candidates who say they’re open to relocation … but really aren’t

A reader writes:

I’m hiring for my small company. We have found a candidate for one of our teams who would be perfect. The role is based in New York and our candidate lives in LA. Before initiating the interview process, I asked my candidate if she would be open to relocating. We prefer to start employees in our office full-time, but once we become confident in the quality of their work allow them to work from home some of the time. The majority of our team comes into the office and we’re not interested in hiring full-time remote from the beginning of employment. At the beginning of our process, my candidate said she was looking and willing to relocate.

Fast forward to giving her an offer, and she has asked that this position be remote from the get-go. I’m disappointed in this turn of events and feel that I was misled. The fact that she is going back on her word does make me question her integrity. What is the best way to proceed here?

I answer this question — and three others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • My employee alienated a coworker with her opinions about his personal tragedy
  • >A client is trying to rope me into a multi-level-marketing scheme
  • Can I take back an introduction?

{ 223 comments… read them below }

  1. Imelda*

    Considering how many job postings I see that say REMOTE WORK and then go on to say something like ‘hybrid depending on manager preference’ either way down at the bottom or further along the line in the interview process, part of me can’t help but delight in the juiciness of an applicant turning it around on a hiring manager.

    1. Decidedly Me*

      Except this hiring manager didn’t do that. Why should they have to get “pay back” meant for others?

        1. Xavier Desmond*

          Its pretty obvious what they meant. If you lying to an employer as payback for a completely different employer lying to someone else, it’s not really payback at all. Its just lying.

            1. Magenta Sky*

              That is a question we do not have the answer to, and mostly likely, neither does the letter writer. Maybe it was a lie, maybe it was a changed mind, maybe it was changed circumstances.

              The only relevant point is that the applicant has removed herself from consideration. Why doesn’t really matter.

              1. Loulou*

                The candidate didn’t remove herself from consideration, she asked for the role to be made remote from the beginning. Which might effectively remove her, but it doesn’t sound like that was the intention (ie she didn’t say “I’m turning down the job because I don’t want to relocate)

                1. Magenta Sky*

                  She may not have intended to remove herself from consideration, but that is the practical outcome. Whether she says it out loud first or the letter writer does, being unwilling to relocate means she not not meet the criteria for the position.

                  Why doesn’t matter, other than to satisfy one’s curiosity.

              2. Lenora Rose*

                If she said that being 100% remote was her absolute requirement, she removed herself from consideration. If, on the other hand, she was thinking “This might actually work better for me” but is still open to moving and full time office, then she hasn’t.

                I do wonder what incentive besides “Look! Shiny! Job!” the job was offering for her to move for the sake of a job that might well turn out a nightmare in 2 months..

                Of course, as we all know, these are all old letters too.

        2. Snow Globe*

          I agree with Imelda. Punishing someone for something someone else did is something that may happen, but not something I’d take glee in watching.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            Yeah, that’s just childish. The LW here was clear from the start that they expected the applicant to relocate. They literally did what everyone is saying they wish more employers would do: Be up-front about it. Sticking it to her because of some nebulous resentment about other employers is just weird.

            1. Mike S*

              That’s also potentially screwing over later candidates who would be willing to relocate.

        3. Magenta Sky*

          I think the point here is more that leading the interviewer to get payback for what other interviewers have said or done is more about the applicant than anything else.

          Or, to rely on the old cliché, “two wrongs don’t make a right.” No matter how emotionally satisfying it might be.

          1. Workerbee*

            The crowd is adequately and thoughtfully responding to Imelda, which is what a good forum-based site like this _should_ be doing. Other people may think as Imelda does and can learn other points of view. And people say things like this all the time offline.

            1. GythaOgden*

              Yup, and that’s before you even get to the point where WFH is a privilege open to very few people from the get-go. The vast majority of people have no choice but to work in person, so throwing a tantrum because an employer has legitimate needs for someone to relocate is a very special kind of arrogance to start off with.

          2. M. from P.*

            Huh? Seriously? The commenters on this site fairly consistently call out over-the-top comments, in a gentle and respectful manner. It’s one of the things I love about this site actually.

            1. Juliet*

              I have always thought the same thing. And I feel that Alison does a really good job or monitoring comments as much as she possibly can. And the comment that Finallyathat was calling out was by far not the most grievous thing I’ve ever seen in a comments section here or anywhere else. Any time people are given the freedom of anonymity, any comment is possible but for the most part, the people here are much more civilized than most other forums.

          3. KoiFeeder*

            What is the point of doing that? That doesn’t seem like a constructive way to handle your feelings about the comment section.

      1. Seeking second childhood*

        I don’t think that was meant as serious advice not with this phrasing:
        “…part of me can’t help but delight in the juiciness of…”

      2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        It seems to me that there was a little karma here. They are not willing to trust people to work remotely at first, but they think people should have to commit to them before they’re even hired.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          . . . not really? This seems pretty normal. Hiring someone does involve that person committing, at least until it’s clear you’re not on the same page, at which point they’re free to not take the job and/or you’re free to not hire them.

        2. anonymous73*

          Not even a little bit. It has nothing to do with trust. Being in office is a job requirement. They were up front about it. Applicant moved forward knowing this and then declined to accept this job requirement. People relocate for jobs all the time. The applicant probably thought she’d wow them and get them to change their mind.

      3. LawLady*

        I think the current attitude among many applicants and employers is that what the listing says about WFH is just a jumping off point for negotiation, not a set in stone element of the job to take or leave.

        I have also experienced many job listings saying one thing about WFH, and then being a different way once interviewing. (And it’s gone both ways, actually. The job I’m in now was advertised as full-time in person, but once I started, it was clear that I only need to be in 2-3 days a week.)

        1. Migraine Month*

          Yeah, I applied for a full-time in-office position that went remote at the beginning of the pandemic. One year later they said, “It looks like the pandemic is under control now, get ready to return to the office!” just before Delta hit. Then it was “Get ready to come in on a hybrid work schedule!” just before Omicron hit. Now they’ve given up on ever getting us into the office; they say it’s for recruitment/retention reasons, but I wonder if someone’s superstitious about causing a new wave.

        2. anonymous73*

          I disagree as an applicant. If that’s what companies are doing to try and lure people in, then they’re going to get a lot of angry applicants. If the in office/WFH/hybrid schedule is a work in progress, then it needs to be stated UP FRONT. Period. My current job was initially presented as in office 1-2 times per month. It’s turned out to be full time WFH so far, but if they decided they wanted us in office more frequently than what was presented to me, I would quit in a hot second because of the commute. Bait and switch is not how you get (and retain) good employees.

          1. Lydia*

            This right here. If companies are advertising WFH but not including “negotiable” in their listing, they are effectively lying and suck. If you advertise it as a WFH position, that’s not a jumping off point; that’s a reason a lot of people applied.

      4. Tesuji*

        Because when the social norms change, they change for everyone.
        As the norms become “I can lie my ass off in the job posting in order to get a wider pool of applicants, and hope then when they get to end of the process, they’re sufficiently invested that they’ll accept what we’re really offering,” then it’s completely fair that job applicants play by the same rules.
        Yeah, sure, #NotAllHiringManagers. I’m sure this is one of the nice ones, a real credit to their profession. Sometimes, when others like you have made the situation toxic, you just have to deal with that.
        Personally, I don’t think this applicant did anything wrong.
        They got to the end of the interview process and wanted to negotiate the conditions of employment. They didn’t take the job under false conditions and then go back on them. They simply wanted to see if there was room to compromise.
        To me, feels like that’s their right.
        Indeed, it’s completely possible that there *were* situations where they would have relocated. Maybe the listed salary was ‘a range from X to Y’, which turned out to inevitably mean X (at which point they had no interest in relocation) whereas if it were Y, they would. Maybe as they learned more about the company, they had doubts whether they’d be a good fit, or how long the company was still going to be around, and hence, were less interested in uprooting their lives.
        But, at the end of the day, the only thing the hiring manager is complaining about is that someone “wasted” their time by going through the interview process despite not being fully committed to living up to everything in the job posting, which is so completely the norm for hiring managers that her whining seems laughable to me.

    2. Kowalski! Options!*

      This morning, I saw a job advertisement that said it was completely remote, then at the bottom, there was a sentence that said that employees hired for the role would have to attend regular meetings in person in Tiny Little One-Horse Town Two Hours North of Toronto with Zero Public Transportation Options. While I don’t think it’s cool that applicants pull a bait and switch on an employer, I’m not sure some employers are being as forthright about their expectations as they think they are.

      1. Skytext*

        Totally not relevant, but I’ve recently become a fan of Murdoch Mysteries, which takes place in Toronto at the turn of the last century. Your description oh the one horse town two hours north just makes me laugh because I am picturing them running around on bicycles, horseback, and buggies like they do in the show lol.

        1. L*

          A lot of Murdoch Mysteries is actually filmed in Stratford, which is super fun. Well, until they’re monopolizing the (tiny) downtown and you need to get to work.

    3. Nanani*

      And as Alison says, -asking- about a possiblity isn’t misleading anyone, especially given the power dynamics at play.


    4. AnotherOne*

      yeah, but that could just be the new version of writing crappy job postings. One of my friends is currently job hunting and his been sharing his favorites- like when companies say no foreign language expertise needed and list Mandarin fluency as a requirement.

  2. Anya Last Nerve*

    For letter 1, it’s because of candidates like this that many hiring managers won’t even consider someone in a different location.

    OP1, going forward, make sure you make it abundantly clear that the job will not be remote from the start. As in “are you looking to relocate, because this job will be 100% in person for the first 3 months and we will not negotiate that point”.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Agreed – make it totally clear in the posting that the role is located in X City, and then in the first screening interview that the role cannot be remote. In the final interview, talk about what the person’s plans are to relocate to X City, and get commitment that they would be relocated by their start date, etc. You can ask questions like that – “how will you manage your relocation to arrive in time to start the role?”, “what date can you start this role in person?”, etc.

    2. H2*

      But it sounds like they did exactly that! They had a conversation and asked the candidate before initiating the interview process. They’re very clear in the letter about their needs so there’s no reason to believe that conversation wasn’t clear.

      I don’t know that I would question the candidate’s integrity, exactly, but it definitely doesn’t seem that the candidate was going through the process in good faith. Her situation could have changed but then it seems like (having already had this conversation) she would explain that.

      1. Ashley*

        Saying prefer though isn’t clear. That is a preference not a requirement. Stronger language is required for requirements.

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          Yup. “We prefer to start employees in our office full-time, but once we become confident in the quality of their work allow them to work from home some of the time.”

          That’s not require. That’s “prefer.” We don’t know exactly what candidates were told, but if it was like this wording from the letter, that sounds like it’s negotiable for a strong candidate.

          1. I-Prefer-Remote-Work*

            As a candidate, the word “prefer” would definitely imply to me that there was a possibility for negotiation. If the word had been “required” then I would know not to ask because the answer would clearly be “no”.

            Not too long ago when I was looking for jobs I was open to relocation but preferred to not have to relocate if possible if I could find a local job or fully remote job. I told recruiters I was open to relocation for the right position, but if a job had come along that had this language in the description, I likely would have asked that same question to see if there was a possibility of full-time remote if I could somehow prove to them I was a strong enough candidate and to see if they would be confident enough in me to allow me to start remotely right away. It doesn’t hurt to ask, right?

            I would hope that a recruiter would not take this as me not going through the process in good faith or that my integrity was lacking just for simply asking a question!

            1. H2*

              I mean, maybe this is just a judgment call, but if the interviewer told me in a screening that they prefer for people to start in the office and then after a while they can work from home “some of the time” and that most people are in the office, and whether I would be willing to relocate, that would *definitely* imply to me that I would need to be in the office sometimes at least. Like…not all of the way across the country, for sure. There’s absolutely no ambiguity in that for me. And if I said that I would be willing to relocate, I would not expect them to keep asking me.

              Now, 100%, at any point either party is allowed to decide the job isn’t a good fit for any reason, so I wouldn’t recommend that the LW worry too much about it. And I agree with another poster that a lot of this question’s answer depends on the details of the tone and substance of the question exactly.

            2. Ness*

              Yeah, the candidate hasn’t (at this point) refused to relocate. It’s quite possible that the candidate is willing to relocate if necessary, but would prefer not to (which doesn’t sound unreasonable!)

            3. pinetree*

              I think there’s a difference between “prefer” language in a job description than being told so over the phone by the hiring manager.

        2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Yep. “Relocation to X required for out-of-area applicants” in the “Required” section of the hiring criteria would make this non-negotiable and then repeat in screening call and first interview. Now, does that guarantee no one will every try to negotiate remote work at the offer stage, but it should help weed out most folks

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      It could be they made it perfectly clear, though. I know that if I were to interview, it would be mostly to see if the job is a unicorn that could make me want to leave my current gig, which I am perfectly happy with. And it’s possible, I wouldn’t interview if it didn’t seem like at least an outside chance. But if I get through the interview and I’m not feeling it, I might ask for much higher pay or something else that would make it worth it for me. That’s not on the interviewer or the person who wrote the ad, that’s just what it would take to make it worthwhile for me. In the same vein, if a company interviews me and really isn’t all that impressed, but has no better candidates and thinks I can do most of the job adequately, I wouldn’t blame them for offering me the bottom of the range or even below for a probationary period. I’d say no, but they should tell me what it would take for it to be worth it to them.

      1. Ranon*

        Exactly! It’s entirely possible no one is acting in bad faith so much as the “worth it” threshold hasn’t been reached on either side. Which happens! Just because it’s location instead of salary doesn’t mean there’s anything fundamentally deceitful going on.

  3. JelloStapler*

    IMO Seems to me that no one is “catering” to Rob by dealing with Jane. Jane needs to mind her own business and back off.

    1. jtr*

      I was pretty shocked by what Jane was advocating for, from a relative of a VICTIM!! Good lord! I agree that the criminal justice system is awful in the US, but read your audience! I wonder if she pushes for everyone to join in advocacy, or just people who are emotionally wounded.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        In general I find it pretty rude to tell someone who has suffered the negative consequences of a process that they should turn around and use that negative experience as some sort of ‘story’. I see this happen with medical things a lot. Not everyone who survives cancer wants people to know them as a ‘survivor’. I wouldn’t want to be known for the hardest things that have happened to me either, no matter how I dealt with them.

        1. Anon for this one*

          As someone with a recent cancer diagnosis, I really don’t like the “survivor” framing, because it depicts it as the exception, as though surviving cancer is a surprising outcome. That may have been true in the 1980s but isn’t anymore. TONS of people have been through cancer. Talking about “survival” is a very negative framing, IMO.

          1. Books and Cooks*

            Hey, all the best to you–I really hope you’re doing/feeling okay, and that your treatment is as easy as possible.

            (And I agree–people often don’t realize not only how much survival rates have improved and how much easier treatment can be for some people {as in, fewer, milder side effects}, but how the “fight” and “survivor” thing can feel to actual patients.)

          2. GythaOgden*

            As a cancer widow myself and someone who has had an injury from which I haven’t yet recovered, let’s not get caught up in making blanket assertions
            Illness comes in many forms and each experience is different. For some people, an injury like mine is something transformative that gives someone a different perspective. My ankle just hurts, I have to use a walking stick at 42, and things just really suck.

            My husband actually did fight his cancer — he hit the bottom a couple of times but new meds pulled him back up until the cancer found new ways round it. He was about to ditch treatment entirely, but then he went up and looked through our wedding photos and decided he did have reasons to keep going. From what he said to me constantly, he didn’t ‘go gently into that good night’ — up until the last moment when he was being asked whether he wanted resuscitation or not, he talked about wanting to go to his specialist thirty miles away to get his next month of meds. He reconciled bimself only after being told that he was in no state to travel. (The local hospital in Basingstoke does regular chemo, but anyone needing more sophisticated treatment has to go to a specialist clinic at Guildford.)

            The fight in some people is real because some cancers are more aggressive than others. However, it’s an individual thing — there’s no wrong answer when it’s your life you’re trying to keep going.

            Hubby knew when to quit, but that doesn’t mean either of us didn’t conceptualise it as a fight or would scoff at someone who survived (like a friend who was diagnosed after hubby’s death and spent a great deal of the pandemic in fear for her life) feeling that they survived. It’s unhelpful to cast anything in a light that negates others’ legitimate experiences. Particularly with disability, which doesn’t conform to a single perspective and comes with some strong negative objective issues like a disease too strong for even modern treatments or an injury that leaves lasting pain and restriction, fighting against it becomes more understandable because not everyone wants to live in the twilight world of pain and suffering; most of us just want to get better and move on with our lives. Cancer isn’t an identity.

            It’s up up the person. Let them choose how to frame their experiences.

          3. metadata minion*

            Yes, this! And there are now plenty of cancers that we catch early enough that they really aren’t a crisis at all. Calling me a “survivor” feels disrespectful to people who actually had to go through an ordeal and face a chance that they might *not* survive.

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

      Yes, I noticed that the letter writer in that one seemed to be favoring Jane and thinking that Rob was being unprofessional by avoiding her. I’m glad Alison’s answer put it squarely on Jane for her spectacularly insensitive comment and advised the OP to talk to Jane.

    3. sometimeswhy*

      Agreed, with this and with other commenters in the thread. They were protecting Rob from Jane because the manager wouldn’t/hadn’t yet. AND the manager seemed to think Bob was the problem with the “catering to” language and with the detail that his work hadn’t suffered so she couldn’t use that as a lever while not mentioning Jane’s work product at all. Jane is the problem here and so is LW2.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      My hackles rose when OP described the other employees trying to shield Bob as “enabling” him.

      And seemed to be considering talking to Bob, or talking to all the employees trying to shield Bob from Jane, rather than talking to Jane. (Perhaps a whiff of “Well I can’t talk to Jane: she’s unreasonable! It’s going to be on all the reasonable people to bend to her way if this is going to work out.”)

    5. This is Artemesia*

      This seemed odd to me too. They act as if they are ‘enabling’ Rob and he is somehow in the wrong here. Jane’s behavior was outrageous and she should have been dealt with firmly and early on as soon as management was aware of the behavior. Once was too many, but repeatedly is totally unacceptable. She should be on some sort of warning with PIP to follow if anything like this happens again.

    6. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

      Was really upsetting to even read about this, Rob deserves a work environment that as a minimum is respectful – and Jane is well out of line. I hope LW was able to take this on board – this is not a personal disagreement but ensuring a base level of civility prevails – which is very much a managers job.

    1. Zee*

      My jaw dropped reading that.

      For those who don’t want to go digging through a really long article:

      [Johnny Taylor Jr., president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management]: An employee came to me, and she made a really, really compelling case: “Johnny, I don’t need to come into the office.” She literally gave me a three-page memo making the case for why she could work remotely. And I smiled and said, “Be careful what you pray for. In the process of saying, ‘I don’t need to interact with other people, I’m an individual contributor,’ you’ve literally made the case that your job can be outsourced. And now I don’t have to cover your pension plan, I don’t have to deal with a salary increase every year, I don’t have to do any of that.” And guess what? I did exactly that. I outsourced that role.

      1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

        That is BREATHTAKING levels of jerkishness. What a glass bowl (the manager).

        1. Magenta Sky*

          But inevitable, when the job truly can be done remotely 100% of the time. In the business sense (ignoring employee morale), it would be irresponsible (to the shareholders) to not at least consider the option.

            1. Magenta Sky*

              Odds are, yes, they are likely a corporation, not a sole proprietorship or partnership. They may or may not be publicly traded, but they almost certainly have shareholders nonetheless.

            2. ferrina*

              I’m pretty sure they’re a non-profit professional association, in which case no. The ‘shareholders’ would be the members, and I guarantee the cost savings from a single role won’t save members a nickel on their membership fees.

          1. Critical Rolls*

            Not really. Prioritizing short-term cost savings at the expense of long-term stability and sustainability in service to “making shareholders happy” has led to a lot of terrible business decisions.

              1. socks*

                I’d argue that “ignoring employee morale” is automatically bad business sense. Turnover is expensive.

            1. ferrina*

              A few ways this will backfire:
              -Lack of institutional knowledge. If you are always prioritizing the cheapest option, you lose knowledge from long-term contributors. Which causes it’s own set of operational obstacles and leads to a lot of lost time (and resources) reinventing wheels.
              -No talent development pipeline. Which may be fine in some business models, but would be deadly in others.
              -Less ad hoc work can be assigned. Contractors/outsources don’t do “other responsibilities as assigned”…at least not without a fee.
              -Less oversight. Contractors may or may not allow you to see the process they use, and some will black box to protect intellectual property (and your business)
              -Less expertise. The cheapest option is usually the one that has the least demand, which can very much be one that has the least expertise. They can’t spot red flags and make contingency plans as well as someone with more expertise would.

              In some situations, these risks are just fine! but in other situations, you’ll run into serious issues. Sometimes you really do get what you pay for….

              1. coffee*

                I would add:
                – work that will meet the minimum requirements and no more
                – work that is what you asked for rather than what you wanted/needed
                – often, just the product and not the stuff that needs to go along with it – like, they’ll groom the llama and lead it out of the grooming station, but then you still have to get the llama to its permanent location, vs. an employee who knows where the llama field is and will walk it back there.

                (For the first two, that’s not a dig at contractors, it’s just how things work out when you have a specific task that you want to pay the least for. You wind up hiring the people who work the least to maximise their return. They also, naturally, won’t check to see if you really understand what you’re asking for in case it saves you money, so if you say “those llamas are scruffy, can you shear them” will do a full clip instead of suggesting that you just give them a brushing. If you’re selling your skills, you don’t pay the bills by arguing with your clients not to hire you.)

                1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                  As a freelancer, I can attest to this. I’m currently finishing up a translation and there’s a bit that doesn’t make sense. It sounds like they’re talking about a town, but there’s no town with that name in that area. The only google hits take me to the text I’m translating, without any further insights. I wrote suggesting a change that would at least make sense, and they wrote back to say, “we didn’t write the text, so we don’t know, just leave it like that”. If I were working for them in-house, I would then chase up the person who did write the text, or go higher up, repeating that it’s meaningless and needs to change. Or insist that there’s no point leaving something that doesn’t make sense, and if they don’t like my option, what would they suggest? Refusing any answer that doesn’t make sense. As it is, I’m just going to follow their instructions and leave something meaningless in the text. Too bad it’s a heading and that nobody will read any further because they don’t understand. I’ll be paid. I have the email exchange as CYA fodder, and it’s not my problem.

        2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Love to see how the outsourcing went and how employee retention is going after this column came out. I know if I worked there I’d start looking after reading this

      2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Well, that’s his problem. Just because a job could theoretically be outsourced doesn’t make outsourcing it a good idea.

        1. Migraine Month*

          Hilariously, he immediately follows that jaw-dropping anecdote with an explanation of why outsourcing is frequently a terrible idea. There’s also no explanation of why it was a good idea when he did it:

          “Let’s face it, most of us could have a fully contracted environment, but what we want is a culture, people who have a long-term commitment. We want to build leadership; we need management. And we do that by having consistent relationships and getting to develop our people, so there’s a lot of upside to employing people internally and reasons that we don’t outsource. But there’s a lot of space between not doing it and doing a little bit.”

          1. Mongrel*

            “There’s also no explanation of why it was a good idea when he did it:”

            But how could he show what big, corporate genitalia he has if he doesn’t wave them around every now & then?

      3. MK*

        He is an idiot. Apparently he doesn’t realize that the freelancer he will hire to do the work will have factored in benefits in their rates, and of course they will raise their fees when they see fit. Plus he will no longer be dealing with a dedicated employee of his company, but possibly someone who has other clients and more complicated priorities.

        I say this as someone who does believe that one of the dangers of going fully remote is having your role appear more “expendable”. Maybe it does make business sense to replace an employee with a freelancer. Doing it this way, a.k.a. throwing a tantrum at an employee who dared to ask for remote work, is idiotic.

        1. Warrior Princess Xena*

          Yup – he might be able to outsource, but it will cost him at least 2x if not 3x of the employee’s salary.

        2. soontoberetired*

          My companies outsourcing results are – it is costing us more money. Yikes. Not only money, but quality. It has been proven here, and at other companies. Outsourcing to save money rarely saves money.

          1. Lydia*

            My husband sees this on the daily. His company outsourced a huge chunk of their service and the people left have to handle so much of their ineptness, it’s actually costing the company money. But nobody wants to acknowledge it because on the surface it saves so much for the stockholders!

          2. Curmudgeon in California*

            Yes. I’ve seen this time and time again, especially in tech. Outsourced programmers turn in work that needs to be reworked, management and communication problems, time zone issues, a serious case of “don’t give a darn” on the part of the outsourced contractors, etc.

            The manager was an idiot.

      4. NotAnotherManager!*

        I would love to see my organization try to find a viable outsourcing option for my role(s) or at least half of my team’s. One in ten of my team is authorized to be fully remote BECAUSE they cannot be replaced, much less easily and to make a dickish point. Not everyone is fungible and there are costs to losing institutional knowledge and company-specific training.

      5. Curmudgeon in California*

        Hahaha! Sure, he “outsourced” the work to some low paid person in another country. He now has to manage that project through a time zone and language barrier. It may cost him half or less in salary, but twice as much in management time and rework.

        IMO, the employee is better off rid of that jerk. He’s one of those managers that sees everybody as an interchangeable “resource”, and thinks nothing of throwing away years of experience and tribal knowledge for a cheaper “body”.

    2. Isben Takes Tea*

      Not only was it a manager, it was the CEO of the “Society for Human Resource Management”!

      1. knxvil*

        SHRM’s website is a good one to read not because of solid advice, but because it illustrates the latest garbage trends in human resources that may show up in your office if they subscribe to the organization. Even better, this toolbag is the one who writes the flagship advice column.

        1. ferrina*

          Yeah….some of my work overlaps with HR, and I’ve tried their website a few times, and it’s not helpful at all. I get six different articles citing the same opinion, and no real research.

      2. Daisy-dog*

        It’s well-known within the HR community that Johnny C. Taylor is a doing damage to the HR image. SHRM itself comes across as a money-grab with little value to those that subscribe.

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      What a grade-A miserable person who will hopefully soon be charged through the nose by freelancers who do not want to put up with that behavior without an additional surcharge. May their excel sheets always crash right before saving.

      And a miserable person who does not understand that ‘work remote’ does not mean ‘individual contributor’. I work on 99% team-based work and whether or not I’m in the office I’m usually working with some or all of my team remotely.

      1. SarahKay*

        May their excel sheets always crash right before saving

        As someone who works on huge excel sheets, may I congratulate you on such a fabulous curse and follow it up with my previous favourite of “May his pillows never have a cool side.”

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          The Excel sheet is now replacing my previous favorite: May mosquitos always buzz in their ears

  4. Dr. Rebecca*

    I’m open to relocation…if certain expenses are covered. How attractive are you making it for the candidate to uproot their life for something that (it seems) could be done remotely if your company wanted it to be?

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

      I know, right? There are so many factors that go into relocating it’s impossible to say that this candidate lied about being willing to relocate — ie. I’ll relocate to New York City, but not Albany; or I’ll relocate if I get X salary and Y benefits; I’ll relocate if I can sell my current house in the next 2 months, etc. Clearly this candidate had something that more local candidates didn’t have, so now she’s negotiating the final deal, just the same if the OP offered her X salary and then she countered that she wanted X+$5,000.

    2. The Original K.*

      Yeah, I’ve had friends apply for jobs in other places and then go to those places and realize living there wouldn’t work for them after all – maybe their spouse’s industry doesn’t really exist there, or the place isn’t as diverse as they want it to be. Or they’ve gotten the offer and the salary doesn’t match the cost of living in the new place, or in the time between application and offer, a relative close to where they currently are has needed care and they don’t want to leave them. They were willing to relocate under certain conditions but then those conditions changed. It was never a nefarious reason.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      Except the LW only wrote in about one specific candidate, not that there was a pattern of candidates doing this, so there’s not actually any reason to think it’s a problem overall.

    4. MK*

      If the candidate was open to relocation only if expenses were covered, they probably should have asked about that beforehand, as it’s not a given. The unfortunate result of candidates pulling this, even without acting in bad faith, is that employers will not consider non-local candidates in the future.

      1. raktajino*

        If a company is not willing to pay relocation expenses, then they probably should have made that clear beforehand, as it’s not a given.

    5. Raboot*

      Yes! “Open to” relocation doesn’t mean “definitely willing to relocate”, and neither one of those conveys that from the company’s end, the position is definitely 100% only open to people who will relocate. This one is on OP for not clarifying their position (no chance for remote) and for forgetting that an interview goes both ways – candidates are not pledging themselves to your job, they want to learn more.

    6. anonymous73*

      Since the letter didn’t mention this as an ongoing issue, I’m going to assume that this is an isolated incident and has nothing to do with the attractiveness of the offer. This candidate seemingly applied to a job clear across the country. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, maybe something changed in their life between the initial contact and the job offer that made it no longer an option, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they thought they could wow their way into getting what they wanted without having to move. And OP is in NY, not some podunk town in the middle of nowhere which requires them to consider out of state applicants.

      1. Dr. Rebecca*

        Since the letter didn’t mention any issues at all, I’m going to assume there’s something they left out.

      2. MathBandit*

        “but I wouldn’t be surprised if they thought they could wow their way into getting what they wanted without having to move.”

        And if so, there’s nothing wrong with that. If in interviews an applicant said they would be looking for $75,000 salary for the position and then the company makes that applicant an offer for $65,000 – would you be saying the company was acting in bad faith for going through the process with an applicant if they weren’t willing to meet the salary requirements? Or would you acknowledge that when the employer makes an offer, it doesn’t always tick every box the applicant wanted but is an attempt to find a middle ground that makes the deal work for both parties?

    7. FYI*

      “We want you to move cross-country and uproot your entire life, TO START OUT, and then you can work remotely.” I mean, think about that for a second, LW, because it makes no sense. Why would you ask this of a candidate, if it is indeed possible to do the job remotely? If you want to monitor her more closely in the beginning, then fly her to your office once a month. You’re asking her to take on ENORMOUS financial and emotional cost, so that you can keep an eye on her for the first little while? Really?

      1. H2*

        But that’s not what they said. They said they want to supervise them in the office for a while, and then they can work from home *some of the time*. They also said that most employees are in the office at least some of the time. In the spirit of taking letter writers at their word, why not assume that there is a legitimate business reason for people being in the office, say, one day a week or a week of the month?

        All of that is also completely putting aside the issues with hiring an employee who lives all of the way across the country. They have to have a business nexus there, there are tax and benefit implications, etc. And how many letters have there been from people who aren’t clear who pays when employees need to come in for meetings or whatever? It would have to be an exceptional circumstance to make that worth it.

        And maybe that means it’s not worth it for the candidate. That’s fine! But we’re supposed to take letter writers at their word and it’s not helpful to have people questioning their needs. I think it’s fine to say that the candidate isn’t necessarily being shady and the LW will probably never know so it’s best to tell them that fully remote won’t work and move on.

  5. I feel sorry for Rob*

    Jane should have been fired after the first instance. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. I feel sorry for Rob that his management didn’t do anything to step up and protect him.

    1. TypityTypeType*

      I wouldn’t agree on fired right off the bat, but she certainly should have been told to knock it off and not do anything like it again.

      But if it was the case that someone told her about Rob’s situation so she could *avoid* painful subjects and she instead used the info to pounce on him … that would make me pretty sure she needed to go.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        I agree with you and especially since management is doing NOTHING to protect him.

        It really irked me with the “enabling” him.

      2. Warrior Princess Xena*

        Yes, maybe not fired immediately, but rapidly pulled aside and told “this is not acceptable behavior. You get one and only one warning, and this is it. Do not continue to bring this topic or any tangentially related topic up, especially to Ron, period”.

    2. Sara without an H*

      Fired, no, but pulled aside and given a very, very stern talking-to, with instructions to leave Rob alone and not to do anything similar in the future. Document everything, brief HR, and watch her like a hawk.

      OP#2 is either a very new manager OR an inept one.

  6. learnedthehardway*

    OP#3 – can you tell the potential client that your employer has strong policies against taking on secondary jobs; taking on work with client companies outside of your current employment; perceived conflicts of interest.

    This situation would satisfy any of those situations. Even if the company policy is that you can’t take work from a client company under your own name because they don’t want employees competing with their own business, this would still very likely be considered to be violating your contract with your employer. It’s also a conflict of interest for you to be dependent on a client company for your personal income when you are representing your employer to them.

    I’d mention this situation to your manager, just to keep them in the loop. Your company should have policies like this, if they don’t already.

    1. Lauren19*

      +1, came here to say the same thing. Depending on how pushy she is this could stop the MLM selling faster than a hard ‘no’.

  7. Chairman of the Bored*

    The candidate said she would be willing to relocate.

    She then asked if it was possible for her to not relocate.

    These two statements are not mutually exclusive. You can be willing to do something, but still prefer some other thing more.

    If I tell you that I would be willing to having pizza for dinner it’s not “going back on my word” if I later ask how you feel about getting burritos instead.

    1. H2*

      But as long time readers of the site now, it’s not really that simple to just say hey, I live in California and I’m going to be employed by this company in New York. There are tax implications and all kinds of other issues. So going through the interview process having agreed that she would be willing to relocate does seem kind of in bad faith. And maybe she’s “just asking” if it’s possible but it’s not a minor ask.

      1. Lab Boss*

        But a lot of people probably don’t know about all the tax implications- I certainly didn’t until I learned about them here, and two reasonable professionals can surely have a discussion about what is or isn’t possible. “I am willing to do X” isn’t the same as “I have no reservations about doing X and wouldn’t dare suggest any alternatives.”

    2. Lenora Rose*

      This — plus the comment above about how attractive relocation is. I mean, the expense of moving itself might be more than the person will make in the duration if nothing is covered or supported. I could see the reasoning being “Maybe if I do the first couple of months remote, I’ll know whether it’s worth it to move across country to stay with this job. If I move first, and it doesn’t work out, then I’m much more screwed. I might as well ask.”

      None of which is lying.

    3. Susannah*

      It’s a bigger deal if you’re interviewing someone for a job, having made it clear that the job needed to be on site from the get-go, and then the interviewee – only after being actually offered the job – asks for exactly what you said you could not do.
      I admire Alison for assuming the best in this would-be employee, but yeah, I think I’d wonder if I was being struck along in the hopes that I would not want to start the process all over again with someone else. It’s a little hard to know here, since we don’t know the tone or exact content of the ask – was it, well, actually, I won’t be able to relocate after all, which I JUST realized when i got the offer, or was it, great, I’m excited about the job. But I’ve been wondering if it would be possible after all to start out remotely.

      1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        But the LW isn’t all that specific that she “made it clear that the job needed to be on site from the get-go,” she only says that she asked if the applicant was open to relocating. And anyone saying they’re willing to relocate is saying they’re willing to relocate for the right offer, which they don’t know until the end of the process. She might have gotten the offer and thought it’s not worth that salary and those benefits to relocate. And she can negotiate that by asking for more money/better benefits OR by asking to do the job remorely.

          1. Kate 2*

            But that doesn’t mean this particular job offer was worth it. Maybe salary was too low for the area they’d have to relocate to

            1. fhqwhgads*

              I’m not saying it was. But if the employer went into the process with this person stating it was in-office to start and had the possibility of some WFH down the line AND they specifically asked if the person was willing to/looking to relocate, and the candidate said yes to both, it’s not weird the hiring person felt a little “what the heck” at the end. The candidate wasn’t necessarily unreasonable to ask, but depending on the nuances of both conversations I could see the hiring side feeling like, yo, we told you up front what the deal was. It’s not some sort of outrage or anything, but it’s reasonable to be somewhat vexed if the entire line of discussion was “this role requires being here”, especially if the person didn’t acknowledge they were changing their mind on this when asking to be not there.

    4. My Useless 2 Cents*

      Yes and no, at the interview stage, if asked if you are willing to relocate it is kind of implied that if you take the job you will relocate. The point of the question being asked is to curtail arguments/complaints/issues coming up later (like offer stage). Although, as another commenter above thread points out, that courtesy is often not reciprocated as many business advertise remote positions without any true intention of allowing remote work. A bit like how OP mentions they may allow remote work after three months but then goes on to stress that company really doesn’t like to do that. If company really wants someone in house, they should not advertise as remote work available.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        And they should post the damn salary range. If they’re in a high-COL area but they aren’t paying enough to live there, they’ve wasted their own time and the candidate’s time.

      2. Alexis Rosay*

        “it is kind of implied that if you take the job you will relocate”–> yes, but there are also plenty of legitimate reasons the person could have changed their mind. We don’t know if OP was up front with the salary range and benefits; the candidate could have realized once they received the offer that it was not worth relocating for.

    5. Nanani*

      Especially given the power discrepancy between employers and individuals being interviewed, it is really quite rich of them to be all “OH I have been ~misled~”

  8. Language Lover*

    I think this situation is a little different than usual because you’re not requiring someone to be in the office all the time after you see how they work. And it doesn’t sound like 100% remote is off the table in the future.

    A candidate might see that as uprooting their life to put the time in an office environment to prove they’re good. But after that short time period, they could do the work remotely and they’d prefer to do it where their current life is rather than move across the country to basically work from home.

    This is very different from having to be in an office to do the job. Period. I don’t see it as an integrity issue if she knows that it’s possible to work remotely and you’re actually open to it.

    1. All Het Up About It*

      Yes. This is what struck me.

      Now maybe you still require your remote employees to be within in a certain distance of the office, etc. and this person doesn’t know that. Or maybe when you first asked that, the person didn’t realize this role could eventually become remote and was happy to relocate for the job. Or any of the million other change of circumstances above.

      There are just too many legitimate reasons for the shift after the offer to questions this person’s integrity. Maybe they did intend to mislead you the whole time, or maybe circumstances or their understanding changed. Unless you have irrefutable proof of door one, stick with door two. Consider their request and say yes or no. And if the answer is no, then they might decline the offer, or they might not.

      1. Migraine Month*

        If they’re in NYC and the worker is in a city with a much cheaper COL, it might be most cost-effective for the worker to live in a hotel for a couple of months than to move to NYC.

        1. Never Boring*

          and if they own a home, the transaction costs of selling the home are HUGE. It’s totally sensible to make sure it’s the right job before committing to that.

  9. Lexi Lynn*

    I interviewed for a job and was open to relocating, but after spending some time in the area decided that I wasn’t interested in moving there. I liked the job enough that I would have been willing to do it remotely.

    Its not like you can only consider jobs in areas you have already visited and open to relocating doesn’t say 100% ready to pack and move.

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      Yes this is exactly where I am now. I really did intend to sell my place in Big City and move to Small Town when I took the job. We agreed I’d be remote until then. I even put in several offers. Then I saw the serious racism and scary politics first hand. Now I’m looking for another job here in Big City so that when I go to my current boss and say I’m not moving and will only do this job remotely, I can take the next job if he says no. But why should he when I’ve been very very successful remotely.

  10. Hiring Mgr*

    Moving cross country is a huge deal (obv), so just because they said they were open to relocation at the beginning doesn’t mean they were absolutely going to take the job. That’s a massive decision with logistics, etc.. (plus, were you paying relocation costs, and so on…)

    Also they may have just found a similar role in LA, or their kid just made the varsity team, or a million other reasons candidates don’t take offers :). On to the next

    1. Lab Boss*

      Or just that the role didn’t turn out to be quite as attractive as it looked at first- they may have been willing to relocate in theory, but less willing once they learned all the gritty details. There’s a ton of posts on AAM with some version of the advice that “the interview process is just as much for the candidate to learn about the company as for the company to learn about the candidate.”

      1. NervousNellie*

        There’s also a ton of posts here where some bomb gets dropped very late in the interview process, and of course it changes everything. I had an interview about a month ago where the job appeared to be relocating to the Northern Midwest to work a hybrid home/office schedule to do software development for a whitelabeled app. It wasn’t my favorite idea, but I was willing to relocate to that.

        We were nearly done with the call when the recruiter revealed the job was actually in Nashville, Tennesee, and was performed in an open-plan office location that was open to customers, and I’d be expected to gussy up every day in business classic, and interact with customers even though none of that is remotely related to software development on a whitelabled app. I don’t know what the company was thinking, and I probably never will, but honestly, I’d rather recruiters front load this sort of information to the first five minutes of the call. We wasted everyone’s time that day.

        1. NervousNellie*

          I love how I forgot to make my point. Sorry about that. What I had meant to point out was that the recruiter did not, at any time during the call, volunteer location information. It was an off-hand remark from me that I was glad they had a hyrbid schedule because Minnesota blizzards were best experienced at home, not behind the wheel, that prompted him to explain that the position was not in their home office, even though he was, and (it seemed) most of the team, including the supervisor was also. It very much appeared from where I sat that they either wanted candidates to believe that the position was in Minnesota, or they were not at all concerned with being on the same page and making sure everyone has the right details walking in. Neither of which is a good look. But clearly this detail wasn’t going to be volunteered during the first call.

  11. Susannah*

    Yikes, what is wrong with Jane? She’s the problem here – lecturing the family member of a murder victim about how he needs to “forgive” the killer and get behind criminal justice reform? How incredibly insensitive. And it has nothing to do with whether you favor criminal justice reform (I do). It has to do with disregarding someone’s personal pain to force your agenda on him or her. If Jane can’t apologize and rein it in, she needs to go.

    1. I feel sorry for Rob*

      Jane doesn’t just want Rob to get behind criminal justice reform, she wants him to advocate specifically for the killer. I can’t believe OP did put a stop to this the second it happened.

      1. Antilles*

        Yeah, it’s bananas. What about “Rob changed, he lives alone, he doesn’t celebrate holidays” makes you think Rob would be interested in advocating for leniency on the criminal justice system – much less the specific person who killed his loved one and shattered him?

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I think Jane has discovered the power of being the most unreasonable person in the room, whom everyone else needs to accommodate. And it works on the manager, if not on Bob and her coworkers.

    2. Magenta Sky*

      That’s what happens when you put your own political agenda above other people. Always.

    3. fleapot*

      I have strong political opinions in general, but in this situation I would assume that the topic was absolutely off-limits with someone like Rob.

      This isn’t someone who simply has different values; it’s someone who’s experienced a genuine personal tragedy and shouldn’t be asked to set that aside to focus on some larger structural issue, let alone exhorted by a near-stranger to advocate for someone who literally murdered a member of his family.

      Not only would I not have *ever* raised the topic with Rob; he could have given me a fifteen minute lecture about bringing back the electric chair or public hangings, and my most pointed response would probably have been along the lines of “I don’t agree, but I can understand your position.”

      Good on Rob’s colleagues for ‘enabling’ him.

    4. GythaOgden*

      There’s a definite need for reform.

      Asking the family of a murder victim whose killer is rightly behind bars is not the way to be an activist. They are going through their own struggles, the killer was evidently justly convicted and Jane is acting badly towards them. They have a right to be caught up in their own struggles and not feel obliged to crusade on behalf of someone who wronged them.

      Being concerned about prisoners is one thing, and it’s a good thing. But this guy is rightly coping with the magnitude of what happened to him and, having gone through a tragedy of my own, albeit of ‘natural’ origin rather than man-made, the struggle is real and the guy needs to grieve in peace. Jane can be responsible for reform if she wants to be, but she needs to accept people have other priorities based on their immediate circumstances. Not everyone is going to be as passionate about everything you’re passionate about. Many people are concerned about this and that but don’t have the mental bandwidth to protest it all the time. It doesn’t mean we don’t care — just that we, as individuals, have different priorities, and some issues might trigger us in a way that is orthogonal to conventional activist priorities.

      I lost my husband to cancer. I donate to the hospice that sheltered him in his last hours and my many Amazon purchases are done through their Smile programme linked to a cancer charity. I give a lot to other hospice associations because of how we both fundraised for them in the past. If you asked me to contribute to campaigns on breast cancer, however, which are notorious for excluding both men (who do suffer from the condition; my husband’s uncle was ill although survived it) and transgender women when male cancer support is highly limited…I’d kinda feel a similar way.

      I support the importance of awareness and fundraising for a particular kind of cancer, but as there’s no equivalent for kidney cancer, which is what my husband died of, I’m going to keep the hospice, my Smile account and support charities like Macmillan going. I can only give so much before my own life has to be supported. I’m not oblivious to other issues — the second biggest cause I donate to is the relief effort in Ukraine, because I studied in Eastern Europe, speak Russian and have Ukrainian friends out there (thankfully living in Poland). I also have a Russian colleague with whom I check in because she’s traumatised by being associated with Putin and his war criminals. I care in the abstract about Afghanistan and the violence elsewhere in the world, but there are only so many hours in the day and so much money to be donated to charity and I’m going to prioritise my needs. I’ve also learnt that it’s possible to be upset at something — like the dismantling of Roe v Wade — but not get strung out on such issues because I need to keep functioning day to day. I used to get so anxious about politics in general and much more trivial issues in particular, but I realised that to do much about issues close to my heart, I couldn’t just go blue-screen-of-death every time a party tanked in the polls.

      There’s a callous streak in Jane’s behaviour that belies her concern for prisoners. It’s a luxury to be able to advocate for people who have an issue which to you is fairly abstract. But Rob has a concrete issue which is very real to him, and badgering him to join in advocating for the /person who killed his family member/ is not what a good activist who is really clued in about social justice should be doing.

      Social justice is about compassion for others. Jane is showing a lot of compassion for people who to her are important. But she needs to recognise that sometimes she will encounter people whose needs contradict the neat little pigeonholes we’ve made in our mind for the causes we subscribe to. It helps no-one if we lose sight of those individuals in favour of easy categories of people to help and advocate for.

  12. Elizabeth West*

    This is why I’m EXTREMELY clear in cover letters that I want an onsite or hybrid position and I am 100% free to relocate. In my LinkedIn profile, it says “I prefer being onsite, but I appreciate hybrid work options.” If I get an interview, I say, “I don’t have to sell a house or break a lease; with employment verification, I can secure a short-term rental and drive to your Location [this also tells them I have a working vehicle]. I’ve already checked with the storage company and it’s fine to have movers come pick it up later; they do that all the time.”

    I still imagine that employers think I’m not going to relocate. The only way I could be more clear is to say, “I hate this stupid hellhole and I want out of here NOW!” But sadly, you can’t do that.

    #2–Jane and Rob
    OP needs to deal with JANE, not Rob. Jane is being a total Fergus here.

    1. Someone*

      “I hate this stupid hellhole and I want out of here NOW!”

      Have you tried it? Maybe it would help?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I have said (jokingly) that I can’t wait to have a famous area sandwich.

      2. Slightly Above Average Bear*

        You jest, but the reason we’re relocating is that my husband jokingly said that to someone at an industry conference, who just happened to know someone in our preferred location.

    2. NervousNellie*

      I think you could couch it a couple of ways that would get the right attention.

      If you know where you’d consider moving, you could say something like “I am specifically seeking a role in the Cincinnati/Indianapolis/Pittsburg/St. Louis area.” If you want, you could add, “But I am willing to consider a mid-to-larger city anywhere East of the Rockies.”

      If you know what you want, but not where you want, you could describe that. “I’m looking to relocate to a location that features a great food culture, cultural events including live music, theatre, and large community festivals, and great public transportation. Please *do* reel me in with tales of your favorite barbeque restaurant, the best show you’ve ever seen, and promises to hook me up with your fantastic hole-in-the-wall massage place.” This is less great, but at least helps recruiters know that you want to be sold on the location.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I know exactly where I want; that’s where I’m applying. But I really like this advice about asking them about things to do, etc.

    3. GythaOgden*

      Elizabeth…at the point you’re at, you need to get something and work up. I’m not in my dream job either (far from it), but I have a responsibility to myself and my house that involves being up at 5.30 for a 9am start due to a public transport commute for a job which can’t be done from home (reception for an empty office of WFH people…Samuel Beckett levels of absurdity there!!). Because of my position, it makes it harder to give you much support and encouragement.

      You are making it much harder for yourself in general and given your work history, you need to kind of…deal. It sucks! I have had issues with mental and physical health that held me back. But at this point, you’re not in a strong position to advocate for a remote job. 80% of jobs simply can’t be done from home, and of the remaining 20%, it seems the situation, particularly for junior employees, the majority of jobs out there are hybrid.

      You need to get out of this tailspin, be a bit more self-reliant and understand that the way things work, the vast majority of the workforce, the people who provide the infrastructure for you to be home not working or working in a cushy job from home, do not have that luxury. The illusion you get from the media and AAM is that most people work from home, but that’s not true, and never likely to be true.

      Suck it up and get a job. Move to your city of choice and wait tables and experience the side of life that many people have had to live through for the last two years. Then you’ll be in a better position to claim about companies who do what this one is doing.

      But until you make it work for yourself, no-one is going to be there with the whole kit and caboodle to drop into your lap.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Alison — I totally goofed here. Please remove this post. Elizabeth — you have my sincere apologies.

        1. Caaan Do!*

          For whatever reason this retraction and apology wasn’t visible for me when I posted a, upon re-reading, harsh reply, sorry Gytha

      2. Caaan Do!*

        This is incredibly condescending and unkind, and reading a lot into Elizabeth’s comment that she simply didn’t say. She clearly stated she prefers to be onsite or hybrid, so why are you lecturing her about wanting a fully remote job?

        A number of your comments seem to project resentment about your situation and having to be onsite throughout the pandemic, maybe stop taking it out on others? “I suffered so you should suffer too” is never going to lead to positive change.

  13. London Stacy*

    It’s sad that Rob’s coworkers had to be the ones to shield him from Jane because his boss refused to put a stop to it. At least they had his back because the OP really dropped the ball. From the tone of the letter it’s almost like OP is blaming Rob for being unprofessional, not Jane as it should have been.

    1. Lab Mom*

      Agree 100%! When I read it, the tone was like there was something wrong with Rob and not Jane.

    2. Here we go again*

      Rob’s handling the situation with Jane as best as he can. Op needs to stand up for Rob and reprimand Jane for harassment.
      The last thing Rob needs is a lecture about forgiveness in this situation from a coworker.

    3. NotAnotherManager!*


      Jane is way out of line, and she should have been spoken to after her first offense. At least Rob’s coworkers seem to be looking out for him. He’s have been within his rights to tell her where to shove her opinions.

      I have significant issues with the US correctional system, but lecturing the family member of a murder victim whose life has clearly been destroyed by it is absolutely galling. They’re not even friends, they’re just coworkers!

  14. I should really pick a name*

    Something about LW3’s wording makes me think they believe Rob is the problem.
    “Other employees are enabling Rob by dealing with Jane on his behalf”
    Enabling is usually in the context of bad behaviour.

    Jane is 100% in the wrong here, and Rob is taking very reasonable steps to avoid her in a professional way.

    1. kiki*

      I feel like a couple letters have come through recently where it seemed like the LW/manager was holding it against a wronged employee for avoiding the employee who wronged them. There are circumstances where keeping two employees separated is the best path forward and I think this letter qualifies, especially if Rob’s avoidance isn’t creating an undue burden on any other employees or Jane.

      1. Governmint Condition*

        I had a boss who came into a situation like this, which started before he was here. He directed it to end immediately and did not want to know any details. As far as he was concerned, both employees started on equal footing with him, and therefore had to work with each other as necessary like everybody else. He quickly became unpopular because of decisions like this, but he lasted a long time.

    2. Critical Rolls*

      Agreed. Was waiting for “I talked to Jane and she apologized” or something? Anything? to indicate that the LW understood how far out of line Jane was. But it kinda sounded like the LW agrees that Rob is handling his grief “wrong” and therefore doesn’t have a problem with someone being stunningly insensitive to him.

  15. kiki*

    LW 1: I think a lot of conscientious folks learn that we should take lessons for the future from every situation. When something doesn’t go according to plan, we want to find out how we can always avoid that situation in the future. When it comes to things involving people, there’s never going to be a sure-fire way to do this. Sometimes candidates *are* really interested in moving and then change their minds. Sometimes candidates’ life circumstances change.

    I know it’s frustrating to get all the way through a hiring process and feel like you wasted your time on somebody, you’ll never be able to entirely avoid situations like this.

    1. Lab Boss*

      Working with people is just like working with bacteria. They tend to follow some large predictable patterns, but sometimes they just refuse to do what they’re supposed to do :D

      1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        It’s almost like people are just …. 3 million bacteria in a trench-coat!

  16. Llama Llover*

    I really hope LW2 is here to see this because her letter read like she thought this is a Rob problem, and it’s most definitely a Jane problem. Shut Jane down; give Rob grace.

  17. Jls521*

    Letter 2: Oh my God, Jane is the absolute worst.

    “ she thinks he needs to forgive the perpetrator and fight for prisoner rights to fix the prison system”

    Yeah, Jane can fuck right off. I guarantee that the majority of people who have had loved ones murdered or otherwise brutalized could not possibly care less about what theprison experience is like. She needs to STFU in a hurry. If I was Jane’s boss she’d be looking for a new job. This is unacceptable.

    1. IndyStacey*

      The boss who hasn’t said anything to Jane is also the worst. “Enabling” ugh!

    2. Gardener*

      I’d even say that the majority of people who have had loved ones murdered or otherwise brutalized hope that the perpetrator’s prison experience is pretty unpleasant.

  18. Coco*

    What is wrong with Jane? It reminds me of a friend, whose godson had been murdered. The godson (a fine upstanding young man) started dating a new girlfriend. Apparently this woman’s ex boyfriend went to the house looking for her, found the new boyfriend instead, and murdered him. Another person in our friend group said “When you get involved with bad people, bad things can happen.” WTF?? Everyone in our friend group started freezing that person out. None of us are in contact with them anymore.

    1. irene adler*

      With people like that I ask, “why isn’t it ‘bad things happen to good people’?”

  19. EverythingIsInteresting*

    Apparently you can only access a couple of articles a month on Inc. without paying for a subscription.

    1. Gilly*

      Yes, isn’t it wonderful! They can therefore PAY people who work for them. Such a great concept!

    2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Yup. That’s all reputable sites now. While there may be downstream societal issues from that this isn’t the place.

    3. notsonewgrad*

      Removed. Do not post tricks here that mean I won’t get paid for my work (!!). – Alison

    4. LJ*

      I don’t think the parent commenter deserves all the snark. Yes, absolutely, pay for content, but it is a bit of a frustrating reality nowadays that entertainment services (magazines, newspapers, streaming services) can be all behind different paywalls, and it’s easy to rack up large subscription bills if you aren’t careful. Of course Alison should get paid (!), but also let’s just be kind to each other in this increasingly expensive world.

  20. EvilQueenRegina*

    I remember reading the relocation one when it was first published, and my first thought was to wonder if it was some change in the candidate’s personal circumstances after first applying. Maybe it was a family member’s health that had deteriorated and the candidate no longer felt happy about moving so far away, or they had been moving for a relationship that then ended, it could have been anything, but maybe they still loved the job but had doubts about moving and asked if they could be remote. They wouldn’t have to have misled OP deliberately.

  21. Alexis Rosay*

    OP1, I wonder if the candidate did not have all of the relevant information at the time they said they were open to relocating. Perhaps they learned that…
    – The final offer was not as high as they expected and not worth relocating for
    – The relocation benefits were not sufficient to cover their costs
    – They’re joining a partly-remote team so there would be little benefit to relocating
    – New family circumstances mean that it would be harder than expected to move

    It’s completely reasonable for candidates to be open to relocating for the right job or the right compensation, only to find out that this job isn’t that.

    A friend of mine accepted a job that asked for eventual international relocation–basically, start work remotely and move once all the paperwork and visas come through. Once she started working with the company she discovered that their management is a mess and things are very volatile. She’s rethinking whether this job is worth relocating for, and I think that’s totally reasonable.

    1. Anon for this*

      Absolutely. Life happens, and things change. I was once a local candidate thinking about relocating away from where a potential job would be. When we started talking, they were open to 100% remote so I thought it was a non-issue. But by the end of the process, they weren’t open to remote anymore, and I wasn’t open to staying in place any longer. Frustrating, but it can happen on both sides in good faith. I certainly didn’t lie, but by the end we both drifted far enough in opposing directions that it didn’t work anymore.

  22. A Genuine Scientician*

    My brother was murdered a few years ago.

    If anyone at work dared to pressure me about how I should feel about this, or what I should do in terms of systemic reform, they would get one clear “back off, this isn’t your concern” message. If they persisted, the level of frosty formal politeness headed their way would make a polar vortex seem positively balmy — and anyone who asked why I was acting that way would get a dispassionate listing of the facts.

    A lot of people believe they have way more standing to weigh in on someone’s personal life, emotional status, etc than they do.

    1. Ali + Nino*

      So sorry for your loss, and thanks for sharing your perspective.

      “A lot of people believe they have way more standing to weigh in on someone’s personal life, emotional status, etc than they do.”
      This applies to SOOOO many situations.

  23. irene adler*

    “[Jane] thinks he needs to forgive the perpetrator and fight for prisoner rights to fix the prison system, and she told him this a few times. “

    Look, I can’t speak for Rob or anyone in his position, but I can speak to being the relative of a victim of a horrible crime. I can also speak about being the sibling of a perpetrator who committed HORRIBLE crimes and is now serving a life-long sentence.

    FYI: the sentence is COMPLETELY justified. ‘Nuff said.

    Forgive the perp?
    Fight for prisoner rights/fix the prison system?

    On what planet, Jane?

    You have no clue what Rob is going through. No earthly clue. If he explained it to you, you wouldn’t understand. There’s places people never expect to find themselves emotionally, spiritually. That’s where I am. Maybe Rob too.

    Who are you to tell him what to do? Not your place. Leave him be.
    I was told- multiple times – that I needed to be supportive of my sibling after learning the things he did.
    Really? Well, screw that! Who is going to support me- the person who has to take care of his family, our Mom and the mess he created?

    Let me offer a shout-out to Rob’s co-workers for completely supporting him. Now that’s a kindness! Thank you!

  24. Temperance*

    I lost a relative to a drunk driver who purposely hit her car. At the time, I was part of a social justice networking and learning group. I shared information regarding my loss to the group, and one of our facilitators expressed sadness for the killer, and how, I quote “her life is over now”. The woman who rammed her car into my aunt was apparently worthy of sadness, but my actual innocent aunt wasn’t.

    I don’t remember how I responded, but I’ll never forget his words and whenever this guy comes up, I cringe. I also freely shared what he said with a bunch of people we know in common.

    1. Temperance*

      Hit send too fast. If someone made me work with that guy, I would bring it up now. Jane should have been reprimanded and asked to apologize. She’s horrible.

      1. irene adler*

        And ordered not to broach the topic with Rob again. Ever.
        Otherwise loss of job occurs.

  25. Snackbreak*

    For the last letter, before you take back your introduction, why don’t you ask the employee what changed? If she was engaged and collaborative before and she stopped, I would ask her “hey you seem kind of checked out lately, everything okay?” Might be she’s got one foot out the door and no longer cares about this job, or she’s got something personal going on.

    1. Tuesday*

      I agree with this. I think we just had a letter not too long ago about how common it is for employees to “check out” when they know they’re leaving a job. If she’s interviewing elsewhere, that could be what’s going on.

      Honestly, if she’s been a stellar employee the rest of the time she’s worked for you, I would take that as more of an indication of her character than the very tail end of her performance.

      1. kiki*

        Yes, I agree. I also wonder how many weeks we’re talking about– a couple bad weeks shouldn’t really wipe out a year of stellar performance.

        1. All Het Up About It*

          Agree. Now it’s possible that what’s happened in the past two weeks is actually egregious, like it’s just come to light that the person in question hasn’t actually been working for the past year and has just been foisting their projects off on others, or secretly working two jobs and dropping the ball. Or maybe they recently revealed themselves to be horribly classist, or racist or something else the LW does not want to be associated with.

          While a referral reflects on you to a certain extent, if this person has done stellar work for a year, and less than for two weeks, the odds are still more for the first, especially if there is a reason. I feel like most of us have had times in our lives where we’ve been less than stellar employees.

          1. fleapot*

            The script that Alison suggests would make me think that the “recent developments” had involved some kind of gross misconduct, not simply a few weeks of checking out (which might be more reflective of my cynicism than anything else).

            I’m very much inclined to agree that it makes sense to cut the colleague some slack.

  26. TimeTravlR*

    LW1, if the position really needs to be in office to start, then that’s fine. But have you thought really long and hard about whether it does? Or is it just a preference? In the current work market and environment, I’d encourage you to offer as much flexibility as you reasonably can, despite perhaps how you’ve always done it.

    1. Lizz*

      I’ve noticed that most administrative jobs really don’t need you there in person like 90% of the time.

    2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Exactly the question that’s bugging me. I get the impression that OP needs to keep an eye on people because they don’t trust new people, and only let staff WFH once they’ve earned that trust.

      The one good thing about covid is that we saw just how little people actually need to be in the office, and managers really do need to learn to manage by looking at a person’s output rather than whether they leap up the minute they’re asked to come into the conference room for a quick one-to-one for touching base, or keep their socialising to the minimum.
      I mean, the last few months I was working in the office, I had checked out, having realised that I wasn’t going to get anything, whether a pay rise or a bonus or even a “well done rebel” for doing twice the amount of work as my colleague in less time. If the boss was there, he’d see me hard at work, either typing furiously or reading something on my screen and making notes. But I was just coasting along doing just the minimum amount required (still more than my colleague who was very conscientious but also very slow) then the rest of the time I was doing work for an NGO I volunteer with.

  27. Ginger Pet Lady*

    Boggled that anyone could think this is a Rob problem and people are enabling the problem. This is 100% a JANE problem.
    Leave the man alone in his grief.

  28. lilsheba*

    I think the candidate was in bad form. If you are not willing to relocate then don’t say you are. When I was interviewing for my permanent wfh job, I was asked several times if I would be willing to relocate to the state they are based out of, which is one state north of me. I said every single time NO I am not I want to stay here and work remotely. And it’s worked out great.

  29. Okay*

    OP1, your company either has faith in candidates/employees, or they don’t. Why would you want someone to relocate to the opposite coast just so they can be in the office at the start, if they’ll eventually be “allowed” to WFH, once they have “proven” themselves by some undefined, fuzzy metric? Are you paying for their move and accommodation for this temporary foray into in-office working (which they won’t need to do forever)? Is there even a timeframe provided as to how long you estimate they can expect to have to work in the office for? Like, is it a week? A month? A year?

  30. Nancy*

    LW1: candidates change their mind all the time for all sorts of reasons. Nothing more than that. If you need someone onsite or in NY for tax reasons, tell her you are sorry but that is not possible, and move on to the next candidate.

  31. Eyero-roll*

    Mmm no; reckon if the candidate had written in instead of the hiring manager, the advice would have been “You have every right to try and the company has every right to say no, since you’ve already agreed to something.” So this is pretty sus, ngl.

  32. toolittletoolate*

    I have a friend applying for jobs right now. She has been extremely forthcoming about the fact that she will not relocate–she states it in her cover letter, she emphasizes it nicely in her interviews. She still gets the bait and switch at the end of the process.

    We are explicitly clear in our job postings that our jobs are not 100% remote and you are expected to be on site on XYZ days. We emphasize that in our screening processes and at each interview and ask if the candidate understands that. They say they do. We still get the bait and switch at the end of the process.

    It’s just human nature. If you can’t do it, just say no and move on. No need to take it personally. “Work” underwent a seismic shift during the pandemic and employers and employees are still trying to figure out the new normal as a result. It’s going to be messy and confusing at times.

  33. Paul Pearson*

    I think before assuming malice or deception we have to remember how much pressure there is on interviewees to say yes – if anything comes out of the “great resignation” which is good for employers it will be that interview candidates don’t feel the pressure to say yes to everything. The current culture is one where we bend over backwards to please a prospective employer (to the extent that we don’t even talk about MONEY because the sheer joy of labour sustains us) so when an employer says “will you relocate” or “work weekends” or “donate a kidney to the boss” there is a huge pressure to say yes without thinking it through

    Hopefully the shift of power will mean more interviewees will feel they can be totally honest and self-advocate in interviews

  34. parsley*

    See, to me ‘would you be open to relocating’ is not the same as ‘you would have to relocate for us to offer you this role’. She said she was open to it, which to me meant that she would consider it. She considered it, she decided she didn’t want to relocate and asked if there was a possibility of remote work. If you want people to be certain that they’ll relocate, you gotta say so from the start.

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