do younger managers still care about thank-you notes, I don’t want to hire my ex’s father, and more

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

1. Do younger hiring managers still care about thank-you notes?

I’ve been on a couple of job interviews for entry-level jobs in my field and have a question about post-interview thank you letters. My rule is to always send one if the interviewer is a bit older (40+) or if the interview process is very formal.

I recently applied for a job with a start-up; the process was casual and the people who interviewed me were all around their mid-20s. Should I be sending a thank-you email after these types of interviews? I always end the interview with a clear thank you and I feel that millennials tend to see these messages as insincere and purely procedural.

Also, what is the protocol when you’re not offered the interviewer’s email at all? Is this signal that they don’t want candidates contacting them directly?

It’s generally a bad move to assume all people of a particular generation feel a certain way about anything. There are plenty of younger managers who appreciate thoughtful post-interview notes. And millennials have received the same guidance to send post-interview notes that other generations have received, so even if they’re more cynical about them, they’ll know why you’re sending it and in many cases will have sent their own. There’s a greater risk of being at a disadvantage for not sending one than for sending one. (And you know, younger managers often have older bosses … although really, we shouldn’t be playing into generational stereotypes at all. It’s not great for prospective colleagues to assume things about you based on your age, in either direction!)

If the concern is that a note will appear insincere and purely procedural, then write a note that doesn’t feel that way. Everyone should be doing anyway, since perfunctory notes are crap no matter how old the recipient is.

If you’re not offered the interviewer’s email, it usually doesn’t mean much more than that they didn’t think to offer it. You should still send the note.

2. I don’t want to be listed on a company website for safety reasons

A situation that occurred a couple of years ago still bugs me, so I’d like your take on it. At the time, I had been in my position for five years when my past came back to haunt me. Long story short, I found out that a man who had previously raped, stalked, and threatened to kill me was asking around about how to contact me. Those events happened 10 years ago, but, for hopefully obvious reasons, some fear of him remains. I choose to remain unfound by him and, when I discovered he had renewed efforts to find me, I asked my employer to remove my information from their website — information that included my full name, picture, and the location of where I go to work everyday.

For context, I was in a client-facing position, but my role served only a specific pool of people who didn’t need the website to reach me, as there were internal contacts for that. Think, someone contracted out to work with just one company and clients didn’t come from anywhere else. I was also a trusted, hard-working employee who wasn’t known for complaining or making special requests. After some discussion, I was essentially told no. They would not long-term remove my information from the website without documentation proving the threat. I don’t have, nor can I get, such documentation. One of the reasons they gave was “anyone could come in and say this and it’s important that our website represents our employees.” Aside from the fact that insinuating a rape survivor is lying is just bad, am I right to be disturbed by their stance on this or is this an expected stance? I have since moved on from this job for this, and other, reasons. Is there a more effective way to approach this issue in the future or am I now limited to non-client facing positions (which is not really a thing in my career)?

No, this is super messed up. When an employee says having their info publicly available is putting them at risk of violence, responsible companies remove that information. That can get trickier if the position by its nature is a very public one (although even then they should try to work with you to figure out how to keep you safe), but that wasn’t the situation here. Your former employer handled this terribly, and I’m sorry they made a horrible situation even worse for you.

Going forward, if you’re considering taking a job with a company that lists its staff publicly, you could raise it once you have an offer — saying something like, “I’ve had a frightening stalking situation in the past and to keep myself safe from a recurrence am careful not to put anything online revealing my location. I know you list your staff on your website and I’d need to be excluded from that for safety reasons.” A good employer will make that happen.

3. Is it okay not to want to hire my ex’s father?

I’m the hiring manager for two new roles on my team which will report to me, and I’ve dove in to LinkedIn Recruiting to encourage potential candidates to apply. In one of my searches for people to contact, a familiar name appeared in the results — my high school ex’s father.

I went to high school in a different state than I live in now, and unbeknownst to me it turns out he entered the field in which I work and moved here. My relationship with his daughter in high school was fraught with problems. She emotionally abused me, manipulated me, and cheated on me, among other things. To make matters worse, her father was borderline abusive to her at the time and I had an almost non-existent relationship with him while I was dating her. My relationship with her caused me to carry substantial baggage into future relationships for decades.

Upon seeing his name and profile in the results, I did some quick Googling to confirm it was in fact him, and it was. His profile and experience honestly match what I’m looking for in my two new hires, but after sitting and thinking about it for a few minutes, I marked him as “Not a Fit” and added a note to my coworkers that I had a previous personal history with him and could not work with him (and also noted that doesn’t mean he couldn’t work with other people in my organization).

Did I make the right choice here? On the one hand, I feel like I should be trying to find the best people to work with me and my organization, and he could very well be a strong contributor. On the other, I’m not sure I see a path to being able to viably manage him, and I’m sure his mere presence would constantly remind me of his daughter — at least for awhile.

You’re fine. This guy didn’t even apply! You just declined to try to recruit him. You have no obligation to try to recruit people you have a history with just because they’re qualified for the job.

If he applied, it would get a little trickier — but even then it’s fine to decide that you can’t objectively manage someone you have a personal history with. It’s true that this person is fairly removed from you — he’s not the one you dated, and it doesn’t sound like you had much or any contact with him yourself — but if you know you couldn’t manage him effectively, you’re not required to ignore that out of some idea of fairness. (It also wouldn’t be particularly fair to hire him into a job with a manager who doesn’t want to be around him.) You wouldn’t be expected to hire the ex, and you don’t need to hire her father either.

4. How do I gracefully reject a former employee who keeps applying for a new job with me?

I am the hiring manager for a role that becomes available from time to time, and a coworker I used to manage has applied to it pretty consistently. I am not interested in bringing them on — they bring a good amount of drama into the workplace and are generally unreliable and difficult to train.

The first time they applied, we had an internal candidate express interest in transferring to this role and I let them know that. The second time, they applied a bit late in the process, and I already had some candidates I was interviewing and moving forward with. However, that might not always be the case, and like clockwork they have applied to my most recent open position.

Do you have some messaging that I can use that would communicate that this just isn’t going to be a fit? We had discussed their performance issues in their annual reviews, so it wouldn’t come out of left field to acknowledge that it’s an issue, but it seems a little inappropriate to give that kind of feedback when I’m not their current manager.

I’d just say, “Hi Jane, thanks for your interest in the X role. I know you’ve expressed interest in it a few times so I gave it some thought and unfortunately I don’t think it’s the right match. That said, I hope you’re doing well and wish you all the best!” If there’s something you can easily offer as a reason (“we’re looking for more experience in X / stronger skills in Y / etc.”), add that in — but otherwise it’s okay to be vague.

The two of you discussed your concerns with her work when she worked for you so she should be able to put the pieces together. But if she does ask why it’s not the right fit and, assuming there’s not an easy-to-provide explanation like the ones above, it’s okay to say something like, “You have a lot of strengths, but the performance issues we were working on when you were in the X role would be prohibitive for this job.”

5. Clothes for exercising during work breaks

Thanks to lowered Covid case rates and high vaccination rates in my state, I’m thankfully done with WFH and back in the office. Unfortunately, my gym hasn’t reopened yet, so I’m looking at a summer of running and biking outdoors for exercise, either on the way in to work or during my lunch break.

I do have the ability to change clothes and shower at the office, but I still have to walk past several colleagues’ desks to get from the entrance to the locker room. I’m a woman with an, ahem, Rubenesque figure. What can I wear to work out in during the heat of summer that won’t have me squirming in embarrassment while I dash to the showers to clean up and change? We have a casual office environment, but I’m not sure I want to stroll in in runners tights and a tank top.

I try not to ever engage in physical exertion, so I’m going to throw this out to readers for suggestions.

Read an update to this letter

{ 549 comments… read them below }

    1. Generic Elf*

      OP3#, no idea what you might be wearing for workout that you want to shield, but I dunno, throw on a big t-shirt?

        1. sunglass*

          I’d be wary of just going for baggier clothes, especially on the bottom – there’s a reason a lot of exercise gear is form fitted, and that’s because loose clothing can rub and chafe! And you want to be comfortable exercising, not dying in the heat because of long sleeves.

          I agree with the person who suggested longer, mid-thigh shorts rather than the looser running shorts – the looser ones tend to reveal a lot more thigh. Unless you buy men’s? My loose running shorts show most of my legs, but if I wore my husband’s they’d come down almost to my knees. That and a looser singlet might give you enough coverage without being too form fitting for your comfort?

          I hope your coworkers wouldn’t really notice/care, especially once they’re used to the fact that you go out and exercise during the work day. You shouldn’t need to buy new exercise clothes that might not actually work for your exercise!

          1. BornToRun*

            Yeah, I love men’s basketball shorts and a t shirt a few sizes bigger than normal both for modesty and ventilation when I run.

          2. Chilipepper Attitude*

            A big shirt or beach cover up, not for the actual exercise part but for the walk from the door to shower area.

            1. NotRealAnonForThis*

              That was my thinking as well. I happen to live where its unpleasantly HOT right now during my lunch break. In all honesty, I ran at 7 p.m. last night (I cannot imagine the heat at noon with the sun overhead yesterday) in shorts and a bra because it was hot and passing out from heat is bad. I’d probably stash a tee shirt or a coverup in my car and grab it on the way in to the showers. But running in loose anything is a non-starter with me, I’ll wind up chafed and bloody.

            2. Mockingdragon*

              I was gonna say the same thing, maybe a light fabric skirt. Depending on where OP5 is going, she could leave the cover-up clothes in the car and grab them to put on before going back inside?

            3. Momma Bear*

              I was thinking the same, just a large shirt or a simple cotton dress to cover the workout wear until she gets to the showers. Not to wear *during* the workout. A shirt might be able to be folded into a small pack and carried along.

              1. OP5*

                A lot of people have said large shirt or t-shirt dress to wear after the workout. I can’t reply to all of them, but I think this is my favorite idea. And a dress in a technical fabric could fold up small enough to fit in a fanny pack or something. Thank you everyone who made that suggestion!

                1. SpaceySteph*

                  These are pricier suggestions, but Title Nine and Athleta both have some dresses that would fit this bill.

                2. JustaTech*

                  If you’re looking for full athletic running dresses, yes to Title 9, if you’re just looking for wicking fabric (but no support structures) you might also consider travel dresses from places like ExOfficio.
                  I actually use one when I run in to work because it takes me forever to cool off after a run, but it looks professional enough for my office.

                3. Owler*

                  Nuu Muus are indeed awesome, and they are a small, woman-owned company in Washington State. I would recommend them! (There’s a Facebook fan group for them, and women of all shapes and sizes share photos of wearing Nuus for exercise and for every day wear.)

                  Layering: Sweet Spot skirts are nice for putting over biking or running shorts (also a small, woman-owned company). Rip Skirt Hawaii has some cute wrap skirts to layer over swimsuits or running shorts.

                  And there’s always something like the Undress for changing your clothes or just wearing over your exercise wear.

          3. Anon for this*

            I personally absolutely hate tight clothes of any kind, and several years ago I managed to find some pants for sale that were light weight enough that I could run in them, and loose fitting enough that they didn’t make me go nooooooooooo whenever I put them on. I also run in an area where there are bugs, covering arms and legs is a necessity, all thoughts of modesty and or embarrassment aside. Lightweight fabrics that won’t absorb and retain sweat work wonders.

          4. Elizabeth I*

            OP could try soccer shorts – lightweight, loose enough, dry easily, and they fall mid thigh.

    2. SwiftSunrise*

      OP #5 – Maybe a lightweight jacket you can tie around your waist while you run, but slip on before you head inside?

      That, or try and time pre-work workouts so you’re inside and showering before anyone can reasonably be expected to be there.

      1. Really Just a Cat*

        OP5, I’m similarly built and also run/do outdoor sports in the summer. My recommendation is a cardigan–a lightweight, black, longer one, either with a built-in belt or enough material that when you put it on the front overlaps. Tie it around your waist for running, then slip it on for that brief walk. It can also double to keep you warmer if your office is cold from a/c during the summer. I think runner’s tights are fine, if you get ones that are plain black and can look like leggings–mine are from Patagonia and paired with a tank and black cardigan you’d be fine for that brief walk.

    3. Aphrodite*

      Op #5, buy an oversized tee shirt (like a plus size 5 if you are actually a plus size 2 or 3) to throw on over your brief walk to the locker room. Keep it in your car perhaps and pick it up before you re-enter the building?

      1. Rarely do I post*

        I’ll be facing a similar situation when I return to the office (going to gym after work and changing at the office beforehand). I was thinking of packing a t-shirt dress that I could throw on over my workout gear on the walk to the car. Maybe one of those stretchy types that doesn’t wrinkle so it could be balled up in gym bag.

          1. NeedNewDresses*

            oh HI CUTE DRSSES! I’m lurking here and grateful for this recommendation! These are so cute!

          2. TheSoundkeeper*

            Title 9 doesn’t have plus sizes except in bras, and Oiselle’s dresses don’t come in plus sizes, unless I missed something on their web sites :-(

        1. voluptuousfire*

          Or try Old Navy swing dresses–if you’re on the smaller size of the plus-sized spectrum you can probably wear a size L-XXL. I often wore those swing dresses that were sleeveless with leggings and a cardigan and boots to work, so I’d gather it would work for your situation. They’re also cheap–usually around $15 but if you catch them on the right sales, you can get them for 8 or 10 dollars. They’re a t-shirt material, similar to their luxe tshirts.

          1. Carol the happy elf*

            I have had a very loose-weave broom skirt (I think it was from a clearance sale, though) with colored vertical stripe-like things. It acts like a wrap around, and you twist it in a knot instead of hanging it in a closet. It goes over leggings; you just untwist it and give it a flick,then button it down as far as the situation warrants.
            Whe I was walking through to the company shower, I didn’t wear it long enough to develop a personality, just hung it on a hook, misted it with light cologne and twisted it back into a knot. That way, if someone flagged me down, I didn’t feel awkward.

      2. Smithy*

        Absolutely agree with this approach – if there’s a way to have the oversize tee or t-shirt dress in the car or if you don’t drive, if there is a coat closet? Also a plug for any kind of long cotton wrap or even something like a swim suit cover-up might be easier than pulling something over your head.

        Personally, I would not adopt an approach where I tie anything around my waist in the summer. I’m in DC and by the time I’d be finished, the tied around the waist garment would be pretty gross.

      3. Yorick*

        You could get one of those tiny backpacks and keep a large shirt or jacket in there while you workout.

    4. StripesAndPolkaDots*

      I don’t think there are any magic answers here. You can buy baggier exercise clothes, like not-tight yoga pants, hiking shorts, sweatpants, etc., and loose, high-necked shirts to cover a sports bra. I’ll buy men’s exercise clothes sometimes.

      1. Fieldpoppy*

        Loose clothes + heat + running = chafing. If there’s something you can throw on from the door to the shower, I like the tshirt idea — but if not, I personally think you don’t need to cover up. I think if I saw you running at midday it would just make me feel envious I wasn’t running!!!

        1. Uranus Wars*

          I was going to say similar. I run at lunch and just walk by straight to the change room. Don’t stop for conversation beyond “hi” if I happen to make eye contact with someone. And even in cool months it’s obvious I’ve been running.

          I work at a pretty conservative company but they seem to understand that exercise=exercise clothes and don’t bat an eyelash. I do wear a fitted tank over my sports bra in the summer months when running from work, where when I run from home I wear only the sports bra.

      2. Lilo*

        As someone who has struggled with anxiety, there’s no pleasing anxiety brain. Best to just wear what works best for your workout. You’ll be shocked to find how little other people care.

    5. CatCat*

      How about a swimsuit cover up in your bag that you can take out when you get there, the kind that tie in front. They’re usually pretty lightweight and cover arms and butt.

      1. CatCat*

        For running, what about a longer tech shirt instead of tank top. Amazon Essentials has some that are short sleeved, but long down your back. I like them a lot.

    6. Eye roll*

      Get a running or hiking skirt and a loose yoga top. Full coverage and the skirt and flower top provide camouflage.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Actually, a flowery top wouldn’t a horrible idea either. Prints mask the figure.

          1. Empress Matilda*

            Assuming that OP wants to “mask” her figure – there’s no indication of that in her letter.

          2. 2 Cents*

            With respect, I’m a plus sized woman and unless I’m hiding behind a screen, there’s no “masking” my figure. Also, there’s no indication she wants to mask her figure. So please take your fat shaming elsewhere.

            1. HelenofWhat*

              To give the benefit of the doubt to Elspeth, they may have meant something more along the lines of “prints obscure the details of the body” which is what solid tight gym clothes don’t do at all, and may be part of what feels awkward for the OP.
              A fitted print top will not “show” as much chest for example as a solid one covering the same area. The print distracts the eye.

              Also my sympathies to the OP, my last gym was in the office building so I had to get used to changing in front of coworkers and timing my gym time to not overlap with my manager’s. I personally also tried to minimize how much of myself I exposed but not all my colleagues did the same.

              1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

                Oh, yeah, I meant that prints hide the details, not the general size! I believe solids are actually better for the 2nd purpose, because they are less attention grabbing.

                I spent a long time picking out printed swim leggings, for instance, because I did not want the exact shape of my butt to be on display. I’m not ashamed of my butt, I just don’t want it to be that visible.

      1. Time's Thief*

        Seconding this – I just bought my first running skirt and would feel comfortable wearing it where running shorts would be a bit too much. I do have to apply that anti-chafing stuff to my thighs because the shorts under the skirt aren’t quite long enough to cover all my chub rub area but hopefully that would be fixed by shopping around and not, say, buying the first ones I saw.

        For an office sprint I’d toss a lightweight loose long-sleeve shirt on for the walk from parking lot to showers, if circumstances permit me to have access to my car. If not, I’d be heavily researching moisture-wicking shirts and find a short sleeve version I could handle during summer mid-day exercise.

        1. 2 Cents*

          I have never seen a true plus size running skirt. Most end at XL, which is a size 16/18 for many people. (I’m a size 24, and yes, amazingly, can run.)d

          1. Jessica Fletcher*

            Skirt Sports makes up to 3x, which is a 50in waist according to their website. I learned about them because they used to do ads with Mirna Valerio, an awesome runner (including 14 ultras!) who is plus size.

          2. Owler*

            Sweet Spot skirts go up to size 24. Look for their E Sweet skirts (fits sizes 18-24). It’s a small woman-owned business, and I like to talk them up because they were struggling earlier during the pandemic— I’d love to see them survive.

    7. Princess Deviant*

      Allison that’s hilarious!

      OP – West a big t shirt and leggings; they’re baggy enough to cover and cool enough to wear while exercising.

        1. Jasmine*

          “I try not to ever engage in physical exertion”

          Hahahaha!! I was wondering if anyone else thought that was hysterical!

    8. jesicka309*

      A light long sleeve top or light jumper! You might be tempted to throw one on anyway as you move through the office if it’s very air conditioned.

      And my suggestion for shorts would actually be to avoid the traditional loose ‘running shorts’ and actually go for the fitted mid thigh bike short. I find the loose running short (think what marathon runners wear) actually shows way too much thigh because of the way the loose fabric crosses over and tends to reveal when moving quickly. The new bike shorts that are in fashion are more form fitted, but longer with no risk of exposing your butt. At home I prefer the running shorts because they’re so breezy, but around coworkers/friends I like the guaranteed coverage of the bike short.

      1. pancakes*

        I wore bike shorts when they were first in fashion in the 80s, and to my surprise recently found myself buying them again from Aerie. They have a variety of inseam lengths, high-waisted or not, etc.

      2. Toothless*

        I LOVE mid-thigh bike shorts for every type of working out I’ve ever done! Running (no inner thigh chafing! No constant adjustment! I can wear them with a sports bra under my normal clothes and then I don’t have to strip naked to change! Don’t slide down my butt like longer leggings!), biking, yoga, (rock climbing (no harness chafing! option to use knee skin for friction if it’s helpful!), kayaking or swimming (no discomfort from the kayak seat! No shaving! No slippage!), and hiking (can be worn under my regular hiking pants so I can take them off if I need to!).

    9. Goody*

      OP5 – I would personally pick up a couple summery maxi-dresses that I could keep in a backpack during the workout and then throw on over the top for that walk-through. There’s still a chance that you’ll get some questions about the change in attire when those couple co-workers see you walk past once in a sundress and again later in business clothes. In my experience, though, that’s less uncomfortable than walking past them in spandex.

      1. Archangelsgirl*

        This all the way. You can probably get these for $10 at Old Navy. Just throw it over your head as you pass thru and you’re done.

      2. (No Longer) Some Sort of Management consultant*

        I like this a lot!!
        I wouldn’t have thought of it myself but it’s the perfect thing!

      3. Weekend Please*

        That’s the way I would go. A nice maxi dress should be perfectly office appropriate and can nicely cover shorts and a tank top.

    10. elletee*

      I used to run commute pre pandemic, and kept all my shower stuff in my office. It felt slightly awkward to go to my office for it while still gross and sweaty (and in small shorts and a tank), and I had to ride an elevator up several floors and them go back downstairs to the showers, but honestly after a couple of weeks I forgot about it, and no one said anything. My office was pretty formal. I say just breeze on by and don’t worry about it. If you feel awkward, bring a tshirt or light jacket you can tuck into your shorts/top or tie around your waist while you exercise. If that doesn’t feel like enough, maybe try a little Camelback that you can stash some very light long shorts or jacket in.

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        Would you be comfortable in active fabric capris and a short sleeve t-shirt? Some of the dryfit type materials are amazing for keeping cool even with longer sleeves/pants.

    11. bunniferous*

      I’m large and I choose activewear that has three quarter length sleeves-and looks nice enough I actually wear it as a casual top. They are also cooler than they look temperature wise. I got mine at Catherine’s but sadly they went out of business (BUT they have an online presence so maybe you can find those tops there?)

    12. TPS reporter*

      I would like to suggest that you reject the assertion that because you’re bigger you cant wear workout clothes you feel comfortable in. I’ve gone up and down in weight. I did used to be too embarrassed to even work out which in retrospect makes me sad that I held myself back based on the perception of others. We’re all human and we have skin and sweat. You’re working out in the summer- I’m sure your co workers understand. Also you may cause more attention by putting on a comically large outfit just to take it off. Why haul around more clothes than needed?

      1. TPS reporter*

        Also to be clear I’m not trying to tell you how to feel. If you just wrote that you aren’t comfortable showing your body in general around co workers that’s okay. But if you would truly feel comfortable in those clothes save for feeling like someone of a larger size should cover up, I’d encourage you to think differently. Even just try it out a few times.

        1. OP5*

          Thanks. I get it. It’s a combination of things — internalized baggage from a fatphobic culture, my own gender identity issues, and the fact that I work in a heavily male dominated field. I sort of think if I were this same weight, but like a B cup instead of GG cup, I’d be less self conscious? But I choose office wear that has a lot of ease — not baggy or ill fitting, but designed to drape rather than cling — because I’m just so uncomfortable with the male gaze. It’s different if I’m out for a run, because I’m not standing still and I’m mostly being seen by strangers, not people who I have to fight to get them to take me seriously already.

      2. Anonomatopoeia*

        I’m here to offer similar advice. The body you have is the body you get to bring with you, all the time, to all the places you go. If it would be appropriate for your thin/slenderly-figured colleague to walk in in spandex and a tank top, then it’s appropriate for you to as well. Everyone gets to have, like, arms and knees and stuff, and people who would think mean things can keep it to themselves and be bad humans quietly.

        I will tell you that it took me a hot minute to come to that place for myself, so I mean, I feel you about being uncomfortable, but I feel like if you’re already dressing this way for the workout part, probably you’re okay, in general, with being dressed like this where people can see you, and so it should be a pretty short trip from there to okay to walk past folks with a wave, and even a, “See you in a sec after I get cleaned up!” Most folks will have a maximum response of ” Yep!”

        1. Forrest*

          I’m not thin-thin, but I’m within mainstream sizing and I wouldn’t be comfortable in a sports bra and leggings in the office either. I mean, I don’t want to deny that fat people get judged for this way more harshly and size is obviously part of LW5’s thinking or she wouldn’t have mentioned it, but I don’t think it IS the case that a skinny person would be fine to wander around an office in a sports bra or something. There’s a big element of this which is just as much about feeling super uncomfortable about being in the wrong clothes for an office environment as much as about wanting people not to see your particular kind of body.

          1. Roeslein*

            Exactly – I’m reasonably fit with what I guess you’d call a conventionally “slender” figure and I wouldn’t be comfortable walking around the office in a sports bra either – I’m a mum and my son hasn’t done any favours to my belly button! It’s not about being plus size or not.

          2. TechWorker*

            The LW didn’t say she works out in (only) a sports bra, she said runners tights and tank top. That clothing is no more revealing than a fitted shift dress (especially if your tank top is long enough to cover your bum).

            I guess I’m used to seeing people in my office walk past in workout clothes for the exact same reason as the LW wears them – that might not be true everywhere – but wearing only a sports bra is a different level of skin on show compared to most workout clothes.

            1. Forrest*

              Oh, this might be the different definitions of tank top— a tank top to me is spaghetti straps and has a *lot* less coverage boob and shoulder coverage than a typical sports bra! If you mean something more like a sleeveless tshirt then yeah.

              1. Flower*

                Most of my tank tops have straps that are about 2 fingers thick and a neck about where a typical t-shirt (either standard or scoop/boat neck) would be. Some are thicker material and woke are flowy light material. Because there aren’t sleeves, they read more like racer back backs.

                What you’re describing sounds more like a camisole to me than a tank top. My tanks often don’t *stay* covering my bra straps during movement, but they can be made to, even sports bras.

              2. Lou*

                I use the term tank top to refer to pretty much any sleeveless top (perhaps with the exception of those sleeveless actual/marketed as business work tops for women), whether it has spaghetti straps or wider straps. A running tank top (probably) has something of a scoop neck and shoulder straps that are 2ish inches wide but would definitely have more coverage than a spaghetti-strap one

              3. OP5*

                Yeah. I wear sleeveless or cap-sleeve work shirts all the time, but my workout tanks are all racerbacks with narrow shoulder straps. But as I mentioned in another comment, most of my discomfort comes from the size of my bust. I have no issue with showing my shoulders or arms, but all of my office wear is drape-y rather than fitted, because I’m so uncomfortable with the male gaze.

            2. Fieldpoppy*

              Im in this camp — bodies are bodies. I write for a blog called fit is a feminist issue and we are big fans of glorying in moving our bodies at all sizes.

              1. Camelid coordinator*

                Thanks for your amazing blog, Fieldpoppy! I get a lot of inspiration from it.

          3. PT*

            I worked in fitness and was a fitness instructor. A lot of gyms do not allow things like sports bras or short shorts on the fitness floor. For instructors, the dress codes skew modest (unless you’re at one of those “beautiful people” boutique studios, or a Zumba instructor because Zumba is special.) Typically, the thinner the instructor the more modest the dress code. The idea is that a conventionally fit instructor in a skimpy outfit is discouraging to participants who do not look like that from participating in class, when the class should be welcoming to all body types and class should encourage people to exercise for health and mobility, not appearance.

            I typically wore running shorts (a 2.5-3″ inseam, not the extra-long ones) or leggings depending on weather, a dry-wicking workout tee, and a running jacket over that if it was cold. Sometimes I was teaching on the unairconditioned indoor pool deck in the summer and it was 100 degrees; sometimes I was teaching outside in the winter in 35 degree weather. Some other instructors wore thick-strapped tanks with the built in sports bras, track pants, and longer running shorts.

            I also used to run into coworkers in the showers all the time, no one cared because…it’s a locker room and that’s where people shower and change.

            This is a bit of a tangent, but I just wanted to toss out there what I wore as fitness attire in the workplace!

            1. Le Sigh*

              That’s really interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever thought too hard about instructor’s attire, but that makes sense.

        2. Audrey Puffins*

          A similar thought here too. I’m quite generously proportioned, and often amazed at how little I care about people seeing my body in the clothes that are comfortable for me to exercise in, even though these clothes include tight-fitting bike shorts in ludicrously coloured patterns and tops that do nothing to flatter my chest, belly, and other assorted fat rolls. There are some good suggestions being thrown around here, but before spending a fortune on cover-ups or items that might not be the most comfortable but fit your ideal aesthetic here, it’s worth considering that in practice, you may well find you just don’t care as much as you thought you might. And I promise that unless your co-workers are vile people, they certainly don’t care what you wear to exercise in either. Even if they have to see it as you pass by their desks. :)

      3. Chc34*

        I’m also, ahem, Rubinesque, and for me personally it’s not even that I feel embarrassed in workout clothes, it’s that sports bras/tank tops make my boobs look absolutely ginormous and it’s not necessarily a look I want to walk in front of my coworkers with. I used to go to exercise classes at lunch and would always just throw on a cardigan and close it up as I walked out – I did have somewhere to put it, though, when I got to my classes so not sure how practical that is if you’re going out running

        1. Empress Matilda*

          Yeah, same. I’m pretty comfortable with my own Rubanesque body, but I wouldn’t want to wear exercise clothes in the office either. Even if I’m just passing through on my way to change post-exercise, I’d still rather have a coverup of some sort.

      4. WS*

        I’m fat and I swim, so I’m used to walking around in fairly skimpy but activity appropriate clothing. However, whenever my colleagues have noticed that I’ve been exercising, I get a whole lot of over-the-top, condescending praise about how I’m working out (me! an actual fat person!) and how “good” I’m doing, and then people want to talk diets with me. (I get this at the pool sometimes too, but they’re used to me there!) So I understand why LW #5 might not want to attract that. A big t-shirt or maxi dress works well.

        1. Pam Poovey*

          I’m also a fat swimmer! *high five*

          That condescending garbage is [Jean-Ralphio voice] the WORST. Exercise is morally neutral, I swim and do other stuff because I like it and it makes me feel good, stfu and leave me alone.

          1. Tired of Covid-and People*

            STFU and leave me alone…applies to any and all talk about other people’s bodies.

        2. LifeBeforeCorona*

          My reaction to seeing anyone working out with a less than a conventional body is to respect their gumption. It’s not easy knowing that some people are judging you. It’s a damned if you do and damned if you don’t scenario. I was very self concious when I first took my exercise outside but now I don’t care. No one is keeping me inside. My health means more than the side-eye.

        3. Campfire Raccoon*

          I am also a fat swimmer! When I can’t change quickly I put on men’s basketball shorts or a neutral dress of some sort. Anything to avoid trying to shimmy into pants while still damp. I get a lot of “You’re a strong swimmer!” like the observer didn’t realize chubby people can do things. Coincidentally, I am also a strong floater, but that is neither here nor there.

        4. Pippa K*

          There’s a version of this “supportive” but implicitly fat-shaming nonsense that comes up in equestrian circles too, where it’s presented as a combo of amazement that heavier people ride and also “concern for the horse,” which is complete nonsense. The rule of thumb is that a horse can carry a person of about 20% of the horse’s body weight – so for, say, a 1200 lb quarter horse, that’s up to a 240 lb person. And yet, people who don’t blink at a 200 lb six foot man on horseback get all “concerned” about a 200 lb 5.5 foot woman.

          The horses, of course, do not give a crap and just prefer riders who are competent. And who maybe have snacks.

          1. LoveMySlippers*

            Yes to this! I teach riding and while weight IS a factor, the rider’s riding fitness and technical ability to ride in a balanced and light way -or the opposite – is almost more key. We used to have a really skinny guy who rode so heavy that we had to have him buy his own extra sturdy horse while one of my Rubenesque riders has worked so hard on her riding that she is my go to example of what light riding looks like when posting and thus has a larger pool of horses we can assign her to because she is comfortable for them to carry.

            1. Pippa K*

              Yes – riding is a great discipline for people to learn that “fitness” and “weight” are not the same thing! (But no matter what my fitness level, I do love the “extra sturdy” horses – give me the chonky cobs and draft crosses!)

      5. Forrest*

        I don’t know how LW5 feels about this, but for me there’s be a big difference between “what I want to wear to exercise in” and “what I want to walk past my colleagues in”. I hate the idea of having to wear loose or thicker clothing to run in if the most comfortable thing is leggings and a bra top— I can ride a bike in anything except a long skirt, but running gets actively uncomfortable and even painful if fabric or skins rubs. But I definitely wouldn’t be comfortable with colleagues seeing me in the office in just a sports bra either. I wouldn’t mind if they were swing me like that outside when I’d just finished a run or if they were in a gym at the same time as me, it’s just literally that I would feel way too weird walking through a workspace and past people in work clothes whilst being visibly half-naked!

        So for me, “sports clothes for sport” and “loose cover-up to pull over afterwards” would be the optimal solution. Bonus that this can be a big sports tshirt or a flowery beach cover-up depending on your style, LW5!

        1. UKDancer*

          Definitely! I do ballet in a leotard, tights and a very short wrap skirt because that’s what I’m comfortable doing ballet in. That doesn’t mean I would want my colleagues from the office seeing me in my ballet outfit.

          I’d go with the appropriate clothes for sports and then a coverup for walking through the office too.

        2. 2 Cents*

          I was thinking one of those open-front kimono things that are really breezy so they wouldn’t add to being super hot.

      6. Sal*

        Came here to say the same thing. If she WANTS to cover up more, there are some good suggestions here. If she just feels that she has to or should, I say just wear what you work out in and don’t worry about it! Of course if she thinks there would be professional consequences (but it doesn’t sound like it), that needs to be considered.

        I would say the only exception would be if you wear only a sports bra as a top, I would throw a tee or tank over it. Similarly, I would expect a guy who works out shirtless to throw a tee or tank on to walk into the office. Besides that, wear what makes sense for your workout.

      7. Liz*

        Agree. OP 5 – go run and enjoy yourself. Wear whatever makes you comfortable.
        If your colleagues are positive people they’ll be impressed with your consistency and effort.
        I say this as someone with similar workout habits/logistics. People have a way of pleasantly not noticing me until I’m changed back into work clothes. It’s no big deal.

    13. ToodlesTeaTops*

      Try googling ‘Hiking Skort” or “Jogging Skort”. There are many knee-length skorts (or shorter if you want) that are made of the same material as regular exercise pants. My hiking group loves to wear skorts and kilts.

      1. OrigCassandra*

        Terry (plus-size cycling gear) routinely has skorts as well. They won’t fool anybody that they’re not workout gear, but they do solve the form-fitting problem nicely.

        1. OP5*

          Do you have a link — googling for terry + various terms mostly gets me clothing items made of terrycloth. Which I think is not what you meant?

      2. Ann O'Nemity*

        Yeah, I’m a fan of workout clothes that are tight underneath and baggier on top. Skorts are a good example. I also have some shorts that are a single piece but look like I’ve paired tight biker shorts with a baggier pair of shorts. This solves any chafing issues but also looks better on me, IMO.

    14. nnn*

      #5: How do you feel about the kind of yoga pants that aren’t leggings? (I don’t know if there’s a name for them – if you remember what “yoga pants” meant before everyone started using the term to apply to leggings). They tend to read more as pants than tights, and as such aren’t any more revealing than skinny jeans. I’m not sure how you feel about running in long pants, but you did mention “runners tights” in your letter and I read that as long rather than shorts.

      You could also wear a t-shirt or tank top that’s meant to be loose/flowy rather than tight/fitted.

        1. Cranky lady*

          I have lived in these particular yoga pants for the last 15 months so I can vouch for their comfort but they are a bit warm for outdoor summer running (at least around here where it’s 95F/38C in the summer).

      1. pancakes*

        Sweaty Betty has some nice pants in this category. Pricey, but they have good sales.

        1. 2 Cents*

          They only go up to a size 16, which is barely “plus size.” I’m assuming “Rubenesque” refers to plus size, which usually starts at a size 14/16.

      2. Time's Thief*

        Skecher’s has some bootcut walking pants that you could almost wear to the office as regular pants. I couldn’t wear them to exercise during the summer but I’m in Texas where it can easily be 100+ and humid for lunchtime runs. Assuming LW is in kinder latitudes, they could be just what she’s looking for.

        1. nnn*

          I don’t know about OP, but that’s exactly what I’m looking for!

          Do you happen to know how reliable the size chart is?

    15. JR*

      I think, at this point in the development of athleisure, people have more or less accepted leggings as pants – not necessarily in the workplace, but no one will be shocked to see you walk by in leggings. Pairing it with a looser shirt, though, might help you feel less on display. Athleta has a tank top I really like – it’s a slightly looser top with a shell cut, so it almost looks like a work short, and it don’t trace every bulge. It’s the Vital Tank 2.0 Essence.

      1. OP5*

        I love that tank!And that Athelta has pictures of it on a model that’s close to my size. Thank you!

    16. alienor*

      #5 I think a t-shirt and leggings would be fine for a short walk through the office. Honestly I’d just be glad my coworker was showering–I’ve worked with a few people who would bike or run to work and not shower afterwards, and by early afternoon it was very noticeable.

    17. Medusa*

      LW #5: if you don’t want to be in leggings, maybe basketball shorts?
      If gyms aren’t open yet, though, you probably won’t be the only one doing lunchtime workouts, so I imagine colleagues will get used to seeing colleagues entering or leaving their locker rooms in workout clothes. FWIW, people at my office and in surrounding offices often show up in workout gear and it’s not seen as anything. We all get it. They ran/cycled to work or ran/cycled during lunch and then they shower and change back into their work clothes.

    18. Megan*

      I’d say just wear like loose fit running or basketball shorts (like the Nike kind) that aren’t super short and a sleeveless shirt or breathable workout t-shirt. Avoid stuff that’s overly tight or like a racer back or low cut tank that might be a little more revealing than you care for.

    19. Manana*

      Check out mesh athletic jackets/tops. They add a bit of coverage without making you break out in heat rash. They come in all sorts of styles, lengths, etc. Sort of a sporty version of a pool cover up.

      1. Manana*

        Also I agree with a lot of commenters that your coworkers are unlikely to even notice you walk by or think much of it. If all the gyms are closed you might catch a few of them in their running tights!

      2. The Rural Juror*

        I like the suggestion of a pool cover up, but kept thinking it might look odd to be walking through the office in one. I like your idea of the mesh/sporty cover up!

    20. amoeba*

      Not sure if it was already mentioned, but would recommend combined running shorts and tights – I personally really can’t wear the lose shorts as they ride up and I chafe, and those combine the benefit of tights with the looks of lose shorts.
      For the shirt, there are many slightly lose runner’s tops with short sleeves that shouldn’t expose more than an average t-shirt. Would rather go for those than an extra baggy cotton shirt or something – that seems like compromising on comfort during your workout! Also probably worse for sweat absorption etc, so would probably not look or feel better with a soaked cotton shirt instead of sportswear…

      Also, +1 on your colleagues probably don’t care, I mean, only thing I’d feel for a colleague coming in from a workout would be admiration for their motivation! But I can understand wanting to start with something you feel more comfortable in – hope it’ll get less of an issue once you get used to it!

    21. Ellie*

      I’d just wear normal workout clothes, and maybe take an oversized tracksuit top to throw on when you aren’t actually working out.

    22. Dutch*

      For #5

      If you don’t already have a saddle bag for your bike or -ahem- fanny pack* for running I’d recommend getting one. Then you can stash an oversized shirt/swim coverup to pop on after exercising, as suggested above.

      I’ve run with a backpack before, but only on shorter runs, nothing more than 3 or 4 miles. Any farther and it starts to bother me.

      *I’m British, we find this term funny.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Don’t the Brits call a fanny pack a bum bag? I’m not positive but I thought I heard that once.

    23. Tara*

      Just wear what you’d normally wear, but with headphones. They are cumulatively paying less interest to you than the amount of thought you’re putting into this. Listen to a song that makes you feel confident (an easy one is literally Confident by Demi Lovato) and you’ll be in the changing rooms before you’re at the first chorus.

    24. Alex Trebek*

      I have had the exact same issue before many many times. My simplest solution has been to tuck a tunic length kimono wrap/shrug/shawl in my bag that I can pull out once I get to the office and throw on over my workout clothes. Basically like a short-sleeved robe, but fashion. They tend to be extremely lightweight material (especially the cheap ones) so its never an issue to pack/carry. I have one in black, and it’s so normal looking that folks don’t even notice that I’m always wearing it first thing in the morning, but never later in the day.

      I also swear by tunic length tank tops for office workouts in general – I can tie them up while I’m exercising, and then let them down for my office dash. Generally not because I want to hide my figure, but any potential butt sweat!

    25. RunsOutside*

      A loose light zip up can give you a (sweat-free) modesty screen if you pull it on right before going back inside. If your office is like mine, it is over-air-conditioned, so it helps with the sudden temperature change anyway.

    26. The Other Dawn*

      Throwing on a t-shirt over your workout top is the easiest. I don’t think there’s really any more thought required. You’re just walking through to go change clothes.

    27. newbie*

      What would a man do in this situation? He’d walk past the desks in workout clothes, grab his shower stuff and go change like he owns the place. Do that.

      1. Forrest*

        I don’t think this is true! I’ve had plenty of male colleagues who cycled to work and who would deliberately go up the other stairs or try and get through the corridor to change as quickly as possible if they’re wearing head-to-toe Lycra.

        Like, yes, women and especially fat women get way more judgement about how they look, but there’s an element of appearing in skin-tight, non-professional clothes in the work place which is weird and awkward for lots of people. It’s not just about oppressive work standards that we all need to throw off.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Also, I’m pretty sure a chubby dude would feel more uncomfortable walking past his coworkers in Lycra than a buff one. Women aren’t the only people embarrassed to be fat, you know?

          I actually can’t ever remember seeing a fat man in skin tight clothes, but I’ve fat women in skin tight clothes fairly regularly. I’m pretty sure the social taboo is stronger for the man, because men are far less likely to wear tight clothing at all.

          Men’s clothing has way better pockets, but it’s also far more restrictive in the types of clothing that are acceptable.

          1. nnn*

            I wonder if there might also be fewer skintight workout clothes/more non-skintight options available in the men’s category.

      2. Brett*

        What? That’s not true at all!
        As a man who works out very regularly (12-18 times a week) I would be mortified to do that, and I purposely never work out during work hours because of that. This is true for the vast majority of men at the gym I work out at, which is why our adult class hours are all after 5pm.

    28. The Crusher*

      My wife suggests Wantable. There’s an active edit for plus sized women that she’s very happy with!

    29. Lilo*

      I think OP5 is being a little anxious here. I work in a casual dress place with a gym and people who ru outside (in the before times) and no one gives anyone a second glance.

      If it’s appropriate to wear outside to exercise, it’s okay to wear walking to the lockers. With than amenity at your work, it’s expected for people to wear workout clothes. You’re fine.

      1. Knope Knope Knope*

        Eh it really depends on the culture of the office. I worked in an office where this was fine and I have worked in an office with pervy coworkers and huge gender disparities in leadership where I would not be so comfortable.

        1. Lilo*

          Even in a place where they provided a gym? That’s messed up, it’s basically setting a trap.

          1. OP5*

            There’s no gym onsite, just the showers. And the showers are mostly used by the people who work in the machine shop on-site. I’ve definitely seen desk or lab-bench workers using the showers for post-exercise purposes, so I know it’s accepted, but it’s not the reason the showers are provided, kwim?

          2. Autistic AF*

            It’s a pretty typical experience for marginalized people, and it can absolutely have an impact on her professional life – why shouldn’t LW5 be anxious? She works in her office, not yours.

    30. HahaLala*

      If the goal is to not attract too much attention, then be careful with the color you wear too. Maybe stay away from the ultra-bright neon high-vis colors, and stick with colors more found in business casual clothes. I know I have a lot of neon pinks and yellows in my workout gear, and it’s great for early morning workouts, but it would practically glow in my office full of more muted colors.

    31. Pam Poovey*

      Honestly? I’d just wear what is comfortable for exercising and not worry about the coworkers. They know that’s what you’ve been out doing, so it won’t be a surprise that you’re dressed for it. It’ll feel awkward the first few times but once you realize no one is really concerned with it you’ll probably be more comfortable.

    32. caroline*

      I’m not sure if “on the way in to work” is literally *during* the way or as in *before* work. But if it’s the former – run home? Literally. I’m guessing it’s the latter, though. But maybe it could still be doable! Depends on your commute, of course (distance, and if there are people-friendly roads), and running with a computer in your backpack is probably not good, but if you don’t have to bring your computer or similar large items home there are plenty of backpacks made to wear during running (a few of them are probably designed to hold a 15″ laptop as well). Depending on where you live, afternoons post-work can be slightly cooler than lunchbreak-middle-of-the-day as well :)

      1. OP5*

        It’s easier to *to* work than to run home *from* work because of temperature and sun exposure though.

        My work issued laptop is a 7 lb behemoth, so I don’t cart it back and forth. If I have to log in after hours, that’s what the VPN is for :)

    33. JSPA*

      1. Exercise has its own rules; many people will just clock it as “exercising” and not pass judgement.

      2. Any way to keep an exercise towel nearer the front door, and drape it over your shoulders / come in wiping your face?

      3. It’s cooler before work, and less crowded for any commute; exercise even earlier, come in to an emptier office?

      4. Go slightly tighter with a high percentage of lycra / spandex (more supportive) not looser (chafing! Soaking through with sweat in awkward places!). Some Olympians are zaftig, too; channel that. If the item wicks well, it can be a bit thicker without being warmer. (This will be pricier.)

      5. You’re impressive — inhabit and own that awareness! Resist messaging that wants you to feel apologetic for having a body / having your body / using your body to move around the surface of our planet.

    34. AndersonDarling*

      OP #5, If your company has a locker room with showers, then I’m guessing that they encourage exercise and good health. So I honestly wouldn’t worry so much about what kinds of work-out clothes you are wearing, just that they fit well for you and are generally in good shape.
      I’ve worked in offices where we all knew “George bikes to work” and “Mary goes for a run at lunch” and we all understood that they will walk past us in sweaty clothes and it’s proper manners to ignore what they are wearing until they get changed into their work clothing again. Yep, the clothes may have a more exposing cut, or may be tighter than usual, but they are workout clothes and everyone understood that it was about a healthy lifestyle and so we keep our eyes on our own business.
      But if it is more about you feeling exposed, then I would keep a work-out style, lightweight jacket available to throw on while you walk through the office.

      1. Lilo*

        This is exactly how I feel, the office provided this amenity, as long as LW is wearing normal exercise clothes, she’s fine.

    35. Judy*

      I remember that dilemma years ago when Curves first opened. They didn’t have locker rooms or changing facilities so I’d have had to change before I left work. I never came up with anything that seemed acceptable so never joined Curves!!

    36. Lacey*

      I just wanted to throw out there that when I worked at a fairly formal place, people walked around the halls in their work-out gear pre & post workout and some people even worked out in a space everyone walks through to come back from lunch! It was super not a big deal.

      On the other hand, as someone who probably has a similar figure, I get it, and I think you best option will be to have a place near the entrance where you can put a baggy t-shirt or jacket to throw on for your walk back.

      1. Lilo*

        I think there must be a strong workout culture among lawyers. Even the judge I worked for would come into Chambers in her jogging clothes. She changed before court, of course.

    37. Elle by the sea*

      It depends on the culture of your office, really. Having worked in casual offices, I would hazard a guess that it isn’t going to be a big deal. I had absolutely no qualms about waltzing through the office in my exercise clothes. However, it also depends on how revealing they are, but I’m assuming you are not biking or running in bikinis/swimsuits. Anything else should be fine.

      One caveat though is that some offices claim to be casual (so, no dress code in theory) but it’s full of people who think it’s ok to wear ripped jeans to the office but tend to faint at the mere sight of tracksuit bottoms, which is well beyond my otherwise vivid imagination and keen appreciation for the inner workings of the human mind.

      1. OP5*

        There’s definitely a de facto dress code by department — as in I can tell at a glance, with 90% confidence, which department someone works for based on their dress. Baggy jeans and black teeshirts for one team, khakis and polos for another team, dark wash jeans, cowboy belt buckle and button up shirt for another team. etc etc.

    38. LR*

      Wear a swim cover-up! I’m imagining a solid color loose dress style that could be tossed on over any type of form fitting workout gear and not look totally put of place in an office.

      I have used a swim cover as a quick fix when I was racing from a yard chore to a zoom meeting and it works great.

    39. Delta Delta*

      As a runner with a lifetime of body image issues, my thoughts are this:

      1. If you’re going in the middle of the day that’s great but it’s gonna be HOT so factor in the sun.

      2. very likely if your co-workers see you heading out in running shorts and an athletic top they’re going to think, “huh, Jane’s going running at lunch” and will move on and eat their desk salads.

      3. Easier said than done, of course, but wear what’s comfortable for you. You’re already out running in public where pedestrians and people in cars and on bicycles see you, so it seems like walking into your office building to go change should (and again, I know, should) not be too surprising either for you or for them.

      4. Again, runner here – I hate those tiny shorty shorts. Some people love them. Great for people with narrow legs. For people like me whose body fat decides to congregate on my thighs, those dang things ride up and I spend the whole run yanking on my shorts. No fun! Find the clothes that work for your body so you can maximize your time doing what you want (which is the workout) and not yanking on your shorts the whole time. Same is true with tops – if you find a particular top works better than others, wear that.

      5. Enjoy the exercise! That’s what matters!

      1. Camelid coordinator*

        You have gotten so many good responses already, OP, and I especially want to echo what Delta Delta just said. When I exercise at work people are too busy being impressed to notice what I am wearing. I also wanted to add that you might want to wear your favorite and most fun workout gear. For years I thought the Lioness skirt from Skirt Sports would be too short for me but then I noticed how cute it looks on real-life athletes of all body types. I gave it a try and now I love the combo of running shorts with pocket and flounce. I am convinced I look adorable.

    40. OhNoYouDidn't*

      If you do a google search for either “Women’s running shorts,” or, “2 in 1 women’s running shorts,” you’ll find a variety of options that help prevent chaffing and have a more modest look you might be looking for a the same time. Many companies offer them such as Nike, Under Armour, Old Navy, and more. Good luck!!!

      1. OhNoYouDidn't*

        Sorry, that first search should be, “Women’s running shorts with leggings.”

    41. Nancy*

      OP5: I am not thin, and I prefer to focus on what’s the most comfortable when exercising. So I think you should stick with whatever you found that’s most comfortable. You can toss on a big t shirt or something for walking through the office. Good for you for continuing to exercise and stay healthy, even with the closed gym.

    42. TheCultureisStrong*

      OH I can help! what you need is a “sweater coat” think long, large cardigan that you wear over your inappropriate workout attire. all the better if you can leave this item at whatever door you are coming and going from.

      I would regularly work out after work (low-impact non-sweaty) and then go back to work, this was after hours so it was usually 1-3 people left. I’d leave my workout gear on, and put on what amounted to a literal potato sack to finish out my work day.

      It was in no more revealing clothing than a wrap dress.

    43. Jerry Terry Larry Gary*

      Very lightweight long cardigan, or yoga cover-ups you can stuff in a pouch. Wear what you want, get some protection from the AC and eyes when you get back in the building.

    44. Finland isn't real*

      I wear an exercise dress from Outdoor Voices which actually passes for a work outift with a cardi over it in my office!

      1. FatRunner*

        Love the idea of a cute exercise dress! But Outdoor Voices is SO ANNOYING because they advertise with curvy models but their sizing only goes up to a not-generous XL, so not probably not a good choice for OP (depending on her definition of “rubenesque”)

    45. DC Humidity*

      I wear knee-length cotton leggings from Spalding for summer workouts – they’re thick enough that they don’t feel super revealing, while staying cool because of the material, and pretty affordable. I’d pair them with a high-necked tank top or a cap-sleeved t-shirt.

    46. Jam Today*

      I second (third?) the idea of just getting a beach dress to wear over your workout gear while you’re in the working space of your office. I also wear very tight clothing to exercise, and when I was more in shape than now I wore just the exercise bra component (they’re meant to be worn alone, its fine!) so had a bare midriff along with everything else going on because I am a Sweaty Betty and even wickwear bothers me. In the gym nobody cares, we all look like crap while we’re sweating and panting, so just throw on one of those loose flowy schmattes you get in the bathing suit section of Target and don’t think twice about it.

    47. baribaby*

      If middle aged men have no shame wearing their cycling shorts to work, the rest of the office can cope with some (ok, acres in my case) cleavage. It’s functional clothing.
      Cycling to work and exercising at lunch are both reasonable, and if you’re obviously in workout gear, what you’re doing is pretty clear. When I can find tops that are high cut, I buy them in bulk, but I refuse to work out in tops with sleeves. When I can’t find something high cut, my workplace & my gym see a bit too much and the only comments I’ve ever gotten have been about how they should probably work out more.

    48. theletter*

      I recently had to go directly from a church service to an outdoor crossfit class. I wore a long wrap skirt and a t-shirt, which covered shorts and a tank top.

      when I arrived at the class and unwrapped the skirt, the coach complimented me on the ‘fastest summer caj to summer sweat transition’ he’d ever witnessed.

    49. Person from the Resume*

      If you can’t get comfortable with coworkers seeing you in workout clothes, I think the idea to bring something to cover up for the brief dash past their desks is the best idea. At least when biking you can store it somewhere on the bike. But if possible leave it it in or near your car (if the parking lot is nearby) is a good one especially if you’re running and don’t want to carry it. You can probably stash an oversized tshirt on your windshield and it will probably still be there when you return so no need for keys to get into the car.

      Loose and flowy isn’t great when cycling and isn’t great with you’re working out through the sweaty summer so I think a coverup is the best option.

      Personally, though, I’d just walk past them without making a big deal of it. I was in the military so past coworkers saw me in workout clothes. I’ve gained weight since getting out, but I also became comfortable with wearing cycling clothes in public just by doing it.

    50. Epsilon Delta*

      I am a runner, and in the summer I wear running shorts (they have the liner inside plus loose legs that cover about a quarter to half my thigh) and a polyester or “tech” t shirt. No matter what your size I think that would be a reasonable outfit to wear past a few desks on the way to the shower! Maybe stash a towel in your car or on the way into the office so you can dry off a bit and drape it over shoulders if you need more coverage. Padded sports bras will also help with “coverage.”

      As for running during lunch. I have been working at home and running at lunch during the summer has not been going so fruitfully due to the heat. You’ll probably be more comfortable running as part of your commute at this time of year, and better yet running early morning or late evening. Heading out of the office in non-sweaty workout gear on your way home will also likely feel less awkward than coming back into the office in sweaty gear.

    51. cass_m*

      I wear looser fitting sport dresse over work out clothes to walk to/from gym. Because they are ‘active’ they aren’t clingy and don’t get sweat marks quickly.

    52. CheeryO*

      A lot of people are suggesting to throw something on over the workout wear, but that doesn’t make sense to me. Presumably OP is leaving stuff in the locker room, then exercising, then coming back to the locker room, so any extra layer would have to come with her on the run/bike ride. That’s not worth the stress and hassle.

      As a fellow lunchtime runner, just wear what’s comfortable. I don’t wear my shortest shorts or skimpiest tank tops, but I will absolutely wear regular shorts/capris/leggings and form-fitting tops. You’re wearing athletic wear for its intended purpose. I know it’s easier said than done, but try not to worry about what anyone thinks. If your office is casual and supportive of lunchtime exercise, then no one will be scrutinizing you for your workout attire. They’ll just be happy that you shower afterward!

      1. Ann*

        I wouldn’t bring the extra coverup on my run but would just leave it somewhere along the way (e.g. unobtrusively hanging on a tree right outside the door to the building or something). I like to run in shorts and sports bra with no shirt, and then would bring a tshirt to cover up when I get back to the building. I can carry the tshirt with me (tucked in the waistband of the shorts) or can ditch it at the start of the run and pick it up on my way back.

    53. Qwerty*

      What about a pair of running shorts over the leggings/tights? When I was a teen, that was the basic uniform for colder days in track / cross country. We had the super short lightweight shorts that are kinda flimsy and useless by themselves that we’d wear over our spandex pants, which obscured the awkwardness of how tight and formfitting the spandex was in the booty region.

    54. Sneaky Ninja for this one*

      As a fluffier runner, who used the office treadmill and ran into coworkers there and sometimes changed into workout clothes before going to physicial therapy, I wore exactly what I wear to workout at home/around the nieghborhood. Which was usually the loudest printed workout leggings I could find and a tank top. If they can get over me being beet red and soaking with sweat, they can get over my pants. Good running pants are expensive, I’m not buying a special pair for work. They can get over it.

    55. Ann Perkins*

      I work out regularly over lunch and my office is mostly business attire expected so I deal with this too, though some days I clean up at the office and some days I shower at the gym before heading back. I like wearing crew neck tank tops that are comfortable without showing my sports bra. For work days, I don’t typically wear the muscle style tank tops that have larger holes at the armpits. This is an example staple for me, lightweight but not too revealing, forgive the long URL:

      And with those I pair biking style shorts that go to mid-thigh. Unless your coworkers are judgey jerks, I think you’ll find that the more you get into a habit, the less you’ll be concerned about how others view your workout attire. I don’t believe having an extra item of clothes like a swimsuit coverup is required, but do what makes you feel comfortable.

    56. rachel in nyc*

      I’d also look into things like whether you might have other co-workers who want to go at the same time or there is an office work out group.

      It doesn’t change the clothes issue but it does- from my experience- change the mind set. If I’m wearing tight fitting gym clothes at work, I’m more comfortable if other people are also wearing them or I’m going to or from a work related exercise event.

      1. Haha Lala*

        This was going to be my suggestion too! Even if you don’t workout together, but agree to meet up and walk back in together that would work. And after a week or so of that, you might have built your confidence up (or made it routine to your coworkers) that you can walk in on your own without being uncomfortable.

    57. Eat My Squirrel*

      Betabrand dress pant yoga pants are the bomb. They look like dress pants, stretch and feel like yoga pants. I bought them for wfh because I sit in the floor, but now I wear them everywhere for everything. They have lighter weight ones for summer. Highly recommend.
      For tops, I think the idea of a lightweight cardigan or beach coverup to throw on just outside the door is a great idea.

    58. merpaderp*

      Two thoughts OP#5 – a practical solution might be to look into UV swim shirts and/or ‘modest’ workout/swimwear garments. They’re cut to provide more coverage while being made in fabrics and/or cuts that compensate.

      My other thought, as other comments have raised, is more about your “why” specifically so I guess its more “food for thought”. Consider, if your reasoning for why you’d like a cover up has to do with your office norms – in other words, I wonder if you’re looking for a cover up because “it is the done thing”/inertia. If a good chunk of people are going to be re-establishing schedules/norms, etc around a bunch of “being in the office again with a lot of other people” stuff, you have an opportunity to create a new norm around the acceptability of brief, post-workout cameos on the way to the changing rooms.

    59. Elliot*

      Letter Writer 5 – I have the same problem with tight/skimpy workout clothes! I am lucky to have a gym again, but if I want to stop at the grocery store after… I feel very exposed, made more so by sweaty clingy clothing.
      I have a number of long, loose cardigans, and oversized long sleeve shirts – after running or biking in tights and a sports bra or tank, I pull on a big shirt or cardigan that’s long enough to cover my booty as well.

    60. Dr.R*

      As a co-worker, as long as you have on pants that cover your butt plus a couple of inches and a top that covers all/most of your stomach (ie, not just a sports bra), I would not give you a second glance or a second thought if you strolled through in workout cloths between a workout and changing.

    61. Missbee*

      I am “fuller figured” and I’m not sure I would care at all. I’ve played on work softball teams where I had to change in the office and I would generally just wear my workout leggings and team t-shirt. I suppose if your are worried about how you’d look in a fitted runners tank you could go with slightly less formfitting workout t-shirts.

      In general I’m over the idea that because of my body type certain clothes that might be acceptable on smaller or less curvy bodies are somehow inappropriate on mine.

    62. a heather*

      Other commenters have given good suggestions re:cover-ups, but I will also say after the first few times you’ll probably get used to it and it won’t bother you as much. I did yoga with work folks, basically at one end of the work area (an open-plan meeting space was used for the class during lunch time), and while it was weird for me the first few times, eventually I’d be sitting at my desk in my yoga clothes for a while before I remembered to go change.

    63. Erin*

      Simple dresses are awesome for this! There are quite a few by amazon brands (daily ritual, amazon essentials, a few others) that require nothing more than pulling on over your head. They are all machine washable, too! Yay for easy care!

      I live in them all summer….throw on a Jean jacket & white sneaks or some cute sandals, you are done, covered & cute!

    64. whatchamacallit*

      #5 I don’t know what you’re comfortable actually running/exercising in, but shorts and a tshirt are always pretty uncontroversial. If you prefer a sports bra or something along those lines there’s a bunch of cute hoodies I think you could easily throw over it once you’re in the office. If you run with a bag/backpack anything like that even easier or tying around your waist like some others suggested. (I buy a bunch of high-end work out clothes secondhand, you can get ’em pretty cheap on any popular resale site.)

    65. Imaginary Number*

      I’m going to disagree with a lot of folks (probably.) I think a lot of people are suggesting to wear something to disguise the workout gear by either wearing something baggy over it or wearing workout gear that looks like work clothes (like an athletic skirt.)

      We have several people who arrive at my workplace wearing super form-fitting attire because they’re intense cyclists who like to bike to work every day. Nobody bats an eye because it’s 100% obvious that this is a cycling outfit that they’re going to change out of.

      I’m not suggesting you wear a sports bra and running shorts, but I think the goal should be to make it as obvious as possible that these are workout clothes for the express purpose of working out. Not to disguise them.

    66. JessicaTate*

      I’m a runner; you can’t carry along a cover-up, and fabrics and cut matter a lot. For tops: I’ve found some very loose-fitting racerback, tech fiber, tank tops. They’ve been pretty comfortable on super-hot runs and don’t weigh me down or chafe. Your sports bra WILL be visible through arm holes, but mainly if you raise an arm and/or someone’s looking way harder than they should be. But your concern sounds like it might be more with the form-fittingness, and if so, that helps with the top half.

      On the bottom half, I think walking through the office briefly in running tights is really fine! It’s form-fitting, but basically leggings. If you’re thinking shorts… Well, some folks have mentioned running skorts as a way to get a little more coverage. Personally, I might veer to my crop tights (ending just below the knee) — but that is hotter than shorts, for sure.

      And my other words of advice: Consider wearing whatever the hell you are comfortable in to run/bike. It’s a quick dash across the office to change, and so what if people might see that you have a body? Your comfort is key, and I get being self-conscious; but remember that you’re doing something that’s healthy for yourself and making that harder or more uncomfortable because of worries about what colleagues might or might not think about seeing you in workout gear for 30 seconds as you dash to the locker room… Is it worth it? Personally, after years of running into colleagues in hotel lobbies in sweaty, small running gear, I’ve come to realize it’s just not a big deal if a colleague saw my chubby white thighs for 30 seconds as I walked by.

    67. Generic-username*

      I do running tights to prevent chafing, but an over-sized T-shirt that gets down cover at least half of my butt and doesn’t hug any curves up-top.

    68. JuJuBee*

      I have a hoodie, that’s not a hoodie. Hard to explain, but it’s actually sold as a mini dress. It is long sleeved, hooded (obviously), cammo print, and covers my entire body to about three inches above my knees. It has a hoodie appearance but it is not made of thick sweatshirt material. It is actually very lightweight t-shirt fabric and it looks really cute with my runners leggings. (solid army green-adorable) Super easy to take off and tie around the waist for running.

    69. Brett*

      Not sure how much you are willing to spend, but there is a concept called 2-in-1 shorts. An example (for men) that I use is here:

      The inner pair of shorts (which can be swapped out for tights in colder weather) provide the support you want while running, but wouldn’t be all that office appropriate. The outer pair is a looser fit with pockets and a longer inseam (and actually make a good pair of running shorts on their own). Wear the full set to get full support with a closer to office appropriate fit and length. Even in humid summer weather, these are still comfortable and do not feel any warmer that regular running shorts.

    70. Shad*

      I’ve found that Champion makes some nice loose cotton capris that don’t get too hot even in the summer, and I’ve never had problems with chafing.

    71. Kiki*

      I wear unpadded mountain bike shorts specifically for biking to work because I don’t want to stroll to the locker room in spandex. They have a liner to prevent chafing but don’t show *everything*. Bonus, they have pockets! A lot of them have crazy prints, but I have some in dark grey that really don’t draw much attention.

    72. Jennifer*

      There is some really cute athleisure out there that I see people running errands in all the time. You could wear a nice top and shorts and then throw on an oversized wrap in the office for that mad dash to the locker room. As a fellow curvy girl, I get your concern. I don’t really like putting everything out there either at work.

    73. Jennifer Juniper*

      I’d suggest a beach coverup with a big T-shirt over it. The combo should hide your figure.

    74. Moo*

      Google NuuMuu, it’s an a-line fitness dress that is flattering to most figures. I wear this over tights sometimes when working out at work at lunch.

    75. Holycookiesbatman*

      I would highly recommend going to Athleta for anyone who is curvy or larger- they’ve extended their inhouse sizing to be up to 3x!! I like trying on multiple sizes to make sure that I don’t get any see through pants and have had to get different sizes in for different colors. They also have options of more flowy/ not tight pants and shirts. I bought some Lane Bryant pants online during the lockdown that ended up being very thin material and jsut replaced them with much better options from Athleta, it was actually an enjoyable in-person shopping experience for someone above a size 16!

      1. Glacier*

        Love the Athleta size range and exciting its finally coming to Canada (well Toronto and Vancouver) so I can get it not just when visiting the US. Aerie by American Eagle size XXL usually fits up to a 2X as well and they have lots of cute styles.

    76. MissDisplaced*

      I was thinking maybe one of those swim coverups people wear over bathing suits that are mesh/open weave. Some are over the head, but some are just loose open front Kimono style. They’re see-through (cooling) and easy care, but still provide some modesty and most are inexpensive. I’ve even seen some in spandex type fabrics.

      A sheer Kimono in a lightweight silky fabric.

      Otherwise, I’d look for a oversized tunic length T-shirt or tank you can throw over your clothes. Probably you can find this at any Walmart for around $10.

    77. Glacier*

      I am a voluptuous plus sized woman and I think runners tights and a tank top are plenty of coverage. I wish you had the confidence to walk by your coworkers in that without cringing. If you are that self-conscious a light windbreaker to put over might be easy enough.

    78. notaracoonkeeper*

      As the person who hobbles around the office in bike shorts and clippy shoes (you just watch me get down the slippery brick stairs!), here’s another vote for owning that you’re an active human! I certainly understand the hesitation, and I had it for a while too after starting at my new job, but eventually realized that no one is judging the style choices I make for my bike commute. It’s not like I go to meetings in those outfits! So I just started owning it, and everyone stopped paying attention when I dart through the cube farm in spandex.

      The blog Fit is a Feminist Issue is by a bunch of middle-aged active women, including a few philosophers, and reading it has helped me change how I think about the intersections of sports/clothing/bodies/”professionalism”. May be worth a browse?

      1. RunShaker*

        I’m overweight & been working out to be healthier. I wear long “bike” shorts with loose tank top. I always take a old towel out like thin bath/beach towel with me & leave it to side. When I go in, I drape/wrap the towel around my shoulders to help hide tank top & my sweat. I’m in South Texas and comfort is first with hot weather. I keep an extra towel & short sleeve shirt that isn’t form fitting in my car and/or back pack. I’ve learned it’s a good thing to pack a little extra over the years.

    79. Always Happy*

      As someone who is of a similar physique, you can always carry a t-shirt with you to put over your tank top….and who says that you have to wear “tights”? One solution would be to get a pair of biker shorts(same material as the tights) and then put pair of baggier shorts over them…that way you get the same benefits of the tights but without the chub-rub! And, if you are going on your lunch break, keep a t-shirt of light windbreaker outside where you can slip it one before coming back into the office!

    80. Jessica Fletcher*

      Personally, as a fat lady, I wear leggings or shorts and will NOT exercise in sweats, because otherwise your thighs rub together and get irritated. I try very hard to think ‘body neutral’ thoughts: this is just my body, it looks however it looks, and I have nothing to feel bad about. (It’s hard!) I feel better working out in leggings, so I will. Some other people might have fatphobic thoughts about that, but I can’t change their thoughts by wearing baggy clothes. Anyway, people who judge fat people will probably judge us worse for looking “sloppy” in sweats and a baggy shirt!

      Pre-covid, sometimes I would see coworkers at the elevator wearing exercise leggings and a workout top, obviously going to the Y next door. Nobody ever thought twice about it! I think you’re fine to wear whatever feels most comfy, except maybe don’t wear just a sports bra with no top, or teeny shorts, because you’re still in the office.

      If exercising before work, I’d ideally build in time to shower and change before you get to the office. If that’s not possible, head to the bathroom and change immediately upon arrival. Don’t forget body wipes to freshen up at the office!

      ***Triple check that your leggings aren’t see through!! Ask a friend or photograph your butt in different lighting, so you don’t accidentally flash the office!

    81. Them Boots*

      OP 5: One of my more Rubenesque horseback riding students has found her comfort place with a cute short skirt over her riding breeches, which she ‘pretends’ are tights (she puts them on just before she leaves work on the way to the barn…unless the office AC is on full, then she wears them all day! Also, Check out a company called Title Nine for ideas. They have so many workout-to-work outfits (CUTE skorts), as well as dresses to pull on over bathing suits OR running clothes, etc as well as chino type shorts designed for rock running-or of course street running that are anti oder, quick drying, non-chafing! They are a bit pricey but hold up well. Or you could just use the catalog for inspiration and check out brands like Columbia and REI, as well as the workout sections of Ross/Marshalls/other discount clothing stores, even Target during the early summer season. Good luck!

    82. Like the wind*

      To OP #5 – whatever you went to work out outside in. I am woman of rubenesque figure and I run outside three times a week at work, and walk past the whole front office on my way in and out of the building. The walk takes 30
      seconds, and anyone doing work doesn’t notice. The first time I walked past in running shorts, I got a gasp from an unpleasant collegue, but it only happened once and never again. I’ve been doing this at this office for three years, and the only change is that I see more of my colleagues going out on regular runs (in shorts and tshirts or tank tops) and there is sometimes a line for the shower when there wasn’t before. Once the CEO stopped me to ask me if I had been running, but he only wanted to chat about the sport. (I will also mention that I sweat like a beast when I run – and I walk back through the office in tank top and shorts like that. ) After my run and shower, I change back into office appropriate clothing. If I have to wait for the shower, I throw on a sweater.

    83. cheeky*

      I don’t workout during the work day when I work in the office, for this reason. I don’t feel comfortable being sweaty and in workout clothes in my office. I have no suggestions, other than to say that I wouldn’t worry about my size as an issue- if you’re fat, like I am, you can’t hide in anything you wear, really. I would suggest bike shorts and a tank top.

    84. Cle*

      I would go with running tights or long biker shorts and looser shorts over them (preferably with a 3 or 4″ inseam). You can also look into getting some jogger-style pants rather than running tights. Rather than buy a women’s “running shirt,” I’d look for hiking or fishing tops– they’re the same material as running clothes but are cut very differently and generally cover a lot more skin. Something that lose may not be great for a marathon or something, but I don’t think you’d get much chafing with a sports bra and a loose shirt made of the right kind of fabric.

  1. Aggretsuko*

    My work insists on putting everyone’s contact information on the website. Since we’ve gotten stalkers ON THE JOB, I really wish they wouldn’t, but there is no way in hell they would ever deny the general public the ability to track me and everyone else they want to down instantly. I’m really afraid of social media and pissing someone off online because they can easily dox me at work and harass me with phone calls.

    I used to do research on similar offices at other organizations, and frequently a lot of them do NOT put the entire staff’s contact information up–it’s rather a challenge at some places. So I don’t think it’s a total standard of the business.

    1. it's-a-me*

      One of my coworkers received a death threat because she couldn’t give someone a refund (it was way above her pay grade to make that call, it was decided by upper management). They still won’t let us take our full names out of our email signatures.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        I absolutely think that’ll happen in my office.

        So far they haven’t made us put our smiling pictures into our emails, but someday I fear someone will make us.

      2. Anna Badger*

        That’s horrible. Healthy workplace counterpoint, in case a reminder that it’s not like this everywhere is helpful: one of my colleagues had a distinctive enough name that customers were tracking them down on social media – no death threats, just regular customer queries.

        They decided to switch to using a different name with customers. Our manager didn’t bat an eye!

        1. lilsheba*

          This… what I was afraid of in my last job, at a call center for a bank. Policy was if customers asked for our last name we gave it. I refused. I did NOT want anyone tracking me down online with a super unique name. They always talked about safety and stuff for customers, but didn’t give a damn about our safety. Where I’m at now I rarely talk to customers and when I do I don’t give my last name here either. My email signature has my name on it but that only goes to co workers so it’s fine.

        2. MassMatt*

          When I worked in a call center we had several people who used different last names on calls, mostly because they got tired of repeating and spelling it out to people who asked (“Zbigniew Brzezinski. It’s spelled exactly how it sounds!”) or for safety. No documentation needed. One person used a nickname just because he always liked it.

          A company demanding documentation for such a straightforward thing that could make such a difference in employee safety is awful. The officious “if we do it for YOU, just ANYONE could ask for it” gives me a flashback to every awful grade school teacher and camp counselor I’ve ever had. (Shudder!).

          1. DiplomaJill*

            Oh man, I remember asking someone generic sounding – “Diane” or whatnot – for a last name so that I could have it for my notes on a complex health care matter I was talking to the insurance about, and she totally got weirded out and I didn’t understand it until just now :[ I had no nefarious intention except resolving my issue, and my experience has been that I need detailed notes to track who I talked to and what they said on these issues… But I was also probably in a bad mood and stressed because of said issue, which doesn’t help…

        3. Gumby*

          The tech support people at one of my past jobs *all* used fake names. They had to always use the same fake name so a customer would know if they were talking to the same person, but not a one of them used their real names. I assume it wasn’t allowed. And this was at an internet company ~2000. There is no reason for tech support people to use legal names that could be tracked down elsewhere online or in person. Customers thinking they were talking to “Betty” made not one iota of difference than if they knew that she was known as Jane McGillicuddy* in her everyday life.
          * Not her real name. But Betty was a real tech support persona used by one of my co-workers. Said co-worker also acted and had quite a background worked out for the Betty character she played on the phones/in email. She was amazing at that job.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      My name is utterly unique, never found anyone else in the world with it (two rare surnames hyphenated together) and I’ve not had a great deal of luck with companies not putting my name on their website – so I’ve taken to asking them that if they MUST could they at least only use half of my surname.

      Reason: yeah, have a stalker, don’t want him to find me.

      1. bishbah*

        I was the communications person for an organization, and our accounts receivable person (who handled member payments and donations, among other things) had an ex stalking her. Her first name was uncommon, but her last wasn’t, so she asked if we could keep her photo off the website and out of our newsletters and use a first initial whenever we included her name with an announcement. I was accustomed to removing names of minor children from things (we had photo releases, but why invite trouble?), so accommodating “V.” was a no-brainer. Honestly, I would have been fine just calling her “Accounts Receivable” if she had asked.

    3. Lacey*

      I’ll never understand why companies think it’s necessary to put up info and photos of their employees. Almost everywhere I’ve worked has done this, but there’s no work related reason. One company had my photo up for about two years after I’d left!

      1. EPLawyer*

        Lawyers do it all the time. Lots of info – where you went to school, how long you have practiced. So people googling for lawyers can see who they are hiring. I don’t expect that to change. The office address is usually on the website too. So a determined person can track someone down. But this is pretty much industry standard and not much can be done, other than take safety precautions in the office.

      2. Generic Name*

        I’m a consultant, and my headshot and bio are in our website. Fortunately I know that if I asked to be removed from the website, they would no questions asked.

      3. Aitch Arr*

        Our people are our business (similar to a management consulting firm) so we have bios and headshots up.

        That said, if someone requested that theirs be removed, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

      4. merpaderp*

        I know there is research around customer-chatbot interactions and, if I remember correctly, (salt liberally:) customers rate chatbots as more competent if they have an avatar that looks like a picture vs. a more generic/cartoon like one, and the cartoon avatar rates higher than a name alone. I think the same research also showed female chatbots were treated more nicely or something? But honestly I might be just conflating a whole bunch of research under a big giant “Fricking DUH” umbrella. (along with all the man-blog personal stories “discovering” how bad dating website experiences are for women, etc.)

        To your point – I suspect companies insist on this sort of excessive/overly-intimate information because they are trying to encourage prospective customers to feel a certain way about the company. Having photos & names & little bios helps them differentiate themselves from competition and start sifting prospective customers – all without having to say anything that could be used against them. I’m just thinking – there are a lot of people, for example that care a lot about diversity in a workplace – either recognizable, obvious diversity or a conspicuous lack thereof. Putting employee pictures on websites allows their customer base to sort of self-select in/out

        1. Lacey*

          Yeah. I do understand that the logic behind it is that people will feel more connected to the company if they can see our faces, I just think it’s utter nonsense and you can tell it’s nonsense because the more successful a company is, the less likely you are to see their actual employees on their webpage or advertising.

          This is a thing small to mid-sized companies do, along with plastering a photo of their warehouse on every ad or running their ad upside down to “grab people’s attention”

          1. MassMatt*

            I would say it’s more a function of size than success. Large companies have too many employees for highlighting with pictures to be effective, which is one reason they pay so much for design of logos and mascots.

            A small company might be incredibly profitable and/or growing fast whereas a big company might be going down the tubes.

        2. Reba*

          I would expect the opposite result for customer treatment of the feminine-presenting chatbot — because customers certainly tend to treat actual women worse! Most chatbots are femininized, because of social expectations/stereotypes about women as accessible assistants, servants, caretakers, etc. Not a coincidence that things we give orders to, like Alexa and similar, tend to be designed (by male-dominated tech industry) to read as feminine.

      5. Momma Bear*

        It too often seems to be a thing they like for a minute and forget to update. I think most times less is more.

      6. Llama Llama*

        Super super common in smaller non-profits to have names and bios on the staff webpage. It’s related both to wholesome relatability, knowing who to contact about what, and there is a huge networking factor, at least in the non-profit sector I’m in. But when we recently updated we were all told it was optional. So at least that’s good.

    4. LifeBeforeCorona*

      An old workplace had staff photos and their first name prominently displayed in the reception area. I asked that my photo not be used because at the time I had a stalker and my manager agreed not to post it. It was unlikely that he would ever visit but I didn’t want to take the chance. I hate even wearing name tags.

    5. LTL*

      I’m sorry you have to deal with that. It’s so strange that these employers prioritize the company image over the safety of their staff.

      1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

        This is one of those things that may get better as more women join upper management. NO, you should not have to have your location or contact information made public unless it’s an important part of your job.

        Also? Those nice pages full of smiling team members? Yeah, as an applicant I’m going there and counting how few women and people of color you have on your team.

        1. alioelj*

          “Also? Those nice pages full of smiling team members? Yeah, as an applicant I’m going there and counting how few women and people of color you have on your team.”

          Yeah, me too!!

      2. LifeBeforeCorona*

        It was an effort to show how friendly they are. However, I didn’t interact with any of the clients so it seemed pointless to me. Someone mentioned lawyers as putting themselves out there. Real estate agents advertise with their photos a lot and couldn’t do that, stalkers or not, I’m too introverted.

  2. Millie*

    “If you’re not offered the interviewer’s email… You should still send the note.”

    Send the note where?

    1. Pond*

      To whoever you have had email communication with. For example, if the interviews were scheduled over email by an HR person, email the notes to the HR person asking for them to pass the notes on to the people you interviewed with.

      1. Retail Not Retail*

        For one interview, I only had phone contact after submitting an application online. I had to be in conflict with #2 and guess at email addresses, which some people here told me I should not have done. (I think I sunk my chances by masking. In October. Inside a small conference room.)

        1. Cthulhu’s Librarian*

          I’m sorry you didn’t get the position, but it kinda sounds like you might have dodge a bullet

        2. Pam Poovey*

          That they made you interview in person during a pandemic is such a HUGE red flag that it’s honestly probably for the best anyway.

    2. tra la la*

      Usually when I’m interviewing it’s been set up by email and so I have an email address, and then I look up any other email addresses on the website (usually it’s a committee interviewing me). But…. interesting conflict between questions #1 and #2.

    3. NYWeasel*

      Lol, our internal mail delivery system sends anything sent to me into all the mail for my 25 person department, and it’s almost entirely junk mail, so it piles up quickly and is annoying to sort through. The last time I even looked at it had to be in 2018. Occasionally I paw through it and come across old thank you notes from long ago, but I certainly wouldn’t get one in time to influence my hiring. (I don’t hold a lack of a note against anyone either, since I don’t go looking for them)

      1. someone*

        If they’re addressed properly, physical mail gets sent to cubbie holes for each individual where I am. I’ve looked at mine maybe every couple months, or less. Since they’re open cubbies labeled with names, I see that some of my colleagues never collect their mail. Any thank you notes physically mailed is unlikely to be received in time to matter.

        1. Llama Llama*

          I am in the minority but I love physical mail and it always makes an impression when I get a physical note from an applicant. This is probably because I get hundreds of emails and basically no physical mail. Different strokes I guess.

    4. Chc34*

      I have always emailed the HR contact who set up my interview with a quick thank-you as well and also asked them if they would mind giving me the email addresses of the people who interviewed me and they always have (and if they couldn’t do that, I’d ask them to pass on my message)

      1. Viki*

        Don’t do that. At the very least the receptionist will have to message whoever did the interview to make sure you’re on a list to give out contact info.

        At the most, you do that to my receptionist, you’ve managed to annoy both the receptionist and me for this waste of resources/time.

        1. Frank Doyle*

          You guys seem pretty easily annoyed. That doesn’t seem like an egregious request to me.

          1. WellRed*

            +1. The receptionist may not be the right contact here but this seems overly rigid and over the top.

          2. KRM*

            If I’m a receptionist at a company with more than 20 people and you call asking, I have to look up who did the interviewing and give the addresses. I also have to first confirm with HR that you are indeed someone who interviewed, and I’m not giving people’s info out to a random stranger. All when you could have just emailed your initial contact and asked them to share. So yes, it is annoying. And unnecessary.

          3. generic employee*

            Have you ever been a receptionist or otherwise in charge of protecting information? I mean, look at Question #3 — when I was a receptionist part of my job was protecting my coworkers from having any random person have their information, not least for such reasons.

            1. June*

              You can say that you interviewed last week with Jim and need his email address to send a thank you note. It’s not that hard. And yes I have been.

              1. generic employee*

                But I don’t know if Jim deliberately didn’t give you his email because he could tell you would blow his inbox up with 50 messages a day, and if I tell you “I’ll check with Jim, may I have your contact information to get back to you” there’s an even chance you’ll call me names and start calling my line every ten minutes to scream at me some more. (this has happened. Multiple times.)

                I’m really surprised people are so cavalier about contact information considering Letter #2.

                1. MCMonkeybean*

                  I think it would be fine if the receptionist said “I’m sorry I can’t give out that information,” but I agree that there is nothing wrong with simply asking so being annoyed and considering that a strike against the candidate would not be reasonable.

          4. Autistic AF*

            This is in the same post as an LW with a stalker… I have a relatively common name myself, and someone from a collection agency once called reception looking for someone (not me) with the same name. It’s naive to think that people would only request contact information to do good things.

            Back to the question of how to get email addresses for thank you notes, the last time that was an issue for me I asked at the end of my interview, left with business cards, and got a job offer sooner than they said they’d be making a decision.

        2. AvonLady Barksdale*

          At most places, this is a normal part of the receptionist’s job, dealing with contact requests. If the receptionist can’t give out info, then that’s a quick, “I’m sorry, I can’t give out that information.” But this is neither an unusual nor an egregious nor an impolite request.

        3. Amy*

          I call a receptionist at least once a week on a question like that. “I was in a meeting with Jane Jones yesterday. I emailed JJones@company but it bounced back. Oh, it’s JJones2? Got it, thanks. Also what’s Karim’s email?”

          It’s never once been an issue.

        4. Simply the best*

          This has not been my experience at all being a receptionist. This is a pretty standard thing a receptionist does. They wouldn’t give out your personal information, but your work email? Yeah, I don’t need permission to give that out to somebody for a work reason.

      2. Allura Vysoren*

        This wouldn’t fly in my company. We don’t have a receptionist. If you call in, you get customer service and they won’t have a single clue what you’re talking about. If you’re lucky (or, probably, unlucky), they might email the person you’re trying to contact to say that you called.

    5. Jack Straw*

      1. Use the company’s website to look up the contact info. Or, assuming things have been set up via email, the company’s naming structure is probably easy to figure out.

      2. (the better option) Ask the person who set the interviews up for the email addresses. Sending a follow up thank you note is so common, no one involved in recruiting/hiring will balk as being asked for contact info for that purpose.

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        ‘…no one involved in recruiting/hiring will balk as being asked for contact info for that purpose.’

        Well, yes, many WILL balk because giving out someone else’s email can backfire. Candidates start following up relentlessly multiple times a day and getting angry when they didn’t get responses the way they think they should, acting as if we were their customer service agents. Ask me how I know this.

        Also, there are lots of tutorials on how to look up company email formats, or you can use Chrome extensions to scrape this info from public LinkedIn profiles. Free/limited free lookup tools include RocketReach, Zoominfo, Email Extractor, Email Exporter, Contact Out, Dux Soup, and Swordfish.

    6. Time's Thief*

      This is my question. I recently had an interview with a hotel but the person interviewing me was a sales rep for an neighboring area. I had her boss’s email and I had the physical address of the hotel where I was interviewed but I didn’t have any contact information for her and no obvious receptionist to call to get that. I guess I could have contacted the front desk person and seen if she had that information but I wasn’t sure that wouldn’t read as a bit much. I wound up not sending a thank you. I wasn’t terribly excited about the job so if the lack of a not cost me that opportunity I’m not too upset but would like to know for future reference!

      1. Threeve*

        If email addresses aren’t readily available on the staff page of a company’s website, I’ll shoot a quick thank-you to whoever set it up (usually HR) to reiterate my interest, and include “I don’t believe I have their contact info, but please pass along my appreciation to [interviewer].”

        I think making it clear you’ve made real effort to track down someone’s email comes across as way too invasive. I’m honestly really surprised that people phone receptionists, use LinkedIn, or take guesses based on the company’s email naming conventions.

        1. Time's Thief*

          Thank you, that helps. In this case the one who set it up was her boss and, in retrospect, I probably should have shot her an email with all that. If it comes up again, I’ll do so.

        2. ursula*

          This is the best advice.
          FWIW, I’m an elder millennial (35) who hires frequently. I certainly don’t consider lack of a thank-you note rude, but if I have a good feeling about a candidate and they send a short, non-generic note of thanks it can make me feel more confident in my positive assessment of them (follow-through, attention to detail, care for relationships, genuineness). At our organization the majority of interviewees don’t send notes and we truly don’t expect it – if I interview 8-10 people I might get 2 emails of thanks. Our management team is generally about 35-45 in age and we all feel the same way. (Just offering this to add a data point.)

        3. Aitch Arr*


          Most of the time candidates ask me to pass along their thank yous.

          If I know a hiring manager or interviewer is comfortable getting those emails directly, I’ll mention our naming convention.

      2. Elder*

        Geriatric millennial here, in tech: I am often an interviewer and provide feedback (but never the final decision maker) and sometimes I get a thank you; often I don’t. Either way I don’t care. I have also never been asked to report the thank you notes or lack of them. In fact, I’ve always provided my assessment immediately, so the note will never matter.

        I agree it’s procedural and insincere, but I don’t hold the notes against anyone — they are just doing the thing they’ve been told to do. That said, can we STOP recommending them? Decorum during the actual interview is plenty. The thank you note offers nothing more and just give people anxiety, like this OP.

    7. AnonRonRon*

      Check the company website. Google their name + company. Google what you think their email address is, based on emails you have for anyone else at the company (like, and often that will confirm it for you. It’s really not difficult to track down someone’s work email address.

  3. NYWeasel*

    OP #3: If I’m reading this correctly, you describe the father as “borderline abusive”. If you were calling references on a potential hire, and that was how they described them, would you ever move forward with a job offer? I would not want a personality like that to be hired in anywhere in my company, let alone on my team. I honestly think you would be well within decent bounds to revise your note to say that based on your knowledge, you wouldn’t recommend him as a hire at all. If it was just a case of feeling awkward about past history, your note is fine, but given your description of his behaviors, I think it’s probably too soft.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Borderline abusive to his own kid, many years if not decades ago. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s still a nasty person, or that he’s nasty to the people he works with.

      1. NYWeasel*

        Yes but do *you* want to take that chance on that when there are other candidates? To me, it’s enough of a data point that I would not be comfortable with any suggestion that the person be hired.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          I came here to make the same comments as you, NYWeasel. It sounds like he was generally an unpleasant individual back when OP knew him. So, sure, you could give him the benefit of the doubt if you really think you should, but OP, you have enough data points here to feel completely fine with not wanting to recruit him.

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Depends on which side of the line, doesn’t it? And how much of OP’s knowledge of the man is firsthand compared to how much through the lens of his daughter, who is a proven liar.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        This is a good point, too, Elspeth. Not sure what OP meant by “an almost non-existent relationship with him” but maybe what OP meant is that OP saw the guy around his daughter and the guy was never particularly cordial with OP. In any case, we can only assume, so unless OP chimes in here I guess we won’t really ever know.

      2. OP3*

        Much of what I knew of the man came from the lens of his daughter, yes. In my letter I was trying to say that my *direct* relationship with him was minimal.

        He and I never had many interactions beyond the acknowledgement that the other was present in the same vicinity. There weren’t any “let’s have the boyfriend over for dinner” episodes, no joint activities. The only familial interactions as a result of my relationship with his daughter were interactions between her and my family.

        1. Malarkey01*

          I would just caution that seeing people through the lens of teenage angst and parenting can be distorted (not always of course). I had many parents and teachers that I thought were awful people, only to have relationships with them as an adult and realize that they were great.
          My own teen recently told me I was a tyrant who basically holds him hostage because I wouldn’t let him go on an unchaperoned lake trip with kids that just got their license. I’ve overheard friends describe their parents in horrible ways for instituting basic rules for keeping them alive and out of jail so I apply a grain (or cup) of salt to teenage descriptions of parents.

          1. Queer Earthling*

            This is an interesting perspective because like…my parents are very active in their church, started a local charity thing, and are very respected in our community and our extended family; they were also abusive to me and my sister and knowingly enabled worse abuse. I cut out my parents as an adult, knowing perfectly well that other people absolutely think I’m overreacting and/or being ridiculous, because as far as most people know, my parents are great, and I was the weird gay goth kid anyway, so my side of things is probably just me being dramatic.

            Just because someone seems fine to you doesn’t mean that their kid is lying about their experiences!

            1. LifeBeforeCorona*

              Exactly, my mother presented as a lovely, cheerful regular church-going lady but that was not her when she was raising kids. At her funeral, we joked that a switch should be added to the flowers display.

            2. Malarkey01*

              That’s so valid and I hope I didn’t come across minimizing abuse. I more meant that other parents or adults I considered “mean” when viewed through a more adult lens were clearly not mean and in fact were right for insisting we get the hell off the roof and that we were in fact idiots for thinking that was a good idea. So hearing from Jane at 16 that her parents were horrible and then never talking to her again would leave a different impression than talking to Beth at 16 who said her parents were horrible, but then also seeing her at 25 and laughing about how her parents were great and were right that sitting on TOP of the car was grounds for taking the car away for a month.

              1. Queer Earthling*

                Yeah, I do recognize that teens lack life experience and perspective with some things as well! (Which can also make it hard to recognize real abuse, since you normalize what you experience.) I didn’t mean to sound like I was dismissing you entirely, because it is a good point haha.

    3. MassMatt*

      The letter seems like an awful lot of hand wringing considering the individual involved hasn’t even expressed an interest in the position. It seems extremely odd to go out looking for candidates to recruit on LinkedIn, mark one of them as someone you cannot work with, and then write an advice column about it. This person, awful as he might have been, is not an applicant. Get a grip!

  4. Jessi*

    I wear regular clothes for my 5+ miles (one way) of commute on my bike. If I had the opportunity to shower, I’m not sure I’d change that. Wear comfortable merino clothing (for the smell factor–a lot of other fabrics will pick it up) and then change into work clothing after showering?

    1. Tara*

      All power to you if that works for you, but sitting in clothes I’d exercised in all day would make me feel really icky. I’m assuming from the letter that OP is likely to be sweaty enough to need to shower afterwards. In my experience, Merino wool has absorbed my sweat rather than eliminating it, which I don’t think is a perfect smell solution?

      1. kicking-k*

        There’s a cutoff for me. When my commute was longer and involved more steep hills, I changed. It’s now about ten minutes on my bike and I rarely really raise a sweat, unfortunately for my fitness levels! So I don’t change for that.

        1. JustaTech*

          Yup, I think this is one of those things that is super person-dependent.
          My husband’s old bike commute was only about 7 miles, but he was not fit to be around afterwards unless he had shower. He just sweats a lot while exercising. (I’m the opposite, I usually don’t sweat much but my face turns a shade of red that makes people worried I’m dying.)

      2. MCMonkeybean*

        They aren’t saying to sit in the clothes they exercised in, just that they don’t have to wear exercise-specific clothes if they are uncomfortable wearing that in their building. I think they are just saying you can wear regular clothes, then shower, then change into different regular clothes.

  5. mazarin*

    OP#4- Be prepared that some employees just do not get it. Even telling them straight out, they may keep applying. We had one employee who had lots of positive points, but some behavioural/ coworking issues that they needed to progress on before we could promote them. We spent a lot of time telling them about these issues, and they were just unable to hear us. The perfomance issues just – never seemed to register. No matter how many times we discussed them in reviews, (including summaries in writing, and bluntly telling them they needed to change) We ended up having to fire them during a restructure, because they became bitter about their ( to them) unreasonable lack of promotion. ( They were capable in the job they had, and if they had decided to accept the problem as a limitation, we would have kept them)

    1. Yorick*

      Once, a former student who failed my class asked for a letter of recommendation for an internship.

    2. Uranus Wars*

      So much this. We have someone who applies for every single position in IT. Every. Single. One. They have no IT experience beyond using a computer. They complained to our VP of HR that they never got an interview; he explained why. And 3 years later, they still apply. Every. Time.

  6. TPS reporter*

    I’m almost 40 and I’m a millennial. Aren’t the 20 something’s Gen Z? Regardless, send the note. Many people on my team who are younger than me are very touched by thank you notes. In my very competitive field, hiring decisions are often swayed by little things like how someone demonstrates their listening skills in the interview by memorializes in writing. The note also conveys true thanks for someone’s time. That kind of respect crosses any perceived age boundaries.

    1. Mid*

      I believe it’s 1986-1996 birthdays? And then 1997-2007 is Gen Z? Maybe? I feel like everyone has a different cut off year.

      1. MK*

        It’s not like there is an authority deciding these things, so I have seen all sorts of groupings.

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      Send the note … especially because its goal is not to check a box, but to continue the conversation had during the interview.

      It’s important to view the note not as a perfunctory thing you have to do to try to get a job, but as the next step in keeping an open line of communication with the people who interviewed you.

      1. Mmp*

        Exactly. That is what has been taught for, well, decades. They should not be a “thank you for your time” and that’s it. Reiterate something you heard that excited you, follow up on a strength, etc. They are an additional way to sell yourself.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      According to the years, my sister is 40 and a millennial and since I’m older by several years I’m Gen X. Always amuses me when people assume millennial equals young person new to work!

      1. londonedit*

        Yes, I’m nearly 40 and am apparently therefore a millennial. People have taken to using ‘millennial’ to mean ‘one of those pesky young people, always eating avocado on toast and spending £10 on unicorn lattes instead of working hard and saving for a house like I was at their age’ when in fact most ‘millennials’ are nearly 20 years into their careers.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Not *most.* The youngest millennials are in their 20’s now. It’s a big age range.

      2. MK*

        My sister and I are in the same situation, and it’s always struck me as funny that we were considered different generations*. And different groupings are not much better: some say that millennial are those born between 1986 and 1996, but a person born in 1986 grew up in a different world (in fact more similar to those born in the late 70s) than one born in 1996.

        *Then came the 2007 recession, which in my country hit hard in 2010, and, boy did it make a difference whether you were in your early thirties and semi-established in your career path or in your mid-twenties and still trying to find your way with all the roads blocked.

        1. Twenty Points for the Copier*

          My husband and I are about 20 months apart but he was born in 1980 and I was born in 1982, so we’re on opposite sides of the most common Gen X / Millennial cutoff line. He is convinced we are from different generations entirely and had totally different experiences growing up because he is most certainly Not a Millennial and I am. It is entirely ridiculous.

          I do agree that on average people who graduated into the great recession had a very different experience than those of us who were already 4-5 years into our careers, though. That’s a much bigger difference than who happened to be born before or after 1981!

        2. MassMatt*

          The whole idea that many millions of people are going to be at all the same based on being born in the same 20 year period is as absurd as thinking people born in the same month share the same characteristics. It’s basically astrology based on decades instead of months.

      3. Massive Dynamic*

        Elder millennial here, per Pew Research Center. I currently work with someone who stupidly rants about millennials = young people scared of the phone, and I would be willing to bet they’re only about 10 years older than me.

        I think the government cuts it at a set number of years for each generation but socially the ranges are a bit different… and here’s one thing I heard about X vs. millennial vs. Z: X’s remember Challenger, M’s remember 9/11 but not Challenger (I was only 4), Z’s have no firsthand memory of either event.

      4. Ray Gillette*

        The trouble with making any generalization about a group of people whose ages span 15 years, eh? I’ve already seen several thinkpieces about the spending habits of Gen Z when its youngest members are still in grade school.

    4. Rosalind Franklin*

      I’m an early 30’s millennial and just offered a promotion based on a thank you email. He was qualified, of course, but the thank you endeared him to me greatly. You’re so right – it’s about demonstrating listening skills, recognizing that interviewing is work for me, and writing decent emails, which is a skill not everyone has, unfortunately….

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I see regular thank yous in VIDEOGAMES. As well as the occasional derisive comment from a bystander when the rescued/helped/answered player does NOT say thanks. (TY in map chat.)
      Thank yous may have gotten shorter & more ephemeral, but they haven’t stopped being noticed.

      1. ecnaseener*

        The LW said they always say thanks in person — they’re not asking if they should stop thanking people at all!

    6. Pam Poovey*

      Yeah, millennials are like 25-40 at this point. So I guess a late-20-something interviewer would still count but it’s still a broad brush.

    7. Elle by the sea*

      Well, I’m a millennial, mid-to-late thirties, US-educated, but not American and currently not in the US. No one has ever given me the advice to send thank you notes after interviews, but still, it kind of looks like a natural thing to do. Basic courtesy. Diffusing the slight awkwardness of an in-person interview. Growing up, I saw my parents sending notes to friends after meeting them. I still do that – in a casual manner, of course.

      I also have to admit that my thank you notes tend to be rather perfunctory, and so do most people’s thank you notes. Although I agree with Alison that there is value in sending a thoughtful, personalised note, even a perfunctory note warms my heart when I see it. It’s merely a gesture, one of those pleasantries often missing from our busy lives.

      Having said that, not all of my contemporaries share my sentiments. I did see candidates being rejected or put in a position of disadvantage because of a thank you note. In the the interviewers’ book, this candidate was a “suck up”. I saw the thank you note: it was polite and thoughtful. I find this approach as preposterous as mandating thank you notes by fiat.

      1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

        Some of what you’re experiencing might be an across-the-pond cultural difference, I think. Thank you notes post-interview are viewed somewhat differently in the UK than they are in North America.

    8. Ali G*

      I’m in m 40’s but work with a lot of 20’s and 30’s folks. I would be offended on their behalf if they helped interview someone with me and I got a thank you and they didn’t. That’s just odd.
      And I’ll add I got my current job by sending thoughtful, individual thank you notes where I followed up on things from the interview. It was specifically mentioned to me after.
      Send the notes!!!

    9. Lolo9090*

      I don’t want to discourage LW1 but I really thought we were past the whole treating managers/staff differently based on age thing and I was SO disappointed to read this letter this morning. It doesn’t matter if millennials are in their 40s now because apparently we’re constantly going to be assigned the age of the youngest adult generation, but PLEASE… if you’re still preparing for interviews differently because of the age of your interviewer (and nothing else), you have to stop.

      1. Allonge*

        Eh, I don’t know if that is what is happening.

        The question was phrased about age, sure, but if thank you notes are perceived as a not very useful convention, it makes sense to ask if it’s a thing with younger people too. To me the question sounded like ‘is this going out of fashion’? In which case it could make sense that younger people are more meh about it.

        1. Lolo9090*

          In re-reading LW’s reply, I think you’re totally right! I must’ve woken up cranky.

      2. Elle by the sea*

        Oh come on. Although I myself am not particularly fond of sweeping generalisations about age groups or any groups of people, either, there still are some sort of real or perceived universals, if you will, across generations. So, I don’t believe OP should be chastised for asking a perfectly reasonable question.

    10. Anon for this*

      I’m from 1980 and have embraced the term X-ennial. There’s a big difference technologically between my older friends who are solidly Gen X and didn’t have access to computers until late middle or high school, myself who had a computer in the home from about 10 on, and my younger brother and sister who did not know reality without computers. For instance, I chose to send my kids to a classical school that bars technology to students but focuses on a well-rounded education with emphasis on literature, history, culture, etc. I see both the draws of technology and its foibles, and value the education that left me loving physical books as much as my phone, if not more. *shrug*

  7. Decidedly Me*

    OP2 – I’m sorry for what happened to you!

    I’d be disturbed by your work’s stance, too! I had a new hire that only wanted her last initial in her signature line due to an incident at a prior job. So, we use her last initial – no big deal, no proof of a prior incident required. My work is also really good about asking permission before things are posted publicly to our site, social media pages, etc. There is nothing wrong with not wanting your information that available just in general, let alone when you have a specific safety concern. You don’t need to limit the type of role you go for, you just need to find better employers. Best of luck to you! :)

    1. Anonomatopoeia*

      A person who once worked for me had a legal last name that was an initial. When I hired them, I said, “That’s unusual!” They said something like, “Yep, some stuff happened and my mom and I changed our last name to this.” I concluded there was a high probability that whatever the stuff was might have included something abusive and never brought it up again.

      But also, OP#2, I assume you’ve considered changing your professional and/or legal name? I know that’s a giant pain in the butt and not a thing you should have to do, but I also have known multiple people for whom the peace of mind was worth it — your stalker is probably not going to trawl every website ever for a picture of you, because that’s way harder than searching for Chrysanthemum J. McGillicuddy, so the contact info and picture of Azalea J. McGarricutty would totally mess up his game.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        I just had a conversation with a friend today about how she has to use aliases for her (amateur!) acting career because she gets stalkers as a female working in a male-dominated industry. And how she needs another alias because the stalkers have figured out her last one. I suggested she pick something extremely generic where if you Googled for her you’d get hundreds of results.

        1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

          Jane Russell comes to mind!;-)

          Or maybe another old movie star name that non old movie fans wouldn’t necessarily recognize but that would yield tons of hits on a Google search. I mentioned Jane Russell, because I just read The Woman in the Window, which featured a character by that name who was impossible to track down on a Google search because of the old movie star with that name.

        2. LifeBeforeCorona*

          My name is the equivalent of Jane Smith and there are tens of thousands of us out there. My maiden name was something like Harriette Hooker and everyone commented on it. I love my generic name.

      2. English, not American*

        They must have a nightmare with internet forms that require a minimum 2-letter surname. It drives me bonkers and I’m just trying to be lazy.

        1. MK*

          I must say it strikes me as odd that one would choose a very distinctive form of surname in such a situation. Not to mention the constant comments that must grate. I would go with Smith.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            The search observation above by Grizabella makes sense. Try to find “Jane D” via Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, etc.

        2. Chilipepper Attitude*

          I have a 2 letter surname and occasionally a system wont even take that!

          1. Hazel*

            So what do you do? Add spaces to the end or a period or …? I’m genuinely curious about this!

            1. Chilipepper Attitude*

              It has not happened in a while but I just stare blankly at them. Both times it happened they were sort of blaming me and asked me to solve the problem. I just kept repeating, that is my name.
              I think they got supervisors to fix it.

              1. Warm Weighty Wrists*

                Lots of people have two-letter last names! I mean, they should have fixed for you even if you were the only one, but how odd that they were unprepared for that eventuality.

        3. Richard Hershberger*

          I have seen the claim that old military paperwork demanded a middle name, or at least an initial, in an era when not everyone had a middle name. The space holder was “NMI” for “no middle initial. Then there was Harry S. Truman. What did the S stand for? Nothing. That was his middle name.

          1. Time's Thief*

            My grandmother ran into that back when she worked for the DOD during WWII. She was born at home and her uncle, who was going into town for work, was tasked with registering the birth. Between leaving and arriving he forgot her middle name so just registered her without one. That caused her no end of trouble later when she spent the better part of the war convincing everyone in the DOD that, no, she did not have a middle name and their system would just have to figure it out because she wasn’t going to make one up just for them.

            My other grandmother didn’t have a middle name but that was because her dad, who registered that home birth, hated the first name her mother picked out and so just … didn’t put that one the birth certificate and moved her middle to the first. And never told anyone. My grandmother didn’t know herself until it came time to register for social security. Somehow she’d managed to get married, get a driver’s license, and all that without producing her birth certificate so her father’s little prank sat for six decades undiscovered.

          2. Rusty Shackelford*

            Which is why you’re not supposed to be a period after the S – it’s not an initial, it’s his entire middle name!

            (And then of course there’s the Ronly Bonly Jones joke…)

        4. JustaTech*

          I knew a guy who, for reasons, had a single letter first name. He didn’t go by that name at all, he went by a normal name, but legally his first name was a single letter. And it broke almost every computerized system he came in contact with, which I think was the point. (It wasn’t the name he was born with, he changed his name to a single letter as an adult.)

      3. High Score!*

        This would help, but thanks to Google images and other image searches, you can find people by pictures too. If the perp is smart enough to figure that out.

      4. Drag0nfly*

        I once knew a male reporter who went by his first and middle name for his byline. He said his surname was “odd” or hard for some people pronounce (Eastern Euro), but the first and middle name together were easy and punchy. Another reporter I knew was using his middle name and last name, because all the men in his family had the same first name for some reason (his last name *wasn’t* Foreman).

        So OP might not even have to change her name all the way, just use her own first and middle, or middle and last. I seem to know a ton of women whose middle name is “Marie,” so she might just use whichever one of her names is super common to make it less easy to search for her.

        1. JB*

          The second situation is very common in many Catholic cultures (all the girls are named Maria or Mary, the boys are often all named John, Juan or Jesus, and their middle name is the name they’re called by). It’s not as common in modern white American culture but there was a time when it was popular in certain areas, preserved in names like Mary-Ellen, Mary-Alice and Mary-Sue.

    2. pleaset cheap rolls*

      I manage my orgs website and HR contact me about an issue like this, so of course I handled it. HR and I work to keep this person out of public mention. The issue is fairly private, so not all staff are aware, so I sometimes get messages from other staff saying “Hey, you left X off the website” in which case I’m allowed to say “it’s for a privacy/safety issue.” They let it go then.

  8. Mid*

    I can’t believe a company wouldn’t respect your wish to not have contact info on their website. I mean, I can believe it unfortunately, but it seems like such a minor change. Unless they’re governed by some special law that requires contact info to be public, there’s really no reason for this.

    I have an ex who needed police involvement to get him to stop showing up at my workplace. I’ve since moved jobs, so it’s no longer an issue, but when I started my new job, I asked to not have my face and name listed on the website. My boss immediately asked if I needed any other safety measures, and let me know that building security can add people to the no-entry list if needed. (I did give them my ex’s picture just in case.)

    An alternative idea for companies, which wouldn’t work in all cases, is to list a title and a titled email address (eg Internal Sales, so people can be contacted if needed, and could be easier if there is turnover in a role. Instead of needing to have Jane, Internal Sales, Bob, Internal Sales, and Johan, Internal sales, there could be one direct contact line that comes to all three, and then they can give out their direct lines to clients if needed.

    1. Mid*

      I also wonder if address protection laws could help here? At least in my state, there is a law to protect people who want to make sure their address and contact information isn’t publicly available. I know that isn’t quite the same situation, but maybe bringing it to HR to show how ridiculous they’re being could help. I know employment info isn’t specifically covered under the state law, but I’d be interested to see how it stood up in court.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        The problem is that there are jobs where having your (work) contact information publicly available is a normal and necessary part of the job. In some cases using an alias, or passing information through a third party, can work (if awkwardly), but not all. An extreme case that springs to mind is elected officials. In my field it would be difficult to hide the identification of a teaching professor, as they need to be findable by students, and their name is linked to their publication and research record. If it were a safety issue, their office location could be hidden, and they could meet with students at a monitored site, but given that the office location is one that is often open to the public, there’s a limit to what you can do.

        So while it’s entirely reasonable to expect employers to do what they can, challenging it on general privacy law grounds would be difficult.

      2. Cthulhu’s Librarian*

        Unfortunately, most of those laws aren’t worth the ink it took to write them, as far as actually protecting people. One of the things working in my field has really driven home, is how easy it is to find things about people if you’ve got even basic research skills.

        Someday soon, I hope it becomes an industry standard to refuse any research requests related to living people, regardless of reason or requester.

        1. Anon librarian*

          I will second that. I’m a librarian and if all y’all have not heard of, or looked yourselves up, in the Reference Solutions (formerly Reference USA) database, you should see if your local library has it.

          I have also had patrons ask for help learning things like google earth only to realize they were using it to stalk someone far away. Or the folks who have asked for help using social media to follow someone to learn about them.

          1. LaFramboise (in academia)*

            I’m here to promote yours and Chthulhu’s Librarian’s comments are. And also the former Reference USA, my fave database.

    2. Aggretsuko*

      We do have group email addresses in my office. They’re very useful for turnover, or people getting sick, or someone dying (we had that happen, but before she died, she went blind for a year and suffice it to say, nobody could get into her email). I wish that was all we had online!

      1. Carol the happy elf*

        Old gal, here-
        My first semester at university, there were HUUUUGE books of old-style computer printouts with every single student’s name, address, birthdate, address, phone number, classes, grades, and mother’s maiden name.
        These books were on tables near payphones in every building on campus, updated every quarter.
        If they had a mailbox on campus, the
        box number was there, too. And they were OLD boxes; you only had to wiggle the dial and your mail would come sliding out on your feet.
        Five years later, I learned that someone had stolen my identity to check out books from the library, and they were overdue at $1.00 per day. Since there were so many problems like this, and because one book was on composing music for medieval instruments, they wrote it all off. Luckily, that was all the danger I was in.
        In my work, now, we have security like crazy, but one of the questions asked on intake (and during yearly review or more often if needed) is “Do you have any concerns about your personal safety, whether at work, during the commute, or in your personal life, that we need to address for your comfort or safety?”
        That’s a direct quote. And they mean it.
        Those who have professional licensure may request a clearinghouse email; that didn’t seem safe enough to chief of security, so anyone who feels they need it is given that option. Their email can be CCed to IT and/or security, and they get a loaner copy of the book “Gift of Fear”, to help them understand that they will be heard.
        One coworker had an alcoholic relative who tried to get in to hit her up for money; he was arrested for disorderly conduct, but she wasn’t held responsible for his erratic behavior.
        We also have beepers (loud alarms) for walking to the parking garage, and after dark, we are accompanied to our cars.
        So the idea that your workplace should be allowed to disregard your safety?
        That’s crap.

    3. Ruby Rhubarb*

      “My boss immediately asked if I needed any other safety measures”

      This is the right way to respond. I’m horrified for the LW that anything else happened.

      1. 'Tis Me*

        Exactly! I would accept any response from “Of course we can accommodate that! Is there anything else we can do to support you in staying safe at work?” from a smaller company without experience of dealing with this previously, to “Of course we can! These are the standard protocols we have for people in your situation: [insert here] but if there’s anything else we can do to help then please just ask and we’ll figure out how to do that” if it’s a larger company/one that by its nature is more likely to attract customers (ideally quickly made ex-customers) who set off “this person might not just be creepily fond of latching onto staff and could potentially be a threat” alarms…

    4. PostalMixup*

      I’m curious how a company like this would handle someone in witness protection. My mom worked in a tech job for our local middle school for a time, and part of her job involved taking photos for the website. There was at least one child in the school in witness protection, and therefore no child could be identifiable on the website to protect that kid, regardless of parental consent forms and photo releases. Not sure if that’s standard, or just how our district did it.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        But to get special consideration for being in witness protection, you’d have to reveal you’re in witness protection. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose?

        1. PostalMixup*

          That’s true. I guess if you wind up in protection there’s just a lot of stuff that’s no longer an option.

        2. Metadata minion*

          I wonder if the program does something along the lines of notifying the school that a child is in WP without revealing who it is.

          1. Carol the happy elf*

            That sometimes goes for children in the foster care system, too. My child and my neighbor’s 2 foster children were at a parade, back in newspaper days, and a photographer was going to take photos of them sitting together. That state had a children’s protection law, and the photographer didn’t even blink at”no photos”. But they did get their picture in the paper, backs turned away, scrunched down to seem smaller. (“We have secret identities!”) The photographer also gave them a tour of his photo lab the next day, and took lovely portraits of them complete with the negatives.
            He said safety is more important than sensationalism.
            Still is.

  9. Lorelai*

    OP #2: I am so sorry these people treated you like this. I have been stalked for over a year by a man I briefly dated, was not able to receive any restraining order. It’s frustrating seeing how many women have to scramble to protect themselves from stalkers.
    You really should start looking for a new job. I was going to suggest taking a legal route but I understand how exhausting that is and time matters when dealing with possible danger. Something that you need to bring up in your next interviews is how safety and privacy is important to you and briefly state what happened with this current job. Also something to take advantage of is creating a “preferred name” to go by at work, many interviews and applications ask this now. For example, if your name is Melissa go by Liz or Lisa. So if you do get mentioned on a company site or social media, it will be harder to trace.

    1. WS*

      +1, I’ve worked in two places where this kind of thing came up. One was a university and they immediately removed all public information (she was staff, not an academic). I found out later that the reason they did that, and why we had stringent confidentiality training, was that a few years before I was there, abusive parents managed to talk a staff member into giving them their daughter’s contact information, then they turned up at the university, armed with a cricket bat and knives, and tried to physically drag her away. Fortunately her housemates held them off long enough for campus security to arrive.

      The other place (healthcare) refused to remove the staff member’s details, but they grudgingly agreed to remove her name from everything public facing after she was supported by the director of nursing. The person who was stalking her was a former patient abusing FOI laws from prison.

    2. xristiana*

      Thankfully she did leave this job, the letter says this issue happened a couple years ago and it said she’s somewhere new.

    3. Ruby Rhubarb*

      I wouldn’t mention that in an interview. Wait until you have an offer, and only mention it if they have names / photos on their site.

      1. Lorelai*

        There is a way to do it that is vague but gets the point across that you value safety at the workplace. The reason I suggest doing so early on is to see if they’ll actually care. You may get into the job and they will be hesitant. This led to an embarrassing situation for me where my stalker got my coworkers contacts and sent fake text screenshots and old private photos to try and get me fired. My current job is at a woman owned company and in an industry where harassment from clients is high. So they take security concerns very seriously.

    4. High Score!*

      Also take some self defense classes. I understand that this should not be required for anyone but if the law and your employer won’t protect you, it would help you feel safer to have some tools to protect yourself.
      I also tell women to pick a place to train that does NOT do tournaments and to practice techniques on a trusted male family member or friend. A good martial arts school will also teach you ways to avoid danger in the first place – it’s not all about fighting and physical confrontation. Again, things you shouldn’t have to do but knowing how to protect yourself when society fails to do so is a good stress reducer. There are female only classes that offer a safe place for women to talk about issues that concern them and offer suggestions for staying safe

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        After I was attacked, I enrolled my 10-year-old kid at the time in a self-defense class for girls. It made me feel better and it gave her situational skills and confidence.

        1. High Score!*

          I made my daughter go with me and, while it was not her favorite thing.. ok she hated it … BUT she is never afraid to say no, (like me) she has used the skills she’s gained many times to protect herself from unwanted advances and she’s more confident than I ever was. She married a good man who respects her. The only sad thing is that we have to back up a NO with physical force. We live in a middle class area and work in white collar jobs and don’t hang out in bars, so location doesn’t matter, there’s creeps everywhere. And I’ve been aggressively pursued by women too, so can’t even say all creeps are men.

  10. Josephine*


    My current boss is firmly Gen X and she really didn’t like being sent a thank you note AT ALL. The answer I received back then (~5 years ago) was basically “we told you the process would take until [date] and we will get back to you on our own”. Mind that I had not asked about when they would make a decision, just that I was looking forward to hear back from them.

    What I want to say is, it can go either way with people of all generations and I wouldn’t put credence on any generalization. [Yeah, I got the job, but probably more despite the thank you note not because of it.]

    1. Bostonian*

      So…. what is your boss like? It seems really unusual to get bent out of shape over something as normal as a thank you email.

      1. Workerbee*

        Yeah, sounds like she misread or mis-assumed the intent. I also wonder what else takes extra pointing out with that boss.

        1. Josephine*

          I assume thank you notes might not be as common where I am (I always send one, I think it’s polite) and yeah she might have misinterpreted the intent.

          Usually she’s pretty on the up and up though, I haven’t run into any problems with having to point out stuff multiple times. (Sometimes yeah, but those are tricky topics that I need to explain multiple times to everyone.)

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        Agreed – it’s very weird to interpret “thanks for your time, look forward to hearing from you” as hounding them for an answer.

      3. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

        Yeah, this almost sounds like someone whose boundaries are so poor that they feel a sense of angsty obligation whenever they have to respond to something. Not fun to deal with at all.

      4. Josephine*

        She’s actually pretty good! I think thank you notes may not be as common in my country (I’m not in the US) as they are elsewhere and she may have misinterpreted it as currying favour? To be honest, I haven’t asked her in the aftermath, I was mostly glad to have the job at the time since I desperately needed it after being laid off suddenly.

    2. Tech PM*

      I’m an old Millenial / young Gen-Xer. I just interviewed a bunch of candidates for a role. Most did not send thank you notes, which is fine, my #1 candidate did. In general, the #1 candidate was the most prepared, and put the most effort into the interview process, and the thank you note was just another piece of evidence. I read it, and it reinforced my good opinion. I don’t understand why someone would get annoyed at a thank you note, it takes 15 seconds to read, and doesn’t actually require a response. That response seems rather unkind.

      1. Ms_Meercat*

        Came here to post the exact same experience. I’m Millennial, interviewed people a few years younger than me. Only one sent a thank you note, and she was (for other reasons already) my number one candidate, and in my mind it was reinforced for doing so.
        What she did was thank me, and send me a video she had done to demonstrate an adjacent skill set / interest. It transmitted how excited she was about the job and what we do here – which is something you need to work here, as you do have to put in extra hours and deal with start-up life here (within reason mostly, but it helped for me to know that she was super energized by the company).
        I’m a German working in Spain and recruited another German. I think in the EU if you do it the key would be to transmit only that – thanking the interviewer, saying something related to the interview; maybe acknowledging in some way that they’re not trying to circumvent the process but just want to suggest their excitement for the opportunity / company / role.

        I can see in the UK (used to work there) and in Germany as well how it could backfire there as the poster below said

        1. Josephine*

          Yes, I assume that in the end it’s a culture difference issue. I don’t think people where I am (also a European country) habitually send thank you notes. I usually do it because I think it’s polite, and what can a ‘thank you’ hurt anyway, but yeah it may be that. So she misinterpreted the intent of the message.

          1. Josephine*

            I should note though that we hire internationally, US nationals included, so it shouldn’t be completely wild to anyone. And my boss has been hiring people worldwide for 20 years.

    3. redqueenwildboy*

      I’m from the UK and work closely with out hiring team (I’m an admin). I think it’s a UK culture difference mainly, but we would, at best, ignore a post-interview “thank you” note. At worst, our staff would consider the applicant insincere and pushy.

      Crucially, we would make the assumption that they were still heavily under the influence of an out-of-touch career adviser, and were under the deluded impressions that they could “get around” our hiring protocol with a bit of charm and pluck.

      I should probably add that my company’s culture is very open, communicative, and friendly. We just prefer to keep the hiring process strictly formulaic!

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes. It’s a definite cultural difference. In the fields I’ve worked in within the UK and in the EU people don’t send thank you notes. I’ve never had any when I’ve been interviewing and I don’t send any when I go for jobs.

        I’d agree that it might be perceived as insincere and a bit pushy in the UK. Obviously it’s useful to know that it’s a thing that’s perceived positively in the US in case I have any US people applying for jobs.

      2. Akcipitrokulo*

        Yep. Found out from AAM it’s a thing in US – I’m also UK and would see it as mildly odd at best to pushy/showing “gumption” at worst.

      3. Mizzle*

        Seconding this from a country in the EU. (Not on behalf of all of us, just my personal observation.)

        I’m involved in interviews occasionally (as a senior team member, not HR or management) and recently received my first post-interview thank-you note. The note was quite personalized, but it still felt transparent/insincere to me. My first instinct was to see it as “sucking up”, which isn’t appreciated here. (Is it appreciated elsewhere? We do seem to be rather allergic to it.)

        It took a bit of effort to move past that and consider that he might simply be a regular AAM reader, following best practices. After that, I decided to disregard it.

        In short: if not in the US, consider checking whether a thank-you note is likely to go over well.

      4. meyer lemon*

        I wonder if the thank-you note is a US-specific convention. I’m in Canada and have never heard of it apart from on this site. I suspect that a lot of hiring managers who aren’t familiar with thank-you notes would see it as an attempt to circumvent the normal process.

        1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

          I’m accustomed to receiving (and sending) post-interview thank you emails in Canada, in every industry I’ve worked in. Not every interviewee sends them, but I’d say that about a third to half of the final-round candidates I deal with do.

        2. Metadata minion*

          When the subject has come up here in the past, it does seem like it’s primarily a US thing.

  11. Karon*

    Sometimes at the end of interviews, I have asked for the name and e-mail address of the person/person(s) who interviewed me. If they ask why, I say I want to send them a thank you note. That has never been a problem. Sometimes I have even been handed business cards. However once after I explained, I was cheerfully told that I did not have to send one so that stumped me. Now I am wondering if that isn’t the right approach.

    1. Zoe*

      Just me, but I don’t ask the actual people themselves, I ask the HR rep or admin clerk or whoever I checked in with/set up the interview with. It’s usually not the actual people who interviewed me. A coworker I once had would sit and write her thank you and leave them that day, but that may only work for government jobs/panels.

    2. Purple Cat*

      If someone insists they don’t want a thank you note, then you don’t send a thank you note. That shouldn’t stump you. They are clearly telling you it’s not important to them.

      Once a person gives out their email address it’s “out there”. Some people get absolutely inundated and don’t want to deal with one.more.thing. Plus it sets them up for potentially inappropriate follow-ups of “gumption”.

    3. Hazel*

      You could ask for their business card. It would be weird (to me, anyway) for them to ask why you want one. Not everyone has a card, tho…

    4. MissDisplaced*

      I used to always ask for business cards, but few people actually have them anymore! And if they do, they rarely bring them to interviews.

  12. Jenny D*

    OP5 – how about bringing a simple dress that you can pull over your exercise clothing? A knit/jersey dress, especially one with crinkly fabric, won’t look dishevelled from being transported in a bike bag.

    1. Ravenahra*

      Good idea, especially since knit dresses are often worn worj leggings.

      I was going to suggest bringing a nice long cardigan and wearing that but the dress is an even better idea.

  13. Jasmine*

    “I try not to ever engage in physical exertion”

    Hahahaha!! I was wondering if anyone else thought that was hysterical!

    1. SnappinTerrapin*

      I told the director of a police academy that I understood why the POST Commission required a lot of running in the academy, but that the rookie I had sent to the academy would get fired on the spot if he chased a suspect 5 miles on foot, because that would show incredibly poor judgment in my eyes.

    2. Dancing Otter*

      When my stepdad got out of the army, he says he resolved never to run again except in fear.

  14. Ruby Rhubarb*

    #2 It’s not ok that they said no. They should have helped to protect you and also their other employees.

    This question is intended to be helpful for the future, not to question things from back then which obviously can’t be changed – I wondered who you asked, and whether they definitely had the ability to make such a definitive call?

    For the future, it might be worth thinking about the different people or departments you could ask, starting with the best one, and having the others in mind just in case. For example, sales or comms or whoever might own the website and decide what goes on it, but you might decide to speak to or approach HR about this instead. Or someone who is responsible for risk and safety, not whoever is responsible for the website.

    Trauma takes power away and this took more from you, so it must have made a bad situation even worse. Be good to yourself, letter writer.

    1. LW2*

      I started with my manager who was supportive of me, but needed go ahead from HR. HR, the manager above mine, and at least one senior person were the ones who made the final call. I pushed the issue as far as I could. Maybe I would actually have had better luck going directly to tech people. Thank you for your support! I’m doing well.

      1. Drag0nfly*

        If they insist on proof, you might also have luck with your state’s version of OTIS. That’s the Offender Tracking Information System. It lets everyone see the criminal records of offenders, as that’s public information (the victims aren’t named). As far as I know, every state has an online version, though they are referred to by different names. Usually a state’s department of corrections will be the one handling that system if it helps to find the one for your state, or the state where the crime took place.

        These sites will usually include ph0tographs of the offender as well. Chances are that you aren’t the only victim of this person, so there may be a record for him even if you never filed charges. Good luck and stay safe.

        1. Czhorat*

          But looking for proof is absurd; an employee gave a reasonable request for a serious personal reason. If you trust your employee you work with them. If you don’t trust them, you have other and bigger issues.

          1. Drag0nfly*

            Yes. And? People should be able to live without locking their doors, too. They should be able to walk down the street without getting mugged, and they shouldn’t have to warn their kids about strangers.

            But we don’t live in that world, so plan B: a solution that may solve her problem with this particular employer until she finds a better employer.

            1. fhqwhgads*

              No. If someone’s response to “I would like to not be murdered so please do this thing that will take 5 minutes and cost you nothing” is “no, prove it”, that person is horrible and should be fled. I need to lock my house because I don’t know which of the 4 million people in this city might decide they want to rob me, and I can take the free, 10 second action of locking to stave off that particular threat. If I need my face, name and location not to be on a website that’s put it there, I can’t do it myself. I need them to agree to. If my employer thinks so little of me that they’re ok with possibly making that murder very very very easy, that is apples and oranges to “lock your door cuz who knows”.

              1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                Actually in France you’re not allowed to put the photo of anyone on internet without that person’s permission.

            2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              You’re deflecting here. I don’t have to supply proof that someone might rob me if my door isn’t locked for my landlord to give me a key for my door. Common sense prevails.
              If OP said her life was in danger, the firm should have taken her details off the website without asking any more questions.
              Even if OP was being completely paranoid, they should do that. Nobody should have identifying info + physical address posted on internet for all to see unless they post it themselves.

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            yes, OP specifically said they had no proof. They shouldn’t have the burden of proof: that’s fine for law courts, when the offender if proven guilty may have to go to prison or be listed as a sex offender or whatever. Here, it’s simply a matter of making sure that the stalker cannot find OP, it’s not like the stalker is being deprived of anything but the power to abuse OP, so there’s no need for burden of proof.

            As for the “everyone might want it”, well, if everyone does want it, the company should maybe start thinking about why this might be and maybe just stop putting photos and identifying details and addresses on their website. After all, you never know when someone might start stalking: even someone who doesn’t think they are in danger, might unknowingly be in imminent danger.

  15. Anon for this one*

    OP2 (personal info on company site) – I’m curious about the implications of bringing this up at the offer stage. Could an employer rescind the offer on the grounds that they don’t want to invite ‘trouble’ into the workplace?

    I was in a similar situation in that I had an estranged family member (who has since passed away last year) who would try to track me down like this. My company doesn’t publish everyone’s details on their website, but does have a section of “career success stories” sort of thing where people get interviewed by a HR-type about their career path, what they do at this company, etc. It’s intended to be a “we’re a diverse workplace, here are some of our people and their backgrounds” type of thing (and does work quite well) — but I’ve been asked several times to be ‘interviewed’ and featured for this, and had to decline because it would make me “google-able” in conjunction with my workplace which would give the general location of where I live, etc.

    I didn’t mention anything about this to the company when I was being recruited, and felt uncomfortable about bringing it up in case they thought there was too much risk of trouble in the workplace and instead decided to get rid of the “source” of the trouble (me)..! And I’d be able to see that as a response – losing one employee compared to the safety of everyone.

    In OP2’s shoes I wonder what sort of documentation they would accept as ‘proof’? Perhaps a visit from the stalker would do it….

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Not knowing much about law in other countries to mine, but I think that would raise some very thorny issues about victim blaming, right to privacy etc. If they pulled the job because you were a victim of abuse/harassment.

      It’d be like me refusing to hire a person who divorced under unfriendly circumstances because of fear their ex spouse might turn up. Basically it shouldn’t even ping on the radar.

    2. LW2*

      At this point, I’ve upped my standards of what I expect from a workplace and, if someone decided to rescind an offer because of this, then that’s not a place that aligns with my values, so it’s not a place I’d want to work anyway. But I shudder to think that some employers might very well do that.

    3. fhqwhgads*

      It’s interesting you bring that up because I’ve approached this the other way round. I did bring this up at the offer stage, and even though I very wanted the job, if they hadn’t been able to accomodate for my safety I wouldn’t have taken it. It never occurred to me they might rescind based on this, only that they might say “no” and I’d have to decline.

  16. Apples*

    I’m surprised everyone is so pro-thank you notes. I only ever received one, from someone interviewing for a student intern role (i.e. someone who didn’t really know work etiquette yet). To me thank you notes are old-fashioned and even a little cringy and over-sincere. People were surprised to receive one and not particularly in a good way. If you interview 20 candidates for a role, you don’t really want to read 20 followup emails full of “gee golly gosh, I loved talking to Apples and I’m just so excited to work for x company”. I would think a young startup wouldn’t expect to receive one, but that’s just my feeling. I guess erring on the side of sending them makes sense. I personally never send them.

      1. Apples*

        Ah, my bad, I assumed it was a generational/industry thing rather than a country-specific thing. Fair enough.

    1. misspiggy*

      Alison linked to her advice on what a thank you note should contain, ie information backing up your candidacy.

      Some people do this here in the UK, although it’s not the norm. It can make a ‘perfectly fine but not distinctive’ candidate more memorable. So if your top candidate dropped out, you might look to someone who wrote a thoughtful follow-up note as the next best option.

      1. Ruby Rhubarb*

        UK person here. This is not a thing in the fields I’ve worked in and I would never send one.

        1. londonedit*

          Same. As someone else mentioned above, in my industry/country (UK) it wouldn’t exactly *harm* your chances to send a follow-up note, but you would risk being seen as a bit pushy or insincere. Most people would file it under ‘Blimey, this one’s a bit keen’. You tend to do the ‘thank you’ pleasantries at the end of the interview, and someone who then followed up trying to convince the hiring manager of the strength of their candidacy would be seen as pushy, I think. Or like they were trying to inveigle themselves with the hiring manager instead of following the usual procedure.

          1. Tara*

            I think in general, from what I’ve gathered from working with people in US (I’m British and working in London), their etiquette rules are a bit bolder/more performative politeness, whereas UK being polite means causing as little disruption or interruption as possible.

            1. Coenobita*

              This explanation makes so much sense! My U.S. subculture definitely trends toward a “louder” type of politeness. Sometimes it’s annoying – like when it triggers a wholly unnecessary reply-all “thank you”/”you’re welcome” cycle – but overall I like that it’s more straightforward/requires less guesswork and leads to fewer assumptions about people’s actual feelings.

          2. Holly Handbasket*

            Every time I’ve had an interview internally in my very large company in the UK (banking and finance), I’ve sent a thank you note. I’ve been hired for every one of those jobs or at least been made an offer. Additionally, I interviewed externally (energy company) and sent a thank you note after my first interview. They actually responded thanking me and said it was a pleasure to interview me and asked to schedule the second interview on the spot.

            These are all examples from the last 5 years. I think even in the UK there’s a huge variation, and it’s a sweeping statement to say it’s just not done here.

            1. Caroline*

              I agree. I’m surprised to see so many UK commenters insist that no one does it here and that it would actually be harmful to any one who does do it. I have both sent and received emails after interviews, so it definitely is a thing that some people do here!

        2. Foxgloves*

          Yep, I’m also in the UK and have never once sent a thank you note, nor received one when interviewing candidates. In terms of the “can make a candidate more memorable”- in my industry, you can only consider the individual’s application and the interview, nothing around it, when hiring so it really wouldn’t make a difference at all. Also my industry makes very quick decisions after interviews- I’ve never been told I’ve been accepted for a job more than 2 days after an interview, and most have been within hours (the quickest was 40 minutes!!), so I don’t think I’d have the time to send one and for it to make a difference!

          1. Mizzle*

            Considering that you have readers all over the world (*waves from Europe*), would you consider making some kind of standard ‘disclaimer’ when the topic comes up? As a long-time reader, I did get the impression that you recommended them in general, not just for applicants in the U.S.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I can’t speak to *any* conventions outside the U.S. on anything. Everything is we talk about here is culturally specific! I’d need the disclaimer on every single post.

    2. Allypopx*

      I’m 29 and work in a major US city and have done both a lot of hiring and interviewing – I’ve always sent them and I get them more often than I don’t *shrug*

      Not quite like you described just a “Thank you for taking the time to meet me with me, I enjoyed our chat and I look forward to hearing from you, enjoy your weekend!” kind of thing.

    3. Anonymous Hippo*

      I’m in the U.S. and I agree. I’ve sent them when I’m job searching because everyone says they are expected, and I’ve gotten good feedback from them. But I’ve never received them from applicants, and I’ve never cared.

  17. Mmp*

    Regarding #2, we had an employee with a very public facing role who requested their photo and name not be in our staff listing. We immediately respected that. There was another page on the site for the specific type of client she was serving and she was ok with her info there. However, if she wasn’t we could easily have used a title, phone and generic email. We use generic emails for all positions that take external inquiries so a personal email isn’t on flyers or social media, and in the case of turnover you don’t have to change a bunch of different documents. Seems like HR should have looped in Communications, without disclosing personal details of course. There is always a workaround.

  18. cncx*

    one thing i would like to say to anyone who is in hiring or hr in regards to op2 is that stalkers are really good about not giving up. sometimes they keep a low profile and don’t much noise, but that doesn’t mean they are done. I can’t let my guard down and it has been years.

    if an employee, who knows their stalker best, says they need x y and z to feel safe, reasonable accommodation would be the right thing to do.

    one i only shook off leaving the continent even though he bothered me for five years. for the second, i’m not on the website and my linked in (somewhat necessary in my field) is vague enough in that i work for a multinational and could be at one of three or four offices. despite this i still change my leaving times and routes. the admin and front desk staff at my job know what he looks like and know not to send visitors up.

    there are always workarounds.

    1. cookie monster*

      Yes, they can stay quiet for years and pop up. I dated a guy when I was 17, for about 3 weeks not even long enough that I considered him a boyfriend, we just hung out a little and were interestedin each other. Turned out he was abusive and my interest died quickly. I am now 42 and STILL get a few contacts from him per year when he tracks down email or social media contacts for me. It’s low key stalking and he’s far away so I’m not particularly afraid gor my safety…but it’s pretty persistent to go after a woman for 25 YEARS when there wasn’t even an established relationship…which definitely makes me question his mental health and also try and keep myself somewhat low key online.

  19. El Tea*

    My employer used to have all staff names, roles and pictures on the website. I objected strongly to this as it’s unnecessary and the idea of it made me particularly anxious (I’m introverted, don’t like being photographed, don’t like the idea of someone googling me and finding my job etc etc… nothing like the issue faced by your letter writer). I am delighted to report that my employer took my feedback on board and now only select employees are listed.

    In a previous role only the senior management were on the website.. seemingly for vanity reasons only. And, I reached the level of that page and, again, pushed back and managed to get the whole page scrapped.

    I got lucky twice. Not every employer will be willing to step back and say ‘do we need to do this?’

    This publication of staff info has crept in without thought. What was once an internal document, perhaps something shared with customers, ended up being shared with the world with little thought for what that means. It’s a terrible practice that should be stopped everywhere. If people want to go on LinkedIn or list their job info on Facebook then that is their business.. employers shouldn’t make sharing ones information with the world a condition of employment. It is never necessary. If my identity is so essential then I must be a unique and special talent and I should be paid accordingly, right?

    1. Ruby Rhubarb*

      What’s worse is when they have childhood photos.

      Anyone who either doesn’t have these (eg due to being in the system) or doesn’t want to share (eg due to being trans) is excluded. I avoid applying to companies that do this (because I don’t have any childhood photos).

      1. 'Tis Me*

        Why would a company ever want to make their employees’ childhood photos available?! O.o

        Closest I’ve seen is (and I believe it was a voluntary opt-in thing) an internal competition to match tiddler photos to management…

        1. pbnj*

          I’ve had an employer at a ~1000 person worksite request a baby picture and a high school picture for service anniversary parties in the before-times, but they didn’t post them on their website. But still I guess that means HR now has a copy of your baby pictures. I’m not sure how they would have reacted if you didn’t provide pictures for your service anniversary.

          1. Allypopx*

            Hm, I’m thinking about the recent letter re: using Facebook photos in marketing…if you turn photos over voluntarily do you think you’re implicitly agreeing to that?

            1. El Tea*

              Absolutely not!

              My employer (more accurately, someone in the marketing department acting without thinking) tried to use pictures from the HR library of staff photos for marketing collateral. Harsh words were exchanged. This is spectacularly not ok.

        2. kicking-k*

          A friend of mine recently was asked for baby photos for an icebreaker game as part of professional training. It was exactly that – guess whose photo belongs to whom? They were very uncomfortable with this as they were the only member of the class with a particular ethnicity, so it was going to be obvious from the start for them and for nobody else.

          They took the concern to the organiser and the activity was swapped for something else.

          1. New Job So Much Better*

            We had a similar problem with a Guess-the-Baby contest– one employee was so much older and their baby photos were in B&W.

          2. generic employee*

            I’m impressed with your friend. When I was in the same position (baby photo, icebreaker game, my albedo is markedly lower than everyone else’s) I just ‘forgot’ to submit one, which came back to bite me later. I should have been more proactive.

          3. Persephone Mongoose*

            My class had a guess the baby game when I was in elementary school. I was the only kid of a particular ethnicity, and apparently at the time completely oblivious to this as I remember being amazed that everyone guessed my photo correctly.

    2. SarahKay*

      I’m grateful for my employer who specifically asked me what level of publication I was happy with when I agreed to do a “Women in STEM” interview with them earlier this year. I had the choice of photo / no photo, plus the options of just use the interview in the one internal Women in STEM article, re-use it widely internally, or potentially use it on the external website too.

    3. OhNoYouDidn't*

      I agree. My company only has select people posted on the site. I am not one of them as I work with victims of a particular crime whose perpetrators can be very determined to find them and continue with threats and harassment. I’m grateful my company is sensitive to the security implications for both my clients and me.

  20. NeverNicky*

    I have to say, publishing personal details on an organisation’s website is something to be wary of in general.

    My friend Nora had an ex, Steve (who I never met) who stalked her for years and he was very devious in finding information. I don’t know how he managed it, but he managed to link Nora and I through a mutual hobby group, and although my Facebook was/is very locked down, and I didn’t have LinkedIn at the time, he emailed me at work because I was named on our organisation’s website. I kind of had to be, as I was/am the press contact but it was unsettling – more grist to the mill for Nora’s legal actions against ex, but indicative of how some people think.

    1. WellRed*

      I guess I don’t see work contact info as personal information. That said, if people ask not to have it published, I hope a company would respect that.

      1. JB*

        Names and photos are, by definition, personal information, because they identify you in particular as a person.

        It’s not ‘personal’ as in ‘private’. I’m pretty sure only middle schoolers use the word ‘personal’ that way.

        1. NeverNicky*

          Yes, that’s right JB.

          It’s information that identifies me as an individual. In the UK, this comes under GDPR, and technically employers would need explicit consent, but it’s often rolled into your contract of employment that images and work can/will be used.

          1. Zzzzzzz*

            A second UK/US division for the day! European privacy rules are MUCH more strict than US ones. I’m a lawyer and we have to redact “personal” information in discovery. For email sent by Europeans, we have to redact the business phone number. For email in the U.S., I don’t even think we have to redact cell phone numbers (though it depends, yadda yadda). But basically any info about a European must be strictly protected, whereas very little (SSN, medical info, some other categories) must be protected for Americans.

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            (pedant alert)
            Since GDPR is an EU regulation, you’re only protected by the UK’s Data Protection Act 2018. This admittedly translated the EU directive into UK law as per EU rules, but since Brexit could be rescinded at any time as part of the UK’s “bid for freedom from pesky EU regulations”.

      2. generic employee*

        A stalker or other bad actor can make it much harder for someone to do their job by jamming their work contacts with spurious contacts. Thosands of emails, constant phone calls, etc.

  21. Cthulhu’s Librarian*

    Regard letter 2, I wonder if people would have a better chance of getting organizations to stop listing staff info by pointing out how much easier that makes spear phishing attempts, and the associated risks to the company of those. I know it sucks, but a lot of companies that don’t care about their workers’ protections are still pretty risk averse themselves.

    Anyone have any thoughts/experience on whether this might be a viable way to motivate the companies to do the right thing?

    1. LW2*

      That’s an interesting point and one I hadn’t considered. I don’t know the tech world well enough to argue it, but I’m on board with anything that limits this obsession with putting everything and everyone out there.

      1. Holly Handbasket*

        It’s a great example to use. I work in banking and finance and we’ve got insanely strict rules on what we can put on social media, including linked in, specifically because of spear fishing and the like.

        1. Autistic AF*

          The last bank I worked at had emails. My grandboss got one of those “we’ll release videos of the shocking things you do online if you don’t send us 5 bitcoins” emails, and she freaked right out because it was addressed to her… It took IT a long time to convince her that it wasn’t a targeted thing and that they couldn’t do anything about it.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            What’s she doing that’s so shocking then? I mean, I’ve had that email too, but it didn’t faze me because I don’t do anything I would be ashamed to admit on Internet (OK I might not want to admit how much time I spend here but apart from that, I don’t do or say anything I wouldn’t do or say IRL

            1. Autistic AF*

              I think she just wasn’t very bright. She was somewhat forced into retirement (her position was eliminated and she didn’t want to take a step down), and shortly after she left she called my boss to ask why we hadn’t finished a specific, complicated job. She gave the annual ethics/code of conduct violation that year – “don’t release internal information to people outside the company” should have been part of that!

    2. English, not American*

      That’s why our contact details were removed from the company website. It never had photos, just names and email addresses for all staff, and we got SO MUCH SPAM plus unhappy service users cc-ing everyone on their emotion rants to complain. I don’t know of anyone ever being endangered, but it was still a very silly idea.

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        I used to work for a criminal justice agency in State government. My role wasn’t really supposed to entail dealing with the general public, as I had plenty of work to do meeting internal and interagency needs.

        However, I noticed that there were a lot of inmates (and their families) who reached out to multiple staff officers, regardless of title, in hopes of reaching the right person to sympathize with their unique circumstances and get their parole hearing scheduled earlier. Postal mail, email, and phone calls to multiple people on routine matters that could have been more efficiently handled by a single “To whom it may concern” letter.

        We also noticed a spike in letters addressed to any staff member quoted in the newspaper, regardless of the topic.

        Ironically, the multiple letters actually slowed the process, as multiple officers were requesting the same file in order to decide whether or how to respond to the various letters.

        “Openness” can be a good thing in government, but if carried to an extreme, it can be counterproductive.

    3. Ruby + Rowdy*

      My old job had a staff page that we took offline due to phishing problems. The CEO and the marketing director made a big fuss over it being down and we put it back up.

      Almost immediately, our HR person got an email “from” the CEO and very nearly sent them ALL OF OUR W2 INFORMATION.

      “Luckily”, she replied that she would get them to her later that day and the scammer got too excited and insisted on right now and she realized it wasn’t actually the CEO. Page went back down.

  22. Bookworm*

    #1: Thank you notes are still relatively norm (unlike, say applying via paper applications or resumes vs. a website or app now) so I’d just send it just to be safe.

    #2: I am so, SO sorry they won’t work with you. There’s a conversation on Twitter right now (that also happens periodically) about why there should be a protocol for retail/food-service (public-facing) workers to ensure the safety of their employees/colleagues by not telling random people whether so and so works there or what their shift is, etc. because there are people who will stalk their victims. Sitting in parking lots, claiming they are friends with so and so, etc.

    Like, why you wouldn’t ensure the basic safety of your employees is astounding but then again when we’ve seen how “disposable” people are in a pandemic it really shouldn’t be.

    I am sorry that happened to you.

  23. Tofu Pie*

    Letter 2- I also had a stalker ex many years ago and I would never consent to my personal info posted publicly. However, I would not feel comfortable disclosing this to a potential ot even current employer. It’s…a painful part of my life which I do not care to share at work or even with my family. In this case what would be an ideal script that conveys strongly that posting my info is absolutely not okay, but without mentioning my past experience?

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I would go to HR and to my manager early on, and treat this like any reasonable request or accommodation.

      “I have safety concerns about privacy based on past experience. I see that our company posts personal information about staff members on our website for publicity or operational need. I would like to request to opt out of providing any identifiers for the non-operational posts (e.g., the names on a picture of the winning softball team in the “we have a great culture” part of the website), and for any “public facing” identifiers required for operational need (i.e., customer service names) I would prefer to use initials or [insert alias here]. ”

      Deliver with the AAM Face of Blandness and Tone of “This is a Most Ordinary Request”, as if you are asking for something simple and obvious.

      The follow up to the Nosy HR questions would be a repeat of the AAM Face of Blandness, and a repeat of the beginning of the script … “I have safety concerns about disclosing information about myself.”

    2. RagingADHD*

      Social experiments have shown that the word “because” is a powerful motivator to get people to agree to a request. But the reason that comes after the word “because” is nearly irrelevant, as long as it isn’t a complete non-sequitur.

      So you could just say that you don’t want your info on the website because it’s a safety risk. Most of the time you wouldn’t need to say anything else. OP#2’s situation is a particularly crappy move by her employer. If they did ask for more info, you could say you have personal concerns based on a bad experience.

      I don’t think you’ll be able to construct a reasonable-sounding conversation that doesn’t allude to safety, or past issues, in any way. But there’s no need to give details.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        If they insisted I’d probably end up screaming “because I don’t want to be raped by this guy a second time! Is that good enough for you?”

    3. fhqwhgads*

      I never explicitly used the word “stalker” with work. It’s always “a safety issue” or “safety reasons”.

  24. LW2*

    Just want to express my gratitude for the support of commenters! I appreciate knowing I’m not crazy in thinking this is just bad policy and, especially, hearing that this is not the norm in other companies. And thank you for some of the suggestions about work around ideas. I’m saddened to hear others put in similar situations. Hoping the best for all of you!

  25. Susie Q*

    #3, you didn’t do anything wrong. But I highly recommend therapy if the LinkedIn profile of the father of a high school girlfriend causes you this much grief.

    1. WellRed*

      I had the same thought. The guy didn’t even apply yet he and his daughter are thanking up a *lot* of head space, decades later.

    2. OP3*

      Independent of my late high school years, I’ve actually been wanting to setup some regular mental health checkins for myself. The pandemic didn’t really adversely affect me until about December of last year, when I hit a wall and really needed someone other than close family/friends to talk to. I haven’t had the chance to set it up yet because nobody had any availability for months, but it’s still on my radar.

      I’m not sure I’d describe myself as feeling much in the way of “grief”. Most of my first emotional reactions were “Holy cow I forgot about this guy, what a small world, wait what the hell do I do here?!”

  26. Lilo*

    As someone who interviews people, I’ll say I’d rather not receive thank you notes. By the time I get them I’ve already decided about a person and it’s just something to throw away.

    1. SheLooksFamiliar*

      Yeah, thank you notes aren’t the magic wands some career counselors have made them sound like. If I think a candidate just doesn’t meet minimum qualifications, or I think they’re okay but not great, a note won’t change that. If I’m already impressed with a candidate, a note won’t change that, either.

      If you’re going to send a note, do it because it’s polite and not because you think you’ll tip the scales. In almost 40 years of corporate recruiting, I can’t think of a time when a thank you note ever factored into a hiring decision.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        This is my experience as well. I have never received an offer after sending a thank you email, and in every case it’s been because the company decided to go with a different shade of purple squirrel or declined to fill the position at all.

    2. SnappinTerrapin*

      I like the idea of thank you note in theory, but the past several jobs I’ve had, the hiring process moved too quickly for me to send them.

      And I’ve had a couple of jobs I was actively recruited for, and the “thank you” conversations were more naturally handled face to face or by phone.

      When I have hired people, the process was similarly quick. Interview, reference and background check, and a call with an offer.

      Like most things in life, it depends.

      1. Simply the best*

        I usually send my thank you emails a couple of hours after the interview. You’ve had that many jobs where the recruiting process has moved that quickly that there wasn’t time?

    3. GraceRN*

      I feel the same way. Mid-40’s Gen Xer here and I don’t care to receive them. The way I see it, interviewing is part of my job. I’m doing it because I have a role to fill, and not because I’m doing people a favor. So why make a big deal to thank me for doing my job. If they thanked me at the end of the interview that would suffice. Thank you notes are just a waste of everybody’s time and I would love for it to go away altogether.

  27. HotPocket*

    #1 – I am in my late 20s (call that whatever generation you want), and I don’t care about thank you notes. Ultimately I need to hire the most qualified candidate, and someone with lower qualifications who sends a thank you note will not beat out someone with better qualifications who does not. I have hired 4 people (thus having to interview many more) and only received 2 thank you notes, both from candidates who had not passed the interview. I care much more about your professionalism during the interview, being on time to the interview, asking good questions at the end. Obviously not everyone will share the same view but just throwing my perspective out there!

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      I’m almost twice as old as you and feel the same way. Occasionally, I’ll get a really good one that strikes a great tone and is particularly well-written or memorable, but it does not sway a hiring decisions and, as others have noted previously, the people that send the memorable thank yous are typically the ones who interviewed well already.

  28. middle name danger*

    LW2’s company’s response is not uncommon. Not as serious a safety issue as LW’s but I had this issue even internally. Our sales force was expected to be available 24/7 so all personal cell numbers were posted on our intranet. Underpaid support staff didn’t have the same expectation (and work didn’t pay any part of our cell phone bill) but they were still there. Several female colleagues dealt with creepers in other offices contacting them without permission. When I started getting contacted in my off hours (aggressively and rudely, since it wasn’t recorded and I worked in claims) both by sales AND THEIR CUSTOMERS WHO THEY GAVE MY PHONE NUMBER TO, I begged HR to take my information down and they refused, basically claiming they didn’t have ability to, which is nonsense.

    There needs to be some expectation of privacy unless there’s a strong reason to make people available. Nobody should have to disclose and prove trauma to opt out of publically shared info.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, no–if employees are expected to take calls for work the company needs to provide them a second phone and number.

      1. Clisby*

        Or that the call is only routed through a main point at the company. I worked in IT for years, and was on call 24/7 – but the only way I was ever contacted after hours was through the company’s data center employees, who were first line of defense on emergency stuff. If my manager, or another programmer, or a systems person needed to reach me, they had to call the emergency number, and that staff would connect us – they didn’t just hand out my personal phone #.

    2. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      I had a situation at a part time 2nd job where they kept giving my phone # to other employees looking to ditch their work shift. So my cell phone kept blowing up while I was at full time 1st job. (Actually this happened at 2 different part time jobs) Management and shift leaders calling me to cover a shift is one thing. Coworkers I’ve never met is another. I explained to management if this happened again I would change my cell # and not provide it to the company.

      1. middle name danger*

        It’s so incredibly out of line to give anyone someone else’s number without explicit permission.

  29. Dust Bunny*

    5. Some kind of nice-looking wrap or loose dress-style coverup? Like you’d wear over a swimsuit at the beach?

  30. Bookbug71*

    How about a coverup designed for swimsuits that you can put in a pack and then take out to put on while traversing your office?

  31. Jack Straw*

    It helps to think of them not as “thank you” notes which are often performative and provide no additional or meaningful information but as “follow up” notes which provide meaningful, substantive, and relevant information related to things discussed in the interview, your skills, or the job description.

    Alison has said before that you should not be able to write thank you notes prior to the interview (a LW was handing them out at the end of their interview, if I remember correctly). They need to have meaning and relevance, or, yes, they are a little annoying.

    1. Ally*

      This is good advice! I was never really given any advice beyond “write a thank you letter” and I am trying to reconsider my approach.

  32. ecnaseener*

    #2: “if we do this for one person we could have to do it for everyone” is such a dumb argument. Did they really think they’d get flooded with false safety claims from half their staff just because they granted one request? If it becomes a problem, address it then — in the meantime, don’t deny a good-faith request based on a slippery slope fallacy.

    1. Percysowner*

      Plus, if that many people request being taken off the company website, then the policy needs to be revisited.

      1. an infinite number of monkeys*

        No kidding… it suggests that this has been an issue before.

        I’m pretty steamed on LW2’s behalf. What an absolutely BS response from HR!

    2. Delta Delta*

      And it suggests that co-workers are unfeeling. I think most normal people, if they knew a coworker had been a victim of a violent crime and dealt with the person continuing to stalk them, would support that person not blasting her/his contact info all over a website. But maybe that’s just me.

    3. Elenna*

      This! How many people could they possibly expect to have the same request? Someone with no real reason to remove their contact info from the website isn’t going to bother to ask HR to remove it, because why would they? The only people who are going to ask HR to remove their contact info are people with good reason to not want their contact info to be public. There’s most likely few people in the company who care enough. And if there really are a lot of people who have reason to not want their info public, then HR should rethink the policy of having contact info be public in the first place, rather than deciding that they must have everyone’s up.

    4. PersephoneUnderground*

      LW#2- This is straight up an equity issue. The company is shocked you would ask for something that no one else needs (however minor to the company)!?! This kind of baseline inflexibility pushes people out of work and then companies say things like “but we’re so welcoming and have diversity days, why is our company still mostly one demographic?” Agh.

      1. PersephoneUnderground*

        Oops, posted wrong place. Reposting on its own, please feel free to delete this one.

  33. Allypopx*

    I’m applying for a company I’m on the fence about right now but one thing I do like is they don’t have photos on their staff listing. They do have names and a short bio but I had a hard time finding much on my potential manager when I was poking around before my first interview.

    1. Tired of Covid-and People*

      I read an article this morning about companies “scraping” photos off the internet to add to huge facial recognition AI databases, no permission requested or needed. Best to keep online photos to a minimum, but I know so many people don’t care because they feel like celebrities with their pictures plastered everywhere. I hate the death of privacy.

  34. Me*

    OP#4 -does your company not have a standard rejection letter you use for candidates who apply that won’t be considered? You really should.

    Ours is along the lines of thanks but your experience and background doesn’t align with what we are looking for.

    It goes to everyone we do not interview, and a similar letter goes to those not selected for the position. It’s just polite to give people some kind of notification they aren’t being considered for the job.

    1. Allypopx*

      I think given the existing relationship a standard rejection wouldn’t override the expectation of a personal conversation.

      1. Me*

        I disagree. If the person in question currently worked for them and this was the first time they’ve been rejected I would agree.

        The answer being suggested is a generic response – you’re not a good fit for this position. You don’t get into the whys even internally, unless it’s something you think the employee can develop and change. It’s not like the OP is going to say I’m not hiring you because you’re a difficult employee.

  35. Qwerty*

    OP1 – Most places I’ve worked at want all hiring communication to go through our internal recruiter. So not only do I not offer my email address, I also decline to give it when asked. If your thank you email is thoughtful or useful, then the recruiter will pass it along to the hiring manager and/or interviewer. If you have something specific that you wanted the interviewer to see then you can explicitly ask that the recruiter pass it on.

    The more important question to ask yourself is if you see thank you notes as purely procedural. You are making the call on whether to send them based on the age of the interviewer and the stereotypes that you associate with that. Odds are those feelings will be apparent in the notes that you send, so I really recommend reading AAM’s other posts explaining the point of thank you notes and how to write a good one.

    1. Synonym Roll*

      I was going to make the same suggestion — if I don’t have the interviewer’s contact info, I follow up with whoever has been coordinating interviews and ask if they can pass along my thanks with a short note. And that’s regardless of age or anything else really, I think it makes sense to send a follow up to confirm your continued interest (or the opposite if that’s the case)!

      On the other side, as an interviewer whose email is often not given to candidates, I’ve had candidates add me on LinkedIn with a message or guess my email to reach out. While I always appreciate a thank you note, I typically don’t accept LinkedIn requests for candidates, or respond to thank you notes when I’m not the person managing or coordinating the interview process to avoid accidentally giving anyone any false impressions about the status of their application.

    2. GraceRN*

      Same in my organization. All interviewing and hiring communications need to go through Talent Acquisition. We are instructed to avoid replying to any thank you notes we might receive. I also politely decline to give out my email if asked: We weren’t explicitly told to not give it to the candidates, but instead, if a candidate asks for our business cards or asked for our contact info, we should tell them to send their communications to their talent acquisition contact person.

  36. Jennifer*

    #1 I do think that there are generational/cultural differences in how people approach the workplace and interviewing. However, I also think most people enjoy hearing thank you. I think sending a personalized thank you note is usually a good move. I think it’s definitely helped me get jobs before.

    1. Mental Lentil*

      I do think that there are generational/cultural differences in how people approach the workplace and interviewing

      I disagree about generational. I had to do “Generational Management” training at my last job, which was all about how Gen X is different to Boomers to Millennials. It was not really accurate. I had boomers that acted the way millennials were supposed to act and I had millennials that acted the way boomers were supposed to act. It was kind of ridiculous.

      What made it worthwhile to me was to disengage the age part of it and realize that this is more of a cultural difference (and this is where I agree with you). Once I realized that this group of people have these sorts of expectations so it’s best to manage them this way, while that group of people have a different sort of expectations so it’s best to manage them that way, then it made sense and was actually useful training.

      But it had nothing to do with how old people were. It was entirely related to their backgrounds.

      1. quill*

        Generations are way too wide for the kind of expectations management most people want to use on them. I like the Beloit Mindset list a lot better, because 1) it changes every year 2) it takes into account that people 3 years apart may have a WILDLY different base knowledge of the world surrounding them by pointing out that, for example, people who were born in the 90’s don’t necessarily remember any part of the 90’s with any political or pop culture clarity.

      2. Jennifer*

        I do think the traits that people tend to apply to certain generations can sometimes be inaccurate, but I also think it’s a big short-sighted to pretend that there is no difference in how people that grew up at different times view the world.

        1. Mental Lentil*

          I can only speak to the training I received, a lot of which was along the lines of “boomers don’t want any feedback until the task is over, and often not even then” vs. “millennials need constant feedback.”

          Nope, some people need a lot of hand-holding, and some don’t and it has nothing to do with their age.

          It is true that people who grew up at different times view the world differently (I grew up thinking Reagan was going to destroy the world; now I worry a different set of people will accomplish that) and young people today have no idea what it was like to go through 9-11. But that’s the overall worldview. How they approach work has much more to do with the kinds of work experiences they’ve had in the past.

  37. Lauren19*

    Re: thank you notes. I just hired for an entry level role and out of the 15 or so people we interviewed, only two sent thank you notes. This is a comms role with internal clients so for us it showed the ability to reiterate your message and clarify your points. We hired one of the two that did send one.

  38. Hiring Mgr*

    I refer to them more as follow up notes than thank you notes, but it’s one of those things where if I’m the candidate I’ll always do it in a “covering all the bases” way, but as an interviewer I find it makes no difference at all to me whether a candidate sends one or not.

  39. Gem*

    Is there no legal protection for someone in LW2’s shoes? Is there any ground for a lawyer to step in and tell the company to knock it off?
    LW2 I am so sorry. Your letter had me seeing red.

    1. Allypopx*

      I find it very unlikely they have legal grounds if it’s a general expectation of employees and the reason given for not making the accommodation is a lack of documentation. Legal recourse usually requires documentation as well. I agree, it’s bull, but probably not illegal bull.

    2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      In the EU, personal data is covered by the GDPR, which is very exhaustive. And in France, you can’t post a photo or video of anyone at all without their explicit written permission.

  40. Elliot*

    Letter Writer 5 – I have the same problem with tight/skimpy workout clothes! I am lucky to have a gym again, but if I want to stop at the grocery store after… I feel very exposed, made more so by sweaty clingy clothing.
    I have a number of long, loose cardigans, and oversized long sleeve shirts – after running or biking in tights and a sports bra or tank, I pull on a big shirt or cardigan that’s long enough to cover my booty as well.

  41. Nona*

    LW2 – your old employer was way off-base here. I have a good friend who was stalked in college, and now (20+ years later) has no web presence at all. She works in a very client-facing position, although not one where clients would expect to reach her directly by email/phone (she’s the lead professional at a clinic, and people would go to that clinic specifically to see her). She’s asked her employers to keep her details off their websites, and it’s never been a problem. A few years back I noticed that her name was listed on her long time employer’s website, and she had it removed within days. I hope your future experiences match hers.

    1. quill*

      Honestly I’m not too fond overall of most companies just having a directory of people publically accessible. It’s a security risk (cybersecurity especially) and it’s usually not that useful for your interactions with them except in a few specific circumstances, say universities.

  42. B Wayne*

    Exercise clothes at work (#5): I completely, 100%, totally, without exception agree with Alison on exertion.

  43. Ally*

    I wrote to first letter. I still don’t love thank-you emails but I see the point of playing it safe. Also, I never considered that a higher-up would take notice of whether or not I send one. Thank you Alison!

  44. CW*

    OP#3 – I would say that as an at-will, you can reject him for any reason, so long as it isn’t about religion, race, sex, etc. And in this case, it was none of those things. Had he applied, you could have just rejected him in the first place without repercussions.

    But he didn’t apply, so it makes things easier. I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

  45. Greengirl*

    OP #1– I’m a millennial and I absolutely pay attention to thank you notes post interviews but that is in part because of my field. I work in fundraising where thanking donors is a critical part of the job so not sending a thank you note would be a black mark because that’s part of the job.

    For getting past a “perfunctory” thank you note, when I write them myself I a) send one to every person that interviewed me and b) make sure to thank them for a specific answer to a question or point they brought up in the interview or even reference the area we would be working together in. It’s a great opportunity to further allay any concerns raised.

    1. Greengirl*

      Also, send them the same day you interview via e-mail so they can actually be part of the decision making process. I heard from someone who interviewed me for my current position who later became a good friend that his favorite part of the discussion in hiring me was when he asked the hiring committee of six people “Who else got a personalized thank you e-mail from Greengirl?” and everyone raised their hands. It can in fact make a difference. Not with every industry, but is sure does with fundraising!

  46. llamaswithouthats*

    LW 1: Millennial here. I personally don’t give an F about thank you letters, but my higher ups (mostly older millennials and Gen x) do. So if you’re a job seeker, I still recommend writing them to cover your bases (at least if you’re applying in the US.)

    1. Anya Last Nerve*

      Eh I’m Gen X and don’t care about thank you letters. Like Alison says, don’t generalize based on age.

      1. GraceNg*

        Seconding this comment. Gen Xer here as well and don’t care about them. They do not influence my hiring decisions AT ALL.

      2. quill*

        I’m wondering if it’s 100% based on industry norms and has nothing to do with generations?

  47. LP*

    LW #2.

    I’m sorry this happened to you. I don’t know why society doesn’t take stalking and violence against women seriously.

    I’ve had stalkers, too. Some I didn’t even know about until I created a website and they contacted me through the contact form and sent me creepy messages. Thank goodness I had a mentor who taught me about internet safety and told to put up a contact form instead of an email address (even if it was a an email just for the website).

  48. Brett*

    This is both an additional item to protect yourself, as well as potential coverage in case you run into another employer who wants “proof” to remove information.

    If you own your house and pay property tax (or if you live in a state with personal property tax and own a car or motorcycle), you can file a form with your county assessor to have your records blocked so that your records cannot be found by a name search. For my county, they redact your name from any records releases as well (so those public records searching websites won’t have access either).
    Normally this is fairly easy to have granted, and you might not even need to provide any reason at all as to why. The bar will be very low.

    Not only will this keep a stalker from easily using public records to find you, it will also provide you something very important. A letter, from a government agency, indicating that they have removed your name from their only records at your request. You can literally say, “Look, the government complied with my request to remove my name from online public records. Why aren’t you?”

  49. Regular Human Accountant*

    LW5, I’ve had the same issue–it feels weird to walk around in sweaty Lycra in front of your coworkers! I typically throw on a light workout jacket to feel more covered up (and hopefully mask some of the sweat smell) but you could also use a really lightweight rain jacket which would roll up smaller and be lighter in your bike bag.

  50. Anya Last Nerve*

    Not a popular opinion here, but I haven’t sent a thank you letter in over 20 years, but have managed to receive 4 job offers during that period and I’m currently in a very senior role. Ive also never factored a thank you letter into a hiring decision. Most recently I would say maybe 30% of the candidates for a role sent thank you emails but I couldn’t even tell you who. It didn’t matter. In fact I can only see a thank you letter hurting a candidate, like back around 2000 when thank you letters were still typically sent snail mail and I interviewed a guy (along with several other people the same day) and his hand written thank you note appeared in my inbox later that day from inter office mail. We were all thoroughly creeped out.

    1. Wisteria*

      Why creeped out? It sounds like he was prepared with thank you notes when he got there and asked somebody to put them in inter-office mail before he left. That’s just preparation. Back when I sent thank you notes via snail mail, I would typically have them prepared the day before, jot a quick personalized note, and drop them in the mailbox the same day. It was just another preparation step along with looking up directions and printing out resumes.

      1. Anya Last Nerve*

        It was a law firm, very conservative. Typical process was to send formal, typed thank you notes if you sent them. Handwritten and delivered same day came off as really out of touch. It sounds like you think it shows gumption, but in this context, it came off as confirming our shared view from his interviews that he would not be a good match. As always, know your audience.

        1. Simply the best*

          Not wisteria but also questioning why it creeped you out. And nope, don’t think it shows “gumption”, just think it’s a thank you note. Some people like to be prepared for stuff, other people do things after the fact. Nothing creepy or gumption-y about either.

        2. Wisteria*

          No, I don’t think it shows gumption, just preparation. If handwritten notes are not standard, it might make sense that he appears unfamiliar with the norms. If there were other ways in which he appeared creepy, I might understand how this is just one more thing. Taken in isolation, though, whatever else it might be, there’s nothing creepy about this.

  51. Wisteria*


    Wow, A hiring manager who gives rejections with reasons! In the case of this particular applicant, I disagree with the advice to say this:

    the performance issues we were working on when you were in the X role would be prohibitive for this job.

    Your former employee has not worked for you in a while now, and you don’t know whether she has those problems at this time. It sounds like you knew her well enough that you could accurately predict whether she still has those problems, but the truth is that you don’t know. I would go with a generic rejection such as, “We are not moving forward at this time.”

    1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      If you think the former employee may have matured to the point that the problems would no longer arise, which of course is totally possible, surely you could invite her in for an interview? You’d have to mention those problems and ask whether she has had similar problems in subsequent jobs, or if she has learned to deal with the problems in a satisfactory manner, and of course if you ended up hiring her back you’d have to keep a close watch to make sure that she has indeed matured. Absolutely no need to keep brushing her off if she no longer makes those mistakes.

  52. PersephoneUnderground*

    LW#2- This is straight up an equity issue.

    The company is shocked you would ask for something that no one else needs (however minor to the company)!?! This kind of baseline inflexibility pushes people out of work and then companies say things like “but we’re so welcoming and have diversity days, why is our company still mostly one demographic?” Agh.

  53. Queer Manager*

    LW 1- Millennial Manager here in charge of hiring. If a candidate sent a thank you note I would be tickled pink. And it would definitely give an edge to an already strong candidate. While I would never discount someone who didn’t send a thank you note it might make the difference between two strong candidates. My advice would be a short, sincere email along the lines of “Thank you for taking the time to meet and interview me! I look forward to hearing from you.” Would be what I would want to see

  54. Hosta*

    Letter #1 hits close to home. I’m currently working on a project to add our publicly facing staff to our website. Most of these folks are already very in the public eye due to the nature of our work (brand ambassadors). Some of these people are well known enough to have extensive privacy safe guards in place.

    We still made listing yourself optional AND every piece of data optional. Only first name? Sure. No photo? Cool. Only want a country listed for your location or no location at all? No problem. It was one of our design principles from the start that the page needed to look good if any or most of the possible info was missing.

    Your company is being totally unreasonable. This is online safety 101.

  55. Allison*

    I’m an “old” person and don’t care about thank you notes at all. I’ve been on a ton of hiring committees and I find them kind of annoying, to be honest. And sometimes they actually hurt a candidate (if poorly written), but they have never changed the consensus about a candidate in the slightest, whether or not they sent one. And I for real, never ever, want a candidate to attempt to “continue the conversation.” Please no.

    I swear I am not a jerk, but I would genuinely like thank you note conventions to go away :) I won’t even get started on how this can be very cultural based and people shouldn’t be judged on something they might not know about.

    1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      A candidate that sends a poorly written thank you note, having passed the interview stage with flying colours? If writing is important to the job, you should be glad they gave you that opportunity to assess their skills.
      And why not try to “continue the conversation”? When interview processes involve several interviews (something I find shocking except maybe for C-suite roles), I don’t see why they shouldn’t try to continue the conversation.
      Yes there’s a cultural element because we don’t do it in Europe. On occasions when I have interviewed north American candidates, I’ve always found it charming and professional (and those two adjectives rarely go together!).

  56. Hypnotist Collector*

    For Question #1 about thank-you notes, it’s a valid question. I’m over 60, was a boomer in a startup/acquired tech company until the company closed last year, and am most definitely aware of systemic ageism, especially in work cultures (this year I’ve had an interviewer outright tell me I’m a ‘diversity candidate’ they’re interviewing to check off a box). Sometimes doing analog things, like a hand-written thank-you note, only add to the perception that someone’s too old. Culture fit will be the go-to excuse. It might seem cool if you’re young and hip but may be read as old-fashioned if you’re not. I strongly agree that we shouldn’t generalize about generations in either direction but that’s the thing about systemic, widely accepted cultural biases like ageism: even well-meaning people may not realize what’s driving their response.

  57. ElleKay*

    LW 1- Yes! Send the Thank You note!
    And, if they’re interviewing 5 candidates who are all pretty well qualified and you’re the only one that *doesn’t* send a note… odds are you’re the first they’ll remove from consideration

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