coworker says fetuses are judging mothers-to-be, sending a cake with your resume on it, and more

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

1. Coworker says fetuses are judging “mothers-to-be” for what they eat

This morning, an older male coworker posted an article link on our department intranet. It was about fetuses showing reactions to taste on ultrasound exams, so it’s maybe very tangentially related to what we do (not worthy of sharing on the announcement board for our whole department, in my opinion). But the issue is his accompanying comment: “Mothers-to-be, be careful what you eat! Your child is judging you!!”

Our department (and org overall) is mostly women, and I am sure I am not the only one bothered by the implications of yet another party judging women for what they choose to eat. It’s also weird because the article didn’t say anything about the fetus having an opinion toward the person consuming the food (because how could it?). That’s not even touching on the fact that not all mothers-to-be experience pregnancy, and not all people experiencing pregnancy are mothers.

My partner thinks I should just take a screenshot and send it to HR, but that feels like a little much to me when I could leave a professionally worded comment (because we women always have to remain professional even in the face of microaggressions). I don’t report to this coworker, and while he is in my department, our work doesn’t overlap at all. Should I respond to the comment, and if so, what would be best to say?

I agree with you that it doesn’t rise to the level of taking it to HR, but it’s definitely worth saying something. Personally, I’d reply, “Ugh, more judgment of what women eat? This doesn’t belong here.” But you could say it however you’re comfortable with — I don’t think you need dance around it too delicately.

2. Sending a cake with your resume on it

I wanted to get your take on this LinkedIn Post about a woman who sent a cake with her resume on it to a party hosted by Nike that she was NOT invited to.

I use to hire student workers when I worked at a large university. One of my top dislikes were gimmicks. I don’t mind some creativity, but I want to see it more so in your portfolio or in the application process that we’ve laid out (especially because we want to keep it fair and equitable).

Many commentators are praising her for her creativity, but I disagree. If I was managing a university event, with external stakeholders, and a random cake showed up with a resume on it, I would not serve the cake at the event (primarily because we have catering contracts at the university level). So now I have a new problem, where to put this random cake? Is there a kitchen in this building? If not, then do I have to go to a building where I have keycard access and put it in a faculty/staff fridge?

But what if I put the cake in the employee lounge fridge and someone ate it before I had the chance to take the picture? So now I need to take a picture, then print it out to file with other resumes I’m reviewing.

But then if I do accept this resume cake (in my scenario from a student) and I ultimately hire them, would that mean other students would send me an endless stream of resume cakes at every major university event?

I may be catastrophizing here, but it seems like more of a burden (especially, because it is being delivered to an event). I guess the good news that is even if she doesn’t get a job with Nike, she went viral on LinkedIn, which could help her job search. Am I off-base here? What are your thoughts?

No, I agree with you. I’m generally opposed to gimmicks in job-searching (unless maybe if you are applying for a job thinking up gimmicks, in which case I guess go for it? but even then you’d have to proceed with caution). The thing about using gimmicks like this is that they will turn off a ton of of hiring managers who will rightly find them overly aggressive, cheesy, out of touch with what employers are looking for, or in some cases creepy (plus in this case, the ones who don’t want to receive food from strangers). And the ones who like it — well, you’ll have just screened for managers who respond to flash over merit, and that’s not who most people want to work for.

To avoid that trap, a gimmick would need to be related directly to the most important skills an employer is looking for so that it showcases the right things about you, rather than just shouting “look at me!” For most jobs, a resume cake is not that. (I assume the idea was supposed to be that the cake would show creativity and resourcefulness, but it doesn’t really show those things very strongly or in a way that overcomes the rest of the issues.)

3. I want to leave but I’m worried about my employees

I’ve been the CEO of a small not-for-profit for a short but difficult six-month period. The job has been very different to what I expected, with very significant problems to navigate with staff. I didn’t know about the problems when I accepted the job, but became aware in phone calls with Board members just days after. The problems have dominated my work. I’m not sure but if I had been fully informed I may not have accepted the job. It’s taken a toll.

If I didn’t have any concerns about staff, I would leave now. I’ve been unhappy in the role since the start and in just a few months I’m worn out.

The problem is that I’m committed to staff. It’s a real concern to me that if I leave others will follow, and still others may lose their jobs with nothing to go to. I’m not overestimating the impact of my leaving; it’s a fledgling company that feels like it has a small window to turn things around but will otherwise fail. A few key staff are very fatigued by the problems and they need stability.

I don’t think there’s an easy yes/no answer here, but I’d love to have your thoughts on what to consider in making a decision.

If you want to leave, you should leave. When you try to protect other people without their knowledge or consent, it can have ramifications you never intended or anticipated. For example, you might have someone who’s considering leaving themselves but figures they’ll stick it out since you are, when in fact it would be far better for them to get out. Or what if you hold off on leaving to protect their jobs, but by the time you finally do leave, the job market is a lot worse for them than it is now? Or one of them is pregnant or sick when you leave in a year and feels it’s the wrong time to change jobs but they could have done it more easily right now if they had known they were going to need to? Obviously this is just all wild speculation and none of it might happen, but there are so many factors like this that can come into play that it doesn’t make sense to time your own leaving based on what might be best for other people; you just can never know.

Make the decision that’s right for you, and trust that your staff will figure out what’s next for them, whatever happens.

And for what it’s worth, small organizations that have a single point of failure, like one specific employee, tend to fail — or at least flail — regardless.

4. Turning down an interview when I like the job

I was recently contacted by an external recruiter about a job. They saw my profile on LinkedIn and thought I would be a good fit for the position they are hiring for. That specific position is the kind of work I am looking to move into eventually, so I agreed to have a brief conversation with them. It turns out that the job title and responsibilities are just what I am looking for, but the timing isn’t right for me (I’m pregnant) and they aren’t offering the kind of hybrid remote set up I want/need in my life right now. The pay is great and the company gets great reviews on Linkedin and Glassdoor, but the benefits don’t match or do better than what I have now at my current job, where I am pretty happy.

The recruiter wants to send my resume on to the hiring manager. I have to contact this recruiter and tell him I don’t want to move forward. I would be interested in a similar role and that particular company in the future, but the timing just isn’t right. How do I effectively say all of that to leave the door cracked open just a smidge? Or, should I send my resume so that I get my foot in the door with that company, then back out? That feels sneaky but I’ve never been actively recruited before.

Don’t move forward with a job you know you wouldn’t take right now. But you could say, “The timing isn’t right for me right now for a variety of reasons, but this is the exact kind of work I’d like to move into eventually. I’d love to reach out in the future if my situation changes.”

{ 559 comments… read them below }

    1. Observer*

      That was my thought, too.

      There is NO WAY I would ever serve it, even it we didn’t have catering set up. After all who knows what’s actually in that cake? Yes, it officially comes from a reputable bakery but it’s probably not sealed by the bakery, which means you really don’t know what’s happened since it left the bakery. Remember, this is coming from someone who we don’t have a relationship with.

      The nearest trashcan is the most logical place for it.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Yeah, I wouldn’t eat that cake any more than I’d accept a drink from a strange guy in a bar.

          1. Spark*

            I have often thought that the easiest way to bump me off would be to put something in free food in the breakroom. I know it’s a terrible idea, but I’d eat it because that’s who I am as a person.

            1. nobadcats*

              When I worked in an office, I said the easiest way to poison me would be to leave chocolates on my desk. I’d scarf them down without a second thought.

              1. Reluctant Mezzo*

                Would you eat chocolate muffins floating in the air? (cf Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets).

                Actually, I know a couple of people…

            2. PrettySticks*

              Agreed, but you’re thinking too small. I work for a non-profit, so free food is everything. A rival company could take out our entire workforce with a strategically placed basket of mini muffins.

          2. Poppyseeds*

            Well….cake! If it came from an area bakery then sure but a home kitchen? Well, that is a little more sketchy. The only way though I think this would be somewhat acceptable is if it is for a bakery job.

            1. Retired (but not really)*

              That was my thought as well! But if it’s from a bakery it isn’t showcasing their culinary expertise so it’s still not appropriate.

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          Yup. Last week in North Carolina, two nurses got rapidly ill from eating cookies brought by a patient, to the point where they needed medical care and the case was referred to the police for investigation. You should be real particular about who you accept unknown food from, for a variety of reasons.

          1. a tester, not a developer*

            My gastoenterologist told me to not bring in anything homemade or unsealed as a gift for the office staff. Years before, they had a patient who was unhappy with their colonoscopy experience, and thought it was good payback to lace treats with laxatives. They went overboard, and one nurse ended up with permanent kidney issues from it.

                1. Burger Bob*

                  Yeah, this is beyond a lawsuit. To my mind that’s stepping over into possible criminal charges territory. That isn’t medical malpractice, it’s deliberate poisoning.

            1. Skytext*

              Jeez, after my gallbladder surgery last year I just ordered a gift for the nurses from the hospital gift shop. No worries about it’s safety lol. I believe the gift is staffed by volunteers, and I just gave a dollar amount and asked the nice lady to use her best judgement in what she thought the nurses would like.

          2. Poppyseeds*

            Yes, but presumably she is looking to get hired. It is unlikely she is going to poison the company she wants to work for. However, in general, I agree food gifts from people you don’t know pose a risk….. Then our kiddos take candy from strangers every Halloween.

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

              The obvious intent is to get hired. Her true intent is to go viral on social media (it worked). The recipients have no idea what the true intent was – it could have been to get hired, or to appear to want to get hired so they trust the cake and eat it and get dosed with laxatives (, or, of course, to go viral). There’s no way to know just because the cake has a resume on it with a name (which could be fake).

            2. Passionfruit Tea*

              That’s assuming that the person sending the cake is the one on the resume and not someone who got fired or out for revenge otherwise. Anyone can whip up a fake resume.

        2. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

          This was my first thought too. Unsolicited food from an unknown source who wants something from you? No chance. Maybe this is a gendered thing, but every woman knows at least one person who’s been drugged with food/drinks. I think it’s drilled into us to be extra cautious.

            1. Believeitornot-it'sme*

              Or how hygienic their kitchen is or what their food safety practices are. My husband and I had different experiences with food prep and storage growing up, and he can tolerate food conditions that I just can’t (again, nothing nefarious, but leftovers 2-3 days in the refrigerator while I have to eat it the next day or not at all).

              1. DJ Abbott*

                Freezing the leftovers works well. In a microwave-safe container so you can heat and eat. They’ll keep a week or more. :)

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

                I (a male) learned that I can only eat the freshest fish. My wife and I have split the same piece of not-quite-fresh fish, and I got sick but my wife did not.

          1. Sharkie*

            Thats the thing! It was a women that send the cake! I saw the linkedin post yesterday and no one in our office (we work in sports) thought it was a good idea.

      2. Captain+dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        Maybe I have been reading too much conspiracy stuff but my first thought was it’s a potential “attack vector” to introduce something nasty to a large number of people….

        1. Bilateralrope*

          Before 2020, that would have been my first thought. Now, my first thought is accidental contamination with something contagious. Which could be just as bad for whoever eats the food.

          1. Observer*

            That’s always been my first thought. It’s the kind of thing that doesn’t make the news as much, but it happens soooo often.

            I mean just look at the posts here about people with atrocious hygiene who bring in food for the office potluck.

          2. Bryce*

            I have severe allergies so that’s how I see pretty much all amateur food. They mean well (most of the time) but accidents happen.

          1. Constance Lloyd*

            I mean, if someone was intentionally poisoning they probably wouldn’t use real contact info, but they would also probably try to make their cake blend in rather than stand out? But yeah, poisoning concerns aside, probably still best not to accept food from strangers.

            1. KelseyCorvo*

              Oh my god. Please. How many anonymous food poisoners have you heard of? And they used a food delivery service so it could easily be tied back to the payment method of the sender via the app.

              No one is trying to poison Nike employees via a resume cake using a paid delivery service and fake resume info. It’s an outlandish suggestion.

              1. Amy*

                I wouldn’t eat a cake someone sent to strangers to prove a point. It’s likely not poisoned but who’s to say she didn’t spit on it before she sent it. I’m not going to trust the sender’s judgment.

                1. to varying degrees*

                  She didn’t deliver it. An Instacart driver picked it up from the bakery and delivered it, so unless the random driver was in on it the conspiracy, the cake was fine. Still a stupid idea.

                1. Valancy Snaith*

                  Are you drawing a comparison between a person who sent a cake via an easily-traced service with their contact information pasted all over it in an attempt to go viral and gain attention, and a person who deliberately murdered several individuals anonymously by taking advantage of a lack of safety measures for drug consumers?

                  This comment section is whack.

              2. alienor*

                Anything is possible, but I agree, this scenario is vanishingly unlikely. I still wouldn’t serve a cake from some rando at a party because who knows if someone’s allergic to one of the ingredients, but not because I thought it might be an attempt at a mass poisoning event.

              3. Stuckinacrazyjob*

                I think its probably more likely to be accidental,, but just because they don’t intend to make you sick doesn’t mean you won’t get sick

              4. Startup fan*

                “I use to hire student workers when I worked at a large university. One of my top dislikes were gimmicks…Many commentators are praising her for her creativity, but I disagree.”

                That is because you work at a university — a notorious byzantine and bureaucratic institution — and not at Valiant Labs, which is a “skunk works” for to incubate startups of interest to Nike.

                People who work at the latter will like zany, creative ideas, because that’s what a lot of early stage startups are.

              5. XF1013*

                It’s not just Nike employees. Celebrity VIPs like LeBron James and Colin Kaepernick were at the party too. I agree that deliberate poisoning is very unlikely, but their presence does raise the risk a little.

              6. Lenora Rose*

                I doubt there’s any actual nefarious intent (Among other things, if you poison people, they definitely don’t hire you) but I understand a bit being squicked by a random food order being foisted at the group, and I really don’t think I know anyone who would want to be served a slice of Stunt Resume Sheet Cake (granted, I have described the average sheet cake as the “Thank you for playing” of desserts; this may be colouring my perception of others’ fondness for cake.)

          2. Observer*

            With the sender’s name and contact info written on it?

            You’d be surprised. But to be honest, I think simple stupidity is a bigger risk. Have you ever noticed how many people handle food without washing their hands?

            1. dawbs*

              that’s the bigger issue, accidental.
              I mean, I have teacher friends who won’t eat food gifts from kids unless they’re factory sealed. They don’t think the kindergartner that adores them is lacing the plate of oreos with cyanide. The think the kindergartner who licks the tables after fingerpainting took the oreos out of the box and arranged them on the plate themselves.
              (I’m on break after being exposed to kids 1 hour today. I have already cleaned 4 surfaces after licking).

              I would probably eat the cake (seriously, I’ve already been exposed to the kids’ spit). But it seems extremely reasonable NOT to eat the cake.
              Disgruntled personwho didn’t get the job, angry ex, person just being weird…

              Even if it’s from a bakery, it’s not like we’re vetting the delivery person, etc. (and anyone can drive for door dash). I’d like to think they don’t pick their nose then touch food (and that they wouldn’t be nefarious) but, people are gross

              1. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

                Agreed: reasonable to eat the cake, reasonable to not.

                I would maybe be reluctant to eat the cake because it would feel like a validation of the premise. Almost a xenia or fey thing, like if I’ve eaten their food then they’ll feel we have a relationship.

          3. LW*

            When it comes to suspicious deliveries, I always think back to the guy who tried to kill Bjork via letter bomb. He almost definitely had his real name on it, because he wanted her to know his name and remember him for the attack if it failed to kill her. He took his own life after sending it so it’s not like he was worried about being caught.

            Especially since this event had famous people at it (including Colin Kapernick who definitely has a lot of haters) I would have been EXTREMELY wary of mysterious deliveries. I have to wonder if someone in security got fired over this.

            1. LWh*

              Just realized my initials are coincidentally also the same as “letter writer” so just want to clarify I’m not, oops

      3. Office Lobster DJ*

        I figured the grocery store would have sealed it as much as it seals any cake after printing the image onto it, and it was delivered by a third party (Instacart, presumably traceable if you wanted). While it’s still sketchy enough that I probably would pass, it’s about as non-sketchy as this could get.

      4. Jamjari*

        My first thought too – you have no idea what’s in that cake, even if it’s only something as sinister as walnuts (I love walnuts but they can kill people).

      5. Sharkie*

        This is literally a comment from someone that works at NIKE on the post-

        “I applaud the ingenuity and creativity here. And also am unsure how I would take this had I received this as a hiring manager without an open role. For me personally, it would probably weird me out that someone I don’t know had directed someone they don’t know to track me down and get a cake (a cake that I had no knowledge of it was tampered with) into my hands. I personally get inundated with resumes all the time from people who are passionate about Nike and take as many informational meetings as I can. But I also am a private person with a need to feel safe in the physical space in which I work and being tracked down in person would shake that perception of safety for me.”

        Even they were creeped out!

      6. somanyquestions*

        Exactly- this person is clearly a bit off. Or maybe a lot off. I don’t trust that cake at all, in any way. That cake hits the trash as soon as I’ve written down their name to make sure I don’t hire them later.

      7. Covered in Bees*

        This. And I’m trying to decide if it would be good or bad for the Instacart driver to see it happen because she needs a big reality check too.

        1. Covered in Bees*

          I don’t use Instacart so I don’t know if she had to follow this woman’s insane instructions to get it directly to the team to get paid, but presumably there should have been the ability for her to mark it as delivered after leaving it at the front desk as she was told to by the Nike employees.

    2. Short’n’stout*

      Came here to say this. No need to photograph or even read the resume – just toss it. I’m sure the caterers have a bin large enough.

      1. Bilateralrope*

        I might photo it, censor any identifying details, then post the picture as an amusing story to social media. Making clear that the resume was not read and the cake was thrown away for health and safety reasons.

        If I wasn’t feeling kind, the candidate might go on the do not hire list.

        1. Captain+dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          > social media

          Perhaps on LinkedIn under a story of “weird things I receive as a recruiter”!

      2. EPLawyer*

        Put me in the toss it camp. Why even consider the resume. You already have an idea about the person and you probably have stronger candidates who can follow the application process. Someone sending you a resume in a gimmicky manner does not obligate you to treat them like any other applicant.

        1. Observer*

          Someone sending you a resume in a gimmicky manner does not obligate you to treat them like any other applicant.

          The only reason I can think of the photograph the cake is to document that this person did something so out of line. But even that doesn’t mean that you need to store or eat that cake.

    3. Lilo*

      I worked for event staff in college and no way would we have served a random unsolicited cake. I serious doubt anyone from the company ever saw it.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Same. I personally wouldn’t worry about malicious poisoning – though crazy things happen! – but I would worry about regular run-of-the-mill food poisoning, allergens, unknown sanitary conditions, etc. Right in the trash.

    4. kestrelforaknave*

      There is no obligation to the sender of the cake here.
      You get the unsolicited cake. Take a photo because it’s a weird thing to come your way. Then it can… go in the bin, go in a breakroom, go anywhere it can’t accidentally get served from. If it ends up that the cake is wasted, that’s a shame, but on the sender. If it gets eaten by the catering staff, so what. The photo is a cya explanation of why the cake got binned/ eaten by the team, so that there is no doubt that it wasn’t part of the planned food service for the day, that’s all.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        If I was going to take a photo of the resume for any reason, it wouldn’t be so I could file it with the rest of the resumes to consider this person for a job. It would be so I could ask HR to add them to the Do Not Hire list because this shows a level of not thinking things through that I’m not interested in having on my team.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        That’s what my company would be doing – no, we cannot accept delivery of this unsolicited food item. Please return it to the sender. Thank you.

    5. That Coworker's Coworker*

      It’s crazy that anybody would think this is creative. I remember reading this supposedly-brilliant way to get noticed in a teen magazine in the early 1980s (though printing faces on cakes wasn’t a thing yet, so the tactic involved frosting an actual photo onto the cake.)
      My guess is somebody’s ill-advised parent or grandparent pushed the applicant to do this.

      1. She of Many Hats*

        Worked for an ad agency in the early 1990s and I remember receiving a number of ‘creative’ resumes including a plastic encased menu resume including coffee stains. I remember the red twill edging & classic metal corners of the menu case more than the qualifications of the sender.

        1. Sasha*

          Worked for one of my friends in about 2001 (applying for a PR agency, and sent the MD a Valentines card saying “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, I really want a job with you”).

          We were all surprised, frankly, because it seemed super cringy even then. And the PR agency turned out to be a hellmouth, so maybe the stunt would only have worked in a dysfunctional agency.

    6. Lacey*

      That was my thought as well. I’m not eating random cake from an unknown person. It would just go straight in the trash. Plus, her photo of the cake resume looks… not very readable. I wouldn’t bother trying to.

    7. Beth*

      My immediate thought. I wouldn’t hesitate for amoment — nor would I provide any publicity for it. To oblivion and beyond!

    8. L.H. Puttgrass*

      My reaction to this would be the same as if someone applied via skywriting: say, “Huh, that was weird,” then completely forget this person had ever “applied.”

    9. HoHumDrum*

      I feel so bad for the Instacart driver struggling to make ends meet who had to tell this woman what a genius she is while delivering this unsolicited cake and caring for her child. Dystopian.

      1. dePizan*

        I briefly worked at the Nike headquarters for a temp job. And I feel so bad for that driver having to navigate Nike.

        One–there are 75 buildings on the campus now, and parking was an absolute nightmare back when I worked and there were only about 24 buildings then. Parking lots are often quite far from the buildings itself (to the point where there are shuttles that go between some of the remote parking spots and around to various spots around campus, but even from the shuttle drop-offs, you may have to walk a ways to the building). If the driver wasn’t familiar with Nike, this could have been a nightmare trying to figure out which building and where was the closest parking spot or shuttle.

        Two–the buildings are not open to the public and they don’t do tours. The public can use the walking trails or tracks, but can’t go in any of the buildings without a visitor keycard and also accompanied by someone. Not sure how they would handle an unexpected delivery like that, but I have serious doubts that a delivery driver could just show up at the front desk with an unordered cake and security would just let her go on in and put it in the right hands because that’s what she was told to do by the person ordering the cake.

        So then what happens to this woman’s tip after she’s spent an extensive amount of time driving/walking the campus with her infant only to get to the door but isn’t allowed to deliver it like go-getter told her to?

        1. HoHumDrum*

          If you have contacts at Nike tell them to hire Denise the Instacart driver, she deserves a better job and clearly has impressive customer service experience.

    10. Petty Betty*

      That was my thought. Like, sorry, this was an unsolicited food item from someone *I* don’t know, who’s intentions I don’t know. I’d want to send a very pointed message that right now, I cannot trust food items from unknown sources (not that I am expecting poison, but that I don’t know what potential allergens or cross-contaminations are in it, plus the whole “not a licensed kitchen” issue) and won’t be accepting such attempts.

      The only time a person should be baking for a hiring manager is if the person is applying for a baking position and the hiring process specifically requests a baking sample (and they tell you what to bake, preferably giving some guidelines as to ingredients, or a signature flavor/ingredient and let you pick something within their usual menu), but I’d expect that would help them towards the end of the process, not at the “sorting through resumes” phase.

    11. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Honestly the last two places I’ve worked would have refused to accept delivery of the cake – because we have very strict rules about external food (due to a couple people with severe food allergies; those rules do not apply to personal lunches, just external catering/shareable with the whole office food).

    12. lilsheba*

      It is a professionally made item, coming from a bakery that would suffer backlash if it was poisoned in any way, and from an instacart driver would suffer backlash if it was tainted. It’s extremely unlikely that anything is wrong with that cake. As for allergies, that’s on the person who’s allergic. If they don’t know what’s in it then don’t eat it. For those not allergic there is no issue here. It’s wasteful to just throw it out, and unnecessary.

      1. DataSci*

        Yeah. Homemade, in this situation, I’d toss, and I’m not one of those people who are like “eeew potlucks people are gross, I only ever eat food cooked by professionals”. But from a bakery? Toss the resume, eat the cake. People with allergies can assume their allergen is in it.

      2. Unaccountably*

        The waste occurred when it was baked to order and sent to a gathering of random strangers during a pandemic, not when it was (rationally and reasonably) thrown out. The Nike employees are not garbage disposals who are morally obligated to eat something just because some ill-advised person sends it to them.

    13. 1-800-BrownCow*

      Yes, this!!! My first thought was that OP is way more thoughtful than I would be. My immediate reaction would be to toss the cake and not think any more about it. I wouldn’t have even considered other options.

    14. friendofafriend*

      My other big thought that I’m surprised more people haven’t commented on: this is a BIG event, with famous A++ sports stars. These events require immense planning, coordination, and discretion. Sending a cake, to potentially disrupt the flow of events, interrupt the catering, force the people in charge to deal with, maybe even freak out the famous and possibly incredibly security-obsessed A-listers? Literally the opposite of showing you know how these things go down.

      1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

        Yeah, and a cake from a generic grocery store as well. Even if it did come sealed with the ingredients label; not something you would want the people who make your brand millions of dollars to think that they are being served. It does not give off the impression of ‘high end’ products that you see the influencer crowd sharing on their social medias at events they get invited to. Maybe these stars are down to earth, but I doubt that any organization that invites these types of personnel to their campus are giving them the pizza and sandwiches they would give the employees.

    15. Alex*

      We got a resume cake once, too! About 10 years ago. No one in our department (where the position was) would touch the cake, but we put it out in the break room and another department was more than happy to go to town.
      That same candidate also sent a box of balloons. They were not considered for the job. But still my favorite crazy candidate story.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      YES. I can understand why the LW might not want to–just another in a series of bullshit explosions in my life! Must be Tuesday!–but this is the kind of thing that can escalate into a interoffice/PR nightmare if it’s not nipped in the bud.

      I have the feeling that this coworker has some much more offensive “articles” all set to go if this one is shrugged off.

      1. My+Useless+2+Cents*

        I know you’re just using it as an example but I read “Must be Tuesday!” and all I thought was “Noooooooooooooooo!… It is Friday, right?”

    2. Lilo*

      Agreed. When I was pregnant and then after I got so many unsolicited comments about my body. It’s just not okay.

      1. Eulerian*

        Yeah I’m pregnant too. With hyperemesis (super severe sickness, currently in hospital). I can eat basically nothing as everything makes me vomit, and am getting a bit sick (pun not intended) of the judgement – which is coming in a lot of forms.

    3. FashionablyEvil*

      Also, I don’t think I would expect HR to do anything, but I would pass it along under the “Just so you’re aware of this weird thing Fergus did,” sort of way.

      1. BethDH*

        I agree — I’d probably say something like “in case it escalates or if you didn’t already notice and talk to him” (sort of playing it like OF COURSE if his manager noticed they’d have flagged it to him as inappropriate).

        1. Smithy*

          I agree with this. I think that ultimately so many cases of problematic behavior at work just aren’t linear – either in reality or how they play out in our heads.

          Far more often it’s a case of interconnected issues that build to that case of bullying or sexual harassment. And also the majority of companies in the US that even have good workplace policies and practices around these issues and have an HR that will follow up/investigate responsibly – very often sexism isn’t a claim you can make against a colleague. Rather it is sexual harassment or bullying or hostile workplace.

          All to say, if there’s another colleague who’s struggling with Fergus and struggling with making their complaint, having someone else flag this to HR as an FYI is helpful.

      2. Observer*

        but I would pass it along under the “Just so you’re aware of this weird thing Fergus did,” sort of way.

        If I thought it likely that no one in HR noticed, I would do that. Because Fergus is a twerp, at best. And I want it on record so that when (not if) actionable stuff happens, the pattern will be clear enough to allow (competent) HR to take action.

      3. DramaQ*

        The thing is you don’t know how many other weird things Fergus does or will do later. I would take it to HR because maybe this is a test or he’s doing worse one on one with people. We have diversity training and microaggression training here for a reason. That was definitely one. Even if this is the only dumb thing he did at the moment HR is now on notice. If he keeps doing stuff now there is a pattern they can use to get rid of him.

      4. Unaccountably*

        I would too. I’d also be furious if one of my reports did this, and I’d raise it with him immediately; so maybe at least give his manager a heads-up if you don’t tell HR.

    4. Malarkey01*

      And while I 1000% agree with the premise that it’s another thing women are judged for and wrong, I think it’s even worse that it’s another loss of bodily autonomy that women experience when pregnant- and reinforces the idea that when pregnant your sole role is incubator. Yes, there are health and safety things that balance some of that, but the absolute push and pressure on pregnant women that every single act you take has to be viewed through the prism of the fetus is incredibly toxic and dangerous.
      Shut this shit down OP!

    5. bunniferous*

      I’m actually smirking-if my children were to judge my food choices before birth I’m sure they’d be voting for more oreos or ice cream. If I were OP of #1 I would probably make a snarky remark along those lines.

      1. alienor*

        Right? Kids aren’t exactly known for their disapproval of unhealthy foods. If anything the fetus would probably pull a face because mom ate something nutritious but bitter, like kale.

          1. EPLawyer*

            Yep. It was kinda a funny article. Fetus smiled over carrots and look disgusted over kale. But that’s all it was a kinda “huh that’s interesting” article that you share on Facebook. It is NOT work appropriate to be commenting on pregnant women’s food choices.

            1. ScruffyInternHerder*

              Not going to lie, I likely would have responded with exactly this, if I’d gotten a load of this pile while pregnant. All my patience and headspace were occupied with growing a human, therefore I did not play nicely with jerks. (And in that time and space, I’d have termed him a jerk, regardless.)

        1. Lenora Rose*

          And it’s not like every kid even has the same tastes, so how would you KNOW your own, personal, fetus was smiling at carrots and not making faces at them, or whether they liked or disliked navratan korma vs hamburger?

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        One of my friends only wanted dates for a few weeks. She ended up getting the rest of her nutrients via date smoothies, milkshakes, and a bunch of other Arabian Peninsula dishes her husband rapidly learned to cook. Don’t mess with pregnancy cravings unless they are for lead paint or something.

        1. 2 Cents*

          OMG, I wanted pineapple constantly. I was pregnant throughout the winter, and I could tell when someone had brought it in from across the office (thanks, heightened sense of smell from pregnancy). I would shamelessly stalk by their desk just to get a whiff. Mind you, I ate, like, a whole cored pineapple every day. Pregnancy does weird stuff to you LOL.

          1. Not Australian*

            I was really disappointed that my only (short-lived) craving was for brown bread: it was just too ordinary. I was expecting to fancy a plate full of jam, pilchards and coal or something…

      3. Chauncy Gardener*

        Right? The only things I could keep down were curries and mint chocolate chip ice cream sundaes, not necessarily together

    6. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

      I came here to say this. I’m sick, as a pregnant woman, of fending off comments about my body, about what I’m eating, about my size, about my baby’s size, about whether people can rub my belly (eff no), etc.

      It does rise to the level of HR because microaggressions, when not checked, become bigger and bolder aggressions. And also because a paper trail is your friend when it comes to shutting down this BS.

      Flag it for HR and let HR and his manager deal with him.

    7. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      My uterus has left the building and I’d absolutely report this nonsense. For me it hit beyond judgement of what women eat and into the fetus is alive from conception and has all of our weird food hang ups preprogrammed. This message is bad for pregnant folks, bad for people with issues around food, and just plain dumb.

    8. Chauncy Gardener*

      Came here to say “What the actual f–??” I would go to HR. I would tell the dude to STFU about bringing his personal opinions on things that absolutely do not concern him into the workplace.
      And I’m not even pregnant right now. When I was pregnant, I’m sure I would have been wayyyy less tactful

    9. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      Same. I’m extremely sensitive about things like this – my now ex husband raged at me one time when I dared to have a smoothie for lunch in my first trimester of my pregnancy with our son and I still get heated now, over 10 years later, when I think about it. Because apparently I’m not capable of deciding what’s adequate nutrition for myself and my fetus, and I need a male to discipline and correct my choices.

      I’d be going to HR AND giving Fergus an unedited piece of my mind about him and his “contribution.”

      1. Anonny*

        A… smoothie? As in blended fruit and yoghurt? Full of vitamins and energy that’s also gentle on the stomach?
        I’d say that was one of the best things for a pregnant person to drink, although I admit I’m not a nutritional expert.

    10. Eldritch Office Worker*

      It totally depends on your company’s HR, but I agree. If they’re good at all, I’d send a “can we please not” email that sounds just completely exasperated. I would probably reply because that’s who I am as a person but I would also understand if someone did not want to engage and just wanted to escalate it. Good HR would handle it – and honestly sometimes HR likes getting minor, straightforward problems it’s a break from the big management/legal issues.

      (I say as someone who works in HR – in which case I would probably handle it immediately when I saw it by my comment is assuming OP’s position)

      1. PersephoneUnderground*

        Yeah, I don’t think it has to be at a “serious enough” level to just ask HR to talk to the guy because you shouldn’t have to deal with this b.s. at work.

    11. tiredworkingmom*

      PHEW it is so tiring to be a pregnant person in corporate life. I would not be so diplomatic as Alison in my response.

    12. learnedthehardway*

      Agreeing. The article itself is interesting, but the comment is offensive (and wrong). I’d forward to HR and ask them to deal with the misogyny entailed in the comment.

    13. Avril Ludgateaux*

      Agreed. Context is everything, and this coming from an older male colleague, in the form of what amounts to a digital bulletin board notice, does not feel the same as, say, friendly or critical banter among women or other AFAB individuals to whom pregnancy is a real possibility. It does not belong framed as a public workplace announcement.

      I could totally see my friends and I making exactly that joke that the offender in the letter did, when they were pregnant, but from a place of commiseration. In the vein of, “Pregnant women can’t escape judgment no matter where they go!” or “… the judgment is coming from inside the house!” It’s not the same coming from somebody who has no real or immediate risk of or stake in pregnancy, especially not in the current political environment where discoveries like this are weaponized against women and bodily autonomy.

      (‘Fun’ anecdote: I had one friend who became distressed and neurotic about her diet when pregnant precisely because her OB-GYN was passive aggressive and judgy about the whole thing. She showed me the lengthy, restrictive list of forbidden foods for pregnant women she was given. I noted runny egg yolks (i.e. cooked eggs, but with soft yolks, NOT “raw eggs”), and she said when she’d asked about specific foods, her OB-GYN framed it like, “you can do whatever you want, you can drink and smoke and eat every food, but understand that your decisions are putting your baby at risk, and the consequences will be on you.” She probably would get a kick out of this article now, but while pregnant and already feeling the weight of judgment for everything she did, I imagine she would have broken down!)

      1. PotsPansTeapots*

        I once had a gyno refuse to give me an IUD because she said I was smart and should really have kids to improve society, so she’d just give me BC that I could easily stop taking.

        I was 23.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          Holy crow is that wrong. I mean, smart or not, telling someone who either doesn’t want kids or doesn’t want kids *yet* what kind of birth control to use is just inappropriate as hell.

          1. Ashloo*

            It’s also really strange because in like 5-7 years when the IUD expires, OP would likely be in a better position to have children (degreed, more financially stable, whatever etc) and still with (hopefully if wanted) ample time. It’s NEVER ok to gatekeep contraceptives, but the logic of the doctor is confusing at best.

        2. MissElizaTudor*

          Wow. A doctor who openly promotes eugenics? Honestly horrifying. I’m sorry you had to deal with that.

        3. goddessoftransitory*



          WE ARE NOT FILMING IDIOCRACY. Oh man, I would be calling the local news so fast with that story!

      2. Sasha*

        Quite honestly, as another doctor, that sounds like an obstetrician who doesn’t actually know with any great confidence what foods are and are not ok in pregnancy.

        I’m getting strong “bullshit my way out of this” vibes here.

    14. Verthandi*

      Another problem with all this useless judginess is that it often gets applied to anyone who might be pregnant.

    15. Temperance*

      YEP. If I was feeling not-ragey at that moment, I might reply with “What did you eat while you were pregnant, Fergus?”

      And still report his nonsense.

    16. AY*

      I’m newly pregnant and so constantly, annoyingly, unendingly sick. Anything I can eat feels like a victory. Someone needs to tell this coworker that the people most likely to be affected by food issues (us first trimester folks) are seeing his crap opinions but are suffering in silence because they’re not yet ready to share pregnancy news.

    17. 2 Cents*

      OP #1, that guy’s take is so rude! I know what news story he’s referencing (google “fetus reaction to kale, carrot”) and for a couple of the stories I read, it was a WAY more lighthearted take of “wow, babies don’t like kale either LOL.”

      Yes, I did see some stories devolve into “maybe mothers should eat healthier during pregnancy to better outcomes” — and frankly, I, too, could do without this commentary, as a mom who threw up every single day during pregnancy and subsisted on flat ginger ale, pineapple, Skittles and the occasional slice of pizza. (To be clear, I still saw all of those things again. They just didn’t immediately make me barf like 99% of everything else.)

    18. A lawyer*

      I would go to HR as well, especially as we are living in… let’s call it a perilous time for women’s bodily autonomy.

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        I agree. I’m truly disturbed by the suggestion this isn’t worth taking to HR, because it is such a huge overstep, and in the societal context of everything else we’ve been dealing with!

    19. She of Many Hats*

      Petty me: “Gee Fergus, wonder how awful your mom was since you hate peas and can’t eat tomatoes.”

      Professional me: “Fergus, body-shaming people is not acceptable.” or “Fergus, pregnancy care is between the pregnant person and their doctor, not anyone else.”

    20. Snarkastic*

      Yeah, this had pro-lifey vibes written all over it. It was an aggressive and unkind thing to post for that and so many other reasons. Regardless of your feelings on that particular matter, I don’t see why this ISN’T an issue for HR. I’m appalled and if I got this at work, I’d probably turn into She-Hulk.

    21. Anony Mass*

      Same. That kind of comment has no place at work, and if no action is taken, it will open the floodgates.

  1. Catgirl*

    I’m flashing back to when no a pregnant co-worker had a male colleague stop her in the hall and lecture her about how if he baby was a boy she needed to get him circumcised.

    1. nnn*

      That calls for replying (without modulating your tone and volume because you’re so shocked) “IT’S SUPER CREEPY THAT YOU’RE SO OBSESSED WITH MY CHILD’S GENITALS!”

      1. PersephoneUnderground*

        My brother in law totally feels this way about everything baby marketed that over-focuses on if the baby is a boy or girl. Why the obsession with my kid’s genitals?

        1. Verthandi*

          I’m with him on that. Private parts are exactly that – PRIVATE. I’ve noticed the color coding got worse once ultrasound can identify genitalia and more parents aren’t waiting until birth to assign the gender.

        2. Turtles All the Way Down*

          This is exactly why we’re waiting until birth to find out what we’re having. Mostly to slow the tide of my mother’s purchases of gender-specific outfits.

    2. Cmdrshpard*

      Maybe it is possible, OP knows this coworker better than us, but maybe not super well? But I took the whole post and comment as a joke. I have a dry sense of humor (some people would call it having no humor) that sometimes people don’t realize i am joking.

      I agree something like this is better left off a work intranet.

      But i would have sent the article with almost the same exact caption to my SO and friends/family.

      1. John Smith*

        I’d agree, I read it as being a jokey post too, the humour in which not everyone would appreciate. My heavily pregnant sister in law has just read the post and found it quite funny.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          I definitely have pregnant friends who would laugh at this. They are also the ones that made toxoplasmosis and brucellosis jokes during pregnancy (microbiologists both). I’d make this joke to them. I would not make it to all of my friends who have been/are/are going to be pregnant since I also know at least some have disordered eating in their pasts or who have family/in-laws that are too much and this would probably trigger something no good. Unless you know which audience you are talking to, no jokes in this vein

        2. NancyDrew*

          You’re spelling “humour” in a non-American way, which indicates to me you’re not American and therefore perhaps not aware of how risky, maddening, and outrageous it is to be a woman in America right now. So while it may be fine for you to think this is a jokey post, for American women it’s not jokey.

          1. Stay-at-Homesteader*

            Eh, as an American woman, I can see it both ways. And while I am sick to my stomach over our loss of rights, that doesn’t really color the way I see the email (although if it did for you, I don’t think you’d be wrong. But that’s not necessarily a universal response).

      2. WS*

        Yeah, you know your family and SO well enough to judge how this is taken, and they know you. This is absolutely not how it’s going to work in an office, especially when it’s an older man posting it to a largely female workplace.

      3. Emmy Noether*

        I also took it as a joke, and found it funny (because I took it as a joke *about* everybody being judgy at pregnant women by taking it to absurdity). Not a good one for the workplace though, unless you are very in tune with your colleagues’ sense of humor and they know you well enough to get how it’s meant.

        1. Dr. Vibrissae*

          Ditto, I also took it as a joke and something I might have sent to friends (i.e. is not meant to be taken seriously). Clearly it is not landing well with the audience, but I think this falls more in the roll your eyes and move on category than the escalate to HR category of ‘I don’t like your humor’.

          The suggestion to respond with a note showing you don’t find it funny is better than suggestions you take it to HR unless this is part of an ongoing issue with this person. I guess I’m curious if sending articles of interest semi relation to the work you do (jokey or not) is common at this workplace?

          1. Sometimes supervisor*

            Yeah, this was my take on it – although commenters elsewhere have noted OP knows the poster better than we do so may well have reason to think this is very much not a joke.

            On our team, we have boards for fun and joke stuff separate from work stuff. If somebody was to post something like this onto one of the more work-focus boards, it would warrant more of a “can you take this to the other board, please” (where, if people just didn’t find it funny, they just wouldn’t engage) than a report to HR.

        2. Sylvan*


          OP knows their coworker better than I could, so I’m not saying their read on it is wrong. But that’s what I thought.

        3. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Which is clearly not the case here or we wouldn’t have the letter. People need to know the time and place for this sort of thing.

      4. Anon3456*

        Same. I read this as a joke.
        Seeing the photos of that foetus with its wee face screwed up having ‘tasted’ kale was quite sweet and funny. This colleague has simply moved the joke along one step. I suspect they didn’t realize it could land badly.
        And I speak as someone who has marched for womens reproductive rights and would generally consider what a woman does with her body to absolutely be none of anyone else’s business.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          I’d report it because I have friends who have been/are/are trying to be pregnant who have history with disordered eating and/or who have in-laws and family up their butts judging their every move during pregnancy. This kind of comment could cut in ways the joker never intended and might even kick someone’s disordered eating off during pregnancy. Working in maternal-child health I have seen it happen and food restriction/anorexia/bulemia during pregnancy is scary as hell and hard to treat. For folks with ED/body dysmorphia pregnancy is hard enough and can often trigger EDs. Last thing we need is some joke to make it worse.

        2. Observer*

          I suspect they didn’t realize it could land badly.

          That’s an HR problem all on its own. Not in the sense of legal issues, but in the sense that competent HR and good managers are aware that people this deeply oblivious to how their comments can fall tend to have issues working with people.

        3. aheadfish*

          Yeah, I’m pregnant and initially rolled my eyes, but in context, it’s clear that the fetus is “judging you” for EATING KALE instead of something more tasty and less stereotypically good for you, which is kind of the opposite of the judgemental real-person “you’re eating a JUNK FOOD? While PREGNANT?”

        4. somanyquestions*

          Yeah, some people could make that joke. An older man is unlikely to be one of them. This was really inappropriate, both in the context of work and because he shouldn’t feel OK with this.

          1. Very Social*

            That’s my thought. This lands very differently coming from someone who can become, or ever has been, pregnant than from someone to whom those do not apply.

        5. The Witch in the Woods*

          It’s only a joke when both people find it funny and clearly OP does not. This is inappropriate for work.

      5. pregnantandnothanks*

        As someone currently pregnant, these ‘jokes’ are just not funny – especially given the very real deterioration of womens’ rights in this country. Christ.

      6. So Tired*

        Regardless of whether or not he intended it as a joke when he posted it, it’s incredibly tone deaf for him to be posting it with that message given all the judgement that pregnant people–and non-pregnant people who have the potential to become pregnant–already face around this topic. I for one did not read this as a joke, because there are so many non-joke comments/messages like this that I see on a daily basis that even reading about this one has me tired again already this early into starting my day.

        Intention doesn’t outweigh impact.

        1. Observer*

          given all the judgement that pregnant people–and non-pregnant people who have the potential to become pregnant–already face around this topic.

          And non-pregnant people who look pregnant.

          Yeah, joke or not, this was wildly out of line in this context.

      7. Observer*

        But I took the whole post and comment as a joke.

        You mean “Can’t you guys take a joke? Lighten up!” ?

        I’ll take your word for it that your SO and friends / family would know that you actually and truly joking. I’m not so sure that they would (at least the pregnant ones) agree with you on the humor. But none of that is relevant.

        Because even in the (unlikely) event that this was a joke, it was a hugely inappropriate joke to make to anyone outside of you very close circle. At best it has echos of all the craziness that people are talking about up and down the thread, and at worst it’s actively hostile and judgy.

      8. Lenora Rose*

        I read it (Specifically, HIS comment on the article, not the article itself) as a joke; the same kind of joke as “I’m not letting my daughter date until 30, hurr hurr hurr”. That is: a joke that’s rather dated in all but very rare contexts, and coming from very much the wrong person in the wrong place to land remotely safely.

        There are jokes you can make to your other friends with a dry/dark sense of humour. There are jokes you and your pregnant friend can make to each other. There are jokes that absolutely have no place being spammed across a workplace by the person least likely to be affected by pregnancy or judgement about pregnancy to the people who are.

        A male friend of mine had one of his other female friends tell him she “lost the baby” after her (third or fourth!) miscarriage. He looked at her deadpan and asked, “Have you checked behind the couch?” and had her burst out in relieved laughter. He could do that because he *knew* her, knew her circumstances, and knew what she preferred from others when she was dealing with grief. He wouldn’t say it to a random coworker with the same news.

        (And he told me that story in the *context* of discussing awkward responses to miscarriages and grieving from well meaning friends while I was dealing with my own first miscarriage.)

      9. Eater of Hotdish*

        If it is meant as a joke, it brings to mind John Scalzi’s dictum that the failure mode of “clever” is “asshole.”

        A lot of the times, the difference lies in knowing your audience. Maybe some people’s family/friends would find it hilarious, but in the office? This guy failed, big time.

    3. ginkgo*

      I should be angry at this but instead I’m weirdly relieved that I’m not the only one this has happened to, right down to the lecturer not even knowing the sex of the baby before deciding to go on this rant. WTF people, a simple “congrats” will suffice.

  2. CatCat*

    Men who have judgmental opinions about women that they feel the need to share, be careful what you put on the department intranet! Your colleagues are judging you!!

      1. Bayta Darrell*

        LW 1, I think you should reply. A private conversation would be nice, but since he said it in public, I think it should be addressed where people can see it.

        I would have said something like, “Really, they’re judging? At how many weeks’ gestation do they start doing this body shaming?”

        1. H2*

          For what it’s worth, the actual study isn’t about body shaming at all. The results were on the order of “when the mom eats carrots, the baby smiles, and when the mom eats kale, the baby doesn’t.” The point was to show that babies react to different tastes in the womb.

          This is the kind of thing that I might get upset about but would be a lot happier over if I remembered to assume benign intent (unless the guy is otherwise problematic).

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            He said the fetus is judging you; I’m real doubtful about benign intent.

            Also, for the method of determining tastiness:
            • “Real smiles” are a milestone at a few months post birth, except here where they indicate tastiness? Are we sure they don’t indicate that carrots gave the baby gas? (The usual explanation for early smiles.)
            • Are the carrots supposed to change the taste of the amniotic fluid? How is the baby “tasting” at all through the belly button via the blood supply?

            1. Jackalope*

              There is in fact some fascinating research which this study helps support to an extent about fetuses “learning” foods while in utero. Apparently babies first starting solid foods have a preference for the kinds of foods their pregnant parent consumed while pregnant with them, so they have a head start on eating whatever is normal in their culture. Which is cool to know about and an interesting support for the idea that fetuses learn more than we think in utero (they also respond differently to their parents’ native language than to other languages in the first few days of their lives, for example), but isn’t something that really needs to change how the pregnant person lives their lives.

          2. Zephy*

            The actual study sounds fascinating, and really similar to some research my husband did as an undergraduate. He was studying rats, but basically they found that if you zap a rat’s brain in just the right way, the rats seem to be hallucinating flavors (i.e., they perform the same behaviors, like rubbing their little rat faces and licking their lips, that they exhibit when they are actually eating/drinking and thus actually tasting a physical substance). I might go try to dig up the article because now I want to know if they figured out what the fetus is actually reacting to, like is it purely neural stimulation or are they somehow actually tasting the kale or whatever through the normal pathway (insofar as it physically exists in the fetus’ body). The study is interesting, the coworker’s attempt at humor is not.

          3. Observer*

            This is the kind of thing that I might get upset about but would be a lot happier over if I remembered to assume benign intent (unless the guy is otherwise problematic).

            Kind of hard to do that here. For one thing he actually SAID that “Your child is judging you!!” Which, as you note, is totally NOT what the study indicates.

          4. NICS*

            That study sounds fascinating, and I feel bad for it that the LW’s asinine coworker linked it to “judginess” on the part of a *fetus*.

        2. Sylvan*

          I don’t think this would reflect well, since there’s no body shaming involved.

          It’s just a lame comment about fetuses having different responses to different foods, which is sort of an interesting thing that you wouldn’t expect to happen. Isn’t it all the same to them? Apparently not.

          1. Observer*

            Seriously? It may not be body shaming, but this you can’t seriously spin this as a neutral comment on fetal response to food, since you actually used a very NON- neutral term.

            Expecting people to read “Your child is judging you” as a non-judgemental comment is really, really stretching it.

            1. Sylvan*

              What was the non-neutral tone term I used? Lame? If it bugs you, sorry. I’m disabled, the kind you can call lame, and I still use it.

              As far as I know, the only children involved here are the ones described in a news article. The guy who made the dumb joke isn’t telling OP that their kid’s judging them. Does the OP even have a kid?

      2. Kwebbel*

        My response would have been much more ad hominem: “Like most people who got their psychology degree from the back of a cracker jack box, our colleague here clearly hasn’t actually understood the research he’s purporting to have read. Thanks for alerting us all to your reading comprehension skills; it’s valuable information for us to have if we ever need you to weigh in on a decision.” But…I don’t suggest you post that.

        I know that’s particularly harsh of me today, but I’m honestly so over it.

        1. KRM*

          I mean, that was my first thought. “If that’s your takeaway from this study, you need to work on your reading comprehension before posting to a group of people.” But, like you Kwebbel, I’m Over It today. And I wouldn’t post my thought either!

    1. Amy*

      I judge anyone who could be this dumb.

      The fetus will react to many things in the womb. For example, my doctor once advised me to drink a cold glass of water 20 minutes before the ultrasound to encourage movement. But oh my god, you’re baby is judging you! You ate eating Entenmann’s and baby has more refined taste in sweets!

    2. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

      I’m too salty for this today–my response would be something along the lines of “since this article was written at a third grade reading level and you still didn’t understand it, would you like some help finding remedial English classes to improve your reading comprehension?”

      (sorry, it’s been a looooong week.)

    3. velomont*

      I actually saw the article being discussed and the one I saw showed a fetus grimacing because the mother had eaten zucchini casserole or something of that nature.

      If, after reading that article, I had seen a pregnant coworker, I myself might have said, jokingly, something along the lines of “blah blah blah article, grimacing blah blah, so if you’re having a pizza make sure it doesn’t have mushrooms on it!”

      So, in all seriousness, is that offensive and threatening?

      1. FrivYeti*

        Unless you know a person extremely well, yeah, it’s pretty offensive, although probably not threatening.

        Pregnant people have to deal with a *ton* of ignorant assholes trying to police their diet and habits. Even if *you* mean it as a light joke, it’s a light joke that is jumping straight to a thing that’s constantly being shoved at them in a non-joking way, and if you aren’t good friends they don’t necessary know you’re being silly. It’s like giving someone a friendly punch to the shoulder when they’re getting punched there for real all day; it’s bruised and it hurts and they don’t know you didn’t mean it.

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        I have worked with pregnant clients with a history of eating disorders and/or body dysmorphia. Pregnancy is a terribly hard time for them and this kind of e-mail could absolutely cause distress to one of my clients. It isn’t offensive or threatening. It is dangerous. It is definitely something that could send someone down a path that is dangerous for both the pregnant person and the child. I’d worry about someone in treatment getting this message and would doubly worry about people who are not under care.

  3. Observer*

    #2 – ONCE someone brought food to an interview, and it made a lot of sense. They were applying for a food related / Kitchen position and one of the implied goals was that the new person would revamp and improve the food in that organization on a fairly strict budget. So the gimmick was very relevant to the job. I can’t imagine any other position where this would have been any help at all. And in most cases it would have been an active black mark.

    They wound up being hired for a different position, but that position had enough oversight of the kitchen that their understanding of food and food prep was quite useful.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I also think that bringing something with you to a scheduled interview is very different from dropping something off (or having it delivered) out of the blue.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes. I think it also makes sense to evaluate a chef on their ability to cook. Just as my hairdresser makes people demonstrate they can cut hair as well as they claim they can and my beautician tests applicants on their ability to do a Brazilian wax.

        If it’s a core skill of the job it’s good to test it. In any other circumstance turning up with a cake is just weird and gimmicky.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I also think that bringing something with you to a scheduled interview is very different from dropping something off (or having it delivered) out of the blue.

    3. Fledge Mulholland*

      Exactly. This is completely different. The only way I could see a cake resume ever being remotely appropriate is if it’s a baker making it to demonstrate their skills, and they’ve arranged it ahead of time for a scheduled interview.

      1. Lexie*

        Exactly. If it’s a position for a cake decorator and they can pipe a legible resume on a cake, hire them. Any other position it just doesn’t work.

        1. KRM*

          Ohh, yes, if this were for a cake decorator and they put their own resume on a cake and you could read it, that’s an excellent test of skills!

          1. Robin*

            that was my thought too! and I wonder about whoever did the decorating in this case…was the resume legible? if so, that employee probably deserves a raise!

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              Or was it a printed sugar appliqué on the top of a sheet cake? Like the photos some store bakeries use?

              1. Mid*

                It was that–they got the cake from a grocery store and had them print an image of the resume on the cake and had Instacart deliver the cake to the office.

                1. Kal*

                  Which also makes it fall even flatter as a gimmick – “look at me, I know how to put an order in for a grocery store cake and make someone else deliver it for me!” is really not the brag she seems to think it is.

      2. Bagpuss*

        Yes, and even there I would have thought it would make better sense to bring photos of work you’d done on the past and for them to require a practical deom as part of the interview, rather than bringing a pre-made / decorted cake

      3. Startup fan*

        She’s applying for a job at Nike’s in-house startup incubator. Startup incubators aren’t looking for plodding, by-the-book employees. Would I hire her on the basis of this cake? No. Would I interview her? Yes, if the resume indicated her skills were in line with the job.

        1. mlem*

          There’s a vast gulf between “plodding, by-the-book employees” and someone who yeets a showy gimmick with no connection to relevant skills at someone. Then again, maybe not understanding that difference is why so many start-ups fail.

        2. Coolpapa*

          Nike has a culture. This is very much not that culture. It shows she didn’t do her research.

          Also, my experience with highly sought after jobs is the last thing you want to do is come across as desperate, and any gimmick can definitely seem desperate

          1. Startup fan*

            I don’t think she was pitching herself to Nike. I think she was looking to become an influencer on the internet and possibly to land a job at an ad agency or elsewhere.

    4. IpreferPIE*

      Right? If you’re applying for a job at a bakery where you’ll bake or decorate cakes, sure, but I seriously doubt the person in #2 even baked and decorated the cake herself.

      1. Observer*


        That was kind of my point. I’ve been in the workforce for several decades and been in more job interviews than I can count.

        This made sense ONCE. Under very, very different circumstances than described in that linked in post.

        The problem is that people hear stories like that and think they can extrapolate. And it just doesn’t work. The goodies made for a good story, but it just doesn’t work the rest of the time.

    5. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      I have had meal prep demos and finished final products from finalists for jobs that do these kinds of classes for folks looking to cook a diabetes friendly meal or make affordable, culturally appropriate, nutritious meals using foods available in a 1-2 mile radius of where they would be teaching. We want to make sure we aren’t sending out some bland “healthy American” cooking because then no one will actually eat it.

    6. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      In this circumstance bringing food to a scheduled interview for a food related position is akin to a designer bringing their portfolio to a job interview.

      Just sending a cake with your resume as a cold call submission…..yeah, still a hard no.

  4. Dan B*

    Thank you! I’ve seen that stupid resume cake multiple times on my LinkedIn feed, and I’m willing to bet the overwhelming majority of the people who love it have never hired or managed anyone in their lives. It’s very cringy and would make me want to put you on a “never hire” list. It doesn’t show ingenuity, it shows a person with no common sense. Applicants, please! Never do this!

    1. Short’n’stout*

      Good point, I modify my comment above- instead of not reading it at all, read it just far enough to note the identifying info of the sender. THEN throw it in the bin.

    2. Lisa*

      I live in this metro area and know some Nike people and used to work at another large international corporation in the area. This is really unlikely to go well and I wouldn’t be surprised if the cake went straight to the bin. Just for security reasons alone. Also, aside from the gimmick, an Albertson’s cake is not going to be appreciated at an event like this. If they served dessert—which they might not as an athletic-wear company being attended by athletic stars—they would have already catered something high-end-bakery-grade, not supermarket-grade. (Not to say athletic people never eat dessert, but many don’t, or do so sparingly.) It just adds another layer of tone-deafness. She probably hurt her chances more than helped with this gimmick.

      1. michelenyc*

        I was coming to say the same thing. Nike has onsite catering that manages these type of parties and only contract out to certain vendors. There is no way that Albertson’s cake ever made it to the party. I would be even more surprised if the person she was communicating with even picked up the cake from whatever building the instacart person went to for delivery. There are receptionist in every building on campus and they aren’t going to let some random person wander from building to building to try to deliver a cake. Nike gets all kinds of weird gimmicky stuff from people and it goes straight in the bin.

        1. Try Marsee Baking*

          Me too. For those of you who aren’t in the Beaverton area, Albertson’s is the equivalent of Safeway (literally, they are now owned by the same company) or maybe Kroger’s. Fine for a kid’s birthday party, but it’s going to come off very cheap at Nike, especially from someone who has the discretionary income to Instacart a cake.

      2. MK*

        Almost all desserts I have see in catered events have been single-portion ones, not whole cakes that needed to be cut and served separately.

        1. KRM*

          Highly unlikely that someone running an event is going to get a cake, out of the blue, with a resume on it, and 1-track down the “right” person to receive it, 2-be anything but annoyed that they have to deal with this while ALSO setting up their event.
          The most that should be done with this is to note the name so that you NEVER consider an application from them and then bin the cake. Gimmicks involving food have a VERY limited audience (see thread above referencing actual cake decorators or people applying for food service menu makers).

          1. Lacey*

            Yes! I’ve had a person at a hiring event request my resume for a different department and that didn’t even make it to the right person. I had to apply on their system. No way is a resume cake at a big event going to the right person.

          2. The Prettiest Curse*

            As someone who coordinates events, I want zero unscheduled deliveries, please. There’s just too much other stuff going on to have to ask all the other event staff whether or not they ordered a cake.

        2. Observer*

          But it can go into the bin and still have a positive effect on the recipient

          That assumes that the recipient even saw it or knows that it showed up.

          But also, people who get stuff they need to chuck are generally not likely to find that endearing or impressive.

        3. Siege*

          But it won’t. If you want to manage an event, which is already chaos, AND THEN have to deal with an unexpected surprise cake delivery that you have to figure out 1) should it be where it is; 2) do you need to pass it on to someone else; 3) who is that someone?; 4) how much of a hassle is it going to be to get it to that person?; 5) do you have someone who can deal with the cake? you are welcome to. I would literally only look at the cake long enough to figure out who sent it and then blacklist them in our system.

          I’ve blacklisted people (we interviewed two candidates, oddly enough in the same round, who didn’t want OUR job, they wanted not-their-job and then both applied to the same very different job later (one role was an admin, one role was a lobbyist, and neither candidate had much relevant experience for either job) and it was clear they were just fishing and wasting our time) for less than actually sending a cake I had to deal with to an event I was running. Wasting my time with a gimmick is an insulting waste of my time.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      If nothing else it signals “I am a LOT and not the kind of LOT you want to be dealing with when you are trying to do your job.”

      1. Feral Campsite Raccoon*

        I went and read the original post and she is, indeed, clearly a lot. Cringiest thing I’ve read in a while.

    4. Lilo*

      I honestly find the cake resume thing creepy. I agree, cake would go in the trash, but I would also note the name and have serious hesitations about ever hiring this person. Do not do this.

    5. Qwerty*

      +1! I saw this in my feed the other day, was immediately perplexed not only for the post but also for all the praise, and I almost thought about sending it to AAM as well. This would never work especially at a big corporation like Nike where they undoubtedly have an HR/recruiting platform for processing applicants. Silly, silly.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        It makes me think about Mr. Knightley criticizing inconvenient gifts in Emma. (He was referring to a piano, but the basic idea is sound. Don’t send people things they don’t expect & might not be prepared for & that might make things difficult.)

        1. Tupac Coachella*

          I have a general rule: never give a gift that requires the recipient to do any significant additional steps. I won’t even send checks-always a gift card or cash that can be spent straight out of the envelope when I give money.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Isn’t there a story somewhere about a ruler giving one of their nobles an elephant, ostensibly as a gift, but really as a punishment for some offense because the elephant was expensive and complicated to maintain and also religiously valuable so couldn’t be used as a work animal and also couldn’t be rehomed without offending the ruler?

        3. Francie Foxglove*

          Day 1: Oh, it’s adorable; I love it! A partridge in a pear tree; you are so romantic!

          Day 2: Turtle doves? You sweet thing! But I really didn’t need ANOTHER tree.

          Day 3: Hens? That’s not very romantic. And my yard doesn’t have room for all these trees. I didn’t need more turtle doves, either.

          Day 4: Oh, come on! Calling birds, now? How am I supposed to sleep? And if you’re going to give me hens, you could include the grain!

          Day 5: Okay, rings are good. But stop with the birds! And I told the delivery guy, “Don’t even take that tree off the truck.”

          Day 6: I’m glad you sent more rings…Because I’m gonna have to sell some of them to maintain this FARM I’ve got! Geese, for cryin’ out loud…

          Day 7: Will you stop already?! I had to get two wading pools for these stupid swans! And my neighbors are complaining about the hens stinking up the yard, and those doves and calling birds cooing and billing at all hours!

          Day 8: Eight milkmaids with eight cows? Are you out of your mind? My yard is going to be a manure pit!

          Day 9: That’s it; we’re breaking up. My entire yard is mush, and the milkmaids and the dancing ladies tell me union regulations say I have to give them meals, and the Animal Society served notice on me for not giving the geese adequate conditions to incubate their eggs. Why couldn’t you just have given me perfume or something?

          Day 10: What are these lords on, that they keep leaping? I’ve had to sell ALL the rings to pay for the upkeep of the birds, and the delivery guy threw the last three trees off the truck before I could stop him, and a dancing lady fell over one and broke her ankle and now she’s talking lawsuit. I wish I’d never met you.

          Day 11: Didn’t you hear me when I said we’re breaking up? I have a migraine, and you send me pipers! My landlord has given me thirty days to vacate the premises. I will see you in court.

          Day 12: NEWS BULLETIN: Local woman charged with aggravated assault. An unnamed drummer was attacked with a milking stool and suffered wounds to the head. A party of milkmaids, dancers, and pipers fled the scene in terror as the woman hurled chickens and geese after them. Sources say the assailant claimed to be stalked by “a mad farmer”.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            I just love the time and effort you put into this. See, this comment would make me look at your resume lol.

          2. Bagpuss*

            There’s actually a book which does this – I think it was illustrated by Quentin Blake and ends with a formal solicitor’s (attorney) ‘cease and desist’ type letter.

            [found it – The Twelve Days of Christmas (Correspondence) by John Julius Norwich]

            1. Irish Teacher*

              I was thinking of the parody song. It gets played REPEATEDLY here every Christmas. The receiver of the gifts is writing back and it starts with “thank you so much for the partridge in a pear tree, but it was a bit over the top” and ends with “YOU HAVE RUINED OUR LIVES!” It’s called “Christmas Countdown,” apparently, if anybody wants to google.

              1. wendelenn*

                Also check out the song “The Twelve Days After Christmas”. It’s hilarious.

                The first day after Christmas, my true love and I had a fight.
                And so I chopped the pear tree down, and burned it, just for spite,
                Then with a single cartridge
                I shot that blasted partridge
                My true love, My true love, My true love gave to me.

    6. Constance Lloyd*

      I haven’t done a cake resume, but I have brought a cake to an interview before! It was for a baker/decorator position at a cake shop. I had food service experience, but not bakery experience. Their ad said experience wasn’t necessary, and I asked ahead of time if they would like me to bring in a cake along with my resume so they could get an idea of where my baking and decorating skills were. The cake looked like a realistic (albeit oversized) mug of coffee and it was a hit!

      This worked only because it was directly relevant to the business and even then I wouldn’t have dreamed of bringing cake unsolicited! The circumstances where resume cake would be appropriate are extremely narrow.

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        Ooos, should have nested with the above comment about times food made sense at an interview, but I guess it goes well enough down here!

    7. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      The worst part is whomever at LinkedIn was running their social media commented they were “inspired” by her. And CEO/“thought” leaders are tripping over themselves to offer her jobs. It’s baffling and I see a spike of cake resumes in the future unfortunately.

      1. CharlieBrown*

        So many of those “CEO”s are self-employed people who are probably there to promote their MLM schemes. I do not take them seriously. The CEO of an actual corporation that has employees and shareholders is probably not spending their day posting on LinkedIn.

        1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

          Oh yeah most of them aren’t good job offers or good companies. But the type of people who would try this are only seeing “It worked!! And LinkedIn said it was cool!!!”

          I don’t give much of any legitimacy to LinkedIn in general. It’s become overtly political and religious, and full of toxic positivity. I use it only as a job searching tool.

          1. Your genderqueer dad*

            Came here for the toxic positivity comment. LinkedIn is allll toxic positivity. The comments encouraging the cake resume are not only misguided, they’re being shitty to anyone who is willing to say a cake resume is silly nonsense.

      2. Mockingjay*

        Unfortunately cake doesn’t give any indication of how she will function as an employee. Even if she turns out to be stellar, she’ll be known for years as “Cake Person.”

        I get the desperation that goes into these acts; I job hunted after college in the middle of the 80s recession and it was 8 months of short-term employment and unemployment until I landed a full-time job. But gimmicks only work sometimes/rarely. Better to spend that energy on targeted job applications and resumes.

          1. Petty Betty*

            Or even “Marie”, for those who don’t actually know where “let them eat cake” actually came from (Marie wasn’t the one who actually said it, even if she gets the dubious credit for it).

    8. Beehoppy*

      They have also never been an event planner – so many details to manage and a random cake shows up? Absolutely not.

    9. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      And, practically, if we eat your resume how are we supposed to refer to it later? And the ATS takes .doc and .pdf, not .cake

      1. L.H. Puttgrass*

        “We tried to scan the resume into our system and now IT is mad at us for getting frosting all over the scanner.”

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          I can totally see some of the people I have worked with in the past trying to scan a cake and can picture the long-suffering IT folks from those jobs. This image of yours made my moring :)

    10. My+Useless+2+Cents*

      I was wondering about the why the LW would even think of taking on extra work for an applicant that would do this. There would be no way I would be taking a picture of the resume, making sure the writing in the picture is legible, printing it out, and filing it. I’m not even going to the effort of writing down the applicant’s name on a scrap of paper. I agree with others, this is going straight in the trash. What a waste of money.

      1. Observer*


        OP, you are not catatrophising as much as taking on a lot of highly unnecessary responsibility in your imagination.

    11. Daisy-dog*

      So much of the feedback on LinkedIn is so encouraging – pure toxic positivity. Anytime anyone posts something questioning it, everyone else gets upset about them being too “negative”. Which I kinda agree with to a certain extent – it is a comment on the individual’s post. So I agree that the feedback should be constructive and not spiteful in tone. But the feedback is just too overwhelming about how “inspirational” it is and it’s over-the-top and unrealistic.

    12. Hel*

      It’s almost like the entire thing was more about having a story to post on LinkedIn in a hope to go viral rather than a genuine attempt at impressing a prospective employer.

    13. marvin*

      Also, I’m not keen on encouraging job candidates to spend money to attract attention from employers. I realize this is just a goofy gimmick, but anyone who is impressed by this is endorsing the idea that it’s okay for people who can afford to get personalized cakes made and delivered to employers to get an advantage in hiring.

    14. Hamster Manager*

      Did y’all see the one about the woman doing chalk drawings outside of Pixar who vowed not to stop until Pixar hired her? People thought it was SO GREAT and I was like…yikes girl that is a great way to get blacklisted from Pixar forever (she also applied through usual channels and didn’t move forward).

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      I remember being in the grocery line with a case of baby formula in my cart (along with my baby) and a woman came up to me and started lecturing me on not breastfeeding.. I looked at her like she was reptile and said “double mastectomy. Maybe you should shut up now”
      Never saw anyone so red in my life.

    2. Anonym*

      Oh thank you so much for this. I’m 8 months pregnant and have managed to avoid most weirdness (yay WFH), but friends have run into it in the past (“WHAT KINDS OF FRUIT ARE YOU EATING” –from a perfect stranger, loudly, sans preamble, and apropos of nothing except the existence of an apparent pregnancy).

      I will be sharing!

  5. Yvette*

    Re: #1 Am I the only one that sees this as a joke/goof/sarcasm? Like “Great, you don’t have enough people on your case about stuff, now you have to worry about your own fetus judging you!!”
    Am I missing something? It is late and I am tired.
    (Saying this as someone who endured two pregnancies)

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      I’m guessing that OP knows the guy (at least a little?) and has a decent read on whether the guy was goofing or serious.

      1. KelseyCorvo*

        Possibly but people love to get offended. Sometimes people pretend to be bothered by something, even if it’s out of character for someone, because it feels good to be a victim. And if you’re the “offender” in this situation, you’ll never get out of it because you can’t prove whether or no the person was truly offended.

        1. turquoisecow*


          This isn’t about being offended, it’s about the “joke” (if it was one) being in bad taste.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          … You’re not supposed to “get out of it.” You’re supposed to apologize for doing something that offended someone, and do better in future. Normal people interacting with a lot of other people are able to do this, adjusting as they figure out where the lines of funny and Really Not Funny are for different people.

          That it was funny/clever/pwned-the-libs in your head doesn’t mean everyone around you is obligated to agree with that assessment.

        3. Jennifer Strange*

          Sometimes people pretend to be bothered by something, even if it’s out of character for someone, because it feels good to be a victim.

          You mean like people who want to be the victim when someone calls them out on a tone-deaf comment?

        4. Generic+Name*

          Interesting. Do you often find yourself saying things that people tell you are offensive or hurtful? I’m curious that you assume people are faking it when they act offended. Do you often pretend to be offended by things that you’re not offended by? If so, why do you suppose you do that? If you don’t pretend to take offense, why are you assuming that most people are faking it?

        5. pregnantandnothanks*

          _it feels good to be a victim_

          Yes, it feels great to be reminded while my body does the exhausting and dangerous work of growing another body that my personhood is extremely conditional and the general public sees me as an incubator.

        6. Observer*

          So everyone who is offended is not REALLY offended, but PRETENDING to be offended because they want to PRETEND to be offended because they like making people uncomfortable?

          Do you realize just how obnoxious this is?

          It’s possible to discuss how offensive most people would consider something. But the minute you start claiming that people are not REALLY offended (thus the complaint about not being able to “prove” that they are pretending), you lose any standing. You get to believe what you want, including that the earth is flat. But you don’t get to have anyone take you seriously, respect anything you say or even consider you to be a reasonable person.

        7. Appletini*

          it feels good to be a victim

          Have you been discriminated against in your life? It does NOT feel good to know someone thinks you’re subhuman.

        8. Unaccountably*

          Oh, look. The obligatory “People are always calling me an asshole but I know it’s just because they love being offended” comment.

          I don’t think that’s what’s actually going on, there, bud.

        9. nom de plume*

          This response is so bizarre that it suggests you’ve offended your fair share of people even as you refuse to believe you were responsible, since people were “pretending” to be offended, which apparently people love to do?!?!

          NB: No one loves to be offended or be a victim. It’s disturbing that you think so. Why do you think that? If someone tells you they’re offended, believe them, listen, and apologize.

    2. bamcheeks*

      I read it that way too, but as a queer woman I’m pretty keen on emphasising the “not everyone who’s pregnant is a mother” angle and I’d hit that.

      I also think that as a joke it would be fine among friends or a small group of colleagues where you know how everyone is going to take it, but you just don’t use a broader email list for that kind of stuff. Even if it was someone who was themselves pregnant saying, “great, now even the foetus is judging me”, why the heck wouldn’t you send it to friends or put it on Twitter?

    3. Liz*

      Yes, I read it in the same way and was surprised to see so many people responding as if the post was sincere. But I guess this demonstrates that even as a joke, it is difficult to determine tone in written forms, and as such it’s liable not to land well and doesn’t belong in wider professional communications.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        OP took it as sincere, so we’re taking OP at their word that it was at the very least inappropriate for their office.

        1. Velociraptor Attack*

          Liz… seems to be agreeing with you that it’s not appropriate because of the difficulty in conveying tone in text?

          Also, people keep saying that we have to take OP’s word that it was sincerely meant as a judging comment but at the end of the day, OP doesn’t know if it WAS sincere, just that whatever it was, it came across very poorly. We can take OP at their word that they were offended, that’s all.

    4. Curious scientist*

      I haven’t read the original article (anyone got a link?), but a summary came up on my news podcast this morning.

      Interestingly, the summary said that the foetuses were either smiling (in reaction to concentrated carrot flavours) or crying (in reaction to concentrated kale flavours), which does imply some level of “judgement”.

      That said… who eats concentrated carrot flavouring anyway?

      1. Emmy Noether*

        So pregnant people are getting judged for eating too much kale by the foetus and not enough kale by everybody else? Can’t win!

        (I think this would have been the obvious joke to make that would have been unmistakeably identified as such)

      2. Lilo*

        As someone who’s had a kid I have to point out: babies don’t socially smile (smile when something makes them happy or amused) until they’re about 6 weeks old. Fetuses definitely don’t have social smiles.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          THIS IS SO FRUSTRATING TO ME. “That early smile means gas. UNLESS the fetus is still in utero–then it means it likes carrots!!!!”

          Maybe the carrots gave the fetuses gas, and the kale made them cry with joy.

    5. Irish Teacher*

      I read it as sort of mocking the way people care so much about kids these days, like “oh, now we’re supposed to be careful about what people eat when pregnant in case the foetus ‘doesn’t like it’. In MY day, children ate what was put in front of them and nobody cared what their kids thought of them. That’s what’s wrong with the world today. Children are in charge and now they are getting a say before they are even BORN!”

      But yeah, I guess the LW knows best how her colleague likely means it. And I think none of the options are a good idea at work, where you don’t really know people’s sense of humour or previous experiences.

      1. KRM*

        This is the crux of the matter. Sending this with that exact comment to a small group of friends who know your sense of humor? Great! Sending it to your pregnant best friend who loves kale and would think it was hilarious? Awesome. Sending it to a group and saying “And you though toddlers were judgy about food? Now we have this!”? Marginal at best. Sending it to a large group of work colleagues, many of whom may not know anything about you and if you’re serious or not? No. Refrain from doing so.

      2. Mockingjay*

        First pregnancy: gave up coffee, ate only the best nutritious foods
        First baby: served only the best nutritious foods
        Second pregnancy: dammit, where’s my effin’ coffee
        Second baby: here, nibble on this Oreo

        Back to OP1, this is why everyone should think twice before forwarding these kinds of newsy clips and jokes to coworkers. Even if you personally find it funny, not everyone will. Save it for FB or text in your friend groupchat – the people you know that like this kind of thing. OP1, mention it to your coworker: “hey, not everyone is going to find articles like this humorous.”

    6. Vicky*

      That was my first reaction as well – that it was a joke/sarcasm rather than a genuine opinion (possibly based on what I expect from my own colleagues!). But, as others have said, OP would know best about whether it was meant as a genuine comment.
      If I wasn’t sure, then my reaction would probably be to respond as if it was a joke. That way, even if it was meant as a serious comment, you can make it clear how ridiculous you thought it was!

      1. Princess Xena*

        To me that’s the sort of joke that I could make about myself (if I were pregnant) and once someone heard me laughing about it they would be welcome to laugh along, but having someone I didn’t know well and/or like tell it to me to start off with would be a no fly zone.

    7. AcademiaNut*

      I suspect that right now there are a lot of people who are emotionally raw when it comes to people telling them what to do with their bodies, and either aren’t in the mood for lighthearted humour about it, or figure that yeah, people really are willing to tell them they should be considering their fetus’s food preferences.

      1. pregnantandnothanks*

        Yes, thank you. Pregnant people are literally being imprisoned in this country “for the sake of the baby” so these jokes ring tone deaf at absolute best. Excuse me for not chortling while I avoid interstate travel until I give birth.

      2. Jackalope*

        Yes, this puts it in the right perspective for me. At other times or in other places, this could be a funny joke. Still not funny for me, but I could see people laughing about it. Right now it’s utterly unhelpful and would make me angry because the man posting it should know better.

      3. Generic+Name*

        This is how it landed with me. In a world where states are giving unborn fetuses personhood rights (but apparently not the vessels carrying them) OF COURSE fetuses can be judgmental of women’s eating habits.

        [side note, in a state that had banned abortion, a pregnant woman kept getting tickets for driving solo in the carpool lane, and kept getting thrown out by pointing out to the judge that according to state law a fetus is a person, so there were technically two persons in the car.]

      4. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

        I wonder if the commenters’ takes on the response – joke versus judgement – might have some geographic influence. As a currently pregnant woman in Texas, I wouldn’t have seen that as a joke.

      5. Observer*

        or figure that yeah, people really are willing to tell them they should be considering their fetus’s food preferences.

        That’s not about being raw in the moment – this has been going on as long as I can remember. My oldest is 30, and if you think I didn’t get comments about what I was “allowed” to eat or not, you’d be making a big mistake.

        Keep in mind that *official* policy has been to treat pregnant women like idiots who are incapable of making any sort of reasonable judgement. Think about the STATED reasoning for telling women to not have ANY alcohol during pregnancy even though we know that small amounts are harmless. “Since we don’t know just how much women can drink without harming the fetus, we are going to tell women to not drink ANY alcohol because they won’t stop after a small amount.”

        So, yeah, I don’t THINK people tell women what they are allowed to eat when they are pregnant, without regard to actual facts, I *KNOW* they do.

      6. Lana Kane*

        I agree. While I personally read it as a joke and would have probably just laughed and replied sarcastically (yes I am a parent who has been pregnant), I would also have cringed precisely because of this.

    8. Kora*

      It’s probably a joke. But the kind of joke where you just sarcastically replicate an annoying thing people do is a really bad idea to send to a bunch of people you don’t know pesonally because a) some of them may think you’re serious (tone is difficult over email and b) some of them will be super tired of hearing this kind of thing, whether or not it’s said in jest.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Right– and it is really, really likely to land badly if you’re not even a member of the group that sick and tired of hearing it!

      2. kicking_k*

        Yes. If I’d read this in the throes of morning sickness, when I couldn’t eat a lot of perfectly normal foods, I wouldn’t have taken it well.

        When I was actually pregnant, some research came out suggesting exercise levels during pregnancy could have an effect on the baby’s future health. No judgey language, just that. But I was hearing it in the context of the many, many things we are told to do or not do when pregnant. The depth of frustration I felt was intense; I had pelvic girdle pain and had difficulty even walking as much as I wanted. It doesn’t feel like a personal criticism now, but back then it totally did!

      3. metadata+minion*

        Exactly! I assumed it was a joke, and could even be an appropriate joke between friends, but joking about judging pregnant people whom you are not close to is really not appropriate.

    9. Sylvan*

      OP knows their coworker better than me, so they have a better read, but I also thought it was a joke. It’s kind of funny to think of fetuses actually being able to tell one food from another. Thought it’d all be the same to them. Now I wonder if my chef-and-sommelier friend with a new baby has taught him her refined tastes.

    10. turquoisecow*

      Repeating a bad take “as a joke” is still repeating a bad take.

      Maybe the guy meant it as a joke but without being more explicit about it he’s still just sharing a bad opinion. If it was a joke, he should have said “haha everyone isn’t this ridiculous? Of course fetuses don’t judge haha” or something like that. This way? It’s just sharing the opinion.

    11. Phoenix*

      On first reading, it did not even occur to me that this could possibly be a joke. I was sexually harassed by a man at work in my first job out of college with some remarkably similar language – he was chastising me for what I was eating “because it might hurt my future babies” (I was not pregnant, not that that matters). I saw red when reading this letter and only realized how many people thought it might have been a joke when I got to the comments!

      I agree with other commenters, though – replicating a bad take and calling it a joke is a “know your audience” joke at best.

    12. to varying degrees*

      Nope, I read it exactly the same way. And when I read the headlines on the actual article, my first thought was similar to the guys (“LOL, now we got babies putting in food orders in utero. Damn.”)

    13. digitalnative-ish*

      Now that people have pointed out that reading, I can see it, but after the Dobbs ruling, it’s just…fraught. Definitely doesn’t help that in my area older men often are sincere about opinions like this (even if they’re “joking”).

    14. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      I also took it as a joke and that doesn’t make it any better. If you want to joke this way you need to know the backstory of your audience well. Pregnancy can be a hellscape for folks with body dysmorphia and eating disorders and this joke will just make things worse.

    15. LW #1*

      I did consider that, which is why I wanted to get Alison’s advice before launching into a scathing reply to him. I only know him through a couple of zoom meetings, but I could still see it being a tasteless joke that didn’t land.

      1. NICS*

        As John Scalzi says, “the failure mode of clever is asshole”. I don’t think you’re wrong for thinking your colleague’s attempt to be clever failed.

    16. Sparkles McFadden*

      I took it as a lame joke too, but I’d say something to the guy (or post) “Yeah, I get you’re joking here but pregnant women get an enormous amount of nonsense from people all the time so this isn’t as funny as you think it is.”

      1. Cmdrshpard*

        Sure but intent can/should factor into how you address something.

        Using the foot analogy if someone is stepping on your foot either on purpose or accident they still need to get off, but someone who does it on accident/without realize deserves a different response versus someone who steps on your foot on purpose.

        To me it is the difference between accident “Excuse me you stepping on my foot, could you please get off.” and on purpose “WTF why are you stepping on my foot, get the F off me now!”

        Same here: a misplaced joke go direct to coworker “Hey coworker, I think/know you were joking but with everything going on that does not land well, not everyone will find that funny, or it could be triggering for some people, it is best to take it down.” versus on purpose actually judging women “That is a really gross and inappropriate comment to make, women should not be judged for what they eat, that is not even what the article said the fetus is reacting but can’t judge, you need to take it down now, before I go to HR with it”

        1. Unaccountably*

          To be honest, I’d say the second whether I thought it was a joke or not. But then, I’m a uterus-having woman in a country where reproductive rights were just bombed back to the Stone Age.

    17. Ari (Law)*

      Even if he meant it as a joke/sarcasm, that doesn’t mean that the statement wasn’t made in poor taste. Given the current political attacks on women’s reproductive rights, it just feels like his statement is punching down at vulnerable people.

      OP, I think you are well within your rights to say something to him. At best, he made an insensitive blunder, will be embarrassed, and apologize. At worst, he was a jerk and may not take the criticism well. But in either case, it’s best to say something so that he, and others in your office, know that these kinds of comments aren’t ok and won’t be tolerated.

    18. Eireann*

      No, I thought it was also an attempt at humor, and in fact I’d be just as likely to post that (saying this as someone ELSE who has had several pregnancies/babies). I thought it was sort of funny.

    19. Nesprin*

      I mean, it’s a D+ joke with strong undertones of sexism and overtones of judgement of pregnant people (who already get enough judgement).

      If it was between two pregnant friends, fine.
      In a work setting with all sorts of people watching it smacks of either cluelessness or the sort of microaggression that gets perpetuated by attributing to cluelessness.

      1. Gerry Keay*

        Yeah I agree with this. It’s the kind of thing that’s okay to joke about among people experiencing it — very much different when it’s coming from a person on the outside, especially if they’re of a more privileged group.

      2. Unaccountably*

        Right. I think there’s a tendency for well-meaning people to think that something like that *must* have been a joke because no one would actually, openly be that awful in the workplace. Unfortunately, the AAM archives are full of people who are, in fact, exactly that awful, in the workplace and out of it.

  6. Jasmine Clark*

    Oh wow! That cake story is, uh, interesting. What bugs me is that the person who wrote the story acts like it’s some kind of inspirational story, and some of the comments are praising her… even though we don’t know the results! Will she get hired, or at least asked to have an interview? If not, what’s the point?

    They weren’t even hiring in that department at the time, so this seems especially pointless.

    So this shouldn’t be something looked at as “wow, that’s so inspirational.” It’s just a gimmick that at least as of this point has not resulted in anything (except a viral LI post).

    I know some people think gimmicks are clever and brave and creative, but I disagree. If I were trying to hire and someone did some kind of gimmick, I’d immediately think that the person is not qualified for the job and is trying to do something to make up for that.

    1. Lexie*

      And if by some chance the gimmick does work for her it may not work for anyone else because it won’t be seen as creative but as being a copycat.

    2. Alexander Graham Yell*

      It just came across my feed and it’s pretty entertaining seeing how many comments are rightly calling it out as a gimmick and unlikely to work and people saying they’re just jealous they didn’t think of it first. Like, no, they just have a decent sense of business norms.

      1. Lacey*

        Yes, I saw one lady who was like, “All these negative responses are why qualified people are still jobless!” and I thought, “Not if the qualified people are sending cakes instead of applying online!”

        1. Unaccountably*

          That’s just… a really weird comment. Qualified people are going jobless because they don’t try to bribe hiring managers enough? They’re going jobless because hiring managers have no cake? Because wanting a resume in .pdf format instead of baked-goods format makes you a terrible non-hiring person?

      2. L.H. Puttgrass*

        There’s also the update at the end of the post that the cake-sender is still looking for work. So I’m guessing the cake resume didn’t get her hired.

        The social media stunt might, though.

        1. Antilles*

          Yeah, at this point, it’s less about “getting a job with this division of Nike” than “I’m social media famous and can leverage my 15 minutes of fame”.

          Of course, even if that happens, it’ll only be because this particular post has gone so viral; 99.9999% of the time this would have been a complete waste of time / money / energy that the job-seeker could have put to better use.

      3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        From what I heard about the workplace culture of Nike, she’d have been better off spelling her resume out in cod, kale, or keto cookies.

          1. metadata+minion*

            Traditionally trout is the appropriate fish for resumes, but unless you’re applying to a very conservative field like law, you should be fine using any finned fish. Squid is mostly used in the arts.

    3. BRR*

      And on top of everything you said, it sounds like the instacart worker did all of the work. But even then I find it difficult to believe you can just talk your way into accessing Nike’s campus, especially on the day of a big event.

      As a side not, hiring for a position that thinks up gimmicks sounds like a nightmare scenario.

      1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

        I felt SO BAD for the Instacart delivery driver- especially if she’s working WITH her baby (!) and expected to crash a party at NIKE, which, presumably, she wasn’t invited to or dressed for or given any instructions on how to handle the inevitable questions of, “What do you mean you have a RESUME CAKE that you want to give to our department during this party that we’re not expecting to get unsolicited job applicants’ resumes- on cake no less?” I mean, goodness. If I were the Instacart driver, I’d have dropped it off at the front desk for the poor, hassled receptionist to deal with. (And if told to take it back, dumped it in the nearest trash bin.)

        1. michelenyc*

          I really hope the instacart person got a huge tip for having to deal with this nightmare. I can say with 99.9999% certainty that they got no where near the event. When Nike has events with VIPS all employees are generally not invited. Depending on who it is they will have a portion of the event where anyone that is on campus can come they do something fun with the special guest. When Federer visited campus people were chosen to play Wii tennis with him and they did an interview. The “party” with the food & drinks is much smaller with only certain people/departments invited. They are held in one of the special event spaces and you can’t just walk in. Poor receptionist having to deal with that mess.

        2. RagingADHD*

          The Instacart driver is referencing it in her own LinkedIn profile as an example of her own determination to hustle and take initiative.

          The whole thing is a well-coordinated social media exercise.

  7. Lisa*

    #2: I’m so glad someone sent this question in! I saw it on LinkedIn along with all the commenters praising her creativity and thought “What in the world?” I was pretty sure Alison would not approve of a gimmick like this.

    1. Luna*

      It’s definitely an interesting idea, and worthy of remembering down the line, but usually in the sense of, “Oh, wow, remember that time someone sent us their resume printed onto a cake?” Besides, it’s not very helpful. I’ve seen stuff like this, and writing is difficult to read on such things, a resume would be illegible. Like, they’ll remember your action. They won’t remember you.

  8. Poppy*

    Remember #1 women are not people, but simply vessels for babies. I’m normally non-confrontational, but that guy would have gotten a piece of my mind. I’ve been treated as a pregnant, delicate flower many times in my life despite never having been pregnant ever and it’s absolutely infuriating. Clients have straight up INSISTED that I was pregnant enough to be showing and apparently in denial or rude because I didn’t want to talk to them about it.

    Evil Me would want to send back an article about how the age of the father can affect the baby’s health (because we’re FINALLY starting to study that) and to warm men not to have children too late in life.

    1. KoiFeeder*

      Evil Me agrees, and wants to add the study where they studied people who restricted their diets during pregnancy (even if it was something that was “medically good” such as cutting out salts or fats) had worse outcomes for both parent and child.

      (Evil Me would also try to get permission from the family member in question to tell the story about how she’d had a serious deep fried pickle craving and drove an hour just to get them, and someone tried to take it away from her for the baby’s health, so she bit their hand.)

  9. Oreo Cakester*

    The cake person didn’t even make the cake herself, so it doesn’t really show creativity, it just shows “I know how to upload a picture and then make other people do the actual work”. All it tells me is “I make everything complicated”.

    1. KelseyCorvo*

      Not really the point. In many positions like being a Creative Director, being the person who conceives the strategy and tactics and then makes it happen it the point of the role.

        1. KelseyCorvo*

          Good/bad etc. is subjective. I’m responding to the idea that the effort is invalidated because the sender didn’t make the cake themselves.

      1. CharlieBrown*

        I very much doubt someone just out of college is going be hired to a director-level position, though. That comes after you’ve done years of grunt work.

  10. JSPA*

    #3, there’s a reason that people doing hard labor work in short shifts. This is the mental and emotional equivalent. You can tell the board that you’ve given it your all, and that while you hope you’ve steered things in a better direction, they need a fresh shoulder to the wheel. And that if they want someone with the fortitude to push longer, they should explicitly hire for that: no code, no hemming and hawing, no first week surprises.

    Finally, If it has been 6 months and you’re still protecting part of your team from others of your team, you have an “unable to fire problem people” problem (whether structural or philosophical). There are people who make a career out of being That Person. And boards willing to hire them.

    If you’re starting to react as you would to family… and trying to make a dysfunctional family into a happy family from the inside… that’s all the more reason to get out.

    1. TMB*

      Thanks for your reply – good advice. No I haven’t been protecting some staff from others and I’m not one to put up with poor behaviour. I wasn’t clear in my email, but I’ve been dealing with difficult external relationships and legal issues. It’s just that this has had a big impact on staff as well as me over a lengthy period. Thanks again.

      1. Cthulhu’s Librarian*

        So, ask yourself this – do you even have the tools at this organization for it to be successful? Six months is a long time for problems to still be ongoing (well, unless they’re active legal cases, in which case, the board not telling you about those before hiring is a whole other sort of red flag). What powers and resources would you need to make things start running smoothly? If you don’t have them, could you ever even get them?

        It the answer isn’t “yes, with minimal difficulties,” you should get out. Non-profits fail like any other startups – everyone involved will pick up the pieces of their lives and move on. If you don’t have the tools to solve the issues after six months, you probably don’t have the tools keep whole thing afloat forever either.

        1. JSP*

          Fellow small org CEO here. This advice seems on point. I’d say your decision seems higher level than Quit vs. Don’t Quit. A fundamental part of the CEO role is to see a path for the org to be sustainably successful, and it sounds like the current path you’re on isn’t it.

          So is there a path? If you can’t see one, you’re not doing anyone any favors by sticking in the role. It also sounds like there’s little downside at this point to telling your board that you don’t see a path unless they [infuse a big pile of capital / adjust their mission / agree to let you X].

      2. Nethwen*

        As a leader whose primary focus is on making the workplace a good one for staff, I feel your conflicted thoughts and I also say to get out now. It took me over seven years and all original staff leaving for me to effect a positive culture change and I never was able to significantly improve difficult external relations. If you’re exhausted now, it’s not going to get better. Leave with no guilt. Your staff are adults who can also decide to leave. Also, a poorly functioning or thoughtlessly set-up organization failing isn’t the worst thing that can happen and even if it were, it’s not your responsibility to fix it. Leave knowing that you did what you could in a tough situation and be free from guilt.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          I once worked for a start-up company that laid off or fired its staff at least twice. It still was a toxic cesspit when I worked there because they didn’t sack the topmost people, who then proceeded to hire the same type of people and build the same type of work culture that was toxic as f.

          If, in spite of all of your efforts to change the environment and culture as CEO, including new hires and all, the culture is still dysfunctional, the problem stems from above you.

  11. Aphrodite*

    Re: the cake story: I have to say that is a hellva decorating job. Whoever did the actual job should move on from Albertson’s and go into custom cake decorating full time. It is amazing!

    1. Bagpuss*

      I think it’s the kind where the picture is printed, it’s not hand piped (which would be very impressive) , basically a photo or pdf printed onto edible paper and put on top of the cake.

      1. Other Alice*

        Can confirm. The only thing that’s hand piped is the border and the line down the middle, and those are very uneven. Not impressed.

        1. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

          Agreed. I don’t think it looks good at all. Why on earth someone thought an ugly cake would be served at a major corporate party clearly has no grasp on what it’s like to work at this kind of company. I worked in PR and if any of us had every tried to serve a printed, black-and-white, grocery-store cake, we’d be fired immediately.

    2. Aphrodite*

      Ah, thank you for the insight. I do not like cake (of any kind) so I had no idea about edible printing or paper. It makes sense, though.

  12. Luna*

    Send the coworker an anecdote of what you were told by your mother that you did in-utero. Like how I totally knew my mom was drinking a beer because I got the hiccups in-utero! Turn it into a fun story thing to talk about or just mock the idea in general because, really, that’s nothing to care about. Heck, reply to that email with a row of laughing emoticons.
    Or go passive-aggressive Bender on him. “Hahahaha, oh, wait, you’re serious. Let me laugh even harder.”

  13. Maz*

    When I was at college, there was one girl who kept pet snakes and she always included that in her resume under hobbies. She was always asked about her snakes in interviews, and probably was offered a few interviews just because people wanted to ask about it – it’s not exactly the most common type of pet. That’s a gimmick that works. Sending your resume printed on a cake… just no!

    1. Myrin*

      IDK, I wouldn’t really call that a “gimmick”; it’s just a fact (one that wouldn’t work on me, personally, because I have zero interest in snakes, and imagining someone offering an interview to someone just to ask them about their snakes seems a bit… much, but maybe I’m too boring in that regard).

    2. Maz*

      I agree the pet snakes aren’t really a gimmick in themselves, but deliberately including something unusual in your resume because you know it’s going to stand out is coming very close to gimmicky behaviour. Not in a bad way, because it’s good to stand out and it makes you memorable when the interview panel are subsequently reviewing all the interviews, but it’s important not to take it too far.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      That’s not a gimmick, though. She didn’t wear snakes to an interview or something.

      When I applied for my current job (medical school library) I was working for a veterinarian. Two of the three staff of the library department at the time were die-hard cat ladies. I joke that they hired me because I was loaded with adorable cat stories.

      The longer answer is that I also had a degree in history, most of a degree in biology, and a semi-medical background that has proved very useful in the library job, and had five years’ practice lifting dogs (carrying 50-pound boxes was one of the job requirements). So the cat stories were a great icebreaker but they weren’t a gimmick.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Well, that would be bad for the snakes, unless you lived in their environment and it was the appropriate weather. And even then, most indoor buildings are not designed for snakes.

    4. She of Many Hats*

      I also have unusual hobbies (re-enacting & related) and have added them to my resumes because they’re not ‘everyday’ hobbies like golf or baking and I include how skills required for those hobbies impact my workplace (strong public speaking & personal interaction skills, research & teaching, organization, etc.).

      Because the hobbies are kinda weird, it can be seen as gimmicky but the skills developed doing them are often the ones hidden under the mantle of soft skills that affect culture fit in an organization.

    5. wendelenn*

      That’s like the recent letter here about the dad who didn’t want his child to put Santa’s Elf on his resume, instead wanting them to put Photographer’s Assistant. Nearly all the comments said “Of COURSE say you were an elf, it’s really cool and a great talking point!”

  14. bamcheeks*

    Last year I was using LinkedIn much more in my actual job, and checked it nearly every day. And gosh, there is a whole thesis to be written about what goes viral on LinkedIn. I find it fascinating– it has to be the perfect combination of eye-catching, politically anodyne and “inspiring”. Nobody wants to be the person visibly liking something politically contentious or challenging, or challenging something popular.

    I was deliberately searching out stuff on internships and opportunities for students and graduates from Black, Asian and Minoritised Ethnic groups, and the algorithm knew that and was serving me up stuff that fitted that. But that was all pretty small-scale stuff with a maximum of 20-50 likes. The actual viral stuff couldn’t be anything more challenging than, “I don’t often post personal stuff on LinkedIn but today is a really important day for me and I want to say that Cancer Is Bad. [10k Likes 6.5 Congratulations 110k Shares] ” “I don’t often post personal stuff, but today is a milestone day for me. When I first set up my Helping The Poor But Definitely Not Asking Why They Are Poor social enterprise in 2018, I couldn’t have guessed that..”

    And I’m not criticising any of the posters who did share their stories of surviving cancer or beating alcoholism or supporting their child who was struggling at school or setting up the first female-led Oatmeal Polishers in Cincinnati or whatever– they were genuinely meant and meaningful for the original posters!– but to go viral they had to be something that a very, very large number of people could safely like or retweet without anyone possibly thinking ill of them, and by survivor bias they all fitted this weirdly bland mould. It’s such a dark world!

    1. Important Moi*


      At least of my feed, I’ve that’s there’s is pushback on these types of posts.

      I can’t tell if LinkedIn is going through some sort of paradigm shift or just my feed.

    2. Important Moi*

      Typos! Let me try again…


      At least of my feed, I’ve seen that there is pushback on these types of posts.

      I can’t tell if LinkedIn is going through some sort of paradigm shift or just my feed.

    3. L.H. Puttgrass*

      Linked really is a sort of creepy, Stepford social media site.

      Say what you will about Facebook, but at least it’s a genuine cess pit of toxicity that’s destroying our democracy.

      1. bamcheeks*

        >> at least it’s a genuine cess pit of toxicity that’s destroying our democracy

        Yes! This is it exactly!

    4. learnedthehardway*

      Seriously – and it’s such a time-suck to see all these random posts (ADHD – no H – in action here). I’ve set my default page link on my browser to go to my profile, so I DON’T see my feed.

    5. UpstateDownstate*

      I just dont want to see stuff like this and have unfollowed or ‘muted’ anyone that posted like that or reposted. Nope!

    6. Maybe I'll eat oatmeal this weekend*

      “Oatmeal Polishers in Cincinnati” made me LOL as a Cincinnatian who enjoys oatmeal and finds LinkedIn influencers as bizarre as you! Thanks for the laugh :)

    7. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      bamcheeks, you’re not alone in realizing that LI posts are all the same – someone has created a LI ‘Viral Post Generator’ (with built in Cringe-o-meter) and it is [fire emoji].

      BE TRUE TO YOURSELF and do a GOOGLE and go CHECK IT OUT, you Won’t Regret It.

      Give this post a [HEART EMOJI] if the Viral Post Generator made you cringe so hard your entire body turned inside out, and tell me in the comments how this #advice #changedyourlife

      (but actually, it was very satisfying when I found it and realized how closely it matches the formula my one real-life LI “influencer” (???) connection uses!)

    8. Ruby*

      I can’t find the link at the moment, but there is a Reddit for cringe LinkedIn posts that you should check out.

      1. Beehoppy*

        Google TikTok pink sauce lady. Basically she made some random sauce in her kitchen and was shipping it all over the country with no refrigeration or food handling certification.

        1. EPLawyer*

          She was even asked about certifications and she said “FDA, I’m not selling medical equipment here.” She had no idea the F in FDA stood for FOOD.

          But you know if you are buying weird sauce from some lady on TikTok, there is some assumption of risk there.

      2. Wants Green Things*

        Some lady on TikTok went viral for her “secret” pink sauce and then she began selling it to people. Unregulated, from her home kitchen. People were shocked – shocked! – that the jars they received were soured, or growing mold, or tasted off, or broke in transit, etc.

  15. Hiring Mgr*

    I’d argue the cake thing worked very well, not for getting a job at Nike but knowing how these things work she’ll get interviews/offers, etc just from this going viral.

    More power to her – there’s not one true way to find a job.

  16. RebelwithMouseyHair*

    For OP2
    “To avoid that trap, a gimmick would need to be related directly to the most important skills an employer is looking for so that it showcases the right things about you”
    Even there, actually, it’s a big no. My daughter was at art school and they were told to absolutely not turn their CV into an artwork. One friend was into embroidering textile art, and wanted to embroider her CV onto some fabric. Another was into street art and graffiti, and wanted to write his CV out in that style of lettering.
    The teachers were unanimous that the CV is an ordinary document giving information and needs to be legible. The CV accompanies a book showing the artist’s actual artwork, to get an idea of what their work looks like.

    1. Unaccountably*

      Okay, I’m actually a little sad that we do not live in a world where the graffiti guy could have successfully spray-painted his resume on the side of a three-story building.

  17. CouldntPickAUsername*

    LW 1

    I would take the screenshot, record the time and date and sit on it. if it becomes part of a pattern then take it all to HR but if it’s just one dumb comment that is never matched…. I’d consider letting it go. Sometimes a joke just comes out wrong. Definitely call him out though.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      Me over here, skimming comments and thinking this is going to be about the cake and doing a double take at “sit on it.” ROFLMAO.

  18. VLookupsAreMyLife*

    Given the current state of forced pregnancy in the US, I’m honestly shocked anyone would find it appropriate to talk about fetal development or refer to pregnant people as “mothers-to-be” in a workplace unless your work centers on one of those two things. This has the potential to be so upsetting & distracting (heck, I’m upset just reading about it & I haven’t even seen the article).

    If I saw this in my workplace, I’d absolutely take it to HR & also to our DEI group (which I’m aware doesn’t exist in many workplaces). This is how you shut down microaggressions that perpetuate stereotypes & change culture.

  19. Beehoppy*

    My first thought when I read the resume cake story was that the burden for the execution of this madcap idea was placed entirely on an overworked underpaid service worker. Anybody can come up with a goofy idea and call a bakery, but it was the driver who had to navigate the cake intact through a huge campus to the specific building and convince likely multiple layers of reception/security to let her through. That’s the person I would want to hire! (Also highly doubt this was what “inspired” her to look for alternate employment.

    1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      And apparently had her child with her!! The most work the resume sender did was typing the LinkedIn post.

    2. Francis F*

      I was a waiting for someone to mention the glaring display of tone deafness. The insta cart shopper better have been paid extremely well

    3. Khatul Madame*

      Yes, this was my reaction, too. The delivery driver could have gotten in trouble – and she had her child with her!
      This is why dedication needs to be tempered with good judgment. Because in this case the “cause” certainly didn’t warrant going above and beyond.

    1. Luna*

      I read as the fetuses BEING the judging mothers-to-be initially… not that they were doing the judging… it was early in the morning for me.

  20. NeedRain47*

    If you work at a university, an unwanted cake is no problem. Simply put it out for students to eat and it’ll go in a snap. (yes, there’s still the problem of an impermanent resume.)

  21. SJ (they/them)*

    LW #4, I just have a couple of food-for-thought questions you might think about before you decide to completely pull out of this recruitment process.

    – Are you saying that the timing isn’t right because you’re pregnant (end of) or are there other factors? There is a (deeply sexist yet deeply ingrained) idea that pregnant people should not change jobs or take promotions or what have you because of the inconvenience of maternity leave etcetc, and if that is where your head is at I just want to gently float the idea that you actually have every right to move forward in your career, if you want to, at any time, regardless. You know your own situation best, of course! But since it’s such a ubiquitous and damaging thought process I thought I would mention it.

    – Is there any chance that the pieces that wouldn’t work for you about this job might be negotiable? Benefits, for example — if you were to get to that point in the hiring process and say, wow, this position is really everything I’m looking for but the benefits don’t match my current role — in your industry is that something that’s likely to be negotiable? Same question about the hybrid setup – if you’re wanting full remote and the whole company is full in-person then that’s one thing, but I’m curious just how far what they’ve put in the job ad is from what they could potentially actually do for you.

    I hope these are helpful pieces to think about! If your gut says it’s not the right time, then that’s completely valid. But just in case there are other pieces in play — thinking you shouldn’t move jobs while pregnant, thinking you can’t or shouldn’t negotiate on parts of the offer that don’t work for you — there’s some food for thought.

    Good luck with everything!

    1. OP4*

      1: You are right that this is a big problem in society! But I am currently pregnant to the point that I’m in the third trimester, like my due date is in less than ten weeks, and given the nature of the job, it wouldn’t be good timing to ask the company for a long period to wait before I start – which is what I think would ultimately happen – or start and then go on leave in less than a month. There are some other factors looming as well but this is the most pertinent one.

      2. See above – I would need paid parental leave basically right away and this is not an industry or a location that would likely have a paid parental leave policy that good. The benefits I’m concerned about are ultimately ones that really can’t be changed (like health insurance) and it’s less that they don’t have good benefits as much as my current company has excellent ones.

      1. SJ (they/them)*

        Sounds like you’ve completely thought it through! Congratulations on the baby and I’m sure this opportunity or one like it will circle back around when the time is right. :)

      2. Smitty*

        OP4, if you do pull your candidacy, I would also make sure to mention that the lack of a real hybrid-remote option is a sticking point as well. It’s important feedback that we give employers so that they will (hopefully) figure out that in order to attract great candidates, they will need to continue to have that as an option.

      3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        It really does sound like you have evaluated this really carefully. Alison’s wording is excellent – as is letting them know that the hybrid/other flexibility is important.

        And good opportunities do come back around. I passed on a promotion opportunity 16 months back because the timing just wasn’t right for my family (it would have required a major schedule change that back then wouldn’t have been workable). 16 Months later it has come up again and I’m one of the final candidates. You have to do what is best for you and your family, and sometimes a job change just isn’t the best fit at a given time.

    2. Student*

      I think you may be unaware of why people actually do this. In the US, you lose FMLA coverage for the first 12 months of a new job – as in, to be eligible for FMLA leave, you need to have worked at a company for one year and have put in a certain number of hours worked total. That’s why most pregnant folks try not to change jobs in the run-up to giving birth – to keep their legal protections. Not because of personal guilt about maternity leave – because that concept that we should be treated as guilty for taking maternity leave too soon in a new job is actually legally codified into how the US treats pregnant folks.

      FMLA is the major legal protection pregnant folks use to ensure they still have a job waiting for them while they take unpaid leave to give birth and recover. It also requires your employer to allow you to keep your health insurance going while on leave, and guarantees that you have an equivalent job when you return from leave.

      Without FMLA eligibility, employers can legally fire them due to lack of availability, suspend their health benefits while on leave for a major medical event, and/or give them a substantially downgraded job upon their return.

      1. OP4*

        Yes, this is pretty much my long answer :) If I did move forward, and they offered me the job, I’d have to basically throw myself at their feet and ask them to hold the job for me for 12 or so weeks, likely without pay, and then start right away after leaving. I’m sure there are some jobs that would do that, and I like to fancy that I am qualified enough and the skill set is specialized enough that I would be worth it, but I don’t want to put us all through the interview process only to have to do some really heavy negotiation that they may not be pleased with.

        1. OP4*

          And this is a prime example of why we need greater protections for pregnant people, and why parental leave should be federally mandated!

        2. Sbc*

          OP4: I think it is worth considering what it would take for you to accept the job, and laying it out directly and without a hedge like “I’m sure you can’t do this but…” It’s a tough hiring market. They might be able to meet your needs. Even if they can’t, they will know that you are a clear communicator and that your declining to move forward is not a sign of your lack of interest in the job but because they couldn’t do what you needed at this time. It might be completely reasonable that they can’t meet what you need; it’s nobody’s fault. But why not ask? I think you can present it in a way that is professional and not bossy or demanding. The only exception is if you just don’t want to change jobs right now… you are going through a big change already and maybe there isn’t anything a new employer could offer that makes you willing to add more upheaval to that. In that case, be honest with yourself about that very reasonable feeling and communicate that to the recruiter while leaving the door open to you getting back in touch in a year or so.

    3. Observer*

      – Are you saying that the timing isn’t right because you’re pregnant (end of) or are there other factors? There is a (deeply sexist yet deeply ingrained) idea that pregnant people should not change jobs or take promotions or what have you because of the inconvenience of maternity leave etcetc, and if that is where your head is at I just want to gently float the idea that you actually have every right to move forward in your career, if you want to, at any time, regardless.

      I realize that you are saying this with good intent. But it really doesn’t speak to the reality that most families are dealing with. Yes, there are women who have such ideas. But really, to assume that this is the likely driver and ignore the far more likely drivers? Others have spelled out the issues that most women face and that are the primary reasons that someone would seriously hesitate to move jobs towards the end of a pregnancy.

      Again, I understand the motive here, and I appreciate it. But effective advocacy requires understanding the actual circumstances of the people you are trying to help.

      1. SJ (they/them)*

        You’re very right (as is Student above), I am in Canada and missed this piece. Thoughtless of me! Really appreciate the correction and will keep it in mind.

        1. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

          SJ, you accepted the correction very gracefully, but as another Canadian (and a woman in prime birthing years to boot), your point about pregant people not taking new jobs or promotions is really valid and important, even where firm protections are in place. I see it all the time from my friends and peers, and I’m glad you brought it up.

          I’m a little frustrated that people are critiquing your point for not being US-focused enough, without having the information of whether OP was in the US, or whether you were. It reminds me (someone who has lived in 6 province) of doing grad school in Toronto, where I spent an entire year informing my classmates that the rest of Canada does, in fact, exist.

    4. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      Changing jobs can mean changing insurance companies, which can mean changing doctors. Which is a pain at the best of times. It’s worth avoiding.

    5. ginkgo*

      I just want to say thank you for this comment. I’m pregnant and have applied to a couple jobs recently that would be a step up for me. I searched AAM to see if there were any relevant letters, and the comments on the two I found (one of which was from 2007, to be fair) were so, so negative and awful.

      1. OP4*

        You are welcome! Keeping a career trajectory while pregnant is really tough! I’m right there with you. FWIW, if it weren’t for a few factors (switching insurance during a high risk pregnancy, being right at the end when negotiating leave and timelines would be tough, and being the primary breadwinner in the family where taking a three-month leave without pay would be an incredible hardship on us, and moving into barely-hybrid work from a fully-remote role), I’d be thinking about this differently.

        When I started my career and had no prospect of kids or family but knew I would want them in the future, I had a new manager who started her role and then left six months later on maternity leave. She took three months off and came back. It was a really good example for me that it is possible to manage your family and work through pregnancies, even when starting new roles.

  22. Fluffy Fish*

    OP1 – Professional doesnt need to mean “nice”.

    I would comment something along the lines of “I’m not clear why you think it is in your purview to direct something like this at your colleagues. Frankly, it’s insulting.”

  23. Mike*

    #1 this was big news all over the place

    Babies pull funny faces when pregnant mums eat kale, study shows

    Google the above. it’s in many scientific journals and newspapers

    1. ecnaseener*

      I don’t think anyone was questioning whether the article was real. It’s still rude to send it out en masse with such a judgmental framing.

        1. KRM*

          The point is that nobody could TELL if the guy who posted this was serious/judgemental or not. And frankly, if there’s any chance that your ‘joke’ could land badly, you need to not make it at all.

        2. Fluffy Fish*

          Do explain why you think its’ in anyway appropriate for a colleague to tell his other colleagues to watch what the eat?

          And then please explain why posting that and directly stating “mothers-to-be” on a board that is explicitly for employees NOT judging hi colleagues?

        3. LW #1*

          No, my coworker sent the judgmental framing when posting a link to the article. I’m confused by your comment?

        4. fhqwhgads*

          If the coworker sent a link to the article and said “isn’t this interesting?” there would not be a letter. The judgemental bit was what to OP’s coworker said, which prompted the letter.

        5. Observer*

          Really? It wasn’t the OP who said “Your child is judging you!”

          If it was intended to be a joke, it was wildly inappropriate. If he was serious, “judgemental” is an understatement. But also incredibly stupid.

    2. Delta Delta*

      Right. So, if Mr. Coworker wanted to share the article with a comment, a better comment would have been, “see, nobody likes kale!” or something similar, rather than what he said.

    3. Dinwar*

      The issue is, a fetus reacting to biochemical stimuli doesn’t rise to the level of warranting policing what a mother eats. I don’t recall any evidence that the reactions were conscious or that they were indicative of preference, much less nutritional needs; it was more evidence that the fetus could react to outside stimuli in an expected manner. (I’m certainly no expert, however; ontogeny gets a bad rep in the paleontological community thanks to early evo-devo nonsense, and has been avoided for a few generations. See recent revisions of Ceratopsian phylogeny for an example of just how careful we are in that realm!)

      Manager Tools has a saying: “Communication is what the listener does.” What that means is that if you want to convey X by saying Y and the audience hears Z, you have failed to effectively communicate. If you intend to have a polite discussion about an interesting factoid, but the women you’re talking to hear “You need to eat the way I tell you to”, you have erred. In general, unless you work in a medical field or some other field where “fetus reacts to stimuli” comes up on occasion, I’d avoid it entirely. Pregnancy is a fairly intimate and personal thing, after all.

      1. SereneScientist*

        PS the study only had 100 participants. Hardly the sample size or scale of study to be conclusive. PPS what a leap to go from “fetuses react to their mothers’ diets” to “FETUSES JUDGE WHAT THEIR MOTHERS ARE EATING.” Seriously, chill out, dude; you aren’t impressing anyone here.

    4. Observer*

      #1 this was big news all over the place

      The study was all over the place. The conclusion? Not so much.

      In fact, unless you’re trying to pull a joke that doesn’t depend on reality, it doesn’t make any sense.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      It’s not out of concern for the baby, I’m sure. I think it is about what women eat, but mostly in terms of how it affects their attractiveness (ok, baby weight) and whether or not they’re good enough mothers, by his standards.

  24. Gray Lady*

    Why does LW2 feel obligated to process this “resume”? Of all the reasons to insta-screen out a resume, “dumb gimmick” seems as reasonable as any other. If there’s some company policy that any resume that crosses their physical or virtual threshold has to be processed into the system, I would still argue that a cake is not a resume, even if it is decorated with resume-like information, and is not covered by the policy.

    Toss it, or if you hate wasting the food that much, eat it, but spare not a thought for addressing the “resume” content.

    1. Naomi*

      True, but I think it was a good thought experiment anyway. It explains the practical obstacles to this working the way the resume-sender seems to expect.

    2. Expelliarmus*

      LW2 isn’t the one considering processing the “resume”; she just found the post on LinkedIn and wanted Alison’s take on it.

      1. Gray Lady*

        Yeah, I realized that after I posted. Still, LW asked the question as though the theoretical recipient had some obligation to deal with the “resume” content. Also, she did word it as though she were putting herself in the situation.

  25. Merci Dee*

    That’s what was going through my mind the whole time I read the letter . . . “Wait a minute, you’re not obligated to serve this case, you’re not obligated to find a place to store it, and you’re certainly not obligated to treat this person as a serious candidate for the role.” The easiest and least time-consuming answer is to trash the cake and let the person apply through official channels if they’re truly interested in the job.

  26. Dust Bunny*

    Cake: If you did this where I would HR would go, “What on Earth?” and then throw it out. I don’t think they’d even put it in the staff lounge because what if it was poisoned or something?

  27. Dust Bunny*

    Not-for-profit: Just leave. Implosion is the price organizations like this pay for not getting a handle on things sooner. I appreciate your loyalty to the staff but they’re free to leave, too. Nobody owes it to anyone to prop up a dysfunctional situation.

  28. not neurotypical*

    #2: Non-profit CEO here. With a previous org, I came in as CEO to a small nonprofit that turned out to have much more significant problems than I knew about when accepting the job, so I can relate. In that case, leaving was not an option for me because the nonprofit in question, while small in terms of staff and budget, was a longstanding community fixture that low-income people counted on. So, it wasn’t only the staff but also the people served by the nonprofit I was worried about.

    (As an aside, I disagree strongly with Allison that nonprofit jobs should be treated in the same way as jobs at for-profits. At for-profits, other people are profiting from your labor, and so a looking out for yourself and only yourself makes sense. At a nonprofit, there are, in my view, further ethical considerations. Don’t take a job at a nonprofit if you are unwilling to at least sometimes put the mission of the organization above your own personal interests.)

    But back to the question at hand. It’s true that you shouldn’t sacrifice yourself to help other people without their consent, but there is something in between that and only looking out for yourself: Asking them what they want you to do and then taking their wishes into account when making your own decisions.

    Here, there is the additional question of whether the nonprofit, which OP says is new, has begun providing services that somebody is counting on.

    Step one: Talk candidly, one on one, with the most knowledgable and dedicated staff members and board members.

    Step two: Use your power as CEO to convene an all-staff, all-board meeting — not possible with large nonprofits but perfectly possible and often quite helpful at small nonprofits — to candidly discuss the current crisis and collectively decide what to do. Wind down in a way likely to cause the least disruption to staff and clients? Devise a strategic plan for pulling out of the current crisis? Try X, Y, or Z and then convene again in a month to see if that has made a difference?

    Base your own decision about what to do on the outcome of that.

    In the past case I referenced, doing this led to a complete turnaround in terms of both staff morale and ability to access necessary funds, allowing the organization to continue to provide vital services to its community. There was significant stress along the way, but the emotional reward for sticking it out, and for participating in a group that was all pulling together to save the day, was so sweet.

    1. Please Mark This Confidential and Leave It Lying Around*

      “Don’t take a job at a nonprofit if you are unwilling to at least sometimes put the mission of the organization above your own personal interests.”

      Oof. This attitude is why nonprofits have a bad reputation as employers. While it is sometimes appropriate, it usually is not. But it’s a good club to beat the guilt-prone with when you want to abuse your labor force.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yep. As a lifetime nonprofit career person – this is not it. You are still subject to labor laws, you are still expected to treat your employees like people with lives outside work, your employees are not obligated to stay for the sake of the communities served. If you can’t keep your own house in check, your organization is not functioning. Full stop.

        There are concessions. You go into the sector knowing your pay may be lower for want of resources, you may wear more hats, you may struggle in various ways. But at nonprofits, even if they care about the cause, your employees are still trading labor for money and they still get to set boundaries. There are so many red flags in this comment.

    2. Dinwar*

      “At for-profits, other people are profiting from your labor, and so a looking out for yourself and only yourself makes sense.”

      I don’t think you understand the for-profit world. We’re often NOT just working for ourselves. Most environmental compliance and remediation firms are for-profit institutions, for example (all of the ones I’ve worked with in the past 15 years have been). We make money, you get clean soil, air, and water; win/win. Further, in every group I’ve worked in looking out “for yourself and only yourself” would be a good way to get fired. A certain amount of teamwork–including stuff that sucks but that’s gotta get done anyway–is necessary. I actively encourage my teams to look out for each other, as the best person to determine if you’re at risk of heat exhaustion or other problems is someone else (folks who do this work tend to be the “push through and get the job done” type).

      Second, I’m not sure you understand how non-profits work. Working at a non-profit absolutely means someone else profits from your work, in the sense that your work is to better someone else’s life. That is, after all, the stick you’re using to beat your employees with in your post. If YOU were benefitting from the work, there’d be no reason to feel the need to push above-and-beyond; it would feel like normal life. (This stems from reading journals and interviews of 18th century farmers and the like; I have weird tastes in literature.)

      Third, consider workers as equipment. Would you push a piece of equipment beyond capacity as a matter of routine? If an employee did and it broke, who’s to blame, the machine or the employee? Similarly, if you routinely push staff to the breaking point they WILL break eventually–being a non-profit doesn’t make them magically indestructible. If you do this routinely YOU caused the problem, not them. Some can endure it, sure; some thrive in such situations. Most people break. And a managerial style that necessarily results in most people breaking is not great.

      I’m one of those who enjoys working at just about my limit, in high-stress, constantly evolving conditions. I still think you and I would not get along if we were coworkers. One of the things I’m doing is actively trying to implement systems to allow folks who aren’t masochistic and somewhat insane (as my coworkers describe me) can fit the role.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        “That is, after all, the stick you’re using to beat your employees with in your post.”

        And this is why the entire sector has the negative reputation that it does.

    3. Not A Manager*

      “Don’t take a job at a nonprofit if you are unwilling to at least sometimes put the mission of the organization above your own personal interests.”

      Following this precept would actually harm non-profits in the long run. It just means a much smaller pool of potential employees. Treating people in such a manner that they don’t have to choose between their own interests and the interests of their employer (that is, treating them fairly) leads to a much more robust work-force.

  29. Dust Bunny*

    Judgy fetuses: Every kid I know would happily live on cookies, Pop-Tarts, and juice if you let them. Besides, being the parent means you get to decide what the kid eats until it’s old and informed enough to live with its own consequences.

    1. Friday is here*

      To be honest, the way I originally read the comment, I thought the joke was that the kid would be like “Yeech, broccoli!” I guess because there’s always so much talk about how kids only want to eat cookies and juice, etc.

  30. Falling Diphthong*

    Past letter in which the applicant was upset that no one was calling them after they sent their resume by mail as a gift box, including a flash drive with samples of their work:

    I remembered it from this later Inc column:

    1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

      Okay, so I missed this “saga” when it first happened, and woooooooooooof, that was one nasty, entitled letter writer! What a ride that comment section was. I haven’t even read the whole thing yet, and I’m exhausted. It’s so clear the letter writer was only writing in to get validation for their “brilliant scheme” to get hired and advice on how to better harass the company. Which, I’m pretty sure their scheme to get hired failed. (I’ll mention why below.)

      This comment in particular stands out to me (I see the LW was all over the comments being quite condescending to Alison and the commenters under the name “Designer*”)
      This presentation was flawless. Anyone would think it was made by a robot! Not one imperfection on the packaging I made by hand. It’s very classy if I do say so myself. I have no issue with competing with “out of the box” people. I guess when you know, you know. (not to sound big headed!)

      I uh…don’t think they achieved the “not a big-headed person” effect they were going for there….

      Also, the part where Alison said the LW should move on and stop contacting the company because the gimmick didn’t work, and the LW responded with, “What a bunch of negative people live on here”?? Just. WOW.

      I was gratified to see even Alison eventually got fed up and called the LW out for refusing to listen to good advice from anyone, though. *LOL*

      As said above, I’m also 100% convinced Designer didn’t get the job, because someone like that ABSOLUTELY would’ve come back to brag to AAM about how wrong Alison and the commenters were, and how Designer was right all along.

      All of this to say, this is pretty much exactly how the LinkedIn cake person is coming off. Not as a beautiful unique snowflake whose creative thinking should be praised, but as an entitled jerk who thinks rules and proper procedures don’t apply to her, and she doesn’t care who she has to inconvenience or get into trouble to get what she wants.

      1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

        Actually, I did some more reading (had lunch, got my energy back for Internet drama, which I can only handle in small doses!), and I see Designer returned near the end of the comments as OP1*. They reported the company did finally contact them back (not that the job was a given), and, far more importantly to me, they actually did admit they went too far and offered apologies. I’m very glad to see that kind of update! Don’t know what happened to give them their come-to-Jeebus moment, but I hope it was sincere and stuck with them for the long haul. I’m gonna headcanon it did since I am about to be too busy to read any more old post comments. I like happy endings where people grow and become their best positive selves. :)

  31. That One Person*

    #1 – Oof, this is one of those moments where if was going for a joke he probably wanted to include an emoji for effect. I probably would’ve gone with something more like, “I wonder how you tell the future food critics from the rest,” if it’s a joke angle. If it’s not however then it’s definitely another pain point on an already touchy subject these days, though I wouldn’t be surprised if some people didn’t realize how much of a minefield it is currently.

    #2 – Something like this seems like a way better fit if they want to get into a bakery or food industry (albeit then I’d expect it to be made by them). Wonder if they had a two page resume if they’d need sheet cake to get it all sent. The other problem with sending food though is not knowing allergies/dietary restrictions so how silly would it be to send this and try to impress a particular person who couldn’t eat it because of the berry compote, they’re diabetic, or they’re a celiac. Personally I wouldn’t go through the trouble to snap a picture anyways so even if people got to the cake first if I saved it, it wouldn’t matter – I’d want a proper copy to refer back to rather than hope I managed a decent picture.

  32. L.H. Puttgrass*

    Wired: Writing “I QUIT” in cod, haddock, and tilapia filets
    Tired: Submitting a resume in cake form

    (Does Wired still do the “wired/tired” thing, or did I just date myself more than usual?)

    1. mlem*

      I suspect it’s passe, but I adore stale memes, so I’m here for it. (I want to develop your post into a Tired/Wired/Hired or Tired/Wired/Fired structure, but I’m not finding a good joke in it.)

  33. Nopity Nope*

    Resume cakes get binned without a second thought. Resume Ferraris, on the other hand….. I could get behind a never-ending stream of luxury goods.

    (Please, no need to point out that the org might have restrictions on gifts, bribery, etc. It’s just a humorous comment.)

  34. kiki*

    A resume cake, at best, conveys nothing about your qualifications for the role and at worst demonstrates you don’t understand how things work. Sending a cake to an event for a large company is going to put it in front of the event planner. The event planner may or may not be internal to the company and regardless, on the day of an event they are *busy* and do not have time for “fun” surprises. They don’t know anything about you or the cake (it’s probably not poisoned, but they don’t know), so it’s getting tossed in the trash. Are they going to read the resume and pass along the sender’s info before they do that? Probably not.

    A resume cake is also just not even really creative? Paying to have an image screened on top of a sheet cake is took next to zero effort or thought on the sender’s part. The whole thing is just… why?

  35. Eldritch Office Worker*

    OP3, I want to highlight one of Alison’s scenarios:
    “For example, you might have someone who’s considering leaving themselves but figures they’ll stick it out since you are, when in fact it would be far better for them to get out.”

    The same way people leave bad managers, people stay for good managers. The same way you’re talking about staying for them. I’ve been on both sides of this and it doesn’t end well.

    1. Hen in a Windstorm*

      It’s like a suicide pact. No one should be able to compare their job situation to a suicide pact.

  36. madge*

    I used to plan events for a large university and that cake would have been tossed into a bin ASAP or given to whichever students were walking by at the time. This was my actual strategy for any uneaten/unexpected food at our events. Events on a uni budget with uni bureaucracy are stressful enough without surprises.

  37. LW #1*

    LW #1 here! Thanks to Alison for the advice and grounding. I have read all the comments so far but may not be able to keep up through the workday. I am squeamish about pregnancy things and I have a food thing (both me things), so I wasn’t sure if that was clouding my judgment. I don’t know the coworker very well, only virtually through a handful of zoom meetings. I considered that he was trying to make a (tasteless) joke or craft a “hook” for the article link, so I wasn’t sure of what degree of heat to include in my response to him, if I should reply at all.

    Here’s the update: I checked the announcement board again, and the post is gone! I surmise that one of my coworkers must’ve approached him privately and told him how bad his comment came across, so he deleted it. My org is progressive and something like 70% women (with my department skewing even more towards women and NB), so that kind of comment is not going to fly here! Which is so good to know! And I’m a little relieved to not have to be the one to confront him. I haven’t heard of or observed other sexist behavior or comments from him, so I’m okay with putting this in the past as a one-off faux pas.

    Thanks again!

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Great update! I think that says some great things about your workplace, I’d take it as a happy outcome. I think the commenters saying it was a joke may be right, and hopefully he learned his lesson about what’s appropriate for the workplace, so I agree with you on letting him off the hook for this one.

      But keeping it in the back of your mind, if other incidents arise.

    2. digitalnative-ish*

      Glad to hear it worked out! Agreed that treating it as a faux pas is best, especially since he deleted the post.

      I think Alison’s tone/level was good. Even if he meant it as a joke, it’d tell him not everyone sees it that way. Sometimes showing people that it didn’t land is enough.

    3. Veryanon*

      I’m glad this worked out for you! But I have to say, I probably would have confronted him (politely) in the moment, and then escalated it to HR so that they had a record of it just in case. Maybe he meant it as a joke, maybe not. But it’s way past time that men learned it’s not okay to police womens’ bodies.

  38. grumpy old lady*

    Re: LW#1. When the older male coworker spends nine months being a human incubator (with no body rights), then hours in labor he can have an opinion. I’m tired of old men thinking they can control a women’s uterus. If he meant the office wide email as a joke he should have been clear: “Here’s a funny article claiming a fetus will react to what you eat”.

    1. Observer*

      No, even then he doesn’t get to have an opinion. I have 6 kids (plus some late stage miscarriages). I think that most people would agree that that would not give me the standing to tell some random woman or coworker what she should or should not eat.

  39. RagingADHD*

    LW2, I think you (and actually Alison as well) have missed the point of the social media post about the cake.

    It wasn’t ever about anyone eating the cake, or liking the cake. It wasn’t even about getting a job at Nike. Not really.

    If it were, there was no point in posting about it or tagging all those other people, or telling the story about the Instacart driver carrying her baby and being inspired, etc.

    Nike didn’t even have a job opening. But it’s a high-visibility company located on the other side of the country, that was having a well-publicized event with celebrities attending. It was newsworthy, and it met all the elements to make a good story.

    She could have taken a cake resume to Bank of America, or Coca-Cola, or Home Depot, and driven it there herself. But that wasn’t a big enough challenge, and their mottos aren’t as snappy.

    She leveraged the visibility of the party & the brand to create an “against all odds” story about (imaginary) adversity, tenacity, and (imaginary) problem-solving, so that her LinkedIn profile would go viral.

    That’s what she’s pitching and trying to get hired for- “I can create a story that will make your brand go viral.”

    And it’s working, because here you are posting the link.

    It doesn’t matter if the recipient threw the cake in the trash. TBH, it wouldn’t really matter if it was never delivered at all, as long as the Instacart driver will validate her part of the story. If anyone from Nike made a negative comment or said it never happened, they would be the big old meaniepants trying to crush these inspirational young women’s dreams.

    If someone at Nike actually called her, or posted pictures of the cake, etc, that would have been gravy. But it wasn’t the goal.

    Her plan worked exactly as intended.

  40. ProducerNYC*

    What stood out to me most was how she mentioned her Instacart delivery person had her BABY with her and went ‘above and beyond.’ All I could think was how BS it was that the onus of the gimmick/’great idea’ was on some hourly worker who probably thought her job was on the line- AND she had her child with her?? Yikes.

      1. ProducerNYC*

        Denise was all “I get IT done,” but she did “IT” with the INCREDIBLE effort of a likely underpaid, overworked hourly worker WHO HAD HER SLEEPING CHILD WITH HER. Oof. It just smacks of a gross power dynamic. I did see that she has linked the woman (in a PS) in her post and is highlighting her job search as well, so, at least she’s recognizing her and putting her name in spotlight as well. I cannot imagine how stressed I would be if I were Denise and tasked with a seemingly impossible job (I’m imaginging the myriad ways it could have gone wrong, thanks anxiety).

      2. RagingADHD*

        She’s tagged in the post and using the story to promote herself on her own LinkedIn, so you absolutely can. It would appear she was 100 percent on board with the whole setup.

  41. Please Mark This Confidential and Leave It Lying Around*

    I’m in a location and office environment where if a man posted a comment like that he’d be publicly put on BLAST by about 200 people in the first minute it was up, and he’d spend the rest of the day begging HR to keep his job. I get that my location/office environment doesn’t reflect the entire US of A, but to me, Alison’s suggestion is way, way soft. Somewhere between running him through with a lance in the hallway and Alison’s very soft script is where I’d suggest landing.

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      Agreed on Alison’s response and honestly kind of surprised by it.

      His post is gross for so many reasons.

      I have been in the workforce long enough as a woman that I am TIRED of this kind of crap. It’s been not at all or softly addressed enough. It’s 2022 and there’s no excuse for not knowing its ignorant as heck.

      Is this a firing offense? No. But it should still be addressed directly by the organization.

      It’s been past time to move on from oh well maybe they just don’t understand and lets all try to preserve a good working relationship to it’s unacceptable full stop. This goes for all -isms.

    2. Heather*

      Saying that someone would be “begging HR to keep his job” for what very well may have been a joke that landed poorly isn’t really something to brag about in my opinion…we’re all at our employers’ mercy and that isn’t something to be celebrated. And OP has said in the comments that she has no previous negative indications from this guy and also that he took the post down quickly (presumably after someone pointed out how this came across). I think the post was stupid and unnecessary, but unless it’s part of a larger pattern from this guy I don’t think it deserves much more than an eye roll and a snarky comment, certainly not immediately threatening his livelihood.

  42. toolittletoolate*

    Once when I was feeling like LW #3, A work mentor reminded me that people had come and gone for years, but the company was still there, so consider that when I feel like I can’t/shouldn’t leave. It was good advice not to consider myself so essential and so important that somehow the success or failure of the company/division/workgroup depends on my presence.

    And she also said–if it’s actually true that your leaving will make things fall apart, well then, leave and start your own business around that function and get paid what you’re worth, because the leaders are idiots if they have set things up so poorly.

  43. Velawciraptor*

    LW3, I feel your pain. I’m in a similar situation, except it’s only been a month. I was ok coming on with the problems that were publicly reported, but it rapidly became clear that my board doesn’t actually want me running the organization; they just want me to be a mouthpiece that does whatever today’s whim is, whether that’s what our governing documents (or applicable laws) say should be happening or not. I have a great staff that does its best despite the dysfunction, but I’m rapidly reaching “you can’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm.”

    Good luck. It’s a deeply frustrating position to be in.

    1. TMB*

      That’s terrible. I asked multiple directors questions about their view on Board / CEO relationships and demarcation before accepting the job – my number one line of enquiry – and in that respect it has worked out fine. You have a dysfunctional board. It sounds hopeless unless there is a director who understands good governance and is willing to be the catalyst. Sympathy.

  44. Temperance*

    LW #1: I would have gone to HR, because my response to this, from someone who has never been pregnant or able to BE pregnant in our current political climate, would probably get me fired. I’m over men policing women’s bodies, even as a “joke”.

    1. Veryanon*

      Yep. I think we are all over it. It’s not a joking matter, it’s not funny, and men just need to stop it.

  45. Anita Brake*

    LW #1 – Oh my goodness. You work with a really out-of-touch dude. Call him out on it.

    LW #2 – Put chocolate frosting over where the resume is printed, then cut and serve. Do not hire this individual. That’s just weird.

    My $0.02

    1. Anita Brake*

      Oh, and I was assuming the cake was created by a professional baker, but if not then throw the whole mess away. Food/hand/mouth is going around.

  46. I Fought the Law*

    I’ve never been pregnant and never will be, but as a woman living in the U.S., I find the pregnancy comment to be extremely upsetting. I think that if LW1 is in the position to do so, she absolutely needs to shut this down publicly (and NOT in a jokey way; this is a serious problem) AND take it to HR.

  47. Anne Wentworth*

    Honestly I’m surprised by Allison’s advice to LW1 considering how often we’ve seen updates that are essentially “So I reported it. Turns out HR has been watching him for a while now and this was the last straw!”

    I can’t imagine a situation where a man who thinks that’s an ok thing to post at work would respond to criticism with anything other than hostility and defensiveness, so I’m on board with letting HR know, and asking them to have someone take it down.

    1. Anne Wentworth*

      *Criticism from anyone who isn’t a cis hetero man, that is. If one of LW1’s male colleagues wants to try, good on them.

  48. Calamity Janine*

    oddness, occasional mistakes, and typographic weirdness due to Google’s voice to text so bear with me etc etc-

    a tactic for dealing with situation number one may be to Simply turn it into a joke. it’s meant to shame mothers for not eating healthy, but there are plenty of healthy foods that we all recognize babies and children don’t like very much. so instead of going along with the logic that this is because of junk food, take the legs out from underneath this shaming by turning the joke the entire other way. yes – everyone hates broccoli at first- but this baby to be doesn’t need to be quite so dramatic about it! or turn this into some anecdotes about how several towns have restaurants where there is a dish supposedly great for inducing labor if you’re past due- it’s hard to get in the body shaming when everyone is having a laugh about an eggplant parmesan that makes recalcitrant babies finally vacate premises. but then it can become a nice moment of laughing at Family anecdotes, like ” do you know my brother was 2 weeks overdue and my mom couldn’t stand it anymore so she went and ate some super spicy chili and finally went into labor and do you know my brother still absolutely hates spicy food”, instead of being the Judgment that was intended.

    it’s diffusing the situation like this probably more kind than the person attempting the shaming deserves? probably. however this tactic has the big benefit of soothing all pregnant coworkers or those who will become pregnant soon and have this stuck in their head. instead of yet more shaming about what they eat, you’ve turned this into the joke of” the baby is acting like a baby already and doesn’t like it when I eat broccoli because children just don’t like broccoli”. after all there are plenty of healthy foods that are bitter, or not sweet, or otherwise kind of gross that you have to ease yourself into liking. I don’t think even the most moralistic food-is-virtue sort of person is going to shame somebody for daring to actually take their multivitamins and eat some nice steamed spinach…

    this also sits up the social position where if the original sender of this message comes forward to try and clarify, they will have to clarify that they really did intend to this in a shaming and mean-spirited manner. so while you are there helping everyone to have a lovely time and a funny laugh, they have to really step up and declare themselves a jerk. most people will not rise to this, but those that do seem to uniquely not be aware of how you have handed them enough rope to hang themselves, so they will get busy making themselves look as awful as possible for everyone else to see. at that point, if this person really is dedicated to being a jerk, you’ll have plenty to bring to HR.. that is, if you get to HR instead of HR itself noticing the problem and stepping in before that!

    1. Calamity Janine*

      I also fully support turning this dude into the butt of the joke. a comment like “okay dude, we get it, you think your mother should remember way better that you don’t like spinach since you were making that clear before you were even born!” will take the wind out of his sails.

      this is a snarky response which you probably don’t want to go for, however, I’ve missed until now that the person doing this is a presumably cis dude. that adds an entirely new dimension of “please stfu”…

  49. EC*

    The fetus thing is even more ridiculous because its physically impossible. A fetus doesn’t taste anything, all the nutrients it gets come directly from the woman’s blood. If you get a transfusion you don’t “taste” what the donor was eating before they gave blood.

    The main concern though is that in the context of an older man blasting it to employees, its sending sexist and anti bodily autonomy messages to female coworkers and underlings.

    1. Delphine*

      The research did suggest that fetuses are reacting to taste and smell in the womb, possibly by swallowing and inhaling amniotic fluid. Past studies have already indicated this was a possibility, but this research was done pre-birth, while previous studies were based on post-birth indicators.

    2. len*

      It’s not physically impossible. Compounds that trigger tastes in the mother’s bloodstream can pass to the fetus. The connection between mother and fetus is pretty different from and much tighter than that between blood donor and recipient.

      There’s no need to trash a study you’ve never seen based on one guy’s joke, it’s an interesting and potentially important area of research in maternal/neonatal health.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Um, no. It is not physically impossible. Babies being able to taste their mothers food was well-established when I was pregnant, and that was 15 years ago. I think you need to update your knowledge if you’re going to opine on what is physically possible in pregnancy.

      Babies float in amniotic fluid, they drink it. It goes in their mouth.

      The current research 15 years ago showed that babies beginning to eat solids will recognize & accept strong flavors (hot peppers, curry, garlic) if their mothers ate them while pregnant. While babies whose mothers ate a bland diet will not. The flavor of the food passes into the amniotic fluid.

      1. Pennyworth*

        It also works with music babies hear in utero. Years ago the BBC did a program where several mothers played their favorite music through pregnancy. After the babies were born their response to ”their” music was noticeable, especially in its calming effect. It was fascinating to see a screaming baby pause, stop screaming and relax when he heard the heavy metal that was familiar to him.

  50. Calamity Janine*

    my bad advice for Situation Number Two is to Simply repay with more of the same. by that I mean you have to write the rejection on something like a banana, or maybe just a whole uncooked unpeeled completely raw potato. with appropriate amount of postage applied of course. if nothing else, this will swiftly teach the lesson to the applicant that we invented paper for good reasons and it’s pretty useful actually

    1. Calamity Janine*

      though clearly, the applicant’s real error was not paying enough attention to the products made by the employer she wished to court. after all, it’s Nike, they’re not a bakery! they don’t make cakes! no wonder that this stunt didn’t have the effect she wanted!

      she should have written her resume on her feet.

      you know, like a normal person

    2. Relentlessly Socratic*

      Future AAM letter: “Dear Alison, I submitted a wildly creative resume cake to a company only to receive an immediate potato of rejection. Should I follow-up, because you can make cake from mashed potatoes, and I think they want to see more of my gumption!”

        1. Calamity Janine*

          bluebird of happiness? OLD AND BUSTED

          the potato of rejection? well, that’s THE NEW HOTNESS*

          *if you don’t wait for it to cool properly after pulling it out of the oven, anyway

  51. works with realtors*

    I read “my older male coworker” in the first letter and immediately groaned “of course.”

  52. Delphine*

    #1: Treat it like a joke that fell flat. Unless it’s a pattern, it really doesn’t need to be escalated.

  53. Adrian*

    OP #3, do what’s right for you and get out asap. The only person you can help here is yourself.

    I knew of someone who worked in several big firms and high-profile jobs, before establishing his own small firm. Later he merged it with an industry behemoth, only to become disillusioned with the new place shortly thereafter.

    He did eventually leave, returning to a former employer where he was welcome back any time. I did wonder how his former small-firm colleagues felt, since he had an easy way out.

  54. Miranda*

    the only scenario I can imagine in which a “cake resume” would be applicable is if the job in question was as a cake decorator or pastry chef. Otherwise it just seems wildly out in left field.

  55. El l*

    Re op3:
    If you the CEO dont even have the time or resources to turn this place around, what makes you think you can protect this staff?

    You were handed a poisoned chalice, and it’s very possible given their behavior that deep down your Board members know this place isn’t fixable.

  56. Regina Philange*

    I saw the cake story on LinkedIn over the weekend — I was wondering if they just did it so they’d have a ‘fun’ story for LinkedIn.

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