my coworker told HR I’m resigning when I’m not, boss wants daily task updates, and more

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

1. My coworker told HR I’m resigning when I’m not

I recently got a job offer from a company that I was super excited about, but when the details came through about a day later, the offer turned out to be really, really bad. Simply cannot take this job as I can’t survive on what they’re offering bad. I negotiated and it’s not working out. But that isn’t my point!

I am close with a few coworkers of mine. The office is relatively empty except for us due to Covid. When the initial “we want to hire you” offer came through, I quietly told them about it as they knew I have been looking for a new job for a very long time. Not smart, I know. But I was excited. I updated them as well when the crappy offer came through.

That was about a week ago. Today I got an email from our HR person (small company) asking if I am resigning. She had heard and didn’t see a resignation letter from me. I immediately chewed out my friends, but it turned out to be a totally different person who I didn’t even know was in the office at the time. They overheard me and told her “in passing.”

I’m fuming. This is so awkward. And maybe even really, really bad for me. Is it? Not sure how to calculate the damage here. What do I do?

First, obligatory reminder that this is always a risk when you talk about this stuff at work. People overhear, people talk, people are busybodies, etc. That said, agggh! Your coworker was incredibly out of line.

What kind of impact it will have on you is hard to say. It’s very unlikely that that you’re going to be summarily fired, but there are a bunch of individual factors that can affect things, like whether your manager is punitive or the type to push you out early once she believes you’re soon to leave. Even if she’s not like that, sometimes there can be more subtle effects, like not giving you big long-term projects that she thinks would suffer if you left in the middle or putting you on a layoff list if she needs to make cuts because she figures you’re leaving anyway. It also depends on your standing — if you’re highly valued, it might not affect you at all or could even result in your manager asking what it would take to keep you. On the other hand, if you’re struggling in your work or you have a bad relationship with your boss, it could play out differently.

I’d recommend telling the HR person she misunderstood the situation / it got garbled in translation — say that a job offer fell in your lap but you turned it down. And since it’s likely that she filled in your boss, you should probably address it with her too (framed as “Jane asked me about this so I figured you might be wondering too”).

2. Should I ask for the low end of a salary range when I’m interviewing?

I’m job hunting. This may not be conventional, but I just want whatever the lower end of the offered salary range is with the understanding that I will get a raise in a years time. I’m new to the field (as in just graduated and looking for my first job that isn’t a coop/internship). Salaries in my field go two ways: salaried jobs pay a lower hourly rate but you get paid for 35-40 hours, whereas private firms pay double — or more — per service/client (most often on an hourly basis) but you get paid for fewer hours than you actually work (if you see clients for 20 hours, you probably work 30-35 hours total). It works out to more money if you work in a higher paying private setting vs public and you theoretically work a bit less. Regardless, I am happy with the low end of the ranges in both cases because it’s still more than I’ve ever been paid in my life and I presume that, given that a range is stated, I will get raises for sticking around, getting more experience and training, etc.

Does it look bad if I am honest about that in interviews? I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot but I also feel like saying, “I’m newer to the field so my expectation is that I’ll get paid something near $X/hour because of A and B factors and my target annual income is something around $Y-$Z/year. Does that line up with what you’re hoping to pay someone at my level?” (Most jobs in my field list salary so that second bit is more about having a conversation). But I’m not sure how that will reflect on me. Will it make it look like I’m realistic about my experience level? After all, who wants to pay a newbie the highest amount and I also want the prospects of getting raises and not coming in at the top of the scale. Or will it make me look like I am insecure and lowballing myself? I don’t want to come off seeming like I don’t think I deserve more.

Don’t undercut yourself! You shouldn’t ask for the top of the range for your first job unless your qualifications would truly put you there, but you shouldn’t ask for the lowest end either.

Frankly, if it’s your field’s norm to list the pay in ads, this may not come up in interviews at all since they’ll know you already know the range. But if they do ask about it, you can just say that the range they listed works for you.

The fact that the lowest end of the range is more than you’ve ever been paid is irrelevant! When you’re looking for your first full-time professional job, that’s usually going to be the case — but you should still seek to get paid competitively. And your starting salary can influence what you get paid for a long time, so you really don’t want to lower it if you don’t have to. You’re also putting too much weight on wanting to be able to get raises — you’ll probably still be able to, and raises are often a percentage of your salary, so a lower starting salary means lower increases each year.

Don’t be unrealistic in what you ask for, especially when you’re just starting out, but you shouldn’t preemptively ask for less than might be on offer.

3. My boss wants daily task updates

Today in our one-on-one, my boss asked me to start sending him daily updates on what I’ve completed. I’ve been in this position about six months and have received positive feedback so far. For the first three months of this position, we met every morning, but backed off to twice weekly one-on-one meetings about two months ago. We are a remote team of two professionals inside a very large department.

I pushed back lightly on this when it was first proposed, but feel like I should consider revisiting the issue with my manager. I’m very unhappy with this request, it leaves me feeling untrusted and anxious. Do you have any advice on revisiting this conversation? This kind of behavior leaves me feeling like I made a mistake accepting this position.

Start by trying to find out what’s behind the request. Did something give him concerns about your work? Is he being pushed by his own boss for more info about what your team is doing? Where’s this coming from?

You could say it this way: “Your request for daily updates made me worry you might have concerns about my work. Did something change to make you request that level of reporting?”

Depending on the answer, it could then be appropriate to say, “Daily reporting feels like a significant change, and I’d understood the role to function more independently when I came on board. If you don’t have concerns with my work, is there another system that would get you what you need, like monthly goals and a weekly meeting to discuss progress on them?”

4. How to avoid getting edited to death in a writing job

I have a question specific to writing careers. I’ve worked in a variety of marketing and PR roles, and I keep getting frustrated when I write something I’m proud of and then a committee of coworkers goes in and tears it to shreds.

I get good feedback on my work from my manager (and have been told throughout my career that I’m an excellent writer), so I don’t think it’s a matter of secretly being terrible at my job. It seems more just like everyone thinks they can write, and everyone wants to bring their opinion to the conversation, but it’s frustrating! It’s hard to feel like I have ownership over my work when it ends up being edited so heavily (and often in ways I disagree with). In my current role, I get a lot of edits from people in other departments, like product managers, who certainly have their realm of expertise, but it’s not writing. Didn’t you people hire me for a reason?!

So I guess my question is whether you or others have found a way to defend your writing? Is this just what happens in writing-based roles? Are some companies better than others at letting writers just write? Is it a matter of seniority that will get better as I age in my career (I’m in my late 20s)? Do I just need a thicker skin?

It’s not inherent to writing-based roles, but it is inherent in organizations that aren’t clear about what role each person giving input should play. It’s normal for other people to review your work, but they should each get clear instructions about exactly what input to provide — like “please review pages 5-6 for accuracy” or “review for anything that could trigger legal issues,” etc. You should also be clear about what type of edits and you can and can’t accept at this stage — “please only flag factual errors at this point; we aren’t looking for a line edit” or whatever.

Even with clearly defined instructions, some people will still offer input outside their scope of work, but when you’ve clearly defined what you need them, it’s easier to ignore edits outside of that (although there may still be people whose broader input you need to take because of political reasons). The key, though, is that unless you’re in a senior position with final or close-to-final sign-off authority, your boss needs to be on board with this approach. But it’s a pretty standard approach to use.

All that said, sometimes there are higher considerations than “it sounds best this way” — legal stuff, branding considerations, politics with a funder, and on and on — and as a writer you’ll answer to a variety of people on those fronts. But if someone suggests an edit that you think weakens the piece, you can counter-propose your own; figure out what’s behind their change and see if you have a better way to achieve what their edit is trying to do.

5. Graduation years and age discrimination

My company is in the process of changing the way we apply for internal positions. Instead of submitting a resume and cover letter, we now have to use a “talent profile,” where we list our skills. I’m not too upset about that, because there is still a place to upload my resume, which I’ve worked very hard on. One thing does worry me, though. When entering your education, you are required to put the year of graduation. I am in my 50’s, and don’t want them to see a BA from 1988. I’ve tried 9999 and 0000 and the system won’t accept it. I am in a position where I am aggressively applying for other jobs, and don’t want to be looked over because of my age. My company skews young, anyway. Am I wrong in feeling that this has the potential to be discriminatory? And if so, what can I do?

You’re not wrong; requiring graduation year is very close to requiring age and it opens the door to illegal discrimination. At the federal level, the request itself isn’t illegal but the EEOC says it raises questions about the employer’s motive for asking and should be closely scrutinized. Some states make it outright illegal — but assuming yours isn’t one of them, I’d say this to someone in your company’s HR department: “Can you tell me why we’re requiring the year of graduation in our internal application system? I’m concerned that we could run afoul of federal age discrimination laws by requiring that.”

{ 408 comments… read them below }

  1. octopodes*

    “your starting salary can influence what you get paid for a long time”

    LW2 really needs to keep this in mind! This is a big part of how pay disparities develop and continue–it’s hard to get up to the same level as others when you started on a lower rung of the ladder.

    1. Somebody Call A Lawyer*


      I also wonder if for the OP if might feel like asking for the lower end might be a way of setting themselves up for less pressure (i.e., that higher than that would create too many expectations for their performance as a person new to the workforce). And/or perhaps they might be at a place in life where they’re uncomfortable taking up space in the world that they don’t yet feel they’ve earned.

      It’s totally understandable and not unusual to feel either of those ways — but you don’t have to let those feelings dictate your salary, esp. given the multiplier effects of income disparities early on.

      1. Eyes Kiwami*

        Yes, I want to encourage OP to separate the part of their mind that thinks “Holy crap, this is a ton of money, do I deserve it, I’m so new, I suck at adulting, if the company knew how crap I was they wouldn’t offer this” from the part that negotiates your salary. Employers will evaluate your skillset and experience compared to the market, and hopefully make what they think is a fair offer. No one else will negotiate on your behalf except you. If you don’t ask for more money, no one will get it for you.

        Also I encourage OP to refresh on the concept of compound interest–remember that more money now+future raises and experience=more money in the future, more than less money now+raises and exp. Raises are a percentage of your existing salary, and many companies still look to your old salary history–you could set yourself back for your entire career just because this job is more money than you had before (of course it is! It should be!)

        Get that money OP!

        1. Somebody Call A Lawyer*

          Eyes is spot-on — find an online compound interest calculator (preferably one that shows growth over a lifetime) and pop the low end of their salary range into it, then compare those amounts to what the middle of their range yields. Even the difference between the low end and the middle (never mind the top end) will be jaw-dropping.

        2. Eldritch Office Worker*

          That’s pretty much the exact internal narrative with first jobs I’ve seen and it does no one any favors. OP a starting salary can follow you through your entire career – definitely your tenure at this job, and it will skew your personal perceived value moving forward as well. At some point you’re going to have to advocate for yourself and it’s so much easier to just do it from the outset.

      2. Antilles*

        That makes sense in terms of what’s going on. I’ll append for OP’s benefit that the expectations isn’t really how things actually work in the minds of managers.

        Having a slightly lower salary isn’t going to affect your boss’ expectations. Generally speaking, your current salary often doesn’t even cross a boss’ mind when they’re evaluating whether you’re meeting expectations. IF they think about it at all, your salary-vs-expectations will be viewed only in light of how you’re performing overall – if you’re doing the job well, they’ll shrug it off as the cost of having good employees; if you’re doing the job poorly, nobody cares that you’re making only $50k instead of $55k.

      3. OP2*

        I’m actually not new to the workforce. I worked for years doing odd jobs before getting the education for my current career. So it’s not about wanting people to expect less of me; I’m not naive enough to think that people paying me less will mean they expect less, they’ll still expect me to perform well regardless of how much they pay me. It’s purely based on my skill set; as a new graduate, I don’t have the post-graduate training that many people have (think of lawyers, dentists, etc where you have your basic generalist training but many of them specialize and do extensive training while working and it’s mandated by your licensing body to do training any how). Part of the problem is that my education never taught me s**t about money matters and peers basically never talk about money so I have no idea what’s “normal”; like can I negotiate a higher salary because it’s what I want despite knowing that many of their huggers are legitimately and quantifiable more highly trained than me, can I then show them that I’ve done training like X and Y year for now and negotiate a 5% raise, etc. And while I am well aware that raises are not guaranteed BUT if I am doing all this training, and at a significant cost to myself, these employers aren’t going to be stupid enough to not give me a raise if I can point to clear reasons why knowing that that additional training and skill level will make me more desirable for higher paying roles elsewhere (eg imagine being a lawyer who works for a non-profit at a lower rate but does so because, say, it’s best for their family – maybe they have a baby and don’t want to work long hours – and said lawyer gets a bunch of training and job experience and then leaves for a private law firm where they can make at least twice as much once they’re ready to do so; the nonprofit can either (a) find money for said raise or (b) accept that said lawyer will leave for a new job and they’ll have to hire again. And maybe there is a limit to the potential raise (let’s assume it’s not a problem; a raise just needs to be forth coming, doesn’t need to be extravagant!) and maybe the org doesn’t care if people quit cause they won’t give raises. And maybe that’s something I’ll have to deal with when I get there.

        Also I’m not trying to knock the whole idea of asking for more and stuff; I feel like I got on a bit of a tangent here but the point is that the question is more about figuring out how to assess my skills and wondering if it’s ok to go with the lower end of the range if it makes sense and I assume they’ll give me raises (or I get a new job) OR if you just have to negotiate in the middle of the range just for the sake of doing so. It’s not me naively thinking they’ll hold me to a lower standard because they’re paying me less.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          It’s not your job to decide that you’re being overpaid for your skillset. The company has set a salary range for the job they’re hiring you to do, and they will value your work based on internal metrics you have no way of seeing. Absolutely push to get as much as you can, because that number is going to impact you in a lot of ways for a long time. Don’t make assumptions about raises or new jobs. Those things are not guaranteed. If you can, make them name a number first, and ask for at least 10% more. If you have to name first, do the middle of the range. The logic you’re displaying here is for AFTER the negotiations, and being comfortable even if you come out lower in the range than you might have hoped because you understand you still have a lot to learn etc etc. But up front? You have to push for yourself. It may be the only time for a long time you have real leverage to do so.

        2. waffles*

          I wanted to agree with the poster above that said your manager won’t hold you to a lower standard because you’re paid at the lower end of the range. Your manager might not even know what you get paid! I manage two people and I don’t know how much either are paid, or who is paid more.

          Also, nobody’s education teaches them about “money matters”. Don’t let this be a chip on your shoulder – from your message here it sounds like you’re at risk of this.

          I would second what other posters have said. Tell HR you’re content with the range if you are. Advocate for yourself! But it might seem out of touch to ask for the upper end, so I would avoid starting too aggressively. Instead, maybe ask a number of questions about the frequency of raises or raise reviews, and what metrics you would need to achieve to be considered for future raises. Make sure your manager understands that you’re keen to continue moving up – both in responsibility/seniority and compensation.

          1. OP2*

            Don’t worry I’m fully aware of what the standards are and that you don’t get to produce shoddy work simply cause your paid less. I’d be appalled if anyone believes that.

            Simply where I’m stuck is that it sold be ridiculous to ask for the most amount of money given that it doesn’t make sense for my current skill level. But we’re literally always told “you have to ask for more” and it’s not that I don’t understand why; I just presume the org will be like “based on your skill level, we’ll offer you X” (and I promise it’ll be on the low end!) and maybe I could ask for a dollar more an hour but ultimately, I’m happy to just ask about things like raises and promotions, like you’ve recommended because then o can frame it as “could you do X slightly higher amount instead? If not, what are the avenues for raises as I develop my skills and am able to contribute at a higher level?”

            1. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

              Also, you must ask about the benefits, because the existence and value of the benefits will make a big difference. And please, begin educating yourself about money management. Maybe there is a book by Suze Orman or Sylvia Porter or someone that would teach you a lot. Good luck!

            2. Eyes Kiwami*

              It sounds like your actual question is, should I ask for the higher end of the salary range just because I could even though my skills don’t merit it? And the answer to that is no, you don’t have to always ask for the higher end of the range, especially if it would be inappropriate for your skill set and experience.

              But that doesn’t mean you should settle for the lowest end of the range just because you make less than that now, and because you assume (assume!) you’d be able to get raises and promotions. You will never make up the difference with raises and promotions, and making less money now is not a good reason–you’ll just continue to have less money. You should try to get as much money as you can negotiate for at the start. Don’t worry, the employer is incentivized to not overpay you.

        3. Hlao-roo*

          You can decide what salary you’re willing to accept, but you don’t have to share that information (“I’m willing to accept any offer that’s at least $X”) with the company. The fact that you’re seeing salary ranges in job ads puts you in a good position because, as Alison notes, they may not ask you about salary specifically. And if they do, you can say “I saw the range of $X to $Y in the ad, and that looks good to me.” Then you just wait for an offer, and you can decide to negotiate from there if you want or you can accept as-is.

        4. MCMonkeyBean*

          OP2 I think you still have way too much focus on raises.

          First of all: “if I am doing all this training, and at a significant cost to myself, these employers aren’t going to be stupid enough to not give me a raise if I can point to clear reasons why knowing that that additional training and skill level will make me more desirable for higher paying roles elsewhere”

          This is just very, very untrue. Sorry. I mean, obviously we can’t tell you whether this *specific* company will give you a raise but this is not a good thing to generally assume and will likely lead to lots of disappointment in the future.

          Second, it is always, always, always better to get more money up front than to get some of it in a raise later. If you get $50k this year, $60k next year and $65k the year after then you have earned $175k. If you get $65k for three years in a row then you have earned $195k. Don’t ever intentionally lowball yourself thinking you’ll just make it up with a raise later! You will never make up the difference, and since raises and things like 401k contributions are often based on percentages of your salary the difference in what you are earning vs what you could have been earning will only grow and grow over time.

          It might be true that coming in with less experience in this field might mean they are only willing to pay you at the lower end of the range, and it sounds like if they do you’d be happy to accept it and that’s all good–but don’t ask for the low end before knowing whether they might be willing to go higher!

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Just echoing how untrue the quoted sentiment is. I get why it sounds logical to you – but it’s not, and taking on extra training at “significant cost to yourself” falls in the “gumption” bucket as something that just isn’t as impressive to most employers as you may think it is. All you’ve done is save them money on training, and it can even shoot you in the foot in you’ve developed yourself beyond what they expect and you really are worth more – they can call your bluff and bring in someone with less skills that costs them less but gets the job done. You don’t know where you’re going to be working and you just can’t bet the house on the assumption they’re going to act in ways you consider rational and logical.

            1. Grits McGee*

              Yeah, spending $$$$ of your own money on training in the expectation it will get you a raise in a theoretical current job is a really risky path to take. In your lawyer example, you’re just as likely to get told “We recognize you spent $$$$ on training, but you’re currently salary is what we have budgeted for the work you’re doing.”

            2. OP2*

              Actually it’s required in my field that people do training for licensing reasons and it’s typically at the employs expense AND it typically results in being able to negotiate raises as you’re able to contribute more. An employer can say no but then they risk losing you when you get another job that will compensate you higher. I also feel like people commenting are fixating WAY TOO MUCH on my assumption that I’ll get raises; if im wrong, so the fuck what? I’ll get another job. The real issue is if I know that I am junior and the range encompasses junior and mid range employees, is it ok to be content with the lower end of the range because negotiating for the highest amount simply on principle and not because I can line up any special skills to justify it (re: I am junior and expect my salary to reflect that)

              1. Eldritch Office Worker*

                Well…you asked a question and provided those details. If you’re asking if you think you’ll come off as naive and insecure, the comments should give you a sense.

              2. MCMonkeyBean*

                Obviously it is up to you to decide if you are content and you are free to be content with whatever you want!

                But your expectations for how employers in general will act is just not in line with the reality that most people deal with. It *might* be your experience, but it doesn’t make sense to count on it. “An employer can say no but then they risk losing you when you get another job that will compensate you higher.” That is of course a risk employers for employers every time they make a decision about pay, but it is very very common that they do indeed decide to take that risk. It’s also very common for employers to have more budget for recruiting and hiring than they do for retention. The best time to ask for more money is before you are hired.

                If you are for some reason determined to go for the lowest end of the range, you can obviously make that choice. But I can’t imagine anyone here would ever advise that asking for less money than they might offer is ever a good idea.

              3. Sal*

                it’s okay to be *content* with whatever they offer you; that doesn’t make it a good idea to affirmatively *ask* for it.

                The counterargument is that they would be more likely to hire you for being reasonable/cheaper to employ than another person in the candidate pool, right? I just think this argument overestimates how much this would actually matter compared to someone who just, e.g., said during the interview process “I’m okay with the stated range” and then at the offer stage “Could you do [offer + 10k]? No? Ah, well, I’d be happy to accept [offer.]”

              4. allathian*

                Sure, it’s okay to be happy with the lower part of the range, if it encompasses both junior and mid-range employees.

                That said, there’s also nothing wrong in *asking* about how getting your professional certification is likely to affect your salary and working conditions. If it’s an expensive certification, most employers will require you to work for the company after you get it for a year or two, or they’ll require you to reimburse the tuition, regardless of any raises you may or may not get.

                Don’t stare yourself blind at the salary, either. Ask about other benefits as well.

          2. Anonym*

            I need to second this emphatically: employers WILL be that stupid. Or they’ll calculate how much more time they can squeeze out of you without paying you more by stringing you along. I’m not generally cynical, but you cannot assume employers will operate in good faith, or operate logically. They also may make decisions based on elements you’re not aware of.

            The logic of raises does not lead to raises. I dare say it usually doesn’t. Maximize your starting point.

            1. Anon for this*

              This. There’s a particular institution where I live that’s notorious for poor hiring practices in their library system – they look for short-term cost savings by over-hiring part-time contract positions, but a) it doesn’t work long-term because these people leave for decent jobs as soon as they can (which costs the institution in having to rehire repeatedly), and b) it impacts the institution’s reputation among those in the field, who all know that this institution is a sub-par place to work, and as a consequence, those who are hired on these part-time short-term contracts give less of themselves to their job because they know excellence will never be rewarded.

              The TL;DR – employers can be really, really stupid. They don’t always operate logically or rationally, and assuming they will do so just because they hold the purse strings will result in disappointment.

          3. MCMonkeyBean*

            That was meant to say *bonuses and 401k contributions

            For a real example: my company’s max 401k contribution is 10% of my salary and my bonus target is 5% but depending on other factors can be anywhere from 0% to 10%. My first year on the job I only asked for $50k. I found out later when I joined a team to recruit local students that they would likely have offered $55k. That doesn’t even seem like a significant difference but it really adds up!

            While I got small raises each year, it took 3 years before they gave me a significant raise to bump to me up to where I should have been. In this time I lost out on :$15,365 in salary, $1,020 in my bonuses and $1,587 in 401k contributions for a total of $17,972. I will never make that lost money up and the total amount is nearly the down payment on my first house!

          4. Captain Swan*

            Parking my agreement here. Don’t depend on getting decent raises every year.
            Story time for OP2: My first professional job I accepted what I thought was a very nice yearly salary for someone that had almost finished a masters degree but had no direct experience outside of teenage minimum wage jobs. Big mistake, huge. It turned out that the company paid at the bottom end of the market rate for what they were asking for and the geographic area AND because of reasons yearly raises were really small. I stayed there for 4.5 years. When I left I didn’t advertise what I was making because the ranges being discussed in my interviews were 30-50K more than my salary. The position I accepted was about a 38K bump and it was still on the lower end of market rate. It took another two jobs (and 6 more years) to get me comfortably into the higher end of market rate.

        5. Allonge*

          Hi, just to say Alison has a lot of good advice on salary negotiation, so please read around a bit.

          What I see in both your letter and comment here is you don’t think you deserve a higher salary or for some reason you are afraid to negotiate. Don’t be! It’s very much expected in a lot of places so even if your particular field is one where it’s not so common, it will not seem out of touch.

          But most of all: don’t bargain downwards with yourself! People hiring you will be intensely familiar with your level of experience and can compare that themselves to others in your field; do the negotiations with them. There will always be more experienced people in the field, forever. That does not mean you don’t get to negotiate now.

        6. Wants Green Things*

          Have you googled what the average starting salary is for your position/career? That’s where you should start, if you haven’t.

          And yes, you should negotiate, because regardless of your newness you never know what a company may be willing to offer! You have skills you’ve developed from your previous jobs, which does give you an advantage over many brand-new grads even if those skills aren’t necessarily related to the field.

          When I was interviewing for my first professional role, I asked for 5k over the average because I knew my previous experience gave me an edge. And they gave me that 5k! Plus an adjustment after I informed them I passed a licensing exam between the offer and my start date. So ask for it – you never know what you’ll get.

        7. Cate*

          The company will decide, based on your application, interviews and negotiations, what it’s worth paying you. You can decide not to negotiate but it is their decision ultimately what to offer – you just decide if you’ll take it. It’d be silly forcing their hand to a lower number, because you’ve decided you’re not worth more.

        8. Elsa*

          Don’t hold your breath for raises – most people have to change jobs to get any significant raise. Most people (at least in the US) are lucky to get “cost of living” (which do not cover increases for actual cost of living). As others have pointed out, a lot of raises are based on your current salary. When I hire, I have a budget for the position – once I have someone who I want, I really don’t care where they fall on the either end of the budget.

          1. Anon for this*

            Yeah, even when I worked in corporate law (not as a lawyer, as staff), my salary was average at best and my raises barely kept up with inflation.

        9. Petty Betty*

          Whether you’re top of the class or the bottom of the class – the clients are going to be charged the same either way. Don’t shortchange yourself. The person graduating with a doctorate with the lowest GPA is still going to be called “doctor”, just like the person with the highest GPA.
          Same with the Bar Exam. The highest passing score and the lowest passing score attorneys both get to call themselves practicing attorneys and get to do everything an attorney is legally allowed to do in their profession.

          If you offer to take less than the employer offers and they actually take you up on it, you set the next person up for an unfair and undervalued pay scale, you set yourself up for a potential lifetime of lowered earnings that you can’t recover from, and you’ve proven that you’ve been hired by an employer willing to shortchange you. Don’t do it. Your education was valuable and worth the money. Let them pay you for that effort.

        10. Ellis Bell*

          Don’t use logic in your predictions. Employers don’t give out raises in logical, fair, even handed ways. You just have to look at pay disparities between different demographics to see that; those pay disparities show that plenty of highly educated people get less than their qualifications or experience deserve. Employers give raises to people who feel the most confident to ask for them and to those who negotiate. It’s also really common for your starting salary to affect that negotiation; if you start small, then raises are going to be small, often a percentage of what you already negotiated for. That’s if you get a raise at all! Plenty of people don’t, regardless of their worth. Even if you think “screw them” and move on, it’s common for the prospective employers to ask what your last salary was. They don’t care about what you deserve, they care about how little you’re on record as accepting.

        11. Sal*

          Raises get put on hold, in my experience, literally all the time. (I’m in one of the training-required industries you used as an example, on the do-good-y end, AND in an org that is supposed to have regular raises, which is by no means the norm.) Do not do ANYTHING that relies on either raises or your employer being logical about theoretically retaining vs replacing you. (Especially because employers frequently won’t even really consider the retention angle unless you are actively interviewing and can actually prove your new value with an actual offer–at which point, you’ve done all the work already of finding a new job. More frequently, the response is, “Yeah, well, we’ve budgeted X, so…”)

        12. Sandra*

          I’m a new grad and lucked into a higher rate…I don’t get treated any differently, that’s how much they chose to pay me and they need me for the job. Don’t work so hard to figure out what they can afford, let them do that work especially if it’s in the job description. And starting at a lower rate will put you at a disadvantage for the rest of your career.

        13. trebond98*

          Yes, you can negotiate a higher salary despite other people being more highly trained than you are because you bring your own skills to the job. Those “odd jobs” are part of your unique training and are part of the reason I’m hiring you for the role.

          A lot of the things you’re discussing are actually the manager’s problem and not your problem. As a manager, I know who is on my team, I know what their skills are, and I know how much they are paid. You don’t really need to worry about that.

      4. This is Artemesia*

        Good point. Being hired at a lower salary will not change expectations, it will just set the OP up for a lifetime of lower wages. Managers don’t think about salary when setting expectations on the job and may not even be very aware of salary differences. But once you start low, you are penalizing yourself for your entire career.

      5. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Yes OP you might be suffering from imposter syndrome here. Don’t short-sell yourself. Ask for a lot of money then work to prove you’re worth it.

    2. Reluctant Manager*

      My husband didn’t negotiate his starting salary. There followed 2 years of organization-wide pay freezes. He’s gotten a couple of raises because his salary was so low it bumped into federal minimum guidelines after years on the job. Raises are never guaranteed no matter how low you start.

      1. EPLawyer*

        THIS. Don’t lowball because you think you are going to get raises. Money in hand is better than theoretical raises.

        Which see compound interest above, said theoretical raise probably will not be enough to cover the difference of lost interest over the years.

      2. Sal*

        +1 to pay freezes. Pandemic, for instance. Do not rely on raises, especially when seeking work at an org that does not at least theoretically have regular stepped raises (because even THOSE get put on hold all the time–all the more so the squishier, discretionary ones!).

    3. londonedit*

      ‘With the understanding that I’ll get a raise in a year’s time’ – that’s also by no means guaranteed. Obviously the OP knows their industry, but while I’ve received a small company-wide cost of living pay rise every year in most of the jobs I’ve had, there have been no individual ‘you did a good job this year, have an extra pay rise’ situations. The only way you can get a pay rise where I work now is to get a promotion, and even then it’s often a fight to get any more money rather than just a slightly better job title, and if you do negotiate a pay rise then it’s only likely to be £500 or £1000 more a year. I’d always try to negotiate as much as I possibly can when I get a new job, because in my experience it’s very difficult to get a substantial pay rise once you’re in the job.

      1. alienor*

        Agreed – I can only think of one time in my 20+ year career when I got a significant raise without being promoted or changing companies, and that was when the company I worked for at the time did across-the-board adjustments for everyone at my pay grade. Annual increases have always been in the 2-4% range, and have been postponed or cancelled outright more than once. OP should definitely secure as much as they can up front.

      2. Overit*

        My last boss promised at the time of hire thst I would get a bump in 3 months and a COLA at year end. Neither happened. I was not surptised necause I am old enough to havr learned that hiring promises are largely lies told by con artists

    4. Cat Tree*

      And mathematically, it’s always better to start at the top of the range and get minimal raises than to start low and get big raises. So even in the short term, for a few years while OP is staying with a particular company, it will have a negative effect to start low.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I presume that, given that a range is stated, I will get raises for sticking around, getting more experience and training, etc.

      OP, read the archives about people trying to get raises. There are companies where this is the norm–but plenty where it isn’t.

      1. Antilles*

        And even if they do give raises, the raises are often relatively consistent for a given level – the idea that they’ll give you some super big raise after a year to bring you up to par just isn’t how companies normally do things. Instead, you’ll likely get the same 3-5% raise as your co-workers who negotiated better out of the bat and the company continues to get you at a discount.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Yep. In my 18 years in the working world, I have gotten regular raises, but they’ve all been in the 1-4% range, no matter how much skill I’d acquired in the meantime. The only big leaps in salary I’ve made were when changing jobs.

          1. londonedit*

            Exactly – assuming the company is doing OK I’ve always received a yearly pay rise of around 2-4%, but that’s a blanket pay rise across the company. I’ve never had one of those things like you see on TV where you have your annual appraisal and your boss goes ‘You’re a superstar! We’re giving you a £10,000 pay rise!’ Just wouldn’t ever happen in my industry. See also: massive bonuses. In publishing if they chuck a few hundred quid your way as a bonus then you’re doing pretty well (and again, it’ll be a company-wide thing, not based on individual merit, unless you’re in sales). Usually if you want more money, you need to change jobs.

          2. Lydia*

            This. And there was a period of time I worked for an organization that did not give raises. At all. Because they had a government contract and didn’t include raises in their bid. As long as I’ve been in the working world, I should definitely be making more than I am even now, and that’s after getting a new job last year and increasing my pay by 50%.

      2. Overit*

        I hope the OP disabuses herself of that dangerous assumption. In my 40+ years in the workforce, I have never gotten a raise due to longevity or training or experience. Never. Not in my professional career at highly respected institutions nor in my Plan B retail managerial jobs.

        1. Sal*

          +1 (although I literally got one like that two years ago, it was legitimately shocking; it is NOT the norm!!)

      3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        The only place I ever worked where I was given good pay rises without negotiating, went spectacularly bankrupt because the boss was so bad at managing money, so there’s that.

    6. Random Internet Stranger*

      I recently found out that my former salary was considered when I was getting my current offer, so that line was particularly triggering for me. I was wildly underpaid at my old job – that’s part of why I left – to hear my old job salary was part of the hiring team’s consideration really pissed me off.

    7. Kes*

      Yeah, raises are often percentage based, with set notions of what percentages are “reasonable”, so if you start low and realize you’re underpaid it can be harder to get to where you should be, even assuming you do get raises and the company notices and tries to address it.

      I can say this from experience because I approached my first job thinking I knew what the average pay was for the type of job, and with the attitude of “I don’t want to ask for too much money”. It later became clear that I was wrong about the market average and that this approach was a bad mistake and I essentially lowballed myself. They gave me a raise after I’d been there a few months, a large one the next year, and a normal one the year after, and even so after three years I was still at the bottom of their (not even that great marketwise) actual pay range when I finally left for a job that, even putting me at the bottom of their own range, was still a 30% raise.

    8. Jackie Straw from Wichita*

      Yes! Alison answered a letter from me about two years ago asking whether it would be better to ask for an extra week vacation or a higher salary. The quoted line is why the higher salary was the better option—and it really was. My bonus pays out based on salary, my overtime (I’m a non-exempt IC), merit increases, etc. are all based on salary.

      Go as high as you feel comfortable, because it’s difficult to negotiate a large increase once you r been doing the job for X amount.

    9. break time reader*

      Yes! I didn’t see anyone mention that this salary also will impact the retirement funds your employer contributes (if that is a benefit). The same percentage of a higher wage adds up significantly over time. This could have a huge impact on you at retirement!

  2. BasketcaseNZ*

    OP3’s story is giving me flashbacks – My manager started asking me for this in a previous role. It soon became very clear that they were hoping to manage me out so they didn’t have to restructure, because all of a sudden there came complaints about the quality of my past work, along with every piece of work I started being then taken off me to keep someone else busy.
    I had been telling people for MONTHS that I was massively under utilised, but all those above my manager could see was the cost of me being there in a downturn.
    It was their own fault – I’d been sold (and accepted) the role as fixed term, but the contract had come through as permanent due to the incompetence of the hiring manager.
    The way they treated me at the end (so much gaslighting, I quit to save my mental health and took a year to recover) left me with no guilt about the fact they paid me my full wage for 12 weeks while I did half an hours work a week during lockdown in 2020.

    Push back OP. You need to know why they are doing this, what they hope to achieve, and how you can make it stop.

    1. Saraquill*

      OP3’s letter was also bringing me back, and not in a good way. I spent the majority of my time at OldJob as a remote employee, though even when I was in the office, I was allowed to work with enough supervision. Post lockdown, Old Boss insisted I return to the office rather than remaining remote.

      In short, I was taken off the work I was hired for, subjected to yelling fits and micromanaged down to how I walked and used the bathroom. It might have been a campaign to force me to quit. If that were the case, I don’t know why I was hired back to begin with.

      1. Meep*

        You sound like you worked for my boss. She was such a treat that I got cursed at for telling her I renewed the business license per her boss’s request immediately AFTER she told me I needed to be honest and forward with her. There was a lot of “WHO THE F*CK TOLD YOU TO DO THAT?!” and no apologies when I told her who the f*ck told me to do that. She just hung up.

      2. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

        It sounds like OP3’s boss was a micromanager from the get go. I don’t see that anything “changed” other than they backed off from daily (!!) one-on-one meetings, but could only hold themselves back from micromanaging for a couple months. OP3 could try naming it and see if boss will back off permanently, but I suspect this is a case of “Your Boss Sucks and Isn’t Going to Change.”

    2. Buttercup*

      I was reminded of the beginning of the pandemic, when the team I was on went remote for the first time. The VP of our department asked the managers to get daily updates from us, and send her weekly digests of what we’d all been doing. My manager was the only one (out of three) who actually enforced the daily updates – the other two managers told their teams they’d been asked to send daily updates, but so long as they got weekly updates from their team, they didn’t care. My manager, on the other hand, didn’t trust us and required daily updates. Surprise surprise, nobody from the team I was on is still there. That manager is no longer a manager. The VP was eventually fired, and the department – which she’d built from the ground up – was dismantled and its function decentralized. Asking for daily updates isn’t always a death knell, but OP3 is right to be concerned and want to dig deeper.

    3. eveningsummerbreeze*

      I’ve seen the phrase “manage out” several times on this blog. It sounds like a euphemism for “make this employee so miserable that they quit.” Is that right?

      1. Wants Green Things*

        Pretty much, yeah. It probably *could* be done effectively in the hands of a skilled manager, but most managers are not.

      2. Betel*

        No, it means the process of performance managing someone who’s not working at the level you need, where you expect that there’s a strong likelihood it might end up in a firing (but you have a path your company requires you to go down of formal warnings, pip, etc).

        1. Lenora Rose*

          Except it’s been seen to happen to employees whose work had no issues to that point. This is not being put on a PIP, this is being nitpicked and low grade harassed because of any of:

          a: You have a lifestyle people did not like (This has happened to trans people very obviously on pre and post transition or pre-and post coming out, or to people who are overweight who were remote but now someone found out what they look like, or people who got outed as into BDSM, or people who got outed as the wrong religion.)

          b: politics (took a stand inside work on a legal issue or outside work on a political one and got seen, or people who start looking into unions)

          c: personal conflict comes up

          d: competence of work (This is the one you mentioned, but there should be a process like a PIP in place for making it clear, not a sudden switch in management style.)

          e: upper echelons are planning cuts but it would be easier for the company to have people quit than get laid off,

          and almost certainly other things I didn’t think of.

          1. Sparkles McFadden*

            Adding to Lenora Rose’s list:

            f. The targeted person has a higher salary than others

            g, Severance for a fired person is less expensive than a layoff, and it’s much cheaper if the person quits

            h. The boss has a friend or relative who needs a job

            i. The manager needs a scapegoat

            Of course there are legitimate reasons for someone to be on a PIP, but things such as daily updates happen when the manager knows there’s no grounds for a PIP. The goal isn’t to improve someone’s performance. The goal is intimidation. It’s either bad management or malicious management.

      3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        With a weak manager, yes.

        With a skilled manager, it has a few different paths, including:
        1) Gathering evidence to build a case to directly fire someone (rather than waiting for them to quit).


        2) Figuring out what type of role that person is well suited for (within the company) and working with the enployee to transition them into that work.


        3) Determining with the employee whether the role is a good fit, then developing an exit plan together, since few people want to be in a job they know they are terrible at.

        There are probably other definitions or approaches, but those are three ways I can think of that skilled managers “manage out” employees.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          This is how it gets used where I currently work. It’s been done successfully a few times – with only one person being outright fired (he was just a really bad hire, nobody on shift knew why he got hired but the manager* who was never around to manage him). We’ve had several people that were great workers, but were cases two and three, and it makes the rest of the team feel better when the good person not great job fit people are also treated respectfully.

          *He was ultimately fired for gross insubordination four months after the manager who hired him quit in a huff because she didn’t get a promotion that she wanted. Everything runs a lot better without the two of them.

      4. Ask a Manager* Post author

        People use it in two different ways, which causes a lot of confusion. One definition is “manage someone in such a way that they choose to leave so you don’t have to fire them.” That is wrong and bad. The other definition is “do your job as a manager, knowing that it may result in parting ways — give clear feedback, be honest if the role isn’t a good fit, raise the question of whether it would make more sense to part ways, warn them when their job is in jeopardy, use PIPs if your company does that, etc.” That’s what good managers do.

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Same. I had a boss who one day, after I’d worked there 2+ years, suddenly developed a real interest in my day-to-day and what I was working on. Next I knew, I was being placed on probation as a low performer. Apparently, the teammate who sat next to me, who was also very close to boss, had told him I did nothing all day or something. Was taken off probation after a few months and commended for my now-high performance. My actual performance didn’t change during that entire time, I just started watching my back and documenting everything. I would absolutely ask why they are doing it.

    5. Meep*

      We started doing ridiculous 8:30 AM meetings with my boss and grandboss during the pandemic to try to manage me out. What my grandboss didn’t know is my boss would scream at me starting at 8:00 AM to 8:35 AM so I would always come in late and frazzled. It failed, but I will never do it unless it is in a casual stand-up setting to my subordinates hands down. Honestly, it was the first thing to go when I became a manager.

    6. Missy*

      We had to start doing this, but in the end it was more because my boss was having to justify keeping us on work from home when a different division was fully back at work. Because our work during that time of year was more on long term projects and stuff like CLE and professional development, he didn’t necessarily have metrics to show them. So instead he could show that everyone was getting things done and just weren’t at home watching TV.

      We did have to come back to work eventually because the higer ups have a “butts in seats” mentality, but the daily reports was a way for my direct boss to delay that for a little bit.

    7. Janeric*

      I got this from a not-very-skilled new manager who realized that a lot of my assigned work came directly to me from other channels and not through her — so she was often not aware of my workload at all. (She also skipped my 1:1s, didn’t ask about existing projects, would randomly assign me site visits without checking my calendar, and wasn’t very familiar with my skillset.) She asked for a daily list of my work to become more familiar with my tasks (and I think to avoid approving a lot of time on varied and unfamiliar job codes — if our department did llama grooming, I was the only person who could do llama tooth cleaning) and after pushing back we agreed that I’d do it for a month and then after that we’d address new issues in my 1:1. For LW #3, if your issue is “my boss doesn’t know what I’m doing anymore”, putting a time limit on daily reporting might be a workable compromise.

    8. JustaTech*

      Just to offer another reason that this might be happening – it could be coming from above the manager (which is why OP3 should *absolutely* ask why the sudden need for the daily updates).

      Years ago my company was purchased and our new immediate CEO was someone who had worked for the company back in our independent days. And for whatever reason he didn’t like our department. And then someone made an injudicious off-hand comment in his hearing.
      So the CEO decides that we’re all just a bunch of useless eaters, and wants to dump the entire department (this would have bitten him hard, but he didn’t understand that).

      So the department head decides that the way that we will combat this is to fill out not just a daily activity list but an actual time card, as though we were billing clients or projects. It was horrible. Everyone hated it. (It didn’t help that we were in a lull so some days it took real creativity to come up with activities the CEO would understand as “work”.) But since our jobs were on the line we did it, and after a few months the department head shows the data to the CEO and he’s like “oh, you do do important stuff”. And that was the end of it.

      So yes, OP3, ask why, and ask if there’s a expected time frame (a week, a month, a quarter) for doing it. Because it does suck, a lot.

    9. Flash Packet*

      I was a high-performing salesperson with a manager who hated me. I mean, I was her favorite when we were all hired (new department in the company) but then she picked another favorite and suddenly could no longer stand the sight of me.

      She decided that I wasn’t spending my time the way I was supposed to and made me write down, in half-hour increments, how I spent my day. Mind you, I was meeting or exceeding my sales goals which is what *should* matter in a sales position.

      One day I was non-stop busy and documented only a handful of hours, then had to leave for an appointment at 5:00 PM. I wrote, “I didn’t have time to fill this out completely today. Sorry!” on my form before putting it on her desk. [Oh, yeah, I was required to hand-write my half-hourly activities, not track them in a copy-pasteable spreadsheet.]

      She referenced my “cavalier” note when she let me go a couple months later in a round of layoffs. Clearly, I didn’t care about the job *at all* since I wrote such a snarky note to her on that day.

      So, yep, the OP needs to find out what’s behind this.

  3. takeachip*

    LW2: “I also want the prospects of getting raises and not coming in at the top of the scale.” Why would you want prospects instead of guarantees? “I presume that, given that a range is stated, I will get raises for sticking around, getting more experience and training, etc.” Don’t count on that! Even if it’s the norm in your field to advance in this way, you have no way to predict the future. All you have for sure is now. There is zero benefit to waiting and hoping for a future reward instead of trying to get the best deal for yourself. Let’s say the advertised range is $80-100k. A $20k difference. Split that into half and make $90k your target. Don’t put that out there, let them make an offer. If they offer $80, you say you had $90 as your target and ask if they can do anything to get closer to it. This is assuming you really are so new to the field that you don’t warrant something nearer the top.

    1. Cold and Tired*

      This! Also, raises often aren’t as big as you think they are (my own have run as low as 1.5% during tougher times like the pandemic, though that was still better than most companies at the time). Taking a lower salary now could mean it could take years to catch up to the higher starting salary you could have asked for now!

    2. KateM*

      Basically, why would one prefer to get $80k a year so that they’d be able in two years to get a raise to $90k a year, instead of getting $90k for those two years as well.

      1. Audrey Puffins*

        Yes! It’s nice to have yearly raises, but if there comes a point at which you’re going to max out, and you could have been at that max-out point for years already, then it’s almost entirely self-defeating to sacrifice that extra pay up-front for the illusion of wage increase.

      2. Cate*

        Exactly! And a lot of organisations have a ‘pot for increases/bonuses’, rather than just one for all compensation including existing. So if you go from 80k to 83k, or 90k to 93k, it’s the same raise and would be the same amount from the organisation’s pot and you continue to be 10k behind where you could.

      3. BethDH*

        I see this mindset a lot, and I think it’s easy to assume that the pay will directly correlate with people’s expectations. Everyone above has done a good job explaining why this won’t necessarily be true for raises, but I want to stress that it won’t be true the other direction either. By that I mean that taking the low end of the range won’t leave the boss thinking “we got a good deal on OP, let’s keep expectations low.”
        It would be really rare for a boss to be thinking about your pay scale at a specific level once they’re done negotiating the role. They might remember if they had to get the money to go above the projected range or something, but a few thousand dollars a year is just not going to be memorable. Basically, a few thousand dollars is a lot more important to you than to them. So if their expectations will be the same whether you’re making 35,000 or 37,500, why wouldn’t you go for the extra money?

    3. OP2*

      Ranges are always offered in dollar amounts and the ranges are ALWAYS about $5 difference, maybe about $7.5 difference (say $25 vs 30) and it adds up to only about $10,000-$12,000 difference. I know that an additional $10k a year is a big deal, but using this imaginary range, let’s say they pay me $26/hour (this is just how my field works even though it’s a professional field; I don’t know, or care, why they don’t just offer salary ranges at this point – there may be a reason that I’ll care about when I get an offer, but I can’t speak to that now). Back on topic, $26/hour isn’t the bottom of the range, but the range accounts for junior to mid range people so expecting to, say, make $28/hour or more would most likely read as out of touch knowing this is the range they offer to everyone who’s junior and mid level and that I’m VERY junior. (Fyi, the $25-$30 range is not the “real” range – it’s just a reference point). And there in lies my problem; I might be totally wrong. Maybe they offer people who are just starting that range, but maybe as you advance (eg I’m specializing) you can grow outside of that range WITHOUT moving into a senior role (eg everyone starts at $25-$30) and maybe as you advance you could make $38/hour, in which case I could totally see how knowingly low balling myself could harm me in the long run.

      I think the problem is that I’ve always worked places with extremely fixed salaries. I once worked somewhere where, when I asked for the night shifts, they thought that I wanted the undesirable night shift work because they gave people a $0.10 raise to do it and I was like no offence but 10 cents is a hilariously low raise for that shift; I also worked part time and would have only gotten an additional $10 or so for it, but had I worked full time it might have garnered me an additional $30 a month or something – I get that if you’re near or below the poverty line, that might be good, but that was not my situation. I had another job where there’s extremely fixed salaries so if your job is a level X, you make $35,000-$48,000, and level Y makes $45,000-$60,000; lots of people at this company who were admin staff maxed out at level X and Y and level Y was a team lead and/or specialist admin role level, whole level X was general admin staff. Is $13,000 difference a big deal? Heck yes! But it’s also just… limiting.

      So stuff like that makes me feel like there’s no room to grow; though for me, if you’re in a fix admin role where things in the role don’t change much it makes sense NOT to start low but in my field, I will be progressing significantly (eg spending thousands of dollars on specialized training, able to offer higher level services, etc.) so my role would change and advance because I change and advance and NOT because I am inherently limited by the expectations of the role. I hope that makes sense.

      1. Marthooh*

        It still doesn’t make sense to me, sorry. If you’re not sure how the salary range works for this job, I think you should just ask for an explanation, instead of trying to guess what they want to hear.

      2. Kate*

        No, you do not take a lower salary just so that you *might* have potential to have a larger raise *if you were to get one.*

        An example with imaginary numbers:
        If you want to make $25/hr now, just so that you (*maybe*) get a $5/hr raise in a year, that is not better than making $29/hr now, and then (*maybe*) getting a $1/hr raise in a year.

        Yes, a $5 raise is larger than a $1 raise – but you spent a year making $4/hr less or ~$8,000.

        There is nothing to gain by walking away from $8,000! If anything it would make you appear to your employer as if you don’t understand how jobs work.

    4. This is Artemesia*

      so this. Because the range is stated doesn’t mean if you start low you will advance to the top of the range. Once you are there, a large raise may never come. It is very common for new hires with no experience to make more than people there many years and with lots of experience because annual raises are 2% or less and the market requires better initial offers. Sign in low and you don’t move to the top of the range, you are always comparatively low.

  4. P*

    OP3 we require this of people in our team. We often have to share detailed progress updates at short notice and it’s across time zones so we can’t always contact the person involved. As Alison mentions talk to your manager about why it’s changing but it could be for valid reasons that didn’t exist before.

    1. Lab Boss*

      My first thought was that OP3’s manager is expected to be able to give on-the-spot updates on exactly what’s being done, in specific detail rather than a general status update of ongoing projects. That could be worrisome (if the manager is struggling or if higher management has sudden concerns about how OP’s team is performing), or it could be innocuous (if the company is just figuring out what level of detail they need on day-to-day performance by remote employees).

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I was thinking it might be something like this. At the beginning of the pandemic, my employer required all remote employees to submit a daily list of plans for the day in the morning & items accomplished at the end of the day. (This was the current rule for anyone working remotely.) I think management got overwhelmed, because they stopped requiring the morning list after several months. Then they stopped requiring the end-of-day lists. Generally.

        My area has to keep doing it, but not because of us. When everyone else went back to the office part of the week (hybrid), my manager stayed fully remote due to health issues, & had to continue getting the daily updates as a condition of FT WFH.

        So the reason might have nothing to do with the OP.

      2. Anon for this one*

        I had a request like this from my manager (as did the rest of the team, I wasn’t “singled out” in that respect).

        It turned out later that the manager was under the spotlight with their own manager as they were underperforming and were perceived (rightly imo) as not having a handle on the work that was being done in their team. This manager had hidden their lack of knowledge and ability for a while, as they had an ‘ally’ in the company (outside our team) who was feeding them questions to ask in meetings etc in order to appear knowledgeable, helping them write reports to stakeholders etc… this worked until the ally was no longer able to provide this ‘scaffolding’ due to outside factors!

      3. Smithy*

        100% this.

        I’ve most often seen this happen when new leadership starts and while it comes with distrust and pushback – I’ve most often seen it start from a more neutral place and then either end or become more negative. Either it’s a more senior person onboarding and learning how the team runs and then choosing to tweak or change some features or a more senior person being asked to report up more frequently and trying to determine the best way to get that information and then settles into a more manageable rhythm.

        It becomes more negative when those requests highlight cracks that people scramble to hide or people push back on a period of greater scrutiny as more personal when in reality it’s not. It certainly can ultimately create a very negative lived dynamic for a given person, particularly if the request is perceived as more neutral at the senior level and at the middle management/junior level it becomes more contentious. But I do think that’s where taking the opportunity to ask from a neutral place where the asks are coming from can be helpful.

    2. Willow Sunstar*

      The team I’m on has a regular weekly meeting where we give updates. Daily seems like it would be overkill.

      1. Liz*

        Our department has a daily stand-up meeting which includes brief updates from all teams. It’s been incredibly helpful to know what other people are working on, because sometimes tasks and projects overlap and we wouldn’t otherwise know.

        1. Kes*

          Yes, daily standups are common in certain areas/industries. For us it lets the team leads know what everyone is working on and where things are at so they can plan and monitor for issues (eg if someone has been working on the same thing for a long time without progress), lets team members know what each other are working on in case there’s any overlap, and lets people bring up any questions or issues so they can be dealt with.

      2. ForeignLawyer*

        It depends on what your team does. In my company there are teams such as IT operations that have daily or even intraday team check-ins, and there are teams (including my own) where all-team meetings are only on an as-needed basis because there are very few overlaps in the work. Both can make sense depending on the team and their tasks.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I agree. There could be several reasons for asking people to provide detail on their work, and it’s not always, “We’re looking to get rid of you.”

      I’ve had to have direct reports at different companies over the years do this. Sometimes it’s so I can justify the large size of the team, or to be able to show we need to hire another person. It could also be to figure out where people need to be cross trained or if tasks need to be redistributed. One time it was to provide detailed information to another team that needed it as part of a presentation to higher ups. I’ve always told my team, though, as to why I’m having them do this.

      LW needs to ask their manager why it’s being required. It could be something like the items I mentioned above, or it could be something else.

    4. BethDH*

      Yeah, I’d want to know if the boss wants updates on project status or updates on what OP is doing. Those can feel kind of similar in a brief discussion but have really different implications. “I need to be able to give the client or upper management more detailed status reports on short notice” vs “I’m trying to see exactly what you’re accomplishing”.

    5. NotAnotherManager!*

      Another use case where it makes sense: my largest department has a dozen people working on daily deadline submissions, and they do an end-of-day status to confirm that those daily submissions went in on time and the legally required post-processing work was completed. It makes it is much, much easier on the management team to look through 12 daily status reports in a standardized format than to try to track down daily anywhere from 12-30 independent submissions in a government system that many other people are filing similar submissions with and then do the same on the post-submission work. It’s also a good second-level check to the submission processors that they fully completed everything that was due that day. (Ideally, I’d love to get this team on a task management platform, but they have so many other priorities that changing workflow in this way is not on the top of the list.)

      One difference here, though, is that this is a requirement from Day 1 of the job and it’s made very clear that it’s a time-saver for the manager and not a punitive requirement of specific team members nor was it newly added at the pandemic or a time when people felt like they had to “prove” they were working. Everyone does it every day from the start.

    6. Curmudgeon in California*

      I’m in a mostly remote team. My manager requires weekly status reports at the end of every week. In turn, he is required to give a summary of these to his manager. He explained all of this in a weekly meeting.

      Managing remote employees means knowing what they are working on. You can either have weekly one on ones, or get a written (email) status report of what people have been doing. Then you can compare it with what you know they have on their plate.

      Weekly status updates aren’t a burden, IMO. They are part of results oriented management, rather than butts in seats management. “How do I know you are working? Because you tell me what you’ve achieved.”

    7. Lydia*

      I hope your people understand. I can tell you from my experience of having to do this during lockdown, it generated a LOT of resentment and instead of it being transparent about why we were being asked to do it (federal government requiring it), instead it just felt like we weren’t trusted. Granted, we had to track in 30 minutes increments and that led to a LOT of BS “activities” throughout the day, and not every organization is that nuts, but it can wear on people.

  5. DD*

    LW1 – I’d keep both eyes on the busybody coworker who “overheard” the conversation and ran to HR to tell them you were leaving. They may be just a busybody gossip or they may be more toxic than that. I know you didn’t realize they were there but going forward I wouldn’t ever directly tell them anything you wouldn’t have broadcast in a company-wide e-mail. They lost any trust you may have in them.

    1. Cait*

      I know Alison said this but it bears repeating. Never ever ever ever EVER talk about job hunting to coworkers or while at work. EVER! It’s like loaning out money you can’t afford to lose. If it works out, great! But if it doesn’t it can go very very wrong. It’s just not worth it.

      1. Smithy*

        Yeah…I feel really bad for the OP because in addition to feeling this exposed, the OP was put in a place to initially accuse people they did trust with the news – and those were people worth trusting. So now in addition to feeling exposed at work, they’ve also lashed out at their work friends/network which has to make this situation feel doubly miserable.

        I will also say, where obviously the person who told can’t be trusted – I often find it easier to look at them as someone who instead of being a snake or otherwise Machiavelli – more likely has misplaced loyalty to their employer. Sure, this loyalty might also be coupled with some personal benefit (i.e. if OP1 does leave, then this person might want their job and see this as a win-win), but overall that this wasn’t done primarily with the intent to harm the OP. I say this not as an excuse, but mostly because I think it’s easier to find a way back to having to work with someone like this.

        Basically, how to avoid finding yourself emotionally in a place where you’re really offended. Not that the OP doesn’t have reason, but icing them out, being snarky – all of that can proceed to actively harm the OP further which won’t help them either.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      And honestly for every busybody you have eyes on there’s probably two you don’t. Which sounds paranoid – but given the situation OP is finding themselves in I think a little paranoia is called for. I would put a hard stop on discussing things at work you wouldn’t want HR or your manager to catch wind of.

      1. Another freelancer*

        Yeah I was burned by a coworker who I thought was my friend. This was years ago but OP1’s letter brought back all of the memories. OP please consider this a lesson learned.

        1. Rose*

          I’m sorry that happened, that must have been awful! In this case OP was wrong to lash out at/mistrust their friends. The lesson is to be more careful where you’re saying things and aware of the fact that others might be around and in ear shot.

          1. MsClaw*

            I actually think even if someone is a ‘work friend’ you need to be careful sharing this information with them no matter what. It puts the friend in potentially awkward situations if they find out OP is being put in a key role on an upcoming project, being considered as backfill while their boss is out on maternity leave, being talked about for promotion, etc. Your friends can’t ‘unknow’ that you may not be around.

        2. Cmdrshpard*

          This is why I keep my work relationships and personal relationships about 80/90% separate. I am friendly with coworkers, and I would even say I have “work friends” but “work friends” are a separate category from “personal friends.” I can share fun social stories with both groups, but I only tell “work friends” SFW stuff and NEVER share anything I would not be willing to repeat in the middle of our all staff meeting.

          I certainly would not tell any “work friends” I was job hunting, interviewing or accepted a new job, complain about boss etc…. I save all that for “personal friends/family.”

          I don’t even friend coworkers on social media, not that I really post anything, but just to be on the safe side.

          1. JustaTech*

            Exactly this. I had a coworker who I considered a work friend but she never made the distinction between “work friend” and “friend friend”. She got very upset with me when I wasn’t interested in the antics of another former coworker (who I didn’t really like, but was find doing social things with in a group). “I thought you were friends!” “We were work friends, not friend-friends.”

            Then the pandemic happened and she wanted me to be her primary social outlet, and got upset when I couldn’t do that for her.
            Just last week my department took an “engagement” survey and one of the questions was “I have a best friend at work” and I was like “nope, never doing that again”.

            1. allathian*

              I remember your posts about your misadventures with that coworker. I’d probably put something like “I neither have, nor want, a best friend at work. I’m happy to have friendly, professional relationships with my coworkers.” I’ve had work friends in the past, and maybe if we ever go back to spending more than the occasional day at the office, I’ll have some again. I’m on good terms with my manager, with all of my teammates, and everyone I work with regularly and that’s all that matters to me.

        3. Typing All The Time*

          Me too. Luckily, I was still there but this friend turned out to be a total snake. OP, I’m sorry you went through this but going forward don’t share this type of information until you’re actually leaving.

        4. Books and Cooks*

          Happened to me years ago, too, with someone I thought was actually my best friend. She kept deliberately encouraging me to come “visit” her when I was off work–come bring her some lunch, come hang out, come spend her break with her–and when I expressed doubts about being welcome or a visit being appropriate (every time), she’d tell me that our manager and other co-workers had /asked/ her to ask me to come in, that they all were /hoping/ I’d come hang out, etc. (This was an overnight shift at a call center, so there was a lot of down time to chat and such; I wasn’t actually preventing people from working.) Turned out that no, while everyone did /like/ me, they were starting to wonder why I was always there, our manager was starting to find it disruptive, and the higher-ups were starting to get wind of it and were not thrilled…and she was telling people that I kept insisting on coming in, that she tried to tell me not to, and that I was having “a lot of problems.”

          Professionally, it turned out fine–I had a frank conversation with our manager, learned the truth, and ended up promoted not long after…but personally it was tremendously hurtful, and even now, years later, it’s still upsetting if I think about it too much.

          LW, you just learned something very important about that co-worker. Whether her motives were genuinely, “This information helps the company, that’s all,” or something darker, the fact is she went behind your back to share information that wasn’t hers to share, and had to know in the process that there was at least some risk you could get in big trouble. At best she’s a busybody. At worst she is actually out to get you for some reason. It really doesn’t matter which; what matters is that now you know she is not to be trusted, and act accordingly.

    3. starfox*

      Honestly I could see myself accidentally spilling the beans in passing if I overheard it… It may not have been malicious. LW says it’s a small office, so the coworker may have just accidentally said something like “oh after LW leaves….” or whatever when chatting with the HR person.

  6. I feel your pain*

    I totally sympathize about being edited to death and feeling like your expertise isn’t valued. everyone thinks they can write. You mentioned product managers, so you’re writing something to do with a product they own. Try to ask for more specific feedback like Alison suggests. Focus on them using their knowledge to “fact check” your work. And push back using the brand guidelines and style guide. Say “can’t say X, our style guide requires Y.” or “thanks for your edits but it skewed the copy more functional whereas this is supposed to be more aspirational.”

    Good luck. People rewriting my work is one of the reasons I moved away from a pure writing job.

    1. Alfalfa Alfredo*

      I hear ya! I’ve gone with “please fact check” or “please ensure I’m explaining this really complicated engineering technically accurately for the general public.”

      I work with media, and reporters don’t use Oxford commas (think typesetting and space-saving back in the newspaper days), and I always get documents back not only filled with oxfords, but sometimes a grammar lesson in the comments why they are important.

        1. ...*

          I’m very much aware of what an Oxford comma is, and I insist on using them. Could you please clarify your statement?

        2. works with realtors*

          I’d also like clarity, and honestly would like to know why you chose to put a comma in this statement where it wasn’t necessary.

        3. Frankie*

          Maybe it’s a joke, but it’s a very common error so maybe it’s not. You misplaced a comma.

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

        I’m not even a writer (graphic designer) and the hokey-pokey with commas can take proof #3 into proof #11 and end up sounding like William Shatner giving a monologue if you don’t shut it down. Sometimes style guides are so detailed they make people’s eyes glaze over, so if you can, add an editing rubric cover page to the proof that spells out the main points important to the person editing.

      2. Meghan*

        I view my job as a corporate communications writer as giving the leader something to respond to – often they have their thoughts and ideas, but aren’t able to articulate them well. Seeing something on paper often helps clarify their thinking and may inspire them to take the piece in a different direction or tighten up their ideas. Seeing it this way has really helped me depersonalize edits and comments from other non-writer contributors. You don’t have to take every edit, unless it’s political, but it’s good to be able to step back from it all and see the larger picture with less emotion.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          ah this is a good way of looking at it! thank you!! This will be useful for me as a translator too!

    2. WellRed*

      I’m an reporter and editor. I ocassionally get a nervous interview subject or PR wanting to review. Per our policy they can only view their actual quotes plus anything I’d like make sure I’m clear on. I’ve learned to say “please proof for accuracy only,” I realize for in-house marketers it can be a trickier balance but if you set clear boundaries it can help. FYI we do NOT edit our marketing person to death.

      1. Cam*

        I learnt the hard way to only send the quotes and not the article after 1 interviewee rewrote the whole thing in edits

    3. CindyLouWho*

      I’m a tech writer, and my advice is that you don’t have to incorporate all the feedback, especially if your reviewers are making edits for style.

      Incorporate edits that have to do with correcting facts, correcting steps, or adding missing information.

      1. Caraway*

        Yes, this is my advice if possible. I’m a grant writer, and I don’t always agree with the edits I get back, for a variety of reasons. Sometimes I’m trying to mirror the language in the RFP, sometimes the edits make the language clunkier, sometimes the edits are great but I’m dealing with a strict word limit. I’ve learned to thank people graciously and then only use the edits I want to. This works for me because I have the final say on what gets submitted.

        However, I also want to suggest taking a step back and trying to really evaluate the suggested edits on their merits. I have a tendency to get defensive about edits and so I always make myself stop and remember that the goal is strong applications that get funded. It doesn’t matter if I’m “right” if being wrong gets the results we want. Focusing on that helps me take the feedback less personally and, I think, has ultimately made my writing stronger.

        1. OP4*

          Thank you so much for your response! Your point in your second paragraph is a really good one, and I’ll definitely keep that in mind.

          1. Lydia*

            Yeah, it can be tough. The first time my boss edited something, I was offended. Then I realized her edits were really good and she and I had compatible communication styles so what she suggested actually did make it better. Other bosses I’ve had that wasn’t the case and their edits were more about preference than actually improving what I was sending out.

          2. Fae Kamen*

            So true. At my old job, the boss’s “edits” were known to kill a little piece of the editors’ hearts each time. But he had a strategic reason for every change he made. By understanding his reasons, I actually learned a lot, even though I would do things differently.

        2. Le Sigh*

          +1 to this. I can get defensive about my writing, and sometimes what I view as normal back and forth comes across as argumentative. It helps me to remember this isn’t my own personal writing — I am the project manager and lead writer, and part of that job is soliciting and reconciling feedback. And when training new hires, I tell them not to get discouraged by markups. Learn from each go-round and you’ll get closer to hitting the mark over time. But I’ve been doing this for years and I still get lots of input and feedback. It’s not that I’m not trusted, it’s that everyone is coming at this from a different viewpoint and a different expertise. In addition to Allison’s response, some things that helped me:
          -Be up front about what kind of input you need, like Allison said, as well as the audience and limitations. E.g., “I’m putting together a proposal for X donor — they tend to like minimal details and just want to main points and metrics. It can’t be longer than 2 pages.”
          -Only include the people you actually need to review the document. If the content only requires the communications and legal team, I don’t add in the program team.
          -Depending on the type of writing you’re doing and if it makes sense, draft an outline and get input before you write the narrative to minimize heavy edits on the backend.
          -When you get back a document full of edits, take a deep breath, grumble, read the feedback again, then start working on them/responding. I usually need to read the comments a few times to get over any defensiveness and objectively review the feedback.
          -Especially with SMEs and others for whom writing isn’t their job, I let them know they don’t need to focus on trying to craft a perfectly edited sentence, they can just explain the issue in their own words. I find people who don’t write for a living sometimes get hung up on finding the right words, which don’t always gel with what you need and the edits can be clunky. Often I can take what they suggested and, if I understand the issue, rework their suggestion into something that fits.
          -When I have concerns about feedback, or don’t understand a comment, I will reach out to that person and treat it as an inquiry, something like “Hey — saw your comments about X. Could you share more about what your concern is here? I need to address concerns the donor has in this paragraph — but are we overstepping a legal line/harming an external relationship/portraying this incorrectly?” or “Hey this might get too jargon-y for this donor — I tweaked your edits a bit, and if we say it this way, is it still accurate?” Sometimes the person tells me nbd, it was only a suggestion; other times I find out including that could be an issue for reasons I was unaware of. It’s not that I’m letting them dictate the edits — I’m still make the final calls and I might not include something — but coming at this from an inquiry mindset helps set the tone and quite often I learn something useful that makes the doc better.
          -No matter what instructions you give, there will ALWAYS be someone who has to, just HAS to, provide full copy edits on a first-round draft (and often that person isn’t actually good at copy edits). Even if you tell them that’s for the final stage, it’s not a good use of anyone’s time. They’ve decided it’s worth it to waste their own time, so whatever. I’m not going to keep saying it.

      2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Ah yes. I recently had a colleague proofread a translation of mine and she put comments to justify anything she wanted to change. She explained the nuance my translation had glossed over, why it was important and how she would change it. Time consuming but at least I could see why she was doing it. Maybe her change would usher in some other mistake that I’d been trying to avoid, but we’d be able to come up with a compromise by discussing it together. We had a hard and fast rule that no subjectivity was allowed, and that helped a lot. Being subjected to other people’s styles can help to prevent your own style from fossilising!

    4. Alan*

      I get this too. I write technical documents as part of my job and so often people will change text in such a way that it actually becomes incorrect. Sometimes they don’t know the difference and just think it sounds better. Often they really want to contribute or control without understanding what they’re saying. It’s especially frustrating because a lot of the people I work with are not native English speakers! Some things I just let slide. For others I have to explain and argue until the text is at least correct. It’s very frustrating. I try to accept it as part of the process and over time I’ve found that people want to change less.

      1. the wall of creativity*

        Yep – the non native English speakers are the ones I have most trouble with. Always wanting to mess about with my wording, breaking grammar rules and just using the wrong words.

        1. quill*

          Prepositions. It’s not just people who have english as a second language that can completely change scientific writing with a stray preposition, but not primarily speaking english does help if that’s your goal.

    5. ThatGirl*

      I am also a professional writer (have done content management writing and editing, pure marketing copywriting, and other forms along the way). Definitely encountered death by a thousand edits.

      What’s helped me most is understanding where the person offering the edits is coming from – are they offering a fact check, are they trying to change something in our house style, is it a certain word or phrase they object to? And work with them to find a solution that *I* like too. I take ownership of my work and decide whether it’s a hill I want to die on.

      1. OP4*

        That’s a great perspective – thank you! I’m definitely realizing I need to be more selective about my hills, and I like your strategy about getting more insight into the other person’s reasoning. It seems harder to have that empathy and do the quick “hey what was the thinking here.” while working remotely, which has been an interesting element too.

        1. ...*

          It’s also worth noting that you are likely writing for a huge audience that may have varying types of educational or language backgrounds. Suggestions don’t always have to be followed, but to add onto what ThatGirl says, it’s important to consider where they are coming from and also what their knowledge of the audience is. Do they suggest a certain word or phrase because they know their team might be confused with technical jargon? You are hired to write, but depending on what you are writing you might not have your name on that document as author and there might be an expectation of collaboration amongst peers. At the end of the day, the company owns your work.

          It took me awhile, but I’ve learned that having a ton of edits does not necessarily mean that I write poorly—it means we all have different perspectives and methods of processing information. The reader’s success and understanding should be the end goal of a document.

        2. PSA*

          Our editorial process at work includes a peer review, but our peer reviewers don’t necessarily know our style guide. Sometimes they request changes that seem to be based on nothing more than personal preference, which we won’t accommodate. We have a form that requires them to provide a rationale for their requested edit. It’s much easier to dismiss or actively consider suggestions when you know their basis. You might even include a column for your own response to the suggestion (“done,” “can’t incorporate because xyz,” etc.) — sure, it adds time to the process but it also helps to have that documentation if anyone comes back at you later to question why you didn’t fix it according to what they wanted.

      2. hugseverycat*

        I’m a technical writer — and yes I completely agree that it is great to know where the edits are coming from. Sometimes even a “bad” edit can be helpful. Today I got an edit saying that a fact in a diagram contradicted a sentence in the accompanying text. The person who gave the edit was wrong and misunderstood the text, but it made me start brainstorming ways to make the text and/or diagram more clear, as the intended audience for my document doesn’t necessarily know very much about my product.

    6. Cataloging Librarian*

      Even Thomas Jefferson had to suffer through a committee-edit of the Declaration of Independence. Your co-workers want to feel like they have contributed to the written product in some way. It doesn’t make it any easier to sit through, and you don’t have to take every suggestion.

    7. Go Back to the Definition*

      When I worked as a tech writer, we had designated people for different editing roles. We had a technical editor who was just focused on making sure the content was correct. We had a style editor who made sure the text followed the corporate style. We had a copy editor who focused on making sure the grammar was correct, no typos, and things that should match did. Defining these roles for the people reviewing your work may help them and you focus on what is important.

    8. Willow Pillow*

      I recently left a side project due to these issues… The SME defaulted to as much detail as possible, got argumentative when questioned to any extent, and had her staff working on the project make significant changes without telling anyone else. The PM didn’t understand anything about web design, but would just not say anything and then chide me for interpreting her silence as acceptance. The org wasn’t big/organized enough to have a style guide, either.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Maybe you should simply write your own style guide and then you can just say “sorry we’re not making that change, as per the style guide” any time people want to do something silly.
        (That’s what I did, although it never exceeded a page, it did at least impose everyone writing times and dates the same way, and using punctuation properly.)

    9. Authoria*

      I’ve been writing marketing copy for over 20 years and I no longer think of it as “my” writing, if I ever did. I don’t make every change everyone requests — other commenters here have done a great job articulating how and where to draw a line — but I also don’t go home mad that I wrote the perfect opening line for a blogpost and some VP nixed it. If I don’t like edits from someone who outranks me, I push back once with an explanation. After that, I incorporate their feedback and move on.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Yeah. That’s a good attitude.
        What irks me is that clients invariably say things like “I really like your writing style” to explain why they chose me to translate their text. Then they proceed to edit out all the bits that (to my mind at least) give the text that special “Rebel touch”.
        I always ask clients to get back to me rather than make any changes themselves, simply because they are hardly ever native English speakers, and even when they are, they hardly ever have more experience than me.

    10. nobadcats*

      I’m the lead copy editor for a herd of cats, we’re under the main editorial team, but we’re the last line of defense. Our team always falls back on “per style guide/guidelines from client/editorial’s guidance…”

      When it comes to odd jobs that I do for the rest of the company, I have trained myself to disengage. I have no ownership over the content, so it doesn’t hurt my feelings at all when someone comes back on me with edits. I’ll push back where necessary, but after 25 years, I pick and choose which hills upon I wish to die or spend my political capital.

    11. Communications manager*

      I ask lots of questions before writing, and will sometimes send a simple bulleted list for review before I start writing for real. And then, I send it for “accuracy review” and let people know I’ll make sure the final meets standards for voice, tone and grammar.

  7. Anonymity*

    Assume EVERYTHING you tell a coworker will be told to at least three different people, every time. There are no secrets, ever.

      1. SecretsBestKeptToYourself*

        Oh, yes. A lesson I learned the hard way.

        Director made a comment to his secretary about Employee A. She excitedly shared it with me as hot gossip. I made the mistake of sharing it with another coworker who shared it as “So, I heard something about you…” with Employee A. Employee A correctly chewed out the secretary.

        The secretary came to me to complain about my sharing, and I admitted that I shouldn’t have gossiped but I pointed out that neither should have she! That stopped her for a moment. That place was full of gossip. Not sure how we got anything done.

    1. Willow Sunstar*

      Yes. The rule of thumb is never, ever talk about anything at work that you don’t want your boss or HR to eventually find out about. Even if you think you trust your coworkers, chances are there will always be one you can’t.

    2. Ghost Pepper*

      I 100% agree. I would also add that this rule also applies to email. Every email you send from your work email account – even if to someone you implicitly trust – can be forwarded, bcc someone on a reply, and otherwise be accessed by your company.

      Another thing I learned the hard way.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*


        Don’t send anything from your company email that you don’t want forwarded to your boss, HR, and anyone higher up. I got burned by this over 20 years ago.

        Also don’t subscribe to outside mailing lists from your corporate account unless it literally involves you representing your company. It’s just not worth the risk that someone will get petty peeved at something you said, make a mountain out of a molehill, and get you fired. IMO, don’t even mention where you work on external mailing lists. The “$job” convention will save you a lot of grief.

        1. JustaTech*

          And if you work for government at any level (including working for a state university) be aware that your emails could end up on the front page of the newspaper, so email thoughtfully.

          This lesson was from a former lab manager to everyone who started in the lab, but especially the newest techs and student workers: our emails were subject to Freedom of Information laws, which genuinely shocked a couple of people.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            Yeah, I’ve even got this reminder at private tech company jobs. There have been some very juicy scandals at tech companies where casual office emails ended up on the front page of the local paper.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I don’t tell anything to anyone… That’s how I’ve been able to maintain my professional network over 25 years. People know they can trust me with information. And I hopefully know who I can trust.

      That said, I was badly burned in an old job 20+ years ago. I was close friends with my boss, who totally approved of me looking for other jobs and interviewing, maybe even was my reference (? don’t remember, it was so long ago), helped me negotiate the starting pay at my next job when I did get an offer. Then, before I even had a written offer in my hands, much less passed the background check, he went and told someone else, who told someone else, and suddenly I had people from all over our small (100 ppl) company coming into my cube congratulating me on my new job THAT I DIDN’T EVEN HAVE AN OFFER FOR YET. So that was fun (and by fun I mean completely horrifying and also that I was now trapped into accepting that offer, which I may have passed on if I’d had a chance to think about it more). In hindsight Boss loved to gossip, and had once told me about another coworker who’d just gotten an offer and put her notice in. It was my first US job and, out of a lack of experience with workplace norms, I went to congratulate her and she was furious. She did not want anyone to know yet. That should’ve told me that Boss was not to be trusted.

  8. tech writer by trade*

    LW 4, it helps a LOT to have a style guide either internal to the company or at the least one that you can reference to sort out specific disputes. Slack and others also have “voice and tone” sections in their style guides. Without a common reference point, you have nothing to guide your writing _toward_, and also nothing to defend your writing _against_, which is super frustrating and really demotivating. I hope you can find something that works for your team and find a path to higher morale!

    1. hamsterpants*

      Came here to say this as well. Some companies love colloquialisms and story telling. Some want only strictly formal grammar and only provable facts. Especially if your organization is more in the latter category, people will always want to tweak your exact phrasing when it comes to their own department, even if you feel it was already “good writing.”

      Example: I worked for a while in an organization where the VP had an excellent memory. If your quarterly update said you were “confident” in getting a good result, you would receive a lot of scrutiny the next update if it didn’t pan out. But if you had only said that you were “optimistic,” then you got more slack. Only the actual engineers working for that result knew the right way to express that confidence level.

      1. OP4*

        Thank you both! That’s a great point. I actually have the opportunity to update out style guide now, so this is a great reminder to put a lot of thought into the guidance I want to put in there to redirect people to in the future.

  9. Allonge*

    LW4 – in my company, you would definitely need to grow a thicker skin and/or accept that communication considerations are not at the front of a lot of people’s minds.

    If your boss and team are on board, and you are around long enough, it’s possible to build relationships / manage expectations for most products, and it’s definitely ok to come with a counter-proposal for some things when there is time. But even in these cases there is no way that you don’t get a bunch of comments, mostly from the legal side Alison also mentions. It’s just how it is, here.

    If it helps, it’s not personal! When Casey, Teapot Spouts Expert reviews the text, they are making edits that make sense from the Teapot Spouts perspective, not because they don’t appreciate your work.

    1. Hats Are Great*

      Very much a thicker skin! If you’re going to get paid to write, you absolutely cannot be attached to your writing. I came up in daily newspapers (I’m so old!), and it was absolutely routine to write a gorgeous 1200-word feature and have it murdered to 300 words to fit the space available in print that day. Or to write something really clever and funny, and have the dumbest editor working that night who didn’t get the jokes and made it incoherent. Once you release the writing into the world (to your editor, to your boss), you cannot have any emotional attachment to it. People will murder it dead, for their own reasons, which often have nothing to do with the quality of the writing.

      This is a complaint people have across corporate communication and content roles. One of my close friends, who is an eagle-eyed editor with 20 years’ experience in corporate comms and supervises a team of 6, constantly sends a letter-perfect piece of writing to the VP who oversees their business unit, and gets it back WITH GRAMMATICAL AND SPELLING ERRORS EDITED IN. It drives her absolutely bananas. Sometimes she’s able to quietly re-fix them; sometimes she’s able to go to the mat about correctness. But sometimes the VP is deeply committed to being wrong and insists it “sounds better” wrong, and she just has to send it that way.

      You can be mildly infuriated about it and complain after work to your English-nerd friends, but you just have to accept that people above you in the hierarchy are going to do terrible things to your writing. It’s just how writing for money works. And it’s why a lot of people who love the English language don’t like to write for money. It takes a particular mindset to have good taste and be able to write something really well, and then let it go into the world absolutely torn to shreds by people who don’t love the language, or who are careless, or who have no taste.

      When I worked in newspapers, we could generally tell within three articles if a new reporter (or columnist) was going to be able to hack it, or if they were too precious about their own writing to tolerate editing. When you’re producing a brand-new book-length set of words every 24 hours, you *do not have time* to fight with someone who covered a local city council meeting and wants to fight over the mot juste in line six. Like, dude, I have to put this paper to bed by 3 am or we miss our deadline on the press run for the first delivery trucks. I’ve got 90,000 words to edit before then, and fact-check, and ensure make sense. I do not have the time or the patience to fight with you about this ONE.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        People will murder it dead, for their own reasons, which often have nothing to do with the quality of the writing.
        This so much.

      2. ThatGirl*

        Yes, I agree with all of this. Although I also came up in daily newspapers as a copy editor/page designer, and sometimes I turned incoherent school board meeting stories into actually readable copy. So I’m sorry for the editors who murdered jokes, but you’re correct about being too precious about your own writing :)

      3. C-Suite Diva*

        Yes yes yes to all of this! I’m also a former daily newspaper reporter turned PR pro. Many people in content-reviewing roles feel they haven’t done their job unless they lift their leg on the provided writing. It really is best to just get over it. You’re not actually getting paid to deliver exceptional writing, you’re getting paid to put up with the people around you and occasionally articulate an idea “on paper.”

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          When I worked in-house, I sometimes left a little mistake in on purpose, so the perfectionist who proofed my work could get the satisfaction of “correcting” something.

      4. Caraway*

        Just adding my voice to the chorus! If you work as a writer, you have to get used to being edited.

      5. OP4*

        Thank you for your response! This was really helpful to hear. I had previously thought of myself as being pretty thick skinned but the sheer volume of people that get to put their hooks into my work in my current role (literally sometimes 20 people!) is really testing me! So it’s a good reminder to keep working on my inner sense of Zen non-attachment.

        1. Shirley Keeldar*

          20 people? That sounds like…a lot. Like a very, very big lot. And it sounds like it would tear any internal consistency to shreds.

          “Grow a thicker skin” is often good advice for a writer, sure, and learning to accept edits can make a piece stronger…but 20 people? Ye gods. I think that’s a process problem, not a problem with a thickness of the OP’s skin.

          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            20 isn’t ridiculous in my field, especially if it is a document that covers multiple specialties. For example, If I was to put out a guideline on, say, best practices in diabetes management in migrant farm workers, I’d need primary care folks, nephrologists, nutritionists, experts on legal aspects of using funds to pay for care of non-citizens, farmworker support orgs, county health departments, hospitals, etc. and for each of those specialties I’d want more than one opinion, so the numbers get even bigger.

            1. one l lana*

              I’m wondering if OP’s manager could offer them more guidance on whose edits they have to accept vs. whose are merely supervisory. I’m a professional editor, but I work in a newsroom where there is a very clear chain of command — some people can give advice (which the writer can take or leave) and some people can make changes (which have to be accepted or massaged into a compromise that both parties can live with).

              In your example, if the people you’re consulting are giving you diametrically opposite advice/changes (I’m sure it happens sometimes), who ultimately decides what the document says? And if that person is you, who are you accountable to if they complain? I think maybe OP needs a better understanding of the office politics here.

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            yeah, I can imagine one person from the technical department for technical accuracy, the legal department to make sure nobody will sue, marketing to check that it fits in with how the product is being marketed, the secretary to iron out silly spelling mistakes and the boss will sign off at the end, but surely 20 is pushing it?

        2. LaLa762*

          Sister writer here. It’s not just you. Every writer gets this nonsense from better and worse editors.
          I think – in addition to everyone thinking they can write – that people reviewing think they need to ‘do a job’.
          I want to second the commentor who said you don’t have to accept every edit.
          I absolutely do not, and it makes it easier.

        3. Marcella*

          Every workplace differs, so this particular one may just be too copy-by-committee for you. If you’re spending too much time on revisions and gritting your teeth through condescending feedback, find a different workplace. It’s not worth it.

          Back when I interviewed for writing jobs, sometimes they would ask if I could take feedback … and then explain that their last 5 writers all quit because they couldn’t. I learned the hard way that it signaled a toxic culture where people treated writers like crap.

          Appropriate feedback is respectful, actionable and informed. Sometimes you have to help people understand that.

      6. Usagi*

        This is all such a good perspective. I’m not a writer, per se, but I do create/present HR training content (which, obviously, needs to contain correct information), and sometimes other teams will come in to edit my work: sometimes our Marketing team will come in to standardize branding, sometimes HR Specialists will edit for content, sometimes our Web team will edit for formatting for our web-based LMS. Or, at least, that’s what they’re SUPPOSED to edit for. I’ve definitely received edits for things way out of their scope, and sometimes stuff is just incorrect (e.g., I’ve once had Web randomly remove some protected classes from the list? In the interest of making it fit on the page nicely??), and as you said, I have to quietly fix things.

        Anyway, my point to OP is that while in many cases people are just not being smart/sticking to what they’re supposed to/etc., they’re also not generally doing it maliciously. They’re doing what they believe is correct, and trying to help (maybe not help YOU, but still). So as Hats Are Great (and pretty much everyone else) said, as frustrating as it can be, sometimes you just have to choose your battles. Sometimes it’s not worth it to even feel upset about these things, if that makes sense.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I agree about it not being personal.

      In my field it’s really common to write something perfectly suited to a brief, and then the brief changes. (Often “We want to do something truly new and unique that will really be a new offering” becomes “So we’ve talked to marketing, and now we want something that looks and feels exactly like the existing product but sprinkled with a few recent buzzwords.”) I like writing and have gradually come to just do that, and the flip is that I cannot get too attached. I will occasionally push back when someone’s “Give Falling’s piece a quick edit to change out that thing we told her was important to do, which we are now not doing” has resulted in something that is fundamentally poorly constructed, and I go to the mat if it’s been edited to be wrong. (In the sense “The email trail in which I point out that you have changed this to be wrong is going to be iron clad.”)

      But most of the time I need to adopt the attitude that it left my hands and my role is done. Unless your role is “Hired for a unique voice, and management is committed to supporting that and having it shine through” then being thick skinned about what happens to your beautifully crafted paragraphs is the norm.

      Even with fiction writing–where your “unique voice” is usually what’s valuable–there’s often a point where fans can tell that this writer got big enough to push back against editing. (And whether or not that was a good thing varies.) But people don’t start there–it’s an accommodation when someone has really proven themselves and gained a much higher platform from which to push back on edits.

      1. This is Artemesia*

        Reminds me of an important document I was writing to justify a new program after a merger. My boss said ‘it needs to be cutting edge and innovative’ for us to get this accepted by the CEO and team who really don’t understand or like what we do. So I did that. They turned it down and my boss said ‘Well it turns out that it needs to be cutting edge, innovative, and all the organizations with prestige in our field need to be doing it already.’ He had a way with words himself.

        And so that is the way I wrote it, showing that our unique program was really similar to a couple at highly prestigious organizations in our field. That one worked. My boss and I laughed about it, but we got it done. That program was producing 50% of our revenue in 5 years.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          “Cutting edge, innovative, and all the organizations with prestige in our field need to be doing it already” perfectly summarizes where things eventually land.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            Ah, yes, cargo cult management – it needs to both be “cutting edge” and “what everyone else is doing, whether it makes sense for us or not.” Lots of high level executives are nothing but lemmings when it comes to buzzword compliant technologies.

            1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              Buzzwords! I use them, sprinkle them all over my corporate bla bla translations. I started doing it after reading a book called Death Sentences about how awful corporate writing is, condemning things like “thinking outside the box” “ground-breaking” and “tapping into” and “enhancing” and “proactive” (that one’s fallen right out of fashion now!) and “bleeding-edge”. My clients just loved my translations after that, so now I’m always looking out for similar words. This website being a good source actually!

    3. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I have started covering this in onboarding with our new hires. We have a culture of iteration and heavy editing/back-and-forth to get a polished product and nothing you turn in the first time is going to be the final draft. It’s true on your first day and it’s true if you become an executive. If your ego can’t handle that this place is going to be hell for you (I don’t phrase it like that – but that’s the message).

    4. Clever Lee*

      Yes, absolutely. If they’re introducing a mechanical error because they don’t understand grammar or the style guide, just reject the change. But if it’s something else, offer them a rework. It’s important in those cases to understand why they made the change, because the reason usually has nothing to do with how well-written it is or isn’t, even in their minds. I think it’s helpful to get in the habit of discussing substantive edits, if it’s possible in your setting, both because it will encourage reviewers to explain the issue they are trying to address in comments that will help you come up with a good rework and, if you approach it collaboratively rather than defensively, will increase their trust in you and your work.

      It’s also helpful to remember that the reason you send writing for review is that the perspective of the reviewers is necessary, not just a formality. I was in a meeting with a client recently after she had gotten some input from reviewers on something I had written and she had previously reviewed. The reviewers were not even native English speakers, so obviously their suggestions weren’t solid writing. But they did have reasons for their comments; we just had to find them. I was hiding my irritation and she was openly showing hers, but then she said, “I have to remember that I asked these people to review.” We did ultimately make some changes that I think strengthened the piece (though not in the suggested wording). And we rejected a few, too, but not until after we’d considered the reasons for the changes.

    5. TreeFrogEditor*

      My company would require a thicker skin/”leave your ego at the door” approach, too.

      My biggest question after reading OP4’s letter was: What kind of writing are you doing? I couldn’t quite tell. At my company, I’m an editor/manager, and I manage teams that write content/copy for clients. There are SEVERAL layers of review that happen before the finished product gets published, and 90% of it has nothing to do with the writer’s “skill,” per se — an analyst reviews the design, I review it for internal/style standards, and then various client teams review it several times. For us, what the client wants (for better or worse) wins the day, because they’re the ones who are paying for it. (I’ve literally had clients add grammatical errors during legal review and then forbid us from fixing it. It set my teeth on edge, but by god, they got what they wanted.)

      1. OP4*

        Hi! I write for a specific marketing channel within a team that writes content across multiple marketing channels for our organization. Most of my reviewers are internal SMEs or people who work closely with my channel.

        I used to work in a role with external clients, and it’s been interesting to realize that internal clients often have just as much feedback, if not more.

    6. Anonymous Koala*

      nth-ing the advice to not take these edits personally! I find that it helps to reframe each piece. It’s not “your writing”; it’s a product you’ve produced for the company, for them to do with what they will. I write technical reports and this helps me a lot, because some of my stuff will never see the light of day – not because I didn’t do my job well, but because the company has other priorities. All the edits you’re getting are about balancing priorities, not about the writing itself.

  10. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    #4: Editor and technical writer here. We have two to three steps in our process that I find to be the most effective flow I’ve encountered across my career:

    1. The writing of each contributor on our team gets sent to an editor who is already informed on the level of edits required for a task (technical details for a medical piece for example, versus general consistency for a news blast in an existing series).

    2. We review, perhaps discuss and then accept changes.

    3. We format then send the piece to one other team member to look at for any last minute typos or formatting errors.

    We may also send to a customer for a last minute accuracy confirmation.

    Your current lack of system means that everyone feels they need to change something to how they think it could also be worded, and that is a massive money waster. Until everyone agrees on “good enough”, it’s going to continue this way.

    Take some examples to your team meeting and say, “one person changed ‘soda’ to ‘pop’ and the next changed it to ‘coke’. It’s wasting time when the original was absolutely sufficient for our general article about softdrinks”. (Not the best example but you get the idea).

    What you are experiencing is people editing edits and it’s absolutely killing productivity because everyone wants to leave evidence they are being productive. So, the fact that folks might not feel like they are being trusted to do work without showing heavy evidence in edits might be something else to address if you can.

    In our weekly meetings we decide what edits, and style guide elements are working or not as well. Are you having regular team meetings on these topics, at least monthly or bi-monthly?

    Best of luck getting folks on the same page, but do present it to your manager as massive time wasting and see what happens when you offer an alternative plan. Ask also why the system or lack thereof exists in the first place.

    1. MsSolo UK*

      You’re example also raises another issue with this process: if you’re not tracking changes between edits, suddenly your article about soft drinks in general is talking about Coca-Cola(tm) specifically, which opens up whole new issues. If most of the ‘editors’ don’t have sight of the original draft, you can stray from the original meaning very quickly.

      1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

        Absolutely! I once sent a final draft to a customer for approval but didn’t realize they didn’t know about track changes, let alone computers I guess, because they printed a physical copy then passed the one copy to each department who added their notes and changes in different color inks, only to then physically send me the doc…in black and white.

      2. Lab Boss*

        My company switching to a document review system that retains previous versions of the document every time changes are made, and allows rapid switching between document versions to compare changes, was an absolute revelation!

    2. Mockingjay*

      My industry uses a similar process. Draft an SOP and get it signed off by management, then use that to guide the level of reviews and edits. Decide at the beginning what the scope of a document is, as @Teekanne noted.

      I get a lot of what I call “happy” to “glad” changes, usually by lazy/incompetent reviewers who are supposed to be looking at technical accuracy but fancy themselves “writers” instead and insert florid phrases in engineering documents. Because I’ve got an SOP, I can ignore 90% of the suggestions.

      1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

        This, this, this!!! Such a saver of time and money if everyone signs off on it but even if they don’t there is such power in feeling safe to ignore irrelevant comments.

    3. CindyLouWho*

      What a great process and so well defined. OP might want to consider creating a process like this.

    4. PersephoneUnderground*

      Yes, you need structure to avoid the writing equivalent of “bikeshedding”!

      (Bikeshedding is the phenomenon where people find something relatively unimportant to waste decision making time on, like the color of the bikeshed in the backyard, while ignoring important things like the foundation of the house itself, because everyone feels like they can contribute something to the less-important discussion, and they want to be seen as contributing. It comes up a lot in project management and tech.)

    5. Just a Procedure Publisher*

      I second this. It might also help if there was a style guide that spelled out expectations of written documents. As a publisher, I am at the very last step of the process of updating procedures, so I have seen instances where things get changed and then get changed back. At my stage of the process, it is punctuation, spelling, and some formatting that we can update to match the style guide.

      We also have a process in place that allows us to flag things that should be change such as addressing a logical gap or a procedure has some structure issues such as being too long or has some wonky order lists.

  11. Ed123*

    In my experience when the salary is listed and it’s a specific range (especially if the range is not very wide) then they have a tool to assess your spot on the scale. There is room for some negotiation but not too much.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I had a boss (before I was a manager of the people myself but I had a ‘supervisor’ role in relation to them) who recruited a number of people over time to a specific role where the salary band was e.g. 20,000 – 22,000.

      The boss offered the top of the band to all of those people without negotiation and one day observing this I asked him, what circumstances would cause you to offer less than the top of the band then?

      He said if they aren’t really very good but still hired them because they were the best we could get at the time! I still don’t know what to make of that!

  12. Gerry L*

    People in management (and HR) DO talk about which employees might be looking for jobs outside the company.
    I worked in a smallish department where staff used to gab about things they wouldn’t want management to know about, including active job searching. When I learned that I was going to be promoted to a mid management position, I told my colleagues — some of whom might soon be reporting to me — that they needed to stop telling me anything about their job searches. I knew that the guy I would be reporting to routinely asked his reports whether they had heard anyone talking about leaving and I didn’t want to want to have to either lie or blab.

    1. Bast*

      I think the difference in this situation was, it wasn’t someone LW1 actively told, it was a random person who happened to hear and reported it. It’s entirely possible for someone not involved in a conversation to miss crucial information in that conversation that completely changes the context, or for them to just misunderstand entirely. It has the potential to cause a lot of drama over nothing.

      1. soontoberetired*

        And all the more reason to pay attention to your surroundings while in an office. Certain news got out a few years ago, and upper management was sure some lower management spilled the beans overlooking the fact that upper management people had a habit of talking about stuff they shouldn’t in places they shouldn’t. Like in hallways, auto repair shops, grocery stores. I know in the case where news hit the local news station that some manager talked about it while he was getting the oil changed. I knew the mother of the person who overheard it at the oil repair shop. I am sure others talked about it in places they shouldn’t have, too.

        I have had co-workers who have run to HR about stuff, too, just to stir up drama they can use for their advantage, and to managers. Sigh. Sometimes work offices are like 7th grade.

      2. Smithy*

        I think this is all the more reason you have these conversations outside the office and just have this be an unfortunately painful lesson for the OP.

        If I see four people talking about anything in an open space in the office, I’m going to take it as fairly “common office knowledge”. If I see 4 people from the office at the Starbucks next door talking, it could be a really salacious night out with all sorts of NSWF details or 101 other “not my business” topics. Or relevant work chat. But there’s reason to accept it’s also not my business.

        This clearly hurts more junior colleagues more as they’re more likely to be in open desk/cubicle areas with less privacy – but regardless.

  13. Remote pre Covid*

    LW 3 – my boss came home from a conference with the idea of a daily log. At first I felt icky about it but then it was great. Helped close the communications loop on stuff, it was a good reference when I was trying to remember when I’d done stuff as well. I did it by email with a draft started every morning.

    This rhythm worked great when I went remote 5 years ago. I work for some other people a little less and they get a weekly log.

    Granted I work with all their clients so I’m reporting client activity vs “spent 2 hours on excel project”.

    And I don’t put down times – just what I did for whom.

    Good to address your boss’ purpose which may help you know how best to log and not feel icky about it, but also it might not be such a bad thing.

    1. Lab Boss*

      Good point- a detailed time record implies more that the manager is “checking up on you,” while a general list of the things that were worked on feels more like just keeping everyone aligned on project progress.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        When I had to do one, it was just a bulleted list. And I listed meetings attended first, as I felt that could help explain days when I didn’t seem as productive as usual.

    2. Mockingjay*

      I’ve always had to track my work daily, including hours and provide weekly or monthly summary reports or log into a tracking system. It’s typical for my industry. Sure, I get annoyed sometimes – “Damnit, I’m an adult, why do I have to be accountable to this level?” – but managers absolutely need this kind of info to monitor workload across a team, show progress over time, collect metrics to justify staff increases, and so on.

      It might be worth a conversation with your boss to find out why they need this info or what it will be used for. Frame it as “how should I structure this report so it provides useful info for you?” It might set your mind at ease.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Yeah, sometimes managers have their managers micromanaging them and, by extension, their reports.

        Always ask why, and what format would give them what they need best. Most times it’s not about you.

    3. Esmeralda*

      Agreed that check w your boss as to why is good. Don’t be defensive about it. Maybe practice with a friend how you are going to say it. I find that when I have Feelings about a work issue, they are going to come out on my face and in my voice unless I really prep.

      Anyway, it shouldn’t be hard to do. If you make a to do list or have work scheduled for yourself on your calendar, there’s your report.

      My boss trusts me to schedule my time appropriately and cares about outcomes, but if he asked me to produce a daily report, I’d cock an eyebrow at him and say “what’s up with that?”, laugh with him about the reason (for sure it will be an edict from above), then go forth and do it.

  14. nicmyles*

    LW4> Just want to say, as an copywriter both in-house and for agencies for 20 years, I completely endorse Alison’s suggestions here.

    You cannot stop people making suggestions about writing. But you can do three things:
    a) pick your battles. Edits will either make a piece stronger, worse or different (but neither stronger nor worse). Be open to the first no matter their source, fight the second as far as you can and go case by case on the third (eg based on seniority of where they come from). (worse here includes eg introducing inaccuracies)


    b) know your red lines. As a writer, it’s likely your job to make sure things are accurate; make sense (both inherently and for audience); deliver the planned outcomes; enhance brand/reputation and don’t damage them. Those are the things worth fighting hard over.


    c) it’s not your novel. Ultimately, you’re being paid to do this work, and the company can have whatever it wants. All you can do is give your advice (at a variety of strength levels) or quit (I have never needed to do this). Preciousness is death for writers in this context – the only question is does the edit make the piece better, worse or just different (return to a).

    1. Spooky*

      Agreed. I also want to emphasize that unfortunately, it will never get better. (My qualifications: I was a marketing writer for 10 years, and I was very good–good enough to make 6 figures as a writer, which is hard to pull off. )

      Everyone thinks they can write, and they think they can write better than you. That will never go away. Also, in my experience, most of the people rewriting things are rewriting it to match what they learned back in high school English, 30+ years ago. They have not kept up with linguistic changes and they don’t want to. They will not read your style guide. They will not even read most of your reply emails. They will simply roll their eyes and wonder why you don’t know the basics, and it will never cross their minds that they are the problem.

      Sometimes you’ll also get the “big word” people. At my last job, my manager thought that a good sentence was one with at least five words over four syllables, and bonus points for four dependent clauses or more. She thought it sounded smarter. It did not. It was unintelligible garbage. It was also a major hinderance for non-native English speakers, who were the majority of our audience–you can see the problem. You can track page hits and try to show that clear writing gets more hits than “impressive” writing, but it often does not work.

      After a decade, I got frustrated and left the field (I leave for my first job in tech in about 10 minutes! Yay!) But if you choose to stay, I offer you this wisdom:

      1) Your boss didn’t hire you just to write. They hired you to write about 30-40% of the time, and to push for good writing the rest of the time. We think of writers as being sort of quiet and bookish, but that’s not really what this career path is about.
      2) The writing must stand on its own. You don’t get to add an extra page explaining it, so if any of the edits are conceptual, that means when the page hits fresh eyes, it isn’t getting the message across.
      3) All corporate work is collaborative to some degree (similar to “this is not your novel” above.) You are not going to have complete creative control of any of your work projects. Make the decision about whether or not to stay in the field from there.

      Good luck.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Your boss didn’t hire you just to write. They hired you to write about 30-40% of the time, and to push for good writing the rest of the time

        I really like this framing!

      2. Marcella*

        That’s so true about high school English still guiding people decades later. I’ve even gotten jokey comments quoting an old English teacher when someone is disturbed by a contraction or something else that violates their sense of proper writing.

        Kudos on getting out. I finally went full-time as a freelancer because I rarely get edits back and I don’t have to see how the client butchered it.

    2. Doctors Whom*

      This is such great advice!

      I am a director-level technical person who collaborates with writers. I’ve gotten brilliantly written things handed to me and had to turn around and say “we are advised by counsel to avoid X term because it can be commonly interpreted in a way that means Y” or “there are statutory rules we are mapping to in this sentence- we need to return to the original phrasing with these 3 words” or “those words are not synonymous in this context” or other things that require content expertise but are never going to be in a style guide. LW needs to let go of the idea of “my” writing” and think of themselves as a contributor to a team with different skillsets that all need to come together to produce a team work product.

      1. Generic Name*

        I do a fair amount of document reviews in my role, and I find that folks who are fresh out of college tend to take a more “creative writing” approach that is not appropriate to our discipline (consulting scientists). I have to tell people to use the same exact term to refer to something and not to use a bunch of synonyms. It’s okay if this report isn’t the most entertaining thing a client has ever read.

      2. ChubbyBunny*

        Agree. Writers are often hired so that the reviewers aren’t staring at a blank sheet of paper – a lot of the job is literally just creating *something* to react to.

        OP4, I’d suggest you look at your job as 50% writing and 50% being easy to work with as you facilitate getting that writing across the finish line. Whether any of your original language remains in the final product or not, you had an important job in the process and you got paid. For me, I make a good salary and I literally do not care if a single word I wrote got used – I have a good reputation as someone who provides solid first drafts and cheerfully incorporates feedback and now I make more than I ever thought I would. Legal or whomever can literally strike every single thing I write and I will graciously incorporate edits and laugh all the way to the bank.

  15. Beth Jacobs*

    # 3 Go ahead and send the daily updates, just restrict yourself to five minutes so this doesn’t interfere with your real work. If your work is mostly e-mail based, it can be as simple as going through your sent folder and creating a bullet point for each resolved task. Honestly, it’s pretty nice to finish the day with a feeling of achievement.

    1. Curmudgeon in California*

      I keep a running document on what I’m working on, then turn it in as required. It helps me keep track, and helps my boss write his reports to his boss.

  16. Editor emeritus*

    Alison’s advice to LW4 is really useful. In my experience, when I asked people for a fact-check or to make sure nothing important was left out, they might make a few small changes or write a sentence or two (sometimes up to a paragraph). If it needed work, I’d make my suggestions and ask them if it worked. After a while, people would send me what they wrote and tell me to wordsmith/rearrange as appropriate. So by showing a willingness to hear what they had to say, I gained their trust.

  17. Nina_Bee*

    LW4: This happens in design as well (good ol’ ‘design by committee’) so I feel your annoyance in that! Sometimes you do need to make it less personal because someone may have information you don’t about the topic you’re writing about (especially when they haven’t briefed it). But other times, asking people why is enough to make them shrug and say they prefer it that way, which you can double check with your editor or just ignore (if that’s possible in your organisation). I often have to ‘explain’ why I did (or didn’t do) certain things when people get too comfortable telling me how to do my job (just to reinforce that I’m thinking about things they haven’t considered and there’s method to the madness). I find at least in design, it’s because people don’t know how to ask for certain changes without telling you WHAT to do (eg rather than saying “X messaging needs to be more prominent/eyecatching” they’ll say “make X font bold/bigger/put it in a box”).

    1. Other Alice*

      This, so much. And it’s worse when the org doesn’t have clearly defined roles/processes so people feel the need to give their input on absolutely everything.

      I remember a couple of jobs back, the VP of marketing went on a tirade on LinkedIn along the lines of “everyone thinks they need to give their input on our marketing materials, telling us to change the fonts and the colours and the images, but they have no idea what they’re talking about and are wasting our time and ruining our work”. Blunt but basically true. Except that the VP of marketing was notorious for driving the UI/UX team up the wall by demanding aesthetic changes that made the software barely usable.

      That workplace was a bit of a mess. It’s easier if people stick to giving feedback on their area of expertise, otherwise it’s really design by committee and you end up with contrasting opinions and never see the end of it.

  18. bamcheeks*

    LW4, to be a professional writer within an organisation, you need to shift your thinking from “my writing“, to “The Text”, and the really important thing you need to clarify here is who signs off on a The Text. All these edits — do you have to accept them? Are they suggestions? Do these people have authority over The Text or do you? Do you have to take their advice on content (“make it clearer that they’ll be able to SOMEONE, but not necessarily their named adviser”) or on specific words/sentences/paragraphs? Is one person authorised to sign off on legal accuracy, readability, accessibility etc, or are there several different people who need to sign off? How long should that process take, what is each person’s responsibility, what specifically are you asking for and when do you (or your manager, or someone else) get to say, “nope, this is fine now, close document and send!”?

    There will always be a bit of “aaargh” over someone taking your lovely and perfectly formed sentences and going, “nope, we can’t say that because Good Reasons”, and that’s true for literally every kind of writing that people pay you for. (The alternative is poetry or creative writing that nobody pays you for.) But the kind of frustration you’re experiencing — of having writing totally changed by a whole committee of people, and no idea whether or not you’re allowed to push back– is a lack-of-process-and-clarity-of-responsibility problem, not a writing problem per se.

    1. Green great dragon*

      I agree with all this, and especially the last line. It likely is a communal effort, to some degree. But that doesn’t mean you have no say in changes. For me, I do the first draft, then my job is to keep an eye on readability/overall story while others consider factual/legal/specialist knowledge, and make suggests for improvement *to me*. I’m not going to leave in something I’ve been told is wrong, but I may for example decide it’s better to add ‘usually’ than the suggested 3 sentences about exactly when something is true. Take it as them giving you information which you can use to improve the work, not telling you what it has to say.

      There really should be one person ‘holding the pen’ at each stage, who can decide between conflicting views. If it isn’t clear who that is, then you definitely have a process problem. If it isn’t you, then you need to let go. But if it is you, then it is part of your job to… not defend your writing, exactly, but bear in mind those factors that others don’t have to consider.

    2. LolaBugg*

      I recently moved into a new role in my org which involves some proofreading of technical documents and the trainer told me, “leave your ego at the door.” OP is feeling ownership of their work, which is normally a good thing, but you can’t get too attached to specific wording because it will probably be changed. OP may know more about the style guide than others do, but others likely know more about the topics of the writing than OP does.

      1. bamcheeks*

        I think it’s partly about ego and accepting that it’s a document that serves the company’s purposes rather than yours, but it’s also particularly about accepting that the first draft is just the first stage in an iterative process, and in some ways the least important one: that is not the place where you focus on “good”. You get something down on paper (A), then everyone tells you what you should have written (B), and then you take that and make it good and you (or someone else) signs off the final document (C).

        In many ways, it doesn’t really matter what happens between stage A and stage B: what happens between B and C is what will determine the final text and that’s where your energy should be. I think LW is focussing on A as Their Real Job and B-C as Something Stopping Them Doing Their Real Job, when really C is at least as important a stage in most business-writing processes, if not the most important.

        1. bamcheeks*

          Oh, and the corollary to that is: your job satisfaction lies in getting A Good Document out at the end. If the bit of writing that you love is A, you are going to find this job permanently frustrating. Yes, everyone moans about how the fckers in Legal have ruined their beautiful sentences, but to succeed as a writer, you have to actually find some satisfaction in the horse-trading bit: “OK, I’ve strengthened the section on llama hair types [and secretly carried out a denounification process on your sentences], but removed the history of currycombs because whilst fascinating, that’s not going to work for this readership. Does this work for you?” Cos that’s the job! If you see all of that as “the thing that prevents me doing My Actual Job”, it’s just a recipe for misery and stress and frustration.

    3. Scarlet*

      Agreed! I’ve been a writer and editor for 15 years. My favorite way to organize feedback is by asking everyone to provide their edits categorized by “Required” or “Consider.” So when others are marking up the text I’m circulating, I ask each markup to be prefaced by one of those two category terms. It’s helpful in two ways:

      1. When getting feedback especially from those higher up the food chain — if they really, really want me to change some specific language and they code it as “Required,” then it greatly reduces the intellectual processing time I take as I incorporate their feedback.

      2. It does seem to help with some of the wordsmithing others feel they need to do once they have to start coding their feedback this way. It causes them to pause to consider whether the edit is really mandatory. (It works the same for me when I am editing others’ work!)

  19. pcake*

    LW 4 – I am on the other side of your issue. I do a lot of editing for marketing, and I’ve worked with some experienced and often talented writers, and often they feel their writing is being criticized when I edit and change their work.

    The thing is, there are a variety of reasons for this. Keep in mind that the company owners or clients are really the boss here, not the editor. One of the writers I work with routinely writes a specific type of piece that’s much longer than we’re asked to write (ideally we’d have 800 to 900 words per piece – his routinely runs from 1200 to 1600 words); the long pieces don’t get read to the end as much as the shorter ones, and they often appear intimidating on phones, which about 70% of the readers s are on. Sometimes part of what is written is interesting, but it’s not focused on what we’re marketing – often, a writer will go into the history of the product, sometimes at length when our brief is to stay focused and impactful. If it were my own reading, I’d leave it as I like background, but that’s not what the people paying us want.

    Sometimes the reviewers I edit go off on long periods of criticism for something that isn’t a big deal to anyone but them. I leave the criticism, but I shorten it considerably. Sometimes the writers feel like everyone knows everything they know, and they may use terms that only the tiny niche of our business uses, or the writers may leave out context so no one outside our immediate industry will know what they’re talking about. And again, these are experienced writers, but we have to turn in pieces that the company owner is happy with.

    My main client, who most of the writers work for, has the last word in my editing – it’s not usually up to me, unless he and I talk it over. He say my editing and writing has improved the company income quite a bit, and that the site has more than tripled the number of returning bookmarkers. And that’s good for all the writers and me because the smallish company has more financial stability, so we all keep getting paid.

    1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      Along similar lines, I was wondering, are people “rewriting” the LW or are they addressing their own department’s expertise? Are the product managers waxing poetic about the product design or are they correcting misstatements about or wording that might lead to misimpressions of the product design? I sometimes write things that need various departments’ input and sometimes I AM the input. So I’ll correct legal misstatements but the actuaries will correct me when I get the actuarial stuff wrong. The communications department has a style they adhere to, and the director has a voice and message he may want. No one’s wrong there (and we’ll sometimes go around a couple times, also, while we align all the values). My husband is currently trying to deal with people who thought his shop was offering one thing when they were offering another thing, because of something someone misstated at one point.

      1. Data Bear*

        Indeed and verily.

        What I would recommend is that anyone who gets an edit from a subject matter expert should assume that, regardless of whether or not the edit is well-written, it reflects an inaccuracy in *content* that the SME feels needs to be corrected. The SME probably doesn’t care all that much about the writing itself, and likely will have no objection to their edit being re-written, as long as it preserves the nuance that spurred them to create the edit in the first place. So understanding *why* the SME recommended that change is absolutely key.

        I’m in STEM, and I have seen first-hand the way that scientific results can get mangled by layfolk aiming to write them up for a report or a press release in a way that is punchy and exciting. And I can look at what results and see how someone who’s not an expert could think the new version is equivalent to the original, but there are some cases where it’s really, really not. And for the SMEs, that matters. Even when the SMEs themselves aren’t very good at writing, they want writing about their subject matter to be accurate.

        1. Data Bear*

          (Are some SMEs making lousy edits just to put their fingerprints on the piece? Sure. The assumption that they are trying to correct an inaccuracy is just that, an assumption, and may be found to be incorrect. But it’s the right place to start when trying to evaluate their proposed edits.)

  20. Happily “Retired” from shift work*

    Regarding LW4…I occasionally replied to an excessive amount of edits with a comment that with all the editing I was asked to do I sometimes had to remind myself this one isn’t mine. I’m checking the mechanics (grammar, punctuation) and does this say what it’s meant to say not things like writing style. Varied message depending on the audience and situation. That helped control the I’d say it that way sort of edits that could be problematic if they got excessive.

  21. Janet Pinkerton*

    LW2—I don’t think you need to say both an hourly rate and an annual pay amount. I imagine you’re used to thinking of hourly wages, but in my experience that falls away in “professional” jobs. (But maybe it’s the norm for your field! Just something to consider.)

    Also, raises are never a guarantee. I feel like reading AAM has taught me that you can’t count on staying in the same job to raise your salary, even as you get progressively more skilled and take on more responsibility.

  22. Irish Teacher*

    LW1, given that it was just somebody who overheard, I think you could tell HR “no, I’m not leaving. X is mistaken. I did get an offer which I turned down and she must have overheard me mentioning that and misunderstood.” You could probably even leave out the part about the offer and just say, “no, I’ve no plans to leave. Whoever told you must have been mistaken.”

    I think it would be somewhat unreasonable of HR or your manager to retaliate against you for what is basically a rumour they heard. For all they know, it could be completely made up. If somebody told me a coworker was planning to resign and the coworker themselves said they weren’t, I would assume the person who said it was simply wrong. Now, I have no HR or management experience, but I wouldn’t assume people in those positions are any less likely to realise that people often make mistakes or even straight up make things up.

    I actually was told recently by a coworker that another coworker is likely to leave soon/is hoping for a management role elsewhere and I have absolutely no idea whether the coworker in question has told the person who told me or whether they are making a guess, like maybe the person mentioned being interested in management at some point or expressed frustration with their current job but…they might just have been having a bad day or thinking aloud about possibilities they might be interested in the future. I know that’s not the same as saying “x is planning to resign,” but I wouldn’t take much notice of something that doesn’t come from the person themselves. For all HR knows, the person who told them could have made it all up just to stir things.

    1. XF1013*

      If there weren’t witnesses, I’d agree with leaving out the part about the offer. The coworker who went to HR might have mentioned that LW1 was telling specific coworkers A/B/C about the offer when she overheard, which means that if LW1 says it never happened, HR would likely go to A/B/C to get clarification. This would make LW1 seem dishonest and even likelier to get pushed out the door over this incident.

      1. WellRed*

        Perhaps, even probably but this assumes HR really wants to distrust OP and do all this investigation. Maybe it’ll just look like this other person is a nosy busybody who doesn’t get their facts straight.

      2. Other Alice*

        I agree, ideally HR would take LW at their word but they might not do that. And if someone else tells HR about their conversation, HR might conclude that LW is lying about refusing the offer as well. It’s safer to stick to as much of the truth as possible: received an offer but turned it down.

      3. Irish Teacher*

        Yeah, that’s a good point. Probably better to say something about “they must have heard me discussing an offer I received and assumed I was accepting. I’ve actually turned it down.

  23. Gnome*

    LW4 – not a professional in writing, but I know exactly what you mean. In my job, teams are regularly asked to review documents. Sometimes, they are just bad (a strategy on incorporating llamas into the existing grooming practice that doesn’t address major issues specific to grooming llamas, like that they are taller than dogs and require special equipment). Sometimes they are ok content wise, but somebody decides to continue their 5th grade English teacher ‘s war against passive voice or dangling participles… And basically rewrites the whole thing, despite being in a position like chemist where writing is NOT the main point of the job.

    I myself am know to add in missing Oxford commas, but short of “this isn’t clear to me” or “this is wrong” I tend to leave the writing alone.

    I think Alison’s ideas are spot on, but they won’t fix everything. Last document that came through the office for input explicitly said, “don’t offer comments/edits on the Grand Pubah’s Comments section, as that is being rewritten and will be handled separately.” Of course, that was as heavily edited as other parts… And when I tried to course correct (our comments are turned in at a team level) the response was, “I am not in the habit of allowing the Emperor to walk around naked.”

    Go figure that particular person is super sensitive to criticism.

    1. hamsterpants*

      I may be on the other side of this. I’m an engineer and if someone left a dangling participle in a sentence about my work, I would correct it and not feel bad. I’m paid to be precise, or at least accurate, and dangling participles leave a sentence ambiguous. Unless the copywriters personally want to go to bat when a customer takes the incorrect interpretation of the DP, I need to make sure that written documents clearly represent my work.

      1. Gnome*

        Sure, but there’s clarity and there’s being obnoxious. Editing the Grand Pubah’s comments for dangling participles when it isn’t done is obnoxious.

  24. Candy Clouston*

    Re: Edited to death
    I had an issue with delays created by my boss’s boss editing a newsletter I wrote for the organization. I went to him directly and discussed the issue of diminishing returns (i.e., is the time he’s spending and I’m spending revising creating a significant improvement?) and how we might make the process more efficient. The discussion was very effective, reduced his tinkering, and sped up the process.

  25. I should really pick a name*

    For LW#5, perhaps this is naive of me, but I would expect that age discrimination from looking at your graduation year would be less of an issue when looking for internal jobs. I would think they’d put more weight on info from your co-workers/managers than your talent profile.

    1. irene adler*

      Why take the risk?
      In spite of what someone states as the hiring criteria, you never know what the actual criteria people use to select a candidate for a position. You can’t see inside a person’s head and follow the thinking.

      Bias against age occurs even if that candidate is a co-worker.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        And it can happen subconsciously – in fact I’d argue it usually does. You can look at Patricia every day and have a general idea that she’s middle aged and has a decent amount of professional experience, but when you see the graduation date in writing, especially if you’re comparing it to other people’s graduation dates, your brain just starts supercycling through data and you don’t even realize the value judgements you’re making. It’s so much better not to have the information on the page.

        I did an alternative school path and my graduation dates make me seem younger or less experienced than I am – I don’t list them either. It’s not useful data.

        1. Kayem*

          I took an alternative path too, but I recently started doing the opposite, striking the older college work (and experience) off my resume and listing only my recent degrees so I don’t get dismissed for my age. I’d rather have a better chance at getting to the interview phase so I can explain that I switched fields rather than having that evident up front and risking ticking some unconscious bias box.

      2. Penny*

        But if it’s an internal position they already know exactly how old the applicants are. That information is available in their personnel file. They also probably know the marital status of at least some employees as well as some of the employees who have kids. An internal transfer/promotion already has an element of potential bias built into it because of how much an employer knows about you. And if having a copy of your diploma on file is one of the requirements they already have that graduation date as well. So I can see why no one vetoed the graduation date when they created this process and why other employees may have brought it up. I know if I complained about it at all it would probably be along the lines of “why do I have to give you information you already have!”.

        1. Churpairs*

          In my org, I do not have access to the birthdates of my direct reports. That lives with HR, which is separate from recruiting, including internal recruiting. No one would with access to that info has an active role during the recruiting/interview process.

        2. Eyes Kiwami*

          A good org has clear lines between what coworkers can see, what your managers/management chain can see, what HR can see, what IT can see… even within HR, what payroll can see vs. what recruiters can see. Just because you submitted your diploma when hired doesn’t mean your manager can see it, and certainly not a manager of another org in the company (in a well-run organization anyway!)

    2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      I think older people get the assumption that they’ll retire soon and people want someone who’s going to stay in the role for X years.

      1. I should really pick a name*

        Yes, but I’m wondering if they even bother looking at graduation year for an internal application.

        For an external applicant, all you’ve got to go on is a resume. For an internal person, you’ve got performance reviews, managers, coworkers, clients etc… so I’m not sure how much they’d pay attention to the resume details.

        1. Observer*

          Yes, but I’m wondering if they even bother looking at graduation year for an internal application.

          That’s a reasonable question. But you have to wonder why it’s even there for internal applicants.

          1. I should really pick a name*

            Quite likely because it’s a default option and no one gave it a second thought.

        2. Mockingjay*

          Presumably an internal applicant has to meet the same qualifications as an external, so it makes sense to use one list of criteria for both pools and provide comparison points. Nearly every place I’ve worked has posted internal/external listings at the same time. I’ve always assumed that when applying internally, I’m up against external applicants too. And the resume is needed because Dept. A is not always aware of what Dept. B works on.

          I agree that including graduation year can induce unconscious bias. OP can bring it up matter-of-factly: “how about leaving off the year for [reasons Alison stated]?” If the system allows (most don’t but should), I’d even ask: “can we provide redacted resumes for all applicants, removing potential biases? Names, locations, grad dates?”

      2. This is Artemesia*

        People often have no idea how old someone is. When I retired I got constant queries about why I was retiring so early; I was 67. When I finally said to someone ‘if I can’t retire at 67, when then?’ They were shocked; they literally thought I was in my mid 50s. (alas my looks have caught up now what with letting the hair go white). Lots of people have no idea at all how old their peers are and so having to put the dates on an internal promotion document might in fact take you out of the running.

        1. Flash Packet*

          Yep. I’m 55 and my co-workers think I’m in my early 40’s. And I have no desire to correct them. :-)

      3. Totally Subclinical*

        Of course, the younger person who’s hired may still leave in X/2 years because they got a better offer or they need to move for family reasons or they decide to change careers.

    3. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yeah, for internal jobs they presumably already know how old you are so I can’t really imagine the graduation years changing anything.

  26. MistOrMister*

    OP2 – my current employer gives 2% raises. Two. Percent. Not even vost of living raises. They do this no matter how well you are doing. You can be the best employee in the firm and you’re still only getting 2%. If you go in making 40k that means your first raise is less than $1,000. You can work there 30 years and never hit the 70s if you’re lowballed going in and don’t get raises through promotions. While you generally onboard for less when you don’t have experience, you don’t want to assume you’ll be getting big raises (or any raises. Some places suck where raises are concerned).

    In my first office job I was thrilled with the offer b/c it was more than I was making in retail. Didn’t negotiate at all. Got a raise about 6 months later and was living large, so I thought. Come to find out my new fancy raise put me at the same level as someone who had just started. This with me having 6 months experience and being praised as one of the best people in my department and this new lady having no experience at all. I was livid. This was about 15 years ago and I still remember how mad I was. You don’t want to be in the position where you just take anything offered and then find out others are getting paid more that have the same or less experience.

  27. AITA*

    Question about age discrimination in general. I’m hiring for a relatively entry level position. For the most part we’re getting fresh out of school applicants which is what I would expect. Every now and then I get someone who has been working longer than I have been alive applying. If they’re background matches what I’m generally looking for Im typically willing to talk with them, but I also ask HR (who sets up the interviews at my company) to make sure they know this is entry level, because I know we’re not paying 20+ years of experience salaries for these roles.

    Most people decline to move forward at that point but sometimes people want to move forward. I’ve had a couple people come in who have plainly told me that they are just are looking for something to do for another few years until they retire or are eligible for Medicare etc.

    I’m not looking to hire someone who knows they want to be gone in 2 years and if someone came in at age 25 and said “yeah I’m planning on moving on by 2025” I also would not hire that person.

    If I don’t move forward with a candidate for that reason exclusively is it age discrimination?

    1. Not your typical admin*

      Not at all. It would be age discrimination if you assumed because of their age they would only be there for a few years, not when they openly tell you what their plans are.

    2. Jessica*

      If you want someone to stay for 5 years, and someone explicitly tells you they only plan to work for 2 more years, and you don’t hire them, that’s not age discrimination. If you see the person is older and assume “oh they probably only want to work a few more years” and eliminate them from your pool, that’s age discrimination.

      Also, I would look hard at whether your hopes are realistic. I don’t know if this position is new or if you’ve hired for it before, but if there’s a track record, how long do people usually stay in it? Many younger employees may also move on from this entry-level job in a few years, and that might just be something you have to plan for.

    3. Ambrianne*

      I sympathize! I’ve been a director at a small (150 employees) company and have hired a lot for entry-level work. I don’t know what your industry is, but if someone said that to me, if they seemed good otherwise I would probably keep them in the pool. Nobody should stay in an entry-level position for very long in any case. If they’re leaving to retire, is that worse than if they’re leaving to move up? I can see how the answer would be yes if in your industry you hire internally most of the time.

    4. bamcheeks*

      If you’d also discount any 24 year old who mentioned they were planning to go back to graduate school in two years, it might not be age discrimination. But the way you’ve described this, it does sound kind of discriminatory, because I bet a lot of your 22-24-year-old employees do move on after around 2 years– just because that’s really the normal expectation for entry-level roles– but you have mentally classified that as “natural progression” but feel kind of cheated if an older employee actively states their plans to retire in two years.

      For anything like this, the thing you really need to do is analyse why you have this thing as a criterion, whether you can actually write it in the job description/person spec, and if not, why not. Sometimes there are valid reasons why you can’t, but sometimes the reason you can’t is because it’s an assumption you’ve made about the role and the person you are imagining doing it, and not something that you can actually substantiate or justify.

      So: why do you need someone who is going to stay longer than two years? Is it because there’s clear growth in the role over that period? Or because the role retains a lot of company/organisational knowledge and there’s a significant business case for having someone who stays in it 8-12 years (and a pay structure to reward that longevity)? Or because you explicitly use this entry-level role as a pipeline and train them up to be your Fully Qualified Folks of 2025? These are all really valid things, and stuff you could probably express in the JD/PS if you wanted.

      If there isn’t really any kind of longer-term structure to this role, and you’re calling it “relatively entry-level” but also ideally looking for people who are planning to commit to 3+ years, and you do also feel kind of annoyed at younger people who leave after 2 years– I mean, that’s not necessarily discriminatory, but also it doesn’t sound like great hiring practice?

  28. D-the-comms-guy*

    4 – I’ve been a writer for 15 years and “rewriting by committee” is something you have to get used to. It’s not a reflection on the quality of your work, it’s a reflection on the needs/hang ups/biases and sometimes petty politics of the people you write for.

    Remember, it’s not about you. And once you let that go, you can focus on doing your best work and being happy you did your best.

  29. Alice*

    OP2: I accepted a salary, when I was changing careers, that I thought of as “good for an entry level person.” I did not know at the time that my salary at this company would go up slowly and in a regimented way:
    No COLA
    Annual merit raises between 1 and 3 percent
    A grand total of 4 promotion raises, each one 5%, stretched out over 15 years
    I was a babe in the woods. My last job before that (in a different industry), I had gotten raises between 10% and 30% every year.
    At the VERY least, ask about their raise/promotio/advancement structure before you accept a low current salary in anticipation of a higher future one.

  30. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    What kind of HR person follows up on a rumour and asks for a follow up on your resignation letter?!

    Good HR would wait and see because circumstances change all the time.

    The LW doesn’t say their boss asked them about it. If HR spoke to LW1’s manager, the manager was smarter in taking a “wait and see” approach.

    1. EPLawyer*

      I wondered that too. Oh random employee comes and tells HR that other random employee is leaving, I must ask RE2 where their resignation letter is. Instead of you know, seeing if RE2 actually leaves.

    2. Annie*

      I’m in HR and I wouldn’t be allowed to “just wait and see” if someone left. If we heard that they were thinking of leaving, I’d have to follow up with them and get an answer. I wouldn’t be impressed with the employee who eavesdropped and brought me this info, however – they’d be on thin ice and I’d be watching out for issues with their relationships in the workplace.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yeah I would also be required to investigate. I definitely wouldn’t ask for someone’s resignation letter but I’d definitely have a “what’s up?” conversation. I hope that I’d get a brush off of an answer because that’s the correct way for OP to handle it, and I hate having to do that dance, but if they do leave suddenly and my bosses find out I had advanced warning and just sat on it that comes back on me.

        1. bamcheeks*

          This is so wild to me. We absolutely operate on plausible deniability. We might have *heard* that an employability is job-searching or even has a job offer. Even after someone directly tells us they have a job offer, we don’t act on it until they formally hand in written notice.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      It does make me wonder what else (because I’d bet dollars to donuts this isn’t the only thing) HR just react to without employing any kind of critical thinking.

    4. NotAnotherManager!*

      I work with a lot of people fresh out of school who come with varying degrees of professional experience. If I hear someone on my team has submitted a resignation, I’m going to check in on it simply based on past experience where someone didn’t know the process for resigning and just told one person who may or may not be the right person to notify or where they did something like moved to a state in which we’re not licensed to do business without letting us know.

      The key is to approach it in a way that it’s easy for the employee to confirm or deny without judgment. It needs to come across as a check-in versus feeding the rumor mill.

  31. Heather*

    I am an editor in a corporate environment. People make changes to prove that they read the whole thing. People make changes because their part of the process is so much more complex, why did you only devote 100 words to it? Don’t expect that to change.

    You are yourself not being attacked. You wrote the first draft. You would have gone through and reshaped it anyway. Maybe send out a less final version, and polish the one you get back. Where people catch factual errors, legal issues, typos, grammatical errors, or have improved the text, thank them.

    Where their changes disrupt the flow or lengthen the article, talk to them about why they wanted the change. Aim to build trust.

    If it’s not clear already, discuss with your manager how to react (in general, not case by case). Do you retain the right to incorporate only the shape of their idea? Can you cite house style on language, jargon, or word count limits? Who approves changes that alter what was commissioned? I once had a 3000 word piece arrive with a plaintive note asking for my help cutting it. I halved it, but her manager needed 500 words back, which neither of us wanted. It was still a win – 1000 words shorter.

    In the end, with all corporate writing, it’s not yours. It’s the company’s.

    1. River Otter*

      “ People make changes to prove that they read the whole thing.”

      Heh. I used to be in a position where I regularly would write up a report and send it off to an editor. I typically did not see it again after sending it off, but occasionally an editor might send it back to me with their edits intact for a question.

      Now, the editors were looking for very specific content related things. However, I did notice that they frequently also changed my text in a way that didn’t make it better, just made it different. I should add that I am a better than average writer. I am no Toni Morrison, but I do get compliments on my work writing. I always got the feeling that the editors just felt like they had to make edits to show that they were doing their job.

      I admit that this is a little bit passive aggressive of me, but when they would send it back to me with their own edits, I would add whatever additional detail I had left out but also changed the text back to what I originally wrote because none of their changes added value and there was nothing actually wrong with what I wrote in the first place.

    2. This is Artemesia*

      Lots of people feel they won’t look like they did the job if they don’t make changes; sometimes you can prevent this by saying something like ‘we aren’t expecting to make changes, but want your eyes on this to make sure we didn’t get anything factually wrong and of course let us know if you catch a typo.’

      1. londonedit*

        This is what I do with my authors. By the time we get to proof stage, they should have finished any rewriting and major reworking (and they know this), so when I send them the first proofs I always frame it as ‘We’re not expecting to make substantial changes at this stage, but please let me know if you spot any typos, or if any facts and figures need to be brought up to date’. Of course you still get people who can’t leave well alone, but it does help to cut down on the amount of ‘Oh goodness well I was reading through and I just thought we’d probably better actually cut some of chapter 3, and now I see it again I think some of the material in chapter 6 would be better moved towards the end of the book, so if we could do that…oh and by the way I’ve asked a friend to write a foreword so can we add in an extra three pages?’ nonsense.

    3. Caraway*

      A strategy I use sometimes is to ask for help in a specific section or with a specific sentence. Like, “please make sure I described this process accurately,” or,
      “I need help with phrasing this,” etc. It’s always a part that I genuinely could use help with, and it lets people feel they contributed/show they read the whole thing while also helping to direct their comments.

  32. Ambrianne*

    Per OP5, if it’s close to or actually is age discrimination to require graduation dates, what about dates worked?

    I’m in my 50s and trying to get back into an industry I left for full-time parenthood in my 20s. Within the last ten years I have gained experience relevant to the job I want (consulting, management, budgeting, etc.) but the 30-year-old experience is also relevant because it’s so industry-specific.

    Most online applications ask for the last five years and specifically say to not list anything any further back. But I still have the old, relevant experience on my resume and address it in the cover letter. Is that all I can do?

    1. irene adler*

      Some applications have a skills section. You can list relevant skills there. Cover letter works too.

      Might also find a way to indicate the skills obtained but not the time period in which they were obtained.
      Another tactic (one that I use) is to list the jobs but instead of start/end dates, indicate number of years worked at each job. BUT I shorten this a bit. For example: I’ve worked in my current job for over 20 years. I indicate “over 10 years” experience. And that it is my current position. Yeah, this does not work for those that only ask for the last 5 years of experience.

      Sucks being an older worker.

    2. WFH with Cat*

      I am dealing with a similar issue, although involving the type of work I want to return to and not a specific industry, so I know it can be frustrating!

      My sense is that pretty much *every* industry and type of work has changed so significantly over the last couple of decades that we would both doing ourselves a disservice by putting those earlier industries/careers on the resume. It’s simply far too likely that doing so will make us look out of touch and lead to outright rejection. Also, ageism is horribly common and impossible to combat if we never even get to the first interview.

      In your case, perhaps you can mention in your cover letter that you worked previously in X industry, that you have been excited by the advances A, B, C that you’ve watched develop over the years — showing you are in touch with current issues, standards, etc. — and that you are eager to return to that industry with all of your greatly expanded skills, etc.

      Best of luck with your job search!

    3. A Yellow Plastic Duck*

      I wouldn’t list any jobs older than 10 years. In truth, most people don’t care about anything older than that.

      I agree with listing the older skills in a skills section. Don’t list the company or date. Just list that you have the specific skill or experience. If they should ask you about it, just say you picked it up when you worked for XYZ corporation. To keep your resume concise you only list your most recent positions.

  33. Didi*

    OP4: This is absolutely a thing in writing-based roles. You have to develop a thick skin for editing, or you will be miserable.

  34. Sylvan*

    OP4: Hi, copywriter here! Receiving feedback from informed and uninformed people is a part of your job. There’s no avoiding it. You need to get comfortable with this, and with identifying which feedback is useful and which isn’t.

  35. Annie*

    LW3 I want to push back on the idea that daily updates are horrible. Sure, they require a level of visibility and accountability that some people may find annoying. But it’s also a very normal, very reasonable thing for a boss to ask of you. They want to know the updates/status of all projects. This also doesn’t ask much of you in terms of time. Just keep a running list in an email draft of what you did and hit ‘send’ at the end of the day. So many of us have to do these, it feels weird that every question about them gets an answer of “totally unrealistic, push back hard!” Pushing back hard on this is going to do more harm than good in many roles. Reporting to your boss about what work you got done is not ridiculous.

    LW4 Thicker skin. If you want to write for a living, you have to also agree to be edited for a living. You can’t be precious about your words. This is actually a concern for job fit. A lot of writers simply can’t tolerate being edited and those are the writers who can’t do it for a living. Everything you write is going to be edited, often beyond recognition. They’re not paying you for “your writing,” they’re paying you to put together a first draft for edits.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I disagree about LW3. If it’s something that’s part of your normal workflow, fine, you know that. But as a change, daily updates are a lot. During a busy time I might give my boss updates weekly or biweekly – if it switched to daily I’d be feeling a lot of what this OP is feeling. It’s also more work for the boss to be monitoring on that level, so few bosses will take it on if there’s not a reason. I agree with Alison – it’s reasonable to ask what’s going on.

      1. Alice*

        I’ve started documenting my time allocation in more detail – for myself, not my boss, btw – and it takes a significant amount of time to do this “meta-work.” If it’s one minute to document each project I work on, and I touch 20-30 projects a day, that adds up to about 2 hours a week! That’s so much time that I actually checked in with my boss at the beginning of our fiscal year to say, I’m going to start doing this, in case he might object to “losing” 5% of my official scheduled hours. (Of course the reason I am doing it proactively is because I work a lot more than I am contracted to, so it’s not 5% of my actual work time….) Anyway, depending on the degree of detail in the documentation, and the amount of task shifting in the nature of the job, daily reports can absolutely be a significant burden.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          When I worked for a consulting firm we billed in 6 minute increments, and I had to keep a contemporaneous log of what I did on what project for how long, and fill out my time card from that. Because I was so anal, when customers could come back and ask “What did Curmudgeon do on this project?” and I could tell the project owner exactly what I did, even a year later. This kind of timekeeping was needed to help the firm get paid. Also, since we did some work for the federal government, it helped with out auditability.

          1. Alice*

            Which is workable, if everyone know not to expect instantaneous task switching. Or maybe I will get quicker with time.

            1. Curmudgeon in California*

              Yeah, the idea was that you would work a few hours on Project XYZ, then a few hours on Project ABC, but keep track of your time to the tenth of an hour. Because minimizing context switching was needed to get everything done in a day, so you would have to plan your work.

    2. Editor emeritus*

      I think there’s a difference between giving input to the content and editing. Both rely on particular skills (knowledge of the subject, expertise in writing and editing). When done well, editing is an important part of the writing process. I think the OP is talking about people with no expertise in that area who have been asked to give input on the subject about which they are knowledgeable. There are some good ideas here about how to work with subject matter experts who want to wordsmith, although it’s not their area of expertise.

      A thick skin is important, but so is empathy. In my experience, the subject matter experts who wanted to do detailed editing, or the non-writers who didn’t want to be edited, were the most insecure about their place in the business.

      1. RagingADHD*

        From the way the letter is written, I am concerned that the LW can’t tell the difference, because they are reacting from their feelings of pride and frustration.

        Sometimes “wordsmithing” actually changes the meaning of the passage, and if the copywriter only has a superficial understanding of the product /service/legal/branding issues, they might not be able to discern what’s really going on.

    3. River Otter*

      LW3 — daily updates are possibly better than daily one on ones, if writing a daily update takes less time than having a daily one-on-one. It’s only been two months since the daily meeting stopped. I agree that LW should ask what is driving the need for such frequent updates. I don’t agree that they should ask as a way of pushing back. I think they should ask for their own clarity in understanding the work style of this manager and this office. It might make more sense to them once it is contextualized, and once it makes more sense, the sense of anxiety and not being trusted will diminish. reducing their sense of anxiety and not being trusted should be the end goal for this LW. That can come from updating their boss less often, but it can also come from changing how they view the daily updates.

    4. kiki*

      Yeah, it depends on your industry, workflow, and how detailed these updates need to be, but I give a brief status update every morning and it’s good for making sure everyone’s on the right page and that everyone is prioritizing work correctly. I don’t think my boss is tallying how much work I get done each day or keeping track how quickly I get through any particular task, but this way he knows “kiki is working on X, she says it will probably be done Wednesday. I can get back to X stakeholder and let them know it should be done by the end of the week.”

      1. Annie*

        Right, if someone asks about a project, the boss knows the most recent update. Super confused why everyone is getting their pants tied up in knots over a normal, common request.

    5. Observer*

      Sure, they require a level of visibility and accountability that some people may find annoying

      *THIS* is exactly the issue that people have a problem with. You are assuming that THE reason that people don’t like the idea of daily updates is because they don’t want their work to be visible and they are pushing back against accountability.

      Nope. I suggest that actually READ what people are saying before making such broad statements.

      They want to know the updates/status of all projects.

      More often than not daily lists of what you have been working on don’t actually provide that. In fact they often don’t even provide status on the particular projects you’ve worked on that day. So if that is REALLY what you are after, you need to be very explicit and make sure that you ask for “Daily STATUS UPDATES”, not “what you worked on today” lists.

      This also doesn’t ask much of you in terms of time.

      Not necessarily true. Especially since many workflows actually don’t lend themselves to your “keep a running list” idea. And that idea totally doesn’t work for status updates!

      1. Annie*

        Thanks for the healthy dose of condescension on a Monday! Love it. If you would “actually READ” the post, you’d see that their issue with it is “it leaves me feeling untrusted and anxious”. They have zero hesitations about the time, usefulness, or feasibility. Just that it leaves them feeling untrusted and that makes them anxious. Sending a list of how they spent their time will reassure the manager and create the opposite of “untrusted” feelings. OP should have been counseled on their inappropriately strong emotional reaction to a very normal, super mundane and reasonable request, but I always forget that the antiwork community is out in force on these comments.

        1. Observer*

          Thanks for the healthy dose of condescension on a Monday!

          That’s one of the (unintentionally, I assume) funnier things that I’ve read here. You shoot a large does of condescension at people and then complain that someone else calls you on it?

          I read what you wrote. And what you wrote – and just repeated – confirms the “feeling” people are getting. People “feel untrusted” and therefore “anxious” because they ARE untrusted. Not because they don’t want their managers to know the details of what they are doing, but because they reasonably believe that their managers generally don’t need a blow by blow description of what they have been doing each and every day to have a good idea of what they are doing and what’s going on with their projects.

          But according to you, the fact that people don’t want to do this kind of minute record-keeping is because they are uncomfortable with accountability and visibility. Providing a daily log is not going to make the employee who needs to provide that log feel any more trusted and I can’t imagine why you would think otherwise.

          They have zero hesitations about the time, usefulness, or feasibility.

          Not true. A number of people have actually mentioned the time, effort and usefulness (or lack thereof) of these types of logs. The fact that you choose to ignore that doesn’t lend much credibility to your argument.

          OP should have been counseled on their inappropriately strong emotional reaction

          The OP wasn’t actually be all that emotional. I wonder why you are projecting so hard. When someone receives a request that indicates that they are not being trusted, it is reasonable to feel untrusted.

          Having said that, Alison does actually point out that it’s possible that this is not a trust issue and advises the OP to find out why the manager is asking for this.

        2. Parakeet*

          “Normal” and “mundane” really depend on the industry, organization, and role. If this isn’t typical for the OP’s industry/org/role, or the OP isn’t sure what typical is, it makes sense that the OP would be anxious about it.

          Direction of changes also matters a lot. There could be benign reasons for the manager to make this request, which is why the OP should ask like Alison said, but it’s not unreasonable for the OP to wonder if the manager has some kind of issue with their work. “Didn’t have to do this before and now I do” is a really different scenario from “this was always part of the job,” in the same way that in first aid, someone whose blood pressure is dropping (even if it’s still within an acceptable range) is in a different situation than someone with the same blood pressure but it’s their usual day-to-day blood pressure.

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        I have worked for consulting firms that what your time tracked in 6 minute increments, tracked by day, because that is the minimum billing increment, and every increment needed to be either charges to a project (good) or overhead (not good.) We also did work for the feds, so auditability was very important. Even though we were salaried, we turned in weekly time sheets, and some weeks I would have a two page time sheet. These time sheets were used for billing the client, so we needed to be accurate, and have logged what we did for that time.

        If I took an hour and six minutes inserting results into a report, it went down as “Project, Adding in results table to report, 1.1 hours.” Some people were lucky, they did field work so their time sheets had stuff like “Project JKY.fre, field sampling, 10.8 hours” for one day.

        Even our managers did this.

        1. Observer*

          I have worked for consulting firms that what your time tracked in 6 minute increments, tracked by day, because that is the minimum billing increment, and every increment needed to be either charges to a project (good) or overhead (not good.)

          Sure, there are some good reasons for various level of logging. But for a situation like this, the OP’s manager would ideally have explained this. As a practical matter, the OP needs to know what information they need to include, and I think that most people would not realize that they need to include fairly detailed time spent for each item, and that they pretty much need to account for ALL of their time.

  36. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

    OP1, stay away from the person that reported you to HR, if you know who they are. I knew someone like that in a previous job and they were a serial backstabber, who had no shame to do whatever it took to be the owner’s go-to person. No need to say, they were excluded from every beer night and lunchtime.

    1. LDN Layabout*

      If someone is openly discussing leaving in the office, it’s nonsensical to consider it in any way private information.

      The person who said something probably assumed LW1 had informed HR already, since who would be stupid enough to discuss something like that within an open office without it being a done deal?

      1. idiot, i guess*

        LW1 here. Did you read my letter? It’s barely an open office. You clearly missed some details. Maybe read it again.

        LWs read these comments. Try not to be so mean?

        1. LDN Layabout*

          What details did I miss? You were talking about this loudly enough that someone outside of your group of friends heard you. Within the place that you work.

          Someone wouldn’t even need to be malicious with this information to blow your world up, they could have simply said to HR ‘hey if we’re going to be interviewing for X position, you should know I’m on leave for two weeks in August.’

          I apologise if you felt I was being mean, but frankly the commenters are coddling you for a series of bad mistakes (including going off on your friends when you had no idea what had actually happened).

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            “since who would be stupid enough to discuss something like that”

            was unkind at best.

            1. JB (not in Houston)*

              At best. You can disagree with the commenters and the OP without being mean about it. Saying that commenters are “coddling” the OP is also unnecessarily hostile. You can disagree with people without going that far.

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yes, obviously it was a mistake to talk about it in the office and OP has clearly learned that lesson. No, it is ridiculous to suggest the person probably assumed the LW had already told HR.

        1. LDN Layabout*

          If someone is openly talking in the office about leaving their job, why is it ridiculous to assume they’ve told HR?

          1. LW1*

            Because I did not announce that I was LEAVING my job. I was waiting on the details of a job offer. In my conversation with my (trusted) coworker, I never mentioned that I was taking it. Never said an end-date. Nothing of the sort.

            I confronted my friends/coworkers because they were the only people I told. And I told them to keep it to themselves. Perfectly appropriate for me to assume one of them told HR, rather than this snake hiding in the shadows listening to us talk.

            1. LDN Layabout*

              Snake hiding in the shadows? What, were they hiding under your desk waiting for hot gossip?

              Or were they at work and they heard someone being excited for a new job offer?

              1. LW1*

                If the second scenario is the case, please tell me what makes it right of them to tell HR anything about what I said. Just because they overheard me?

                If you were this person and you heard someone talking about this – without them coming TO you – without any details on what is actually going on – would you go to HR and tell them that someone is leaving the company? Doesn’t that make you look bad?

                I have no idea what logic you are basing your defense of them on.

                1. LDN Layabout*

                  No, I wouldn’t, because it’s none of my business. But not everyone is going to think that way.

                  But I could see why someone might do so, from knowing they’d be asked to participate in interviewing or asking to cover work that would be left by the person leaving or even just being happy for someone and not realising it didn’t work out. The same way you’re friends with people in your office, someone might be friends with the HR person.

                  Which is why it’s important to look at what you can change (your own behaviour) vs. what you can’t (someone else’s).

      3. JB (not in Houston)*

        Even if the LW was “stupid enough” to discuss in the workplace the fact that they got an offer, that doesn’t excuse the eavesdropper, whose whose business it certainly wasn’t, running to HR to say that the LW was leaving. That person was (a) involving themselves in something that doesn’t concern them and (b) making a conclusion without all the information and then passing on that conclusion as fact.

      4. starfox*

        Honestly I could see myself accidentally saying something about it, either assuming that HR had been notified or just not thinking about it since it’s such a small office… Like “oh, since LW is leaving…” or whatever, having absolutely no idea that it was supposed to be a secret since it was already announced loudly enough for me to hear it.

        1. LW1*

          This is what I don’t understand. When you’re talking to HR, even in a friendly matter, you don’t filter yourself?! You just give up others’ information that you overheard?

          Of course people can be friendly with HR the way I am with my coworkers. The difference is my coworkers are not in charge of hiring, firing, employee relations, etc. If I were buddy-buddy with someone in power, I would still watch what I say.

          1. starfox*

            I’ve never worked anywhere that had HR, but I probably wouldn’t if we were friendly, particularly if I didn’t know it was such a “secret” considering you discussed it loudly within earshot of me.

            1. LW1*

              How many times do I have to repeat (and this was stated in my letter) that I was not speaking in a loud voice, and I did not know that particular co-worker was there at the time?

              Some of you sound like a JOY to work with.

          2. JustaTech*

            At my company our HR person is really good about being friendly and approachable without actually being *friends* with anyone (that I’ve been able to see). Our HR rep is really good at avoiding scuttlebutt and gossip, and I really respect her for that, because I have to imagine that it could be a pretty lonely job.
            Part of why she does this is to avoid letting anything slip, either from her or to her, that shouldn’t be shared.

          3. allathian*

            Sure, whoever it was that told HR did you wrong and you’re lucky that at least you haven’t been fired and escorted out with your stuff in a box. And you can probably course correct by telling the truth, that you were waiting for an offer that you decided not to accept, as you said elsewhere in this comment section.

            But regardless of whether it was someone you told and asked not to tell anyone else and who turned out not to be worthy of your trust, or someone who happened to overhear you talking to a work friend, I hope you’ll keep what happened in mind in the future, and no matter how friendly you are with a coworker, don’t tell them things you wouldn’t want management/HR to know.

  37. SweetestCin*

    LW2 – guaranteed raises are a plot device in 1980s movies and sitcoms, not a reality. There’s no “promise or potential” for higher earnings, there’s just what you negotiate for today.

    Mileage varies of course, but I’m a late Gen-Xer and I’ve never seen these “big merit raises” unless, of course, I’ve done the “disloyal” (/s) thing and found myself a new job.

    Promise and potential for higher earnings does not pay your bills today. Please do not undersell yourself.

  38. Lacey*

    LW4: Welcome to creative work! Where everyone who’s never done it is sure they know better than you!

    It’s true that there are companies that are better or worse about this. I can’t speak to writing specifically, but I’m a graphic designer and we see a lot of similar editing. But I think it’s also something you can’t get away from entirely.
    Or maybe I’ve just never worked at a good enough company!

    I’ve been in place where they basically just want to do it themselves with no input from me – except to move the mouse and click things. And I’ve been at jobs where they mostly let me do my job, but occasionally insist on something absurd because, “I like it this way”

    1. Karo*

      I think once you’ve become just the extension of the mouse, graphic design is much worse than writing. Once someone starts micromanaging any creative process that closely, all you can do is pray and/or start a count of how many shots you need to take after work in order to be willing to come in the next morning. In those instances as a writer, once I’ve pushed back as much as possible and died on my hill, I can just accept all changes and do a grammar review before publishing. I don’t think I’ve ever had to sit and make edits that I know are bad at the direction of a suit who thinks they know best.

      When the process isn’t that closely micromanaged, though, I think writing edits are worse than graphic design edits. The problem is that most people write in their day-to-day lives (things like texts, emails, social media posts) so they (1) think they know how to write professionally and (2) are able to open the word doc and type in it. While people are less able to articulate what they want from designers, they’re at least also generally not going to have Adobe Suite (nevermind be able to work in it), so designers have an opportunity to interpret what the idiot editor wants into the least harmful thing before sending it back.

      1. Lacey*

        Generally people are pretty aware that they don’t physically know how to design (though Canva is changing that, thanks Canva) but they all have eyeballs so they think they know what good design looks like.

        It’s hard to make them understand that design conventions are there because they work, because then they think they’re doing something “innovative” by ignoring them. And while they can’t physically make it happen, they can say, “Have you seen the Hobo font? I really like that. Please use that. And Curlz.”

        But, I do understand the pitfalls of any idiot being able to open a word doc and “fix” your writing. Where as they can scream “USE CURLZ” at me all day… and I can just lie and tell them it doesn’t work in Photoshop.

  39. Jam on Toast*

    For the LW whose manager is asking for daily updates, you might respond by suggesting that the team adopt a work task management application, like Jira. Jobs can be broken down into stages and subsections, assigned to individuals etc. This allows anyone on the team, especially managers, to see the status of a project as it moves forward, as well as notes on challenges, set-backs, timelines etc without extra reports being written. You could frame it as a boon to the team and your manager as a time-saving strategy that will avoid duplication. If they respond with “Only you need to report your activities, not the team” then you know you’ve got a bigger issue as folks above have suggested.

    1. Gnome*

      Ugh! I HATE JIRA. It takes so much extra time. I mean, great if you are doing agile software development, but as a manager and as a staff person doing other types of work, it is a lot of extra work for very little gain. I can cover the same in a set of bullet points without having to log in, find/create a ticket, update the ticket, etc. And let’s not forget when someone “updates” it so that you can’t log in or whatever.

      Most non software development managers have processes that don’t work well with it. I worked someplace where there was some programming, but no true software development. People kept pushing JIRA to the management, saying it would do wonders, but when I started managing, I saw that didn’t touch half of what managers needed.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Even when I have Jira tickets, I have to report to my manager which ticket’s I’ve been working on, and what their status is, because very few managers can work with the Jira reporting features.

        Plus, a lot of people only comment on Jira tickets when they are done with a simple “Done”. (I personally hate this – if I have to do something similar a few months later, I need to know what they did.)

        I had a manager one time who loved reading my Jira tickets because they were detailed. He couldn’t get others to be that thorough. I did it so I could remember what I had done already in case the ticket took me more than one day, or if people came back saying it didn’t work right.

        Using Jira well is an art that most people don’t have. If people are just going to write “Done” as their only comment it doesn’t add any value.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      Project/task management tools have their place – one of my teams very successfully uses a tool that is not dissimilar to Jira, but it’s very customized to their team’s work, integrated into their workflow, and easy to use. They also need the historical record for multiple reasons specific to their line of work.

      For teams that are small or whose work is less routine or is made up of short-term project, I find that ticketing or task-management apps tend to add a layer of bureaucracy that can take more time and effort than the task itself. I also work in a billable hour environment where we’re already asking people to enter their project time (for customer billing) and they time worked (to pay them and comply with local labor laws), so also asking them to do a bunch of task tickets (versus a very short, bulleted email) would be a bridge too far. Someone would be writing in to AAM complaining about how it takes them over an hour each day just on administrivia.

  40. Environmental Compliance*

    LW2 – I get it, honestly. I started in gov’t paid barely anything. Great reviews, great feedback, and minimal compensation. When I transferred to private sector, I was legit shocked and didn’t know how in the world anyone would pay me that amount.

    Luckily my spouse talked me into just rolling with it and asking for mid-range! I had a 70% increase in that first job, and am now 120% increased over that last gov’t job. If I had asked for the lowest option, I would be *thousands* of dollars behind where I am today.

  41. You Changed it to WHAT?*

    LW4, My main gig right now is basically ghostwriting marketing/PR blogs for a giant corporation. Lots of good points above but I wanted to note that while you will always need to bite your tongue about some edits, there’s a *huge* difference between marketing/PR writing and almost any other writing for hire. My advice is, if your name is on it, pick your battles but fight them strongly; a shoddy final product will impact your future prospects. However, if like most marketing stuff it’s uncredited (or at least not credited to YOU), my advice is to find another writer to vent to so that you can learn to laugh off their horrible, horrible changes. There are always elements of corporate nuance in a gig like this, so some stuff will get changed because the stakeholders have a specific way of referring to a product, etc., and that’s unavoidable. But you’ll also almost always deal with a hierarchy of approvals, and each person on the ladder needs to justify their position by making some kind of…oh, let’s call it “contribution.” To me, those aren’t battles worth fighting. If your immediate manager/handler is happy with your work, you’re doing your job well. Beyond that it’s not worth worrying about.

  42. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

    LW4: Do you have a super-clear sense of what you’re supposed to accomplish with your writing and how it will be assessed?

    I manage a lot of writers, and one challenge I’ve often found is they want to prioritize “good writing” in the sense of good flow, beautiful word choice, etc. But what we need is “writing that accomplishes X thing” — which is, frankly, often not great writing. Like, I couldn’t care less if your piece flows – our audience isn’t reading it in order. If your word choice could get us sued, I don’t care how well-thought-through it is. And at the end of the day, if our audience isn’t buying our products based on your writing, I am (and others are) going to get a lot more hands-on with editing.

    So one way to handle this would be getting super-aligned with your manager on what your goals are and how they will be assessed. Then, when you get pushback from folks who aren’t writers, you can say “I’m doing it this way because [[we have 4 years of data demonstrating this call to action works better than your proposed one]] or [[we’ve A/B tested this language and it won against all the challengers we tried]] or [[we’ve run focus groups and looked at polling data that indicates our audience responds better to this]] or [[I’ve gotten extensive anecdotal feedback from our clients that when we say it this way, they don’t understand what we mean]]” or whatever business case there is. That distances you from “personal opinions about what words we should put on this piece of paper” and gets you into “negotiation with colleagues from different backgrounds about the best way to achieve the goal you all share.”

    It also serves as a useful gut-check — if you’re pushing for an edit that doesn’t matter for the goals, the relationship will probably be better served by letting it go.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      So much this. I have a manager on my team who complains that I “red pen” them. I do this because they tend to write from their perspective of what’s important and not think about the audience. I provide goals for writing assignments, I’ve given feedback, I’ve provided templates, I’ve explained on each specific edit why I’ve changed what I did. It’s just not their strength. (Fortunately, writing is a minor component of their job, and they are very, very good at the major aspects of it.)

      With my audience, you get 1-3 sentences. It’s all BLUF and bullets. If you haven’t grabbed them by then, they’re not reading the rest. That does not comport with this particular manager’s meandering, storytelling way of communicating, so I edit them in order to make sure the message gets out concisely, clearly, and with a higher chance of being fully read.

  43. Critical Rolls*

    LW2: You look out for your interests and let the business look out for theirs. They will anyway. What’s in your interest is getting paid the most the business is willing to pay you. What’s in their interest is deciding how much that is within the band. “Carpe diem” is only half the phrase; the rest is “quam minimum credulo postero” which means “put little faith in the future.” Do NOT take a low wage in expectation of future raises that may never materialize, or barely cover cost of living if they do. Workers rarely have more bargaining power than at the moment when an employer first makes an offer. Take advantage while you can, because, I repeat, more money sooner is what’s in your best interest.

  44. Momo*

    Ugh, my boss started asking me for daily task lists to justify a raise (I’m admin and my job has tripled since when I was hired – I’m now also the IT person, building maintenance go-to, HR assistant….basically all of the hats). I’ve been suffering severely from burnout and the last thing I needed was 1. the insecurity of knowing that he didn’t think I was working hard enough to justify it, and 2. the knowledge that he doesn’t actually realize what I do, and 3. ANOTHER TASK.

    All my sympathy.

    1. KRM*

      Ugh, I feel that. I had an old boss ask if I actually wanted to be promoted (note that we’d discussed several times previously that I did want to be promoted, but I did want a career path that didn’t involve me ending up managing a bunch of people and projects), and then he wanted me to send him a list of my accomplishments to justify it. I should have pushed back more, but TBH I was already looking at that point (I hated the area I ended up in when the company solidified departments and HR was dragging their feet on my request to be moved), and it didn’t feel worth arguing with him. He turned out to be a worse boss than I even thought (based on stories from others who reported to him), but it was shocking that we had spent the summer having meetings with other departments where I presented my very interesting high profile project data to everyone and got great feedback, but he needed to know “what I did all year”.

    2. JustaTech*

      When I had to do daily time recording (ugh) I had a pre-filled out line for every day “completed this form, administrative, 15 minutes”.

      (I do a weekly “what I did this week, what I’m going to do next week” for my boss, but it’s literally a bulleted list, and it’s been useful come review season to remember what exactly I did.)

  45. Blarg*

    On LW 5 —

    How to handle things like “3 years post-master’s experience” type things? I’m in my early 40s, got my first degree in ’02, my second undergrad degree in ’10, and my master’s in 2018, with the master’s being a supplement to the second undergrad degree. Should I just include the 2018 master’s and leave off the undergrad dates?

  46. Karo*

    I write content for in-house marketing teams and there are a few things I’ve found to be most helpful.

    First and foremost (like Alison said), clearly spell out what you need reviewed. “Review for accuracy,” or “tell me if I lied anywhere in here” or “does this statement make sense.” If you can pull out the specific paragraph or page they need to review from the rest of the document, do that.

    Second, explain what the purpose of the piece was. More than once I’d send something like a whitepaper around to be reviewed (written to be general recommendations and oh by the way we offer that service) and would get it back as the most blatant piece of sales material I’ve ever seen. I don’t know that explaining the purpose helped too often, but it made me feel better when I did the third thing, which is…

    Third, ignore stupid edits. If they’re adding/removing Oxford Commas and you don’t like what they did, ignore it. If these people make the same edits every time, add a note when you send the first draft over calling that out, but otherwise ignore it.

  47. Qwerty*

    OP4 – I do a lot of rewriting edits for things sent my way. It’s because stuff gets lost in translation! Trying to explain what is wrong about a sentence in the comments is inefficient and often ineffective, so I just rewrite the section. The writer or marketing person than makes it “fit” by translating it to match the style/voice or may rewrite the sentence/section to incorporate the new understanding. It allows us to get a doc ready with the least amount of back and forth and I end up having a good relationship with tech writers and marketing team.

    If you don’t see a difference between your work and the rewrite – ask! Especially since you are working with product people, they are probably seeing a nuance that screams big difference that an outside person may not see. Or it could be a word choice that they think oversells/undersells/causes confusion about features. The more you work *with* these people to understand what is going on, the easier it’ll get and the less edits there will be. Or at least it’ll give you standing to push back on these edits.

    Finally, “everyone thinks they can write” really doesn’t sit well with me. I get that you are frustrated, but writing is a basic skill and this comes off a bit insulting. Clarify to yourself first what you are bringing to the table – the style, voice, branding, etc.

  48. Miri12*

    I’m a technical writer, and evaluating and incorporating extensive edits are part of the job. You can be a very talented writer and still need a lot of edits! Don’t take it as a knock on your abilities or ego, and don’t feel so personally attached to work writing.

    I’ve worked at companies where all feedback and edits must be accepted unless it’s really factually wrong, and I’ve worked at companies where accepting edits is really at the writer’s discretion. So your ability to push back on edits is going to really depend on your company’s culture and structure. If you get style edits from a non-writer like a developer or PM, you can probably push back if the edits are genuinely bad or unnecessary. However, you have to at least consider whether the reviewer’s edits are correct or not. It can be hard to tell the difference between “this edit is a personal style preference and I like my version better so no thanks” and “this edit brings the text closer in line with the style and tone of the rest of company documentation, even if I personally think it sounds weird”. So I recommend just accepting most or all edits when you’re new at a company until you learn the company style better.

  49. Student*

    LW #4: In my job, we write lots of long technical documents. For us, it’s important to know two things when considering edits:
    1) Who “owns” the document? As in, who is responsible for this document getting completed? Who decided what the document was supposed to accomplish and commissioned it?
    2) Who is the subject matter expert for each section of the document?

    For our process, the owner of the document should be making most of the calls on edits. We have a process where people submit their edits, then the main technical writer goes over those edits with the document owner. Sometimes tech writer is also the owner, but usually not for us; usually, the owner is a project manager and the tech writer is a member of the project team.

    The document owner will usually let the tech editor make most of the calls on grammar/spelling/style edits, but manage the major content edits more closely themselves. For major content edits, like factual changes, we consider the source of the edits. Subject matter experts for their respective section of the document take precedence unless something very unusual comes up – we hire them to be experts in their subject, so it’s in our best interests to take their advice in their area of expertise. However, subject matter experts often fancy themselves experts on EVERYTHING, and that’s where the document owner needs to step in and make calls on when someone has overstepped or referee when two experts disagree.

  50. H3llifIknow*

    Ugh at people editing other people’s writing! I used to be an English teacher prior to switching to a very different career. When I send anything out for review, I always say, “Please use track changes and edit for content only. I will fix any grammatical or syntax errors in my final draft,” or something along those lines. And if anybody DOES try to change something incorrectly–OMG the sheer number of people who want to change every “me” to “I” ALL the time, or incorrectly use “call myself or Bill” makes me crazy, but I digress–I simply “Reject” the change. If they change for substantive content “We are using THIS piece of equipment, not that one” etc… I “Accept” the change. It’s your document; you don’t have to accept all their edits. Choose judiciously the ones worth keeping.

  51. Product Manager*

    I am one of those Product Managers who provide changes back to writers like LW4. I completely understand the annoyance of group editing, and it sounds like there are some roles/responsibility issues at the OP’s company. That said, in my highly-regulated, highly-technical industry there are a ton of instances where beautiful writing style is secondary to content and legal considerations. It’s important to realize that it isn’t personal and that there are often a ton of reasons why something as innocuous as a word choice may need to be changed. If the situation warrants it, my advice is to partner with your content experts on this type of change, they usually have a reason that they are willing to share. This could inform some of your future work. Incidentally, I’ve seen this happen in design as well. I once had an artistic director argue with my team because our changes were “ruining his artistic vision.” Unfortunately, his artistic vision had our product being held upside down by someone in a scenario where it would never be used.

  52. tessa*

    I can so relate to LW4, although not quite in the same context, but still. It’s like people aren’t trusted to be the professionals they are, and it is SO frustrating. Alison’s advice is spot on; many years ago, I had a mentor who recommended that I always ask for specifics on what my input should be on someone else’s work, and I have never looked back.

    Great topic, LW4. Glad you wrote in.

  53. Eliza*

    OP4, I have been a writer for many years but recently started a position with much more “editing by committee” than I’ve ever experienced. Honestly, once my primary editor/manager has approved my draft, I just let go and let god. If people want to make changes that make it worse, it’s no skin off my back. I realized pretty quickly I was not going to change the editing culture here, which long predates me. (The one major caveat is that my name does not appear on the final product. I think if it was I’d push back more.)

  54. the wall of creativity*

    My father in law is invested in some FTSE tracker. He checks it every day. When it goes up it’s a great investment. When it goes down he’s asking me whether he should sell it. I tell him he’s checking performance far too often. The best performing investments will be risky and will have bad days among all the good ones. If he’s going to check every day and talk about getting out every time there’s a bad day, then maybe he should just invest in cash. That way he’ll see a
    positive return at the end of every day but over the medium to long term his returns will look pitiful against what he could have got if he’d invested for the long term.

    Looking at you OP #3.

  55. KC*

    LW 4 – I’m a copywriter and often have this issue as well. Maybe you could talk to your manager by framing it as a “too many cooks” situation and ask for just ONE person to give input as the “project lead” of sorts. I agree it’s frustrating to have your work picked apart by multiple people – especially when sometimes people’s opinions of how a piece should read are conflicting!

    Best of luck to you…and also solidarity :P

    1. Grey Panther*

      #4: Can’t locate the citation for this so I’m paraphrasing, badly.

      Mike Wallace once quoted Molly Ivins as saying, “The overwhelming human need is not for food or water, but the need to f**k with somebody else’s copy.”

      In this, as with so many other things, Molly was right. (Wish she was still around; I’d love to hear her take on events of the past several years.)

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        The version I’ve heard is “With writing for other people, it’s not theirs until they p*ss in it.”

        Yes, I’ve been known to deliberately leave a typo or bad tense match in things for nitpickers to find. If they miss it, I fix it in my last pass.

  56. Kelly*

    LW5 – If the employer wants to verify your education they may ask for your date to make it easier for the school to search for the record. However, that shouldn’t be asked IMO until they are ready to check it out (and if done by a third-party service there should be a means to convey the info directly to the investigator – same with other biographic data that may be of use in a background check that may be indicative of protected statuses, like actual DOBs or transgender deadnames).

  57. not neurotypical*

    OP 4: Writer AND editor here.
    1. There’s no such thing as “a good writer.” You could be a brilliant poet who couldn’t write a persuasive essay to save your life. You could be a gifted essayist who writes clunky press releases. You could be a deft copywriter whose short stories are amateurish. So, the question isn’t are you a good writer in general but is your writing what those who have hired you are looking for? If there are a lot of edits every time, it might be due to the dynamics you suggest, but it might also be that many of those edits are improvements in the direction of the purposes for which the pieces are written.
    2. “Defending your writing” is definitely something to do for anything that will be running with your by-line, but even then (especially for journalists or those writing for nonprofits with nuanced missions) editors will expect you to take edits undefensively. If you’re writing things that will go out without your by-line, shift your focus from defending your writing to collaborating to meet the needs of the organization.
    3. Sometimes, especially when writing for hire, it can be useful to make an effort to discover the “voice” that the organization prefers and pitch your writing accordingly. For example, if you naturally tend toward long and complex sentences but the voice of the organization favors simplicity and concision, then your perfectly wrought lengthy sentences will be chopped up over and over again, no matter how graceful they seem to you.

  58. Texan In Exile*

    LW4, I see you! I wrote a story for an internal newsletter and asked the relevant VP to review it FOR TECHNICAL ACCURACY.

    Not only did she copyedit and rewrite a lot of the story (and do so very badly), she did so without track changes on.

    I was livid, but because she is a VP, my boss and I decided to let her changes stand.

    What I wanted to do was tell her that I don’t tell her how to design security systems and she doesn’t tell me how to write.

  59. RagingADHD*

    Re: writing and editing.

    Speaking as a writer who has been doing it a good bit longer than you, please take this in the spirit of encouragement and exhortation rather than criticism.

    First, if you are going to last in a writing based career, you need to get your ego all the way out of your work. Put it in a box, take it home, and set it on a velvet pillow where you can talk sweetly to it at night. If being edited hurts your feelings, this career will be constant torture for you, and you’ll be miserable. You deserve not to be miserable, and “not getting edits I disagree with” is not an option. That’s like being a dentist who can’t stand the sight of saliva. There’s no avoiding it.

    Next, I am going to presume that your edits are at least partly coming from people who have been in the company and industry longer than you, and who are good at their jobs. (If that’s not the case, you should be looking for a new job anyway). If the company was doing well before you got there, then these folks know how to meet the needs of the market and the business.

    It is normal for a first draft to get edits from different departments, and for the writer to incorporate the necessary changes, choose the best/most important option when feedback conflicts, and ignore the irrelevant ones (like grammar that contradicts house style).

    What I am not seeing in your question is any distinction between business-related edits and the irrelevant ones. You just lump them all in under “Everyone thinks they can write.” That is extremely concerning. Being able to assess and prioritize the feedback you’re getting is a crucial skill.

    Do you have a strong understanding of the relative roles / expertise of your coworkers, and why their edits matter? Perhaps you do have that knowledge but didn’t include it. If you don’t have it, you need to!

    They didn’t hire you to control the final product. They hired you to produce a first draft, and to manage the revision process so that the business’ needs are served.

    That copy has a very specific job to do. If you’re getting completely torn apart in editing, that usually means the first draft is not accomplishing the business goals that it needs to accomplish. You need to know why.

    As Neil Gaiman says, when people tell you something isn’t working, they are almost always right. When they tell you how you should fix it, they are almost always wrong.

    You need to understand why it isn’t working, when the suggestions on how to fix it are right or wrong, and how to determine the right way to fix it.

    Ask questions. Lots of them.

    This will grow your understanding and ability to triage edits. It will also change your relationship to the process, so it feels more collaborative and less critical / adversarial.

    Your number one concern should be making sure you don’t miss anything you need to know about the business function of the copy. Your colleagues aren’t attacking your work. They are *helping you reach your goal.*

    1. JHC*

      I love that Neil Gaiman quote. Another way to put it came from Winnie Holzman, the creator of My So-Called Life and bookwriter of Wicked:

      Say you’re at a party. Someone suggests you drink some water. Someone else suggests you drink some coffee. Someone else suggests you go lie down. Someone else suggests you take a walk around the block. Someone else offers to call you a cab. Someone else offers to take your car keys.

      It doesn’t mean you should necessarily do any of those things – but it does mean you’re drunk.

    2. New Mom*

      This response was so helpful. If you have time, I had a question for you since this is your line of work. I’m not the original OP but I’m going through something similar. I offered to write an Op-Ed for an organization that I volunteer for and to help expand my network. They were very eager about the Op-Ed, I knew that there would be a few rounds of edits but here is where I would love some clarity on “normal” and “not normal”. I wrote the Op-Ed with prior input, and even interviewed someone because their story really brought the human element to it.

      We then we through 2-3 more rounds of edits from the larger volunteer community before sending it to an editor at the publication. He provided his comments and asked us for a draft. This all seemed normal to me, but this next part is where I’d love your opinion. Another person at the volunteer organization asked to be credited as a co-author which I thought was weird, but felt I couldn’t say no. Then they said that their own organizations’s MarCom team needed to review the doc (after we had already sent it to the editor) and they made a whole bunch of stylistic edits, and took out the person elements so it’s very general now. I kind of feel like we should just ignore their input at this point because the volunteer org already agreed on a draft and we already sent it to the publication’s editor, and also, this is really about the volunteer organization and not about the places where we are employed. For example, I’m not involving my own organization and having my MarCom team go through it.

      Anyway, is that normal? What is your take?

      1. RagingADHD*

        That’s entirely different because it’s a volunteer situation where you don’t have any built-in expectation that the people giving input have institutional, product, or client knowledge that you might not be privy to.

        I have no idea why the person requested to be a co-author, but I assume they had to run it by their Mar/Com team because if they had their name on it publicly, they were representing their organization. I think you would have been better served to say “no” up front and take the blowback, because they are going to be even more aggravated about being told “no” after they told everyone at their office they are co-authoring the piece.

        But now you really have to. They have derailed the purpose of the piece.

        Since obviously their own organization does not approve of what they had to say, tell them that you are not going to name them as co-author and will proceed with the approved version, because the revised version that meets their employers’ requirements is unusable for the org’s purposes.

  60. Jackie JormpJomp*

    LW4, remember that just because something you have written makes sense to you, that does not mean it will make sense to others. Part of the editing process is using your editors as a test audience to see if you are convincing, clear, motivational, or whatever you are trying to be. You do not have to accept all edits, but you should consider each suggestion as an individual telling you, “This is the way I understood what you wrote.” There may be merit, especially for those who don’t think the same way you do.

  61. MidlifeMidlevelManager*

    “It’s not inherent to writing-based roles, but it is inherent in organizations that aren’t clear about what role each person giving input should play. It’s normal for other people to review your work, but they should each get clear instructions about exactly what input to provide — like “please review pages 5-6 for accuracy” or “review for anything that could trigger legal issues,” etc. You should also be clear about what type of edits and you can and can’t accept at this stage — “please only flag factual errors at this point; we aren’t looking for a line edit” or whatever.”

    This is really fantastic advice, thinking particularly about how I have learned to modify my writing and reporting process for a wide range of stake holders, and how having requests this direct will help me manage my frustration about ALL the feedback.
    I am lucky, in that my immediate supervisor and I work VERY well together in generating language and ideas, but, generating information for wider audiences is a very different story. My team is full of gifted writers and editors, by nature of our field, and I especially like the “please only flag factual errors”.
    I tend to think of work writing as projects (because they usually involve multiple people/departments), and, the other thing that has helped lower my frustration, is using the MOCHA system from Managing to Change the World. Mapping out some big communication projects that were mostly “mine”, with all the of the stakeholders involved, has helped lower some of my internal attachments to projects, and, talking through nuances has helped me grow as a writer. It is maybe a shift in thinking, but the reality in my work is that anything that I write that is for an external audience, will involve at minimum 2 people reviewing, and may involve many more than that. Clarifying why someone is involved from the outset REALLY helps reduce “extra feedback”. It works well in the other direction too, if I know why/how/where you need my review/input, it helps me focus on giving quality feedback in my area, and move on.
    It’s lead to more investment, and also, more trust in the skills our teammates bring to the table, which extra benefits.

  62. DD*

    LW1 When you talk to HR and your boss about the snoopy busybody tattler if you take the strategy that they heard a snippet of a conversation and misunderstood I recommend using words that paint the busybody in a way to diminish their information and way it was obtained.

    For example – when Bertha was eavesdropping on our conversation they must not have stood outside the door long enough to hear me say how surprised I was by getting an unsolicited offer like that and although it’s flattering I have no interest in it.

    1. RagingADHD*

      LW, if you are concerned about your standing with your boss and HR I absolutely do not recommend snarking about your colleague. People aren’t robots who just hear your words as data. They see your behavior and assess your character accordingly.

      Don’t be petty. Nobody likes to work with petty people, and if your boss is already giving you side-eye for your tendency to blab about your job hunt, this is only going to make things worse.

      1. starfox*

        Absolutely this! Granted, I wasn’t there, but it doesn’t even sound like the person was intentionally eavesdropping but rather just there when LW didn’t realize it. And I also think it’s possible, since they mentioned something to HR “in passing,” that they didn’t realize it wasn’t public yet (since LW wasn’t using much discretion when excitedly announcing the job offer to their friends) OR that they just spilled the beans by mistake without thinking about it.

    2. I'm just here for the cats!*

      I could see that backfiring in so many ways. 1. If they are in an open office plan where sound travels it wouldn’t have been just listening for a moment. Busybody probably heard the whole conversation. Depending on what was said I would go with what alison suggested or I was curious what was out there but I decided I like this much better.
      2. Theres always a chance that someone else could say something which would show the lie. best to stretch the truth than out right lie about busybody eavesdropping at the door or something.

  63. New Mom*

    OP #4

    Thanks so much for writing in about this! I’m literally going through this last week and now bleeding into this week and it’s making me so mad and resentful. I was even thinking about writing in on Friday for advice so it’s so helpful to see what others are putting in. I recently offered to write an Op-Ed and then way too many people got involved and everyone has their own agenda, and it’s gone through so many rounds of edits that I want to say enough is enough. One thing with my situation is the one person who I feel like could step in and make the final call seems to have some weird office politic-y thing going on with some of the many editors so they won’t just say no, which has now taken something that I initially offered 5ish hours of my time to something that doesn’t seem to have an end. So annoying, but at least now we both have some great ideas for the future.

    I love the “we’re only taking edits for accuracy instead of style”. Good luck!

  64. A Yellow Plastic Duck*


    IMHO, there have been too many high profile age discrimination cases where they have used graduation dates to determine a person’s age to assume this is an innocent practice on the company’s part.

    There’s a reason you can’t ask a person’s race, religion, gender, or age on an application. It feeds people’s unconscious bias.

    In the LW’s shoes, I would enter 1998 instead of their actual year of 1988. If they ask later in the process, you can just say you made a typo.

    Are you technically lying? Yea, but they’re circumventing the age rules by asking for a graduation date up front.

    1. No pineapple on pizza*

      I don’t want to derail the comments, or start a debate on professional norms in different countries, but I am curious about this. How does removing a graduation date help prevent age discrimination, when a list of previous work experience (number of jobs, positions, responsibilities) could provide clues as to the age of an applicant? And when an applicant is called for an interview, their approximate age would be evident anyway. Can someone explain?
      (Alison, please delete this is it would be more appropriate to ask in the weekend thread. I’m just curious about this, as in my country the standard procedure is to provide the date for everything: if you don’t, your application will be immediately rejected.)

      1. A Yellow Plastic Duck*


        • 60 years old
        • Graduated college in 1985
        • 35 years experience

        Subtract 1985 from 2022. That’s 37 years ago. Add 22 years (youngest people typically graduate college) and you can determine the person is at least 59 years old.

        Let’s say over that that 35 year career you have worked for multiple companies and had multiple positions at most of those companies. Putting all that info on a resume would result in a 10 page resume. The truth is, most of it isn’t going to be relevant to the position you are applying for. So, you put the last 15 years of experience on your resume, because that’s all that is relevant.

        You’ve got a resume with no college graduation date and 15 years of experience. How old is that person. They could be as old as 60 or as young as 37.

        “And when an applicant is called for an interview, their approximate age would be evident anyway.”

        Of course they can, but at that point you’re a person, not some numbers on a piece of paper. You have a chance to overcome the bias.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Exactly. I only keep experience since 2004 on my resume, and only because I want to emphasize my experience and ability to stay at a company more than two years. I will be dropping it off in my next update. The fact is I have over 40 years of work experience spanning two careers. I also am not planning on retiring for another decade.

          Why managers keep looking for someone who will be around for 10 or more years when the average tenure at any job is two to three years I don’t know. There is a lot of magical thinking going on, and it isn’t me. Would I like to be able to stay at one place for the next decade? Hell yeah. But the realities of the field I’m in (tech) don’t support that.

          As far as “approximate age” is concerned, that can be adjusted up or down by various makeup, dye, and other cosmetic measures. Dying your hair some color not found in nature takes about ten years off of your appearance.

      2. allathian*

        Omitting the year of graduation only works if you can submit a resume that only contains your most recent and relevant work experience, rather than a CV that contains basically everything you’ve ever done.

  65. A Yellow Plastic Duck*

    LW1, leaving for a new job

    This is a good time to ask for a raise.

    Your tattle-tale colleague has put the idea in management’s head that they could lose you. When’s the time companies offer the biggest raises to employees? As a counter offer when they submit their resignation.

    1. LW1*

      While I am not sure I will ask for a raise (just did that about a month ago actually, and succeeded) – I do think I am going to use this as an opportunity to have a frank discussion about my position and work at this company. Some things have gone down that were toxic and unfair, and they know it. I think if anything I will get it off my chest in a way that is respectful but gets everything out in the open.

      Why do we have to be hush-hush about this anyways? Shouldn’t employers know that their workers are so unhappy/unsatisfied that they are looking elsewhere? Don’t we have the right to be vocal about that without being penalized? Regardless, what my coworker did was entirely out of line. Ugh.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        You don’t have to be hush-hush! However, you are the one who will take on the consequences of your company knowing you are job hunting, so it’s entirely your call whether you can risk all the things Alison listed – being managed out, fired, laid off, kept off big projects, etc. That means it is YOUR call whether to share, and so your coworker was a butt.

        We encourage people to share when they’re job hunting/making new plans at my job and make it safe to do so – sometimes we’re able to retain them, sometimes we help them find opportunities, ideally we’re able to manage transition, and encouraging openness about plans helps because the nature of our work requires a lot of long term planning. Some companies penalize people for being open and they’re caught by surprise every time. Only you can know how safe you feel being honest in any given environment.

  66. GoldenHandcuffs*

    LW4 – I feel ya! I’ve been writing for almost 20 years in my current position and have at times, had various people who I disagreed with on a particular piece of writing. You’ve gotten a ton of good advice here already but one thing to do is check in with your manager on this. They might have some guidelines for you on incorporating edits. For example per my manager, if my director makes an edit to something, I’ll generally include it and if I feel strongly about what she’s changed, I’ll usually try to make an argument back about why it should be “this way”. But sometimes you do just have to acquiesce to someone else especially if they outrank you. Conversely, when I have edits from our product team (I’m in marketing) I pretty much ignore them unless they are factual edits. We’ve had to have a few conversations with our product team and their management about who is responsible for what and sometimes it sticks and other times it doesn’t. But in the end, I know that we’re responsible for the “nice marketing speak” and the brand overall and I know that my manager will back me up on that if they ask why certain edits haven’t been made.

    Also, I know it’s hard to not take it personal but the more you can do that, the better you’ll feel in the end.

  67. No pineapple on pizza*

    I don’t want to derail the comments, or start a debate on professional norms in different countries, but I am curious about this. How does removing a graduation date help prevent age discrimination, when a list of previous work experience (number of jobs, positions, responsibilities) could provide clues as to the age of an applicant? And when an applicant is called for an interview, their approximate age would be evident anyway. Can someone explain?
    (Alison, please delete this is it would be more appropriate to ask in the weekend thread. I’m just curious about this, as in my country the standard procedure is to provide the date for everything: if you don’t, your application will be immediately rejected.)

    1. BTDT*

      I removed 10y of job experience from my resume/LI profile because I work in a field where age discrimination abounds. In fact, when I was applying to jobs a few years ago I got zero callbacks on my full resume and 2 out of 2 job offers after I cut out half my work history.

    2. I'm just here for the cats!*

      You don’t have to put every job you ever had. I think most older folx would only put the last 10 years or so on their resume, and/or what was most relevant. Positions and responsibilities does not equal age.

      Yes it’s true that seeing the applicant in person could show their age as well. However, they would have at least gone through the process. And the company may even think about considering them if they get a chance to impress the interviewers. By making applicants put their graduation years its much easier to weed them out without even considering them.

      Also there are many people who look way younger than they are. I worked with a lady who I thought was around her late 50’s. I was shocked to find out she was in her mid 70’s!!! So even seeing the applicant in person may not be a clue.

  68. BTDT*

    OP5’s letter reminded me of a story. I went to grad school in my late 30s and had to complete an internship in order to graduate. In applying for internships 1 company required degree dates in their job application portal. Because it was an internship, they only accepted recent grads or current students so the degree dates you could choose were very limited. But they required the user to enter their current and previous degrees – both with the same limited date options. I couldn’t apply because my previous degree was almost 20y old. I emailed them about it but nothing changed. The next summer I was curious and looked at their system again. Same thing. Terrible.

  69. Midwest-y*

    I’ve worked as a corporate writer for 20+ years. My advice is to take every article/story less personally. It may go through 2 to 3 people and be heavily edited before approval. It has nothing to do with you or your writing ability. Again, you’re a content creator, and your job is to create content — and make it readable. You will write so, so much copy over your career. And likely no one will remember it, including you. Finish the job, and move on.

    And yes, it is OK to be specific about what you want reviewed or explain that you may not be able to make all of their editing suggestions. The only exception would be if it’s a direct manager — your boss/grandboss/executive direct/board member, etc. Best to make their changes and move on.

  70. jill*

    Re Daily updates:
    it’s the norm in my field for us to have a daily meeting and give a daily update.
    but that’s for *everybody*.

    find out if this applies to your entire team (a new directive from the boss) or is for just you.
    if the former, then it’s ok; if not….find out what results they want.

    but if it feels bad, start job hunting.

  71. Don't Call Me Shirley*

    LW 3 – ask why, but I would think knowing at least as much detail as “spent yesterday helping Alice with a shaving malfunction, so today finally getting to Bob’s TPS report” is necessary to manage people? Otherwise how does a manager know who to ask to help Charlie with a report Danny usually does, and that Eve is taking longer than expected to learn one thing and needs a hand from Fred who is the old hand.

    I don’t manage but I know what kind of roadblocks I can jump in and solve in 5 minutes with my team, and I don’t want my teammates to spend a week trying to figure out something I can help them with after they try for a day.

    Also, this kind of reporting can highlight who is swamped and needs help, and who is focusing at least part of their days on lower priority tasks which can be dropped to help on something else.

  72. Fez Knots*

    Sadly, I would argue that OP4’s experience is absolutely par for the course in copywriting and writing jobs in general. The OP’s statement that because it’s writing everyone thinks they can do it absolutely tracks.

    While I love Alison’s suggested wording here, I can only see it working in some freelance capacities. Otherwise, the real downside of writing work is knowing that editors and clients get final say on copy and it’s rarely well received for a writer to push back on that.

    I would say if there are specific style sheets, it’s okay to point to a concrete example and ask if the edit should override the sheet. But often agencies and clients rely on “tone of voice” documents that are nebulous at best. They’re not hard and fast documents that can be used to support a writer’s choices.

    I would encourage the OP to separate yourself from your work as much as possible. It isn’t really your work, after all, it’s the agency’s or the client’s. A big chunk of copywriting is sometimes polishing a turd, where you’re being asked to write a piece/article/social media post on a weird subject with weird directives that you probably wouldn’t recommend if you designed the assignment yourself. When the assignment sucks to begin with, it always seems to attract more “editors” who think the writing is weak when the real weakness is in the assignment itself.

    It’s hard not to take writing criticism personally, believe me, I know. It’s a learning curve! But the more you think of your writing as a service for your employer (just like you would any other office or job duty) and less your “creative property,” the happier you’ll be.

    ALSO, worth noting for those in the comma debate: my agency doesn’t use the Oxford comma!

  73. Jenn*

    I don’t see a problem with a manager wanting to understand what tasks are being done. My team and I do a daily meeting where we all report what we got done yesterday and what we are planning on doing today – myself included as the team leader – and it keeps us all in alignment. The team seems to really like it, when we started doing it I got specific positive feedback from my team members. It encourages accountability and as a manager helps me understand who might be in the weeds or getting stuck on something outside their control (like another project manager asking for their time or needing information from a client) and helps me assess priorities and who needs my attention that day. My job is to make sure the work gets done and these daily meetings really help. Although it is also a safe place to say “I really didn’t get much done yesterday but today here is my plan” because those days happen. I see it as a tool, not checking up.

    1. Dawn*

      I don’t want to tell you that you’re wrong or doing things badly, necessarily: what works for you and your team may very well work for you and your team.

      However, in almost every office that I am personally aware of, this would seem at best a little time-wasting and at worst micromanagey/distrustful. Especially in a situation where I already have measurable deliverables, I despise being directed to account for my time every day.

      But it sounds like maybe your problems run a little deeper here; again, I don’t want to say that I know what your particular situation is like, but is there a reason your team can’t come to you when they are getting stuck or are in need of specific attention? Is there a reason that you, the senior person, can’t keep your work on track without daily reminders of who is where? Is there any “I did this yesterday and I am going to do this today” that couldn’t be summarized in an email instead?

      I mean, it sounds like you’re happy with this and your team has expressed that they are happy with this so take me with a grain of salt, but I do believe that people being on board with this in general would be very rare and that to the LW it is absolutely a real problem.

      1. Allonge*

        As you say, there are different teams and different situations. In a collaborative team, there is value in not just the manager knowing that Bob is doing X and expecting to finish Y by the end of the week.

        If you work alone, not getting input from anyone but your boss, of course it seems overkill to hear daily about things that don’t impact you in any way. But I would expect that in at least half the teams, there is a lot of benefit from some info circulated horizontally.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      This was similar to what we did when I worked on a daily newspaper, and in a different industry, on a team where daily coverage was changeable and we needed to hash out jobs between ourselves, often with manager input on prioritisation for the day. Meeting daily would be overkill in many industries though; I think you would know if you were in one, because the answer to “what are you working on today?” Is “same as yesterday”.

  74. Dawn*

    #5: In the meantime, I bet your system would accept “1900” as the graduation year.

    And I, for one, would be very keen to promote a vampire to whatever position they desired.

  75. RebelwithMouseyHair*

    OP 4, I hear you! I’m a translator, translating from French into English. They hire me because they know their English isn’t good enough, but then the assistant’s boyfriend who worked in a pub in London for six months tells her that X would be better than Y.
    I have evolved a system for dealing with “corrections”. I start by acknowledging some small change for the better. Sometimes there isn’t one and I’ll accept a purely subjective change instead (like nonetheless instead of nevertheless), saying that it does improve the rhythm a little or something like that. This shows my good faith, I’m prepared to listen to criticism and take it on board when it’s justified, I’m not just being bolshie and digging my heels in. If there’s technical stuff involved, I’ll bow to their superior knowledge of their field too and accept a change even if it’s really not necessary, and I’ll tell them the term will be added to my glossary for their work.
    Then I go through comparing the file (or the first few pages if it’s very long) and categorising every change into “OK yes that’s better”, “purely subjective, I’ll let you have that” “somewhat subjective but mine is better because of how it sounds/the rhythm/alliteration/a neat pun” “sorry no, that’s just a word-for-word translation from French and won’t appeal to the English-speaker mindset” and “sorry no you can’t change English grammar/spelling/syntax etc. to suit yourselves” and “sorry no you’ll be laughed off the stage if you say that”. Once I had to add a “sorry no that’s obscene”. Sometimes I’ll colour code the highlighter to show them just how much there is of each.
    This shows that I take my work very seriously and have given a lot of thought to how the text reads.
    Whenever I’m told that X person implemented the change because their English is very good because of X, I’ll reiterate that I’m a native English speaker with 25+ years’ experience in translation, I got my Master’s on the strength of my experience and didn’t even have to study at uni for it apart from a few lessons in translation theory that they made me do because they decided on principle not to give the diploma unless candidates had at least followed that course. And that I’ve translated stuff in their field/for their company for X years so I do know something of their line of business, and I also researched their field extensively, reading up about it on the websites of their native English counterparts.
    Usually, with all that, they’ll back off and say, OK we’ll just implement changes from the first category.
    With one client, who wanted to keep the same word as in French because people used it (the only instances he could find were in the translated pages of French and Italian websites) I simply told him that if he wanted his text written in Globish, I was not the right person for him. There was a silence then he asked me to send him an explanation of why my word was right. I sent him a list of websites of his native English counterparts, all of which used the term I had used, and he finally agreed. I worked on an entire book for him and when it was accepted for publication he took me for lunch at a very swank restaurant (the type where they don’t put the prices because if you have to ask you can’t afford it).

  76. A Pound of Obscure*

    #4 – I am a technical writer and communications manager, and such roles have been a significant part of my career in a wide variety of jobs and industries. If I can give one piece of advice, it is this: Don’t take others’ input personally; in fact, be thankful for it. You don’t have to agree with them; nor do they have to agree with you. But reacting in a prickly way to others’ feedback will set yourself up for a miserable career. I like to reassure people by saying things like, “Please point out anything you think should be stated differently or corrected. Don’t worry, you won’t hurt my feelings!” or “Don’t worry, I’m not emotionally attached to this [article, memo, whatever]! Having others’ eyes on it is helpful.” Then, you really need to consider their input from THEIR perspective as the subject matter expert or legal expert or whatever. I work closely with our in-house legal counsel, a relationship that can be quite fraught, but being receptive to her feedback is absolutely critical to my success. She’s the lawyer; I’m not. By the same token, I’m the expert at distilling complex information for a lay audience; she’s not. We’ve always been able to come to some kind of mutual agreement.

    If the feedback you get is simply unworkable (they disagree with something factual, or they incorrectly change grammar, or whatever the case might be), you can breezily defend it. This happened to me recently when I used the phrase “the data do not show…” and received three comments from staff telling me “data” is singular. I told them, “Technically, it is plural, and if I made it singular here, my Latin professor would roll over in his grave!” Had they been bent out of shape over it, I would have considered changing it (see: “not emotionally attached,” above!) but they understood I knew what I was talking about on that point. I remind myself frequently that they also know what they are talking about in their areas of expertise and I should welcome and accept all feedback, even if ultimately I don’t use it.

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