we were told to bake cookies for our IT team, keeping quarantine hair, and more

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

1. We were instructed to bake cookies for our IT team

This happened a few years ago but I wanted to get your take on it because it always seemed a little iffy to me.

At my job, IT had created a new program for my department (as is their job) that was much needed and we were all very appreciative of having it. My manager decided that we needed to express this appreciation by having each member of our team bake their own batch of cookies to give to IT on a specified day. It was strongly encouraged that we all do this. We even had to sign up ahead of time with the specific cookie we were making so they wouldn’t get too many of the same flavor. As far as I know, everyone on the team contributed a cookie batch.

A few months later, IT completed another project for my department and my manager instructed us to do this cookie drive again. So we did.

To further put the optics of this in perspective, my department was mostly women (including my manager) and IT was all men. Is this a normal thing to do to thank a department for doing their job? I always wondered if someone told my manager to stop since we did this twice and then it was never mentioned again.

No, not normal! Instructing women to do this kind of traditionally female caretaking work for their male colleagues, even as a thank-you, is awfully problematic. It’s also just odd; if your manager wanted to express appreciation to the IT team, there were lots of better ways to do that, like recognizing them to their management. (And if she wanted to get them a food treat, she should have ordered something and expensed it; if it’s enough of a work thing to order people to bake for it, it’s enough of a work thing to expense it).

I hope you’re right that someone told her to stop.

2. Can I keep my quarantine hair color when I job search?

So I went a little nuts in April and dyed my ordinary brown hair bright blue. We’ve been working from home, my clients and coworkers know and enjoy me, and I’m going to be 50 in a couple of years so if not now, when? My current employers have no issue with it at all, it’s been fun on Zoom meetings, and even when we go back to the office it likely would be perfectly fine in this workplace. For what it’s worth, it looks good.

However, given [waves hand vaguely at everything] I have been thinking lately about what job-hunting might be like in a few months depending on how well my office recovers. I am, of course, entirely prepared to go back to brown for a new workplace; I 100% get that wild colors are not appropriate for most workplaces and I don’t begrudge it. I just would prefer not to until I know for sure I need to. I’d happily go back for a new job or a dream interview, but not necessarily for an interview I’m lukewarm on.

In your opinion, is there any way to pull this off? I write a strong cover letter; I’ve been half wondering if there was a way to pull off a “I’m always ready to try new things, but of course I have the good judgment to know when common custom is appropriate” hair analogy to lay the groundwork before any face-to-face. Possible? Or should I just plan to restore order before I make any moves in the direction of a job search?

If you were invested in keeping the color and it was important to you to find a workplace that was fine with that, I’d say to keep it for interviews — which would let you screen for employers who had a problem with it. But you don’t sound terribly invested in keeping it and you seem fine with the prospect that you’ll need to change back in a new job — so honestly, in this job market, I’d change it before you start interviewing. I’m annoyed to have to give that answer because it shouldn’t matter, but there are still enough people who think blue hair is unprofessional or excessively wacky that I’d rather you not build in a potential strike against yourself.

And to be clear, there are plenty of places that won’t care! Unnatural hair colors are way more accepted now in professional jobs than they used to be. But you generally won’t know from the outside how it would go over in this particular job or with this particular interviewer — so if you want to maximize your chances, the safest route is to make it a non-issue (and then you can see about changing it back later after you start the job, if you want to). That said, in some industries (like, say, design) you could more safely assume it would be fine than in others … but I’m guessing if you were in one of those industries, you wouldn’t be asking.

I wish I had a different answer!

3. Candidates sending additional exercises we didn’t ask for

I’m helping interview for a position I have been leading on an interim basis. I’m eager to hire so I can go back to my role. We do a phone screen, exercise, first interview, and final interview. I come in at the first interview, as does one of my teammates.

We have had four to five of these first conversations, and in their thank-you emails, at least three candidates have done additional work and amended their answers. I’m talking, like, putting together documents that re-demonstrated ability in a strategy, based on an example we have in a conversation, or two-page follow-up memos with “better” examples of questions we asked. So not just “you said X and with more time ….” but a couple hours of work.

Two were obvious no’s but one I am moving forward to the final interview. Is this a flag? Or just passion, perfectionism, and nerves? And where the heck did this practice come from?

I don’t think it’s a flag. It’s people wanting to show you what they can do and thinking they didn’t show it as well as they could have the first time. And yes, maybe with some perfectionism and nerves mixed in, along with an awareness that the job market is really tight right now and they have a lot of competition.

In general, I wouldn’t recommend to a candidate that they do that — it can come across as too much, and sometimes it’s even an imposition (if it’s asking the employer to invest extra time in reviewing work). But sometimes it’s worth it for them, especially if they felt they had additional insight into what you’re looking for after the first conversation. On your side, I do recommend that you take the time to review it because there can be real insights for you about the person’s capabilities — in either direction (i.e., it might impress you, or you might come away thinking, “If you were going to take a second stab at it, I would have expected it to be stronger than this”).

4. What name should I put on my resume?

I go by my middle name, and usually a nickname version of it. If my name was John Edgar Hoover, I publish as “J. Edgar Hoover” and go by “Ed” in the workplace. What’s the best way to title my resume? Writing out John Edgar (Ed) Hoover seems unwieldy. Should I just assume if I spell out all three, it covers getting my legal name out there and also explains why I go by Ed?

If you don’t use John at all, you don’t need to include it on your resume. I’d go with “Edgar (Ed) Hoover,” “Edgar Hoover,” or “Ed Hoover.” Any of those are fine.

It won’t be an issue that your legal name is longer — lots of people go by a shortened version or a middle name, and it’s no big deal to just supply the full legal name at whatever point it’s needed (background check, payroll paperwork, etc.).

5. Employer emailed me on Sunday morning and asked me to interview that day

I applied for a few administrative jobs this past week. On Sunday morning, I received an email asking if I was available for a job interview that day. I emailed back within 10 minutes of the original email that I wasn’t due to a family commitment but would be happy to discuss the position any time the next day. I had already arrived at a family gathering and wasn’t comfortable doing an interview under those circumstances.

I did not receive a reply to my email, so I have only to conclude that the interviewer moved on to another candidate or that it was a test to see how badly I wanted the position. If it was a test, I am not upset that I failed. Is it reasonable to expect an applicant to drop everything for an interview or am I being unreasonable not dropping everything for an interview?

You weren’t unreasonable; they were. It’s not reasonable to email someone on a Sunday for a phone interview that day. (And if this isn’t a business that normally works on the weekends, that’s even odder.) It’s also rude of them not to respond once you emailed back — but not terribly uncommon either.

It’s unlikely that this was a test; most employers won’t deliberately be excessively demanding simply to see how candidates respond to it. They might be excessively demanding for other reasons, disorganization and incompetence is a far more likely explanation. (In fact, in hiring, candidates are about 10 times more likely to think “is this a test?” than something is to actually be a test. Job searchers tend to read into everything employers do and assume there’s more strategy to it than there often is. More often than not, the employer is just scattered/unprofessional/inconsiderate/etc.)

{ 412 comments… read them below }

  1. Hello*

    OP5 NOT NORMAL. I’ve written off companies because they asked me to do an interview the next day in a different state from me (I’ve had multiple do that to me).

    1. Mina, the Company Prom Queen*

      It’s definitely odd. I wouldn’t want to work for anyone who emailed Sunday morning to ask for something that day, whether it was a test or not. I think you dodged a bullet. You weren’t being unreasonable at all.

      1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

        I think OP5 should have emailed back saying “Yes, I’m waiting right outside.”

      2. Koalafied*

        The tough thing about making that judgment, though, is that often these early contacts are from HR and may not be representative of what the department you’d actually work in and manager you’d actually work for are like.

        1. Caliente*

          But if the HR department doesn’t adhere to company norms then…? That still seems like a bad sign.

        2. TomorrowTheWorld*

          Nothing tough about it. If the HR department is so incompetent/delusional/toxic as to think I’d want to interview on a Sunday, much less a “same day” one, then that is indicative of the company overall. Why would I want to work for them?

    2. Jester*

      Once got an email at 9pm on a Sunday from an employer assigning me a time for an interview the next day. The location was also a bar. I wroteback offering other times later in the week and they never answered. So many red flags.

    3. Le Sigh*

      Even the crappy discount clothing store I worked for gave me 24 hours notice when they asked me to come in for an interview for a store 15 minutes from my house.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Did you make a point to tell them you were in a different state?

      It is normal to ask for a quick interview for an administrative job, they tend to need to be filled quickly. But it’s not abnormal to need a few days in advance as a prospective employee.

      Writing people off because they simply dared to simply “ask” you to come in the next day is extreme overreaction on your part.

    5. nonegiven*

      My son missed an interview time that was emailed after he shut down his computer for the day and the interview time was earlier than he usually turned it in on in the morning. So WFH 10 am – 6 pm. Email was received after 6 pm, interview time was 9 am.

      He actually did get the job.

    6. Anon for this*

      My husband has been job hunting for some time and he had a good screening call with one company… They asked for a second interview on a Sunday afternoon, which we moved our weekend around (there was enough notice). They asked him to join an on-the-spot Zoom call at 7:00pm on a stat holiday, made a job offer and scheduled a call for 2:00 the next afternoon as my husband asked for a bit of time, and emailed at 9:45 the next morning to rescind the offer.

      If a company is going to disrespect your time this much as a job seeker, how’s it going to be when the have even more power over you? I would treat any interview request outside of standard business hours as a yellow flag.

    7. ScamSham*

      I ran into this recently, and I though it was odd too. At the very least it made me panicy and wary. But then I did a deep dive into the info they provided, and it turned out to be a scam! It looked totally legit from the surface but i didnt remember applying to the job (it was tottally a job i would have applied to, in my city and everything). Dudes email turned out to be a dead end, and the company he wsa claiming to be from said they had no employees by that name. Best guess is that later along the “employment” process he would have tried to get private information/identity information.

      I think the same day interview on a sunday was to make sure that most buisnesses wouldnt be in the office to be able to correct potential victims of the scam.

  2. Jimming*

    OP2 – Do you have enough roots to pull your hair back? You could make it look like you have natural hair for the interviews and then scope out what your interviewers look like and what the company culture is before you make a change.

    1. Brooks Brothers Stan*

      I second this. Because video calls do not offer the greatest quality in the best of times, I had blue hair (I’m a dude) for a bit the last few months. It was incredibly easy to ‘hide,’ and most of my coworkers didn’t even realize till we had a social-distanced meetup. If it’s something that OP is genuinely concerned about, there are many tried and true methods of concealing their hair color until they have a better idea of workplace culture.

      1. Clorinda*

        My dark gray hair looks navy blue on Zoom. Nobody’s going to get too worked up over an apparent online color, I would think.

    2. Lil*

      There’s also Overtone, which would allow you to color it back to brown temporarily and it only lasts a few washes

      1. lemon*

        Using Overtone on blue hair might not work. It could create a really muddy look. Nontraditional colors can be hard to cover up. Unless you’re using a dark, permanent dye, it’s best to strip the color out first.

    3. lemon*

      Or you could wear a wig. There are some decent looking ones out there for a reasonable price. When I freelanced, I had bright pink hair. Occasionally a very conservative client would ask me to come into the office, so I’d just throw a wig on. It looked reasonably natural, and even if folks could tell it was a wig, there are enough women in the world who wear wigs on a daily basis that it’s really not that weird. I’m sure if it’s a Zoom interview, no one will be able to tell.

      1. JJ*

        I came here to say this too! Especially if you’re interviewing with lukewarm places…it is a LOT of work (and expense!) to get to a state of good-looking blue hair, just cover it up while you’re still considering/interviewing and make the dye call later.

      2. Bedtime*

        I was thinking this, too – on Zoom you could almost certainly get away with a cheap dollar-store wig. Especially since you might have interviewers that are wary of the inherent wacky-ness of blue hair for someone unknown but otherwise wouldn’t be bothered if a colleague had blue hair at work – it might make them read into things they would otherwise (rightfully) brush off.

    4. Blue Haired Old Lady*

      OP Here. I have roots, but alas they are largely gray. I almost would rather just show up blue and to hell with it than accidentally victimize myself with ageism/the impression that I’m overqualified, if it came to needing a new position quickly.

      1. Help Desk Peon*

        I am so so jealous of your blue hair. I accidentally dyed my hair a kind of magenta sometime last year–I used a box color and misjudged how it would apply to grey hair AND also how much grey hair I actually have LOL. I loved the color and ended up getting such a good response that I kept it up, but when we come back from working at home and I can go to a salon again, I REALLY want to go silver with blue tips. I’ve been growing out my color in preparation and am at the point where it just looks bad, sigh.

        1. Blue Haired Old Lady*

          That’s the thing, getting things back to where they were before is going to be an ordeal. If I just let this grow out I will still need color attention; I started going gray when I was 19 and now that I’m legit middle-aged its not as fun to me.

          1. Help Desk Peon*

            I’m just tired of the upkeep at this point. I have so much grey already, I’m hoping my roots will be LESS obvious if I color the rest grey. Buuuuuut I’m not ready to look like my mom, so blue tips.

  3. KinderTeacher*

    OP2 doesn’t necessarily sound invested enough in the blue hair for this, but they could consider a wig! I have a good friend who went this route at the end of college, interviewing in a wig that approximated her natural color so she could hang onto her frequently changing, fun colors for as long as possible while appearing “professional” for interviews.

    1. Lilyp*

      I was going to suggest that too! I don’t know much about wigs though, is it possible to get one that’s reasonably natural-looking without spending a ton of money?

      1. Lady Meyneth*

        I don’t know about the US, but wigs aren’t outrageously expensive where I live. Natural hair is a little pricier, but not ridiculously so unless you insist on what they call “virgin” natural hair (hair that’s never had chemical treatments while attached to a head, so that’s mostly from children and young teens).

        If OP goes this route, I suggest they could check out their local jewish community. I have several jewish friends and they regularly wear wigs, even the non orthodox ones, so she may find more options and hopefully more reasonable prices.

        1. Free Now (and forever)*

          A good sheitel (wig) of human hair in the Orthodox Jewish community will run about $1100 to $1600. For the record, I am Jewish, but not Orthodox.

          1. Lady Meyneth*

            Ouch! That’s just… WOW!!

            I just texted a friend, and she says she bought her most recent shoulder length, natural hair wig for about $200, which seems pretty reasonable. So I guess prices can vary outrageously from place to place.

            1. JJ*

              I’ve found realistic fake hair wigs for like $30-50, just go to a wig shop/beauty supply and not a halloween store, and you should be good to go! No need to get a super-realistic natural hair wig if you’re not going to be wearing it often.

              1. Lady Meyneth*

                Oh, absolutely, and there are some pretty cute and nice artificial wigs! Just be careful of the materials that’ll be in contact with your head (I have a sensitive scalp and thin hair, so low quality wigs would probably hurt my own hair).

          2. JSPA*

            I believe the price went up after there was a kerfuffle over hair from India (a major source) having come as temple offerings / ritual head shaving at Hindu temples. A major ultra-orthodox Jewish source ruled all human hair from india non-kosher for wig purposes.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        A wig that will pass in a Zoom meeting shouldn’t be too expensive. For a face-to-face interview, maybe.

      3. Accidental Itenerate Teacher*

        You can definitely find some reasonably priced synthetic wigs online that will work for even in-person interviews.

        I dyed my hair before a long vacation a few years back and rather than changing when I went back to work I just wore a wig- the only person who noticed it was a wig was my coworker who had a side gig styling wigs for theater productions.
        The wig I got was maybe $40 on a site specializing in cosplay wigs.

        1. LunaLena*

          Yeah, I have a cosplay wig that I bought for $33 – I bought it because I have long hair and often cosplay as a character with a short blunt A-line. It’s surprisingly realistic for the price and even matches my natural hair color pretty well.

      4. Checkert*

        Yes! Speaking as a wig wearer due to alopecia. You don’t need human hair wigs to make it look natural. I’ve had nothing but synthetic wigs and always get compliments on how real they look. I would say you’re looking to spend $100-$200 for a nicer one, but you could find one even cheaper if you only need it for a webcam. I always recommend finding a wig similar to your haircut (or one you’ve had before) to be sure it really will look natural on you and that you can stand wearing it (some of those mermaid length wigs can really drive you nuts and look insane if that’s not something you’re used to)

    2. SweetestCin*

      Lets just say that in my younger days, my normal hair color had nothing to do with what my hair actually looked like. It was also at a period in my life where I had two jobs, because, well, one job paid a pittance but “we have great benefits!” and I had rent and a vehicle note. (Those great benefits weren’t real apparent to a young 20-something with no spouse, no children, and no parentals requiring insurance either. I’d absolutely kill for those benefits right now though!)

      The daytime entry level professional position, 40 hours a week, in a non-design related field? No effs given.
      The evening, approximately 20 hour a week, minimum wage RETAIL gig? I wore a wig. Because heavens forbid I might offend someone with an out of the ordinary hair color (eyeroll). In a “university town”. With a store demographic that catered to 18-40 yo women.

    3. Dandy it is*

      I told someone last week that I had wanted to do wildly colored hair for years but my workplace is a little too straight-laced for it and I realized the answer was….brown wig.
      I feel real dumb for not thinking of this years ago.

      1. Blue Haired Old Lady*

        OP here. It literally had never crossed my mind; I think the wigs I wore occasionally to party in my 20s looked so bad I automatically ruled it out. I like this.

    4. SQL Coder Cat*

      I did the wig route when I interviewed for my current job three years ago. Once everything was finalized, I asked about the hair color policy and was assured by my boss it would be fine. I showed up my first day with emerald green hair, and everyone loved it. This is all location and industry dependent, of course, but I feel employers are way more comfortable with ‘fashion color’ hair nowadays.

    5. SheLooksFamiliar*

      A dear friend of mine has sported purple hair ever since she turned 60, she looks awesome. And she still works in Corporate America. So there’s that.

    6. JJ*

      Also, if you get a cheap wig and it’s just too shiny to be realistic, you can hit it with some Krylon matte spray to tone down the shine. It won’t move quite as nicely (as the spray will add texture/friction) but it’ll look fine on camera.


    7. SweetFancyPancakes*

      Yep! I came here to say that. I currently have magenta hair that fades to blue at the ends, and I have a wig that I can wear if I need something more conservative. The fun thing is that while my natural hair color is (was? I haven’t seen it in a few years!) dark blond and shoulder length, the wig is very dark brown and cut in a bob with bangs b/c I’ve always wondered what I would look like with really dark hair. And sometimes I really want to look like Phryne Fisher.

    8. Frustrated*

      I am dealing with an employee that dyed his hair into a bright red Mohawk. He’s in a manual labor role and the dress code for his role is pretty casual. So I said it’s fine, if he wears a hat. A regular baseball cap covers it. My boss wanted him to change it until I came up with a happy compromise.

  4. The answer is (probably) 42*

    LW2: can you wear a wig or a hat for preliminary interviews until you have the opportunity to ask about their hair color policies? As another quarantine hair person (purple hair ftw) it’d a shame to preemptively go back to brown, even if it’s not a huge deal for you- that’s almost guaranteed to be a one way trip. Going back to another bright color will be pretty much impossible until the hair you previously lightened grows out.

    (Granted, I’m a little biased, I have had some purple in my hair for years now and even without quarantine I’d have dyed it completely purple eventually, I am in tech but my corner of the industry is pretty laid back about hair color)

      1. SweetestCin*

        My recollection from HS days is that “we’re dealing with ancient, pagan gods here, and your luck is going to depend on a lot of factors, including the alignment of moon and stars and the height of the tides!”

        Could be nothing. Could change the bright color in unexpected ways. Going bright for me involves first bleaching, then using the brighter color. Applying temporary colors over previously bleached/dyed hair sometimes lengthens the time you get the temporary color, sometimes it doesn’t “stick”, and sometime you get very interesting results that you may or may not like.

      2. Governmint Condition*

        Let’s just say I saw a guy with grey hair try to dye his hair with bright green dye. The end result was he looked like a natural redhead.

        1. Yvette*

          Wait, was he going for green for St. Patrick’s day??? Because if that were the case red could work as well.

      3. Anon for this*

        In my experience after many years of DIY hair coloring – bright colors are themselves basically temporary, so layering with another temporary color is likely to give you something weird and unpredictable. The exact color depends on the tones of the two temporary colors, the ingredients in the dyes, how thoroughly you lightened your hair, what your natural hair color is…. and I’d guess that brown over blue is likely to end up as an unpleasant shade of green or yellowish brown. Even trying to do a permanent brown color over bright blue is tricky and I probably wouldn’t attempt that at home if it needs to look good for an interview! If it were me, I’d go for a wig until you know what the company culture is. Or if you’re going to dye it, go for black with a blue undertone.

        OP, in case you’re interested in sort of a middle ground hair color – my go-to these days is Garnier Ultra Bold Indigo, which is a really pretty dark blue. The box says you don’t have to lighten first, but I do lighten just a couple of shades to make it richer. It’s a bit less shocking than a bright color but still has some personality! I interviewed for my current job with that hair color and even in a fairly conservative field (government lawyer) it was perfectly fine.

        1. Wheee!*

          What do you do to lighten your hair just a few shades? I would love to do this but don’t want to lighten my hair significantly.

          OP: The wig idea seems solid, keep the blue hair!

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        OP I just had snother idea—this is online interview not in-person, right? Try spray-on/wash-off costume color, or hair chalk! Do test it in advance because spray changes your hair texture, and chalk can drop dust if you don’t use anything to keep it on. Artist’s chalk works just the same.

      5. desdemona*

        In my experience with dyeing my hair (both at home and getting a professional to do it), the only real way to cover a bright color is to go very dark, and permanent.

        Temporary dyes are made to tone your natural hair color, not hide it, generally (unless you have very light blonde hair, in which case some “temporary” dyes may wind up being more permanent than advertised!).

        I went from faded-out-blue to black last fall, and to get it to not look weird and grey, the stylist had to put red over it first. So my hair ultimately had 3 coats of color on it – blue, then red to color correct, then black.
        After that, there is no hope in re-lightening – you just have to wait it out.

    1. Wigged out*

      I have a pretty inexpensive and decently realistic wig I wore to work in Before Times. It’s not fancy and probably doesn’t look 100% realistic but it’s clean, looks tidy, and does the job. I don’t particularly care if my co-workers speculate about whether my hair is a wig or not, so it works for me!

  5. Aggretsuko*

    I have pink hair these days, which I got done in December and under the circumstances wish I hadn’t. (It looks red in lighting, at least.) I have three inches of roots and no clue as to how to dye my own hair! So these days….wigs. Several of ’em.

    1. SusanIvanova*

      There are some good semi-permanent colors out now, you just wash them in and if it doesn’t work out it’ll be gone in a month. They come in fun and natural colors.

      1. TechWorker*

        If OP is a natural brunette they’ll probably be fine but a word of caution from someone who’s ‘4-6 washes semi permanent’ blue dye took about a year to fully go… if you bleach your hair first then expect semi-permanent to cling!

        1. TootsNYC*

          heck, I don’t bleach my hair at all, I just color the grays, and semi-permanent doesn’t fade for me. At all. Not on the grays, and not on the really dark brown.

          I use a medium brown, and that’s what color my hair is.

      2. Quickbeam*

        My hair is fine and apparently porous. “Fun, temporary” colors took me years to grow out.

        1. TardyTardis*

          I would only need two years at the most, and that’s if I kept it long–I can’t grow plants, but by God I can grow hair. I get white/gray roots in three weeks.

    2. Em*

      I just wanted to weigh in that I’ve had green hair for 7 straight years. I am very attached to it and unwilling to change it except for a job with an incredible salary. I’m pretty sure it hasn’t negatively impact my career. I’ve managed to move into two different fields (lab tech in 2017, now switching to vet tech), interviewed with green hair, run farmer’s market stands and provided customer service with green hair. During my most recent interview, the surgeon I’ll be working with complimented it.

      1. AbaDab*

        I’m with you, Em. I’ve had blue hair for 5ish years now and I couldn’t imagine going back to ‘normal’!

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I have long hair, but I’ve had it dyed it all manner of colors (usually some combination of green/purple/blue/teal, right now it’s purple/teal/orange) from the shoulders down since 2010. Both hospitals I’ve worked at during that time range had, at various points, dress codes that straight-out forbid unnatural hair colors – but by having the color from the shoulders down, I can easily put it up in a bun and somehow, nobody notices it that way. (Or if they do, they assume the colors are like, a scrunchie or some other hair accessory.) I interviewed that way with both, was promoted into management that way at the current one.

        (My current hospital has since backed off on the no-tattoos-no-unnatural-hair-colors part of the dress code, which is also nice, so the last time I saw any of my coworkers in person, I had the orange-teal-purple mass down past my butt and flying free, and everyone loved it.)

      3. OrigCassandra*

        I am also nearing 50 and have a purple forelock (over unlightened brown hair). Once I found a dye that faded toward pink instead of orange I was set.

        My students (I teach in a professional program in higher ed) think it’s cute. My colleagues don’t mind it. The occasional outsider will sometimes visibly demonstrate cognitive dissonance, but it has yet to be an actual problem.

        OP, this isn’t to undercut Alison’s advice, which I think is correct. Just to say welcome to the club, and I hope you get to enjoy your blue hair for a long time to come!

    3. Crivens!*

      Try out Overtone! If you can get a good semi-permanent home dye for the roots, Overtone should help keep your color for longer between dyeings.

      1. lemon*

        Overtone probably won’t help with roots. You usually have to bleach your hair to get bright colors to show up properly. Without bleaching the roots, Overtone would just cast a nice pinkish hue over your natural hair color, which would still not match the rest of your bright hair.

    4. Hillary*

      You didn’t ask for advise, but FYI. I like Moroccan Oil color hair masques and Keracolor Klenditioner (both of which are on Amazon).

      I’ve had pink highlights for over a year now. I was one of two women in the office with an unnatural hair color and I get funny looks in business meetings in Europe, but I love it and I’m not changing it. I do fade out the highlights and tone it to rose gold (with the product above) when I’m going somewhere more conservative. it’s closer to hot pink now. I’m so happy salons are open again here.

  6. Greg*

    #5 I am guessing they already decided on a person to hire. But needed to fill a quota. And needed it done that day.

    1. Artemesia*

      Cynical but plausible. And really depressing. I know people who have been interviewed to fill a quota and it is really gross to do that at all but particularly to make the interviewee canon fodder work hard for it.

    2. Another freelancer*

      I was thinking along these lines. It’s also possible the position will replace someone who will be fired soon, so the interviewer is trying to be discreet and organize interviews outside of the regular work week.

      It’s one thing to reach out on a Thursday or Friday to organize an interview for Sunday, and it’s another to reach out on Sunday for an interview that same day.

    3. thatoneoverthere*

      I sounded a little like a staffing company to me. In the past I have been called minutes after submitting an application, only to find out its all being done by a staffing company. Usually they have a quota to fill. Like number of candidates to submit to a client etc.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        In my experience, staffing companies also tend to expect instant replies to everything, so emailing about a same-day interview sounds about right. Except I’ve never had one want an interview on a Sunday…

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      No. Quotas are rare unless it’s some kind of government job or extremely corporate, which then wouldn’t be requesting a SUNDAY job interview.

      It sounds like a prickly needy boss who goes through administrative staff quickly is more like it. They will keep going until someone asks “how high” when they get the “jump” email, requesting their appearance before them that same day.

  7. Al*

    Op 4 – put the name you prefer to be called by on the cv. A lot of people have different names – think of the Stephs, the Katies, the Asian people who use English names for various reasons and married people who just never got to the paper.

    The HR department has absolutely seen every possible version of a name change and almost certainly have a field on their forms for it, and the managers interviewing you don’t actually care much about what you’re called, they just want to be able to link the name on the CV to the interview summary sheet when they make their decision and seeing “John” on there will just confuse them.

    That said, my experience changing my name for trans reasons a few years ago does show that everyone should probably be making more use of the “preferred name” fields, given every Rebecca I know who will cut you if you call her Bec and my colleague Caroline who goes by Liz which causes endless confusion that could be very easily resolved.

    1. OP4*

      All good points! I’m just so used to anything “official” having to involve my legal first name that it feels weird to leave it off something major like a resume.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        Don’t, OP4. I left active duty in 2001, and have had 10 employers since then. My resume has always had my initials (I go by J.D.) instead of my first name. It’s never been an issue, and any paperwork I fill out has my legal name on it. It’s normal, and accepted. Using your example, if your name was John Edgar Hoover, you can (and should) easily put “Ed Hoover” on your resume, and then fill out the legal stuff as John Edgar Hoover.

        I don’t know your ethnic background, but I’m black, and going by my initials on my resume has also helped me land interviews I might not otherwise have landed, despite my credentials.

        1. OP4*

          I’ve had 1 job in 10 years so my skills are rusty- even now it’s more of a “this should be updated as a matter of principle just in case,” I have no intention of leaving. But when the only experience I have to go by is what a naïve college grad did 10 years ago, I wasn’t sure.

          For me it’s purely an issue of what I happen to go by, I don’t object to any portion of my name and it’s a pretty generic one. Not to derail, but what do you think of the idea of resumes being provided to hiring managers without names initially? It’s an idea I’ve considered suggesting to my company to help fight any bias, conscious or otherwise.

          1. Al*

            I think it’s a very good idea to give managers resumes with the names – there’s a lot of evidence that white managers discriminate against people with ethnic sounding names so those people don’t get to the interview. It doesn’t deal with the racism in interviews but does make that first step fairer.

          2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

            I think resumes without names is good idea. I used to work with a black man named Charles. Charles was his middle name – his first name was Biff. When he started his career he put his first name on his resume, and when he would come to interviews, the reaction was a little odd when they saw him. I guess they expected a preppy white dude. So he started putting Charles on his resume.

      2. [insert witty username here]*

        Not to de-rail on this thread, but wanted to spin you a little anecdote of what your future could look like if you go my husband’s route and switch which name you use mid-life: his whole life, he went by his middle name. He and his father have the same first name, “Robert,” so his parents called him middle name (“Fergus”) to avoid the whole “which Bob? Big Bob or Little Bob? Wait – little Bob is bigger than Big Bob now” thing when he got older. When we met (right after college), he was going by Fergus. Then, unbeknownst to me, when he got a new job, he started going by Bob. I didn’t even know this until a few months in and I was utterly perplexed. I asked him why and he said (and I quote), “I didn’t want to have to deal with explaining why it says Bob on my application, since that’s my legal name, but I go by Fergus. It was just easier.” *cue utter confusion on why this would have been difficult* Whatever – I didn’t care at all. I laughed and moved on. A few months later, we were having a Super Bowl party at my parents’ house and Fergus wanted to invite a coworker to come. So I gave my family the head’s up that coworker would be referring to Fergus as “Bob.” They also thought it was weird (because they’d all known him as Fergus for over 2 years at this point) but laughed it off and even started calling him “BobFerg” as a joke. I thought maybe he’d go back to Fergus at his next job, but no luck (for me). He’s been in several jobs since and everyone now knows him as Bob. His family still all calls him Fergus, of course, and my family calls him either Fergus or BobFerg. For our wedding, I had to figure out if all the invitations/decor/VOWS were going to say “Bob” or “Fergus!” I have to code switch when talking to different groups of people who know him as different names (a lot of people know about both names at this point, but I still try to keep it straight). I feel like I’m married to two different people sometimes…. which I guess, 13 years later, is what still keeps our relationship exciting.

        All because one time, he didn’t want to simply say “Oh, by the way, I go by Fergus – it’s my middle name.”

        So – moral of this story – pick one name and stick with it, for the sake (and sanity) of any current or future partners :)

        1. OP4*

          My father and I also share a first name (although interestingly, we both go by unrelated nicknames). It never really mattered until I started applying for colleges and getting “official” phone calls and then it was “You want John? Which one, the homeowner or the college applicant? And what are the odds this is a telemarketer?”

          1. Seal*

            My mother and I also share first names and go by unrelated nicknames (although only her immediate family uses hers). I’ve always hated the confusion that causes and the fact that I always had to ask people to call me by my nickname, which I considered to be my “real” name. For a long time I considered legally changing my name to my nickname, but my mother and I were both named after my grandmother (so I’m technically Seal III) and I wasn’t comfortable doing so while she was alive. But Grandma lived to be 104, so I eventually dropped that idea. Interestingly, I finally came to terms with having a given name and nickname while living in the Deep South for over a decade, where it was VERY common to meet people that went by middle names or stranger nicknames than mine.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Oh geez. My husband goes by his middle name in his personal life and his first name at work, but he’s super adamant about not crossing the streams, so *I* don’t have to do any of the code switching because I don’t have anything to do with his coworkers. A friend of ours who used to live with us, and later started working with him, might have a hard time with it though, I’ve never asked :)

          (He’s the sixth of seven generations of dudes in his family with the same (awful) first name that all of them go by their middle names instead. :P We have no kids, but his twin brother saddled his son with it. I was like IF NOBODY USES THIS STUPID NAME WHY DO YOU PEOPLE KEEP HANDING IT DOWN.)

          1. [insert witty username here]*

            Oh that’s good! He started going by Bob with any new people he met since that first job when he switched, so I’m stuck with this dichotomy of new and old names. It’s not that big of a deal, but he’s definitely Fergus to me, so sometimes I just forget!

            And yeah, I’m with you – stop using a name no one uses!!! But it makes for good family lore :)

        3. LegallyRed*

          I don’t know the origin story of this, but my grandfather used his first name professionally / publicly (he was an MD and a politician) but his middle name with family. As a kid it was one of those things that I just accepted without questioning it: he was both “John” and “Edgar.” He also changed the spelling of his first name at some point (I believe it was during my lifetime) when he realized he’d been using the wrong one. I have no idea how my grandmother dealt with all that, especially since crossing streams between work and home was a frequent and expected occurrence for them.

          1. [insert witty username here]*

            Oh that’s funny – and my mom did something similar! She was an “Anne Caitlin” but went by Catie, and then started spelling it Katie (my grandmother still always spelled it Catie). When she got married, she dropped the Caitlin legally, so is now legally Anne MaidenName LastName and still goes by Katie. Go figure!

        4. CircleBack*

          This is so funny to read from another viewpoint – my dad also went by middle name with family growing up and first name when he went into the “professional world.” As his kid, it wasn’t really that confusing. I was just used to the fact that family and old friends called him “Eddie” and coworkers and new friends called him “John”. When someone called the house landline asking for “Eddie”, I’d sometimes just pass the phone along without asking who was calling because I knew they were someone close to my dad :)

          My mom actually had one of those first names that had a very common nickname but that started with a different initial (think “Elizabeth” & “Beth”). One piece of advice I’d offer to people based on her experience is if you work for a company with an email system that’s First Initial + Last Name, ask if you can get an email set up under each initial (so people typing esmith@ when you’re in the system as bsmith@ will still get to your inbox).

        5. calonkat*

          I’ll also offer a warning about the possible future. If you start having health problems (say in old age), every person who interacts with you will read your name off the paperwork and call you by your official first name. There is generally a “preferred name” field, but it’s used about 40% of the time in my experience. More useful is the “call her Mabel” sign I put up for long hospital visits for my mom. Family first name, so her mother was Ethyl, mom was Ethyl Mabel, I’m Ethyl Maureen (names changed). Mom has always gone by Mabel, and if the dr/nurse/PT calls her Ethyl, her mind assumes they are talking to or about me! So having the name you want to be called as your official first name can be useful!

        6. Butterfly Counter*

          This same thing also happened to my brother, also a “Robert” but in elementary school. On the first day of school after a mid-semester move to a new state, the teacher called him “Robert” and he corrected her and said, “I go by Bobby.” She misheard him and though he said “Robby.” He decided he was only going to correct her once. Weeks later, my mom was able to meet the teacher for a parent-teacher conference. My mom kept wondering why she was talking about one of her students named “Robby” and not my brother. My mom finally figured it out and corrected her and my brother has been “Bobby” ever since.

        7. NotAnotherManager!*

          And, second moral of the story, don’t name your kid something you don’t plan to call them, particularly if it is the same thing as someone else in the close family. There is a reason my kids have names that no other living relative does.

          My sibling and I both share a first name with our mom and aunt respectively, and both of us have been called by our second/middle names by family our entire lives. It gets so, so old to correct everyone else (usually multiple times) working off a roster or official record every time you go somewhere new – my sister still goes by her middle name (mostly because she loathes her Boomer first name), I gave up in late elementary school.

          If my family uses my first name, I assume they’re talking about the person after whom I was named. (The person I was named after calls me by an affectionate nickname of my middle name.) If anyone else – classmates, teachers, coworkers, etc. – uses my middle name (or nicknames of it), I assume they have me confused with someone else. Except the handful of people who are delighted by my unusual, first-middle name and use both.

          TL;DR don’t do this to your kids. And, also, put the name you’d like me to call you on your resume and please, please point it out to me if I get it wrong.

          1. Dagny*

            I respect that you don’t like going by a middle name, but in the South, it’s very common for a father to go by his first name and for his son, who has the same name, to go by his middle name. Many of them quite like it. In adulthood, it solves the telemarketer problem: when you call for Frank and Frank Gregory has been known as Greg for his entire life, he knows to not engage.

            1. NotAnotherManager!*

              I am Southern, I am quite familiar with this custom (my sister and I call our name woes “Southern Junioring for Girls”), and I was very, very clear with my husband that our son would not be Husband Jr. and/or forced to go by his middle to have his own name. He was fine with it. His older brother is a junior, Dad goes by the middle name already, brother is stuck with an ends-in-ie nickname as a nearly 50-year-old, and nephew is out of usable names and has a nickname unrelated to the first or middle names. And also, my husband is not a fan of his middle name and wanted to avoid inflicting it on a kid for the sake of “tradition”.

              See, also, naming girls Anne or Mary with a family surname as a middle and calling them by the last name. I grew up with Ann Carter, Anne Stewart, Mary Leighton, and Mary Carrington – all called by either both or the middle.

      3. londonedit*

        I was the same when I first started working, OP4 – I assumed my CV was an ‘official’ document and therefore had to have my full legal name on it. Which I don’t use. I quickly discovered the pitfalls, though, when I turned up for my first day at my first career job to find my email address and info had all been set up with my legal name rather than my preferred name. Even though I had my preferred name in my email signature, and would always introduce myself using it, because the email address had my full name, that’s what people ended up using. In my case, it wasn’t the end of the world – I’m just not keen on my full name and would much prefer the shortened version I use – but it was annoying having people referring to me by a name I don’t like and don’t really associate with myself. From then on I’ve always used my preferred name on my CV, and made sure any new employers know that I don’t use my legal name for anything except my passport and bank accounts!

        1. Lily Rowan*

          I think it’s annoying when employers don’t check that before setting up the email address for a new hire!

          But also, OP, no one thinks twice about omitting their middle name on documents when they go by their first name, and your situation should be the same.

          1. Seal*

            My current workplace uses first and last names for email addresses. They set up my email account a few weeks before I arrived using my given name rather than my much-preferred nickname. Fortunately, they were happy to change it to my nickname before I started when I explained that no one knew me by my legal name. Frankly, if they couldn’t have done so it would have been a deal-breaker for me.

          2. NotAnotherManager!*

            Or they just won’t do it – until fairly recently, IT would not put anything but your full, legal first and last names on your email. HR finally forced them to change that to preferred first name several years ago, much to the appreciate of the Bobs, Lizes, Trishas, Berts, and middle-name users of the org.

        2. TootsNYC*

          If you do use a variant of your full name, it’s a good idea to ask to speak directly with HR about setting up the name and account paperwork right after you’ve accepted the job.
          My company’s computer systems were all linked (payroll, taxes, benefits, email), incredibly difficult to change.

      4. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        OP4, your resume is not “official”. It’s neither a driver’s license nor a contract. It’s a summary of who you are as an employee. It tells a prospective employer what to expect when they hire you. Use the name you will use as an employee and save your legal name for the legal documents you need to sign if they hire you.

      5. Awkward Interviewee*

        Since you mentioned you had publications, if I were you, I would consider how important publications are in your field. If you’re in something like research or academia, I would be inclined to use J. Edgar Hoover on your resume. That way if someone is familiar with your publications, everything matches and it’s easier for them to connect you to your publications. (I know they’re probably listed on your resume/CV but if they’re skimming…) And I think “J. Edgar Hoover” would clue people in to the fact that you don’t go by your first name.

        1. TootsNYC*

          and sign your cover letter “Ed,” or use an email name (either the address itself, or a signature/account name) that’s “Ed.”
          I think most people who see names like Edward or William or Franklin or Elizabeth or Jennifer will be sort of primed to accept a matching nickname. (They may even start using it without asking.)

          Putting “J. Edgar Hoover” will tell people that you go by your middle name, which can be useful. And people often expect you to use a more formal name on your résumé, so the idea that you go by a short version won’t phase them at all.
          In fact, often interviewers will say, “Do you go by Ed?” or “should I call you Ed, or Edgar?” I have an odd name that’s two parts, and my new boss asked me how he should introduce me. (which is why I now go by “Sally Ann” instead of the simpler “Sally,” with the occasional “This is Sally” when I answer the phone; I just sort of switched, and people adapted)

    2. casual librarian*

      OP4, I do want to flag that I put the name I go buy on my resume, and it screwed up my entire paperwork. They messed up my account credentials, email address, etc. Somehow, my payroll paperwork was fine.

      This all goes to say that people are probably right that your resume can have your preferred name, but make sure during the hiring process that you make it explicately clear that it is not your legal name!

      1. Tomato Frog*

        But isn’t that the ideal outcome, to have your email and account credentials to have the name you go by while your legal name’s on payroll? That’s how it worked out at my last job — the name I go by was everywhere except the legal stuff. In my current job my accounts all have my legal name on it (even though I applied with the name I use!) and it messes people up when sending me email and I hate it.

        1. Anax*

          Yup. I WISH our internal systems didn’t use my legal name – I’m trans, and it’s super confusing whenever I need to talk to HR or IT because their systems use my legal name, while my email/account have my preferred name. A mishmash of systems seems to happen a lot.

      2. OP4*

        I mentioned this in another reply somewhere, but that DID happen. Luckily nothing super-critical like payroll or insurance, but there was an investment account floating around under the name “Ed.” That happened in spite of my resume and all hiring paperwork spelling out “John Edgar Hoover,” though, just because people didn’t think to look at paperwork and filled in the name they called me by.

        1. Alanna*

          This has happened to me, too — I’d suggest using the name you go by on your resume. At some point after you get a job offer, you’ll probably be switched over to the hiring manager/HR. That’s the point when you can say, “My legal name is J. Edgar Hoover — can you make sure my health insurance and tax forms are under that name? I prefer to use Ed for my company email address” or whatever.

          1. Alanna*

            That should say “switched over FROM the hiring manager TO HR” (though it’s probably not a bad idea for your hiring manager to know you have a different legal name, too. I go by a non-obvious nickname, like Peggy for Margaret. The first time a new department head got a budget document with my salary and other payroll details, she told me she stared at it for 5 minutes trying to figure out where this “Margaret Olson” on her staff came from when the only Olson who worked for her was a Peggy…)

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        Payroll is usually done off the W-4 (in the US, anyway) your fill out as part of orientation, and I think most people put their full legal name on government forms like that. They need info not typically included on resumes (like SSN and state of legal residence for tax purposes).

        Most (competent) HR departments I’ve worked with don’t use resumes for onboarding processes – there is either an application or a one-page bibliographic info/preferences form that includes slots for both a legal name and preferred name.

        Honestly, using resumes for onboarding sounds like something the wacko HR director I worked under in my worst job would have done, and nothing she did should be considered a best practice. :)

    3. ...but I go by Carrie*

      I agree with this, and I just want to say that I think it applies even if your legal name and preferred name aren’t as easily connected as Stephanie/Steph or Katherine/Kate. My legal name is unusual and my preferred name (which I have gone by my entire life) is much more common and not clearly connected – along the lines of my legal name being Dracarys but I go by Carrie. Early in my career, I put Dracarys on my resume and I actually think it caused more confusion than if I had just put Carrie. Most people and HR systems will be able to figure it out once you explain!

    4. Anax*

      I would give one caveat, having also changed my name for trans reasons – if your name isn’t clearly a variation on your legal name, you might occasionally have folks mistake you for “another person”.

      I had one rather rude HR recruiter who assumed that my “husband” was filling out job applications for “me”, and a few more who were just confused. I do hope that didn’t prevent me from getting any interviews – I got my current job quite quickly – but the confusion might be worth keeping an eye out for, so you can head it off quickly.

      Not a reason to change your resume – just something to keep an eye out for in case it does come up.

      (This actually came up less because of my resume, and more because of my email name/signature when setting up interviews, though, go figure.)

    5. Black Horse Dancing*

      Not to be a jerk Al but that ‘married people who never got to the paper’–if you mean long term partners who never got legally married, in the USA, they’re not married unless they are in one of the few common law states. It may not seem like much but that piece of paper is vital for many things and is why marriage equality was so desperately needed and fought for by the LGBT community. It means the difference between seeing your dying lover in the hospital or not, medical decision making or not. If people choose not to get married or only wish a religious, non government sanctioned marriage, great. But don’t think you are married in the eyes of the law. You can be committed together 50 years and without that little piece of paper, you are no relation at all in many cases. Ask many older same sex couples.

      1. Eva Luna*

        And the “married people who never got to the paper” have been the bane of my existence as an immigration paralegal. Personally I couldn’t care less whether clients had the piece of paper, but it makes a huge difference in what their immigration options are, so it drives me nuts when they aren’t clear about whether they have the piece of paper or not. I don’t pass judgement on people’s life choices, but for chrissakes, words have meaning, particularly marriage.

        1. Black Horse Dancing*

          Yes. If someone states they are married, automatically I think legally married. That little piece of paper means a ton.

    1. Artemesia*

      I am an old lady who lived through the 50s and 60s and 70s and 80s and watched girls required to make cookies for the football team, and women in the office expected to do all the social organizing and then get penalized because they waste time on less important tasks. ASking women to bake cookies for men in the workplace is a desperate attempt to impose 50s gender roles and keep women in their place. Makes my skin crawl.

      1. Pennyworth*

        Some years ago I was involved in organizing a weekly work activity where the women did the budget and got all the food and a couple of the men got the drinks (out of money we all contributed equally). Then we realized that most of the drinks money was being spent on beer for a handful of the men so we changed the rules so everyone supplied their own drink. The push back from the beer drinking men was … interesting.

      2. BWooster*

        My husband plays in an indoor lawn bowling league. Practices take about 3 hours. In the middle, the women on the team retire to the clubhouse kitchen to prepare tea and cookies for the men. I was invited to help out and declined.

        This wasn’t the 60s or 7os, it’s this year in England. Unreal.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yuck and yuck. I’m glad you rebelled and refused to get suckered into this.

          I hate activities where women seem to get pressured into some form of domestic role. I make tea for myself, my friends and family but not for some random group of men who evidently should be capable of doing it themselves.

          1. BWooster*

            I wish I could call it “rebellion.” It was just so ridiculous, I was just “I can’t with this.” In that context, I just didn’t feel the need to meet anyone’s expectations. More like, they wonna crack on? That’s cool. Not me.

            In the work context, it’s a different ball game. Pushing back becomes so much more complex.

        2. Teyra*

          Not work related, but as a kid when we had family friends over, me and the other family’s daughter would be in the kitchen helping my mum set up the table for dinner, or getting out the cheese and biscuits, or arranging the desserts. My mum spent the whole time slaving away in the kitchen while the boys and the men (and the guest mum) relaxed and did nothing. And saying no would just mean my mum had less time to enjoy herself, so even when the unfairness started annoying me there wasn’t anything I could do.

          A few years ago I was invited to tea with my Iranian friends who came to England fleeing persecution as Bahá’ís. I was utterly shocked when the husband got up and made us all tea when we ran out, and it was treated as entirely normal and expected. Really raised my standards for future partners after that.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            Well, there is a limit on how many people can be in the kitchen at once, and having 1 person in charge means everything gets out to the table at the same time.

            With my parents, there’s only room for 2 people in the kitchen. At holidays, my mom drives the kitchen, and my husband and I take turns going in and doing support tasks (chopping / washing / etc). My son or I usually set the table, because my husband is a waaaay better cook than I am.

            1. Clisby*

              In my family kitchen duty ended up being gendered, but I’m not sure it was deliberate. My sister and I would help our mother with dinner preparation; my brothers would set the table and do cleanup after the meal. My sister and I were the eldest of 6, so we were actually useful at cooking well before our brothers were – it’s possible it just worked out that way until we went to college.

              1. UKDancer*

                I think that sounds sensible, at least everyone has a role to play. Your brothers weren’t excused domestic chores, they just got ones appropriate to their age and level of usefulness.

                What I used to object to was the way my grandmother made me pass canapes and be useful at parties but never asked my boy cousins to do the same. They were allowed to play football at the end of the garden, I had to be helpful and make polite conversation. I loved my Granny but she was all about the gender double standards.

                I swore that when I grew up I was not going to abide by some arbitrary gender based rule that let men off doing chores.

                1. Teyra*

                  That’s it yeah, it was *only* the women who had chores to do. I wouldn’t have minded if the guys had been doing stuff too, or if the issue had been kitchen size (they have a big house) There were so many times when my dad would be sat on his ass watching TV and complaining my mum was taking too long to come in and watch a movie with him, while she ran around doing the dishes/laundry/other housework.

          2. irene adler*

            My father ALWAYS prepared the tea for guests (he was a Persian-American Baha’i).
            I get a chuckle every time I think about him heating up the water in all the giant pots he could find.

            Mom did all the other food prep.

            Clean-up was a shared effort.

          3. SheLooksFamiliar*

            My ex was the only child of traditional 1st generation Italian parents. He was an unashamed mama’s boy and sort of expected the same kind of worship from me. Yeah, that was one of the many unfortunate reasons why he is my ex.

            But he did housework without being asked. We both cooked and served food when we had guests. He refilled glasses, got more of whatever we ran out of at the table, made coffee and tea on request. He cleared the table and stacked the dishes for me to wash, because I insisted on it. I had a system and didn’t want him to mess with it.

            If this mama’s boy could peel and chop vegetables while I enjoyed a glass of wine with our guests, then anybody can.

          4. Filosofickle*

            In the 1980s my dad’s company was bought out by a Japanese company, and they sent over different boss every couple of years to oversee the facility. Occasionally those bosses would come to our house for dinner with their wives, and kids if there were any.

            Whenever they did, my father would carefully choose a menu that made a show of him being the main chef. (They both cook a lot but have different specialties.) At one dinner I was bored out of my mind and wanted to clear the table to escape, but Dad signaled me to sit. He and my brother cleared the table while Mom and I (a girl) sat there. The looks the boss and his wife got on their faces were priceless. Dad just liked messing with them a little and subverting expectations.

            1. LunaLena*

              Ugh, that’s one thing that has always bugged me about Asian cultures – the automatic assumption that women will cook and clean up while the men relax (usually watching TV, drinking beer, and playing chess). Even my aunts, who have lived in the US for the great majority of their lives, automatically disappear into the kitchen at family gatherings. My dad, who is extremely conservative even by Korean standards, once told me that this is because women just naturally enjoy cooking and cleaning while gossiping, and it’s just an inherently female thing to do. I seem to remember I responded with something about how I must be some kind of mutant then, and then I got in trouble for being cheeky.

              1. NotAnotherManager!*

                The enormous, rural, midwestern branch of my spouse’s family is the same way. The women spend hours cooking, the men eat, then the women eat (enormous = not enough seating for everyone at one time), then they clean while the men watch sports and visit. My spouse, who does far more cooking and cleaning than I do, warned me before the first time I visited. (I offered to help because, damn, that was a lot of dishes, but they shoo-ed me away because I was a “guest”.)

            2. ThePear8*

              This though. My mom is Asian, but she can barely boil vegetables. My dad on the other hand almost became a chef at one point in his life. He didn’t, but he used his culinary skills to cook dinner for our family every night and taught me a special appreciation for food and cooking. He’d also cook Asian food a lot, for my mom.

        3. Rusty Shackelford*

          Wait. What? No one wonders why the women on the team are using their break to feed the men on the team?

          1. BWooster*

            I don’t really get it. But the average age of people on that team is rather high. I’m in my 40s and I’m probably 10+ years younger than everyone else bar my husband.

            I’m in a fortunate position in that respect: I don’t care of those aunties’ and uncles’ opinions of me. So I just said “nah!” It’s a completely different situation though when it’s the workplace context. It’s so much harder to push back in situations like that.

      3. Grey Coder*

        I am of similar vintage and find it depressing but not surprising that this is still happening. Let’s hope this was shut down by someone who recognized it for what it is.

      4. Gazebo Slayer*

        “women in the office expected to do all the social organizing and then get penalized because they waste time on less important tasks”

        This is the most infuriating part to me – the double bind. How women’s labor is both invisible and expected – a second shift even at work.

      5. Just J.*

        I’m a seasoned professional in a male dominated STEM field. I’ve spent so much of my career trying to teach ‘the boys’ that women do belong in STEM. I’ve spent so much of my career trying to encourage young women that it’s worth it to be in STEM.

        So to see this letter come through makes my skin crawl too. Actually it’s infuriating. My answer would have been a hard NO and I would have immediately escalated it to the manager’s boss. This type of gendered BS does not belong in any office in any circumstance.

          1. Zombeyonce*

            I absolutely LOVE baking cookies. I would spend $1.50 on those disgusting sugar cookies with the gross pink frosting and sprinkles at the grocery store and those would be my contribution. I would never bake cookies for this.

      6. Helen J*

        In high school (late 80’s) the Home Economics class, which was 100% women, had to make all the cookies, petit fours, etc. for the prom. Then the school wanted to do a fundraiser and guess what they picked? A cookie sale! With the home ec “girls” doing all the baking!

        My son did a sort of home ec class in high school, I think it was called something like Kitchen Essentials, and they were never asked to cook/bake for the prom or bake sale.

        1. Colette*

          Assuming that they were doing the baking in class, that doesn’t seem unreasonable. The problem was that the class was all girls, not that they were doing class-appropriate work.

          1. Lady Meyneth*

            Was it classs appropriate though? Home Ec should be about keeping a household, so while it touches on cooking, it should include home finances, basic household maintenance and which tools to use, and how to do simple chores more efficiently. It’s not a cooking class, and if they’re spending all the time baking for events in class, they’re not learning important parts of the material.

          2. Helen J*

            Baking/cooking was only supposed to be part of the class and it ended up being almost all we were doing. If you were good at it and didn’t need much supervision, the would let us “skip” gym, study hall or any class we had good grades in to go help bake for the prom or cookie sale. I didn’t mind doing a little extra, but when you got volun-told to “skip” class to go help bake, it was pretty annoying.

        2. 40 Years in the Hole*

          Yes, it starts early and was engrained, even through the school board. Back in the dark ages (50 years ago), we grade 7/8 (middle school) girls lined up at one door, boys at the other. Girls had to take Home Ec and boys had to take Shop. Everything we baked/cooked – went across the hallway for the boys. Everything the boys built – did not. Still waiting for my bookshelf…s/
          I still can’t/won’t sew (and mom was a trained seamstress/dressmaker…”where did I go wrong?”), and I rarely bake. Hubby buys his own cookies. But I just designed and built my own horseshoe pitch…’cuz I can!

          1. HR Bee*

            When I was in JR High/High School, both Shop and Home Ec were required for everyone. I found Shop to be quite fun and useful. Home Ec was just… Home Ec. I don’t know how else to describe it. I wish we’d have learned things like money management and banking instead of just baking and sewing.

            1. Lady Meyneth*

              This makes me so sad to read. I didn’t take home ec in school, but took an independent course right before going to live on my own in college, and it was fantastic. There was basic cooking in there, but there was also budgeting and how taxes work, how to fiz simple household items and with what tools (and I’ll confess I’d never even held a wrench before), laundry tips, clothes basic repair, etc. It can work, guys, and many schools are moving to making it work too.

            2. Nanani*

              Same, I’m a bit older than you but Shop/Home Ec (though neither was called that) were both required in the first year of high school, and optional after that.
              Our home ec did have stuff about budgets and how interest works, at least.

            3. university admin*

              This was my experience in junior high too, and it was the 1970s. Home ec was sewing, cooking, and baby care (so much better now that you don’t have to use pins to put diapers on!), and shop was woodworking, ceramics, and technical drawing. My mom still uses the cutting board I made :-)

          2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

            “I still can’t won’t sew and rarely bake,” is what makes me sad about those gendered expectations!

            For every person pressured into something they hate Because It Is Expected For Your Gender, there is someone who is pointedly eschewing it to avoid the Gender Baggage who might actually enjoy it. And there’s people missing out on things they might enjoy or do well at Because It’s Not For Your Gender.

            The whole thing is stupid.

            1. Dust Bunny*

              (Woman, fortysomething): I love to both sew and bake, and while the cake is in the oven I’ll change your oil and brake shoes. We cover all the bases in my family.

            2. TootsNYC*

              , there is someone who is pointedly eschewing it to avoid the Gender Baggage who might actually enjoy it.

              I discovered, at the age of 38, that I really love the color pink. And I look good in pink clothes.

            3. SheLooksFamiliar*

              My very proper Southern grandmother – I mean, Maw-Maw – taught my sister and me how to quilt, patchwork, tat, and knit during our summer vacations with her. Those memories are some of the few good ones I have of my family, and I still enjoy knitting.

              Then there was my mother. She taught us how to embroider and crochet, because we were expected to fill our hope chests – yeah, I’m old – with handmade tea towels, doilies, pillowcases, aprons, baby sweaters and booties, etc. She made us use the patterns she used in the 40s. There was no arguing with her. That’s what girls did in her day, you see. Since then, I haven’t picked up a needle and thread to do anything except sew on a button. And I never wanted children, so…

            4. UKDancer*

              It’s very stupid. I’ve decided that I don’t care about the baggage and I will now do just the things I enjoy.

              I don’t bake because I don’t enjoy it much although I am quite good at it. I certainly won’t do it to order from work.

              I do embroider because I enjoy it. My amazing godmother taught me how to cross stitch and it was a thing we enjoyed together as we put the world to rights and planned her next sermon (she was a Methodist lay preacher). When she died I stopped because it made me sad. Now I do it and think of her kindly and how much she inspired me to reach for the stars.

              On the other hand I don’t sew clothes (apart from the odd button) or do tailoring because I hated it when we did it at school.

              Maybe it’s something to do with the way we learn things as well and the people we learn them from.

      7. Temperance*

        We were expected to do this in high school. I graduated in 2001. I expect it’s still happening.

    2. Brob*

      And what if I never bake and would have to shell out for flour, sugar, baking soda/powder, butter, etc? That adds up!

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        I live in an apartment so tiny it makes baking difficult – I have almost no kitchen workspace and not a lot of kitchen storage either. Ugh.

      2. Amethystmoon*

        I almost never bake because I’m afraid I would just eat all of it. I’d probably burn it, and would tell them such. I would have to go buy cookies at the store.

      3. Mae Fuller*

        As someone who does bake quite often, I can confirm that the costs are pretty high anyway – the expensive things are generally the bits that get used up quickly (sugar, butter etc).

      4. Campfire Raccoon*

        Right? The women had to buy all the supplies, waste their personal time, and then give IT cookies for DOING THEIR JOB?

        Imma throw up a bunch of cookies.

        1. Marzipan Shepherdess*

          Of course the IT staff didn’t have to bake / cook anything for the LW’s team to show THEIR appreciation for the IT projects that LW’s team needed (which thus made THEIR IT jobs possible), right?! Umm…did the LW’s manager steal Dr. Who’s TARDIS and wind up in 1950? Because there’s no other explanation for this in 2020!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I think it’s fine to say that I don’t bake. If pushed, I can say that I have diet limitations so not only do I not have the ingredients in the house, I also cannot test taste what I have made to be sure it come out okay. I land on “I have not baked treats in decades, so probably no one really wants to sample what I have made anyway.”

      My friend’s oven stopped working. She is NO hurry to get it repaired because she has found it gets her off the hook for so much family stuff. (This is a setting where other people could take a turn, yet they don’t.)

      For pot lucks I usually volunteer to bring paper goods.
      It’s a shame, but we still seem to need to have a reason to back up our “NO”, the word no just doesn’t stand alone.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        I’m a lousy cook. For pot lucks, I either do a fruit salad (I can chop ok) or a commercial dish transferred to my pan for baking / presentation.

      2. EPLawyer*

        If you just say you don’t bake, it still lets the person with the idea that the little women should bake for the big strong men go unchallenged. Requests like this need to be challenged — professionally of course*. A very simple, this is a very gendered thing to do and we should not be perpetuating this stereotype will go a long way to ending the practice.

        Plus, the men in #1 probably would have preferred being mentioned to management about their going above and beyond. Things like that help at budget time — cookies don’t.

        *Quick aside — hubby had to call someone about the house we are buying. The receptionist called him sweetheart. He said I am not a sweetheart. She tried to argue with him about how she was sure he was (she was southern). Hubby said flat out “I am not and please don’t address me as that way.” I made a mental note to use that line in the future when I get called honey or sweetie.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I grew up in the south – and was called that all the time. My go to was to stop and look confused and ask “have we met before?”

          It didn’t stop all of them, but it did help somewhat.

        2. Marzipan Shepherdess*

          I totally agree with the idea that mentioning the IT team’s excellent work to their manager (preferably in writing) would have been a much better way to thank them! It would have been appreciated by EVERYONE on the IT team…including any that are diabetic, have allergies that preclude their snacking on cookies that may contain ingredients that are allergens or are just trying to cut down on eating sugar. Keeping it professional is (and would have been) the best way to thank the IT staff.

      3. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        Go to the grocery store bakery. Buy whatever package of cookies looks nicer than the average home baker could make for $5. Bring them in in their package with the stickers still on them. Call it a day.

      4. Richard Hershberger*

        I once made brownies, but forgot the sugar. The results were startling. If someone demanded that I bake when I didn’t want to, and especially if this was an ongoing thing, I would do this on purpose. I am a bigger fan than many of creative incompetence for stuff that isn’t actually part of the job. It probably helps to get away with this that I am male, but I am perfectly happy to apply the principle to traditionally male activities.

      5. JustaTech*

        I love to bake and I like to cook and I’m happy to bring things into the office just because, or if we’re having a potluck or a fundraiser.

        But if someone told me I *had* to bring in cookies for another department for doing their job?

        Hell no.

      6. Paulina*

        I am a decent cook, and if I bring something to a potluck I like it to reflect that. At work, though, we had an annual potluck that, after the first couple of times, I became too busy for. Partly because I was busy — it was at a busy time of year — but also heavily because I noticed the very gendered divide on who was actually making the food. Most of my colleagues are male and brought in something made by their wives (many of whom I know also work full-time). I’m just as busy as my colleagues, but neither have someone to cook for me nor an interest in just buying the rolls (cheap-ass or otherwise). I don’t have the time to cook for this, and don’t want to emphasize that I don’t have the time to, especially when my colleagues are getting compliments for things someone else made. (I find “look what my wife made for us” problematic when it’s something for work.)

        Attendance has fallen off in recent years; we’re all very busy and I expect my colleagues’ wives are too. Some newer hires seem unlikely to ask their partners to produce food for a work event, which is to the good.

        1. Shirley Keeldar*

          Oh, quite true. I was imagining singed gravel-cookies that looked so awful nobody would ever eat them. Apologies for implying IT deserves fractured teeth–definitely not what I meant.

          Definitely on board with the glitter bomb.

      1. Lady Heather*

        I’ve got a cookie recipe that I just haven’t been able to get right. In its defense, it’s very healthy and tastes good for a breakfast but not for a cookie.

        (It’s bananas, oats, chia seed, flaxseed, and salt. It tastes like soggy-but-solid oatmeal with too-ripe banana.)

        I might make that, provided they reimbursed the ingredients and paid for my time, including grocery shopping and kitchen cleanup.

        I bake, but I bake what I want to when I want to for who I want to. If I wanted to bake on demand, I would have opened a bakery.

        (Plan B would be expressing concern about my kitchen not meeting commercial food safety standards and as that is clearly what they are looking for, I can’t help them.)

    4. Khatul Madame*

      This quaint tradition (bleh) will come to an abrupt stop the minute the recipient department gets an employee with a severe nut or wheat allergy.
      Someone can have a serious reaction just from being in the same room as the cookies.

  8. Elizabeth West*

    #4–I just go by First Initial, Middle Name, Last Name because that’s how I sign things. My last name is twelve letters; if I add the first, it doesn’t fit on anything, and I don’t use my first name either. So it’s like X. Hermina Greyminstermclastname.

    1. Alice's Rabbit*

      My sister goes by her middle name, too, and always signs as C. Lynn Davies, rather than completely omitting her first name. That’s how she fills out applications and resumes, too. It clues folks in to her preferred name, while still letting them know that legally, that’s not what’s on her birth certificate, ID, bank account, etc.

    2. OP4*

      I work in the sciences and that’s how I publish as well as officially sign (J Edgar Hoover). I was even lucky enough to score the equivalent of JEdgarHoover as my Gmail, which has helped a lot!

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        I’m in the sciences too, and I have a Gmail with the full name I publish with, which I use to unobtrusively get both names on my resume. The header portion looks like: Lizzy Darcy / elizabeth.darcy at gmail.com

    3. nonegiven*

      FIL was supposed to get a plaque for his grave with his name and former rank on it. They called and said his name was too long and they wanted to abbreviate his middle name on it. DH told them to abbreviate his first name instead because he hated it and never used it. His headstone says First Middle “Nickname” Last but the plaque says F. Middle Last

  9. Daisy*

    Op 3 – I also go by my middle name, but have generally now gone to supplying my legal name initially, and the name I go by in parentheses. It’s kind of awkward to have to explain, and I’m sure you’d be fine going the other way, but I’ve had issues where people make documents out with my nickname or try to run a background check with it. This is even after I’ve supplied my legal name – if it’s what people see when they go back to your documents they are likely not to remember it’s not your legal name. Not a huge deal, and may be worth it to you, but I’d just consider it can cause a bit of a hassle.

    1. OP4*

      That’s my biggest worry! I’ve been at my current company for 10 years, but my very first manager internalized “His name is Ed” and my ID, computer login, e-mail, etc. are all based on “Ed Hoover.” That’s not a problem since people recognize that as me- but it ended up causing a minor headache recently when I found out one of my benefits plans was officially for “Ed Hoover” and I have nothing legally saying that’s me. Luckily I caught it and got it changed internally before it caused problems.

      1. Governmint Condition*

        In the government agency where I work, your e-mail name mist be based on your legal name. No exceptions. This does cause confusion sometimes.

        1. OP4*

          We have a few odd cases- our email convention is first initial last name (so I’m EHoover@company.com), and sometimes you’ll see someone with the “wrong” initial and I know I’ve found a fellow middle-namer.

          We had one woman in customer service with a hyphenated last name where both sides of the hyphen were very long and difficult to pronounce. When she got engaged she changed her company e-mail to reflect her fiancé’s single-syllable last name. Then they split up, but she kept his name on her company e-mail because it was so much easier to spell to customers.

        2. Red Tape Producer*

          This is my issue! I work for a government department and they insisted my email be my legal name (I normally go by my middle name). The email name becomes your messenger name and the name HR uses on the welcome email/announcements. By the time I started my first day everyone was already calling me by my first name and it was too confusing trying to get them to go by my preferred name. I’m now applying for roles in a different jurisdiction and putting my middle name on everything, but I’ll have to tell whoever does my reference checks to ask for me by my first name. Which is not ideal, but better than having to use my legal name forever.

    2. Captain Raymond Holt*

      I recently changed my first and middle name (legally). My first name is now the shortened version of my original first name (ie Caroline to Carrie) and I go by my new middle name. My original first name has a cool initial, which was really the only reason I kept it as my first name, and I like the way the first initial name looks.

      My resume/CV/LinkedIn say “C. Raymond Holt” on there, so it’s obvious that there’s a name behind the “C,” but that I use the middle name. Would that work for you?

  10. wayward*

    Seems like pressuring employees to bring homemade food to work could be a very bad idea in general. What if someone lacked the ability or motivation to prepare food in a sanitary manner — like they had rodent problems or very laid-back attitudes about food handling practices? Would it become the employer’s problem if someone got sick?

    1. Artemesia*

      What a world where we have to think about law suits in just sharing food. The ugliness of making even such a simple act a matter of fearfully avoiding the slightest risk is more corrosive than the remote possibility that a cookie could make someone sick. And imagine the greater risks of the office pot luck.

      It is however gross to expect women to bake and treat male peers.

      1. D'Arcy*

        I believe the part where liability potentially attaches is that the employees were *ordered to do this by management*. That’s the part that makes it both outrageous and totally different from just social activity at work.

        Analogy: I don’t need to have commercial auto liability insurance in order to carpool with coworkers, but my employer *is* required to arrange commercial auto liability insurance coverage if my *manager* asks me to go pick up a coworker in my personal vehicle.

      2. Mookie*

        I honestly have no objections to people, prepared to share their homecooked food with others willingly or because they were ordered to, being cautious not to harm intended recipients or expose them to mystery ingredients to which those recipients may have a sensitivity.

        If the thought of making someone ill is not motivation enough to exercise caution, a lawsuit will do in a pinch.

        This is only onerous if we find ourselves too precious to take a moment or two’s reasonable caution people the world over do everyday where potlucking and communal eating is the norm, not a punishment women are selected to perform in addition to their own work because their male counterparts did something they were already compensated fully for doing. Then again, that is, in fact, the rationale for women shouldering domestic tasks.

      3. Jennifer*

        I don’t eat homemade food at work for fear of getting sick. My husband has gotten very ill from a work potluck. The possibility isn’t that remote.

        But I agree that people should be able to do basic things like bake cookies without fearing lawsuits. I just think what wayward is talking about how the chances of something going wrong increases when you potentially have people who don’t cook very often required to do so by their boss.

        1. wayward*

          Yeah, that was what I meant — people who would generally refrain from bringing food in being forced to do so by the boss. At least theoretically, restaurants and caterers are subject to public health laws and can get inspected.

      4. Richard Hershberger*

        Lawsuits: Civilians think that litigation is about righting wrongs. Litigators think about what are the damages, and what insurance is available. Food poisoning is not a large area of litigation because in the vast majority of cases the damages aren’t that great. You are really sick for a day or two, with perhaps a trip to the ER and missing a few days from work. Then you are fine. We are up to perhaps a few thousand dollars here. This is before we get to the question of proving what it was that made you sick. There are instances where a personal injury lawyer will take an interest, when things have gone horribly wrong, but these are very rare.

        That being said, this is a work function. Workers Comp is another matter entirely. There still is not much likelihood of a big payout, but the process is very different from litigation, and better handles small stuff.

    2. LifeBeforeCorona*

      There are co-workers’ that can bring in commercial food and I still wouldn’t touch it based on what I’ve seen (lack of handwashing) comes to mind. Ordering people to spend their own time and money to provide a treat is wrong. Some people live so close to the edge financially that even buying the ingredients is money they can’t afford to spend.

    3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      If you eat at restaurants, I’m not sure the risk here is very high (except from stuff being left out warm too long, not arriving contaminated). Restaurants have shocking levels of insect and rodent infestation, and people rarely get sick. Look at places like Sqirl serving $12 toast with moldly jam on the regular…

      1. Jennifer*

        Yeah, not the same thing. Restaurants still have to pass health inspections. And a lot of people actually do get sick from eating at dirty restaurants. That’s why they get shut down when they fail inspection.

        I’ll never understand this mentality.

    4. Phony Genius*

      For the reasons you state, if I was in IT, I wouldn’t even want all these home-baked goods. Plus, I don’t know if you used ingredients that my body can’t tolerate well.

    5. Mockingjay*

      The one nice thing about COVID is that with remote work we don’t have to fuss about potlucks or treats. I’m hoping that when “normal” operations resume, some of these potlucks aren’t revived.

      I love my company, but if I wanted to focus that much on food, I’d be in the restaurant industry.

    6. IrishMN*

      I thought about this too. My mom doesn’t eat at work potlucks, in her words, because “I see how many people don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom.”

      The main issue I have with it is women being expected (in this case ORDERED!) to cook/bake for men…for doing their jobs!! But this is another consideration. The whole thing is just one steaming pile of…well, since we’re talking about food I’ll syop there.

    7. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Good luck tracing it back to someone’s specific kitchen when they do mixed batches from various kitchens.

      This isn’t a real concern for the majority of the country who lives for pot-lucks.

      I’m not worried about them being able to prove that it was Jessie’s cookies specifically that made them sick. I need case law before I give this kind of rabbit hole idea any extra though.

      1. wayward*

        It’s not a matter of tracing it back to a single person’s kitchen. It’s about a company serving food that makes its employees sick.

    8. ThePear8*

      This. Growing up, I was never allowed to bring in homemade treats to share at school events because there were strict food guidelines and concerns about sanitation for homemade items. Also, you can’t just assume because someone is a woman, they can cook/bake. Sure, I like to bake, but my mom has never baked in her life and never seasons meat. I learned it all from my dad ;)

  11. RollerGirl09*

    What? Are you cheerleaders making spirit boxes for the football team? (Which even that is gross and outdated.) If someone asked me to bake cookies for colleagues for, well, doing their job, I’d tell them where they can shove their snickerdoodles.

    1. UKDancer*

      Yes when my computer was misbehaving and the helpdesk operative spent a lot of time sorting it I did not bake cookies because that would be weird, also I was in London and he was in Bradford.

      What I did do was send an email to the helpdesk manager saying how well he’d done so he got recognition through the management chain.

      1. Sara without an H*

        Yes, this. Cookies don’t last. A thoughtfully-worded commendation to the manager will actually do some good for the person who helped you out.

        And anyone of any gender can do it.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          The one time an employee at my credit union genuinely went above and beyond (i.e. not the usual “five stars because anything less will get me fired” nonsense) I wrote the home office a letter: an actual paper letter put in an envelope with a stamp on it, just like they did in Biblical times. My thinking was that the conspicuous effort required would make it more impressive. She has since been promoted. I like to think my letter helped.

    2. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

      Came here to make the equivalent comment. Happy to see it already being made.

      This is such a grossly misogynistic and chauvinistic thing to ask, especially considering the person doing the asking is also a female! My skin is kind of well, crawling, right now after reading #1. I feel like a need a shower.

    3. Delta Delta*

      So, kind of a spin on this comment. I was a competitive cheerleader; we competed at huge competitions but we also did sideline cheer for the football and basketball teams. We competitive cheer gals a) never made “spirit boxes” because our practices were 3 hours long and pretty grueling (we actually once invited the basketball team and they couldn’t keep up with us) and b) made it pretty clear we weren’t there “for the team” but we were there to practice our mad skills so that when we went to our competitions we could win. One of our brighter football players remarked that he knew we were cheering but that we were cheering for us and not them.

    4. Elaine Benes*

      What makes me laugh is just the sheer excess of the “gift”… what department needs like 24 cookies a week for 12 weeks or whatever? It’s so obscene on the gender level, obnoxious on the management level, and just plain ridiculous on a practical level.

    5. ThePear8*

      Seriously. And…did the IT team even WANT these cookies? Did they ask for them? It sounds like it was all the boss’ idea.
      My dad is a wonderful cook, and he’s also diabetic, so when people bring in treats at work he can’t partake. I know he would be very upset if someone sent him a dozen cookies as a thank you. I’m sure he’d much rather just get that email saying “We appreciate your work on xyz!”

  12. maggie*

    Heads up it is REALLY difficult to get blue dye out of your hair. I recommend getting some root spray to cover your hair for video interviews, or dying it red or brown. I spent insane amounts of money going from blue back to blonde in time for an interview

    1. Disco Janet*

      OP is a natural brunette, so we tend to have the opposite problem – it’s very difficult to get our hair blue and it goes away easily if not maintained.

  13. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    OP4, if you’re published under “J. Edgar Hoover” and your publications are relevant to the jobs you’re applying for, I disagree a bit with Alison and think you should have a fuller version of your name somewhere on your resumé. It wouldn’t have to be the big-font name at the top, though; it could be noted at the top of a “Publications” section if you have one. Also, I suppose this depends somewhat on what your real name is. If you’re closer to a “J. Percival Elpelson-dePaola” and go by Percy, then there’s less likely to be confusion about whether a paper is really yours than if you’re more like a “J. Michael Smith” who goes by Mike.

    1. Helena1*

      Or if you have a “publications” section, just put your name in bold in the authors list (I’m imagining an academic CV).

      1. blackcat*

        Yep, I do this on my publications list, because there are few publications I’m on with 5+ authors. I bold my name, and italicize my undergrad mentees (because it matters if there are two authors and I’m the most senior vs most junior author).

      2. OP4*

        I’m in industry, not academia, so the conventions are a little bit different. With regards to blackcat’s response, I think the lowest number of authors on any of my papers is 5 or 6, and 10 isn’t uncommon. “Author” credit in this case can signify something as small as “was the primary data analyst” or “did most of the product testing.” You have to be fluent in the nuances of exactly what order the authors are listed in to really judge. that’s why I group my author credits under my different job titles- it’s clear that an author credit as a lab tech means one thing and an author credit as a research director means another.

    2. KHB*

      Was coming here to say more or less this. If you have a professional online presence (e.g., your publications) that you want employers to be able to find if they look, use a version of your name that’s at least easily connectable to the one you use professionally. “J. Edgar (Ed) Hoover” doesn’t seem too unwieldy to me (leaving out the full “John” since you don’t use it at all).

      Also, if the nickname you go by in your day-to-day work is one of those very common ones that people are likely to default to even if you tell them not to (like “Mike” for “Michael” or “Steve” for “Steven”), you can probably get away with leaving that off altogether and just putting “J. Michael Smith” on your resume. Nobody’s going to bat an eye if the guy they knew from the resume as “Michael” shows up and asks to go by “Mike” – it’s really only the more unusual nicknames (like “Toph” for “Christopher”) where that gets jarring.

    3. OP4*

      Very fair point, I do work in the sciences so my publications are pretty relevant credentials. Due to my specific line of work I have a TON of author credits (a few that I highlight as high-profile but a whole lot of them that are individually unimpressive but, taken as a whole, show a consistent track record of contribution). I have them broken down under each of my job titles I’ve held rather than one mass section because industry context makes it pretty obvious what a publication as a “Technician 1” means versus a publication as “Research Leader.” That means the “J Edgar Hoover” probably belongs on the top.

  14. QuestJen*

    LW #1, as an IT professional myself, I would love to say “every day should be feed cookies to your devs day”. However, even I’m going to agree with Alison’s advice. Besides, we’d honestly rather have something like personalized feedback given to our managers (think stuff that we could use come review or budget time).

    I’ve worked on teams where we were all gifted Starbucks cards, and while it’s not everyone’s cup of tea (bad pun) it was at least something that didn’t require individuals on another team to do work like baking cookies. The cost was picked up by the company. I get the desire to thank those that do work for us in a way that eases our own work, but this can be done intangibly by singing someone’s praises (to them, their managers, your own managers, anyone that listens). It builds their political capital and as a side benefit of makes you look like a class act that people will clamor to work with.

    1. Random IT person on the internet*

      As another IT pro – having people confirm to management that fix A was awesome because it saves them a lot of time, and wouldn`t it be nice to get new PCs with 16GB memory instead of 8 next time – is much more to my personal preference.

      That said, i do enjoy cookies etc. but NOT as a forced gift.
      Due to the nature of my employer, we have people all over the globe – and they occasionally visit our office.
      I have a reputation for enjoying ‘local sweets or cookies’ (and sadly, a figure that makes the reputation 110% believable) and sometimes they bring cookies from their country. Or chocolates, or sweets..
      Those do convey appreciation – but they are heartfelt, personal and not forced- and, as such, much more valuable

      Your manager was all kinds of weird – and from an IT point of view (where weird is part of the job) that is saying something.

      1. MK*

        Bringing local delicacies after returning from abroad is not gendered like baking cookies; lots of people do it, sometimes for someone who has gone above and beyond to help them, sometimes as a gift for the whole office to share.

    2. Mystery Bookworm*

      It honestly wouldn’t surprise me if IT was the one to put a stop to the manager.

      – What OP is describing sounds like a lot of cookies, which not everyone may be able to eat.
      – home baked cookies have a ‘personal gift’ element to them, which means that the IT staff may have felt a social obligation to eat the cookies and/or reciprocate
      – that kind of gesture in response to normal work can feel condescending (like they think IT needs a pat on the head to get things done) or even belittling (cookies might smart if you’re feeling underpaid)

      It’s just not a good practice all around

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yeah, as someone who works in IT and actually likes cookies, this forced gifting multiple times of baking cookies would make me feel ick, and I’d definitely talk to my manager about it. IT wants to be feel appreciated, of course, but I didn’t see any indication in the letter that this forced-bake-for-IT endeavor was coming from the IT folks. And, yeah, the gender dynamics make the situation extra ick.

    3. BWooster*

      I’m a dev and I’ll be honest seeing other women bring my department cookies on rotation would eek me the hell out.

    4. Luke G*

      My company has a quarterly “key performer” award, given out based on nominations made by employees (it comes with a gift card and a prime reserved parking spot for the next quarter). Historically it always went to mid-level managers, office staff, and HR, probably because of their visibility, but lately a bunch of us have gotten together to coordinate nominations for people in our IT and other similar unseen technical groups. We also tell them and their bosses directly, of course, but we’ve succeeded in getting some super-important, super-underappreciated people to have their praises sung at company-wide meetings.

      1. EPLawyer*

        THIS is so much more meaningful in the work place than cookies. Get the non-revenue generating folks some recognition. They are usually ignored when it comes time for perks, or even a budget increase.

        1. Luke G*

          Before the ‘rona happened we were planning our next candidate as our primary internal delivery driver- we’ve got multiple buildings scattered around a small-to-medium midwestern city and 90% of deliveries (from outside orders or inter-building movement) is all done by one soft-spoken guy in a minivan. Now it’s 100% since they want to minimize travel between buildings, so he’s the only one approved to deliver. If he wasn’t key before, he’s darn sure key now…

      2. JustaTech*

        At my work we have an “Employee of the Quarter” thing (one manager and one individual contributor) and we also have a recognition system. But the problem with the recognition system is that only managers can submit one, (because there is a small gift card, I guess?) so if you want to thank someone in another department you have to try and convince their boss to fill out and submit the form. Which sometimes doesn’t happen.

        Managers! Make it easier for employees to spread thanks and praise among their peers!

      3. Random IT person on the internet*

        This is awesome!
        And this is the best ‘reward’ because this shows to management:
        1) IT is appreciated (and cleaners and .. and..)
        2) Management cannot see these groups as ‘just cost’ anymore – but ‘valuable contributors’.

        Well done!

    5. Ominous Adversary*

      Right. Saying good things to management is important and helps people advance.

      Besides the sexism, this food and coffee for IT has an ugly subtext of having to appease or bribe them.

    6. Kiki*

      I am a software engineer and someone who does actually enjoy baking cookies to bring to people, and this whole thing is just so terrible and awkward!
      1) The optics of having a bunch of women regularly bake for a bunch of men is not great, even if it were voluntary
      2) FORCING a bunch of women to regularly bake for a bunch of men is SO BAD
      3) It sounds like the IT guys really just did their job. In this case, it ended up helping out another department, but it was, in fact, just their job to do it. Getting cookies regularly for just doing your job is so bizarre!!

      Glad it was shut down.

    7. Help Desk Peon*

      Yeah, I’m in IT too and this forced gifting thing is so gross. We’ve had users bring us food before, but it was spontaneous, for personalized, above and beyond kind of work we’ve done, not something like providing software…because that’s what we’re actually paid to do.

      Now, I have brought in a box of donuts for the guy on the other team who answers my crazy emails and has super fast turnaround on adding new users when we’ve dropped the ball on something. But that’s one of those “our failure to plan became your emergency, please accept a donut as apology” things.

  15. Student*

    On the occasions that I have been required to bake or bring other food to a work event, I nearly always bring something store-bought. If you are required by circumstances to kowtow to someone powerful’s outdated gender expectations, there’s no need to spend any more time or money on it than the bare minimum.

    Re-plate it if you want to blend in; leave it obviously store bought if you want to make a statement; claim your husband/partner/male relative made it if you want to make a statement.

    1. Artemesia*

      years ago I whined to my husband that I had to bring a dish to a work event in a new city; he looked shocked and said ‘well, duh, go to the deli and buy something.’ It had never occurred to me that that was possible; I come from a long line of cooks. And so I went to the grocery store deli and had them fill my dish with German potato salad which I briefly heated in the microwave when I got to the event. Everyone loved it and my Grandboss kept raving about it and insisting on getting the recipe. Been buying stuff for potlucks every sense. When I was more senior and we had lots of very junior people and staff I usually got a big bucket of KFC since substantial protein dishes are a problem at potlucks that are not organized. A couple of the other managers brought in things like a ham or roasted chicken and so between the 3 of us there was usually a main dish for carnivores and the vegetarians often brought bean dishes.

      1. Super Duper Anon*

        At my previous job we had an enormous potluck once a year and it was great because there was no sign-up sheet. If you were part of the engineering group, the only expectation is that if you wanted to eat the food you needed to bring something. People who wanted to cook brought it something home made, and other people brought in packaged or pre-made things from the grocery store. Some people even went out close to lunch and picked up pizzas or other restaurant food. I loved it because there always ended up being a wide variety of stuff, but there was zero pressure or expectation around it. People who loved to cook could bring in something they made, but if you didn’t want to, all you had to do was run out and get something. Also, the company provided the plates, cutlery, and drinks, so that did force everyone to follow the rules and bring in food if they wanted to eat.

    2. Titta*

      Back in the days (2019), I attended an office party and brought in some delicious carrot cake. Everybody loved it and praised my cooking skills and asked for a recipe. I was proud to tell them that my husband had just started baking and wanted to try this new recipe he found. I gladly forwarded the comments to him. Good food is good food, in my books, wether it is homemade or store-bought.

      But when it comes to thanking you for your job, it should be mandatory only for your management.

      1. Sara without an H*

        Back before The Plague Year, we had a weekly staff coffee for which different departments took turns bringing refreshments. There’s a fantastic bakery in this city famous for their sticky pecan rolls. All I had to do was make sure to get a receipt and fill out a short form for reimbursement. Problem solved.

        So yes, if bringing in refreshments is a required work activity, it should be expensed.

    3. Asenath*

      I’ve never been required to bring food to work as part of “other related duties”, but I’ve been involved in a lot of social events that required me to bring food. It was quite liberating to realize I didn’t have to make the stuff myself! I actually felt a little guilty at first because some people were marvelous cooks or bakers and always brought delicious homemade food, but I got over that fast enough. Sometimes, it’s not even necessary to bring food since for some events the organizers want serviettes or other non-food items. I never bother to pretend it’s homemade, either.

    4. Jules the 3rd*

      Yep, this. Can confirm that store-bought food works great. It is usually the first to go in our work pot lucks. Except for the meatballs. Everyone is tired of meatballs.

    5. Grim*

      Good old potlucks. Surprised no one has mentioned the good old “cheap ass rolls”.
      Always a popular favorite!

    6. Captain Raymond Holt*

      I present as female and I don’t cook. I haven’t cooked a meal more complicated than pasta in months and I don’t bake. I don’t like food, don’t care about food and know a bare minimum about it.

      My (male) partner LOVES to cook, so he does all the cooking. If I had to bring something into work, he’d be making it and I definitely wouldn’t take credit for it’s creation.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Last few years my husband’s office pot lucks have aligned with mine. He doubled his recipe, and I really DID bring in something a guy made.

    8. lemon*

      I was one of the few women who worked in the IT department. One of the devs decided to hold a potluck. All the guys were married, so of course, their wives made nice homemade dishes. Me and the other single woman on the team decidedly DO NOT cook, so we bought cookies and chips at the store and brought that in. A good time was had by all. Except: the dev who organized the event threw a hissy fit because “too many people brought store-bought items! there were too many cookies and too many chips! you’re supposed to cook!”

      So a few months later, he organized another potluck. This time, he made people sign up with what they were going to bring so he could approve it, mandated that only 1 person could bring cookies, and no one was allowed to bring chips and salsa. He also told people to get into “affinity groups” of at least 3 people but no more than 5 so they could all cook the meal together, so they could bond before the potluck. People who didn’t want to join an affinity group and didn’t want to cook could give a donation instead.

      Since I was not allowed to bring chips and I wanted to make a statement, I signed up to bring “artisanal toasted maize triangles with avocado bruschetta.” One guy ordered a pizza and had it delivered to the conference room. The pizza was well-received. The maize triangles were not.

  16. Titta*

    #1: Really gross obviously.
    And, what about next time “the girls” succeed? Maybe “the boys” could fix some cars for them? Cut some timber? Hunt bears?

    1. Random IT person on the internet*

      Well, if they could.. as i`m very atypical in gender roles.
      Yes, i`m male, and in IT – but also on the autistic spectrum – and enjoy shopping (not clothes though) and baking things. I`m useless around car things technical, and after 10 years, can smash a nail in a piece of wood without visit to the emergency room afterwards.
      My wife is a planner, dislikes shopping and cooking – but enjoys tasting stuff others have made (me).
      So, if she would offer to fix my car – i`d more than welcome this.

      That boss – so weird.

      1. Titta*

        My comment was meant to higlight just this problem using sarcasm. (Risky! I know.)

        We should not expect people to do things because of their gender. And also rewarding good work is the company’s responsibility.

        I am a cis woman. I would love to be able to fix cars, or bake!

      2. Quilter33*

        How funny would it have been if one of the women, in response to the cookie request, said “oh, sorry, I don’t bake. I’d love to change the oil in someone’s car to show appreciation, though!”

        1. sometimeswhy*

          I know a woman who (not entirely seriously, buy absolutely could and would do it well if it wasn’t weird) jokingly offers to do your taxes as a thank you.

          1. virago*

            I would gladly accept an offer to change my oil or do my taxes as a thank you!

            Signed, a cisgender, neurodiverse woman who bakes.

    2. Nanani*

      This comment beautifully highlights the deeper problem that “”Women’s””” work is constant, perpetual, and neverending (people always need to eat!) but the coded male stuff is occasional, seasonal, as-needed.

      The binary isn’t a problem just because it’s arbitrary, but also because it puts far FAR more work on one group.

  17. Bowserkitty*

    Someone suggested a wig, which I also would suggest! Or perhaps even acknowledging that this is just “quarantine hair” at the end of the interview (or if it is brought up) and then informing them you would of course be back to a “natural” color if selected.

  18. Violet Fox*

    #1 Woman in IT here, and this is very much not normal, and across where I work we have a few hundred IT people tied either centrally or to various departments.

    My team has had management expense dinner for us when we had to work late due to an electrical emergency, but we also got paid overtime for it. We also buy ourselves our own treats sometimes, which is rather different as well. I’ve never seen or heard of that sort of organised cookie thing and honestly it would make me feel weird a lot more than appreciated.

    I do love it when people just tell me when things I’ve implemented work well for them, and when they are happy with things in general. I also like it when people just occasionally come by and say hi even though nothing is broken.

    Granted I also like it when people who do come to me with a problem tell me what they need help with/need fixing but aren’t rude/aggressive to me about it and what sort of timescale I’m looking at (we try to help everyone in a first come-first served way but some problems take longer), i.e. meeting now/soon, meeting next week, can’t work at all, not time-sensitive but would be nice to have, that sort of thing.

    There was the time my coworkers and I bought cake for each other because another support line answered our ticket within a few hours. This other support line had a bad tendency to take months plus to answer tickets, except for one of ours which is currently in kindergarten.

    OP1, there is also a very much uncomfortable and inappropriate gender dynamic to have all of the women take care of “the boys” so to speak. Then again I would also wonder why the IT team is “the boys”.

  19. cncx*

    for OP2 one of the things that is worth mentioning (although it sounds like they already know this, when they said “ftr it looks good”) is that there are places where blue hair will always be a no go, and places where blue hair could work if it’s a really fresh, high-pigment job but it won’t work if it’s faded out into pool green manic panic teenager. Blue is super high-maintenance IME and needs touch ups and special care to keep the intensity and shine. A friend of mine with naturally white blonde hair chose pink over blue for this reason- when she’s between jobs it goes from fuschia to this cotton candy pink color, both of which work with her natural color and skin tone. I work in a relatively conservative industry and i know a polished dark blue with a lot of shine and a nice cut could pass.

    1. cwhf*

      I have blue hair. I’m a physician. I’ve had it for 2 years and it needs zero maintenance (I use pulp riot). I literally get it done every 4-5 months (a good colorist is key, do not do it yourself), use colorsafe products and that’s it. It fades a bit but not badly near the end and fortunately my roots are dark and the cut is polished (at least for wildly curly hair). I have had no issues. And I love it. I hope OP2 gets to keep it. Also in the rare scenarios where I don’t want to have blue hair, I wear headwraps. Works great.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The way I read it, OP knows that and it’s why they wrote in. I am trying to work up the nerve myself.

  20. RoseDark*

    #4: My legal name and the name I go by have nothing in common. Literally nothing. It’s not my middle name, it’s not a nickname of my first name, it’s not even the same cultural origin. I chose a new name, but I’m not ready to do the emotional turmoil of legal paperwork (and I probably won’t unless I’m able to change all my gender markers at the same time, but X isn’t an option in Texas and LOL WILL NOT BE IN MY LIFETIME so I’ll have to move for that) so I just have two names now. My resumé has my chosen name on it, legal name nowhere in sight. I fill out applications with my legal name as required and attach my resumé, and people figure it out. I make liberal use (pun intended) of the “preferred name” fields whenever they exist, and I’m pretty blasé about asking “do you need my legal name or my real name?” when I’m not certain if it matters. Back when I went by a nickname of my legal name, I put THAT on my resumé, full legal name nowhere in sight, and just clarified briefly when I went to fill out paperwork.

    Long story short, put what you want on your resumé and people will adapt.

    1. OP4*

      Obviously it’s not as intense as what you’re dealing with but the “do you want my legal name or what people actually call me” question has taken a stronger and stronger hold in my reality the more I have to deal with professional responsibilities :)

      1. BigTenProfessor*

        How much do publications mean in your field? Are you like, a research scientist? Or are you like, a marketing manager who sometimes contributes to industry magazines? Are the publications themselves listed on your resume? I think you might want to do SOMETHING to indicate you are the person who wrote those things.

        1. OP4*

          I’m in the sciences but industry, not academia. In my case we’re publishing in trade journals and “author” credit can mean anything from “was the technician who collected and analyzed the data” up to “designed and developed the entire project.” So the main point of including them is to show “hey look I’ve been consistently contributing at a meaningful level.” It’s not publish-or-perish like academia but it IS a useful metric to show I’ve been working on successful projects that withstand public scrutiny.

          In my case I group them under my job titles, helping illustrate what level I was contributing at for each of them.

  21. Jennifer*

    Re: Blue hair

    This reminds me of the old switcheroo I pull with my natural hair. I usually wear it pulled back during interviews but once I’m hired, I show up with my natural kinky/curly ‘fro. Should I be able to wear my hair loose during an interview without encountering bias? Of course. But unfortunately it’s not the world we live in. I’ve noticed I get a much better response when I keep my hair tied back or wear it straight.

    If I were you, I’d change it if you do have to start interviewing. Once you’re hired, get a feel for the culture and if you think it’s okay, dye it some other fun color. It’s just not worth the hassle while you’re interviewing. In this climate, you can’t really afford to potentially lose a job offer over something as trivial as hair dye. Best wishes!

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      I’ve been finding myself very irritated lately that “professional hair” for women often means not allowing for natural styles and colors. I grew out my hair, which is now a color best described as “stainless steel appliances”. The cut is back to a professional shoulder length bob (following a minor pandemic overgrowth) but I’m currently unemployed and interviewing. Most of my friends and family feel strongly that my lack of success is due to my “old lady” hair color and want me to color it, which I would if I thought I could get hired with purple hair, but I know that’s not what they mean! I happen to love my hair color, but am considering changing it to get a job. What’s infuriating to me is that a man my age with thick silver hair would likely be complimented on it, not advised to change it.

      1. Amethystmoon*

        I have to dye my hair as I am middle-aged, and it is gray in patches. Looks very silly if I don’t dye it brown just to keep it uniform. So I could not even use my natural colored hair in an interview, and I don’t use it at work, either.

        1. Hotdog not dog*

          Amethystmoon, that’s what I thought for many years. I was a natural brunette until it went patchy gray in my 20s. I was pleasantly surprised to find that at 50 there’s a blend of grays ranging from dark charcoal to almost metallic silver. I’m lucky that it’s still thick and wavy.

        2. SwitchingGenres*

          In these situations I ask myself, “Would this look silly, bad, or unprofessional if I was a man instead of a woman?” I think patchy grey hair wouldn’t be considered unprofessional on a man, so why should it be on a woman? (I always applied the same logic when I got my hair buzzed and other womaen would say, I’d do that but I can’t pull it off, I’m not thin/pretty enough. I’d ask them of they thought men had to be thin or handsome to look ok bald.)

    2. foolofgrace*

      I’d change it if you do have to start interviewing. Once you’re hired, get a feel for the culture and if you think it’s okay, dye it some other fun color.

      Something I have not seen a lot of in the comments is that it’s all too easy to fry your hair. To go from blue to natural color and then to another fun color — three color treatments — is going to result in hair that is dry / frizzy / damaged. I suppose you could go to a $alon for all of this and add in special intense conditioning treatments, but once fried, it’s fried until it grows out.

      Once upon a time I bleached my own hair blonde (after I’d divorced my hairdresser husband) and it came out clown orange; I tried dying it dark brown and it came out witch-hat black, no shine, and really bad condition. All I could do was grow it out, cutting it short asap.

      1. Jennifer*

        That’s true, but the OP did discuss the possibility of changing the color, so I’m assuming she knows how to do it safely.

        I have had many hair disasters so I know how bad things can get lol

      2. Cedrus Libani*

        The first time I bleached my own hair, I ended up with a white-blonde buzz cut. Which I loved, and I kept it that way for awhile on purpose, but that wasn’t my intention. I didn’t have to cut my hair during that period, I just bleached it every two weeks, and once the ends had been bleached ~5 times they would just melt away.

      3. Blue Haired Old Lady*

        OP2 Here. This is a considerable thing. It was easy enough to bleach and color and home when it didn’t matter, but restoring order will require my stylist, who I haven’t seen since February (and who will be very annoyed with me.) So what was a 40 dollar whim is probably a 300 dollar repair.

  22. Jennifer*

    #1 I’m really curious why no one just said, “I don’t bake.” I’m very feminine in many ways but I really only feel comfortable baking for close family and friends and I’m not crafty at all. So whenever something like this comes up in the workplace I just say I don’t have a talent for it.

    Any kind of potluck should be voluntary and definitely not require someone to put in extra time, energy and money. If the boss insisted and I was afraid of losing my job, I would have bought some chips a’hoy and called it a day.

    1. UKDancer*

      I have taken this approach. I can bake quite well but I don’t enjoy it and have much better things to do with my limited time. Also I want to avoid the stereotype that women bake things for events. So I always say “I don’t bake much, let me put my name down for something else.”

      So whenever we have a potluck picnic at work I volunteer to bring the drinks and go to the supermarket opposite work and buy them.

    2. pancakes*

      Or why no one said, “this is ridiculously sexist, asking women in the office to bake for an all-male department.” I love to bake and am pretty good at it, but in circumstances as weird as these, no way.

      1. Nanani*

        Seems pretty obvious that no one said that because it was their boss telling them to do it.
        Power dynamics, they are real.

        1. pancakes*

          This is such a low-stakes request to begin with, though. It’s the perfect occasion to gently push back as a group. Craven careerism is real, too.

    3. Anon100*

      Another woman here who doesn’t bake at. all. After a couple of disastrous experiments in college, I just don’t bake and buy them instead. I really wonder if someone had just said “I don’t bake” what the managers response would have been? If it were me, I suppose if I were pushed to do this, I would have just bought some cookies from the supermarket and if the manager asked why they weren’t homemade, I would have responded that I wouldn’t have wanted the IT team to get food poisoning from my baking.

      IMO if the manager wanted the team to express appreciation for the IT team, a card with everyone’s signatures and a short message could have done it. Or she could have expensed a lunch or got the IT team Starbucks giftcards or the like.

    4. Jules the 3rd*

      Because if your manager is this kind of sexist, pushing back can have negative professional impact. “Not a team player” “Making Waves” “Bad attitude”.

      Yeah, it’s great when you can push back, but negative repercussions are still a thing.

      1. Just J.*

        To which I would have immediately escalated this to my manager’s boss. This situation is so bad on so many levels.

        Seriously, when the idea was even put out there it should have been taken to the manager’s boss.

      2. EPLawyer*

        Oh yeah, I would love to have THAT conversation with HR. My boss labeled me not a team player after I told her I wouldn’t bake cookies for the boys over in IT and pointed out how sexist it was. If HR is even halfway decent, the manager would be pulled in for a little conversation.

        Wanna bet if it is wasn’t IT asking it to stop, that someone did quietly go to HR and let them know what was happening? Then HR after they pulled their eyebrows off the ceiling, went to boss and told her to knock it off.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Yep, wouldn’t retaliating at a female employee for not wanting to bake cookies for a male team be borderline sexual harrassment? Agree with your last paragraph. Someone had to have put enough fear of god into her to get her to stop it with the baking assignments forever. As it should be.

      3. Jennifer*

        I mean, I get that, but if someone is asking you to do something you can’t physically do, this is the normal response. Especially if it isn’t in your job description. You don’t have to go into a full feminist manifesto.

        If my boss asked me to drive her somewhere and I don’t have a license, I’d say I didn’t drive. Keep it short.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes, I don’t always have the energy to explain why a thing is sexist, what the historical background is, what the effect of it on women is etc. I need to keep my political capital for the things that I consider really important or heinous.

          So sometimes I’d just say “I don’t do x” rather than “asking women to do x is sexist.” You have to pick the battles sometimes.

          1. Jennifer*

            Agreed. Same with being a minority. I told a friend the other day I’m a retired Women’s Studies and African-American studies professor. I just don’t always feel the need to go into a detailed explanation for things folks should already know. Look it up yourself.

      4. Jennifer*

        I think most women in any industry know that negative repercussions are a thing, but there are ways to navigate situations like this without making too many waves, if that’s a concern.

    5. Asenath*

      I’ve said “I don’t bake”, and never gotten any pushback, but I’ve never worked anywhere that I was expected to bake. I actually can bake, or could; I haven’t done it in years and don’t even have most of the equipment any more. It’s one of those skills I kind of lost interest in. I have gone to potlucks, but not as a job requirement, and you don’t really need to bake for those. If it’s a very organized potluck, you can choose to bring something t hat isn’t baked, and in any case there are a number of stores which provide quite decent food of all kinds.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        TBH, for work potlucks, I’ve always been more comfortable with people bringing store-bought food than something they made. I am in IT. We are not known for our perfect hygiene. Who the heck knows what’s in that mystery dish that Bob brought. We had a teammate bring in a potluck dish once that, I swear, looked like it was about to come to life and crawl off the table. I don’t even know what it was. I didn’t try it. It was in a baking pan, looked like a pan full of jello with something like tentacles sticking out of it, and was a dark brown color… nope. Inb4 someone says it was ethnic food and I was being insensitive, it wasn’t and the teammate was very much an Anglo guy, and very much known for his poor hygienic habits. If he’d brought in a store-bought and sealed dish though, I would’ve likely helped myself to it.

        1. Temperance*

          I once had a coworker who was famous for not washing her hands after peeing bring in brownies. Hard pass.

    6. virago*

      My mother said, “I don’t bake,” in 1970, when she’d just been elected to the school board and a man on the board turned to her at the first meeting and said, “We always have the women bring something for the coffee break.”

      Mom does bake, and well. But giving this answer was as close as she could come in that era to challenging gender roles without drawing attention away from the agenda for the meeting and toward her own policies and politics.

      PS My 16-year-old niece recently heard this story and said, admiringly, “Nonni, that’s stone cold.”

      1. UKDancer*

        Your mother rocks!

        My mother did something similar when she was the only woman on the management team in the 1980s and was asked if she could make a cake for the management team meeting. She said she couldn’t bake but if they gave her the corporate credit card, she’d ask one of her team to go to the shops for something.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Can y’all imagine being promoted to board/management, in the 70s or 80s, probably a near-impossible accomplishment for a woman, only to be rewarded with a demand that you “bake something for the boys”? I feel terrible for both your mothers. But what great answers from both of them!

    7. Rusty Shackelford*

      I guess this might work, but I really hate the idea that when someone asks you do to something inappropriate, “I don’t know how” is the proper response. Because that shouldn’t be the reason you’re not doing it, and that response reinforces the idea that it was okay to tell you to do it in the first place. (I understand that in situations where you have no power, it’s probably the safest way out.)

      1. Campfire Raccoon*


        I’m on the “No thank you, but if you give me the company card, I’ll have the appropriate person order them something.”

      2. Jennifer*

        I agree. But if you work at a place where this would cause a problem, this may be your best option. If you’re like me, you may just be tired of answering dumb questions and explaining ridiculous stuff like this.

  23. Elle by the sea*

    OP1 and cookie baking: it’s really weird. Apart from the clearly sexists connotations, it’s not a reasonable request and a default activity that everyone can do easily. For example, I am a woman and have never baked pastry. There could be many reasons: (1) you have a health issue that prevents you from tasting what you baked or even from dealing with the ingredients (2) you are really clumsy at it for whatever reason: you have never tried it before, you are scared of the oven due to some past trauma/injuries (3) your living conditions don’t allow for it

    1. Violet Fox*

      Or you just don’t want to? It’s perfectly reasonable for someone to enjoy baking, and it is perfectly responsible for anyone not to, especially for people who aren’t professional bakers.

      This is one of those things that is best a voluntary because I wanted to thing. It is also something that should be very reasonable for people to not do/not want to do. Doesn’t need a big reason or big excuse “I don’t bake” or similar is enough.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        This. I love to bake, but if I was forced into it I would say no. Just because it’s work doesn’t mean you need to make up excuses. Unless you work in a bakery, this is not your job. And if boss pushed back, I’d head straight to HR.

        I HATE grocery store cake, so I volunteered (key word here, volunteered) to make birthday cakes for the people on my team. When I moved to a new team with 3 times the people, I let them know that everyone would not get their own birthday cake, but I would make them once a month for everyone in that month. Boundaries – set them up and don’t let people cross them.

  24. LGC (also a J. Edgar)*

    OP4: I was in a similar situation! However, my middle name is longer (but common), so people contract it by default. But if you have a shorter name (like Edgar), just bring it up in conversation that you go by Ed.

    In your case, unless you’re that averse to being called Edgar, you can just put J. Edgar. People get the hint, and the most people will usually pry is to ask what your first name is.

    1. OP4*

      Very fair point, and my actual common name IS a pretty obvious shortening of my middle name. Luckily I have no issues with my first name at all- I’m the third generation of my first name in the family and we’ve all gone by nicknames (Grandpa went by a common nickname of it, Dad goes by a totally unrelated nickname, and I’m the middle-name-nickname). Lord only knows why, my parents have just always called me by my middle name- I guess they gave me my grandpa’s initials to honor him but always preferred the Edgar to the John :D

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I used to know a guy who was a “John Edgar Hoover” the Third or Fourth, and the men in his family alternated which of the two names they went by. He went by Edgar, his dad John, grandfather was Edgar and so on.

  25. OP4*

    OP4 here!

    One thing I didn’t emphasize well in the original question was “publication history,” I work in the sciences and showing a publication history is a pretty key element of demonstrating my accomplishments. Since I publish under “J Edgar Hoover” that needs to be on my resume somewhere. Someone suggested I note that in my “publications” section only, but I actually group my publications as accomplishments under each of my positions (in context it makes it more clear which ones I actually led versus which ones I just contributed to).

    With that said, it probably makes the most sense to title my resume as “J Edgar Hoover.” My common name is an obvious-enough nickname (like Ed for Edgar) and I have no PROBLEM being called “John” or “Edgar,” it’s just not what I’m most commonly associated with or immediately recognize as someone talking to me. As I’ve noted in a reply above, it just feels “wrong” somehow to not include my legal first name on an “official” document like a resume, but the advice here does make sense. After all, as Alison frequently points out, your resume isn’t a permanent record, it’s a marketing document. I’ve worked at the same company for 10 years and this is the only place I’ve worked that involved a formal job search- resume and references and interviews and all that- so I just don’t have a good handle on all the conventions.

    Story time! My first boss had me resume in-hand (with my full name) but internalized “he goes by Ed” so well that all of my company IDs and logins and stuff are as “Ed Hoover.” That also included one or two of my benefits plans, as in “Ed Hoover” was on the name of some stock holdings. Luckily I caught it recently and corrected it before it turned into a problem.

    Also, I agree with those who’ve said “preferred name” fields should be more common for a number of reasons. I’ve had some fun experiences with them parsing things wrong: I’ve had my name end up getting mutilated to “J Hoover Hoover” and “John Edgar E Hoover” and “J John Hoover,” keeps me on my toes. More than once (somehow) someone has swapped my first and last names, misspelled both, and I ended up on their books as the equivalent of “Howard Johnson” (for this pseudonym, at least). Gosh, names are fun!

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      As someone suggested above, I would bold your name in the journal article citations. It won’t be weird even if it’s not the name at the top of the document – think of women who publish in grad school and change their last names when they marry.

      That said, if the nickname is obvious, you could either leave it off and have at the top J Edgar Hoover or put J Edgar “Ed” Hoover. I think both are fine and no one will blink an eye. If your name was J Edgar Hoover and you went by Scout or something similarly non obvious, I would put J Edgar “Scout” Hoover for sure.

      1. OP4*

        I don’t list the full citations- since they’re primarily trade journals they are more common, less prestigious, and more likely to have a lot of authors, so fully citing them would be over a page just on that. Since it’s more about showing “hey look I’ve been consistently contributing to major projects at a level that gets me author credit for this long” I currently have them just as “Author credits: Journal of Lefthanded Corkscrew Manufacturing, 2014, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2016.”

        The details of any given publication aren’t likely to be of much interest, but that’s enough info that anyone who DID want to verify would be a simple search away.

        1. F. Middlename Lastname*

          I’m not sure if this applies to your industry, but the emergence of ORCID, which attempts to link a researcher to all of his or her work by a single ID number, might be helpful. If I understand correctly, it’s possible to have a search on the ORCID website that pulls up all your work, possibly with a link you could share. This is new enough that it might not be helpful, but hey, it’s worth a shot.

            1. blackcat*

              Oh, yes, definitely set up ORCID! My CV has links to my ORCID ID as well as my Google Scholar page. I’d set up both.

          1. Lady Heather*

            I’ve got a page of my own on a “find a person’s publications” website – it lists the Letters to the Editor that I’ve written that got printed.

            Which surprised me when I found out.

          2. OrigCassandra*

            ORCID’s legit, and yes, this is part of the reason it exists. By all means grab one and use your ORCID number on your CV, OP.

        2. londonedit*

          I’m not au fait with academia, but would it work if you just put something like ‘Author credits: Journal of Lefthanded Corkscrew Manufacturing 2014, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2016 (writing as J. Edgar Hoover)’?

          1. OP4*

            It probably would work, yes. In my specific instance I list author credits in multiple places (under each of the roles I’ve held) so it’s probably a little cleaner to put “J Edgar Hoover” at the top of the document. It helps me that a) I’m not upset by being called John or Edgar and b) My nickname is an obvious shortening, I’m not going by “Ted” for “Edgar.”

            1. boo bot*

              Can you put “J. Edgar Hoover (Ed)”? If you just don’t want to put it in quotes in the middle of the name, I think that could make sense. I’m not in an academic field, but I understand wanting your name to appear at the top of the resume exactly as it appears on publications, so that someone glancing at it or cut-and-pasting into Google doesn’t have to make any cognitive leaps.

              (It’s a little confusing if your actual nickname is Ed, because it kind of looks like you’re an editor, but you should be fine assuming that’s not your real nickname. As long as the real one isn’t JD…)

              1. OP4*

                Ha! No, my actual name isn’t anything like Ed, so no Ed/editor confusion. I just was trying to think of a celebrity I could use as a pseudonym and he was the only person I could think of that went by first initial- full middle name that also has an obvious nickname version- last name, which parallels my situation.

  26. MatKnifeNinja*

    For whatever its worth LW#5

    My unemployed teacher friend has a had all most all of her interviews be “I know it’s Friday evening, but can we do an interview now?”

    When she has tried to push back and said “Can we do it on Monday, or (some more reasonable time), she is ghosted.

    Finally did the “we want to interview right now” for a district she really wanted, and got the job.

    The economy is terrible. If you need a paycheck and health insurance, you just eat the aggravation and go with the flow. My friend couldn’t hold out any longer.

    If the employer has a ton of applications, and everyone is more or less the same, it makes no sense to wait around if the next 5 people are all interchangeable.

    1. Oh No She Di'int*

      Unfortunately, what you say makes a lot of sense. I’d like to believe that this is all just due to extenuating circumstances. If that were the case I would say, well, not a great practice but there’s a pandemic and lots of things aren’t normal now.

      However, I see this as part of a larger trend towards an always-on work environment. So many of us across industries are just expected to be constantly working and constantly available. I work a knowledge based office job with typical business hours, and I’ve noticed a definite uptick in the number of requests that I receive from business clients on Friday night or Saturday afternoon asking for finished work by Monday morning. The assumption being that I will–without warning–work all weekend to complete it. It’s disheartening.

    2. CircleBack*

      I don’t know, there’s something about an evening reach-out vs a Sunday morning reach-out that really irks me as especially unreasonable. One is at the end of the workday and the other is on a Day Off, depending on the industry (and especially for teachers).
      Reasonable employers who respect prospective employees should not expect/demand availability between Friday evening-Sunday afternoon – and are opening themselves to unconsciously excluding people who would be unavailable during those times for religious reasons.

  27. Keymaster of Gozer*

    LW1: speaking as a woman in IT I’d loved to have seen their faces if they’d told me to cook something. Even knowing how unpicky we techies can be about sustenance I can guarantee anything I bake will be inedible!

    Because, while I’m a woman, I’m also a disaster in the kitchen. In fact I’m only allowed to make myself cups of tea in there. I’ve exploded microwaves….(not joking).

    All jokes aside, if IT has done a big project we much prefer recognition we can share through the whole team. Foodstuffs are often problematic for some. I liked actual printed praise, something I can keep :)

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Also a woman in IT. I’m good at cooking, but not baking. Aunt Lydia would’ve received a box of store-bought cookies from me.

      Re praise, we’ve had other departments send thank-you emails to our management, IT directors etc, who then forwarded those to the team. Agree that this is much better than cookies.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I still have copies of the ‘well done to Keymaster and her team for doing project X’ company announcements I got. I don’t have copies of the liquorice allsorts we got given too :p

    1. Jennifer Thneed*

      Especially since nobody will see it in person! Cheap wigs (and dye jobs) are pretty obvious in person but a lot of the clues just aren’t easy to see thru a screen.

  28. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #5 – I would have said no even if I were free. A company expecting you to be available for an interview immediately is unreasonable and would tell me that it’s most likely only one unreasonable expectation among many.

    1. irene adler*


      On a weekday afternoon, I received a call from a hiring manager. He went right into asking interview questions- without checking first if this was a good time to talk. Nor did he ask to schedule an interview. He just ascertained that I was the person corresponding to the resume he had, and then began with, “Tell me four ways to separate molecules in chromatography”. Then it was on to questions on electrophoresis.

      I told him I didn’t know and ended the call.

      1. Luke G*

        “Step 1: Give the molecules jobs at different companies so they have boundaries between them- but wait, I see that’s a foreign concept for you.” :D

    2. cncx*

      Same. The worst job i ever had had really weirdly scheduled interviews. it’s a sign they are disorganized and or toxic.

  29. Amethystmoon*

    #2 It’s to the point where some companies have it in their dress code for keeping their hair a natural color (ex. blonde, brown, red, black, etc.) I work at a company where if I even dared dye my hair an unnatural color and showed up with it on Zoom, I would probably get a stern talking to. But I still have to go in one or two days a week anyway, so it’s not a possibility for me. Have always wanted to dye it purple, though.

    1. YellowPeril*

      This seems racially/ethnically problematic, since the range of colors that are considered natural varies based on ethnic background, which also means that only individuals of certain races are even allowed to dye their hair. For white women, that means dying hair is ok and they have the full range of natural hair color options, but as an Asian-American, this dress code wouldn’t allow me to change my hair color at all since only natural black hair would be allowed. It just feels incredibly unfair since under these rules, we would be disciplined for the same behaviors that would be acceptable from white people.

  30. F. Middlename Lastname*

    To the person who goes by their middle name: I do, too, and I keep my first initial on my resume and email signature because I find it clearer. My middle name has grown extremely common in the past 10 to 15 years (it was the #1 baby name for girls multiple times), and my last name is also very common (not Smith, but not far off). I’ve watched family members with very common first names struggle with being confused with others with the same names and two sisters express relief at getting to use different, rarer surnames once they married. Meanwhile, I work in an industry (writing and editing) in which having one’s work retrievable by search is a good thing, which means having a name so common that Google results are swamped by every [Emma Smith] under the sun is not great. The solution has been just to keep my first initial in my name — and voila, the top 2 pages of hits on Google really are about me, no one mixes me up with anyone else, my name is weird enough that I didn’t have to change it when I married, and I get the benefits of a common name (people can spell and pronounce it). It’s also convenient for corporate bureaucracy in which only a first name is built into the system or multiple records may not align; someone in payroll can figure out that [Jennifer Smith] and [J. Emma Smith] are the same person, while fully nixing the [J.] might eventually mean that a snafu arises. This is mostly later than the interview stage, but if you have any background checks or similar steps, well, there you go. I think it can come across as slightly pretentious, but whatever — it’s my damn name. Anyway, good luck to you!

  31. mgguy*

    Re #5-
    Not quite the same, but I had a email on a Tuesday afternoon asking me to come in for an interview the next morning. There were two reasons I couldn’t do it-one was that I had a rock-solid work reason why I wasn’t available that morning(administering an exam for a class I was teaching, and needed to at least get it so I could grade it that day) and also that it was 4 hours away. They knew I was out of town, although my cover letter made it clear I was actively seeking employment in that area.

    I said I was unavailable and gave the specific reason why(relevant because it was an academic job that included teaching) but offered the rest of that week and even later Wednesday afternoon if need be.

    Truth be told, I almost would have preferred no response to how they responded. The initial, rather cold response, was a “We’ll have to see.” That was followed the next afternoon by a phone call from the department chair berating me for “wasting the search committee’s time” and that I was clearly not a match for the job since I didn’t demonstrate enough dedication to even attend an interview. My response was probably a bit more off the cuff than I normally would have made(and probably not entirely appropriate) but I said that I agreed the job wasn’t a good match when they expected me to drop everything and skip clearly explained professional obligations to my current employer to attend an interview 4 hours away with 16 hours notice. The chair then reiterated that they had no desire to proceed with my application, to which I said “Please feel free to close it at your earliest convenience.” The closer to the conversation was a very patronizing bit of “professional advice” that it was very unprofessional to apply for a job when I “clearly wasn’t dedicated to actually accepting it.”

    1. irene adler*

      I’d be miffed at their attitude. I like how you stood up for yourself.

      Moving on to the next candidate just isn’t an option for them? Wonder if they didn’t have another candidate to bring in. Or they’d been equally nasty to other candidates who subsequently passed as you did. Hmm, time for an attitude adjustment on their part.

      1. mgguy*

        I’ve watch the posting/department page since this incident in May 2019 out of morbid curiosity(plus it was still coming up on my alerts for Higher Ed jobs). Until recently the posting was still up and the position vacant. It’s still vacant, but the posting disappeared in May. It’s enough of a niche job that the pool of people who could do it without much of a learning curve is small and likely already employed(although there are plenty of folks out there with the background that they could be trained/learn it), so I’d guess it stayed open because they were so toxic to deal with that no one qualified actually wanted it. If someone did take it last month, I’d guess it was probably because they were out of work and desperate.

    2. Generic Name*

      Wut. I’m sure they’d love it if one of their own instructors called off at the last minute leaving their class in the lurch so that they could attend a last-minute interview elsewhere.

    3. virago*

      Would they have liked one of *their* faculty to have blown off administering an exam for a job interview? Their response to your quite reasonable statement of priorities is appalling.

  32. Mbarr*

    OP2, my main advice is that if you decide to keep the blue hair, make sure it and you are well-kept. We interviewed (and hired) someone with bright green/aqua hair… But I won’t lie, I was taken aback because there was dye smudged along her hairline, and her fingers were also dyed. This combined with a bunch of other tiiiiiiny personal presentation problems made me a wee bit dubious.
    She’s doing a good job (I think – I don’t work with her or her team anymore), but she needs some maturing in her career. Given your reasonableness, I suspect you won’t have a problem with this. :)

    1. Ealasaid*

      This. I have green hair (have for years) and am pretty gender-nonconforming. I compensate for it by being as well-put-together as I humanly can on all other fronts when I’m jobhunting.

      I keep my hair bright and get haircuts as soon as it looks even a little scruffy. I wear a really nice interview suit that leans overly formal, with nice shoes, etc. I get lots of sleep, even, so I won’t be frazzled or groggy.

      I am pretty sure my hair makes it harder for me to find gigs, even in my field (technical writing) – it’s taken 6 months just to get an interview the last two times I was unemployed, but once I got in the door, I was in both times. My professional site and LinkedIn both show me with bright green hair, so it weeds out companies I wouldn’t want to work at anyway. Saves everyone time! But it can also be nerve wracking.

      OP, if you do decide to dye your hair back, definitely consider going to a professional (if it’s safe in your area). Dying already bleached and dyed hair is chemistry stuff. Colors can combine and turn out really weird. I had to undo my green once, and even with a pro doing it, it was complicated and took forever. Looked great when she was done!

  33. Not failed, pre-successful*

    OP4, I recommend you use whatever name you want your email address to be. In my experience, they can easily change your name on paperwork, but you’re generally stuck with whatever email address they give you. It can be really confusing to people to have to email John.Hoover when you go by Ed.

  34. Mike*

    Re #1: I’m a programmer in our IT department. I’d much rather receive some heartfelt praise than a bunch of forced made / bought cookies. Almost all the treats we receive are food and it – in my opinion – it is kind of old. I also worry about the income differences. My company has a public salary schedule so I know that we are paid higher than most of the other works (excluding managers and positions requiring certain credentials).

    So, managers if you want to acknowledge my team then collect quotes from your team about how the work has impacted them. If you want to a physical thing to go with it then send us some flowers (did you know most men have never received flowers and secretly wish they would?). It provides some nice decor for the generally drab office.

    1. Delta Delta*

      I’m married to a Flower Guy! I never really know when he might turn up with a flower for our table and say sort of sheepishly, “it was just so pretty I couldn’t resist” or something like that.

        1. Delta Delta*

          I send him flowers from time to time because I know he likes them. And he’s the most gracious recipient. Also I love him so I like giving them to him. I don’t think anyone else gives him flowers.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        If I didn’t know you weren’t my mother, LOL!

        My dad has always been that guy. His father taught him how to garden early and always to add flower gardens near by because” they’re pretty, who wants to look at just “work [aka fruits & veggies that will need harvesting]” all the time! “

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      There was a guy on my team at a former job who would get a bouquet of flowers every week from his wife, which made me sneeze like crazy but it was okay once we put them by an open window instead. It gave the IT department a bit of colour.

  35. George*

    Oh my! I’m a woman and I enjoyed baking and bringing in treats at work… But being MADE to do it is… Bad. Aside from the fact that if it is required, I should be able to bill those hours, there is the fact that I have a tiny kitchen. And kids. Do you want cookies my kids ‘helped’ make? No, I can’t keep them out of the kitchen.

    Forgetting the gender aspect of this, which is bad… This is just weird. And bad for so many reasons (Fergus in IT might be diabetic, you might be asking a person with celiac to bring gluten into their home)… But there are serious ramifications if any of the ‘baker’ employees are hourly or entitled to overtime!

    My mind keeps going back to a situation where I had something like 20 boxes of Girl Scout cookies to offload. I brought them to work. Maybe 100 people had access to the. It was too many cookies. Even bringing them over the span of three weeks. People were asking me to NOT bring more! And it was all varieties, not just one. Now imagine all that for one IT department!

    So, problematic at so many, many levels.

  36. merp*

    Slight tangent question on OP3, does it make sense to assign exercises before you’ve even had a proper interview? Or perhaps the phone screen is more comprehensive than I’m thinking. It seems like a lot to ask of someone pretty early in the process, but I might be imagining more work than the OP’s company is asking for.

  37. Aquawoman*

    On-the-spot type exercises and questions are biased against introverts who tend to need time to digest things. If you’re in a fast-moving environment, screening out people who are a little more deliberate may be legitimate, but if it’s a workplace that can accommodate different work styles, you could screen out someone who would be great, just later this afternoon rather than immediately. Questions can usually be prepared for, but exercises can’t. So I would not fault someone for submitting further ideas later.

    1. Oh No She Di'int*

      I agree with everything you say. I would also apply Alison’s advice to #5 here as well: that is, I think in most cases, the interviewer probably hasn’t thought about it that much one way or the other. In other words, in many cases the “screening” is probably mostly a product of carelessness rather than deliberate strategy. That is an argument for interviewers being much, much more thoughtful about what types of questions/exercises they are asking from candidates.

    2. Mike*

      > On-the-spot type exercises and questions are biased against introverts who tend to need time to digest things

      That has nothing to do with introvert / extrovert. I’m a strong introvert and I can handle on-the-spot issues just fine. There are those that need more time to process but that is its own thing.

      1. UKDancer*

        Definitely. I t type as slightly extrovert and I’m rubbish at thinking on the spot.

        Give me time to think and I can answer really well, put me on the spot and I look like a deer in headlights.

      2. bananab*

        I’m very introverted and while I agree there is no 1:1 correlation I do think there’s a linkup there. I tend to rush and botch on the spot stuff because I’m overeager for the conversation to end.

    3. Slinky*

      It doesn’t sound like this is an on-the-spot exercise, though. OP indicates that the exercise comes between the phone interview and first interview.

  38. CupcakeCounter*

    If you aren’t super invested in the blue color, but still want to be a little more fun and funky on the color, talk to your stylist about going back to your natural color and adding some red and blond highlights which look nice with most shades of brown. If you do them more underneath as opposed to face framers, the upkeep isn’t too bad (my stylist took my normal part and separated the hair about 1/4 inch on either side of it and left that natural then added the highlights around that…no harsh line showing grow out and I get the different colors blending).
    Or color your hair a lighter or darker shade of your natural color and add some colored streaks in a complimentary, but unnatural, shade. My friend (dark blond/very light brown hair) has the underside colored pink…when it is down or pulled half back, no one can tell. She calls it a hair color mullet. Another friend has very dark brown hair and has had several different colored streaks added – blue actually looked quite nice. They are both in finance.

  39. Middle Manager*

    I had bold hair color for awhile. It wasn’t typical I. My office but I’d been there long enough and built enough of a good reputation I felt like I could go for it. I’m really happy I did. No one seemed to care at all.

    And, I hired a staff person while I had the bold hair color. She told me later it was one of the reasons she picked our office out of multiple offers she had (ah, the pre-Covid economy), she wanted to work in a place that wouldn’t care about that kind of appearance stuff. She’s my best employee.

    But all that said, sadly I agree with the advice here, if I was actively interviewing, I’d go back to my natural hair color at least temporarily. It shouldn’t matter, but it does sometimes. I love my bold hair, but not more than my career.

  40. DarthVelma*

    Ok, so I love to bake. (It is the love language of my people.) :-) I’ve been known to bring in treats just because it’s a random Thursday. I’ve baked a co-worker’s favorite dessert for the day after a meeting I knew was stressful for her. I’ve polled my office on pumpkin spice cake vs gingerbread because I wanted them to have holiday cheer. All that kind of thing.

    But if my boss told me to bake…No. Fucking. Way. I’m thinking they might end up with the full list of ingredients brought in and dumped on their head the next day.

    If you want to say a big thank you for folks at work who do good work for you, tell their supervisor. Or better yet, tell their supervisor IN WRITING. Baked goods are yummy, but they don’t usually get considered at your annual performance review. Someone taking the time to actually write to your boss about how fabulous you are does.

    1. JustaTech*

      I just thought of yet another problem with cookies rather than a written thank you: unequal distribution.

      For several years my team and another team ordered a specialty product from a local vendor. We’d been ordering from them for 3-4 years when my boss happened to talk to a rep (usually we did everything by email) who asked how we liked the chocolates they sent for Christmas. “What chocolates?”

      Turns out they mailed them to the head of the other team, and even though the note directed the chocolates at my team as well as his team, the head of the other team just ate them all himself without offering any to anyone.

      So we didn’t know our vendor was making a kind gesture, and our vendor thought we were thoughtless for not thanking them.

  41. RozGrunwald*

    On LW #5’s situation: the only time I ever did a “same day” interview (it wasn’t on a weekend, but the employer called and asked if I could be there to talk to her in 2 hours), the boss turned out to be an unqualified nightmare and I left the job after 8 months. The job was supposed to be part-time, and I had made clear I was not interested in working more than the 20 hours a week the job was supposed to take, as I had stepped back from my professional career to spend more time with my then 2-year-old son. She assured me that wouldn’t be a problem – and then proceeded to call me any time of the day or night, well outside of my agreed-upon working hours, asking me to call this person or that person or research this or that or send an email to so-and-so, etc. Nothing was ever an emergency; this was just “the way her brain worked” and she always wanted me to do something when she was thinking about it, vs. during my set working hours. I was by title a marketing coordinator but she saw me as her on-call personal assistant. This was a very small business and she was the owner, so there was no one I could “go to” about it. I put up with the craziness longer than I should have (my husband told me to quit after the first month) but part-time jobs using professional skills are not always easy to find for moms, and I kept thinking I could make it work. I couldn’t. The last straw was when I was at a friend’s son’s birthday party on a Saturday (when I was not scheduled or expected to work) and she started blowing up my phone about a complete non-emergency, and yelled at me when I finally called her back for “not being responsive.” She had actually called from numbers she knew I wouldn’t recognize trying to get me to pick up! I quit that day, without having another job lined up, and promptly found a genuinely part-time position working for someone who understood what “part-time” was supposed to mean, and respected boundaries. So, LW #5, count yourself lucky. You dodged a bullet, big-time.

  42. OP4*

    Irrelevant but amusing detail: Until I was 15 or so I went by “Edgar” or “Ed” more or less interchangeably. Then I got my first real job, and there was already both an “Edgar” and an “Ed” working there. I existed in newbie name-limbo for a while but when the pre-existing Ed quit, I got to inherit the official Ed name. I got called Ed by so many people at that job I’ve been primarily Ed ever since.

    1. Indigo a la mode*

      Ha! We had a spate of Daniels at our office, so much so that I was affectionately referring to them as Daniel, Other Daniel, Not Daniel (his name was Jeremy but he was on a team with both aforementioned Daniels), Young Daniel, Dan K, Dan The Man, and IT Dan.

      1. UKDancer*

        My dance class had at one point “Mark” and “Big Mark” and “Other Mark” which was quite amusing. Big Mark was 6’7 but I could never remember which one was Mark and which one was Other Mark.

  43. sas*

    Is the cookie question giving anyone else flashbacks to high school homecoming spirit week? the cheerleaders all baked treats for and decorated the lockers of the football team. It was weird then and it’s even weirder in the workplace…..

    1. UKDancer*

      That sounds dreadful. Not having cheerleaders or homecoming in my part of the UK, I am really glad I missed that because I could see I would have gone into a major rant about it and got into untold trouble.

      I had enough trouble as a child when I got kicked out of Sunday school for having too many feminist opinions and asking difficult questions. I was never awfully good at conforming being raised by an old school feminist and surrounded by some very strong female role models.

    2. LeahS*

      Yes! I was a cheerleader and we had to do this for every game. Candy, baked goods, decorations all out of our own (or our parents’) pockets. I think it’s so gross now.

  44. kfhjk*

    #1 Ugh, Ugh, Uhg!!!! What’s even more infuriating is that it is a female manager that is forcing this emotional labor on others. What’s wrong with putting together a small collection so that you can go to a bakery and pick up a dozen donughts???? Better yet, the boss lady footing the bill for said donughts from her discretionary budget???

    1. Lady Heather*

      It’s not emotional labour – it’s physical labour.

      I don’t think it’s helpful to call all “work traditionally done by women” emotional labour – why, because women are emotional?
      Baking certainly isn’t inherently emotional.

      Making women bake is sexist and ridiculous – I’m not arguing that.

  45. bananab*

    Cookie baking over several days to thank folks for performing their jobs normally is “it’s just a coincidence that the office party organizer is always a woman” placed into a centrifuge to become even more powerful. Amazing

  46. glitter writer*

    re: #4 — I used to put my full name on my resume, even though I publish under a shortened form (think “Elizabeth Q. Smith” but publishing as “Beth Smith”). And then I had a job interview where the interviewer seemed confused and said, “well then why doesn’t your resume just say Beth?” And although he was kind of a jerk about it, I did get the job, and I worked for him for almost five years until the company shut down, and I decided he was right haha, and now my resumes all say “Beth Smith.”

  47. Indigo a la mode*

    My 52-year-old mom has gorgeous white hair and often dyes the bottom few inches a lovely purple color. She’s the CMO of a 1200-person company, a veteran, and a board member of a national company. She decided to do “50 Firsts” before her 50th birthday and completed 80+ things she’d never done before. At no time has purple hair made her look unprofessional, desperate, or like a has-been. Time to update your belief that fun ends after 40.

    1. Indigo a la mode*

      Whoops! Looks like the comment thread I was replying to was (thankfully) deleted. Nothing to see here!

  48. PennyLane*

    #1 That’s so icky. And everyone knows the best kind of thank you’s are the forced ones.

    #2 You can also give interviewers a heads up that your hair is blue now, but you’d be willing to change it to abide by the dress code. It shows you have a reasonable understanding of professional norms across different types of offices. I think the surprise element is much worse because then I wonder did this person not know it would be a bit of a shock or think to ask about the dress code.

    #4 I like it when people put the name they want me to call them by on the resume. Otherwise, I may be calling them their non-preferred name the whole time (some people weirdly won’t correct you). If I see you have your preferred name on your resume and use a different/longer name on the application, I’ll understand you have different legal and preferred names.

  49. boop the first*

    1. Butter and sugar is not cheap. Imagine calculating the cost in time and ingredients for all of these cookies to see just how much the company saved in expenses! I would expect to be paid for this. Also, why would the IT guys care if everyone made the same cookies???? lol

    2. I know AAM was hesitant to give this answer about the hair, but can you simply not mention in the interview that you are easygoing about changing it back to brown? Is this a thing that people commonly lie about?

    5. Dang, using EMAIL to schedule literally anything same day seems incredibly foolish. I wonder how often this works for them?

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      1. I’m confused by this line of thinking. Your idea of “cheap” is skewed, a batch of cookies in ingredients costs less than $5, hence why you can buy racks of cookies at the store for $5 a dozen. A stick of butter is currently 1.25 last time I bought one, a batch of cookies uses one stick of butter in my recipes. And sugar is cheaper than butter…so. What?

      1. Frenchiest*

        It’s not that cheap when you count the the time to shop for individual ingredients. Also, sugar and butter might be cheap, but other ingredients are not. Since they had to have a variety, we’re not talking all sugar cookies. I had a recipe for chocolate cherry cookies that was not cheap at all. It has to be a very special occasion for me to spend the time and money to make them.

  50. Nanani*

    OP1 – The IT dept was not doing yours a favour! They were doing their jobs.
    This is work, and they were being rewarded for doing their jobs by the company via their pay.

    The manager who proposed it seems to think that departments doing their jobs is like getting your extended family to help you move? But it isn’t! It’s work.
    It is 100% on the company to reward work with fair pay, not on departments to gift each other.

    (plus the gendered aspect makes it all the grosser, as if the mostly-women department isn’t REALLY part of the office? Blech barf)

  51. Betty (the other betty)*

    1. Baking cookies.

    I like to bake. I wouldn’t have liked being told to bake to reward my coworkers, which is something the company should be doing.

    If I decided to go along and do it, my questions would have been: How do I get reimbursed for ingredients? When can I take comp time in exchange for the time I spend baking?

  52. Sabine the Very Mean*

    My god. The cookie thing would get the response a certain boss got from me when he once asked me to dance with our product outside the door of the store at the mall–“No, and it’s important that you never ask me that again”.

  53. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    WTF @ baking IT cookies for doing their jobs.

    Literally all most reasonable people in any department want is to be acknowledged. “Thank you for finishing our application, it’s awesome and makes our work so much easier/streamlined/accessible,etc” goes a million miles in the workplace.

    I have a few people who will leave me treats sometimes for doing my GD job but thankfully they’re novelty treats. Like a bar of chocolate, that I know they keep in their desk drawers anyways for their own snack-breaks, so it’s not that awful but I’d be actually upset if someone made everyone crowdsource me cookies for finishing a project. That’s not acceptable. I hope that the second batch of cookies it was then known what was going on and she did get a “talk” about how it’s not appropriate.

  54. mgguy*

    Re: #1

    There have been times where I’ve requested work from another department, and if it was a big job where I thought they went above and beyond, I’d do two things. The first, of course, would be to email their supervisor praising their work. The second would be to approach my supervisor and ask if I could do SOMETHING for them, whether it was taking them to lunch or grabbing a dozen or two donuts, some cookies(bought-you don’t want to eat something I’d baked) or the like to take over to their office(I’d always ask about the latter with a “Do you like donuts/whatever”). The key, though, was that if I was given permission I would get a work CC. The few times I was denied and still thought it appropriate, I’d do it anyway out of my own pocket, but that was my choice and not something I was compelled to do.

    I’ve been a recipient before of similar things when I’d do a favor for another department or something like that(always with my supervisors blessing). I never expected anything for something I wanted to do(often it would be a project that interested me enough that just figuring out how to do it was my reward) but it was always appreciated when it did happen.

  55. Not a Blossom*

    For #4, I’d list the name under which you publish on your resume and in the interview say “Please, call me Ed.” Unless your publications are wholly unrelated to your resume, you’re going to want your interviewers to be able to find/verify your work.

  56. Michelle*

    In 1998 I was 22 and a web developer in Atlanta. I’d left my last full-time job and was trying to make a go of freelancing. I dyed my hair bright purple somewhere in there, and it was still purple when I got a call from a temp/placement agency to interview with them for a contract working with one of the hot firms of the first dot-com boom. I didn’t want to dye it back for something that might not turn out to be anything, so what I ended up doing was going to my interview at the agency with my purple hair, and making sure the first thing out of my mouth at the interview was that I was willing to dye it back. They didn’t really bat a lash, but did say it might be a good idea. So I did. I got the contract (although in the end, as things turned out, I’d’ve rather had the hair instead).

    This anecdote may or may not be relevant to the Quarantine Hair OP, obviously, but even if Web 1.0 was a famously unconventional time and field, Atlanta in 1998 was pretty damn conventional, and neon-colored hair was far less common then than it is now (how impressed would 22-year-old me have been to meet a 50-year-old with Manic Panic hair? EXTREMELY). The advice given here in response to this letter, to go ahead and dye back pre-emptively if you aren’t emotionally invested in the blue, is surely the safest way to go. But you could split the difference too.

  57. Betsy S*

    OP5 – IJWTS that I have worked for great companies who had *terrible* HR hiring, because they outsourced that piece. In the last 20 years I think every job I’ve gotten has involved outsourced HR. There was even one time when the outsourced HR had me interviewing for two different jobs on two different teams in the same company, and didn’t figure it out until I did. (turned out there was a policy against teams competing with each other for internal hires, so no bidding war).

    I can see why companies outsource initial screening of candidates, because it’s a pain, but IMHO a smart company will get their hiring managers involved. I was on a team in a company that was bought by a much larger company and our hiring became a nightmare , we interviewed half a dozen utterly unqualified people for a position with fairly straightforward tech qualifications. Think: needed 2 years experience shearing and hairstyling llamas and we would have interviewed sheep shearers or llama handlers but we were getting people who were afraid of animals.

    1. Frenchiest*

      :D “but we were getting people who were afraid of animals”. Too funny! Sorry, I know it wasn’t funny for you. But I could picture it.

  58. Frenchiest*

    LW 1: I feel your pain. We had a manager who “hosted” an annual open house. Each employee was REQUIRED to provide two homemade baked items. No store bought. If you couldn’t make it yourself, she told you that one of the employees (known baker) could do it for you for a price (I don’t think this particular employee was a volunteer, but was pressured).
    And the requirements were spelled out, so, if you brought cupcakes, it had to be a certain number for them to qualify as one of the items. Or if you brought cookies, again, it had to be a minimum number. Yes, most of the staff was female.
    This went on until she left. Nobody dared to resist because she was the only one who was allowed (her rule) to communicate with grandboss. Anything you did or said would be filtered through her to her boss. Ah. Good times.

      1. Frenchiest*

        Hard to tell if grandboss knew. When the manager left many things came to light. I was in a different department by then. But I did hear that many “rules” were made up by the manager not grandboss (as manager had led all to believe).
        It was a stressful environment. I didn’t have as much contact with the manager as others did.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      I might have slipped grandboss a hostage note on that one. Good lord. No one should be subjected to my cooking!

      1. Frenchiest*

        Well, if you didn’t cook, you had to pay a coworker to cook for you. That was such a long time ago, I had forgotten all about it. When the manager left, grandboss found out about many things, not sure if this was one of them. Everybody was afraid of grandboss, based greatly on what manager used to tell us.
        My approach was to do my job and stay in my little corner as much as possible.
        Good times. Not.

  59. Mannheim Steamroller*

    OP #5…

    If you had agreed to an interview, they might have turned around and criticized you for not “looking professional” for an interview that you didn’t even know about an hour earlier.

  60. Lizy*

    OP2 – I’d add it depends on the geographical location and the culture there, too. I moved from Lawrence, KS (basically San Francisco type culture in the Midwest lol). Blue or green hair would be a LOT more acceptable there than Wichita, KS.

  61. lb*

    Alison is absolutely correct that just putting the name you go by on your resume is fine, but I do want to put out there that first initial, middle name, last name looks incredibly cool.

  62. Ollie*

    I have fond memories of my last job interview. I retired from that job 17 years later. I was on company travel, as in leaving on Monday morning and returning on Friday night. I wanted that new job bad. When I got the call for the interview I set a time and made an excuse to my boss and went outside and sat on a curb and did the interview. At some point a guy came by and warned me that the lawn sprinklers were about to come on so I moved to another spot. They hired me over the phone. It was the best job I ever had. It depends on how badly you want the job.

  63. gawaine42*

    OP2 – When you’re looking for a job, so much is trying to game the perception of “do they fit in here?” within the bounds of whatever you’re comfortable compromising on. So depending on how much stalking of them you can do, you’ll find the best results if you can trip the subconscious “yes, they’re just like other people here.”

    But what that means really does depend on your workplace. I have one of my key performers who came back into the office early worried about the blue and purple hair that she’d planned on dying back before coming back, and the reception was strong enough that I think she’s keeping it for a while – because we’re the kind of workplace that’s been making huge changes from being a suit and tie kind of place to celebrating diversity and results more than conformity. (>15% LGBTQ, >50% women, in a tech-oriented workplace, is something I’m proud to have achieved, however we managed to make it happen).

  64. mynameisasecret*

    Not sure if anyone will read this far down, but I will admit to having a bugaboo about blue/green/pink/purple hair. I just have this knee jerk reaction of “Wow, this person has a lot of time on their hands and more money than they know what to do with.” In a pandemic, bright blue hair at an interview would indicate to me “This person has absolutely zero fear of finding themselves in a tight spot financially.” I know this is unkind and is making a lot of assumptions and I therefore don’t let it influence my hiring decisions at all. Also, my boss doesn’t care about wild hair colors so I just move the green-haired candidates up in the process and keep my judginess to myself.
    I will say that I would be less judgmental if the candidate with blue hair is approaching 50. Something to do with my feeling that people who have lived longer tend to know themselves better, and also it makes more sense to me that someone could afford this in their forties after years of successful working versus someone coming right out of school. Especially if you are in sales, good salespeople are more than worth their weight in gold, are often a vapor trail in the office anyway, and their quirks will be incorporated in the process of endearing themselves to their client.

    1. Merengue*

      As someone who currently has bright purple hair streaks (and has over the years done every colour you’ve mentioned), I completely understand that it’s not to everyone’s taste.

      However, it’s not necessarily that expensive nor indicative of having too much free time. I bleach and dye my own hair, and the cost of the hair products isn’t all that much. I think a years worth of dye cost me less than one regular haircut at a salon. Whilst the process can take some time (I have very dark hair and it takes hours to bleach), because I’m at home I just catch up with household tasks whilst it does its thing. There’s not that much time spent purely on hair and nothing else.

  65. Merengue*

    OP2: Over a decade ago I interviewed with bright electric blue streaks in my black hair. As part of the interview I was politely informed that it wouldn’t be suitable for the workplace if I got the job. When I was invited back for a second interview I dyed it black again before going, they noticed, appreciated it, and I got the job.

    More recently, I have interviewed with bright pink streaks in my hair. My interviewers had no problem with it (and it’s an in person, customer facing role), and I’ve happily shifted between various shades of hot pink, red and purple whilst working, and had favourable comments from colleagues and clients.

    I think it’s very dependant on your workplace. There are probably some professions where it’s very much not the norm, and others where it’s no big deal. My personal anecdata is that unnatural colours do seem to be more common now than they used to be.

  66. Cristina*

    OP 2: you might try a snap camera filter with a natural hair color. If your system is good enough they can look fairly convincing.

Comments are closed.