I took a promotion without knowing the salary, coworker uses Comic Sans, and more

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

1. I took a promotion and then found out the salary is too low

I was recently part of a reorganization that ultimately led to my promotion as a manager (Hooray!) with a large (for my org) team and leading a very prestigious company-wide initiative. I dove in as soon as my boss told me — both proactively and accomplishing the things she laid out for me. The tricky part is, I wasn’t told a salary or even a range before I started (I KNOW!). My boss told me that HR needed a couple of days — I was fine with that. After two weeks, I asked her about retro pay. A couple of days then turned into six weeks. I just got my salary … and it is low compared to market research and there is no retro pay. My boss tells me all of this (the length of time, and the low salary) are because this happened “off-cycle” despite the fact it was preapproved.

My boss seemed taken aback when I push back on all of this, particularly the retro. I feel taken advantage of — I was putting in huge hours to get my team up and running, and really embracing this role. She is currently checking with HR on all of this, but I don’t have particularly high hopes. I really love my job and my team, but I don’t know how to navigate this situation or even what my future looks like now. Do you have any advice?

So … never accept a promotion without agreeing on salary. This is exactly why. If you’re being pushed to start without a clear salary, it’s fine to say, “I’m very interested but can’t formally accept until we’ve agreed on the salary.” (And then do not get pushed into starting the work anyway, even if you’re excited to get started. You can say, “I’m excited to start, but if I start doing the work and then we can’t agree on salary, we’ll all be in a bind so let’s figure that out first.”)

At this point, you can try making the case for the salary you think you should be getting paid … but the problem is that you have very little leverage now since you’re already doing the job. If you’re willing to play hardball — and genuinely would walk away from the job over this — you can try saying that you can’t accept the job this far below market rate. (Is your old position still available? Would you be willing to go back to it?) But if you’re not willing to do that and/or they they won’t budge, your only option may be to stick around long enough to be able to parlay the promotion into a better-paying job somewhere else.

2. I don’t want my team to be sycophants

I’ve been an executive director at my organization for four years and have lately taken on projects that require me to work across teams and the organization. This has significantly ramped up the number of people and incidents where I am superfluously and publicly thanked for my leadership/advice/insight/whatever. I try to graciously and humbly thank the person for their “compliments.”

In truth, I regard this as sycophantic and I hate it. Can I and how do I address it, particularly when delivered in a large gathering?

It’s a good opportunity to pivot to thanking others — as in, “We couldn’t have done it without Jane’s months of organizing activists and Cecil’s relentless media outreach” or “the real thanks goes to the team who’s been working on this for months — Lucinda and Rupert pulled off some of the best XYZ I’ve ever seen, and Cordelia’s fundraising made the whole thing possible” or so forth.

If you notice senior leaders who you manage seem to default to thanking you rather than recognizing others, you can also make a point of encouraging them to publicly recognize their teams (which is a good thing to do even if you’re not spelling out “instead of me”).

3. Should I say anything about my coworker’s use of Comic Sans in her emails?

Someone on my team recently changed her email font to Comic Sans. She is a public-facing government employee who communicates with outside partners (mostly clinicians) via email. She struggles with Microsoft Office and computers in general.

I would say something, but I’m not her manager. I would say something to her manager, but I don’t know if I’m overstepping my boundaries here. (I am a manager and am on the same level as her manager.) Additionally, her manager isn’t the savviest when it comes to Office or software either. Thoughts? Is this a hill I want to die on or should I let it go?

Since you’re not her manager, you should let it go unless you manage something that’s affected by it (like if you managed public communications, you’d have standing to address it). It does look bad, but it’s not yours to solve.

For what it’s worth, there’s some evidence that Comic Sans is easier for people with dyslexia to read (it’s actually recommended by British Dyslexia Association and the Dyslexia Association of Ireland) and that might be why your coworker using it. Of course, there are lots of more professional looking fonts that are also recommended for dyslexia, but they’re generally not as easy to access for someone who’s not super computer-savvy.

4. Are companies allowed to leave a job unfilled after rejecting qualified applicants?

I’m wondering if you can clarify how the law works (at least in theory) on this. My understanding was that leaving a posted job unfilled after rejecting qualified applicants opens a company up to liability from an EEOC complaint, because applicants could claim that they weren’t hired because of their membership in a protected class. (I’m not talking about roles where personality/culture fit would matter, but more so technical roles with very standardized requirements that a candidate can easily prove they meet with a certification or previous work experience.) I know companies want to hire someone who fits in and who they like, but don’t we also have rules surrounding this that supercede a company’s desires for a culture fit? Isn’t it wrong (on paper) to leave a role posted and unfilled after rejecting qualified applicants?

Why do so many companies do this, holding out for some mythical perfect candidate, with no fear while unemployed people are struggling and hustling trying to get hired? I keep hearing that every company is desperately trying to hire right now, but I also see roles that have been up on job boards for over a year. It doesn’t seem like they are interested in hiring any of the actual available applicants.

Nope, it’s not illegal! Companies have no legal obligation to hire just because they post a job, even if they get qualified applicants. If you could prove that the reason they didn’t was because they didn’t want to hire a candidate because of race, religion, disability, or other protected class, then sure — but the act of not hiring isn’t on its own evidence of that. Sometimes companies end up not hiring because they aren’t convinced any of their candidates are strong enough or don’t complement the skillsets already on the team, or they second-guess what they actually need or whether they need the role at all, or they hold off while they prioritize other things, or they’re considering reconfiguring the department, or waiting to see if person X is leaving because it’s starting to look they will, or all sorts of other reasons.

You’re attributing it to wanting someone who fits in, but there are a ton of other reasons that can be in play instead. And “culture fit” isn’t inherently wrong. When it means “she reminds me of myself” or “I’d like to get a beer with him,” that’s a problem — and is often linked to race, age, and other protected characteristics — but culture fit can also be things like easy-going vs. more driven, or collaborative vs. lone wolf, or entrepreneurial vs. preferring a lot of direction, and all sorts of other things that are legitimate to consider in hiring.

There are companies that hold out for a mythical perfect candidate in unreasonable ways. There are also companies that have a very high bar for good reason, or who don’t need to hire but are open to doing it if someone really strong comes along. You typically can’t know from the outside what’s really going on.

5. I traveled for an interview — and they hadn’t meant to invite me

I recently applied for a job and got an interview. I was pretty pleased because it’s related to a cause I’m passionate about and I felt like I’d be a good fit for the role. My job hunt is due to a move so I spent time and money on travel and a hotel, but when I arrived at the interview — whoops! I wasn’t meant to have been invited to an interview after all, and I was sent out without an interview or apology. Everyone I’ve spoken to about this (the agency, the person who invited me) in an attempt to work out what went wrong has brushed me off. This is bad/non-standard behavior, right? I feel like since it had been scheduled, it might have been worth their while to speak to me, but that may just be my disappointment speaking. Could they or I have done anything differently?

Yes. If they realized when you arrived that they hadn’t meant to schedule you, the courteous thing to do still would have been to speak to you. If they could plausibly interview you, they should have. If that wasn’t plausible (like if you were obviously wildly unqualified for the job), they should have explained what happened and apologized profusely for the mistake — and if they’d known that you had flown in, they should have reimbursed your expenses, even if that’s not something they normally cover.

As for what you could have done, not a lot! In theory you could have explained on the spot that you spent time and money on travel and a hotel at their invitation, and asked if they could reimburse you since it was their mistake … but with an employer that didn’t even bother to apologize for the error, I’m not optimistic that they would have agreed. For the future, it’s smart to confirm interviews ahead of time, especially when you’re traveling (which is not to say you’re to blame for not doing that, just that it’s something to do going forward).

{ 574 comments… read them below }

  1. Chili pepper Attitude*

    OP #5, I’m so sorry that happened!
    It must have been such a disappointment. And it was incredibly rude and unprofessional.

    I wish you the best in your job search!

    1. Jolene*

      #5 yeah, wow, these people are jerks.

      I want to say you dodged a bullet (bc you did, seriously, you don’t want to people who are this inconsiderate, bc there will be many many many more similar displays in the future of how they totally do not value their people.).

      But, that’s cold comfort when you are out money for this BS.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        Yeah it’s already crappy that our culture has shifted to “we won’t pay your expenses to interview or relocate” (I think this started in my field, nonprofits, but I’ve now seen in it industry jobs too, who should theoretically have a budget? I mean, in many cases there’s a role vacant so you’re saving that person’s salary anyway?) – because people who are looking for work shouldn’t have to be out money just to try to get jobs. But to make them pay their own way and have it be an error? And still not offer to pay (or even apologize??) – that’s a new low.

        1. I should really pick a name*

          I haven’t noticed a trend shift in this direction (note: I’m Canadian).
          To me, the pattern seems to be that they will cover interview travel expenses when it’s either a particularly desirable candidate, or there aren’t a lot of local candidates.

          That’s not excusing the letter writer’s experience though.

        2. doreen*

          I don’t think it was ever common for most employers to pay interview or relocation expenses for most positions/candidates. Some employers will pay them for some positions – but plenty of employers either never paid them at all or only did so for some positions. However, I do think the LW’s experience was a special case and they should have paid even if it wasn’t their normal policy.

          1. Sloan Kittering*

            When I graduated, I definitely was definitely it was standard that if an employer was interested in you, they would fly you out to interview. If they didn’t, they weren’t really interested in you. Then for a long time I think the market was tough enough that most places didn’t need to do this and people were willing to pay themselves for a chance. However, thinking back it was probably always very field dependent and I just knew a lot of folks in those fields. I think it is still expected in high paid fields where talent is in-demand.

            1. Sloan Kittering*

              Arg, garbled first sentence – should have said “I was definitely taught that it was standard”

            2. tamarack & fireweed*

              I think this always depended on whether the employer was/is running a national (or even international search) or a local (or at most regional one). If they think of it as “this is the season when [rare subject matter specialists] are graduating from their training / schooling, and we want to make sure we get a selection of the best of the crop for the future of our company” or “we need a good accountant/middle manager/project lead and are looking for the best in the amply furnished local jobseeker pool”. If you are moving to a new town and competing mainly with people who already live there, chances are that it’s on you to arrange for travel.

              And some high throughput professions (teaching, nursing, medical residences) or highly competitive ones (performing arts) where the burden has always been placed on the candidate.

          2. MBK*

            It’s standard practice in some fields, and almost unheard of in others. It almost always comes down to how specialized the position is, and whether the employer is committed to bringing in the best candidate regardless of location.

    2. The Dogman*

      Send them a bill for your costs LW#5!

      And make it $150 per hour fee too, payable for all hours spent travelling and staying over etc.

      Then sue them for it.

      1. WellRed*

        It doesn’t sound like OP even confirmed the time and certainly didn’t sign any sort of professional contract so this suggestion is not practical.

        1. Butterfly Counter*

          While I agree that there was no agreement, so it wouldn’t be logical to then bill the company, if the OP showed up at the location at a particular day and time, I would suspect that there must have been a confirmed date and time for the interview.

        2. Bob-White of the Glen*

          An oral contract is a contract. I don’t know if there are grounds to sue (or actually win), but if you no longer wish to work with this company ever again, I would definitely send a bill. It was slimy of them. No, you won’t get paid it (most likely), but maybe they’d feel a little shame when they saw how much you spent.

          Also, start posting on every company evaluation site possible. I know I would think twice about a company that treated someone like this.

          Am so sorry it happened to you, OP.

        3. Anonymous4*

          There aren’t many details in the letter so we have no idea whether OP confirmed the time or not. And no one signs “any sort of professional contract” for an interview — I think you’re confusing an interview with a job offer.

      2. Salad Daisy*

        #5 “In our forum, the Peoples Court”. I thought exactly the same thing but without something in writing there is almost no chance OP would be successful.

        On the other hand, placing a review on Glassdoor would be a good idea. Of both the company and the recruiting agency if there was one.

        1. Former Retail Lifer*

          I was also thinking a Glassdoor review would be appropriate here. That’s a pretty big screw-up to not acknowledge and apologize for.

        2. Daisy-dog*

          100% agree on a Glassdoor review. I have more than once opted out of applying for roles that had negative reviews based on unreasonable interview stories.

        3. The OTHER Other*

          I was going to say this. Sending a bill would probably feel satisfying but it would be inappropriate. Name and shame on Glassdoor!

          1. Anonymous4*

            Why is it inappropriate? They invited OP to an interview, then waved OP off when s/he arrived — “Oh, we didn’t mean YOU! We wanted to interview someone else!”

            And that’s fine. They made a mistake and invited OP instead of the one they wanted. Mistakes happen. But THEY invited OP to an interview, which required travel and a hotel room, so they’re obligated to pay OP’s expenses. I’d have a little chat with a lawyer to find out what the chances would be in filing a suit in Small Claims Court.

            And if the response is, “Oh, the company would *never* hire OP if OP did such a thing”? Well, the company wasn’t going to do that anyway.

        4. Observer*


          Sending a bill makes YOU the story that people tell. A glassdoor review puts the spotlight exactly where it belongs – on the misbehaving company.

        5. Cat*

          Glassdoor and social media is what I thought, too. I think this behavior is so far beyond the pale, that other companies would not reasonably look askance at someone posting a heads up for other job seekers.
          How in the world does someone mistakenly schedule an interview? If they screwed up, then they should have just had the person in to talk anyway otherwise they seem like idiots in addition to being rude.

          1. Daisy-dog*

            I once mistakenly scheduled an interview. The candidate that I was interested in was Cathleen Jones. I accidentally called Colleen Johnson. They also used the exact same resume template from Word. I still interviewed Colleen and never indicated that it was a mistake. She was a stronger candidate than her resume presented, but she wasn’t quite what was needed for the role.

      3. SheLooksFamiliar*

        Sending receipts for actual travel expenses and asking for reimbursement: Yes, OP should do that, even if the interview was scheduled in error, no one confirmed the interview or the logistics, and the employer didn’t agree to pay for travel expenses. And the OP should never arrange air travel and hotel for an interview at their own expense, lesson learned.

        Charging for their time: Bad advice. Candidates don’t send contracts stipulating payment for their interview time, and no reasonable employer would sign it unless the candidate is, say, the Michael Jordan of Accounts Payable. And even then…there’s no breach of contract when a contract doesn’t exist, so nope.

        Suing the employer: Worse advice, it will cost the OP more in fees and frustration than it’s worth. Small claims court filings have to be in the county the employer is located – more travel expenses, anyone? The OP could file in state court and IF the case makes it past filing, the most they’ll likely get is reimbursement for actual expenses.

        1. Audiophile*

          I’m not sure a candidate having the company arrange their travel and accommodations is realistic.

          I’ve interviewed for jobs that were out of state, primarily pre-pandemic. In one instance, I would have needed to travel a few hours away and it coincided with the Boston Marathon manhunt, so travel was being impacted. It was still very clear that I was expected to arrange my own travel, even if the company was going to reimburse me for it.

          That is the easiest option for candidates and corporations in most cases. I’d say the exception is if it’s a very senior role; a specialized or niche industry; or the company is having difficulty filling a role.

    3. Hannah Lee*

      It may be a Hollywood myth, but I read once that that’s how Lauren Bacall got her start in film. An assistant misunderstood the producer and flew LB out to LA or brought her in for an audition by mistake. She wasn’t the person they’d asked for.

      Fortunately they actually let her try out and the rest was history.

      LW, you dodged a bullet – the combination of miscommunication and rudeness/ unprofessionalism means this isn’t likely a place you’d want to work.

      1. Autumn*

        I suspect it may be a myth, Hollywood worked a little differently then. Plus Howard Hawks renamed her after, or as a part of, signing her to the studio. Up till then she was Betty Bacal.

    4. JayNay*

      It’s so rude. I’d send a request for reimbursement along with a copy of the message scheduling your interview. They will probably refuse to pay, so at that point you hop straight over to Glassdoor and leave a very matter-of-fact review of their interview process.
      And do go over this with other potential employers! Like “I’ll be flying in for this interview, what do your reimbursement rules look like” or see if you want to do a video call first before an in-person interview. (Not sure if you asked to be reimbused and they refused since they “didn’t interview you” or if that hasn’t been discussed at all.)
      And yes, you likely dodged a bullet here. This says a lof about their company culture. You’ll find a better fit OP!

      1. Anonymous4*

        What Jay said! Request reimbursement and prove the invite, light them up on GlassDoor — and if it was enough money to really focus on, take them to Small Claims Court.

        1. Observer*

          Yes to the first part. No to the second. There is no way they are winning unless they have an agreement to reimburse expenses in writing.

      2. JR*

        I wouldn’t do this preemptively with other potential employers if your travel is because you are planning to move to the local area anyway but haven’t yet. They won’t reimburse you unless they’re planning to recruit nationally in the first place. The situation in the OP is different because of the mistake, but in general, if you’re the one who wants to move, you probably can’t expect to get interview expenses covered.

    5. Mitford*

      #5, something similar happened to me when I interviewed at a museum for a fund raising/membership job. To add insult to injury, the woman who was doing the interviews was running late, so I found a ticket for parking at an expired meter on my car when I got out (at a time when the last thing I needed was the expense of a parking ticket). She’d taken one look at my resume when I was finally ushered into her office and said, “I don’t know why HR scheduled you.”

      When the official reject letter arrived, it included a ticket for free admission to the museum. I will never step foot in that place again.

      1. FromasmalltowninCanada*

        I had something similar happen when I was looking for my first job out of university. I was completely broke and I took a bus to another city, subway, walk, etc. Only to have the woman take one look at me (young, white – so no racism) and basically say I’m not a good fit. I tried to get her to at least interview me but she wouldn’t. I was young, I didn’t even think to ask for bus money or anything. I was just kind of stunned. The issue seemed to be that I was young, attractive and had been to university? She made some comments about how I talked and that I sounded too much like I had just graduated…I don’t think she had looked at my resume before I got there… it was awful. (And for the record, I didn’t use any big words or business speak) I’m so sorry OP.

      2. Slow Gin Lizz*

        “When the official reject letter arrived, it included a ticket for free admission to the museum. I will never step foot in that place again.” Wow, that’s so tone-deaf I can’t even. I auditioned unsuccessfully for an orchestra years ago and they then put me on their marketing list. After a few months of that I wrote back and said, um, kinda mean, isn’t it? (or something to that effect; I was young and naive) and they took me off their list.

        And of course now I need to know what museum it was!

        1. Observer*

          “When the official reject letter arrived, it included a ticket for free admission to the museum. I will never step foot in that place again.” Wow, that’s so tone-deaf I can’t even.

          Marginally better than Peloton. Which is not a very high bar to clear, I suppose.

            1. Observer*

              They just had a massive layoff. Part of the severance package was a year’s subscription to Peloton’s service.

              Link to follow.

    6. AnonInCanada*

      Wow. Just. Wow. What a bunch of (words stronger than jerks, but this isn’t the forum for me to use swear words in!)

      OP#5: I wish there were a way you can take legal action on this negligent behaviour to get back the money you spent on transportation/accommodations, because that is what it is. But alas, I don’t think you have a case to do so. Not even an apology? I’m so tempted to say what I want to say… so… tempted.

    7. TinaTurner*

      Isn’t this the perfect Judge Judy case? You file a Small Claims case and they’ll fly you to be on the show.
      Or don’t be on TV if you don’t want to. But the co. made an agreement with you, let’s hope in writing, and owe you reimbursement. I’d go for it.

  2. Viki*

    Re: Comic Sans, we can make fun of it all we want but it is useful for ADA. And that IMO is more important than looks (but also I’m not in the comms team so what do I know)

    This isn’t your hill to die on, if the Comms team cares enough, they will address it.

    1. Electric Pangolin*

      The real crime of OP#3’s coworker is to force her font choice on other people. I have my mail program set up to display emails in a font and size I prefer, and I get mildly annoyed when people send me email with formatting that overrides my choices! In my case it’s not an actual readability issue, but if we’re going to mention disability, I would argue for letting everyone see on their own screen the font that accommodates them, rather than fighting over which one font everyone has to see – which inevitably ends in a painful battle of who “deserves” their accommodation more.

      Unfortunately it’s much harder to explain how to set up the email program so that coworker sees emails in comic sans but doesn’t actively format them that way when sending, than how to select something in the font menu, so if coworker is not good with computers this is probably a lost cause. (But there might be room to ask her if she would let someone else set it up that way for her.)

      1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        It’s not clear to me if you are talking about different fonts for different disabilities or if you’re equating a preference with a need?

        1. Electric Pangolin*

          Different fonts for different disabilities! Or even different fonts for the same disability – there are several fonts aimed at helping with dyslexia mentioned in the comments further down, and for some people Comic Sans makes things worse. The access needs don’t actually need to compete in this specific instance. This also, as a curb cutter effect, lets people with mere preferences choose to view their emails in whatever font they find aesthetically pleasing.

          Similarly, it’s considered a little rude to set fixed text and background colors in an email – you don’t know the context it will be displayed in, and e.g. someone might need grey text on black background to avoid migraine triggers, and someone else who has low vision acuity needs high contrast. Just let everyone configure their own computer to display text accordingly and don’t encode any of that in the email itself.

          1. Worldwalker*

            Overriding the viewer’s choices is bad, bad, bad.

            I run into it in websites. I have difficulty reading closely-stacked underlined text, so I have default link underlining turned off. Sites will use CSS to override this and force underlines because *they* like the look of it, even though it means that I can’t read their website. People who have underlined links (which are a holdover from text browsers like Lynx to begin with!) know they have to look a bit more for links — and know if you’re following best practices you’ll indicate them by color, font, etc. as well. Let the user decide.

          2. Starbuck*

            Yes, I’ve had this happen – some documents that I needed were published in OpenDyslexic font online, which I unfortunately find much more difficult to read than standard fonts, so I had to ask them to be re-sent as an editable version because the one online wouldn’t even let me copy and paste! That was their default and the only format/font they’d posted the documents in. Not helpful.

      2. Scout*

        Anyone know if this is doable in gmail? I’m looking but not finding a setting for that. It would really help me to not actively want to kill a coworker all of the time.

        1. tamarack & fireweed*

          Settings > See All Settings > Default Text Style

          … would be the first place to make a selection at. If someone sends you formatted email that overrides, I think you can use the “remove formatting” button to revert to your Default Text Style. Better to check it out though.

    2. happybat*

      The literature around font and dyslexia is controversial, and I worry a lot when people have been taught about dyslexia friendly fonts as fact rather than an ongoing debate. Especially when such misinformation can mean that time and energy (and goodwill) are spent on potentially ineffective accommodations.

      These are a couple of interesting and recent reads – my apologies that the second one doesn’t seem to be available open-access.

      Galliussi, J., Perondi, L., Chia, G., Gerbino, W., & Bernardis, P. (2020). Inter-letter spacing, inter-word spacing, and font with dyslexia-friendly features: testing text readability in people with and without dyslexia. Annals of dyslexia, 70(1), 141–152. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11881-020-00194-x

      Ari, O. 2022;2021;, “Dyslexia Fonts: What Postsecondary Instructors Need to Know”, Journal of college reading and learning, vol. 52, no. 1, pp. 64-71.

      1. Jam on Toast*

        @happybat – thanks for the reading recommendations on text readability. I handle accessibility training for post-secondary faculty as part of my job…these look very interesting.

    3. SavedFromLorna*

      Also, it extends beyond ADA reasons: Comic Sans is a great font for writing in English when you are communicating with people whose native language is ideographic rather than based in letters, e.g. many Sinitic languages!

      1. TheLinguistManager*

        I’ve encountered the recommendation about Comic Sans and dyslexia before, and seen but this is a new one to me. What’s the reasoning/research behind users of logographic writing systems finding Comic Sans easier to read?

        1. Myrin*

          Not SavedFromLorna and I can only vaguely remember learning about this in an early linguistics class more than ten years ago, but I do have personal experience regarding this: I have a friend from Japan who learned the Latin alphabet in handwritten from first and foremost. But of course, an “a” or “g” look vastly different when written by hand compared to what they look like in, for example, Times New Roman. We (Westerners, I mean) generally don’t even realise that because we’re so used to it but to her – she says she had the hardest time connecting the weird, low-reaching, 8-like thingy to a lowercase “g”. Comic Sans doesn’t have that – its lowercase “g” looks like what “g”s look like when you first learn to write.

          1. GraceC*

            Yeah, I know a lot of people working in early years teaching/pre-school (around the ages kids are learning to recognise letters and learning to read) and they all use Comic Sans – there are actually very few fonts that use the “handwritten”/single-storey a shape and the “handwritten”/single-storey g shape. Some use one or the other, but rarely both.

            1. JSPA*

              Arial size 14, then 16, then 18 became my font of choice for PDF’s, as friends’ vision worsened.

              I can also (just barely) still read Arial 18 without my reading glasses. Makes it a lot easier to grab the right document without having to slow down.

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            There’s also the presence of little hooks at the top and bottom of long strokes (ldph etc.) in fonts like Times New Roman which I was told make it hard for people with reading issues like dyslexia
            Comic Sans doesn’t have these. Neither does Verdana, which also has a and g that looks like the a and g as we write them. Since I learned this, I’ve systematically used Verdana as my default font. It’s clean and simple, and doesn’t have the primary school appeal of Comic Sans.

            1. Joanna*

              Rebelwithmouseyhair, Those little things you are talking about are serifs. The sans in Comic Sans means without serifs. I am dyslexic, and I do prefer fonts sans serif. My reading comprehension is very good, but it just takes less energy to read a lot of text without serifs.

              I have several coworkers who also have dyslexia (Dyslexics untie!) and one is a program manager and I would be mortified if I sent him an email in Comic Sans. I don’t know why, he never reads my emails anyway, so he wouldn’t know (ADHD too). Now I’m wondering if I should give Comic Sans a try with my other coworker. His reading comprehension is not good at all.

              Now, if typing in Comics Sans could help me with my typos and misspellings, everyone would be getting email from me in Comic Sans. Alas, it does not.

              1. Curmudgeon in California*

                Hmmm, I’m dyslexic, but I prefer fonts with serifs. Sans-serif fonts are hard for me to read because things like l, i, and 1 are not differentiated well enough, whereas with serifs the letters all looks different.

                1. Starbuck*

                  Not dyslexic, but same here. The serifs help me scan things quickly by giving letters more distinct shapes from each other. Comic Sans just kind of runs together for me. I wish it was easier to set in-browser font conversions!

            2. MCMonkeyBean*

              Yep, those are called “serifs” and the “Sans” in “Comic Sans” is short for “Sans-serifs, meaning it doesn’t have them. So if you are ever seeking a font without them you can look at any option that has the word “sans” in the name!

              1. MCMonkeyBean*

                Sorry, I always forget to refresh my feed before commenting–I open these pages at the beginning of the work day then often don’t look until later and think I’m adding something useful to the discussion only to see that it’s been thoroughly covered after my comment posts lol.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Don’t know research, but I’ll suspect it’s because the letters are exaggerated.
          I’m basing this on experience learning to read medeival English texts. Look up real examples of blackletter (sometimes called ‘gothic’). A modern reader’s first impression is that all the letters look the same and they all blur together.
          You’re sending me down a rabbit hole…

          1. Worldwalker*

            I create fonts. Mostly for weird ancient alphabets, but I’ve done one for blackletter. Mine was one of the less extreme ones, and the lower case in particular is hard enough to read. I have seen some that I found nearly unreadable.

            Back to the Comic Sans issue, there is no reason a font couldn’t be — and undoubtedly has been — created that would have the benefits of Comic Sans for dyslexia, etc., but look like adult writing instead of (intentionally so) childish scrawl. TNR and Comic Sans are not the only two fonts in the Univers!

            1. OfOtherWorlds*

              “TNR and Comic Sans are not the only two fonts in the Universe!”

              Yes, but they’re both default fonts included with Windows & Microsoft Office. Times New Roman was and sometimes still is the default font for new documents in Office, and Comic Sans begins with a C so it’s at the beginning of the menu. If you’re uncomfortable with tech, possibly don’t know you’re dyslexic, and looking for a font that’s easy to read in the Office menu, Comic Sans is likely to be the first easy to read font you find.

              There are indeed alternatives to Comic Sans! Open Dyslexic (https://opendyslexic.org/) is free and open source. But you need to know about it to find it, and be comfortable downloading and installing new fonts.

          2. OfOtherWorlds*

            I love the look of blackletter, but making Wittenberger Fraktur my phone’s default font just didn’t work. It was lovely, but everything took twice as long to read and some letters were impossible to distinguish from one another. I compromised on Morgana, a modern “Celtic” ornamental font based on Caroline minuscule with some semi-blackletter capitals. And this thread has let me geek out about fonts! Yay!

            1. NutellaNutterson*

              Your comment made me laugh in typeface and font nerd glee!

              I do not have dyslexia (my mom does, so she was on the lookout with me) but when typefaces get abstract or overly complex, I absolutely cannot read them. (Businesses who choose signs and graphics where I cannot read your name, whyyyy?!)

              I appreciate deliberate design and I completely understand that a typeface is part of a company’s image. But I suspect that sometimes it’d only halfway deliberate- “this looks good for our brand” rather than “this is the best readable type for our brand.”

      1. Snow Globe*

        Dyslexie is the font designed for people with dyslexia. Unfortunately, it does not appear as a standard font in all Microsoft products (at least not in my version of Word, which is a few years old).

        1. Run mad; don't faint*

          Dyslexie also looks remarkably like Comic Sans. I don’t think people who dislike comic sans would find it any more palatable.

          1. JSPA*

            looks different to me (and less readable, at speed, and more “artificial”). I’m super-glad that it exists, of course! But weighting as a strategy is very dyslexia specific (and not even all forms of dyslexia, from what I gather). Comic sans also works for people who have other sorts of vision distortion. The same thing that makes it goofy (each letter has a bit of its own personality / style) also makes each letter more distinct.

            IMO, the best accommodation is to pre-accommodate. Access rules don’t say, “if you show up in a wheelchair, we’ll order a ramp for delivery in an hour.” (I mean, it’s great when people rush to create accessibility in the face of pressing need…but it’s much better to not have the problem in the first place.)

            Yet when it comes to reading (and yes, I get that there is a long history of handwriting and printing as an art form) we happily express repugnance at making essential written information as accessible as reasonably possible.

            1. Run mad; don't faint*

              I find OpenDyslexia more weighted and more difficult to read than Dyslexie. My kids mostly preferred Comic Sans, possibly because it was much more available than the other two. These days, they seem to manage fairly well with whatever fonts their textbooks come in, thankfully. I know not everyone is so lucky. But yes, I agree; written information should be more accessible.

        2. AnonInCanada*

          It’s not. And it’s also USD 60 for one user or about USD 40 per user if more than 4. Small wonder why most people won’t use it. And even if you did use it in an email, chances are the person on the other end will see it in a default font for their email client. That is, good ol’ Calibri for those who never dig into Outlook settings.

      2. Cthulhu’s Librarian*

        There are actually quite a few, and in my experience, most people don’t have a problem with them, if they’re encountered in the wild (…I may have changed the inside directional signage at my library without asking for permission during our first covid shutdown, and been surprised at how few comments were made…)

      3. PB Bunny Watson*

        The fonts I’ve seen specifically designed for people with Dyslexia have been more uncomfortable for me to physically read than Comic Sans. Also, Comic Sans is pretty much guaranteed to be in any program you use, while those other fonts often aren’t.

          1. JSPA*

            For me, the”weight” is “pulling” my eyes down, and then i overcorret upwards (maybe because the tops are wispy and don’t “hold”?). My reading speed drops by, uh, might be as much as from 800 wpm at moderate complexity to 200 wpm even at low complexity. I might get the hang of it… but it’s the only font outside of older German print, that I find physically difficult to move through.

            1. Starbuck*

              I have the same difficulty with the Open Dyslexic font. I wish it was easier to change the font you’re viewing in a browser or document so that everyone could see whatever they prefer.

    4. Cthulhu’s Librarian*

      Sadly, I have yet to ever encounter a communications or marketing person who thinks accessibility is more important than looks.

      1. Let me librarian that for you*

        Hi there! Comms/marketing person who is the (somehow only) accessibility-first champ at my org!

        Some key areas of looks improve accessibility – like white space balance and high color contrast. Other than that, looks matters really only to the extent that you have some uniformity and standards – but those should always be accessible!

      2. Anonym*

        Hello! We are out there, I promise. :)

        Signed, the person who has been haranguing teams for adequate image alt text for years (successfully)

      3. Koalafied*

        More marketers than not are very concerned with accessibility because people who can’t read your page don’t buy stuff on your page. I’m in marketing and we’re often fighting with the brand enforcers and comms designers because they want everything to look pretty and we want it to drive conversions, and those two goals are frequently at odds with each other.

        The biggest one that is a fight with almost everything I have to collaborate with brand on is their aversion to using high-contrast colors. They don’t want to make the “Add to Cart” button a stand-out color like yellow or red when all the other buttons are blue – they think it looks garish and salesy and would rather use three different shades of blues to create a more polished and “elegant” design. They love putting white text on colors like yellow and cyan, or light gray text on beige. The stuff they produce all looks very nice the way an interior decorator makes a home look very nice – but at best the design is failing to provide cues that drive conversion and at worst it’s causing people over the age of 50 to abandon the page because trying to read the color scheme quickly fatigues their eyes.

        1. Ali + Nino*

          In my early 30s over here and white text on yellow would be illegible to the point of abandoning the page. Yikes! Thanks for the behind-the-scenes look.

        2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          pfff. Yes, when you want to click on “Buy now” you tend to look for something bright because surely they want to make it easier to find. Always used to be red, now you can’t find it without scrolling, and it’s in a sophisticated, discreet blue…. visual identity is great, but you have to make it work for you.

        3. Observer*

          The biggest one that is a fight with almost everything I have to collaborate with brand on is their aversion to using high-contrast colors and The stuff they produce all looks very nice the way an interior decorator makes a home look very nice – but

          ARG! I feel for you. This is is actually very bad design. Have any of the people on the team thought about WHY their brand looks the way it does? I mean, yes, you want to be seen that the “elegant”, “intelligent”, “trustworthy” or whatever source. But ultimately, you want people TO BUY WHAT YOU ARE SELLING, no? I know that YOU know that – it’s your brand people who don’t seem to have made that connection.

        4. Curmudgeon in California*

          As an over 50, plus dyslexic, plus head injury survivor, stuff that is low contrast like white text on yellow or grey on white or beige with make me abandon the page because it’s just too much trouble to read. I also hate it when sites override my browser preferences on font to the point I have to use “reader mode” to actually read the page. If I have to use reader mode to read it, I will weigh closing the page vs reader mode depending on whether I actually need to read the page.

          So, thank you for sticking up for people with minor vision impairments.

      4. Observer*

        I’m going to say that you’ve either been unlucky or working with not very competent folks (or both). Because in a very significant proportion of markets, accessibility improves your marketing /communications.

        It’s really simple – no matter how spiffy your ad looks, if it annoys someone they are not buying what you are selling. Your story could be the most interesting, but if someone can’t read it, they aren’t reading it. etc. Good marketing and comms people are always looking for ways to get people to actually look and listen. Smart ones also understand that in many cases, the people they are trying to reach have these kinds of limitations.

        This shows up in a lot of places. Like the spread of lower cost large screen desktop monitors. I remember when 17″ was considered HUGE. But as a larger percentage of the computer using working population moved into a stage where larger screen were just easier on the eye, people started recognizing that a real market exists.

      5. Agent Diane*

        waves in UK comms
        It may be different in the US, but in the UK all public sector communicators and designers understand about accessibility. Many are also advocates for it. Ideally something is both accessible and attractive: that maximises the audience which is, after all, a key performance metric.

        If you work with communicators or designers who are putting looks before access, you can suggest they search for Alexa Heinrich. She has produced plenty of guidance on accessible social media. And the NHS / gov.uk brand guidelines show how to have a strong brand identity whilst also meeting accessibility requirements.

        1. Observer*

          Yeah, there are a lot of rules like that in the US, as well.

          @Koalafied, you might want to point out to your brand people that what they are doing could lead to legal liability for the company. For sure if you have any level of government business. But even if not, there is enough case law about whether things like ADA apply to web sites as a public accommodation, that designing your site without regard to the most common kinds of visual issues is setting you up for a law suit, and the attendant bad PR. *THAT* would not be good for the brand, either.

      6. This is a name, I guess*

        I work in comms and we’re SUPER accessibility oriented. Our org font suggestion is about broad readability for people with various disabilities. We also have caption on all videos, and ASL interpreting in many videos, as well. We’re also in the disability industry, so it’s an easy choice.

    5. JSPA*

      While there’s (healthy!) debate in the dyslexic community and among researchers what percentage of dyslexic people are helped by dyslexia fonts (as designed) or by comic sans, it’s worth considering several things.

      1. if it helps co-worker read their own messages, that’s a super-low-stakes accommodation.

      2. if it helps even a small subset of the recipients read the messages, ditto.

      3. unless you’re in graphics design, and despite it being something people Have Strong Feelings About, focusing on the social desirability and cachet of a font, rather than the content and legibility, is something that’s been normal, but I’d be surprised if it’s not seen as excessively and weirdly judgmental within a few years.

      In some ways, it’s only a couple of steps removed from judging people for having bodies that have (for too long) been defined as intrinsically unprofessional.

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a conversation, per se, but not to “correct the problem.”

      “Hi Jan, I notice all your messages now come in Comic Sans. On the one hand, I’m sort of glad to see people trying to make it into a professional font, because it’s reportedly more accessible for people with lower vision and some types of dyslexia. On the other hand, I worry that most people still see comic sans as unprofessional or goofy. I believe we have access to some other ‘dyslexia-accessible’ fonts. Unless someone has a specific preference for Comic Sans, would you be interested in trying one of them?”

      This says, “being inclusive is more important than being polished, but it’s possible to do both.”

      Thing is, though, that the “designed to be accessible” fonts are more obviously (to my eye, at least) an accommodation. Coworker may prefer, “seems to be a bit goofy” to “that’s the dyslexic person.” Plus, if it’s actually some other eye problem, comic sans may be the best answer! Comic books and preschool sign lettering are the way they are because they are really, really easy to follow.

      Granted, comic sans has no gravitas.

      At the same time…

      Harder-to-read scripts being “elegant” conflates “appeal” with “exclusivity.” A font that even “bad readers, mouth breathers and stupid people” can read (as a student of mine once said about comic sans) is an exercise in inclusivity.

      1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        Love this comment! I believe that fashion is generally ableist; it’s more obvious in clothing (high heeled shoes, anyone?) but can apply to other types of design as well. Your student sounds like (ahem) someone who needs educating.

      2. I edit everything*

        Disparagement of Comic Sans (and Papyrus) is one of many bandwagons lots of people hop on as much to show they’re part of the in crowd as from any real conviction (also: fear of clowns). I do think it’s overstated and excessive–Comic Sans has its uses. Live and let live. Just don’t use it in a corporate report or as the font for your book.

        1. GammaGirl1908*

          Agree. A lot of people hate it because they heard somewhere that everyone hates it, and now they think they’re supposed to hate it.

          I agree that Comic Sans can look handwriting-y and preschool-y, and thus it’s not appropriate for adult professional presentations (I mean, neither are Vivaldi and Broadway), but I really can’t be bothered to care beyond that.

          1. JSPA*

            Someone else in this thread mentioned a nobel laureate using it. I can vouch for plenty of other groundbreaking research that’s been presented, in international meetings, in comic sans. When you have the data, the typeface is not an issue. (Nor can typeface make up for absent data or bad analysis.)

        2. Jillian*

          I have always loved Comic Sans; I am kind of juvenile. I knew it was hated/considered unprofessional so I never used it. Now I’m retired and use it as my default email, mainly to make my (adult) children feel superior. Wah hah hah, you’re not the boss of me!

            1. Comic Sansational*

              I’ve never understood the CS hate. It feels like received wisdom that We Must All Hare This For Reasons. A few years ago I designed a brochure to get the word out on our children’s services and used CS in part of the brochure (not the whole thing). My supervisor flipped out over my font choice and suggested something that made Windings look like Arial. I compromised and changed everything to TNR. Disaster averted.

      3. DataSci*

        My kid has dyslexia, and seeing him (as undeniably a ‘bad reader’) lumped in with ‘mouth breathers’ and ‘stupid people’ is really hurtful. He’s very smart. He has a disability that means he struggles with reading. Please reconsider this phrasing, especially since it seems like you actually do support these accommodations. Mocking people with dyslexia for their accommodations should be as outdated as mocking me for mine – I wear glasses, and when I was my son’s age got a lot of teasing for it at school.

        1. Observer*

          I agree.

          But could we also drop “mouth breathers” as an insult? People don’t breath through their mouths because they are “too stupid” or “too clumsy” to breath through their noses!

          1. ceiswyn*

            Yes, that’s been annoying me for decades!

            I’m a ‘mouth breather’, and yet somehow my chronic rhinitis and seasonal allergies have not prevented me getting multiple degrees from some of the best universities in the world.

            1. Curmudgeon in California*

              Seriously. When I’m stopped up I breathe with my mouth hanging open. I realize it looks… unsophisticated, but if it’s what I need to do to get air, too bad!

            2. calonkat*

              My daughter was a mouth breather. Kept getting reminded to chew with her mouth shut. Come to find out, she could barely breathe through her nose. One surgery later, and she suddenly had the ability to breathe with her mouth closed! It wasn’t “wrong” for her to breathe through her mouth, she just thought everyone else had some trick to breathing with their mouths closed.

              1. ceiswyn*

                Yup, as a child I was constantly being told off for eating with my mouth open. Because I liked being able to breathe while chewing.

                Fortunately as an adult I have a bigger nose and can therefore breathe through it most of the time, with the aid of antihistamines – but the term ‘mouth breather’ has annoyed me for a very long time!

        2. JSPA*

          That’s the point. They are ALL hurtful, and the ENTIRE statement reflects badly on the person who said it, and the ENTIRE statement reflects an attitude that some of us deserve to understand, and some don’t. If anyone thinks there’s a single sort of stupid, or that stupid is stupid, regardless of topic, circumstance, and accommodation, or that judging ways of breathing is legit (or correlated with either of the other classifications) they’re just as dismissive and rude. It was end-to-end bad, not “one of these things is not like the others” bad.

    6. C in the Hood*

      I had never heard of any of this before today. Thanks to Allison & other commenters for this information!

      1. LunaLena*

        As a graphic designer, I don’t use it very much. I like that it’s pretty clean and it works well if you want something to look typewritten, but I haven’t found much use for it myself. But I did read once that someone did a study of what font uses the least ink when printing and Courier New came out on top, so if you’re trying to save ink it’s definitely the way to go.

        However the most ultimate superior font of all is clearly Comic Papyrus.

      2. OyHiOh*

        The standards are changing a bit but for decades, all screenplays submitted for consideration in the US had to be formatted in 12 point Courier, with specific margins. It was a formula that meant that generally, one page of script = 1 minute of screen time and you could pace a script just by knowing the page count.

        I don’t like the look of Courier (I’m a Garamond or Times New Roman for preference) but when I’m formatting scripts for submission, I use Courier.

    7. Roo*

      I work in UK local government and we actually have a corporate policy that covers fonts (Arial or Calibri for email; Arial or Times New Roman for good old snail mail written letters). LW *might* want to look to see if they have a corporate communications policy somewhere that might be helpful, but I totally agree that it’s not really for them to comment on or police how someone else composes their emails.

      I once had a disgruntled colleague purposely label their image slides for a big presentation in “Chiller”. That was fun.

      1. Lexi Lynn*

        Our corporate font is “open sans” and having to scroll through the entire font list to get to it is annoying (because thou shall not hit the bold button,, thou shall use open sans semi bold instead.)

    8. PT*

      Some email programs default to things like “Comic Sans for replies” etc., etc. Or it could be the defaults reset during an update and she doesn’t know how to put it back.

      I wouldn’t worry about this unless you work in the most image-focused of workplaces.

    9. KayDeeAye*

      I agree with Viki that this just isn’t that big of a deal. Maybe the OP’s coworker is using Comic Sans for sound reasons, maybe not, but it doesn’t really matter, at least not to the OP. I am not a fan of Comic Sans except in very rare instances, but so what? It’s at least very readable, which can’t be said for some of those flowing-scripty fonts, so the coworker could do worse. In any case, this isn’t a problem the OP should feel compelled to fix. Just be grateful it’s readable and that it’s not, like, purple or something.

    10. Aggretsuko*

      I still can’t figure out why everyone gets worked up over Comic Sans. It’s not Wingdings. You CAN read it. I’m not saying that it needs to be used in work context, but it’s not the worst thing in the world either.

      1. Windchime*

        I think it’s just fashionable to hate on it. Of all the things for people to get upset about, font should be the least of our worries. The exception, of course, is that we should all try to use a font that is accessible for as many readers as possible.

    11. Anonymous Hippo*

      Is there more than one comic sans? I’ve heard the jokes for years, but I just went and typed up a sentence in word with Comic Sans MS and IDK why it wouldn’t warrant a reaction anywhere near unprofessional. It’s perfectly readable.

    12. Quickbeam*

      Comic Sans has been a huge help for my profoundly dyslexic husband. He did have to get managerial approval but it made work 100x easier for him.

    13. TL;DR: fonts fine, assistive tech better*

      Dyslexia specialist here: Dyslexia friendly fonts are a nice idea, and certainly simpler fonts are likely to be more reader-friendly than more complex fonts (I know it drives me nuts when people use cursive fonts, and I’m old enough to have learned cursive in school!) but there is zero research to support the idea that so-called “dyslexia friendly fonts” are a necessary thing. The only way to remediate dyslexia is with appropriate instruction, and technology such as text-to-speech is a much better accommodation for employers to make available for those who benefit from it.


    14. YA Author*

      My field involves a lot of proofreading, and many colleagues recommend changing everything to Comic Sans so the typos jump out more. (They also *change back* after proofreading; we’re required to submit work in one of a few approved fonts, and our approved list does not include Comic Sans.)

  3. RunForestRun*

    Comic sans gets a bad rap for no reason. Who cares about font as long as it’s reasonably legible.

    1. Well...*

      Yes, the biggest experimental collaboration in my field (probably the world) used comic sans for years and announced a Nobel prize winning result in comic sans. Who cares? I’ve seen lots of talks in comic sans, it’s fine.

      1. JustaTech*

        When I was in academia my PI’s PI wanted everything in Comic Sans. Which was “fine, whatever” internally, but was embarrassing when it was time to give a presentation at a major conference. (Of note, we were all pretty new/junior, and much less secure in ourselves than the big boss.)

        But here’s the thing: PI’s PI? He was a *big deal* in our field and had been presenting at major conferences in Comic Sans for years. So it clearly hadn’t impacted his ability to succeed in the field (unfortunately his personal unpleasantness and abusive mentoring style also didn’t impact his professional reputation).

        As Well… says, it doesn’t matter as much as you would think.

    2. Cambridge Comma*

      I think there’s a time and a place for it, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with caring about it sometimes. A set of instructions for safety during radiotherapy crossed my desk in comic sans and I had it changed. I don’t think a font associated with entertainment (comic books) works in a document where the user has to read it with very close attention and that a patient could also come across.
      I don’t think this is one of few exceptions, either, I think we could think of hundreds of text types where it wouldn’t work.

      1. Can’t with Calibri*

        I find Calibri WAY more offensive than comic sans. At least comic sans is a choice providing attention to detail. Calibri is an example of a boring person who can’t bother to change Microsoft’s default. I do not trust anything written in Calibri. If you are monitoring forfonts that patients will cringe at add this to the top of the list. Literally nothing worse.

        1. TechWorker*

          Sorry but I find this sort of hilarious – ‘a boring person who can’t bother to change Microsoft’s default’ is totally totally fine in many professions and contexts where the content of the email/communication is way more important than the font :p

          1. Anonym*

            I have a lot of font opinions, and I genuinely love Calibri.

            I also don’t give a hoot one way or the other about Comic Sans, and while I wouldn’t choose it for professional communications because of the kid association, I don’t understand the vitriol. The world is hard enough. Don’t be mean to people about font choices. (And you don’t get to feel superior about yours.)

          2. Lunch Ghost*

            I find it hilarious because I purposely picked Calibri as my font of choice (for personal writing) back when Times New Roman was the default. Microsoft copied me, that’s the story I’m sticking to!

            1. JSPA*

              1. This.

              2. How can you still like this band now that they are popular?!?!?” is hipsterism, not “having standards.”

            2. Carlie*

              Me too – I was puzzled by the declaration that Calibri is the default. I’ve always made it my font, so if it’s the default now I’ve never noticed.

          3. Librarian of SHIELD*

            I agree. When I’ve got important work to do, I’m not going to spend 20 minutes scrolling through the font list carefully comparing to find one that says the “right” things about me. I’m going to open a document and start typing and let my work do the talking.

        2. London Lass*

          In most documents I write, I want the font to be the least interesting thing about it. If being more concerned about the content than using an original font makes me boring, I can live with that! But I refute the charge of not paying attention to detail. Poor presentation also detracts from the content – I am very careful about font size, alignment, etc.

          1. Lyudie*

            All of this. Many many years ago when I was learning document design and layout, this is what we were taught. No funky backgrounds (looking at you, mid-90s Geocities sites), weird font colors or unusual fonts etc. Easy to read font, white space used judiciously, and black text on white is easiest to read. Plus the less the reader is distracted by and has to pay attention to the layout, the easier it is from them to understand your content.

          2. Emily*

            This! I would change the font if I had an actual reason to (style guide, readability, strong personal preference). But as long as the default font is fine for my purposes, I’d rather spend my mental energy on the actual content that I’m writing.

          3. PT*

            I agree with you. But I worked somewhere where this was common- nonstandard fonts, weird colors, things switching from one font to another mid paragraph, very obvious spelling and grammar errors, very obvious content errors (sentence fragments, PM listed as AM, description blurbs that inadequately describe our product,) and it was a MASSIVE MASSIVE battle to get anyone on board with cleaning it up so it was just clear for the average person to understand.

            “Nobody cares about those things, they just want to be here, this is all snobby.” Well when you tell them to be here at 8 am when they’re supposed to be here at 8 pm and then when they angry-march to a manager say “Sorry no refunds” because you also did not include the refund policy in the brochure, they do tend to care.

        3. Just no!*

          I wish I could reply to your comment in Calibri. Your definition of “a boring person” is someone who doesn’t give a carp about which font they use? I would assume many people with exciting, active lives prefer not to spend their time trying out multiple different fonts and analyzing them to decide how the fonts will be perceived.

          1. Alice Ulf*

            If you had written this comment in wingdings, I think I would have built you a shrine.

            Aw, have one anyway. *builds*

          1. Asenath*

            Because they don’t like the defaults. Sometimes they switch to something like Times Roman, sometimes to Comic Sans, and sometimes to one of those swirly fonts that looks sort of like script. That last does annoy me, but most people who prefer it to the default use them in a limited fashion in their signature and/or sig line.

            1. Jen*

              I think Times New Roman looks weird in email.

              Gotta be honest, 99% of my organization uses Calibri. I’m not going to try to stick out by changing my font.

            2. PerplexedPigeon*

              Am I the only one who remembers being explicitly told in grade school that reports must be in Times New Roman, 12 pt font? It’s so embedded in my brain anything else feels wrong!

              I feel that maybe TNR was the default in MS Word at some point, and now I feel uncharacteristically irritated when my students turn in things on Google Docs in whatever their default is.

              1. Hlao-roo*

                Yes, I was also told to turn in all of my school reports in Times New Roman, 12 pt font! Times New Roman definitely was the default in word at some point. I think it changed to Calibri in Word 2007 or Word 2013.

              2. Dust Bunny*

                It was. Calibri is a relatively recent change. I liked TNR better. I’m also fine with Comic Sans. I find it mildly amusing and nostalgic when someone uses it, but not enough for it to interfere with my opinion of them, and it *is* nice and legible.

                1. Lexi Lynn*

                  I think Microsoft’s explanation for the change mentioned that Calibre uses less toner when you print along with Microsoft just wanting something new.

              3. PeanutButter*

                Yep. I still write anything longer than a paragraph in TNR, my headings/bullet points are in an appropriate sans-serif, depending on the format. I get comments all the time on how easy my posters/slides/papers are to read and digest and no one can put their finger on why…apparently kids these days aren’t taught appropriate use of serif/sans-serif fonts? *shakes cane*

                I’m also old enough that Comic Sans was a sure sign that someone was using Word instead of WordPerfect on DOS…and *everyone* knew that GUIs were just basically training wheels for REAL computer use, and would be a flash in the pan fad…

                (I’m being very sarcastic, growing up with parents who worked at IBM and had MULTIPLE computers at home in the 70s and 80s can give one a skewed view on what choices in computing mean, ha ha)

              4. Koalafied*

                The accepted wisdom was/in some circles still is that serifs make printed text easier to read by creating “lines” that help guide the eye through the text and that sans serifs make digital text easier to read because screen resolutions are typically so low that serifs are distorted by the need to construct them out of too small a number of square-shaped pixels.

                The former has not actually been empirically proven by anyone who has tested it, to my knowledge, and the latter is a largely obsolete problem because screen resolutions have improved so much in the last 10-15 years. So by the time Microsoft decided circa 2013 that the internet wasn’t a fad and they should switch to a “web friendly” sans serif default, they were making a change based on what was web friendly in 1998.

              5. BurnOutCandidate*

                For me, that was college. :)

                I used Book Antiqua 11pt and no professor ever noticed the difference. At work now for documents, I use Palatino Linotype 11pt — Book Antiqua being Microsoft’s mid-90s rip-off of Palatino — and while one or two designers I work with have noticed that it’s not TNR, they also know the document came from me so it’ll work well with their InDesign templates. All about keeping the designers happy. :)

            3. Quiet Liberal*

              And sometimes people get ridiculous trying to be unique with their font color choice. I once had a contrary employee who changed the font AND color (to red, all caps!) every time. Our email font, colors and signature styles were set to company standards. This person always took the time to change it in every outgoing email because it always defaulted to the standard with each new email. Odd.

            4. I should really pick a name*

              Rephrasing my question:
              Why should it matter to you if someone else doesn’t change their default font?
              Can’t with Calibri is suggesting that sticking with the default is some kind of faux pas.

        4. vampire physicist*

          I work in a healthcare field that involves email communications with hospitals and clinics across the region and I can’t remember anyone whose emails are NOT in Calibri so I think I can confidently say that patients are either completely unbothered by it, or at least have far, far bigger fish to fry.

        5. Kaiko*

          Wow, I deliberately choose Calibri in my reports because I like the way it looks, and it’s available across many platforms for collaborators. My own personal pet peeve is when I’m working on a shared doc and one section is in Arial, one is in Calibri, four random words are in Times New Roman…and I change it all to Calibri as my first move.

        6. Anonynon*

          I honestly have never heard anyone complain about Calibri before this very moment. I would say that almost all the emails I come across at work use this, and I wouldn’t put it even close to the top of the list of fonts that people cringe at. Keeping the default font is not a sign of a boring person who doesn’t provide attention to detail. Not even a little bit.

          1. NaN*

            Yeah, this is such a weird take. I could just as easily say that I don’t trust anything that’s not written in Calibri, because someone who changes the default font is more focused on flash than substance and wants their personality to stand out more than the content of their communication. But I wouldn’t say that, because it’s so odd to make judgements about a person’s character based on the font they choose (and that includes Comic Sans).

            1. NaN*

              Although I do notice when people use a non-default font in emails, now that I think about it. If anything, using the default is neutral and using something else comes across as a quirk.

          2. Calibri Hater*

            I don’t like the look of Calibri (I’m an Arial or Roboto woman, all day), but I agree that it’s silly to expect people to stray from the default. What’s actually irksome is when people use colored backgrounds on emails, so when you reply to them you have to keep this hideous CSS background that looks like a MySpace profile.

        7. L dubs*

          Or they’re an interesting person who thinks what they have to say is more compelling than their font choice.

        8. Ask a Manager* Post author

          This is a bizarre and derailing comment (we’re not here to discuss personal font preferences) and I’m closing this subthread and removing some of the lengthy off-topic discussion.

      2. MK*

        But in a climate that is questioning meaningless work conventions, pearlclutching about fonts seems bizarre to me. It’s “unprofessional” because it’s associated with comics? Well, tattoos and piercings also had “unprofessional” associations, and there is real pushback now against dress codes that ban them without practical reasons.

        1. BethDH*

          I don’t think this is pearl-clutching. People have a lot of associations with fonts that matter, especially for things like health & safety regulations.
          That doesn’t mean we just throw up our hands and say we can’t do anything about that perception, it just means we make more of an effort to change the perception before using it for safety regulations.
          It means we set up as many docs as possible to be easy to switch to Comic Sans for those who want them (eg auto-updating page numbers and internal document links so no one has to manually update the table of contents if they change the font).
          It means people in my field continue to work to change the perception of comics in the first place , too, because being associated with comics shouldn’t make it frivolous.

      3. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        My eyesight is pretty crappy and Comic Sans is one font that I don’t have to squint to see on my screen or in print. Maybe the name should just be changed; I’d have loved to get my radiation or any other medical instructions in a legible and friendly-looking font.

      4. JSPA*

        You’d rather risk someone not being able to read the safety document, than have it look un-serious? Did you warn your safety people that you reversed their font choice, which is almost certainly done with deep intent, because you wanted a different look and feel?

        I suspect a lawyer could have a field day with that.

        What would you say to a mayor who decided that stop signs look better when they’re not red, nor octagonal? This, is that.

      5. KayDeeAye*

        LOL – there’s nothing wrong with Calibri. In fact there’s nothing majorly wrong with Comic Sans, for that matter, at least in some instances. People really need to stop making HUGE assumptions based on font choice. For an ordinary email or document, all – ALL – that matters is that the font is readable and doesn’t distract from what is being said. That’s it. Fiddling around with font choices (again, this is for an ordinary email or document, not a flier or ad or anything like that) doesn’t prove that you’re creative or a bold thinker. It just proves that you like fonts and had the time to play with them.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      I find Comic Sans annoying and wouldn’t use it myself, but there’s no point getting worked up about the font that other people use in emails. Let it go, and if your Comms people care enough, they will issue a style guide, which people will then ignore.

      And also, there are fonts much worse than Comic Sans. Papyrus is practically unreadable, even though it looks cool. And I refuse to ever use Gill Sans, because its designer (Eric Gill) was a child abuser. (Though I’m sure that many other fonts were created by absolutely terrible people, too.)

          1. SavedFromLorna*

            In the case of Symbol, it’s literally just a Greek character set mapped to English keyboards and given a generic “oooh, spooky EXOTIC mystical foreigners and their weeeeird unpronounceable mumbo-jumbo” name. Yuck! I’m half-Greek and I hate it.

            In terms of Papyrus, to me, it’s the equivalent of that ‘Chinese takeaway’ font. Like brownface in font form. I’m also part Egyptian and my cousin, a graphic designer who’s less mixed than I am, has had really strong reactions to being told they should use it for projects related to the “Middle East.” Again, I hate it!

            1. Sutemi*

              As someone who reads and writes a lot of scientific reports, that is why I need it. I don’t want to write in Greek, I want to be able to access the Greek characters easily because they are heavily used in scientific writing. I’m not using the letters for words, I am literally using them as symbols.

              1. PeanutButter*

                I used to have to use symbol a lot, but changing the font was driving me nuts and wrecking my flow when typing narratives. Discovering I can use LaTeX in equation mode (AND that equation mode has a keyboard shortcut “alt” and “=”) changed my life!

              2. H2*

                Yes—I very much think that the intent is that Greek letters are used as *symbols* in math and science (and really nothing else that I can think of in English). They’re not meant to be mapped to English keyboards. We say that “delta is the symbol for”. There are other symbols that aren’t Greek letters.

                1. H2*

                  I should be clear, not necessarily in the font called symbols.

                  I agree with you about papyrus, btw. But I would definitely consider that Symbols is about math and science symbols and has nothing to do with “foreign sounding mumbo-jumbo”

                2. SavedFromLorna*

                  Great, but I find it reductive and offensive. That’s okay! I can feel that way, and the reasons I’ve already highlighted are sound, in my opinion. You’re welcome to feel any way about it you like, but I don’t like it.

              3. SavedFromLorna*

                But do you understand the difference between using the character set to represent symbols and just calling it “Symbol”? You can use the special characters function for the same thing; you’re not obligated to keep switching fonts.

                I just don’t care for the name of the font. I’m all for it existing!

                1. Dust Bunny*

                  I can’t always get the special characters function to work reliably, depending on what I’m doing. A font is a lot more dependable.

              4. Falling Diphthong*

                This. The only time I’ve used “symbol” font is to put in the Greek letters used for variables in equations.

            2. PeanutButter*

              For awhile in the early 2000’s EVERY new church signage in my area was designed in Papyrus. It was bananas, the folks on church committees could NOT get enough of it.

            3. The Prettiest Curse*

              Yeah, I would imagine that the reason they chose Papyrus as the font for the credits of Avatar is that they thought it looked “exotic”. Yuck.

            4. LunaLena*

              To be fair, Papyrus was deliberately designed to evoke Biblical settings and stories. Which is probably why it gives off such Middle East vibes. Personally I’ve seen it used for things like spas, beauty and stress-relief products, and yeah, lots and lots of culturally “exotic” designs. I tend to avoid using it for many reasons including that the “exotic foreigner” vibes always felt vaguely icky to me, but I couldn’t have really explained why. Your analogy to the Chinese takeaway font makes sense and is a good way of describing it to me.

              1. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

                The only way Papyrus is “exotic” is that for a very long time, it was the only legible non-standard typeface available in the default set. People trying to avoid hiring graphic designers would scroll through the typeface list and it would be the only non-serif, non-arial/helvetica looking option (and technically, the only by-default drop-cap.) It is everywhere.

      1. ecnaseener*

        It’s not like Eric Gill gets money from you using a font that comes pre-installed though, right?

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          No, he’s been dead for a long time. But it’s more that the font is named after him and so I can’t use it without thinking about how he was such a terrible person.

    4. Archangels girl*

      I’m a teacher. We wantto use fonts with open a for readability for low-vision, dyslexia and ESL. There are surprisingly few! Century Gothic is my go-to, but if it’s not available, and I don’t believe it is on the G-Suite, then yeah, Comic Sans is a reliable, readable option. I wish there were more clear fonts with open a’s

      1. Sully*

        Thank you for caring about this! I can’t tell you the number of parents that have to fight for their child’s documents to be provided in a dyslexia friendly font and in an appropriate size. School would become fat more accessible for certain kids if we could just get teachers to use appropriate font, stop over decorating their classrooms, and use very clean worksheets with a lot of whitespace.

      2. Koalafied*

        Century Gothic is my favorite too! I adopted it as my default as a teenager because it looked more like my print handwriting than any other font, so it felt recognizable to me as “my writing” when I saw it. In particular it’s the only common font that prints question marks the same way I do by hand, with a sort of top-heavy backwards S over the dot instead of a shepherd’s crook shape.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          nah! Courier New was the font used by typewriters, because every letter takes up the same amount of space. The serifs (little hooks) make it hard for people with dyslexia and anyone used to reading stuff printed in a font with letters that vary in width (i.e. everyone nowadays) will dislike it. If ever a font needed to be consigned to history, it’s that, along with medieval styles.

          1. KayDeeAye*

            Yes, it’s a bit tricky because of the spacing issue. Assuming the reader doesn’t have problems with serifs, the letters are nice and clear, but the words can kind of run together sometimes.

          2. Curmudgeon in California*

            Ummm, this dyslexic needs the serifs to distinguish one letter from the next, so I prefer serif fonts, even in proportional fonts. When Ariel was the default for web sites, I regularly got eyestrain from trying to distinguish between “cl” and “d” or “i” from “l” from “1”. But I may be the exception to the rule.

            1. KayDeeAye*

              I assume it varies from person to person. Many people do find serif fonts easier to read than non-serif fonts, so why wouldn’t that be true for at least some dyslexic folks?
              In the end, all you can do is your best, I guess.

            2. Fashionable Pumpkin*

              This dyslexic prefers it, too. Either serifs a larger font (which increases spacing a bit and makes letters easier to distinguish).

              I think, because I learned to read in the late 80s/early 90s, I just got used to the standard fonts in use. The solution I was given for my dyslexia was to use a book mark under each line of text so I could keep my place on the page/in the sentence. Also, my mother did most of the word search homework assignments given as “fun” busy work by teachers, because they took me hours and made me cry. Especially if they had backwards words (why?!).

              Comic sans can be easier sometimes, but for me my dyslexia comes down to… if I’m tired or stressed I either take much longer to read or literally cannot read. My brain will not process text on a page if I’m under extreme stress. Which is fun when my boss is yelling at me, demanding immediate answers that can be found in docs she can’t be bothered to read herself. I’ve had to tell her repeatedly that she needs to give me a moment to read and find the answers.

              The rest of the time… usually I catch if my eyes didn’t read a word because the sentence doesn’t sound right. But dyslexia is a PITA for me, regardless of font.

          3. Dragon*

            Also, Courier is used for TV and film scripts because one page of double-spaced Courier type equals one minute of screen time.

        1. Anonanonanon*


          To me it seems to be one of those bandwagon snobberies that keeps trying to justify itself. Cool kids don’t like it so I can’t like it. If you ask me why, I of course have a valid reason for not liking it, which I will deliver in a judgmental tone so that I get to feel like one of the cool kids. The first time someone else told me they didn’t like it and I didn’t know why, they judged me for not knowing, and now I get to pass that judgement on to you.

          1. tangerineRose*

            I just spent a little time looking at comic sans, and I don’t get why there has been so much hate directed toward it. It doesn’t look goofy to me. What is so goofy about it?

            1. LunaLena*

              Gonna say as a graphic designer, I personally wince when I see it purely out of reflex. Over my career, I have seen many, many poorly-designed pieces that use Comic Sans, so when I see it now, I instinctively think it’s going to be another one. Because it is so friendly-looking and comes with almost all computers these days, people tend to gravitate to it and use it for everything, even when it’s ludicrously inappropriate. I had to lay out a self-published book on how to play professional poker once in 100% Comic Sans because the author insisted on it. I’ve even seen it used for death notices. As a result, amongst designers, it developed a reputation as the go-to for amateur and just plain bad design, and people began jumping on that bandwagon and turning it into a huge hatefest. For that reason, I was told specifically by a graphic design instructor to not use it, because even if you are using in an appropriate way and as part of a good design, people will latch onto that and assume you are an amateur or deride it as bad design.

              Personally I don’t hate it and I think it does have some good and appropriate uses. I just wouldn’t use it myself, and I do think it gets overused a lot, but I also don’t particularly care if other people want to use it.

            2. marvin*

              I think it is mostly elitism and sexism. I tend to see it used most on things like church fliers, bake sale announcements, elementary school handouts, and I think most of the derision comes from its association with “tacky” and “frivolous” (read: female coded and community oriented) uses like that. If it had been heavily adopted by manlier and higher status groups, I could see it having more cultural cachet.

              1. Working Hypothesis*

                That’s somewhat true, but it’s also true that those types of publications tended to be self-designed (for lack of funding to hire a designer) where types that used other fonts tended to be professionally designed more often. So there was, at least for a while, an association between amateur design and Comic Sans, separate from the association between community/female coded publication types and Comic Sans. Professional designers responded negatively to amateur design and everything connected with it in their minds, not necessarily because the amateur-designed publications were feminine-coded, although they were (and that may have also been some of the subconscious reason for disregarding them), but because amateurs didn’t know, and therefore didn’t use, the principles of design that the professional designers had been taught.

                1. Anonanonanon*

                  This is also a good point.
                  I wonder if there’s some level of defensiveness there that leads to the seemingly-unwarranted level of distain and snobbery, too. Graphic design is one of those fields where people constantly get asked to do their paid work for free and get the “oh, I could do that” attitude, leading designers to feel a need to make a point of calling out amateur design. Insecurity leading to snobbery and pretention is still annoying, though. (Said as someone with a history of hiding my insecurity in pretention.)

    5. Virginia Plain*

      I think Comic Sans’ might be, a victim of its own success, in a way. As many describe above, it is easy to read and accessible for (among others) children, plus it looks sort of friendly and fun, informal. As such it appeals to children, especially with some nice multi colours as well, and so is used for things like classroom signs in primary schools, the price list for girl guides selling homemade cakes, that sort of thing. So is has become associated with informal use by children and by extension is seen as childish.

      So the bad rep might be kind of a shame but it is understandable, plus it’s pretty entrenched and if your are using it in a public facing sense you have to acknowledge how it may be perceived, like it or not.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Agreed. I was a designer and care about typefaces because I spent years thinking about how each one evokes certain moods or feelings. Comic Sans is meant to look like a child’s handwriting — it’s not a trait we’re projecting onto it, it was designed to mimic that! And that’s why it feels weird for business communications. All that said, I hear the arguments here and understand it has a use and a value. And while I care, I genuinely don’t expect others to. It’s not a hill I would die on and I wouldn’t make a big deal out of it. But it does look child-like and casual, quite intentionally, and that’s where the opinions come from.

    6. Laney Boggs*

      Yeah, this is all baffling. You have strong feelings about a **font**… let’s reroute that righteous rage to something else, and read emails like adults.

    7. Batgirl*

      The hatred for Comic Sans is baffling to me. As a teacher I use it a lot, and I come from a journalism background where there’s a lot of debate on actual publication fonts but no one gives a rats arse about font use internally. It strikes me as a pretty young objection too; some A Level students (so 17 or 18yos) asked me to stop using the “patronising” font (the ones who were not dyslexic, EAL or short sighted, obviously) and when I asked what was patronising (I actually think it’s one of the more attractive fonts), they said they associated it with primary school. Well I learned to read when they were using chalk, so perhaps that’s why the Comic Sans disdain goes right over my head

      1. londonedit*

        Interesting – I can actually see that being a legitimate objection if you’re 17 and doing your A levels and you associate Comic Sans with primary school. It had never occurred to me because when I was at primary school we only had one computer and it was a BBC thing that printed on that green striped paper that came in a great big stack with perforations between the pages, but if Comic Sans has been the typeface of your primary school years then I can see the argument for ‘hey, we’re practically adults, do we really need this babyish lettering’. But anyone else? I can’t really see the objection, apart from it maybe not looking ‘serious’ enough.

        1. Batgirl*

          I remember the hulk computer and the deckchair paper! We used it *once* at the very end of high school for our leatherette records of achievement. Highly useful for job hunting, obviously.

  4. Loulou*

    On letter 4: OP seems to be assuming that if a job is posted on a board for a length of time that means nobody has been hired, but I don’t think that’s a safe assumption, particularly when we’re talking about a year or longer. I’ve seen plenty of postings that are basically generic or entry level jobs that a company is always hiring for on a rolling basis. OP’s description of a technical role where personality wouldn’t play a big role makes me think this could be what’s going on.

    1. Sakuko*

      I know my company has standing postings for programmers and Dev-Ops people. We’re growing and we pretty much always hire if we find someone with a useful to us skill set. That seems pretty usual, good programmers are a rare commodity.

      1. EngineeringFun*

        Yep. I worked at a tech startup that just posted positions to “appear to be growing” for investors. I think that’s how they found me. :(

      2. SheLooksFamiliar*

        Yep. ‘Evergreen requisitions’ are meant to generate ongoing applicants for jobs with multiple needs – say, 30 Help Desk Techs or CSRs – and/or high turnover like retail. It’s not unheard of for employers to keep some jobs posted for well over a year because of ongoing hiring needs.

        1. The OTHER Other*

          My old employer did this for call center jobs because the turnover was high. LW doesn’t indicate whether this is for an entry-level position or not, but as Alison says, it’s impossible to know what the story is from the outside.

          I think the deeper issue is not to obsess about employers that say “no”. It’s hard, but a job search usually involves lots of “no”s, it’s better to focus instead on getting that “Yes”. You only need one!

    2. Anonys*

      It would guess that it would generally be easier to prove an illegal discirimination claim if someone had actually been hired and don’t know why the OP thinks it’s the other ways round? If a job is left unfilled after several qualified applicants are rejected as OP stipulates, those candidates were probably not all part of a protected class. However if a white guy was hired for the job and a woman of colour can show how she is clearly more qualified, chances would be better.

      OP says: “but don’t we also have rules surrounding this that supercede a company’s desires for a culture fit?” but this of course only applies if culture fit is really code for: “People of certain gender, ethnicity, age or other protected class don’t fit in here”.

      1. MsSolo UK*

        I can see it being an issue if an office were to open a location in a predominantly PoC area, like a black or latin neighbourhood, and then left job postings open for months while having white staff from other areas ‘cover’ indefinitely, but it’s a scenario that I can’t see playing out repeatedly, and you’d probably still need additional info from inside the role to demonstrate that it was discrimination and not a deliberate attempt to keep existing overworked staff by claiming they were going to hire more people and not doing so.

      2. Jen*

        Something people should also remember is employment discrimination cases are tricky and hard to win, especially if you’re just looking at a single hiring decision. Patterns of behavior can be more persuasive.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Yes, short of a trail of communication about how they don’t want to hire qualified candidates because of X category it would be very hard to prove discrimination based on not hiring anyone.

      3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Yes, I was surprised by OP’s question. It’s seems the spiritual opposite of every “is this legal” question.
        I don’t think any law would require a non government (whose rules are strict) company hire one person over no person at all. The worst that would happen is that the department might lose the position. But that’s up to the company, not a government regulation.

        I know it’s frustrating OP, and I’m sorry if you’re having bad luck on your job search. I hope you find a great spot soon.

    3. Anonys*

      Also, at our work we do have certain postings up for a long time. Especially for lower priority positions sometimes the job descriptions are not great/clear and the hiring manager/HR is not making any extra effort such as advertising the job on multiple platforms, using their network etc. Sometimes within several months no truly qualified candidate applies. Not saying this is great hiring but these are positions where it doesnt really matter if they go unfilled for a while

    4. MistOrMister*

      It could also be that the company can’t retain people. Mine sure can’t. We have had openings posted for years. Because for every person they manage to hire, they’ve lost at least one person, maybe two. So anyone not hiring might assume the jobs are not getting filled. They are….they just aren’t staying filled. So the postings stay up almost all the time.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        ^^This is a strong possibility.
        Similarly there could be management arguments about exactly what they need.
        Neither is a situation I would want to walk into (again).

      2. Not So NewReader*

        In a similar vein it could be that they cannot afford qualified people and everyone who applied they’d have to, you know, actually pay them a market rate.

        I do know some companies post ads and have no intention of hiring anyone. I found out when I followed up on my application. “Oh we’re not actually hiring right now. We just needed to collect up some resumes.” With this in mind, I got to thinking maybe this is what OP is concerned about and OP is trying to find ways to stop this waste of everyone’s time and energy?

      3. Aggretsuko*

        Same with my office. I can’t remember the last time we had full on six adult staff members or what year that was, but it only lasted a few months before someone got another job. We’re usually at 4 people and we just hired two and lost another two, so that figures.

        #4 is reminding me of my meeting this morning. It’s literally been almost two years since the head of our office yet and they are once again throwing out all of the candidates and starting over from scratch on the job search AGAIN for a third time. Even though they admitted they have limited options and our bigger/better/more prestigious competitor an hour away is now hiring for the exact same job. I just want to yell “Settle already! It’s not like anyone has ever been super outstanding at the position and I’ve been here for decades!” I don’t exactly think they are going to get the cream of the crop at this point either. Since it’s mid-upper management and nobody’s ever really made any whopping differences in the position, and clearly the office functions fine without them, I wonder why we’re having all this drama. But also I’m annoyed because I actually liked one of the candidates that was thrown out and they always throw out anyone who actually plans ahead or shows interest in dealing with problematic offices.

    5. AndersonDarling*

      I worked at a healthcare org that would eliminate jobs that hadn’t been filled in a year. They were notorious for dragging out job searches for 12 months or more. Finally an executive realized that it was hard to claim that you needed another analyst/ tech/ associate if no one on the team was making a decision to hire one. So they made a rule: if you have a position open for 12 months and haven’t filled the role, then you don’t need to fill the role because you have managed for a year without the additional team member. (and I think teams were using open positions to fudge with their budgets)

      1. The OTHER Other*

        My old company definitely did this too, if you were looking to fill a role then you didn’t lose the job slot so you wouldn’t have to jump through as many hoops to get budget, etc.

    6. Doctors Whom*

      We have multiple technical “levels” (we are maybe best described as a niche consultancy & research shop) and when we want to hire a skillset on a particular team, our standard practice is to post position descriptions at 2 levels even when we intend to make only one hire. That way we have the flexibility to bring in more junior candidates who have the core skills but might need a growth path in other areas, or pounce on more experienced candidates. We HAVE to have a position description published in order to interview a candidate and issue a job offer, and that posting process takes a little time to go through its hoops. By posting a position at two different levels that would work for the team right away, we ensure that if we come across the right candidate we don’t risk delaying the process. It also means that when our recruiters are sourcing candidates (as opposed to candidates coming to us), they can hunt for a variety of levels of expertise and have a job description to point to that is clearly suitable to the candidates they reach out to. (I don’t have a recruiter calling up a PhD and only having a “BS + 2 years” position to show them.) The postings are not pulled down until we have a formally accepted offer.

    7. Moonhopping*

      I’m not going to go to deep as I can’t find the article again. To post my source. There is, or maybe, motive for companies to keep postings open to lessen the amount they have to pay back on any Covid Payroll Protection loans or other grants/programs that have taken advantage of.

      1. Hillary*

        If you come across the article I’d love to see it – I can’t find anything about it on an initial search. It looks like the loan forgiveness programs all focus on payroll paid, not on efforts to hire. The main exemption allowed lower payroll levels if a company was legally barred from operating under normal conditions, but they still had to get back to previous staffing levels by December 2020. Regardless, the big programs have ended and if they were a factor in 2020/2021 they’re not now.

    8. Dragon*

      A friend is an attorney at “Teapot Studios.” His job as Teapot Counsel is to handle all legal matters pertaining to a specific segment of their TV and film productions.

      The position was new when he applied, and called for multiple people in the role. So I could see the job posting being up for a while until they filled all the slots.

      The job title and duties are the same. The difference is job content; each attorney handles a different set of shows/films.

    9. BluntBunny*

      There could have been a hiring freeze, where they put out job adverts up, then there is a department wide hiring freeze and you have to stop the process.

    10. Candi*

      One thing that’s come up on here before is when the company intended to hire, but then the budget got chopped.

      There’s also that letter from the LW who asked how to retain workers when they were working 12+ hour days 7 days a week. Those jobs would constantly have open slots. (People guessed it was investment banking.)

      And there’s been discussion on this site on how, when the manager dug into the nitty gritty of the job, they realized what they were hiring for and what they actually needed didn’t line up. But sometimes the old ad didn’t come down right away.

      If there’s a genuine equality issue, there’s laws to help spot it, once reported:

      “EEOC Regulations require that employers keep all personnel or employment records for one year. If an employee is involuntarily terminated, his/her personnel records must be retained for one year from the date of termination.” -EEOC site

      “the Title VII and ADA recordkeeping rule (29 C.F.R. Part 1602); and the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (UGESP) (29 C.F.R. Part 1607). Under the Title VII and ADA recordkeeping rule, covered entities must keep for one year, “application forms submitted by applicants and other records having to do with hiring. . . ,” among many other personnel or employment records. 29 C.F.R. §1602.14. More importantly in this instance, the UGESP directs covered entities to maintain “records or other information which will disclose the impact which its tests and other selection procedures have upon employment opportunities of persons by identifiable race, sex, or ethnic group…” 29 C.F.R. § 1607.4(A).” -EEOC site

    1. Jen*

      In general as long as a font is legible, I think very few people care.

      Though I love the SNL skit “Papyrus”.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I found an article about the designer’s reaction to that. He was just trying to imagine what the Bible would have looked like if the earliest surviving Papyrus texts had been written in English. (Writing surface will influence letter forms.)
        He sold the font design pretty early and had no clue it would become so ubiquitous, so SNL was spot-on.

      2. Loredena*

        I’m amazed at how many people recognize specific fonts! I might notice if it changed mid sentence but I wouldn’t notice calibre versus sans serif versus times roman

        1. thestik*

          I think it’s noticeable to those who either worl in or have a visual arts hobby. Between my writing and photogrpahy hobbies, I can tell fonts apart pretty easily (even though my actual job is in tech).

  5. Jessica*

    LW5, I am so sorry, and absolutely shocked by how badly they handled it! You’re probably lucky not to be working with these jerks. I hope that soon you will have an awesome job and a great life in your new location and this will become a funny story in retrospect.

  6. Prefer my pets*

    I really wish Comic Sans wasn’t so popular to mock. It’s not just dyslexics who often find it helpful. My vision has been rapidly detiorating the past couple years…one eye is ok still but the other has days it simply won’t focus on screens. Comic sans is definitely the easiest font on my bad days. I can do most serif fonts if I need to and will just have a headache by the end of the day. Sans serif fonts are absolutely unreadable though…I had to work out someone else doing part of my job because the ancient program we use doesn’t have the option of changing fonts and I can’t read it well enough most days for the data entry.

    Mocking comic sans or other specialty fonts feels like telling a woman she’s less professional because she doesn’t wear nylons and heels to the office, or has short hair, or tattoos, or any of the 1001 other ways petty appearance is more important than content.

    Mind your own computer screen and let those of us with vision/reading issues use what we need.

    (Yeah, I’m bitter on this topic)

    1. Pennyworth*

      I’m with you. I’ve never understood the contempt for Comic Sans. Where did it originate? I have always found it the easiest font to read and many of my personal documents, like recipes, are in CS. I am not dyslexic and have normal eyesight for my age, but it is so clear on the page. Give CS a break, there are many more important things to worry about.

      1. allathian*

        It looks like the fonts used in comics, as indicated by the name. Even though there are graphic novels whose intended audience is adults, comics are often read by kids and people with reading disabilities like dyslexia, so having a clear and easy to read font is essential. Many people equate comics with childish and unprofessional, that’s my guess, anyway.

      2. TechWorker*

        As someone who was at secondary school in the noughties, another possible reason for its childish connotations is that it was THE coolest font to use when we were 12/13 and using PowerPoint for the first time. In my head it has the same sort of associations as Microsoft word art.

        (To be clear, in reality I don’t care at all what font people use as long as it’s readable)

      3. Tea*

        Graphic artists and other people who work with typography often dislike Comic Sans because according to traditional typography rules it’s just a badly designed typeface. The proportions, kerning etc. are all wonky. Also it’s commonly used by clueless people who want to use a “fun” font.
        Still, a lot of those detractor can be persuaded by the dyslexia argument, because legibility trumps aesthetic in out books.

      4. Working Hypothesis*

        The contempt for Comic Sans started with graphic designers, because it’s “bad design” in some technical ways. Of course, if it does as many different good things as it clearly does — increases reading comprehension in dyslexic or visually disabled people; improves proofreading efficacy; even boosts creativity in writers — then the idea that it’s “bad design” just because it doesn’t have a natural evenness to how far apart the letters are from each other may be something we really ought to revisit… our brains don’t seem to think it’s bad design even if the principles of graphic design say so.

        Basically, what happened was that a lot of folks who weren’t design-trained used Comic Sans for desktop publishing purposes because they thought it was cute. The designers all hated it (partly because once you’re trained to see everything that doesn’t meet “good design” principles as ugly, it’s hard to unsee it; and partly because the amateur desktop publishing world was taking away jobs from graphic designers and they resented it), so they started putting around all the “Comic Sans is eeeeevil” memes, and other folks picked it up without context because they wanted to be considered cool enough to hate the same things the cool kids hated.

    2. allathian*

      It’s one thing for people to use whatever font they want when they’re writing (or reading) an email, etc., and quite another to use it when they send messages or write reports that are supposed to be read by other people. Changing fonts is easy enough in Outlook or Word.

      Whether it’s the right thing or not, Comic Sans is still seen as unprofessional in many contexts, probably because it’s similar to the fonts used in many comics. Using sans serif fonts rather than serif ones, and using bold rather than italics for emphasis, make texts easier to read for people with dyslexia. It’s just as easy to use Arial as Comic Sans. Of course, that doesn’t help your situation at all… And it just goes to show that we don’t know if the LW’s coworker has dyslexia, or a problem with their vision, or if it’s just a matter of preference.

      I’m sorry that you have to work with an old, clunky system that doesn’t let you change fonts.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      Seriously. It’s cute and it’s easily readable. Yes, it would be weird to use it for legal documents or like… an obituary, but for an email it just doesn’t matter at all.

      1. Lurker*

        But it does matter! Every written correspondence is a representation of your company’s brand. Honestly, if I got a business email in Comic Sans I would think it wasn’t very professional, and that the company either doesn’t care about its brand or doesn’t understand how they’re being perceived. Comic Sans is used for cutesy messages, not professional communications.

        This essay about Comic Sans never gets old: http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/im-comic-sans-asshole

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Nah. It depends on the company and who the email is from. If it’s official company communications Comic Sans is completely acceptable from a “fun” or kid-centric business and awkward from a more serious profession. If it’s from an individual I’d kind of chuckle that they are a little clueless about fonts but assume they’re trying to seem quirky or friendly.

          The only profession where it would actually give me pause about the person’s/company’s ability to do their job well would be something involving graphic design. Everything else is somewhere between “haha bless their heart” and “yikes they should change that” but never a deal breaker.

          1. Lurker*

            I have worked in multiple museums and arts organizations and using the official company font was Very Important. So it’s not just graphic designers who care. I would absolutely consider it a deal breaker. You describe Comic Sans as “fun” which is precisely why it shouldn’t be used in professional communication. I would like businesses to be serious/competent/professional — I don’t care if they’re “fun.”

            1. JustaTech*

              When I was in academia the head of my lab, a guy who is a Big Deal in our very serious field, wrote every scientific presentation he gave in Comic Sans.
              There’s nothing funny about cancer or HIV, but that was the font he used when he presented the results of our research to peers in the field.

              He’s still a Big Deal.

              (I’m going to guess that you haven’t been subjected to the visual horror show that is a scientific conference. They’ve gotten better overall, but it used to be a parade of text to small to read and with garish colors that clashed or black-and-white graphs where you couldn’t tell the lines apart. Comic Sans in a nice big size is a huge improvement.)

        2. Anonymoose*

          Yup. Our internal systems are set to default to the font prescribed by the organization’s style guide, and, if you reset it, it will revert at next log-off/in. No off-brand fonts, no color/picture backgrounds, no quotes in signatures.

          I work in professional services, and client perception matters a lot – I’d imagine most of them don’t expect the consultant they’re paying hundreds of dollars per hour for specific expertise to use the same font as the signs in their kids’ kindergarten classroom. There is very clearly a public perception issue with Comic Sans, and if your work depends on being seen a particular way (in our case, highly intellectual and competent), it’s not a good choice.

          I also see plenty of companies’ internal communications in the course of our investigatory work. If your employer never needs to do internal investigations or make public/government disclosures (or even forward your email), great, but “internal” rarely means “never seen outside the company”.

      2. AnonMom*

        In an old job, I actually saw an entire funeral program drafted in comic sans. At least it was all one font color. The author usually used that font in a rainbow of colors.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I may mention that to my husband should I predecease him, as one last prank poking fun at myself. (I create boring corporate docs…I am a wiseass.) Very few people would get the joke, but those that do would be the ones who need the lift.

    4. Emmy Noether*

      This is very interesting about Comic Sans being easier for people with vision problems. Is it because the strokes all have approximately the same width instead of there being thicker and thinner parts to the letters, as in many other fonts?

      I am slightly confused that you say you find sans serif fonts unreadable though… because comic sans is a sans serif font (that’s why it’s called sans)! Did you switch them up, or is there something about some sans serif fonts other than comic sans in particular that makes them difficult?

      1. Luva*

        For Comic Sans, the ‘funkiness’ of the letters makes them easier to tell apart (p and q aren’t mirror images, for example) and the letters have clear space between them so they’re easier to distinguish. There might be other reasons it’s more readable too.

      2. Prefer my pets*

        Comic sans is fairly unique in the common fonts that every letter is individual rather than mirrored or essentially mapping different parts of the exact same master shape. It also has more white space between both individual letters and words, which is one reason people think it’s childish. Sans serif fonts have more distinction between individual letters than most other serif fonts.

        There have been interesting research studies done where they had “normal” people read blocks of text at speed and they were much better at detecting errors in serif fonts than sans serif. Unfortunately it IS tied to visual acumen and the majority of studies of any type in the US are done with college students as subjects, since they’re readily available to academics. Those studies don’t show much difference between the font types in readability. The well designed but less common studies that include a wide range of ages, genders, etc strongly indicate serif fonts are more readable for a wider range of individuals. Again, comic sans is designed differently than most of either type and is sortof outside in it’s own box.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Hmm, apparently I am a weirdo, because I find sans serif fonts much easier to read, especially on screens. (I have terrible eyesight, which doesn’t help either way )
          Though I think the reason that people find it easier to read in serif fonts might be that they are “stickier” – the serifs slow down reading and therefore the reader has to pay more attention to the text.

          1. Electric Pangolin*

            This was the conventional wisdom I learned when I interned in a design shop in high school: serif is easier to read on paper whereas sans-serif works better on screen. But that was back when 1024 pixels were a large screen, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that might be less universal nowadays with the higher resolution displays, where the extra details on the letters don’t just end up blurring the corners!

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            You’re not a weirdo. The differences seem to be what people are accustomed to. Even in the mid-90s when I looked up the research, they were showing that people who primarily read newspapers and conventional books had better reading retention with serif fonts. But people in professions that regularly used sans-serif fonts had best reading retention with sans-serif font.
            This is different from the visual processing issues of dyslexia.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Thank you for this. I am sitting here wondering why I find serif fonts so cluttered/busy and everyone else seems fine.
              You made me realize though, when I see calligraphy I am looking at the art of the words of the page and I lose the context written entirely. Using calligraphy as an extreme example, it makes sense to me that I’d be interested in the styling of the letters in a particular font and get distracted by it. Annd my willingness to be distracted goes up when I get tired, so there’s that.

              1. Working Hypothesis*

                I don’t like serif fonts either. They tire me out more quickly than reading sans serif fonts. I’m not dyslexic, but I’ve got mild vision loss, and the two things that have really helped me continue reading for prolonged periods are to turn the brightness up all the way on my Kindle, and to set the font in a largish sans serif font.

          3. Anonynon*

            I’m the same. I find it much easier to read serif fonts and I get kind of lost with comic sans if I’m reading something long written with it. Someone in these comments had mentioned the font “dyslexie,” made specifically to be easier for people with dyslexia to read. I looked it up and found I had a hard time reading it and had to think a lot more about what I was reading. Which is fine because it’s not designed for me, but I was surprised that I found it so tricky.

            1. Curmudgeon in California*

              Yeah, I’m dyslexic and older, and I much, much prefer well spaced serif fonts. Stuff like Ariel or Calibri is very difficult for me to read,, especially if it’s low contrast or large blocks of text. I will actually abandon reading big block of text in sans-serif fonts like Ariel or Calibri.

          4. Anonym*

            That’s so interesting! I never thought about it before, but I definitely prefer sans serif fonts as well. Serifs feel like too much visual noise to me. (My vision is not great, but it’s fine at reading distance with correction.)

        2. Emmy Noether*

          This is fascinating, thank you!

          The uniqueness of the letters may also explain in part why some people find Comic Sans less visually pleasing – repeating shapes and symmetry can be perceived as more harmonious.

          I’ve always found that serif fonts make it easier for me to follow along lines of text when reading fast – they make the baseline of the text stand out visually.

      3. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        My eyesight isn’t great, and I find Comic Sans MUCH easier to read than other fonts. And yes, I have tried all the sans ones, thank you. It’s a matter of letter shape and spacing. You might want to take people’s word for what they say works for them.

    5. Ed123*

      I think it’s like when we as a society decide to hate on Nickelback and compare people who don’t mind pineapple on pizza to the devil. It has just become a “thing” that has gone international. I’m not convinced people really care, they have been told to care. I think the concept “unprofessional” has gone too far. There are things that are objectively (as objectively as possible) unprofessional and then there is artificially created unorifessionalism.

      I’ll go hide now.

      1. The Face*

        I totally agree. It’s just people going along with the crowd and hating on something because they perceive a cultural cachet in hating on it.

            1. Not a sans fan*

              . I genuinely don’t like how it looks and I think it’s harder to read (though I understand it’s easier for many people.) I remember as a kid, which would have been before I had ever heard of the comic sans hate, thinking it looked bad and not wanting to use it/thinking it was harder to read. I think people can definitely be over the top with their comic sans hate, and absolutely need to be understanding of how it benefits so many people, but it is not true that people are just going along with the crowd when they don’t like a font.

        1. misspiggy*

          I hated Comic Sans because it slowed my reading, and fast reading helped compensate for work time lost to pain and fatigue.

          Now my eyes are ageing I’m appreciating the frustration of people who can’t do ‘fast reader’ fonts. We could all do with more sharing of different perspectives.

        2. Critical Rolls*

          I think it’s ugly and I find it harder to read in longer documents. I also associate it with children, since its cute pseudo-handwritten vibe makes it a popular choice for school materials. I would not choose it in a professional setting for these reasons, and in a professional setting I most often see it used by people who are making multiple unusual choices about their document or email that makes it seem like they just don’t understand what the norms are, such as background textures or font colors. But with all that said, unless it adds up to something really out there or unreadable, *or it violates a company standard for external communications,* it’s definitely not a hill to die on.

      2. Onwards and Upwards*

        Absolutely agree with how you’ve described this. I was struggling in my head to describe the issue here and I think you’ve nailed it.

      3. Myrin*

        Yeah, I often wonder if people really, genuinely care or if they just feel like they should (or at least like they should pretend to care).

        I personally like Nickelback – I’m no die-hard fan but I genuinely enjoy many of their songs -, I don’t like pineapple on pizza but my mum and sister do and I feel exactly no way about it, and I think Comic Sans is a nice font. I wouldn’t use it in an official financial document or something of that ilk but I’ll freely admit half of that is because of social conditioning re:”That’s not what you’re supposed to do!” (the other half is that I don’t actively want to use it, like most other fonts, so I don’t).

        (And as a total aside, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a comic book using Comic Sans. I mean, surely there must be ones, vintage ones at least, or else the name doesn’t make much sense, but personally, it wouldn’t ever have occurred to me to connec the font to the genre going from what I’ve personally seen.)

        1. Anonynon*

          I genuinely don’t like comic sans. I don’t think it looks nice and I find it harder to read; but there are plenty of other fonts I don’t like either and I’m not sure why Comic Sans became the stand out most hated font. Even if I don’t like it and don’t use it, I don’t care what fonts other people use. And If I was communicating with someone who found it much easier to read, I would absolutely use it because their ability to read outweighs my desire for what I see as a prettier email.

      4. Chriama*

        > There are things that are objectively (as objectively as possible) unprofessional and then there is artificially created unprofessionalism.

        Yes, and it smacks of elitism/ableism. Unless your job is graphic design, it really doesn’t matter.

    6. Nea*

      I have zero proof, but my gut feeling is that accessibility is actually one of the reasons why “everyone hates” comic sans and so few people can articulate why there’s a problem with it. “It’s used in comic books” is the closest I get but funny how I never, ever hear “Times New Roman is an unprofessional font because that’s what they use for pulp novels and cheap romances.”

      But accessibility things are always, always presented as cheap, foolish, laughable, ridiculous, especially here in America. Have the dollar bills different colors and sizes for different denominations? What is this, a game of Monopoly? Buying a microwaveable potato already wrapped in microwaveable plastic? How lazy ARE you? Oh, there was only money enough to add one escalator, and it only runs one way. There’s an elevator at the other end of the platform – see it in the distance?

      Comic Sans is the one disability friendly font that gets packaged for free on every operating system and printer. Funny how it promptly became the font “nobody should ever use.”

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Yeah. Someone above said “it wasn’t professional” and the first thing that came to my mind was some people who say that curly hair isn’t professional – they are othering people who are not like them, and it is not right.

        All these strong feelings about fonts! Why? Unless they are strong feelings because it makes it more accessible to you. But strong feelings about fonts that make it less accessible to others? I don’t get it.

    7. Mockingjay*

      As an experiment, I just changed the display fonts (View) in Outlook to Comic Sans MS. I already like the legibility – the letters are quite crisp. I might try changing my corporate email stationary to Comic and sneak it in other places: Notepad, OneNote. Stuff that’s just for me. I wear glasses and have dry eye and continually battle eye strain. I’ll stick with TNR for my other email account that’s for the government customer.

      OP3, kindly let the notion of “appropriate email fonts” go. If the company is concerned about branding, they’ll address it with her. I used to be a stickler about fonts and email appearances and perfectly printed documents. My work is 99% digital these days and simply needs to be clean on the screen. Everyone uses different email font or types papers in whatever font is preselected. I change what needs to be changed per the style sheet or template and let the rest go. In most cases, it’s the info that’s important, not the wrapper.


    for OP #1: you mention working long hours. check your state’s laws on pay, you may be owed money for time spent over 40. sorry they are royally screwing you over. not everyone is in a position to do it, but I say walk over this. this isn’t just some misunderstanding, they are being disrespectful.

    1. Loulou*

      Unfortunately, the duties OP describes sound pretty in line with an exempt role. I doubt they’re entitled to overtime, unless maybe their pay is still too low to qualify for exempt status? But I’m guessing this is totally legal, just very unfair.

      1. MamaBear*

        But if they aren’t being paid retroactively for the new role, there’s a chance they could get OT for those weeks that they were officially still in the “old” role while doing the new work, if the old job was overtime-eligible.

    2. The Dogman*

      They should just start phoning in the work they do, minimum hours and effort etc, and devote the extra time and effort to finding a new job ASAP.

    3. Hannah Lee*

      I don’t often suggest phoning it in, but I’ll admit to actually doing that after receiving a promotion. I’d been effectively been doing the job for nearly a year, gotten stellar reviews but when the VP sat me down to tell me I was being promoted “yay me!” he then explained that the company was of course going to be paying me significantly less than the other 4 people in the exact same job. Like 30-40% less. And stick options, perks weren’t going to be the same either. Because of (not very good) reasons. “Are you kidding me?”

      The company was very hard driving, intense, competitive. I’d been working my a** off leading successful project teams, driving measurable results, with much less support than some of the others in the role I was being promoted too. I was willing to do it because I thought I was a valued player shooting for the next big step; it was a work hard > get the big rewards place. The fact that the VP and company thought it was fine to lowball me, think they could hand me a “promotion” cookie with a huge official increase in responsibility and expectations, a small bump in pay and a attagirl and I’d be thrilled was a bucket of cold water for me. (I suspect it was a combination of me being a single woman where vp and others in the role were married men* and me being promoted from within)

      It was a visceral response of if you’re only going to pay me a portion of what this role is worth, you’re not going to get 150% of my effort and skills; but instead the % you’re paying for. I did the job, met my goals, but wasn’t going to put in extra hours, work myself to the bone for leadership that didn’t value me. As a manager for years myself, I’d never seen one move so demotivate a supposedly valuable employee with a flick of a switch. I left within a year, for a better and better paying job.

      LW, do enough that you can hold your head high, but recognize this company is purposely undervaluing you and the nonsense of no retro pay after them dragging things out is petty and ridiculous. For whatever reason mgmt doesn’t care and you’ll never be paid what your worth there. So don’t kill yourself in the new role, pick up some new bullet points, results for your updated your resume and look for a new job.

      *That same vp had once, with a straight face, explained to me that a high performer on one team would be getting a smaller annual merit raise than a marginal performer on a peer team because the guy (MP) could use the boost professionally… maybe that would motivate him… and because he had a wife and kids to support and the woman (HP) didn’t.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        “I suspect it was a combination of me being a single woman where vp and others in the role were married men”

        I didn’t even have to get to this line to think, “Because she’s a woman.”

        And yeah – when my male, married with kids boss had to lay off one of our team of 11, I, the only unmarried, childless woman on a team of nine men and two women, was the one who got the ax. After all, I didn’t have a family to support, did I? (I am guessing at that last part, but I suspect that was a big part of it.)

        1. TaxLady*

          Not that your life situation should factor in at all, but firing the single person is poor logic. A married person has someone else earning income to lean on, what’s a single person without a job supposed to do, starve? One iota of thought shows what nonsense that is.

        2. Hannah Lee*

          I hear you!

          And even if the logic is “she doesn’t have anyone she’s supporting” were on target ( which it isn’t as TaxLady points out) no one asked me or the other woman who was paid less. In my case, as a matter of fact I was contributing to the support of 2 people … my elderly mother and a disabled sister. Things I didn’t mention at work because I figured my finances and my family members’ financial status shouldn’t have any bearing on how I’m valued at work. …. I’d talk about family members, just not that I was paying half of Mom’s rent or contributing $500 monthly to my sister’s expenses.

          One of the many frustrating things about that low-ball promotion is that the executives of the company were very image conscious … and unless I was making executive level pay, I wasn’t going to be able to afford that image. It was hard enough as a woman to fit in with the senior staff … I’m a pretty saavy shopper and can talk a great game, but doing it effectively on a budget wasn’t going to fly. As an example, one well-respected, high-performing manager who was promoted to VP was at first frequently teased by other VP’s, execs about his decade+ old compact car, which he loved because it was super reliable, got great mileage and was fully paid off. Eventually his boss pulled him aside and told him he needed to fall in line and come to work with an executive level car, or all the other execs would figure he wasn’t really one of them (whether they’d actually fire him or just slow roll, underfund, deprioritize his projects, who knows) He wasn’t client facing, never had work people in his car. It was just the execs applying peer pressure, wanting him to norm to their country club values. He also got told to stop taking the company campus shuttle or walking from building to building (the walks and the shuttle had been part of the reason he did his job so well … he knew everyone, got all sorts of details about what was really going on, frequently ran into just the person he needed to see (because he was saavy about when and where he happened to be on those walks and shuttle rides). No, he was to drive from point to point in his Beemer (or C class, etc).

          Boy, just thinking back to it all I can’t believe I lasted as long as I did there, and thank my lucky stars I haven’t worked anyplace like that since.

    4. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      OP, you have nothing to lose. Please set up a meeting with HR yourself and find out all the facts. I think there may be some truth to to “off cycle” hiring. I also think your boss is not going to advocate for you the way you advocate for you. There is no need to use him/her as an agent.
      Find out wtf is going on with jr yourself.

    5. Sloan Kittering*

      I had a different take on #1. The HR explanation is that they can’t deliver a huge raise “off cycle” (which is BS if they can apparently deliver a promotion off cycle?? – but whatever). So is there a standard time when raises/bonuses are generally given? I hope it’s not end of the year if this letter was timely, as that would be unacceptable to me, but assuming it’s a few months down the road – at this point, since you’re already in a weaker position by having started the work, I would focus on making sure you get pay equity at that time. (you can still job search to make sure your market numbers are correct – if you get a better paying job sooner, great). But really make it clear in advance of the review cycle that you will walk if the raise doesn’t happen, and that you are expecting a huge bonus to cover this “retro pay” they have denied you. Ideally, name the figure you need to your boss. Come in with a great review. If you don’t get that raise at that time, then yes quit. I had to do a similar rigamarole once and it was annoying, but basically they wanted to make sure I was the right fit in the job before they paid market rate – so they promoted me with “just a small bump” in pay, and then made it right at review time. I did not love the process but did really like that job.

      1. OP1*

        Yeah — our comp cycles are in December so it is about year off. The kicker about the off-cycle part is that this was all pre-approved for the comp cycle in December but because of a variety of reasons, it got pushed (with HR’s blessing!) til early January. And then there was a reorg in HR as well and somehow we lost the preapproval but that was not communicated. It all feels shady, tbh.

        My company typically really prides itself on being a great place to work and taking care of people, I knew I was taking a risk with all of this but I truly believed my boss initially when she told me we were just a couple days short of the salary.

        1. Sloan Kittering*

          Oh no that’s the absolute worst. To have them be the one to push it off, and then to try and tell you you’d have to wait a whole year – which is very unlikely to even be the case, just a cover story – is totally unacceptable.

    6. TW1968*

      I think in this case the company/boss fully intended to take advantage of LW1. If this is a big company, they HAVE a salary band for this. People like this are why the r/antiwork thread exists on reddit. Update resume, start looking, and work only as hard as you have to, to get by, then jump ship. Despite all this stupidity they’ll be super surprised when you leave.

  8. AcademiaNut*

    For LW4 there’s a few other things to consider, in addition to genuine cultural fit for the work.

    It’s entirely possible for a candidate to have the required core skills and not be a good hire. Even in highly technical positions, things like previous experience and certificates are generally the base requirements for the role. A candidate can have relevant work experience and still be bad at the work – maybe they have five years of experience being a terrible python programmer, or scraped through the certificate exam with barely a pass and then forgot everything they crammed. They may need skills in addition to the base technical ones – someone who is good at writing documentation, or training junior programmers. The interviewed candidates may have been obnoxious or difficult to work with. The employer might have offered the job to multiple candidates, but been turned down due to salary, or remote work opportunities, or benefits or hours. Once they’ve worked through their short list of interviews, they may need to post it again to get a new pool.

    There are also employers that interview continuously, particularly for large companies, so they may well have hired someone, but are still open to hiring more people.

    1. BethDH*

      We just reopened a job search where before we had rejected all the candidates, including several that we paid to bring in for on-campus interviews. All the ones we did video interviews with were on-paper matches, and the ones we brought to campus all had the actual skills.
      We didn’t hire any of them because they were bad fits. In our case, that meant that they really wanted to be in the role that their role collaborated with, and by doing the on-campus part, we could see that they’d be pushing to take on that role instead of staying in the parallel role we were hiring for. (For those in academia, this was a highly-skilled academic-adjacent position, and they all acted like they’d be in a faculty role in terms of setting pedagogical goals and curriculum development.)

    2. Lars the Real Girl*

      And “culture fit” doesn’t have to be a discriminatory thing either! Like Alison mentioned.

      We worked for months to try to find a great candidate for a llama grooming rep, and finally found someone who was absolutely perfect on paper, with ridiculously hard-to-find experience and interviewed very well. However, one probing question to two of his references noted that he needed a bit of a softer touch, and wasn’t willing to speak up unless prodded.

      Well. The llama grooming VP (the hiring manager) absolutely needed someone with a thick skin, the ability to interject, be a bit in-your-face, and be able to hold their own in difficult situations. Regardless of his fantastic pedigree, this candidate would have quickly failed in this role. The culture of the company, and of this department just wasn’t a right fit for him.

      There’s nothing discriminatory there – just a mismatch of working styles and soft-skills requirements that may be difficult to define.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Wait – there are actually employers who want interjecting, in your face people? Where have you been all my career?

      2. Observer*

        And to the OP’s point, you could make the argument that this requirement is the result of bad management. But that doesn’t make the requirement illegal, pretextual or even a bad idea. To the contrary, recognizing the reality of how the role actually operates and working with that is really the most reasonable route.

      3. Dragon*

        How much authority does the llama grooming rep have in his position? If someone else objects when he comes on
        strong, will llama grooming VP back the rep?

    3. Orange You Glad*

      I know something I started to run into with internal candidates was salary requirements. I’m hiring for an entry-level or near-entry level position in a highly technical department. I can hire someone with no experience and train them up on the technical aspect, but my department budget will only let me pay within a range more aligned with an entry-level position. I had a few internal candidates apply and we are required to interview all internal applicants. One has been with the company for 20 years in an unrelated department and her base pay has risen to over $100k over the years with merit and COLA raises. I do not have the budget to bring this person in, especially at the level we are hiring for.

    4. Cat Tree*

      Yeah, I work in tech and culture fit is as important as any job. I don’t want to work with someone who is uncooperative, secretive, or unmotivated even if they can do the technical parts of the job. If technical skills were the only important piece, we could hire just from resumes and not even bother with interviews.

  9. Former Usher*

    That was really helpful to hear about the utility of Comic Sans. I hadn’t considered that. Thanks!

    1. Working Hypothesis*

      There’s also considerable evidence that it can help people proofread more effectively, and sometimes even break writer’s block.

    2. MistOrMister*

      My knee jerk reaction to that letter was, well of COURSE comic sans is unprofessional and OP should say something. Then I read Alison’s response and some of the comments, and I am ashamed to say I never realized this was a helpful font for people with dyslexia and vision problems. Then I googled comic sans, because I havent seen it in a while and WOW is it clear and easy to read. Meanwhile I have people sending me emails and documents in 10 or 11 point Calibri which has somehow become the default for some people in my office, and I cannot read the stupid things because the text is too flipping compact.

      1. bluephone*

        11- point Calibri seems to be the default font (set by Microsoft) in Microsoft Office apps nowadays, especially MS Outlook for email. I hate it too and wound up changing it but my marketing department would rather I not do that. I suspect most people just don’t realize they can change the font and/or don’t know how and/or don’t care and/or have internal style guides that are very picky about fonts.

        Personally, I like Comic Sans (and nickelback) so yeah, miss me with the forced “oh we Cool Kids hate nickelback and Comic Sans because we’re sooooo much cooler than everyone else”

        1. Lexi Lynn*

          A lot of people also don’t seem to know you can increase the zoom on what you’re reading to help with too small fonts.

    3. Popinki*

      Same here. I never had a problem with Comic Sans, but I sometimes wondered why it was still around if “everyone” hated it so much. Learning that it’s so useful for people with vision problems, dyslexia, and other issues gives me a whole new respect for it.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        Graphic designers hate it and a lot of other people just hear all over the place (from the designers or those who want to be thought design-knowledgeable) “Comic Sans is eeeeevil!” so they take it as truth without exploring further. It’s a strange little font that’s valuable for a lot of specific purposes but got used for functions that weren’t its best in the early days of desktop publishing, and so it picked up a bad reputation. But it’s definitely got a valuable niche.

    1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      My eyesight isn’t great, and I find Comic Sans MUCH easier to read than other fonts. Please read the comments from other people with vision issues.

    2. The Dogman*

      What is “cringy” about Comic Sans?

      It is just a font, having that reaction to a font seems like a complete overreaction to me…

      I am very confused by the fact that people like you have such a visceral reaction to the shape of words on a screen or page. It just doesn’t seem like it is worth the effort of having an emotional response to me.

      1. ecnaseener*

        People have visceral reactions to things they find ugly sometimes. That’s kinda a basic human experience.

        1. Observer*

          That’s very, very different than the judgement over the use of the font. Especially considering that there is actually not a universal standard of what is “ugly” and what is not.

          1. ecnaseener*

            The comment I’m replying to is saying that it’s an overreaction to cringe at it. I’m say that internally cringing is perfectly natural and not beholden to “universal” anything.

            1. ceiswyn*

              There is a definite difference between finding something ugly and cringeing at its use, though. One finds things ‘cringey’ when one feels that another person has embarrassed themselves – and finding use of a font embarrassing is a value judgement, not just a personal aesthetic preference.

              If Me really is making a value judgement that the Assistant to the Professor is embarrassing themselves by using an accessible font, then that may legitimately be seen as an overreaction.

              1. ecnaseener*

                I think we’re coming at this with different starting assumptions. People cringe (and experience secondhand embarrassment) to see a stranger in a particularly ugly hat — I don’t see that as a value judgment at all. Obviously if you let that reaction outwardly show, that’s very rude! But inwardly thinking “yikes, ugly font/hat” isn’t an overreaction in my book.

                1. Rocket*

                  But that’s not what people do with comic sans, as evidenced by this question where someone thinks they have the authority to tell someone else they need to stop using it. It’s not an inward thought of “yikes, ugly font”, it’s a very loud, persistent outward exclamation of “UGLY FONT AND EVERYONE WHO USES IT IS A LOSER”.

                2. ecnaseener*

                  Rocket, I’m not addressing the entirety of “what people do,” I’m addressing this comment thread specifically: “Me” said “ugh this was cringy” (note the lack of “and I made a stink about it and called him a loser”) and Dogman said they didn’t understand how anyone could have such a visceral reaction to a font. Please try to respond to what people are actually saying and not the worst possible interpretation.

        2. Nessun*

          True! My reaction to Comic Sans has always been “huh, that looks juvenile” – but I am working on changing that. I had a boss who was dyslexic and she used it constantly. I didn’t make the connection between her dyslexia and the font for a long time, but it makes a ton of sense in retrospect. At the time, I was judgy, yes, inside my own head. This forum has been very informative, and though my gut reaction will probably not change, I’ll have better internal dialogue from now on.

  10. Hazel*

    Regarding #1 & #5: This is the sort of inconsiderate treatment by employers that causes employees to leave (and/or leave a negative review on glassdoor). It’s so shortsighted to save a little bit of money by not paying OP#1 for the entire time they were doing the new job. It generates much more bad feeling than the money saved could possibly account for. And I hope OP#5 leaves a review on glassdoor so others can see how they operate.

    1. Jolene*

      Agree. Penny wise, pound foolish – especially #1. Nickel and diming employees, and never considering how much it costs when they lose employee. (Hint: more)

    2. The Dogman*

      Totally right, LW#1 should stop making any effort and focus entirely on finding a new job ASAP.

      LW#5 should bill them for all costs and for $150 per hour fees for “consulting”.

      Then LW#5 can sue them for the costs perhaps, at least it will waste a load of their HR’s time and efforts.

      1. EPLawyer*

        LW5 cannot sue them for costs. There was never an agreement to pay costs. Even if they interviewed her they are not obligated to pay costs. This is not good advice. She might even wind up paying THEIR fees for a frivolous lawsuit which would add even further insult to injury.

        1. Kay*

          Exactly. If LW5 had discussed being reimbursed for travel expenses beforehand, this might have unearthed the revelation that they never meant to interview her in the first place. Not saying its LW5’s fault, but if they are traveling for the interview why not ask (though I understand if it wasn’t a big issue they might not have wanted it to cloud their candidacy)?

          Either way – Glassdoor is 100% an option, lawsuit not so much.

  11. CatCat*

    #5, that’s just awful. They treated you very poorly. Glassdoor let’s you leave interview reviews, if you’re so inclined. It certainly says something about the employer that when they make a serious mistake, they take no responsibility for it and make no apologies for it. It’s inexcusable and they should be embarrassed.

  12. Mint Kat*

    #4 It’s not just about being qualified.

    You mention technical roles “that a candidate can easily prove they meet with a certification or previous work experience”. Those things can be a helpful start, and an indication of someone’s potential suitability – but they aren’t enough, or we wouldn’t need job interviews.

    And someone can look great on paper but… not be. I’ve interviewed people who looked like the top candidates on paper, but turned out not to be. For all sorts of reasons that aren’t to do with whether you like the person.

    I wonder if this letter is the result of a difficult or frustrating job search? If so I’m sorry about that. But actually I think companies should not hire people who are unlikely to succeed in a role. That isn’t good for anyone.

    1. Anonys*

      Yes. And even if the company DOES come across the “mystical perfect candidate” they are totally allowed to reject that person as long as its not for that person belonging to a protected class. I think that’s a point OP needs to understand – the law only really comes into place in certain limited cases. Even if the company is genuinly making bad business decisions and rejecting great, qualified candidates, that’s their preogative as long as they don’t discriminate against gender, age, race, etc.

      1. Antilles*

        Along these lines, the fact that the company hasn’t hired anyone actually makes it even easier for them to show it’s not about the protected classes – pretty hard to claim it’s because of (Protected Characteristic X) when they rejected everyone equally.

    2. LDN Layabout*

      It always kind of feels like people who think a blanket ticking off of technical requirements means they/someone should get the job are telling on themselves. If you can’t grasp that there are important issues/differences that can pop up in the interview process, that’s not the fault of the companies interviewing.

      1. ecnaseener*

        They also might have picked that up from certain govt/union jobs, they’re not necessarily making it up out of nowhere.

        1. doreen*

          I suppose that could be the case sometimes , but not always. I worked for both a state and municipal government that had the same rule ( it was state law) – when hiring for a position where there is a ranked civil service list , one of the top three candidates must be hired. It doesn’t mean that the person ranked first must be hired. In fact, that person could be passed over multiple times in favor of the person ranked second or third for every opening. Somehow, some people didn’t understand that and they also didn’t understand that if people had to be chosen in rank order then there would be no point in conducting an interview. Even though they knew that transfers for certain jobs were strictly based on seniority and therefore there were no interviews.

          1. ecnaseener*

            That system could still easily give the LW the impression that *someone* must be hired. LW didn’t say anything about top candidate vs third-best-but-still-qualified.

          2. Dragon*

            I’m not sure about now, but 30+ years ago when I worked for the federal government, agencies couldn’t hire a non-veteran over a veteran.

            I heard of at least one instance when a job wasn’t filled because the hiring manager didn’t want to hire the veteran in the top three candidates.

            I always thought it was fine to keep the veterans preference points for evaluating candidates, but not make veteran status the deciding factor in the final selection.

    3. J.B.*

      I think there are plenty of employers out there – and application tracking systems – that make hiring as difficult as possible. And then the employer keeps payroll down while disingenuously claiming they can’t find anyone. However there is no law against this it’s just the system.

    4. NotAnotherManager!*

      This. I’ve hired for very technical positions, and there are always job requirements related to being able to work productively with your product team. If you are amazing at a technical skill but can’t communicate with other people without treating them like they’re a lesser idiot, you’re not a good fit for my technical job. I have interviewed people who looked like a great fit on paper and then showed up and insulted their peer interviewers, spoke disdainfully about everyone they’ve ever worked with, or described their “greatest strength” as being able to be a strong devil’s advocate for anything, even if they didn’t agree with the position, just to test their team leads and “keep them honest”. Nope, nope, nope. Technical skills are teachable; treating others like human beings, sadly, less so.

      1. Observer*

        This reminds me of the letter from the team lead who couldn’t understand why it was a problem that he had a “no errors ever acceptable” policy. They were apparently highly technically competent, but was pretty clearly causing some significant problems for their employer.

        I’m sure that if Alison ever did an open post on “the most impossible highly qualified staff you’ve had to deal with” we’d have one of the more highly trafficked ones on the site, with maybe even a “best” post coming out of it.

  13. Observer*

    #5, I know it’s easy for me to say, but I really think you dodged a bullet there. It’s not just the mistake, which is pretty bad all on its own. But, OK, sometimes massive mix-ups happen even with decent companies. But to not even apologize? To just brush you off with no explanation? That says that these folks are not just disorganized. They are also deeply, profoundly disrespectful of people. That doesn’t make for a good work environment.

    1. Myrin*

      Exactly my thoughts. I literally gasped out loud when I read this letter – does no one involved in this situation (OP notwithstanding, of course) have a modicum of manners?!

      1. ecnaseener*

        Right?! What do you even say when someone shows up for an appointment of any kind that your company invited them to by mistake, if not “sorry”? I guess it must have been something like “I don’t know what to tell you. Bye.”

    2. BethDH*

      I kind of wonder if it was an admin who made the mistake, realized when the person showed up, then was trying to get them out of there fast to cover it up. Not assuming bad things about admins in general, just something about this has the air of “pretend it never happened” in a way that feels like someone who is worried about getting in trouble with their own boss.
      I think OP would have some hints in this way if most of their communication and their on-site interaction was with the same person, and that wasn’t the hiring manager themself.

  14. Dark Macadamia*

    “If you love Comic Sans, you don’t know anything about typography. But if you hate Comic Sans, then you don’t know anything about typography either… and you should get another hobby.” – Vincent Connare, designer of Comic Sans :)

  15. Luva*

    People get very passionate about fonts. I use the OpenDyslexic font when reading – – I don’t have dyslexia but I can read much more efficiently in that font – – and some people loathe it and ask how I can possibly stand to look at it. (I don’t use it for email though!)

    1. SnootyGirl*

      Never heard of it before, so I looked it up just now. Very interesting – thank you for adding to my knowledge base!

  16. The Assistant*

    About #1.

    I like Alison’s advice at the end, but how do you stay working in that situation? Sure, OP could. And maybe will. But that’s really awkward. I mean is the salary liveable? It’s just a hard place to be after their hard work.

    But they do love the job and their team. I’d focus on that. And watch your back. Do the job for a while and leverage that promotion and title to the hilt.

    1. Unfer*

      That’s why she also says that the OP has to decide if they are willing to walk away over this – if the salary is genuinely unliveable, then the OP may not have the option to keep working there until they can parlay this role into a better paying position. In that case, they could leave and look elsewhere or they can see if their old role is still available and quit the “promotion” part. Alison’s full response acknowledges the range of possibilities. None of them are great, because the position the OP is now in isn’t great, but they are options.

    2. Lab Boss*

      I would assume it’s livable- OP says it’s “low compared to market research” but it sounds like it’s still a raise, and presumably whatever OP was making before was livable. I don’t think it will be awkward for anyone except OP. In my experience companies are very quick to forget that you tried to negotiate, because they want to sink back into complacently assuming everything is fine. If OP can subdue their own hurt feelings and justifiable anger, they should be in a perfect place to rack up some resume filler and go after the next job wiser for having had this hard lesson.

    3. Mona Lisa*

      You put your head down, do the work, and focus on the skills you gain to beef up your resume for when you leave in 1-2 years. I got stuck in a similar position at a university where I wanted to grow a particular skillset but had to take the job in suboptimal conditions that caused me to lose almost all of my bargaining power. I was bitter about the salary the entire time I was there and pointed it out to every higher up who asked how they could retain me long term. At the two year mark, I kicked my job search into high gear and had multiple competing offers for a 90% salary increase. Focusing on making myself the most marketable in my next job search was how I got through that time.

  17. Observer*

    #4 – Why do you think it should be illegal to not fill a position even if they got a qualified candidate? Why should companies be “afraid” to leave positions unfilled? Even when it’s a stupid move, that is not -and SHOULD not be – illegal.

    Also, you seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of what qualifies someone for a job. You say “I’m not talking about roles where personality/culture fit would matter, but more so technical roles with very standardized requirements that a candidate can easily prove they meet with a certification or previous work experience” But, personality / culture fit matters in almost any job you can think of. Even in more technical roles.

    Even when the primary qualifications really are technical and quantifiable, it’s almost never the case that it comes down to “X certification and Y years of experience” and that’s all there is to it. For one thing, smart employers want someone with “Y years of experience” not someone with “One year of experience repeated Y times”, and there is no objective way to “easily prove” that. Beyond that, the certifications and years of experience don’t mean that someone can and will do the job AND behave in a way that is compatible with the smooth operation of the company. Smart companies, for instance, don’t hire brilliant jerks nor people who always want to do things their way regardless of what the rules are.

    I’m not saying that a lot of employers are not being stupid about their hiring. But not hiring based on checking off a few items on a list without digging deeper, which is pretty much what you are suggesting, is not a sign of stupid hiring.

    1. usernames anonymous*

      Candidates can fit on paper but red flags come up during interview. For a couple of roles we recruit for the employee has to be able to work as a team – this is clearly stated in the advert as it is an essential part of the job. And we’ve had candidates that have the qualifications/experience we need but in interview they make it clear they prefer to work on their own and don’t like to collaborate. Which begs the question why apply for the job in the first place but that’s a whole other problem.

      1. WellRed*

        We certainly have seen commenters here that don’t understand why others say good morning when they just want to do their work and not interact with a coworker ever.

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        I have seen bad outcomes when those red flags were ignored in favor of technical qualifications/graduation from a high status school. I have seen so many people who look amazing on paper but are nightmares to work with or for in my career that, at this point, I’d rather compromise on the technical skills needed to a degree when possible than the softer skills. Skills are easier to learn than behaviors.

    2. Hannah Lee*

      There’s a hint of entitlement in that question ie if a candidate ticks all the requirement buttons that are visible to the candidate, the company is required to hire them and should be in trouble if they don’t.

      To quote a commercial “that’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works”

      For starters, hiring managers/companies can be bad at writing job postings … listing nice to haves and leaving out requirements because they are house blind or figure some things are a given with all candidates when they aren’t.

    3. Hollywood Handshake*

      There is so much more to a job than just the technical qualifications. I would suggest that a vast majority of the problems posted on AAM are not about people’s technical abilities or qualifications but their interpersonal skills, ability to work together and intangibles. And once someone is hired, it’s really hard to fix those things or get rid of someone. The company has a right to be choosy about who they bring on board to begin with.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        Really! “I have the certifications, so why didn’t they hire me? There oughta bea or against that! In fact, maybe there is — let me see if I can find one!”

        Gee, I can’t imagine why anyone might not want to hire somebody who thinks that way.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          That was supposed to read “There oughta be a law against that,” but my spell checker took over. Oops.

    4. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      I’d rather leave a post unfilled than hire someone who can’t do the job or who doesn’t work well in our environment.

      For instance, I much prefer people who don’t need management oversight every day. I hire strongly independent people with great people skills because that’s what you need in the higher levels of tech support.

      Someone might look great on paper but need a lot of handholding and approval and there’s no way I can accommodate that. Or they have no idea how to collaborate with others, or prefer no contact with others or they’ve got no experience dealing with clients…these things would make them a really bad fit here.

  18. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    To #4,
    We have had the worst luck of late trying to fill open slots on our team, but the managers would rather have the open slot than make the wrong hire. What is so difficult about finding the right hire – we are coverage based medical support in a non clinical capacity. My shift is the night shift, so 3:30 to midnight, local time. The amount of people not understanding that the hours are the hours is pretty high (and the position title says Night Shift in it, and the description states it’s night work twice, explicitly gives the hours, and states that the hours are non-negotiable).

    A minor sampling of things we’ve been asked in recent interviews:
    – No, you cannot be part of the night shift but flex your hours to different times, we are coverage based.
    – No, it’s not possible to train at night and then transfer to Day Shift in a Months time.
    – No, we are not the secret back door to day shift department interview session.
    – Yes, we are coverage based, so the shift will always end at Midnight.

    We get that night hours aren’t for everyone, that’s why the job posting is so repetitive on the fact it’s night shift. But we’d rather have a vacant position than have to listen all night long to a person grousing and grumping about working the night shift (which we’ve recently had) or have someone start and then quit inside of a month because they don’t like the hours (which we also recently had).

    1. Lora*

      You have my sympathy, I’m going through a similar thing. “Candidates absolutely must have prior experience with X. It is not optional. They must have done this before, preferably for at least 2-4 years.” Half the applications I get, they have done a lot of stuff but not 2-4 years of X. And X has been used in this industry since the early 90s, it’s not some newfangled thing invented yesterday. It is also nothing you can learn easily, it takes a solid year or two of practice to be able to do decently, and even then it’s very technique-dependent, you have to have at least a little bit of talent for doing small persnickety things with your hands – and we don’t have time or staff to train anyone that intensively, the person we are looking to hire would be training employees of their own within a year so they need to start out pretty good. The job description makes it clear this is also lab work which must be done in a lab, it is definitely not working from home at all. About 2/3 of the resumes I got which listed X as something they had done? Oh, they only did it once in academia, and they were hoping this role could be made to be remote, just analyzing data that someone else collects. Uh, no, it is definitely clearly stated that this is lab work in the lab, doing X pretty much 50% of the working day.

      And even so, personality counts for a lot. In large companies, people are often still grouped together as small groups and you will need to get along with your group and collaborate well with them, and probably also work well with other groups the department interfaces with. Honestly, when I’ve seen people really silo’ed off and given only the most technical work to do – the company was planning to get rid of them and replace them with a contractor, it was just a matter of time.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Yeah, lab work with X process is a pretty specific need, and no, lab work can’t be remote. (I used to work in labs doing EPA tests which are defined in the CFR. The equipment and chemicals weren’t something you could bring home.)

    2. anonymous73*

      Sounds like you need the recruiter to make things clear in the phone screen and make the candidates verbally confirm that these are non-negotiable. Of course, people still don’t listen or pretend they do, but it may keep people from wasting your time.

      Reminds me of when we sold our townhouse. We got a lot of feedback that people weren’t interested because we didn’t have a basement. The listing never mentioned a basement, so if that’s a deal breaker, why did you look at the house???

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        We don’t have a recruiter, but the title of the posting clearly states Night Shift. I know in the phone screen they are also confirming that it’s night shift and that the hours aren’t subject to change….but I guess hope that I can change it springs eternal for some folks.

        1. Michigan mom*

          In the automotive industry 3-12 would be called afternoons and “night shift” would be some variation on 11p-7a or something like that. Do people ever apply thinking they would be working over night? I have worked all three shifts and I find the 3-11 shift to be the most depressing. Although growing up my dad worked all three shifts and somehow when he was on midnights he thought that meant his sleep requirement dropped from 7 hours a night to 4 and he would be soooo crabby.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Nope, the people who apply wanting to work different hours all want to work like a 8-5 or a 9-6 shift. The irony is the hours for the shift are even in the job posting.
            And they even interview during our shift’s hours too.

            It’s starting to confuse the Leads because we’ve seemingly done everything that gets advised: the salary is in the ad, the hours are in the ad, the fact that you have to be in office part of the time, and the fact that the hours aren’t negotiable because it’s a coverage based job is there too.

        2. Purple Cat*

          I’m sure you guys are explicit as you can be, but agree with Michigan mom that in my company 3-12 is 2nd shift, not Night Shift. But if you’re stating the specific hours in the job posting than the precise name doesn’t really matter.

        3. Working Hypothesis*

          “Not subject to change” in many people’s heads equals “cannot be changed by the early stage interviewers, but if I can win my way through to the actual hiring manager, OF COURSE they would have the ability to change anything for as splendid a candidate as I am.”

          The idea that the job *itself* has needs never seems to enter their heads. They’re looking only at who has the authority to give them what they want. Well, yes, sometimes the hiring manager does have the authority to change the hours on a curtain job… but why would they do a thing like that, when it would leave them without coverage when they need it? That’s the part the endlessly hopeful applicants don’t seem to understand.

        4. usernames anonymous*

          We’ve had similar issues. One of our jobs has to be in a certain location which is not our headquarters – this is non-negotiable and it is confirmed with the candidates at every single step of the hiring process. And even after all that when we get to the offer stage I’ve had a couple of candidates tell me they will only take the job if they can work from the headquarters location. It’s very frustrating.

      2. Chriama*

        > The listing never mentioned a basement, so if that’s a deal breaker, why did you look at the house???

        Eh, there’s a difference between something explicitly stated as not there vs something not stated as there. Having looked at houses before, a lot of listings were kind of lazy. As a stranger I have no way of judging if the stuff not mentioned isn’t there or if you just didn’t think to include it. Also, sometimes you don’t know if something will be a dealbreaker until you see it. Maybe they didn’t think the basement was a big deal but then realized the living room was kind of small, or there really wasn’t enough closet space. People don’t always know exactly what they want, especially when they’re in a position of choosing from predefined options rather than being able to customize it from scratch. But I absolutely agree that actual dealbreakers should be in the description and also filtered out during a phone screen (because again, not all job descriptions are fixed and a candidate often feels better off throwing their hat in the ring than self-selecting out based on what could have been a modifiable condition).

        1. PT*

          My house, that I bought, has the square footage wrong on Zillow, and also the wrong year of initial build. We did a little research and it turns out our house is a good bit older than listed. This isn’t an issue for us per se, but it’s a historic district. If you’re selling a house marked a “historic home” you’d better know the history behind it.

          1. Kay*

            Agents and homeowners alike often get the details wrong or simply make mistakes – so a listing being incorrect whether saying it had something it didn’t, or leaving it out, would never surprise me.

      3. Alexis Rosay*

        I’ve found it helpful with things like to have people check a box in the application that says “I understand that the hours for this position are…”. Or you could put question like “Are you willing to work X hours for the duration of this position? Yes/no”.

        I used to hire for a position where we got a lot of people who wouldn’t reveal until the end of the process that they wanted us to sponsor their visa, despite us stating in the ad that we could not do so. Adding a question the application for people to state whether they could legally work in the US as of the start date drastically reduced that behavior.

        1. Aggretsuko*

          Yeah, in this case you’d have to add “I understand that this is a night shift job and that day shift jobs are not an option under any circumstances in this position, even if you’ve been here awhile and want a transfer.”

        2. Lora*

          I used to get those too for certain roles that did defense contracting work. We’d have it in the ad, in a separate form of the application that couldn’t be skipped filling out in writing what their citizenship and work status was, and the initial screening with HR informed them: no visa sponsorships, must be a citizen able to pass a strict background check, must meet various vaccination and health criteria as you will be working with hazardous materials and need to wear a respirator. The number of applicants who hoped we’d sponsor an H1b for them, who couldn’t pass the most basic background checks (as in, “no, he didn’t work here, we have no record of that person” and “actually we had a warrant out for his arrest, where did you say you were calling from?”), who didn’t want to submit to the various medical screenings because they used the illegal drugs of your choice, was amazing to me.

    3. SnootyGirl*

      Oh my gosh, this! SO MANY people over the years would interview with me, I would make an offer, and then the, “But I really don’t want to work weekends” would come out even though my ad and every conversation I had with them would include the weekend shifts.
      Even my own SO applied for a one person office job that was 9-3 five days a week and got a Zoom interview. Then he told me he was going to tell them, if it went well, he could only work three days a week but was willing to stay longer on those days. I absolutely blew up on him and told him how unfair it was of him to waste their (and his) time as it sounded like they wanted someone in the office everyday. I told him he MUST state upfront that he was not able to work the five days a week THAT THEY POSTED IN THE JOB. He did and they politely thanked him, told him that really needed someone everyday, and ended the interview (which greatly perplexed him) . To be fair, he only recently joined the “real world” workforce as he was a work from home independent contractor for many, many years and the switch over has been a tremendous learning curve for him. He brings “horror stories” from his retail work and gets frustrated when I reply, “Yep, seems perfectly normal given the situation”.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        A friend of mine says they haven’t hired anyone at his work in years because every single person doesn’t want to work weekends and they are fully staffed on weekdays.

      2. Working Hypothesis*

        “But I really don’t want to work weekends” at the offer stage is, unfortunately, a pretty standard negotiating tactic. It’s like what Alison recommends about telling them that you have upcoming travel plans already booked and will need X days off earlier than you’ll have accumulated them, after the offer but before you accept. The premise is that’s when you have the most leverage, because the company has decided that it really wants you, and so that’s when you can get more of what you want.

        The key difference, which the people who use this tactic about hours do not seem to understand, is that the company *doesn’t* exactly already want you. It already wants you TO COVER THOSE HOURS. If you’re not going to be covering those hours for them, their desire to have you working for them at all dries up real fast, since the whole thing that’s got them enthusiastic about hiring you is that they think they’ve found somebody to solve their work problem — that is, needing the job done competently and within the correct hours. If you’re not going to be doing this things, then you have just stopped being an attractive choice to them, which doesn’t really happen if all you want is a week of unpaid time off.

  19. alia rex*

    The comic sans letter could be about me! I have been suffering significant eye strain and it’s an easy to read font. It’s not just emails, I’ve set it as my system font. It has made a world of difference in not feeling like my eyeballs are about to pop by lunchtime. It’s just a font, and my ability to do my job has nothing to do with the shapes the letters make.

    1. tangerineRose*

      For eyestrain, I’ve found a few things to be helpful and am sharing them in hopes they’ll be helpful for you:
      – A white background with black text gets uncomfortable for the eyes. I use Magnifier (type it in the “Type here to search” in lower left of the screen) and then use ctrl-alt-i to invert the colors. It takes a little time to get used to a black background with white letters, but it is *so* much easier on the eyes.
      – I use “blink tears” eyedrops regularly.
      – If you can adjust the lighting around you, that can help. I found that reflections off my computer monitor were a problem. Also florescent lighting can be problematic.
      – I love to read for fun, so when I was having issues with eyestrain, I checked out audiobooks from the library and would listen to them in the dark. Got to rest my eyes while being entertained.

      1. rural academic*

        Some of this really varies by individual — for me, light text on a dark background becomes painful to read very quickly.

  20. Observer*

    #1- There is no reason you can’t start looking for the raise you deserve at another company. You’re obviously good at what you do, so you have options. Exercise them. You’re in a decent job now, so you can afford to be picky. But you’ll feel MUCH better if you know that you are working to change your situation. And you’ll surely wind up better off financially, too.

    There a lot of reasons to not love at will employment. But being able to walk when your employer is not acting in good faith it a really good thing.

    1. Artemesia*

      Yes. You know that they would not be screwing over someone they really valued like this. Bet the GUY who got the promotion would not be treated like this. At minimum kick a job search into high gear; you don’t need to take a job unless it is the right fit, but you are going to feel perpetually abused at this place. You know that the raise when it comes in a year, is not going to bring you in line with the market either. They are hosing you because they can. If they though they would lose you or valued you they would make it work. The fact that the promotion was proposed timely and then got slid over into the new year and that was used as an excuse to not pay you adequately is beyond shady. No decent manager would let that happen to their valued employee. Hope you find something better soon.

  21. Leenie*

    I thought the advice to the sycophant-averse letter writer was quite good. It’s an excellent opportunity to give credit where credit is actually due. But at the same time, I wonder if there’s room for the LW to be less cynical about her employees’ motives. If the LW has only recently started working with some of these teams, they could be expressing genuine appreciation for getting some new support from management. It seems a bit unkind to decide that most people below you on the org chart are sycophants, and not people who are trying to be nice.

    1. KRM*

      This. If the person before was terrible, or unsupportive, or always said “sounds great, I’ll be sure to pitch that idea so you can get started” and then nothing…well, LW, you may feel like you’re just doing your job, but people may suddenly feel that they’re finally being actually supported! They’re genuinely happy to have you working with them and your support is making a difference. So for sure give credit to those who work under you, but don’t dismiss praise as simply being syncophantic.

      1. JustaTech*

        This happened when my office finally got an on-site HR person. She was very confused why we were all excited to have an HR person (when we may have gotten a bit of a reputation for having fun), but honestly we were just relieved to have an HR person you could see with your eyeballs and get on the phone when you had payroll or benefits questions, unlike the email black hole from before.

    2. Xavier Desmond*

      I’m on the OPs side on this one. I’ve definitely noticed plenty of occasions in my career where a higher up has got directly and publicly praised for work I know they had next to no involvement in.

      1. Charisse*

        But I’m a little surprised that the OP doesn’t simply redirect the praise, as Alison suggests. All of my favorite managers have been quick to do that.

        If the OP is opposed to public praise just on principle and wants it to stop, then okay, but it sounds like they’re at odds with the culture of the workplace. And if other managers are publicly praising their own teams and the OP isn’t? Huge morale killer.

      2. Leenie*

        But the LW actually does seem to be working on these projects, as a recent development:

        “…have lately taken on projects that require me to work across teams and the organization”

  22. Susan Ivanova*

    And sometimes the team really wants to hire someone, and even is on the point of making an offer, when the rec gets pulled. If this happens once or twice it’s bad luck, if it happens persistently it’s time to check whether office politics is trying to kill your team. I’ve seen that happen.

  23. 867-5309*

    Good advice to OP3 but I know that I am often sincere in my praise of leaders, though do make sure to give full credit to the working team.

    Did anyone else have to look up the definition of “sycophant”?

    Noun: A person who attempts to gain advantage by flattering influential people or behaving in a servile manner.

    1. MK*

      I think the public nature of the praise is what makes it so uncomfortable. When I praise leaders, it’s usually privately to my peers, and rarely privately to them (which is more like expressing appreciation). I would feel really weird sending an organization-wide email about how great my boss is.

      1. 867-5309*

        I missed the part about organization wide emails. Agree with that! I was thinking more in a meeting where we are recognizing contributions to a project or recent successes.

      2. Observer*

        I hear about public praise. I’d say that it’s a difference in style. And sometimes there is also really good reason to do it that way.

        There is a difference in “This makes me uncomfortable”, which is very relatable, and accusing people of being syncopates. And I don’t think it’s a good idea.

    2. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      > Did anyone else have to look up the definition of “sycophant”?

      Not after living through 2016-2020 in the US.

    1. Aitch Arr*

      I dislike Comic Sans in business communications, but I love this essay.
      I pretty much love all things McSweeney’s, though.

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Is that even written in Comic Sans? The little a’s have serifs. Unless I completely am misunderstanding what a serif is.

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        Apparently I am! I thought serif was when the a had the pregnant lady gazing at her own stomach appearance instead of looking like a “c” with a vertical line next to it.

  24. Sarah*

    I once did something similar to the first person. I was covering for a fired manager on the promise of promotion. I knew what the fired manager was paid, I knew I had more experience and was better at the role.

    I was asked if I wanted the role and I said yes, subject to terms. I didn’t sign anything and the company chose to send an all staff email announcing my appointment at the same time as offering me a salary so low that one of my male colleagues would be paid more than me, yet I would line manage him.

    I received the pay and responded that I was happy to stay in my existing role. They kept saying ‘But we’ve announced’ and I kept replying, ‘But I never accepted and I have a contract for my current role’.

    They ended-up giving me the pay I should have been offered. I stayed a few months and left for a much better paid role elsewhere.

    1. The Dogman*

      Good tactical approach, in fact that might count as a perfect way to deal with this sort of thing!

      Glad you got your money and could use it to step up to even more cash!

    2. SarahKay*

      Good for you! Glad you could stand your ground, get correctly paid – and then best of all, got the hell out of that place.

    3. Observer*

      Wow! What a bunch of idiots. They obviously thought that because they announced the role you would feel pressured to take the position as is, not realizing that it could be used against them.

      I’m guessing that you are not in the US, as you mention a contract, which is not common here. That’s really the main thing that could keep someone like the OP from refusing to take on / keep the role.

      But I love what you did here. And also that you found another job anyway.

  25. John Smith*

    #1. I’d also add to Alison’s advice – get the agreement in writing. In a previous job I was promised by senior management an honorarium to act up a higher role for a few days a week, but two months in and seeing no extra pay, they denied ever making such a promise. So I denied agreeing to act up for free, which apparently was “dishonourable” of me to go back on my word! I don’t wonder how long it took them to find my replacement.

    1. misspiggy*

      Perfect playing them at their own game. I feel this comment should get its own tag for people looking for advice on being messed around by their employer.

  26. Azure Jane Lunatic*

    #4 – I was once not hired for an extremely niche role that I was perfectly qualified for, because I had been doing exactly that in the job that I’d contractor-timed-out of a few months before at a different company — because there weren’t enough qualified applicants for the role. (I may have been one of maybe two or three, or I could have been the only one.) So due to the hiring policy at that company, where they needed to be able to pick from a larger field of applicants, they did not hire at all.

    1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      I have run into this when hiring and it SUCKS. We would need at least 3-5 qualified applicants to start the interview process but would only get 1-2. Once it was so bad that people in the department who were qualified but had no interest in the job applied just so we could move forward.

  27. J*

    #1… Do you happen to work remotely with a company that just bought someone else and is now a very large company? I had something veeeery similar happen recently (promotion but not as a manager), and I know a lot of us did. I also did not receive back pay after being in the position over 6 weeks, during which I was pulling double duty doing the new role as well as my previous role.

    1. Anon for this one*

      I also saw something like this recently happen at my company and am wondering if I know the letter writer, because the story ticks every box. OP1, if you have any former managers or mentors who you trust to help you navigate this issue, particularly if they’re not part of your new structure, it might be a good idea to talk to them and understand how to navigate this mess within your own company’s culture and structure. Especially if they’re in a different division post-shuffle and under a different wing of HR… they could probably listen and offer advice without needing to loop in your current leadership.

    2. OP1*

      I work at a large company that merged a couple of years ago to make a VERY large company. We have been on what feels like an acquisition spree. I think about half of us are remote and the other half are office-based but we haven’t really fully gone back yet.

      I am trying to figure out if I know either of y’all without outing my company … I would also hate if this is such a common practice that it happens so frequently at other places. That would not be shocking, but it is sad.

      1. Anon for this one*

        Okay, it’s not mine! Didn’t mean to freak you out.

        In my case, my large team was split and moved to a different division in the restructure. My boss looooves me personally and managed to negotiate to keep me as a project manager with two members of my original large staff, but a dozen of my direct reports were moved to the new division.

        Some of them were merged with another team, but six stayed together and needed a new manager, and one of my promising direct reports was promoted to manage them. The communication was awful – I found out about the restructure at the same time as my team, her promotion was announced in the same communication although she hadn’t been given a job offer, and then they lowballed her on the offer, refused to negotiate, and she wound up accepting a really crappy offer for her first management role.

        She hasn’t told me any of this, but her new director is frustrated about it and vented to me. I’ve been helping her director put together a case to get her a bigger pay bump in the next cycle, which is just a couple of months away. Her director is getting pushback now about whether she’s really qualified for the management role she’s in…of course these questions are coming up in the context of pay and didn’t come up when they were deciding to announce her promotion. (Before the reorg announcement, there were some rough plans to promote a team lead within my group, because I had so many directs, and I’d named her as a possible candidate, and they based their decision on that and her review scores alone.)

        Also, my company is stupid, our rules around pay are archaic and serve to keep people underpaid and perpetuate pay disparity, this whole thing flew in the face of all of our normal rules around promotions, I’m angry on my former employee’s behalf about how all of this went down. I was already starting a job search and I’ve ramped it up.

        If she asked me, I’d advise her to stay in this role for a year, try to negotiate for as much pay as she can, and then pivot to a different management role in our field on another team. She’s not eligible for an internal transfer. She could absolutely find a job similar to her previous role elsewhere, and I could even give her pointers on where to look. In her specific case, I don’t think her resume is strong enough to make a management role a slam dunk elsewhere, she’d be better off getting some official management experience here if she thinks she wants to stay in management.

  28. T.*

    #4, several times in my hr career we didn’t fill a position bc the needs changed as a supervisor left mid process. The hiring team wanted someone who would fit with a new mgr so we had to stop and go fill that job 1st. Other times there are several of the same role open so you might see the post for a long time as we hire 1 then slow to pick more. Good luck in your search!

  29. The Lexus Lawyer*

    OP4 – that is not how things work at all. I’m really curious where you got this understanding

    And similar with OP5 – did they really mean to invite you for an interview or was this just something you thought you understood?

    1. WellRed*

      Yes I wish OP offered more context. Who scheduled the interview? Did you ask at that time about travel costs and how they would be handled?

  30. Old Cat Lady*

    #5: I wish the hiring team made a better choice here! I found out this past month that I was interviewed by mistake, but I somehow got the job. Promoted six months later. I’m so thankful that my organization took a chance on me, and didn’t stop the interview when they realized I was the wrong person.

  31. Squidlet*

    I see I’m the first person to respond to OP2…

    If you adopt Alison’s suggestions, your colleagues might realise that you’re happy to share the credit – and the sycophantic behaviour should decrease. Unfortunately this is a learned response to senior people who are glory hogs.

    1. Leenie*

      There were a couple of responses on that one before this. Last night, I said that maybe the LW should be a bit less cynical about her employees’ motives (although I agreed with the advice). Someone responded to me; and then there was another, similar comment, that had a few responses. If you search “sycophant” they should pop up.

      1. Observer*

        Also, I know that I misspelled the word – my spell check corrected me to syncopate. I didn’t realize till later that it was the wrong word…

  32. Lab Boss*

    OP1: I got stuck in a similar position. From an individual contributor to suddenly being put in charge of 3 direct reports and thrust straight into an emergency project, and when I asked about a promotion and raise I was told “you need to do the job for a while to prove you can handle it, we’ll give you a raise at the end.” They got 6 months of free management labor out of me for that one. Since then I’ve started reading AAM and when I was recently told I’m up for a promotion, I knew to calmly say that I’d love to talk about that role but would absolutely not be doing the extra responsibilities for free again. It sucks to realize a job you like will do you like that- but remember this and learn from it. You got promoted once, you’re good enough to keep moving up.

    OP2: In my experience it’s not necessarily that people are trying to suck up to you, but that for a lot of people you’re the face of your team and they just don’t know anyone else. They’ll say “thanks to Craig for pushing through this project” as shorthand for “thanks to Craig’s team, whichever members of it happened to have done the work.” I always do what Alison suggests and turn the spotlight onto my less-noticed workers to highlight something they’ve done, and have been told more than once (by people above and below me on the food chain) that it stands out and makes my group members look good. It sounds like you’re important enough to have some clout at your company, use it to point that praise at your people :)

  33. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    OP4: several months back I was trying to fill a job on my team here in IT and for a long time there was nobody who I thought would work out.

    Yes, they may have had certificates/degrees in our particular field of information technology but the rest of their CV didn’t fit. Not enough experience in the particular operating systems we use, not enough experience working in the environment we do (we’re a monopoly mostly government funded so it’s very different to commercial), no experience working support roles…

    And when we got people in for interview they just didn’t work out. Some were outright hostile about our covid precautions, one or two made my skin crawl (don’t stare at your interviewer’s chest), some couldn’t answer any of the questions in the interview…and some really would not have worked well in our team (if you prefer working in total silence away from people maybe don’t try to get a support job).

    We only recently filled that job. I’d say the advert for it had been up for about 6 months.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      (BTW I don’t have a single IT qualification to my name. Not even a computer science GCSE)

    2. Sara without an H*

      I’ve done a lot of searches where the applicants looked great on paper, but flamed out during the interview. Personal favorite: when asked “What kind of manager gets the best performance from you?” the response was, “Well, somebody who’s fairly strict, because when I can get away with murder, I generally do.” (She was not hired.)

      I’ve also seen sorry results when we hired people we weren’t enthusiastic about, but they had the minimum technical qualifications and we really needed somebody. Most of these people left/were let go within two years, after sucking up hours and hours of management and HR attention.

      1. Sara without an H*

        Short version: If your first search doesn’t turn up a viable candidate, it’s much better to leave the position open and keep looking than to hire a weak candidate and hope for the best.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Oh agreed. I’ve been burnt by hiring someone who didn’t really fit but was the best out of the interviews we had and my word he was a nightmare.

          (One of the applications we got for this recent post was someone who’d never worked in IT before but had ‘studied’ all the systems and wanted a career change after returning from maternity leave. Nope. We do not have the time to train someone up)

          1. Coconutty*

            Were there other things that made that person a clear no? I’m a little confused, since you say a couple comments up that you yourself had no IT qualifications when you started in the field!

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              The gist I get from Keymaster was that this was someone who wanted to break into a new career at or near the Senior level, not go back to near entry-level and learn the role from the ground up.

            2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

              I hire for senior level techs, not first line. Experience is a must. She wanted to move to our department but expected the same pay/benefits she had in her current job which was completely unrelated to us.

              (I still don’t have any qualifications in IT but I do have a 20+ year work history in it)

    3. Robin Ellacott*

      Yes, I’ve almost always regretted it when we hired someone who didn’t feel right for the role despite being technically qualified. It can anything from their style – people who act like aggressive salespeople don’t do well here, for instance – to its being clear they may have the qualifications but actually want to do something quite different.

      And then of course there are the “skin crawl” interviews, as you say. One guy kept telling us he was an “alpha dog” and trying to flirt with the three women interviewing him, one asked me “any coffee, sweetie?” when I brought him into the boardroom, and a few have been aggressive or ranted about past slights.

  34. Nea*

    I was hoping that reading this thread would finally give me a reason why Comic Sans is so widely reviled when it is the only free, widely distributed disability friendly font that comes packaged with every computer and printer.

    To my fascination, I’m not.
    – It’s “ugly.” Well, that’s a well-reasoned argument.
    – It’s associated with cheap, childish reading material… but not the fonts used in actual children’s books, pulp novels, etc.
    – It’s overused… but Times New Roman isn’t?
    – It was too popular at such-and-such a time.. but Ariel isn’t equally despised.

    “Everybody knows” there’s something wrong with Comic Sans, which must never be used despite all the people pointing out its readability and their reliance on it… and yet nobody can point to a single objective reason why Comic Sans, specifically, is more unprofessional than any other font that equally fits the “it’s wrong why” criteria.

    I’m betting myself $5 that I’m going to get at least one comment telling me to download a different disability font rather than use the one provided without any stronger argument than “but it’s not Comic Sans.”

    1. Nea*

      I mean… Atkinson Hyperlegible makes my teeth itch for no discernible reason… but that’s a me thing, not a moral and ethical complaint against a font.

    2. Lab Boss*

      I think it’s just one of those things that the collective internet started making fun of, and it’s something so trivial nobody wanted to defending it their hill to die on, and it was something everyone could collectively laugh at without being mean to anybody, and it just became a font that EVERYONE knows is bad because *waves hand around vaguely* reasons

    3. anonymous73*

      I was today years old when I found out there’s contempt for a font. Because unless someone writes all of their emails in highlighter yellow or the font is so tiny I need a magnifying glass to read it, I wouldn’t even notice, or more importantly, wouldn’t even care!

      1. londonedit*

        Yeah…I work in publishing and I don’t even really care about typefaces. I can have an opinion on whether one or another looks better/more appropriate on a cover design, but apart from that I’m not bothered. We have a library of text designs for our books and I pick the one that suits the subject matter and makes the correct extent, that’s it. I don’t make a value judgement on which typeface it is. Some of my authors are so keen on sending their manuscripts in with all sorts of fancy Word formatting and specific typefaces and whatnot…and I try my best to stop them doing so, because I just have to spend time stripping it all out and putting it back into plain old Times New Roman or some other ordinary thing as that’s what our typesetters can most easily work with. It’s not the case where I work now, but I have worked for publishers in the past where submission guidelines for authors specified 12-point Times New Roman with double-spacing (mainly in the days when we’d actually request a hard copy of every final manuscript as well as a copy on disk, ha).

      2. JustaTech*

        I got a resume once for a work-study job that was yellow text on a white background.
        I really, really, really wanted to reach out to the student and say “hey, this isn’t legible and hurts your application” but my lab manager wouldn’t let me. (Talking to rejected applicants can lead to lengthy arguments.)

        I sure hope someone clued that kid in.

        1. SnowyRose*

          Why is this a thing? Although in my case, it was a resume with yellow blocks with white text that went all the way to the edge of the page. And the blocks weren’t that big, so the text was all crammed together.

      3. UKDancer*

        Yes I mean I couldn’t even tell you what font I use, it’s whatever the default is. There are some documents the company prepares where our style guide says use a particular font so I do but otherwise I open a document in Word and start typing. Otherwise as long as it’s legible I barely notice. I had no idea this was a thing people really felt strongly about.

    4. Ferret*

      I don’t dislike Comic Sans and I think the internet’s collective disdain for it is a bit silly, but asking of an ‘objective’ reason for aesthetic preference is a bit weird. Terms like ugly or beautiful are pretty inherently subjective

      1. Nea*

        But that’s my point! Why is there such universally subjective negativity dumped on this one font? There’s no unified collective disdain based on aesthetics for anything else on the internet. Comic Sans is the one exception. And it’s not just aesthetics – people are using words like “cringe” and “unprofessional” which are placing some bizarrely moral judgement on a font.

        Like I said above, Atkinson Hyperlegible just bugs me. I don’t like it, I don’t think it looks good. But I’m not going to call its use “cringe” or “unprofessional.”

        1. Anon all day*

          I mean, maybe not for this particular reason, but as has been discussed above, there are things that “we” have collectively decided to have disdain for, for absolutely no reason (e.g. pineapple on pizza and Nickelback, also see the word “moist”). (We is in quotations as it’s not literally “all of us”.) If you want to talk about aesthetics in particular, I’m seeing more and more hate and pushback for Joanna Gaines-style interior design.

          I think you’re looking for an answer to something that doesn’t exist. There is no specific reason why people are doing this. It’s just an aspect of being human/being in a community. Just because you in particular aren’t swayed by it, it doesn’t mean that it’s a phenomenon that doesn’t exist.

          (Without actually doing any research on this, I would wager that these mass dislikes exist because people like to feel included and part of an “in-crowd” and cool. That doesn’t sound particularly unusual or weird to me.)

          1. londonedit*

            Yeah, it’s like how the internet decided a while ago that drinking lattes and doing yoga was ‘basic’ – it’s another way to create an ‘other’ group that you can then mock in order to make yourself feel superior.

            1. Nea*

              Unfortunately, I think this is the real answer; creating something to mock to specifically to have something to feel superior to.

              Only in this case the thing being mocked and felt superior to has a legitimate use as a disability tool, as several people on this thread have pointed out, making the mockery point straight at visually disabled people, who are now expected to go out of their way to download and use different fonts for no other reason than social pressure.

              Which loops back to my original point… that while I have zero proof of this, I will always be convinced that the original influencers who sparked off the fashion for disdaining Comic Sans did so because it was a disability friendly font. It’s been my unfortunate experience that many accommodations for invisible disabilities tend to be socially decried as “lazy,” “cringe,” or “unprofessional.”

          2. Observer*

            I mean, maybe not for this particular reason, but as has been discussed above, there are things that “we” have collectively decided to have disdain for, for absolutely no reason (e.g. pineapple on pizza and Nickelback, also see the word “moist”)

            So? It’s not a good thing. And in many cases, it’s not even a neutral thing.

            Like, in the case of this font, we’re supposed to pass judgement on people because they are using this font as though the person using the font is doing something objectively bad.

            It’s worth pushing back on that, rather than saying that “that’s what we do even when it has the potential to harm people.” At least with Pineapple pizza, it’s unlikely to do anyone any harm. And even there, I think people should get over themselves…

            1. Anon all day*

              I also think it’s dumb at best and outright harmful in some scenarios. I just think it’s silly to act like this is some bizarre phenomenon that the world has never seen before. (“There’s no unified collective disdain based on aesthetics for anything else on the internet.”) That’s just not true.

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          And the other place where people use the word “unprofessional”, they are using it as a way of being racist or ableist or sexist without being explicit, as a way to cover up their judgement. It’s not just an “aesthetic preference” when it hurts other people who need it.

          Being part of an in-crowd is fine until you realize you are excluding others in a protected class.

    5. AthenaC*

      Once upon a time, I purposely did all my work in Comic Sans, specifically because I knew no one would tell me not to. And also because I kinda liked the font.

      That tiny bit of “rebellion” just made my day so much better.

        1. AthenaC*

          Oh you misunderstand – emails weren’t comic sans (think I used Garamond or something pretty like that for emails). All of my notes / tieouts / markups on all my audit workpapers were in Comic Sans. So basically, there’s a body of electronic workpapers at a particular Big 4 firm from about 2009 – 2010 or so that are FILLED with Comic Sans. And they always will be. Forever and ever, Amen. :)

    6. Loredena*

      The thing that makes it extra baffling to me is if I receive a document printed in comic sans I doubt I’d notice! Until it became the font everyone lives to hate I honestly thought only marketing and UI specialists knew the differences between fonts enough to care.

    7. anon4this*

      To the “ugly” part, it’s actually been said “…on the technical side the font’s unmodulated strokes means it does a poor job of managing visual weight”. So that could be why it’s visually unappealing to some people.

      I personally like the font, even in professional settings.

    8. Critical Rolls*

      It’s news to many people that it is disability-friendly. I know that surprised me, because I find it *much* less readable than TNR or Calibri. I’ve considered Comic Sans unprofessional because A) it is a pseudo-handwritten font, and that’s a category that I consider wrong for typical work applications, and B) I associate Comic Sans with other aesthetic choices (like background textures and non-black type colors) that definitely make things less readable. But I’ve learned something today that I can take into account going forward.

  35. BRR*

    #1 I think a plan c in this situation could be to ask to have this made right in the next raise/promotion cycle (going by the company’s logic here). Including a bonus which could serve as back pay or higher base compensation and getting the commitment in writing (not that that’s iron clad in at will employment but better than a verbal “we’ll see what we can do).

    And I say plan c because my personal plan a would be to push back strongly right now and plan b would be considering job hunting. Enough of companies doing things like this.

  36. anonymous73*

    #3 The real question is why does it bother you so much? This person isn’t your subordinate and you haven’t mentioned any type of standard that this person isn’t following. So no, it’s not your place to say anything.

    When I first started as a Business Analyst, we would put the paperwork for a project in a folder with a label on the front. My manager gave me the folders and labels and a “special pen” that I was supposed to use. I would write in cursive, but he told me to print. When I print I write in all caps with the first letter larger than the rest. He didn’t like that either. Even though he was my manager, his requests were ridiculous and did not affect any of the projects at all. And this is the first thing I thought of when I read your letter. Please let it go.

  37. Hailrobonia*

    I’m in the middle of attempting a promotion – my boss left and I applied for her job and they said I wasn’t qualified, even though I literally did most of her job for her. So once again they are dangling this promotion in front of me which will probably be nothing but a title bump.

    What really sucks is that my organization does the awful practice of expecting us to work at a higher level (for a totally undefined time) to prove that we are worthy of promotion…. which is incredibly unfair. If I have to show that I have been doing director-level work for over a year (which I have), why haven’t I been paid director-level salary?

    And yes, I’ve gone to HR and have been job hunting. If (no, WHEN) I leave this awful place I honestly hope the whole program collapses.

    1. PT*

      I worked somewhere like that too. I was NEVER allowed to negotiate pay for an internal promotion. You got what they gave you and that was that. If you tried to negotiate, the job would disappear because you were being uncooperative and difficult, and you’d probably start getting pushed out for having a bad attitude.

      It’s great that some people work places where you can negotiate an internal offer, but it is not the case everywhere.

  38. Meghan*

    Regarding fonts in emails– If using comic sans is for ADA reasons, it might not even be possible to install a new “better” font on the computer due to IT keeping those things under admin access. I needed a barcode font installed on my computer and I had to schedule IT to come and do it because I was locked out from doing it.

  39. Blue Eagle*

    I would strongly prefer a communication written in Comic Sans than Times New Roman (which I detest, but then I have no use for serif fonts). I use Comic Sans myself but only when I want to differentiate or highlight something so it stands out from my regular sans serif font.

  40. Michigan mom*

    I work as an engineer for a Japanese company in the US. Many presentations are written with Chinese/ Japanese and American audience members and Arial is a common font for documents. I think Arial is an underrate font

  41. 15 Pieces of Flair*

    My current employer promotes the way LW1 described as a practice. Not only is the salary for a promotion not negotiated in advance, an employee typically needs to be working at the next level up before being considered for a promotion within their current job family. Doing the job before the promotion isn’t fully possible for ICs transitioning to first level managers, but most other promotions are a recognition of the work that the employee was already doing.

    To make the power disparity even worse, the multi-step approval process for promotions prevents managers from guaranteeing a salary in advance. Finance often pushes back on the number of employees receiving raises or promotions and/or the amount of the raises, so the manager never knows the specific number until it’s approved.

    The culture is to provide as little information as possible about specific salaries or even salary bands. A manager only knows what a direct report makes if they personally were involved in the salary negotiation at the time of hire, the employee was promoted while under them, or the employee told them. There’s no way for managers to view their team’s salaries without requesting them through HR. All raises are a percentage of the current salary which perpetuates disparities particularly in regards to new hires versus internal promotions.

    HR claims to “market adjust” salaries and use salary bands, but the reality is that senior leadership and finance don’t care if employees who were promoted internally are underpaid. I have a team member has been with the company for a few years and been promoted three times. They currently make 100k as a senior llama groomer when another employee in their same location was hired in at 110k in the llama groomer role. (The disadvantaged employee has this info and has leveraged it to get higher raises but is still underpaid.) The company’s position is that raises are capped regardless of the impact.

    1. Purely Allegorical*

      These are the exact practices of my current consulting firm. It’s demoralizing and people are leaving over it. I was recently told I only merited a 1.5% raise because I had only been with the company 4/5 months; they said if I had been with the company a whole year then I would have merited the more standard 4-5%. I pushed back that it was incredibly low and didn’t even meet what a market adjustment rate would be; I was told that the company can’t possibly match a 7% inflation rate for everyone.

      There are so many other things wrong with this place, but this really sealed the deal that I’m right to be getting out.

    2. Heather*

      Yes, this really isn’t unusual. Realistically, all OP can do is hunker down, do the work for another year or so and then parlay the title and experience into a raise somewhere else. It would be nice if companies worked any other way, but most of them don’t.

    3. Sea Anemone*

      At the last place I worked, when I hired in, becoming a manager was not even a promotion in the sense that your job grade did not change, and it did not come with much of a raise. They liked to rotate people through the manager positions, though, so everyone who wanted one (and had the capability to do it) had a good shot at holding a managerial position for a while.

  42. Sawbonz,MD*

    I really like Comic Sans (ducking in case anyone is tossing projectiles at me)! It makes me sad that it’s not “acceptable”.

  43. HigherEd-Staycation*

    OP #1 I sympathize as this seems to be the MO for higher ed and promotions/re-classifcations as well.

  44. RabidChild*

    Regarding #1: Does a person promoted in a reorg really have all that much power to negotiate salary? The reorgs I’ve been part of were basically a take-or-leave situation, so I’m not sure if she does have much power here.

    About the only thing you can do, as noted above, is seek retroactive overtime pay if you were non-exempt before (wish I’d realized that when it happened to me 100 years ago), as well as salary equity based on what others at the same level/salary band in the org are making. And use this experience as resume fodder/a springboard to GTFO in a year or so for the salary you deserve.

  45. I should really pick a name*

    Why do so many companies do this, holding out for some mythical perfect candidate, with no fear while unemployed people are struggling and hustling trying to get hired?

    1. The candidate they’re looking for isn’t mythical.
    2. Taking longer to find the right person is better than hiring the wrong person.
    3. Most companies’ primary motivation is to find the right person, not to provide a job for someone who needs one.

    1. Recruited Recruiter*

      This is so accurate! I have made a couple desperation hires (I know, shameful for a recruiter, but we needed a CDL driver yesterday), but the vast majority of the time, I will repost the job over hiring someone who won’t provide quality customer service or who will ignore safety rules, even if they have the necessary licenses.

      Additionally, OP #4, those employers desperately trying to hire, they’re not paying high enough wages. My company has a shortage of applicants with both the license we need, and the customer service skills, but if we find the customer service skills, we regularly help the employee get the license. In that sense, the easy to see on paper license means nothing. I’m currently only 3% understaffed. It’s inconvenient, but not worth making bad hires over.

    2. I should really pick a name*

      Additionally, having certifications or experience in a specific field does not tell you whether the applicant is actually good at their job or not.

  46. PB Bunny Watson*

    LW#3: If you read the comments, you will see that you are obviously not alone in your dedication/annoyance/pickiness over fonts. That being said, let it go. I think if it truly were a matter of not being computer savvy, they wouldn’t have ended up with Comic Sans since that is now a choice one has to make (as opposed to when it was popular to put things in that font almost 30 years ago).

    LW#4: Some places aren’t looking for the mythical perfect candidate… but need to get as close to that as possible because of funding. If you work for a government agency, it becomes almost impossible to get rid of someone after their probation period. Which means if they are even halfway decent or mostly competent at their job, but you later learn they are hateful, difficult, unhinged, etc… you can be stuck with them as long as they want to be around. Even if that isn’t the case, I’ve worked for places where it was a b*tch and a half to get the position approved (as opposed to straight out eliminated to save money when the previous person quit/retired), so you really need to get the right person in there or you risk losing the position in the next go round.

  47. Mr. Cajun2core*


    I think that sycophantic behavior does not come out of no place in a workplace. In my previous job, it was the only way to survive. Be on the lookout for people who encourage this type of behavior and only promote the a$$-kissers and make life difficult for those who challenge anyone above them. I would not be surprised if this was prevalent in your organization.

    1. OP #2*

      I’m not sure where this is coming from; it’s not something I’ve noticed in the culture before recently. I can tell you I personally have low tolerance for kissing-up.

      1. Mr. Cajun2core*

        Interesting. I know it started at a previous job when the new Dean started. Has someone new recently started? I also have a very low tolerance for kissing-up.

  48. Former Retail Lifer*

    OP #5, I had something similar happen to me, but at least it was local and they sort of tried to fix it. I scheduled an interview for a management position that I was well-qualified for. I confirmed via email, and they sent a second confirmation/reminder email the morning of the interview. I traveled an hour to get there, only to be told the position had been filled yesterday. YESTERDAY, but they still confirmed the interview with me that morning. They asked if I wanted to interview for the only other position available, which I was way overqualified for and would not pay enough. Because I was already there, I said sure. Then, they had to FIND someone to come interview me. They pulled another manager away from whatever he was doing to come half-ass a ten minute interview with me. But…at least I got an interview.

  49. Fluffy Fish*

    #4 I’m not sure how you got the idea that meeting the job requirements on paper entitles someone to a job or, alternately, requires an employer hire them, but it is not the case at all.

    I get the feeling you have maybe had a bad time looking for a job. If so then I encourage you to read all the fabulous advice here on job hunting, resumes, and interviewing.

    And maybe some on the importance of interpersonal skills since you seem to think there are jobs where you don’t need to “fit” to do the job. As others have stated, fit is important regardless of the job.

    As someone astutely mentioned above, the majority of issues that appear on this blog and other work advice blogs are almost always related to interpersonal interactions – not technical ability.

    Absolutely no one is owed a job in any circumstance.

    1. OP4*

      Because we all have to live under capitalism and I was under the impression that we do have some labor laws in this country and that capital holders aren’t allowed to just run rampant over labor, and also because it benefits both the government and society if the long-term unemployed find unemployment. No sarcasm, no punch line, this is why I thought that. I was wondering if this was one of the things that IS protected by law and Alison helpfully explained that sadly it isn’t.

  50. Khatul Madame*

    Assumption that a certification makes one qualified is profoundly wrong. I have come across many individuals who collect certs and have 2 lines of acronyms after their name, but are … not great at doing the thing they are certified in. There is also a cottage industry of paying people to sit for the cert exam, so verifiable experience doing the work is crucial.
    Another, and probably most common reason for leaving the job unfilled, is budget. If you absolutely cannot pay over $100K and qualified candidates ask for $130K, you are SOL. Hiring someone with a cert that is claiming to be qualified and willing to accept $90K is not a good solution. You may get lucky and this person will grow into the job, but you can also end up with an albatross who will not learn, poison the atmosphere, and lodge an EEO complaint for unequitable pay or whatever.
    I have also seen scenarios where the candidate, or several, were acceptable to the employer but rejected by the employer’s client. This could happen at a resume stage, or after multiple interviews, with the end result of the slot going unfilled.

    1. PT*

      I worked in a field- let’s say llama training- where falsification of certs was rampant.

      So I would bring a certified candidate into the llama barn and it would turn out they were allergic to llamas, afraid of llamas, had no idea how to even lead a llama out of its stall, wouldn’t go in the barn because they showed up in flipflops and didn’t want to step in manure. Because wherever they took their Llama Training Certification had a “the customer is always right” policy and just passed anyone who paid if they turned up with a pulse.

      1. Suzie Q*

        I think we’ve hired some of those people at my work. Except in our case, it’s probably more true that the recruiter was not brutally clear with the applicant about the nature of the job.

  51. Delta Delta*

    I have no real position on Comic Sans. There are other fonts I prefer, and I wouldn’t choose Comic Sans, generally, but I don’t necessarily dislike it. When I learned that it’s often better for people with dyslexia or other reading issues, it did actually slide me more into good-neutral on it.

    That said, misusing it makes me stabby. I recall specifically a particular person who used Outlook stationery (is this still a thing? I hate it so much), and decided “gold background with purple paw prints” screamed “professional!” She then chose Comic Sans as her font, but because of the background, the only way to make the font visible was for her to make it bright pink. I would always have to remove the background and change the font just so I could see what she was trying to say. Not. Cool.

  52. Chriama*

    I’m an educator and I use comic sans with young learners and English language learners because I find the font to be easy to read and it helps student recognize how letters are formed and “supposed” to look like. I find the comic sans snobbery incredibly elitist and quite frankly anyone who cares that much about what font other people are using for any reason other than legibility is not really someone I want to associate with.

    1. Alexis Rosay*

      Interesting point! I’ve taught a foreign language, but not English, and I always tried to choose fonts that resembled handwriting a bit more so students didn’t have to learn too many variations of the letter shapes at first. It never occurred to me to wonder if that don’t may have been low-status in the eyes of native speakers, but I certainly wouldn’t go back and change it.

      1. Chriama*

        It also has to do with how they’re taught to form letters. We can recognize many forms of a, g, y… with closed loops, curved lines, straight lines, in cursive and semi-cursive font. That comes with years of experience and reading certain fonts. Comic sans is clear

        Also, it’s the kind of thing that’s just popular to hate in a way that can go from humorous to downright mean-spirited for no reason. It’s assigned descriptors like “tacky” or “unprofessional” for the context in which it was first used, ignoring fonts which are used in much more problematic contexts. People make judgements about those who use it, allowing an incredibly superficial thing give them permission to make all sorts of uncalled-for assumptions about the competence and intelligence of the person using it. Sometimes it’s just a joke, but when a joke is repeated enough times it starts to be accepted as truth. Why do we encourage people to be open-minded, accepting, and nonjudgemental about most things, and then let a trivial detail become a defining factor? I think it’s fine to have font preferences, and even stylistic choices. But it’s time to let the “hate” of comic sans go.

    2. Artemesia*

      It reminds me of the ‘hotmail’ snobbery. I know a software development manager who is ancient and still has his very very very old hotmail address — he has just never bothered to change it. When people snark about it, as they do with comic sans, with that superior sneer, he just say ‘it works for me, why is it so important to you?’

      Readability is important. There are people out there who want to save money by using thin fonts that use less ink — well guess what, many people, especially as they age have a lot of trouble reading them. A web site I used the other day had navy blue text for the important bits on black — I would be reading the info and then the most important thing would show up in navy blue on black and I literally could not read it. I am old and have ‘good eyesight’ — no real issues, but especially in dim light or with difficult to read fonts, I do have trouble reading text. There are tons of older people with eyesight issues who have it much tougher. One of my favorite things about the Kindle is font management — my nearly blind husband can adjust to giant dark text — and my aging self can use a bold font when trying to read on the stationary bike.

  53. Someone angry for you*

    #5, this is absolutely unconscionable. I highly suggest you write about this on Glassdoor, and potentially on LinkedIn as well. This is a big enough deal that it’s worth blasting them.

  54. Sarita*

    My previous company pretty much only promoted people during reorgs. While “don’t accept a promotion without hearing the salary” sounds good in theory, in reality that would mean you end up chairless in the game of corporate musical chairs. They would also limit compensation bumps to 7% during reorgs to keep costs down. I once turned down a promotion for another offer in the company- agreed with the hiring manager that he would match the salary from the other job- only to have HR come back 2 weeks later and say that wouldn’t be happening, nothing the hiring manager could do. Also, it was very common for salary increases to happen weeks or months after you were actively in the role. There was no point in pushing back on it, this is the culture of that company and that industry. I eventually left 3 years ago, and at my next job was paid about 20% more.

  55. Observer*

    I try to graciously and humbly thank the person for their “compliments.”

    In truth, I regard this as sycophantic and I hate it.

    #2 – Do you really mean the word as it’s defined in the the dictionary? And why do you put “compliments” in scare quotes?

    Alison’s advice is good. But also, if you really meant that, you need to rethink your attitude. It’s fundamentally disrespectful to people. You are accusing people of servility and dishonesty on what basis? It’s going to be extremely difficult to actually and honestly follow her advice if your baseline attitude towards people is that they are insincere and dishonest in communications.

    The use of that term raises a bigger question – how is this affecting your view of them and other things they have to tell you? Are you going to be more likely to dismiss a problem they bring to you because you suspect that they are just “playing politics” or the like?

    As a practical matter, I’d also add another thing you can do if you really think that the compliments are over the top. Look at what kind of support your people have historically had / are getting now. Other people have noted how strongly people can react when they go from not getting the support / guidance / whatever they need to getting it. Is it possible that people are reacting this way because there is a real deficit and when they finally get what they need it “Halleluja!”? If you really want fewer over the top public compliments, this may be a good place to start. Make the kind of support these projects get, a regular part of people’s work and they probably won’t feel the need to call it out every time it happens.

    PS The support doesn’t necessarily have to come directly from you, but you are the one who needs to make sure that the appropriate resources are allocated.

    1. Mr. Cajun2core*

      I have worked with people who were truly sycophantic. The term “a$$-kisser” comes to mind. I have also worked in one place where that was the only way to survive. If you didn’t think the Dean walked on water, your life at work was made miserable by those who did. I can promise you while in some cases it was sincere (though not deserved) in many cases, it wasn’t.

      Yes, I am calling my co-workers (my former boss included) either liars or spineless. This is probably more common in academia than most people realize.

      1. Observer*

        Well I think we agree that there’s a problem in the organization. Which is to say that if the OP is accurate, then there is a problem in THEIR organization. And as the ED, it’s on them to figure out what’s going on and fix it, not disdain people who are trying to survive.

        1. Artemesia*

          I watched someone’s career trashed because underlings of the president were asked to check into a guy’s work because a friend of her daughter had complained he was too hard on her (he had been hired and specifically told to manage this person who was not doing the work and needed to be managed)
          The investigation showed no wrong doing so they did it again twice until they drove him out. All because of a fairly casual request by the Great One and the underlings total commitment to mindless action/worship of him. I would bet the Great One didn’t much care and would have been fine with ‘we took a look and everything seems to be going as it should.’ But once the request was made, these people took it upon themselves to destroy this guy.

          It is why Challenger blew up. Reagan didn’t ask that the launch go up in spite of engineer’s opposition but people up and down the line KNEW he wanted to point to the shuttle and teacher in the sky during the SOTU speech scheduled for that evening — so they made it happen.

    2. OP #2*

      Thanks for your comments Observer. I appreciate you pointing out that the team may not have had the support they deserve; this is helpful. I also agree that Alison’s advice is good.
      I do find it sycophantic but it doesn’t mean I don’t trust them, it’s simply that this behavior doesn’t ingratiate them to me, which I suspect is what it’s meant to do.

      1. Leenie*

        Suspecting their motives, instead of considering that they might be expressing genuine appreciation, is mistrusting them. And since you’re the person in the situation with more power, it would be far kinder to take them at their word. The advice was very good – redirect to give the right people credit. But you might want to consider that some people below you on the org chart are just nice, and want to express appreciation, instead of looking at them with suspicion.

      2. Charisse*

        OP #2, you’re a director, so I assume you have direct reports. Do you praise them when they do a good job? I assume so. Presumably you aren’t lying or trying to get something out of them. You’re praising them because they did good work, and people in general appreciate being recognized like that. Why do you think praise directed toward you would be any less genuine?

  56. GooberPea*

    Re #3 and Comic Sans: in the last year or so I read an article online, testing various “readability” fonts – including both commonly available fonts and those specifically designed for dyslexia, visual impairment etc. Surprisingly, Comic Sans came out better in the tests than several of the specially developed fonts. Naturally I can’t find that article to link to now! But here’s something I did find: https://www.perkinselearning.org/technology/blog/my-eight-favorite-free-fonts-print-disabilities
    Comic Sans comes off well there too!

    1. irene adler*

      Comic Sans serves a useful purpose. My mom has vision issues and she is always messing with fonts (and sizes) to improve readability. I’m grateful she has such options.

      Maybe changing the name “Comic” to something else would improve it’s ‘reputation’.

  57. Cee*

    Im always surprised that the non-computer savvy folk who don’t know that comic sans is a weird choice for professional communication are the same people who are savvy enough to figure out how to change an email font.

    I mean changing the font is not hard, but its definitely hard than just leaving it alone…

  58. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    your only option may be to stick around long enough to be able to parlay the promotion into a better-paying job somewhere else.

    How long is the OP looking at here to make this happen?
    I imagine just having started others would not hire them at this level as they have zero years of experience at this level so far.

    1. irene adler*

      Maybe this is the situation where that old saw about not leaving a position until you’ve worked it for an entire year comes from.

  59. Nanani*

    I wonder if OP4 is making a false equivalency based on how, at least in some places and systems, unemployed people -have- to be constantly applying for work and -have- to take any suitable job offer they get.
    Why wouldn’t it work the same from the other end, a person who hasn’t read the AAM archives might ask?

    It’s not automatically a stupid question. And having asked it, now they know.

  60. Observer*

    #3- Why do you care? I’m serious here. What is so important about the font she’s using that you would stop your employee from doing it?

    Considering that this is not even your employee, I really don’t understand why it’s even on your radar. Much less being something you feel so strongly about that you are talking in terms of whether this should be a “hill to die on”. Yes, I know that no one means that literally, but it’s a term that is usually reserved for issues that are a BIG BIG DEAL.

    Is it possible that you actually have a bigger issue going on and you are just focusing on a small (fairly inconsequential) item because that feels more manageable?

    1. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      I was thinking the same. Puzzling OP might want to do some reflection on why OP cares so much about the font this person is using. Is this really about the font?

  61. voluptuousfire*

    LW #5–what wasn’t clear to me is if there was a confirmed interview or not. I would assume so since you flew out on your own dime. Either way, this is a HUGE red flag and an egregious candidate experience. What boggles my mind as someone who handles recruiting coordination for a living is that not one person caught this mistake (and there’s probably 4-6 people involved between you, the agency recruiter(s), the internal recruiter, hiring manager) until you showed up at the door. That’s just…I don’t even know how to describe it. The fact that no one appears to be mortified by this gaffe is just shocking. Bullet firmly dodged, OP.

  62. Twill*

    #3 I know this is a ‘thing’ , but I have never really understood the issue with fonts. I mean, as long as I can read it, who cares? It’s not something I even really notice. I don’t think I’ve ever opened a letter or email and thought ‘Well, this isn’t in Times New Roman! I can’t take this seriously!”

    1. SnootyGirl*

      I agree. The ONLY time I have ever pushed back on a font is when one of my staff started using a very hard to read cursive font to “try to make it look more like a hand-written letter” (she was older and though it added a personal touch).

  63. finny*

    #4 I was once in a situation where someone left and we interviewed people, but none of them were a good fit (as in, we didn’t think they were qualified). We had a busy season coming up and it was either choose someone who we’d have to put a lot of work into training, or just do the extra work ourselves and resume the job search later. We went with the latter.

  64. MissDisplaced*

    #5 I’m sure it was an honest mistake and error on their part, but it’s terribly unprofessional to not even acknowledge the mistake. And they ought to reimburse you at least partially for your travel and hotel given they set the interview.

  65. SnootyGirl*

    #1 – How are you generally at accepting compliments? I had a boss that (at least it seemed to me) was overly generous and effusive with thanking me and telling me what a good job I was doing/did to the point it made me uncomfortable. I finally spoke to some of my co-workers to see what they thought and they all thought it was normal. That made me do some reflection and, after talking to some of my close friends, I realized that I was uncomfortable with any sort of compliments, especially when I didn’t feel I had gone above-and-beyond.

    #5 – This sounds, especially since the LW is being brushed off, that it may be on LW. What exactly made her/him think that they had been invited to travel to an interview? Travel-to interviews usually involve several discussions around timing/accommodations/reimbursement of travel expenses, etc. Are there e-mails or texts regarding this? If there are, then LW needs to push back HARD as this is unacceptable but, to me, it sounds like the LW maybe misunderstood. [My thoughts are based on a friend of my SO who quit her job, moved, and showed up at her new workplace only to be told they had never offered her the job. She had mistook the “tour of the place” as an indicator of a job offer and acted on that.]

    1. OP5*

      I was sent an offer by a person and then a link to a scheduling system. I definitely had an invitation to an interview, whatever went wrong was a system failure on their part. The UK is smaller than the US so travel to interviews isn’t as common and we’re mostly expected to figure it out ourselves, judging by the job search so far.

      1. SnootyGirl*

        So sorry to hear that, you definitely had an offer. I agree with someone else’s comment that you dodged a bullet with that company; they sound weird. If you have actual out-of-pocket costs (and you feel like standing your ground), I would submit the expenses to their financial department along with a copy of the offer. Good luck in your job search!

  66. OP5*

    Thanks everyone for the support and encouragement to leave a Glassdoor review. Seeing everyone appalled on my behalf has helped me feel much better! To answer some FAQ/frequent comments: the interview was scheduled through an automated system (as in a real person emailed me with a link to schedule the interview) so I had proof of the interview being offered to me and an automated confirmation. This made me think I didn’t need to confirm by hand but I will in future. The travel and hotel expenses were about £150, a hit I can afford to take but an upsetting amount to have wasted (being unsuccessful at interview wouldn’t have been a waste but this was). Reimbursement was never discussed – it’s not that common in the UK outside of huge orgs – and am struggling to get hold of anyone related to the job at this point to talk about it any further.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      If I had received a confirmation, even from an automated system, I’d assume that was the time and date to show up for my interview too. So, not the best system they have. Still sucks though.

    2. RhondaDawnAnon*

      If it were me, might try writing one more time sending a letter to upper management (not HR) with a copy of the email confirmation that explains the situation and politely requests reimbursement. The worst they can say is “no.” not the same thing as sending an invoice (which I agree with others would be seen as unprofessional).

  67. voluptuousfire*

    Also re: comic sans–as long as I can read your emails, your font choice is your font choice, IMO.

    Although one time years ago I had a female recruiter at an external agency reach out to me about a role and her entire email was comic sans and every few sentences were a different bright color so it looked like a rainbow. Even if I were interested in the role, I would have turned it down to the fact that the email looked like it was written by a 20-year-old sorority girl who was reaching out to her sisters about pledge week. It was so unprofessional! I had to copy it to another email window and make the text black to be able to read it properly. This recruiter had been in the business at that time for 20+ years!

  68. Free Meerkats*

    Ah, the Great Font War on 2015. Our department was working on a new style sheet to go with the new City logo and letterhead design (I’ve been through 4 or 5 new logos in my 30 years here). Those who were passionate about fonts argued endlessly, frequently citing studies about readability and perception and accessibility. After months of this, we settled on:

    Calibri, 11 pt.

    Cue the trombones.

  69. anonforthis*

    #4: It’s possible that they are making job offers but are getting turned down. This is the case with my company. The opening is for a newly created role which the company didn’t do a great job advertising, and a lot of the candidates we interviewed thought the job was scoped for something else. The job was open for several months before we finally decided to take down the posting to rewrite the job description.

    I also want to add: candidates don’t always just get hired on the basis of whether or not they are simply qualified, but whether or not they have the exact set of skills needed by the company and the department. More often than not, there are multiple skilled candidates for one opening, and the one with the most *relevant* skills gets hired. Skilled candidates aren’t that rare. The mistake my company made was failing to communicate in the description which skills were relevant.

    And I want to take a mini soap box moment: companies don’t hire candidates out of an obligation to save them from the perils of unemployment. However, unfortunately in the US, so many social protections are inaccessible without employment, which I think is wrong, and why we need better universally accessible (ie free) social programs. /end soapbox

  70. CogInTheMachine*

    Regarding #1, it’s possible that there was no alternative to accepting the promotion other than unemployment. I work for a company that did a full top to bottom reorganization. Those who were offered jobs that were technically promotions had the choice of either accepting the job they were offered at the current rate of pay or else they were considered to have quit voluntarily with no severance. Most of us had to wait a full year for the reorg was complete to find out if we still had jobs or not, and those of us who did it was the same scenario, accept the job you are offered or quit with no severance. There was no option to negotiate, because if you didn’t accept what you were offered you suddenly had no job and no health insurance in the middle of a pandemic. Unsurprisingly, lots of people accepted their new jobs but found employment elsewhere as soon as possible. We had multiple manager roles empty for a LONG time afterwards as a result. It was a very poorly executed reorganization.

  71. Es*

    For #3: If you have a communications/marketing team that has put out guidelines, you could offer to help her get set up on that… as long as you are already complying. At my (F500) company, they are very specific about what fonts can and can’t be used in emails (mostly b/c we have a company-specific font that isn’t available externally).

  72. Suzie Q*

    For #1: I also took a promotion to management recently without confirming payment. They asked me to apply for the role and told me upper management had picked me out for it. They strongly implied they could match or come close to matching my current pay rate (matching sales incentive is always a little iffy). I was promised long lunches out with management and reduced/flexible hours. Another manager did the official interview a few weeks later and asked me to start my new role immediately. They were waiting to hear back from HR on the actual pay increase because these things take time, and in the interim paid me extra through overtime hours. It was maybe a month and a half after I had taken on the new role (which ended up being 2 times as much work with no lunch breaks) when the pay increase went through, and I found out I would be making about $12,000 less per year than before my promotion. The managers who moved me into the role have all transferred out of the department due to the general shifting around this year. So, anyway, you’re not alone. I hate job hunting.

  73. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    OP#3: I don’t get it. Why does OP care so much about the font? Let it go. Some organizations have an official font that everyone is expected to use, but even then, it is not OP’s business. It would be interesting to hear what happens if OP chooses Font Hill as the hill to die on. Not that anyone will die on Font Hill anyway!

    My company’s official font is Calibri. We are expected to use Calibri in emails, letters, memos, etc. So I found the disparaging comments above about Calibri to be pretty amusing. :)

  74. Texas Teacher*

    LW 3 – When I saw the title in my feed I came here to say exactly the same thing about people with dyslexia finding comic sands easier to read. If your IT department allows it the chrome extension OpenDyslexic might help. I see a dyslexic-friendly font on most pages including this one.

  75. Richard*

    LW #2 – in addition to Alison’s advice, the thing we’re taught at my company is to try and turn it into a conversation, use it as an opportunity to grow the impact. The response to “we were able to deliver the project ahead of schedule, thanks to your smart decisions!” can include something along the lines of “Do you think there are ways we could improve our processes and training to make it easier for others to make similarly smart decisions in the future?”

    If the person giving the praise is sincere, then they should be happy to engage with that (“Maybe we could organise a brown bag presentation about the project, and the information that was most instrumental in helping to make those decisions, for other teams to learn from?”) and, in the best case, you get an institutional improvement out of it.

    If, however, their praise is insincere, then it usually either forces them to convert it to something more sincere (“oh! uh, well… I thought it was particularly impressive how you considered X. Maybe we should make that a standard part of the dashboards?”) or to just kind of trail off in a way that makes it clear that they’ve not really thought about what they are saying (“uh, I dunno really, I just think it was cool”). That is usually a little embarrassing for them, so it teaches them to bring more substance next time.

  76. Louisa*

    LW #5 I am so sorry this happened to you; I know how it feels because it happened to me too many years ago (and the day I traveled I was sick with a sore throat and the whole trip was just pure misery.) I am not sure there is anything you can do but hopefully karma will intervene here and a great new better job will pop up for you soon.

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