my boss says I lied about my level of experience because I took maternity leave, same-day interviews, and more

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

1. My boss says I lied since I didn’t subtract maternity leave from my years of experience

I was at my last position for three years. About a year into my role, my manager had insinuated I lied about my experience when applying for my position because I had five years of experience at my previous job but had taken maternity leave (one year) during that time and did not disclose this during my interview. She said that they paid me based on the experience I let them think that I had. Let me point out I excelled at my job and she had no issues with my work whatsoever. I also had a couple raises during my employment. It bothered me and we discussed it at the time and moved on from it. However, recently when I resigned, it became a topic of discussion yet again.

I have a right to maternity leave and would find it odd to disclose this on a resume or bring it up during an interview. Who is in the wrong here? And how could I have handled this better?

No, your manager is wrong. It’s not expected that you’ll announce on your resume that you took parental leave or medical leave or any other kind of leave; in fact, in most cases it would be odd to see that there. It’s true that if you were only at a job for, say, 14 months and you spent 12 of those months out on leave, that’s relevant info that you should mention. But you were at this job for five years. You’re not expected to declare it.

Plus, the idea that there are likely to be substantive differences between four and five years of experience doesn’t hold much water for most jobs. And frankly, some people have 20 years of experience but perform like they have only one, so if your boss wants to ensure she’s getting a certain level of expertise she needs to screen for expertise in interviews, not use years of experience as a proxy.

Also, how and why did it come up again when you resigned? I have a feeling there’s a story there and that story is at least in part that your manager is weird.

2. I turned down a same-day interview

I received a phone call this morning asking whether I could come in for a follow-up interview today. I was available, but I opted not to go because of how sudden the request was.

For context, I’d had a phone interview the week prior and received an email from the recruiter on Monday this week saying they would like to schedule an in-person interview around Thursday or Friday, but they could not mark an exact date and time because of the fluctuating schedule of the job. They said they would be in contact to solidify a date and I asked them to keep me updated and said I would try my best to accommodate their schedule for either Thursday or Friday. I did not receive any contact Wednesday, and so I had assumed that I would not be going on Thursday. Then they called this morning (Thursday), asking if I could come in since their schedule had opened up from case cancellations. I declined since it was sudden. I actually did have time available in the day to go, but I would have preferred one day’s prior notice to confirm and mentally prepare. I’m now wondering if it was wrong of me to refuse, and if I have ruined my chances at the job. I’m also wondering if is incumbent on me to reach out to the interviewer and schedule the follow-up interview since I declined to go.

There’s nothing wrong with saying you can’t do a same-day interview; it would have been unreasonable for them to expect you to hold your entire Thursday and Friday open, especially when you hadn’t heard anything by the end of Wednesday. But it also wasn’t unreasonable of them to ask if you could make it work since they had an opportunity to fit you in.

So this isn’t about anyone being right or wrong. That said, you might have put yourself at a disadvantage by not taking the interview when they could offer it. They’ll probably end up offering you a different day, but there’s a risk that if other strong candidates emerge, they could end up just proceeding with them. Because of that, if you could have been flexible without much hardship, I would have recommended doing it. But it also makes sense to decline if you didn’t have enough time to prepare and might not have interviewed as well as a result.

How did you leave things at the end of that call? If they didn’t indicate what to expect next (“we’ll aim for next week instead and contact you on Monday” or so forth), you should reach out and ask about scheduling so that it’s clear you’re still interested and want to keep things moving along.

3. Correcting a manager’s mispronunciation

A manager who I respect and admire routinely pronounces “fiscal” as “physical.” How can I gently point this out without humiliating the person?

The manager is above me in hierarchy, has decades of experience, and is well educated. I can only guess it’s an unconscious habit, not a misunderstanding of what the words mean.

It’s actually not that uncommon to hear people mispronounce this word now and then and I’d never correct a casual contact. However, given our environment, it would be seen as a sign of odd ignorance in my organization. I sincerely want to help, not embarrass, this person.

I’d leave it alone! They’re senior to you with decades of experience and they’ve made it this far. They’ll be okay.

4. I wish my team had more diversity of ages

In the past couple of years, I got hired to a great job, taking on the positions of two people who retired. My team of 20 is all over 40 years old. Over half are past retirement age, and I am younger than all but two. They are a great group who are fantastic at their jobs and I am not looking forward to the days when they start retiring since I enjoy working with them so much. I understand all of the arguments for a diversity of ages, but how do I extend our diversity younger without encountering ageism in hiring? Our company is known for being a great employer, with flexibility and benefits that help people stay a long time. I just would like a little more range of experience and the opportunity for my experienced team to teach others all they know! Is that completely taboo?

Legally, you can’t give preference to younger candidates even if you’re doing it to make your team more diverse (age discrimination is against federal law, with the protection kicking in at age 40). However, if what you really want are more junior-level staff to round out your team, you can create more junior-level positions and advertise for them, as long as you don’t discriminate against older candidates who apply. You can also think about what perspectives or skills are missing from your team because of its current makeup and advertise for a candidate who would bring those missing elements, as long as those things are genuine work needs and not just a cover for attracting younger people.

5. Should I mention my financial support of a nonprofit in my cover letter for a job there?

Do I mention my financial support of a nonprofit in my cover letter for a job at that nonprofit? In this case, it’s a tiny nonprofit that is just now adding a part-time role to its current staff of one executive director.

On the one hand, its a clear demonstration of my enthusiasm for their work, especially as I can’t afford to give to all the nonprofits that do work I find important. On the other hand, I don’t want to come across as suggesting I’m owed a single thing as a result of my (very modest!) support.

In this instance, I am leaving it off — it would be really easy for them to look up my status as a donor if they were curious. I figure it’s something I can drop super quick into an interview if the appropriate moment comes up, and then move right on. But I am curious about your thoughts on this!

Yeah, you don’t want to make them worry it could be awkward to reject a donor, but you do want to convey that your support and commitment to their mission is long-standing and real.

I would word it as, “As a long-time member of the Llama Rescue League…” I like “member” (assuming they’re using a membership model) or “supporter” over “donor” so that it doesn’t sound like you’re emphasizing the financial part too much. And if they want to look it up, they’ll see it’s real. That said, I could argue for “donor” too. You’re fine either way, really.

As an aside, working in nonprofits I used to sometimes get cover letters that would say the person had been a long-time member and I would look it up to see and so often they were not! Which is totally fine — you don’t need to be a member to apply — but don’t claim you are if you’re not and never have been. I think those applicants assumed “feelings of support” somehow equaled “membership.”

{ 629 comments… read them below }

  1. Magenta Sky*

    Regarding #1, there are a lot of managers (and every other walk of life, for that matter) in the world who really need to get into the habit of taking a moment before they speak, and ask themselves, “Is this *really* what I want to be famous for on the internet?”

    1. Mina, the Company Prom Queen*

      Love this comment! Some people have these weird ‘rules’ that just don’t occur to anyone else. Lots of people take maternity leave. I’ve never heard of anyone subtracting the amount of time they took or maternity leave from their amount of work experience. This manager is weird.

      1. allathian*

        Absolutely weird. It would also be illegal where I am to subtract maternity leave from experience, when experience is used as a factor in determining raises and PTO. Parental leave is a different matter, though.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          Yeah, the fact that the boss is pretty much explicitly saying “If I had known you had taken maternity leave I would have paid you less money” is extremely not okay!!

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Hopefully they meant “If I’d known you’d been out on leave for a year,” and not specifically because of maternity leave, because yikes.

        2. SometimesALurker*

          Can you describe the difference between maternity leave and parental leave where you are? As far as I know, where I am, maternity leave is just a female-gendered word for parental leave.

          1. DataSci*

            In many places in the US, “maternity leave” is reserved for someone who gives birth. While it’s not legally required, it’s frequently offered, and often comes from short-term-disability funding. It tends to be much longer than “parental leave”, which is offered to parents who don’t give birth, which many places offer minimally (think two weeks vs. several months) or not at all.

            1. Colette*

              Yes, in Canada part of the available leave is specifically for the person who gives birth; the rest is available to the parents. But often women take “maternity leave” that includes both.

              1. Humble schoolmarm*

                In Canada there’s often an employer top-up for the maternity leave portion (so the person who gave birth maintains their whole salary), but the parental leave portion (that can be used by either parent or split between them) is usually payed entirely through Employment Insurance at a (sometimes much) lower rate.

                1. TechWriter*

                  And meanwhile, in Canadian Federal Goverment Land, either parent can get the top-up. (So I, the Parent Who Gave Birth got my US-based company’s ‘short term disability’ top-up, then nothing but EI. My spouse got the 93% of salary top-up for 9 months. We were in a position for both of us to take a gooood long leave, which was extended to the full 18 months due to COVID daycare situations. Thankfully my tenure wasn’t paused while on leave, so my seniority, benefits, vacation accrual, etc, all continued.)

                  It’s really not straightforward anywhere!

            2. Aitch Arr*

              If the employer is covered under the FMLA, then parental leave would be included.
              Still, it’s 12 weeks unpaid and would run concurrently with parental leave.

          2. allathian*

            Maternity leave is about 4 months, fully paid either by your employer or by the state. This is usually only granted to the parent giving birth, soon hopefully also including trans men (currently you have to show proof of sterility before you can change your gender, but there’s a proposal to change the law, fingers crossed it’ll pass soon). Paternity leave is 3 weeks fully paid and granted to the other parent. It’s possible for a woman to go on paternity leave if she’s in a relationship with the birth parent. Parental leave can be granted to either parent for about 8 months, paid by the state, and it’s also possible for the parents to share the days of leave, although not concurrently. After that it’s possible to get stay at home support until the child turns 3. If you get pregnant again, the same process repeats. One of my aunts had 4 kids and timed her pregnancies so that she wasn’t working 10 years in a row. During this time, your job is supposed to be safe, although in practice that’s not always the case. Parents frequently return to jobs where their job descriptions have been unilaterally changed by the employer.

                1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                  France, yes. I’d never heard about proof of sterility for gender change and it is not listed as a requirement on the government website as a condition for official gender change. A quick google showed that it is dictated by case law rather than actual legislation, so I’m not sure how it goes down. I imagine this causes a lot of headaches for trans people.

              1. Resident Cripple*

                allathian has said that they are from Finland – so I’m assuming that’s where it’s from. I realize this is a blog run by an American and focused on US situations – but it isn’t firewalled off from the rest of the planet and AAM answers questions from non-US people.

                Then again, maybe it should be renamed Ask an American Manager – with the subtitle of “And Please Don’t Mention Your Non-U.S. Benefits”.

          3. DataGirl*

            I don’t know if this is true everywhere but I work in healthcare- in our organization maternity leave is a medical leave and therefore has a bunch of extra protections, while paternity leave is just time off (I’m not sure if it’s paid either). I don’t really know all the nitty-gritty details so that’s probably not too helpful.

          1. SunnyGirl*

            In Canada, for the Employment Insurance, there is (or there was, might be updated) about 15 weeks of maternity leave just for the mother, essentially to recuperate and bond. Then there’s an additional 35 weeks of parental leave that can be taken and shared by both parents. (There’s now an additional leave after that but for less money).

            1. DataSci*

              Is this *really* for “the mother”? Or is it for “the person who gives birth”? In the US it’s the latter – adoptive moms don’t get the longer time.

              1. Empress Matilda*

                Maternity benefits (15 weeks) are only for the person who gave birth. Parental benefits (total of 40 weeks) are for either parent, including those who have recently adopted a child.

            2. delta-cat*

              I think this varies some from province to province. In Quebec at least (and I think Ontario is similar), there is leave that is specifcially “maternity leave” which is reserved for the gestational parent, there is shareable “parental leave,” and there is also a small block of use-it-or-lose-it “paternity leave” for the non-gestational parent which is explicitly intended to encourage dads to take some time off to care for and bond with the new baby, rather than the very common thing where mom takes all of the maternity leave and also all of the parental leave, and dad takes nothing. (Maternity leave and paternity leave can be taken at the same time, allowing both parents to be home during those first few weeks, which is wonderful.)

              1. Annea*

                It’s the same in every province, the non-birth-recovery leave can be shared between either parent or both, but many families still choose to have the birth-giving parent take the whole leave (and back a few decades ago I believe it used to be just maternity leave, with no shared aspect).

                There are some differences in the length of time and payment rate in Quebec compared to the rest of Canada, as QC has its own Parental Insurance Plan/regime quebecois d’assurance parentale; this is not part of Service Canada’s EI maternity/parental leave program and is paid for by a separate employee and employer withholding on wages, but you can’t get both QPIP and EI at the same time.

          2. agmat*

            Where I work, any parental leave beyond the 12 weeks maternity leave (concurrent with FMLA) is off payroll.

      2. The Dogman*

        Agreed, I wonder if that manager thinks everyone who says they have, lets say, a year of experience that those people are liars too… after all unless thye worked 365 x 24hours did that candidate “really” do a years work?

        As for people who take weekends off…. well what a lazy bunch of workers!!! They are only doing 5/7 days per week!

        How much experience is lost due to the need to have time off eh?

        That mamger is very strange!

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          What gets me about this boss is that he’s not saying it to the person who takes a lot of vacation or the person who had surgery and was out for two months to recover. He’s only saying this to a person who had a baby.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Although I can’t think of anyone who would take a year-long vacation (sabbatical maybe?), so that’s not an apt comparison.

            1. FrivYeti*

              I have known people who have needed to take six-month leaves for major medical issues in the middle of a job, and if they worked for, say, five years, they would definitely write on their resume that they worked for five years, not that they worked for four and a half years.

              (And heck, they wouldn’t technically even write that, they’d just list start and end dates with that job.)

        2. Shark Whisperer*

          I had a roommate who, at the time, was long distance from her boyfriend because they went to grad school in different cities. Her boyfriend insisted that they subtract the time they were apart (when she would visit him or he her those times still counted) when calculating how long they were together. It was ridiculous.

      3. BubbleTea*

        I’m currently on maternity leave but still follow relevant industry accounts online, receive and read the professional body’s journal, keep up with the latest developments etc. How would this manager quantify that knowledge, I wonder? Is it a % of the amount of experience proportionate to how much maternity pay I’m receiving?

      4. Mongrel*

        And would the manager have acted the same if OP had been out for a year due to, for example, successful cancer treatment?

        1. NotRealAnonForThis*

          Coworker-the-jerk (thankfully with no say) groused to everyone who’d listen that I should be on unpaid FMLA while caring for my hospitalized child instead of working when I could (I worked when things were medically boring and child was resting, which was thankfully frequent) because I was working remotely and not working my full hours, but only about 75% of them. Unpaid FMLA would have meant a loss of the sole household income. I don’t know how it would have impacted the payments for the health insurance that I carry. Thankfully TPTB were happy to work with me and we didn’t go down that road. Because whether I was legally entitled to it or not – we’d have been looking at bankruptcy and loss of our house. And if I’d have had to have paid COBRA rates for insurance, or had lost that insurance? ::cringe:: I know what the EOB stated was the tally, and I don’t know of anyone who has THAT kind of money saved just in case.

          Same coworker-the-jerk was vocally adamant that our coworker who is currently going through cancer treatments should be paid his full salary while working remotely when he feels well enough to do so.

          FWIW, the rest of us tend to just ignore coworker-the-jerk.

          1. Workerbee*

            Why is coworker-the-jerk allowed to keep commenting vocally on other people’s private, personal matters?

            1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

              Somethings in life are constant: death, taxes and wanker coworkers. If you’ve not got the authority to shut up the wanker, and nobody else stops them, then sometimes ignoring them is all you can do.

              That said, this guy is an absolute waste of mitosis.

              1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

                “Somethings in life are constant: death, taxes and wanker coworkers.”
                Please consider a line of mugs, martini glasses, mouse pads, and needlepoint patterns with this bit of wisdom.

              2. NotRealAnonForThis*

                This wanker of a co-irker is not someone I have the authority to do anything about other than return the awkward, and THAT cuts into my political capital (I’m the lone woman in a not-exactly-friendly-to-women industry so anything where I dig in my heels does this) slightly more than I’m willing to waste on him. And honestly, he is not worth the mental energy to even process his rantings. Therefore, in my small department, we ignore thoroughly. Its literally an understanding amongst those of us in the same shoes: ignore the stupid.

                The wanker tends to be not quite stupid enough to be so vocal around those who sign his paycheck. I have noticed this.

            1. NotRealAnonForThis*

              Thank you @Charlotte :)

              Said child amazes me. It is (almost) like nothing ever happened. We do have occasional flare ups of “I am NOT okay today because….” (mental side of it).

          2. Slow Gin Lizz*

            Dear God, that is awful. I SO HATE how health care works (or doesn’t, really) in the US. It’s appalling. Hope your child is doing well now.

          3. MissBaudelaire*

            There’s always that one co worker who very loudly decides they know better than every manager and will. not. be. still.

            I hope your other coworkers told them to hush their mouth.

            Hope your kid is doing better.

        2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Sadly likely. I once had an absolutely horrible man for a boss who said that I should remove the time spent off work (due to recovering from a near fatal traffic accident that left me disabled) from my employment history – because while I’d been technically still employed by them I hadn’t done any work and that was ‘unfair to the healthy staff’.

          …yeah, my family knows if they even mention the name of that firm to me they better be prepared for some of the most profane words ever to come back. Thoroughly dreadful place. I quit with no job to go to because I was just that effed off.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            (He also had a history of calling any unmarried pregnant person in the office a .. rather unpleasant name behind their backs. Really effing nasty piece of work)

              1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

                I spent a lot of time there hoping he’d step on an upturned British plug (I’ve done this and ow).

          2. Slow Gin Lizz*

            “Unfair to the healthy staff”???? WTAF???? Being unhealthy seems to me the highest level of unfair, so anyone who is healthy should just count their blessings that they don’t need special treatment just to go about life without becoming bankrupt or worse. I also hope he falls down a staircase of Legos (awesome punishment, parsley!) and then drowns in a sea of ramen.

            1. Librarian of SHIELD*

              Not drowns in a sea of ramen, is trapped forever in a sea of ramen that he can’t eat, like Tantalus.

          3. Stitching Away*

            Your boss should meet the doctor who complained that the number of medications I was on made treating me difficult, and then fired me as a patient because I had a side effect from a medication he tried on me.

        3. Cait*

          Exactly. This is veiled sexism. This idea that taking maternity leave should be considered some kind of luxury, like you’re being gifted time to sit on the couch and eat Ben & Jerry’s for X months, is ridiculous. Women (and men!) deserve time to bond with their babies, get adjusted to parenting, and not have to worry about going back to work sleep-deprived and burned out. I actually heard an HR manager say, “She CHOSE to have a baby, so why should we pay for it???”. Because having children is a common practice and supporting your employees during a really vulnerable time is basic human decency?

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            Part of the reason I actually adore my current employer (and they have their faults, believe me) is that they offer the same leave to all new parents – and they include adoptive parents in that. I’m childfree so I’ll never need it but the even handed ness of it really impressed me.

            Managers and firms who treat parental leave as a luxury generally treat *any* leave as a luxury – and that’s a big red flag even to those of us who’ll never have kids. Basically, those kinda attitudes drive away good staff.

            1. MissBaudelaire*

              You know what? You hit on something there with treating any leave as a luxury.

              Looking back, the places that treated parental leave like that also kicked and screamed when someone used sick leave or groused when someone had vacation and dared to take it.

              1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

                ‘Why should we pay ANYONE to not be at work?!’

                And sadly, the pandemic hasn’t changed the views of some of them.

          2. quill*

            Because if no one ever had kids you wouldn’t have any new customers or workers? Because humanity does not exist to serve capitalism? Because even a capitalist system must be beholden to the wider biological reality that there are going to be people around who reproduce?

          3. 2 Cents*

            I had the person who handled HR at OldJob (which was too small, they claimed, for actual HR people) actually tell me to my face “I don’t know why we’re paying you to NOT WORK” when I went on maternity leave after working there for 5+ years and earning my time!

            She was also the worst human ever, so it tracked.

            1. Hannah Lee*

              “I don’t know why we’re paying you to NOT WORK”

              “Oh, I don’t know, maybe because that’s what the company legally committed to do and put in writing in the employee handbook, and in the offer package the company issued when they chose to hire me.”

              People who act like a company simply meeting its contractual obligations is being taken advantage of or giving some kind of beneficent voluntary gift to employees, customers … and like fulfilling those obligations is somehow subject to their personal feelings and moral judgements and is taking something out of their personal pockets are so annoying.

              And are often bad employees, because they can be so capricious, and waste time, create drama over things that should be perfunctory administrative processes.

            2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

              UK based but I had one HR bod tell me that since I ‘obviously didn’t look after my health’ that they saw no reason to ‘let’ me have medical leave.

              (I get it, I’m fat. But that didn’t cause my medical issues – it’s mostly because of them!)

              They were of the ‘if there is any medical reason for taking time off then it’s because you did something wrong’ ilk. I’ve often wondered if they said the same thing to people going on maternity leave. Aaand now I’ve got a horrible feeling they probably DID.

              1. Hannah Lee*

                Oh, gosh, that’s horrendous!

                They apparently have the same mindset as the awful US politician who was against requirements that health insurance must provide benefits for care needed for ongoing health issues, because “people who live good lives don’t have pre-existing conditions” Hmm, tell that to the people who were born with holes in their hearts or type 1 diabetes or cystic fibrosis. Or anyone who has been in an accident they didn’t cause which left them with a disability or chronic health problem. Or anyone with a family history of type 2 diabetes or high cholesterol or who inherited genes that cause any number of chronic conditions and cascading health issues.

                1. Mannequin*

                  Exactly. This kind of attitude infuriates me because it’s becoming clear that so many more mental & physical health issues are caused by genetics and/or environment than they are things people by have control over.

        4. Observer*

          And would the manager have acted the same if OP had been out for a year due to, for example, successful cancer treatment?

          Almost certainly. FMLA in the US was instituted not just for parents who need time, but for all the awful bosses who would fire someone for having the temerity to get sick. And many localities have had to pass minimum sick day laws because there are so many terrible places that require people to come in sick even when it should be obvious that it’s actually bad for the business.

          @NotRealAnonForThis’ CWTJ was a bit of an outlier, and I suspect that it’s because he has something going on with that other employee. Although it could be more generalized misogyny. So, someone taking time to care for a child is doing “women’s work” and therefore no one should extend any decency to help “support their choice to have a kid”, but the other employee is a guy dealing with a “legitimate” problem.

          Just reading that back is a reminder of just how STUPID and WARPED this kind of bigotry is.

          1. MissBaudelaire*

            And even with those laws, just because they have to give them to you doesn’t mean they’ll make it easy to take that time.

          2. NotRealAnonForThis*

            @Observer, can confirm we suspect a heaping dose of generalized misogyny with CWTJ (who up thread was dubbed the wanker co-irker, waste of mitosis). It ABSOLUTELY tracks. But we pretty well ignore him now. :-)

      5. Not So NewReader*

        Company policies may have inadvertently led the manager to that conclusion. One place I worked had a policy that any unpaid leave came off your seniority. I lost 6 weeks due to injury in an accident. They moved my start date by 6 weeks. That new start date was used in the calculation of… oh- everything. Since I know they use the new date thorough-out, I felt I had to tell potential employers the new date so if they did call the company my answer would be the same as the company’s answer.

        This is NOT to say, I agree with what the manager said to OP. I don’t. But I can see how people might leap to that erroneous conclusion.

        1. WellRed*

          But you hadn’t even started yet so it would be weird to calculate seniority, vacation accrual, or pay you salary or benefits, because you hadn’t actually started working there.

          1. Guacamole Bob*

            My interpretation of Not So NewReader’s situation is that the company retroactively changed the start date in the HR system so that seniority would calculate correctly. So if she started on July 1 2018 and then took a 6-week leave in 2019, the company would change her start date to August 15th, 2018 in the employee database.

            Seems like a pretty crappy way to handle it, honestly, but I can picture the bad database design that led there. Just add an “effective start date” or “seniority date” field! Don’t you need to be able to look up the actual start date occasionally?

            1. EOBs for Days*

              This is how we handle it. Our database has an original hire date, seniority date, and position start date (for each position you’ve been in). We have a policy that if you resign and come back in less than a year you maintain seniority so we need the flexibility

              1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

                Is that like how our (current firm) pension plan works? You can only be on the (extremely rare and valuable plan) if you have 5+ years seniority but if you leave the firm after you’re on it and rejoin later it’s not regarded as you starting the clock again?

                Just trying to work my brain around it, sorry!

              2. Mallory Janis Ian*

                That’s how my university employment is. The seniority date affects your rate of vacation accrual and years of service bonus, and if you resign and come back within one year you maintain seniority, but the seniority date is adjusted by how many months you were gone. So you don’t lose years of seniority, but your advancement to the next level of seniority benefits may be delayed by a number of months.
                Ex. I had an original February seniority date; left for 9 months for another job; returned and now my seniority date is in November.

            2. Coder von Frankenstein*

              Better yet, put in a “seniority adjustment” measured in days, and have the system calculate your seniority as “current_date – (start_date + seniority_adjustment).” It’s silly to make the data entry person do the math to calculate your effective start date. Humans should never calculate anything.

              The truly proper way to do it, of course, would be to have a separate Seniority Adjustments table where each adjustment is tracked individually with start date, end date, and reason. But in most places that would be overkill.

            3. Hannah Lee*

              Yeah, we have a policy that vacation/PTO, don’t accrue when an employee is out on leave, except for certain types of leave where that’s legally prohibited (such as military leave IIRC).

              But we don’t go “changing” employees’ hire dates or start dates because of leaves. Because that would create inaccurate start dates that could impact all kinds of things, and create a bizarre data maintenance issue, for example, if someone was taking intermittent leave. Instead, we just have a separate data element for each pay/accrual period that indicates whether or not the accrual calculation is applicable that period (it’s an active/inactive flag, that is also used for other things, such as calculating headcount for CMS/Medicare classifications and other reporting, or for example, determining when an employee moves from being an “introductory” employee with < 90 days of service to a "regular" employee.)

              As far as seniority, in larger companies, that may be a factor. But since we're a smaller company, things like merit raises, promotions are primarily driven by performance, business requirements and fair market rates for the person's role at that time. Whether or not a person took a leave at some point would be irrelevant because the person is here, now, doing the job now, and should be compensated for that whether or not they had a baby 2 years ago, or needed to take time off for knee surgery or to take care of a dying parent for 2 months last year.

              I suspect there's some vestige of puritanical value judgements/all capitalism all the time going on here, where there's a bias to 'punish' or nitpick people who use available time off / leave when needed instead of muscling through and not "inconveniencing" their employer by being away from work.

              Add to that poor managers/policy writers who conflate actual attendance/performance issues with good employees who have lives which throw them curveballs (eg accidents, illnesses, family needs, required jury duty) which take them away from work, or employers who don't get that the employee/employer relationship should be mutually beneficial and you can get some really strange and arbitrary policies.

          2. doreen*

            My employer sort of resets the start date when people take unpaid leave of more than a couple of weeks – but they don’t actually reset the start date. What they actually reset is the leave anniversary date and seniority date but that’s not really obvious to people (timesheets only reflect leave anniversary dates) and resetting the leave anniversary and seniority dates have the same effect as resetting the start date would.

            1. No Tribble At All*

              Yikes! Do you accumulate more PTO with seniority? Are there other benefits that increase with increasing seniority? I’d be annoyed if mine got paused due to taking medical leave.

              1. doreen*

                It doesn’t get paused exactly – it just changes the date. I just checked and it only happens for six months or more of continuous unpaid leave. If my original hire date was 1/11/94 and I took six months of unpaid leave in 2010, my seniority and leave anniversary would change to 7/11/94 and any increases to my leave accrual would occur on 7/11 of each year rather than 1/11 and I would have less seniority than someone who was hired on 3/26/94 and never took a six month unpaid leave. It’s not a matter of starting all over from scratch and I just realized I wasn’t clear about that.

          3. Not So NewReader*

            Actually, I had started working there. I think I had been there for about 7 weeks, then I was out for six weeks.
            I had a six month trial period, once I passed that I’d get a raise and some benefits but not all benefits. So the six month calculation was reset. The full benefits kicked in at the one year anniversary, which was the adjusted start date.

            More to the point, people were very confused by all this and some very strange (and unbelievable) stuff unfolded. This is a know your workplace thing, I guess. I stayed there for 10+ years, so in the long run 6 weeks really did not matter. Back to OP’s setting, I think that manager was petty and did not have a good grasp of this topic. Like what happened at my old place, she just assumed she was correct and never checked with other before speaking. I always had to drag in others for verification of some pretty basic stuff.

        2. MassMatt*

          So wait, if you start in January 2015 and after 5 years a of working there have a 6 month leave (for whatever reason), they move your start date to July 2016? And they give this date when verifying employment? That is VERY screwed up; now an applicant has a 6 month gap in employment to explain, which doesn’t even correspond to when they took leave?!

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            I read it as your 6th year anniversary would be in July going forward, not January. It doesn’t sound like your recorded start date would change, just the effective start date for calculations.

            N.B. I’m not endorsing this process.

          2. LabTechNoMore*

            If they’re not keeping track of the actual start date, then they’ll literally be lying about the date you started to employment verification and reference checks.

        3. Aitch Arr*

          If the leave was job-protected under FMLA or the like, that practice of changing the seniority date is illegal.

      6. INFJedi*

        God forbid you were out for some time because you had to undergo cancer treatment (or any other longterm illness or chronical condition).

        What do they expect you write on your CV? Do they expect you calculate the exact amount of days you work somewhere?

        2012-2018 Manager at Cookies-centre
        (except for June 2015 until January 2016: Got some experience in chemotherapy) 2016 was a leap-year though so +1 day

        2018-2020 Projectmanager at TakingOverTheWorld
        (minus 2x 52 Sundays, 2 Christmas days, 13 Sickdays, 3 vacation weeks, etc.)

      7. Boof*

        Indeed; how many jobs pay strictly pervyear of experience? (Maybe government, some unions have benefits etc that accrue strictly by years on the job; not sure how they “count” a year long year) But years at /another/ job?

    2. Unfettered scientist*

      I agree that in this case it’s ridiculous to hold it against the employee, but I think Alison’s example of 1 year out of 14 mos being different is interesting. Obviously it feels weird to say you were in a role for two years when one of those was on break. Where is the line, and how does the employee talk about that on their resume if they have a lot of leave (e.g. multiple year-long leaves if having multiple children)? For a lot of jobs, 4 yrs experience vs. 5 doesn’t make a difference, but there are plenty where it would. Or 3 vs. 5 etc.

      1. Unfettered scientist*

        Sorry, I realized I used “break” because that’s common where I work, but I really mean “leave”

      2. Lynn*

        I had a similar thought — one year out of five is 20% which feels not-insignificant, but then again, 4 years instead of 5 doesn’t seem like a big difference. I think in lieu of consistent labor laws, it comes down to how different companies count that time for seniority and first company and second might have had different practices (and boss was also just a jerk)

      3. Shark Whisperer*

        For me, I think it comes down to, if you were to subtract the leave, would it make that much of a difference? 4 years is pretty similar to 5 years in my book. I’d expect someone who had been at a job for 4 years and someone who had been there for 5 years to have the same general mastery of the job. 14 months vs two months is a huge difference. Most of us wouldn’t even put a 2 month job on a resume because it is unlikely that you even learned the job in that amount of time.

        1. Saberise*

          But in some cases that would not allow that person to be hired. If we post a job and start it requires 5 years of experience we literally can’t hire someone that has 4 year and 11 months without reposting it. I have no clue how that would apply if someone was on the books for 5 years but had a year off during that year for whatever reason. It may make a difference if it was paid leave vs unpaid leave.

          1. Wintermute*

            That’s where I am on this. It’s REALLY dependent on your industry. In mine there are huge pay breaks at 3 and 5 years. In addition some systems require, by policy, 5 years of experience, that’s five years actually acting in the role– they wouldn’t count years you were a user but not administrator either, or if you were in another role and moved over with or without a title change.

            I feel like the LW would know if they’re in a field like that, but it does bear mentioning that in some cases this would, indeed, be considered highly deceptive, even grounds for termination. In many it would not matter. You really need to know your field and know whether there are hard-line absolute requirements.

            It could even be we’re getting a little bogged down on “five years” because that’s very common as a requirement for those sorts of policies, 3 versus 4 or 7 versus 8 wouldn’t register the same in my field as 4 versus 5 because “minimum 5 years” is often a hard, hard requirement for advanced roles, enough so that when you hit that your pay can jump 20-30% if you change jobs to one requiring that experience.

      4. Gumby*

        Some jobs structure their pay based on time-in-role. For (a very simplified) example, starting salary of $50k, plus another $2500 for each year of experience. So while someone who has been a teacher for 4 years is maybe not that much less experienced than one who has been there for 5, the salary would be different. In that situation, I can kind of see the point – though it would have to apply evenly to everyone regardless of the reason for the year off. Went to [country] to improve your language skills so you could better teach that language? That year doesn’t count towards salary/seniority.

  2. Halibut*

    LW 5: As a nonprofit professional (specifically a fundraiser) “supporter” is definitely the way to go – it’s the vaguest of terms and doesn’t strongly imply “I give you money”, but still gets across the point. As Alison says, if they want to look you up in the system they can (and probably will!).

    I’d personally advise against bringing up your financial support at all, because it’s a one-person staff and if it comes across wrong to the sole staff member, there’s not other people there that they can bounce thoughts off of, etc. Say that you’re a long time supporter, but don’t mention being a donor either in writing or in person UNLESS it’s specifically brought up by your interviewer. If you have other experience with the organization outside of financial support (attended an event, volunteered, etc), definitely include that in your letter and make a point to bring it up as to what interested you about the role of you interview. But I’d leave money out of it.

    Good luck!

    1. Invisible Crayon*

      Do you not have rules about looking into people’s personal data?

      UK person here. Checking if an applicant is a donor and would not be remotely appropriate over here. I’m surprised it is there.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        If OP is applying to a nonprofit, the company would have access to their own systems they use to track members and/or donations. Having access to that tracking system is necessary to do their job, presumably, especially if the executive director is the only employee. How would it be inappropriate to check their own system to see if OP’s name is there?

        1. Cranky lady*

          Under GDPR, there are very strict rules as to which pieces of data on a person an employee would have access to. Really no comparison in the US.

            1. Regular Reader*

              Another UK person here. There are indeed strict GDPR rules and normally HR would not have access to donor information as part of standard recruitment process. However if an applicant stated on in an application that they had previously donated or volunteered for the same non-profit it would be reasonable for HR / Recruitment to ask the appropriate team to confirm this as part of recruitment due diligence process. A straight Yes or No rather than full details.

              1. Akcipitrokulo*

                I think GDPR would still apply, and forbid answering the question.

                Because the data controller of the supporter’s data has neither legitimate interest or consent. It doesn’t matter if you would have a legitimate interest as the recruiter (which may be argued) – the recruiting data controller is not the one who is being asked to share the data.

                1. Hannah Lee*

                  I’m thinking in OP’s case, if I understood the letter, the only staff is the executive director. Wouldn’t that person be familiar with who their donors are? I mean, if the applicant was actually a regular donor, not just someone who gave a small donation once several years ago?

                2. Temporarily Displaced outside the UK*

                  Probably some GDPR related text on the donor sign up sheet that relates to using the data for the purposes of running the organisation? Might even be said that consent is being given by the applicant mentioning it in their application (it is reasonable to expect that this would be verified)?

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Comparison in the US! I work for a medical system where I am also a patient. I spend all day accessing medical records in the course of my work. It is a termination offense for me to access my own medical record at all through my employee access – I can only access it through the same patient portal anyone else would use – and our system actually has flags in its tracking system that pops warnings for review if an employee is opening a record that matches their own name. This is pretty normal in the medical setting, because HIPAA says I can only access information I need to do my job, with no exceptions. Just because the information is there doesn’t mean all uses of it are appropriate.

            1. Brenna*

              I work in student loan servicing, and we have the same rules. Both with our own system, and the resources provided by other organizations, we are not allowed to access our own information, as well as anyone we know. Some of our outside resource can even audit us to confirm we are only accessing information we have a right to.

              1. Melissa P Cooper*

                I work in career services, formerly an academic advisor, and while we have access to a pretty wide swath of student information (grades, academic standing, personal information like addresses and phone numbers, and what they might owe on their bill), we are only allowed to use it when we are meeting with a student, or when we are creating lists to do student campaigns (like inviting high-risk students to meet with us more frequently). We have alumni on staff and at NO point do we go to their online transcripts and check their grades. that is not allowed.

            2. Akcipitrokulo*

              GDPR regs are very similar. You have to have a legitimate interest to use data (and that would be legitimate interest from the point of view of tracking supporters & donors, not applicants) or you have to have specific, informed consent (again, given as a supporter, not an applicant).

            3. whistle*

              Yep. I had to fire an employee for repeatedly accessing her husband’s medical records. She got caught because she was in the record while her husband was receiving care (in a different department from the one she worked in), and the nurse providing his care was trying to open the record and was locked out of it. After that, they did an audit and she had accessed the record over 50 times! She had been a stellar employee of ours for four years, but this was such a clear cut HIPAA violation, it was an immediate termination. She did not understand why she wasn’t given a second chance and why I wouldn’t provide a good reference for her (for other healthcare roles).

              Just because you have access to the data doesn’t mean you are authorized to view it in all circumstances.

              1. Anon.*

                I understand HIPPA and your response seems totally appropriate. However, in a broader ethical sense, people have a right to their own medical records, and it suggests that the patient portal might need work if checking as an employee is a meaningfully better way to check.

                1. Observer*

                  Except that she wasn’t checking HER records, but her husband. People are not necessarily entitled to the records of their spouses.

                2. Ben Marcus Consulting*

                  Patient portals absolutely need a major overhaul. We’re decades into the concept and most are absolutely garbage. Likely because they’re not seen as a profit center.

                  However, the access dichotomy for patient and employee access is never going to go away. Employee access includes abilities you would never give patients to, such as records alterations*. Healthcare organizations have an obligation to ensure the integrity of their EHR system.

                  *HIPAA standards would mean that any alterations are trackable, but allowing a patient to alter records could mean that important information has been redacted or fictitious information has been entered. It wouldn’t be reasonable to review the audit log for every exam note to determine what the patient’s medical record really is.

                  From experience, employees tend to access their records via their employee logins so that they don’t need to remember two sets of credentials. To combat this, some systems have started allowing for system admins to assign accounts to a user login so that they show up as they would for the patient portal. It’s also becoming more common to allow for other accounts to be blocked from user access, this is useful for keeping one employee from looking at another’s records.

                  Other reasons why employee access could be different:

                  -Mental health providers are able to provide summaries rather than full notes in order to prevent harm to the patient. This protection risks breakdown if you’re in a larger health system and use your access from another department to review your full records.

                  -Employees are eligible for participation in clinical research. Some of the information surrounding that may be attached to their non-research records.

              2. Observer*

                She did not understand why she wasn’t given a second chance and why I wouldn’t provide a good reference for her (for other healthcare roles).

                That right there says that you could never give her a second chance. She clearly did NOT understand how serious the breach was, and you would almost certainly have done something else in time.

            4. MCMonkeyBean*

              Checking on medical records is extremely different than checking whether someone is a donor/member/supporter of your nonprofit. I don’t think those rules are remotely comparable.

            5. Risha*

              I have theoretical access to federal tax information (in reality I never need it, it’s just there if I’m ever fixing something that requires production data and that data could have come in via a feed from the IRS). I receive more-than-yearly (because I have access via multiple different clients) training that says that I’m absolutely never to view my own records or those of anyone I know, and if I ever accidentally stumble across it in the course of my job duties I’m to immediately report it. If I violate that I’m at risk of being fired, and possibly jailed and fined thousands of dollars.

          2. MsSolo (UK)*

            Specifically, you can only use data for the reason it was collected for. So if details were recorded to enable collection on donations/sponsorship money, you can’t use them for marketing without asking consent (which is a common additional check box on charity forms), and you really can’t use them for recruitment without asking consent (and it’s pretty hard to imagine the consent form that includes a “should you ever apply for a job with us, we need your consent to check your application against our donor records” check box).

      2. Amy*

        Lots of non-profits have lists of funders. An organization I belong to even publishes the names in their annual glossy report unless you check “keep anonymous.”

        It doesn’t mean you’re accessing their credit card or SS number, just if they donated.

        1. Threeve*

          And if they didn’t choose to donate anonymously, they can assume that you’re going to have a record of their donation.

          It’s reasonable to expect a nonprofit not to share that info to outside people/organizations, but I don’t understand how someone would expect employees of the nonprofit to not have access to it.

          1. Akcipitrokulo*

            Because you expect them to have access for specific purposes (fundraising, contacting supporters, etc) and in UK & EU it’s against the law to use it for any other purpose (like checking up on job applicants).

            1. Charlotte*

              I think this must be different in the US, then, because I work at a university and when we eg have alumni apply to be on the alumni volunteer board, we check things like whether they have given in the past/if they have attended events/volunteered in the past/etc.

              1. UKDancer*

                I think in the UK (and I’m not a GDPR expert) you would have to ask their express consent in the application process to check their status. You can’t automatically check this information because they didn’t share personal information with you to be used for that purpose. So you’d probably have a box on the form for them to confirm they were content for you to check records of their donation activity.

                When you share information with an organisation you usually agree / are informed what purposes this information is being shared for and what they can do with it.

      3. Halibut*

        So yeah, privacy laws work a lot different here. There is no legal issue with searching through our database for a person who has applied for a job, both in that there is no privacy law that would prevent someone from doing that and that “donor status” is not a legally protected class.

        I personally look people up in the system because I specifically work in fundraising and so have access to the database. I’ve had colleagues in other departments reach out and ask me to look something up, and it’s always a cursory “this person says they’ve been a so and so donor for this long, could you confirm or deny that?” We definitely don’t share details, but again that’s just our own discretion and not a law preventing us from doing so.

        We DONT share personal identifiable information outside of our team though – we don’t give out people’s addresses and emails etc. without explicit permission. But “donor status” is not protected in the same way that PPI and PII is. There isn’t really a “HIPAA for fundraisers” lol.

        Hope that clears it up!

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          There isn’t really a “HIPAA for fundraisers” lol.

          Which is a darn shame. I wish my university didn’t have the right to provide my information to their fundraising arm. :-/

          1. Mints*

            You can probably opt out of solicitation communications, while still keep the fun events etc newsletters. You’d just respond to a solicitation email with something like “Please do not solicit me again”

            1. JP in the heartland*

              In fact, they would PREFER you opt out. If you are never going to donate, they a) don’t want to bother you and b) don’t want to spend money on postage and materials you don’t want and are likely throwing away. I’m a major gift officer for a medium sized non profit— been in the business for over 20 years.

              1. Koalafied*

                100% agree. I manage an email list for a large international nonprofit and I don’t want to send people email that they’re unlikely to respond to, which meanwhile is going to put a bad taste in their mouth because they don’t want to be getting it in the first place. No reasonably sophisticated nonprofit is batch-blasting every email to everyone on their list in 2021 – it’s all about targeting your emails to the segments most likely to respond and engage with the content, because we’re not just looking for direct responses to asks, we want the email channel to be helping us build and maintain a sense of connection between the supporter and our org, to facilitate them having positive feelings when they think of us. Emails only deepen a supporter connection when the supporter likes the emails they’re getting.

                Especially when it comes to charities/nonprofits who are asking you to donate in exchange for no tangible goods, keeping supporters happy is one of the most critically important things we do – as important as it is for a for-profit company to be selling a product that people like. The last thing we want to do is irritate people. If you say “don’t share my info,” we won’t share it (we don’t anyway, but even NPOs who do list exchanges universally have flags to hold people out either upon request or because they’re too valuable to share with competitors), if you say “don’t call me on the phone,” we won’t call you on the phone, if you say, “don’t email me,” we won’t email you. (Also: if you say, “I want my money back,” we’re going to give it back unless you made the gift like a year or more ago. It’s just not in our interest to get grubby over someone’s $20 donation they want back when what we could be doing is laying the groundwork now for future donations they could potentially make, or future new donors they could potentially tell about how great we are, or future letters to the editor they might get published in the local newspaper in a key legislator’s district based on our talking points….etc.)

                Nonprofits care more about relationships than transactions than any other industry, except possibly luxury goods.

        2. Koalafied*

          Exactly. I’m in fundraising/marketing for US nonprofits as well and it works the same way. Direct access to the database is carefully protected and we have a standard infosec policy that essentially says a staff member should only have the lowest level of permissions available in a given tool that will enable them to do their job, and nothing more. We have an extensive and fully transparent privacy policy, but it’s made up of 90% our internal decisions about what we think is appropriate/ethical, expected of us, and necessary for business processes, and only about 10% things the U.S. or any state government is making us do.

          So unless you’re in a role that can look up supporter records you wouldn’t be able to, but there’s no reason you couldn’t ask someone who *is* in the role to do so. It’s much more about “we do not want to turn Joe Lawyer who has not been trained on our internal datasec and privacy policies loose on the database to look up dog knows what for any or no reason,” because that’s inviting not just abuse but even innocent accidental violations of our data policies. But as long as Joe Lawyer requests the info through an appropriate staff member that has the training and authority to know whether or not his use is acceptable under our policy, and his use is acceptable, then he can get the information from us no problem. (And in terms of internal use, our policy essentially says information can be used internally for any legitimate business purpose – the vast majority of the data policy restrictions are rather around how and when data can be shared outside of our organization, the security in place to protect data against hacker breaches, and what types of communication the supporter has consented to receiving from us.)

      4. Llamas not alpacas*

        OP5 here…this nonprofit is very small…I assume they would know WHO is donating and that the hiring committee and ED can easily confirm that bit without digging up personal details like address, etc. I’m in the US, and although I have a long work history with nonprofits, I’ve not worked closely on the donor and fundraising side, so I don’t know what kind of privacy rules apply here.

        1. Llama Llama*

          So I work at a small non-profit in the US and here is my two cents.

          Our ED knows the names of most of our larger and/or long time donors. We annually have about 700-900 households donating. Other folks who work in development at least part time (like me) also know and recognize names that come up repeatedly (annual and monthly gifts). We would just recognize names, especially if it’s true that you are a long term donor/supporter.

          That said, our database would easily have this info and if you said you were a supporter and we didn’t recognize your name we would probably just look it up to confirm. There is nothing wrong with this in the US and it’s pretty standard. Any staff person at my org would have access to this information if they wanted it. Personal details like your address/phone number/email are likely tied to your donor records but it shouldn’t matter because 1) if you applied they already have that information 2) they would only have that info if you previously gave it to them anyway, through donating or otherwise and 3) this information is critical to non-profit fundraising and marketing.

          In this case the ONLY staff person is the ED and they definitely have access to all of the information in their database. So, make sure what you’re saying is true and stick with the supporter language over specific donor references.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            It seems very very UNshady to confirm what you said in your application – that you are a donor.

      5. Cringing 24/7*

        US corpocracy tries *very* hard not to prioritize individual data rights over corporate rights, so I don’t think that those protections translate very well between the UK and the US, unfortunately.

    2. Ama*

      Also you could potentially make the mistake a candidate did with my org last year, where they proudly announced in their cover letter they had been a supporter for a fundraiser … for an organization that wasn’t my employer (they cover a similar area but we do have distinctly different names). We actually did end up hiring them because their experience was exactly what we were looking for, but they did have to overcome that first impression hurdle.

    3. Llamas not alpacas*

      OP5 here, yeah, I am pretty engaged in this org’s work, a close friend is a volunteer, and adjacent work that I do professionally and on a volunteer basis is closely related and I’ve been to events, engage on social media (which for this org is a key channel for their work). So I had ample opportunity to bring up my non-financial relationship with the org, and did so!

      This is actually the third time I’ve faced this question when applying for jobs. I figured it was time to ask Alison! The suggestions to simply frame financial support as support are helpful.

    4. Llamas not alpacas*

      OP5 back – I neglected to mention the outcome. I was invited for a first-round interview; but they ended up hiring a long-time volunteer who was probably my favorite among their volunteers. And although I feel confident saying I had some very strong professional credentials as well as volunteer experience — think a decade managing operations at a mid-size llama farm, for one — the person they hired had been volunteering for several years in different roles at this org, which, let’s say, is a small Alpaca farm. Among the volunteers at the Alpaca farm, whose work I know from attending events at the farm, etc. this person’s work was consistently the best.

    5. nonprofiteer*

      Also a fundraiser. I wanted to flag that for a tiny org with just an executive director on staff, giving them a clue that you’re a supporter (or whatever term you use) would be smart. They may not have time to notice your past giving, volunteering, etc.

  3. “Thief”*

    LW1’s boss sounds like an old boss of mine, who once refused to allow me to spend work hours to learn a new computer program because it would be “stealing” to use his work hours/money to learn a new skill that I could then take to a future job. (The program in question was Adobe Illustrator, which they used a lot, and I suggested spending a couple hours a week playing with it.)

    Don’t worry, I left that job in the dust.

    1. Not Australian*

      Similar happened to me. I asked to be trained in legal billing; I could see there was a need for someone to specialise in that, and would have been very willing to agree to stay a year or two years after my training was complete, but my boss shut me down saying that I would just take advantage of his goodness (!) and work for someone else afterwards. I never did get the training, and when I left him I ended up having to sue for unpaid wages.

      1. Batty Twerp*

        We have a training and learning policy that states if the company pays for your training, and you leave within (for the sake of argument coz I don’t remember the exact detail) 18 months for a new job, you will be asked to reimburse the company for the cost of the training (pro rata I think as well).
        But if you want to learn new skills for free, or at your own expense on company time, that’s at the discretion of your manager.

        I agree that using current company funds to benefit a future company applies in this case. If they’re actually paying for it, it’s not unreasonable that they want a return on their investment (since this is usually on top of your normal salary and staff costs – it applies in very specific professional qualification cases and exams for example)

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          But the return on their investment is that you’re now able to properly do the job they want you to do.

          1. Batty Twerp*

            Sorry, should have been clearer – this is for advancement.

            For example, my employer has just paid for a coworker to do X qualification, and when they finish, they’ll be eligible for a promotion and more responsibility than they currently have. They can’t do that job yet because they need training.

      2. Good Vibes Steve*

        Reminds me of a comic strip I saw once that went:
        Manager 1: “What if we train all these people and then they leave?”
        Manager 2: “What if we don’t and then they stay?”

      3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        “But what if we invest in our employees and they just take advantage to find a better paid job?”
        “But what if we don’t?”

    2. Lacey*

      Some managers are so short sighted! Of course you can take any skill you learn at work to your next job, but you’ll use it at the one you’re in first!

      1. Sandi*

        Well, to be fair to them, the bosses who say it tend to be assholes with high turnover, so there is a good chance that the employee won’t stay for long…

        But yes, I fully realize that the causality is the opposite to what the bosses think it is. The new skill isn’t pushing the employee away, they are!

        1. kiki*

          I totally agree and feel like a lot of managers who are short-sighted in this way are deep in a reinforcing feedback loop. Honestly, I feel like a lot of bad management is that way :

          “I have to do x terrible management practice so that my employees don’t take advantage of me” –> “My employees are not doing great/ are leaving / are not acting in good faith” –> “I must dig deeper into terrible management practice x”

        2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          If they’re leaving to a better-paid job, it might be wise to offer pay rises to employees who go to the trouble of improving their qualifications!

      2. Firecat*

        Yes reminds me of all the employees who wanted to hire only staff with 5 years experience into entry level roles. Then 5 years later – Whaa whaa there are no qualified workers.

        Yeah cause you weren’t the only employer trying to cheat the system and benefit off of qualified workers trained at the expense of other companies.

    3. PT*

      I worked at a job where we required the staff to be CPR certified. My boss would not allow us to distribute the certification cards to the staff as required by the certifying agency, because “we paid for them to get CPR certified, if they want to go work somewhere else that requires CPR certification they will need to pay for it themselves.” This was against the rules of the certifying agency and we could have lost our ability to run training classes if they found out he was doing this.

      I photocopied the sheet of cards onto cardstock, handed him the copies, and gave the cards out to the staff, and he was not smart enough to tell the difference between the two. Eventually we started buying digital cards, which were stored as PDFs in a central portal and could be downloaded and emailed as many times as you wanted.

  4. HA2*

    #2 – honestly, to me it seemed like that company was pretty straightforward about their interview timeline. On Monday they told you they’d like to do thursday or friday, but couldn’t commit to a particular time. So they were really up-front that the scheduling would be last-minute! Then when a slot opened up on Thursday, they called you to offer you that time.

    I wouldn’t say it was wrong to decline that time if you were unprepared, but the company was definitely not being unreasonable, they seemed pretty transparent about how their timelines worked.

    1. Jovigirl*

      The company was up front about requiring flexibility and the LW opted not be flexible at the very first opportunity offered. I would lean towards hiring the person that agreed to the same day interview if there were multiple candidates.

      1. Artemesia*

        And it is important that they told her it was likely to be Thurs or Fri so she had time to get ready. It isn’t as if she applied a month ago and got a request for an immediate interview out of the blue.

        1. June*

          The interview dates were exactly what they told her. It may have been in her own interest to be ready. I don’t understand being annoyed by it. Or turning it down just because it was on short notice.

          1. Threeve*

            The cost-benefit analysis aspect makes sense–you don’t know if it will be the thing that knocks you out of contention (and it could, if you’re not a top candidate) but you don’t want to feel unprepared at the interview, so you decide which weighs more heavily.

            But taking offense and declining just on principle is taking it way too personally, and reading way into it to draw conclusions about how the company operates and how it’s going to value you is a hell of a reach.

          2. Eden*

            Was she supposed to keep two whole days full free of conflicts for an hour or two of interviewing? Totally unreasonable.

            1. RagingADHD*

              She didn’t have to hold the days open. She actually did have time available.

              They had a cancellation and offered to work her in. That’s not unreasonable at all.

        2. Archaeopteryx*

          In terms of getting ready, if OP knew their intended date was either Thu or Fri, they could have spent the beginning of the week getting ready (or at least Weds). It doesn’t make a ton of sense to wait and then decline just because you’re now underprepared.

      2. Anonymous mouse*

        I had this happen to me at the same company within the same week. First they asked for an interview within twenty four hours (too late notice for me to duck out of work) and then they asked me if I’d be free on the Thursday, but didn’t specify a time until 5 pm, after I’d spent the day glued to my emails.

        They wanted me there by 5:30.

        Which if they’d bothered to think about for five seconds, they’d have known was impossible as I lived 40 minutes away (my address was known to them).

        Then when we did reschedule the interview, and I did some trial shifts, they never bothered to get back to me with a “thanks, but no thanks” message.

        They were a strange outfit.

        1. Redd*

          This seems like a very different situation to me. The LW was given advance notice that interviews would happen on one of two days, then given an invitation hours before the planned interview. In your scenario there was much less notice given.

          1. pleaset cheap rolls*

            Yes, very different.

            Scheduling is hard. The company was upfront about it and trying. If the OP can’t make it, they can’t make it, but I would not get annoyed at the company’s behavior in the OP’s case.

        1. Artemesia*

          She could have told them that that time didn’t work because of a personal commitment but she told us that she was free. So she took the risk of being seen as inflexible or the risk of someone else who was available being hired for nothing.

        2. MassMatt*

          I was going to say this. If you only want to consider people that don’t have jobs, or are willing to ditch their work for their current job at the last minute, then stick with last-minute invites and dump any candidates that balk or have any other commitments.

          Some employers do things like this (also, demanding you start work immediately, not allowing for a notice period with a current employer) not realizing that the sword cuts both ways. If you demand someone call in sick at the last minute at their current job to interview for a new one, guess what they’re going to do when it comes time to move on from your company? Goose, meet gander.

    2. Artemesia*

      The refusal (when there was time to prepare because the OP knew that it was likely Thurs or Fri) seems like treating this in an entirely too personal and ‘social way’. It smacks of ‘I won’t go on a date with you Saturday night because you waited until Friday to ask.’ All that is accomplished is that you may well have missed your chance for an opportunity at that company. I really don’t get it.

      1. Ori*

        I get it. If they can’t get organised to arrange a specific interview time, that tells me a lot about them as a company.

        1. pleaset cheap rolls*

          ” that tells me a lot about them as a company.”

          They may be operating in a complex environment. They may be under pressure from donors or clients or trying to reschedule something unrelated that they’ve put off because of external circumstances. The hiring manager might be recovering from illness or have children at home to look after and trouble with daycare or camp. They might want to have more people in the interview to streamline the whole process rather than have the OP come in twice.

          There are so many possibilities of what this could “tell you” that I can’t help but wonder what I think it tells you beyond that they’re having trouble with arranging the interview.

          1. Washi*

            I could kind of see this happening where I work – a hospice. Emergencies come up! And if we’re hiring, it means we are shortstaffed, which means less coverage for emergencies and schedules getting finalized the day before.

            That said, it was an offer to interview at a particular time, not a summons. If it works, great, if not, we’ll work on another time. I don’t know what the tone was of OP’s interactions but if they were understanding, I don’t see than anyone in this situation has done anything wrong.

            1. MissBaudelaire*

              This was what I took out of it.

              I had a company tell me they could interview me the next day or not at all. Well, I couldn’t duck out of work the next day, so not at all it was. I wasn’t angry, and neither were they. It was just the way it worked out.

            2. Firecat*

              Having worked for a few hospices, I can tell you that the well organized ones don’t dangle applicants like this.

              That’s why you have chains of backups for emergency care. If your emergencies are happening so often that you are having to pull your clinical managers into patient care frequently enough that scheduling and keeping an interview is impossible then you are understaffed or disorganized or possibly both. It’s also a driving factor for <5 experience nursing turnover.

              Personally I would have done the same as the OP because I don't want to work for another fly by the seat of our pants org.

              1. Washi*

                Indeed we are understaffed! Thus hiring. I work in a rural area where understaffing of health professionals is endemic. I moved from a more urban area that didn’t have this issue and didn’t understand how bad it was until I had experienced it.

                That said, I interviewed and was hired without issue! Just noting that there are some fields/areas where last minute scheduling is kind of a norm.

              2. MassMatt*

                I’m surprised you are not seeming to take into account that health care systems, hospitals, nurses, and hospices have all been operating far above capacity in much of the world for well over a year now, and it’s getting worse, not better.

                I don’t understand the “this tells me everything I need to know” attitude. These are not normal times, in many MANY industries.

          2. Ori*

            It tells me that they struggle to organise themselves, that they don’t respect their candidates’ time and that I don’t want to work there. I’ve ignored this sort of behaviour in the past and the company invariably turned out to be a cowboy outfit.

        2. Georgina Fredrika*

          I’ve yet to work at a company where the rest of the company mimics how HR runs its office… so would not agree with making this stretch.

          1. Ori*

            Well, the fact that you’ve only ever worked at companies with HR departments is why you don’t agree with it.

      2. Andy*

        > It smacks of ‘I won’t go on a date with you Saturday night because you waited until Friday to ask.’

        Which is completely valid if you don’t like last moment changes, especially in dating? Both dating and job search is a lot about compatibility. It is about seeing whether yours and their boundaries match. If you are desperate for a job, on unemployment etc, then you are not in position to negotiate in most aspects of the job. But if you have time, savings or current job, you do have way more options.

        If a company has highly flexible scheduling, do they expect me to be effectively 24/7 on call or do they accept that sometimes I say no?

        1. Harper the Other One*

          +1 – if advance notice is important to the OP, this could absolutely be a sign the company isn’t the right fit for them.

        2. UKDancer*

          Yes definitely. I won’t rearrange my schedule to do things at short notice so I would definitely turn down a Saturday date if I were asked on a Friday because I usually have things in mind to do and don’t see my way to changing them. I don’t think that’s wrong it’s just a reflection of my personality.

          I think you’re absolutely right, it’s all about compatibility. It’s perhaps an early indication that the OP and this company may not be right for each other.

          1. Artemesia*

            The ‘I won’t accept a date for Saturday on Friday’ has nothing to do with ‘re-arranging my schedule.’ This was always about playing hard to get and not wanting to appear to be too available. If one already had plans for Saturday of course they would not accept another on Friday. But maybe it is because i grew up in the dark ages when playing personal games in dating relationships was standard. The OP appeared not unable or unprepared, but insulted that she was only given a few hours notice, hence the analogy.

            1. Firecat*

              That’s…an interesting leap to their motives.

              The OP was clear they declined because it was last minute. OP gets to make that choice. It’s perfectly valid and isn’t an indicator of a negative personality or anything.

              The trade off is OP may not get called back for an interview.

      3. The Dogman*

        I get it. It is about respect and consideration.

        Why work for a a company who is so disorganised that they cannot sort out a date and time for your first interview with at least a few days notice?

        Everything they do is likely to be tainted by the disorganisation too, and if not, oh well, lots of organised companies to work for out there!

        What I really don’t get is why anyone would be ok with it… it is deeply disrespectful of the potential employee, and if it becomes a norm it will make peoples lives harder for no reason.

        1. Susie SW*

          The company I know well does this occasionally. They’re in a major growth period and hiring a large number of employees, which is putting a heavy load on their recruiters. So it has happened to a few candidates that they’ve asked for same-day interviews after giving notice of which days they were aiming for scheduling. But it doesn’t at all seem to be a reflection of the company at large, just the recruiter workload. That’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement in their recruiting process, just that it isn’t always a reflection of bigger issues (other than growing pains).

          1. BRR*

            Yeah I don’t take it necessarily as a sign of the company. They sound like they were pretty transparent about things. As long as the company frames it as “I know it’s last minute but are you free at 3:00?” Then i think it’s ok. If I was personally in the LW’s position I wouldn’t have declined solely based on principle but I wouldn’t be bending over backwards to accommodate a same day interview either.

        2. Hollywood Handshake*

          I don’t necessarily read from the OP’s letter that the business is disorganized per se. they had cancellations that they could not foresee and were able to fit the OP in. I don’t think the company did anything disrespectful.

        3. Artemesia*

          Was it not the second interview and did they not tell her they hoped to interview her on Thursday or Friday so she was not caught by surprise here? But yes. If one is rigid about such things then it is not the right company for them.

      4. BethDH*

        Yeah, it’s perfectly valid to turn it down because you have something else going on or aren’t prepared, though I think in this case OP should have been prepared because the window of the interview was clear. But OP’s description makes it seem more like they just felt insulted, and I don’t think that’s a good reason to miss it.
        Or perhaps OP is one of the (many) people who need to psych themselves up and that’s a kind of preparation you can’t do as well with no specific time. But if that’s the case, it sounds like this job might not be a good fit. The places I’ve worked where I had whirlwind interviews were also the places that had lots of last-minute juggling in the job.

    3. Worked in IT forever*

      Yes, agreed. The company said that they would schedule an in-person interview on Thursday or Friday but as of Monday that week, they didn’t know which day it would be or what time it would be. By reaching out on Thursday (even though it was for a same-day interview), they followed through on exactly what they said they’d do. Based on what they said on Monday, I would have been ready to interview on either day, even on short notice.

      Now, the OP did say that they’d try their best to accommodate the schedule, so the OP didn’t guarantee that they’d be available all day Thursday and Friday. So the hiring company might not ding them for turning down the offered time. (It would have looked much worse to guarantee full availability either day and then turn down an interview just because of the short notice.)

      1. Kes*

        Yeah, I agree. Obviously more notice of the exact time would have been better, but this was a cancellation and OP did have notice that it would likely be Thursday or Friday. That said, since it was last minute, I don’t think OP should be penalized for not being able to make it, but since they actually were able to I do think they might have been better off just going with it. Basically I don’t think the company is wrong to say ‘Hey, we have a cancellation, would you be able to make it?’; I also don’t think OP is wrong to decline if they can’t, but I don’t think they gain much by declining when they were able beyond prolonging the scheduling dance

    4. Speaks to Dragonflies*

      Wait,what? Yeah,the company was straight forward about a timeline…But it straight forward on a road that was a mile wide. The company asked the OP to clear their schedule for 2 days without anything close to a definite time except a “we’ll let you know”. Then they call the morning of day 1 of a 2 day window because they had a cancelation and want the OP to come in right then. And that seems ok?
      Sure, OP had time to prep for the interview, but the fact that they couldn’t schedule a definite day, much less a time for an interview would be dealbreaking red flags to me. Calling and wanting me to come in right then would be the confirmation cherry on top of the bullet dodged sundae for me.

      1. Quoth the Raven*

        I’m of the same mind. “Thursday or Friday, maybe, and we don’t know what time” seems too open ended for me, especially if they expect me to be there within half an hour or an hour. I try to not set the precedent that I’m willing and able to drop things and come running at the drop of a hat, however inflexible that might seem to some people.

        In my experience, places that expect you to show up to an interview like this also tend to be the kind of places where they’ve asked me on Friday to work an unscheduled full shift on Saturday, or who tell me I have to stay three hours past my time an hour before I’m supposed to leave. While I understand that’s the nature of the game with some places, it’s not my kind of thing.

        1. quill*

          To be honest if someone told me that, then asked ‘hey, I know it’s 9 am, can you interview at noon?” or even ‘can you interview at 3pm?’ I would worry greatly about being prepared for the interview! Looking nice enough, going over my materials, googling the route and arriving early enough to deal with traffic and parking… even if I could theoretically make it without dropping everything I was doing in the next five minutes, I would NOT be calm enough for an interview!

      2. L.H. Puttgrass*

        It amazes me how accepting some of these comments are of behavior that we wouldn’t accept from a cable company. Even cable companies tend to give half-day windows now, and you don’t have to dress up for when they show up.

        That said, I think this really depends on how the company handled it. LW2 said they “asked” if they could come in that day. I don’t see a huge problem if that meant the company said something like, “I know this is short notice, but we had a spot open up today—is there any chance you could make it in for an interview this afternoon? If not, we’ll try to find a time next week.” But it’s less okay if the company basically presented it as, “Your interview slot just opened up, can you make it later today?” And LW2 didn’t say whether the company offered a different time; it sounds like not. To me, that suggests that the company is incredibly disorganized or that LW2 fell into a backup pool of applicants who aren’t getting their interviews prioritized. Either way, I don’t think it’s expecting too much of a company that they be able to schedule interviews a day in advance. An inability to do so would be a big red flag.

        1. BethDH*

          You’re right that the details of how they asked would make all the difference. I’ve been commenting imagining an apologetic “let’s see if we can do this last minute” but I’d be bothered if they seemed to be seeing how much I’d jump for them.
          I know how hard it is to schedule people for interviews in my office this time of year. I don’t know when this letter was written, obviously, but I can imagine feeling excited if an opening popped up unexpectedly— perhaps to get someone in that we didn’t want to lose — and forgetting how it might look from their end.

        2. Red Swedish Fish*

          I think it also depends on the type of job and what time of year or what is going on with them. Being too busy to set up a meeting for an interview may be poor time management or it may be a busy time or big sale. I am in finance and if we hire during merger its a mad house, but it happens and we need the new employee. OP didn’t give us any insight into if they know the business well or if the company let them know they are in a busy time right now, there are a lot of missing pieces here.

        3. MCMonkeyBean*

          But if the cable company told you they were booked up and would try to get to you later in the week, and then had a cancellation Thursday and called to see whether you were available, would you find that insulting? Cause I think that would be pretty normal and I’d be excited to fix my cable issue earlier than planned.

        4. Galadriel's Garden*

          Yes, agreed! It would be one thing if this was for a virtual or phone interview – that allows for more leeway in terms of timing. But in-person? With a commute and all of the prep that goes along with it? No way. I don’t expect every single company to move like a well-oiled machine at all times, but I also am interviewing the company when they’re interviewing me and expect that they’re putting their best foot forward as much as I am. I know the sorts of environments I want to work in, and if I don’t feel like it’s a good match – then there it is. Being asked to come in same day wouldn’t work for me personally, even if I had a vague two-day window, because I carve out dedicated time immediately before the interview to prep and get my headspace right. I can do all the preparing I want the day before, but it still doesn’t work as well as that time right before interviewing.

        5. Speaks to Dragonflies*

          Yes, the attitude of the company would make a difference in this case. If they were understanding of the situation, it would throw a different light on them than if they were “its today or never.”
          Also, the LW didn’t mention what time the company wanted them to come in. It could have been anytime today, in a few hours or, how I interpreted it, immediately. If the company were like “We had an unexpected cancelation. You need to be here in an hour for an interview and if you arent, tough noogies.”…I would most definitely have a lower opinion of them.

      3. Snow Globe*

        My thought is that it would be unrealistic to expect the LW to keep those two days wide open; the company shouldn’t be surprised if there is a conflict if they are only offering one specific time. But the LW’s argument that they need time to prepare doesn’t seem like a reasonable argument – they knew the interview was to be Thursday or Friday, so they should have prepared. If they didn’t have a scheduling conflict, there doesn’t seem to be a reason to decline unless they’ve decided they don’t want to work for this company. But then, why are they now wondering if they should follow up?

        1. quill*

          Some preparation (grooming, etc.) can’t really be done ahead of time. And personally if I’m interviewing I am NOT going to retain the fine details of a job if I go over it any earlier than the night before – there are too many other jobs being applied to, and too many more immediate life concerns, for me to trust my long term memory.

    5. June*

      They did exactly what they said they were going to do. Sometimes opportunities only present themselves once.

      1. L.H. Puttgrass*

        They didn’t really, though. The company said they “would like to schedule an in-person interview around Thursday or Friday, but they could not mark an exact date” and “would be in contact to solidify a date.” That’s not the same as asking LW2 to hold two days open for an interview any time those two days on short notice. It sounds much more like a plan to schedule an interview time in advance, with a projection that it would be on Thursday or Friday, but that the exact day and time would be determined later—but still in advance of the actual date. I do not get “hold these dates open, we’ll call you same day if something opens up” as what the company said they’d do, at least from the letter.

        1. BRR*

          And the slot was only open because of a case cancellation. The company doesn’t sound completely wrong in how they approached this but it’s still a little messy.

          1. Threeve*

            I didn’t get the impression that they said “this is the only time slot we’ll be able to offer you,” but more “this is the only time slot we know we have open at the moment, it would be great if you could make it.”

            This isn’t uncommon or offensive, it’s just what happens when you’re trying to work with multiple busy schedules.

    6. FD*

      It’s bizarre for a company to assume that an applicant will necessarily have time for a same-day interview; it essentially boils down to the company assuming that the applicant should have nothing better to do on EITHER DAY than wait for them to be available.

      If companies want to act like they hold all the cards and that applicants are begging to work there, well, they can do that. But in reality, a lot of businesses are rapidly realizing that good applicants *aren’t* actually a dime a dozen in most industries and the ones who are are deciding not to put up with this BS.

      Assuming the LW was a good applicant–and she can’t have been terrible because she was offered two interviews–the company just lost the chance to hire her because they didn’t choose to show professional courtesy and thought she should wait on their whim.

      How many times have they lost out on hiring good people for the same reason or been unable to keep them? And why SHOULD the LW be willing to accept that sort of behavior. It’s a business relationship and courtesy should go both ways.

      1. Skippy*

        Absolutely agree.

        The sense I get from the letter is that this is indicative of how the company functions: everything is last minute, and you’re expected to drop everything whenever they ask. Some people may be fine with that, but I’m at the point in my life that I have no interest in working that way.

        I would consider it a bullet dodged.

        1. FD*

          Especially the fact that they were like “We want to interview you again but our case load fluctuates too much to know when, probably Thursday or Friday.”

          You literally have so little coverage that you can’t arrange for your team to spend 1-2 hours on a really important administrative task in advance with multiple days of warning? That’s a HUGE issue, and means they’re either very short-staffed or they’re really disorganized.

      2. pleaset cheap rolls*

        “It’s bizarre for a company to assume that an applicant will necessarily have time for a same-day interview”
        But the OP said:
        “I would try my best to accommodate their schedule for either Thursday or Friday”

        ” It’s a business relationship and courtesy should go both ways.”
        If you were the OP and had said what the OP said, would you prefer they not call you at all when they had the cancellation?

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            Sorry I posted this in the wrong spot lol–obviously I am agreeing with you and this is intended for the comment you responded to :)

        1. FD*

          I would want them to be organized enough to be able to offer the common courtesy of some advanced notice.

          Bluntly, if they aren’t organized enough to manage that on a presumably high-value task for them, how organized are they going to be when it comes to offering raises, handling problems at work, etc. If they truly have such unpredictable schedules and so little backup that they can’t even plan an interview in advance, how shambolic must it be to actually work there?

          If they aren’t, then maybe they aren’t the right fit for me.

          Now, maybe I wouldn’t be the right fit for them either. I’m just saying that this is a good way to turn off good candidates who see this is a red flag, which reduces your potential candidate pool, and reduces your access to high-skilled candidates who don’t actually NEED to put up with employers who can’t get their crap together.

          1. Simply the best*

            Having somebody cancel and then reaching out to another person to say hey can you make it even though it’s short notice isn’t disorganized, though.

      3. Artemesia*

        So you really do see it as ‘the guy doesn’t respect me enough to ask me on that date early in the week, he just thinks I am a loser sitting around doing nothing?’

        1. FD*

          I don’t think that the two analogies really track.

          Being asked to a social event is less disruptive than an interview. For an interview, you need to get changed into formal clothing, possibly arrange to get time away from your job, prep everything (review the job post, your resume, the company info). For most social events, you’re talking about meeting up for a meal you’d have eaten anyway, or maybe going to a movie after normal work hours are over. It’s much less disruptive than an interview!

    7. MCMonkeyBean*

      I agree–I think it is of course 100% fine for the OP to decline if they wanted to be more prepared mentally, but I was expecting something more unreasonable than saying “we’d like to interview you on Thursday or Friday” and then calling on Thursday. If you really don’t feel up for it without more warning then that’s okay, but I would definitely not turn that down as like a point of principle thing.

    8. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I see this very differently than a lot of you! It’s reasonable to expect that someone saying on Monday “Thurs or Fri” doesn’t mean “we’ll tell you that day with only hours notice.” She reasonably assumed if she hadn’t heard by Wed night, it wasn’t happening on Thursday. And while people are saying she could have prepared on Wed night anyway in case it was on Friday — a LOT of interviews end up never happening. It’s reasonable that she didn’t want to spend 1-2 hours Wed night preparing for an interview that hadn’t been scheduled and might never occur.

    9. MassMatt*

      We get so many letter complaining about long, drawn out hiring processes, it’s kind of refreshing to hear of an employer looking to move quickly. I can sympathize with wanting to have more time to get ready for an interview, and many people definitely would NOT be ready to interview the same day, I.e. people with jobs.

    10. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I agree, no one was wrong or unreasonable here, they just don’t seem like a good fit for each other. This OP seems to prefer advance notice and a set schedule, while this job seems to require flexibility and scheduling at the last minute. Neither are inherently “bad” and it’s not a value judgement to think this just wouldn’t be the right fit.

    11. RagingADHD*

      It sounds to me like the company was approaching scheduling in a more collaborative way, since this was a second-round interview. They had some time open up and offered it. This is good news that the company wants to bring you back in.

      It seems very strange to me, to flatly refuse without offering an alternate time, especially when the time actually is doable in the first place.

      If you need extra time to prepare, why not at least ask about scheduling on Friday or Monday? Why would you need to call back? Why not give them your availability right there on the same phone call?

      It just seems like an odd conversational dynamic to just say no, end of story.

    12. Birdie*

      The best thing probably would’ve been to ask when they would likely know their availability so OP knows going in if they’re basically expecting her to be on call for an interview at any moment (which is not a reasonable expectation, imo, even if that’s the nature of the job, since people may have a current job schedule to work around) or if they’d contact her by 5 the day before, etc.

    13. Bob Loblaw*

      I’m of the bird-in-hand mentality on this one, though I suppose I also don’t mind (and can accommodate) last-minute requests. There’s so much luck in interviewing that I’d just be glad to get the chance.

      I was once asked by email on a Sunday night if I could come in for a first-round interview the next day. I hadn’t managed to connect with the interviewer to finalize plans by the time I left for work so I brought a suit jacket and figured I would take it as it came. Ended up having a great interview, in part, I think, because I didn’t have too much time to ruminate or psyche myself out.

      Now, there were good reasons they wanted to move quickly (impending government shutdown). But it probably also did say something about the work environment. That job did require a lot of flexibility (e.g., sent overseas with little notice), which isn’t for everyone. But I loved it and am so glad I took the interview.

  5. Aaron*

    #4 More junior positions also mean that if older people are applying they might be switching careers or starting one. In teacher training I noticed that people doing that all had weird and cool skills or backgrounds. No matter how it turns out you’ll get a more diverse team.

    1. Ganymede*

      Good point, but if the company feels they would specifically benefit from having an age-diverse team, it’s worth wording recruitment ads carefully to attract the attention of younger workers.

      There’s probably some guidance about it on the internet somewhere – a bit like the advice on how to get more women to apply by not using macho tropes in your ads and making sure the photos on your website aren’t all of older white men in suits.

      1. FrenchCusser*

        I really don’t think they should be thinking about age at all. It’s discrimination any way you look at it. It would be like thinking, ‘I have too many black people on my staff. How do I attract more white people?’

        Because the age they don’t want is a protected class. It’s the opposite problem to ‘how do we attract more women?’

  6. august*

    For #3 I’m assuming others are pronouncing it correctly around your manager in all their years of working, and I’m assuming your manager has heard how other people pronounce it and never thought about which pronounciation is correct since to them it is a trivial matter…and this is how you can approach this situation too.

    1. Pippa K*

      This isn’t likely, but the description reminds me of the practice in some dialects of inserting short i between certain consonants – like pronouncing ‘film’ as ‘filim,’ which some Irish and Scottish English speakers (and some Arabic dialects) do. I think linguists call it epenthesis. But yeah, in this case it’s probably just a personal quirk.

      1. Andy*

        Yeah I’d dismiss it as an amusing/endearing quirk. Like my coworker who just cannot pronounce the word “interstitial” and it comes up fairly regularly in our line of work.

        1. JustaTech*

          I had a coworker who had a very strange pronunciation of the word “metabolism”. Not a big deal, except he was working on project about cellular metabolism and used the word dozens of times a day.

          At first we thought “maybe this is a Canadian pronunciation” (other Canadians said no), then was it a French-Canadian thing? (Other French-Canadians said no.)

          It was just a him thing, so we let it go, but it did grate that he would point out other people’s mispronunciations all the time (and was generally a smart-ass).

      2. BatManDan*

        I hear “real-i-tor” all the time, when is should be “Realtor” – I’m guessing because the words “real estate” so often come one after the other, that the vowel sound from the beginning of “estate” creeps over into the pronunciation of “Realtor.” (As an aside, not every real-estate agent is a Realtor, so I’m pretty sure that the word should usually NOT be used most times; that kills me as much as the mispronunciation. But, that’s my cross to bear.) (As another aside, I don’t know how to make the Trademark symbol in this text box – but Realtor is an actual brand name, and should always be followed by the “tm” symbol.)

      3. Doc in a Box*

        “Fillum” is common across the Indian subcontinent, too. I used to make fun of my family members, but I stopped when they made fun of the way I pronounce certain words in Marathi. (Turnabout is fair play, after all.)

        I can easily see how “fiscal” can slide into “physical,” especially if Boss speaks English as a second/third/fourth language.

      4. Rusty Shackelford*

        Based on the number of references to “physical year” I’ve seen in print, from people who clearly mean “fiscal,” there is a chance this manager actually doesn’t know the difference. But like Alison said, they made it this far, they’re probably fine.

    2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Also remember that when you start correcting others on trivial details, you often inadvertently turn the spotlight on your own little mistakes — which otherwise may have gone under the radar.

    3. Green great dragon*

      It’s surprisingly easy to not hear a difference between what you say and what others say.

      I worked with… let’s say a social researcher who pronounced ‘survey’ incorrectly. It was actually quite grating when she did it for the 20th time in an hour, but didn’t seem to hold her back. If the mispronouncer was a peer with whom you had a friendly relationship I think it would be a kindness to everyone to mention it (but I agree not in this case).

      1. Lacey*

        Yeah, I had a coworker who always used the wrong word for something and it drove me *crazy* but I was try to not be nitpicky so I ignored it for months.

        When I finally mentioned it she gasped and said, “Oh no! I HATE it when people make that mistake, ALWAYS correct me if you hear me making it!”

        But, that was a coworker, not a manager.

        1. lilsheba*

          One of my biggest pet peeves are mispronunciations and misspellings. My own boss spells lose as “loose” and it takes everything I have not to correct it. Why do so many people spell it that way???? I don’t understand. Also I hate it when people say “joolery” and “nookular” UGH.

          1. Lana Kane*

            English spelling rules are not always intuitive. I say that as a non-native speaker – in my own language there are words that I’m sure I’ve misspelled but English has way more little landmines.

            1. JustaTech*

              As a native speaker I can firmly attest that English spelling rules are insane and totally unintuitive.
              See please “i before e except after c” (but here are a thousand exceptions), and also the word aisle (like a hallway in a grocery store).

              This is what happens when you make a language by taking 6-10 other languages with different origins and shove them in a blender. Neither the spelling nor the grammar make any sense.

    4. Threeve*

      Unless someone is truly giving the wrong impression, I’d leave it alone.

      I was once witness to a conversation where someone very delicately tried to explain why a coworker should use “how can we serve you?” and not “how can we service you?” (I had a hard time keeping a straight face.)

      1. jenny20*

        I used to work in a retail store which was large enough to have a full-time phone person. One of the employees that I knew well was moved into the phone role, and he would answer calls with “good morning”, “good afternoon”, and “good night” depending on time of day. I guess it’s a nuance that non-native English speakers wouldn’t necessarily pick up, but I explained to him that “good night” is more of a goodbye than a greeting for some reason, and he should switch to “good evening”. He appreciated the correction. But to be fair, we were both teenagers at the time and at the same seniority level and this was a really minor and subtle fine point of the language.

        1. Kal*

          I would speculate that the reason for the difference in English between evening and night is because evening implies that there is still some time left in the day for doing things/socializing/etc., while good night signifies that it is already night and the day is over, so it would more likely mean that the time for socializing or doing things is now over and its now the time for sleeping/being in private spaces only. I know not all languages make that sort of distinction between evening and night, so wouldn’t have any similar distinction between the connotations of “good evening” and “good night”. It can be really interesting which things certain cultures felt the need to make separate distinctions for in their language that others don’t – that part of language has always fascinated me.

    5. Mockingjay*

      There are many seemingly simple words in English which people mispronounce throughout their lives: diphthongs, umlauts, difficult consonant blends. It’s not because they don’t know better. It can be: regional dialects, speech impediments, problems with sinuses (my husband – his hearing’s affected), mouth shape, never taught… Even I, an English major, still mispronounce words. I read at an advanced level as a child, but didn’t hear those words out loud, so I used this weird combo of phonetics and sight reading to try to figure out how those words would sound. [look at those last two words as an example: “ou”]

      Let it go.

      1. ellex42*

        There’s a meteorologist at one of the tv stations in my city who seemingly can’t say “clear”: it comes out as “cuh-lear”. I figure it’s the same as the people who say “new-kyuh-lar” (nuclear), my mother who says “ess-toe-eric” (esoteric), my friend who says “lair-nix” and “tong” (larynx and thong), and many other examples.

        Certain consonant pairings, like cl, sc, and lt, seem particularly difficult for a lot of people.

        Even I tend to say “eye-ron” (iron) instead of the more commonly acceptable “eye-urn”.

        There’s a hilarious video somewhere on Youtube of a young man trying to say “Aaron earned an iron urn”, and realizing that his accent makes all the words sound the same.

        1. Jessica Ganschen*

          My sister always says documenTAry instead of docuMENtary, and I can never remember how to correctly say Oregon.

        2. Stitching Away*

          My favorite example of this is Benedict Cumberbatch (normally so eloquent in his diction!) mangling penguin over and over in a nature documentary he was narrating. When confronted with the evidence during an interview much later, defense was that there were multiple biologists listening to him record, and none of them said anything. He’s got a point.

    6. A Feast of Fools*

      I had a manager (the one I still have nightmares about over a decade later, even though I only worked with her for ~18 months) who said “nip it in the butt” instead of “nip it in the bud”.

      In the early days of those 18 months before she’d shown her true colors (we were both new), I gently, discreetly, politely corrected her, and added the explanation of the origin of the correct phrase when she looked confused.

      It did not go well for me after.

    7. BradC*

      Yeah, just way too many downsides to saying anything.
      What if he takes it poorly?
      What if he argues with you about how its pronounced?
      What if he knows perfectly well how its pronounced and just does it to annoy other people?
      What if it’s an inside joke with another manager?

    8. Rara Avis*

      A few years back there was a lot of talk at work about the “tenets” on which our work was based. Except almost everyone was saying “tenants” instead. Since we are an educational institution, I did feel the need to make the correction — it’s kind of embarrassing to send out emails to parents with an error like that.

  7. Cranky lady*

    #1 – My reaction to this letter is that resumes list start and end dates (not years of experience) for positions and of course I wouldn’t put parental leave on my resume. That just opens up the employer to risk because they can’t consider familial status in hiring. However, this person took a year of parental leave which would be highly unusual in the US so I wonder if they are outside the US and the expectations are different. Still, I think it would be odd to mention it.

    1. WS*

      A year of parental leave is normal for one parent in Australia (not necessarily the birth mother). Six months is paid by the government, but you can take up to two years if you want. Most people take one year. It is relevant here if the current employers is counting superannuation or long service leave (neither of which include parental leave periods, though there’s possible changes to superannuation coming) but it’s not relevant otherwise, so definitely not to a new employer or on a resume.

      1. Paperdill*

        I’m in Australia and, in nursing, this is very relevant.
        Our pay grade goes up every year up until 8 years, so R1 (in their first year), RN5 (in their 5th year).
        If I take 1 year maternity leave while being paid as an RN6, when I come back I am still an RN6.

        1. WS*

          Yes, but that’s a wage standard that holds across the profession in general, not a single employer.

          1. Paperdill*

            Correct. I just mention, however, for interests sake. And to explain that what OP is experiencing is not a universally outlandish concept.

            1. Stitching Away*

              When you give an example of something that is one example to a rule, your example is the outlandish concept, not the rule.

        2. Bananagram*

          Yeah, I’m wondering if there’s something like this going on, where pay rate is tied to experience years. Usually places that have such strict formulae (my European government employer, for example) should have a rule for how maternity/parental leave is factored into experience years, but it can be counterintuitive and is often only understood by HR. But presumably OP would have said as much if that were a factor, so it seems most likely that her boss is just a jerk.

          1. Guacamole Bob*

            I’ve seen rules laid out about how leaves are factored into the timeline to make partner at a law firm. I can’t remember what the rule was, but in a situation like that with very structured timelines it makes sense to be clear.

            It’s also been the subject of some debate for tenure clocks for academic jobs, if I’m not mistaken. Usually it’s seen to be to the faculty member’s benefit to not count the leave time as work time, because that gives them more time to do research and get published and build the body of work on which they’re judged for tenure. The problem comes in when you try to figure out how to be fair across genders: the data show that on average women don’t get much research done during their parental leave, but men (who are usually not recovering from pregnancy and childbirth, aren’t nursing, and are typically taking the leave much later in the baby’s first year of life) do get significant research done on parental leave. So a gender-neutral policy is likely to perpetuate the inequalities that already exist in academia. But that pattern doesn’t necessarily hold for any specific individual, so a gender-based policy is also a problem. It’s a conundrum.

            1. Anon academic mom*

              I don’t like the jerk manager in OP’s letter, but it is definitely true that maternity leaves count against experience in academia. I’m a woman academic who has given birth twice and stopped my tenure clock each time. We are allowed to stop it only twice before tenure, and I was repeatedly told I was clearly at my max number of children. The two years do NOT count as work experience, though I did not get anything close to a year off either time (and was only eligible for three months of FMLA anyway). I hope it’s not too off-topic to note that parents not giving birth get to choose whether to take this stoppage (while those giving birth have to). This means that men and adoptive parents have a choice that birth-giving parents who are overwhelmingly women don’t have. It also means that women giving birth can effectively have only two kids (barring multiples), while many men have more kids and only take the leave once or twice.

              1. Guacamole Bob*

                Thanks for chiming in on this. I have no first-hand experience of this, just conversations here and there from various friends and family who are academics. The whole thing seems really fraught – you’ve got ~5 years that are critical for an academic career that also pretty directly align with the window in which many people want to be having children. And it’s hard to see how to structure it in a way that doesn’t hit women harder.

              2. After 33 years ...*

                In our place, the tenure (or subsequent promotion) clock(s) can be stopped as many times as necessary – both for birth-parent leave and other paternal leave (for partners, adoptions, etc.). Our place also allows consecutive leaves for partners if both are employed by us – e.g. 15 weeks for the birth-parent, followed by 13 weeks for the other parent/partner of any gender.

              3. MCMonkeyBean*

                Woah that sounds so unreasonable that having three children basically means you can’t get tenure!

              4. Boof*

                That sounds like an eortc (or equivalent) complaint…
                I’m in academia too; there is a guideline that having a baby grants you a “year off” the advancement clock, but it’s more like you CAN take the extra time before you/they eval if you are ready to advance, not that you HAVE to – and placing any hard limit on number of children sounds a lot like discrimination to me

    2. Shrug*

      It is kind of weird. 20% of her employment was spent on leave. Probably not living in the US.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        If I had a job from 2015 to 2020 but part-time, 4 days a week, would that only count as four years? That would also be 80%.

        If I’ve been using [Computer Program A] weekly for ten years and [Computer Program B] daily for five years, which do I have more experience in?

        If people weren’t so useless at judging their own skills accurately, employers wouldn’t need to use “years of experience with X” as a proxy for “competence in X”.

        1. Shrug*

          Huh? Apples to oranges. Part-time implies fewer hours worked than full-time employees. It is less experience. That’s why for some certifications in my field hours worked and not length of employment is used to determine eligibility for those certificates. Not saying the manager is right, but simply understand the perspective.

          1. DistantAudacity*

            Derailing a bit here –

            And this is also why parenting leave, where also the father (or equivalent) takes a significant amount of time out is a great leveller…. These sorts of effects, when it’s normalized that all new parents take leave, are not insignificant. Also means that later on, either parental unit is more or less equally likely to need to stay at home woth sick kids, etc.

        2. Deanna Troi*

          General von Klinkerhoffen, yes in the industry in which I work, that would be considered to be 4 years of experience. I really think this depends on your industry.

          I work in an industry that has different levels of certification, based on your actual full-time experience. The instructions for the certification actually says that you should count the percentage of 40 hours that you worked, and that if you worked part-time or had a job with two completely different roles (common in the federal agency in which I work), you would only count the percentage. So, for example, if I went from one level of certification to the next, and I did this type of work 33% of the time for 6 years, this meant I have 2 years of experience doing it.

          I don’t understand everyone’s strong reaction that the supervisor is being completely ridiculous. The way they’re expressing it may be ridiculous, but I don’t think it is unreasonable that if someone tells you that they have 5 years of experience doing something, that that means they have 5 years of full time experience ACTUALLY doing it. A full year is 20% of the time, which isn’t insubstantial. I think this would depend on how the resume/cover letter was worded as well. If you said you were employed somewhere from December 2015 to December 2020, I think that is fine, because it is true. However, if in your cover letter, you said “I have 5 years experience of doing this,” then I might be concerned about it. I would have the same reaction whether it was any kind of medical leave, leave to be caretaker, or leave to travel around the world for a year.

    3. WellRed*

      The boss seemed a bit adversarial about it though, so I think going down a rabbit hole of various rules and maternity norms in myriad countries is not useful (never is, tbh). I think the manager here had an issue with maternity leave or parents in general or didn’t like this employee in particular.

      1. Anon.*

        I think the norms of the country and industry are pertinent. I notice in the comments that people are approaching this letter very differently depending on their norms.

  8. L6orac6*

    #3 Don’t correct people, unless they’ve asked you to. If you understand what they’re talking about, it makes you sound like a dick. My sister in-law used to to correct my Dad’s pronunciation of words, yet her spelling was terrible (added too many letters), did he tell her, no. If I heard physical instead of fiscal I’d be thinking of Olivia Newton- John song and video, Let’s get physical, and be laughing – it’s the first thing that popped into my head, when I read it

    1. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Accountants everywhere, wearing sweatbands and leotards, flexing arms behind 80’s CRT monitors…

      Let’s get fiscal, fiscal,
      I wanna get fiscal,
      Let’s get get into fiscal,
      Let me hear your money talk, your money talk…

    2. ceiswyn*

      Though this one actually has the potential for confusion – how would someone introduce hearing ‘physical year’, for example? 2

      1. Janet*

        Yeah, it can get confusing if someone thinks physical year means calendar year. Almost everyone I work with says physical instead of fiscal, I’m not sure why. Of course, they also talk about something being a “mute” point, and “tenants” are principles (tenets), not renters.

        I know what they mean(now), so I don’t say anything. I did not experience these mispronunciations at previous workplaces. My current workplace is a bit unusual in that people start there upon graduation and never leave for the entirety of their career. I assume they learned the wrong pronunciations from the start, and it has continued.
        I am a rarity there, having worked elsewhere. When I mention I’m one of the few people who have previous work experience, the answer is “That’s not true! What about Bob?” It kind of proves my point.

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

          I can almost guarantee there’s someone at your company thinking “lol, Janet says all these words wrong- fiscal, moot, tenet? I wonder if I should correct her? nah, not my place, I know what she means and it would be rude” :-)

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          Of course, they also talk about something being a “mute” point

          I had someone try to explain to me that there are two different definitions for “moot,” and one is pronounced mute and has an entirely different (in fact, opposite) meaning.

          1. Kal*

            I haven’t run into the argument of a different pronunciation, but the fact that moot does have two basically opposite meanings is a whole silly mess. The older meaning of “open for discussion” seems to still be the meaning in any business/more formal context I’ve seen, and is most supported by dictionaries, but among casual conversation with friends, it always means “something where there is no real value in discussing it because there would be no practical difference anyway”, and I can imagine those friends bringing that definition with them into the work world.

            I could understand some people (maybe even unconsciously) differentiating the pronunciations between them just because it can sometimes be rather confusing which definition people are using.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              This person said the alternate meaning of moot was “extremely important.” Which doesn’t jive with either of those definitions. I never see it used to mean “open for discussion.”

              1. Kal*

                The mysteriously appearing third definition is definitely weird, I wasn’t expecting that one!

                Though now I’m curious where the “open for discussion” meaning is actually used vs the other. A lot of my wider knowledge comes secondhand from international companies and friends in various parts of the world, so I wonder if its a geographic difference or something? Maybe areas that use the term “moot” for types of assemblies might still use it that way? Language can be real weird sometimes.

  9. learnedthehardway*

    LW#1 – I wouldn’t worry about it, if it comes up in references. Anyone with an ounce of common sense will realize that 4 or 5 years is plenty of experience in a role. I’m guessing that you’re in Canada, where 1 year of maternity leave is standard. If so, and your manager makes a big deal about it in a reference, it will look badly on her, not on you. For one thing, requiring you to disclose that you were on a maternity leave on your resume or to a potential employer also discloses your family situation, and employers aren’t allowed to ask about that and are not supposed to consider it when making hiring decisions. So, your former manager saying, “Well, she says she worked her for 5 years, but it was really 4 years because she was on maternity leave…”… well, that’s a violation of your privacy, looks like she’s inviting people to discriminate against you, and it’s nitpicking. You were still an employee of the company while you were off on leave, and you probably outgrew your role and got all the required experience within the 4 years you held it.

    If you had been on maternity / parental leave for say 1 year out of 2, then perhaps you should phrase your experience to reflect that, especially if you don’t have additional experience in a particular area. Eg. “I had one year of managing a team in my role as Manager, HR” – it doesn’t reveal your parental status, but does make it clear that you have less experience in leading a team than the interviewer might expect.

  10. D3*

    LW 3 – just leave it. My boss says and types “defiantly” instead of “definitely” every. single. time. I just laugh, especially when it makes an unintended meaning.
    LW 4 – Please don’t just hire young people! I’m changing careers midlife and I am finding it really hard to get considered for entry level/junior roles because everyone thinks of them as “young people” jobs. They don’t SAY I am too old, they just say things like “This role is for someone newly out of college” (I just got my masters in May. I *am* newly out of college, even if I am almost 50!) or “We are hoping to have someone who will have a longer career.” (I plan to work another 15-20 years, is that not enough?)
    I get that you want diversity in age but you cannot discriminate. It’s hard enough to start over without dealing with that.

    1. alienor*

      The “longer career” logic is wonky because the last I heard, most people change jobs about every 4 years on average, so even if they hire a 22-year-old, that person may have a long career, but they’re probably not going to spend all or even most of it at that company.

      I hope you find something in your new field soon!

      1. learnedthehardway*

        In fact, people in their 20s are usually going to change jobs more frequently than every 4-5 years. They’ll probably change jobs in 2-3 years, if they’re progressing their careers.

        The only good reason I’ve found for companies to look at younger workers is if/when they have a genuine need for succession planning, because a lot of older workers are likely to retire at once. In that case, it’s necessary to look at how the collective experience of the soon-to-retire workers can be passed on to people who will be with the company for a longer period of time. Even then, the company should be looking at having people in a range of age brackets to ensure there is experience as well.

    2. The Dogman*

      “We are hoping to have someone who will have a longer career.”

      Isn’t that illegal now in the US?

      I thought you have some anti-age discrimination laws?

        1. L.H. Puttgrass*

          D3 said they’re almost 50, so if they’re in the U.S., age discrimination laws would probably apply (I can’t remember if there’s a minimum company size for the law to kick in). Even if it didn’t, though, I’m amazed a company would outright say that a candidate was too old! I’m not surprised that they’d think it, just that they’d admit to that being the reason.

          1. Allypopx*

            Sounds like they think they’re skirting around saying it outright but they’re doing that skirting very, very badly. But illegal discrimination happens all the time – hence the letter the other day about pregnancy discrimination (and some unfortunate comments surrounding it). It’s a lot easier to hide a pregnancy than your age though, especially in the age of zoom interviews.

            1. Kal*

              A lot of the problem around illegal discrimination is that its often on the discriminated person to do significant work to enforce it, when they are often in poor position to do that. And with how common discrimination is, it means if someone wanted to report each instance, the work involved would add up real fast even if the process to report is fairly streamlined.

              Off topic, but this is why I really don’t mind the “predatory” lawyers that do serial ADA lawsuits. Disabled people going about their day often don’t have the resources to pursue every business that is inaccessible or otherwise discriminates against them. I’m personally so used to it that I just sighed and stayed home when my partner went out when the friend group decided to go to a restaurant that isn’t accessible – I don’t have the energy to fight that. So a lawyer that decides to make a career out of suing places that still aren’t in compliance is fine by me.

    3. Owler*

      Those comments could simply be code for a lower salary, i.e., “what we can pay is Barely enough for a 22 year old living with roommates, not a 42 year old.” I’m NOT trying to justify this, but offer another idea.

      1. D3*

        For some, the pay range was posted. I would have been fine with it.
        For others, no range posted, maybe this would have been an explanation.
        But really, companies need to DROP THE CODE AND BE UP FRONT ABOUT SALARY.

  11. Sleeve McQueen*

    LW1’s boss, probably:
    “Uh sorry, you claimed to have 5 years experience, but you took your annual leave, then there was the Christmas/New Year close down and you had the flu one time. Oh and then you took off early to go to the dentist so it’s really only 4 years and three months, so I should be paying you less. And that’s not even counting the 10 minutes of time you spend deciding where to have lunch on Fridays, but I am not a monster.”

    1. Artemesia*

      And weekends — you didn’t work weekends so can you REALLY say you worked five years?

      1. Barbara Eyiuche*

        Ha, that reminds me of my first boss in South Korea. We were supposed to get a bonus after one year, but when one American teacher finished his year’s contract, the boss refused to give him the bonus. One year is 365 days, and the teacher had only worked five days a week, so it didn’t add up to a year.

          1. Barbara Eyiuche*

            His one-year contract was therefore not over, according to that logic, but employers hold or held all the power in South Korea. One complaint to the Immigration Board and the employee would have been deported, most likely. The bosses there looked for any excuse to avoid following the contract. I thought that I was safe from any shenanigans one year because I went over my contract with my boss line by line, discussing every item and agreeing to everything, but when there was a dispute later I pointed out the place in the contract that showed I was right. He got out of it by saying he had never read it.

            1. quill*

              Reminds me of a classmate who once asked “how long is a business day?” and then assumed that her package would arrive 24 hours after she ordered it because that was three business days…

              I could be charitable and blame school stress, inexperience, and sleep deprivation, so I will, because we were teenagers. But even as a teen I was a little baffled by that math.

        1. Mary Connell*

          Spoiler alert: this is similar to the plot of Pirates of Penzance. The main character was born on leap day and indentured until 21, so the pirate captain attempts to hold him to his contract until he turns 21×4 years old.

          1. SaeniaKite*

            Oh god, that just gave me flashbacks to that nutty manager who saw nothing wrong with excluding a leap year born employee from the birthday perks 3 our of 4 years. Excuse me while I dive into the archives

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            And he didn’t get his birthday holiday except in Leap Year, obviously.

          3. quill*

            Oh so THAT’S where the leap day employee letter sprang from! Somebody saw a Gilbert and Sullivan play and thought “oh, that’s reasonable.”

          4. Tiny Soprano*

            “So this birthday will not be reached by me ’till niiiiiiineteeeeeeen forty!”
            “Oh horrible!! Catastrophe appalling!!!”

        2. Phony Genius*

          Let me guess. In the following year, he was denied again because he only worked 8 hours a day on the days he did work, meaning that he only worked a total of one third of those days. (Gotta get up to 525,600 minutes.)

        3. Mameshiba*

          That doesn’t seem legal, even in South Korea. Surely they have a line in the contract stipulating which days are granted as holidays. That’s how we do things in Japan, there is a bit in the contract stating that two days (specifically Sat/Sun) are granted as non-working days but still count as employment.

    2. Phil*

      I refused to ever watch the series “24” because the premise was flawed when you take ad breaks into consideration, it really should be called like “16.8” and, oh my gosh, I’m definitely this boss. :P

        1. JustaTech*

          In all my years watching that show I think I saw a character go into the restroom once, and that was a ruse.
          Though they did factor travel time into the show (sorta, no one ever spent three episodes stuck in LA traffic).

    3. AnonInCanada*

      How about this old classic?

      “Lets take a look at what you are asking for……

      There are 365 days per year available for work.

      There are 52 weeks per year in which you already have two days off per week – leaving 261 days available for work.

      Since you spend 16 hours each day away from work, you have used up 170 days – leaving only 91 days available.

      You spend 30 minutes each day on coffee break. That accounts for 23 days each year – leaving only 68 days available.

      With a hour lunch period each day you have used up another 46 days – leaving only 22 days available for work.

      You normally spend 2 days on sick leave – leaving you only 20 days available for work.

      We are off for 5 holidays per year, leaving you only 15 days to work.

      We generously give you 14 days vacation per year – which leaves only 1 day for work.

      So NO! You can’t take that day off !!!!!”

  12. Speaks to Dragonflies*

    Op 1) I think if you look at it in a very literal sense, and you didn’t do any work or keep up with any changes in your industry’s practices and such,your managers view is technically correct. Should it matter? No. Should you do anything different on your resumé or applications. Again,no. Ex-manager sounds like they were trying to justify not giving you a raise or guilt you into giving up some of your pay. Its bizarre to continue bringing this up, especially since you kicked arse at the job. Overall, I believe you are correct.

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

      Yeah, I wasn’t sure what to think of this one but ultimately if there truly is a material difference between 4 and 5 years (in terms of pay rate etc), she does actually have 4 rather than 5 years of experience, never mind whether the “missing” year was spent on maternity, working on unrelated side projects, backpacking the world or whatever.

      1. Kathlynn (Canada)*

        IDK, the government where I live has specifically said that you have to count any time on mat leave or other protected leaves as part of the time for these things. Prevents discrimination for people with chronic illnesses and such (for example, if I hadn’t gotten a new job I would be entitled to 3 weeks or 4 weeks of vacation rather then 2 depending on how long it took me to go back (given I still can’t find the R95 ppe/dust masks I would need…well it’s been 16-17 months and I still wouldn’t be back else I’d be in the ER daily from asthma attacks. )

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

            I’m not sure that it is ‘penalizing’ them as such though? Factually, they just didn’t work those weeks/months, regardless of the reason. That isn’t a punishment, it’s just an objective fact about the amount of time they have actually been exposed to (e.g.) Llama Grooming.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              But if the pay is based on the number of years you’ve been employed – which is what it seems to be – why should you be penalized if you were on leave for one of those years, rather than sitting at your desk? Someone who doesn’t learn anything new after year 1 wouldn’t be penalized, so it doesn’t look like growth is the metric they’re looking for.

    2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Yeah, the practice of factoring in leave and vacation to ‘experience’ seems like it would become incredibly onerous with very little benefit.

      Jobs that require experience in terms of ‘hours’ already require that those are tracked (for example, I spent several years tracking my ‘clinical hours’ as part of the licensing requirements for my profession and I can report those). I think many professions also track billable hours.

      Outside of those exceptions, it seems like a ‘butts-in-seats’ bias.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        When I combine the crazies… does working at a standing desk not count as job experience for a butt-in-seat manager?

    3. Nanani*

      No. There is no way of looking at it, no level of literalness, that makes the manager correct.
      Any attempt to do so is giving way too much credit to misogynists (because the majority of people who take mat leave are women, and this also impacts non-women who take it).

    4. tangerineRose*

      The manager sounds like a very petty person and maybe someone who’s trying to find reasons to say mean things about the OP.

  13. Speaks to Dragonflies*

    Op 2) I’d consider this a bullet dodged. If they are this disorganized and/or expect you to drop everything to come in for an interview, with only a vague idea of when they would have even contacted you, much less want you to come in, imagine how little they would respect your time if you worked for them?

    1. Observer*

      They weren’t vague or disorganized. On the other hand, the OP was being quite inflexible.

      1. Speaks to Dragonflies*

        We’ll have to agree to disagree on whether they were vague or not. Maybe I’m using the wrong word or misunderstood the post. When someone wants me to be somewhere for an appointment, but can only give me a 2 day timeframe of when to be there, and doesn’t let me know when untill the morning of, I would call it a vague timeframe.
        Whatever it ends up being called, I agree with part of another post I read on this letter. This does seem like test to see how flexible the O.P. is. If they’re flexible enough to clear 2 days, and drop everything to come to work when we call, then they pass.

        1. pleaset cheap rolls*

          This does seem like test to see how flexible the O.P. is. ”

          That’s unlikely. Hiring managers and HR do not have time to play games like this.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Mostly, no. But some do. We’ve seen examples here.

            (Not saying that’s what happened here. I think the employer simply had a last-minute opening and gave the LW an opportunity to take it.)

        2. Joielle*

          I mean, I don’t think it was a literal test, but it does seem like an indication of how the job would be if the OP were hired. They straight up told the OP that the uncertain schedule was because of “the fluctuating nature of the job.” If the OP doesn’t want a job with a fluctuating nature and potential last minute scheduling changes, that’s perfectly reasonable – I wouldn’t either. But I don’t think it was anything nefarious or even unreasonable, necessarily. Just an indication that the job wouldn’t be a good fit. So this was a good outcome, actually!

      2. WellRed*

        As someone said above, even the cable company provides a four hour window. I do think if op was truly interested in the job they should have just gone.

        1. Workerbee*

          The cable company has current employees who know the job and its expectations. That comparison doesn’t fly for me when it comes to a sudden same-day interview for a person who would be completely new to the company. I never took those either but would schedule for the following day.

      3. tangerineRose*

        I also think the OP was being inflexible. Since the OP could have been at the interview without any hardship, why refuse it just because there wasn’t a lot of lead time? I think the OP thinks the company is disrespecting the OP by scheduling the interview this way, but the company probably isn’t.

    2. Invisible Crayon*

      They weren’t vague. But it sounds like maybe they aren’t the workplace for OP, as things can be unpredictable there, and it’s ok if that isn’t for you.

      1. Allypopx*

        Right. It’s impossible to know from the outside what’s causing the scheduling situation – which would be a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview! If it’s simply an unpredictable environment, and that’s not for you, no hard feelings let’s all move on. But there’s plenty of reasons a company might not be as chaotic as their hiring, and plenty of circumstances that could make this reasonable. Assuming malice and saying no on principle without getting all the information is odd, and all the comments assuming this is some kind of power trip without more context are pretty misguided.

    3. learnedthehardway*

      I think the last minute interview invitation was on purpose, more or less. The company said they’d be looking for people available at a moment’s notice on the job. It’s entirely possible that they’d try and see if candidates would really be available at the drop of a hat. It’s not necessarily a good idea – the candidate who might be available when they have the job might easily not be available UNTIL they have the job. But I can see someone deciding it’s a way to see whether the candidate will jump when asked. Which also makes me think that if that IS why they asked for a last minute interview, perhaps the LW is better off not getting the job. Being tested on whether you’ll agree to unreasonable requests is a good sign that the employer is unreasonable.

      1. Simply the best*

        I don’t think this is necessarily true at all.

        The company said they were hoping to schedule something on Thursday or Friday, but weren’t sure of the schedule. They didn’t schedule something, so it stands to reason nothing was available and they would have scheduled something for the following week.

        But then, they had a cancellation on Thursday, knew OP had already did she would try to make Thursday work, so they reached out to see if she could make it.

        Nothing nefarious, no games, nothing out of the ordinary, and nothing disorganized.

        1. Simply the best*

          Or purposely vague because of the fluctuating nature of the job, like they said.

          Not everything is a head game or a power move.

    4. FD*

      Tend to agree with you. This is the behavior of an employer who feels they hold all the cards and applicants should be lining up to work for them.

  14. Invisible Crayon*

    #3 “ However, given our environment, it would be seen as a sign of odd ignorance in my organization.”

    Except it clearly isn’t, as they’ve got along fine. Don’t forget that this environment is one in which they’re experienced and successful. Chances are you are not the only one who’s noticed and, well, nobody has died.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, this. I doubt it’s ignorance. It’s probably either a speech impediment that’s become noticeable because it affects a word that’s frequently used in that environment, or a different regional accent. I can’t think of any off the top of my head, but there’s probably some accent where “fiscal” and “physical” are pronounced the same way.

      1. Green great dragon*

        Well, maybe. But OP doesn’t mention an accent, and it’s perfectly possible that he’s just picked up that mispronunciation. I skim read and don’t take in info aurally particularly well, and there’s a couple of words I read first and mispronounced for years without realising others were saying them differently. I corrected easily enough when friends mentioned it.

    2. Cat Tree*

      Yes, people have weird pronunciations sometimes. It’s not career-ending or worth the mental energy to worry about it. I once had a boss who pronounced “logistics” with both a hard and soft G. It was something like log-jistics. He was one of the best bosses I ever had and became my mentor for a while because he’s so successful in our company. It was just a weird quirk. It’s one of those things that makes people individual.

  15. LifeBeforeCorona*

    LW3 Speaking as someone with a speech impediment, please don’t correct them especially with words like “fiscal” vs physical.” Some words are like Kryptonite to pronounce.

    1. Sami*

      I never had a speech problem until I had a huge brain injury sorts about 18 months ago. It’s super frustrating. And embarrassing when I don’t realize I’ve said something wrong or out of place in a sentence.
      And even as a kid, there’s about five words I have trouble pronouncing. I read a lot and didn’t realize I was saying things wrong (in my head). And I learned a few words wrong from my Dad — he grew up speaking Dutch— didn’t learn English until he was almost a teenager.

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        Yes, as a kid I read quesadilla and pronounced it kiss-a-dillow for my first time.

    2. WhatFloatsYourGoats*

      Ah yes, my mom’s is spatula! No matter how mss as my times we (her family) tease and correct her, it’s going to come out spatuler. I swear it’s not mean spirited, just something you can get away with correcting with people who brought you up in this crazy world.

      1. WhatFloatsYourGoats*

        Wow, auto correct really mangled my “many” into unintelligible mumble speak. Sigh. Suppose it’s poetic on a reply about weird speaking words.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      There is one word Mr. S absolutely cannot pronounce correctly. He hasn’t noticed that the rest of the English-speaker world doesn’t pronounce it the way he does. He even asked me, once, why it was pronounced as if it had an R, when it doesn’t have an R. I said “It’s not. You’re the only person who pronounces it that way.” And yet he continues, because once a certain pronunciation has imprinted itself on your brain, it’s very hard to change it.

      1. I take tea*

        That’s so true! I speak reasonably fluent English, but I don’t seem to be able to learn to pronounce beer correctly. It comes out as bear every single time… Good thing I don’t work in a bar!

    4. Roger ran over the Rowboat x 1000*

      I had to have speech therapy when I was much younger as well as surgery to clip the flesh at the bottom my tongue. The speech therapy mainly focused on how I said r, with lots of “Roger ran over the rowboat.” I still have trouble with certain words and usually pronounce single and signal incorrectly, switching the pronunciation. Mediterranean and veterinarian are my kryptonite. Fortunately, normally I can choose other words, sometimes I get caught out. Please don’t say anything to your person, they may know and be desperately trying to hold onto the squirming syllables.

  16. Sue Wilson*

    #1: this reminds me of the ER plot where Dr. Chen fights to become Chief Resident because they said that her maternity leave disqualified her and then they said that her maternity leave left her short of the required hours to be an attending during a medical emergency. She fights that too and eventually gets hired as an attending any way. The plot’s a mess honestly but even fictionally, it’s considered sketch to disqualify people for jobs by discounting their maternity leave.

    I think unless there’s some required hours for certification, your boss is being weird. If there’s a huge difference in pay between four and five year qualifications, they should be able to justify that another way.

    1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

      This was real in the U.S. until an AMA rule change about two years ago. If you took maternity leave during your medical residency, you’d have to “earn” it back at the end. In the U.S., the nation-wide turnover date for nearly all residencies is July 1. Which means the job cycle is also tied to July 1 (as hospitals and clinics onboard the newly-graduated residents). So before 2020, if a woman took maternity leave(s) at any point during her 3- to 5-year residency, she would have to pay it back after that July 1 “turnover” date, assuming she hadn’t banked enough measly vacation time to cover it (2 weeks/year). Which means she’s left out of the main hiring cycle. And the stated reason was always “well, she wouldn’t have enough training to be a real doctor if we didn’t hold her back.” Dr. Chen wouldn’t have won at the major academic medical center where my SO trained.

    2. Sigrid*

      I’m an academic doc, and as far as I’m aware, that’s still the case. There are minimum requirements for time spent in residency (every specialty has a different requirement), and if you take leave for any reason that puts you under the minimum requirements, you have to make time up.

      It’s only if it puts you under the minimum requirements — I’m in Emergency Medicine, and we have three year residencies and four year residencies. The minimum requirement is three years. So if you’re in a three year residency and you take leave, you have to make time up, but if you’re in a four year residency, you don’t. But no matter what, and no matter what the reason for leave, you still have to meet the minimum requirements.

  17. Observer*

    #2 – You weren’t WRONG. But I think you were very unwise. However, this may be a sign that this job is not for you. It’s clear that this job is going to need some flexibility but your behavior here seems on the rigid side. That makes for a bad match.

    What’s standing out to me is that you refused the interview even though

    1. Observer*

      Hit the wring button.

      What stood out to me is that you refused the appointment even though you had the time simply because it was last minute, even though they had warned you that they were shooting for Thursday of Friday and that they couldn’t tie it down.

      If they got that sense – that you COULD have taken the meeting but CHOSE not to on principle, that would probably make them rather uncomfortable, whereas if it turned out that you COULD not make the meeting, it would feel very different.

      So, if you are still interested, I hope they don’t realize that you could actually have done it.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        But the LW didn’t refuse on principle, they refused because they wanted a day’s notice to prepare.

        1. Starbuck*

          Then they should probably have just said that to the interviewer, so that there’s clarity on both sides. If they think there’s nothing wrong with it, and don’t want to work for a place that expects people to schedule things last minute, it would be the smart thing to say.

  18. June*

    If you wanted the job, I would have gone to the interview, sudden or not. Too much chance they will skip you over. I went to an interview on a few hours notice and it was the best decision I ever made. Hired on the spot.

    1. Garlic Knot*

      From the other side, a potential employer once called me at 8 pm on a Friday to invite me to an interview that Saturday. I was so baffled, I suggested we talk again on Monday, and of course never heard from them again. Lord, did I dodge a bullet with that, as it turned out!

    2. Esmeralda*

      Yes. They said Thursday or Friday, so I would have prepared right away. If they could arrange it for Thursday or Friday, I’d be ready. If they never called back, or called and said they weren’t proceeding with me, well, not too much time wasted.

  19. Gazza*

    #3 – Just let it go. Like Alison said, he made it this far, so he should be ok. Reminds me of the president played in the Get Smart movie; pronouncing “nuclear” as “nucelar” (I hope I’m right). They tried to correct him but he doesn’t change. But, in the end it doesn’t matter as long as the message gets delivered.

    1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      For whatever reason, I really struggle with that one as well. I got a lot of jokes during the Bush era (apparently he makes a similar mistake?)

      I guess this validates some of the other commentor’s points. I know I’m saying it wrong, so the correction isn’t especially helpful or news to me.

      1. MsSolo (UK)*

        I think it’s a common one because if you put the ‘c’ on the end of ‘nu’ you get a natural pause before ‘lear’. So what you’re often getting is actually “nuc-le-ar” which, if you’re listening for only two syllables, tends to sound like “nuc-el-ar”. I had an ex who made a big deal about it, but having to mentally stop every time to slowly and deliberately say “New-Cleer” was not worth my time!

        1. UKDancer*

          I think we may have dated the same man!

          I had an ex from the south of England and I’m from the north. We use a short “a” in “bath” and “path” and “grass”. He kept trying to correct my pronunciation to a longer southern “a” sound. I think it was part of his general attempt at improving me but it annoyed the ever living crap out of me. This was one of many reasons that the relationship was very short.

          Correcting people (where they haven’t asked for it) in my experience just annoys them and / or makes them self conscious. We all have things that annoy us about the way people speak (my own pet hate is people who use a lot of verbal fry) but in my experience it never does any good to raise it.

          1. allathian*

            Agreed, especially when you’re both speaking your native language, just with different regional accents. When I was a student, I hung out a lot with the foreign exhange students at my university. English is my third language and a foreign language for most of the students, but there was a Scottish guy who sought my company to the point that I thought he had a crush on me, but it turned out that he just liked to talk to me because I could understand his Scottish accent. With most others, he had to modify his speech to be understood, and that takes some effort, although he did recognize that he had it comparatively easy because he had the privilege of using his native language.

          2. onco fonco*

            Ohh that’s obnoxious. I’m southern with northern friends and when we were much younger we used to banter a bit about accent, but genuinely both ways and with no expectation that anyone would change how they spoke. (We don’t do it any more because we’ve known each other twenty years and the joke’s worn off.) Your ex sounds like a right prawn.

        2. TechWorker*

          I think/(thought? :p) nuclear *was* three syllables, but what do I know.

          The word I pronounce ‘wrong’ according to every single one of my exes and my current partner (it doesn’t come up very often so seemingly only gets pointed out in relationships) is ‘fifth’. I kinda pronounce it like there’s a ‘d’ on the end which I maintain is a valid pronunciation and saying ‘fith’ sounds wrong to me :D

          1. MsSolo (UK)*

            I suppose that comes down to how many syllables you pronounce “clear” with. I’m one syllable for clear, but three for nuclear.

            1. MCMonkeyBean*

              The “clear” in “nuclear” is not quite pronounced the same was as the word “clear” on its own and should have an extra syllable in there.

              Per Merriam Webster:
              clear = ˈklir
              nuclear = ˈnü-klē-ər

              1. TechWorker*

                Haha interesting (Id say it is also valid to have a 2-syllable ‘clear’ – I don’t, but p sure some accents do).

          2. Kal*

            And I’m here being the weirdo who pronounces “fifth” as “fifth” – as in I actually pronounce the second f. This is not how people around me pronounce it, but its small enough that most don’t even notice I say it differently. But the “fth” sound isn’t easy for most people to make, so I get why its not normally said, I’m just more attached to pronouncing things as they are spelled. I do the same thing with the “l” in “calm” – the point of having lost marks on a linguistics assignment and had to prove to the prof that I do actually pronounce it.

            I’m always a proponent of “words are about communication – if the point got across, then clearly the communication was successful”. If the boss got to this point in his career while saying it the way he does, clearly his communication has been plenty successful.

      2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Oh man, the Bush pronunciation thing is still high on my list of “ways people insult politicians that have nothing to do with their suitability for office, and also insult a bunch of other people by accident” pet peeve. If the pronunciation is the worse thing about his nuclear weapons policy, then it’s pretty amazing. And if there are actual problems, maybe addresses those instead of insulting all of Texas by saying their accent makes them too stupid to handle science.

        1. nothing rhymes with purple*

          As a flaming liberal I completely agree. If a politician has terrible policies we should talk about those policies, not whatever physical or demographic feature (and accents are linked to demographics). Criticize people for what they can change, don’t mock them for what they can’t.

          On the specific topic, during the Bush II years a friend of mine snarked about his pronunciation of ‘nuclear’ and another friend replied, “I don’t really care how he pronounces it, I care that he doesn’t get us all blown up.”

          1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

            It seems to be a nonpartisan vice, so it should get nonpartisan criticism too!

      3. Student*

        Nuclear scientist here. If it makes you feel better, both pronunciations are accepted in the industry community. The new-cle-ar pronunciation is strongly preferred over nu-cu-lar, but you’ll find both used quite a bit. A couple of academics and grad students will tease you for the latter pronunciation, but frankly that kind of teasing is small potatoes compared to our normal level of industry in-fighting.

    2. Danger Quokka*

      One of my fav podcasts (Bad Gays), one of the hosts pronounces modern as “mod-er-en” and I hear a few other Americans pronouncing it that way too. No idea if that’s a regional thing or what but it is interesting. As you said though, people can get what folx are trying to say.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Oh man, I am American but live in the UK — I knew a guy once who was weirdly insistent on correcting my pronunciation of water (he would always repeat it back to me with a very clipped ‘t’ sound, since in my accent it sounds more like a ‘d’).

        He insisted that it was because he didn’t understand me — but clearly he did, right? Otherwise how would he know what the ‘correct’ word was? *shrug*

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes he understood you. He was just being a tosser. Hope you ignored him as much as possible.

        2. Anononon*

          Hopefully he never travels to Philadelphia, where water is often pronounced as wooder. (And to make it even more fun, the pronunciation is often brought up when talking about “water ice” which is a regional version of/name for Italian ice.)

      2. it's me*

        Huh, never heard that before. What I do hear, which I think is Midwestern, is “bolth” for “both.”

    3. it's me*

      I had a boss who’d always say “amateurization” for “amortization” but I just chuckled inwardly and let it go.

      1. Anononon*

        Oh man. I have to use amortization and reamoritzation a lot in my work, and it really took me a while to be able to say it quickly.

    4. Not Australian*

      I always struggled with my ex-sister’s explanations of how she got ‘an honoraria’ at work. In the end I just decided to stop being her sister… (More reasons than just that one, of course.)

  20. cncx*

    I can feel for OP 2 because i’m on the tail end of a job search and i found myself being inflexible with recruiters and hiring managers because i wanted to stave off their flaky stuff, so like, i understand. Like because it isn’t me and a job i applied for, i can reasonably see that in Op2’s case they were transparent about their timing being what it is but i know deep down had it been me i would have been like “who are these people another company wanting me to drop everything for them same day like i have nothing else going on I’m so tired of it” because everyone remotely attached to hiring is BEC status with me after some of the stuff i put up with (impromptu forty minute phone screens during the business day being my big one like yes please i still have a day job and don’t have my notes for the jobs i applied for but sure let’s do a phone screen cold RIGHT NOW just because it works for you, recruiter).

    But like, OP2 said same day didn’t work for her, it is what it is. I’m just saying I can see being inflexible. Also, sometimes – even though they were transparent- this is a sign of how scheduling and deadlines work in a given organization and people can be not cool with that too.

    1. Skippy*

      I’m with you: I’m at the point in my career where I have no patience for companies’ nonsense when it comes to recruiting. And to me, being asked to hold two days on my calendar for a possible interview and not getting an exact time until the day of qualifies as nonsense, but that’s just me. Others may be okay with it.

      1. Simply the best*

        It doesn’t sound to me like that’s what happened. It sounds like they had hoped to schedule her for Thursday or Friday, but then they couldn’t so they didn’t.

        Then, someone canceled and since OP had already indicated that she may have been available on Thursday, they reached out to her to see if she could make it.

        It’s not wrong that she said no, that she doesn’t feel prepared. But it’s not nonsense or a sign of disorganization that they asked when they had a surprise opening.

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        They didn’t ask them to hold anything. Nothing in the letter indicates they are upset OP was unable to attend–just that they reached out and said they had a cancellation and would they be able to come in. It’s okay that OP said no, but I think it’s silly to do so out of principle when they were just checking to see if they happened to be available. People are reading SO much into this. This doesn’t mean it’s some kind of test, it doesn’t mean they are hugely disorganized and OP clearly dodged a bullet–all it means is that they suddenly had a time slot open that they didn’t previously know was available and since OP had not previously indicated they wouldn’t be available Thursday they reached out.

  21. eyelash10*

    I don’t think it matters between 4 and 5 years experience. However, I disagree that it never matters. If someone (who may be a SAHD) says they have 20 years experience but they had 3 lengthy paternity leaves and then went back part time then they don’t have 20 years experience. It’s just factual.

    If it is really important to employers it’s up to them to ask in an interview if the person’s experience amounts to consistent and full time. To bring it up at a later date after great performance is weird.

    1. Forrest*

      What decision would you make where the difference between 15 and 20 years was material, though? All “20 years experience” tells you is that someone has been in the workplace since at least 2021 and been through several economic cycles, rounds of funding, government administrations or whatever else tends to affect your working sector in 3-5 year cycles. Some people will have gone from entry-level to senior professional to manager to director to C-suite in that time. Others will have spent most of that time in front-line or individual contributor roles and never approached management. The differences between people at that point are far more significant than whether they’ve worked for 15 or twenty years.

      1. doreen*

        I wouldn’t say there is a material difference between 15 years and 20 years but at some point there is a difference. I had a job ( in the US, about 30 years ago) that allowed 4 years of job-protected (but unpaid) child-care leave for the first leave and three years for each subsequent one.* And stacking them was allowed, so person could be on child-care leave for seven or ten consecutive years after working for a year ( maybe less – I know you were eligible after working a year, but there may have been no minimum requirement). Even if there’s no real difference between 4 or 5 years, or 15 or 20 years, there’s certainly a difference between two years ( one year before a ten-year leave and one year after returning ) and twelve years – and I’m not sure where the line is.

        * It was a large municipal government with a lot of employees , so that people were always resigning and retiring and people returning from leave would simple fill one of those empty spots.

          1. doreen*

            I worked for NYC which still has the same policy – here’s a link to one agency’s policy https://ess.nychhc.org/childcareleave.html But my understanding is that lots of school districts outside of NYC have similar policies. To be fair, it’s not that they are holding a job for you as much employees returning from leave simply reduce the number of brand new hires.

        1. Forrest*

          I just don’t think there’s many situations where “the line” matters, to be honest! If it’s enough to matter, it’ll come through in how you talk about your accomplishments and knowledge. If you can’t tell the difference between someone with 2 years experience and someone with 10 years experience in terms of their knowledge and skills, it can’t be that important.

          The exception is going to be situations where there’s a certification or contractual reason why the difference between X years and X years + 1 day is material, but in those situations there should be a proper tracking system in place that accounts for all types of leave or part-time work!

        2. onco fonco*

          That’s staggeringly unusual, though, I think. The chance of encountering someone who has managed to take a decade of job-protected leave AND is trying to claim that as a decade of on-the-job experience is…slim.

    2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I think Forrest is correct here. Experience is hard to meaningfully quantify. Five years of experience at a fast-paced company using the latest technology might impart more transferable skills than ten years at a company that’s very set in its ways. Ten years experience from someone who job-hopped every 2 years might be less meaningful than five years from someone who has really sunk their teeth into a single role.

      Years of experience can be a helpful way to sort thorough resumes, but once you’ve reached the interview stage, employers should focus on the skills they need from the experience, not get hung up on a specific number of years.

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

        Ten years experience from someone who job-hopped every 2 years might be less meaningful than five years from someone who has really sunk their teeth into a single role.

        … yes, or it could be the opposite where the person who worked in 5 different environments over that time has been exposed to more different approaches, different industries (if their work is something like IT that you can do in many industries), different technologies, company cultures, customer bases, etc. That versatility of experience may actually give more ability to thrive in “unknown situations” than having gone in depth to a single thing for 5 years — it all depends!

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

            Yes, sorry, I wasn’t disagreeing! Just saying that even ‘the same’ situation can play out differently in terms of which one is actually ‘better’, if there even is such a thing.

        1. Observer*

          True. Which goes back the fundamental point that once you reach a certain point, you really need to be focusing the the skills and mindset, not the EXACT number of years.

    3. Lucious*

      >> If someone (who may be a SAHD) says they have 20 years experience but they had 3 lengthy paternity leaves and then went back part time then they don’t have 20 years experience. It’s just factual.

      Or not. Being on maternity/paternity leave does not invalidate skills that employee has earned, nor their industry experience to that point. If we applied your logic to everyone in the workforce we’d all be liars: show of hands, who here deducts bathroom trips, breaks, lunch hours, off topic hallway conversations and weekends/vacations from their published career experience ?

      1. eyelash10*

        I’m not talking about bathroom breaks or holidays.

        I’m talking about people who actually have spotty work histories with big gaps but for political correctness reasons you’re not allowed to say actually this is 10 years not 20.

        It’s not fair someone who has ’20 years’ could beat out other candidates based on what is not true. Why should the other candidates pay the price of political correctness?

        No one should be discriminated against and gaps are fine, life happens. Employers should be fine with judging someone based on how it is, that the 20 years is really 10. And they should be fair. What we are saying here is that people should be allowed to lie and turn 10 years into 20. In an ideal world actually you wouldn’t need to do that, you could be open about what your experience really is.

          1. quill*

            Yep, has been for the last (checks watch) ten years.

            If you pull the “political correctness” card I’m going to assume you’re not arguing with a factual and thoughtful deck.

        1. NerdyKris*

          At the numbers you’re talking about, years of experience aren’t relevant, accomplishments are. Nobody is hiring anyone at that level based solely on how long they’ve been in the industry. They’re going to be looking at what you’ve done or learned. If someone just coasted for ten of those years, it’s going to be obvious. There’s very little difference in experience after a certain point. Eventually it becomes about skill level.

        2. ceiswyn*

          Time out of the office is a severe handicap in terms of career progression.

          If someone who has taken parental leave and/or sabbaticals has managed to overcome that handicap to get the same opportunities and advancements that the person who hasn’t did (which they must have if that’s the only difference between them), then they are probably better at the actual job.

          What do you think twenty years of experience brings to the table that ten years doesn’t?

        3. Gumby*

          I mean, I had two lengthy-ish periods of unemployment (10 months and ~2 years) and I absolutely subtract them from my total “years of experience” when asked. I am past the point where it matters, but I *wasn’t* working those years. During some of it I was getting further education – very part time so I couldn’t say I was taking time off for school – but I can’t honestly say I spent it keeping up in my field. Frankly, I spent a fair amount of it reading books and watching TV and hiking and… So, I graduated from college and got my first full-time job 20 years ago. I have 17 years of experience.

          However, this is different than what OP is describing and context matters A LOT.

      2. Less Bread More Taxes*

        This isn’t about punishing people for taking leave – it’s about understanding the consequences about what happens to someone’s ability to do their job when they take leave.

        You’re making two very different arguments here. If we examine your first point, no one is arguing that someone’s skills are invalid after taking leave. But you cannot compare those skills to someone who has used them longer. This is the whole point of having junior and senior staff.

        The second is wholly irrelevant. The reason we are discussing leave in particular is because we acknowledge that there is something significant about not working for long periods of time. At the very, very least, you are out of practice. At the worst, you have missed out on updated processes, new industry standards, technical knowledge, and you are out of practice. If I go take thirty minutes to chat to Susan about her weekend, I don’t experience any of those consequences. If I take a few months off to go on vacation, I do.

        It’s for this reason that someone working 20 hours a week for the past five years is going to have a leg up over someone who worked full-time over the past five years, but took 2.5 years off for leave.

        1. eyelash10*

          It’s not about ‘punishing’ people!

          I agree that we need to be way more flexible about how we hire. Life happens and lots of great people don’t have a flawless resume. Gaps often don’t matter a lot.

          But as you say, someone working 20 hours consistently may have a leg up over someone else. At some point you have to have criteria you can use to choose between someone. The commenters on this site are sometimes strange in that their never seems to be an acceptable way to decide between people, it’s always DISCRIMINATION.

          I say this as someone with a really crappy resume who still manages to finagle it into a job and who works in an industry where lots of people are kind of NQR and we hire them anyway and we love them.

          1. Andy*

            Just a few days ago, people on this site argued that it totally makes sense to hire person with zero experience on position that originally asked for years of experience, because you like the way their cover letter was written. Not as once in a while exception mind you, but as normal thing how “expected qualification” vs who gets hired go.

            So I guess I am going to say it out loud: there is little meaningful difference between 4 years and 5 years. There is little difference between 5 years and 10 years. With these numbers it matter way way more what exactly you have done in the last 2 max 3 years.

            Whether you had easy do nothing year 6 years ago, whether you spent all that time in boredom whether in work or at home , whether you was in high pressure super difficult setup does not really matter.

            1. eyelash10*

              I disagree it never matters.

              I work in a job that a lot of people quit because they don’t like it. It’s a quick job to learn so the skill level doesn’t change a lot between people, but years worked shows you are more willing to stick with it. If you done this crappy job for 15 years you are less likely to flame out on me than someone who has done it for 2 and has their eye on other opportunities.

              1. Forrest*

                you’ve got an awful lot of straw-manning going on here! Nobody has said that experience doesn’t matter at all. The most that anyone is saying is that once you’ve got two candidates with fairly substantial experience – 5 years vs 10 years, 4 years vs 5 years, 15 years vs 20 years — then skills, achievements and aptitude are probably going to be more important. You’re turning this into “of course there’s a difference between 2 years and 15 years!!”– which literally nobody has disagreed with!

                1. Annie Moose*

                  Yeah, there’s a lot of moving the goalposts as well… started off as “20 years straight” vs. “20 years of experience with 3 paternity leaves and some part time work”, now suddenly we’re comparing to someone with only 2 years of experience?

                  At a certain point, what matters is that someone has a solid basis of experience–not nickel-and-diming how many minutes of experience they technically have.

              2. WellRed*

                Don’t worry eyelash. women’s time away from the workforce for family matters counts against them in many ways. Feel better now? I’m a non parent,FWIW.

              3. Andy*

                2 years is normal time to the job even if person likes it. Goes somewhat higher for older people, but even then you are in 3-4 years category.

                You are talking about a job which people quit quickly, which is also easy and quick to learn, but also where staying for 2 years is too short to demonstrate longevity.

      3. employment lawyah*

        4 and 5 years aren’t the same!

        Compare three women:

        AMY quits her job and spends a year parenting. Amy is hired in 2016 (after her year off) and works 2016-2020.

        BETH is hired in 2015 at a company w/ great policies. Beth doesn’t start work–she postpones her job start to take a year of parental leave (as an employee.) Beth actually starts work in 2016, and works 2016-2020.

        CASSANDRA starts in 2015; works from 2015-2017; takes a one year leave; and works again 2018-2020.

        Every woman worked for four years, during the period 2015-2020. They vary only in when they took a year off, and whether they took time on “leave” instead of privately.

        Do you think Amy, Beth, and Cassandra should have DIFFERENT ANSWERS to the “years of experience” question? If so, why?

    4. Red Swedish Fish*

      Unless you have had a kid every year of the 20 years then really leave the maternity/paternity leave out of it. The part time is something they should disclose, especially if it is for a long period of time.

    5. Me*

      If they are taking years off, they are most likely not taking leave but rather have ended their employment to take years and then finding new employment.

      In which case the point is moot because their resume is going to show the years they were actually working.

      If you are talking about actual leave taken adding up to years, if they’re employed it counts as years of employment.

    6. J.B.*

      Years of experience are ranges. And with the numbers you are talking about, accomplishments should be far more important than hours. See my past year of theoretically part time when I saved a project a theoretically slightly more senior person had neglected dangerously.

    7. Librarian of SHIELD*

      “If it is really important to employers it’s up to them to ask in an interview if the person’s experience amounts to consistent and full time.”

      How exactly do you see this happening that won’t end in unlawful discrimination? How do you find out whether a person took a lengthy parental or medical leave without asking questions you’re not supposed to ask and making people disclose things to you that you as the hiring manager are not allowed to consider?

  22. Random Internet Stranger*

    #5 IME, there is a good chance they’ll know anyway. At least if the ED is screening resumes and not just the Board (which I assume they are). I am an ED for a small nonprofit and I spend enough time in my database and working on fundraising I have every donor memorized at this point! I’d recognize a donor applying immediately without having to look in my database. I won’t know their giving history, but that is irrelevant anyway. If it were a larger organization with dedicated development staff, maybe not, but for a small org with only one staff person, there’s a good chance.

  23. Less Bread More Taxes*

    Like a few other people have mentioned already, I do think that there are some jobs where being out on maternity leave *does* matter. I’m thinking for example of my boyfriend’s boss – she has had three kids in the past five years, and therefore has only worked two full years in the past five. He works in a job that constantly updates in terms of software used and supported. Every time she comes back from maternity leave, she has to spend a few weeks getting trained on all the upgrades that happened since she left, and her employees have to explain the new processes and why those new processes were chosen by the interim manager. It hasn’t happened yet, but if there was a promotion available, she and the only other manager on her level would be eligible for it. I am totally on board with allowing people to maximize their maternity leave and not punish them for it, but if both of these managers were competing for the same promotion, is it really fair to consider their experiences as totally equal when one has been managing his team for five years and one has been managing her team for technically less than two years when you consider all the training time she needs?

    And yes, I understand that this is inherently sexist because she is a woman who has chosen to have three kids and take twelve months for each child, while he is a man who chose to only take three weeks of leave for his one child during this period. In our country, women get six months of maternity leave but can take a lot more unpaid leave (so she takes a full year each time). Men get three weeks. But I guess I’m just wondering where the line is between legal discrimination and, well, common sense.

    If there is a kinder way to ask this question, I’m happy to change the wording. But I think this is a discussion that needs to be had sometimes.

    1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      is it really fair to consider their experiences as totally equal when one has been managing his team for five years and one has been managing her team for technically less than two years when you consider all the training time she needs?

      I think the point commentors are making is that this is irrelevant, because the employee should be hiring/promoting based on skills and performance, not years served.

      1. eyelash10*

        I don’t understand this strange political correctness that years of work doesn’t matter.

        Obviously you should be hired on your skills and ability, and some people are fast at getting up to speed. However, years on the job matters for things like the more years you have spent working the more likely you are to have come across certain problems, scenarios, issues and have experience in dealing with them.

        In my industry we often have problem customers. The longer you’ve worked the better you’re going to be at dealing with it because you’ve seen it all before. Sure, someone could be a natural at it and that does happen but generally speaking more time on the job does count for something. It’s not everything, but it’s something.

        1. Forrest*

          I don’t think anyone is denying that, but the more years you’re talking about, the less important one or two extra years is. There’s a massive difference between 0 and 2 years. There’s a significant difference between 2 and 6 years. By the time you get to the difference between 6 and 10 years, or 15-20 years, it’s much LESS significant.

          And something like, “I was doing this job under the Clinton administration and I remember the last time this funding cycle came around” or “I remember the software we used in 2001-03” might well be more important than “I have clocked up 20000 hours doing this job.”

        2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          I’m really not sure where you’re getting political correctness? I think this is more about focusing on what really matters and not confusing correlation with causation.

          Work experience *does* matter, but it’s not something that can be easily measured in years and hiring managers rely on that at their own risk. Five years of experience at one company could be much more meaningful than ten years of experience at another – it all depends on what sort of problems and challenges come with a particular role.

          While years of experience are a good way to sort through resumes, by the time you’ve reached in the interview stage (and in OP’s case, the hired stage) you should be assessing for skills and performance. After all, the only reason experience matters is because of the improved skill-set we hope comes with it.

          1. eyelash10*

            Removed. What you are advocating is discrimination against women and ill people and you can’t do it here. Move on, please. – Alison

          2. NerdyKris*

            Exactly. I have five year “experience” “running” a help desk. It was a glorified babysitting position. It did help me get my current job, but that’s because I was able to point to specific skills I’d developed in keeping a flaming dumpster truck more or less on the road, not because I had some nebulous number of years of experience.

            1. quill*

              I have 2 years of “experience” running specific lab machinery in a place that, (unbeknownst to me at the time) did not follow up to date and proper procedures. Please hire someone with 6 months experience doing it right, not me! There’s a reason I left formulations!

          3. Esmeralda*

            Yes. I have a co-worker who has been here for three years. They ask questions and make comments in meetings that make it clear that they either don’t understand the central functions of their job, or are not doing their job well, or both. (In fact, I’ve been asked to assist in (re)training this co-worker.)

            So, lacking important skills and knowledge. But on their resume, three years of experience.

        3. I should really pick a name*

          You keep using the term political correctness and I don’t think it applies here.
          Most people are saying that years of experience aren’t a great measure of actual skill, so shouldn’t really be the deciding factor.
          On top of that, where years of experience ARE relevant, the difference in years between 4 and 5, or 17 and 20 for example aren’t actually significant.

          1. Harper the Other One*

            Unfortunately, I think what they mean by “political correctness” in this instance is the idea that you shouldn’t discriminate against women just because they are disproportionately affected by things like maternity leave and child care…

            1. eyelash10*

              Removed — this is wrong and derailing, and I say that as a person who is child-free by choice. Move on, please. – Alison

              1. Forrest*

                What actual situations are you talking about here? You’ve said that you don’t mind people taking gaps and being a “lifer”, as long as they keep coming back. You’re also clearly talking about roles where there isn’t a lot of pay progression or much of a hierarchy to climb. So what exactly do you think you’re missing out on? You think that the person with a solid 10 years experience should be paid more than someone with 7 years experience spread over ten years? Or promoted over them? Or just generally respected more for their commitment? I don’t get what material ~thing~ you think should be accorded to someone for having clocked up more hours on the clock, or whether you just have a general resentment of parents based on your perception that they’re getting away with something that you’re not entitled to?

        4. Pennilyn Lot*

          Sorry but “political correctness” is such a right-wing dog whistle buzzword, it’s really just simpler for everyone if you can clearly describe what you mean.

    2. Forrest*

      I think common sense is an interview process that doesn’t take “five years’ experience” at value but actually digs into what you’ve learned and achieved in five years. A process that goes, “they’ve both got five years’ experience” is bad. So is one that goes, “he’s got five years’ experience, but she’s only got two and a half, so he gets the promotion”.

      If he’s managed more projects, dealt with more problems, has a deeper knowledge of the product and a clearer vision for the next steps of the department, that should come through in the interview! But it’s certainly not impossible that someone with two years’ experience is more suited to the senior position than someone with five years’ experience. Happens all the time!

      1. Harper the Other One*

        Yes, this. In my first full-time job, the purchaser for my department had been doing his job for around 10 years. However, he refuses to learn how to use our system’s automated reports to generate requisitions for special order items, or to generate an estimate of how many items to add to our bulk back-to-school order. Because I worked occasionally with a purchaser from a different department, I learned to use those reports by the time I’d been there for 3 years. So he may have had more years of experience, but I could produce information we needed in under an hour that took him a quarter of his work week.

        Did he have lots of other skills? Yes. Were they ones I could also have learned? Also yes. So I would not have hesitated to apply for his role if he had left it, despite the difference in experience level, because I had a track record of being able to do a substantial portion of his job more efficiently than he did.

    3. Andy*

      > Every time she comes back from maternity leave, she has to spend a few weeks getting trained on all the upgrades that happened since she left, and her employees have to explain the new processes and why those new processes were chosen by the interim manager.

      While I agree that maternity is not the same as being on the job, all the other employees had to be trained with changes too. And more then her, because she did skipped some changes. All the new employees have to be trained too.

      My job involves often changes and needs to learn new stuff too. It does not make return after being away harder. It is makes it easier, because everyone is almost as new as you after coming back.

      1. Less Bread More Taxes*

        Whether returning to work is easier or not is really irrelevant though. If you only started learning a new software two weeks ago, it would be unethical to claim to have learned it last year just because that’s when the rest of your team learned it.

        1. Andy*

          > If you only started learning a new software two weeks ago, it would be unethical to claim to have learned it last year just because that’s when the rest of your team learned it.

          No such specific claim was made anywhere. That amounts to scenario that has nothing to do with this thread nor original question.

          > Whether returning to work is easier or not is really irrelevant though

          I was responding to this: Every time she comes back from maternity leave, she has to spend a few weeks getting trained on all the upgrades that happened since she left, and her employees have to explain the new processes and why those new processes were chosen by the interim manager.

          That is specific claim I had opinion about. I even quote it.

          1. Less Bread More Taxes*

            And that’s what I’m talking about also. That’s several weeks where an interim manager is still needed because she has to complete a series of training courses from her own staff and is unable to complete the basic functions of her job. So not only is she not managing while she’s on leave (obviously), but she’s also not managing for several weeks after coming back from leave. Yes, it might be technically easier for her to learn things then after everyone else has learned them, but she is not able to work effectively during that period of time. The fact that it might be easier for her to learn these new processes is entirely irrelevant to the fact that she is still not acting as a manager for weeks at a time.

            1. MsSolo (UK)*

              So what was the interim manager doing when they first learned the software? Does that count as not managing either? If everyone is learning the software together is there a period where no one is working and they should all deduct that time from their years of experience?

              It feels like you’re reaching for an example that’s very reductive of a manager’s role, and applying it very specifically to someone returning from maternity leave without applying the same logic to staff not on leave. A manager’s role is more than knowing how to use the same tools as their staff, and though they’ll need training on it to help them in their role, it in no way prevents them from doing all the other aspects of management, just as the interim manager doesn’t abruptly cease managing while they’re being trained.

              This kind of thought experiment is precisely why parental leave has to be left out of the equation, because people convince themselves there’s a reason they personally need to take into account this specific employee’s parental leave under these very unique circumstances, and actually it’s just mental gymnastics to justify their instinctive prejudice to themself. Like the question about not disclosing pregnancy during an interview the other week – you’re saving people from their own unconscious bias and the potential ramifications thereof if you don’t tell them about parental leave, because everyone thinks they’re so logical and rational when they come up with their reason why this time it’s okay to count it.

            2. Forrest*

              But how are you weighing this in your hypothetical hiring process? What do you need the person in the higher-level role to do? Do you need Time In Role or do you need strategic thinking, influencing, managing up, problem solving etc?

              I mean, I don’t think anyone is arguing that you have to pretend the two people have had exactly the same amount of time in the role, or that you have to somehow discount the extra time that Fred has had to implement new processes, evaluate change or whatever. IMO, the difference between five years and two is substantial enough that if Fred is any good it’s quite likely that he’ll have had opportunities to develop significantly more knowledge or skills. But if you base your promotion on the idea that he will do better in the higher level role (or worse, that he ~deserves~ it more!) because he’s spent longer in the role, that’s bad hiring. Not because it’s not fair, but just because it’s not a good way to run an organisation.

            3. Andy*

              What were other managers doing while they were learning the software? Is whole company doing nothing every time there is a change in software which they are supposed to have often? You are building oddly specific situation there – learning new software takes weeks during which you are incapable of working, it is difficult and such changes are done often.

              > Yes, it might be technically easier for her to learn things then after everyone else has learned them, but she is not able to work effectively during that period of time.

              Yes, typically it is much easier, because the hive mind already figured issues and know workarounds around issues. First deployment when everybody is learning is the most painful period for everyone.

              No new manager is effective first weeks and new software knowledge is the least of issue, typically.

              > because she has to complete a series of training courses from her own staff

              Isn’t that fairly normal situation? Every single manager new to team I encountered had to learn things from own staff. That includes people who worked in the same company prior this position. The only sorta exception is manager who was previously team member, (I imagine he was learning new things from outside team).

        2. DrunkAtAWedding*

          I think, if being skilled in that software were important to the job being applied for, then the interviewers would specifically ask for the amount of experience using that software, not just for the time employed in a role where the jobseeker might have used that software.

          1. Andy*

            I would expect the interview to have practical test in such case. Not just how confident applicant is, but here we have computer show us what you can do.

      2. quill*

        I have to get retrained on various procedures every six months whether I’m in-office or not, I can’t imagine it’s significantly more work (in an area where annual and biannual training are required) to retrain a returning parent.

  24. hbc*

    They didn’t ask or a cleared schedule and OP to sit around waiting for two days. They were expecting to have an opportunity or two in those two days, and if it worked out for OP’s schedule, that would be great.

    If OP needs 24 hours notice to get mentally prepared for an interview, that’s okay, but it’s probably worth telling them that. It might mean she doesn’t get a job there, but that’s no different than finding out two weeks in advance that interviews will be only on the Thursday and Friday that conflicts with your work or travel schedule.

    1. hbc*

      …And that was a missed reply. I will add that it’s probably a bullet dodged on both sides though. I’m a person who prefers to have some idea of what my day or week looks like, and while a company that was this seat-of-the-pants on scheduling wouldn’t get any judgment from me, it would be a bad fit.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, me too. I like my schedule to be fairly routine and predictable. If the interview was for a job and employer I’d otherwise be interested in, I’d go to the interview, but I’d definitely ask if this sort of unpredictability was an expected part of the job. Some industries are like that, and I avoid those, but some companies in more stable industries are like that because they have poor processes. I’d hate to spend all my time putting out fires rather than being able to plan and then executing those plans, with some flexibility to deal with emergencies.

  25. T.*

    # 3- when you’re asked a question with the mispronounced word, use the word properly pronounce in your answer. I do that with grammar and sometimes it kicks in. “I seen that in the news this week, did you? Yes, I SAW it too.”

    #4 – look at your sourcing, where are you recruiting? Can you create partnerships with colleges that will give you a pipeline as your team retires?

    1. Reba*

      I’m reading your all-caps to suggest that you emphasize the correct word–sorry if I’m over-reading. If that’s right, and you’re not that person’s teacher, there is no reason to correct someone’s speech like that, especially if they are a peer or higher! (If it’s important to speak in a formal/standard register you can have that discussion, but just responding to your example, “seen” is a common construction, understandable, and I don’t see the value in trying to change it in casual conversation like the example.)

      If you’re just saying that you reply as you normally would speak, that’s all good! To return to the letter, there is not an obligation for the whole office to adopt the “physical” pronunciation to somehow let this speaker save face or something.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes in my experience people don’t change long held dialectal expressions just because others are using the more “correct” version. I worked with a man who said “you was” instead of “you were” for many years. At no point did he suddenly come to the realisation that his expression was grammatically incorrect and not what the rest of us tended to say. To change the way you speak takes a level of effort that most people won’t just apply from hearing others speak unless they consciously want to change.

        I think the difference is if you do want to say something differently. For example for a long time I’d only seen the word quinoa written down so I said it in my head as “quin-oh-ah” until I heard some colleagues talking about it and learnt the correct pronunciation was actually “keen wa”. But that was because I was interested enough to learn and get it right.

    2. MsSolo (UK)*

      I was just listening to a podcast about the whole ebonics controversy (You’re Wrong About – recced here a few posts ago!), and one thing I picked up from that is that this kind of correction doesn’t work very well, especially once a speech pattern is set. So it’ll work fine on toddlers, because they’re still earning which verbs are regular and irregular, but not on older children, and will go completely unnoticed by most adults unless they’re already primed for correction. If you have a reason to actively change someone’s speech patterns (let’s say they’re an actor in a play, and you need them to say in the lines in a particular vernacular) you need to drill down into the differences, and translate in both directions, much as you would teaching a whole new language.

  26. photon*

    LW3 reminds me of a guy at work who kept pronouncing “memoize” as “memorize”. I didn’t say anything, but I wondered if he thought all the rest of us had suddenly developed a speech impediment.

    1. Lizcase*

      Those are two words I pronounce very similarly because of a speech impediment.
      Combinations of O,I, and R are my downfall.

  27. Perfectly Particular*

    #4 – is there an opportunity to hire co-ops or interns at your company? This can serve as a solid recruiting pipeline, as well as providing a lot of benefit to your existing team. I work for a large company with an extensive coop program. The student do real work for about a year and a half for us (3 alternating semesters), providing much- needed relief to the teams they work on. Each coop needs a manager, which gives other employees an opportunity to get their feet wet in a supervisory role. Once they are done with school, many of our coops apply for full time positions and when they are hired, they are able to jump in quicker, since some of the learning curve is out of the way.

  28. DrunkAtAWedding*

    With LW3, I once knew someone who pronounced ‘banal’ to rhyme with ‘anal’ for the entire first year of his English degree. I know he wishes he’d known earlier, so now I’m wondering if mispronouncing a word in a way which makes it sound like something sexual, or like a slur or a swear word would change the advice of whether to tell them or not? I guess maybe not, since, as the post says, the LW is below the manager in the hierarchy and he’s gotten this far without it being a problem.

    1. Reba*

      That is a valid pronunciation of banal.
      Simply rhyming with a work-inappropriate word doesn’t make something problematic or hard to understand imo.

      But in another scenario, maybe a quick word aside like “it sounded like you said Offensive Thing and I thought you should know”?

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes if I say something and it’s offensive (especially in another language) I’d rather know.

        When I was a student in Germany I hadn’t quite realised the correct way to ask someone if they were feeling warm. I said to a fellow student in the kitchen (bist du heiss) meaning literally are you hot. This has the rather unfortunate meaning of “are you aroused”. What I should have said was “ist dir heiss” more literally “is it hot to you.”

        I was intensely grateful to the nice German students in the hall of residence who explained the difference so I did not embarrass myself. I wish I could say it was the only time I used the wrong word or said something inappropriate by accident while I was studying there.

        But I think it’s slightly different if it’s a foreign language and you’re not a complete adept. If it’s your own language and you are an adult then I think it’s better not to correct people.

        1. Reba*

          Oof, yes, I’ve definitely told someone I was pregnant when trying to say I was full after a big meal! It happens.

          1. New Job So Much Better*

            That was one of the first thing our high school French teacher told us, how *not* to say we’re full after a meal (meant you were pregnant.)

            1. Reba*

              I now understand that it’s the phrase used for animals, so maybe I was really saying I was… in calf?

              1. quill*

                The amount of pregnancies announced erroneously when I took spanish was almost as high as the number of people who painted with fruit and ate colors. (Orange the color and orange the fruit are NOT the same thing in spanish, despite the best efforts of first year students.)

            2. Kelly L.*

              We learned about “embarazada” in Spanish. You think it’s going to mean “embarrassed,” but nope, pregnant.

        2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          I once made the same faux pas with “¿estás fría?” instead of “¿tienes fría?”

        3. tangerineRose*

          Spanish has something similar. If I remember correctly, “hace calor” means the temperature is warm. “tengo calor” (literally I have heat) means “I’m hot to trot”.

          1. tangerineRose*

            Oops. I posted at the same time as Sola Lingua. I’m sure she’s right, and I’m wrong.

        4. DrunkAtAWedding*

          I remember when my friend taught me how to ask “kannst ich das habe bitte”* and I gasped “I can’t say that!” because the first word sounded like a swear word in English.

          *my German might be wrong here, this was about ten years ago.

    2. TexasTeacher*

      Huh. I’ve always said BAY- nal and never thought about rhyming words. I wonder if it’s a regional usage thing?

      1. allathian*

        Probably. It’s a word with French roots, with three currently acceptable pronunciations according to Merriam-Webster: BAY-nul, buh-NAHL, and buh-NAL (rhymes with canal). The oldest pronunciation in the 1800s was BAN-ul (rhymes with flannel), but this has fallen out of use. The other three are all equally acceptable in educated speech.

        1. Risha*

          I was going to say that I’ve never heard those last two pronunciations before, until I tried saying them out loud and realized I’ve definitely heard the last, but mostly in a “that person’s trying too hard” way. It’s the first, rhymes-with-anal in my accent/region 90% of the time.

          1. DrunkAtAWedding*

            Oh, that’s interesting. The guy I was talking about was from London and attended uni in the West Midlands, so maybe it was just a regional difference.

      2. Forrest*

        I thought I was pretty au fait with US English, but I had no idea this was a possible pronunciation. I think it would be sniggers all around if you said this to a UK audience!

        1. onco fonco*

          Yeah, UK here and I have only ever heard buh-NAHL. I’m not sure I’d register that BAY-nul was the same word on first hearing.

        2. DrunkAtAWedding*

          We are in the UK, and apparently no one openly sniggered, but he felt pretty embarrassed when he realised everyone else was saying “buh-NAHL”.

  29. DiscoCat*

    Years of working in an international where English is the working language, but the 2nd or 3rd language for most partners I still have to fight myself every time someone mispronounces, misspells or completely misuses words. Errors find their way into grant applications and contractual documents. Where it’s important I correct it, in other cases I let it go- so yes, the “principle investigator had to bribe (negotiate with) some officials.” And we do wish each other “Happy Eastern” and we are “hardly working on the reports”

  30. MMMMMmmmmMMM*

    The ONLY way I’d attempt to correct the boss in LW #3 is to use the word correctly in conversation myself around him. That said, the difference between fiscal and physical when saying it out loud is one small syllable, so its unlikely that the boss would confuse others.

  31. M2*

    #4 this sounds to be a lot like age discrimination. Hiding age discrimination by saying “diversity of ages” is gross and totally inappropriate in my opinion. To me it sounds a lot like you are discriminating against your older coworkers and trying to use the word “diversity” to hide it. Totally ick! If you’re writing it here I can guarantee the staff over 40 see it at work.

    And yes to putting up more junior roles but don’t discriminate or it will be a giant lawsuit!

  32. Workerbee*

    OP# 2, please don’t stress about turning down a same-day interview. You say yourself that you prefer at least a day’s notice to prepare; why add more stress to an already stressful situation (even if one absolutely loves interviewing, it is still a process one has to be mentally prepared for) just because others wouldn’t have turned it down? People forget that it’s easier for the interviewers as they are already sittin’ inside the job and to them it has more of the hallmarks of a “meeting” than a life decision, you know? Same with that cable company comparison. Those are people who already know the job and know the expectations that their schedules can get completely disarranged, not someone who is a stranger to the org.

    I always turn down same-day interviews. I do suggest other days/times, so it can’t hurt to reach out about that if you are interested in the position and org.

  33. ComoLaFlor*

    Ooh, question re: 1–what if the maternity leave ended up being your last year at that job because you moved?

    So in an oversimplified example: my last day in the office working was, say, April 15 2020, but maternity leave lasted through April 15 2021, but my spouse got a job in another state and we moved there in March 2021. On my resume, when does my job end?

    1. Reba*

      You were still employed by them until you quit.

      But you’d want to make sure you were on the same page with former boss about how they would talk about your work history. Like if they call for a reference and your former manager says, “well, I haven’t seen her since 2020…” That would raise eyebrows!

      But then that leads to telling the interviewers about recent family leaves, which I don’t really love either, but it might make the most sense to just put it out there matter-of -factly.

  34. OP#3 Fiscal vs Physical*

    Originator of #3 here. Thanks all, for the comments. Sounds like the vast majority feel it best to leave this unmentioned. I’m a bit relieved as we are very close, and I’d just as soon avoid anything smacking of criticism. In regards to speech impediment, I’m pretty sure that’s not the issue. It’s simply a mispronounciation. I do make an effort to say it properly in front of her.

    She’s been more internally facing (think internal auditor) and her role will be changing where she will be more routinely interacting with c-level at our 200 client organizations. This word is such a common one in our industry and I’ve often seen winces and eye rolling when this mistake is made. I feel protective of her.

    I don’t make a habit of correcting other people. For instance, a close family member always pronounces “Walmart” with a “k” instead of a “t”. My brother uses terrible grammar. He knows better, but that’s just his way of speech. I’d never say a word to either.

    It’s lawyer great to see the feedback on this site.

    1. OP#3 Fiscal vs Physical*

      Ha, that was supposed to be “It’s ALWAYS great to see the feedback on this site.” Autocorrect got me.

      1. DrunkAtAWedding*

        We’ve just now invented it. I would assume it means ‘great’ but with a load of codifiers. Like “The use of the ‘great’ does not refer to all advice given, but only to the general offer of advice. The decision of which advice to take or ignore resides entirely with the letter writer and is not affected by the use of the word ‘great’. The use of the word ‘great’ rates this interaction only against other similar interactions and not against all interactions the letter writer might have. The evaluation of ‘great’ is subject to change based upon the letter writer’s opinion and mood”.

    2. Green tea*

      I understand the dilemma! My head of department always pronounces ‘plenary’ as ‘plenerary’ and I’ve never corrected her, but was a bit torn whether that was the right move. Glad you wrote in and solved that for me!

    3. The Rural Juror*

      My coworker will misspell things and then start to pronounce them the way that he’s misspelling them. I will correct him, but that’s because he’s specially asked me to watch out for his mistakes. For example, we work quite a bit with masonry suppliers. He will sometimes pronounce and spell it as “masonary,” so I let him know if I notice.

      I understand why you feel protective of your boss because of your closeness, but it’s the right move to just keep pronouncing it the correct way in front of her and hope she eventually notices. Unless she ever asks if she’s saying it wrong. In that case, do correct her!

  35. Delta Delta*

    #2 – It seems like the company was pretty clear the interview would be Thursday or Friday, schedule depending. And then it wasn’t until Thursday it was clear what their schedule would be, so they tried to have OP come in. It feels a little different than if they called out of the blue on Thursday and asked OP to come for an interview that same day. We don’t know enough about the company, the industry, or the job to know if this kind of flexibility is common, and if OP’s response was the right one in context. If it’s a fast-paced situation where things change at the drop of a hat, this shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise (especially given the conversation on Monday).

  36. birb*

    Managers like the one OP1 has encountered make me so angry. As Alison says, the difference between 4 and 5 years in most jobs is not exactly huge, and even in industries where people get a pay rise at five years’ post-admission/qualification/etc experience (eg: nurses, lawyers), it’s widely recognised as a fairly arbitrary line to draw. The professional experience one person gains in five years may be equal to another person’s experience within three years, or one year, or ten years, or six months.

  37. Khatul Madame*

    LW4, with half your team past retirement age business continuity becomes a real issue. The proposition to hire more junior people now, so that they can get trained up while the “old guard” are still working, may be easier to sell to your management.
    This does not mean that the new hires should all be younger. Career changers and workforce reentry people are just as viable (and valuable by virtue of bringing diverse lived experiences to the job), so long as they are OK with being paid on a junior or mid-level salary level.

  38. Student*

    OP #4, you need to step back and figure out what you actually want.

    You say you want this: “I just would like a little more range of experience and the opportunity for my experienced team to teach others all they know! “

    When you say you want your team to have “more range of experience,” does that mean you want a team of people with less experience (Junior staff, per AAM’s recommendation)? Presumably to delegate less-critical, but time-consuming tasks to?
    Or do you want team members who use different, probably more recently-developed, techniques, software, methods than your current team? If so, do you have a serious business case for the value of changing your team’s techniques, software, etc., or just a personal preference? If you have a business case for it, and you manage your team, then you have other options – hire specifically for those skills rather than by age-as-proxy, or send your team for some training and direct them to adopt the new methods you think will work better.

    When you say, “…opportunity for my experienced team to teach others”, I have to ask – do you mean it, or is that some fluff you threw in to try to make yourself sound less ageist? I ask because I’ve never encountered a manager in my field who genuinely values training new generations of workers, so I approach such statements with a lot of skepticism based on personal experience. If you do want your team involved in training the next generation, then incentivize it and give them opportunities to do so. Trade groups, summer interns, and time off for community outreach (or some company funding toward community outreach) are good alternatives to hiring junior staff, depending on your circumstances.

    You also say this, which gives me pause: “…and I am younger than all but two”. This statement makes it sound like you have some very un-examined personal reasons to want young people on your team. You sound like you want friends at work, or you feel awkward managing people older than yourself, or similar. If that’s what motivated this, that is exactly part of the ageism that the law is trying to prevent. You need to sit with your feelings on this and figure out if (1) you have real business needs that aren’t getting met – and then focus on the business needs instead of the ages involved – or if (2) you’re coming up with some thin cover to justify doing what you want because you feel awkward about working with older people in your current group.

    1. Allypopx*

      This is a good analysis. Also I think “opportunity for my experienced team to teach others” is a little presumptive of how this would work. Yes, Junior Staff learn a lot from Senior Staff, but in a healthy office in almost any field that goes both ways. Younger staff might know more about cultural norms, technology, any number of things that they can bring to the table. That’s a much stronger argument for diversity – bringing in different views and ways of thinking – than “passing on our knowledge” is.

      1. Esmeralda*

        My office is strongly committed to training entry level workers (= Masters degree required, work experience in the field or a related field less than three years). We have an outstanding training program, and in fact train others in the field who work in different departments. Also our staff is regularly poached by other departments and other colleges/universities.

        At one point my former grandboss wanted us to hire at the entry level for our field, but people who had substantial work experience in any field. In other words, people who were less likely to need training / guidance in how to work in a professional office. We hired several outstanding folks in their 30s, 40s, and 50s.

        We had had previously hired a lot of mid-20s for whom this was their first professional job — some of them picked up on professional behaviors quickly, but unfortunately a substantial group did not. That’s sometimes what happens when you take a chance on people.

    2. Dorothea Vincy*

      +1 This is a good way to put it. The OP does seem to be equating better skills, longer careers, and easier-to-manage with young people, and none of that might be true. OP, if you reflect and think that you would pick a less-qualified younger person over someone older who has all the necessary skills just because it would make you more comfortable at work, that is ageism at play. And again, you can’t guarantee that this person will be a good coworker or have amazing insights just because of their age. Younger people are sometimes amazing, sometimes terrible at their jobs- you know, just like older people.

  39. DataSci*

    Regarding #4, I’ll say that from where I sit in my early 40s, being lumped in with those ready to retire as “older” utterly *terrifies* me, and is exactly why age discrimination laws exist! The nature of my field means it’s skewed younger (it hasn’t existed for long enough for there to be lots of data scientists much older than me, other than those who did a career change at some point), and even without this “41 is functionally equivalent to 64” BS I’m worried about 30-year-old managers deciding I’m stale and out of touch and unhirable.

    So please, OP #4, think about what it is that makes you decide anyone older than you is ancient. And then work on that.

    1. Allypopx*

      This stood out to me as well. As someone who just exited the “young fresh faced newbie” category who is now experiencing “taken seriously as a professional” – I don’t want my career opportunities to be over the next time I’m looking for work. It seems like the only ages that get talked about are 25 and 65 and the middle feels…very lost.

      1. quill*

        Even at “cautiously approaching 30” I’m a little wary of this because let’s face it, it’s taken me all my working life so far to get out of really crappy junior positions. There’s a lot I don’t know yet because my industry treats everyone under 30 / without a PhD as disposable.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Seconded/thirded. I have worked in IT my whole life (in my mid-50s now) and I swear, I must’ve gone from “too young to be taken seriously or promoted to senior positions” to “too old to be taken seriously or promoted to senior positions” overnight. There was never any in-between that was beneficial for me. Obviously, this kind of age-based assumptions are why age is a protected category to begin with. For personal reasons, I will need to work at least to my official retirement age of 67, very likely past that and into the early 70s, but I have no idea if I’ll have a job in my field even several years from now. If something happens to my current place of employment, I can only hope to skate by on looking younger than I am and not listing my graduation dates anywhere to have a chance of getting any new job at all. Age discrimination is brutal enough in my field without someone trying to specifically bring in younger people and calling it diversity.

      Also, OP, since you are concerned about the older staff retiring and taking their institutional knowledge with them, it may be good news for you that most of us Gen X never plan on retiring ever. So you are not in danger of that happening even if you hire an older person (older than 30, I mean) who’s changing careers.

      1. armchairexpert*

        The in-between category is ‘too likely to take maternity leave to be taken seriously or promoted’.

    3. AnonThisTime*

      Yep. I am in a tech-centric area and heard a tech exec say that he would never hire anyone over 25. Like, out loud, to another person. Granted, to another exec in tech, so he assumed said person would sympathize. (Said person did not since they claimed the average age of a new hire at their company was over 30.)

  40. Blackcat girl*

    For #3: I think it ok to correct a wrong word in the context of an oral presentation. When we had practice talks we did correct mispronunciations. That being said as others have commented maybe they don’t hear the difference. I certainly can’t hear a difference between dawn and Don.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes I had a colleague on one occasion who couldn’t hear a difference between Don and Dawn. What was amusing was that she couldn’t believe the rest of us could and said we were ganging up on her and trying to gaslight her. We weren’t because to us they sounded completely different.

    1. The Rural Juror*

      I think a big difference there is that you were using the opportunity of practice talks to correct each other. You were asking for the help with pronunciation. Not everyone will appreciate an unsolicited correction.

  41. CSG*

    I will say, I’ve gotten burned by someone who extended their experience and didn’t fully describe the amount that parental leave affected their years of experience. She indicated she had ~4 years of experience but had taken about 8 months year for maternal leave and then had different duties while breastfeeding. She then claimed she was fired “probably because I’m a mom” and not because she was terrible at her job. Granted, we work with hazardous materials so someone having 2-3 years less experience in the field really matters and became clear shortly after she was hired (which was explicitly for a position requiring frequent contact w hazmat). Within a year, she was pregnant again and now management is too nervous for the liability to fire her. I feel “guilty” about it but I do really feel like in our line of work, unfortunately, birthing parents are at a severe disadvantage especially early in the career but that’s the reality of physically bearing a child and working in contaminated site cleanup. It does feel kinda unfair and disingenuous to claim you have 4 years of field experience when you really have 2. Not the LW’s situation obviously, just pointing out that there are some situations where it matters!

    1. not a doctor*

      I’m not familiar with HAZMAT rules. Is there a license that requires a set number of continuing hours doing XYZ HAZMAT-related tasks? If so, wouldn’t her hours (or lack of hours) have been tracked?

      If not, it sounds like the real issue was that she was bad at her job, and that could have happened even with the full 4 years.

      1. CSG*

        No, for the US the only license that’s required is a 40-hour class when you first start and then an 8-hour refresher annually. The license is very broad so it covers everyone from truckers who drive hazwaste to people working in labs (some jobs require additional licensing but that’s just the general). There’s some hours tracking for work with some chemicals because it feeds into what kind of medical monitoring you do but that would be pretty confidential. Definitely the real issue is that she is bad at her job, but she was able to somewhat mask it by claiming more years of experience. I’m just salty because she was supposed to take over some of my duties and didn’t, then because “we hired someone!”, management dragged their feet on hiring more. So I’m partly frustrated with her misrepresentation but also with management for letting her get away with it all.

    2. nothing rhymes with purple*

      It is possible for someone to be flawed and *also* discriminated against. Just putting that fact out there.

      1. quill*

        Yeah, I’ve worked with enough people who were unpleasant but who also had a point about how people treated them.

        There’s a LOT of people who are more likely to allow themselves to make some bigoted assumptions (especially the kind of bigotry that has plausible deniability,) when they find someone very unpleasant but in ways that are a little nebulous to define to anyone else.

        For example, “She doesn’t put in the hours” tends to get used against mothers when the real problem is that she’s a Karen.

      2. onco fonco*

        Yeah – every time parental leave comes up there are anecdotes of parents in the workplace behaving badly or being terrible at their jobs, and it depresses me no end. You can find examples of bad behaviour from individuals in any group. It doesn’t justify discrimination. It doesn’t. There are always people who take advantage of any situation. It doesn’t mean that giving parents in general a scant inch will mean they take a mile and laugh in your face.

    3. JustJustin*

      Yep. Strange that anyone would argue that the time spent actually working doesn’t matter. It does. People are just giving a pass because motherhood is involved. Imagine if you found out a guy took three months off a year to golf every year and got away with it. People here would be incensed, as they should.

      1. Metadata minion*

        If his workplace allowed for it then…fine? Good for him? If other people aren’t allowed to take three-month vacations something is screwy, but if Mabel is taking 3 months for maternity leave I will be able to take advantage of the same benefit should I have a child. I’m not going to have a child and so will not get to go on maternity leave, but that also means I get to, y’know, not go through the physical and mental ordeal of caring for an infant.

      2. CSG*

        Disagree, this is not my point. As a society, we’ve agreed that childrearing is valuable so it’s not really equivalent to golfing for a few months every year. My point is that there are situations where it may be disingenuous to count years of experience when you were not performing the tasks inherent to your job function during those years especially when the person is just a bad employee who abused the benefit of parental leave to inflate their experience.

      3. nothing rhymes with purple*

        Dealing with the physical and psychological effects of pregnancy, childbirth, and caring for a fragile new human is NOTHING like “three months off a year to golf”. I feel bad for the person who did this for you, watching you hatefully minimize the effort.

    4. biobotb*

      But it sounds like the hiring process didn’t do a very good job of screening for experience and ability, including checking references, if she’s as bad as you say and was actually fired for incompetence.

  42. LPC*

    Regarding #1, this is exactly why women get penalized financially and in their career progress for having children. It makes me want to scream that her boss is a female perpetuating the injustice.

    1. Allypopx*

      I see so much women-on-women social violence in this area. ‘Career’ women vs ‘Moms’ like it’s a dichotomy, or like we’re enemies and not fighting the same fights. I hate it. (Said a childfree woman).

    2. Khatul Madame*

      Like Allypopx, I have seen a lot of women mistreating other women in the workplace, although the divide is not always about the family status. Sadly, more often is about having someone to bully who is not a man.

      1. quill*

        Bullying on the axis of privilege is not just a matter of “am I privileged enough to get away with it?” it’s “who can I get away with doing it TO?”

        Which is why you have a long history of feminist movements turning around and throwing out the “wrong” kind of women based on race, class, sexual orientation… and why you see politicians pitting the (white, at least in the US, more nationalist-focused in europe) working poor against immigrants and the disabled and unemployed. Because if you can’t rise to the top you can at least climb over someone else on your way there.

  43. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP#4: By now, upstream commenters will have alerted you to the fact that you’re treading on very thin ice. Do you have a trusted mentor you can run ideas by? Preferably before you alienate key members of your team?

    That said, it sounds as though what you really need to do is some long-term planning for the future of your team. What challenges and constraints are you likely to face in the next 3-5 years? What’s going on in your industry that you need to be prepared for? Involve your team in this process — they may surprise you.

    Oh, and if you identify certain skills that your current team doesn’t have, please don’t assume that your only option is to hire someone new and/or young. One of the “olds” on your team may be interested in picking up a new skill.

    1. allathian*

      Yes. The only legitimate worry here, I think, is continuity. If most team members are old enough to be either retired, or are approaching retirement age, there’s something to be said for hiring some younger people if there are additional openings. Otherwise it’s going to be tough if half the team decides to retire within a short period of time. That said, the 40-somethings definitely aren’t a part of this group, I’d include employees over 60. It can be hard to work in a team where everyone else is either very much older or younger than you, and you don’t have anything in common with them except work.

      That said, a big part of why I enjoy my team so much is that our oldest employees are around 65. We have employees in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s, and I really enjoy it.

  44. BettyD*

    LW #2- The wording included like “fluctuating schedule of the job” and “case cancellations” being the reason a Thursday interview slot became available on Thursday make me think this is a field with a lot of outside-pressure schedule flexing, like court law, social services or counseling. If so, while the LW isn’t inherently wrong to turn down a same-interview, they might want to consider whether the position is really right for them if that kind of scheduling is going to be a problem. I know better than to pin down my colleagues who operate in the court system to anything because they can be called in or turned loose at very short notice.

  45. joss*

    reading OP#1’s letter the following from a Psychology today article popped straight into my head specifically item 2:
    “The Misogynistic Self-Loather
    1. The Misogynistic Self-Loather has adopted a general attitude of contempt toward every one of her own “filthy” kind, including herself.
    2, She regards women, including herself, as promiscuous, manipulative, dishonest, irrational, incompetent or unintelligent.
    3. She tends to be in denial about her own self-loathing but not usually about her contempt for other women.”
    It is not just weird that the (female) manager brought this up after OP was on the job for a full year. She brought it up again two years later when OP moved on to another role even though OP had performed very well during the 3 years working under her management.
    Misogony is real, it is very pervasive, and it not be ignored in any form!

    1. Nanani*

      Internalized Misogyny has been a term of discussion in some feminist circles for many years. Google might point you to interesting blogs and discussions if you’re interested (you in general, not just joss)

  46. Wintermute*

    regarding #1– this could be industry specific. In mine, there are fairly significant income breaks at 3 and 5 years, so if you put five they will expect you have five years of solid experience, often because of internal policies that require them to have someone with X years experience for certain roles supervising critical systems.

    That is the only case where this could make any sense, and I suspect you’d know if you were in that kind of industry, but if “five years” is the magic number that could lead to a 20-30% pay increase or if you were in a role with an internal policy that required five years experience because you were the owner of a critical process, then they’re completely justified. If that isn’t the case, everything Alison and everyone else said applies.

  47. JustJustin*

    If your defense of OP 1 is comes down to “the difference between 4 and 5 years at a position isn’t enough to matter when it comes to hiring” then you’re acknowledging that her manager did have a valid point.

    You’re saying that the time spent not working does matter – just that 20% doesn’t matter enough. Which is also saying that 40%, 50%, 60% etc. would make a difference – which is totally reasonable.

    Don’t let sympathy and emotions get in the way of logic. If a woman had submitted a letter here where a man with supposedly the same years of relatively equal job experience had been hired instead of her, and she later found out he’d spent one of the five years that he claimed to be working at a job on a company-sanctioned cigar smoking sabbatical (or whatever), the comments here would be universally expressing outrage. Be honest with yourselves.

    1. quill*

      Pregnancy and the recovery from it are medical conditions, my dude.

      Also a “sabbatical” is literally a leave to work on something else, usually in an academic context, so if a future professor had taken a sabbatical, I’d assume it was within the norms of the industry. Maybe the work he produced failed horribly (if he was in research, it happens more often than you think) or maybe he’s overall just a coattail rider… but you can’t fairly judge that by saying “oh, he was on an industry-supported leave, that doesn’t count” for considering hiring. You could consider proportion of time in office for seniority, raises, etc. But you can’t for hiring because questions like “have you ever been pregnant or had a long term illness?” cannot be considered during that process. And the vast majority of long term leaves are medical.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Good point about the sabbatical! It does in fact count as overall experience, as it should. It is also work-related. Just because that future professor spent a year teaching at Teapot College and not at Llama State where he has tenure, does not mean that this year will not count.

        1. JustJustin*

          Come on. If I’d written “cigar smoking vacation” would that have made you happy?

          What if someone’s off for a year recovering from a major medical condition?

          What if someone’s off for a year for mental health issues?

          Whatever the reason, it does not matter in the sense that you are still working one year less. You have one less year doing the thing you’re stating on your résumé that you did. It makes a difference.

          1. quill*

            The crux of the argument here is everyone telling you that legally, you’d be on shaky grounds for insisting on this, because you’d be insisting on someone disclosing their past medical history during the application process, which can lead to hiring discrimination.

            Socially, you’re on shaky grounds because in addition to creating unnecessary opportunities for new hires to experience discrimination, you’re opening the door to a pedantry that is not well appreciated on the internet.

          2. Dr. Tea Blender, PhD*

            Reading your comments, it feels like you’re trying to argue that we’re all okay with being strict about the smaller number of years if it were non-pregnancy medical leave, and I’m here to tell you that if the LW had been out on leave for a year due to an extended medical recovery, they *also* shouldn’t have to subtract that from their years worked.

        2. Wisteria*

          No, bad point about sabbatical. People in academia frequently take a sabbatical for the purpose of working on other things, but they don’t always work on other things. In industry, meaning outside academia but not government, sabbatical practically universally means extended vacation.

      2. JustJustin*

        You’re comparing pregnancy, which is a choice, to other medical leaves which are often involuntary? That’s not very fair.

        The fact that you would dig into the word “sabbatical” tells me you’re not interested in arguing the real issue. obviously it’s a made-up reason, obviously there are not company sanctioned cigar smoking sabbaticals.

        If you take a year away from work to have a baby and recover, you are working one year less than if you hadn’t. That is an inarguable fact. I have worked with people who came back from only a few months being out for maternity leave and it takes them many months to get back up to speed on their jobs, if they ever do.

        Taking a significant amount of time off has an affect. Arguing that it doesn’t is unreasonable and shows that some other element is intervening and taking the place of logic.

        1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

          Number 1, pregnancy is not always a choice. Number 2, the choice not to have children is valid for an individual but not for society. Who do you imagine will be the future customers and workers for a business if no one has kids?

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Right? I commented below about my son being one of the best in his niche of the field, and the response I got was “I’m glad your child is doing well” like dude… how he is doing is beside the point. He is a valuable contributor to the society. He may someday invent the tech that will improve Justin’s quality of life when Justin’s in a nursing home. Ya know? He’s not just a fun vacation I chose to have 20-some years ago, lol. (Also he was, uh, not a choice. We decided we’d start trying for a baby in the fall, and all of a sudden, I was pregnant in the early summer. It happens.)

        2. quill*

          Newsflash my dude: pregnancy has only been voluntary (and even now the timing of it is not necessarily so) since the late 60’s / early 70’s depending on your country and socioeconomic status.

          The issue I would like to dig into is that ALL medical leave cannot be considered as a factor in hiring, point blank. “Sabbatical” (your choice of words) tells me more about your attitude towards whether pregnancy is a medical leave or a vacation (you appear to believe it is a vacation) than anything about my argument.

          Frankly “I have worked with many people who take many months to get back up to speed” is applicable to any leave of absence, and LW’s problem is not something like “my boss says that after taking a year off out of five will get my five year raise a year later” it is “my new boss is accusing me of lying during the interview process because I did not preemptively disclose a medical leave, which is a bad idea personally because it could create discrimination, and for the company hiring me because not knowing about that leave is it’s best defense against being perceived as discriminating against it.”

          The argument being made in this thread is not that it has no business impact. It is that legally this leave is protected and that everyone arguing for it to no longer be protected, or appearing to argue that by becoming very suddenly attached to saying that their argument is “logical” and everyone pointing out the legal issue is “unreasonable” is seriously clogging the thread with either medical misconceptions (specifically, that parental leave is a vacation rather than a medical leave) or misconceptions about the current status of the legal protections of parental leave (you can resent it all you want but it is legally required, and like any other medical leave does not need to be disclosed when starting a new job, and expressing that will definitely get you pushback!)

        3. JustaTech*

          “it takes them many months to get back up to speed on their jobs, if they ever do”

          Citation needed.

          There are plenty of women at my company who have taken parental leave (US-style), some more than once, and are still leaders in their field. This is also true of people who have taken extended medical leave.

          Maybe the reason they have been able to “get back up to speed” is that we offer at least some post-parental-leave support? (And pay enough to cover child care.)

        4. Forrest*

          That’s also true if you’re out of work for a year because of a car accident so what the heck is your point here?

        5. Just another view*

          Couldn’t some medical leaves be due to “choice”, as in: they chose to smoke 2 packs a day and now are out to treat their cancer or they chose to overeat and are out on medical leave to treat their diabetes or other obesity related illnesses (or gastric bypass surgery!) or they chose to ski and now in a months long physical therapy program to regain their motor skills?

          To the point: “ If you take a year away from work to have a baby and recover, you are working one year less than if you hadn’t.”: yes, but in the example of 1 year out of 5 is pretty negligible and the point is you should treat it no differently than if you were out 1 year due to a medical condition. Which is usually not disclosed in interviews unless an ongoing condition that impacts their fulfillment of job duties.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      on a company-sanctioned cigar smoking sabbatical (or whatever)

      Are you kidding me. Do you really not know the difference between a cigar-smoking sabbatical and a maternity leave. The baby that was the reason for my own career taking a massive hit when I ended up on an indefinite unpaid leave instead of the 1.5 year maternity leave I had thought I was leaving on (not in the US) is now in his late 20s, working in my field, and honestly one of the best in it. His last manager called him “a true genius” in a text to us, his family. I hope those hypothetical cigars are doing equally well now at contributing to the economy.

      I am also reminded of an ex-employer where the husband and the wife both worked at the same manufacturing plant, both in key positions. They took six months each when their child was born. First she went on a six-month-long maternity leave, then she came back and he went on a six-month-long paternity leave. (The plant was located in Canada.) As someone who had to work closely with both (or their replacements) at least once a week, I can attest to the fact that either of those two people’s value to the company remained the same and was not in any way impacted by them being out six months each.

      1. JustJustin*

        You know, if I made up another imaginary reason for taking a year off, people would’ve criticize whatever that other imaginary reason was.

        The point is, it does not matter. It matters to you as a person and I’m happy your child is doing well, and I’m sorry your career took a hit. But no matter what the reason, you will never be able to argue that taking significant amounts of time off work impacts your level of knowledge and experience. That is what work is. Spending time doing what you do.

        I could make up more scenarios to dramatize the situation but they will always be critiqued. Time off from work in large quantities equals not working as much as you otherwise would have, which intern can have an impact on your career.

        1. quill*

          That’s because the comparison you are looking for is any other year long medical leave, which you have been consistently dodging comparing maternity leave to.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Oh, he did comment a bit uphtread that if it is a year-long medical leave, it “does not matter in the sense that you are still working one year less. You have one less year doing the thing you’re stating on your résumé that you did. It makes a difference.”

            I am so confused about that comment, by the way. If I worked at company X from February 2015 to March 2020, but was hit by a mac truck in April of 2017 and was out on medical leave till early 2018, is Justin trying to say that I should then adjust my start/end dates to reflect my shortened experience? or add an extra line? “02/2015 to 04/2017 – Senior teapot painter. 04/2017-03/2018 – was hit by a truck” ???!?! because I don’t think a lot of people habitually list the exact number of years of experience on their resume? (I shorten mine by a lot, round them down to the nearest 5, and then list it in my cover letter as “over (shortened number) years of experience”, but that’s a whole separate story that is more relevant to Letter 4 than 1.) Also… “it makes a difference”? no, after the first 2-3 years it does not really make a difference. Your skillset and what you’ve been doing with it do.

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          While I was on maternity leave, I:
          – Found my then-husband a job in my field (software dev) through my network. (He was doing something else at the time, and had no dev background). I wrote the code for his first assignment on a piece of paper in the kitchen while he was holding our baby. He then went on to have a successful career in development.
          – Did some contract work for a work friend’s daughter. True to my home country’s shady ethics, I wrote the code for the daughter’s graduation project for her two-year degree. She then went on to have a career in development.
          – I was in great shape to hit the ground running at the time when my maternity leave technically ended. But my then current job had hired my replacement (they made sure it was a single guy) before my son was even born, and told me not to come back. And when my direct boss from that job changed jobs and wanted to bring me on to his new team (because… imagine that… he thought I would be an asset) the company owner said no due to their “company policy” of not hiring women for dev positions. That was how my career took a hit. Going back to my two colleagues who’d missed six months each with their newborn, their work capacity took no hits at all. They came back and were back to their normal levels of work within days. They were my end users (he a shift manager and she a scheduler) and I worked with them closely and never noticed any gaps in “knowledge and experience”.
          – Lastly, your scenarios of how someone missing a year for illness, parental leave, etc will never be back to their previous levels of work and therefore have to be penalized, will indeed always be critiqued, because in this day and age, this reasoning thankfully happens to be illegal. But that stuff being acceptable in the past is how we got to the current situation of boardrooms full of old white men, who are essentially running the country. Thanks, dude.

        3. braindump*

          The onus is on the employer to find different metrics for assessing “level of knowledge”.

          I worked with one consultant that had “10+ years working with software X” but for some reason couldn’t deal with our specialized project. After we stopped working with him, I met someone (by chance!) at a networking event that was using the software for less than a year who worked on almost an exact clone of what we needed, and was able to do what we wanted.

          So, years aren’t always a good measurement, esp for really complex software setups. Instead, ask what people’s contributions to a project were to nail down what you really need.

    3. Allypopx*

      No, we wouldn’t – because the difference between 4 and 5 years is not important if people are performing at the same level. Number of years working does not necessarily correlate directly to knowledge or ability. People learn and improve at different rates. To the extent that years of experience matters for candidacy, which is a small extent, that year is not a big deal. It’s not 20% of your qualifications, it’s a 20% slice of something that accounts for maybe 15% of your qualifications.

      1. Wintermute*

        for some jobs, yes, for others there’s policies and hard requirements at play. At some of my places of work that difference would be grounds for termination, because they had hard requirements on time actually doing the work (for what it’s worth they would feel the same way about someone who moved jobs without a title change, was working at a lower level and then moved up, etc).

        Sometimes 20% matters, a lot, some jobs it doesn’t.

        1. quill*

          I would think those industries would be a lot more specific about requirements than “5 years of Ramen Island mapping,” though. Because there’s going to be jobs where Ramen Island Mapping was about 20% of your duties (but you were there beating seagulls off the noodle beach and measuring Pho Salinity on ramen island too, for all five years!) and there are going to be jobs where Ramen Island Mapping is 90% of your job, with maitenance of mapping equipment, emails, etc. being the other ten., and if you were in that job for two years you’ve technically got more experience than the five year Noodle Beach technician.

          So yeah, if you’re going to be picky about how many dozens of hours on the clock somebody’s spent doing something, the time to figure that out is the interview and hiring process.

          Also I’m hungry now.

          1. biobotb*

            Yeah, if experience matters THAT MUCH in a certain industry, it would be truly short-sighted if companies interview processes didn’t assess experience and ability and only used years as some kind of correlation with ability. Because any given person’s experience and ability after 5 years will differ from another person’s, so just having a “years experience” checkbox would be silly.

            1. Wintermute*

              welcome to ma bell’s children… the big black books of policy loom heavily over them all.

    4. Dr. Tea Blender, PhD*

      1. I think Allison’s wider point was that when you consider the substantive/skill level difference of employees with 5 vs 4 years, on its face, if there are no major differences in other metrics (for example, level of skill at a particular program), etc., that year doesn’t matter. If LW did not have the level of skill with a program they needed for their job, that would be a different matter, but that also would just be a matter of not a good fit for the job, as that is not attributable to maternity leave in the way the time in role question is being framed.

      2. This is specifically a matter of 4 vs. 5 years. Allison did say that if someone had been on leave for 12 months of a 14 month role, it would be a different matter, so I don’t think anyone is denying that time spent in away from a role never matters, just that a year on maternity leave in a role that you spent a substantial amount of time in is not misleading.

    5. Forrest*

      >> You’re saying that the time spent not working does matter – just that 20% doesn’t matter enough.

      Yes, can’t speak for anyone else but that is exactly what I’m saying, don’t know why you think that dishonest, or means I’d say something by different for a man, or that I’m “letting my emotions get in the way of logic”.

      Do you think maybe your sexism is getting in the way of your reading comprehension.

  48. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

    When will I learn to stop reading the comments on letters about pregnancy/maternity leave. As a relatively new working mom it’s wonderful to know how many people think I’m a lazy leech who is happy to abuse my company’s goodwill and take advantage of my coworkers for my own selfish purposes!

    1. quill*

      Mmm, the smell of Calvinist Misogyny and Ableism in the morning is just delicious, isn’t it?

      1. JustaTech*

        I’m starting to think that the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes put way too much good feeling out in the world towards Calvin (at least, I need to read up on Hobbes).

        Calvin is getting on my list with St Augustine of “philosophers who are not helping”.

        1. quill*

          To be fair, Calvin was a perfectly good name before the Bootstraps Philosopher got his hands on it.

        2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

          Calvin is the reason America is so cruel to its vulnerable citizens. If you were worthy of being blessed you’d be blessed already, no salvation through good works.

          1. quill*

            There are people who deserve to have a nest of drunk and angry hornets lobbed at them through the door of a time machine.

    2. Shenandoah*

      I struggle with this too. Sometimes it helps me to pay attention to usernames and see that it’s just 2-3 people commenting that ..viewpoint over and over, and multiple other people (both parents and childfree) pushing back on it. But it still sucks.

    3. nothing rhymes with purple*

      I so hear you. That’s part of why I can’t help but push back against the tides of misogyny.

    4. Cher Horowitz*

      I do not know if you will come back to this post but I wanted to let you know that I see you and I hear you.
      I am a stranger on the internet but please do not let this misogynistic handful get you down. I came back to work after two maternity leaves and each time I picked up right where I had left off but even if I had not, my team would have been there to help me just like I helped them when they needed it.

      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        You’re so kind! Thankfully I am surrounded by support at work and since returning from leave have had my best, most productive year to date. My organization is one of the good ones that recognizes they employ humans rather than machines!

  49. Generic Elf*

    I once had a hiring manager that accused me of lying on my application (I didn’t) – it was hilarious because I had no idea why the items she claimed I was lying about bothered her so much.

    The application had a space for “Years of batchelor’s courses” I had put 4 years worth, because I had four year’s worth, but no degree. There was no place to state whether or not a degree had been earned, so I had no way to comment on that, but otherwise I filled it out completely honestly. Apparently they called my university to verify and HR was infuriated that I had put that I had a bachelor’s when I, in fact, did not.

    They even brought me in to grill me about it, and I was so puzzled about it:

    Me: “Oh, I don’t have a bachelors’ degree, I never graduated.”
    Them: “Then why would you put that you had 4 years of college?!”
    Me: “Because I’ve had four years of college courses. I never graduated. I never claimed to.”
    Them: “But you put down that you had 4 years of undergraduate!”
    Me: “I did. There’s no place to mark any other information on education.”
    Them: “But four years means you have a bachelors degree, but your university says you never graduated!”
    Me: “Yes, that is true. You can have four years of undergrad and never graduate. There is no place on your application to mark if a specific degree is earned or not. I was not lying to you. Also, why did you contact my university when this position doesn’t require anything beyond high-school?”

    It was like arguing with a brick wall. They literally had no place, like a checkbox, to state if a degree had been earned. They just assumed if you had four years of college, you had a degree. Which isn’t always the case. Idiots.

    1. Cameron Counts*

      You were right on a technicality but if the number of people who complete four years of college and don’t get a degree is a tiny percent. They were right to feel fooled. That doesn’t mean you had another option without that missing field but if you made it sound as blasé as you wrote it above, it likely sounded to them like you were expecting to get away with fooling them into thinking you had a degree. Not a good move.

      1. quill*

        All it takes is one change of major and you might be looking at a “4 year degree” that takes 5 years. The fact is that “years of bachelors courses” is a weird question to ask if what they want to know is “do you have a degree” or “did you ever attend college” or “how many years until you graduate college?”