills into the positions they’re advertising to military spouses. It can be very disheartening.

        2. allathian*

          Yeah, that’s a fair point. This happened to one of my friends whose husband was hired to do a project for 18 months to 3 years in one location. Sometimes she managed to find a job and when she didn’t, she was a homemaker and SAHM. Then she got sick of the roving lifestyle to the point that they ended up getting a divorce (this wasn’t the only reason). She got hired at the first job she interviewed at after that. She was very up front about wanting a more secure lifestyle and being sick of moving around every few years. She’s now been at the same job for 7 years.

          Sometimes circumstances change, and if they do, you might as well make sure your potential employer knows it, even if it means revealing more about your private life than you would otherwise consider doing.

      2. Yorick*

        If this has changed and the applicant is looking for something more stable, they can address that in the cover letter. Otherwise, the employer is entirely correct to not hire someone who’s likely to leave soon when they’re looking for a long-term employee.

    8. Πενία*

      I find it interesting that you’re getting so much pushback. Job hopping is frowned upon because employees owe it to employees to “stay at least a few years” & because “having to hire and bring a brand-new person up to speed every year or two is a huge time suck” (AAM, 10/25/16). The power imbalance inherent in the way we do business prioritises the employers’ discomfort and time, and the applicants’ time & effort are secondary thoughts, if they’re considered at all.

      And I find it distasteful that contracts are not considered commonplace. If you require longevity in an employee, offering them a contract is an reasonable way to acquire that commitment. It doesn’t help the ‘job hopper’ in this letter of course, but it’s hypocritical to require years-long commitment from employees on penalty of a bad reference or the appearance of ‘job hopping’ while not also guaranteeing the employees’ employment for the appropriate time-frame.

      1. Πενία*

        Ah, my kingdom for an edit button. That should be ’employees owe it to employers’ at the start.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It’s not because employees owe that to employers. They don’t (and the post you referenced doesn’t say they do; the full thing is here). Job hopping puts candidates at a disadvantage because employers want to hire people who they think will stick around for a while, and the assumption is that if you leave most of your jobs quickly, you’re likely to leave this one quickly too. It’s not about owing anything; it’s about employers looking at the data they have available to them and deciding whether it lines up with what works for them, and how appealing that candidate is compared to others. When you’ve got dozens, maybe hundreds, of well qualified candidates, of course you’re going to focus on the ones who seem likelier to stick around.

        1. Dan*

          Well, it’s a little bit more than just “looking at the data.” An old boss of mine used to say that it took 2 years to get a new-hire fully productive. I work in a field where domain knowledge is required but usually doesn’t exist with new hires, so a lot of that first two years is picking up that knowledge and using it enough to not forget it. And it probably does take several years (at least 4-5 if I had to guess) to get a person who knows nothing about the domain competent enough to lead a project.

          So in my line of work, a lot of it is the ROI. We simply won’t get our money’s worth out of someone who won’t stick around for 3-5 years. It’s also something where it takes awhile to rack up resume-worthy accomplishments, so if one has several stints of less than two years, it can be assumed that they don’t have notable accomplishments.

          1. TechWorker*


            We literally didn’t hire a pretty good candidate because they explicitly said they planned to leave the country in 5 years. (There was debate on the hiring committee, but a conclusion that someone who ‘might’ leave in 3 or 5 or 10 years was more valuable than someone who will definitely leave in 5.)

            1. Dan*

              On the flip side… long ago, I had an interview straight out of grad school for an engineering role. The interviewer asked, “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” My reply: “Senior engineer at your company? It takes awhile to get good at this stuff.” His response: “It takes 10 years to be a senior engineer here.” I kept my mouth shut, but my body language asked, “Then why the F did you ask me that question, and what response would you have found acceptable?”

              1. Caroline Bowman*

                Yes, those kinds of leading, semi-trick questions are awful. In a former life, I worked in HR / recruitment and had to beg managers and often very senior directors from not terrorising new-grads and people at the start of their career with that sort of question. It’s mean and actually pointless.

                ”If you worked here, what would you like your path to be?” is far better, because it’s more realistic, doesn’t put a specific time on it (how can anyone know that in 24 months they’ll be X or Y?) and also gives them an opportunity to show if they have researched the company at all.

                Especially with new grads, getting to know them and their ambitions, ideas and how they think was always of more value than demanding specifics that they simply couldn’t have given.

              2. TechWorker*

                Also ridiculous because they should have known that the definition of ‘senior engineer’ varies widely between companies, and if they have absolutely no progression between ‘grad’ and ‘10 years experience’ it’s probably a pretty shit place to work…

          2. Mel_05*

            Yeah, the ROI is true almost anywhere, the length of time involved varies between a sub shop and a software company, but everyone is calculating how much it will cost to train someone versus how much value they’ll provide the company.

      3. MK*

        Job hopping is not considered a negative because of the employee oweing anything to the employer, but because the candidate looks flaky, or at least unsettled. Also, a contract does not guarantee that you stay a specific time period, unless it’s fixed term; that’s not usual even in countries were any employing relationship is a contract, like mine.

        1. Πενία*

          No, but having a contract with a provision that provides compensation to the employee for the remainder of the contract, unless the employee leaves by choice or is fired with cause, is a beautiful thing.

          1. MK*

            Severance, legally mandated, is a good thing to have. But contracts such as you describe also have consequences for the employee if they leave early.

            I think you are conflating a bunch of things here; contracts, fixed terms, severance etc.

            1. LDN Layabout*

              Exactly. I’m on a ‘permanent’ contract, which on my case means giving two months notice/receiving two months severance.

              A long term (e.g. more than the standard 18-24 month for a long term fixed contract) contract of the sort where an employer has to pay out is more than likely going to impact the employee more than the employer.

              What if something happens in your life that makes moving essential? What if an ad for your dream job pops up? It would keep people stuck in those jobs for years if they didn’t have the safety net to be able to leave.

          2. TechWorker*

            Yes, but also not what most employees want either?

            I know some people work on fixed term contracts, but as someone with a non-fixed term contract I would not want that at all! Usually the reason for them is there’s a set amount of funding or a set length project so it’s hit and miss whether you have a job after that. In addition if I wanted to quit my job I would like to do it on a sensible notice period (they are by default longer than 2 weeks, often more 1-3 months) rather than having to work to a fixed point that might not line up well with a new job.

            TLDR: I don’t think fixed term contracts are the great thing you think they are.

            1. AcademiaNut*

              I work on a rolling contract with typically 1-3 year terms (ie, I stay employed, but the contract is renewed), and the main advantage is not so much the duration of the employment, but the terms.

              If funding is cut, or I do badly at my job, there is nothing to stop my employer from laying me off or firing me, as long as they follow the terms of notice/severance in the contract. And similarly, I can quit. However, for the duration of the contract the terms of employment are fixed – hours, pay, benefits and the title of the job. So they can’t suddenly make me half time, or switch me from salaried to hourly, or cut my pay by 30%, or demote me to a more junior position.

              The downside is that every couple of years there’s a renewal discussion – most longer term jobs don’t have a point when you sit down and discuss whether you’re still going to be employed come January.

              The other thing is that in positions where it’s hard to fire someone due to contracts there is often a probation period of a few months to a year, during which they can let you go easily. So if someone is difficult or incompetent, they’ll end up with jobs that last less than a year.

      4. Dan*

        This is one of those “big picture” things. The “job hopper” label in my field would get applied to someone who had something like 3 jobs in a row that lasted no more than 2 years each. At this point, given what we do, there’d be a conversation about what wasn’t working in the applicant’s previous roles, what they’re looking for to be more content in a role with us, and why they think we can provide that. I’d actually be hesitant to enter into a multi-year contract with this person, because job-hoppers are job-hoppers for a reason and I don’t want to be committed to someone who doesn’t want to work with/for me/us.

        A single instance of a short stint isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. If it’s the candidate’s first job, any number of reasons are acceptable for moving on (other than “terminated for cause’). If the candidate has a few jobs lasting 3-5 years or more, I probably wouldn’t blink if there was a short-term job on there.

        I guess this is all to say that at least in the US, the people I really would want a contractual obligation from, I probably don’t want to hire, and the people I want to hire, the contract doesn’t really come to mind.

      5. hbc*

        Very few employers think they’re “owed” a long-term employee, but they all prefer it. Would *you* hire a lawn service with a reputation for only doing one summer, or choose a babysitter who is leaving the area in a few months when there’s an equally-skilled babysitter who’s planning to be around next year?

      6. MCMonkeyBean*

        Comparing resumes from multiple applicants and deciding not to pursue the one that shows a lot of short-term jobs because you think they might be less likely to stay at your company for a significant period is many miles away from “requiring years-long commitment.”

      7. AntsOnMyTable*

        If you found out a company routinely fires their employees at their 1.5-2 year mark would you be comfortable working there? I don’t see how it is much difference than them not wanting to hire a job hopper. Working for a company that has employees with a good length of service isn’t a guarantee that you won’t get fired or laid off after a relatively short period of time but it increases the chances. Same with them hiring an employee who a good track record.

        Even the most menial of jobs I have done people are often still learning how that specific company works at the year mark. Sometimes there are issues or quirks that only come up occasionally and you need that length of time to run into them and sometimes there are just more nuanced things involved. If the job isn’t set up to be temp why would you ever want someone who is almost guaranteed to job hop?

    9. cncx*

      i had an abusive marriage and for reasons related to that, the entire time i was married to him i left jobs every year (i won’t elaborate because cw etc). i stopped job hopping once i got divorced. funny how that works huh

      anyway i say this to say, sometimes the interviewee can give you an answer that makes you understand. it really is important to ask.

      1. Oh Fiddlesticks*

        That may be true but you have to get that interview first, and based on a resume with lots of unexplained (non-fixed contracts) short term stints, that’s unlikely to happen.

      2. Lora*

        Ha, I did the opposite – ex-husband had drained my finances so badly that I was willing to take ANY job that paid at least 20% more, no matter what it was. I said yes to every headhunter within a 50 mile radius.

        It says something about sexism and pay differentials that I was able to get to parity with my male colleagues this way, and it worked out to a 11% raise every year for six years.

      3. Colette*

        Understanding doesn’t negate the issue, though. A lot of jobs take months to learn, and a year or more to become really good. If you consistently leave every year, you’re never going to get really good – and it often takes months to hire. Most managers don’t want to spend 25% of every year hiring for the same position.

        I can sympathize with a situation without wanting to take on the impact of someone else’s issues.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          The effect of that, unfortunately, is systemic discrimination against women. Since women are disproportionately likely to be abused by a partner, and because women make up the majority of military spouses and other trailing partners, we are more likely to get tarred with the “job hopper” label.

          Companies that are serious about diversity, inclusion, and equity should consider this in their hiring processes.

          1. Colette*

            It’s not discrimination against women; it may be disparate impact, although I am not sure that’s the case.

        2. Database Developer Dude*

          I’m a software and database engineer. If I take a job in my specialty, the job is the same from company to company because I’m using the same technology, so that’s one example of how that’s not a thing anyway.

          Retail? Food Service? Please. If you’re an employer that’s insisting it’s going to take an employee a year or more just to get good, get over yourself.

          1. Colette*

            Speaking as someone who has been in IT my entire career, that’s just not true. You may know the technology and the languages; you don’t know the business or the customers and it takes time to learn.

            You can be a cashier in fast food and still need to learn how to use that particular system, what is required for an override, etc. And depending on the shift you work, there may be different tasks you also have to learn – how to clean the ice cream machine, how/when to change the oil in the fryer. This all takes time.

      4. Gazebo Slayer*

        That’s horrible. I hope you got a lot of your POS ex’s money in the divorce settlement, at least, though I’m not optimistic about that. Domestic abusers should be forced to pay heavy financial restitution to their victims.

    10. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      OP owes nothing to the applicant. And 12 jobs in 17 years is problematic, but it’s not up to OP to tell her that.

      1. juliebulie*

        Even if OP told the applicant, how would that help? The applicant’s work history looks bad, but that’s the applicant’s work history.

        (If I were the applicant, I’d note that my work history is kind of spotty for reasons beyond my control [maybe find a better way to say that], and that I am really looking for a long-term position.)

        1. Persephone Underground*

          I think it could help in that the applicant now knows they may need to address it in some way, likely in their cover letter (or adjusting how the jobs are listed on the resume to note if there were reasons such as fixed-term contracts behind the apparent hopping), on their next job application. Sure, it seems obvious to us but this sort of thing is easier to see from the outside. So it would be a kindness, even though they don’t owe the applicant anything.

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        It’s not necessarily problematic. Maybe the applicant had legitimate reasons for leaving those jobs. But whether it’s problematic or not is also irrelevant. Even if there are legitimate reasons, the employer doesn’t want someone who’s likely to leave within a year or two.

        1. erin f*

          Agreed. There are many reasons an individual does not stay with a job.

          For example: if the applicant works in the nonprofit sector, many organizations’ positions and programs are funded by grants with term limits and their financials are often rocky, causing furloughs, layoffs and staff reductions, the applicant may have found themselves out of work as a result, but remains committed to working in that sector.

          Also people who experience domestic violence also have histories of “job hopping” and will not disclose this information in a cover letter.

          Others could work in an industry or field that is rife with harassment and abuse (restaurant, fashion, tech industries for example) and leave jobs when the hostile workplace becomes completely unbearable.

        2. Gazebo Slayer*

          Yes, all of these. In addition, a lot of people have had to take temporary or contract jobs for a while and gotten trapped in a cycle where they can’t get a permanent job because their resume is all temp work. Many more have had mental or physical health troubles or family care responsibilities that have affected what jobs they can take or keep.

          I don’t think we should so readily brush this off with “…irrelevant. Even if there are legitimate reasons, the employer doesn’t want someone who’s likely to leave within a year or two” as Anonymous Educator put it. A lot of these reasons result in systemic discrimination against women, people of color (in the case of your harassment example), or people with disabilities.

          A spotty work history (or long-term unemployment) shouldn’t make people unemployable. Our society has the wealth and power to ensure that everyone has their basic needs met and has the opportunity to do something meaningful. If it isn’t the responsibility of individual employers, it’s the responsibility of all of us.

          (Unfortunately, our current system requires keeping some amount of the population unemployed – the “natural” unemployment rate – in part as an implicit threat to workers. Reserve army of labor and all that.)

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            I wasn’t brushing it off. If employers want people to stay for a long time, the previous work history is a practical indicator for whether an employee is likely to stay long. Again, as I mentioned before, a series of short stints is not necessarily the fault of the applicant.

            A spotty work history (or long-term unemployment) shouldn’t make people unemployable.

            Fully agree. As other people noted above, though, if someone has 400 applicants, and 30 awesome applicants of those have longer tenures in their previous jobs, there isn’t a huge time/energy incentive to investigate what’s going on with the other 370.

            You can write this off again as “brushing it off,” but it really is about pragmatism and is also not the fault of the applicant.

            1. Database Developer Dude*

              No, it’s really about intellectual laziness.

              I left the active duty Army in 2001. In 2014, I joined my current firm (and have been with them for 6 years).

              Between July 2001 and March 2014, I had 9 different employers over almost 13 years. Every time I got on a contract, when the company lost the contract, they laid us off. That was in my cover letter. I can’t tell you the number of jobs I lost out on because an employer looked at the resume, ignored the cover letter, and said the equivalent of “Bye Felicia”. Every time I got laid off, I had to make finding a job my full time job, and by full time I mean 40 hours per week until I got an offer.

              Some of those jobs I also lost out on because of my membership in the Army Reserve.

              Bottom line, the employers have too much power in this dynamic, and you recognizing that it’s not the applicant’s fault, Anonymous Educator, isn’t worth a hill of beans. It still doesn’t get the applicant a job, even with a stellar resume and cover letter. It’s just so much hot air.

          2. Career Hopper Wannabe*

            Thank you, Gazebo Slayer, for bringing up how sexism, racism, and ableism get perpetuated in the workforce when employers hold onto the narrow view that “job hoppers” make for unreliable and bad employees.

    11. NotAnotherManager!*

      No, you don’t. You owe applicants the professional courtesy of responding to their application, even if it’s just a form email to say that you’ve gone in another direction. You do not owe applicants an explanation or investigation into the factors of the rejection, and, frankly, most hiring managers don’t have time for that between doing their actual job (likely short-staffed, if they’re hiring) and managing the team you do have. I’m not a resume/candidate consulting service.

      And being worried about “backlash” here is not a sign LW is doing anything wrong. Alison has posted repeatedly about the aggressive responses that people receive from candidates rejected for perfectly legitimate reasons (like you hired someone more qualified than they are), and that subset of the population has made it a risk to even respond at all to such inquiries. I don’t want my name or email splashed all over social media (which I do not personally use) either.

      1. Tone Deaf and a Half*

        When we hire associates, we get 400 resumes for each open position. We cannot send a form email to each one. Even if it only took me 30 seconds per resume to find the email, enter the email, copy and paste the form letter and send, that would take me 3 hours and 20 minutes of continuous, uninterrupted work. Realistically, I’d be doing that for a week or two in between my other duties. It’s just unrealistic. It’s nice if someone has the time to devote to that, but I don’t think it’s owed.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          With an ATS, you can do it in seconds! But even if you’re not using an ATS, you’re typically just hitting reply to their email and copying/pasting a form letter — takes about 2-3 seconds per person. It’s very doable — I used to do it that way for high-volume-candidate hires.

        2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Even without a ATS, I would hope you’re tracking the applicants in some sort of a spreadsheet. With a spreadsheet (first name, last name, email, status), you can easily use Mail Merge to blast emails that look like they were written individually.

        3. NotAnotherManager!*

          That’s a process problem. There is no reason to spend hours locating, copying, and pasting information to do this. Even if you’re not using an ATS, there are mail merge features, using email folders to bucket rejections and using a mail rule to bulk respond to them, and other tools that would fully automate this process and set your organization apart of the ones that ignore applicants and never close the loop with them.

          I get the volume, really, really I do. I hire for true, no-experience-required, entry-level roles and also get hundreds of applications per role. It’s like drinking from a firehose. But I think never even acknowledging a candidate submitted or is out of the running for a position isn’t a great look for organizations. People who are job searching are often stressed and anxious to hear back, one way or another. And my finalists are relative to the rest of the applicant population, so sometimes those people being rejected are ones I’d have considered had they not been in an unusually good pool and might like to apply again.

          1. Tone Deaf and a Half*

            No, we have literal piles of resumes. Small businesses don’t work like big businesses do. We don’t have a reason to have systems like that when we hire maybe once every 3 years. So it goes to a secretary who has to make do with outlook and printed resumes.

        4. Observer*

          If it takes you that long to get the responses out, you are doing it wrong. You should have all of the information in front of you when you make the decision. If you are going down a list, then just do a mail merge, for crying out loud!

        5. AutoMan*

          I thought literally every email program allows you to send automated replies to everyone. In this case, something along the lines of “Your resume has been received, if we’re interested we’ll be in touch by …” doesn’t require you to then send a rejection.

    12. RussianInTexas*

      It is not efficient use of time to call to the every single candidate. A fast snapshot of the applicant based on the resume/application/cover letter is what the “pre-qualifying” is.
      Also, no, no one owes the explanation to a rejected applicant. The actual rejection – that would be nice, “black hole” is the worst. But an explanation? No. It takes too much time, and it opens the answer for discussion.

    13. Grumpy Lady*

      Im a military spouse and we move every 2-3 years due to my husbands job. My job hopping isnt by choice! I know Ive been turned down for jobs for this very reason.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          I would think the challenge with that would be that unless the military spouse has retired and they are staying in the city, Grumpy Lady will be moving again in a few years. The problem isn’t necessarily the reason for the move, it’s the move itself. And Uncle Sam is not particularly concerned with spouses. :(


          Air Force brat

      1. Erin*

        I feel you GrumpyLady. It’s really hard. The only places that want to hire me right now are entry level customer service. I’m 35, bilingual, have a BA and professional certificates.

        1. Database Developer Dude*

          Erin, what city and state are you located in? My company is ALWAYS hiring, and if you’re bilingual, depending on the language, and what your certificates are in, they may need you.

    14. HR Exec Popping In*

      I would argue it is up to the candidate to proactively reassure the employer about something like job hopping. I’m interviewing Director candidates right now and one has done some significant job hopping over the past 4 years but she addressed it right out of the gate and eased my concerns. So I’m bringing her in for an interview (video actually) as one of my top 3 candidates.

    15. Joielle*

      I could see that if it was 2 or 3 short stays and the rest of the resume was solid, but 12 is a LOT. You don’t end up with 12 jobs in 17 years unless something is going on. If it’s something reasonable, then you would explain that either on the resume itself (e.g. short term contracts) or in a cover letter (e.g. following a spouse in the military). And you’d explain why you’re done job hopping now and are planning to stay at THIS job for more than a couple of years, because nobody wants to hire someone who will leave that quickly. In hiring, the burden is on the applicant to show why they are a good candidate, not on the employer to draw that out of them.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        I’ve had 12 jobs in the last 20 years. The shortest was two months, the longest is coming up on five years, and four and a half years at the next longest. This is not uncommon in my industry and area.

        So, the “something going on” is an area and industry that has been rocked by recessions and instability. If someone looked at my resume and screened me out as a “job hopper”, they are too hidebound to understand the industry anyway.

        1. AntsOnMyTable*

          If you are looking for a job in your field than that should be common knowledge and would not be an issue. If you are looking outside your field than you need to explain in your cover letter how this is common for what you were working. There are always going to be exceptions. Also a 5 year job and then a 4 year job is different than 2 years being the longest. You have at least demonstrated that you are able to stay longer term and that a company *wanted* you to stay longer term.

        2. Joielle*

          I mean, if that doesn’t apply to you/your industry, then it doesn’t apply. Of course there are some industries (like IT, it sounds like) where people change jobs every few years as a matter of course. (That would be included in the “something reasonable” that I referred to.) But if that were the case for the OP’s industry then I don’t think they would have written in, so we can probably assume that the OP is not in one of those industries. If you ever leave your industry for a more stable one where this kind of thing isn’t common, just know you may want to explain a bit more in your cover letter.

        3. Vanilla Nice*

          Quick comment: for me it’s not just length of previous employment that would make me think “job-hopping.” How the candidate frames their previous experience is important. In my industry, it’s very common for entry-level people to change jobs every 1-2 years and that itself would in no way be disqualifying. But if the jobs all seem to be unrelated in terms of experience/skills and the cover letter doesn’t provide a narrative about your experience, it tends to invite scrutiny about why a candidate is moving around so much. This is especially true if you appear to be applying “downward” relative to previous positions.

          Believe me, I understand that a lot of people frequently change jobs for completely valid personald and professional reasons and I try to keep an open mind about that when I’m hiring. You can alleviate concerns by briefly contextualizing it in a cover letter.

    16. juliebulie*

      Yes, yes, yes. The first 10 years of my career were dicey, and it wasn’t because of me. In those days it was more likely that the most recent hires would be the ones to be laid off. The defense contracts were drying up, which meant a lot of people were cut loose at the same time. And after getting hired somewhere else, bam, big layoff and you’re gone. A few years later, it was the outsourcing of tech jobs which led to more layoffs.

      I imagine that a lot of people who were just getting started during the big nasty recession have experienced something similar. It’s not that (some) workers wouldn’t like to stick around. It’s just that the concept of loyalty is no longer relevant to financial stability.

    17. Koala dreams*

      The employer doesn’t owe it to any applicant, just as the employee doesn’t owe it to the employer to call and ask about their deal-breakers before accepting (or not) the in-person (Skype nowadays perhaps) interview. However, it’s always weird to me that people put so much focus on job hopping on this blog, when in many fields the stable job where you stay more than 2-3 years is rare and 1-3 years is the normal situation.

      I agree with you that it’s unfair that applicants are supposed to put the years in the application, even though companies are not expected to put the turnover in the ad. For the applicant, that’s important information, but the employer has the upper hand. The playing field is often uneven in favour of the employer. That’s a change the hiring company can do next time they put out an ad if they want to (if they have low turnover it will be attractive to many job searchers), but it’s too late when you’re already sorting through the applications.

    18. Curmudgeon in California*

      This one bugs me too.

      I work in an area that is known for waves of layoffs. In my working life, I’ve sometimes had a layoff a year for several years in a row. Sometimes I had two in a year. Yet I’ve also had seven year tenure at one company, and a four year tenure at a company known for chewing people up and spitting them out after two years.

      If a person works temp/contract, it is *expected* that they’ll have a lot of one year jobs, because of permatemp rules. Plus, a lot of people go back and forth between regular and contract employment.

      My way of addressing this on a resume is to note “(contract)” on the contract jobs, and assume the hiring manager is smart enough to realize that contract jobs are, by nature, short duration. OTOH, if they’re not that smart, I probably wouldn’t want to work for them anyway.

    19. Observer*

      You owe it to the applicant to ask why they are job hopping before you reject them. >snipsnip<
      It really bugs me when hiring managers make assumptions about applicants.

      This is a perfect example of why hiring managers don’t want to give feedback.

  6. Mid*

    Ooof I feel #2. I’m one of two admins in a law firm, and the lowest paid by a good chunk (the next lowest paid makes almost double what I make, and everyone else is even more than that.) Between the salary differences and the fact that I’m the most recent to graduate college by a good decade, I often run into issues. I can’t afford to drop $150 to be reimbursed later, even though I know my company will reimburse me within 1 business day. I have student loans still. I have rent, I don’t own my home. Luckily, if I say I can’t afford XYZ, there are immediately other options provided, but I still feel weird about it sometimes.

    1. MK*

      You really shouldn’t. I don’t get where this attitude comes from that being broke is embarrassing, especially for young people not yet settled in life. If this was ever a thing in my culture, the 2007 recession nixed it.

      1. Mid*

        For me, I think it’s mostly a reminder that I’m the youngest, least experienced, newest, the “baby” of the office. I don’t want to remind people of that fact. They don’t ever make me feel bad for having different finances than them, they just forget that our situations are so different.

    2. Dan*

      I’ve always had this sense that certain careers had a “look” (and corresponding $ that it cost to maintain that look) that was required. Legal and real estate come to mind. “We have to project the image of success.” Which has got to suck when you’re in a support role in those industries and the pay isn’t what the BFD staff makes.

      I’ve long thanked my lucky stars that “my field” doesn’t require an expensive look. I can drive up in the most beater looking car imaginable, and nobody cares. Heck, most of the time I just wear jeans and a shirt with no holes in it, and that’s considered acceptable. I haven’t worn a suit in close to a decade, I couldn’t tell you if the one in my closet fits. It probably doesn’t.

      1. Lynn Whitehat*

        Yup. My brother-in-law is in financial planning. If he doesn’t look wealthy, the obvious next question is, “if you know so much about money, why don’t you have any?” If he looks like he’s struggling, a lot of clients would wonder if he could get desperate enough to steal.

      2. tangerineRose*

        In a similar way, as a software developer, I have shown up to work in a t-shirt and jeans and blended in quite well with co-workers. It’s almost a uniform :)

      3. Delta Delta*

        This lawyer is working in a t-shirt, shorts with a hole in them, and socks that match if you squint. I assume that’s not the “look” you had in mind. I am loving the COVID wardrobe.

    3. cncx*

      yeah when i worked in a law firm as an admin, i have all kinds of “how the other half lives” stories. my boss would steal my lunch and not understand why i didn’t have 20 to go get lunch (expensive area). Or spend several hundred on a taxi home working late. I don’t miss the rich ppl problems at all

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          Because they’re jerks and have no comprehension of certain social norms & niceties. Or at least, that’s what my Crappy Previous Boss was.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            Or as a deliberate power play. There was actually a memorable AAM letter about a boss who stole his employee’s lunch *every single day*.

      1. Beth Jacobs*

        I thought billing late night taxis to the client whose case you were working on was standard practice.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          It is. The clients typically no longer pay reimburse for those charges, but a lot of firms still offer the service to staff (not attorneys).

      2. Mme Pince*

        Yes! I worked at a law-firm in a part-time clerical position with no benefits and my date to the Christmas party accidentally asked to sit at the partners’ table before I could stop him. We were treated to an hour of talk about second homes and vacations to exclusive locations during a time when I was hemming my own dress pants with safety pins as they fell apart because I couldn’t afford the sort of wardrobe required by the firm.

    4. Emma2*

      I think it is pretty inappropriate and inconsiderate for someone to ask a colleague in an administrative or similar role to pay for something from their own account (with later reimbursement). I would suggest they should be embarrassed, not you – they know what they pay you and it doesn’t take a lot of thought to recognise that these types of outlays can cause hardship on a lower salary. Even if they did not think about this the first time, this is definitely not an issue you should have to deal with multiple times.
      I think you could mention to your boss as a general point that these types of things are not in your budget, and ask whether there is an alternative like a corporate credit card or a petty cash system. I have never considered having my assistant pay for something herself, any payments go on my card (typically if my assistant has paid for something, it has been an online or telephone order making it easy to use my card).

      1. Mid*

        I do now have access to the corporate card, it was just when I was first starting out. They hadn’t hired anyone new for several years, so I think they just forgot about that kind of stuff.

  7. Anon for this*

    Re #3: what about when you are applying for an internal position with your current employer. They presumably have access to hr so I assume they can really easily find out

  8. Early career engineer*

    LW#1 I am feeling your pain right now! I recently remote-started a new position and my company has done a great job setting me up with multiple mentors with meetings every day to discuss what I’m learning, which is really great… but I feel like each of them expects me to be an overflowing fountain of questions about things that I have learned about but haven’t actually been able to do yet. I can only ask so many questions of 2-3 different people in one 8 hour period before I need to just digest the information! Fortunately I’m starting to get to a level of understanding where I can come up with some good questions to ask everyone, but it was pretty rough going the first week when I was just trying to synthesize as much information as possible as quickly as possible.

    What has helped me to ask more/better questions is, at the end of each work day, writing what I did that day and coming up with a few questions (literally 2-3) to ask each member of my training team – even if they’re simple questions or culture questions about the company, they demonstrate that you’re interested and excited and may lead to some good discussions and more questions you didn’t know you had.

  9. Magenta Sky*

    LW #3: For me, asking an illegal question three years after it became illegal would be the end of the interview, since I have no willingness to work for a company that won’t obey the law. Or is so ineptly run that it doesn’t *know* the law.

    Especially if their response to “It’s been illegal to ask that question for three years” is anything other than some form of “I didn’t know that,” because that’s an admission of deliberate wrongdoing.

    Maybe if enough of the best candidates, the ones they go to the trouble to bring in for an interview, walked out in the middle of said interview, they’d learn that their behavior isn’t acceptable. I doubt it, but maybe.

    1. Dan*

      I… wish people in the US were taught that it’s ok to walk out of interviews. We’re so socialized to believe that our goal is to *land the job no matter what* or we’re a failure. So we put with a lot. There were two interviews I had in my younger years that I desperately wanted to walk out of and just say “thanks but no thanks”. Except those two were long-distance, and if I bailed I’d just have to kill time before my flight and I’d still have to get to the airport. I figured it was better to just suck it up and complete the interview. Whether or not that was the best choice, years later, I’m still not entirely sure.

      One job I wanted to walk out of was just a few years ago. I was waiting for another offer, and had I had it, I would have looked an interviewer in the eye and told him to kiss off. But I wasn’t ready to write the job off on the spot. As it was, I got the offer I was waiting for 90 minutes later waiting on my return flight home. I so wished I had it earlier.

      I did ask a wise friend of mine how to turn down that job. I was *desperate* to tell the interviewer what he could do to himself, but only in the most polite way possible. My friend advised to call/email the recruiter and say, “After my interview with X, I’d like to remove myself from consideration.” She said the smarter people in the room will read between the lines and figure things out. Seemed reasonable, so that’s what I did.

      1. Amy Sly*

        I was not socialized to believe my goal was “to land the job no matter what.” Up until my last job search, it was my bank account that was telling me I needed to land the job. People will put up with quite a lot when they need the money.

      2. I can only speak Japanese*

        I don’t think this is a US problem. I’m from Europe and work in Asia and I would still feel like I’m in the wrong for ending an interview as a candidate, and I have been asked far worse than my salary history. (Family planning is a popular one for women my age.)
        It might just be a symptom of all capitalist countries.

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        Eh, I’m American (and a woman, so socialized to be polite), and I haven’t seen interviewing as game-winning since very early in my career. I had a run of bad interviews for my second job, and that quickly turned me from thinking of offers as “wins” to realizing that I wouldn’t want to work with such awful people everyday if you doubled my pay and avoiding that being the “win”.

        I also think there is a big difference between ending an interview early when it’s clear it’s not a good fit nor a job you desperately need and looking for opportunities to tell an interviewer off or what they can do with themselves. You can end an interview early by thanking the interviewer for their time but noting that it doesn’t sound like a good fit and you don’t want to use any more of their time. You can also finish it out it as an opportunity to practice interviewing and remove yourself from consideration afterward – your friend’s verbiage is perfect. Some interviews are just bad, but behaving badly back never works out quite like it does in the movies when the villain gets their comeuppance.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          It’s not behaving badly to say something like “It’s actually been illegal to ask about previous salary for three years in this state, because that question perpetuates racial and gender pay disparities. I have no interest in working for a company that either doesn’t bother to learn the law or deliberately flouts it. This is not going to work out” and leave. I mean, most of us are not in a financial position to do that when job-searching, but if you are… go ahead and drop the mic.

          Behaving badly would be pooping in the potted plant.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            I disagree. I think phrasing it in that way is unnecessarily aggressive and is more likely to come off as self-righteous or crowing about being right rather than make the employer reconsider their practices. There is a reason Alison provides scripts of direct but professional phrasing when pointing out to someone that something’s not kosher. Mic drops also have the potential to burn a bridge unnecessarily, particularly if you’re in a smaller industry or area where people (or recruiters) know each other. Most people don’t have the luxury of doing that and are far better off to use Alison’s scripts to extricate themselves from a situation that is obviously not where they want to work. Or save it for GlassDoor and the labor department. There’s no upside to telling off an interviewer, absent feeling like you stuck it to them.

      4. tangerineRose*

        “I was *desperate* to tell the interviewer what he could do to himself, but only in the most polite way possible.” I love this.

    2. WorkIsADarkComedy*

      I suspect most of these jerks actually do know, but they also know the power differential between interviewer and interviewee, so they feel free to ignore the law.

      But there’s nothing preventing the interviewee from reporting the company to the authorities later on.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Do it do it do it!! If they’re not hiring you anyway, how are they going to retaliate?

    3. #3OP*

      Hey! I’m the OP for Q3. In the one interview I referenced, where the interviewer (who was German, btw, though the interview was in NYC) refused to continue unless I told him my salary, I basically checked out and we wrapped up the interview shortly thereafter. As soon as I returned home, I sent a note withdrawing myself from contention. I wish I could say that hearing an illegal question would be enough for me to consider a red flag, but I have heard variations on this question in EVERY interview (I’m more than 10 years into my career!) … so there would be nothing left. I think sometimes interviewers will ask this question in a less legally questioning but still frustrating way: “What are your salary expectations for this role?” which is just as bad, IMO, though I will be eager to see how Alison’s script plays out next time.

      1. Colette*

        I don’t see a problem with asking your salary expectations – and, in fact, that’s how I’d answer if they needed an answer. “For this role, I’d expect a salary between X and Y, depending on benefits”.

        1. irene adler*

          Here in California there is a similar law regarding asking job candidates about current salary or salary history.
          However, employers ARE allowed to:
          -withhold divulging any hiring salary ranges until AFTER the first interview is completed -even if candidate directly asks during the initial interview, “what is the hiring salary range?”.
          -ask candidates what salary range they are seeking. Employers often preface this question with “I am not asking you to tell me your current salary or your salary history…”

          I actually read the text of the law because I thought employers were acting in ignorance of the law.
          Nope. I was the ignorant one.

        2. #3OP*

          While I agree that it’s maybe not problematic to ask, research can only get you so far. How do you navigate the salary expectations question?

          1. Colette*

            You need to do salary research before the interview. Talk to people in similar jobs, check job ads, check published salary ranges (government jobs here publish their salary ranges). Come up with an idea of what the job should pay. If your current company has salary ranges, check to see what that kind of work should pay there.

            That should give you an idea of what the range should be. With employers who seem to be playing games with salary, I give them a higher range than others – but of course this will all depend on how badly you need the job.

              1. The New Wanderer*

                Agreed that you need to be prepared because it’s legal and common to ask. But honestly, asking candidates what they expect the position pays is not really any better than asking specific salary history. If you don’t know what the company pays and there’s nothing comparable, or the comparables cover a huge range*, putting the onus on the candidate to name a number is still a game that disproportionately and arbitrarily benefits some while holding others back.

                *Based on last week’s job posting searches in GlassDoor, in my field, in my location, with my experience and credentials, the salary data show a range from $60k to $200k for comparable positions.

                Even more frustrating is when the company asks you your expectations, gives you no idea of what their actual range is, and then the offer is fixed, non-negotiable. The only reason in that case that I knew it wasn’t a lowball offer was that my colleague who worked there told me his starting salary for the same position and it was the same. I got salary transparency, but not from the company.

                Ideally the company (that knows the budget planned for your salary) would tell you (the person who could easily price themselves way over or under based on limited or bad info) FIRST what salary starting range they have for the position and ask if that meets your expectations.

                Especially with the rising expectations of salary equity and transparency, companies should really be doing this.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I agree with you (and have written about that a bunch), but given that it’s legal and common, candidates need to expect it and be ready for it (which I realize you’re not disputing).

          2. drpuma*

            Actively interviewing helped me when I felt nervous about this. After hearing a ranges that worked for me in a couple of phone screens, I adopted from those when talking to other companies. “I’m interviewing for roles that range from $$$ to $$$.”

        3. Gazebo Slayer*

          Why not just have a fixed, non-negotiable salary that’s right there in the job listing? Boom, problem solved, neither applicant’s time nor employer’s time is wasted, fair for everyone.

      2. EPLawyer*

        Its my understanding that they can’t ask salary “history” as in what did you make before. But asking your salary expectations, future plans, is not a violation of that law. The purpose of the law was to keep people from being stuck with low salaries because that their new job pegs their salary to the old one. It is not to preclude any discussion of salary or salary expectations.

        Alison’s script is finding out if you and the employer are aligned as to salary expectations. If you are not, then it makes no sense to continue. If they don’t know your salary expectations they can’t know that.

      3. HR Exec Popping In*

        Asking salary expectations is very reasonable and normal. No one wants to waste each others time if there isn’t alignment. I would recommend doing some research and to develop an opinion on what you think you should be paid for the role as defined. Know your worth!

      4. JSPA*


        ‘To stay on the right side of the [state name] salary disclosure law, I can tell you that I’m mostly looking in the range of X to Y, depending on issues like fit, benefits, opportunities for advancement and office culture [customize as appropriate]. What range are you working with for this position?”

    4. de Pizan*

      I work in a state agency, in another state that has a similar ban on salary history. I was originally a temp for the position, and had to reapply when it became permanent. It was about a year after the ban had gone into effect, and the application that they gave me still had that question on there. I, trying to be helpful, pointed out to my grandboss that they couldn’t ask me that as it was against the law. He was very grumpy about it. Possibly because I work for the Judicial Department…..

  10. Gaia*

    I feel truly scandalized by that eye serum. For $800 it better climb off my face and do a dance on the vanity. Wtf.

    Also your CEO is trash for recommending that. She knows good and well most people can’t even consider paying anywhere near that for an EYE SERUM.

      1. MK*

        For me it matters if she actually recommended it and/or mentioned the price. If she only said she uses X and then the OP looked up the product, that’s not bad. But if she actually said to people she knows make 2,000 a month to buy 1,000+ worth of products, that’s pretty tonedeaf.

        1. OP2*

          OP2 here – I was able to look up the products because she talked about some of them during the chat, and the rest of the products got emailed to the whole staff as a “Recommended Skincare” document. I clicked the links several times to make sure I was seeing correctly.

          1. Lady Meyneth*

            Whoa. There was an email recommendation??

            That’s so far over the line I can’t even. I’m glad you mentioned this, since up to this point I was mostly thinking this was just a in-the-moment chat blunder and people were being too harsh on the CEO just because she’s rich. But yeah, I stand corrected, she’s actually trash!

          2. No Tribble At All*

            She EMAILED it to the WHOLE STAFF?? So she had to go find the links? So she had to see on the page how much they cost?? (Unless it’s one of those sites where you have to “click here to see price”). But STILL. Omg.

            1. OP2*

              OP2 again – Just to clarify, everyone added their recommendations to the document and one of the younger staff members shared it with everyone. But, yes, the CEO looked up the products, copied the links with the price next to it and added them.

          3. Joielle*

            Oh boy. Yeah that’s pretty bad. I can understand having a conversation where you just say the names of the brands or products you use, because that’s what people are talking about and you’re contributing to the conversation… but this is really tonedeaf. Yikes.

    1. Liz*

      My feelings exactly. When I think of “high end” skincare, I think of brands like Clarins where some products might brush into the three figure range. I use what I consider to be an expensive brand as I have sensitive skin, so paying £20 rather than £7 for a product I know and trust feels justifiable. I cannot fathom how an eye cream justifies that kind of price tag. It makes me wonder if this colleague has some sort of financial interest in this brand she is plugging and is trying to line her own pockets.

      1. OP2*

        OP2 – My CEO had no financial interest in the products she recommended. I have enough skincare knowledge to know that the brands she recommended are well established. It’s the sort of stuff you can buy at luxury department stores.

    2. Dan*

      I have to be honest, I don’t know what eye serum is. (Yes, I can google it.) How long does an $800 container last? What does it actually *do*? Is it even noticeable? I can conceivably pay that for one *suit* but it will last me many years. I’m having a tough time thinking of something that my male boss would bring up that costs $800 that would make me think, “oh, maybe I should be doing that.” Anything that I can think of would just get a funny look from me.

      1. Aphrodite*

        Eye serum = heavy eye cream wrapped in a dream.

        Dream profit for the manufacturer, that is.

      2. Who the eff is Hank?*

        To answer your questions, eye serum is meant to lessen the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles around your eyes. Some brands/formulations work for some people, others don’t. I’ve found one brand that actually makes a noticeable difference for me. It’s not like liquid photoshop or anything, but I have two under two and it takes me from “undead zombie” to “regular tired mom”.

        The jar I use is 0.5 oz and it lasts me about 3 months. It’s $50 per jar (so $200 per year), which to me is pricey, but my vanity demands it.

        1. Dan*

          The $50/pop hurts but $200/year for something your derive value from doesn’t seem terribly unreasonable. Presuming the $800 jar lasts the same amount of time, that’s $3200/yr for something that can be had for $200? If the boss should reasonably know this, then holy geezus.

          1. Glass Skin*

            The thing is, the $50 a pop serum might not work for the boss. It’s possible the $200 one is the only one she’s found that actually makes a difference for her. Sure you can buy “a” serum for much less, but not all serums are created equal, and not all serums work for everyone. My night cream is a basic one that costs $7 for a massive tub, but my day cream is a $120 one because I need a specific combination of ingredients and formulation that is hard to come by, and all the cheaper ones make me break out.

            The boss is being tone deaf, absolutely. But the fact there are cheaper alternatives available doesn’t mean it’s automatically unreasonable to buy the more expensive ones. You just shouldn’t unthinkingly recommend those to others, and certainly not to those who you know are financially less well off than yourself.

        2. Picard*

          So… wanna share which one it is?

          (says the elder with bags packed for Europe under the eyes)

          1. Who the eff is Hank?*

            I use the IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye. I’d recommend getting a sample at Sephora before you commit to buying it- I’ve made that mistake before!

      3. MK*

        It’s a product that reduces wrinkles on your eyes. Yes, it works (I mean, it won’t make you look 20 again, but it helps to make your eyes look less tired), an if you use it correctly 15ml can last for more than a year. But 800$ is insane; the Dior product from their most expensive line costs 120 euros in my local department store.

    3. Gazebo Slayer*

      I don’t even know where you would *find* $800 eye serum. I’ve seen what I thought was really high-end stuff at Sephora and such, but it was nowhere near $800.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’m hoping it was a typo for $80… I can sort of imagine cosmetics costing in the range of a food budget. But not in the range of a car budget.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            You know what, if for any product you feel like shelling out ten times what it’s worth, you can find one that costs even more. There are lower limits on the cost of things, but no upper limits but the sky.

        1. Lora*

          You mean the ones that are all declaring bankruptcy now? Must not be much margin in eye cream…

          Honestly, if you’re paying THAT much, why not spring for the facelift?? It’ll do a lot more and it’s good for at least 10 years.

          1. Annette*

            There actually is a lot of margin in eye cream. One of the industry’s biggest scams. That said. If it works for you by all means use it.

      1. Littorally*

        That, or the scammy outfits selling from kiosks in the mall. I’ve seen plenty of four-figure bills from those. (Not my own spending! Stuff I’ve encountered as part of my job in the finance industry.)

    4. Crivens!*

      Right?! I don’t care if you somehow magically make me a billionaire, I will never spend $800 on eye serum unless it literally makes me look 25 all over again.

      1. OP2*

        I’m going to agree with you, Jane (disregarding your comments towards me earlier on). I was looking for some guidance on whether this behavior is normal and/or acceptable as I’m still pretty new into my career. I think calling someone’s actions tone-deaf or gauche is completely fine. Calling someone trash is really, really harsh and I wish people would stop saying that in the comments.

    5. Magenta Sky*

      One of my ophthalmologists gave me injections for diabetic retinopathy that didn’t cost much more than that. (In fact, after the insurance company got done negotiating, it may well have been less.)

  11. Coverage Associate*

    After 3 calls and 2 trips to the pharmacy, creating log ins with 2 different branches of my health insurance company (took 3 web browsers), corresponding with my doctor, and still not having my medication, $800 for an over the counter alternative almost seems worth it. It might be for someone higher paid.

    But I try to allude to the price point when making a recommendation, for example, by saying the store where I got it.

  12. G*

    #2 – Sounds like the CEO is massively into skincare and probably only uses the high end stuff and therefore wouldn’t have cheaper recommendations. Skincare is a hobby for some people and price doesn’t matter. Would you have felt the same way if she talked about horse riding (expensive hobby)?

    1. Scarlet2*

      Those are products that most people could not possibly afford, even if they don’t really have money issues. Since she is definitely aware that her employees don’t make nearly as much money as she does, it is absolutely tone deaf (and doubly so in a period of economic depression).
      “Price doesn’t matter” is not a thing for most people, no matter how passionate they feel about their hobby.

      If the best she can do is “try this 800$ eye serum”, maybe she shouldn’t actively participate in this particular conversation. It’s ok, I’m sure not everyone had something to contribute.

    2. Taniwha Girl*

      LOL people who are into skincare as a hobby know that you can get cheap stuff that is as good as (or close to, or better than) the high end stuff!

      If you’re into a hobby mostly as a money dump (which, literally every hobby is expensive when you get to the good stuff!), then sure price doesn’t matter to you. Like if your hobby is cars but mostly to park in front of people and show them off. Or jewelry that you keep in a lockbox at home.

      But if you’re an actual hobbyist you know how to look for quality before throwing your money away on whatever high-price item. There is no reason any consumable skincare product should be $800. Half the time they put gold in it, which, like, who thinks 24K gold is a skin-healthy ingredient??

      1. Dearth Mofongo*

        I don’t think that your perspective is universal – a hobby is, by definition, something people do in their leisure time for pleasure. There’s literally no access requirements to say that something is a hobby for you except that it is something you enjoy and do sometimes. I can’t say I doctor as a hobby, but I can say that I garden as a hobby despite my lack of a horticultural doctorate.

        It’s completely valid to like expensive things. And lots of people who are super into skincare like gold in it – there’s a pretty expensive (to me) Guerlain primer with gold flakes in it that has pretty high reviews across the board.

        I think the CEO is tone deaf as all get out, I just don’t think your perspective on what constitutes a “actual hobbyist” is universal or even common, and I see no point to gate-keeping how people define their personal pursuits.

        1. Mary Richards*

          I got a free sample of that Guerlain primer somewhere and I don’t get the hype at all.

      2. hbc*

        Huh. I think in any arena, there’s junk priced as such, stuff marked up beyond quality level for all kinds of reasons (primarily marketing), decently-priced quality stuff, and really expensive stuff that has some basis for being expensive. Like, I’m not sure I can differentiate the taste, but there’s a chemical basis for the coffee beans pooped out by civets being different than normal beans, and it’s an expensive process. I don’t think there’s a basis for calling someone less of a coffee hobbyist/snob/whatever if they prefer those pricey beans.

      3. LQ*

        I think that this is interesting. One of the sort of things you can do in some sports (I’m thinking skiing, biking, and rollerblading because those are ones I’ve done) is buy speed. I can’t get faster overnight, but I can buy better skis and get faster over night. And you have the junk low end stuff, the mid level, and then an infinite amount of high end stuff that on some things I can absolutely tell the difference, in some I can’t because I’m not good enough, but others who are more skilled than I can tell the difference.

        I don’t think that it’s a money dump if you can tell the difference. And just because I can’t tell the difference on skincare doesn’t mean someone else can’t. I know enough about what I don’t know in the things where I do hobby that I feel like it’s just dumping on someone else’s life to say that if I can’t tell the difference, they can’t either.

        You could say there’s no good reason for a bike to cost thousands of dollars, but I can tell the difference between a $20, a $200, and a $2000, I expect people who are more attuned can tell the difference between the $2000 and the $20,000 machines. I could say there’s no good reason to spend $800 on skincare, but I can’t tell the difference between a $5 and a $50, so what do I know?

      4. drpuma*

        Skincare hobbyist chiming in to back this perspective up. Friends come to me for recommendations all the time and I’m mindful of who I’m talking to and what their needs are. As another poster mentioned I budget specifically for skincare and still only spend in the high TWO figures on products. I work in a corporate HQ where folks are generally well-compensated, and still I don’t think I would recommend anything over $50 in a work chat.

        1. Snargle*

          Your anecdotal experience isn’t data or universal though. I am also a skin care hobbyist – well, I identify as such but I have bought la mer before so perhaps I don’t meet yours and the above criteria- and I do find there to be value for *me* in certain more expensive products. And when people ask what I use or used, I tell them! And I do try to name similar products worth trying but, there’s a reason I use a few expensive products and a bunch of cheap products.

          You really just can’t say that anyone who is REALLY in to skincare would never X because people do, they just aren’t you. And you don’t have to respect it but you should try to refrain from denigrating the people who do it or calling them (essentially) fake fans. Fake fans aren’t a thing. Stop it.

          1. Mary Richards*

            Totally. I’m willing to find alternatives for most products (The Ordinary FTW), but hell no am I giving up my Drunk Elephant Framboos!*

            *no, not cheap, but it lasts a very long time.

            1. ...*

              Framboo is maybe the ONLY product Ive ever used at that price point that is worth it. You will never take my Framboos!!!

      5. EventPlannerGal*

        Thrift =/= knowledge, though, and =/= virtue. I have a few hobbies that I am pretty knowledgeable about, even worked in a store for hobbyists for years, and I know my materials inside and out. There are some expensive materials that I won’t bother with because I know I can get the same thing for cheaper, and there are some that I’ll shell out for because I know that the cheaper versions are genuinely poorer quality. But sometimes I’ll just buy the expensive ones because… I feel like it? It feels good buying the expensive stuff? The cheaper ones just don’t feel right? There’s some tiny difference in colour/texture/quality that nobody else will notice but me? All kinds of reasons, really, and if someone was to look at my expensive materials and conclude that I was a fake hobbyist who didn’t know what I’m buying they’d be dead wrong. Sometimes knowledgable people make frivolous buys, and you can’t really decide if someone is an “actual” hobbyist based on that.

    3. Dan*

      If the boss only socializes with people who ride horses, then yes. It’s no different than Dudes Who Golf. Those that don’t are left out to hang because they’re not part of the club.

      There are things that are appropriate to talk about amongst peers, but not subordinates. I do a bit of video gaming, and if my peer told me he had a $5,000 setup for something, I’d nod and ask a few questions. I may even fawn a bit and tell him I’m jealous. But if my *boss* told me he had that getup, somewhat out of the blue? No fake drooling from me — more like a passive-aggressive “must be nice to afford it.” Better off to just keep quiet. Exception is if we’re at the bar and kicking it back, or some other situation where it’s actually ok to talk about it. But that’s probably not going to occur within the confines of the company walls.

    4. Former call centre worker*

      Recommending products isn’t the same as talking about a hobby. This isn’t like if she’d said she went horseriding at the weekend, it’s more like recommending getting a horse to people she should know don’t have that option. Price can only not matter if you’ve got the money.

    5. Anon because it may be identifying*

      Would you have felt the same way if she talked about horse riding (expensive hobby)?

      I had a tone-deaf boss who once said “we were so poor when I was growing up, my grandmother made my riding habit.” :-/

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I take it he wasn’t part of a racing family who scored a before-school job as a track hand?

      2. EventPlannerGal*

        How old was your boss?? The last person I saw wearing a riding habit was a Victorian reenactor who only rode side-saddle. I’m always so impressed reading about historical female equestrians who rode in those get-ups; I know they must have been used to it but still.

    6. No Tribble At All*

      There was a letter earlier about a CEO who would do video calls where you could see their mansion and roaming horses in the background. The general consensus was they weren’t trying to brag, but it came off as really braggy. So yes, if my hobby is knitting and the CEO goes on and on about her thoroughbred Arabians which cost as much as a college education, yeah, I’d get annoyed.

      1. Delta Delta*

        We recently sold our horse (as she was more chestnut mare than anyone reasonably needs… you know what I mean) and we called her training and board fees the Pony Mortgage. The only time I hear people talking about how much saddles or tack cost was if someone got an amazing deal and know of a sale or somehow got gifted some free saddles.

    7. OP2*

      OP 2 here – Yes, our CEO is massively into skincare. I really don’t want to shame her for how she spends her money, but I have enough skincare knowledge to know that $200 face creams are not the entry point for those who want to get started. Horse riding is an inherently expensive hobby. Skincare is not.

    8. Stephen!*

      Considering that my grand boss was complaining about a horse trailer and explicitly mentioned that it cost over twice most of our yearly salaries…. yes, I think mentioning price is bad.

    9. Environmental Compliance*

      There’s a difference between having an expensive hobby and detailing to everyone how much you spend on your expensive hobby. I don’t discuss my board payments for my horse to anyone, unless they specifically ask because they’re looking for a place for their horse. I don’t think I’ve ever discussed how much my tack set up cost. It’s just not relevant in 95% of conversations.

      You can have expensive hobbies and still be tactful in how you present them. I find the people in the horse world that need you to know exactly how much they spent on their custom-made, gilded up, more expensive than my rent payment saddle equally tactless and obnoxious.

    10. Lessa*

      If she were recommending high end products ($100-$200) that would be one thing, possibly tone deaf depending on the incomes of the people involved, but not patently unreasonable.

      An $800 eye cream is at best a good (~$100) cream with a $700 extra on top for the name on the packaging. More likely it is a mediocre eye cream that that you could get better for under $50, and at worst it will be actively bad (a lot of that kind of stuff is loaded with fragrance which isn’t good for your skin).

      You don’t buy an designer eye cream because you are into skincare because if you are massively into skincare, even if money is no object, you know you can do better. You buy a designer eye cream because you like to buy designer products.

      I would guess that she doesn’t know much about skincare at all, and just goes to a department store and buys what is recommended. And it probably works for her. But she should have realised that recommending designer items to staff without her resources was inappropriate.

  13. Treebeardette*

    #1 I’ve learned to recap the gist of whatever I’m being trained on. I find that actually helps me to learn. If they still point out you don’t have questions, then I say “I’ll have them when I do the work because I’m a hands on learner.” And usually they understand. I have also asked to do it myself to see if I figured it out.
    On another note, I’ve seen new people at my work who assume many things and does something without asking for help. Even if it’s minor problems, it still would be better to ask.

    1. womp womp*

      My lighthearted response is usually “Not at the moment, but I reserve the right to ask them later as I get into it!” with a smile. They usually nod and politely chuckle and we’re all able to move on.

  14. I see wonderful things*

    #4 I find peculiar as in IT it seems if you are *over* 2 years in a company esp. junior level, you are considered a stagnated dinosaur. Job-hopping is usually also the only way to get a raise.

    Add to this the quartal economy and agile development which means you are not really considered a person being of any value except as a ”resource for the project”. So if you paint teapot nozzles, you get hired with 10 other nozzlepainters in a huge ”demand” and once the nozzles are painted, 9 are let go and they keep one nozzle painter to patch up any repaints, if even that. People working in public bodies where they need to apply for their own job or the same job, but under a different budget understand this.

    Also, depending on the shenanigans, not only in IT but a lot of this goes on in seasonal resorts, and even in healthcare nevermind being an agency worker, you can be working in the same place for years, but due to financial artistry, the owner and ”company” change every so often. So from payroll records you look as if you have worked for 12 companies and 4 restaurants even you were actually working in the same job at the same venue for 10…

    1. Allie*

      I think tech and IT and a few other fields are the exception to this. Most of my friends in those fields change jobs pretty regularly. A lot of the new jobs are through word of mouth, but even on a resume it seems fine as long as there is progression.

      1. Colette*

        Not really; changing projects is common, but changing jobs more often than every couple of years will still cause you problems eventually (if it’s by choice, and not because you’re working on contract).

      2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        Multiple short term contracts is totally normal in my field. Employers often keep you on if they get more jobs but it’s very common to get a big job that you need extra people for, yet your normal business requires a third of the staff. Many people go from company to company and back again. In the last 5 years I’ve worked for the same 3 companies on 7 different contracts. If I were a project manager that would be weird, but for field staff it’s just the way it goes. We usually aren’t obligated to give a longer notice or anything.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I’ve worked in IT for over 25 years and worked for 5 different companies. My roles may have changed within those companies, but 12 different places in 17 years is mostly problematic.

      1. Allie*

        Okay, 12 jobs in 17 years is still probably a bit much, but I don’t think 5 or 6 jobs in 17 years would be an issue.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          I don’t think anyone will think 5 or 6 jobs in 17 years would be an issue, unless these are very high-level positions (CEO, Head of School, Executive Director, etc.). That averages to about 3 years per job.

    3. BrokeSW*

      I was just coming to say this! Job hopping in a lot of fields (social services in my case) is the only way to increase your pay beyond poverty level. It leaves a bit of bad taste in my mouth when people criticize job hopping knowing many jobs pay low wages with no merit or COL increases, only a very privileged person can sit in a position like these for years with such stagnate wages, I’ve really liked some of my jobs but I also have to eat…

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        It’s a know-your-field thing. Job hopping in my field is a red flag because there are merit increases and bonuses and employers are generally interested in retaining talented staff. However, I live in an area rife with government contractors, and it’s nothing to see contractors hop from project to project (or for the contract to be awarded to a different contractor and the staff stays under the new awardee). I have to take OP at their word that they know their industry well enough to know if the candidate’s history is concerning or not.

      2. ampersand*

        Same. This is the only way I’ve been able to make substantially more money. A three percent COL increase on a $30,000 salary is basically nothing, particularly when it’s followed by no COL increase the next year due to budget cuts, and the initial increase wasn’t even enough to keep up with the change in the actual cost of living. There’s also the issue of having left a job just before the three year mark because the work situation was pretty toxic. There’s no good way to explain that to potential employers, though. I don’t know how to appear not flaky.

        When I hired people, I didn’t expect anyone to remain in a position for more than two years. Definitely depends on the industry, but I think it’s normal for people to move around a lot more than they used to. (See: my dad who has been at his job almost longer than I’ve been alive.)

        1. BrokeSW*

          For real! I took a job at a certain non profit, the person I replaced was given a new position and raise, she was making $1 more than I was and had been there for over three years (grant funded positions). I took a different position in the same nonprofit and was making $1 more an hour, I left the non profit and took a new position, (state regulated job) and a year later switched agencies. I have increased my pay about 50% in the last 4 years, and gotten great benefits I’d be surprised if they gave her another $1 increase after all that time. It doesn’t always pay to stay in a job in this field, did I job hop? Yes, but I can afford a house now so its whatever.

      3. Gazebo Slayer*

        Yep. A lot of people *need* to job-hop, for this or other reasons. Employers that expect loyalty damn well better earn it, and people need to stop whining about job-hoppers and start complaining about employers like yours that make it necessary, or employers that have moved from hiring perm to hiring a lot of people on a temp or project basis.

  15. KeysToTheKingdom*

    Man, #4 strikes a chord with me. My resume is bound to look like a huge job hopping situation, but in reality it’s because I moved out of a toxic culture (after 1 year), then got made redundant (after 9 months), then moved countries for a role (lasted 1.5 years), then was offered a great position but had to leave because of family and health issues (after 6 months), then got some freelance contracts (both about 6 months each).

    People are right in saying the employer doesn’t owe the candidate anything and indeed you need to make certain judgements when screening, but at the same time, all of those situations that happened to me aren’t put on the resume, and in my view whilst only some can be included as things like short-term contracts, instances like the toxic environment and my health/family issues can’t be stipulated. And in my industry, the 6 month stint prior to my health issue is really important because – contrary what some people on AAM think as I’ve seen before – I managed to achieve a LOT of results in six months.

    I think it’s important that, if LW#4 is screening for candidates and see what looks like a job hopper, it’s pertinent to try and empathise or indeed look more closely. Maybe they missed out that they were short term contracts or maternity cover positions – this context is missing from their letter so can’t be sure – but obviously real job hoppers exist, and whilst you would naturally want to screen them out, sometimes there’s a lot of pre-judgement going on that could easily be cleared up if you just asked.

    1. JM in England*

      My employment history has some similarities to yours, except that I managed to do two back-to-back long term jobs (5.5 & 6.5 years respectively). I had to leave the latter long term job to deal with a family crisis and it took 5 years of temp & short term gigs, plus some periods of unemployment between 3 months & 1 year before landing my current permanent role. When job searching during this latter 5 year period, despite making it clear on my CV that these were temp/short term jobs, I think some employers still saw me as a job hopper; in fact, one employer rejected me because my temping showed “movement” (employer’s words)…..

    2. Kiitemso*

      A lot of my friends have these short stints due to contracts and some unfortunate family circumstances, but thankfully they have been able to indicate the contract length issue on their CV’s and people in their fields know it is a common problem in their field, so it has not been a huge problem. I think glowing references also help – even if you were at a job for 8 months, then left due to a move or family problems, but your boss can vouch for your effort those eight months, I think that’s going to undo the idea of being a job hopper for frivolous reasons.

    3. windowround*

      As someone with a crappy resume due to ill health, I think people are kidding themselves when they try to come up with ‘oh but it doesn’t refer to me because there was x y z reason.’

      The fact is most people do have a reason for a crappy resume. It’s not so common that people have job hopped just because they suck.

      Truth is employers don’t care what your reasons are. They care about outcomes. Whatever caused it doesn’t matter, fact is you have a history of unreliability. And even when it comes to what caused while some people may think their reasons are sound those are often things employers find off putting, like having health or family problems or moving to be with a partner or whatever. If life is constantly happening to you they may want to avoid that.

      People need to be realistic that they are going to lose out on some jobs because of it, and yep life just isn’t fair over it. Adjust your job hunting accordingly and be realistic. None of it is fair but I’ve found it helps to be realistic about how you come across and what your opportunities are, not kid yourself your ‘reasons’ make you some exception. Nearly everyone is an exception, they are trying to avoid exactly the things people think are valid excuses.

      1. Mel_05*

        That’s true. It’s helpful to indicate the reason when you can also say that the reason no longer exists, but if it does… this will not make a difficult to a lot of employers.

        It will to some though. There are plenty of people who job hop just because they’re unreliable and that’s not something employers can work with, but other life circumstances might be.

      2. Carbondale*

        This is a good comment. I am also a job hopper with lots of good explanations for why I’ve job hopped. Some people try to make a distinction between good job hoppers and bad job hoppers, but I don’t know if there are bad job hoppers. Everyone one of them has reasons for job hopping.

        Everyone faces a different set of hurdles when they are job searching and for people with a lot of short-term jobs, this is just another hurdle we need to deal with.

        1. agnes*

          putting the RFL (reason for leaving) can be helpful. Example:
          RFL: company relocated to another state
          RFL: company went out of business
          RFL: acquisition and merger eliminated my position

          1. Carbondale*

            As a hiring manager, I don’t like it when people include this information on their resume. I think it’s not a good use of space and comes off as a little defensive. If the online application form asks for this information, of course you should include it.

            I’ve addressed my own job hopping by emphasizing the strengths of my resume and my makes me uniquely qualified despite my job hopping past.

          2. Mockingjay*

            I think it’s industry dependent. It’s not unusual in mine. As a government contractor, these days I’m usually working on a yearly task order which may not get renewed or funded, or instead is awarded to a competitor, meaning I have to switch companies to stay with the project (and employed). We also hire military spouses who have to leave jobs every 2- 3 years. There’s a little more tolerance for shorter stays as long as you can explain it.

            1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

              In your case is it possible to explain that in your resume? Something like:

              Company #3 (March 2019-Present)
              -Transferred companies to continue supporting GREAT PROJECT

              Company #2 (February 2018-March 2019)
              -Transferred companies to continue supporting GREAT PROJECT

              Company #1 (March 2017-February 2018)
              -Initiated a really cool aspect of this GREAT PROJECT for this high-profile agency

              I’m curious, because I’m considering going into contract work (for various reasons). Then again, since it sounds like its typical in your industry, it may not matter.

      3. Luna*

        I do have to ask, how can you adjust your job hunting for this type of thing? I *want* a long-term position. I always mention in interviews that I am searching for one, like the position I am applying for, where I can stay, at the very minimum, for 2 to 3 years and counting.

        Search for short-term position? Most employers aren’t looking for people for such positions – they want full-time, long-term as well. The positions that do have short-term pay 450€ a month (this is a minijob in Germany; 450€ a month is the highest amount you are allowed to legally make in such a job), and it doesn’t include any benefits or health insurance. Not to mention, it doesn’t even pay enough to really live off of. It’s the type of job you get to get yourself some extra spending money or slightly stock up your main income.

        1. windowround*

          You can still land a long term position as a job hopper. By adjusting I mean that there may be some companies with a higher threshold for hiring that you will miss out on until your resume recovers, so look for less competitive roles.

          You can also adjust in what you say. I am shocked at how many people reinforce the idea it is acceptable to say things like ‘ill health’ or ‘family reasons’ in an interview when asked about your gaps or short term history. If you are a sought after hire interviewing with an ethical company sure, say what you like.

          Reality is most people are competing for jobs. You can’t just pitch up to an interview and talk about how your personal problems mean your resume blows. That’s delusional and it is frightening that people advise this. While people can validate to someone that this isn’t their fault and they still deserve a career that is seperate from realistic interview advice.

          Realistically you need to find a story that keeps your personal and health problems out of it. Unless, of course, you are a very sought after hire. I myself have a barely used side gig and can say stuff like ‘in between searching for the right opportunity I worked on my side gig’. I’d never say something like ‘yeah had a chronic illness flare up and lay on the couch for months.’ Are you crazy?

          I’m not saying lie but you also don’t owe the total truth to an employer. There’s no law that says you have to go into detail about how your Mom got dementia and your flaky brother wouldn’t help out and you took time off to do a bunch of caring before finding a nursing home and trust me now she’s in a home it won’t be a problem. Phew.

          This website is very focused on best practices and ethical employment. While this is admirable the reality is most of us are not competitive enough to work for such companies and need to ‘play the game’ and some advice on here is unrealistic and based in a world where things are done better, but that’s not how it really is. I am saying it SHOULD be like that, but it’s not.

          Reality is you made need some kind of cover story to explain your professional history, one that is not a total lie (don’t want to get caught out lying) but one that doesn’t also expose you to discrimination.

      4. Shabang*

        Appearances count!

        If I spend 2 months paying to train someone, I need them to stay. If you hand me proof that you probably wont via your resume, I will probably not look to hire you (unless I have no other way of filling that slot).

      5. Gazebo Slayer*

        Yes – most people have good reasons for their spotty job histories. I’m not going to just write it off as “life isn’t fair” and tell them to suck it up, though – it’s a real problem that employers don’t want to hire people with family commitments or medical issues or various other good reasons.

        As I said upthread, our society has the resources to guarantee everyone’s basic needs are met and to guarantee that everyone has some kind of meaningful work. There are just a lot of people who don’t *want* to do that.

        We also need to treat everyone as having inherent worth, even if they’re job-hoppers or not professionally successful. Being a temp, or a janitor or waitress or Uber driver or anything else not considered a prestigious job, doesn’t make you a bad person or valueless.

    4. Mel_05*

      It’s really up to the job seeker to indicate that there are valid reasons for job hopping. Employers barely glance at the information on most cover letters and resumes, so they’re certainly not making deeper enquiries into the ones that look like a waste of time.

      At one interview they told me they had 40+ applicants. They called 4.

      That’s all they needed!

      At one former job, they had so many applications that they didn’t even READ them all. I thought that was pretty stupid, but it was a *massive* stack of applications and we still found a qualified person for the position.

      1. windowround*

        I think people need to understand what a valid reason. People seem to think the only invalid reason is poor performance or shaky person.

        Actually, many employers consider your ‘valid’ things like family, health, spouse moving for work or whatever to all be invalid.

        If someone goes to an interview and address the question with a confident “oh I had family issues” and expect them to be cool with that, the interviewee may find yourself sorely disappointed.

        I’m NOT saying this is ok. Employees are human not robots. I’m just being practical that some echo chambers seek to reassure people they have ‘valid’ reasons when such reasons are often a ‘no’ to employers. You may be morally right that you shouldn’t be excluded over xyz reasons but more helpful advice is ‘find a better story’

        1. Mel_05*

          Yeah, “valid” may not be the best term here.

          The reason has to be one that no longer exists or that won’t be an issue in that particular job.

        2. Colette*

          I think “family reasons” is a valid reason to leave a job – but it’s not enough to reassure me that your family reasons won’t reoccur and cause me problems if I hire you. Something like “a close relative had major surgery and needed more care than I could provide while working, but luckily they have fully recovered and I’m ready to get back to work!” would be far more reassuring.

          1. windowround*

            I think family reasons sucks and people shouldn’t say it if they can find something else to say, or if it is a one off in other wise excellent resume.

            If someone has lots of short term jobs on your resume and is using family reasons, don’t. It doesn’t look good and it is not the excuse people seem to think it is.

            I am not saying it’s not valid in general. Family stuff happens. Just that realistically to an employer it looks bad. I’m confused why people think it’s valid enough to say in an interview. Maybe if the job isn’t competitive or you’re an otherwise good hire.

            If you’re not the most competitive hire and jobs are scarce don’t use family reasons. The reasoning of employers is that everyone has a family yet many manage to take time off over it. Is this fair? No. Is it how the world works? No.

            Of course there are going to be some employers who care about the reasons but plenty don’t unless that reason is something like short term contract or redundancy or the business failed.

            I’m not saying any of this is ok. In an ideal world it wouldn’t be this. Reality is if you’re not a super competitive hire don’t bring personal problems into an interview.

    5. Luna*

      Agreed. My resume looks similar.
      Worked a night job for less than a month (left as soon as I could, the job was making me sick)
      Only got some one-day work here and there over the next few months. Most of the places I applied to just didn’t answer or I never got past an interview.

      Then worked in one hotel for several months. (Let go because they believed I was ‘too sick’ too often. I had two days, in total, where I took a sick day because of severe migraines…)

      Another hotel, worked for several months again. (Let go because, according to the manager, I didn’t have the fine-tuned eye for minute details that you get when being trained to work in hotels; and she didn’t have the time to teach me the stuff herself)

      And now, of course, I’ve been out of work for 8 months, with six of those being difficult for anyone to get work because of COVID. Nobody hired during the first quarter of the year to keep potential, new infection sources out. Nobody hired during the second quarter of the year because everything closed down, and are now re-opening, likely trying to get their old employees back.

    6. Cantaloupe*

      I get over 300 applications for most posts I advertise. I don’t have the time to ask all the job hoppers to justify their spotty employment history so I can understand the reasons behind their constant movement, sorry. It’s just not going to happen. If they want me to consider them, they need to be able to get their narrative across in the resume and cover letter. If not, they are getting screened out straight away, because I have about four hours to get those 300 applications down to a pool of about 20 who will be phone screened.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        If not, they are getting screened out straight away, because I have about four hours to get those 300 applications down to a pool of about 20 who will be phone screened.

        Forgive my insolence, but don’t you want the best candidate for your position instead the decent candidate that takes the least effort to identify?

        1. Colette*

          No one wants to hire the absolute best person for the job, because that person doesn’t exist (and if they do, they aren’t job hunting). They want to hire the best person from the pool who applied – and “best” includes the ability to communicate why they are a good fit for the job. And usually, a habitual job hopper is not that person.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            I’m not following your assumptions.

            How does having several jobs in a short period of time influence communicating that they’re the best fit? Those are apples and oranges.

            So if you need a Teapot Engineer for a new teapot division, and there’s a candidate in your stack with 5 positions at 5 different companies making 5 different types of teapots, the diversity of experiences, techniques, approaches and styles wouldn’t be attractive for such a position?

            Glomarization, Esq. is right below; Job-seekers can’t ever freaking win. Not diverse enough or specialized in the wrong expertise if you don’t job hop, not specialized enough if you do.

            1. windowround*

              Several short term positions indicate a pattern of problems. Whether those problems are someone’s fault are not are often irrelevant to a business, who is not a charity.

              One or two short term sure it happens. But an entire crappy resume that has some kind of reason for why they left a bunch of jobs just doesn’t work. You’re going to need to as the commenters says communicate a good narrative for why that it is in your resume or why you should be hired.

              I think some people are kidding themselves. And I say that as someone with a dodgy resume due to problems. I’m realistic about my resume. Saying stuff like ‘I left one job that was toxic, then another time I was sick, then my dog got sick, then I got let go and I don’t know why’ and then all the commenters going ‘yeah that’s fine!’ is just not giving good advice.

              My advice, as someone in this situation, is the same as the commentator we are replying to: get a narrative and communicate that in your resume and cover letter. Privately people can support you and your problems and validate your unlucky experiences. In terms of work people need to give you honest advice that it doesn’t sound go to say you left a job because it was toxic, then this happened, then that happened. I’m not saying it’s not valid just that an employer won’t care and it doesn’t help anyone to pretend they will.

              1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                I was addressing a hiring manager, not the OP. I think hiring managers who filter that way are doing themselves a disservice, a disservice a competitor can take advantage of by hiring those good candidates that take more than 40 seconds to evaluate, and a superficial glance at nebulously defined job-hopping is an arbitrary way to put one’s business at a competitive disadvantage. It’s the same reason why it’s stupid and shortsighted to dismiss minorities and women outright.

                I do agree with your advice to the OP, adhere to the conventions whether they make sense or not.

                1. Carbondale*

                  As a hiring manager, I can tell you that for a lot of jobs there are a so many people who are equally qualified, you need to use some other metrics to narrow them down other than just who has the best qualifications. For a lot of hiring managers, length of stay at previous jobs is one of those metrics. I don’t think its arbitrary at all. A person’s track record generally pretty indicative of their future actions.

                2. windowround*

                  But you’re not a good candidate. If you have multiple short term jobs on your resume that indicates usually you’re not the best candidate and there is a likelihood of this happening again.

                  Everyone has the occasional short term role but if you’re main resume is short term without a reason like working in start ups that fail then no, you’re not a good candidate.

                  Having a bunch of short term jobs on your resume and being overlooked for it is not at all the same as being discriminated against for your race or gender.

                3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                  Having a bunch of short term jobs on your resume and being overlooked for it is not at all the same as being discriminated against for your race or gender.

                  It’s not, you’re just applying the same logic that was used on those lines.

                  We don’t see eye to eye and there is no benefit in continuing this conversation further. Take care and take it easy.

                4. Colette*

                  First of all, managers want someone who is going to get trained, do the job well, and continue to do the job for a while. No one wants to wrap up months of hiring, have the successful candidate make it through months of training (even if the “official” training is a day, it takes months to be truly effective in most jobs) and then quit and start all over.

                  Secondly, if you only have short-term jobs on your resume, you haven’t become the person people go to with out-of-the-norm questions. You may have years of experience, but it’s not the kind of higher-level work that you can get if you stick around.

                  To use an customer service analogy, when you call a support team, you get a call centre. They follow scripts and do exactly what is on them, even if you’ve already done that.

                  If you stick around, you might get promoted to supervisor or tier 2, where you can take more time and do more specific things that require more judgement. But you don’t get to use your judgement until you have put in the time at a lower level. So if you quit after 6 months and get a new job somewhere else, you never get to that judgement-using level.

            2. Uranus Wars*

              So if you need a Teapot Engineer for a new teapot division, and there’s a candidate in your stack with 5 positions at 5 different companies making 5 different types of teapots, the diversity of experiences, techniques, approaches and styles wouldn’t be attractive for such a position?

              But if they are 5 different positions in 7 years I don’t know that they have the depth of knowledge of diverse experience as much as just exposure to the diverse experience.

              And, in your example, if we are opening a new teapot division, we would probably only focus on 1-2 and I’d rather have someone with 2 areas over 7 years that 5 over 7.

            3. biobotb*

              Given that in most cases, employers would like employees to stick around, the number and length of jobs absolutely would communicate something about whether the candidate would be more or less likely to meet that requirement. Plus, if an employer wants depth, not breadth of experience, it would be totally valid to dismiss a job hopper who clearly has breadth but not depth.

      2. Allie*

        What are your tips for getting the narrative across in the cover letter and resume? It seems doable to do so in the cover letter (if its something that is resolved now), but I’m not really sure how you would explain it on the resume, unless it was contract work or something.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Speaking only for myself, the cover letter is where I see it being explained. I am assuming this is the type of job where cover letters are expected and that a hiring manager is reading the cover letter, which isn’t always the case (but is probably more often than we might think?). I don’t think it needs to be explained by both the resume and the cover letter, since they’re a package.

  16. windowround*

    Letter Writer 2: Overpriced Products.

    I think it depends on how the products are mentioned. It it tacky to flaunt wealth in mixed income circles. However, if stuff just comes up in conversations you can’t expect the CEO to pretend not to have money. It’s almost more tacky for someone wealthy to pretend they are shopping at discount stores and are one of ‘us’.

    I’m a progressive and I believe many offended people have a legit case about what they are taking issue with. But there is also a trend of people being hugely over sensitive. Maybe just throw a thicker skin when your boss mentions La Mer.

    1. OP2*

      OP2 here – The products were mentioned partially in the chat, and the rest were shared to us in a “Recommended Skincare” doc where everyone linked to products they enjoy using. I found out the prices of some of the items she mentioned through the links.

      I have no problem with how she spends her money. As I stated in my original letter, I believe everyone should be able to spend their money how they want to.

      1. windowround*

        But you were offended, that why you wrote in.

        Do you see that the CEO can’t win? If they don’t participate then they are being stand offish maybe and not team building and participating, if they do participate and say what they honestly use then they are being insensitive and if they lie about it and suggest cheaper products then they are lying.

        It really sounds like being over sensitive. Some people are rich. They may mention what they spend things on. So long as they’re not actively being a jerk about it, that’s life in capitalism.

  17. Luna*

    Regarding LW4’s letter about the job-hopper, I’d just like to point out that job-hopping does not automatically mean the applicant is difficult to work with or unreliable. I have had several jobs where I only worked for a short time in the last few years, and that was not my doing. (Okay, one was; I left for health reasons. The job was making me sick and I preferred to leave ASAP.)

    Whenever I was let go, it came from the employer’s side. I would have loved to stay at the jobs. But they were letting me go, and I had no say in the matter. And several of those times, I didn’t even know that my job was in any kind of jeopardy. So, please.
    Just because it appears there’s job-hopping, do not assume it’s the applicant’s fault.

    1. XcX*

      WHY were you let go – repeatedly from jobs – though? That looks like poor performance, unless you can post to a specific reason such as downsizing resulting in a lay-off. Being let go generally indicates that you ARE difficult to work with/unreliable/a poor performer etc. That doesn’t come across well, for good reason!

      1. I see wonderful things*

        What if you were hired on one of those ”magic statistics” programmes the government pays 1/2 your salary for 6 months (or whatever schemes there are) and as your probation is 6 months you are let go, so they get a next 1/2 salary person instead of having to pay you full. Similar thing happens with unpaid internships or apprenticeships, basically any scheme there is when you get a subsidy of some kind. Not saying all employers are money-grabbing fiends, but once you notice a ”trend” you can’t help but wonder…

      2. Colette*

        Yeah, “I didn’t quit, I was fired!” isn’t going to help.

        There can be legitimate reasons for leaving a job after a few months – but if it’s a pattern, it looks like you’re the kind of employee who leaves a job after a few months. Maybe you’re not – maybe you’d love to stay but life got in the way – but it’s not possible to tell that from a resume.

    2. I see wonderful things*

      Also, in difficult times the redundancies work on a ”last in – first out” principle. How exactly can you hold that against an applicant? Better still, next hiring manager will look at how long you have been unemployed… self-fulfilling prophesy that one.

      1. Joielle*

        If that’s the case, though, you have to explain it in your cover letter. Maybe you were just unlucky to end up at a bunch of companies in a row that had to do layoffs shortly after you started. That’s not necessarily a dealbreaker, but you do have to explain that.

        If you have a bunch of short term positions, you’re starting in a bit of a hole when you apply for any job. It’s not impossible to get out of that hole, but it’s on the candidate to explain it and sell themselves. If you want the hiring manager to give you the benefit of the doubt, you have to explain why they should.

  18. Titta*

    LW: 4.
    I think there are two possibilities:
    1. The applicant is not a trust-worthy employee and they are making, or seeing, the difficulties themselves, where ever they go
    2. There is a more valid reason for job hopping (including difficult family situations, health-reasons, certain industries etc. as mentioned above)

    I think in both of these cases it would be pretty useless to give feedback, when you are not planning to go forward with them. Ether they know how their resume seems, but can’t really help it, or they just don’t care and “it’s not their fault”. I think this advice would not be helpful for them at this point.

    1. jmkoni*

      The other thing to keep in mind is that URM are more likely to deal with harassment or less-than-ideal work environments that would cause them to not stay at jobs for a long time. I have a history of shorter stints… and it’s largely because I was underpaid or not given opportunities that others were. Also startups :P

      1. Colette*

        I don’t know what URM stand for, but I’d like to challenge this line of thought. Being underpaid or not given opportunities others were is not a good reason to leave a job after a short stint if you already have several short jobs on your resume. Stick it out, show that you can hold a job for 3 years, and then move on to bigger and better things.

        1. I can only speak Japanese*

          So you think people should just swallow whatever kind of mistreatment or harassment that happens at work? Yikes.

          1. Colette*

            Of course not – but being underpaid or not being given opportunities you’d like is not harassment.

            1. windowround*

              Agreed. Reality is if your resume blows and you land a role you’re going to have to suck it up for awhile to get some stability on there. Of course there will be some things worth leaving over but generally speaking the bar will be high for leaving.

              1. Carlie*

                URM is under-represented minority, so not being given opportunities or being underpaid specifically because of racial bias, intentional or not.

                1. windowround*

                  I don’t doubt racism in the workplace is real. But if someone has a crappy resume because they’ve job hopped over racism you may be morally right but practically speaking it’s going to hurt you in job hunting.

                  The URM may need to suck it up for a bit to get some stability on their resume. When you have a lot of short term jobs on your resume and you’re stuck having to stay in a job there’s all sorts of things a person winds up having to put up with.

                  I’m not saying any of this is right. Morally it is right to leave a racist job. Practically speaking it may hurt your career if you do it too often.

                2. Colette*

                  Agreed. As someone from the outside, I can’t tell whether you are underpaid/being denied opportunities because of racial bias, poor performance, or incompetent management.

                  Staying in a less-than-ideal job for long enough to build a track record of sustained performance will help you more than it will hurt (unless there is blatant harassment or mistreatment).

                3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                  But getting out of the bad situation is often your only leverage, so by enduring it, you’re perpetuating it.

      2. Titta*

        Totally! And I would say anykind of racism, injustice, harrasment, illegal business etc. is a valid reason to leave.

    2. Sarah*

      Everyone seems to be going hard on one side or the other. I think the letter writer should just tell them the way Allison suggested that the job hopping looks like a problem. Then they will know that for future jobs, an explanation in a cover letter would be useful. But you don’t have to be the one to absorb the risk. Personally, if someone told me why I was rejected before a first interview, I’d be very much pleasantly surprised and not inclined to start trouble! And if they do start trouble, then you definitely know it was the right call!

  19. Allonge*

    LW1, this is an extension of Alison1s third point – explain how you learn best – but ask the question about how the training works / will work. If the trainer(s) in your field expect that they show you what you need to do for two days and then you can do it on your own, it’s a different situation than if they expect follow-up questions anyway. So get them to explain how the training process should work from their side, AND explain that for you, it’s essential to try things before you can really learn them. This is not that unusual!

    Also, as this is a recurrent issue, it may be worth it to clarify with your boss what kind of questions she has in mind. I have a direct report who is attentive in training situations, but then explicitly needs to be told that she should ask ‘is this correct’ before she sends off her first (dozen) products she did alone post-training. Her default is that once the training is over, she knows everything and there is no need for checking her work. Your letter reminded me of her because I really wish she would ask questions before ‘finishing’ things post-training. This does not necessarily apply to you, just wanted to mention it in case it rings a bell.

  20. Amy*

    For LW 1, when you write “watching people do things and taking notes doesn’t really help me until I can put it in practice,” it makes me wonder if this isn’t a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    You don’t think this kind of training is important. And perhaps as a consequence 1) it isn’t important to your learning and 2) your trainers are noticing you don’t think it’s important

    Most of us aren’t as good actors as we think we are. I would try to mentally reframe this as they are valuable things to learn in this setting, it’s another side to the coin of hands-on and this is good face-time with the bosses / trainers. Because I imagine you are giving subtle signs that this is a waste of time for you and that needs to stop.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      No, OP1 is not necessarily undervaluing training or sabotaging it. I’m a kinesthetic learner like she she sounds like; you can lecture at me until your voice fails permanently and I can watch you demonstrate for me until my eyes fall from their sockets; it won’t fully click until I do it myself. Especially if it’s a task that requires finesse or intuition.

      Maybe employer needs to give OP1 an hour of two of hands-on practice time before expecting questions.

      1. GothicBee*

        Agreed! I’m the same way and I much prefer if I can get the training and then be given a chance to try whatever it is myself and then review it with the trainer so that I can see if there are any issues where I’m not understanding something.

        It also doesn’t sound like OP1 is having any trouble with training (like it doesn’t sound like she’s struggling to understand the material or is doing things wrong afterwards), just that people don’t believe she’s getting it because she’s not asking questions. In my experience, just being more proactive about saying “Okay, I understand” or “So I should…” etc. like Alison suggested can help the trainer know you’re getting it. And to be fair, having trained people before, it can be hard to know if someone is understanding everything if they’re completely silent, even though silently absorbing and note-taking is how I learn things best outside of hands-on experience.

      2. doreen*

        It doesn’t even have to be a physical task – I don’t really perform any physical tasks at my job, but no matter how much you lecture me about some new software or a new policy or procedure, or how much written material you give me, my questions are going to come after I’ve tried to use the software or to follow the policy/procedure

      3. BethDH*

        You can be a kinesthetic learner and still get value out of other approaches. Theories of learning style are not meant to be exclusive. There is a difference between not getting it fully until you try it — I think most people are this way to some degree anyway — and thinking you can ONLY get useful training by trying it.
        I don’t agree that OP’s letter sounds like they discount the spoken training, but I think Amy’s post of being mindful of whether you seem to be blowing it off because you don’t learn that way is relevant.
        One possibility for OP is to think of “question” more broadly. Some questions are good to ask in many situations and OP could ask them without needing to fully process the training. Things like “what part of this do people usually have the most trouble with?” Or “Where do I go for questions later?” can help OP focus their hands-on self training later.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Wow, that’s rude. I generally don’t have questions until I’m doing the work myself either. That doesn’t mean I think training is unimportant. I usually say “Makes sense, but I’m sure I’ll have questions when I start.” Not everyone learns in the same way.

      1. Amy*

        The LW does seem to think this part of the training is unimportant and she doesn’t expect to gain anything from it.

        My guess is – it shows.

          1. Amy*

            LW writes – “watching people do things and taking notes doesn’t really help me until I can put it in practice.”

            Perhaps this a poorly designed training module. But many companies design their training sessions a specific way for a reason. For example, at my company, generally do a flipped classroom approach. Watch some videos, take a quiz, then in-person training, then hands-on, then coaching. Yes, I too would prefer to skip the videos. But it’s a process where a fixed mindset (I will only learn during X portion, not Y portion) will likely not be helpful. There are things to be learned at all steps in the process.

            The LW states they have received this same feedback from previous employees. They may be a hands-on learner but the perception they are giving is they doesn’t learn by watching people do things. The company wants their new employees to watch people do things. They are accurately picking up on the fact LW doesn’t find this type of training useful.

            No matter the LW’s preferred learning style, a growth mindset would ultimately benefit at least how she’s being perceived.

            1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

              You’re making assumptions that just don’t seem to be there. How does “watching people do things and taking notes doesn’t really help me until I can put it in practice” equate to “I don’t think this training is important? I’ll help you…it doesn’t.

              1. Amy*

                Yet multiple have given the same feedback. LW literally writes that this type of training doesn’t help them.

                It’s not a reach to think LW is conveying what they are already thinking (this is not helping me)

                1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

                  I just re-read the letter and LW1 doesn’t say this type of training doesn’t help. She says she doesn’t have questions until she starts do it on her own. LW1 does say “I’m a hands-on learner, so watching people do things and taking notes doesn’t really help me until I can put it in practice.” (emphasis added).

                  My interpretation is that she uses the training and the notes she takes when doing the task, not that she thinks the training itself is useless. It’s that the usefulness is shifted.

                  Where did LW1 say she doesn’t think this type of training is useful? Are we just interpreting the letter differently or am I missing something?

                2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

                  Blargh, got the bold wrong.

                  “I’m a hands-on learner, so watching people do things and taking notes doesn’t really help me until I can put it in practice.” (emphasis added).

        1. Lynn Whitehat*

          Um, what? There is no correlation at all between thinking “based on past experience, I know this will not stick in my head” and “meh, this doesn’t matter”.

          Case in point: I served as a poll worker in a special election yesterday. I am like the OP and learn by doing. I know that about myself. The training was a few weeks ago. Sadly for me and people like me, the training was a 3-hour lecture and a manual. I get why–it would take way longer to have people actually act out different scenarios (change of address, curbside voting, no ID, etc). It would also be cumbersome and expensive to have a bunch of mock equipment for practice. But it was basically my worst nightmare of “you have to do this live in a high-stakes situation without ever having laid hands on the stuff in practice AAAAAAHHHHHH”. It’s just not the way my brain works and I know that.

          Believe me, it had nothing to do with not caring. I stepped up to work the polls during a pandemic (and BTW my area is really spiking Covid-wise right now) because I care passionately about free and fair elections. I understand that they have to be administered a specific way for security reasons. I didn’t sleep Monday night because I was terrified of getting something wrong. So I would like to ask you to re-evaluate your stance that “oh no, I will not remember this” is even close to “meh, this stuff doesn’t matter and I don’t care”.

  21. agnes*

    LW #1 I think the suggestion to ask more questions about the training is a good one also ask about how accessible people will be to help you after the training period. I don’t think that taking notes alone demonstrates that you have learned and retained the information. In our organization, the training period is intended not just to provide information to you, but also to evaluate your comprehension and retention of the information. Now in an ideal world your trainer would be quizzing you, and taking the initiative to assess your knowledge/retention, but that doesn’t always happen. So definitely ask questions, and do the “ok, let me say this back to you to make sure I understand” process.

  22. ARG*

    #4 Was it “job hopping” or bad luck? Dud you ask or simply nake an assumption? As someone who ended up working at a string of failed start-ups, many times i wasn’t job hopping by choice.

    1. Carbondale*

      Does anyone job hop by choice though? I’m not sure that they are very many people who just leave jobs because they are bored. Of course there are people who leave jobs because they are unreliable or difficult, but even those people are able to come up with reasons that make it sounds like its not their fault. For a hiring manager, it can be hard to tell the difference.

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        Oooh, I know one! There was once a young woman in my circle of acquaintances who moved every year or so. She was restless and liked to experience new places and new things. I lost touch when she inevitably left our city. I wonder how that’s affected her career path. When I knew her, we were all young and in entry level positions where it’s a bit more common to see job hopping.

    2. mreasy*

      To me it seems incumbent on the applicant to explain their work history, if it appears this way, in their cover letter – to avoid this exact type of snap judgment. It’s not the prospective employer’s job to thoroughly vet every one of the possibly dozens (or hundreds!) of applications they receive – it’s just not realistic.

    3. JM in England*

      I was most definitely an involuntary job hopper!

      Of the 12 jobs I’ve had to date, all but 2 I took because I had to rather than wanting to…..

    4. I see wonderful things*

      Well, in the UK at least after 3(?) months on the dole you lose your ”career protection” so you must apply and accept *any* job there is. So your resume can be very patchy if you can not just up and move and the local economy is in the pits.

      1. JM in England*

        When job hunting during a period of unemployment, had a recruiter ask why I was searching all over the UK. I felt something snap inside me and replied along the lines of “Errmmm I don’t know. Could have something to do with having exhausted all local possibilities!”……

  23. Mbarr*

    #1 Aaaaahhhh this is me at my job right now. People tell me what to do, ask if I have questions, I say no (cause it seems straightforward)… Then I get started and realize there’s a lot more info required.

  24. Roscoe*

    #1 is one of those annoying games you just need to play. I”m like you OP. I absorb information, and don’t really have many questions while I learn, but will have questions when I’m doing stuff. However, I’ve learned that trainers/bosses/etc tend to think that people who are asking lots of questions are more engaged. Maybe its because that’s how they are. Who knows. But now, when I start a new job, I make sure to ask questions here and there to give a better impression.

    #2. I don’t particularly find it tacky. Mianly because what I’ve learned is that people just value different things. I would never pay $800 for skin cream. But, I would definitely pay that for a weekend away somewhere. I know many women who are very frugal with certain things, but then buy a $1000 purse. Some people buy expensive gaming chairs, or TVs, or stereo equipment, none of which are things that interest me. Point being, I think she may just value that stuff more than you would, but its very possible that you spend what she would consider exorbetant amounts of money on hobbies you have

  25. The one who wears too much black*

    Is staying less than two years at an organization considered job hopping? I know this depends on company, industry, and context, but it’s really surprising to me that AAM didn’t push back even a little at that idea because I would never consider a two year commitment with trackable accomplishments before moving on to additional roles job hopping.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Not necessarily, but having 12 different jobs in 17 years is excessive.

      1. Clisby*

        I agree. My first job was in journalism, where nobody would blink if you changed jobs every 2-3 years. But over 17 years, that would be more like 6-8 jobs.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Their longest stay was 1.5-2 years. They had 12 different jobs in 17 years. That’s job hopping.

      To your question more generally, a single stay of less than 2 years is no big deal. A long string of them — in a lot of professional fields, yeah, that’s a concerning pattern.

  26. Frustrated*

    For the job hopping, they may want to include why their jobs only lasted so long. Back when I was a substitute teacher I worked multiple jobs and some of them were seasonal short term. Also my last two jobs were 2 years and 2 1/2 years each, not because I quit but because they both went out of business. Putting a line on my resume that the companies are now defunct and mentioning it in my cover letter helps.

  27. hbc*

    OP1, I would make this your refrain as you end a training session or topic: “It all seems to make sense, but it usually does until I get my hands dirty. Where do other people tend to get stuck or make mistakes out of the gate?”

    It shows you’re engaged and gives them a chance to explain the non-obvious tricky spots. And at least half the time, it lets them vent about their pet peeve mistake and you can take special care to avoid that particular landmine.

  28. florence and no machines*

    #5: Yeah, I’d say it’s your bank and how fast they clear things/make them available. Friday is “payday”. My paycheck is in my bank and the funds available for me to use on Thursday. I’ve never asked any of my coworkers when their bank clears the direct deposit.

  29. Glomarization, Esq.*

    LW#4: their longest stay around 1.5-2 years out of all 12 jobs listed from 2003 to the present

    I mean … from 2003 to the present we saw the Great Recession and a whole lot of other upheaval. Quite a lot of people have been so-called “job hopping” as they faced layoffs and other contractions in industries.

    This is why people aren’t always 100% truthful on their resumes. Job-seekers can’t ever freaking win. If you’re going to call it “job hopping” and toss my resume in the circular file, then maybe I’ll massage my resume to put all the jobs under just one or two headings and call it “freelancing” or “consulting.”

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      At least in IT, the average stint is supposed to be 3 years before moving on. One would need to move on every few years to have the required references both recent and reliable. So is the morale of the story that OP4’s candidate didn’t job hop properly?

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Also in IT, only a job hopper will have the smorgasboard of skills and experience required to qualify for an IT position.

        1. Colette*

          Huh? That doesn’t make any sense. How would anyone get an IT job if you only get one if you job hop?

          If you’re looking for jobs in tier 1 support (i.e. helpdesk), you can probably job hop – but you will never become the expert who gets the interesting problems no one else knows how to solve. Experience is valued in IT, but not the same experience over and over that you will get from changing companies frequently.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            Job requirements that are designed to fail to yield a candidate so an H1B visa can be approved.
            Job requirements that are designed to fail to yield a candidate so an internal hire can be executed.
            Job requirements that are set by a supervisor who cannot perform the job nor understands it on a day-to-day basis.
            Job requirements that reflect nearly every technology the company uses “just in case” and not just the one that job is responsible for.
            The list goes on… much like an IT position’s requirements.

            When 25+ years of experience spread across 5-10 technologies that have no inherent relationship to each other are required, the grand majority of the résumés that qualify will be job hoppers and retirées returning to work. That’s normal for an individual contributor IT position, and not unheard of for an “entry level” IT position.

            How do IT people get jobs? I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been told “I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and had (or was able to quickly-enough develop) the one skill that was actually nonnegotiable (but was in no way labeled as such) when desperation set in.”

            *I’m using IT in its broader context; Programming, Technical Support, Technical Maintenance and Technical Administration, not just helpdesk and sysadmin.

            1. Colette*

              That’s really not the intentional thing you seem to think it is. If companies want to hire internally, they can do so; they don’t need some unattainable job posting to do so. And it’s common to list a variety of skills, without them all being deal-breakers. You don’t have to have them all. (Things also change; if they are looking for X, Y, and Z, their biggest need might be Y but if their specialist in Z quits, they may change the priority of Z mid-search.

              There are issues in IT hiring (such as expecting programmers to have coding samples readily available while barring employees from sharing code externally), but a requirement for job-hopping is not one of them.

              1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                The first two are almost always intentional. I’ve seen the second so many times as an end-run around an internal policy that all positions must be listed publicly–and in all candor, I can’t really agree that not getting the best candidate possible is a greater or lesser sin than not rewarding a loyal employee–but the rest are all carelessness, ignorance, and failure to communicate.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          What magically happens in the 3rd year that makes it not job hopping?

          1. Colette*

            Sustained work at the same job? Job hopping is not “changing jobs” – it’s a history of changing jobs frequently (less than 2-3 years).

          2. Me*

            You seem to be missing that the person in question has had 12 jobs in 17 years and the longest they stayed at any one was 1.5-2 years. It’s a pattern of very short term stints. No one is gaining valuable experience allowing them to move on in less than 1.5 years.

            Yes we all get that there are fields like IT where it’s common to move on after a few years. I think we can trust the OP that they know the field they are hiring for and that the pattern of jobs is concerning.

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              For all you know, though, the candidate could now see the light and understand that they need to be more selective with their next role so they can stick with it. For all you know, the candidate may now have the financial ability to stick with their next role where commitments were driving them to chase the extra dollar before.

              So many workplace situations devolve into “you must move on to move up,” so how many of those 17 were taking external promotions? Any layoffs or company closings in that 17? Are any of those jobs in fast food, retail, or another industry with high churn and constant demand that would keep the candidate from bouncing their rent/mortgage cheque? Did the candidate anything learn from any of those experiences? Was their attitude adjusted from any of them?

              Are there any walkouts that would support the hasty conclusion in that 17? Any firings for misconduct or negligence?

    2. I see wonderful things*

      That ”freelance” massaging also gets rid of those ”explain not working…” … yeah, like recession, you know, on JSA…

    3. windowround*

      Part of massaging your narrative to show you ‘get it.’ You understand professional norms and requirements.

      I am not saying this is ok. People are not robots and in an ideal world you don’t have to be the perfect candidate.

      But that’s not the reality. The reality is if you pitch up to an interview and start talking about leaving one role because it was toxic and then your sick grandma then that time you just need some mental health space it all signals you’re not quite professional. Even if all of this things are normal, valid and you’re a great hire.

      I don’t make the rules the reality is you need to gloss over things to come across as professional and you need to have a professionally acceptable narrative about your resume and career.

    4. Erin*

      As a military spouse it’s very frustrating. I’ve only lived in some places for 2 years or less. Months to find a job, get hired, work and then move again. Intellectually I understand why so many organizations refuse to work with us, but it’s a real gut punch to be busting your tail with volunteer work, training, resume writing to compensate for your job history and still get your application tossed without a second glance.

      1. windowround*

        But that is totally legit! Military spouse is a legit reason to have short terms jobs on your resume. That to me is professionally acceptable to say in an interview and include on your resume.

        That is much more acceptable than the usual spiel of ‘well one job was toxic, then my grandma got sick, then I had a health break, then I got let go and I don’t know why…etc etc’

        1. hbc*

          It’s “acceptable” in the sense that you won’t be judged as flaky, but you probably won’t get hired unless you’ve got a story about how this is the time you won’t get moved for a while. Unless it’s an inherently short-term situation, an acceptable story about job hopping is one that leaves them thinking that this time is going to be different.

          Sorry, Erin, it’s a rough position to be in.

        2. Erin*

          Thank you. I hope one day I get far enough with an application that I can explain myself that way. Right now with so many people on the market I think my apps are going right in the memory hole, at least from the amount of responses I’m not getting.

  30. Uranus Wars*

    I haven’t read through all the comments yet, but I did want to answer #1 before it go too long. I operate similarly to you – I will take notes and put things into practice and then I do usually end up with questions…but have to do before I know what they are.

    Alison’s advice here is pretty spot on – I started doing similar things, as well as explaining that I would probably have more questions when I got started.

    And if it turned out I didn’t have questions, I would sometimes say “hey, can you look this over to make sure it is correct”. Even if I had done it correctly, it solidified with my managers that I was paying attention, at least in my experience.

    And if they are asking you to do it, they won’t see it as a waste of time.

  31. WantonSeedStitch*

    LW#1: if the stuff you’re learning is the kind of thing that you can actually practice doing yourself (i.e., not something where you’d have to wait for a situation to come up), maybe asking to do that during the training would be helpful. You could say something like “I think I get what I’m supposed to do. Do you mind if we start at the beginning and I give it a shot myself? I learn best hands-on, and if I try it, I might find I have some questions that I wouldn’t have thought of without doing it myself.”

  32. Anonymous at a University*

    I don’t really see the point of feedback to the job-hopper. As Alison says, feedback opens you up to the possibility of someone lashing out and/or making excuses, and with job-hopping it tends to be more likely the second. I sat on one hiring committee where we passed over an applicant who had a looong history of starting a university teaching gig only to quit after two or three months, not even finishing out a single semester. One of my overly-kind colleagues gave her feedback when she asked only to get, “Well, I left to have a baby, and then I left to have another baby, and then I left to care for my sick grandmother, and then my husband got sick, and then I got sick, and then I had another baby, and then there was a semester where I had to drive my oldest daughter to swim practice every day, and why do you HATE someone who cares so much about their family?????”

    I mean, we don’t? But we care more about whether that person is going to be there to teach our students or quit suddenly rather than how much they are about their family.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      So what should she have done when her family members were sick, just abandon them? What should she have done when *she* was sick? Why all the judgment on her for “making excuses”?

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        So what should she have done when her family members were sick, just abandon them?

        No one said that the applicant should abandon their family.

        I don’t see why it’s unreasonable to say, “We need someone who will complete the job we are hiring for and you aren’t giving us reason to believe you will. So, we’re going to move forward with other candidates who have a history of completing this role.”

        To your point elsewhere, yes, the system needs to be changed so everyone is provided for. What’s the solution? I don’t see how “Give this person the job over others who have a history of doing well in this role” is a solution, so what is the solution you propose?

        1. Anonymous at a University*

          Yeah, this kind of thing needs to be addressed with a systemic change, especially in the direction of universal basic income and more paid parental leave, not “We’re going to hire anyone who applies and not penalize them because they have A FAMILY.” The applicant we ended up hiring also had a family, and needed some flexibility, but among other things, she notified us when she needed that flexibility, rather than quitting in the middle of the semester.

      2. Anonymous at a University*

        There’s a big middle between “abandon your family members” and “abandon your job.” This particular person didn’t appear to see anything in the middle, making her a bad fit for a position (teaching first-generation, low-income students on the tenure track) that has all sorts of middles.

        Also, the thing about the daughter’s swim lessons, at least to me, indicated that this person doesn’t just have a lot of crises in her life she might need to address, she tends to prioritize EVERYTHING about her family over the job. We can’t alter the nature of the job so much that we’re paying her to be a mother.

  33. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #2 – aside from the tone deaf CEO, are these lunch meetings mandatory or optional? Because being forced to have online lunch meetings once a week sounds exhausting to me, even if you’re not talking about work. I despise forced socialization.

    1. OP2*

      They’re optional. But there’s a certain amount of obligation to show up every now and then.

  34. Notapirate*

    LW1 – I’ve given that feedback before when the issue was the new staff wouldn’t have any questions, then 3 days later would have every single question ever and understood nothing. Is it possible you are asking a lot of questions after the training is over and they are trying to move those back to the training day? On training days we have the trainers free their day and on other days it’s not as easy to drop everything and help, especially with meetings scheduled.

    1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      That’s a very good point. Based on their letter, OP1’s approach appears to be “I learn by doing and that’s when I ask questions.” However, the trainers’ approach is likely “you are in training and now is the time to ask questions.” If that’s the case, OP1 needs to discuss their approach before the training begins. I’ve been in the trainers’ place and it can be frustrating for a trainee to ask questions afterwards that the trainer thought were fully covered and completed during training.

      1. Notapirate*

        Yeah and if you bring it up on training day maybe we can work something out, like get some reagents we don’t mind wasting and let you try actually doing portions of it then, or tell you step by step and have you click the things, or give you the big training and then have you shadow someone doing the procedure for a bit. After training we’re more likely to just point you toward the documentation and your notes and tell you to try and find your own answer before taking the question and walking you through it again. I’ve noticed in pandemic WFH era it’s a lot harder for me to train because I can no longer just watch you try it and see if you can do it or not after I’ve explained it. So at least in our workflow we’ve started putting tests in place normally.

        OP – it might not even be you, it might be this is an issue they’ve had before and now they are trying to get questions on training day across the board, and no questions is making them nervous.

        I’ve had some nightmares from training:
        “Do this make sense?”
        “Do you have any questions?”
        “Do you feel confident that you could do this solo or would you like to schedule a time to watch someone do this before solo?”
        “No I’m good to go”

        Then suddenly the emails,
        “I don’t know what to do”
        “What have you tried/Where are you stuck in the process”
        “I don’t know where to start” or ” I have no idea what’s going on”,
        and I have to try and explain to my boss what on earth is happening, retrain them, and keep my own workload up.

        Once fired an employee for incompetence during their probation period. They tried to say no one had trained them. I had to print out all my notes and emails for our legal department. That was fun.

        1. Batgirl*

          Just a tip: those are all yes/no non specific questions. It’s better to ask ‘what three things do you need to do x’ or ‘If you want to do y where would you start?’
          It’s also a good idea to ask the question the day after the training, or after a small time lapse as it’s perfectly possible to know something you’ve just been told it, but not be able to retain it in your memory.
          While they should have at least some of it in their notes, having them retell something back to you will almost always highlight a gap in their understanding.

          1. BethDH*

            These are good if they’re a “learn by doing” person too because it creates a mental doing-it mode. It’s not quite the same as really doing it, but there’s lots of research that shows that step by step mental walkthroughs make a measurable difference even for things that are totally muscle memory and kinesthetic.

  35. HailRobonia*

    I was training a temporary employee a few years ago and it was very difficult because she was so unresponsive. I couldn’t tell if she was understanding the processes and procedures, etc. At first I was extremely frustrated by this, but after some consideration I thought she may be neurodivergent. Or perhaps that was just her personality. I tried to solve this issue with frequent breaks in the training to ask “do you have any questions… do you think you have it” or “just to make sure we are on the same page, can you give me a quick summary of the process?”

    It seemed to be working better, but then it turns out she had lied about her qualifications and was let go ( she said she had solid html experience but had literally never done any work on web pages and was googling all the code).

  36. blink14*

    OP #5 – More than likely, it is the bank. My employer pays on the 15th and the last day of the month. If that day falls on a weekend, you are paid the Friday before. Sometimes, my bank will process the direct deposit a day earlier than that. I discretely asked around about how the payroll works when the 15th or last day falls on a weekend when I first started, and that’s how I figured it out it was my bank processing it early.

    There is actually an online bank called Chime that processes payroll deposits early, I think up to 2 days. I know a few people who use it, and it is legitimate.

  37. Observer*

    #1 – We’ve had occasions where people didn’t ask questions during training, ans it’s always been a disaster.

    In one case it was REALLY bad – and extremely upsetting. The new staff person was given plenty of training but just basically sat there like a lump. A number of people who worked with that person told me that they were frustrated because they kept on trying to train them, and would always ask if they understood everything or had questions. All of the staff WANTED this person to succeed!

    Then they left and told everyone that “no one trained me.” When I heard this from the person who had referred this former staff person I let her have it. I was very clear about the effort that I and others had put in to trying to get this person trained.

    I could tell a lot of stories, but this was the one that really made a lot of people very, very wary of people who don’t ask questions in training.

    1. D3*

      I’ve worked a job where the only “training” was watching someone else work – it’s really ineffective and I didn’t feel like I got trained in anything. I asked questions but it was always “you’ll see how that works on my next task” or “didn’t you see how I did it?” Yes, I saw which buttons you clicked. My question was about how you knew to do it that way!
      I’m sure the person I was assigned to watch thought she did a great job training me. But she didn’t.

      1. Notapirate*

        Bring the questions back if you didn’t get the answer, try asking another way too. “Ok I saw how you adjust the temperature for the process – but why this specific range and is it ever a different range? Is there a log of what ranges for which tasks?”

        “Ok now that you’ve done the next task, I still didn’t quite follow XYZ, could I try doing it and then you stop me if I go wrong?”

      2. Third or Nothing!*

        Wow, she didn’t even explain what she was doing and why? I’ve trained people that way before, but it’s way more involved than the trainee sitting behind me watching what happens on my screen. I go step-by-step and explain exactly what’s happening and why, I repeat the process a couple of times to reinforce the steps, and then the trainee gets to try while I sit and observe and give directions if asked.

      3. Observer*

        That’s not what was happening. Did the person you shadowed ever ask you if you understood or had questions? That alone tells you that this is a very different situation.

        Also, this was numerous people. And it WAS absolutely explicit training, not shadowing someone.

        As it happens we also hired someone to train them on some of the software we use, but after a few weeks (and I do mean WEEKS) we had to drop that idea, because she was so uncooperative. Never rude or anything like that, but not responding to emails about it, never following up when they said they’d check her calendar.

    2. Notapirate*

      I work adjacent and sometimes in labs. We get a lot of fresh out of undergrad employees who are used to the classroom setting labs, 30 people doing the same task (lots of people to watch/confirm with), tools you needed provided to your workstation and explicit instructions. Many of them figure out that little bit of initiative they need to take, but my goodness the “lumps” you describe do happen! We call it “hand holding” and try to train it out of them over time. We want to be able to have you know your task list says ABC, XYZ, and QRS need to happen today and then make those happen. Some seem to expect that should mean we should schedule the tasks into your day for you, then do the calculations and print the protocols for you, then pull out all the reagents for you, then you do exactly the protocol at whatever time we tell you to start. It’s exhausting. It’s also hard to sort out if they don’t understand the calculations or the protocol repository or the storage cabinets etc, OR if they just expect to be handed it all.

  38. RussianInTexas*

    At my last job, one of the directors at the time was telling us (one of the lowest paid, mostly immigrant, group in the company) how much she loves the service at her Lexus dealership, and how much she enjoyed her vacation in Croatia.
    No, no one gently corrected her or anything.
    What you do is you roll your eyes internally, and then mock them at happy hours.

    1. Ghee Buttersnaps*

      #2 reminds me of the time I had to listen my company’s CEO and VP of Sales discuss if the VP should buy a Mercedes or a BMW. I was the receptionist and they were talking about it in the lobby, so I couldn’t just walk away.

      I was one of the lowest paid employees there, and was praying that my 20 year old car didn’t break down because I was living paycheck-to-paycheck and couldn’t afford to get it fixed.

  39. Sue*

    It’s the bank. At one company, those of us with in-house credit union got paid 2 days early. The company sent out a memo instructing us that we weren’t

  40. Sue*

    Supposed to use the money until Friday even if it was in our account. That was hilarious. If it’s in my account, they aren’t getting interest on it anyway.

  41. M2*

    #4- is this normal for your industry? were they in a different industry that it may be normal? I work in humanitarian/emergency response and short gigs is normal in our business. I have had some people work for me who moved onto other industries and they had difficulty because people thought they were job hopping when its normal to work 6 months-2 years on a program. Sometimes it is longer and sometimes it isn’t depending on who you work for and what you are doing. Always if someone makes to the reference stage and I am contacted they ALWAYS ask about it and I tell them this is the norm for our industry in most cases. I do tell them if they get the job they need to stay longer period so to make sure it is where they want to settle for awhile. I work full time for the UN now (although lots of UN jobs are contract and short term as well), but for years I worked short time projects. Sometimes it is because you are sent because it is an emergency, sometimes because you go and help and leave it too the local organizations, or sometimes it is funding related.

  42. HB*

    #1 – As someone with Resting Bored Face, I feel your pain, but questions aren’t just about understanding what someone has just told you… but understanding the bigger picture. And a question doesn’t have to be “So you do x, and then y?” but seeing a connection, and then seeking confirmation. Typically processes exist for a reason, and if you can spot the reason and articulate it then it means that not only are you paying attention, but you’re also seeing how everything interrelates.

    I mean, sometimes the reason may just be “That’s the way we do it because it works” so I wouldn’t go around guessing at the why of every little thing, but if you’re actively trying to put together the whole picture then you’ll probably start noticing things and you can ask if those things are connected. A little idle curiosity can go a long way to showing you’re engaged.

  43. Buttons*

    The CEO talking about very expensive products is tone deaf. I would internally roll my eyes and not say a word. It isn’t worth it.

    1. RussianInTexas*

      Same, no good will come out of correcting her, of passive-aggressively pointing out the price.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I guess you could ask the boss for a substantial raise so you can try the product and enjoy its benefit, too…

  44. Shramps*

    OP2 – let it go! You asked for recommendations, she answered. Sure it was kind of tacky, but here you are gossiping about it so have your fun and now drop it.

    This kind of character flaw is typical in wealthy leaders. We should all just eat the rich. Until then, roll eyes to yourself and trust coworkers and let it go.

    1. Shramps*

      My old boss did something very similar with the expensive car he was leasing. I think right after he showed me the picture (It was an Aston martin but couldn’t tell just by looking at it- knew it was a Ferrari or something else fancy) that it was in poor taste. But he’s a 60+ VP and I’m in my 20s. We’re going to have different cultures.

  45. Betsy S*

    #1 – I think everyone is spot-on about trying to get some hands-on practice in the training, and making a point of saying that’s how you learn and that you want their feedback.

    Couple more suggestions:

    -when your new boss or senior folks say hi or asks how you’re doing, mention the training, like “great! We went over llama grooming yesterday, and I’m looking forward to getting in deeper on brushes”

    -if it doesn’t already exist, you will be a hero if you turn the training into a doc. Doesn’t have to be a big project, but notes on a wiki if you have them, or a brief outline of what sorts of things are covered.

    -One good line of questions: IF your immediate boss is not doing all your training, show your boss your outline of what you’ve covered in two weeks, and ask if there’s anything in particular you should be focusing on or anything else you should be asking people about.

    – If it’s not an entry-level job, think about problems you’ve encountered at previous jobs and ask how they’ve handled them.
    – Are there seasonal things that aren’t happening now that you can ask about? Other things that may be coming up?
    – if not covered – how does this fit into the org structure? Who generates whatever you’re working on, and where do the results go?

    Probably people will have more ideas if you can say what field you’re in. I work in tech and we keep a lot of data in the wiki and one thing I always ask new hires to do is to please let us know if there’s anything they looked for and couldn’t find, or if any doc is unclear or dated. Once people have been at a job a while, they learn the answers and know where to find things and we’ve missed the window for improving the documentation.

  46. Youngin*

    #2 – A $800 serum!? Omg do rich people love to waste their money! lol. That would totally rub me the wrong way too, but I always chalk up instances like that to “they have insanely weird norms” I mean, a client of mine thought a bag of apples cost $25!

    But if you want some really great cheap recommendations for skin care look into Cerave (Cleansers under $12), Fourth ray (serums, moisturizers, masks and tools for under $20, most under $14) and heritage store (Toners under $6)!

    (Sorry Alison! I know this isnt work related but I couldnt help but give her some actually affordable products!)

    1. careerwoman*

      I’d love to hear about more, particularly anti-aging, products in an affordable price range that work. Perhaps we can bring it up in an upcoming open thread.

    2. Gazebo Slayer*

      “a client of mine thought a bag of apples cost $25”

      Has she just… never gone grocery shopping?

  47. Lauren*

    To writer #2, I’m curious if the person is saying the words, “eight hundred dollar skin serum” or if she’s naming a specific serum and you’re then googling it and finding out the cost later on. It’s tone deaf either way, but the latter might be less bad-sounding. I don’t know how much your job pays, but in jobs in expensive cities that pay decently, like tech jobs in New York, for example, two people making the same salary can still have vastly different lives. One person might be paying off $100,000 in student loans while another person isn’t. Maybe one person’s beloved parents tragically passed away, but she inherited the family home and doesn’t have to pay rent. There are so many variables that make $800 eye serum more affordable to one out of two people who make the same salary. But In agree that it’s still tone deaf.

  48. Batgirl*

    OP1, here are some questions that might help you learn a bit more in spite of talking not being the ideal method for you.

    – What’s the most common mistake people make when they start doing this?
    – How long before you were confident at this?
    – Is that anything like (cite your prior experience)?
    – Which part of that did you/most people struggle with?
    – What helped you get the hang of it?
    – I’m picturing x. Is that right?
    – No let me predict what would happen…
    – Is there somewhere I could read more about that?
    – Do YouTube have any videos of that?

    – If you’re hands on, use props to feedback your learning:
    “So if the Post It is the client folder and the stapler is the internal folder, you want the protected files (staples) inside here and the open documents (paperclips) on the client folder?
    – Use more visual organisers to take notes so the trainer can see what you know and correct you if necessary:
    1) For remembering key facts about a topic, use a mind map.
    2) If you understand a process, make a flow chart.
    3) If you need to differentiate between approaches make a pro v con table (also works for do and don’t do, true/false etc.
    4) Venn diagrams are also awesome if there’s overlap between two topics.

  49. Dagny*

    #4: Sometimes, people are job-hoppers and that’s just what it is. Sometimes, there’s very good reason for the job-hopping: moving to accommodate a spouse’s career, kids, a series of recession-induced temporary work, being in a field wherein it’s common to ‘job hop’ early on, having a knack for finding toxic environments. Sometimes, what looks like job hopping isn’t exactly job hopping, but appears that way on a resume: a company was bought out and the person listed it as two separate jobs, they worked with agencies like Randstad at several different offices, they did secondments, etc.

    I don’t think you owe it to the candidate, but you could say something about it, and you can suggest that s/he provide some context or rewrite the resume if the above reasons apply.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Unless you can offer them a kilogram of plutonium and the keys to your DeLorean, don’t mention it to the candidate. We rejected you for your past is pointless when the candidate can’t change their past.

      1. Me*

        But they can change their future in that they can decide to stay at their current job or the next job they get hired at longer.

        1. Colette*

          And, if it’s something like a bunch of temp jobs that they didn’t clearly identify on their resume, they can change how they present their past.

        2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          That relies on the assumption that the person can control unilaterally when they leave the next job. If the business is closing, or they’re being laid off, or their saint of a supervisor has been replaced by someone toxic, that may be beyond their control.

          You job hunt with the history, skills, and expertise you have, not the history, skills, and expertise you want to have.

          1. Me*

            Again, there are ways to address that in the cover letter and resume. Being laid off doesn’t make you a job hopper. Voluntarily leaving after short stints does.

            The fact is there are job hoppers out there. And it’s baffling you seem to think a business should just be okay with it and give them a chance.

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              And it’s baffling you seem to think a business should just be okay with it and give them a chance.

              As an individual contributor, I want to be surrounded by the best coworkers. I don’t think businesses should just “be okay with it and give them a chance,” but I do find many of the assumptions being drawn from it to be questionable if not outright magical thinking. I do think it should be treated like any other yellow flag.

              1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                Premature post…

                I’m also leery of having an unemployable underclass. They’re the ones who will roast the rich over open flames and cannibalize them.

                1. Gazebo Slayer*

                  Yeah. I really don’t want an unemployable underclass because the people who get locked into it don’t deserve that kind of despair.

      2. Gazebo Slayer*

        Yeah – as someone with an abysmal past I know it’s not something I can change no matter how much I want to. I’ve often wished I could just start over. I’ve considered the idea of trying to pass myself off as a 22-year-old recent grad with no experience whatsoever instead of the 38-year-old failure with a long spotty history that I am, but I’m not a good liar and that’s too easy to check.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          @Gazebo Slayer, do you ever get the feeling that some hiring managers think candidates cease to exist the moment their résumé hits the shredder?

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            I often get the sense that hiring managers, including some who’ve commented upthread, see people with chaotic job histories as not merely “not right for this role” but as worthless.

            I’ve always experienced job searching as being judged over and over on my worth as a human being and found lacking. I can’t even look at my resume or write a cover letter without feeling that judgment and the weight of all my failures.

            Job searching is so psychologically painful for me that I have given up on it. I will do gig work until I die if possible. I know I’m not good enough for anything else, so trying would just be torturing myself for nothing.

        2. Uranus Wars*

          I used to review and update resumes once when I got laid off and was taking any small job to make ends meet. I am not sure Alison’s thoughts on this, but for one person who had a lot of jobs in a short period of time we actually broke her resume up into sections by career and then listed each stint under that. Her reason for jumping around was boredom, so… She did get more interviews once we changed up the format of her resume and was eventually able to land a job.

          Side note: Painting basements has a surprisingly high demand for labor!

  50. Gymmie*

    OP1: Is it possible that you can get into the nitty gritty right away? I start out my people observing, but very shortly, unless they say they want to observe more. I like them to just jump in and start learning that way, but I very much leave it up to their own personal learning styles.

  51. Fabulous*

    #4 – Job hopping

    I *REALLY REALLY REALLY* wish that people would be more aware and understanding of the reasons behind job hopping.

    As a mid-30’s millennial who graduated directly into the recession, it was literally impossible to find anything more than temp jobs for YEARS. Literally a decade went by where 90% of the jobs I held were via contract – I held 3 “permanent” jobs between 2008 and 2016: the first one I was laid off after 10 months, second one was a temp-to-perm which I left after two years due to no growth opportunity, and the third I left after two years again because it was a toxic environment and I decided to move home and go to grad school. After another string of temp jobs in my new state, I finally landed something more stable (which started as another temp-to-perm) but I’ve been here for going on 4 years. This is the longest job I’ve ever held.

    Alison, I know you hate job hopping, and I get the reasons – I do – but there really needs to be some consideration for those of us who were forced into the situation because of the recession. There is a whole group of millennials out there who got substantially stiffed, and I am one of them through no fault of my own, other than an inability to secure a stable position due to the economic circumstances around me, creating a vortex of limited opportunities.

    I’m actually one of the lucky ones too – who focused on finding office work instead of retail or the service industry. I have friends still struggling to make $30k a year, living with roommates or their parents in their mid-to-late 30’s.

    Job hopping is not something to be ashamed of for us. It’s something we were forced into to make ends meet.

    1. Colette*

      What you describe here is not job hopping, though. It’s OK to leave temp jobs at the end of the job; the issue is when you frequently quit jobs that weren’t meant to be temporary in less than 2 years.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Agreed. And, as pointed out elsewhere, a resume with lots of temporary jobs should label them as temporary/fixed-term/contracts/etc., which won’t be seen as a job-hopper’s resume:

        Temp Placement Company, Job Title
        Company #2, Job Title [Temporary position]
        Company #1, Job Title [Fixed-term Contract]

      2. Fabulous*

        When you look at my resume (especially before I had my last couple jobs) it 100% looked like I was job hopping, despite me having them listed as via contract. I recall sending Alison a question about it a few years back and she agreed that I had “hopped” around a few times and my resume could be looked at negatively because of it.

        If I were in the retail or service industry, I probably would have changed jobs just as often in search of better opportunities if my current place wasn’t offering it. Everyone’s reasons for leaving a job is different – from escaping a toxic environment, to realizing there’s no upward mobility, to simply wanting enough money to pay the bills.

        If the person has the right amount of cumulative experience, at least give them a chance to explain. Ask questions to find out if the multiple jobs was because of legitimate reasons, as opposed to simply up and leaving because they got bored.

        1. Colette*

          Why would you do that if you have numerous candidates who don’t have the issue?

          How would you judge the difference between a valid reason and a non-valid one, given that you will only have the candidate’s word for it?

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            Why would you do that if you have numerous candidates who don’t have the issue?

            Unless you’re dismissing every candidate that has any potential concern out of hand, you would do that for the same reason you would speak to any other candidate where there is a potential concern; you want the best hire available, not the most convenient.

            How would you judge the difference between a valid reason and a non-valid one, given that you will only have the candidate’s word for it?

            The same way you evaluate everything else the candidate says.

            1. Uranus Wars*

              You are really really hammering this point home, but as others have said when you have hundreds of resumes something has to be the differentiator. There is not enough time to do even 50 phone screens at most places. 4 qualified applicants, 4 calls and 100 qualified applicants, 100 calls.

              I get it might be different in IT but it does not apply across all industries, it just does not. And in my experience in HR even our hiring managers would raise an eyebrow at a IT candidate that worked for 12 companies in 17 years if they weren’t explained on the resume or in the cover letter as contract, temp or term/project-specific employment.

              1. Uranus Wars*

                That should have said calling 4 candidates vs. 100 candidates is so very different.

              2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                You are really really hammering this point home.

                I am, because if my supervisor asked me to evaluate different alternatives, and I sent a half-dozen back to her and told her “it was too much effort to look into the rest,” I’d be looking for a new job, and nothing frosts my cookies like hypocrisy.

                Someone else can hammer home how using “job hopping” and other arbitrary filters can be effective dog whistles; that’s not my wheelhouse.

                1. Gazebo Slayer*

                  Yeah, I’ve pointed out upthread how it’s part of systemic sexism, systemic discrimination against people with disabilities, and sometimes systemic racism.

                2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

                  @Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                  I’m not sure everyone is defining screening the same or agreeing on the purpose of screening. I think what lots of folks are saying is, the purpose of screening is to find ___ number of candidates that look promising as efficiently as possible. So, say the initial pool is 400, they look at the resume and cover letter of each, then setup phone screens from the top 6 (from your example). I don’t think that it’s about “dismissing every candidate that has any potential concern out of hand”, it’s picking the top candidates.

                  You draw a parallel to your job. If you had 400 alternatives to evaluate, how would you evaluate the 400 alternatives? How many jobs is it realistic to do a deep dive approach for all 400? Recruiters have more than one task (i.e. positions to fill). I’m genuinely curious, why you think this is an example of hypocrisy?

                  I think we agree, it’s not an ideal system and we would all have jobs. It is reality, though, and I’m not hearing solutions. “Phone screen everyone” isn’t a solution, just like “deep dive all 400 alternatives” isn’t a solution for most jobs/tasks.

                3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                  @Analytical Tree Hugger
                  Good questions. Thank you.

                  You draw a parallel to your job. If you had 400 alternatives to evaluate, how would you evaluate the 400 alternatives?
                  With 400 alternatives to analyze, and a deadline, I would do a shallow dive on each of the 400. Probably the first line of each paragraph of the RFQ, or the “about us” page for a product’s manufacturer, etc. I’m looking for those yellow and red flags. In résumés, job hopping would be one of those yellow flags, just like Greek Life from college, a missing primary technology, less job history than was requested, etc.

                  I’d make a second pass through the alternatives that had no flags. If time remained and I needed more data points, I’d follow with the yellow flags, and finally the red–so if time allows, I would make a full second pass through the data set.

                  If there were time to burn, I’d make a third pass through the edge cases and try to flesh those details out fully.

                  So yes, conceivably I’d eliminate all the job hoppers from a résumé set with that algorithm, but it wouldn’t be because they’re job hoppers; it would be because of an abundance of candidates with no flags/concerns whatsoever.

                  How many jobs is it realistic to do a deep dive approach for all 400?

                  I honestly can’t answer that one. But if I posted a job and got 400 responses, and I felt those 400 were excessive, I would take that as a sign my either my requirements are too vague or too low.

                  Recruiters have more than one task (i.e. positions to fill). I’m genuinely curious, why you think this is an example of hypocrisy?

                  It’s not so much hypocrisy from a recruiter, and most recruiters I’ve talked to have been happy to dig into the details on résumés that people possibly qualified. I find it hypocrisy coming from a hiring manager in that it’s a disinterest in doing the best job possible and disinterest in putting their team/business in the best position possible, and I don’t expect as an employee I would have the same leeway to half-*** my tasks. I know I’ve never had it in any position I have held, and I don’t think I’d want to work anywhere I would have that leeway.

                4. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I don’t know if you’ve done much/any hiring yourself, but that is just not how it works. You can have a well written job ad with clear requirements and still get hundreds of applications; that’s normal. If, say, 20 of them are clearly the strongest, you focus in on those 20. Maybe from those you do ~12 phone interviews and narrow it down from there. It makes no sense to do dozens of other calls to explore what everyone’s own situation might be when you have a group of candidates who are already stronger than the others. No one I’ve ever worked with/for would be okay with me doing that; it would be a terrible use of time. I can also tell you from years and years of hiring work that you see patterns and correlations over time. In the vast majority of cases, when I’ve had concerns about a candidate but decided to talk to them anyway to learn more, it’s rarely ended up being someone competitive with the strong candidates already in the mix. If your experience in hiring has been different, I think you are the exception rather than the rule. (And if you haven’t done a lot of hiring, I’d encourage you to listen to those who have, all of whom are saying pretty much the same things in this thread.)

                5. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                  You’re right about the way the world is. I’ve been disagreeing with hiring managers on this post about the way the world should be and should become. While the world won’t change overnight, as a hiring manager, one would have the authority and opportunity to start changing their little corner of it for the better.

                  I’m also only arguing that job-hopping is just another concern instead of an automatic disqualifier; I’m not arguing you should phone screen every job hopper, just the job hoppers whom you would otherwise interview if you didn’t know about their job hopping.

                  In the vast majority of cases, when I’ve had concerns about a candidate but decided to talk to them anyway to learn more, it’s rarely ended up being someone competitive with the strong candidates already in the mix.

                  Emphasis mine. Doesn’t rarely show that there have been good candidates whom are being excluded by treating job hopping as an automatic disqualifier?

        2. Apparently a job hopper*

          100 percent agreed, Fabulous. Before I made the pivot to something completely different, I spent 10 years in public relations and had 8 jobs. Most of them were from the agencies closing or the contract ending. One was my boss was ousted and they “cleaned house” so the new boss could have all of their people. Another was they wanted someone with graphic design experience RIGHT.NOW.THIS.SECOND and while I was willing to go to school/take classes/learn by doing, they decided to let me go in favor of a graphic designer who they could “teach” public relations to (which didn’t work out at all).
          I had a very long stint in customer relations afterward, and now my current job going into the fourth year, but really, sometimes you don’t jump from job to job to job because of what you personally did, but what the companies did.

    2. Gazebo Slayer*


      (From someone in her late 30s who is now a gig worker and probably always will be.)

  52. JessicaTate*

    To OP#4: I would say don’t give the candidate feedback about this – stick with the generic “many qualified applicants” response. I’m not going to jump on you for using job hopping as a criterion… BUT it’s not feedback a candidate can actually address. If it’s not actionable feedback, it’s just salt in the wound.

    Now, if they had the opportunity to interview, you asked about the short stints, and they gave a poor answer, THEN you could give feedback about stability and it’s something they could improve for next interview. But if you just rejected the applicant based on resume alone, no good outcome results from that feedback.

  53. Cranky Vertices*

    To #5 it’s definitely your bank. Some banks pay out direct deposits a day early depending on when payroll is processed

  54. Delta Delta*

    #2 – different products work for different people. I have an absolute love affair with a particular kind of spray-in conditioner. Like, I would dump Mr. Delta and marry this stuff if that wasn’t incredibly bizarre. It’s $23 and a bottle lasts me a whole year. I cringe when I pay that much, but I’ve done dumber things for love. I recommended it to my friend. She tried it. Then she had some cocktails and called me and said hilarious things like, “I’m giving the rest of this hair goo to you because my head looks like an oil refinery!”

    I tell you this silliness at this late hour, because although the CEO is being completely ridiculous, OP has a great out: she’s happy with her current product. It works for her. The CEO’s statements can be tossed in the bin and ignored. If she presses, the answer is, “I’m really happy with Sparkle Punch” (or whatever you use) and can even add “my dermatologist recommended it.” And then you can ask about TPS reports or whatever (they need cover sheets, by the way). And when you quit that job you and some other expatriates can invent a Tone Deaf CEO drinking game which I’m sure will be both cathartic and hilarious.

  55. Bookworm*

    #4: As someone whose resume could be seen as job-hopping, I have to echo a lot of the comments. You don’t have to give feedback, although I wonder if the candidate was given a chance to explain. My field lives and dies on cycles and employees are not in control. It’s unfortunate but that’s the way it is.

    I’m also a millennial who took jobs in the hopes that it’d work out and often it didn’t (ended up being temporary, it *really* wasn’t a good fit). Organizations are also not loyal, not interested in investing in their workforce, don’t really give incentive to stay. I’m not saying they should be coddling their employees but even stuff like actually training someone for a job instead of passively waiting them out so they leave on their own is not useful. Jobs themselves are not stable (look at what’s happening right now) so I really wonder if your org might want to take into account that lots of people simply cannot stay in a job for years and years anymore.

  56. Batgirl*

    Asking to do it definitely works if you’ve got a competent trainer who will guide from the side, but I’ve seen the type of trainer Observer describes and this is what would happen:
    -“Okay, so I do this?”
    -“No – you’ve made a mistake”
    -*Trainer takes over again and goes 100 miles a minute*
    -Learner decides they’ll only get a chance to learn when they’re alone.
    As for asking questions about what you’re seeing… You need to understand what you’re seeing in order to formulate the question. Your example is of a person who understands what the process is and what it does so well that they can ask a questions about differing scenarios and surrounding processes. It wouldn’t go down as well if you were completely at sea AND the trainer isn’t very good:
    “I have no idea what you just did.What is that first switch you pressed?”
    “It’s the temperature gauge”
    “OK and why did you do that?”
    “You’ll see why on the next task”
    “OK, what comes after the temperature gauge?”
    “Didn’t you see what I did?”
    It’s the language of people who are at the level where they can do something, but don’t know how to explain their understanding, much less assess someone else’s. They’ve been asked to ‘show’ how they do it because people believe ‘Monkey see, monkey do.’

  57. Inefficient Cat Herder*

    I would love to hear Alison’s advice for military (or foreign service) dependents on how to build a career, or even get in the door, with moves every 2-3 years. Not everyone can get civilian DoD jobs.

  58. CW*

    #3 – I live in California where the salary history question has been illegal since 2018. Prior to 2018, I got asked that question so many times I was starting to lose my patience. It didn’t help either that it really worked against me once. I badly needed a job so I just took it. It was a big mistake.

    But after 2018, none of the employers asked me. I just got lucky and since then I have been paid my worth. If you have been asked where it is illegal, simply state it out. If the employer still demands it, walk away. It is a clear cut sign of being cheap. Nobody wants to work for a Mr. Krabs (except Spongebob, of course). You deserve to be paid what you are worth and nothing less.

    Now, if you want to give your salary history willingly, feel free. But be cautious about it. You wouldn’t want to cheat yourself out of a higher salary.

  59. Rick Tq*

    LW 5: Your payroll clerk may be submitting the file to the processor a day early and it all rolls downhill from there. We had one occasion years ago where payroll was a day late, the CEO apologized profusely and offered to pay any overdraft or late fees for anyone who got hit.

    Since then I regularly see my Credit Union notify me a deposit was made a day before ADP tells me I can download my pay stub. We are paid 15th and last business day also, so a Friday the 13th paycheck will show up on the 12th pretty consistently.

    Is everyone in your company on direct deposit? Your co-workers may be waiting to get a pay check on the day instead of a pay stub.

  60. Who Plays Backgammon?*

    OP2: I had to see a dermatologist once. When she told me what the problem was, I said I hoped I wouldn’t need an expensive prescription. She made a brushing-away gesture and smiled, “We have a big list of products we recommend and it’s all from the drugstore.” She asked me what I used to wash and moisturize my face. I expected her to scream at my mass-produced soap and moisturizer, which was actually sold as hand lotion. She nodded approvingly and said, “Good, that’s very mild.”

    Those splashy ads and commercials for high-end (high price) products look gorgeous and I’m sure there are some good products there, but whenever I feel insecure I check out the lists of dermatologist-recommended products, and sure enough, plenty of them are from the drugstore and very inexpensive. Instead of spending hundreds on a jar of moisturizer or eye cream, I’ll put it toward my next pair of Jimmy Choos or that Birkin bag tee hee hee.

  61. A Job Hopper*

    #4 – I think most job hoppers are well aware that this is an issue. Speaking as a job hopper myself, if a hiring manager were to remind me of this, it would just be rubbing salt on the wound. I’m already very anxious and self-conscious about the fact that I changed jobs frequently. A lot of these were due to reasons outside my control (abusive management, OSHA violating workplaces, having to take jobs I knew would be crappy just to put food on the table). While there certainly may be some job hoppers who can’t stay in one position because they get bored or aren’t think of the ramifications, a lot of people who come from a background with limited resources may find themselves in a cycle of job hopping out of necessity.

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