job applicants are hounding me, asking Black former employees for feedback, and more

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

1. Job applicants are hounding me on personal email and social media

I’m a recently appointed executive director who is hiring a number of people for newly created roles. In the past, I’ve hired but never had the overwhelming response I’m getting now. Much of it is coming through my personal channels, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and even my personal email.

Our organization uses an electronic ATS (applicant tracking system) and we are vetting candidates that way. More and more, I’m receiving messages non-stop, to the point where my wife and some former colleagues have received quests for my contact details. I’ve had a few candidates send surly follow-up notes, including one along the lines of, “I’ve tried reaching you numerous times, but you’ve failed to respond….” (I think the tone might be a bit hard since I don’t believe English is their first language, and I’m not sure they realize how they are coming across).

Is it okay to respond to them telling them not to contact me at my private email or on Facebook? I feel like they may need a refresher on networking and that this isn’t it. Every job I’ve ever had I got through applying on an ATS and getting selected. I feel like this is just queue jumping and I don’t think it’s fair to other candidates. How should I handle these people?

Yes, you can absolutely say that! I would write, “This is my personal email (or personal Facebook account, etc.) and I don’t use it for work communications. If you’d like to apply for a job, please apply on our website, which is the only way to get your application into our system.” If they message you again after that, feel free to ignore it. (The one exception to this is LinkedIn, which is for professional communications. There you should just say something like “thanks so much for your interest” and then use that last sentence about how to apply.)

Do make sure, of course, that your ATS is set up well and not onerous to use, and make sure you’re updating people on the status of their candidacy in a timely way, since that might cut down on some of this — but yeah, some people are convinced that going around an organization’s hiring system is the way to get noticed (even though it’s usually a bad idea). While unemployment is high you’re going to see a lot of this, so just having good systems and a form letter is the way to go.

2. Company is asking Black former employees for feedback

My husband recently received an email from a company he previously worked for, inviting him to a forum on the experiences of Black employees during their tenure at the company. The email stated in part that the company wants to do the “hard work of having candid conversations with employees and former employees” about their experiences as Black people in the company.

My husband left the company after experiencing racial slurs and casual racial comments on a daily basis. (The managing partner once asked him why Black people didn’t enunciate.) He left with a severance and non-disclosure agreement, but experienced substantial professional repercussions because of the incident. I have advised him to ignore this request, as I see no benefit to him and it would likely cause him aggravation.

I guess my question is this: Is this something companies do? Why would anyone take part in something like this, particularly if they left on less than positive terms? What’s in it for any of these “alums”? Why would an employer think this would give useful information?

Yeah, some companies are doing this, right now in particular. Sometimes it stems from a genuine desire to learn about the experiences of people of color at their companies. Sometimes it’s just lip service, so they can appear to be doing something. Sometimes the company thinks their desire to learn is sincere, but in fact they’re not prepared to do the work of making real change. I would argue that asking former employees to do this emotional labor after they don’t even work there anymore (unpaid, no less) is one really big sign of the latter. It’s not their responsibility.

As for why anyone would participate, some people see it as an opportunity to be heard and to potentially have an impact, although I’d bet participation numbers will be low. The opportunity for the company to ask for this kind of input was while people were still working there … and even then, putting the burden on employees of color in this way is problematic. It’s exhausting, people won’t feel comfortable being candid, and it’s not their job to educate colleagues or do more of the lifting than others there.

It’s absolutely fine to ignore the request. It’s also fine to send an explanation of why you’re not responding, if you choose.

3. I can’t remember completing tasks

I’ve had a problem for years that seems to be exacerbated by COVID stress. When someone asks “hey, did you review that document last week?” I feel terrible about forgetting to review it and say no, only to open the document later and find my comments all over it. This happens with both big and small tasks, at least a couple times a month or more, and I have no idea how to approach it in conversation.

I know it’s not a good look to frequently acknowledge I have no memory of doing something that might be important to someone else. It makes me look scatterbrained, or like I don’t take care with my work. Sometimes I try to joke about it, but that probably just draws more attention. I’m sure other people struggle with this, so I’m curious if there are good ways to play it off in the moment when someone asks if I did X task and I cannot trust myself to remember if I did or not.

If background is helpful, I do have several mild medical conditions that can have “brain fog” as a symptom, but they are well controlled per the doctor. I don’t have this problem in my personal life either, it’s only at work.

Do you ever actually forget to do these tasks — or are you always doing them and then later forgetting that you did? The former would mean you need a different system to track your to-do items, but the latter would just mean you need a different response in the moment. Why not make it your default to begin saying, “I think so, but give me a few minutes to verify that”? I know you’re worried it’ll look strange that you don’t remember — but it actually looks better than saying you haven’t done something at all, when in fact you have! If you ever want to give someone more context, you could say something like, “As soon as I’m done with something, it’s pushed out of my mind by the next thing!” (Don’t say that if it would sound bad in your context — like if you’re expected to still be tracking the item in some way — but in a lot of jobs it would be fine.)

Also, talk to your doctor! It’s possible this is a sign that the brain fog isn’t as well controlled as it could be, and your doctor won’t know unless you share this. It won’t hurt to check.

4. Is it still OK to send thank-you cards during the pandemic?

I live in a large city in the U.S. and am preparing to interview for jobs. I know it is a good practice to mail thank-you cards to the interviewers at their office, but many offices are currently still shut down to the COVID-19 pandemic response, with the employees working from home. I have the names of the people I will be interviewing with, but no additional information. Is it appropriate to send a thank-you note through LinkedIn, or to try to find the work email to send a thank-you, or would that be too invasive? What is the best practice for this situation? There is one job in particular I am interviewing for that I would really love to make the perfect impression on.

Actually, emailed thank-you notes are ideal and have been for years, rather than mailing them to the interviewer’s office! Even before Covid, many people didn’t check their physical office mail for weeks or even months, and hiring decisions can be made well before a physical thank-you note gets read. Plus, this is business correspondence, not social correspondence, so you don’t need a handwritten card.

In an in-person interview, you could ask for the person’s business card at the end to get their email address. In a virtual interview, it’s fine to simply ask for their email as you’re ending the interview. If you don’t do that, though, often you can figure out their address pretty easily (for example, if the HR person’s email was, then Persephone Mulberry’s email is probably If nothing else works, though, LinkedIn will do. Don’t make it your first choice since not everyone has LinkedIn or checks it regularly, but it’s fine to use as a backup.

5. Many jobs, one company, one resume

I have worked at the same organzation since I graduated four years ago. I started with a job like llama groomer,” then after a year was promoted to “llama specialist junior,” then “llama specialist senior,” and for the last year and a half “manager of llama operations.” How would you recommend I structure my resume? My inclination would be to list the organization and then each job separately, listing duties in each job. I’m also not sure how much of the resume should focus on this one organization versus emphasizing different internships/college clubs that I haven’t been involved in for years.

How different were your responsibilities and accomplishments in each job? If they were very different, the way you’re proposing is good. But if there was a lot of overlap, then you can do it this way:

Company Name, May 2016 – present
Manager of Llama Operations, March 2019 – present
Senior Llama Specialist, December 2017 – March 2019
Junior Llama Specialist, April 2017 – December 2017
Llama Groomer, May 2016 – April 2017
* accomplishment
* accomplishment
* accomplishment
* accomplishment

{ 372 comments… read them below }

  1. Kate*

    LW2’s husband should receive financial compensation for doing the emotional work of taking part if he chooses to do so. It would be a small act of reparations on the part of the company and is more than appropriate, particularly given the current political and social climate. In my opinion, it’s unacceptable to ask him to do so without offering it.

    1. Exhausted POC*

      Unacceptable and exhausting. Let this email go to the trash.

      As for employers, don’t do this to your people of colour.

      Signed, exhausted woman of colour.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I would be tempted to respond, “You’re a day late and a dollar short on this. Also, you had me sign an NDA, so I can’t speak about my experience with your company. Don’t contact me again.”

              1. Partly Cloudy*

                Same. This sounds so gross and tone-deaf considering that the LW’s husband experienced while he was working at this company.

                There is a right way to gently ask *currently employed* POC about their experiences and feedback on how to make improvements. This isn’t it.

              2. charo*

                Am I super cynical to think that the company may just not be aware that it’s inviting him to speak after having to pay him for his mistreatment?

                Incompetence can be an explanation, I think. They write off payments for harassment and other issues as “the cost of doing business”?

                And maybe they think those payouts are just a “gotcha” where the company was caught in the wrong, but hey, we’ve done a lot worse that didn’t have a payout so this is small by comparison?

                I really think they don’t GET IT because those at the top think they’re above it all and get to make the rules.

                And in our society, suing for MONEY DAMAGES is the main measure of how much you win.

                1. Rectilinear Propagation*

                  I think it’s very likely that:
                  1) The person sending out these invites was not involved in the situation where LW’s husband had to leave.
                  2) The company doesn’t keep records detailed enough for that person to find out after the fact. They may have been able to look up the severance and NDA but not the specifics like racial slurs or anything the company did to harm his career after the fact.
                  3) The person/people doing this didn’t look up anything other than which of their former employees are people of color even if more info was available.

        1. Bilateralrope*

          What about asking to be released from the NDA ?

          Their response to that request will say a lot.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Oooohhh I like it! I can see how OP’s husband may not want to go through this or to have any more interactions with that company, but in theory, I like this a lot!

          2. Blackcat*

            Yeah, I like this.
            “I will consider speaking with you about my experience if I receive written release from my NDA so that I may speak freely about my experiences with people of my choosing as well.”
            And… wait.
            I bet 10 internet dollars the company never responds to that request.

            1. AKchic*


              But maybe have it sent in from an attorney? I mean, they so badly want to make amends and change their image, why not start making amends the *right* way; but still cover LW2’s spouse’s rear.

        2. JSPA*

          “Between your records regarding what you found necessary to bury by having me sign an NDA and the documentation I supplied while employed, you should have all the documentation you need, if you’re serious about making changes. I would conceivably be available to participate if you a) lift the NDA’s insofar as they cover interpersonal conduct and comments regarding race, sex, gender, etc. and b) offer payment commensurate with the burden of revisiting dehumanizing memories. Ball’s in your court.”

          If they’re serious, let them first loosen the gags. If they’re checking what the repercussions of loosening the gags will be, if they don’t put in the work? They have their answer.

      2. LifeBeforeCorona*

        LW2 As a Black woman in the workforce for many years my BS dectector is working overtime after reading this letter. The company is trying to demonstrate their social awareness in the laziest way possible. It’s very telling that they reached out to a former employee who left with a severance and NDA because of a managing partner, someone who should know better! Are there really so few POC at this workplace? They are taking the laziest way out possible and are showing how little they’ve learned by contacting someone who will have nothing good to say about them. To take part in a forum, no less. Thanks, but no thanks.

        1. Kiki*

          It is so lazy! Especially since they very well know their how their work environment sucks, who’s causing isn’t, and that someone left because of it.
          It’s so frustrating because so many companies’ responses to the realization they may be racist is to put more labor on Black employees and other employees of color.

          1. Sam.*

            Yes! It struck me that they said that they want to do the “hard work of having candid conversations with employees and former employees” but I’m not sure they have acknowledged how much more difficult that conversation might be for the employees/former employees themselves (not to mention how difficult those experiences would’ve been for them in the first place!) Obviously I haven’t read the email, but it sounds like they’re asking for a lot of unpaid labor without recognizing that’s what they’re doing.

            1. Amanda*

              That jumped out at me too. You want to do the hard work of not being a racist org? That’s nice, you can start by recognizing (monetarily) that asking POC to give you feedback is asking them to do work.

          2. The Bimmer Guy*

            Right. Let’s make the POC re-live a traumatic and hostile workplace, because it’s easier than doing the work ourselves, not that we don’t already know.

            OP, your husband is uniquely *unqualified* to answer their queries, and should send any correspondence to the spam folder. I wouldn’t even respond to them to say why.

        2. Anonym*

          There’s plenty of good research and action plans out there for an organization to use. Examine your hiring and promotion pipelines, your retention numbers… look at the g.d. results!! If your employees of color don’t stay as long or get promoted as frequently as your white employees, you have a problem. Same for hiring relative to the population that applies. The data is there. Also look at how you shape your hiring brand, what your executive suite looks like – there may be signals in there that are putting people off (leadership all white men? it doesn’t exactly say “women and people of color definitely have a fair shot to succeed here” and strong candidates may prioritize companies where equal opportunity is more credible).

          Stop trying to wring information out of people when you (probably) already know you have a problem, and there are tons of resources already available to you. Do the work to change process, change policy, change culture. You don’t need “proof” from focus groups before taking action.

          1. Tupac Coachella*

            Yes- the data will usually tell the story on sustained inequity. And they need to have (current) employees of color involved in the collection and discussion of that data. Don’t have any employees of color in appropriate roles to be involved? There’s some pretty telling data right there.

            Also, slow clap for “You don’t need “proof” from focus groups before taking action.” In what world is it a *bad* idea to look at how to adapt your processes, policies, and culture to treat employees more equitably? And I’m annoyed to say the least that Black employees and former employees are expected to show up to prove a need that this company is clearly already aware of.

          2. Lavender Menace*

            I also think people spend too much time interviewing employees of color and not enough time interviewing white employees. The problem is rarely the employees of color. Ask your white employees (and your white managers, especially) what they think about diversity and inclusion, how much they’ve actually thought about it, what actions they take to attract and retain diverse talent, etc. That will be more instructive in determining what’s wrong with your workplace culture/why you keep losing talent of color than asking black employees why they left.

          1. Matilda Jefferies*

            On the one hand, it might be very satisfying for OP’s husband to go to that forum and be EXTREMELY honest about his experiences. There’s nothing to lose at this point, and I could definitely see the temptation to look someone in the eye and go “I left because of YOU, you racist POS.”

            But on the other hand, I don’t imagine there’s a lot to gain either, and certainly Black people have done more than their fair share of educating at this point. As Anonym says above, there’s plenty of data already, so the company would be far better off looking at that, rather than asking even more (unpaid!) emotional labour from their employees.

            I would come down on the side of burning the letter (or printing and burning it, if it came by email), then blocking all emails from the company’s domain, and walking off into the sunset.

            1. knead me seymour*

              It would certainly be less taxing for the former employees (both in terms of time and emotionally) if they sent out a questionnaire that could be filled out and submitted. That forum sounds exhausting, but some people might find it worthwhile to be able to speak up directly about their experiences if they could do it in a lower-key way.

              On the other hand, given that the company’s first instinct was to put this extra burden on their current and former Black employees, I am dubious that they actually plan to take any meaningful action based on this feedback.

        3. SD*

          Spouse went way more sinister than “trying to demonstrate their social awareness.” He suggests that the purpose of this forum is to be able to cherry pick any positive comments (or comment fragments) for future PR purposes. He could be right.

        4. Elle*

          Agreed. Plus, I’ve found whenever I’ve tried to engage in an intelligent exchange with a certain type of person (the kind who likes to exclaim, “I’m color blind!” or “All Lives Matter!” that there’s very little actual willingness to see or understand anything that falls outside of their own (white) experience. There’s a whole lot of “Well yeah BUT…”. If it’s infuriating and frustrating for me as a white person, I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like for POC.

      3. LifeBeforeCorona*

        Every day I take a walk in the same park. Recently an older lady stopped me and asked me questions about recent events in the US and to a lesser extent in our country (Canada). She was generally interested in my take and we had a nice talk. The other people who see me out and about and want to fill in their “I engaged with a POC today” square on their bingo card, not so much.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Not a POC, but I’m an immigrant, from a country that is in the news a lot, and I used to get asked my opinion about the events in Home Country a lot at social gatherings (back when we still had them). I’d tell people that I hadn’t visited in over 20 years, have no family there, and have hardly any contact with anyone back there at all, and they’d keep pushing. Eventually it dawned on me that these people just want to be able to say “I talked to a (national of Home Country), and they think that..” and I’m neither qualified nor willing to be their token (Home Country national) and provide them with the answers. That said, some people really are genuinely interested in learning more about race. I know my mom is. I know she isn’t going to stop people in the park, or even in her apartment building, to ask them questions, so I try to provide reading material. But you’re right that 90% of the time, it’s the bingo card thing.

      4. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Don’t send them questions on ‘how do you feel about (recent news item/event)?’ then try to justify it by saying you want to ‘hear all opinions before making a statement’ either.

        Not unless you like 2 word responses…

      5. Rose*

        I’m so sorry. The amount of emotional labor expected from people of color right now is just so unacceptable.

        Who thinks “Hey! Come do some free consulting for us on how to improve the company you no longer work for!” Is an appealing proposition?!

      1. hamsterpants*

        I would be so tempted by this. Force them to admit that they care enough to take your time, but not enough to pay literally a single cent.

    2. Important Moi*

      The tone deafness if it all. I’m not surprised the company would ask. It is an accurate reflection of the culture. I honestly don’t know if in your husbands shoes I would respond.
      Being called out on racism, having to pay for racism, etc. make some perpetrator a of racism act in ways that don’t make sense. The company may legitimately believe that since LW got money he should be over it and be willing to answer questions. This would not surprise me at all. Racism and privilege will do that.

      1. Dr. Nurse*

        Interestingly, my husband did call them out on the general tone deafness of the email! He got a very tone deaf response from the (Black) partner in charge of the initiative. It was almost as if the partner was offended that my husband expressed these opinions.
        They also couched it in terms of “helping them better serve clients of color.” Friends, this is a business, not a social service organization. Why would I want to help you improve your business model? My husband, like many Black professionals, chose to start his own business given the environment for Black people at many large companies. This firm is his competitor in some areas.

        1. Important Moi*

          There’s an expression – all skin folk ain’t kin folk. All marginalized people make choices in terms of how they are going to address situations like this. There’s no set standard. Your husband’s former partner has made his choice as well.

          1. MassMatt*

            It’s almost as if people of color are… PEOPLE, with diverse backgrounds and views!

            Groups of white people are assumed to be diverse even if in many respects (socioeconomic background, religion, national origin, political preferences, sexual orientation) they aren’t. Because, gosh, they’re INDIVIDUALS, and assuming they were at all the same would just be wrong.

        2. Hey Karma, Over Here*

          It makes me think of the term I learned here: “Othering”
          A POC asking other POC to explain being POC is still separating everyone from the whole of the staff.

        3. Troutwaxer*

          “This firm is his competitor in some areas.”

          I didn’t catch that the first time. He should write back and tell them they’re doing a great job and shouldn’t change a thing!

          1. AKchic*

            no, because then they will use that as “proof” that they are a great company and why would anyone want to go to their competitor if the competitor “admits” that they are doing a great job?

            Just say that without a release from the NDA and a consulting fee, he won’t participate in helping them. They should have enough other victims who might feel more generous and helpful.

        4. Matilda Jefferies*

          Ugh. Well, at least that clarifies their intent! If was at all undecided about whether or not he wanted to participate in this charade, it sounds like a pretty easy decision from here.

          Honestly, people. Grr.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Who else thought that the company is doing it as part of some corporate racial compliance initiative, and they had to contact these ex-employee(s) and try to have this forum because there’s a box on a form that they won’t be able to check otherwise? This is gross and I am absolutely in favor of not responding. As the Etiquette Hell site used to teach us, total silence is a valid answer.

      1. Tiffany Hashish*


        As part of an agreement for his services. True reparations likely would be waaaaayyy more than his severance, given the OP’s mention that he’s had professional repercussions because of this company’s racist assholery.

    3. Junior Assistant Peon*

      If it’s a huge company, it’s possible that some low-level manager was a racist ass, and the c-level execs would be horrified to learn what happened. It might be worth participating if doing so could get the attention of managers above those responsible for the NDA situation.

      1. EPLawyer*

        The NDA and severance weren’t done without the knowledge of the C-Level execs. The letter even said it was a partner in the company — which means one of the owners. You don’t get much higher than that.

        Let me repeat — it is not the job of POC to teach anyone the history of racism and how to not be racist.

      2. Observer*

        Not with an NDA and settlement. Also, Also, Managing PARTNER generally doesn’t fall into the category of “low level”.

        1. JSPA*

          I don’t think it’s so unusual for the C suite to hold whatever racism they have–along with all of their other cards–closer to the chest than the lower level managers do.

          And plenty of bicoastal leadership types believe themselves to be non-racist (pride themselves on it, in fact) by overlooking or -‘splaining away whatever race-related biases and assumptions and behaviors they still have.

          So yeah, they may be horrified that a low level manager asked an ignorant “why do you people” question, even if they, themselves, hold their own untenable theories on the topic.

        2. Anonymiss*

          Actually, this is my experience at my large company. The C-level positions have some of the kindest, genuinely invested anti-racists at my company. It’s usually the middle-management that’s the problem (well, that and the fact that the C-level seems at a loss about how to make them less racist. I mean, other than what we’ve been yelling at them for years, which is “make their jobs contingent upon it.”)

    4. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      Dear Company,
      I am not willing to participate in this.
      Person who just gave you more valuable information than you realize.

    5. Ominous Adversary*

      They’re not looking for feedback. They’re trying to generate protection against a discrimination lawsuit.

    6. Lets not name names*

      Yeah, if he reported the incidents and was offered a severance, and asked to sign a NDA, they know what’s up. They’re choosing to shift the work back on to someone victimized by their racist culture and that’s unacceptable. I wouldn’t feel safe trusting them with the truth, personal emotions and experiences, especially if there were no repercussions for the person inflicting the harm in the past. Black people are always being asked to talk about their experiences only to be disbelieved, questioned, or punished, even when it’s solicited. They will likely get low response and will then get self-righteous about how they tried and were rebuffed. It’s an ugly cycle and that’s what need to be examined, by them.

      1. Paulina*

        The NDA makes it even more important to not participate; if they misuse his response publicly, he won’t be able to correct them.

  2. Amy M*

    It is not the responsibility of Black employees or former employees to train the company on how to not be racist. Also, this individual in particular should not respond except directly to the signer of the NDA and indicate that they are asking him to break his NDA and that he wants it in writing that he is released from its terms without liability.

    And then still don’t go to that meeting.

    1. Sue*

      I’m assuming the NDA was between her husband and the company, not an individual person. If it is the company seeking feedback, it isn’t likely to violate the agreement.

      1. Alas rainy again*

        That depends on who will be attending the forum. The Non Disclosure Agreement prevents the former employee to answer candidly to pertinent questions if the audience is not strictly internal to the former company. What if associated press releases mention the former employee’s name and carefully redacted testominials? So many possibilities for disaster!

    2. Lora*


      My god but I have seen the absolute stupidest crap companies have pulled recently in their “please assure us we’re not racist” campaigns. What in the raisins-and-mayonnaise F, white executives? If you want to be all half-arsed about it, hire a consultant for a week to write you a report about Engagement Surveys and then forget about it like you always do. It’s better to ignore people than actively insult them.

      1. Fact & Fiction*

        It’s ESPECIALLY egregious in this case because this company can’t even with a straight face claim that “we’re not racist” given that the entire reason the OP’s husband left the company is because of, you know, racism. What absolute BS on their part.

        1. Caliente*

          Well they’d be like many, many other companies, people, entities, etc who THINK they’re not racist but ARE. And the longer I live, the more I see of that in person and up front. Like some people literally think they can say something racist, oh but its ok because “i’m not racist”, but umm, yes you are…

        2. JessaB*

          And the company so clearly knows that he left because of racism because they paid him off and had him sign an NDA. How is that not prima facie evidence both de facto and de jure that they’re bloody well racist to the top of the company – this was an owner who said they were shocked that “Black people enunciate?” I mean seriously all the words I can think of to call this guy from the company are beyond things one says in a polite forum like this one. The company is vile and it’s not the duty to make BIPOC spend the spoons to educate them out of it.

          Google is their friend and there are a metric tonne of books out there written by both people of colour and lawyers, and business advice givers, about what’s wrong, and how to fix it. Alison has been explaining how to fix it, how to get equity forever. Half the questions in this blog are “How do we get salary parity, how do we deal with requests from [culture x] that compete with requirements of [culture y].

          They need to do their own work.

        3. Paulina*

          They think their blatant racism behind-the-scenes to staff doesn’t show or affect things when they’re putting their good face on while dealing with clients. And of course it does.

      2. Anonymiss*

        An even better idea, go back and sift through your records and I will guarantee you’ll find mounds of data collected from the story-telling missions other executives went on the last time this happened. And the time before that. And the time before that one…

  3. Sue*

    #2) If your husband is willing, I think declining with an explanation such as you’ve outlined in your letter is a good idea. The company obviously needs serious changes and maybe there’s a chance to catch attention without having to participate any further. I can understand if he doesn’t want to engage at all but it might be worth just saying why. And I’m so sorry he (and you) had to experience that.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I like the decline with explanation, possibly referencing the NDA because this COULD be going through a third-party consultant/contractor. Use your letter as the draft to keep it easy and low stress, just tweak to tell the new audience without the question to Alison.
      I suggest this on the chance there has been turnover in upper management – or legal action –where a reiteration of why he left would be a data point for real change.

  4. MassMatt*

    #1 what is an ATS? I assume an online or automated application system?

    #2 can he even discuss this awful experience without violating the NDA? I agree he should be compensated for his time and effort, but he should also get a release from the NDA.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Applicant Tracking System — the computerized systems that track applications and are often used to track a person’s process through the process, send rejections, etc. I’ll clarify it in the post.

  5. D3*

    OP #2: If they made him sign an NDA, they know full well why he left. They chose to let him leave and have a negative impact on his career rather than fix it. If they really cared, they would have acted then instead of paying your husband to make the issue go away. No need to revisit it IMO.

    1. Artemesia*

      And I’d be inclined to say that — that he left with an NDA related to the racial discrimination rife in the company.

      1. Caliente*

        They sure do, but thats…”certain” folks for ya! They just never stop. First they screw YOU over then they want to know what YOUR problem is. These people are ludicrous to the nth degree.

    2. Andy*

      Quite likely, one person dealt with NDA and someone else is sending these letters to former black employees. Companies tend to be disorganized places with different people doing their own thing in different directions.

      1. Troutwaxer*

        1.) This sounds somewhat likely.

        2.) We don’t know how the NDA was phrased or exactly who the husband can or cannot speak to about his experiences, and someone who’s vindictive might call out the company lawyers anyway.

        3.) The appropriate answer is “Please don’t ever contact me again for any reason.”

    3. The Original K.*

      Exactly. I wish I would. This reads as per formative box-checking; I bet $5 that if they do get actionable information, they won’t go anything about it.

      1. Fact & Fiction*

        Oh I believe this wholeheartedly. I see it all the time in publishing. Even when (usually white) authors writing outside their lanes actually DO hire sensitivity readers from the community they’re writing about, the ones who MOST need the advice rarely actually take any of it. Or they do the most minimal amount of effort required and then try to throw the sensitivity readers under the bus when a backlash ensues upon publication.

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            Yes, really. If I, as a white person, tried to write a story about slavery from the perspective of a slave, the result would be terrible. Running it past a sensitivity reader isn’t going to fix the underlying problem.

            1. Andy*

              > Running it past a sensitivity reader isn’t going to fix the underlying problem.

              Of course not, because sensitivity reader is not expert on history nor on slaves narratives. Moreover, even as a white person you still would have hard time to write story from perspective of white slave holder living in Texas too.

              I hope you dont mean to say that no one should attempt to write a story from point of view of a slave.

              But path to it is not through sensitivity reader who is focused on what contemporary people think, but rather through reading slaves narratives, reading history, reading stories of people captured in various periods and so on.

              The path to it is not through “I am white therefore I dont know”.

              1. Fact & Fiction*

                The main point of my comment is that many authors who DO hire sensitivity readers proceed to ignore most if not all of the advice they receive. That they have requested and paid for. And then they try to throw their sensitivity readers under the bus as if that’s the reason why whatever they TRIED to write obviously didn’t work for a large group of readers.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            This is off-topic so I’m closing the thread, but there’s lots out there about why cultural appropriation by white authors is a problem; take a look!

      2. Rose*

        They already have plenty of actionable information. They know OPs husband left because of an insane level of blatant racism. Given that OPs husband suffered awful professional repercussions AND had to leave the company, it’s pretty darn clear they chose to do nothing about the extremely actionable information they had.

        If I were him I’d write back with some serious snark.

    4. Parenthetically*

      Yes! Jesus wept, they made him sign an NDA so he wouldn’t tell anyone about their racism.

      The absolute most I would do would be just to re-send the entirety of my files on the original incidents, and then block them. Yeeting them into the sun would be my preferred option, of course.

  6. His Grace*

    OP 2: Your husband has every right not to participate in this sham. Any company that is willing to tolerate casual racism and questions like that from a managing partner is too toxic to tolerate. And if they ask why he (coldly and politely) refuses to participate, he can point to both the damage done to his career and the nondisclosure agreement he had to leave.

  7. RG*

    I think I would break into hysterical laughter if I received a request like in #2. I have to leave my job and deal with negative perceptions due to racial discrimination and behavior that you let slide, and now you want me to participate in some half-assed attempt to say you care about your black employees? Cue the GIF of New York saying “You should have just sat there and ate your food”

    1. Green great dragon*

      Indeed. I think it’s a great idea in principle for companies to reach out to former employees, who might be more honest than existing ones. But pay them! Acknowledge it’s a favour! And if it’s someone who left like this, then either leave them well alone (probably best) or you need to contact them with care – I think a contact saying ‘we know this was wrong, we are doing x, y, z, to improve, if you are willing to discuss with us what else could be improved we will pay you £’ is… at least less tone deaf. I do not think an open forum is the way to go here.

    2. Thankful for AAM*

      The OP clarified that they dont actually want to improve work for black employees, they want to improve their business model for dealing with black clients.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup. They want black people’s money, but will continue treating them like shit in the workplace, trust.

        1. Caliente*

          Exactly. I can’t tell you how many companies over the past couple of years that I’ve stopped shopping at, etc and tell friends to do the same. I’ve responded to marketing emails with – You don’t represent me so good-bye. Whenever I buy something now, no matter what it is, I try to find black owned first. Banks, insurance companies, jewelers, clothing, handbags, yoga studios, doctors FOR SURE – everything. I may end up not going with a black person or business for whatever reason, but you better believe I start there.
          I am over racist people. And not so that I want to fight about it. These people are ridiculous and sad and also so damn transparent.

      2. Ama*

        This is a separate piece of the issue, but I’m very tired of for profit companies trying to get people to volunteer their time/energy to improve their business. If you really want to improve that much, you need to compensate the people from who you want input (there are many existing models for this and certainly some companies use them, but I’ve seen more and more try to cheap out and get detailed input for free).

        This goes quadruple for this particular situation given their lack of interest in the OP’s husband’s feedback when he actually worked there.

        1. Kiki*

          Yeah, it’s really ridiculous. So much of it comes down to the expectation that certain types of labor, especially labor done by BIPOC and women, doesn’t need to be compensated yet is somehow essential to the business.

      3. Anonymiss*

        …and half the problem is that they don’t understand that the two of those are related. I don’t want to spend my money with you if you treat my people like crap.

  8. Maggie*

    I am a youngish employee (35) with impeccable cursive who loves stationery. I have always preferred handwritten thank you notes, but I understand they may not get there in time. So I’ve created a work around: I prewrite 5 or 6 thank you cards and leave a little space and leave the envelopes unsealed and put them in my purse. After the interview, I go out to my car, address the envelopes, and a sentence or two specific to the interview, then walk back in and ask the receptionist to deliver them. It’s been well received in the past, but I haven’t interviewed for 6 years. In the past it’s showed off old school social skills, but I’m genuinely curious… does this make me look well prepared and considerate or overzealous and nuts?

    1. Jessica will remember in November*

      Even though you do customize them a bit, being that fast on the followup might make it seem like you haven’t really reflected on it. And if I got a hand-delivered note that references something from the interview (so couldn’t have been prewritten), I’d think “weird, did she like sit right down in our lobby and write this?” and now I’m thinking about the quirky logistics instead of what you want me to be thinking about, which is how wowed I was by the interview and what a terrific candidate you seem to be for our Llama Styling Chieftain position, and what a lavish salary you deserve.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, I would not do this! You’re squandering the ability to make it a note that really has an impact — which you can only do if you use it to build on the conversation you had in the interview (which *maybe* you can do in the 1-2 sentences you add, but I’m skeptical if you’re doing it right afterward in your car). And appearances-wise, it does look odd, and risks looking like the notes are just perfunctory. I would go home, reflect, then draft them, then email them.

        1. Aquawoman*

          Yes, all of this will not be outweighed by your beautiful handwriting and nice stationery. Thank you notes don’t often make much of an impression on me* but if they do, it’s for being very specific.

          *except the one that was on a card with a picture of the applicant’s dog with Santa.

        2. charo*

          It just doesn’t make you stand out in a good way, a modern way, in these modern times. It’s a little like someone with ornate, elaborate facial hair. Guys think it makes them “special” but I usually wonder if they have a need for attention.

          So your note might be well received by the right person, but not all.

      2. TootsNYC*

        I tend not to pay THAT much attention to thank-you notes; I never notice if I don’t get them. And if they’re a generic thank-you, I erase them mentally immediately. Though I DO note the person’s name, and it’s a
        I like the thank-you notes that are a follow-up, even if it’s just to say, “I’ve reflected on the interview, and I definitely want you to still consider me.”

        If I got one THAT fast, like minutes after the meeting ended, it would seem weird, actually. It wouldn’t affect my hiring decision, but it would seem very perfunctory.

      3. SheLooksFamiliar*

        Decades ago, so-called career counselors advised job seekers to keep stationery and stamps in their car. The job seeker was told to write a thank you note while still in the employer’s parking lot post-interview, and to drop the note in the nearest mailbox. The note would maybe get delivered the very next day, impressing the employer with the candidate’s enthusiasm and resourcefulness.

        Pretty sure those ‘counselors’ are still giving that advice.

    2. Cobol*

      For me it would be the later. And I can’t put my finger on why, but I don’t like the idea of an interviewee coming back into the office they left. You wouldn’t send a hand-written follow up based on a business meeting, or at least I don’t think you would, so really sending an email follow up is just one more way to show you can do the job.

      1. Heidi*

        I agree that going back into the office is where it started to seem weird. I’m fine with writing the notes in the car, but if you immediately return to the office to deliver them, you undercut the impression of thoughtfulness that you’re supposed to be building with the special stationery and handwriting. The handwritten mailed note suggests time and care was put into a response. If it arrives too quickly, they know that you didn’t really put that much time into it (assuming that you just spent a couple minutes in the car). To make an extreme comparison, writing the note during the interview and handing it to the interviewer as you’re walking out the door would save time, but it wouldn’t really enhance your application.

    3. Diatryma*

      I’d save the good stationery and notes for friends, neighbors (I need to send one to The House With All The Daisies because it cheers me up to see it each summer), and other more social purposes. Within work, certainly; before you’re hired, it probably comes across like trying to contact the hiring manager on Facebook. They have a system to communicate with you. Use that one.

      1. Yorick*

        Our apartment neighbor slipped a thank you note under the door after we helped them with a thing. It was really special – probably more special because they’re loud and we’re annoyed with them most of the time.

    4. Natalia S.*

      That’s going to look super weird and out of touch anywhere I’ve worked. Those are not the sort of “social skills” workplaces are generally looking for. You’re going to get very close to the Gumption Line with this, and it’s going to make me question your understanding of professional norms and behaviors.

    5. Maggie*

      Thanks for the input everyone! FWIW, I did this most about a decade ago in a rural area and for an industry where lots of small employers didn’t even have a website. It made it very tricky to determine people’s email address! I would have had to directly ask the receptionist or the person interviewing me in the interview, “Hey, what’s your email address?” which clearly seems ridiculous! But times have changed and I don’t envision my next employer NOT having emails easily accessible online. I understand everyone’s points–I wouldn’t want it to look like I didn’t know how use email or something! Thanks for the feedback!

      1. Natalia S.*

        It’s absolutely fine to ask your interviewer for their email address, if you haven’t already got it from the process of setting up the interview! There’s nothing “clearly ridiculous” about it at all. It’s a totally normal and expected part of the process.

        1. rural academic in a big city*

          Maybe it’s totally normal now (though I am from a rural area and many people & businesses out there still don’t have reliable internet…), but this was a decade ago, according to the poster. If the businesses didn’t have emails, then they didn’t have emails! And what is the norm in one place/time/context doesn’t necessarily hold in others.
          Even now though, I wouldn’t find this odd. But I also work in academia, and if I’ve learned anything from this site, it’s that almost nothing applies in academia as it does in the business world :’D

      2. voyager1*

        I think your personal thank you notes are fine. I always use to email a thank you for an interview, I did not do this for my current job. I could see sending a thank you like you are doing as a good idea if the job was heavy in personalized customer service.

      3. BadWolf*

        In the context that you describe, the direct thank you note sounds like it would work well.

        At my big company, we no longer even have a central admin. So you’d have to give the note to security staff (who are contractors). At best, they might call the manager to walk over and get the note. Good intentions would be weird and clunky. But in this case, the awkwardness would probably be pretty obvious before any notes were attempted!

      4. Smithy*

        Thanks for the clarity – and again, I do think this highlights how being mindful and knowing your very specific industry or geography matters. I also used some hand written thank you notes that I mailed during a job search about seven years ago – and while I don’t think I needed to – it also was well received.

        AAM’s point about written emails being a place for more substantive comments and questions post-interview that can be answered are true. However, after recently interviewing – a lot of my thank you emails were still somewhat pro-forma.

      5. charo*

        It was a different time and place, Maggie. Some of us can remember what it was like not to even have computers at work, let alone on our phone. A lot has changed over time.

        And you may have gotten the feeling that the recipient would appreciate this. There could be a job where this attribute would be useful, too, e.g., a non-profit that sent out nicely written thank you’s to donors of household items.

        It depends on the situation.

        1. Orangie*

          I work in non-profit donor relations, and I always send a handwritten thank you note, dropped in the mail within 24 hours of the interview. But sending handwritten thank you notes is like, 25% of the job, and demonstrating that I can do them well (personal, warm, legible, timely, etc.) is a key factor in hiring. It’s something that is absolutely expected in my industry, but would be really weird in others.

    6. Slinky*

      Overzealous. To me, if I wrapped up interviewing a candidate, saw them out, and then they came back, I’d assumed they forgot something (like an umbrella). Sitting in your car and writing thank you cards would strike me as odd. It wouldn’t sway my hiring decision; if you’re the strongest candidate, I’d still want to hire you, but it definitely would not improve your chances of getting hired.

    7. Guacamole Bob*

      In addition to what everyone else has said, I think this only has a hope of working well at a certain size of company. At the 5-person nonprofit I worked at, everyone would have looked up when you came back in and it would have been kind of awkward (we might have been discussing your candidacy! the person who sat up front wasn’t at her desk every minute!).

      At the building I work in now (well, pre-pandemic) you’d be dropping it off in the lobby and the front desk would either send it to the mailroom or call up for me to come down for it as if it were a delivery. The former would be no better than mailing it and I likely wouldn’t see it for weeks as Alison said in her answer, or I’d have to make a special trip to the lobby to pick it up and would be puzzled and possibly annoyed.

      If you did this in rural areas it makes a little more sense, but many of the offices around me have security protocols that would make this annoying. The person who scans your ID and gives you a name badge as a visitor is not set up to handle hand-delivered mail, and you probably can’t get past that person to the actual company receptionist, so it just creates extra work.

    8. Smithy*

      Last time I did hand written thank you notes was about seven years ago, and they were largely well received – but I think it was relatively old fashioned then and would not recommend it now.

      I do believe the only caveat to this I would have is if you have a reliable member of your network already working there/working on that team who could advise if it’d go over well. Not just industry insight, but more narrow – i.e. after interviewing with John and Jane, would they appreciate this?

      I would in fundraising, and I’m certain industry wide there are some people who would see the charm with that kind of personal touch. But industry wide, I would not advise it.

    9. Artemesia*

      If I received these I would find them insincere and pro forma like receiving a pre-printed thank you note in an envelope I filled out myself at the shower. I truly think this is the worst option of the three i.e. 1. send written note, 2. email. 3 drop pre written note immediately with receptionist. Some people might find this impressive, but I bet most would find it off putting and canned.

      In these times with the speed of mail and the potential speed of decision making, email is the personalized approach that makes sense.

    10. Hillary*

      I’ve had an interviewee do this – at the time it struck me as odd. Did he sit in our lobby and write it? Or our parking lot? Our receptionist brought it to my office (small company) because she also thought it was odd. It didn’t help that his handwriting wasn’t great.

      Now I’m at a large company. We have a shared team mailbox for 20 people because we get so little mail – I’ve found thank you notes a month old in it.

    11. Marny*

      Unless good penmanship is a central job requirement, you’re prioritizing how pretty your cards look over sending a thank-you note that could help by making a substantive impression on the employer. I like handwritten notes too, but save them for gifts you receive or nice things people do for you. Here you’re not doing anything to help your candidacy.

    12. Yorick*

      I could kinda see a handwritten thank-you note after an interview when the interviewer(s) did something nice for you that would be unexpected (making it kind of a personal thank you note, but still kinda unnecessary) or if you want to make a connection with an individual even if you don’t get this job (so it doesn’t matter if it gets there on time or whatever). Otherwise, it’s better to take a little time to think about building on the interview conversation and then send an email.

    13. NotAnotherManager!*

      This wouldn’t even register with me in a positive or negative way. Our receptionist would put them in interoffice mail, and they’d likely show up on the final mail run or the next day (when I’d likely see it), pretty much the same as an email. I don’t hire for penmanship, nice stationary, or old school social skills, so it’d get the same consideration as people who shot me an email thank you – one read and then binned. The interview itself is a the key decision point on hiring for me.

    14. Margaret*

      I honestly feel like that would be weird as the hiring manager to receive that so soon after the interview. I don’t even know if I would perceive that to be a good thing or just creepy. I am honestly though probably saying something more about myself and my own insecurities (I would NEVER have my act together enough to do that, even if the thought occurred to me… which it wouldn’t… lol). I tend to agree that the most direct and effective thank you is a concise email on the same day as the interview.

  9. Loretta*

    Oh it’s so helpful to hear of someone else struggling with brain fog, #OP3, I always find it so embarrassing to be asked a “simple” question and not remember the answer. And I’m talking about forgetting things like what I completed the previous day, or what street our office was on. It was like my brain desperately wanted to conserve resources and jettisoned every small piece of information I didn’t currently need.

    You have my sympathy and I hope you can find strategies to work with this. I hated that people would tease me sometimes about this issue, and how unprofessional it made me look.

    1. Kiki*

      I deal with this at my job as well. I’m the main office admin at a school. It’s my job to deal with the requests of 120 teachers, the details and records of 900 students, the dozens of parents that come into the office every day, about 25 administrators above me in the hierarchy, and a handful of outside vendors.

      It is literally impossible for me to remember every single detail of everything I do off the top of my head. Once it’s crossed off my to-do list then I move on to the next thing and don’t think about the completed things ever again. I just make sure to keep meticulous notes and records for when people inevitably ask me about small details days or weeks later.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      For questions like this, I answer let’s look it up. We have a spreadsheet, I use it, and it is available for others to look up status. I use a phrase from the original habithacker: I store my brain on paper.
      I’ve only been questioned a few times, and I pointed out the volume of projects passing through my department and the all say oh of course.

      1. lobsterbot*

        yep, this seems like a great way to handle these things. We have a status log that in the beforetimes was updated with our projects daily. When asked where something is in the process, I would always say that we can look it up.

      2. Archaeopteryx*

        Yes, OP, there’s no reason to default to saying no in the moment any more than there is to saying yes. An affirmative sounding “Let me check” is much better all around.

    3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      I have terrible brain fog too! Discovering that I did actually do the job and the person requesting it is the one who zapped my email with the completed file is a common occurrence for me. I have learned to just say, let me check on that, then 9 times out of 10 I will find the work done and dusted.

      To compensate for my scatterbrain, I have devised various systems with to-do lists on paper and in my accounts log on the computer, keeping files or tabs open on my computer until they have been dealt with, alerts for upcoming deadlines on my phone and so on, that helps me keep track of stuff, and so I mostly manage to conceal my scatterbrain to clients at least.

      What’s funny is that at school, friends would always be reminding me to get homework done, and then at work, colleagues would step in and remind me of stuff in exactly the same way. I apparently carved out a reputation of “Rebel’s work is excellent, you just need to remind her to do it”. I know one especially motherly colleague was convinced I’d make a mess of freelancing, I’m rather proud of proving her wrong.

    4. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I developed weird memory problems as a result of my epilepsy meds, like I really cannot recall dates. At all. I can tell you what I did on a Tuesday but can’t remember my own anniversary. Bizarre stuff.

      Working with computer code at the time meant I’d mess up date calculations entirely. At first my coworkers thought I was genuinely losing my mind. The stress was making me forget other stuff too. Self perpetuating fog.

      It took some additional meds and a long process with the doctors to help, even though I still can’t remember dates. I think I was lucky that my coworkers came up with ways to help once I explained the problem.

    5. Elle*

      I have lupus, and brain fog is a definite side effect. Plus, I believe you’re right in thinking that Covid has not helped matters. One thing I have been trying to do that seems to help is practicing mindfulness. I’ve found many times that the reason I can’t remember I did something was because I wasn’t giving it my complete attention at the time. Now, when I am working on something, I do my best to work in the present, and not be thinking ahead or behind. It has been working well for me!

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        I think this is part of my problem. In pandemic times I usually have one ear out for what’s going on with the kids, and also my team has started using a chat program much more than we did in the office, so I generally have half an eye on email, chat, and the kids while trying to do basically anything else. Add in the normal checking of social media and the fact that the pandemic means people schedule meetings for things that would have been informal conversations in the office, and it’s no wonder I feel scattered all the time.

    6. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      I cannot remember things. I make written lists. I used to think that I had to remember things instantly when someone asked.
      I also thought I had to answer any question immediately. Like, “hey, llama groomer, if I feed the llama while i brush him, it’ll be faster.” Me: “great idea. do it.”
      Not a great idea.
      It’s OK if you pause. The person just wants the best answer, not the fastest.
      If you aren’t uncomfortable about it, they won’t be either.
      “let me check my list.”

      1. New Job So Much Better*

        Agree on lists. I can’t always remember if I finished a task if it’s pretty routine, lists help!

      2. ellex42*

        Like Allison says, once something is off my plate, it usually disappears from my mind and memory. I’ve often said so, and it hasn’t affected my job or work relationships (at least, I don’t think it has). I also can’t remember a number for more than a few seconds unless I make a particular effort to remember it – and sometimes still can’t recall it!

        There’s nothing wrong with saying, “I don’t recall off the top of my head, give me a minute to check.”

      3. PlainJane*

        I make written lists, then forget to check things off on the list, and then the list gets buried. I now live by alarms on my phone (personal life) and email (work) to remind me far enough before a due date to do something, and I turn it in as soon as I’m finished (if I have to step away in the middle, I leave it open or put in another reminder to get back to it). (Weirdly, once I turn it in, I always remember doing it and then wonder if there’s feedback or if it’s disappeared somewhere, but, you know.)

    7. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I have adult ADD. I write a lot of stuff down. If I had a $20 bill for each time I told a coworker “hang on, let me check my notes”, I’d be happily retired! Maybe it would be helpful for OP to keep a log of the assignments they have completed?

    8. Quill*

      I have a feeling that 2020, much like 2013, will end up being a year I don’t remember. (2013 was for personal reasons. Not ideal, as I was a junior in college and theoretically I passed my classes? Maybe?)

      The long term stress, and the daily inability to remember anything at all, is not helping me in any way.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Oohhh I can relate! The first 12-15 months after my youngest was born are erased from my memory. My marriage was at an all-time low point, the two kids were a lot to handle (we didn’t know it at the time, but the 2.5-year-old was on the spectrum and the newborn had ADHD… Not a great combination!), I got sick and ended up in the hospital and then got yelled at by my husband in front of everyone for having checked into the hospital… I don’t remember anything else. Somehow we packed for the US, which I know because I do remember arriving here 15 months after kid 2 was born. Everything before that is a blur. If I met any new people during that time, I apologize to them, I never had any memory of any of them and never will.

        1. Paperwhite*

          Obviously you don’t have to answer this, but I rather hope your husband apologized and made that up to you. That sounds like a spectacularly difficult time.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Thank you! He is now the ex-husband. We tried to rebuild things for another 13 years, though. I’m much happier on my own and I hope he is too! He did apologize for that incident, like 4 years later, I’ll give him credit for that.

        2. Quill*

          Yeah, things happened in my friends’ lives and my family and I am like “Sorry, was not present, formed no memories.”

          I ran a school club at the time and apparently that didn’t fall apart? I also appear to have graduated with some honors? I honestly have no clue what I did at age 21. People who spent their entire year blackout drunk every weekend remember more of their coursework than me.

    9. Wintergreen*

      My go-to response to almost every question not related to my task at hand is “I don’t remember what I had for breakfast this morning, let me look and I’ll get back to you.”

      My brain hold a lot of institutional and general knowledge but job specific recall is horrible. I always have to review the job file to remind myself on the specifics. I long ago embraced the to-do list for a reason! A task/job gets put on the to-do list because I don’t need or want it to get to long-term memory.

    10. azvlr*

      Other commenters mentioned documenting the status of tasks in some way. This is important for several reasons so I highly recommend you figure out some way to track them.
      For me, I have a spreadsheet with a tab for each project and a detailed checklist for all the tasks for each one and spaces for notes in different places. All I need to do for most tasks is put an X in cell to indicate complete.
      I also have a main dashboard page that helps me keep track of the overall statuses of all my projects. My work is repetitive and there is so much of it, so everything has become a blur.
      This tracking system has saved my ass on so many occasions when something was wonky and was not only able to show that I had done my work, but also where any why the error may have occurred.
      My tracking spreadsheet has been and probably always will be a work in progress. I even adapted it at my new job based on how I used it at my old job. I was heartbroken that I couldn’t take the old one with me, but it ended up so different that it didn’t matter. I make alterations to the format almost daily.
      I hope this is helpful.

    11. FionasHuman*

      LW3, I’m in the same boat — about pretty much everything. Ask me if I locked the door (TWO MINUTES AGO!) — and I’ll instantly doubt whether or not I locked the door. In my case, the issue isn’t so much memory as a lifetime habit of self-doubt I’m still working on. Perhaps these questions leave you feeling a bit insecure, and that emotion drives the memory from your mind?

      Also, note to the community: how can I know about responses to comments I make here? I clicked on the RSS link and got a web page full of gibberish. My concern is someone may reply in a way that invites response (not necessarily to this, but generally) and feel ignored when they don’t hear back.

    12. Stranger Than Fiction*

      Yes, I’ve been calling it “covid brain” or “quarantine brain” It’s a real thing!

      I got laid off the end of March and have found this the most difficult job search ever because I’m getting brain farts during interviews! I could just not get past the initial call with the hiring manager for months because I could not articulate myself as well as I usually can. Or, I would flat out space on the answer to something I know perfectly well!

      Thankfully, after dozens of interviews (practice!), I finally got my sh$& together and someone hired me.

    13. Lavender Menace*

      Me too! I was struggling with this before the pandemic (and I’m only 34), but it’s only gotten worse in the last few months. I’ll get up to grab something and forget what I was going to get; or I’ll open a drawer and then forgot what I was opening the drawer for. I use the wrong words for things. I swear I sent something when I didn’t, and I’ll plumb forgot I completed a list of tasks the day before and almost get started on them again. It’s driving me bananas, but it is a little nice to know I’m not alone.

  10. Hazel*

    Regarding #3: For the last several years, my memory for things like the OP mentioned has been non-existent (thank you, middle age). I have stopped worrying about it and default to something like, “I’ll double check and get back to you.” And then I do check and get back to them ASAP. No one has batted an eyelash about it. A good thing about middle age is that I have finally internalized that I don’t need to be perfect or have the right answer immediately at all times. No one expects that. But I can understand being thrown by discovering that you can’t rely on your memory like you could before.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, this. For me it’s definitely stress-related. Sometimes I feel like I’m developing ADD in my middle age, and my short-term memory is awful. My coworker and I keep a list of tasks in Excel. We do have a ticketing system as well, but that’s useless once the task is done. Updating the list is pretty automatic.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Good grief, there are ticketing systems that don’t let you look up history! ?
        No wonder some places have a rep for support reps having to repeat lengthy tests on multiple followup calls.

    2. MistOrMister*

      I don’t necessarily have memory issues (yet….that I know of!!), but the nature and volume of my work is such that I rarely remember what I’ve completed or not. Unless something was pretty big, I am unlikely to know off the top of my head if I did it or not. If someone asks I will tell them I need to look it up to see if my part has been completed. I don’t think anyone minds this. We’ve all forgotten doing something and said we didn’t only to find out we did complete it. I would find it more odd for someone to always say they hadn’t done something when they had completed it, than for them to ask for a moment to reivew it and get back to me.

      1. Arthur*

        I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.

    3. Wakeen Teapots, LTD*

      I used to have a ridiculous memory. I’m now 59. I do not.


      Compensate. I am grateful to live in a time where my laptop, phone and The Cloud can be my memory. “let me check” is your friend.

      1. Wakeen Teapots, LTD*

        I don’t ordinarily frame any issues as age related, to myself, and I don’t take the issues on board as a negative. I’m busy! I do a lot! There is a lot going on. For the most part, I manage it successfully!

        I’m very smart and clever to have developed a system where I can answer the question quickly (once I look it up). Self talk matters. :)

      2. Captain Kirk*

        I would just add that I finished reading The Shallows by Nicholas Carr and he argues that studies are demonstrating that as we use the internet more, our minds lose the ability to retain info, just because we know we can look it up. So it very well could be technology related, not age related.

    4. BadWolf*

      I agree -“Let me check and get back.” Concentrate on being someone who’s open and not sensitive to check-in requests. People are busy, priorities change. My most important thing isn’t someone else’s most important thing.

      “Good news, the notes are done, I gave them a second look and am sending them over. Thanks for checking in with me.”

    5. Mockingjay*

      I’m 56 and I think any lapses in memory are due to the sheer volume of information and tasks I am required to remember and complete at work. Work these days is so data driven. I think most workplaces produce or track more info than really needed, just because they can (or they were sold a system with bells and whistles, when they only needed a bell and a couple different rings for it).

      That’s why I insist that the project use searchable databases and task tools to track and store information and documents. If I do get an email, I tag it but don’t respond right away, until I have time to look into it. Often I’ll include a link to the stored info in my email reply, since that’s where the source is and it’s more accurate or up-to-date than my memory.

    6. Bevula*

      OP #3 – I also had a precipitous drop in short-term memory post-40. I went from being certain of every minor detail to being fuzzy, while still answering with certainty – which didn’t go well! I quickly learned to respond with something like ‘I’m pretty sure yes, but let me double-check.’

      Also – often I would be asked this question by people who could have found out the answer if they had done their own work. For instance, a partner who hadn’t bothered to check his email in days asks me if I’ve completed a task he assigned. I’d guess 90% of these kinds of questions stem from similar circumstances. With this particular person, I started responding with a humorous kind of ‘I don’t know, what does your email say?’ Which I guess is not always a good idea. But it made me re-contextualize this kind of request as ‘people often don’t check their own resources before asking you’ rather than ‘people don’t trust you, think you aren’t doing your job, are on top of their stuff while you am incapable of remembering yours.’ In case that’s helpful to anyone.

    7. not that kind of Doctor*

      I too have terrible brain fog and current stress has made it much worse. When I’m focused on a task I remember literally nothing about anything else I’ve done unless I take time to switch gears mentally, and even then I usually have to look it up. I receive most requests by email, which is helpful because then I can go check before I say anything, but in person I would still just say let me check & get back to you.

  11. Catherine*

    OP3, would a bullet journal be useful for you?

    A combination of ADHD and some other issues that affect memory mean I am absolutely bullet journal dependent. It goes everywhere with me, every task goes into it, and no box is filled in until the task is complete. When someone asks me about anything more than a day back, I just say, “let me check” and flip back a few days to track the answer down. It’s saved me on so many occasions.

    1. Nea*

      To the best of my knowledge I’m neurotypical, and I’d never get a thing done without planners & checklists.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Big same. I’m a SAHM in a pandemic and we do virtually nothing, for goodness’ sake, and I still live and die by my planner. When I’m back in the workplace, I’m going to have to have it surgically attached to my body in some way.

      2. Aquawoman*

        I’m curious if you forget that you’ve done them, though. One of the ways I figured out I had ADHD is how much I forgot that other people didn’t.

    2. EPLawyer*

      Keep Notes has saved my sanity. I used to try to hold everything in my brain — don’t forget to go to the grocery store, it’s trash night, ooooh what was that quilt pattern I wanted? Now, if I have an idea or need to remember to do something — into Keep Notes it goes. Because its Google, its across platforms. Just yesterday I saved a you tube video I wanted to watch later. I can share websites to it. Create checklists. Then instead of deleting the note, I archive it. I can label things too so it makes it easier to search.

      I actually have MORE room in my brain now for actually doing stuff and focusing because my capacity is not taken up with remembering stuff. I just have to remember one thing — check Keep. It’s not quite a bullet journal, but it works.

      1. Wakeen Teapots, LTD*

        I use the Things app. It took a few months of use to beat it in the just the shape that works for me and now I could not live without it. That was my purpose — offloading ANYTHING I had to carry in my mind, and it works.

        It’s not awesome for tracking back what has been done, though. The info is there, it’s just not an awesome way to review everything that you have done.

    3. Lynca*

      I use a combo of a physical bullet journal and OneNote. They basically overlap each other but I like having something online for work that is /just/ for work tracking.

  12. Kara S*

    To the LW forgetting they’ve done tasks — you may need to practice being more mindful in your day to day life. This means focusing only on what you are doing as you do it. Don’t be trying to multitask or have your mind wander as you’re working. My therapist suggested this to me and it helped me so much!

  13. Gem*

    Op3! Definitely track/share symptoms with a Dr. I do a lot of stuff due to the nature of my work, I often get pulled into different, unexpected directions. I’ve started keeping a to do list and a done list. The done list is for things I’ve done that aren’t on my to do list but I’ve still done. Good for keeping track of stuff and for looking back at what you’ve achieved in a week, which can be a nice mood boost!

  14. Madame X*

    Alison, this is a very minor thing but I noticed that the first sentence and the letter says “I large in a large city”

    I pretty much agree with Alison. I remember that as recently as 2017, around the time when I was transitioning out of academia and into the tech industry, I encountered career coaches who advised mailing handwritten thank you notes after interviews. Even as a job applicant at that time this bit of advice always seem to off to me since it did not reflect my experience with business correspondence. It seems like this particular myth regarding post interview thank you notes is going to take a while to die off.

    On a sidenote, I do wonder if there are any particular niche industries where this practice of handwritten thank you notes is actually very much still expected and welcome?

      1. Things That Make You Go Hmm*

        Ha, this is a great follow-up to yesterday’s question about job applicants pointing out errors. Many commenters noted that there seem to be a high number of errors in emails pointing out errors.

        In addition to the one you noted in your follow-up, your comment had “… the first sentence and the letter says…”

        Now I’m looking forward to discovering which errors I have inevitably made in this comment!

      2. Sassafras*

        I work in nonprofit fundraising. A well-written thank you note is a critical skill in my field. A handwritten thank you is still considered by many to be the gold standard of professional communication because it can help distinguish an organization to a donor who receives large numbers of impersonal, printed or emailed “form” thank you letters. It is therefore not unseemly to receive a handwritten note from an applicant. It can be a nice touch, though email is becoming more the norm.

        The issue with handwritten thank yous is mostly with promptness. A very well considered and beautiful note that arrives two weeks after the interview will not make a positive impact.

        1. Madame X*

          I could see why a handwritten thank you note would be beneficial for nonprofit fundraising. Nonprofits have to develop and maintain very good relationships with their donors.

          1. Artemesia*

            And it isn’t time sensitive — it is time sensitive in that it should arrive within the week, but not in that it should arrive within 24 hours as a job follow up should.

          2. charo*

            It’s a lovely touch for donations of used goods.

            For foundations and others donating sums of money, we would send a formal business letter but being able to send a good note would be a plus for items that the donor might have some emotional attachment to.

            1. Yorick*

              When I worked in one of those kinds of jobs, there was a formal business letter as a “receipt” for the financial donation but we also sent handwritten cards to give a more personal acknowledgement of the gift.

    1. L.H. Puttgrass*

      I’ve known one or two judges for whom a handwritten thank-you note from someone who interviewed for a clerkship would have been very well-received. Think older and/or very big on social manners and such niceties.

      But clerkships for certain judges are the nichiest of niche “industries.”

      1. interrobang*

        Yes! When I interviewed for appellate court clerkships, it was generally accepted that (1) you MUST send handwritten thank-you notes in the following day or two and (2) they had better each be tailored to the specific judge you had interviewed with (if you interviewed with multiple in the same courthouse, which is what most of us were doing) because the current clerks would literally compare the notes to see if applicants were just writing the same thing to everyone. BUT those clerkships were on a very specific hiring schedule (appellate court clerkships) and there was no risk of an offer being made before the thank-you note arrived.

  15. Drag0nfly*


    I’ve had the opposite experience from you, where all of my “real” jobs — jobs with benefits and career progression — came through networking rather than applying to a faceless computer. I’m not a Facebook user, though, so the instance had more to do with them telling me to call, or send over my resume. Applications are fine for retail or fast food-type jobs, but above that my jobs came through networking. I honestly don’t know what you consider to be the selling point of the ATS if you *know* the people in your network.

    However, I’m making a career change, so I’ve encountered ATS systems for jobs outside my network. Make sure your ATS is not guilty of the following sins:

    * If candidates upload your resume, make sure the result on your end is not a funhouse mirror version. You should be able to take PDFs, Word, .rtf files (Rich Text Format) *as is*.

    * Don’t ask for information in your ATS if it would be on the resume. Your better applicants have better things to do than to duplicate their efforts. Their resumes answer the school and work history questions, so it’s a waste of their time for you to have them repeat it. Use your ATS to ask questions NOT on a resume, such as date of availability, or if the candidates need accommodations, etc. The application process is a two-way street, so make sure to impress the candidates, not alienate them.

    * I usually send my resume and cover letter in one PDF file. Some systems allow for those to be separate files. Makes sure your ATS warns candidates whether those documents should be in separate files or one file. Some people will upload a cover letter and expect to upload a resume next, or vice versa, and they’re frustrated when it turns out only one document can be uploaded into the system.

    * Have some flexibility. That is, if you say that an applicant needs a degree in X, and the applicant *will have* the degree in X in the next six months or so, then your system should make sure that an honest candidate isn’t rejected for saying “no” to the degree question. That’s a common problem I’ve seen candidates ask about on this site.

    There are probably other considerations, but those are the biggest ones that come to mind right now.

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      Excellent points! I am experiencing ATS for the first time in my current job search (last time I was job hunting was when dinosaurs ruled the earth) and am frustrated by the limitations of most systems. I’m less bothered by having to duplicate information than by being automatically rejected because some random piece of data didn’t contain the right keyword. In one case I was asked to apply for a position and I did. Speaking to a colleague a week or so later, they said they were already interviewing and were wondering why I hadn’t applied. Turns out the system knocked me out because I didn’t enter my GPA- the field wasn’t highlighted as being required, and I graduated 30 ish years ago- so no human being at the company ever saw my application at all.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Yeah, I don’t remember my GPA, my transcript is lost in a flood, and I too see no reason for it after 30 yesrs.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        My GPA is from a different country (and is not something I am proud of). For the longest time, I didn’t even have my college diploma – it got lost in the moves. I’d just had my school restore it a year ago and my friend mailed me the new copy. Was going to get it evaluated, so the numbers are in the cloud somewhere, but Covid happened. I would’ve bombed that application.

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

        It happened twice to me. The thing is, my country doesn’t have GPA and its “equivalent” is only useful in an academic setting, so asking for it a) pointless and b) out of touch with our culture. I don’t know about applications open to international candidates, I never qualified for those.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Regarding Word & RTF — if you’re the employer and your system has a limited font set, TELL users what fonts are supported. Do be sure your font includes extended characters: names, companies, and projects are not always in English.
      Re: PDF — If you’re the applicant, always embed fonts because if not they’ll pick substitutes on the other end.

      1. Tabby Baltimore*

        @Seeking Second Childhood – Can you explain what you mean by “embed fonts” in a PDF, please? Like, how would I do that? Thanks.

        1. Tidewater 4-1009*

          I’d like to know what that means too. But I’m not going to spend hours on weird formatting. If the system can’t take a normal pdf with a common and popular font (as of February), I probably don’t want to work there.

          1. BethDH*

            It means that the font (or at least the characters you’ve used) are included in the file you send kind of like an appendix.
            You can do it by going to file>document properties (or similar sounding name — I’m not at my computer). There’ll be a box that says something like “include fonts.” I believe on mine it was already turned on by default.

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

      The last point is a deal breaker for me. If the ad says no degree is required and then I get rejected for not having an Engineering degree, what’s the point? Also, mandatory questions about race and religion should not be there. Phillips Taleo setup asked for religion an ethicity for… reasons (??), and killed my intentions of working there.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Phillips Taleo setup asked for religion an ethicity
        (gasp) WHY? is this even legal??
        Here’s to hoping the ATS apps will improve by A LOT by the next time I’m searching! Looks like they could use quite a bit of improvement.

    4. Ali G*

      These are good points. The worst ATS experience I recently (~2 years ago) had was an org that not only required that I re-enter everything in my resume, but when I had a employment gap I had to account for it! The choices were: school, unemployed, and something else that I don’t remember. It was 3 months. I was rejected because the application said 3 years minimum experience, and I didn’t have 3 years consecutive experience, but I had 10+ years experience overall. It was maddening. The system didn’t even reflect the job requirements! Who knows how many qualified job applicants were rejected.
      Good candidates will go elsewhere if they can. I didn’t even follow up to tell them their error, because seriously!

    5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      My first thought reading Letter 1 was, “Wow, I did not get a single one of my jobs by applying through ATS, and I am not looking forward to most likely having to use one in the future” (assuming I won’t retire from my current job, which is, um, unlikely).

      I briefly tried job-searching last year. I had a resume that I had rewritten following the instructions on AAM, and using a format I’d downloaded from one of the links I’d found at AAM. A friend had been job-searching for a year at that point, and offered to take a look. Was horrified, and told me to remove all and any formatting from my resume, otherwise it’d never pass through an ATS system! Just plain text (iirc, I was told even a bullet list may confuse an ATS and lead it to rejecting a resume). Hopefully it’s not the case, because that was one ugly-looking resume I ended up with after I removed the formatting.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        That’s probably not true; most ATS’s are pretty sophisticated. They can certainly handle basic formatting.

        FWIW, your friend who had been job searching for a year may not be the best source of guidance.

      2. Random Commenter*

        It totally depends on the system.
        Some ask you to cut and paste a plain text resume.
        Some ask you to upload your resume, but it gets stuck in a window with weird formatting.
        Others ask you to upload your resume and store the file as is (which is the way all of them should work in my opinion.

        Most ones that I’ve encountered make decisions based on the data entry fields, not the resume itself.

      3. Autistic AF*

        I briefly saw a job coach who told me the same thing about ATS and formatting… I had a 2-column resume and it had to be one column. She sent me a template that was such a wall of text I couldn’t read it, and when I asked her for feedback on why that template was better than mine, she (unnecessarily explained ATS to me and then ignored my follow up question asking the same thing. I dropped her when she started sending me retail openings.

        For the record, the format I use (Serif Google Docs Resume Template) IS ATS-friendly. My husband uses it as well and we’ve never had issues applying with it

    6. PG*

      I’m OP#1 – Our ATS system is incredibly easy, you have to review some information (we’re a unionized work environment and there are disclosure forms that want to know if you’re internal/external, referral by an employee, etc.), submit your CV (as a document/pdf) then your cover letter (which is optional) and then confirm your contact details, e-signature and submit your application. We tested it, and with your documents ready, it shouldn’t take more than 7 minutes.

      On the degree front, I’m limited by the covenants set-forth by our union workforce, so saying “no” to a degree won’t eliminate your application from consideration, but the report I get for each candidate will identify areas that the candidate doesn’t meet the requirements. Generally, unless you *can’t* work for us, the ATS doesn’t hide your application, we see all of them.

      But, I’m getting 15-30 LinkedIn requests per day and the volume of Facebook and Gmail inquiries has gotten out-of-hand. I have applicants from around the world hounding me, and since I wrote the letter, some have found my Skype, which was on my phone and were calling me at all hours of the night. I find it incredibly intrusive, but applicants seem to think that sendming me their application through Facebook means I will take special notice – I have to go through our ATS. I feel like people think they’re “networking” when they simply guessed my gmail correctly and sent me an unsolicited application with vague threats. Maybe it’s because of COVID, but I’ve never had people act this way during a hiring process before.

      1. Anonymous at a University*

        For what it’s worth, I’ve had people act this way when they have to apply through my university’s website to get any consideration, and I totally get that it’s exhausting. People who say that they got their jobs through networking and going around the ATS never seem to keep in mind that a) they’re not the only one doing that and b) the person they’re contacting probably doesn’t have the power to waive a bunch of requirements for a “great” candidate. (I don’t think someone’s such a great candidate if they can’t follow basic directions).

        Sorry you’re going through this, OP.

      2. laughingrachel*

        Your ATS system sounds wonderful! Like you, I’ve only gotten jobs just from applying online, my current company also had a very straightforward application process and it’s such a breath of fresh air! After I graduated college sending multiple resumes into the void all day, every day in those systems was really disheartening. Thankfully I’m done with that for the moment!

        Yeah I know a lot of people get jobs from networking, but networking isn’t the kind of cold-call, internet stalking that it seems like you’re getting. Networking is getting leads from people you ALREADY know and have an existing relationship with. That’s one of the hardest things, people get this advice to network, but if you’re in the place to need a network, sometimes it’s already too late to build it organically. The best options I can think of for formal networking are like industry mixers or organizations, but Covid has kind of put a downer on those.

        Unemployment is high so people are desperate. Desperate people getting bad advice are just compounding into a really crappy situation for you! I hope some of these scripts work and you get some peace soon!

      3. Tidewater 4-1009*

        If you’re interested in getting other documents like letters of reference, you could add an option to upload those. I’ve seen several systems that allow 4 or 5 documents – so it could be resume, cover letter, and others.
        I have a letter of reference I received from a former employer and I always include it when I can. It speaks to my strengths and will, I hope, help my candidacy.
        I’ve also seen systems where I enter the cover letter in a text box instead of uploading it. This seems more efficient in the system. :)

      4. virago*


        AKchic below has a comment with excellent suggestions about locking down your FB security settings and posting a disclaimer on your ATS site stating that any inquiries that come in through non-company channels will be disqualified from consideration for the application process.

        The same disclaimer should be an automatic reply on your LinkedIn, Gmail and personal FB accounts, too. I sympathize with people who are feeling desperate, but the entitled/GUMPTION!/borderline stalker crowd needs to know that their tactics won’t get them anywhere.

    7. periwinkle*

      The point is not the ATS, although there are an endless parade of annoying/frustrating configurations out there.

      “I honestly don’t know what you consider to be the selling point of the ATS if you *know* the people in your network.”

      The LW doesn’t *know* any of these people. Getting a job through a friend, former co-worker or mentor, professional association, or other connection is networking. Hounding a complete stranger to demand an interview is not.

      1. laughingrachel*

        EXACTLY! People who back up going around the ATS with saying, “Well, I’ve gotten all my jobs through networking, ATS is useless.” Did they really cold call the hiring manager to get the job? Or did they go to the same university so they reached out through the alumni network, or did their aunt go to high school with the hiring manager and put in a good word for them, or something?

        A total stranger guessing the hiring managers gmail and bombarding them isn’t the same thing!!!!

      2. fhgwhgads*

        Well, plus, not every company uses an ATS. So I’d be willing to bet that some of the people who think they “got around” the ATS by emailing their stuff directly to someone in their network may not have actually gone around anything. That might’ve been the normal application process in that case anyway. I think the ATS is sort of a red herring for that LW’s problem. Whether the candidates are specifically circumventing the ATS is not the reason the behavior is problematic. It’s problematic because it’s circumventing the employer’s actual hiring process: whether that be “apply on the website” or “send resume and cover letter to hiring@” or something else. Whatever the established process is, apply that way and don’t try to gumption around it. And it’s reasonable to tell people to do that, and to ignore people who persist in not doing so.

      3. Drag0nfly*

        Yes, I know what networking is. I forgot there are people who are Facebook “friends” with people they don’t actually know. I kept thinking that site was for people you *do* know, hence the comment about “people you *know*.”

        I only know the people I’ve actually met in real life, or have a connection to someone I know in real life whom THEY have seen in real life. You may define “people you know” differently than I do, but that’s my definition. With my definition, the scenario is that I tell someone I’m looking, and they tell me to send in my resume, or contact a specific person and “tell them So and So sent you.”

        These companies often have recruiters, as well as the faceless ATS. But the ATS doesn’t *rule* them or their hiring process.

        1. Drag0nfly*

          And by “recruiters” I mean their own internal recruiters, not third parties they’ve outsourced the job to. Basically the idea is that they have someone on their payroll who is actively looking for people and *networking.*

        2. Shira*

          Facebook allows you to send messages to people you don’t know/aren’t connected with on the site. I understood the OP to mean that s/he is receiving messages from total strangers.

    8. Good Wilhelmina Hunting*

      I think one of the few times I ever tried to apply via an ATS, the system stopped at the education section. It wanted all your education chronologically, from GCSEs and A-Levels through to your degree. The issue there is, I have a degree, which I was able to embark upon through a mature student route, but I do not have GCSEs or A-Levels due to circumstances beyond my control at the time (plus that would be over 30 years ago now!). Because I lacked those, whoever had programmed the system assumed that the applicant would not have any education at all, and had set the application form up to stop there if nothing was entered.

      I don’t know how much user-defined functionality these things have, but it seems they’re only as good as the organization staff who are using them to screen applications.

    9. Le Sigh*

      All of your points are good ones re: making sure the ATS is easy to use. But one reason to go outside your network? Hiring bias. If you only ever recruit from the same circles of people you know, it’s likely contributing to a lack of diverse and equitable hiring in the workplace.

      That’s not to say ATS programs solve for this and are a silver bullet, nor that people should stop networking. As someone who hires though, I have to be very mindful of reaching beyond my networks.

    10. Stranger Than Fiction*

      Agreed! Also, even though most ATS accept a PDF, they read a Word or Text document better! I kid you not, once I began uploading my resume in Word instead of PDF, I started getting more interviews. I have no proof, of course, but if not then that is sure a big coincidence.

      Another issue is sometimes they look for exact title and # of years with that title. Someone could have the right experience, but have had a different title.

      And the list could go on and on…

  16. Green great dragon*

    #3 If it would help, it’s fine to ask for more detail. My memory needs nudged – if you say ‘the document’ I have no idea, if you say ‘the one about dulcimers’ I will remember it well.

    1. Mbarr*

      LW3: It might also be that people aren’t giving you enough context when they ask for updates!

      I transferred teams recently, and I feel like an idiot half the time because either:
      a) I’m still learning, so when someone sets up a meeting with no context and just the title “Llama Grooming,” I assume they’re talking about the team’s Llama Grooming, but it turns out they wanted to talk about Departmental Llama Grooming which has completely different stats and goals…
      b) They don’t provide enough context about the report/numbers they’re talking about, because there’s SO. MANY. REPORTS. Cersei, c’mon. I just joined the team a month ago and have only run through the creating the reports once. No, I don’t remember that we changed the value of the Tea Pot report from 0.65% to 0.44%! Give me explicit instructions on which report to look at (and refer to it by its official documented name of “Tea Pot Creation Variance Report”, not just the “Tea pot report” because there are a zillion reports related to tea pots!

      … If you can’t tell, I’m ranty. LOL

      1. Quill*

        Same. I’m trying to train coworkers to refer to their requests by the ordering information, not by their product names! I don’t know product trade names, I know what’s on the legal docs.

    2. No Longer Working*

      Yes! Drove me crazy when bosses would ask “How’s that job coming?” “Release it!” “Make that correction” “That job is cancelled.” Um, which job, I’m working on a bunch. And pronouns instead of coworker’s/customers’ names. The person speaking knows what they are referring to in their head, but I’m not a mind reader. I’m juggling multiple jobs, please be more specific!

      1. JustaTech*

        I once had a boss walk by my desk early in the morning and say “Can you do the analysis of that data? I’ll need it before the end of the day.” And walked away.

        The problem was that I was currently working on 3 different projects that all had “data”, none of which had a specific end point. And now the boss was in meetings all day and there was no one else around to ask.

        When other folks did come in we were able to pool our “boss translation” abilities and realized that he wanted me to work on a completely different project owned by someone else.

        That boss had a really bad habit of speaking without using specific nouns (names of projects, objects, people; every time you should name a thing he just paused … and kept talking as though he had said it.)

    3. LW3*

      Unfortunately, it happens even with specific asks. Recently, it was “hey where I can find the Arkansas memo you wrote?” and my response was “oh my god I never wrote it” and then a cursory file check revealed a fairly thoughtful 9-page analysis memo I’d written several months ago and had no recollection of :/

  17. What's in a name?*

    Op#1 – Is your name listed as the Hiring Manager on the job ad? If so, consider removing it (and then obviously not penalising or otherwise adversely judging candidates who don’t address their cover letter correctly). That should stop a lot of the personal contact like FB, although you might still receive LI notifications.

    Also, how are your family and former employees being contacted? Where are people finding this information? Assuming it’s Facebook, then maybe temporarily disable your account.

    Mostly I hear candidates seeking help here on sleuthing techniques to identify the Hiring Manager, so the fact that so many candidates are reaching our to your personal contacts is very unusual! Good luck with the hiring.

      1. Mona Lisa*

        Yes, or perhaps the LW could temporarily change their profile name. I know several doctors who have done this while interviewing for residencies because many hospitals will try to Facebook stalk the candidates or have other residents friend them to get access to the profiles. Once they’ve accepted a position, they change their name back to normal.

        1. Quill*

          The majority of teachers have their personal social media under a different name than they’re known by in their place of employment. This way “Ms. Angela Green” can’t be facebook stalked by classroom parents when she posts a poolside picture under the name Angela Marie.

          OP may need to consider locking their social media way down and changing the display name to firstname middlename or firstname maidenname everywhere but linkedin.

    1. Mockingjay*

      Perhaps OP #1’s company can set up a generic “hiringmanager @ email. com” account. List that in the job ad instead of OP #1’s name.

    2. AKchic*

      Absolutely tighten up the security settings. If they aren’t a friend, they shouldn’t be seeing your friend list (I am a big fan of NOBODY seeing who your friends are, even if they are a friend), non-friends shouldn’t be seeing your connections, anything that isn’t your current profile picture, etc.

      I don’t even let non-friends comment on my public posts. I don’t know you, I don’t want your opinion. It might also be helpful to add a blurb on the ATS site that anyone who attempts to reach out through non-company channels will be disqualified from the application process and due to the high volume of applications, it is taking longer turn-around time.
      Whenever relatives get contacted, ask them to take a “message” as if it were a phone call, and send the information to act accordingly. I think that once a disclaimer about contacting outside of appropriate company channels has been made clear, it will drop off dramatically.

      1. virago*

        AKchic: Good points for OP 1 about tightening the FB security settings and adding the disclaimer about reading only the applications that come in through the ATS site.

        OP 1 has weighed in, under the username PG. It seems that applicants are now Skyping PG (yikes) or have guessed PG’s Gmail address and are submitting their resume that way with “vague threats” (double yikes). Although I feel for the applicants who are desperate to find work, these GUMPTION!/stalking measures are not OK.
        A quote from PG to give you a hint of what’s going on:

        “I’m getting 15-30 LinkedIn requests per day and the volume of Facebook and Gmail inquiries has gotten out-of-hand. I have applicants from around the world hounding me, and since I wrote the letter, some have found my Skype, which was on my phone and were calling me at all hours of the night. I find it incredibly intrusive, but applicants seem to think that sendming me their application through Facebook means I will take special notice – I have to go through our ATS. I feel like people think they’re ‘networking’ when they simply guessed my gmail correctly and sent me an unsolicited application with vague threats. Maybe it’s because of COVID, but I’ve never had people act this way during a hiring process before.”

  18. duckduck*


    Put on the ad ‘please do not contact us outside of the formal hiring process.’ Lots of people are advised on career websites to find work arounds so you need to explicitly tell people not to do it.

  19. Finland*

    LW2, I’m assuming the firm has run out of Black employees they can ask . I’m pretty sure that the husband’s employer knows that there’s a signed NDA in place. If they really cared about bridging relations, they would communicate directly to him that the NDA is null-and-void, and offer him a sizable payment for his time and for the damage to his reputation. He’s probably neither the first employee, nor the last, to exchange a signed NDA for severance. If he chooses to communicate with his former employer, the very first thing I would advise is to mention that there is an NDA in place and watch for how they respond. If they are cagey about it and don’t initiate dissolving it (whether or not he chooses to speak to them), then, to me, they would be full of it.

  20. Becky S*

    Re: OP#3 – we all have better memory for ‘to be completed’ tasks than we do for completed ones. It’s how our brains work. I used to tell my manager ‘I must have finished that, because I’m not thinking about it anymore. She was a nightmare to work for in general, but understood that comment.
    Allison, this is my first time commenting but I read AAM every day and recommend it to others. :-)

    1. Anon234*

      This is totally right!

      OP 3 this simply shows your brain is doing its job correctly. Your brain should be digesting stuff which has already been processed.

      Im someone with a pretty high-powered job which involves jumping into high-detail tasks. And I can hold my hands up and say I can’t remember jack about that thing I worked on in detail last week.

      Because of this, I rely really heavily on tracking work in a super detailed spreadsheet and saying ‘let me check on that’. My boss, who is unbelievably highly qualified tends to laugh and throw her hands up when asked to recall details and admits that if the file isn’t in her hands she can’t give a good answer. It’s refreshing for management to admit that!

      OP3 – you are normal!

  21. Tiffany Hashish*

    OP #2’s husband’s company needs to hire a DEI consultant on a long-term contract stat – a DEI firm owned and operated by Black folks.

    1. Sara without an H*

      +1000. Of course, that would assume the company was serious about improving DEI, not just performing “sensitivity” for public consumption.

  22. Harper the Other One*

    OP1: not related to hiring, but my name appears as an author on social media posts for my company, which many people want to be featured in. I have no decision-making role regarding what gets featured; all I can do is direct people to the correct email, which gets 100+ pitches a day. In recent months, the volume of people tracking down my work email, my LinkedIn, and my personal email has skyrocketed, and I will tell you honestly that replying is not going to change the cranky responses. If you don’t reply, you get the “stop ignoring me” messages, and if you do reply, you’ll start getting “I submitted and I haven’t heard anything” messages.

    I hate feeling like I’m ignoring people but I have come to the conclusion that I have to. If their messages disappear into the ether, people typically only message once or twice. But I have had some extremely persistent and very unpleasant contact with people who got a response from me, who now know someone is definitely seeing their messages. I wish a cut and paste reply of “please submit on our website” would address the issue for you, but I don’t think it will.

    1. Hi there*

      I hear you on the crankiness. When I was hiring I tried to send the nicest note possible that I could only review materials received through the hiring system. I also turned down most requests to answer questions about the position. Towards the end I was getting a bit cranky too!

    2. schnauzerfan*

      I have a mail box that I manage for a similar account. It autoresponds that “this is an unattended email. Please contact x@email for this and y@email for that.

      I do read thru some of the messages, because sometimes there are actual good things there, but no one can say they didn’t get a response…

  23. Nea*

    OP #3,
    It has long been my opinion that the attitude that you HAVE to remember every detail of everything at all times is ridiculous. I have yet to see any efficiency expert insist on memory alone as The Right Way To Work, and yet casual office culture keeps assuming it is.

    Write. It. Down.

    How you write it down is up to you. Phone app, spreadsheet, bullet journal, whiteboard, post-it notes moving along a kanban board – the fact that there are so many task trackers out there shows how normal and necessary written task tracking is. Find the one you like, stop worrying & apologizing, and just look whatever you need up.

    1. Allonge*

      This, x1000!
      My memory is great. But if I use it to juggle 3,000,000 random facts, I will miss things. So: my tasks are marked in Outlook, unless there is a specific tracking system for something. I create checklists for repeating projects. And I say “oh, I am fairly sure we have (done) X but let me check” all the time.

      Remembering things well is handy but forgetting stuff (especially Done status stuff!) is not a moral failing.

    2. Emilia Bedelia*

      Seconded! My favorite organizational method is the Getting Things Done method, which advocates for using your action items list to keep track of everything so that your brain doesn’t have to. The author literally says “There is no reason to think a thought twice, unless it is a thought that you enjoy having”, which I love. OP, if all your work is getting done, there is no need to devote more brain space to knowing the details – keep your completed to-do lists handy and don’t worry about it.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Akso? Save record of the completed tasks. If nothing else you’ll want to be able to confirm when you completed something if there is a project snafu.

    4. Risha*

      I keep my To Do list in excel, with an Open and Completed tab. I track pretty much everything I do on a given day on there, including answering random questions or taking a couple of hours for a dentist appointment. On the first of the month I save last month’s Completed list off, so that I always have it available for reference.

      It’s invaluable information for not only telling you you’ve finished something, but also helping track your time, giving you a rough date to start digging through your old email or IMs for more info about an item that’s come up again, answering manager questions about what you were working on during a particular timeframe, writing your yearly performance review (or updating a resume), etc.

    5. Parenthetically*

      Love this comment.

      One reason I love my physical planner is that it serves as a flip-through-able record of things I’ve finished as well as a to-do list.

      1. Cassie*

        I keep a paper “done” log (like a planner, but I list the stuff I complete or work on, rather than what I plan or need to do), along w/ a log on Google Sheets. There’s just something about paper that I love and it works great for looking up recent stuff that was completed. Case in point, holding the phone w/ one hand, flipping through the notebook w/ the other – “oh, yes, I did submit your request – two Fridays ago. I thought I emailed you, but apparently I didn’t”.

        Looking up stuff that was completed weeks or months ago doesn’t work quite as well on paper – I could flip through it, but there’s a chance I’d miss it – much easier to just use some digital format that lets you search that way. One downside of digital (in my example above) is that I couldn’t quite do a search in Google Sheets at the same time I was talking to the person on the phone – I mean, I could type w/ one hand but there was just something about talking and typing at the same time that I knew I wouldn’t be able to do. (Of course, I could have put them on hold for a moment, but it was just easier to look through the notebook).

  24. jcarnall*

    LW2 “My husband left the company after experiencing racial slurs and casual racial comments on a daily basis. (The managing partner once asked him why Black people didn’t enunciate.)”

    I’m a lesbian. I’ve had issues with homophobic/sexist slurs and comments in the workplace, and I wouldn’t go back, unpaid, to any company that treated me that badly when I was an employee, to explain to them why working there was particularly horrible. I think even replying to an impertinent request like this is too much emotional labour to be worthwhile, because they will not change and I’m sure your husband knows it – and as for attending a forum to discuss how their institutional bigotry made working there dreadful, no, I would not go.

    But I suppose one could compose an educational letter to them, on the lines of:

    I will attend your forum on two conditions. First, that you rescind the NDA I signed when I left the company that prohibits me from talking about the racist abuse I received when I worked there. That would indicate to me that the company has a sincere wish to change, and therefore has no objection now to its former employees talking publicly about what a racist place it was, since you now have a sincere and provable intention to change this.

    Also: You will pay me for the forum time, per hour, rounded up, plus preparation time: I would regard this as guest speaker work, for which my usual fee is (so much) per hour. Under no circumstances will I engage in your forum for free: I feel that you will value and act on my input if you know you are paying for it. I suggest you do the same for all the former black employees you are inviting to this forum, whether or not it has occurred to them to ask for the fee.

    1. Blackcat*

      Yup, all of this!

      A release from the NDA and compensation would show it matters to them.

      As the “Blackcat has Black collaborators” (I’m in academia) member of various groups, I have been asked to relay requests to my Black collaborators/friends to do some type of diversity workshop thing. For free. Just because they’re Black and in our field, and not because they do DEI workshops for a living. It is bonkers.

      I am frequently told 1) it is of great importance to hear Black voices yet 2) there is absolutely no funding to *hire BIPOC who do DEI consulting for a living.* There are people who do that! FOR A LIVING. The complete unwillingness to budget to pay people for their time in educating others shows exactly how little they actually value this work.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        There are people who do that! FOR A LIVING.

        There sure are – my company secretly hired a black woman with her own DEI consulting firm, a masters from Johns Hopkins, and who worked for NASA a few months back. She’s now leading our DEI group to help us implement initiatives within our organization, and I signed up to be one of the people who will champion these policies (once they’re agreed to) within the company.

        1. Blackcat*

          Yeah, particularly in STEM, there there are folks who were pushed out due to racism/sexism/homophobia/etc/all of the above who end up doing DEI consulting.

          My question is, though, why did the “secretly” hire her? Why not give her public credit for the work?

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            When I said “secretly,” it was because they hired her around the time the protests began, but didn’t make a public statement about black lives mattering, which I appreciated since in the US, our company maybe has, like, five black employees. That would have been incredibly disingenuous to me coming from them, even though I’ve been treated very well here personally. They also didn’t tell us that they were looking for ways to improve minority (mainly black) hiring and that they reached out to a consultant to help come up with strategies for not only how to hire black people, but also how to retain them.

            When I said she’s now leading our DEI efforts, that means they have given her credit for her work and they are having her facilitate all of our DEI meetings and initiatives. We’ve all met with her, and we have over 80 people within my company that have signed up to work with her on this (including myself).

              1. Diahann Carroll*

                They’re trying at least. It’s a start. The C-Suite is apparently 100% on board with this, so we’ll see.

      2. SMH*

        OP #2 Yes get a release from the NDA and then post their letter on line and state exactly how you were treated while at said company and oh by the way John is still working, no damage to his career/reputation.

  25. Mannheim Steamroller*


    That is exactly how my resume has looked since 1989. I have spent 31 years not just with the same public agency but with the same multi-faceted department. I started as fresh-faced 20-something “analyst trainee” in the Winking unit, then moved into Blinking with progressive promotions before shifting fears into Nodding. Now I’m Deputy Director of Winking, Blinking, and Nodding.

  26. Jennifer*

    #2 Personally, I’d love the opportunity to tell a former racist employer exactly what I thought of them, how all of my complaints about racism were ignored when I worked there, and why I thought their request was ridiculous.

    But I also understand the urge to ignore it and delete. It would totally depend on how I felt that day. I full of fire today.

  27. Euphony*

    OP 3 I’d also suggest joining a support group for whatever medical condition(s) you have, as I know from personal experience that sometimes what doctors consider standard treatment might not be optimal for you. Particularly if you have Vitamin B12 deficiency or hypothyroidism. A support group can really help with details on treatment options and coping strategies.

  28. Cap Hiller*

    For LW#3–when colleagues ask you this, is it standard procedure for them to ask you or is it just easier for THEM to ask you instead of checking their email or the document? I’m in a job where there’s just a lot of tasks and incoming and information etc., and one part of my job is to edit someone else’s work, which are one-page writings on different topics. It’s a required part of my job, but not the main part of my job, if that makes sense.

    So when that coworker asks if I had taken a look at the writing about x topic, and I don’t think I have any outstanding, my answer is “I’m pretty sure I edited it and sent it back to you. Let me know if I didn’t.” This writing is on my colleague’s mind, and it’s faster for them to ask me than to check their email. Which is fine, except my work is done here! It costs me time to double check my email just because my colleague doesn’t want to check theirs.

    1. hbc*

      That was my initial thought too. If there’s a document that has my edits, and a person who needs my edits, the quickest path should be going to where that document is located and opening it up, or them checking their email for the file, or any number of things besides relying on the memory of the person you’re asking. If this is happening a lot for something as traceable as a document, this is more of a process problem than a memory problem.

      And yeah, if 95% of the time “I can’t remember doing it” = “I did it and put it out of my mind,” then OP needs to change the answer. “Pretty sure, there’s nothing on my to-do list for this.” Even better: “I think so, why do you ask?” If there’s a pattern to the answers, OP might be able to figure out the best way to prevent these questions. Emailing when done rather than dumping it in a shared drive that no one uses, renaming a file to indicate comments have been made, telling the inquirer to please assume that you’ve got everything covered unless they hear otherwise from you, etc..

      1. Rachel in NYC*

        OP 3- I take a medication that makes you forgetful (it’s literally in the nickname for the medication.) I use these kind of response a lot- typically just a ‘let me look into this and get back to you.’

        1. Mockingjay*

          Are you me? My project lead wants me to text him morning noon and night to remind him that he’s been assigned a task. How about you click “My Tasks” instead? Your entire list displays.

          (No I don’t text him. The agency provided a tracking system for project leads to manage their tasks and route work. It’s not a glamorous system but it works well. The other project leads use it just fine.)

          1. Quill*

            Nah, it’s not my boss, it’s my overseas colleagues, and I have to do an interpretive dance every so often called EVERYTHING I KNOW IS WRITTEN ON THE TRACKER.

    2. Kelly L.*

      Yeeeuuup. I work with several people for whom asking me is a substitute for Googling, searching their own email, looking at Sharepoint, or looking at our website. Just the other day, “Did you update XYZ on the website” instead of looking at the website to see what was there.

  29. Forrest*

    >>the company wants to do the “hard work of having candid conversations with employees and former employees”

    The hard! work! is being done by your former employees! and you should be paying them for it! Oh my GOD!

    We are having this argument at my work at the moment: senior management wants to see Progress on EDI, especially on race and ethnicity, and has made lots of noises about how important it is. But the absolute bare minimum for EDI should be that you assign BUDGET to it and PAY people for their labour. If we could get this principle enshrined, it would be a start!

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      The idea that black folks should work for free goes all the way back to slavery. Some white folks haven’t gotten past that mindset yet.

    2. Parenthetically*

      This entire freaking comment!! “hard work” made me physically grit my teeth in rage. Like throw the whole company away.

    3. AKchic*

      I mean it must be so hard listening to former employees talk about you in less than effusive praise when they aren’t getting paid to be nice to you, when you didn’t offer to pay them, after they have left the company for most likely the very reason you’ve asked them to speak about. Why can’t anyone understand just how difficult it is for the c-suite in this difficult time? /end sarcasm

  30. Dagny*

    LW2: whether or not it is easy for former employees to write about traumatic experiences at the company, there is an excellent reason for asking former employees: elimination of survivor bias.

    If a company only asks current employees about their experiences, they are asking people who have either not gotten fed up enough to leave or are in a healthier and less discriminatory division. Those surveys are not actually anonymous (answers can be easily traced back to the employee), which means current employees are also hesitant to answer honestly. This comes up even in exit interviews, where departing employees are reluctant to be forthcoming about their reasons for departing.

    Asking former employees ensures that if discrimination is bad enough to cause them to leave the company, they are included in the group. Otherwise, you risk excluding exactly the people whose experiences are the worst.

    I would also consider that if the company does this survey and gets no negative feedback, it could potentially use that to defend itself in a discrimination suit. “Look, we asked all of these people and the only people who answered said there were no problems!”

    1. Paperwhite*

      I would also consider that if the company does this survey and gets no negative feedback, it could potentially use that to defend itself in a discrimination suit.

      This still puts the responsibility on the Black employees and ex-employees, rather than on those running the company. At the least, if the company will truly value what ex-employees tell them (which is a really huge if) they should compensate the ex-employees for their work, because that’s what this is. It isn’t about if it’s easy or not. What’s being asked for is actual work.

  31. hbc*

    OP2: I think I would go with something like, “The racist environment at Acme was so bad that I was unwilling to continue to get money in exchange for helping Acme achieve its goals. Consider this email the maximum unpaid labor I’m willing to provide. Otherwise, the paperwork related to my resignation and NDA should be helpful.”

  32. 867-5309*

    OP1, I use the response below when responding to candidates on LinkedIn, which I grabbed from a similar questions someone asked Alison before. I’m also experiencing a significant influx in requests through LinkedIn and it can be tough to keep up, so I wouldn’t feel bad if you can’t respond to everyone or it takes several days.

    We’ve found that the best way to get to know people and explore things on both sides is to use the formal hiring process we’ve set up, but of course I’ll be glad to talk further if we move forward.

    The best first step is to apply through …

  33. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #3 – as I’ve gotten older, I forget things frequently. If I don’t write something down I won’t remember it. I use my inbox as a to do and also keep a notebook with written notes. There are times when I can’t remember if I’ve done something if it’s been a while, and generally out of sight means out of mind. I work with someone like this (to the extreme). She’s beyond busy and multi-tasks ALL THE TIME, especially on meetings which can be super frustrating. She’s a manager, and is one to just “do it herself” because it’s easier than delegating or letting others do their job. She works harder instead of smarter.

    So while I don’t think the issue isn’t that big of a deal, make sure your way of completing tasks works best for you and can be kept track of easily. And if you do a lot of multi-tasking, maybe step back and find a better way to finish your work and stay organized so your head isn’t in 10 different places at once.

  34. Emi.*

    I think you can safely assume that any for-profit entity that describes themselves as “doing the work” in an email asking black people to do unpaid work for them is blowing smoke.

  35. No duh*

    #2 – I am so tired of the back-ass order that organizational change uses. You don’t START by collecting the data. You START by learning about what is already known (read the NDA!). Go read up about how it SHOULD be and only THEN do you try to collect pointed, useful information to fill in the gaps. All of you businesses out there – this is NOT ROCKET SCIENCE.
    – treat people well
    – treat people the same
    – require basic courteous behavior from all your employees toward each other and toward clients
    – put policies and procedures in place for when this does not happen and FOLLOW them
    Forums and focus groups and conferences and surveys … just stop.

  36. Leslie Knope*

    LW #4: My organization has a screening system for physical mail that takes weeks. Most staff don’t receive much physical mail, so like Alison says we usually don’t check for weeks/months. The cumulative effect is that nobody would see a physical thank-you note in a timely manner.

  37. LadyByTheLake*

    I’m going to provide a contrasting position on Letter 2. When I started my career I worked at a law firm that had a serious sexism problem. Women left in droves and the firm always got the lowest marks satisfaction from women attorneys. Something (I don’t remember what) triggered some introspection and the firm hired a consultant to reach out to women who had left, correctly judging that those of us who were still there would not be willing to be candid. The women who had left provided a lot of information about what was wrong and the terrible experiences that they had had and the report was provided to the firm. They were shocked, shocked I say (yes, I know — news to no one but them) to hear how awful the firm was for women. But then they changed. Seriously changed — it wasn’t just some lip service training and it didn’t change overnight — it was hard work undertaken over the course of years and the firm now repeatedly scores among the industry leaders as a great place for women to work. And all because the women who left were willing to be interviewed and were candid about their experiences. I agree that anyone who participates should be compensated for their time, but I will be forever grateful to those women who were willing to take the time to help make it better for those of us who came after.

    1. Forrest*

      >>I agree that anyone who participates should be compensated for their time

      This shouldn’t be a subclause, or a “but”, though–“we will pay everyone for their time and labour” should be a starting point.

      It might have been less widely recognised when your company did its exercise, but the principle that participating in EDI and organisational change is labour and should be paid is *so* well established and widely discussed in 2020. A company that starts by asking its former employees to contribute to its improvement without confirming that this is paid work showing that it hasn’t done its basic research: it’s the same level of disrespect as an “informational interview” that starts with “so, uh, what is it that you do then.” It’s just showing that they haven’t put in the basic work.

      Never mind the fact that they also have institutional knowledge in the form of the NDA that this person has signed, and the problems and barriers he faced. It’s literally showing that they are NOT doing “the hard work”: they are relying on the former employees that they have pushed out to do the hard work.

    2. Jennifer*

      I do get where you’re coming from. I think that the situation at the OP’s husband’s company is a bit different because they clearly know it’s a problem and have for a while, if not they wouldn’t have made him sign an NDA.

      With your firm, it seems they truly had no idea. Which I know is infuriating, but some people really do seem to just have blinders on when it comes to this sort of thing.

      I think the company needs to show some good faith here by doing their research and starting to make some changes on their own, even if that means terminating some of the worst offenders. Once the POCs that are still there, if any, see the changes, perhaps they will believe the company is sincere. Now it just looks like lip service.

    3. Anononon*

      But there should have been no reason for the company to need the information from the women who left. As you said, it was obvious why they did. The company could have made all of the changes it did without talking to these women.

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        For reasons that remain completely unclear to me, it was NOT obvious to The Powers That Be (including women in power at the firm). They knew that women were leaving. They knew that women were unhappy. Some of them knew that women were leaving with NDCs. The firm had been SUED (but they had won because the proof was too difficult). But the vast majority of the partners were all sitting there thinking that women were leaving because women were making the choice to prioritize family, or that women had “misunderstood” the “rough and tumble” of BigLaw or [insert blinders-on-full excuse here.] It wasn’t that the firm was a bad place for women, it was that women weren’t a good fit for the firm! It wasn’t until the women who had left met with the consultants and told their stories and those stories were shared with all of the partners (not just a few who filtered the message) that their eyes were opened. Many of them had no idea that people were being let go with NDCs! Again, they were shocked, shocked I say. My boss even had me come in on my day off so he could tell me that the firm had a problem with sexism! He thought it would be news to me (it wasn’t).
        Is that right? No. Were the issues freaking obvious? Yes. Should POC or women or LGBTQ people have to do the work? No. None of this is fair. None of this is right. None of this is how it should be. But in my example, the willingness of the people who were out of harm’s way to speak openly made a huge difference for the people who came after — it removed the ability of the partners to hide behind their intent to do well and instead face up to their actual actions (or inaction).

        1. hbc*

          I think you *can* get that information from the outside, but a good consultant still should have been able to gather the data from what they had available–I mean, there was that lawsuit and all. You don’t need to have enough proof for a jury to say, “Well, this woman said that A and B and C happened, how about showing how you’re sure that she’s wrong?”

          Though it sounds like your consultant did an excellent job of making it easy for those who left to engage. I’d have a 10 minute conversation/rage dump about the nightmare of my last company. In the OP’s case, the ex-employees are being asked to attend a *forum.* That’s madness.

  38. Summersun*

    #2 Not remotely the same, of course, but the closest I had to this experience was being asked to return to my school to discuss “starting out in the real world” with rising seniors. I went at considerable time and expense, because I was no longer living in the area. The second I opened my car door after parking, a security guard was in my face, yelling that I didn’t have a permit for that lot and going on a tangent about women drivers. After restarting my dumbfounded brain, I just closed my door and left. Nobody from the alumni office ever contacted me again.

    Remembering the simmering rage I felt on the way home…with how your husband’s experience is so exponentially worse, I’m surprised his blood pressure didn’t turn his eyeballs into projectiles.

  39. La Otra Evil HR Chica*

    I am EXACTLY like LW3… as soon as I finish something, I put it out of my mind. I’ve solved it by writing down all my tasks and checking them off as I finish – because I don’t trust my brain for beans! If I can look down and see the task in question checked off, I can answer a colleague on the spot. If not, I default to Alison’s answer.

    1. LW3*

      Glad to hear I’m not alone! I do the checklist when I know there will be status check meetings and it works great. The issue is when it’s more casual/unexpected references, like “hey what did you think of those interview transcripts, pretty interesting huh?” and I’m like “???” only to find I already read them and used them for a report last week.

  40. Ali G*

    #5, I was at my first job for 8.5 years and had many titles (so, so, many titles). The more important thing, than listing all the titles, it to show progression in the company, and that your accomplishments contributed to the success of the company more and more over time. I use the last title I had and 2-3 others and do a hybrid of what Alison recommends, since a couple title changes weren’t really in line with big changes in my duties. So, something like this:
    Director, Llama Hugging Programs
    *Lists accomplishments
    Senior Manager Llama Grooming
    *lists accomplishments
    Llama Program Coordinator/Manager
    *Lists accomplishments

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

    #3 I would definitely use Alison’s script. This is going to work great for you especially if you’ve got a lot a documents that are sent to you for you to look at.

    1. Summersun*

      Often people in marketing, social media, etc., run their company’s LI account, which is treated differently from an individual’s LI account.

  42. Interviewing in Seattle*

    LW#4 – Before going to LinkedIn, here’s what I’ve done in the past if you don’t have an email address. Write the thank you note to the interviewer, then couch it below a note to the recruiter (or whoever contacted you to set up the interview) and ask that they please forward on your behalf. The recruiters also seem to appreciate this, as they get to see how I (the candidate) am following up.

    But if you have an email address for the interviewer directly, that’s always the first choice.

    1. Snark no more!*

      Here’s a thought. You received some sort of electronic notification of the virtual interview, yes? It’s likely still on your calendar. Open that appointment and see who else was invited. If the invitees match your interviewers, you have their emails!

      Or, if the calendar invitation came from an Admin, that person would likely be amenable to providing email addresses.

  43. Mizzle*

    For OP1: Consider drafting a standard response that you can use as a reply. (Don’t customize – if its blandness discourages further communication, that’s a feature, not a bug.) You may be able to save it as an email template, or just store it as a text file that you can copy/paste from.

    I used this method when people bypassed the official system to contact me directly, and it really helped to both reduce the time I spent on the requests and also the frustration. “Oh, another one? Copy, paste, enter.” Do they persist? “Copy, paste, enter.” The repetitiveness will clue them in if nothing else does.

    (In case it wasn’t obvious, I consider this to be obnoxious behavior, so I don’t bother to be particularly polite.)

  44. Georgina Fredricka*

    I feel you #3. I work on a lot of writing that overlaps topic-wise, and I’m constantly working on stuff so asking me about a sentence in an article I wrote 3 weeks ago will result in a total blank. I’ve used the phrase “that’s a good question…….. let me check” way too many times.

    Personally I try to get everything sorted into a process b/c I’m not a big fan of people asking questions – in the sense that they will ask me the same thing 3 times and it gets a little frustrating. If you have a clear progression in a Trello board, though, it’s easier to gently push toward that. “Did you finish X so that I can look at it?”
    “Hm, is it in the ‘finished’ category on Trello? Let me check – yes.”

    1. Georgina Fredricka*

      to clarify: I’m fine with many questions, but this specific type of “have you done this?” question can be handled with a clear hand-off process.

  45. NewYork*

    LW1 — many of the automated systems ask FAR too much information and discourage applicants. Asking salary history or even range of salary expected can be discriminatory. You might want to review the questions and see if a resume can just be uploaded.

    1. Quill*

      Also have a look and make sure the system doesn’t time out if you have to run off to the restroom, answer a phone call, or deal with your kids / pets needing attention while completing it. Too many systems automatically time you out of an application in five minutes or less.

    2. Anonymous at a University*

      I mean, sure, but that doesn’t change anything about the people hounding them on social media. That’s still unacceptable regardless of what the ATS looks like. And even if the ATS was the crankiest thing in the world, you don’t make yourself look better by sending a message to someone who has to use that ATS to filter candidates and then being cranky yourself if you don’t get the perfect response.

  46. Shir*

    I have a similar situation to #5, but my various jobs/titles have been in significantly different departments within the company, and many overlapped. I started (very part time) as a college student in a small role, then over the next couple years began working in a few more departments, before eventually becoming full time as a manager a couple years ago. Because there’s no linear progression or distinct separation of dates for each position, I can’t quite figure out the best way to list everything. I have a ton of experience throughout the company, but some of the earlier roles wouldn’t necessarily be relevant to jobs I’d want to apply for now, so I wonder if I need to list everything. But I wouldn’t want to just list the most recent/relevant positions and imply that that’s what I’ve been doing all along.

  47. OyHiOh*

    LW #1 – it is possible that people are reaching out to you because they are desperate and/or GUMPTION. It is equally possible that your ATS program is doing things you don’t realize. Put some likely false scenarios through your ATS and see what happens (like doesn’t have a degree/does have strong experience, has a career gap, has cumulative experience but not consecutive, etc). Also, at the end of the ATS program, make it clear what the expected next steps are, even if that’s simply “don’t call us, we’ll call or email in 2 to 3 weeks.”

    I just got hired after a year of job searching. In all truth, I eventually stopped applying places using ATS programs. I searched off Indeed, and started looking for those with “easy apply” notation – cover letter, resume, sometimes a question or two the hiring manager had customized in the system. A few times, “easy apply” got me a “thank you for your interest, please go to our website and and apply for real in our ATS system” email and I just didn’t bother. ATS systems make HR functions more efficient, they can gather useful data that reveals implicit bias, they place a firewall between job seekers and your hiring managers. But most of the ATS programs I’ve seen are also poorly designed to accommodate any sort of deviation from what someone decided was industry norm, they are unreasonably time consuming (can auto fill from resume please become standard!) and don’t clearly explain timelines for contact after an application goes into the system.

    LW #4 – skip the hardware, use email. Get comfortable asking for your interviewers email while wrapping up the conversation. They’re expecting to be asked, in most places. Part of good fit is understanding business norms, and currently, that means an emailed note.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      In all truth, I eventually stopped applying places using ATS programs.

      I’ve come to a similar place. The extra mile has been been abused long enough, and ghosting candidates is so acceptable, that I have a very finite level of unrequited effort I’m willing to put into a job posting.

      All the fancy systems and artificial requirements do is limit and lower the quality of candidates. People who have better things to do with their time… will.

      1. virago*

        Just went back and looked at PG’s comment. They’re getting 15-30 requests a day just from LinkedIn. “The volume of Facebook and Gmail inquiries has gotten out of hand.”

    2. virago*

      OP 1 has commented, as PG, and says that they’ve tested their ATS and that it takes 7 minutes to complete the application process if the applicant has their resume handy. And apparently, an applicant is not removed from consideration if they do not have a degree.

      True, PG might be overstating the speed and scope of their ATS. And it is for sure that many ATS platforms are ass-achingly slow. I bet PG is swamped with ATS applications, too.

      But dealing with all the people trying to circumvent the ATS won’t speed up the process. PG says that 15 to 30 inquiries a day are coming in to their FB, LinkedIn and personal Gmail. (Though PG didn’t publicize their Gmail address, some applicants have guessed it. Boundaries, yo.) And since this job opening is of interest to people in other countries, overseas applicants have called PG’s Skype — which is on PG’s work phone — at all hours.

      I recognize that many employers take advantage of high unemployment to be the biggest assholes that they can be, but in this situation, “hounding” really does seem to be the right word for what the person accepting the job applications is experiencing.

  48. windsofwintergreen*

    LW2 is an “eff you, pay me” situation. I’m black. I am not going to sit through some BS dog and pony show where I know deep in my heart that anything I contribute will most likely be roundly ignored by the people with power to change things, for free. This screams to me that they simply don’t have any black employees left, and likely that all the ones they used to have left due to the hostile environment. Depending on the need for a reference from them in any time in the near future, I would pull from the pettiest depths of my soul and send an invoice for my Black Consultancy fees as a response. And it would be expensive. Because this mess is exhausting.

  49. MCMonkeyBean*

    For #3 definitely stop telling people you haven’t done something unless that’s also often true. Try to get in the habit of responding in the moment with “let me check real quick” and then let them know as soon as you have a chance (and if you haven’t done it yet, then maybe give them an estimate of when you think you could get it to them).

    I also think you might be being too hard on yourself. If someone told me they hadn’t done something, then emailed me and said “actually it looks like I had already done that after all!” I think the main thing I would be thinking/feeling is just glad that it has already been done.

    Are you having this conversation with the same people or with different people? I guess if I had that same interaction with you a bunch of times in a short period I might start to think it was a little odd, but if you’re having this interactions with a few different people so that no one person has it happen more than a couple times in a period of a few months then I feel pretty confident suggesting they have likely never even thought twice about it.

    And definitely don’t feel bad for forgetting about something that was important to someone else. For one thing, everyone would expect that you would care less about their own stuff than they do! That’s totally normal. And for another thing, this is work so it’s not like these things are important to them on a deep personal level.

    1. LW3*

      Thank you for this nice outside perspective, it made me feel better. And yes, I think the first thing to work on is not assuming if when I don’t remember doing something, it means I didn’t do it at all.

      1. A lawyer*

        Hi LW3, I just wanted to let you know I have trouble remembering things I did two days ago, and I DON’T have a medical issue that might explain it (not to my knowledge anyway). It’s just a thing that happens when you have way too much crap to do. My go to answer when someone asks me is, as advised, “give me a second to check, I’m not 100% sure.” And it works and people accept that, because they often also have way too much crap to do so they get it. I agree with the poster above, you’re being too hard on yourself.

  50. HailRobonia*

    In my dream world a company that is asking Black employees or former employees to provide feedback and advice would pay them consulting fees.

  51. Beth*

    LW #3: I’ve taken to referring to the current brain fog as “Covid fugue”. I’ve had terrible problems with it over the last few months — it’s getting better, but I’m still struggling. I have to keep way more notes than I used to, and master the art of saying “Let me check up on that and get back to you.”

    1. charo*

      Yes. It’s not just Covid either — this is a very stressful time in many ways. I won’t list them but we know. It reminds me a little of the Sixties, there’s an energy at street level that doesn’t seem understood by those at the top. And they may underestimate it, but we know the power that confronted the war and forced a president to resign.

  52. Bookworm*

    LW2: Yikes. Would say that despite the repercussions, it might be far better that your husband left. I’m sorry.

    Dear companies: don’t do this. Don’t make your Black employees (or IPOC) do this work. PAY them. There are consultants who do this work and can work with you on this. Sheesh.

  53. Moonbeam Malone*

    LW3, I’ve had some memory issues due to ongoing health problems for a while now. It’s easy to lose perspective on what “normal” people can and can’t remember! Truth is, most people don’t have perfect recall, and if you stay organized they’re probably not even going to think anything of it if you tell them you need to double-check. You definitely do have to work a bit to compensate for memory problems, but you totally CAN compensate. Keep track of your work, and make sure it’s easy for you to search/find the info you need. I like spreadsheets, but it looks like there are already several other suggestions in this thread if that’s not your cup of tea. (Maybe you even have a system already, and you’re just not used to relying on it in this way. Things are different right now, you’re adapting, and that’s fine!)

  54. Van Wilder*

    #3 – It’s better to have a short pencil than a long memory. I have trouble remembering tasks also, especially when I’m tired like right now. I keep a list in a book and mark it off when it’s done. I keep it handy in case I need to check it.

  55. FuzzyBrian*

    Hi to OP3!
    I have bad brain fog at the moment as I’m going through Chemo. I’ve been keeping a log of what I’ve done along with comments in Word so when someone asks a quick Ctrl+F can jog my memory. Keep in mind that those who work closely with me are aware of the cancer treatments and associated side effects, so they’re giving me a little bit of berth when I need a second to gather my thoughts or check my notes to reply.

  56. Iforgetalottoo*

    LW3- Could you email yourself updates on important things you have had to edit or create? For example you could email you self saying.

    Attached is a spreadsheet of Llama grooming projectionso ctober 2020. You created this today and finished it at 3pm standard time on 9/4/20. You emailed it to the Llama grooming supervisor at 3:20pm. EST.

    Then attach a version of that work for that particular day to the email. This way its readily searchable.

    1. mynameisasecret*

      I have no working memory and I do this a lot. I send my boss an email each day with a list of things I did because I would have no idea what I have done otherwise. I often come upon work that someone else did for me, and then as I’m trying to figure out who did it and why, I realize that it was me – a past version of me that I have no recollection of. There’s a weirdness to this because it’s like seeing your own work through truly objective eyes. A lot of times I did a good job even if I formed no memory of doing it.
      The worst thing I did recently was I am hiring for a job and I forgot an applicant. MY FAVORITE APPLICANT. I phone screened her, emailed my boss to say it went well and she’s my favorite so far, and proceeded with scheduling interviews, etc. Two weeks later the candidate politely emails me wondering if she’s still in the process and I had to go back to my email to my boss. I was able to see that I definitely phone screened her, she was definitely my favorite, and I definitely meant to schedule her for an interview, I just.. didn’t. The whole phone screen completely disappeared from my mind. Luckily, she is still available and I have her scheduled. (I definitely did not tell her I forgot about her – it would suggest something that’s not accurate in terms of my interest in her as a candidate)
      It’s way more common for me to do the opposite though. Thinking I need to schedule with someone when they’re already scheduled. It’s so confusing for applicants and embarrassing for me when I do that, that I ALWAYS check to make sure I didn’t already contact them before contacting them, both in ATS and email.

  57. Butterfly Counter*

    OP3. I’m kind of the quintessential absent-minded professor. I’ve found that I can actively remember to do three things at one time. If there is something that pops up or that I don’t normally do as part of my routine, I’m liable to forget my keys or USB drive somewhere. (This literally happens about 2 times a semester and I hate it.)

    But I’ve also found that 90% of the time, when someone asks me if I’ve done X, they should already know if I have or not. “Hey, did you grade my late paper?” “Does it show that I’ve graded it?” “Lemme check.”

    “Did you turn in your teaching preferences for next semester?” “Did I not email them to you as you asked?” “I don’t see them.” “Well, then I’ll make a note to send them to you by the end of the day.”

    A lot of times, people aren’t asking the right question at the right time. Sometimes it’s that it’s just easier to ask you via email or in person than it is to check something on their own. Sometimes it’s because they want something from you that you HAVEN’T done, but don’t want to seem like they’re nagging. Go ahead a nag! Let me know that I need to get X to you by the end of the day because you don’t have it. If I’ve done it, it’s no hard task to resend! If not, that you for reminding me!

    Basically, depending on who is asking and when, I wouldn’t be afraid to turn the question back on them so they check if the work is already done (and maybe they shouldn’t be asking you about it) or to ask what they really mean.

  58. prof*

    I mean….if you’re getting so many applications, I would remove any applicant who behaves particularly badly from consideration…who needs this nonsense?

  59. Eve Polastri*

    On remembering things. Oh ya, totally done that and it usually has to do with an email getting buried that I “would deal with later”….but then i would forget. Then discovered the flagging system in Outlook and “hey siri, set a reminder”. Where have these been all of my life? :-)

  60. RagingADHD*

    LW#3, you may have an especially strong Zeigarnik effect. Our brains send us reminders of unfinished business, or “open loops,” while it can safely toss out things that are done and checked off. Using some kind of task tracker (paper or software) where you check things off when you’re done can help.

    If you find that you’re not forgetting undone tasks, no problem. Just say, “Let me check when I get back to my desk, and I’ll confirm back to you.”

    Sounds like the thing you most need to add to your workflow is the habit of notifying the next person when you are done with something, so they don’t have to ask. And those sent messages can help you quickly confirm which tasks are completed, in case it’s someone from a different part of the team who’s asking.

    I don’t carry around my task list inside my head, indeed most of the busy and productive people I know don’t! There’s certainly nothing embarrassing about using external recordkeeping for that stuff. It frees up the brainspace you need for actual work.

  61. employment lawyah*

    1. Job applicants are hounding me on personal email and social media
    Tell them to stop. Also, consider what message (if any) it sends that they did it in the first place, and/or that they do or do not stop.

    It may be (depending on role) a problem or even a benefit: traits like “doesn’t easily take no for an answer” or “is pushy” are not always bad things for some roles like sales.

    2. Company is asking Black former employees for feedback
    Anything you send may be made public. And there are a LOT of third parties these days (on both sides) who stick their noses into all sorts of things on this subject, even if they seem private to the people involved.

    This sounds like a disaster in the works given your description. I would avoid it entirely, unless it would help his psyche to join in given the risks.

    3. I can’t remember completing tasks

    As someone w/ ADD: This is why Siri and to-do lists were created. “Remembering things” is hard and complex. I am incredibly bad at it.

    “Learning to check things off a list every time” is easier, because it’s only one thing to learn which, magically, solves all sorts of other, more complex, problems. “Using Siri to create reminders ever. single. time.” is a huuuuuuuuuge benefit. The iphone and iwatch have saved my practice, I am not kidding. Try it.

    4. Is it still OK to send thank-you cards during the pandemic?
    If you were going to send a hand written card anyway, sure. Many people use email.

  62. Harvey JobGetter*

    OP2’s husband should not answer these questions without consulting his lawyer. It’s likely that anything he says about his experiences at the company, even two the company, violate the NDA in his settlement agreement.

  63. Stranger Than Fiction*

    I just wanted to comment re: #1. While I sympathize with the Op, and believe nobody should be contacting someone about a job on their personal email, ever since all the Covid layoffs, the overwhelming advice I’ve seen on several LinkedIn posts is recommending that candidates connect directly with the hiring managers and networking in order to stand out.
    The problem right now is there’s anywhere from 300-1,300 applicants for every position. I just finished a 5 month long job search myself and had mixed results with the advice. I did feel I was jumping the queue sometimes, but also managed to get a couple of interviews this way.
    It’s such a tough time out there, it’s nearly impossible to stand out on an ATS. So, imo, if someone reached out on LinkedIn, try to take a moment of your time to at least view their profile to see if they’re a viable candidate, and don’t just push them off to the online app. (Surely they’ve already done that.)

    1. virago*

      “… the overwhelming advice I’ve seen on several LinkedIn posts is recommending that candidates connect directly with the hiring managers and networking in order to stand out. …

      “The problem right now is there’s anywhere from 300-1,300 applicants for every position. I just finished a 5 month long job search myself and had mixed results with the advice. I did feel I was jumping the queue sometimes, but also managed to get a couple of interviews this way.”

      This should be an AAM post all on its own.

  64. Jennifer Juniper*

    How the hell are these pesky applicants getting hold of LW1’s personal e-mail and Facebook account info? That sounds like a security loophole that needs to be tightened.

    1. virago*

      Re: Facebook: AKchic has wisely suggested that OP 1 lock down their FB security settings.

      Re: Gmail: Under their pen name “PG,” OP 1 says applicants managed to guess their Gmail address. Boundaries, yo.

  65. mgguy*

    Re: #4

    When I was in high school(and this wasn’t crazy long ago-early to mid 2000s) in the mandatory “career” class I took we were told to always send hand-written notes and that email was “unprofessional” and also a bad idea because “most people only check theirs every few days.”

    By the time I’d been through college and grad school and entered the work force, I basically considered email the de-facto means of professional communication. In grad school even(which has one foot in being a student, one foot in being a 60 hour a week working adult) occasionally a printed memo about some sort of announcement would show up in our mailboxes(which BTW I checked a few times a week at least, but some faculty checked once a year if that) but it was certainly unusual. Even our most senior faculty were perfectly comfortable with email then.

    I’ve had one interview where the initial contact was by phone(I currently hold that one, BTW) but by and large initial contact(to set up a phone screen or whatever) is by email. For an in-person interview, whether one on one or a panel, I ask for a card from everyone. I then follow up with a thank-you in a few hours-enough time to look over and reflect so I can write something meaningful and/or building on the interview(as Alison has advised) but also soon enough that I’m hopefully still fresh in their minds. My current job had an in person panel interview that was around the 1st of March-or about two weeks before everything went nuts-and then a virtual second interview with someone high up who should have been on the panel but was out that day. Everyone got a thank-you email, including in the panel.

  66. Fae Kamen*

    OP#3: My task tracking system (aka Trello) includes a “Done” category. When I’ve completed something I drag the task to the Done list. Makes me feel accomplished and also gives me the ability to move it back if it turns out the task needs to be revisited. Wonder if this would be helpful for you to find whether you’ve completed something at a glance.

    1. Fae Kamen*

      Sorry, of course I see now everyone has already recommended this. Sometimes there are too many comments to keep up! And now I’m adding another…. ok bye!!

  67. tommy*

    #2 — This letter was specifically about Black employees. Alison, I’m curious why your answer broadened out the category to people of color?

  68. MiMiFrog*

    OP#3 – I do the same thing. Sometimes it works to my benefit. If I have a few minutes between bigger tasks I tend to work ahead on the quicker to do’s. A week or so later I will find that it has been magically completed and I have no memory of doing so. However, the inverse also happens. I’ll forget that I’ve done something and then I need to go and dig it out again. I always thought I was the only one!

Comments are closed.