is “thanks in advance” rude, interviewer kept saying he liked my smile, and more

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

1. Is “thanks in advance” rude?

Is it considered rude or impolite to end emails with “thanks in advance”? I thought the professional etiquette circles had reached a consensus on this years ago but I still continue to see it.

“Thanks in advance” is fine the majority of the time. Some people feel it’s impolite because it’s presumptuous — that it indicates you are expecting the person will do whatever you’re requesting before they’ve agreed to it. But often in work situations, that’s actually the case — there is a warranted expectation that the person will do the thing you’re asking for. You’re not really waiting in suspense to see if they’ll agree to send you a document you need or to correct a document, so adding on a “thanks” isn’t terribly presumptuous.

There are some situations where it would read differently, though — like, “The new intern won’t have housing until next week, so can she stay at your house until then? Thanks in advance!” That’s a request where “I’d be so grateful if you’re able to make it work” would be more appropriate than “thanks in advance.” (Although really, a hotel would be more appropriate.) But for most routine work email emails, “thanks in advance” is perfectly fine.

It’s interesting to me that the ubiquitous “thanks” that so many people use to sign off emails doesn’t seem to have drawn the same irritation, even though “thanks” and “thanks in advance” are not terribly different and are often used in the same contexts.

2. Interviewer kept telling me he liked my smile

How many times is it appropriate for a (male) VP to tell a (female) candidate in a job interview that he likes her smile?

I was a candidate in an interview, and one of the male VPs told me three times how much he liked my smile. I felt really weird about it but none of the other people on the Zoom reacted. I think he was trying to put me at ease. They all really seemed to like me and said I was their number one candidate. This was a stretch job for me, and might be a really good fit, but I can’t see myself working with this gentleman long-term. That’s a good enough reason not to take the job, right?

The appropriate number of times for an interviewer to tell a job candidate he likes her smile: zero.

Would you be working much with this guy? If you’d have little contact with him, I’d factor that into your decision about the job … but it’s not a good sign that no one else on the video call reacted. I can see them possibly not saying anything because (a) people are bad at speaking up in the moment when they’re cut off-guard by something inappropriate and (b) especially if he’s senior to the rest of them, but I’d feel better about the situation if they’d at least looked taken aback or uncomfortable.

3. Birthday celebrations are zooming out of control

I work for a team that has been remote since the beginning of the pandemic and it looks like we will be staying mostly that way in the foreseeable future, with only one or two days in office per week. We have a good team rapport and everyone seems to get along well.

The problem is not really work-related. It’s how we’ve been celebrating team member birthdays since going remote. Prior to the pandemic, birthdays were acknowledged via an email thread or a quick shout-out if the team meeting happened to fall on the same day. Everyone seemed pretty satisfied with that. When the pandemic grew, so did the birthday celebrations. It started out small, with things like everyone using a special background on a video call or recording a quick video message for the recipient. However, the celebrations have now morphed into something else entirely. For the last several birthdays every team member has been expected to put together part of a presentation that will take up the better part of an hour in either a scheduled team meeting or a meeting scheduled specifically for the purpose of lauding the birthday person. It’s starting to be a significant effort — all told, the last birthday celebration, including preparation and the Zoom meeting, took over an hour of my time. We have a large team and birthdays are frequent, so this is starting to be quite an investment.

I could opt out, it’s always been expressed that no one has to participate if they don’t want to, but so far nobody has refused. I really don’t want to be the party pooper but this is starting to get out of hand and taking away from my workday. Is there a way to put the brakes on this before we start having hour-long celebrations for every birthday all the time? My manager seems content to keep going with this and another manager within the team is spearheading these efforts, so there’s not really anyone higher up to go to. I’m at the point where I’m going to start making up phantom meetings on the days we have celebrations so I don’t have to sit through these drawn out fetes. I appreciate my colleagues and am happy to send them birthday greetings but am I in the wrong in thinking that this is all a bit much?

That sounds … excessive. Do you have any sense of whether anyone else shares your feelings? If everyone is into it but you, then I think you’ve got to accept this is just a weird thing about the culture there. But others also think it’s become a bit much, could you bring it up at a team meeting (ideally on a week that doesn’t include a birthday celebration so no one feels targeted) and say, “It was nice doing more elaborate birthday celebrations during the dark days of the pandemic, but now that we plan to be remote for the foreseeable future, should we scale back to something more like what we were doing for birthdays before? With the presentation prep time and the meetings themselves, it’s become a pretty significant time investment for each one.” You could add, “I don’t want to be the one person who doesn’t participate, but on busy weeks it can be hard to carve out an hour for it.”

If by any chance your own birthday is coming up, that would be the perfect hook to use — it’ll be harder for people to feel slighted if you time it in connection with yours.

4. How to explain un-retiring

Two years ago, at the age of 52, I decided to retire from my public sector teaching job and take a very reduced pension. I have a chronically ill adult daughter to care for, my husband was going through a lot of stuff and I just … couldn’t keep all the balls in the air. Retiring early seemed the way to keep me sane so I could keep everyone else sane.

Fast forward two years. My husband and I are splitting up, which will de-stress me greatly. My daughter and I are leaving a densely populated area and moving to a very remote northern area that is in need of teachers, but is also beautiful, scenic, and a much cheaper place to live. I would like to work for a few years longer now that husband is out of the picture, both for personal and financial reasons. I have applied to a couple of teaching jobs. Do you have a script for how I might explain my decision to un-retire that doesn’t unearth all the personal stuff?

“I realized I missed teaching and am eager to get back to it.” That’s it — no need to get into any of the other stuff at all.

If anyone asks why you left originally, you could say, “I had some family issues going on that I wanted to be able to focus on, but that’s all resolved and I’m excited to teach again.”

5. Company I’m interviewing with is now considering hiring from within

After four months, six rounds of interviews, and checking my references, the company I was interviewing with now says they need more time and are considering moving some staff internally to fill the role. They’ve asked me to be patient while they decide how to move forward. I’ve invested so much time and effort into this role and I was really excited about it, so this news is somewhat devastating. At this point, should I just move on or is it worth reaching out to the hiring manager to try to sway them in my favor? I don’t want to be pushy but I want to make sure I’ve done everything possible.

They’ve met with you six times; if they’re not sure by this point, there’s probably not anything you could say now that would sway them, especially when they told you they have some thinking to do and asked you to be patient. Plus, the things they’re thinking about might not be things you could speak to — it could be things about the team structure or the internal person they’re considering or how they’ll accommodate a totally different staffing change or who knows what.

The best thing you can do is to put it out of your mind, mentally move on, and let it be a pleasant surprise if they come back to you with a job offer.

{ 437 comments… read them below }

  1. Eric*

    I think the difference in how “thanks” and “thanks in advance” read is that “thanks” could presumably mean “thanks for considering my request” whereas “thanks in advance” implies that I will not be thankful until you do what I want you to do.
    But I have no problem with thanks in advance, so I may be wrong.

    1. Anononon*

      Yes, I sign off most of my emails with “thanks!”, and, in my head at least, my thanks to them includes the time they took to read and go over my email.

      1. Lacey*

        I have a coworker who’s auto sig is “Thanks, Don” But he always also writes “thanks” at the end of his message. So it’s “Thanks Thanks, Don”

        1. Threeve*

          The only solution is to start concluding your emails with “Thanks Thanks Thanks”

        2. MusicWithRocksIn*

          So – the five year old in me would really want to change that to “Thanks Don!” and see how long it would take him to notice. Which is probably a pretty nerdy joke and not a good idea unless his emails are all internal – but wow the impulse is strong.

        3. Greg*

          This reminds me of how the baseball team “the Los Angeles Angels” translates to “the The Angels Angels”

          1. Usagi*

            I used to live near the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, and that just translates to “the The Tar (Pit) Tar Pits.” I now tell my kids about how silly languages can be.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Right, this is how I intend my “thanks” to be read. Thank you for your time spent reading this email. Short, to the point, and less invasive than “warm regards” or whatever.

      3. Kes*

        Yes, exactly. I use thanks in my emails and that can just mean thanks for reading this or thanks for considering my request, whereas thanks in advance implies that you already are confident they’re going to do whatever you’re asking. Which could be appropriate in some situations where it is pretty much a given but can also read as presumptuous, that you think you know that they definitely are going to do something when they haven’t yet agreed to do it

      4. Jake*


        I sign off with Thanks because I am thanking them for their time and attention.

      5. Ellie*

        This is exactly how I mean it to be as well – thanks for taking the time to read and (hopefully) respond to my email. The response might be no and that’s fine.

    2. Roci*

      I’m not sure if many people even notice whether there is a “thanks” at the end or not.
      I usually write business emails in a non-English language that has a standard vague pleasantry for ending emails (and any message really) that basically communicates goodwill, professionalism, and acknowledgement of the continuing business/human relationship.

      Sometimes I wish I could stop worrying about the exact wording and just write,
      To: Receiver
      Content of message.
      From: Me

      1. Forrest*

        My partner has her “Kind regards” as part of her email signature, and it never stops making me laugh when I get an email saying,

        hey sweetie! if you’re picking kids up, I’ll do tea– pasta and broccoli ok? xxx!!

        Kind regards,
        Dr P Artner.

        1. pancakes*

          That’s basically what I don’t like about it, though I realize it’s very widely used and not going away anytime soon – people who sign off with “Thanks” tend to use it even when there’s nothing to thank anyone for. It doesn’t seem sarcastic to me in those situations, but it does seem unthinking, or mechanical. Any standard sign-off is, to some extent, but it seems more appropriate to unthinkingly express kind regards, etc., than it does to unthinkingly thank everyone and anyone.

          1. ecnaseener*

            On occasion when “Thanks” really doesn’t feel appropriate I’ll switch to “Best,” but that’s a pretty rare occasion. As Anononon said, “thanks” often implies “thanks for taking a minute to read this,” or “thanks for asking me this question instead of guessing and doing it wrong.” I used to use “kind regards” but it came off SO stiff and formal.

            1. pancakes*

              Yes, “Kind regards” is not a great example because in many situations it’s going to come off as too stiff or formal. I prefer “best,” “regards,” “cheers,” or no sign off at all.

            2. rachel in nyc*

              My default is actually Regards- and I change to Thanks only once I’ve had some conversations with people. And I know it comes off stiff but that’s me in emails, I’m really formal- everyone gets a Dr/Mr/Ms until they signoff with their first name. And even then (in person), I’ll go back to Dr/Mr/Ms.

              I make exactly no presumptions.

              1. Mr. Shark*

                I use Regards as a standard, but sometimes if I want to say thanks, I’ll just use Thanks and skip the regards.
                But other times if I’m responding to something, I might say “Thanks” at the start of the message before following up with any comments, so then stick to the “Regards” at the end of the message.

              2. smirkpretty*

                I’m curious how you know if they are a Mr. or a Mrs. until you’ve had interactions with them. Are people all including their pronouns in their emails to you? When I receive correspondence from Kim, Sasi, Min, Pat, Lynn. Hyunjung or Jamie (all names of multiple students or colleagues at my work of different genders), how do I know what to use? Even if the name is Sally or Juan, they may go by Mx or setting else. It would be presumptuous of me to assign a Mr. or Mrs. without more information. First names work best in almost every situation, unless they have previously identified the honorific

          2. Aggretsuko*

            I can’t stand any of the other approved methods of signing off, so I say thanks even when it’s literally “thanks for nothing!” in my heart. At least people say thank you IRL.
            I mean, really, would you EVER say “Best!” or “Warmly,” or “Kind regards” to someone IRL? No, you would not.

            1. Elle by the sea*

              I say “all the best” IRL but not “best” or “regards”. Those are strictly written language, but even there, I prefer “best regards” or “kind regards”, or “thank you” / “cheers” (informally).

        2. Guacamole Bob*

          My spouse occasionally writes to me from her work account about something more connected to her office – scheduling around the holiday party or some benefits thing – and there must be something about having an Outlook window open instead of gmail that she reacts to unconsciously because those emails are a hilarious step up in formality from how we normally communicate. Getting a salutation and “Thanks!” with her name as a signoff, with appropriate line spacing, always makes me laugh.

    3. Phil*

      My email sign off is “Thanks” for anything. I always feel slightly sarcastic when I do it in response to clarifying a PEBKAC error to a user or receiving bad news or a massive workload.

    4. Phil*

      I had an old coworker who would get a little too vocal about people in other departments pissing her off about whatever. Then when she emailed them about the issue, it would be super polite and she’d sign off with “Thanks ”

      Cracked me up every time.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        Ex-boss always used to mentally compose a response to such emails and say she was signing off with “love and kisses”. Luckily I don’t think she ever managed to accidentally send that.

      2. English, not American*

        I do that. I’ll have a crazed, fuming rant to my partner about how dare this person make this request of me, then send them a friendly reply in which I’ve either done the request or apologised and directed them to someone who can, ending with “Thanks” or if it’s external “Kind regards”. The rant keeps the contempt from sneaking in to my email.

      3. Not playing your game anymore*

        Emails at my organization are generally “Memo format”

        DATE: July 1, 2021
        SUBJECT: Fall Clothes Line Promotion

        Body: Market research … programs.

        Attachments: Focus Group Results, January- May 2020; Survey Findings, January – April 2020
        So simple.
        No Dear Kelly, No Gentlemen no Dear people to open. A standard signature block if you’re sending something off campus. No Cheers, no Bests and sadly no Stay Golden. Perhaps you’ll add a personal line if warranted. “I’ll be in Vermin next month. Want to meet for coffee?” Or something like that. But it’s optional.

    5. allathian*

      Yeah, definitely this. My main working language is Finnish, though, and I’ve never seen the equivalent of “thanks in advance” in my current job. That said, it would feel really off if the request was completely unreasonable, but I don’t think I’d react if the request was reasonable.

    6. Simply the best*

      That seems to be an odd read on thanks in advance. You’re literally already thanking a person when you say that, so I don’t see why it would indicate you won’t be thankful until the task is completed. That seems to be the complete opposite of what that phrase says.

      1. Eliza*

        I think the reasoning, and the thing that bothers some people about the phrase, is that you’re “advancing” them the thanks in the same way that you might get an advance on your pay: you’re giving them something while saying that they haven’t earned it yet but that you expect them to.

        1. JM60*

          On the few occasions I’ve used “Thanks in advance”, I was advancing the thanks because of a temporal aspect of the request. Maybe the request, if granted, would only cause a minor inconvenience now, but would later cause a larger inconvenience later. Or maybe the request would take a lot of time. So I’m thanking them for the later inconveniences, not thanking them conditionally.

          I’ve never used “Thanks in advance” to mean, “I’m only going to thank you if you do X for me.”

          1. Selena*

            I use ‘thanks in advance’ in the sense of ‘thank you for reading this email, thank you for presumably planning some actions’.
            It’s a reference to the task being in the future and not intended to shut off the conversation.

            If you dump a huge task on someone and think that’s okay because you said “thanks” than the problem is not with your language skills.

            1. JM60*

              If you dump a huge task on someone and think that’s okay because you said “thanks” than the problem is not with your language skills.

              I think you and I agree, though it’s sometimes it’s necessary to dump a huge task on someone. Othertimes, it’s not necessary, but it’s still okay to ask someone if they’re willing to do a major favor for you (those who disagree might want to lookup “ask vs guess culture”). In either case, saying thanks isn’t what makes it okay. Thanking someone doesn’t change the fact that expecting them do a huge task for you, absent a good reason, is rude.

            2. Elle by the sea*

              I use it in this sense, too. I had no idea that anyone would consider it rude. I never feel annoyed when someone else uses it, either. It just seems the most natural way to express gratitude in such situations.

          2. Mimi*

            Honestly, I think when I’ve used it, I’ve often meant it as “I am putting the thanks in the request so that we can both save a few seconds on me sending a separate email just to thank you afterwards.”

            Though I might also use it sometimes if I know the request is a big pain in the neck, and I feel like they deserve to get thanked on both ends. “I know your team washed the llamas yesterday, but the client just told me that they want the llamas triple-washed and conditioned, by Friday if possible. I realize this is going to be a pile of work; let me know if there’s anything we can do to help out. Thanks in advance.”

            1. Mimi*

              (And, to clarify, I think I would only use it in a situation where it’s expected that the person will do the request. X is your job; I need X; thanks in advance for X. Or in something like a web forum, as discussed down-thread.)

            2. Metadata minion*

              Yeah, I think that’s how I tend to use it as well — if it’s something that it is absolutely my job to ask of you, but I realize it’s annoying/big/last-minute/etc. so I want to make it really clear how much I appreciate you doing it.

        2. Asenath*

          That’s how it’s sometimes taken – as being a bit presumptuous, even as trying to manipulate the other person – I’ve already thanked you, of course, you’re going to do what I want! I personally think such interpretations are a bit far-fetched, but I don’t think I’ve ever used “thanks in advance” myself. Maybe in the back of my mind I do have a bit of discomfort with it.

          I do sign a lot of emails “Thanks, Asenath”, which is really much the same thing. Early on in my working life I was much more brief with emails, omitting greetings and such things, but I did eventually change my mind and decide that at least a brief “Hi John” and a “Thanks” when signing off seemed to go over better, being a little less abrupt.

          1. bryanjonker*

            The one time I used that phrase was when I was slightly pissed off at some student workers who weren’t monitoring tickets.

            I ended with “Thanks in advance, he said passive-agressively.”

          2. Lacey*

            I think it depends on the context. I had a coworker who would always volunteer people for projects they hadn’t agreed to (she was not a manager!) She also tended to say, Thanks in Advance, which really made me hate that phrase.

            But, everyone at my new office is super considerate and I don’t think I’d even notice if they said that.

            1. kittymommy*

              This is exactly why I’m not a big fan. I think I have only ever had people use it with me (and only seen it used at all) as a way to volunteer people for things that they normally wouldn’t/don’t do.

          3. AnonEMoose*

            I dislike “thanks in advance” because I’ve mostly seen it used by a coworker who I see as being kind of on the presumptuous and pushy side. But I recognize that’s a me thing, so I try to swallow the irritation if I see it from someone else who hasn’t earned that rep with me.

            Personally, I tend to use “thanks!,” or “Thanks for your help!”. Or, if I’m asking about something where I’m not sure the other person is the person who actually handles something, but they’re my starting point, I might use “Thanks – I appreciate any help you can provide!” because I’m trying to recognize that they might need to point me to someone else, and I’m thankful for their doing at least that if they’re not the right person.

        3. Koala dreams*

          Haha, that’s funny! I’ve never considered that “Thanks in advance” could be connected to that meaning of “advance”. That’s a different spin on it for sure.

          I read it the same way as “Simply the best” does above.

          Additionally, “thanks” or “thanks in advance” after the message is often used in situations where extra answers would clutter up the mailbox. So in a phone call or chat I would say “Could you…”, they would say “Yes, of course”, I would say “Thanks a lot”, they would say “No problem” and so on. In an email I would condense my side of the conversation in one single email and they would put their side in one answering email. So the “in advance” signals that there won’t be a long email chain with boring pleasantries, just the one email. (But usually I just write “Thanks!”)

          Language is treacherous!

      2. ecnaseener*

        Agreed. The problem isn’t that it sounds like “I’ll only be thankful if you do this,” it’s that it sounds like “I’m already thankful because I assume you’ll do it, and if you say no I’ll be upset.”

    7. Well...*

      I definitely have used passive aggressive thanks, like, “thanks all for XYZ work” when one collaborator is dead weight. Though the wording would be identical if everyone was contributing, so it’s only passive aggressive in my head. I still hope they feel a bit of shame reading it.

    8. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      I do say “thanks in advance” but not by itself – usually the form is something like “thanks in advance for any advice”, or, less formally, “…for any clues”. Often it’s in a context where I don’t know whether anyone will actually reply & if so who – e.g. on a community email list where I’ve described a technical problem & I’m hoping someone there will know the answer. It’s sort of equivalent to “any advice appreciated”.

      1. Vanellope*

        This is where I’ve seen it too – on a forum, where someone is asking for advice/referrals and may not have direct interaction with every single person who responds. I’ve never seen it in a business setting but it wouldn’t annoy me, in the instances I’ve seen it used it’s never been presumptuous so it wouldn’t occur to me to take it that way.

    9. KHB*

      +1 to this read on “thanks.”

      To me, “thanks in advance” is specifically for situations where someone has already agreed to help me with something, but hasn’t yet done it. For example:

      KHB: Hey Jane, do you have time today to proofread this month’s TPS report?
      Jane: Sure, send it over.
      KHB: Here it is – thanks in advance for your help!

      (This example seems a tad bit silly, but usually I’m making requests of people that take longer than this to explain, so it makes more sense to send the “do you have time to…?” email before following up with the details.)

      1. Daisy-dog*

        I like this! I sometimes get “Thanks in advance!” in the same message as the request. And sometimes the request is not possible or something that cannot be done until other pressing task is completed first. So it becomes awkward at that point.

    10. Bree*

      I’m a “thanks!” person for almost everything, and this is what I mean, too – thanks for action, but more often, thanks for your time reading and considering, etc. But I also have no problem with “Thanks in advance” which I will happily use when I’m asking for things that are a reasonable part of someone’s job, as Alison says. Sometimes I soften a bit with “Thanks in advance for your help.”

      1. PeanutButter*

        Yes – if it’s a manager or someone with actual authority to assign me the extra task that is reasonably within my purview, “Thanks in advance” absolutely doesn’t rankle me, because they’re not asking for a favor. If it’s someone who ISN’T in my CoC and they are asking for me to go above and beyond my job duties (even if I’m completely happy and able to accommodate them), then it’s like nails on a chalkboard.

    11. opaque_chatterbug*

      I always saw “thanks in advance” as “I appreciate you taking the time for this”, without being so wordy. I had managers who went by “I never say thanks until I have what I want”, so “thanks in advance” was more flexible/polite.
      I guess I’ll have to reconsider my script here and use a different sign off if it’s so commonly seen as assuming.

    12. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I thought it was “thanks in advance” assumes they’re going to fulfill the request, whether that’s the case or not.

    13. Grey*

      Saying “thanks” with the initial request seems ok to me, but “thanks in advance” makes it clear you won’t be bothered to thank them after they do the work. At least that’s how I interpret it.

      1. boop the first*

        Heh, yes, exactly! It feels weird to not reply to an email, but it feels even weirder to load someone’s inbox with “thanks” emails. That’s like getting a text and it just say’s “k.”

    14. Student Affairs Sally*

      The differing opinions on this are so funny to me! My default signature includes the sign-off “Best”, so it’s like:
      Sally Lastname
      Office phone

      Then, for individual messages I’ll usually include a “Thanks” or something similar as I’m tying up the message. I have used “thanks in advance” before, although that’s not my standard, and I think it’s usually been when I need something time-sensitive with a quick turnaround – like, thanks in advance for re-prioritizing your day to get this taken care of quickly. I don’t think I’ve ever meant it snarkily, and would only interpret it snarkily if I knew the person well enough to think they may have meant it that way (a former colleague who was generally snotty with me comes to mind) – but that’s because of how that person generally acts, not anything about the phrase itself.

    15. The Prettiest Curse*

      I don’t particularly like “thanks in advance” when I’m on the receiving end. But back when I was an admin and had to send out emails telling people not to block the fire exits and fun stuff like that, I used to LOVE signing off with “thank you in advance for your cooperation” in the hope that it would guilt people into cooperating.

    16. MissInTheNo*

      LW#1 here. Thanks in advance sounds like how a mom might sign a note left asking her children to take the trash out and clean their rooms. Not really passive aggressive but slightly controlling and a little snarky – perfect for a mom note regarding chores.

    17. boppity*

      Somehow, I read “thanks in advance” as “you’re not going to want to do this but I’m guilting you into it,” which is probably reading WAY too much into it, but that’s the vibe it gives me anyway.

    18. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      I’m seriously considering a change to “thanks for your time and effort” which can either be that needed to read my email, or that needed to do what I need of them. It’s a bit like saying “thanks for your patience” rather than “sorry I’m late”, I’m thanking them for being a good person rather than highlighting the fact that I’m the needy or disorganised person. I’ve noticed a wonderful difference in reaction when I say “thanks for being patient”.

  2. Sami*

    I really don’t care for the presumptuous of “Thanks in advance” and never use it personally. But what really gets to me is “TIA”.

    1. Anonariffic*

      If you’re going to sign off with an acronym, I vote going full-on Tigger and using TTFN.

        1. SheLooksFamiliar*

          I used TTFN on chat or text, and had to explain what it meant so often that I stopped using TTFN. Phooey.

      1. Hanani*

        Absolutely! That’s a common one in my family. Lots of people don’t get the reference, sadly.

    2. Aggretsuko*

      I got shamed by my boss and grandboss for saying “Thanks in advance,” but FFS, some things I DO have to ask/demand of them, it’s not like they can turn me down and say no and have a choice in the matter. If I have to ask them to run the report that they run every quarter and people lose their shit if it’s not run, then what the hell is wrong with saying thanks in advance for that?!

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        My pet hate is THNX, but fortunately it isn’t too common.

        Merci en avance, was the first time I came across the phrase, so I just consider it as a direct translation from French.

          1. Kathlynn (canada)*

            One thing about that, thx can look like the. had a boss who would write notes and end with thx cindy, and it looked like “The Cindy” and I was like wtf, until long after she was gone and someone pointed out to me that it was thanks not the. (also not her real name)

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            The science-fiction fan in me is always amused by THX. (George Lucas “THX 1138”)
            But we have enough coworkers who are not native speakers of American English that I am on a lonely crusade to cut down on abbreviations anyway.

            1. The Prettiest Curse*

              Oh, thx always used to drive me up the wall, especially since I also have a first name that most people abbreviate in writing. So I would get emails signed off THX plus the 2-letter abbreviation for my first name. Luckily, I otherwise liked the ex-colleague who did this, otherwise I would’ve had to ask them to stop.

        1. AnonInCanada*

          If it were an internal email to a coworker, then I wouldn’t have a problem with “Thx” — I do that myself. But to a client or a supplier? “Thank you” is much more appropriate. And “thanking you in advance” is two too many words and three too many letters IMHO.

        2. Noxalas*

          I get THNX a lot, and it always ticks me off an inordinate amount. I am worth the vowels!

          1. KaciHall*

            I’ll use TY for internal chats, but I never abbreviate in emails. How does it save any time to use 1 less letter?

      2. Tuesday*

        I really don’t get the problem with “Thanks in advance” in a situation like this. In fact, to me it sounds nicer than “Thanks” because it acknowledges that there’s work ahead on their end. “Thanks in advance for the work you’re going to have to do.” Some people like strict rules like “this is always right/wrong,” but things don’t have to be so black and white. It’s okay to consider the context.

        1. Selena*

          That’s also how it see it: ‘thanks’ signals that their only task is reading the email.
          I always try to kinda copy the email-style of my colleagues, because that seems like the easiest way to protect me from accidentally sending the wrong message.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        By the way in THIS case I’d stop using “thanks in advance”–at least while I work for someone who has told me they don’t like it. It’s no different to me than switching to blue ink for signatures because my then-boss wanted to be able to tell at a glance if a document was original or photocopy.

      4. Kes*

        I mean, even if they have to do it, how you ask is still important in order to preserve relationships. I mean you mostly can’t just go to your boss and say “Boss, I need this. Get this to me by Tuesday” in a commanding tone as though you were their boss, even if in fact they do need to provide it to you and you need it by Tuesday. In this case like/dislike of “Thanks in advance” is a question of perception, but if you know they’re perceiving it as commanding or presumptuous, why not change how you’re asking to something that will come across better?

    3. John Smith*

      Respond with “Maria” and see if they’re alcoholic. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve much seen “thanks in advance” and personally dislike it being used, but that’s probably more to do with the sender of the email.

      “Cheers” I use in quick informal emails to colleagues I’m familiar with (I’m trying to stop using that one). A colleague used “toodles” once then saw how much it triggered some of us.

      1. Ginger ale for all*

        I like Cheers. It seems casually classy to me. I live in the hopes of getting Stay Gold though.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I (generally, within my team and folks immediately adjacent) close with Thanks! if they are doing or have done something for me and Cheers! if it’s more of a FYI.

        2. SarahKay*

          LOL. I’m now tempted to try “Stay Gold” in some sort of suitably low-stakes email just to see if anyone even notices.

        3. anonhere*

          I use Cheers, but I also work for a distillery, so it’s also very on brand, ha.

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            An ex-colleague used to use “Cheers” as their sign-off and I always found it a bit odd, but I think it’s entirely appropriate if you work in a brewery!

      2. Hamster Wrangler*

        If I saw “Toodles” in an email, I’d die laughing.

        What I hate is when people put “Thanks!” in their signature…and then forget and actually type, “Thanks!” to reply to something. I get emails that go:

        Hamster Wrangling

        I have successfully wrangled all the hamsters. Finally got the little furry pet rocks into their cages.


        Hamsters R’Us
        Hamster Wrangler
        (555) 555-5555

        1. English, not American*

          One I find funny is when they don’t separate the “thanks” from their name, so they just end up thanking themselves. I get emails from busy higher ups like that a lot.

          To: Sweena
          From: Edgar
          “hi sweena can you run the gerbil report.? thanks ed”

        2. Lacey*

          I have a coworker who does this EVERY time. It looks ridiculous, but I already consider him pretty ridiculous so I just laugh.

    4. Kaiko*

      One of my colleagues changed her sign off at the start of the pandemic to:
      “In the meantime, stay safe, stay home and wash your hands!”

      So I’ll have these emails that read,

      Hi Kaiko,
      Here’s an invoice for the most recent workshop.
      In the meantime, stay safe, stay home, and wash your hands!
      – V

      It is hilarious and makes me laugh every time.

    5. No Tribble At All*

      v/r. I loathe v/r. (It’s military shorthand for ‘very respectfully’) but I don’t see how you can be very respectful while using short little acronyms!! Aggghhh!

    6. Hanani*

      I’m with you on disliking both “thanks in advance” and “TIA”. I teach college students and tell them this pet peeve up front, and I’ve never seen it from my colleagues.

      Some of my students do have rather odd and overly formal or flowery sign-offs in their signatures. “Thanking you kindly for your consideration” was one I saw. “Respectful regards to you and your family” was another. “My best wishes for your happiness” was a third.

      Then again, in the eighteenth century it was common to sign up even very rude letters “your most humble, most obedient servant”, so who am I to talk.

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        A little formality is nice, in some contexts.

        “I appreciate your time and consideration” is *sometimes* appropriate.

    7. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I’m on a professional listserv/email list, where “TIA” morphed into “Spanish aunts.” Over time, as new people joined, that became a FAQ entry, because even if you know that the Spanish for “aunt” is “tia,” you probably wouldn’t make the connection after an English-language message that has nothing to do with Spanish or relatives.

      1. Drago Cucina*

        That’s cute.
        I’ve almost exclusively used “Thanks in advance” on professional listservs. “Hey, does anyone have experience successfully switching to Furry software for llamas from Furry software for alpacas? Thanks in advance.”
        I have a specialized network that I communicate with in my current job. If I make a request I only say “thank you”. Thanks in advance seems pushier.

      2. MissInTheNo*

        I am the OP. Interesting comments here. I tend to see “thanks in advance” more often with lower level staff and not from higher level staff or professionals. To me it gives the impression of trying to sound more intelligent but actually has the opposite effect. It also seems that a simple “thanks” is just as appropriate as “thanks in advance”, but doesn’t risking sounding presumptuous. A simple “thanks” can also apply to a broader range of effort (thanks for taking the time to read my email, thanks for the things you have done leading up to this point, etc)

        1. Hen in a Windstorm*

          Wow, you are reading a lot into those 3 words – to be clear, you think it makes people sound *less intelligent* and *presumptuous* to say “thanks in advance” rather than “thanks”, and you imply a professional would not do so.

          You sound like you have very rigid ideas about peoples’ roles in life. I’m a senior analyst with a masters degree, and I use that phrase – so where would that fit in your calculus? Am I getting above my station by daring to presume the person will indeed help me? Or does my degree entitle me to use it?

          I’ve always thought it was nicer to acknowledge up front that you are making a request that will consume someone’s time. My goal was to sound appreciative. That’s it.

    8. kittymommy*

      I am not a fan of “Thanks in advance” either (like, at all!) but it’s mainly because I don’t think I have ever had it used with me or seen it used in any way other than “this has nothing to do with you and not at all in your realm of work, but I don’t want to do it myself so I’m going to make you do it regardless of if you want to or not and you have no option of refusing/declining”.

    9. smirkpretty*

      I’m curious how you know if they are a Mr. or a Mrs. until you’ve had interactions with them. Are people all including their pronouns in their emails to you? When I receive correspondence from Kim, Sasi, Min, Pat, Lynn. Hyunjung or Jamie (all names of multiple students or colleagues at my work of different genders), how do I know what to use? Even if the name is Sally or Juan, they may go by Mx or setting else. It would be presumptuous of me to assign a Mr. or Mrs. without more information. First names work best in almost every situation, unless they have previously identified the honorific

    10. Koons*

      One that bugs me is : “do this thing. please and thank you”. I guess it’s not that different from “please do this thing. thanks!” but somehow it turns politeness into cold procedure…

    11. Dr. Whatsit*

      I think my problem with “thanks in advance” is that I’ve mostly seen it used when the request is a big stretch. When the e-mail writer is more sure of the request and doing it as a normal part of business, I tend to see ‘thanks!’ ‘Best’ or, more formally ‘sincerely’

      In a similar way I’ve only every seen “I look forward to working with you on this” as a sign off when the letter writer is specifically asking for work from me in a situation that will be little to no work for them but disproportionately advantageous (alternatively I see it when the request specifically against the guidelines or rules as if by offering to ‘work with me’ on it, they can get around the rules).

      I’d like to think that I wouldn’t gut-reject an email that ended with either of these phrases despite the operant conditioning, but it will take work.

    12. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      I don’t agree that “Thanks in advance” is presumptuous at all, as Alison says it’s appropriate when the person you’re asking doesn’t actually have much of a choice in the matter. But I do agree that the acronym is completely off unless you’re my big boss.

  3. Mia*

    #3: I would hate to be the birthday person in that situation!
    I think it’s likely that some of your other co-workers don’t like prepping for (or participating in) the celebrations. Maybe this is a situation where it would be possible to get a group of co-workers together to push back on the amount of time these events are taking up?

    1. Pennyworth*

      I like Alison’s idea of using your own birthday to reduce the birthday palaver, failing that can you join in for part of the time then claim you have work to get on with? Also, is anyone being swept up in the hour long celebration who would rather not be the focus such attention on their birthday? I would absolutely hate it.

      1. pleaset cheap rolls*

        I’m reminded of the time I walked out of a work birthday celebration when it was my birthday. It was actually for two or three people with birthdays that month but I hadn’t realized it was a birthday party. So I just stood up, waved and walked back to my desk.

        Opt-out of stuff that you do not want to participate in if you can. Really! If you have the capital at work to opt-out, opt-out! Especially if you hate something.

        Don’t take it. It’s good for you, and also good for other people to begin modelling this behavior.

        “join in for part of the time then claim you have work to get on with”
        Yeah, this is not a bad intermediate step – make an appearance for a few minutes, then leave. I do this with other people’s birthdays, to show some low-level of caring. I’ve told HR to never have one for me again.

        1. Tek5508*

          you should practice the “Irish Good-bye” – just slip out when nobody is looking , that way they have no idea how long you were there

          1. Selena*

            I’m usually the first to go: i either sneak out or make up an excuse about another appointment.
            Parties in the corner of a big empty cafetaria are worst: everybody sees you leave.

            1. Selena*

              If the toilet is next to the entrance that’s usually best: low-key take your coat with you, after doing your business you walk out in seconds.

          2. pleaset cheap rolls*

            Oh, I’m an expert at that.

            But with everyone looking at me for “my birthday” celebration, I added a wave. And that was leaving after 10 seconds.

          3. one more scientist*

            That’s not an Irish Good-bye, that’s a French Good-bye!
            An Irish Good-bye is the opposite–you say you’re leaving, just one more drink. And two hours later, you’re still there.

        2. Selena*

          For after-work parties: normalize putting an end-time on them (and sticking to that time). Anything to prevent the situation of people awkwardly looking at each other because nobody wants to be first to go.

          I hate parties and often try to sneak out. What irks me are all the managers who say ‘all parties are optional, i do not care if you come’, who will still judge you negatively if you actually decline parties.

        3. Guacamole Bob*

          My office has thankfully not started recognizing birthdays, but we have had a spate of new hires, farewells, and retirements with associated zoom gatherings. In my office showing up for only part of the time is fine, often people just leave after putting something in the chat like “I have to hop over to another meeting – congrats on your retirement, Fergus!”.

          Highly recommend clawing back some portion of the time if you can, given how often these birthday things seem to be happening.

          1. Threeve*

            In an old job, it was traditional for a departing employee’s team to do some huge gesture as a goodbye–a party, elaborate presentation with video, creating a board game about them and inviting people to play (seriously).

            When I gave notice, Overly-Enthusiastic Executive immediately started badgering my department about what kind of celebration they would see me off with. They knew me, and so kept reassuring him that they were planning something awesome. Then we went out to lunch, they gave me a card, and everybody on the team went home early.

      2. H2*

        I like using your own birthday as a way to stop it, too. I think the problem with things like this sometimes is that they are hard to stop. If you are the manager here, how are you going to say, well, Susie’s birthday is next and we’re just gonna send her an email instead of the “party” that everyone else got. So if you can volunteer to be the first one to set the new precedent, I think that’s helpful.

    2. OP #3*

      Yes, I would hate to be the birthday person in this situation too! It’s hard to get a read on how my coworkers are enjoying or not enjoying this kind of celebration. There are definitely a couple of people on the team who are REALLY into their birthdays and clearly enjoyed all the attention (the manager leading the efforts being one of them–I suspect they are doing this because this is the kind of hoopla they appreciate and they think everyone else feels similarly).

      Luckily, last year my birthday flew completely under the radar so I wasn’t subjected to this. I like my birthday but don’t feel the need to celebrate it at work and this is like having people singing Happy Birthday to you for an hour straight while you have to sit there on Zoom and smile awkwardly. No, thank you. However, we now have calendar reminders for everyone’s birthday so that won’t happen this year, and it’s far enough away that using my own birthday as an way to start opting out would still mean months more of this.

      When the next one comes up I will probably just say I’m too busy, but best wishes.

      1. Ms. Anon*

        My team splits between “I love this,” “I hate this,” and “I don’t care, whatever.” The “whatever” group is the largest, the “hates” are very small, and really: the “loves” is a very small group, too! But they love it so much that we have similar nonsense going on. I specifically had my birthday removed from the calendar, and it sailed by none the wiser.

        I suggest opting out without saying a word, or just “I’m really slammed this week! Happy birthday to Jane!” and leave it at that. In my experience, people who love this stuff really can’t understand not loving this stuff and will foist it on you if they possibly can, with all the good will in the world.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      That was my first thought! I’m hardly ever comfortable being a center of attention. I would honest to dog fake my own death to avoid a Zoom meeting where I’d have to sit through 10-15 presentations about myself on my birthday.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Adding to the above, this is the one time that I would have liked to be the employee with the February 29 birthday from last year’s letters.

    4. Suzy Q*

      That birthday stuff the LW described would drive me bonkers. I would always find an excuse not to participate or to leave early , and I would not contribute to the video. Call me a grump, I don’t care!

    5. Abogado Avocado*

      #3: our office — which still has many people WFH — has started using Kudoboard for out-of-the-office birthday celebrations. It may just be that it’s new to us, but it’s turned out to be a lot of fun to celebrate this way instead of yet another Zoom.

      I, too, like Alison’s idea of using your own birthday as a way to ramp down the Zoom birthdays, but for those who really enjoy having their birthdays celebrated (not me!), Kudoboard may be an alternative that helps ease the transition.

    6. OscarTheGrouch*

      It sucks.

      At my job we did frequent birthday celebrations when we were in the office and I was happy to head them up as decorating a desk does not take me that long and it usually involved some free food either from what people brought in or our manager treating us to go out to lunch. It was a way to break up the monotony of cubicle life.

      When we went WFH one of my co-workers took it upon herself to not only try to continue this tradition but expand it first by throwing me a party for reaching the 10 year mark at the office. We don’t throw parties for that and no one cares beyond the $200 gift card they receive from corporate and getting a little plaque to hang up in their cube. But still I was stuck as the guest of honor on an awkward zoom call. Then she did it again for another co-worker’s anniversary and then it was my birthday because lucky me and my August birthday. I had to put my foot down because I was not sitting through another call like that again.

      This would have been fine if it had stuck to that but this co-worker also kept pushing for us to meet-up for lunch for my birthday which again, in August 2020, was during a pandemic. Also I would have to drive somewhere, my co-workers with children would have to find babysitting to attend, and I was less comfortable making my co-workers pay for lunch then I was my manager. Again I had to put my foot down.

      I still do not know what the thought process was there.

    7. Jules the 3rd*

      Same. Ugh. I don’t admit to my bday at work bcs I don’t want to celebrate like that. And can you imagine if someone admits they have a bday and doesn’t get all the hoopla? Ouch.

  4. Jj*

    I empathize for op #3. It’s an awkward situation! I wouldn’t want to put that time in what sounds like more than a dozen times a year. But I *also* wouldn’t want to be the first or second person to get something small and perfunctory after seeing my other colleagues elaborately lauded. Any chance it’s been a full year cycle and everyone has received this treatment at least once? That might help it be less weird when you try to suggest axing it

    1. Artemesia*

      These things tend to spin out of control and someone always gets hurt when Sally gets an over the top heartfelt — and Liz gets some generic and perfunctory effort. It will always happen. And chances are good that everyone hates it and no one wants to disrupt — many may have seen the very old video ‘the trip to Abilene’ — this is the trip to Abilene to get ice cream.

      1. Kind Regards*

        I get roughly 7,832 billion emails a day. I literally have no time to consider what everyone means by their sign off. I personally just have “thank you” and my title. I guess I feel like most people don’t really have the time to put the energy into passive aggressive sign-offs and hope no One is sitting around wondering if I am being passive aggressive with whatever I say. Unless I said “Per my last e-mail,” I am not.

        Tbh I don’t even notice if people say “thanks in advance” or “kind regards” or “V/R” or “thanks” or whatever. If they’re being a passive aggressive jerk you’ll figure it out through the rest of the email…

        1. Kind Regards*

          Oops! Not sure how I accidentally posted this as a comment to an unrelated letter writer. Sorry! Will post as a general comment as initially intended. Carry-on. Nothing to see here

          1. Delia K*

            It stands for very respectfully but I’ve never actually seen it used as a sign off.

    2. V.*

      I agree – after contributing to others’ elaborate celebrations, it might hurt to not get the same treatment. Hopefully it’s been a full year already so you can make a change without leaving anyone out!

      1. pleaset cheap rolls*

        Crappy practice was crappy so let’s keep it going temporarily so the benefits from the crap are spread around fairly?


        1. WellRed*

          Seriously! I’m surprised by some of these comments. OP has not indicated a desire to be recognized in this way and presumably others might agree with that. I’m curious what the content is in these presentations. Personal? That’s a bit inappropriate and some really like to keep it separate. Professional? Then recognize their achievements in a work manner not while singing Happy Bday. Put a pin in it already!

          1. OP #3*

            Right, I have absolutely no desire for anyone to celebrate my birthday this way. I was really happy when mine slipped through the cracks last year. I would hope that my colleagues are mature enough not to be pouty if they don’t get their own awkward hour of celebration. But, you never know.

            As for the content, they’re a little on the personal side, but not enough to be uncomfortable with what we’re sharing. Everyone contributes something to what amounts to a list of recommendations. For example, we each make a powerpoint slide with our favorite book and why we recommend it, so then the birthday person has the “gift” of potential books to read. At first someone just gathered the slides and put them all into one presentation to send to the recipient, but now we are expected to each present our slide as the entire deck is reviewed during the celebration. With the number of people on our team, it’s very time-consuming!

            1. Reba*

              oh my GLOB.

              I would be thrilled if my birthday were skipped, or even better was the one to end this practice! I could see people feeling miffed to get “less” (less.. punishment? lol) but I at least am like you, I’d be delighted.

            2. meyer lemon*

              Does anyone in existence actually enjoy this kind of thing? I mean, I love to read, but I don’t want to have to listen and awkwardly respond to a book report from each of my coworkers.

          2. Metadata minion*

            And if someone *wants* to do a big presentation/Zoom party, it seems like a reasonable compromise would be to have the option open for them/their work friends to organize that at some time that’s not a required work meeting and to have this be really emphatically optional.

    3. pleaset cheap rolls*

      “But I *also* wouldn’t want to be the first or second person to get something small and perfunctory after seeing my other colleagues elaborately lauded. Any chance it’s been a full year cycle and everyone has received this treatment at least once? ”

      You’re part of the problem. Yes, that sounds harsh, but it’s true. If you think these birthday exercises are BS (which I think you do) they should just stop, even if you haven’t gotten yours.

      Please try not to care about “getting yours” of something that you know is burden on your colleagues.

      1. London Lass*

        You’re right, that is harsh. I don’t believe the suggestion was made implying that people would necessarily be right to feel left out if they don’t “get theirs”. I think it was more in the interests of creating a minimum of bad feelings within the team, where some people might (rightly or wrongly) feel slighted at not getting their own celebration after putting lots of effort into events for their colleagues. Even if you think they would be silly to react badly to that, it could make it harder to work together.

        1. pleaset cheap rolls*

          “where some people might (rightly or wrongly) feel slighted ”

          Wrongly. This is all so stupid.

          1. Anononon*

            I think it’s stupid that you’re not acknowledging that people have emotions and differing opinions from you in terms of birthday celebrations. It’s clear from this comment section that you strongly dislike large birthday celebrations, at least at work. That’s fine. BUT, a good number of people also enjoy them. And, if someone enjoys these celebrations and is looking forward to theirs, it’s entirely reasonable that they’ll be hurt if the celebrations get cancelled right before their b-day.

            1. pleaset cheap rolls*

              What is stupid is making other people work for your happiness.

              Enjoy your parties – I’ve got no problem with that (even organized parties I did not want to attend at work as a part of my paid job). But perpetuating “volunteer” labor for this happiness. No no no.

              “it’s entirely reasonable that they’ll be hurt if the celebrations get cancelled right before their b-day.” If they are hurt, they need to understand it’s not a personal slight but rather rolling back an unwanted burden on other people. Nothing persona. And if they don’t understand that……well that’s stupid.

              1. Marillenbaum*

                Then perhaps you should find the cave you so richly desire instead of calling other people names for having different feelings?

      2. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

        I read “I wouldn’t want to be the first person…” as empathetic rather than greedy, so your response does come across as unduly harsh.

        1. Harper the Other One*

          Yes, I think it’s imagining that someone who enjoys this setup suddenly discovers that for their birthday, they got a quick “hey, have a great day!” when Joan or Bob got the full presentation two weeks ago. If you liked it, and it suddenly stopped with no explanation, it could easily feel personal.

          1. Jj*

            Exactly. That’s why I also think a decent heads up (at least a month) is in order so folks know in advance and have time to emotionally integrate that it’s not personal, rather than just getting cut off randomly when they were anticipating something nice. But I also really like the idea someone had of offering an opt-in/out phase out, when for like, 3 months or however long folks are asked if they want that or (more reasonable alternative – a signed card? etc) . Just a more easeful transition.

      3. Ramona Q*

        Definitely harsh, and you’re making a lot of assumptions! They don’t actually know it’s a burden on all of their colleagues. (Nor does the LW.) And one function of saying, “I might feel left out if that happened to me” is expressing empathy for OTHERS who might feel that way. You are skipping right past that in your rush to yell at them.

      4. biobotb*

        Wow, any particular reason you feel the need to be so rude to commenters who are open to the idea that others might feel differently than you about the birthday presentations?

    4. BadWolf*

      I was thinking the same — has this cycled through everyone yet? If not, reaching out to birthday people and asking “Hey, this birthday thing has grown bigger recently. Do you want birthday activity video or back to the note?” Then phase things back to the previous level.

      1. Jj*

        This is perfect. Give everyone a no shame way to pick what they want – once – if they haven’t yet, and then end it. As long as it’s not like “hey, you didn’t really want thus dUmB birthday thing?” but a genuine “we’ve had mixed feedback that some people really love their slideshows, and other’s would have rather we skipped it. We’re asking everyone to opt in if they want to for between X and Y dates birthdays, and after that we’ll be phasing these out!” And just make sure the dates mean everyone got 1 turn, if they haven’t yet. If they have, just make it a window of 1-2 months and you’d be fine. If as many people hate it as you think, most will opt out and the final months of phase out will be fairly seemless. However, if even more person was really looking forward to it and doesn’t get it, I wouldn’t risk that happening. Dumb as it may sound, people just feel how they feel. AND this has been an extremely hard year for many people, and some people, in general, have very hard lives. It just makes sense to be gentle about phasing out something people might be attached to. You can and should phase it out, but no reason to not be kind and compassionate while doing so.

      2. OP #3*

        This has cycled through many team members, however, we keep adding to our team so there are plenty of newer people who have only known this as our standard birthday celebration and there are new birthdays popping up regularly. A phase out is good in theory but in practice it’s going to slight at least a few people, and at the moment there’s no way to know how they will take that.

        This whole situation has just turned into the slipperiest of slippery slopes.

        1. pleaset cheap rolls*

          Maybe come up with a tracking system to monitor who has benefited from this, and how many times people have had to put together presentations, then sort of “grandfather in” certain people but have new hires past a certain date only have to produce shorter presentations to prepare for when the system is phased out, and then offer (optional but paid time for hourly employees) counseling for people who might need to emotionally integrate when the program is phased out less than three months before their own birthday and then some salaried employees might have to have their work adjusted to make time for the counseling to deal with the hurt feelings. Just an idea.

          I’m also concerned if the policy for people born on February 29 in leap years is clear.

          1. OP #3*

            Seriously…lol. We’re all adults, we can survive without any of this birthday ridiculousness.

            For real, I think most of my team would be fine if we just cut it out but there’s a few who really would be quite wounded to not have their special day acknowledged in the same awkward way everyone else’s was.

        2. meyer lemon*

          Yours is the path of righteousness. Do you have the kind of rapport with your coworkers that you might be able to feel a few of them out about whether anyone is actually appreciating this weird birthday theatre? Maybe if enough of you band together, you can advocate for replacing it with a virtual card or something.

          1. OP #3*

            I might bring it up with one or two people. Actually I was on a call today with one coworker when we got a meeting notification with a title that was reminiscent of some of the fake meetings set up for the celebrations and I joked, “Wait, it’s not your birthday is it? Is this a real meeting?” and then we realized it was a real meeting because neither of us were asked to prep anything.

            I feel like we’re going to be dealing with the post-traumatic effects of these celebrations for a long time, haha.

    5. NotSoAnon*

      This is the exact reason my company moved to a “don’t do anything” model for birthdays. It was warping into something untenable. The office admin/manager couldn’t keep up with all the birthdays as we were growing rapidly at the time and it caused a lot of drama.

      Now department managers decide what they like to do and because we are remote a little slack note is all I do for my team.

      When we return to the office I would imagine my very boisterous team will want to go back to decorating the cube of the birthday person. I’m okay with that, they buy all the supplies themselves and come in a little early to put up streamers and balloons and such and the team will chip in for a dessert. I told them as long as they respect the wishes of people who want to opt out I don’t have an issue with it.

  5. Anonariffic*

    #2: That male VP didn’t happen to mention his military service or any recent customer service difficulties at his favorite winery, did he?

    1. Heidi*

      It would be something of a relief to know that two different jerks were really one jerk, wouldn’t it? One less jerk, yay!

      The difficulty is knowing what to do in response. This comment would make me want to stop smiling, but it would feel confrontational in a job interview to frown right after someone commented on my smile. So I’d have to keep smiling, but the light behind my eyes would die a little. And 3 times? Is he fishing for some sort of thank you for being a creep?

      1. MusicWithRocksIn*

        Yea, my smile would get a lot more fixed and a lot less pretty. I don’t think I could really stop myself from going to cringe smile even if I wanted to. Acting was never really my skill.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Weirdly, an acting job would be one of the few cases where a comment like that would be acceptable.

          1. just another anon*

            Yeah, that was going to be my quip—any chance OP2 was interviewing for a toothpaste model job?

      2. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

        How about a breezy “I hope my dazzling smile won’t distract you from my amazing and RELEVANT work-related skills!”?

        Although I’d almost be tempted to go for a snarkier “Yep, I find the spreadsheets are just so much better behaved when I smile at them! (Totally nothing to do with my ten years experience..)”

      3. meyer lemon*

        I would want to give them a terrifying grimace in response, but probably wouldn’t in a job interview. Maybe by the third rep I’d get there, though.

    2. trekkie*

      While Bart at the winery from yesterday was clearly a jerk, casting contempt on people who have served in the military is offensive. By the way, discrimination against veterans in employment is illegal under the USERRA, 38 USC 4301 et. seq.

      1. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

        No one was discriminating against veterans. Also pretty sure that code doesn’t apply to internet comments sections.

      2. Le Sigh*

        good lord it was simply a reference to Bart showing off a scar, which he said was related to his military service. calm down.

      3. Indigo a la mode*

        That jerk was a vet – it’s not like Anonariffic was casting aspersions on all military personnel and also that one winery guy. By the way, no one mentioned anything about discriminating against veterans in employment.

  6. Ms Frizzle*

    OP4, FWIW in my experience un-retiring seems to be something that happens in education (maybe more than other fields? I don’t have a good point to compare it to). I know multiple people who have retired and then returned to the classroom, or retired and then taken on part-time education positions like subbing, coaching, or interim admin positions. It seems likely that the folks who are hiring will already have an existing schema for this.

    1. turquoisecow*

      My MIL is a speech therapist who’s worked within the educational system for many years, and she was “retired” for maybe three months before she found a part-time job that kept her almost as busy as when she worked full time. The pandemic through a wrench into her plans but she’s still doing a limited amount of remote therapy – some 4-5 years after her retirement!

      Of course, her husband did similar and he’s not in education. I think it’s just a certain personality type that wants to keep busy and feel useful. My mom retired and wants to get into more volunteering.

      1. Archangelsgirl*

        OP here. I know tons of teachers do arms length education things after retirement, but don’t know any who attempt a return to full time perm as though they never left. Very possible I need to get out more. Thanks for the encouragement

        1. Book Turtle*

          Things have been so challenging this past school year (and a half) that many teachers are leaving the profession or retiring early. I think any school you so it to will be so happy to have an experienced teacher apply, they won’t question it! Administration has much bigger problems to deal with.

          1. OhGee*

            I came here to say this. Schools will be thrilled to have applicants this coming year, because it’s pretty clear teachers will be leaving in droves.

          2. Cranky lady*

            Yup. This. Our local schools are upping the summer school offerings but can’t find enough teachers. They are looking for warm bodies and probably won’t care about much else.

            Here is another consideration…depending on the state you are from/going to, you may or may not be eligible for Social Security. If you aren’t currently (because you haven’t paid into the system), you can substitute teach (giving flexibility) or teach full time at a private school which then gives you quarters towards social security as another retirement income source. I’ve known lots of teachers that have done that.

        2. Wednesday*

          I work in HR for a relatively small public school system, and we currently have three full time teachers who unretired, as well as two long-term subs for the year. Several more retirees are working as day-to-day subs. The only potential concern we have is sometime budgetary–bringing someone in at a higher salary on the salary scale, but that would still be the case even if you had stayed working in education.

        3. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

          Hey OP. You sound like a thoughtful person who is starting to emerge from the wringer. I am cheering for you so hard.

          1. archangels girl*

            Aww thank you. Apparently it’s too easy to blame the job for what’s happening in your life, lol. Lesson learned, and you’re never too old to learn.

        4. Clorinda*

          It happens all the time. As long as you treat it as of-course-I-did-this, so will everyone else.

        5. turquoisecow*

          Oh and I was just reminded of my husband’s grandpa, who, less than a month after having a grand retirement party, announced he was helping his son start a new business, which he then was quite involved in working at. I’ve known quite a few people who went back to work after retiring, because they found work fulfilling and sitting at home boring. Sometimes these people didn’t have hobbies to keep them busy, sometimes they missed the camaraderie of work, sometimes they were passionate about what they did.

          1. JustaTech*

            That was my granddad; he retired, got bored, drove his wife to distraction, then got a new job, then retired from that and picked up his childhood passion for the lost treasure of Oak Island and spent the rest of his retirement working on how to test his theories on the “money hole”.

            Some people want to rest and chill, but a lot of people discover that once they’ve had their rest they want something to do, and if you’ve got the time and energy to work a paid job, why not?

          2. Retired Prof*

            I am retired from my main gig teaching college, but I work as an educational consultant and currently have two jobs going. I love my work, but hated the stress. Now I get one without the other. I also thrive on externally-determined structure, since I am ADD, and these jobs give me just the right amount of structure without feeling oppressive.

    2. Asenath*

      A LOT of retirees go back to work – not always for financial reasons, either. They get a bit bored, or they miss something about the job. I knew a retired teacher who initially went to work in a completely unrelated job that she’d been doing as a kind of hobby. A few years later, when I saw her again, she’d quit that and gone back to a job working with children, because she missed doing that. She didn’t go back into the school system, but locally there are far more would-be teachers than teaching positions. I have known retired teachers who have gone to remote areas where there is a demand for teachers. They usually intent to go for one or two years, but sometimes these people love the new community and keep going back year after year. No one is going to think it odd that a retiree is looking for paid work, and when it’s something like teaching, and you enjoyed it, there are all kinds of good reasons you can mention in an interview – like my old friend, you miss working with children. Or something specific you liked about working with children – the pleasure you got when they understood something you were teaching them, for example.

      1. Doreen*

        I think it’s especially common with government employees who can collect a pension from their first employer at a relatively young age – I know lots of people who retired from government jobs younger than 55 who got new jobs after retirement. Sometimes it’s just because they want to stay busy but sometimes it’s for the increased income – the salary for the new job plus pension is more than the salary for the original job.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I find it happens in banking, too. I’ve known several people to un-retire. One woman was a branch manager for decades. She retired, decided she was really bored and then came back as a part-time teller. She absolutely loved it. It gave her social interaction and time out of the house, while not bogging her down with a 40+ hour work week. Someone at my current bank retired last year and then came back as a consultant for some projects, which is what I’ve seen a couple other people do over the years, too.

      1. Selena*

        I think there are many people who would love to be demoted for the last years of their working life.
        Unfortunately not many companies are set up to accomodate that, and a lot of hiring managers seem to think candidates can not be happy in a lower-paid job.

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

          … and every lower-paid job going an ‘un-retired’ Branch Manager (or similar) takes away an opportunity for someone earlier in their career path to get started as a Teller or whatever the more junior job is.

          1. EPLawyer*

            So someone has to stay retired and bored because a hypothetical younger person might not get a chance. It’s a part time job. Someone else can be part time too. Maybe when people see that part time is on offer they might want to go part time instead of full time for various reasons, leaving a full time position open for a new person.

          2. anonhere*

            Actually in my experience, un-retired lower level job employees are some of the best employees we have. They often have pretty open availability, don’t get immersed in the stress or drama, and cheerfully enjoy a job they can clock in and out, without being bogged down with emails, take home work, or trying to navigate a career path. While often bringing a lot of institutional knowledge.

            1. The Rural Juror*

              My mother is an elected official in the county where I grew up (she works in one of the offices at the county courthouse). Almost every single one of the bosses before her has retired, waited the specified amount of time in the rule book, then came back to their office part-time. They usually retire in an election year and then whoever is the next in line of succession (or the next person after them if they don’t want to) will run for the office. Most of them had said they liked being able to come back and NOT be the boss! And it helps the office immensely to have someone stay on with the expertise.

              Some will come in for a couple hours each day, some will do two full days and then be off for three, whatever works! At one point, they had two “ex bosses” in the office while my mom was running the show. So for them, retiring and then doing part-time is almost the norm.

            2. Corporate Drone Liz*

              Additionally, I have to imagine there are positions out there that young people are fine starting out in but would want to advance out of in 2-3 years. Having someone who’s content to stay in a role like that for a longer period of time would be a nice setup for both parties.

          3. Not playing your game anymore*

            Send that young person to South Dakota! South Dakota’s unemployment rate is below 3 percent. But employers still need workers. 

            There are about 3,000 people receiving unemployment benefits in South Dakota, but even if all of them became employed, the state would still have 20,000-40,000 vacancies to fill.

            1. SomebodyElse*

              WI is about the same… I think it might be a little higher but under 4% unemployment.

              Sadly just announced that that fireworks won’t be happening this year because of lack of workers.

          4. SomebodyElse*

            No it really doesn’t and just adds to the stereotype of those evil boomers who are just out for themselves.

            -Signed not a boomer

            1. PT*

              A huge number of older people lost their retirement funds in the crash, and many were laid off from full time work and were never able to return to work in their field due to age discrimination. I worked somewhere where we had a large number of older employees in low level jobs (some full-time, some part-time) and it was pretty common to have people working up through the time where a manager had to have the unavoidable, awkward discussion that they were no longer capable of doing their job due to physical or cognitive issues from aging.

              Many of them were dependent on the money they were earning, which was near minimum wage for our area. Losing their job meant losing stability and housing and ability to afford medical care. It was sad.

              Like you said, these were not “greedy” people in the slightest.

          5. The Other Dawn*

            No, I don’t think so. There’s a lot of turnover in bank branches, especially in the teller position. If someone can’t get a job at my bank, there’s a lots of others in the area that are always hiring. Credit unions, too.

    4. calonkat*

      Agree with Ms Frizzle. Schools are desperate all over the country. The one thing I’d add is that you should start working with the state department of education (or whatever teacher licensing agency is in the state) as soon as possible, as they may need documentation from your previous state/employment that could take some time to get. Sooner started, sooner done!

      1. archangelsgirl*

        I’m not in the US and I’ll still be working in the jurisdiction where I was licensed. Great point though, thank you!

    5. Blackcat*

      Yeah, I think it’s really common to feel burnt out and ready to retire… then deeply miss teaching after a few years.
      I think “missing teaching” is enough.

  7. Global Cat Herder*

    LW4 – My mom has un-retired THREE times. Some variation of Alison’s script is what she uses – “I really missed llama grooming, I’m passionate about undercoats”. In the rare cases when people ask further, she says something like the first three months of retirement were great, then it got boring, and she really wants to get back to llama grooming….

    Good luck with this next stage!

    1. AcademiaNut*

      In academia, there’s definitely retiring and “retiring”, because in many cases they’re retiring from the parts they don’t like, and to free up a tenure track faculty job for someone junior, or because they hit the age cap, but are continuing to contribute to the parts they like (research, very high level guiding-the-field type management).

      1. JustaTech*

        I worked for one university where the very most prized offices were inside the stacks of the library. There weren’t very many of them, and they were assigned based on seniority. I swear some of those emeritus professors in those offices had been around at the Big Bang. But by gum they had *earned* that office (by out waiting everyone else) and they had no intention of giving it up in the name of “retirement”.

    2. archangels girl*

      OP here, yeah, I tend to be a bit of a person who blows things up and sees where they will land and then reassemble the pieces, which I am doing now. Public sector work tends to be kind of straight and narrow. But I like what a poster somewhere else pointed out… need for teachers should be fairly desperate, so that may work in my favor. I feel energized by all the comments. Thank you!

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      My dad un-retired twice. Both times to work for his last employer – once part time, then as a consultant. We used to jokingly ask if the place was actually run by the mafia.

    4. Ellie*

      I know many people who have come out of retirement. Their reasons range from, ‘I realised I was too young to retire’, to, ‘I miss the people’, ‘I miss the kids’, ‘I miss making a difference’, etc. I don’t think it will be an issue at all. But if you wanted to give more details, you could mention that your divorce changed your perspective on things, and that you now want a fresh start in a new town.

      1. Momma Bear*

        Agreed. Retirement is basically just a variation on other reasons for not working for a time, and in some cases officially retiring from x or y career means you get benefits you would not if you just quit. I would simply say that you’ve realized you enjoy working and are looking for new opportunities. Lots of people have Career 2.0, especially if they were military or fed.

  8. Mer*

    #1 – For me, how I react to “thanks in advance” largely depends on who is saying it. If you’re someone who is generally nice and easy to work with, I have no problem with it. If you’re someone who is prone to being a jerk, I’ll read it as presumptuous and rude.

    1. Purple Cat*

      I find Thanks in Advance kind of presumptuous (and never use it). If i were to use it, it would absolutely be in a passive-aggressive way. Like I know you never actually get things done, but I’m going to Thank you in Advance and maybe that will do the trick.

      I also change my Thanks! to Thanks. when I’m really annoyed with someone but I know there’s practically 0% chance anyone notices ;)

      1. No Tribble At All*

        Haha, the “thanks!” vs “thanks.” reminds me of “best regards” vs “regards.” Sometimes I swear the person wants to sign off “cold regards”.

    2. Momma Bear*

      I don’t use “thanks in advance” with everyone. I usually use it with people I know well who are doing me a favor. Kind of a pre-emptive “I know this is extra for you so I appreciate the effort.”

      1. Former Employee*

        And I use it with people I don’t know and want to make the point that they need to deal with the situation I’ve presented.

        It usually involves a company that has not done what they were supposed to do and need to fix it ASAP. So, I conclude with “Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.”.

  9. staceyizme*

    LW5- Six interviews is a lot! (It’s too many, WAY too many. Unless you’re interviewing for the Supreme Court, perhaps.) And this company has hyped you up by keeping the process going and inviting you to subsequent interviews. Even if they offered you the job at this juncture or if they invited you to yet another interview, would you have any interest in working for them? The role doesn’t exist in isolation and what their process seems to say about what it would be like to work there isn’t good. (Would YOU envision inviting someone for a third, fourth, fifth or six interview and then telling them to wait awhile longer because you’ve decided to fill the role internally but you somehow-illogically don’t want to lose the candidate you’ve strung along?) Maybe it’s a funding thing. Maybe it’s a political thing. Or maybe they really are kind of a keystone cops outfit. There’s got to be a better option out there! Someplace where you can be excited about the role and not have to go through more than the usual 2 (or 3, max) interviews. (Maybe I’m just not up to date on interviews? But six? Six is really out there, in my view.)

    1. Filosofickle*

      This month I saw a job listing that laid out what to expect in the hiring process, which is remarkable and unusual. Except it listed 7 (known) interviews! I mean…I’m glad they are conscious of and transparent about their process, down to the name/title for each round, but it was definitely a deterrent for me.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Six interviews tells you a lot about how the company makes decisions. This company doesn’t. It reaches consensus. Which may not be a bad thing when considered in light of whatever industry OP5 is in.

      Is the role one in which concrete decisions have to be made before moving to the next step: approvals, conformance to specs, etc.? Then the groupthink is likely problematic.

      Or is it one in which the OP would have leeway to carry out her tasks (maybe in a creative field), or the team brainstorms a lot and works together without formal structure? Then I could see where an intensive interview process could play in to ensure OP5 is a good fit. [Although SIX is excessive!]

      If OP5 is lurking in comments today, I’d love to know what industry they are in.

      1. ramses*

        OP5 here. I was on vacation last week so I’m just now catching up! This organization is a large, well-known nonprofit healthcare association. And as an update, I didn’t get the job.

    3. Jennifer*

      I do think 6 sounds initially excessive. However, I’ve experienced similar before, and it often depends on a few factors: company culture, seniority of the role, industry, and remote-ness. As for culture, the company I work with now puts a high value on how roles in my particular function interact with peers and stakeholders. We will often add on one or two people for a cultural fit evaluation, aside from the managerial team members. Then, with seniority, I’d say coupled with industry, there is a similar perceived need as with culture, that this person really knows their stuff and will be able to work with other people at a higher level, as well as manage downward. Then, “remote-ness” – a word I’m coining for this response: The more we become a remote and/or distributed workforce, the harder it can be to schedule what might’ve normally been a panel style interview. So, in light of not being able to slate 2, 3, 4 people in a larger interview, several separate ones might be set up (I’ve had to do this as a manager; not my ideal). Too, in such times and teams, the ‘in-person’ factor of even just showing someone around the office where others, though not formally part of the interview process, might be able to do a quick meet-and-greet the candidate is lost. My point is: in a more remote workplace, hiring teams may be overcompensating for lack of that face-to-face aspect and/or ability to coordinate disparate schedules.

    4. Smithy*

      I’m sure for some sectors 6 is way too many – but in my field, having 4-5 interviews is so normal, that a 6th wouldn’t seem wild. And then whenever you’re looking to schedule 4-5 interviews, the process inevitably can drag on. In all of my US hiring experience, a process that takes a month would be considered really fast, whereas 2-3 is more normal. So again….stretching into a 4th month is long (and certainly irritating) but not breaking norms. And I don’t work in government.

      Early on in my career, I did have one job where 4-5 interviews was indicative of indecisiveness – but I also had another process with only 3 interviews that was at a place with a horrifically lax HR process. I later learned that the only reason I got that job was they literally did a coin toss between me and the other finalist.

      I only say this to add that I just don’t think that an idea of 2-3 interviews being standard is a helpful maxim when deciding if there are red flags.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        I previously had a job that did involve six interviews, but the whole process only took about 8 weeks. I know other hiring processes might take that long with half the number interviews, so it didn’t seem too ridiculous at the time. Plus there were some out-of-the-company’s-control things that happened along the way. At least two of the six interviews were “the person who was supposed to do this was is unexpectedly unavailable, but instead of cancelling, here is someone else who will interview you now” but then I still interviewed with the original person later.

        1. Smithy*

          As I’ve done the math….I think I did have one process that did include 6 interviews. However, 1 was with HR and then after the second with the Hiring Manager, she encouraged me to apply for a different position on her team. After that step, it was 4…at least. Two were on one day, and another was scheduled after I informed them I was in town for an interview with another organization.

          The whole process took about 10-12 weeks, but my memory is certainly fuzzy at this point. That being said, the process was also over the summer.

          I wouldn’t say that I love how my sector does interviews and honestly, I don’t know if it helps get better candidates. I just know it’s common.

      2. Yes Yes Yes*

        Yikes! We currently have two equally strong candidates for a position and are fortunate to be able to create an additional position.

    5. LadyByTheLake*

      I don’t understand the comment about “don’t want to lose the candidate you’ve strung along . . .” That candidate does not have the job, is free at any moment to take something else or (even if they are eventually offered the job) decide they don’t want it. No one has made promises to anyone here, in fact, the company has done the job seeker the courtesy of giving them an update. Yes, six interviews is a lot (particularly if was six separate meetings that the job seeker had to dress up and go to their offices (unlikely in this past year), but not unheard of for senior positions, but again — not a promise to hire that person (or anyone). I like Alison’s advice about job seeking — assume you didn’t get the job until you have an offer — and same with employers — assume you don’t have a new employee until the offer has been accepted.

    6. kittymommy*

      Where I’m at 6 interviews and they’re still going to get more candidates? = you’re not getting the job and no one is the guts to say anything (because out HR sucks).

    7. ThatGirl*

      I had two rounds of interviews with my current job, but talked to like 8 different people along the way – because they wanted a lot of different folks from the department to meet me, so instead of putting me in a conference room and cycling people in to talk to me, it was a bunch of zoom meetings in a row. But again, it was two rounds total and only took about a month start to finish. Six rounds of interviews is definitely too many.

    8. Cat Tree*

      I interpreted that differently than you did. In my industry it’s standard to meet with a variety of people on the team, usually 4-6 total. In the Before Times, this would technically be just one interview where you’d rotate around and meet everyone back-to-back. With the pandemic and Zoom interviews, it’s much easier to split those into different days to fit everyone’s schedules but the overall time involved is about the same. I assumed that’s what happened here.

      And I actually like this way of doing. An interview goes both ways, so as a candidate I especially value the chance to talk to a direct peer. In the hiring side, I’m glad to have some input into who I will be working with even though I’m not a manager.

    9. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I think it depends on how the 6 interviews would be structured if they didn’t have to be remote. I work in a field where an all-day onsite interview is the norm, which usually involves meeting with most of the team over the course of the day. I think I had 6 or 8 separate interview panels with about 15 people during my interview, plus an initial phone interview. Now that travel isn’t (usually) a component in the hiring process I’m seeing that a lot of interview processes are getting stretched out into multiple 30-60 minute interviews instead of one half or full-day onsite visit.

  10. Not my real name*

    Re: Birthdays. At my old job, we celebrated birthdays once a month, usually around the 15th or mid month. All people born that month were given a card and we’d have cupcakes and fruit. If it was a milestone birthday (turning 21 or if your new age ended in zero) we would have a small luncheon for that person on or near their actual birthday. Now we also decorated the birthday person’s desk on their actual birthday. Or the Friday before if the birthday was on a weekend. The department managers were given a small stipend to pay for it. Occasionally we would contribute some cash if the stipend wasn’t enough. It was 100% voluntary.

    1. AS87*

      Voluntary for who wanted to organize the birthdays or for employees who didn’t want to celebrate their birthday at work, or both? Cupcakes are one thing but I would not want a luncheon or my desk decorated.

    2. tangerineRose*

      At a place I used to work, every month they would have a cake to celebrate the birthdays that month. That worked pretty well. I think the company paid for the cake and had an admin purchase it.

      1. John Smith*

        In my organisation, the person who’s birthday it is brings in the cake (or other munchables as they see fit). It works well as there’s no pressure on anyone to do this if they don’t want to, nor any pressure on others to remember or make any effort to do something for someone else.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        In this case I think they’ve settled on these alternate celebrations because they’re remote so can’t do cake, etc. (Not that that warrants where they’ve ended up!)

    3. turquoisecow*

      This is how my old job did it also. We usually rotated volunteers who brought in some sort of dessert – sometimes homemade, often purchased. Usually something baked and some fruit. Not everyone ate anything and not everyone went to the gathering – it was 100% optional and often people would be busy and not come or show up late – but we’d eat and the VP of our department might make a few small announcements and congratulate that month’s birthdays. Then we’d spend 15-30 minutes playing a fun trivia type game.

      It was low key enough that people found it fun and most attended and no one felt left out or jealous, but low stakes enough that if someone didn’t want to go it was fine. I feel like it was a great way to celebrate even for people who didn’t necessarily want a celebration.

  11. AS87*

    I am baffled OP 3’s situation that the celebrations have gotten more elaborate since going remote. There have to be other people on the team that don’t like this. If OP can opt out, do so because that’s what its there for although as a lot of us know there can be a double standard in this situation. If OP is worried about a double standard I agree with Alison of using OP’s birthday to kickstart the issue and hopefully find others who agree with OP. I’d also heavily incorporate the fact that it is negatively affecting actual work.

    Forgive the vent, but there is no way in hell that I would want something like this for my birthday. My birthday always gives me mixed emotions and it is MY birthday, not someone else’s ticket to getting out of work or cheating on their diet.

    1. EPLawyer*

      There are definitely other people who are going — wait how did we end up here? OP opting out may give others the courage to do so too.

      1. Mental Lentil*

        Yep. When it’s a slippery slope, it only take a few people to push it all downhill.

    2. Corporate Drone Liz*

      I get mixed emotions about my birthday too! It’s hard enough for me to deal with it on a personal level; I would LOATHE having to deal with anything like this in a professional setting. I even get stressed when people ask me if I’m “doing anything fun to celebrate” because half the time the answer is “no” haha.

    3. OP #3*

      My birthday is not for months but perhaps I can start the call now to not do anything special to recognize the occasion. And I’ll make sure to sign the message, “Thanks in advance!” ;)

  12. TiredMama*

    I feel for you OP #5. That is a tough position to be in. I would be applying and hoping to get other positions so that if they come back I can say, you snooze you lose. Anyway hope you find something else!

  13. wbw*

    I had no idea “thanks in advance” was A Thing. When I use it it’s always in a context of “I know I’m asking you to do something potentially arduous or annoying so thank you in advance for what I know is an annoying thing.”

    1. Cant remember my old name*

      That’s exactly how I use it! The subtext is “ I know this is a pain. Thank you in advance.”

      1. Blue Eagle*

        Me too. Especially when I’m emailing someone who I don’t know really well (or possibly don’t know at all and was referred to them by someone else).
        It’s kind of like “I recognize that you don’t have to go out of your way for me but am hopeful that you will do what I am requesting – – – and by the way, please know that I will greatly appreciate it if you will do it.” So “thanks in advance” is a shorthand for that much longer statement.

    2. Willis*

      Same here. I use it when I know I have no standing to compel someone to fulfill my request but I’m hoping they’ll help. It’s usually more like “thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide!”

      1. Birch*

        I think the main quibble about this phrase is that some people, like you, are using it when you “have no standing to compel someone” whereas others are using it when they *do* have the standing to expect that the ask is going to be done! I think that latter part of the phrase (“for any assistance you can provide!”) completely changes the perception of standing. I would personally use just “thanks in advance” when I DO have standing to expect something will be done, and use your phrase when I don’t have standing or am not sure I’m asking the right person.

      2. Heather*

        I mean it that way too, but I know it can rub some people the wrong way. So I try to spell it out more, like “Thanks in advance for any pointers you can give me!” type thing. Depends who you are emailing and how formal you need to be, of course.

    3. JM60*

      Same here, but usually when I say it, it’s usually for some arduous favor that can’t be done immediately.

    4. Rez123*

      I have internal clients that like to use it as “I know it’s not your job, but I don’t care. I just want someone to do it and you are the chosen one cause your name was the first I thought about”. Due to power balance it is sometimes very awkward to declicline.

    5. JB*

      I think it comes down to people having different experiences with it, because it’s not a super common phrase, and some (definitely not all, probably not even a majority, but some) of the people who use it are jerk who intentionally use it as a weapon.

      For example, I was working with a customer once who would send me outrageous emails – he had stopped paying us, we were taking legal steps to address it, he didn’t like that. He would send emails to the effect of ‘I have made a payment in the amount of X, my balance should now be Y. Please notify me when this is corrected. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.’ when he knew full well that his balance was higher than Y because he was continuing to accrue late fees, interest, etc.

      I’ve also had a coworker who used it more normally (like you do) but for people who’ve only seen it in contexts like that, they’re going to think that the implication is always negative.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        I would say that “thanks in advance” is the least distasteful part of the email in this instance, you’re at BEC point by the time you read it!

    6. Clorinda*

      I just got an email from a colleague asking me to do an annoying thing that she should have dealt with four months ago, and let me tell you, a “please” or a “thanks in advance” would have sweetened my mood considerably.

    7. Orange You Glad*

      Same. I realized that I subconsciously reserve “Thank you in advance” and its variants to situations where I am asking a great deal from someone – maybe something outside the norm – so I want to express my appreciation for them taking action.

    8. Shan*

      Me too! I really only use it with co-workers I deal with frequently, and it’s usually a case of “can you please send me that report when you’re done reviewing? thanks in advance!” or whatever. And when I’m on the receiving end, I don’t interpret it negatively unless it’s coming from someone I have an a negative opinion in general of, in which case they could say basically anything and I’d feel that way.

    9. staceyizme*

      We’ve all got some pet peeves in the area of social conventions. Rather than “thanks in advance”, wouldn’t it be nice to say something specific that addresses the “this is arduous and I am grateful that you’ll be taking take of this”? And then when it’s done- “thank you! I appreciate that so much!”.

  14. learnedthehardway*

    OP#4 – I would tell interviewers that you took a break from your career to meet family obligations, but these are now resolved and you are looking forward to resuming your full time career now. If you feel you need more of an explanation, mention that the family obligations were to care for a sick family member, and that the issue is resolved. (It’s not uncommon for people to have family obligations like this.)

    OP#5 – Given the extent of interviews, for the company to introduce internal candidates at this late date is really poor process. I know that sometimes internal candidates raise their hands late in the game, of course. But really, you’d think that the hiring manager, their manager, and their HR support would have considered whether there were any internal candidates before doing extensive interviews with external ones.

    Honestly, I would mention that this is disappointing – it IS. Subtly let them think they might lose you as a candidate – let them know that you continue to be interested in the company / role, but that you’re progressing with other potential employers as well – as long as you’re on hold, they can take all the time they like to review internal people.

    And then – continue your job search. Hopefully, by the time they’re ready to make a decision, you’ll have another opportunity at offer stage.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There are other reasons they could be considering another candidate — for example, that person’s role is being eliminated and they’re trying to figure out if they can move her into this one.

      The LW gains nothing from telling them it’s disappointing, and potentially lowers her chances of getting the job.

      1. Jennifer*

        100% – companies are complex, not just their organization but also the mere fact that every person working in them is different. Ideally, we’d all have hiring processes that are well-managed with the best people in those hiring roles. But, that’s the exception, and thus as applicants, there’s a lot of patience to be had. As for telling the hiring manager how one feels, I also don’t advise. Even with the best of intentions, unless you have the absolute best hiring manager, this can go downhill. From personal experience, I was sure I had a job, and when the HM called to tell me they went another way, I did the “professional” thing and asked about feedback: what was it I lacked so that I could consider that in my future endeavors?” The HM had *no clue* – and stuttered through a rote response, to which I just got more inquisitive and eventually just embarrassed myself. I had the best intentions, but without practice—namely, practice with HMs who *don’t* respond as expected—a candidate can do themselves more harm than good, professionally, in trying to get that HM to be the person we want them to be.

        1. Smithy*

          In addition to companies being complex – I also think it’s worth flagging that this remains a really unique time in history for companies and the job market. How COVID has/has not impacted any one organization is likely impacted by a number of different factors.

          The job market is also not behaving like it was following the last recession, and in my sector some classic “easy to fill” jobs are just not attracting the candidate pools they used to. I took a new job in September, and it’s been clear since then that my old employer is doing a lot to make current staff happy. While often it means money, it also means offering to move people into new roles/positions.

          I think it’s relevant that even if it’s a sector that has not seen major cuts/layoffs/furloughs – there may be a lot of other moving pieces that just mean the situation is more influx than would be obvious from outside.

      2. BRR*

        At one job at a relatively small employer we were growing pretty fast and every time someone left or we got approval for a new position it was basically a reassessing of duties because otherwise everyone’s job would look like a Swiss Army knife of responsibilities. So if we were hiring for one role and someone handed in notice before we filled that role, we would have been the employer for letter five (except not doing six rounds of interviews).

      3. Dog Coordinator*

        I’m in a similar situation to LW5, and after my last check in with the company in question where I asked for a timeline (which they did not have), I did admit I was disappointed! This may have hurt my chances in retrospect, like you said, but our conversations have had a very transparent, honest, and somewhat casual tone to them overall. It’s been over 6 months, 2 interviews, and 1 presentation where I demonstrated skills, but there is still no word from them on a hiring timeline. My current position is Toxic with a capital T, and I want out of there.

        My last email to them expressed my desire to transition out of my roll, my disappointment in the 6month process thus far, and they offered to also pass along my resume (with my permission) should any other companies ask for recommendations that I would be a good fit for. I’ve basically written off getting that job even though it would be ideal. Maybe I shot myself in the foot by being honest about the 6month hiring process! I think I’m still in the running, but I haven’t checked in with them in over a month, nor have they reached out to me. It definitely stings, but what can you do!

    2. Archangelsgirl*

      LW#4 here. Love your advice. I had thought about it because sometimes Alison reccomends a, “There was illness but it’s resolved,” approach. I’d like to avoid that if I can as the health info is sort of not my news to share. If I’m successful we’d both be newcomers in small community and that info maybe doesn’t need to be right out there as a first impression thing.

      1. Clorinda*

        Retired, divorced, moved, and decided to go back to teaching=a perfectly reasonable story. I don’t think you need to add your daughter’s health issues into it.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I actually used a similar line a few years back when I went back to work after having to take some time off from work. My interviewer didn’t push at all from the answer. Really all they were looking for was reassurance that I want going to job hop, not a full accounting of what I had been doing during my time off work.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            I inhabit the awkward gap between Gen X and Millennials – where I was going was that my interviewer was looking more for “is there something that will make you need to leave again soon” that was related to the reason I left the last position.

  15. Bluestreak*

    For LW#2, I think you need to take into account it was over Zoom. Lots or people are paying as close attention during zoom meetings like they might in person and may not have noticed immediately.
    This is in no way excusing the behavior, because it was awful. But if it’s your dream job and you won’t be working closely with this fool, I’d take that into account.

    1. sadbutnotbad*

      I really think the issue of whether this was on Zoom or in person is completely irrelevant. It is true that people are probably staring harder when you’re trying to engage through a tiny screen, but that doesn’t mean one loses all judgment of what’s inappropriate to say. Especially three times.

  16. Cant remember my old name*

    #2 is really hard for me. I hate the idea that we as women, who already miss out on so much in the professional world, might have to self-select out of what could be amazing growth opportunities just to protect ourselves from potentially creepy men. Grrr

    Note: this is commentary on the situation, not the decision the LW may or may not make! Creepy men are just the worse.

    1. Xenia*

      Ugh, yes, I totally agree with you. It sucks that sometimes creeps win, even temporarily, because the cost for the person they’re creeping on is so much higher than they can afford to pay.

      1. OP2*

        Yeah, I think I’m more grouchy that it feels like he removed the element of choice about whether or not to take the job. But, I’m telling myself, spite isn’t a good enough reason to put yourself in a bad work position.

        (Double thanks to everyone saying this was creepy and out of line; I really needed to hear that as I was wondering if I was being oversensitive.)

        1. Mental Lentil*

          I was wondering if I was being oversensitive

          You definitely aren’t. But our society trains people to view women as the cause of men’s problems, and it really needs to stop.

        2. Lecturer*

          Never think you are being oversensitive, that is the trick these people use to carry on with their behaviour. However, I would consider what the job means to you. There’s no way I am willing to switch jobs.

        3. No smiles. All sadz.*

          You aren’t. This happens to me all the time. For most of my 20’s, I used my “intoxicating” smile (yes, someone called it that once) to my advantage, but when I decided that was gross and stopped, I noticed the creepiness for what it was and somehow it caused men to get even more aggressive? Ew. Just. Not right.

    2. Mockingjay*

      “I really like your smile.”
      “Thanks, but I don’t see how my dental work is a factor in my ability to fulfill this role.”

      If OP2 is offered the job and declines, if they ask why, that’s an opportunity to point out the sexist vibe. “I am not sure my work would have been taken seriously here at Sexist Corp. The interview showed that leadership was more interested in my appearance/superficialities than a detailed discussion of my qualifications and how I would best fit the role.”

      Assuming that OP2 wants to waste any more time on this place, of course.

      1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        And if OP2 is not obligated to share her reasoning if she declines! “It just wasn’t the right fit for me” is a perfectly good reason to turn down a job, and doesn’t require explaining why it wasn’t the right fit.

        1. ArtsyGirl*

          She isn’t obligated but it might be a great way to help change the office culture. So frequently bad behavior in the C suite is normalized and it takes an outside voice to highlight how abnormal and off-putting comments like this are.

    3. ArtsyGirl*

      Unless the OP’s job is as a lipstick model or selling toothpaste the comment is just plain gross. I can guarantee that the VP would never, ever make a comment like this to a male candidate let alone three. It is unprofessional, inappropriate, and puts the OP into an awkward position. I wonder if the VP is one of those god awful people that tell women to “smile more.”

  17. lmb*

    I have always thought “thanks in advance” carried a subtle threat of “you’d better do this, or else” that is rarely necessary in a professional setting. I’ll need to recalibrate, though, based on what I read here.

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Me too. I see it as pushy, like the subtext is, you HAVE to do this … with a side of “or else.” Or I see it as an affectation and the person who sent it as childish, kind of a stereotype of a person who is young and does not know professional etiquette and it makes me roll my eyes at them. Like they signed off with, “peace out.”

      I will also recalibrate since I can see my reading is not typical.

  18. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    I find “thanks in advance” a bit clunky sometimes, but rarely annoying.

    Another formula I’ve seen is the more formal “Many thanks for your ongoing assistance” which does some of the job of acknowledging and fostering the working relationship as well as being a placeholder signoff.

    1. Cheryl Blossom*

      I would find “Many thanks for your ongoing assistance” to be really stuffy! But my personal communication style (including at work) tends to be very down-to-earth and breezy.

  19. Kind Regards*

    #1 – I get roughly 7,832 billion emails a day. I literally have no time to consider what everyone means by their sign off. I personally just have “thank you” and my title. I guess I feel like most people don’t really have the time to put the energy into passive aggressive sign-offs and hope no One is sitting around wondering if I am being passive aggressive with whatever I say. Unless I said “Per my last e-mail,” I am not.

    Tbh I don’t even notice if people say “thanks in advance” or “kind regards” or “V/R” or “thanks” or whatever. If they’re being a passive aggressive jerk you’ll figure it out through the

      1. UKDancer*

        Agreed. I also don’t notice salutations very much. As long as it doesn’t say something unpleasant or rude, then I am quite happy and don’t tend to think about it.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Same here. Someone’s sign off doesn’t even usually register with me. “Thanks in advance” seems to be the same as “thanks” in my opinion. I use “thanks” 99% of the time. Once in a while I might omit it and just use my name, or say “Thanks so much!” if someone did something nice for me that they didn’t really have to do.

    2. Allonge*

      Yes, it’s the same for me. I think it’s like the usual with sign-offs and salutations: the majority of people don’t notice and don’t care, and there is a small-ish group of people who seem to care a lot.

      For me it could be practically anything there.

      For thanks in advance in particular – I use this and in 99% of the cases it’s not me asking, I am just the messenger – the actual request is from auditors / grandbosses etc. Please submit your reports by [date] is not a favor anyone is doing me.

    3. Mental Lentil*

      Same here. I just don’t care.

      What I do care about is someone who blathers on and on when all I need is a simple yes or no. And really, if I ask you a yes or no question, I’m perfectly happy to get a one word email in response. That’s all I need.

      (What’s even worse: when I get a phone call or voicemail that could have been an email.)

    4. Elenna*

      LOL at “per my last e-mail”.
      But yeah, I just put “Regards”, and it means absolutely nothing except that convention dictates we need a sign-off and this is the one I’ve gotten in the habit of using.

    5. JillianNicola*

      The day I put in my notice at my retail job, I got to bust out the “Per my last email” line to my horrible grand-boss (and the reason I was quitting), and my god did that feel good.

  20. Getting a PA*

    #1 “Thanks in advance” annoys me to no end. Because I juggle too many things in a demanding job (strategy consulting), I read it as the sender implicitly trying to dictate my priorities.
    I sign off 90% of my emails with “Cheers”, otherwise “Best regards” for formal clients

    1. ecnaseener*

      Ugh, I can’t be the only one who cringes at “Cheers” can I? We’re not raising a glass, we’re talking about work. “Thanks” is just as casual and so much more human IMO

      1. fhqwhgads*

        I think there’s a certain sort of person who can pull off a “cheers” in an email and not sound weird. It depends on the person and their personality. Ditto “kind regards”. Not that there’s anything wrong with “kind regards” but I think it often comes across as awkward and insincere…or just unnatural with the flow of what’s being said. I know about two people who use that phrase and have it not sound jarring.

      2. Reba*

        More and more it seems like “stay gold” was actually the best possible sign off.

      3. Nessun*

        For many people “Cheers” is just another way of saying “Thanks”. It’s not necessarily a drinking salutation; it can depend on culture.

      4. Chilipepper Attitude*

        When I lived in the UK, cheers was an appropriate way to say good bye.
        But maybe I misunderstood the context?

      5. Spencer Hastings*

        “Cheers” meaning “thanks” seems normal from speakers of UK/Australian/etc. English, but from Americans it often seems like people are putting on airs. I remember trying to use British expressions in high school with my friends because we thought we sounded more sophisticated that way. (Narrator: they did not.)

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          I’m British and worked in the US for many years and it always just looked weird to me when Americans said “cheers” in writing, just because it’s not really an American expression. And don’t get me started on Americans saying “cheerio” while having very little idea what it means…

        2. Sacred Ground*

          Yes, in the US the only time one hears “Cheers!” in a context other than raising a glass is when watching British television.

          1. pancakes*

            Really, you can tell from someone’s email sign-off that they’re definitely not worldly and putting on airs? That seems unlikely, and a bit harsh.

      6. ecnaseener*

        Re several people’s culture comments above – I’m American so that makes sense, maybe it works better in cultures that use it in conversation.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          I do find “cheers” less weird when it comes from another British person, so you’re probably right!

    2. Nom*

      Totally agree, and i’m not sure i agree with allison that it’s implied you will do the thing – i often get requests outside of my scope and don’t do those things. i only hear thanks in advance from the relentlessly positive employees and it comes across as so presumptuous to me. that being said, i know not everyone reads it that way so i keep my annoyance to myself.

    3. Marillenbaum*

      For me, it’s a pet peeve (akin to not refilling the coffee pot or failing to close the printer tray); it only tips into “Look at this b!tch right here” if I already dislike you as a person.

  21. Skippy*

    LW5: Asking a candidate to do six interviews is completely ridiculous. After 2-3 rounds of interviews, how much more are they going to learn about someone? Companies that do this are disrespectful, disorganized, or both, and if this is in any way indicative of how they make decisions, anyone they hire is in for a world of frustration.

    It’s always a good idea to move on after any interview, but in this case, it’s especially true.

  22. Frances*

    Wow. I didn’t realize this but I’ve been irritating a lot people all this time when I had the exact opposite intention. When I use “Thanks in advance” it is usually followed by “for any advice you can provide” or “for considering it”. It is when I’m asking for guidance on an issue and I’m not sure if the person has the time or knowledge to help. I thought I was being polite. Whoops!


    1. ecnaseener*

      From this comments it sounds like a mix, so you’re only irritating about half of the people you interact with ;)
      It does sound like including the second half of the sentence will help – “thanks in advance for any advice you can provide” won’t push as many people’s berserk buttons. Or, even safer would be Alison’s “I’d be so grateful for any advice you could provide”

    2. No Tribble At All*

      Nah, “thanks in advance for x specific thing” is fine, because you’re acknowledging that the specific task you’re asking will cause the person to do extra work.

    3. Orange You Glad*

      This is exactly how I use it “Thank you in advance for any guidance you can provide”. I usually reserve it for situations where I may be asking for help beyond what I would usually ask from this person. I’ve never received any negative feedback and as long as it’s not the default response I think it’s fine.

      1. Hen in a Windstorm*

        What is wrong with thanks in advance instead of thank you? Seriously, stop caring about it if it’s not actually important.

  23. Jennifer*

    Re: #5
    I was on the reverse of a similar situation many years ago. I had been working internally as an interim manager for about a year, overseeing the development of 7 junior team members while doing my own job. I was all but guaranteed the permanent role twice and eventually, in both situations, I did not get the role. The first time was due to my then manager deciding that someone with more seniority in the supporting team (not the team I was on). They moved that headcount, basically, to that team to retain him. The second time was the real kick-in-the-pants… At the last minute, the CMO swooped and pooped on the show saying to my manager that he wanted to hire from *outside*, thinking we didn’t have the talent internally. My manager did nothing to support me in the role in which I was already working; she was a “don’t rock the boat” type manager who kowtowed rather than supported her team. (Clearly I’m over it now, 15 years later ;).) I was shocked. I was demoralized, I was embarrassed. My team and peers all knew I had that job, they expected that role for me; they told me they looked forward to me continuing in that role. But nope, external they went. And, I quit (and I’m glad I did seeing how things went).

    My point to OP: there are so many ridiculous, political, organizational, etc. things that happen in companies that no one, even those in the company at the time, can really explain. To me, it sounds like someone in some position of authority—whether part of that team or not—at the company with which you interviewed, swooped and pooped on the process. Maybe they had good intentions, maybe the role itself was poorly designed and finally someone spoke up (I’ve had to manage this type of situation myself where I currently work, sadly) albeit late in the game. If the role is a dream job and you want to keep in the running, as Alison said, try to mentally move on and be pleasantly surprised when the offer comes through. I’d add though, that reaching out for updates once a week or every other, can be useful—I got the original gig (the one I quit eventually, though I had a good run!) because I was professionally persistent; and, I had a great hiring manager.

  24. Pugs for all*

    Re #2 – Alison said “it’s not a good sign that no one else on the video call reacted.” Just wondering – what should the other co-workers have done? I would love some script ideas.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      If it was a panel interview, then you’d hope someone would have jumped in with something like, “Sooooooo let’s move on to baking processes. What’s your experience with cooling racks?”

      It would be difficult to say, “Fergus, quit it, you’re being a creep,” but eminently possible to redirect the conversation back on to relevant topics.

    2. londonedit*

      I’d have hoped someone might at least have said ‘OK, Fergus! Let’s move on!’ or ‘Fergus, I’d like to focus our time on talking about Tabitha’s skills, thank you’ with some sort of apologetic look to the OP. Preferably after the first time (maybe with an ‘OK! Well, Tabitha, it’s great to meet you so if you wouldn’t mind just telling us a bit about how you got into llama grooming…’ to change the subject) but definitely after the VP said it more than once. I understand that if the VP is important then people might not feel up to challenging him, but the OP said ‘one of the VPs’ so I’d assume there was someone else at his level or above who could have spoken up. No need to be rude, but someone could have managed an ‘OK Fergus, let’s focus on finding out how Tabitha is a great candidate’.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Sorry to nitpick, but “an apologetic look to the OP” isn’t really possible over zoom. Whatever face you project is going to everyone equally.

        1. Sparkles McFadden*

          But creepy guy would be focusing on the applicant’s beautiful smile and wouldn’t see anyone else!

          1. pancakes*

            The applicant is the person an apologetic look should be directed at, not the creepy jerk.

    3. Purple Cat*

      I’ve been wondering this myself. Hopefully one of the other members at least sent the VP a private message to knock it off, or they could have sent the candidate a private chat to apologize, or been really brave (and I admit I probably wouldn’t be) verbally said something about “focusing on the candidate’s skills”. Or “I believe that comment was already made, candidate can you tell us about xxx”

    4. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I wondered the same thing. If it was someone above me on the org chart, I would not say or do a thing and I am incredibly outspoken most of the time! I picture the interview did keep going, that the next person asked a question or moved things along. But that is not the same as “reacting” to the creepy behavior.

    5. Water Everywhere*

      I might go with a private chat message to Fergus telling him the smile comment was not appropriate, the first time it happened. If the comments continued I like londonedit’s line of “Fergus, we’re here to talk about Tabitha’s skills, thank you”. If THAT didn’t stop him then I hope the meeting host would kick him off the call. And apologize to Tabitha.

    6. Khatul Madame*

      Usually people react to these things by writing direct messages to each other: “Wow, Romeo is really leaning into it today!” with Romeo himself being none the wiser. Not that he’s the type to stop his creepy behavior if someone did call him out privately.

  25. Delia K*

    My personal sign off pet peeve is when people include the sign off as part of their email signature. Sometimes ‘thanks!’ isn’t appropriate. I’d rather have no sign off than a mismatched one, but from the other comments, I think I’m in the minority.

    1. londonedit*

      I’m the same. I use different sign-offs for different people – ‘Thanks!’ or ‘Cheers!’ with closer colleagues, ‘Many thanks’ if I’m emailing an author and asking them to do something, ‘Best wishes’ if I haven’t asked them to do something specific, or things like ‘Have a lovely weekend’ or ‘Speak soon’ if the situation merits it.

    2. ecnaseener*

      If you don’t like an automatic “thanks,” I’d love to know what you think of this email signature (which yes goes on ALL this person’s emails):
      “Best wishes for peace, harmony, health, and conquering COVID in 2021.”

    3. Student Affairs Sally*

      I have generic sign off (“Best”) in my signature, and include a “Thanks!” in the body in the email if it’s appropriate for the context.

    4. Kes*

      I mean, I use thanks and I include it in my signature, but that’s because it almost always does apply (I appreciate it when people read my emails), and on the rare occasion that it doesn’t, it’s easy to just remove that line before sending.

  26. agnes*

    I got mad for the last letter writer. Companies do this all the time and it is so disrespectful of a candidate’s time. Figure this stuff out BEFORE you post a job. Too many companies do what I call “panic posting.” Somebody leaves, or business picks up and they immediately panic about it and throw up a job posting and start interviewing. I wish they would SLOW DOWN and think through what they need before they do that.

    if they do business like they do hiring, you don’t want to work there anyway.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      Usually when I see a scenario like the one in that letter, it’s because someone unexpected resigned during the hiring process, and the hole presented by their role opens the door to some sort of restructuring. In other words, they went into it with one opening and intending to fill that one opening. 90% of the way there someone in a different role quits, and they suddenly realize given the choice, they maybe don’t want to fill that one role, and the role the LW was applying for, in a one-to-one way. Maybe they want to break apart one of the roles and distribute it differently. Or combine parts of one to existing people, etc. They couldn’t have known they wanted to do that when the process started. If anything, I’d say slowing down is not a good idea in this context. They had six interviews and the decision still wasn’t made. Taking that long probably opened the door to whatever happened that changed the context.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      Now that I’m on the hiring side for a dynamic department, I can say that it really is complicated trying to find the right candidate while the company/priorities/strategic planning is in flux. Our department needs help, but there are many skills at play and the candidate could have 4 out of 6 skills and the rest can be picked up by the current team. But each candidate has a different 4 skills, so each interview is followed by a discussion of how the department would be changed to fit that individual. And at the same time, we are debating big picture plans for the department so the importance of the skills changes. And after talking to each candidate it seems like another topic emerges that we need to discuss.
      In a perfect world, we would figure out every priority and have our 5 year plan nailed down and we would know exactly who we need to fill the gaps. But it will take 2 years before we get to that point, and we can’t overburden our current team indefinitely.
      But we aren’t calling in candidates for multiple interviews just to string them along. They may have to wait longer than usual to hear back from us, but we won’t drag them in for conversations to feed our indecisiveness.

    3. Colette*

      Companies aren’t static. They can know exactly what they want to day but have things change tomorrow (because someone else quits/goes on leave/moves to a new position; because they acquire a new company and need different skills; because they decide to move into a new area of business). If they waited until everything was 100% sure, they’d never hire anyone.

    4. SomebodyElse*

      Ah… I see you’ve never been a hiring manager. Yes there is a certain amount of panic posting, but one of those reasons is you never want open head count for very long. Those open positions have a tendency to disappear if they are open too long and people sort of ‘forget’ about them, you lose your budget for them, the position gets re-appropriated for other positions/departments.

      Maybe it’s just my organization (but I suspect not) the minute I have approval, that puppy is getting posted.

  27. Delta Delta*

    #1 – I usually sign my emails “Thanks, Delta” or with people I know fairly well, “Thanks, DD.” If I’m feeling snarky, I sometimes omit the “Thanks.” If I am feeling full-on snarkalicious, I’ve been known to sign an email, “Hugz, Delta.” This gets used very sparingly and only for the right people.

    I never do “Thanks In Advance” as it seems smarmy and passive-aggressive. Others may disagree, but I don’t like it so I don’t use it.

    I had a boss that would “abbreviate” “Thanks” as either TNKS or TNXS or something and it used to make me want to throw things at him because FFS that’s 4 letters and the actual word is 6 letters and this abbreviation makes no sense.

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Oh yes, smarmy passive-aggressive! I posted above agreeing with someone who saw its as vaguely threatening but smarmy passive-aggressive is what I really meant!

      I also think it sounds a bit like valley-girl slang (dating myself with that stereotype!), “like, thanks in advance, like.”

    2. Betty (the other Betty)*

      One person who emails me uses “tx” instead of “thanks.” I always think “texas” which isn’t at all what she means.

      She also calls everyone by initials. A typical email will have a whole list: B do this, P do that, H do the other thing. I saw one vendor, when referred to as “P,” write back “My name is Pat, not P.” Oh, the drama.

      1. Union Maid*

        in British English ‘ta’ is perfectly acceptable, although now somewhat old-fashioned

  28. Person from the Resume*

    LW#5, this sucks for you and is extremely disappointing, but your only option is to try to move on. Tell yourself you didn’t get the job and continue applying for jobs elsewhere.

    You don’t know what’s going on internally so you can’t know what you need to convince them out of to pick you.

    OTOH they did communicate with you instead of leaving you wondering by ghosting you. It is absolutely appropriate for them to communicate with you after how 6 interviews and a reference check but so many companies just stop communicating so I’m giving them a little benefit of the doubt. There is probably something going on that you’re unaware of. A worst case is that they’re about to lay a bunch of people off so they don’t want to hire you only to lay you off. Or they want to retain some long term employee that would be laid off by moving him to the position you’ve been interviewing for. That sucks for you but actually seems like a good, kind business decision.

    So you cannot know what’s going on. You should do your best to let it go and forget about it for your own good. If they do get back in touch with an offer you can be pleasantly surprised and happy. If not, you have started the moving forward process and they are not holding you back for your future.

    1. ramses*

      Thanks. Yes, I was glad they communicated with me. And they did finally let me know that I didn’t get the job.

  29. Al*

    “I like your smile” is completely appropriate… if he is casting someone in a toothpaste commercial.

    1. Phony Genius*

      I was thinking that something like this would be the lone exception. But usually, that role is filled by audition, not interview.

      1. Sue D. O'Nym*

        Sales consultant for an Orthodontist*? “See, your smile can look like this also!”

        (*Not sure that’s an actual job, but I can see a comment on someone’s smile being appropriate in an interview for that job if it did exist)

    2. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Now I wish the OP said, “you keep mentioning my smile, do you do photos for dentists here?”

  30. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

    OP2: I once had an interview with some similar casually sexist behavior on the part of a couple of the interviewers. (I am a woman in a heavily male profession – software development.)

    One interviewer was the founder/owner of the company. He was about a generation older than me, and made several comments to the effect of “Isn’t it wonderful that women can do this now!” He meant it sincerely, but my (personal, unspoken) reaction was “Dude, if you want women in tech to be seen as normal, quit making such a big deal about how it isn’t!” He reminded me of some men I’d met socially, who generally did mean well, and had thought about these things, they just hadn’t gotten much farther than “Women in [profession] is a new thing, and it’s good!” Since I wouldn’t be working with him on a daily basis, I felt like that was something I could tolerate.

    The other interviewer was the deal breaker. He was a high level individual contributor, and was a part of the main technical interview (along with the department manager). At one point (I think we were discussing what technologies they used), he made the comment “We change [thing] like you change wives.” (I don’t remember what the thing was.) I didn’t know the term “microaggressions” at the time, but I did recognize what was likely to be a pattern of behavior and knew this wasn’t something I wanted to deal with from someone I’d be working with regularly.

    I got a good offer from that company. The job had been posted as contract-to-hire, at a salary of $X. I got an offer for a direct hire at a salary of $X+Y. I turned it down. The reason I gave was “It’s not a good fit for me.” When pressed, I stuck with “It’s just not a good fit.” (These days I might call out the individual contributor when declining, but I’m also 10 years older and well established in my career. Not everyone’s circumstances allow them to be comfortable doing that.)

    1. OP2*

      Thanks, this is very helpful. I am also a woman in a largely male dominated field (don’t want to be more specific than that for obvious reasons) and I’m currently leaning towards withdrawing for unspecified reasons and just moving on with my search–unfortunately I would be working with the gentleman in question. Perhaps if I had ten more years of seniority or was more established I might name the individual, but it’s a small field and I’m not willing to take the risk of being seen as “difficult.” Which sucks, yes, but this is not the hill I want to fight and die on at this time.

      1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        Then I gift to you my “It’s not the right fit for me” response. After all, you’ve been interviewing them as much as they’ve been interviewing you. (And turning down that job certainly didn’t do my career any harm – may you also find a job that suits you well and doesn’t care about your smile!)

    2. Bagpuss*

      Oof. Sounds like you made the right call.
      (I once had it the opposite way round, when I was interviewing a (male) candidate, together with one of my (male) colleagues. candidate totally ignored me – if I asked a question he directed his response to my colleague, and often is was clear he hadn’t listened and wasn’t answering he question I actually asked.

      We’d both introduced ourselves (name & role) at the start of the interview, and he’d been given our names in advance as well, and we have details on our website, so he knew that I was the more senior of the two of us. I can only assume that it was second nature to him and he didn’t realise he was doing it.

      He did not get the job. )

      1. m*

        This happened to me when I was the hiring manager. He was aware I was the hiring manager, had done great in the phone interview, and then in the in-person interview, directed every response to my (male) boss. My boss is the one who called the red flag (I called it based on some of the answers he gave…yikes).

    3. Heidi*

      Ugh, this guy! He messed up in opposite ways – making a big show of how they are no longer excluding women and then also forgetting that he wasn’t talking to a man. I also might have hedged on calling him out when refusing the offer. A lot of places will go on the defensive and blame the reviewer for not being cool with that kind of thing.

      1. Elenna*

        It sounds like there were two different guys involved.

        But yeah, that second guy is an ass.

      2. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        To be fair, this was two different guys. The first guy (big show of no longer excluding women), I would’ve been willing to deal with. (There would’ve been at least two layers of management between us.) The second guy (forgetting he wasn’t talking to a man) was the dealbreaker, because I’d’ve been working directly with him and I had no interest in subjecting myself to that.

        1. Heidi*

          Ah, my mistake. The second guy is the more problematic, definitely. It’s actually kind of weird to casually assume that no one in his company will stay married to one person.

    4. The New Wanderer*

      The reminders that you’re still the odd one out are so ‘othering.’ Like any comment about how you share a trait with the majority, pointed out because it’s still seen as unusual from your (minority) demographic. Or anything that highlights your differences (OP2’s “beautiful smile”) that would never be said to someone in the majority group.

      In that kind of environment, I’d have a hard time ever feeling truly included or like a full part of a team. If they show you that they’re going to treat you like window dressing, believe them. “Not a good fit” can absolutely mean “because you don’t see me as equal but as a novelty.”

  31. Allypopx*

    I’ve been mulling it and I think I use thanks in advance if I’m asking for clear deliverables as opposed to a favor or an inconvenience. So like “for the board meeting Tuesday could you please get me report x and y and let me know where we landed on z. no rush, thanks in advance” is a pretty standard email I’d send. But “hey can you come in early on Tuesday?” I’d end with a “let me know, thanks!”. I’d probably also only use thanks in advance with a peer or someone who reports to me, not someone above me.

  32. Dust Bunny*

    My knee-jerk reaction is to not like “thanks in advance” but I also think it’s silly of me to be prickly about it since it can save people email-tagging each other thank-yous. I get enough work email as it is. So I let it go.

    1. Anonymous Hippo*

      I wouldn’t use it myself, as I have the same knee jerk dislike, but how I would feel about it being applied to me would really have more to do with how my interactions already go with that person, rather than the words. IE the words intent filtered through your relationship with the person sending them. For the most part it would benign.

  33. voluptuousfire*

    OP #5—-To quote Miss Ross, ease on down that road. If they haven’t figured out if you’re a fit or not and only just started interviewing internally? Wut? I think you can forget about this company. That indecision is shameful.

  34. Grey*

    I think “thanks in advance is rude. It sounds to me like, “I can’t be bothered to thank you after you do this. I’m going to get it out of the way now so I’m all done with you.”

  35. Jennifer Strange*

    I have absolutely no problem with “thanks in advance”. I think it’s just a way of acknowledging that you’re asking for help from someone and want to give them thanks upfront. That said, I did have a supervisor who would email me with “Thanks for writing up new documentation on llama grooming for our new hire!” as a way of telling me that she wanted me to write up new documentation on llama grooming for our new hire. That annoyed me.

    1. Gilmore67*

      I use ” Thanks in advance” when I email co-workers on things that they have to do. Like there is no choice. If I am directing them for example on a new way we have to do payroll or supplies I tell them what I have to tell them and then explain the process.

      They all know they can contact me if needed and then I say, thanks in advance for your help on this and then it is assumed they will do it… to which I am thanking them for.

  36. Van Wilder*

    “Thanks in advance!” I think this will be more controversial than any of your previous posts.

    I personally hate it. In the way that we all have office jargon that grates on us. You don’t need to say “thanks in advance.” I will do it. Just say “thanks.”

    I also hate “friendly reminder.” You don’t need to tip toe around the reminder like you might hurt my feelings.

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Oi, friendly reminders! My boss uses them for things she thinks are good boss-ish things to send us. It always sounds like something we are failing to do but we are doing it. So why does she send a reminder??!!

    2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      “Friendly reminder” doesn’t bother me as much but “gentle reminder” makes me want to Hulk Smash. Just say “reminder” or “I’m following up on…”

  37. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #5 – if they’ve had you in there six times and haven’t extended an offer – yes – MOVE ON. In fact, when I was looking for work I was ALWAYS “moving on”, until I actually had a job-offer letter in hand.

    If they had been serious about hiring or not hiring you, they would have extended an offer OR given you a courteous, professional, “thank you, but we’re going in a different direction.”

    Sounds like a circus. Now, if they’re being upfront with you – what’s going on in there?

    As far as hiring internally, they may be coming to their senses – and this happens occasionally – someone internally can do the job, wants the job, but the management there wants to either hold their current employee back, and is having second thoughts about it, knowing if they pass over the internal candidate and “go outside”, they’ll have problems – far worse. I’ve seen this happen many. many times —

    – a prime post is opened up and a job position announced.
    – it’s posted INternally and EXternally
    – Mr. Internal can easily and quickly advance into that position, and also assist whoever his replacement will be.
    – Management likes Mr. Internal in his current situation and does not see any benefit to allowing him to advance.
    – External candidates are interviewed, and management gets the demented idea that Mr. Internal won’t mind being passed over, we get the best of all worlds if we hire Ms. External into the higher position.


    Mr. Internal gets passed over. But told, “oh you’re so WUNNERFUL, we love you, we love you” (Love-bombing) and “you will be very important in this transition.”

    Ms. External is hired, comes aboard, but Mr. Internal’s assistance is required to make this all go.

    A week after Ms. External starts, Mr. Internal walks in, gives his two week notice.


    Management has set themselves up in an operational situation that is impossible to fix — unless they’re willing to eat humble pie, fire or layoff Ms. External, and promote Mr. Internal into the slot – which is what they should have done all along. I read letters in here “I was hired for x, but they have me doing y” — sometimes this is covering up a mistake and external hires get the brunt of it.

    Management also has a huge knowledge void to fill. Mr. Internal is GONE, and cannot help Ms. External anymore. They have lost a large volume of expertise – and – are expecting an unknown to fill a higher position – WITHOUT THE GUIDANCE OF THE GUY THEY NEED TO GET HER TO SUCCEED.

    They may have “come to their senses” — because passing over a qualified candidate and going “to the street” can lead to disastrous results for an organization. “Duh, ya but , new blood, new blood”… they can rationalize things until the cows come home but in the end, going outside might be tragic.

    Better they stop in their tracks and think this out.

  38. I'm just here for the cats*

    I don’t think I have ever seen thanks in advanced. Why wouldn’t you just put Thanks?

      1. Gilmore67*

        I truly do not understand why ” it’s weird”. To me it seems such a trivial thing to pick a part as it relates to emails and basic communication.

        The sender asks for something possibly in the future, they say ” thanks in advance ” and you go on to the next 20 emails.

        “Thanks in advance” at least for me is usually reserved for things that should happen in the future and that is why you are thanking them now, because I am not going to email 2 weeks later and ” thank them” for something I emailed them about 2 weeks before.

        It really can’t be that big of a deal in the whole large scope of communication. If I am going to get picky about emails I will reserve it for emails in of themselves… the content that might be rude or inappropriate.

        1. Mental Lentil*

          It’s weird because “Thanks” works just as well. I find it very rare that we every say “Thanks in advance” in person.

          For example, if I’m trying to unlock a door and I’m holding a bunch of stuff, I might say to the person next to me “Do you mind holding this? Thanks.” even though they aren’t yet holding the stuff. It’s still a future event. Imagine how weird it would be in this instance if I said “Do you mind hold thing? Thanks in advance.”

          Trust me, try this in real life and see all the looks you get.

  39. Dog Coordinator*

    Alison’s response to LW5 could have been written directly for me… I interviewed for a dream job/company in October, played the waiting game over the winter with semi-frequent check ins that seemed positive, re-interviewed for a slightly different position, more waiting, the company says they are reorganizing what positions do what duties, with no timeline on when they will fill the position. After the last message I initiated with them a month ago, I haven’t heard from them. It was really upsetting, because when I initially applied, there was a big buzz about my application. The CEO remembers working with me, a few of their employees reached out to me directly to say it was exciting to hear I had applied, I was an excellent fit for the job and know their product inside and out. It really felt like I was a shoe in for this job! But 6 months have passed, and they show no signs on making any moves. I’ve been doing my best to put it out of my mind, and like Alison said, let it be a pleasant surprise if they reach back out. I still have a tiny sliver of hope (because the company, money, benefits, and product are awesome), but I’m trying not to think about it. Best of luck to you LW5!

    1. ramses*

      LW5 here – thank you! BOL to you as well. They did finally let me know that I didn’t get the job, and I am thankful for that. The not-knowing is the WORST.

  40. awesome3*

    #4, it sounds like you’re moving from one state to another, but I know that at least in my state, coming back from retirement is super common in schools. I can’t imagine anyone even blinking at it. Even in these smaller towns, you won’t be the first person they’ve heard of who has done it.

    1. awesome3*

      (the reason I mentioned the state thing is because public school teachers retire from the state, so especially in states where the retirement age has changed based on when you started working, going back is really common. full time is certainly less common than part time, but if you assure them it won’t mess up your retirement and you’re able to work full time, I don’t see it being an issue)

  41. El l*

    Disagree. I don’t generally recommend “thanks in advance.” First of all, don’t do it unless in a highly structured environment where everyone’s tasks are well understood.* Because otherwise you might be asking for something infeasible, unwise, or even just less-than-optimal. The other person should have some say, or at least latitude to chime in, “Uh, can we talk about this?”

    I also wouldn’t use it unless you two know professionally each other. I’ve gotten “thanks in advance” from people outside my company and out of the blue, and in those cases it does have a presumptuous edge, especially as to my time.

    My own recommendation is a simple “Thanks,” or “Thanks, and best regards.” If I know them well, I’ll sign off with “Cheers,” which is admittedly a little eccentric as I’m American but it brings a smile to my face when I do it.

    *Admittedly, my job is do custom data analysis rather than standard accounting reports, so that’s where I come from

  42. B Wayne*

    LW#4: Fifty-five ish is to far too young to “hang it up” so good for you to get back into it with a lovely sounding change of scenery and a change of pace and environment. I bet a gap would not be questioned but rather considered a bit common. No explanation would be needed beyond the “I’m ready to get back into the classroom”. Hope all goes well, the change of place and pace, the little bit of back story and so forth sounds like Lifetime or Hallmark!

  43. Jamie Starr*

    When I use “thanks in advance” it’s usually when I’m telling people to do something (that is not really optional) and the people I am asking aren’t people I normally ask things of. It’s meant to convey the expectation that you *will* do this for me (it’s a requirement). I guess that might be why some people dislike it, but I think it’s appropriate for that sort of situation. If I want to be a bit snotty about it I might write “Thanks in advance for your prompt attention to this matter.” (I usually reserve that for external vendors who have messed something up and I need them to correct the error.)

  44. Soupspoon McGee*

    I don’t mind “thanks in advance,” but “please and thank you” really grates. It sounds presumptuous.

  45. GS*

    #4: As someone from a small, worker-starved remote community I’d be surprised if the interview was anything except perfunctory. An experienced teacher who wants to stay in the community rather than gain a little experience and move on to the big city would be such a treasure!

  46. Chilipepper Attitude*

    It turns out, grammerly has an article on alternatives to Thanks in Advance (link in reply).
    They say TIA can sound like gratitude or presumptive and passive-aggressive.
    So they give alternatives. Worth a read.

  47. Little Miss Sunshine*

    One alternative to the birthday bashes would be celebrating monthly for everyone in that birthday month. I have worked on larger teams that fid this just so we could have a monthly party with some sort of theme.

  48. No Thanks in Advance*

    I hate “Thanks in advance” because it usually comes with people trying to get me to do something they’re supposed to do. My role is to help with errors, or guide people on how to do something, not do it for them. Most people seeking that kind of help don’t use “thanks in advance,” but many of those who want me to just do the thing for them do use it, which really heightens the presumptuous feeling.

  49. Bossy Magoo*

    #5 – my old boss interviewed with a company over the course of 5 months. It was going so well, she was confident she was about to get an offer. They ultimately decided to promote from within but about a month later they had another open position and were happy to reach out to her and make her THAT offer. So, it does happen. I hope it happens to you.

  50. BlueAnon*

    I 100% use “thanks in advance” in the same vein as “per my last email.” It’s people I know usually flake out and I’m definitely being petty/passive aggressive. Should I feel bad about that? Maybe. Do I? Nope. *shrug*

    1. DKMA*

      There are just enough people who use it like you do that you shouldn’t use it unless you want people to think you are using it this way.

  51. Sue Z Q*

    #5 – Move on and very politely let them know you are moving on. Something along the lines of “I understand the abc company wants to make sure they have made the best decision. However, after 4 months I feel I must do what is best for me personally. I can no longer wait for abc company and will resume my consideration of other opportunities”

    1. Colette*

      That would be an odd thing to say. First of all, the OP may not want to give up on the opportunity if the company decides they want to hire her in the end. But also, it would be almost alarming to have a candidate say they were going to resume job hunting, since they should have been job hunting all along.

      And the wording is very … formal? I can’t imagine ever saying “resume my consideration of other opportunities”.

      The OP may not get this job, but there is no reason to make the people she’s been interviewing with thing that she doesn’t know how job hunting works, or that she can’t communicate in normal English.

    2. Heather*

      That reads more passive-aggressive than “very polite” to me. Also, presumably LW didn’t pause their consideration of other opportunities, so that would be a weird thing to say. There’s nothing to be gained from alerting them that you are moving on imo.

      1. Mental Lentil*

        Yes, this very much sounds like someone who wants to get their digs in.

        I would not consider this person for other positions going forward.

    3. Khatul Madame*

      Unless there is a firm offer on hand, I don’t see any benefit of formally withdrawing LW’s candidacy.

  52. DKMA*

    So on Birthdays, I’m wondering if you can use the fact that we’re cycling past a full year of crazy to try to put the kibosh on this.

    Two things stood out to me in this letter:
    1) They are doing long celebrations
    2) They are requiring PREP WORK for the birthday parties

    My recommendation is to focus on #2. I’d go reverse psychology on your manager and say something like “Do you know if we missed anyone last year on the birthday presentations? It doesn’t really make sense to repeat those every year, but I want to make sure we didn’t miss anyone the first time around.” Just plant the seed that repeating them every year is silly while not being the spoil sport. Then when it gets to your birthday you can say something like “please don’t do another presentation for me, it was so special last year, but I don’t want everyone to spend time on it”.

    Don’t worry about the parties, you can just make a perfunctory appearance and bow out quickly needing to go back to work once these are live again. If you stay on Zoom just multitask on mute with your volume turned real low.

  53. Greg*

    LW#4, I don’t work in education so it’s possible this suggestion is off base, but if you’re worried about the connotations of un-retiring, I would eliminate the word “retired” completely. This isn’t a sports league, where you officially file your retirement papers with the league office. Just say, “I had to step away from my previous job for family reasons”, or “After my last job I needed some time off to care for a sick relative, but fortunately she is doing much better and I’m ready to get back to teaching.” Two years isn’t a super long time, and I doubt many people will really get that hung up on the precise circumstances, as long as you can reassure them that whatever kept you away previously is no longer an issue. Good luck!

  54. DiscoCat*

    A few months ago in my old job I was in our weekly online team meeting with our boss. It had been a tough month for various reasons, including team dynamics and conflicts. We were suitably sombre except for the team assistant who always likes to put on a show of positivity, team spirit and fairness. Our boss logs into the meeting, sees her smile and starts going on and on about how nice it is to see a smile, to see a friendly face, how refreshing blah blah. It was so uncomfortable because he had not addressed the tension, nor the conflict like a boss should, he just implied with this passive-aggressiveness that the rest of us were surly, grumpy miseryguts who thrived off negativity. What he didn’t see was how sour she always looked in meetings without him, or her petulant and rude emails. It just reinforced my decision to leave.

  55. stefanielaine*

    The smile question reminded me of a few extremely awkward work encounters I’ve had over the past year. Twice, TWICE! after a work meeting ended with an external party (both times a C-level staff I’d never met before at two different large provider groups, and both were women as am I) the person called me on my direct line to tell me that they really loved my smile and my “energy.” They didn’t have any direct power over me and there didn’t seem to be any lasciviousness to it so I perceived it as more awkward than inappropriate (the LW’s example clearly was inappropriate) but it was sure weird and I had no idea how to respond – I think I choked out an “oh, thanks!” and then quickly asked them a work-related question. So, so strange!

  56. Beyoncé*

    OP #2, I am barfing inside my mouth right now. Do not take the job. But if there’s a female employee in HR, definitely tell her what happened. She might take action or she might not. But HR needs to know that A. This happened and B. We live in a world where this is not ok.

  57. Database Developer Dude*

    Four months and six rounds of interviews, and they’re asking them to be patient? I would move on, and if they came back to me later with a job offer, I would immediately turn it down. That’s ridiculous.

  58. MCMonkeybean*

    I tend to use “Thanks for your help” instead of “Thanks in advance.” The meaning is really the same but for some reason it feels better to me?

    1. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk-ox*

      I think because on some subconscious level, “help” implies some consent or offering on the part of the person being asked? And, also, wording it as “help” implies that you know that they’re aiding you rather than just following orders. It’s slight, but it does come across differently.

  59. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk-ox*

    I’ll just say that I KNOW hating “thanks in advance” (or even worse “TIA”) is petty and dumb and I don’t hold it against anyone who uses it.

    That being said, having often been in positions where certain people have assumed they can basically boss me around rather than ask for my help, it does rub me the wrong way. I’m not saying I’m right in this regard; I don’t think most people intend to be presumptuous when writing it, and if it’s from someone I know well and get along with, I couldn’t care less. I think it just gets irritating when it’s the cherry on top of a “you’re a loser-level employee, so of COURSE you’ll do this for me even though I haven’t even asked if it’s something you do” sundae. But I know it’s petty to even care about it and I do let it go when I see it.

    1. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk-ox*

      I definitely meant to write “lower level” not “loser level” . No one I know is THAT mean.

  60. Former Employee*

    OP #2: “I like your smile.” Ugh!

    To me, that’s one step from saying he likes her assets.

    There’s just something off about it that twangs my creepometer.

  61. Union Maid*

    “thanks in anticipation” is what one manager used to write (every time) – yuk

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