I’m afraid I’ll be sucked back in when I resign, I’m stung by my exit interview, and more

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

1. I’m afraid the CEO will suck me back in when I try to resign

I’ve been at my current company for 10 years, starting right out of college, but I’ve finally decided that I’m ready for a change and have started interviewing for new jobs. I like the work where I am now, but the management drives me crazy and work life balance is an imaginary concept. I’ve been toying with looking for a new job for the past 3-4 years but hadn’t yet bit the bullet.

The CEO of my company, “Mike,” is notorious for sweet-talking employees who have given notice, and offering raises for them to stay. Mike is also very into the “we’re all a family” business model and adds in a guilt trip. Apparently it works – I had an interview with one of our direct competitors, and the interviewer flat out told me that they had interviewed several people from my company, extended offers, some of them even signed the offer, but then Mike convinced them to stay.

I’m waiting to see how it plays out with the competitor, but I am sure that I don’t want to stay where I am. Once I find a good new position and give notice, I know that Mike is going to try the sweet-talking/guilt trip approach on me.

I do like Mike as a person and have learned a lot from him, but am ready to move on. I also want to be careful since Mike is very well connected in the industry. How can I prepare myself to have the “I’m leaving” talk without getting sucked back in, and without burning a bridge?

It sounds like you need to get clear in your own mind ahead of resigning that you are committed to your decision and there’s nothing Mike could offer that would make staying the right decision for you. Make sure you really think that through! Imagine Mike making a counter-offer and decide beforehand how you feel about that. What if he promises you things will change, or a better title, or more money? By thinking those possibilities through ahead of time and deciding they won’t change your mind, you’ll better inoculate yourself against them if they happen.

Also, go into the conversation assuming that Mike definitely will try to pressure you into staying, and know how you’ll respond when he does. Have responses ready like, “I appreciate the offer, but I’m sure this is right for me” and “I’m committed to taking the new job, but I plan to help with the transition however you need over the next two weeks.” You can repeat variations of those as much as needed. You might also consider having an unmovable obligation scheduled for right after you talk with him, so that you have an excuse to wrap up the conversation rather than letting Mike continue to try to persuade you.

Most importantly, though, Mike can’t make you stay if you’ve decided to leave! And there’s nothing unprofessional or bridge-burning about holding firm on your decision.

2. I’m stung that my exit interview is just an online form

I just put in my two weeks notice to my employer. My new job is a very exciting opportunity for me, and I am getting a 50% pay increase(!) from what I currently earn.

I have been with my current institution for 10.5 years, working my way up the ladder a bit in the process. I am very close with many of my coworkers and have good relationships with my manager and grandboss. Honestly, the only thing about this job I found untenable was the pay, though of course there were minor annoyances.

The day I sent my official notice, HR immediately sent me a form email with information about my last pay check and all that. Fine. It’s good information to know. What I was surprised to see was a link to an online exit survey in lieu of an actual exit interview.

I suppose it doesn’t really matter whether the information gathered by HR is via an online form or a live interview. I just can’t shake the feeling of being a little stung at the tone this form is setting for my exit, especially after working here for so many years. Am I off-base, and this is how businesses operate now? Should I reach out to HR and ask about whether there will be a real interview?

Online exit interview forms aren’t unusual. The reality is, exit interviews rarely generate much that couldn’t be captured by an online survey, and doing them in survey form is a lot more efficient. I also wouldn’t put a ton of weight on your exit interview generally, whether it’s via form or in-person. Exit interviews tend to be bureaucratic exercises, rather than meaningful ways to effect change. If you’re interested in the latter, a one-on-one conversation with your boss is more likely to have an impact than an exit interview with HR. (There are exceptions to this, of course.)

Keep in mind, too, that the exit interview is for the employer’s benefit; there’s rarely much if any advantage to departing employees to put a lot of energy into them. If they want to use a quick form rather than take up more of your time, so be it.

3. Dramatic responses after not being promoted

I’m in the UK. Here, we have rules around promotion where the job has to be advertised and anyone can apply. The applications are shortlisted and usually an interview takes place, with the highest scoring candidate being successful.

I’ve noticed at my current place of work that should someone interview and not get the promotion, they either call in sick for a day, refuse to do their usual duties because they’re “too upset,” or appear to have an attitude for a few days.

Most of the time, it’s obvious the candidate will be unsuccessful, as there are stronger people being interviewed.

Is this normal behavior from unsuccessful candidates? I understand being disappointed, but it feels unprofessional.

It’s not normal, and yes, it’s unprofessional. It’s also childish. People are expected to deal with disappointments and setbacks without refusing to do their jobs or otherwise having an attitude.

4. Job postings that list 28 tasks

I’m looking at jobs that require a few years of experience and noticed that some list 5, or 10, or even 15 tasks the person in the position is responsible for, but a few will list more like 30 tasks (and of course they note that the employee may be responsible for things beyond those listed). Is it a red flag when a job lists that many tasks?

I’m considering applying to a job that lists 28 tasks (an entry-level job at a private school). I realize the person in the position probably doesn’t have to handle 28 different types of tasks each and every day, but it still seems like a lot.

It depends on what the tasks are. If they’re significant, time-consuming responsibilities that seem like they’d add up to more than a full-time job, then yes, that’s a red flag. But some job descriptions list everything you might conceivably spend time on, and that can include things that take barely any time or only come up a couple of times a year. If that’s the case, it’s not a red flag, just a very thorough job description.

Lots of perfectly manageable jobs are responsible for 28 or more separate things if you list out absolutely everything the person does, but the core responsibilities — the main, time-consuming ones — are only a couple of those. So you’ve really got to look at the nature of what’s listed.

{ 248 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I generally do not remove letters after they’re published except in very extreme circumstances. Given a situation one of today’s letter-writers shared with me, I have removed letter #1 (or what used to be letter #1) at her request and all comments discussing it. I don’t do this lightly; I agree with her it was warranted in this case.

  2. PollyQ*

    #5 — I’d bet a bright, shiny quarter that the extensive list is in response to a problem employee who claimed that if it wasn’t in the original list of job tasks, they couldn’t make them do it.

    1. Loulou*

      But this is what “other duties as assigned” is for! I really can’t imagine a well-designed job ad that lists 28 of anything. I feel like even federal jobs are more succinct than that.

      Is it a red flag about the job itself? Probably not…but I do think it’s a bad practice and reflects a lack of thoughtful editing.

      1. PollyQ*

        Yeah, I know that and you know that, but problem employees are often surprisingly successful with pseudo-legal counterattacks. The other reason is that the school is trying for maximum transparency with what the job entails, which I think is not a bad thing.

        1. English Rose*

          In the UK what’s being described here wouldn’t a job ad, it would be an underlying and attached job description document. But agreed, job ads are often very poorly written.

      2. John Smith*

        I find the “other duties as assigned” is very much open to abuse. It’s quite common in my organisation to be asked to act up (work at a higher role) without any extra pay even though this is specifically barred. Management simply treat this phrase as a term wide enough to drive a bus through. Sideways.

        1. kicking_k*

          Yes, I was going to say this. I once had a job where “other duties as assigned” became the whole workload and it became impossible to do any of the (equally important) work that has attracted me to the post. Unfortunately the “other duties” didn’t play to my strengths, and I’d not have signed up for them had they been listed. It was miserable.

          1. kittycontractor*

            This was my last job (that I recently left). 95% of the daily tasks was everything that was tacked on. When I was doing interviews for the office staff I always emphasized this so the candidate was fully aware.

        2. Anonomite*

          I have a friend who’s dealing with this kind of abuse of phrase right now. As more and more people have left for greener pastures, my friend has been asked to take on more and more jobs. They’re a counselor and right now they are being asked to help set up technology, help set up internships, and teach new students, as well as keep on top of their normal counseling duties.

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        I work in financial reporting and a lot of what we do is cyclical and only done at certain times so I could definitely imagine that when really broken down if someone was being very thorough there could be a list that long. Like–the first week of the month you would expect to do these 5-6 things, then for quarter end you would expect to do these additional 2-3 things and at year-end there are a whole bunch of additional things. Then during all the other slower times you would work on the rest of the tasks as time allowed.

        All those various things could really add up quickly!

        1. Faith the twilight slayer*

          Finance here. My job is very, very cyclical, in that I am busy for about a third of the month and the rest of the time… well… I have kindle on my phone. First world problems, yes, but it’s difficult to actually look busy for two and a half weeks straight.

      4. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Personally, I like to list out all the tasks on entry level jobs because it makes it easier for folks to identify things they do have experience doing even if they have never been a $whatever. I find it especially helpful with jobs like reception and admin assistant because, as we have seen from many letters here, what those roles are expected to cover can vary ridiculously. This could just be a me thing, though

    2. Frank01*

      I work in a retail environment with both customer-facing and back-end duties. A normal 8 hour shift requires about 30 different tasks, so in my line of work it’s not that unusual. But listing all of them in a job posting? That’s daunting and would turn me away.

    3. marvin the paranoid android*

      For me, the larger issue with the big list o’ tasks postings is that there often isn’t much context given as to which of the tasks and skills listed are central to the position, so you have to try to puzzle it out based on the job title and the order the tasks are listed. For my current job, I honestly had no idea whether it was a communications position, an administrative position, or a web development position based on the job posting. It just had everything thrown in there.

      1. Lenora Rose*

        Yes. If it’s going to list every task, breaking it down into “main duties” and “additional duties” or something so you can see the priority/frequency of the tasks listed would help immensely.

    4. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      I was thinking since it was entry level, and thus people might be coming in with little experience, that they list all the tasks so folks can know a) more about the job and b) someone with little experience or experience from a different industry like retail, food service, etc can see that yes, they actually have done some of the tasks. I tend to do this when hiring for entry level jobs, especially reception/anything customer facing. I have found that folks with service sector experience are freaking amazing in these roles but applicants tend not to realize how much their experience can directly translate to these roles unless the role is broken into tasks.

    5. Emilia Bedelia*

      Am I the only one who doesn’t think this is that weird? I’m sure I can make a list of 28 very specific things that I did this week. I could also broadly summarize my job in about 1-2 bullet points if I really had to. This seems to be more about how the job description itself is written.
      Job descriptions often describe skills or behavior more than just a checklist of things to do, and the requirements might overlap when you look at actual day to day work. Eg, “Collaborate with cross functional groups” “Attend meetings as scheduled” “Provide Teapot Manufacturing input as part of project teams” “Complete manufacturing deliverables” could all be part of my job description, and would all apply to a meeting with 3 other teams to discuss a project.
      It sounds like the OP is not that familiar with the type of job they are applying to and so might not have a lot of perspective on what’s normal. If I read my job description with 30 tasks on it, I’d know that some of those things only come up occasionally, and others would take up a big chunk of my time, just because I’m familiar with what’s common for my role.

      OP should definitely ask for more detail, but I don’t think this is a red flag at all.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        I recently inherited a person who’s job description went on and on individually listing things that should have been (and were, when I got done with it) easily consolidated. I did not know that we had to specify in individual bullets that one needed to work collaboratively with the client, principal, and coworkers to achieve client goals/deliverables/contract specifications, but that one did. There were also separate ones for a multitude of regulatory forms that needed to be completed, which, again, got rolled up into one (and had an “including but not limited to” added to avoid the inevitable “well, you didn’t tell me I needed to be able to complete the 1040EZ, just the 1040, so that’s not my job” BS).

      2. tamarack and fireweed*

        I think with the little information we have we can only read tea leaves. As Alison said, it depends on the job duties. Maybe for an entry-level position they were spelled out in minute detail. (Eg. instead of “keep departmental records” it said “update and file daily completed customer record, distribute incoming files to functional teams, complete archiving tasks, prepare documents for shredding, compile monthly report”, ie. 6 separate duties.)

        I just looked up a completely normal ad for a non tenure-track full-time one-year visiting professor position at a community college with a completely normal looking set of job duties, and counting the individual duties I come up with 13. So that’s half what the OP saw – my guess is, it’s on the excessive side, but depending on what the duties are, it could be a badly written ad rather than a red flag.

        So the thing to do would be to ask. If they start waffling and the OP gets the feeling they just threw everything that needed doing at the ad, THEN it becomes a red flag.

    6. just a random teacher*

      It doesn’t strike me as unusual in a school environment, although I’m in a unionized, public school position rather than a private one. We generally post all of the duties from the job description in the job posting, which are pretty general and vague (we have one “teacher” job description that is used for everything from bilingual kindergarten teacher to HS welding teacher with maybe one or two bullet points changed). The job postings tell you almost nothing about the specific job you’re applying for.

      This is not a great system, since teaching in those situations takes almost entirely different skillsets, but the district also feels that they should be able to shuffle people around to any position that’s within-license for them if school staffing levels need to change, so if you’re hired to teach kindergarten but also licensed to teach welding, you might be moved to doing that the next year as the same “job”, so…

    7. ProfessorMcGonogal*

      #5 – speaking as someone who has worked at a private school, this is not unusual (especially boarding schools). Teachers are expected to teach classes; advise small groups of students; coach multiple sports; supervise extracurricular activities; and serve as dorm-parents. Break even these 5 broad categories down into a handful of tasks (like- plan lessons, differentiate for various learners, provide one-on-one support, write comments, give timely feedback on student work, collaborate with your department…) at it doesn’t take long to get to 28 tasks.

      Is it a red flag? Depends. Private schools DO ask instructors engage in a wide range of activities. Evenings and weekend work is common. “Additional” duties (like attending parent night, or hosting the team-building dinner l) are not unexpected. I’d say it’s less of a red flag and more of a realistic one— is this the kind of work and schedule you’re looking for? Can you juggle those expectations? If so, you may find you thrive on the variety and community; if not, you’ll hate being pulled in multiple directions and working flexible hours.

  3. AssocProf*

    #5 yes…it’s a red flag for me. It usually means that they haven’t scoped the job properly and are hoping you’ll do 3 people’s work. This is particular true in support-related roles in higher ed right now.

    1. Alexis Rosay*

      Ahhh, someone just sent me a higher ed job posting that said the person would supervise two employees and spend only 5% of their time doing so…so they are expected to spend only 12 minutes per day per person? Maybe if each person is a super high performing independent worker that would be possible, but…yeah.

      And yes, there were about 15 other duties listed for the role.

      1. Allonge*

        12 minutes per day sounds pretty reasonable, to be honest. A lot of managers don’t have more than an hour per employee per week.

        Obviously if all other tasks this person would need to cover have nothing to do with what the employees are doing, it’s a problem, but ‘manage office supplies’ and ‘manage person maintaining storage of office supplies’ do have some overlap.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Same. My boss supervises the 2 of us that are remote and I’d say outside of project meetings where we are all together my boss devotes 1 hr a week to each of us. Which is more than enough. We are both pretty experienced and helped design the projects we are working on, so it is mostly a check-in/strategizing meeting.

      2. Ana Gram*

        My supervisor probably only spends a few minutes a day actively supervising me, if that. Once you learn your job, supervision isn’t that intense. At least in the jobs I’ve had. And I supervised people in the past.

      3. Cmdrshpard*

        I meet with my supervisor once every other week for about an hour, for direct supervision so about 6 minutes a day on average.

        We are a small office so we talk consistently about the work being done, and they do provide guidance/thoughts on how to handle the issues, or hand out assignments. So maybe you consider that supervision as well, but generally all that is stuff towards completing the supervisors work.

    2. Renata Ricotta*

      It totally depends on the level of specificity for each task listed! Most jobs, if you broke them out into minutiae, could have hundreds of discrete “tasks,” down to “open email every morning” and “interact pleasantly with coworkers.” It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re trying to overburden an employee with more than one job unless the tasks are defined broadly and are the sort of things that are usually a big chunk of a given job — “manage payroll,” “spearhead lease negotiations,” and “supervise HR staff,” for example, in the same list smacks of multiple jobs at once.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Some tasks could be once a year or once a month tasks. I have had three jobs where I stayed around a decade. The longer I stayed at each of those jobs, the more that got added to my list of things to do. Actually that was fine, because I gained speed/accuracy at the core tasks. What took me several hours the first day shrunk down to 15 minutes over the years.

        It could be that the employer is looking at what a veteran employee can crank out and not thinking about how long it takes a new hire to get through the learning curve.

        I do enjoy streamlining work and figuring out how to make things easier. I like the mental gymnastics of that. Pretty much these lists are not that intimidating to me, because I know it distills down IRL.

        The thing I think of with these lists is that there are less chances of surprises if I take the job. I would keep the lst and check things off as I mastered them and calendarize the tasks. I know of an instance where a friend agreed to take a job. The way the job was pitched, “Oh it’s one day a month and you get x dollars.” What they did not say in the pitch was that one day a month took 40-50 hours of prep work PER WEEK. My friend was pretty angry at the enormity of the LIE. But in looking at it closer, it wasn’t truly a lie. The person who pitched the job was incredibly naïve- so much so that I cannot even describe here the depth of their lack of insight to the job.

        It’s worthwhile to talk to someone closer to the job itself.

      2. Antilles*

        Agreed. There’s plenty of ways to break things down differently. Take a typical office manager role that I’m guessing most people in these comments have at least a broad familiarity with.
        You could write one of the tasks in a broad sense: “The office manager is responsible for managing and coordinating equipment and facilities maintenance.”
        But you could take that same task and get more detailed for clarity’s sake and turn it into easily 10+ tasks: “The office manager shall arrange and track quarterly maintenance on our copier”. “The role is also responsible for contacting the building landlord regarding facilities needs and coordinate any necessary repairs.” “The office manager shall be responsible for assigning key card cards to new employees.” Etc, etc, etc.

      3. Daisy-dog*

        Yeah, some HR job postings mention preparing the EEO-1 report. That is a big project that happens only once a year.

    3. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

      And even if you would be able to do everything in a normal 40 hour work week, I believe a lot of people would find it quite annoying if their workday consisted of so many small separate tasks. Wouldn’t it be difficult to focus on anything properly, jumping from one thing to another and possibly being constantly interrupted with a different task to do? Also there would be such a lot to learn.

      1. Allonge*

        On the same note though, a lot of people prefer this and do better with a bunch of small tasks than in ‘concentrate on a single project for 3 weeks’ jobs. So in this the job description may work out well as it does show not to expect that here.

        1. Phryne*

          It also matters a lot if the tasks are things that interrupt the other tasks, or if it is a case of these things are your responsibility, but we leave it to you how and when you do them as long as you meet the deadlines. If I list all the tasks I do I may get to 28 or more, I’m in a very ‘central point of department’ type of support role. But some of them are very small, some only happen once a year and I am completely free in managing how I do them as long as I meet any hard deadlines, and I certainly can say no to random extra tasks.

      2. EventPlannerGal*

        I think that’s totally down to an individual’s preferences. My job (and many others) involves dozens of small things that I’m constantly jumping around between, and that’s why I like it! I get bored working on the same thing for long periods and actually lose focus much more often than if I’m working on lots of different things in short bursts.

        1. KRM*

          Yes! In a lab I might do one big thing for a week, or I might do 6 experiments with 5 discrete parts each over the course of 3 days. Lots of lab people like that. And for those that don’t, they seek out lab jobs that focus on one area.
          28 tasks may seem like a lot, but it’s likely a list of duties that the employee will perform over the course of a year! Some may take 30′ a week, some may be 20′ a week for a year, some may be core duties. You won’t know unless you chat with them, if interested in the job.

          1. Lab Boss*

            Not to mention that even your “one big thing” could be described as one big thing or a bunch of little things, depending on who’s doing the describing.

            “Lead pathogen detection experiments” vs “Plan and manage reagent inventory, prepare culture media, maintain microbial sample library, Create testing protocols, Run pathogen detection tests, perform advanced data analysis, Present data analysis to internal teams”

        2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Same. I like having a bunch of different tasks because some days my brain is feeling X, Y, and Z but not A, B, and C and vice versa

    4. HBJ*

      I’ve tended to see this with very small organizations where one person is doing and can do what might take 10 people to do at a giant org.

    5. Mary Jane*

      I think this is so dependent on how we define “task” that there’s no way to make a meaningful judgement without speaking to the hiring manager or someone else who works at the school. IMHO questions such as “describe an example of a day in this job”, or “how often would someone in this role likely work overtime” will do a much better job of sussing out the workload.

    6. Cascadia*

      I work in a k-12 private school and I can think of many entry-level support jobs that have 30+ tasks, depending on how you write them. I’m especially thinking of our front-office staff who deal with a million small things on a daily basis. They are not doing the job of 3+ people, it’s just a front-line job where you are the main point of contact for many people interacting with the school. You are sorting the mail, taking attendance, collecting field trip permission forms, serving as the de facto school nurse, ordering supplies for the copy room, and managing the calendars and schedules for some of the administrators; amongst many other little things. Also, in a school we are VERY cyclical, and there are lots of tasks that truly only happen once a year, but are repetitive every year. For instance, assigning lockers is done once a year at the beginning of the year. Graduation happens once a year at the end of the year. At my school, we couldn’t function without our main office staff, they are so critical. But this doesn’t mean they are doing the job of more than one person. Sure, it might mean that – but especially in a k-12 school environment there can be a LOT of different things you do every day.

    7. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      It may be that they are looking to replace a super efficient employee who kept on taking on more duties, and nobody else wants to take those duties on.

      I’m pretty sure I had about that number of tasks in my previous job (where I actually had three different roles).

  4. Jmac*

    I’ve never had an exit interview at any job I’ve left (including jobs with gigantic corporations with tens of thousands of employees), I don’t think they’re that common.

    1. Brenda Star*

      I worked for a medium-sized newspaper publishing company, and their exit interviews were forms, too. This was in 2007.

    2. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I also got a link to an exit interview form after 7 plus years at my old job. I did not bother as 1. I did not want to put anything in writing, 2. I knew it would not make any impact, and 3. I was out of there and found I did not care so much anymore.

      I did have a very honest talk with my boss’s boss in the week I was waiting for my reference check to be finished. I did not say I was leaving or even hint about it. But I was really honest (and professional) about the concerns I had. It made me feel a lot better to get it all off my chest – using all the excellent skills I learned from Alison! And it really made me wonder why I did not say some of it much earlier.

      Go have a talk with your boss or her boss if it will make you feel better.

    3. Rhymetime*

      At a job I left, I was asked to complete a document as the basis for a subsequent in-person conversation with HR. It was easy to do because I worked with a great team for good cause and loved the job, leaving only because I was recruited with a large raise. That said, I did have feedback that I didn’t put in writing. Because my work was well-respected and it wasn’t HR that I would ask for a future reference, I was able to be candid about an issue with the CEO. I later found out from my contacts who still worked there that HR responded, as it turned out that my comment validated concerns they had.

      1. KRM*

        I had the same thing, but when I raised issues with my boss’s management, they were 100% ignored. He wasn’t the reason I left (I didn’t like the department I was in, and HR waffled on being able to move me), but he wasn’t a reason to stay, and I knew others in my group had more issues with him. Then it turned out that a key employee from my group raised issues with him too, was also ignored, and she quit. HR was eventually fired, for that among many reasons. I’d like to think that if she actually listened to me a little and other employee a lot, they would have fired boss and kept good employee.

    4. ceiswyn*

      I’ve had… one exit interview, I think? They basically asked me why I was leaving, I told them exactly what I’d told my boss (better pay elsewhere, plus I was exceedingly unimpressed with how they’d handled a round of redundancies), they sighed in a way that suggested no part of this was a surprise to them, they confirmed that I was ‘eligible for rehire’ in their system, and we went our ways.

      The only other time I was meant to have an exit interview, the HR office was on the West Coast of the US and just *could not* get their heads around the idea that I wasn’t available at their convenience. I offered to work late so that they could schedule a morning interview; they never responded, then phoned me at 7.30 pm my time while I was travelling and seemed a bit surprised that I wasn’t willing to talk about work issues. A web form would have been much better all round.

      1. Observer*

        It sounds like incompetent may have been a reason to leave, even if indirectly. Because it does not sound to me like they would have been helpful in many types of situations.

        1. ceiswyn*

          You’re not wrong. The company’s HQ was on the West Coast of the US, and senior people based there just *kept* sending out meeting invitates in late afternoon, their time, for a mid-morning meeting, their time. Nobody could seem to comprehend that this meant that we would repeatedly get to work in the morning to discover we were expected to be at an 8pm meeting the same night. And yeah, that’s not the reason I left; but it’s the reason others did.
          So doing the same thing with my exit interview was… a little bit ironic.

    5. London Calling*

      I had a form and an exit interview. I declined the interview but completed the form – it was a multiple choice of what are your reasons for leaving (commute, colleagues, salary, other etc etc) and you ranked them with IIRC about five or six rankings like very important, slightly important, n/a. It was very satisfying to check yes, I’d work here again and no, I wouldn’t work for this manager and executive director again. The really mean snarky bit of me hopes that the feedback was passed on to the relevant people, especially as I was the first but not the last to bail out from that department without something else to go to.

    6. Dear liza dear liza*

      When I left my former place of work after 15+ years, my “exit interview” with HR was just a closing out of my PTO and an explanation of when my healthcare coverage ended. Zero opportunity to give any feedback, sadly. At the end I got a paper form (this was 2017) with some basic demographic questions and a few surface level queries. Considering how that place was hemorrhaging talent, seemed like a missed opportunity for improvement.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I have had several exit interviews. I have often thought of them as “a dollar short and a day late”.

      Of the places that did not do exit interviews, I found that to be consistent with what I saw right along.

      In person interviews give an employee a chance to say things they would not put in writing. And I think there is some therapeutic value there. And then there is that ah-ha moment after where I kind of realize they have no intention of doing anything about what I said anyway.

      OP, why not just skip it? Alison says it probably won’t mean much anyway. Try not to conflate their ignoring you now, when the real problem might have been that they ignored you in some ways right along. In other words, this is a symptom of a problem but not the real problem itself.

    8. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      My last day at current job is tomorrow. I did the exit survey last week. It was pretty through and actually asked good questions. I’m dropping off my equipment at the office tomorrow and I don’t know if our HR person will talk to me or not. It doesn’t matter, I don’t have anything to add that wasn’t on the survey. Plus I’m sure for HR it’s easier to ID trends an compile data if all exit interviews are done via a survey.

      OP #3, If there’s something you want them to know that isn’t on the survey, ask to talk or if they don’t have time, send an email. But it’s not some personal slight that they aren’t doing an in-person exit interview and isn’t a reflection of how they viewed your tenure there.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      I think the OP is picturing the exit interview as a chance to decant their accumulated observations about how the company might improve. Which the company has had access to throughout the 10.5 years–it’s not like it suddenly becomes more valuable as OP prepares to exit.

      The only thing that gets more interesting as you head out the door is why you’re leaving. Rarely, as in the beer-run manager, this alerts someone high up to a problem on a team. More often than not, the company intends to keep scratching its head about why they have 100% turnover in this department every 6 months, it sure is a puzzle. Even if the people who cited a reason in exit interviews all said “Steve”, it’s still a mystery.

      1. EPLawyer*

        #3 – what were you expecting to get out of an in person exit interview? A personalized good-bye? An expression of sadness that you were leaving? A heartfelt thanks for over 10 years of service?

        Sadly, to most companies that even bother with them, exit interviews are a pro forma thing so they can say they did them. If they were really interested in change or improvement they wouldn’t wait until people left to ask what the issues are. If you were expecting something personalized because your years of service, they don’t care. You are leaving. On to the next person.

        1. London Calling*

          Yes, exactly. If pushed to do an exit interview and asked ‘is there anything that you think we should change?’ my answer would have to be, ‘yes, lots. However, that’s not going to happen so why bother asking?’

    10. anonymous73*

      Neither have I, but I’ve only left 2 of my 6 jobs voluntarily. Honestly exit interviews are a waste of time. They rarely result in any significant changes for management or the company.

    11. pancakes*

      I’ve had one or two. It was pretty perfunctory. There wasn’t anything they needed to tell me or I needed to tell them that couldn’t be put in a brief questionnaire.

      1. Lab Boss*

        It seems like they’re only really useful if the employee leaving isn’t directly decided by either the employee or the company. If both parties would normally be happy to keep working together but there’s some weird external force pulling them apart (like in my case, a great lab tech’s husband got a great paying job across the country so they moved). Then there might be things worth saying because the working relationship hadn’t ground down to the point one party actively wanted it to be over.

    12. pugsnbourbon*

      I had a form + in-person interview when I left my last job after 8 years there.

      The CEO was an insufferable tyrant who made every aspect of the work more difficult. I spent 20 minutes writing and then deleted everything. I just wrote, “everyone knows what the problem is and no one does anything about it.” The in-person interview was just an explanation of my PTO payout and Cobra info.

      All this to say that exit interviews don’t count for much. They already know what the problems are.

    13. Pippa K*

      My higher ed employer does them for staff but not faculty, apparently. I know one person who competed one, in the form of written survey questions. She gave honest feedback about her manager, her answer was shared with him, and in a fury he somehow convinced HR that she shouldn’t be allowed to work out her notice period, and she was dismissed with a few days left to go. It was an unnecessarily hostile turn of events. Word gets around and this will probably keep people from doing exit surveys in future.

    14. J*

      I had my first exit interview ever this spring. And they stuck to a script where you couldn’t provide feedback beyond the question they asked. “Is there anything your manager did to upset you? Please only keep this to your current manager.” when my last manager had changed two weeks before I left. And also my coworkers were a huge issue. “Were there any issues with payroll while you were here?” They basically wanted me to tell them things were fine so they could tell the board that no one spoke badly in exit interviews. I knew a board member so I just messaged her personally about the exit interview problems and the regulatory violations the org was committing. Not that it matters. Except the org funding us is under federal subpoena for fake grant writing and could easily cause more scrutiny.

    15. Florida Fan 15*

      Same. And to the extent my leaving had to do with specific problems, if they had listened to what I had to say, I wouldn’t have left to start with.

  5. Fikly*

    I recently saw a job posting that broke down job duties by percentages. Which is something I tend to appreciate, but this one was broken down to 12.7% this, 27.4% that, and then I imagined them stalking and/or requiring the poor person who had previously held this position to track their time down to the minute, and took that for the giant red flag it was.

    1. SemiAnon*

      That, or rounding issues. They say 1/6 time on this task, which is 16.6 percent, when really they should be rounding things to the nearest 5% and saying 15%.

      It takes undergraduate science students a while to grasp the concept of significant figures, and that giving results to 15 decimal places may make you sound like Mr. Spock, but is not appropriate.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        Yeah, but then be careful that the rounded numbers do still add up to 100%, because people like me will notice, and we will be snarky about it, at least in our heads.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          If it adds up to 105%, it’s an issue. If it adds up to 95%, it’s “And other duties as assigned”/”breathing space”/”reading Ask a Manager”.

    2. KateM*

      Would wording it “of your 40 working hours per week, you will spend about 5 hours doing this and about 11 hours that” feel better for you? The weird numbers may come from their need to have everything sum up to 100%.

      1. NoviceManagerGuy*

        Yes, but that’s indicative of a ridiculous process somewhere along the way.

    3. hamsterpants*

      I disagree here! Especially for a job with many duties, it can be a good practice to occasionally ask employees how many hours per week they spend on each duty. We all have gas the job duty that is supposed to be really lightweight and minor that balloons. It’s normal to audit financial spending and it should be normal to audit time spending, too.

      I’d call it a yellow flag that the job description was written by a silly person who didn’t appreciate significant figures and margins of error.

      1. Zweisatz*

        Yup, I assumed they logged their time anyway. However, as an employer who posts that online, I would still round the numbers sensibly.

  6. Educator*

    LW#5–While Alison’s answer is correct for most job postings, as a former private school employee, I would caution you that it is common for private schools to expect employees to do far more than a human being can in an 8 (or, in my experience, 19) hour day. Given the industry, it would not surprise me at all if those 28 items are all core responsibilities.

    Two additional pieces of advice: 1) Ask to speak to other current entry-level employees as part of the interview process. Try to get coffee with them off campus so they let their guard down. Talk to them about workload and hours. Deans and department heads are likely to paint a much rosier picture than the people in the trenches. 2) Ask to whom you are accountable for each of the listed responsibilities. Because private schools tend to have very odd reporting structures, you may end up with a lot of different “bosses” who all think their domain is the most important. This makes it functionally impossible to prioritize. Also ask who ultimately oversees your workload and evaluations—if they cannot give you one name or if they tell you someone like the head of school who definitely will not have time, run the other way.

    Hope you catch some red flags that I missed along the way, if they exist for this or other jobs!

  7. allathian*

    I’m sure it would be considered unprofessional, but in LW2’s shoes, I’d be really, really, really tempted to resign by e-mail just to avoid the CEO’s attempts to persuade me to stay. Maybe write your resignation letter, print it out and hand it over as soon as you’ve resigned…

    1. Allonge*

      I am coming to this from a culture where you have to resign in writing otherwise it does not count, but, absolutely. If boss insists on being a pain in person, he will get people giving him difficult messages in writing.

    2. Cat Tree*

      Yeah, I do think that’s acceptable sometimes. If the manager was known to fly off the handle and get angry, it would be more obvious that it’s OK to resign by email and possibly with no two weeks notice. This situation is different but similar. He has a history of handling resignations badly, so he is no longer entitled to the standard courtesy. It’s weird that he has managed to convince so many people to stay that he has a reputation even outside of the company. I can’t imagine what he’s doing but it can’t be good.

      1. MK*

        This is frankly a bizarre take. Trying to convince a resigning employee to stay is not similar in any way to getting angry, nor does it amount to “a history of handling resignations badly”. And it’s not particularly weird that he has managed to convince many people to stay: the OP herself admits to liking him, says she has learned a lot from him and has stayed there 10 years. It’s much more probable that he is a charismatic person who can win people over than that he is, I don’t know, blackmailing his employees.

        1. Workerbee*

          “Badly” doesn’t have to mean shouting or other immediately obvious behavior. Going on and on (and on) with pressuring tactics to stay, from a position of power, is also handling resignations badly. You mentioned blackmail; emotional blackmail is a thing.

          1. MK*

            Except doesn’t seem to be doing that. The OP says Mike is sweet-talking employees and offering them raises.

        2. anonymous73*

          It is odd that he has convinced so many people to stay because either 1. it took him someone handing in their resignation to make changes that should have happened long ago, or 2. he’s lying to them and making promises he isn’t keeping. I’d love to know if those he’s convinced to stay regret their decision or not. Most of the time when someone uses “charm” to get what they want, it’s a load of BS.

          1. Oakwood*

            There’s an old technique for dealing with manipulative people: acknowledge and amplify.

            Acknowledge what they have said (don’t agree with it, just acknowledge) and then restate your position.

            Boss: After all I’ve done for you, how can you leave me.
            LW: I appreciate everything you’ve done, but I’m leaving for a new job.
            Boss: Don’t you feel guilty leaving me shorthanded?
            LW: Change can be tough on everyone, but I’m leaving for a new job.
            Boss: Tell me what they are paying you; I’ll beat it.
            LW: I appreciate that, but I’ve made my decision; I’m leaving.
            Boss: You’ve got to stay; you owe me.
            LW: I can see you want me to stay, but I’m leaving for a new job.

            You don’t engage their arguments. You don’t answer their questions. You acknowledge that you heard the question and bring it right back to your point (in this case: you are going to leave).

            Manipulative people try to get you off topic and change the subject so it’s to their advantage. The goal is to get you confused, saying “yes” to little things, and slowly lead you down a path to their destination.

          2. MK*

            Actually the OP says he is offering them raises to stay. And that he is prone to guilt-tripping in general, which is bad management and possibly toxic, but does not equal “flying off the handle”.

      2. Smithy*

        Taking this approach will serve to to escalate and deteriorate this relationship and likely destroy the opportunity of the OP to get a reference. Even if the CEO wasn’t the OP’s manager, it risks heavily tarnishing their reputation with their supervisor or other coworkers for not giving two weeks, going through handover materials, etc.

        Giving two weeks notice and quitting in person sounds unpleasant, but something where I’d encourage going through for what will ultimately benefit the OP in the long run. The one change I’d make where you have a boss where you’re scared of giving notice to (in terms of being guilted to stay) is to have some kind of talisman statement that you can cling to. That may be a true statement you repeat, a white lie, or something in the middle (i.e. part of the reason you want to leave, but you present as the only and inflexible one). This is what I did once in a similar situation, and basically made it about needing to be closer to home due to my dad being sick. While that perhaps influenced 5% of my decision making, it was something I could say on repeat when I got nervous in the moment.

        Some people may have jobs in fields where they can quit via email with no notice and it won’t impact their long-term job prospects. But for lots of us, the risk to references and reputation would be really high.

        1. Cat Tree*

          Ok, but there’s a very real risk that OP won’t end up quitting. The choice isn’t necessarily between quitting professionally or quitting unprofessionally. The choice may be between quitting unprofessionally and not quitting at all. We’re supposed to take OP at their word, and they know their own level of ability to withstand guilt and manipulation. OP needs to do what it takes to get out of there, and this option is worth considering.

          1. Smithy*

            We take the OP at their word, but can also relate to the OP with our own particular experiences – and in this case, working for charismatic intense characters who we’re afraid to give notice to for fear that we won’t go through with it not an uncommon experience. And for many of us, there are going to be tips and tactics to make the process easier to get through professionally even when it’s scary.

            In this case where it doesn’t sound like this employer is seriously abusive or harmful and the OP could otherwise enjoy a positive reference/professional history – if the personal intimidation of giving two weeks notice is so intense that internet tips and positive affirmation aren’t working – I’d say to try therapy before your approach. Similar to the recent letter about someone looking for jobs with no interviewing – if these situations make you so anxious you’re considering blowing up your references/reputation – I’d try therapy first.

    3. MK*

      Unless the OP plans to resign without notice, or refuse to speak to the CEO during her notice period, I don’t see what that would accomplish. The CEO will simply ask for a meeting to discuss the resignation, and convince her to take it back. It’s not as if a written resignation is an irreversible legal action that makes it impossible for the employee to remain at their job.

      1. blood orange*

        Yeah, I agree. Frankly, OP has a better advantage by resigning in person in that OP is prepared and the CEO is not. Sending an email just gives CEO time to make his case.

  8. Alexis Rosay*

    Lw5, work at schools can be very cyclical, so it’s worth asking if your be expected to manage all 28 duties on a weekly basis or if some occur only at certain times of year. For example, sending transcripts could be a duty, but it’ll only happen twice per year.

    I used to work at an education nonprofit and we all wore many hats, but we didn’t tend to wear them all every week.

    1. Missy*

      That was what I was thinking. There may be tasks that rarely happen but it is important that they have someone who has the skills to do them when they come up. One of my previous jobs was in public records and one task was to testify in court to authenticate certain records. This never actually happened in the many years I was there (although I was subpoenaed a few times but the cases settled before I needed to go to court). But it was something that could have happened and someone who had anxiety surrounding that would need to know that before taking the job. Like, my actual tasks on any day were pulling and redacting records from a computer. But once in a while I had to use microfiche. Again, a rare thing but something that I needed to at least know how to do in case it came up.

    2. Cascadia*

      Yes to this! I work at a school and there are so many things I only do once or twice a year, depending on the time of year. In fact, I would say most of my job is once/twice a year, depending on how you define the tasks. I like your metaphor a lot of the hat wearing – there are many jobs at my school where you might have many different hats, but some of them you are only going to wear once a year (like graduation, or first day of school) and others you will wear every day (taking attendance, managing student behavior). I’ve also found, at least at the schools I’ve worked at, that there are busy times and slower times. Usually the beginning of the school year and the end of the school year can be fairly hectic where there are days when you hardly sit down. And then there are other days in the middle where hardly anything happens and you’ve got time to catch up on projects. I’ve worked at three different private schools and I can say that in my experience the bigger the school is, the more defined your job will be and the less you’ll be expected to jump in and do everything. I worked at a tiny school for a brief period of time and had to do all sorts of things that weren’t in my job description, like subbing for classes, or being the school nurse. But this was a school of only 90 kids, so there was very much an all-hands on deck approach. I now work at a school with 900 kids and the job duties are much more contained. Definitely be wary of small schools if you’re not prepared to jump in to all sorts of things!

  9. Not A Manager*

    LW2, as a fallback, you can always say, “This is very unexpected. Let me think about it overnight.” Alison’s suggestions are better, but sometimes if you’re being railroaded, you can protect yourself from committing to something untenable by pushing an imaginary pause button. The following day you can send an email politely thanking him for the offer but rejecting it.

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      For me, this would serve to prolong an unpleasant situation that I’d want to get over with as soon as possible. I would steel myself for the conversation instead.

    2. AspiringGardener*

      Absolutely don’t do this. OP you want to leave, you know you want to leave and nothing he could say would change your mind. Don’t entertain any thoughts of “thinking it over”

    3. Smithy*

      I actually don’t hate this. Because if someone is offering what feels like the moon in the moment, it can actually be a way to allow both parties to save face.

      Let’s say that the counteroffer is in fact really good, taking time to think about it gives someone time outside of a high pressure environment to consider whether promises were made in the moment that can or cannot be kept. Or could be kept but would be dragged out for ages (i.e. moving a task to a new hire, but how long before new person is actually hired). Regardless, it gives the OP time to consider either way.

      It also allows for the rejection to be made by email with the caveat that you know the CEO’s time is valuable and don’t want to waste more of his time.

  10. Artemesia*

    I would definitely resign with a letter and if possible give it to someone else. But practice those phrases. ‘Oh I have accepted the job and already scheduled my onboarding.’ ‘I appreciate the offer, but I have made a decision.’ etc etc

    No one can make you continue and don’t ‘consider’ the counter offer.

  11. Anon for this*

    LW2, I was recently in this exact scenario, and I was glad I had prepped for it! What I found most useful was having phrases to fall back on that were vague, not negative in tone, and most importantly, impossible to argue with. The best one was “I know in my heart this is the right time for me to leave.” If you talk about any problems with your workplace, he can try to offer to fix them. If you talk about needing career progression or “new challenges”, he can try to convince you that you’ll get them at your current workplace. Your boss can’t really argue with you about what’s in your heart! Repeating this line a couple times, after a lot of hardball persuasion from my boss (flattering and all, but, like you, I really wanted to move on), was what finally shot him down and changed the conversation to him actually accepting what I was telling him. Good luck!

    1. Certaintroublemaker*

      I would be curious to find out from previous people who stayed what was promised, and did Mike follow through on those promises? Especially since LW2’s main issue seems to be work-life balance, which isn’t a one-time fix like a raise or promotion is.

      I’d also suggest explicitly telling the interviewer at the competitor that the main reason for leaving isn’t really anything a “promise from Mike” can change. It sounds like the competitor is becoming wary of even offering jobs to candidates from Mike’s company.

      1. LW2*

        LW2 here – now I’ve interviewed at the competitor, and have talked to a few people who left my company and went over, and a few of the people who interviewed and stayed. The competitor company seems to be quite similar to the current company regarding work-life balance, and “we’re all a family” so we’re going to do crazy things. So I’ve decided unless competitor was going to offer me crazy money, I don’t think switching to the competitor is going to fix my problems. I got a job offer from them yesterday, which is a little bit more than I’m making now, but not into crazy money territory. I know I can negotiate, but I don’t think we’ll get up to “crazy money”.

        I can kind of see why the people who stayed stayed – Mike did offer them more money, which he did follow through on. Management style is never going to change though. Honestly, if my only options were staying and going to the competitor right now I would ask for a raise and stay – if the companies are going to be the same, I’d rather stay with the devil I know. But considering the job seeker’s hiring market right now, I’m thinking I’ll pick neither my current company or the competitor and continue my job search.

        So I’ll also have to make clear to the competitor that although I’m not going to accept his offer, it has nothing to do with Mike.

        1. EPLawyer*

          Good for you probing a littel deeper. You have a job you can live with for now, you can afford to be picky. YOu also now have info to use for when you do leave.

        2. Observer*

          Lots of luck! I think you are being smart. You’re definitely thinking about the right things and asking the right questions.

    2. WoodswomanWrites*

      Anon for this’s advice is spot on, to practice what you’ll say. Don’t engage in a debate.

      You’re clear on why you’re leaving: “I like the work where I am now, but the management drives me crazy and work life balance is an imaginary concept.” Those are things to keep front and center in your mind to stick to your decision, but don’t have them be the topic of the conversation. And congratulations on your new job!

    3. Oakwood*

      The art of sales is eliciting objections from the customer and then overcoming those objections.

      The more the LW talks about the reasons for leaving the more ammo they are handing their Boss.

      A simple “it’s personal” when asked about reasons for leaving is all that is required.

      When pushed, keep with the simple “it’s personal”.

  12. Sel*

    LW4 – I’m UK based too, and my experience in one role was that they would never promote internally. I certainly never witnessed anyone exhibiting the behaviours you mentioned but if it’s enough of a trend that you’re noticing this pattern, I can speak from experience that it’s incredibly demoralising and I wouldn’t be surprised if the people are interviewing elsewhere, possibly even during those days they call in sick (my old company made it very difficult to take impromptu leave).

    1. LW4*

      Morning! I’m letter writer 4 – I just woke to Alison’s notification. I completely agree with you and I’ve been in the same position myself.

      I’ve been at this company around a year and this has happened for at least 5 different advertised posts. Of those five posts, four have been given to internal candidates (I’ve never worked anywhere with so much internal progression). Internal promotions are happening here!

      The most recent role, that triggered me to write to Alison, was given to a member of my team. I’m very happy for them. The same job outcome led to at least two others in my area (not my team) refusing to complete their normal activities.

      One is currently going around the office stirring other team members to make them feel upset/angry but it’s just confusing them. I’m due with HR to pick this up later today.

      1. kicking_k*

        This does seem unbelievably unprofessional, LW4, but it’s funny it’s happened with lots of different people.

        Is it possible that there’s someone in senior management who has a habit of making people feel like a promotion is definitely in the bag when it isn’t? Obviously one should never assume that the job is a done deal unless there’s an official offer and you have accepted it (and just occasionally not even then…) But I was once on the receiving end of this, early in my twenties when I lacked experience, and I was extremely bitter about it and did feel betrayed for days. Now I wonder what the big deal was… but I still feel it wasn’t ideally handled by the manager.

        1. LW4*

          I just find it baffling. I’ve never known anything like it. The behaviour is coming from 3 people (one on my team). They are applying for promotions that they are not qualified for. With my team member, I have approached this and discussed what they really want to do.

          Based on their interests, I’ve arranged for them to have a qualification funded to support them in the future. I’ve also linked them with the team that they are interested in for coaching and shadowing.

          I do wonder whether they have been given poor guidance in the past (while all 3 are on separate teams, they used to be on one team).

          1. kicking_k*

            I think you’re being a stellar boss helping your employee out like that. And yes, I think if they all know each other and come from the same work environment, they are probably picking up on each others’ attitudes and behaviours, and if they’re spoken to about it now (and it sounds like you’re on that) it probably won’t become an accepted practice to sulk after not getting a promotion.

          2. Observer*

            Based on their interests, I’ve arranged for them to have a qualification funded to support them in the future. I’ve also linked them with the team that they are interested in for coaching and shadowing.

            You’re being a really good boss. I would make sure to tell them clearly that their behavior is inappropriate, though. In fact, I’d seriously consider making the funding and further assistance conditional on appropriate behavior. Because their current behavior is providing ample proof they the decision to NOT give them the promotion was correct. And it’s important for them to not get the idea that acting like this is a good way to get what they want.

      2. Random Username Today*

        Also in the UK here in a public sector org that very rarely promote from within and tends to go for external picks which causes a lot of resment and bad-will, but nobody seems to strop like at your place! We have a lot of cultural issues as well here, so could that be happening at your place as well?

        1. LW4*

          I feel that’s possible. There seems to be a fear in my organisation to challenge inappropriate behaviour. It feels like I’m surrounded by children at the moment.

          1. Observer*

            It feels like I’m surrounded by children at the moment.

            It really sounds like it. This really tends to happen in places with broader culture problems.

            But it strikes me that if you can get this to stop, you’ll be doing everyone a favor.

      3. Grey Coder*

        We’ve just had an internal promotion; one successful candidate and three unsuccessful ones. The unsuccessful ones behaved like grown ups. There was no drama. One even agreed that the successful candidate was the right choice.

        Lots of credit to the hiring manager for how they broke the news, but also we have a low-drama culture in our department.

      4. MsSolo UK*

        This is excessive. We’ve just had a recruitment process where we went with an internal candidate, and her peer who also went for the job is understandably disappointed. And, you know, it is disappointing, so we’re giving him space to work quietly for a few days while he processes it. Maybe he won’t be quite as productive, but he’s still doing his actual job!

        (in some respect, I have more empathy for people at your workplace who take a day off, because at least they’re recognising that they need space to process and maybe it’s better for their colleagues that they’re not doing it around them if they can’t bring themselves to behave professionally on that day. Coming into work, refusing to work, and trying to stir people up? Frankly, I wouldn’t be shocked if a manager sent them home)

        1. LW4*

          It’s tempting. I’m not in a position to address the actions of those I don’t manage, I can only highlight it.

          For my team member, I’m speaking with HR later on and will seek their guidance. It’s not something I’m willing to tolerate. I understand feeling disappointed or frustrated, but it shouldn’t be taken out on others.

        2. UKDancer*

          Yes. Having not got a promotion in my previous company that I desperately wanted and felt I should have got on one occasion I took the following day off as annual leave so I could stomp around and be grumpy and then had a really good spa treatment and a manicure to cheer me up. I felt better able to go in and be professional the following day.

          I overhauled my CV, went for another job and got the promotion in a different team.

        3. iliketoknit*

          Yes, I think taking a day off makes perfect sense, if you need the time to process and your disappointment means you’re going to be distracted from working/struggle with dealing with your coworkers. (I’m in a job where it’s usually easy to take a day as needed and it doesn’t mess with coverage and such, so of course if your absence leaves your colleagues in the lurch this wouldn’t really apply.) I wouldn’t even put taking a day off in the same category as behaving unprofessionally or not getting any work done. I suppose ideally the person would just carry on without any effect at all, but I think taking a day is fair, and wouldn’t consider it notable except in combination with the bad attitude (or, again, if it’s going to leave people in the lurch).

          1. ferrina*

            yes, I agree that sometimes a day off is warranted. Or at least a long lunch. Once when I was turned down for an internal promotion, I had to sit in the small office with just me, the CEO, the VP/hiring manager and the person who had gotten the promotion (who was massively underqualified). As soon as I came out of the “You didn’t get it” meeting, the person who did get it approached me and said “No hard feelings!”
            I desperately wanted to take a moment to sit with how I felt, but I had to force a smile on my face and chipperly work for the next 3 hours. I updated my resume and started applying that night.

        4. Observer*

          n some respect, I have more empathy for people at your workplace who take a day off, because at least they’re recognising that they need space to process and maybe it’s better for their colleagues that they’re not doing it around them if they can’t bring themselves to behave professionally on that day. Coming into work, refusing to work, and trying to stir people up? Frankly, I wouldn’t be shocked if a manager sent them home

          Very much agree with you. I also suspect that if it were just a matter of people taking a day off, the OP wouldn’t be writing in.

      5. Blink*

        Hi, I’m in the UK too, and used to work for a company that was pretty good about internal promotions, especially up to about the team leader level, and had a lot of lateral moves, so particularly motivated people could move from being a Customer Support agent into a junior marketing or product role. The company had a lot of problems but this was something they were really good at.

        Anyway, I managed the Customer Support team, and whenever someone was applying for a role within the company (the application process required them to tell me) I’d offer interview prep, or to review their presentation. I’d also have a catchup where I would ask ‘what are you going to do if you don’t get the role?’. Responses varied but generally people would say something like ‘I’ll be sad but it’ll be okay’.

        Obviously people were disappointed if they missed out. Anyone really gutted, I encouraged to take a day holiday so they could come back fresh. I only had one person really drag out a sulk, and that became a conversation where I said basically, you have to do the job you currently have, or quit.

        LW have you had that conversation with them?

      6. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        Is it possible there’s bad messaging happening during the interview process for these internal promotions? Has someone said “this is just a formality” or in some other way implied the internal promotion is almost definitely going to the person who later gets upset? Was the notice that they weren’t going to receive the position accompanied by feedback about why/how they need to improve to be considered for it? Has the company every explained (via an announcement or some other method) why the person who did get the position was chosen out of all the internal candidates?

        A lot of times when I’ve had coworkers get this petty about not being promoted, it turns out that they felt wronged/betrayed by not having gotten the position… and when that is delved into, it turns out that, at least from their perspective, the feelings were legitimate. Someone made a statement that sounded like a promise, rather than being clear in their communication, or the internal candidate received a stock email telling them they weren’t receiving the position… or they legitimately didn’t understand how much more of a rockstar the person who was chosen for the position was.

    2. Madame Arcati*

      I’m also in the U.K. with similar rules – promotions must be advertised externally as well as internally, the latter covering both “elsewhere in the department” and “right here in this team”. Unlike some of the other commenters it is perfectly normal for people to be promoted from within the same team – not usually directly to occupy their former line manager’s position, but there’s no rule against it. It’s not demoralising and nobody sees it as such.
      Anyway this happens and nobody calls in sick, downs tools or otherwise throws a strop. It’s all, ho hum, no hard feelings, I’ll get feedback from the interview which will help next time. Your colleagues are being daft and need to get over themselves.
      I have once maybe twice seen someone who was in some ways more capable be pipped at the post be someone with a higher interview score but that’s a flaw in the competency based system – and if they have a brief moan to their friend about it that’s all; they don’t throw their toys out of the pram.

      1. kicking_k*

        I’ve only recently moved to an org where this kind of promotion was an option at all. I’m a specialist with no other roles to move to, so am observing it from the side… and although moves up are quite frequent, it’s rare to even know someone is interested before the announcement is made. So if there are unsuccessful candidates, nobody has to know (except the hiring committee!) I think if it was me I’d prefer it that way.

      2. NYWeasel*

        What is the exact rule about posting promotions? I work for a global team with a large UK presence, and I’ve never seen promotions posted externally, though I’ve known many people to get them. Is there some loophole that you can rescope a job that someone’s already doing without needing to post it? I’m asking because my workgroup now has UK reports that we intend on promoting in the next 1-2 years, and I wouldn’t want us to run afoul of these laws!

        1. londonedit*

          I’m not sure it’s an actual law. Maybe it’s an industry thing or a civil service thing? I work in book publishing and we don’t really have a system of ‘applying’ for promotions – you’re given a promotion if your work merits it, there’s no application or interview involved. Of course you get internal candidates going for new jobs within the organisation, and those will generally be advertised externally as well as internally, but I don’t think there’s an actual law around it – I got my current job because I was on a fixed-term contract that was ending, and I got wind of plans to create a new, similar position in an adjacent department. So I had an ‘interview’ (more like a chat) with the editorial director of that department and moved across when my contract finished. There was no requirement to advertise that position externally or anything.

          1. UKDancer*

            Yes I don’t think there’s an actual law about it unless you’re discriminating against people (e.g. only offering jobs to white men and deliberately not promoting any BAME staff with suitable qualifications).

            That said most of the big companies I’ve worked for have advertised jobs / promotions either internally or as external posts so that everyone who thinks they’re eligible can apply. But I think that’s more of an HR rule to ensure fairness and equality. By and large the larger the company, the more formalised the recruitment and promotion process in my experience.

        2. Madame Arcati*

          Yeah it’s not a law. It’s just the rules in some companies, certainly most of the civil service. All substantive posts go on the civil service job gateway (and external website) and it’s all managed by the recruitment section of HR,

        3. Bagpuss*

          It’s not a legal requirement, it’s down to the individual organisation’s policies. It’s most common in public sector jobs and some large organisations.
          I don’t think it is very common to have to advertise promotions,but it is quite common for policy to require that job vacancies are advertised internally and externally, and when there are changes to structure this can also mean that people have to re-apply for their exisiting jobs.
          It’s intended to ensure that you get the best candidate and to stop people getting promotions / jobs purely because it’s ‘their turn’ or they’ve been there x years, or they lknow the right person.

          I can understand it being annoying for people who don’t gt the job, as it’s not uncommon, I think for people to view it as a box ticing exercise (we have to advertise, but obviously Joe has the experience and seniority) so Joe expects it to be a formality and then it isn’t, becuase there is a better candidate, or there was more than one internal candidate.

      3. English Rose*

        There’s no employment law here in the UK about this, it’s down to best practice and is somewhat sector-based. In my organisation we almost always advertise everything internally and externally. We have a good record on promoting from within, but it’s also great to have a fresh perspective from successful external candidates.

        1. Bagpuss*

          Yes, I think it’s something which is common in the public sector as a way of trying to improve diversity and prevent people from getting on via the old boys network.

          It can be frustrating and sometimes a bit ridiculous.

          One of my siblings works in a public sector job and some years ago had a situation wehre they were , literally, the only person in the UK with a specifc, niche qualification *and* the qualification/licence to teach others to reach that qualification (they had done the training at their own expense while working overseas)

          Their employer was very keen to be able to train others, internally and externally, and designed a job spec for Sibling to do so. But owing to the organisation’s rules, they had to advertise the new role internally and externally, and they then had to re-advertise becasue there weren’t enough candidates, all of which meant that there was a lengthy delay before they could actually launch, and I think they ended up re-wording the job ad to downplay the importnace of the qualification, just to get enough applicants to meet the requirements to progress.

          Apparently they had gone quite a long way up the chain of caommand to see whether they could be granted an exception, in the specifc circumsntaces, but were told no.

          Sibling said they felt really bad for the people who made the effort of applying on the basis that they were otherwise qaulified and willing to train, as it was a colossal waste of their time and that of the interviewers .

          1. Nina UK*

            It is so funny, because I am in the public sector in the UK, and in my organization, they are using this whole “need to advertise outside” as an excuse to not promote me, an immigrant, POC, and woman. A superior of mine left, and I am the only person in the UK (and one of the few of the world) qualified for a certain procedure… in the new job they are creating, they decided that they want to replace a like for like just so I can’t apply (not kidding here, I am just not well liked in my workplace).
            They will likely just stick a white guy there… so it can definitely go both ways.

    3. EvilQueenRegina*

      Also UK based and I can remember one particular person in my old job who reacted badly – in this case, he’d been “acting up” in the role after his predecessor left, and it had gone on for quite a while because there was a job evaluation process going on, that role had been downgraded and was in the middle of an appeal when the previous guy left, as there were lots of appeals going on it took a while and he was acting in the role for months.

      I don’t know whether anything was said to give him the impression, or whether he just assumed, (the interviews were a few weeks before I started that job) but he thought the interview was a formality and the job would automatically go to him. When an external candidate was appointed instead, he took it very badly, possibly not helped by the fact that the external candidate needed to relocate and so didn’t take up the role for a couple of months, giving him more time to stew on it.

      Sulky guy would do things like arrange meetings with people who should have been meeting new guy, at times when new guy couldn’t be there, sending out documents with “draft” all over them so new guy got yelled at, and telling callers the point of contact they needed was a temp who’d ghosted after two weeks, months earlier, and wouldn’t have been able to help with those queries anyway. He eventually got another job and was waved off with a good reference to get rid.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        But saying that I do think this person was an extreme example. A day off to process is okay, behaving like him isn’t.

      2. Nina UK*

        To be fair, I sort of have an understanding of how this guy must have felt — you need to do that job for months, only for them you not “be good enough” to have it. Honestly, if I were him, I might not sulk, but I would have left for better pastures. I could be in a similar situation right now, and I have made the decision to myself that if they can’t value me (despite the suitable qualifications), then I will move on to somewhere else (even if that ends up being my parent’s basement for a while).

        1. EvilQueenRegina*

          To be honest, I felt a bit more sympathetic towards him when it first happened, (I didn’t witness a lot of the worst of his behaviours because at the time, that team was working out of four different offices and I wasn’t in the same one as him) but less so once I knew the full extent of it (mentioned above are only some of the examples). I don’t know how close a decision it was in the first place and what swung it new guy’s way, but the way he reacted made everyone think the right decision was made.

          I do think him moving on was the best outcome for all concerned.

    4. Glitsy Gus*

      I’m in the US, but yeah, this seems really out of phase here as well.

      If someone was told they did not get a promotion that they really, really wanted and honestly thought they had a good shot at it I would understand if they needed a sick day to get their game face back. I’ve been in that boat and, yeah, I needed to have a moment to collect and move forward.

      Refusing to continue to do their job, though? Unless it is one of those, “The tasks you are asking me to do are part of the promotion position, not my position, I do not think it’s appropriate for me to do them anymore since you don’t want me to have the position” (which it does not sound like is the case here), that is just petty and unprofessional.

  13. Rich*

    LW2, Two thoughts.

    First, you need to resign yourself to the possibility a bridge will burn — but if you handle it politely and professionally, it won’t be you burning it. You can’t control Mike’s reactions.

    Second, Mike could have made attractive changes, nice promises, given big raises, promoted you years ago. He didn’t. He sweet-talks people with those things to try to fill a gap that HE created. He’s not offering the future, he’s papering over the past when he decides to make staying sound great.

    You decided to move on for a reason. Ten years at a company is a long time. Even if it’s a great company, something was missing for you. Mike isn’t fixing your problem with fast talk and big promises. He’s fixing _his_ problem.

    1. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

      I’ve had that kind of script ready whenever I’ve resigned:

      “you can give me more opportunities, better pay, promotion and all this other stuff? Then why didn’t you offer it yesterday?”.

      I’ve never had the opportunity to use it, but still…..

    2. JR*

      All of this is so true.
      I worked at a similar place for 10 ish years, even unsuccessfully quit twice. It took me realizing this last bit (he is interested in fixing his problem, not mine) before I was able to successfully navigate this conversation.
      I also want to note that the last time (when I successfully quit), I had an amazing direct boss that I could be very open and honest with, who was aware of the high pressure save conversations. He asked (in a low pressure way) if there was anything that would make me interested in staying. And when I said no, he advocated very strongly with our CEO to be very low pressure in his sales technique. (He told me that he managed to convince the CEO that if he wanted to leave on good terms with *me* and have me be willing to possibly consider returning in the future, he needed to have a lighter touch.) I’m not sure how he managed to do this, but he was successful.
      I’ve been gone for 18 months now and I’m very happy with my decision to leave. The door is open for me to return whenever (they’ve made it clear), but leaving turned out to be a great decision. I wasn’t going to be able to continue to grow there.

    3. LW2*

      LW2 here – Thank you! This is really helpful perspective. I do generally like Mike as a person, and he has been a mentor, so the thought of him being disappointed with me is hard. (And honestly I am one of those people who can get hung up on wanting to make sure people like me, which I’m working on :))

      But the suggestion that he’s trying to fix his problems and not mine will help.

    4. Bagpuss*

      Yes, I think planning ahead and having a script or some stock phrases is sensible – ideally things he can’t easily argue with.
      e.g. “I’ve loved worked here, but 10 years is a long time and it’s time for a complee change”
      “I appreciate your wanting to keep me here, and if things were differnt I’d be tempted, but it’s really time for a change”
      “One of the things that I like about you, and this job, is that you follow through when you’ve made a committement, and I’ve made a firm committment to my new employers. I wouldn’t be comfortable letting them down” ( may work quite well if he guilt trips you as you’re basically implying that your integrity and unwilingness to renege on your new deal is something you’ve learned from him!)

      You could also try “I’m flattered that you are so keen for me to stay, and I really want us to part on good terms, I’d like to think we might work together again the future, but right now, it’s not the right thing for me and my decidion is final. Is there sanything you want to discuss about managing the handover and wrapping up my tasks here before I go, as my last day will be xx?” which helpd chang ethe subject to ‘how do you want to manage my departure’ rather than ‘is my departure happening or not’

      (As a final resort, you could set an alarm on your phone with your normal ring tone, set it for 10 minutes from the start of the meeting (or whatever length you think is right) And then when itgoes off you can look at it and then apologise and say it’s fairly urgent so you will need to call back ASAP, so can you wrap up the meeting. It gives you an scape but also a reminder to yourself that you need to not give in to the pressure.

      And finally, if you do cave and say that you’ll think about it / reconsider, go home and e-mai him to say that you’ve given it further thought and you on’t be able to accept the counter -offer, but thank you.

      Good luck in your new job,.

  14. LDN Layabout*

    For #LW4, while the other behaviours aren’t OK, I don’t think using a day’s sick leave after getting news like that is inherently bad. Someone taking a day to deal with their disappointment and coming back ready to get on with it is very different to someone throwing a temper tantrum.

    It does also depend on the situation where it falls on the professionalism spectrum. Most good places of work recognise that if a person is acting up in that position for a longer period of time, interviews and doesn’t get the job, that they will be leaving shortly. Even in a situation where neither side are wrong e.g. person acting up did a good job, but someone with more and better experience applied and is the clear choice, it tends to be what happens (especially since the person doing the higher level job now has the relevant experience to apply elsewhere).

    1. Madame Arcati*

      The LW is in the U.K. though and we are lucky enough not to be restricted to a small number of sick days – up to a point, if we are ill/injured/in pain etc we can take the time off. There’s no sense of using up sick days because it takes a very long time to run out. As such it is poor form to call in sick if you are not ill in some way; it will get you into trouble. Being miffed is not a disease. Unless the rejection combined perhaps with other factors has had a genuine impact on your mental health then it’s unprofessional to take a day’s paid leave for being ill when you are not ill.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        I’m also in the UK and I still don’t think it’s wildly unprofessional to day time for yourself to deal with disappointment and come back ready to get on with things.

        And I can’t imagine working anywhere in the UK where taking one day of sick leave is going to get you into trouble, unless you’re advertising that you’re doing it because you’re pissed off or are clearly not ill.

        1. Allonge*

          Yes, it’s not, like, ideal behavior but taking a day off sick is still much better than the other actions OP describes. Unless it’s the day of the Event of the Year with all hands on deck or something like that.

        2. Madame Arcati*

          I’m not saying you wouldn’t get away with it; I’m just saying taking a sick day when you are not sick is unprofessional and wrong. And if you make a habit of it and someone twigs, you’ll be in trouble.

          1. iliketoknit*

            What about mental health days? If your disappointment is such that it’s affecting your ability to work, would that be inappropriate?

          2. LDN Layabout*

            And this is fundamentally where we disagree. I have no issue with people throwing the occasional sickie (and I do mean occasional, obviously a pattern of behaviour of absenteeism is a different issue), if they’re not idiots about it.

            There will be circumstances where people either aren’t able to take annual leave, or it would reflect badly on them for doing so, in which case I think they’re justified in calling in sick.

          3. Hiring Mgr*

            Is it any different than when you claim to have a dr’s appt or something when you’re actually on an interview?

            1. Isobel*

              Whenever I’ve had an interview, I’ve told my manager I needed half a day off, or a late start, to attend an interview! I’ve never had to keep job searching private, and in fact most of the jobs I’ve gone for have asked for my current boss as one of my references. It’s a very different world if you have an employment contract and notice period. I can’t imagine a scenario where I’d get sacked because I was job hunting.

              1. LDN Layabout*

                I’d say this is insanely out of step with most UK employment environments and may be industry specific? I cannot imagine telling a manager I was looking for other work (unless it was within the same organisation)

                1. Isobel*

                  Yes, quite possibly industry specific (the NHS). “Insane” seems perhaps a little over the top.

        3. GythaOgden*

          In a coverage based job like mine it can be very difficult. I mean, one day here or there won’t matter, but if someone is actively jobhunting, they may be taking time off for interviews (I took an AL day yesterday because of inconvenient timing) and then taking a day when they are one of quite a few candidates who didn’t get a particular job…

          I also know people who haven’t been promoted from within and the normal course of action is ‘vent to reception, here’s a hanky, have a natter, back to work’ rather than a day off. It also sounds like it’s becoming a habit — getting to the point where the individuals doing this need to grow thicker skin. I passed that point a while ago, and it wasn’t easy, but it’s part of life.

          You can perhaps see the point. A once-off would be OK, but, particularly for external jobhunting, you probably wouldn’t want to look like you needed time off after every setback.

      2. LW4*

        I agree with you. If it ties with, say, MH I understand it. Then it is a health issue. What’s being conveyed by the individuals is that they were purely mad.

        1. LDN Layabout*

          That’s just them being idiots then to be honest, but it seems they’re covering off all the behaviours you raised, not just one or two, so that tracks.

        2. Thoughts*

          I don’t see an issue with taking a day off because you are purely mad. It’s an emotion that they need to work through. It’s probably better for them to take a sick day to deal with the emotion than walk around the office like a petulant child. One could even argue that it is related to mental health. They are getting their emotions in order.

        3. Eldritch Office Worker*

          That is MH though. People without disorders still have emotions and temperaments and need to process things. Taking a day off to do so seems…responsible.

        4. Office Lobster DJ*

          Honestly, even if they are thinking of it as “Ha! I’ll show them! I’ll show them all! I’ll take a sick day!,” it still amounts to taking a day off to work through an overwhelming emotion.

        5. Cthulhu's Librarian*

          Being mad is about mental health, though. Emotions, and processing them, are a huge part of our mental health, and many people do not have good skills or practice at doing so. Especially while stuck in a social arena like work.

          Asking someone to repress their emotions and get back to work is bad management, and asking them to engage in unhealthy behavior. Look internally at your messaging about this, to see if you created a situation where they were given false expectations. And maybe look at your process, and say “Huh. Maybe we should tell folks about this when they have time to process it (ie, before the weekend) before the next work day. Maybe we should explain why we picked candidate X over Y or Z. Maybe we should send them home to process after we make the announcement of who has been chosen…”

          This happening 3 times with different people implies that there might be a lesson to be learned about how you’re doing these things.

          1. LW4*

            I work parallel to two of the colleagues and manage another. I’ve had no involvement in the recruitment process itself, as the roles applied for are outside of my team.

            Where someone is genuinely struggling, I don’t hold issue with a day off. The way it is being conveyed by the individuals is the issue for me. As an example, in the office today, the one who took the sick day told others that he did so because it was a way to have a day off without being challenged. Additionally, the two I don’t manage are still refusing to undertake their normal activities and we’re a week on from the news.

            The problem is that interviews are being offered to under-qualified candidates, who are then disappointed not to achieve. If you make an internal application, you are almost guaranteed an interview. That’s the source of the issue to me. I’m one of the few managers who refuses to automatically interview internal candidates.

            My team member is the only one I can support and I’ve provided courses/qualifications and mentoring from other teams to support them with progression. As a reaction to not obtaining the role, they have spent the past week trying to get the successful candidate into trouble (amongst other things). My team member did not take time from work or refuse to do their actual work.

            1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

              I mean… are employees typically challenged/do they experience pushback when they try to take their PTO?

              Also, have you spoken to your team member about their attempts to get the promoted employee in trouble?

            2. Cthulhu's Librarian*

              The reason someone said they took a sick day because it “wouldn’t be challenged” is presumably exactly that – it may be worth talking to other people on that team, and seeing if the manager of it has a habit of challenging leave requests but not sick days (and if so, it might be worth a conversation with that manager as a peer about whether doing so is actually useful and productive for their team. Maybe it is, but without investigating you can’t know). Unfortunately, you saying “I’m upset because that person said why they did it” is really only reinforcing that decision on their part – imagine asking for leave to process things, and being told “No, not a good enough reason.” It’d only make things worse.

              You also mention that interviews are going to under-qualified candidates, who get disappointed – this again goes back to internal messaging and communications with them. Did anyone ever say “We’re willing to bring you in for a courtesy interview, but you’re not qualified for this position”? If not, then the messages they received when you called them in for an interview was “You’ve got a real shot at this thing.” It may not have been the message that your organization intended to send, but it’s what they did.

              It sounds like you’re doing a lot to try and support your team member – that’s awesome! But talk through the outcome of what problematic behavior you’re seeing, and why they need to not do it – and explain that if the problematic behavior continues to happen, they will lose the supports you’re trying to give them (“If you continue to try and create issues for the person we choose, it undermines your credibility and my own, and you WON’T be able to advance or receive these trainings, because it will make others think you are petty/unprofessional”). If you never say that to them, you’re teaching them that they can get a reward for behavior you consider unacceptable… which is also telling them that behavior is acceptable.

              As to the behavior of the two you don’t manage… discuss it with their managers, because this could be a situation where they are behaving well around that person, but not around others. Maybe they’ll have a conversation or engage in some introspection about what went wrong with the process.

              And yes, something is flawed in your organization’s process; if you’ve got the time and capital, it would be worth talking about how interviewing candidates who are underqualified does them a disservice (especially if they think they’re being actually considered for the position). You’ve got a great set of examples showing how it can create problems – and yes, their behavior is their problem, but it was also provoked by your organization’s systems.

            3. Parakeet*

              Most interviews, internal or external, don’t result in the interviewee getting the job, though. It seems like the problem is not so much that they’re getting interviews, which aren’t a guarantee of anything, but that they think an interview is much more a sure thing than is actually the case.

            4. Glitsy Gus*

              The problem is that interviews are being offered to under-qualified candidates, who are then disappointed not to achieve. If you make an internal application, you are almost guaranteed an interview. That’s the source of the issue to me. I’m one of the few managers who refuses to automatically interview internal candidates.

              This right here is really important. Yeah, it does sound like some of the other managers are setting people up for disappointment. The employee responses aren’t OK at all, but “everyone gets a chance at bat” from management isn’t really all that professional either.

              I mean, your company could head a lot of this off at the pass if, when the unqualified person asks about the promotion, the manager just lets them know they’re glad Employee is looking to the future, but to be a candidate they need to work on X, Y and Z. Rather than leading them down a path that gets their hopes up and breeds this kind of resentment.

            5. Observer*

              As a reaction to not obtaining the role, they have spent the past week trying to get the successful candidate into trouble

              Now, THAT is a real issue, much much MUCH more serious than taking a day off. You need to tell them to knock it off, and make that stick.

              I get why you don’t like the day off thing. But ultimately, being mad is not the end of the world if you keep it to the one day off and then behave. But I do not understand why you think that not taking a day off is a mitigating factor regarding your employee who is trying to get the internal candidate in trouble. If someone I managed were pulling that, we’d be having some VERY serious conversations. As serious the conversations we would have about refusing to do their job.

      3. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        Sick days can be used for preventative purposes. For some of us, not having to try and be cheerful and professional around coworkers until after we’ve processed our own emotions about being passed over is absolutely a preventative sick day – if I have to smile at you all and act happy before I’ve processed the rejection and why it happened, I’m liable to go into a depressive and self-loathing spiral about why I wasn’t good enough, how bad do you all think I actually am, why don’t any of you notice my pain, etc…

        That sort of spiral ends in a bad place, and I know I’m not the only person in the world to end up in one based on bad news. With the help of my coping techniques, I can cut that off, but it takes time and effort that I can’t do while I am at work, pretending to be okay with someone else getting a promotion I was trying for.

        Please do your best to ditch the habit of deciding what is ‘sufficient’ to warrant a sick day for other people.

        1. LW4*

          Generally, I’m very open to the need for sick days. However, those involved are openly planning to take sick days should they not be successful. It’s not solely a reaction to not receiving the promotion. The sick days alone would not bother me, it’s the ongoing behaviours that surround. A day to process and then return and crack on is one thing, a day to do whatever and then return and not undertake your basic job for a week is very much another.

    2. HigherEdAdminista*

      I was going to say, I must be a sensitive soul because while I wouldn’t throw a tantrum or refuse to do my job, I could see putting in for a day off if I had been turned down for a promotion I was hoping to get. It’s disappointing and it’s very normal for people to feel emotions about it and to do appropriate things to deal with them, like taking a day for themselves to feel their feelings/regroup/do something that makes them feel happy again.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes definitely. I mean people aren’t machines and sometimes want some time to get to grips with a disappointment. I find taking the time aside to deal with it is better for me than pressing on with the day job while feeling hard done to and bad tempered and having it bother me throughout the day. Stepping away for a day, walking in the park, painting my nails or doing something helps me get my perspective back. So I can go forward being my best professional self.

  15. Luna*

    LW2 – Simply stand firm. You know what a sweet-talker Mike is, you know you want to leave that place, and that should hopefully already be one wall of resolution to keep you from being sucked in again. No, a raise will not make you stay. Neither will an improvement of conditions, counter-offer, promises of more vacation days, etc. You are leaving. Especially if you keep in mind that all of those are just lip-service promises that will likely be forgotten as soon as you agree to stay. No need to be hostile or curt, but remain firm.

  16. Sam Lee*

    I recently applied for a promotion I really wanted and didn’t get – and I was very disappointed. For the first time in a long career with many interviews (many successes and some disappointments), I took a day’s leave afterwards – not to sulk but because I needed to manage my emotions and didn’t want to make everyone else in the office uncomfortable by seeming to be upset or sulking. Grown people can be really disappointed about getting promoted and they’re allowed to be. It’s not unprofessional to feel disappointed and to use leave you’re entitled to to manage that.

    1. LW4*

      I’m the person who wrote about the promotion issue. It’s a wider issue than sick days alone. It’s surrounding behaviours. If someone is genuinely emotional/it’s impacted their MH, I’m all for them taking a sick day. It’s the sick days that tie with other negative behaviours that are concerning to me – the wider picture.

      1. AnAffairNotRemember*

        Yeah I agree… it is pretty tough to find out that you’ve not got a promotion you were working towards, and it is disappointing if you have been “working up”. So if someone wants to take a duvet day to chill and take their mind off work, after feeling disappointed, I really don’t take issue with it. In fact at my previous company we’d always give a discretionary day/half day in those circumstances (also in the UK) then it’s preempted and you can plan accordingly.

        But if it goes on much longer than and there’s other behaviors… it does sound like a wider issue. Do you think people are just doing it because they see everyone else doing it and think its the norm? Or could people have been taking on additional responsibilities in ‘preparation’ for the promotion and then they just decide they don’t want to do the extra work anymore?

      2. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        The other negative behaviors are what you have to coach them on. “Cyril, you didn’t get the promotion. Archer was a better candidate because of these # reasons. Please take a day or two off to process this if you need it, but you will need to be professional when you return. You can not do [The problematic thing you’ve seen/heard about].”

    2. Green great dragon*

      I think this is a UK/US divide about leave practices. UK companies on average give much longer sick leave, but the flip side is it’s *only* for when you’re personally too sick to work. Everything else should come out of general leave (which is at least 28 days for FT workers). If the person had taken a day’s leave to deal with the disappointment I expect that LW would not be writing in.

      1. londonedit*

        Yes; ‘I’m taking tomorrow as holiday’ would have landed differently than ‘I’m taking a sick day’ (when it’s clear you’re not actually ill). Sick leave here isn’t seen as a benefit of a certain number of days per year to be used as part of your leave allowance, it’s for when you’re actually ill, so ‘faking it’ and using a sick day instead of a day’s holiday is generally frowned upon. Having said that, there are companies where it wouldn’t be possible to just take a day’s holiday at random without prior approval, so the employee might have thought that throwing a sickie was the easiest way to deal with it (and there’s also the point that you could definitely say that a mental health day would come under the auspices of a sick day anyway).

        1. LDN Layabout*

          Are there many companies that allow last minute annual leave unless you have a very good reason? I’d argue that in most places quietly taking sick leave (on the day, not in advance) would go over better than a last minute leave request.

          1. iliketoknit*

            Depends on the employer. I can take last minute annual leave whenever I like, as long as my work is sorted. But I’m in the kind of job where often I can take a day off and it won’t affect my colleagues’ workload at all.

            1. londonedit*

              Same here. I’m fortunate that my manager is very good about leave, I’m good at my job and have some capital (i.e. I don’t have a track record of throwing sickies or asking for last-minute leave all the time) and I’m responsible for managing my own workload, so if I said to my boss that I needed to take a last-minute day off tomorrow, they’d be fine with it because they’d know it was something out of the ordinary and that I could manage my to-do list so that it wouldn’t have too much of an effect on my productivity. But I have worked for companies where the boss was a total micromanager who was horrible about people taking the annual leave they were entitled to, and in that case I’d absolutely prefer to throw a sickie rather than wasting a day’s holiday.

          2. Emmy Noether*

            Mine does, even for vague reasons like “I have an urgent personal appointment”, or “childcare emergency” as long as it’s not abused (like, once or maaaaybe twice a year for a single day at a time is ok), and the person stays on top of their responsibilities and it doesn’t lead to problems.

            I think that bosses are often more flexible on this than one would expect.

        2. UKDancer*

          It depends on the company I think, and when it is. I mean if we’re in a dull time of the year and everyone is around and we’re not that busy I can get a day off as annual leave at fairly short notice. If we’re all hands to the pumps, 2 staff are out on leave already and it’s our busiest period then not so much.

          1. Green great dragon*

            Depends on the manager too. If I knew they’d just been turned down for a promotion I’d give the leave if I could.

    1. Madame Arcati*

      There are some strict rules in some sectors though eg the civil service. Not saying that’s where lw works but anyway he doesn’t talk about legality he says “here we have rules” – I assume by “here” he means his company/department/agency. Even if he did mean the whole country, “rules” could still apply across the board; I’m sure even the most free and easy small private sector company has at least a couple of rules in place so people don’t eg just employ their nephew without interview or have rampant favouritism in a team.

      1. UShoe*

        I can tell you from experience that that’s not true. Most small companies don’t have rules like that. One I worked at would even promote people when the level they were being promoted too was “full” and we desperately needed people in the more junior roles – it was because they “deserved the promotion”.

        Even in the large, bureaucratic org I’m with now where there are strict controls on salary gradings, annual reviews and job descriptions you can still make the case for “direct promotion” if it makes sense not to go through the advertising process. That’s how I ended up in my current role.

        1. Madame Arcati*

          Ok I can’t argue with you but I stand by the first bit in that lw never said anything was a legal requirement, he said there were rules where he is. And that in certainly true in the civil service/aligned organisations which is a large beast, so what he says is realistic.

    2. bamcheeks*

      No, it’s very much an organisational thing.

      But also, LW4, let people have feelings! I’ve just interviewed six people for two internal roles: four people are going to be disappointed. They’ve all put a ton of work and effort into the application and interview process, and they were all good, plausible candidates who were enthusiastic about the role. Obviously there’s no excuse for being disruptive, but I absolutely wouldn’t begrudge any of them a day’s leave or a few days of being less than their usual perky selves whilst they process the disappointment, regroup and figure out what next.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Yeah. I’ve just been turned down for a job I wanted, and it was between me and the other person. The feelings are mild disappointment and oh well back to work.

        If you’re interviewing as much as these people are and then not only calling out sick but trying to undermine the person who did get the job, then that’s a matter to discuss. Once or twice over the course of a year I could understand — but these people sound like they’re making everyone else suffer as well, which is not good at all.

    3. kicking_k*

      It’s not required by law, but it’s extremely common as company policy and in some sectors is pretty much universal.

  17. Frapperia*

    Hey Alison, just to say that while I don’t disagree that an online form is okay, I don’t agree that exit interviews rarely have use. I think they’re really important to put forward things you may not have been able to deal with during your time, and as evidence for future stuff. For instance:

    – In 2011, I had an awful accident and had to get my union involved due to bullying/constructive dismissal from it. I left the next year and did an exit interview. Five years later, I was contacted by HR there due to a big investigation happening into the people who bullied me (not because of me, sadly), and they wanted to use my exit interview as evidence (despite the fact they ignored it all this time!). I said fine, they were dismissed/suspended/demoted

    – In 2017, I left a role with the worst bully I’ve ever encountered in my working life. They tried to force me to have my exit interview with my line manager rather than HR (!) which I fought them on. When I got to see HR, I gave them an eight-page exit interview document I’d prepared documenting everything that had gone down (bearing in mind I had reported some of it at the time). Again, though nothing was done at the time, he was later managed out, and I believe the exit interview was again used as partial support for this (who knows why they never have the balls to do anything when you’re working there?!).

    On the other hand, last year someone left my current organisation and dropped the mic on my team (I have a problematic colleague in that person’s team who’s caused a lot of issues and tension (I have no doubt if she had any power over me, I’d be gone, and she’s caused a huge amount of problems for me over the years), but this exit interview blamed my team for all of that, and then it got rolled up with some other feedback from the problem colleague (ignoring any potential bias!) and caused a lot of trouble for us. So it shows that they do action it, but in this case they had no interest in understanding whether any of it was true or not!

    Because of what happened in 2011, I will now always do exit interviews if there was a problematic individual in particular – you are better off having that evidence base there for the future, even if it couldn’t be dealt with while you were there.

  18. Squidlet*

    OP2, I think you’ll be fine. You already know what Mike is going to do, so you can prepare for it.

    In the past when I’ve been pushed to consider a counter-offer, I’ve said “Oh, I can’t – I’ve already accepted their offer and I’d be uncomfortable to retract that.” Not many people will push you to do something that you’ve been clear makes you uncomfortable (and this is also the reason I always accept in writing before I resign). But if Mike does, just follow up with “Oh no, I just can’t.” Repeat as necessary.

    Something that’s worked for me is to say “I’m moving for X” where X = something you know your company can’t offer. For example:

    – “I’ll be working with someone really experienced who will mentor me in such-and-such” – when you’re part of a team of 2 juniors with no plan to hire anyone senior
    – “I’ll working a 30 hour week, which is better for me as a parent with young kids” – when your current manager is strictly 9-5 even though the company offers 9-3 as an option
    – “I’ve worked in healthcare for 10 years, and this move to financial services will be a great learning opportunity for me”
    – “I’ll be moving into {adjacent but different} role, which I’ve wanted to do for a while”
    – “I’ve worked for a small [big] company for 10 years and I’m excited to work at a big [small] company because I’ll be able to [whatever you can do there]”

    I’ve used all of these in the past (they were all true) – and it was effective, because my manager could see that [a] I’d thought things through and [b] my move was tied to career goals, not to a raise, benefits, or something else they could offer.

    Good luck and don’t let Mike steamroll you.

    1. Erin*

      given what OP2 said about Mike’s behaviour, rather than trying to construct adequate reasons to give, I’d remind myself of the mantra “reasons are for reasonable people” – and if this man has a talent for making people act against their own reasoning, I’d not even open that door.

      Have a couple of polite non-committals to hand, and have the “broken record” technique in your back pocket. OP: “Thanks, I’m really flattered, but this is the move I need to make at this point in my career”
      Mike: “nonono, why is that? Explain it in detail to me and I’ll tell you why you’re wrong and you 100% should stay”
      OP: “thanks, I’m flattered, but this is the decision I have made”
      Mike: “ok, but why? I just want to understand”
      OP: “I’m sorry that this is unexpected, but this is the decision I’ve made.”
      Mike: “why?”
      OP: “this is the decision I’ve made. Thank you for respecting it.”

    2. ArtK*

      If Mike were a reasonable person, then giving reasons would work. He doesn’t seem to be. People like Mike tend to use reasons as opportunities to negotiate, prolonging the issue. Every reason given will be countered with something. It’s exhausting and, in the end, pointless.

      Far better if LW2 comes up with a simple message like “Thanks, but I’ve already made up my mind. Let’s talk about transferring my duties to others.” Keep that message on repeat. Every time Mike tries to derail, get right back on the track of “Of course, I’m leaving. How do we make this go smoothly?”

  19. UShoe*

    LW4 – It does sound like you may just have some unpleasant or disruptive colleagues – that happens. But is it possible that some of them were “working up” – doing higher-level tasks to help them get, or under the promise of a promotion – and then deciding to no longer do that when the promotion doesn’t materialise. That might be an explanation for Tracey was handing all the xxxx before she didn’t get the promotion and now she’s refusing to do it. It’s actually a sensible thing for them to do if there’s no other potential step up on the horizon.

    1. Seal*

      That’s a reasonable assumption. If someone who always went above and beyond was passed over for a promotion, especially if it had been promised or even semi-promised to them, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they decided to just do their job going forward and nothing more.

      For that matter, I think it’s entirely reasonable for people to need time and space to process getting passed over for promotions, even if it means taking a mental health day. Getting rejected HURTS and having to face your colleagues after the fact can be embarrassing. Speaking from experience, just hearing “I’m sorry, I know you must be disappointed” from a colleague goes a long way.

  20. Green great dragon*

    #3 you seem to be seeing your exit interview as some sort of valedictory event, but it’s not really. It’s a chance for the company to get honest feedback. After 10 years I’d expect your time there to be marked and celebrated in some way, in line with whatever your office norms are, but the admin around your exit (which includes the exit interview) likely will be pretty impersonal.

    Not sure if you are feeling underappreciated/unrecognised overall and that’s why this stung? In which case hope the new job does rather better!

  21. Be kind, rewind*

    Ugh. #5, I recently ran into this, and when I got to the phone screen, I asked for clarification what the main duties are and what the estimated breakdown was (eg, X% Llama grooming, Y% alpaca nail trimming).

    Turns out, there were a few different similar roles that they all rolled into 1 job description… with some of the job duties in the description not even being relevant for the posted position!

    Not the best approach, but apparently it happens.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Yep, I came here to say that this is how my team’s job postings look. Because of the limitations of our systems / HR rules, we only get one description per job title. So while the actual job opening is on the chocolate teapots team, the description lists all the tasks for chocolate, vanilla, and caramel teapots.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      It’s fascinating how often this happens, as common sense says “surely a clear approach would be best” and bureaucracy says “if you want to go home this evening, you’ll use the actual form and let the chips fall where they may, it’s not your fault you just did what the manual said.”

    3. irene adler*

      Same here!
      The job description had 30+ bullet points listed. Figured I might at least apply as I met most of the bullet points (22 maybe). The interviewer explained that they had several roles. Unfortunately, they had filled some of these roles and the one remaining consisted entirely of the 8 or so bullet points I lacked. So they passed on me.

  22. I should really pick a name*

    LW#4
    Is this a rule at your company, or a rule in the UK?
    It seems kind of odd to me. If you have a position that needs to be filled, putting up a job posting available to everyone make sense. But what about promotions that aren’t filling a role, but recognizing an increase in skill level? (ex. Junior to Senior)

  23. Decidedly Me*

    LW3 – unless they do an in person exit interview for everyone else, but are only choosing to do a form with you, I’m not sure why this stings. Exit interviews tend to have a specific format (which can differ by company) that is followed for everyone – they don’t tend to change based on someone’s tenure, contributions, etc. I wouldn’t let this get you down.

    Congrats on the new job!

  24. Michelle Smith*

    “I’ve noticed at my current place of work that should someone interview and not get the promotion, they either call in sick for a day, refuse to do their usual duties because they’re “too upset,” or appear to have an attitude for a few days.”

    One of these things is not like the other. I have some emotional dysregulation issues (not a formal diagnosis, just something I’ve noticed is that I take rejection really personally, more so than normal). The best way for me to get myself together *without* being unprofessional is to take a day off or find some time to be alone to let my emotions out. I think that’s far more professional than crying at my desk, throwing a tantrum in my office, etc. I do not refuse to do my job or take it out on others – that’s the point of taking the mental health day if I really need it! I’ve done this when, for example, a new partner broke up with me via text in the middle of my workday or I had a particularly horrible interaction with someone. It’s only happened maybe a couple of times in my career, but when you need the break, take the break!

    1. Seal*

      I am constantly frustrated by the lack of compassion many of my colleagues have over things like this. Of COURSE people get disappointed when passed over for promotions! I’ve had colleagues who need to take a minute because they didn’t get to sit in their favorite chair in the conference room or because someone else got the last donut. And yet they don’t understand why someone might need a day off to process a setback in their career?!

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Right? I am hard on myself – rejection sensitive dysphoria is an aspect of ADHD that makes things like this untenable sometimes and if I could I would absolutely take a sick day to shake it off. But I’m also coming around to…that’s also a thing almost everyone deals with to some extent, we just have no cultural empathy for it and don’t discuss it openly because it’s seen as negative (weak? emotional? erratic?) to have normal human reactions to things.

      2. pancakes*

        Doesn’t “of course” also apply to your colleagues who seemingly lack compassion as well? Of course someone who gets out of sorts about not being able to sit in their favorite chair in a meeting or not snagging a donut they wanted probably isn’t thinking clearly about other people’s needs. If they were they wouldn’t be in that position. Someone who struggles with their own outsized, disproportionate emotions to that degree is likely to run into difficulties getting a handle on any number of things besides feeling their own feelings. What you’re describing is someone who is intensely self-regarding and emotion-driven to the point of being thrown out of sorts by extremely minor and routine setbacks. If they could set their own feelings aside for a moment and think clearly about a broader perspective, I’d think they’d want that. Being able to do that would make not getting the chair or the donut a non-issue.

      3. Luna*

        I think the problem LW4 has isn’t that they take a day off to deal with their emotions. It’s that some people choose to not do so, and instead *refuse to do their job* because they didn’t get the promotion they hoped for.

        And I can agree with that mindset. It’s all fine to be disappointed or upset, we are humans and emotions can be a lot stronger than anticipated, so sometimes reining them in can be a task. But to have an almost petty reaction to just immaturely refuse to do something because of that is not okay.

        For everyone’s sake, yes, take the day off if you have to deal with your emotions or mental health after the lack of promotion. Just don’t make your personal reaction to it an issue to the workflow.

    2. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      yes this! especially if they were really counting on the promotion, or have been trying to get ahead for a while. Especially if someone said that they were going to get the promotion but they had to go through the motions.

      I do think that it’s odd that in the UK a company is not allowed to promote from within without posting and interviewing candidates.

      1. UKDancer*

        It depends on the company. A lot of uk companies choose to advertise and interview candidates especially for promotions. I guess to avoid people promoting their friends and remove unconscious bias. It’s not a legal requirement just best practice.

  25. Dust Bunny*

    LW5: A lot of the job postings for my organization probably list almost that many, but most of them aren’t big tasks and we’re a smallish organization so people tend to cover a little more ground than they might in a bigger place that had room to hire more but less-diversified employees (this goes for pretty much all positions at all levels. I definitely cover a wider range of tasks than I would at a bigger place and I’m basically a specialized office assistant). We’re not dysfunctional, I promise.

  26. calvin blick*

    Regarding LW2, at my first job the owners frequently were able to persuade employees to stay at least a little while longer. When I put in my resignation, almost everyone expected me to get sucked back in. I did my best not to engage with their arguments too much–I just kept saying I’d thought about it and was happy with my decision. It was an hour-long attempt, and at the end Boss #1 just walked off without even shaking my hand, and when an expensive shirt I’d ordered through the company arrived at the office a couple weeks after I left Boss #2 told the employees to send it back to sender, even though it would be easy for me to pick it up and it would be very hard for me to track it down once it was sent back.

    Moral of the story: Mike almost certainly couldn’t care less about you.

  27. Bookworm*

    Sympathy to you, LW 3. Was with an org for nearly 3 years, was the 2nd most senior of my team by the time I left because of the amount of turnover (this was in the first year of the pandemic by the time this happened) and the org had zero interest in any sort of follow-up. I would have thought they might want some feedback on how they had handled the pandemic, the transition that was ongoing during the pandemic but no. Didn’t even get a form to fill out.

    It may sting and you feel how you feel, but it’s a reflection of them and not you. And unfortunately serves as a reminder that ultimately we’re all totally disposable. Once you’re no longer of any use, that’s it.

  28. CatCat*

    #3, I would be THRILLED to get an online survey. So much easier to just blow off. I have zero interest in an exit interview. It would not be in my interest to do one. If they actually cared while I was there, they would have addressed issues I raised before I had one foot out the door. If they actually care once I’m gone, maybe I’d be willing to provide brief, PAID consulting on the issues. Otherwise, no thanks.

    1. JustaTech*

      At my company, at least when they did exit interviews you had the choice of a form or in-person. At least one person picked in-person and ended up on the phone with an HR person who was driving and literally drove into a tunnel, the call was lost, and never called back.

      An online form would have been way less of an FU than that!

  29. toolittletoolate*

    It is a trend in public sector job postings to list every possible task the job might ever do–I don’t understand why–it turns into an extremely off putting job posting. I guess it comes from hearing complaints about “this wasn’t in my job description.”

  30. Eldritch Office Worker*

    LW3 – I conduct exit interviews at a small org where they are perhaps taken with more weight than they would be otherwise. I think in-person interviews are a good practice and we’ve used them to uncover how situations were handled poorly or where thing have fallen through the cracks and they do improve management over time. They’re also good to identify patterns of why people leave. So I certainly don’t, personally, consider them a bureacratic practice.

    That said, they are incredibly time consuming and you work somewhere with a lot of exiting employees, I can see the value in automating it. I would still want to accompany it with some kind of conversation framing it, because I think your reaction is a pretty normal one. But I also see HR’s side.

  31. Allison*

    #5 I’ve been working in talent acquisition long enough to know that most job descriptions are inaccurate. No one likes writing them and they’re usually copied and pasted from other job descriptions and tweaked a little. Good news is that applying for a job doesn’t lock you into it, I usually go ahead and apply (if I’m job hunting) and then ask clarifying questions about the job duties during the initial call. “I noticed the job description lists a LOT of duties, how much of those are day-to-day responsibilities, and how many of them are things I might have to do occasionally?”

  32. El l*

    OP2:
    2 suggestions for your chat.

    First, when you get a better offer, focus on what’s better with Mike. “I have an opportunity to do x, and to work with y…” are great, convincing reasons. If he attempts to counteroffer those reasons, reply, “Appreciate the promise of that.” Then be silent. I would also add a positive line like, “I’ve learned a lot in my time working here, it’s just time.”

    Second, more broadly, don’t feel like you have to explain yourself to him beyond that, and don’t feel like you have to respond to everything he throws out. You are responsible for getting what’s best for yourself – not him. He may claim he knows what’s best for your career better than you – but at best he’s a biased source, and when bosses have told me what’s hot in the industry they were usually wrong.

    Trusting in your own judgment rather than an authority’s is a crucial part of growing as a professional. Good opportunity here to put that in practice.

  33. That One Person*

    For #2 – At this point it sounds like the only thing he can truly offer you is your freedom to leave the company, so there’s not anything really enticing on the table. If he doesn’t like people leaving that’s a personal issue for him to deal with and isn’t your responsibility to shoulder for him. You’re not doing this as an attack against him after all – you are simply ready to move on to other opportunities for YOU. Prepare yourself for any blackmailing language that makes it sound like you’re leaving them in the lurch, that you’re abandoning the “family,” and whatever else he might toss out there. Consider them and then remind yourself that again, not your responsibility and it’s nothing personal. If something happened and you got stuck in the hospital or put on medical leave they’d have to figure things out regardless (and if they did try to guilt trip you over it then that’d be wrong on their end).

    All this said I feel like when you do break away you’d be something of an intrigue and novelty as someone who managed to escape his company despite his siren song to not leave. The sheer fact that his antics were noticed and commented on at the interview about employees being enticed back despite signing is interesting.

  34. Eldritch Office Worker*

    I will accept any form of communication that ends with me getting a sandwich

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      This was a response to a response about the original LW1 but as it gives away nothing about the content of the letter…I stand by the statement.

  35. LizB*

    Most of the time, it’s obvious the candidate will be unsuccessful, as there are stronger people being interviewed.

    I feel like there must be a correlation here between someone who puts themselves up for a promotion they are unlikely to get and someone who is unprofessional enough to pout for a few days after not getting it. At least some of them must have an inflated sense of their own skills, which can go along with other types of not-great behavior.

    That said, taking a sick day when you learn you haven’t gotten a job seems okay to me, provided that a) it doesn’t put your team/department in a tough position, b) you give some other excuse for being sick, not “I’m just so disappointed”, and c) you’re back to your usual level of work when you return the next day. Rejection can be hard to stomach, and as long as a coworker isn’t leaving me in the lurch, I wouldn’t begrudge them one mental health day to lick their wounds.

  36. ResuMAYDAY*

    Career Coach here – I never advise my clients to partake in an exit interview if they’re leaving for negative reasons. Alison said it perfectly – they are for the employer’s benefit only. The ways you can burn a bridge during this time is immeasurable. Sometimes they use that time to explain outgoing benefits, which is fine. Other than that, thank the employer for the skills that you gained on the job, and wish them well. That’s as far as you need to go.
    Same goes for an online form, but with the added feature of incontestable documentation. Don’t mistake the exit interview for Festivus. There is no airing of the grievances! Show gratitude, and move on.

    1. London Calling*

      One of the comments I read about exit interviews (and I think it was on here) was that there’s no point being honest in an exit interview if being honest involves negativity, and that all an ex-employee needs to do is not burn bridges and protect her references; it’s not her job to fix what’s broken and the chances are she can’t anyway, or she wouldn’t be leaving. You cannot help people who do not want to be helped and/or have shown that there’s no sign that they think there’s anything wrong. Grab your references, grab your contacts, be all sweetness and light about how sorry you are to be leaving and GTFU.

      1. ResuMAYDAY*

        There are too many stories of people using this time to grouse about every major and minor complaint, with assumed impunity. Freedom of speech without consequences. Then they get upset when it bites them in the ass.

    2. pancakes*

      “Sometimes they use that time to explain outgoing benefits, which is fine.”

      That’s why I can’t quite remember whether I’ve been to one or two of these – one may have been more of a “here’s how your benefits work now” rather than an exit interview. Attending seems low-risk for anyone with moderately decent control over their own behavior, but yes, someone likely to fly off the handle probably shouldn’t go.

    3. Jora Malli*

      I had what I call a “pre-exit” interview at my last job. I had an existing relationship with our second on command so I asked for a meeting with her and told her the two specific things that were making it hard to continue working for the organization. She proceeded to tell me all the reasons I was wrong to identify those things as problems because everything was fine. When I quit a month later her reaction wasn’t “oh, those things were a big enough deal for Jora to quit over,” it was “did you hear? jora got a promotion and a big raise with Local Competitor! Isn’t that exciting?”

      At some companies, you can tell the leadership why you’re quitting until you’re blue in the face, but they will not believe you.

  37. Lobsterman*

    LW1: Notice is a courtesy. If the company has a history of abusing the courtesy, that’s your answer.

  38. Girasol*

    LW2: An exit interview is a task that your employer asks of you not for your benefit but for theirs, as Alison says. You might feel bursting with advice or criticism and wish for a face to face interview even though you’ll never benefit, because this time it seems like they’d have to listen to you and it could do some good for others. But if they didn’t seek and listen to your feedback before, in order to retain you as a loyal member of the team, they will be far less motivated to pay any attention to an ex-employee. That they send a survey is a pretty sure indication that they don’t even want to know. The purpose is more likely to assure that you feel heard (even if you’re not) and don’t go away mad and bad-mouth the company. My policy is to evade any exit survey/interview, imagine what the company is going to have to learn the hard way, and whisper “told you so.” Don’t let them waste your time and effort.

  39. Ladycrim*

    Last letter: Last fall, I applied for a job that was fundamentally identical to the one I had but with better pay and location. I looked at the extensive list of duties in the job ad and panicked. “I can’t do all this!” Then I took a breath and remembered, “I already do all of this. I’ve done it for years. It just looks really overwhelming when it’s all listed out like this.” Been in the new job for 8 months now and handling all those duties fine. You’ve got this.

  40. University Schlep*

    Re the 28 tasks – you mention that it is a private school. Administrative at any kind of school setting can end up hard to define because it depends where you are in the calendar cycle, even more than most jobs. If you took a snapshot of my top 5 tasks month by month there would be very little overlap. March is all about scheduling the following academic year. May is all about graduation. July is all about onboarding new students. It is almost like 5 or 6 separate short-term jobs that have some common threads.

  41. IWantToGoToThere*

    LW2 – When I left my last job, I also filled out an exit interview form. I added my comments about the job (both positive and negative) in the free response sections of the form, and based on my responses, someone from HR contacted me to discuss things more in depth. Maybe the same will happen to you? The way the HR employee explained it to me, some people don’t have any feedback they care to give during an exit interview, and some people feel they can’t say anything of substance for fear of any critical comments getting back to their boss & coworkers. The exit form allows them to get through the process quickly with exiting employees who don’t want to volunteer any comments, and then HR can follow up with anyone who has real feedback to give.

  42. OP #2 (#3 before removal of #1)*

    Thank you to everyone who commented! I think my ‘stung feeling’ is mostly my inexperience with moving on from corporate jobs and and general feelings of insecurity. I realize it is a low-stakes question to ask of Alison. As soon as I sent it, I thought, “Wow…this is a boring one for the commentariat!”

    As I stated in my letter, my relationships with members of my immediate team are wonderful and supportive. All of them have wished me the best and listened to me harp on about how excited I am for this opportunity. The whole team is known to be paid well under market rate, within both the organization and out in the wider niche field community. The administration knows this and does not seem to care. I guess they have decided that the turnover is worth not keeping good employees.

    For some additional context, the other person with my job title also resigned last month, another employee in my department is going on FMLA, another pregnant (third trimester), and another just applied to another department. While that isn’t exactly a mass exodus, it is a fairly large percentage of our team in relative flux. Hopefully it will calm down soon, more my coworkers’ sake.

    I am not looking for a ‘victory lap’, some sort of recognition, or even a chance to vent. I will get plenty of that stuff from my team :). It is more that I have noticed this detachment HR and the administration seem to have from the worries of individual departments as I have worked here over the years. They routinely prioritize the bottom line and the overall company to individual workers, and I suppose I had hoped that they would at least attempt to inject a little humanity into this final interaction. This is especially since everyone I’ve talked to about it in my team was also surprised I had not gotten an actual interview. I was expecting (and vaguely hoping) for one thing and got another. As my mother would say, “I’m not angry…just disappointed.”

    Thanks to all who have wished me luck. I’m going on an adventure!!

  43. Jessica*

    It’s Alison’s blog and she can obviously do what she wants.

    This is a great community. I think it’s really bad do just delete a lot of work from the community with a cryptic message as to why so everyone can just wonder.
    It’s not great for people to give what is thoughtful input to just have it erased without significant explanation. This is the most mature community I’ve probably ever encountered on the internet. They shouldn’t be treated like children and it would be nice to know that people aren’t going to make well thought out commentary just to be discarded into the ether. Again, it’s your blog, but it does kinda suck to see people’a work disappear without a real explation. Your readers get invested in the letter writers. So discarding their input is a big deal.

    Do it how you want, but I figured I’d Share my thoughts. I still love this site and your insight.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I agree and that’s part of the reason my bar is very high for removing a post; I think this is the third time (or second?) that I’ve done it in 15 years. It’s not something I normally do. But there are things I can’t responsibly ignore, and I also need to respect the person’s privacy by not sharing their situation here if asked not to.

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