interviewing people I know I’m not going to hire, going to a conference with a cold, and more

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

1. Can my resume list company awards I didn’t actually get — if I secretly won them but my manager rigged the results?

After graduating, I worked for a small start-up company where my manager was underqualified, sexist, a pathological liar, and extremely stubborn. He was always let off the hook due to being a close family friend of the company director. Although the CEO liked me and maintained a friendly relationship with staff, I did not feel comfortable expressing my concerns to him. After being passed up for a promotion in favor of my less qualified male coworker (Rick), I began job searching. I did ultimately receive the same promotion six weeks later, but by then I already had a promising lead for a new position at a more established company in our industry. I ended up getting a wonderful offer, which I accepted.

My last day fell on the same day as the company’s annual award ceremony. Award winners are chosen by employee votes across all departments. To the surprise of myself and many of my colleagues, Rick won two or three out of the four awards designated for my team, including department MVP. Following the event, my manager asked to meet with me. He informed me that I had actually gotten more votes than Rick and was the true winner of the awards he was given. However, he and company director decided that it wouldn’t be a “good look” for the team to have the person leaving that day win most of our department’s awards. While disappointed that I didn’t get to receive recognition for my hard work that year, I understood their point and wanted to make sure I left on good terms.

It’s been nearly two years since this all transpired and, due to reduced hours, I have decided it’s time to update my resume. I did not have much I could add to the “awards / recognition / accolades” section, which made me realize that they didn’t just take away recognition I earned, but also what could have been a helpful resume boost. My field is competitive and in the current market the competition is fierce. I considered just putting the awards on my resume anyways. However, I cannot remember what the other awards were aside from the MVP!

I recently learned that my former manager was fired due to consistent conflict between him and the CEO. The CEO and I haven’t spoken since my departure, but parted on good terms. Would it be inappropriate for me to contact him about this? I would love to know what these awards were and be able to add them to my resume. I’m certain they have records of what the awards were. If it is okay for me to contact the CEO, what should I say? Is there a script for a situation like this? Do awards on resumes even matter?

Don’t contact the CEO, and don’t list the awards on your resume. Regardless of whether you should have won them, they didn’t actually award them to you so listing them would be a misrepresentation — and if a reference checker ever tried to verify it, they could get told that no, your name is not listed as winning those. Trying to explain the facts (“I had enough votes, but they didn’t give me the awards, and I only have the word of my now-fired manager to prove that…”) would be messy. It also would come across strangely to ask the CEO for help with it now.

Most importantly, it doesn’t matter that much. Internal company awards aren’t a huge deal on resumes; in fact, you really don’t need a section for awards at all! If you had them, you could list them if they were impressive-sounding, but they won’t carry so much weight that you should pursue it under these circumstances. But what you should do is think about why your colleagues would have voted for you to win, and then make sure those reasons are reflected on your resume (meaning, for example, if your coworkers appreciated that you were great at X, make sure your resume includes evidence that you were great at X — completely separately from the question of awards).

2. Why am I interviewing people I know I’m not going to hire?

I manage a newly created department at my company. I inherited one employee, Lisa, and after about a year, have been approved to hire for a more senior position on the team. Lisa is well positioned to promote into that role, and in anticipation of getting this position approved, I have been coaching her on skills she will need for a few months.

Current company policy is to interview at least two outside candidates for any open position in addition to internal candidates. My only internal candidate is Lisa and since I’ve been working with her on preparation for this role for months now, I have doubts that I’ll get an external candidate who is better positioned. Besides which, I have always prioritized promoting from within.

Here’s my question: promoting Lisa will create an opening at her current level on the team. I have asked HR to focus on the lower end of the qualification range for applicants, in the hopes that I can knock out the required interviews and do some stealth recruiting for Lisa’s backfill in the process. I’ve gotten push back that this is sandbagging the process for an internal candidate, but I don’t feel great about bringing people in to waste their time interviewing for a role that they are vanishingly unlikely to be offered. The situation would be different if I had multiple internal candidates, but I work with a specialized team and the other members in the department are all in their first three months and not angling for promotion yet. Am I doing anything unethical here?

Yes. Employers that require you to interview at least two outside candidates for any open position have that rule because they want you to make sure you’re hiring the most qualified person for the job — and in a lot of cases, because that kind of rule increases the diversity of your staff, particularly if your existing employees are relatively homogenous and mostly come from similar networks or demographics. If Lisa is truly the best person for the job, you’ll see that when you interview outside candidates. But if you close your mind to that possibility before you’ve interviewed anyone else, you’re violating the spirit and intent of your company’s policy. And that will end up wasting candidates’ time far more than someone else ending up better qualified than them will.

You really do need to consider the other candidates with an open mind, not look at their interviews as boxes you have to check off before you can hire Lisa … and definitely don’t try to rig the process for Lisa by asking for less qualified candidates! Your mindset should be that you’re looking for the best person for the job — and maybe that’s Lisa, but maybe you’ll find it’s someone else. (You should be transparent with Lisa about that, so you’re not wrongly raising her expectations that it’ll definitely be her.) If you’re absolutely convinced that no one could be a better hire than Lisa, you could try making that case to your company — but it’s pretty common for managers to assume that prematurely.

Now, that’s not to dismiss the benefits of promoting from within! There are lots of benefits to that — but you can’t unilaterally decide to prioritize it on your own if your company’s policy says otherwise. And in this case, it sounds like it’s not just the policy, but the input of others involved in the process too (since you’re getting pushback about how you’re going about it).

3. Going to a conference with a cold

In the post (ish) Covid world, what are the professional best practices around having a cold? My boyfriend has a cold and I feel like I might be coming down with it in the next few days.

This weekend, I have a conference in another city about an hour and a half away, where I will be traveling via Amtrak and then sharing a hotel room with another attendee (who I don’t know personally). In the pre-Covid world, I would have planned on going and just powering through and maybe just declining to shake hands, but now we’re all a lot more mindful about spreading respiratory illness. And given that I’ll be sharing a room with a stranger, just masking the whole time isn’t really feasible because I can’t reasonably mask while sleeping. But at the same time, it feels silly to miss out on a major opportunity for professional development and networking for what is ultimately a minor illness. What is my best move here?

At a minimum, I think you’ve got to make different plans for the room share. Even taking Covid off the table, it’s not fair to make a stranger who hasn’t consented ahead of time share a hotel room with someone with a high chance of a contagious illness. (Alternately, you could contact them now and pose the question to them; maybe they won’t care, but they should have a chance to say if they do.) And then beyond that, be vigilant about not spreading it to others — so an N95/KN95 mask whenever you’re around other people and definitely don’t shake hands. (If you hear all that and decide it’s not worth it to go, that’s fine too. It’s a good development if we come out of the last few years more cautious about not spreading infections around, even non-Covid ones.)

Read an update to this letter

4. How do I get my coworker to stop replying to an automated reminder?

My team uses a system that has a setting where it will send a user an automated reminder based on different circumstances. Because I’m the one who set up the automation, when this reminder email is sent to a teammate, it says that the email is from “me via the system” and any replies are sent to my inbox. I have one teammate who responds to these reminders with quick answers like “Done!” and “Thanks for the heads up!” and “On it!” This irks me because I already have enough email traffic without these little unnecessary acknowledgements. I think this teammate doesn’t realize these reminders are automated and I’m not doing anything personally to trigger them. Is there a kind way to point this out that doesn’t sound rude or will unintentionally embarrass my coworker? Or do I just need to suck it up and ignore the replies?

You could say, “These are automated reminders sent by the system without any involvement from me — I’m not involved in them going out at all, so need to send any response.” Or even, “Since these are automated reminders sent by the system, please don’t respond to them — they tend to stack up in my inbox and I have to look at them to make sure my involvement isn’t needed. Thank you!”

But yeah, if it continues after that, you need to just delete and ignore. Alternately, if it’s really annoying, you could look into setting it up so the reminders come from a different email address, like a no-reply@ address.

5. Salary when moving from a part-time contractor to full-time employee

Since being laid off from my full-time job a few months back, I’ve been doing some contract copywriting work for a company for several weeks. I’m currently getting 20 hours a week at a rate of $100/hour. I let them know in the beginning I’d prefer full-time work, and they seemed open to that possibility after a few weeks.

Last week, they checked in with me on if I was still wanting full-time work. I said I was still learning in that direction, but thought it made sense to continue the contract work for the rest of the month so I can get a better feel for the work, and they can get a feel for me. They seem interested in hiring me full-time. I’d prefer the stability and benefits of full-time work.

One thing we haven’t brought up is salary and since this is my first time doing contract work, I’m not sure what I should ask for if I decide to transition to a full-time role. At my current rate I’d be bringing home $104,000 a year. Do I ask for more money than that because they’ll be getting double the work from me at 40 hours a week? Less because they’ll be providing me with health benefits, PTO, and so on? I’m not sure what’s normal or fair when you transition from contract to full time work.

Typically you’re paid more per hour as a contractor than as an employee, because as a contractor you don’t get benefits (health insurance, paid time off, etc.) and you’re responsible for paying the payroll taxes that your employer would be paying for you if you were an employee. A typical rule of thumb for people coming at this from the other side — moving from employee to independent contractor — is to expect at least double their employee rate when they become a contractor. So flipping that for you, it would mean expecting your hourly employee rate might be roughly half of what you’re getting now.

But that’s just a general guideline, not an exact formula. You can use it to inform your thinking generally, but the main driver should be the market rate for the sort of work you’ll be doing. And if you can, get them to name a number first — because who knows, if they’re anchoring it in their head to what they’re paying you now, it could come out pretty high.

{ 390 comments… read them below }

  1. nodramalama*

    LW2 yep, its to try mitigate incumbency bias. You’ve been working with someone, you’re used to them, you’re naturally going to think they’re the best person for the job. But that’s not necessarily true until you genuinely canvass for that role

    1. Allonge*

      Yes. LW, think about it this way – if Lisa ends up being the best in a process where you genuinely looked at other people, you will be able to advise her better on further career moves.

      Because you may not hire Jane but would take note that her Teapot Spouts Excellence qualification would be useful in this position, or the fact that Bruno speaks Ancient Greek would allow him to grow into something else faster. And then you can make that happen for Lisa.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        The problem OP will have now, even if she goes through the process as intended, is convincing HR that Lisa genuinely was the best choice (given the history). OP seems to have taken quite a narrow minded approach to all of this and hasn’t even considered that outside candidates might be better than Lisa, or that (despite being a specialised team) someone from outside might be better suited due to aptitude and skill rather than “experience” as such.

        What would OP do if Lksa wasn’t available, like if she left?

    2. Also-ADHD*

      Is it honestly ethical of companies to continually source externally rather than create growth opportunities from within though? If Lisa can do the job, even if someone else is “better”, isn’t it more ethical to grow current employees than make them constantly compete with outside candidates (and isn’t it bad on the company if their internal candidates lack the ability to prepare better than external ones)?

      I think it’s less bias and more a philosophical approach to employee growth. I understand wanting diverse teams and such, but that should not come at the expense of providing trajectory. If I were Lisa, I’d be annoyed if others external were seriously considered if I’d worked hard for awhile to earn a promotion. And I’d lose engagement either way but look to leave if that cost me trajectory and someone external was promoted above. Too many companies and bosses lose good employees by playing these silly games and not providing career trajectory. If I were a different internal employee, that would also teach me that I couldn’t trust OP or the company ever.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        I think everyone will have their own definition of what’s “ethical” here. To me, it’s more ‘ethical’ (although I wouldn’t phrase it in those terms) to select the best / most appropriate person for the job to ensure the success of the company as a whole, than to provide a growth opportunity for any one internal individual if they aren’t truly the best fit. I do agree that it’s a different philosophical approach though.

        Another philosophical question – who “owns” the employee’s career trajectory, growth, learning opportunities, certifications if relevant, path to progress, etc? I think it is predominantly the employee. Someone taking the “provide internal opportunities” approach would probably say it’s owned by the company.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          I agree with all of this, especially the part about the employee “owning” their career trajectory and professional development. It’s the employee’s job to figure out how they want to grow and what directions they want to go. It’s their job to make this clear to their manager, and to seek out opportunities for learning. It’s the manager’s job to help the employee understand what kinds of skills and knowledge are necessary for the career trajectory they’re seeking, and either provide coaching in those areas where they want to grow or make the space for them to find the coaching or education elsewhere.

          1. Don't Live to Work*

            In the Federal service, we call this an “Individual Development Plan”. It is a formal document included in your performance plan.

        2. Crew2013*

          I think you choose the best person for the job, but that means recognizing how good someone who is internal can be. I think people bristle at outside folks sometimes, because the people internally are doing great, not getting paid, and then someone is brought in for a lot more money and people realize they aren’t any better. That is not what you want.

          Conversely, often a company doesn’t want to pay what an outside (and market) would pay, so they go with a less capable internal person because they can continue to pay them less.

          So yeah, you should look at your internal people, but the best for the job should be hired and everyone should be paid what they are worth.


          1. Selena81*

            It really sucks to have the feeling that you were passed over for an outsider who isn’t all that good but has somehow negotiated a big salary (often privilige plays a big role in these situations)

            If the outside candidate is genuinely better I don’t think there is any moral obligation to go with the internal candidate.

        3. federal employee*

          Also, there are other ways to provide that trajectory. I work in a government environment where almost any permanent position/promotion has to be advertised externally and be assessed without favour to internal candidates. But managers are expected to talk to their staff about their career objectives and help them build the skills they need to be the best candidate when that job comes open.

      2. Perfectly Particular*

        It’s not unethical, but it does tell you something about your employer that you need to know… they are willing to lose you, or at a minimum, to give you some space to seek out other opportunities, and then come back when you’ve gained some additional/different experience.

      3. Allonge*

        So, everything can be an ethics question but… I really don’t see why this is one.

        A lot of companies don’t ‘think’ that they owe employees a career trajectory as such. Certainly there should be room for growth, and internal candidates are encouraged to apply to vacancies, their employment conditions do not restart to zero etc – but preference for internals is not a thing. And as long as this is clear to everyone, it’s just as ethical as a strong preference for internal promotion.

        ‘I worked a lot’ is a bad reason to promote someone to new responsibilities in any case. And of course this will lead to some people leaving earlier than it would be otherwise, but as long as hiring is not an issue, that’s a reasonable choice to make.

        1. Sloanicota*

          It’s not particularly “ethical” if you value each participant in the system equally – it’s not very ethical to the better-qualified person (or even equally-qualified, really) who is passed over for a job they may need just because they don’t happen to already have the advantage of working there. It’s true that it may hurt Lisa’s morale if you pick someone who isn’t significantly more qualified over her, so you will want to be sure you have strong, objective reasons for your decision that you’re willing to explain.

          1. Allonge*

            I suppose the companies that prefer to promote internally don’t consider the potential external candidates as part of anything at this stage (until they would advertise externally), so their qualifications don’t come into play.

            But I agree that is short-sighted in the long run, just as never promoting internally is – ideally there is some balance between internals and hiring from the full market.

            This is purely anecdata but I worked for ~8 years at an internals-preferred place and now for a decade at an every-vacancy-is-external one and I vastly prefer the second one. Internals have a big advantage in any case as they know the place; we have a fairly transparent and objective assessment system and it works, whereas in the place I worked before it was a very personal-connections everyone-knows-Jake-will-be-next-director place that really only allowed the very few favoured people to truly progress internally.

            1. Sloanicota*

              I worked at a place that only posted entry-level external roles (for the most part) and had everybody move up a step and backfill to get more senior roles filled. It was okay, but there was a definitely lack of diversity of thought – everyone had been trained the exact same way and had the same blind spots.

              1. straws*

                I worked somewhere that had a similar hiring structure and it also had the “benefit” of reducing payroll costs. Any new hire was at the bottom range of salaries, and since existing employees were bumped up and receiving promotions and everyone was used to the existing payscales, it was super easy to get away with paying way below market without most employees taking note. Fun times.

                1. Generic Name*

                  I recently left a place like that, and I got a $35k pay bump. I had no idea I was underpaid so badly.

              2. Allonge*

                Uh, does not sound that good indeed – what’s the probability that there will always be a qualified and reasonably enthusiastic internal candidate for every job?

              3. MassMatt*

                Places like this where the company is a closed ecosystem can sound appealing, but there are big drawbacks. If the company isn’t expanding, then opportunities for advancement are few and far between.

                At one place I worked getting a promotion depending on someone dying or retiring. That might have worked for the British Admiralty but it wasn’t very good for this company. If you figure there are twelve entry-level positions for every supervisory/senior role, that’s not many opportunities. The company was increasingly geriatric and out of touch with technology and the industry generally.

            2. Crew2013*

              Usually they prefer internal people because they can pay them less.
              This was the way it was at my old company.
              When I left, I knew they couldn’t hire a replacement commiserate with my experience for what I had been paid, and they ended up picking someone internal they could pay even less with basically no qualifications except warm body.

            3. CommanderBanana*

              That’s a really good point. Before I worked at my last organization I would have said that places should, by and large, focus on moving up internal candidates, but that’s exactly what happened. The CEO’s little group of pets had astronomical career growth (think, entry-level to C-suite level in less than 3 years, with no management experience) regardless of their performance and it caused SO many problems, including massive turnover among the rest of the staff once they realized that there was no way they’d ever get promoted, and several lawsuits.

          2. Elitist Semicolon*

            I think you’re mistaking ethics with individual, personal preference here – it’s not the interviewing company’s responsibility to consider whether a candidate “needs” a job when they are deciding on the best candidate for their purposes, and one person being unhappy with that decision does not mean it wasn’t ethical.

        2. Also-ADHD*

          I find it unethical in this case because if Lisa isn’t the best candidate and she’s met the goals LW set forth to earn the position, any reason she’s not the best candidate is simply a restriction of her current role, LW’s preparation, and her company limiting her compared to external hires. She’s been essentially preparing for the job with LW and letting an employee do that and then passing them over if anyone better happens to be out there when they would do well and have been prepared internally for the job is unethically encouraging Lisa to jump through LW’s growth hoops with no reward. It isn’t always unethical but when you’ve been training and growing someone internal AND they’ve done nothing but meet and exceed expectations, looking externally just at the chance you’d grab someone better seems like being duplicitous to the employee who was supposedly preparing for the role. The only way an internal hire wouldn’t be better in that case is if the company’s preparation wasn’t as good as something external that they didn’t give Lisa access to. That’s on them.

          1. Allonge*

            I find this argument strange – of course OP/the company should not tell Lisa this is a done deal, but why would and of e.g. the following be the company’s fault?
            – external applicant has 20 years’ experience compared to Lisa’s 10
            – external applicant has managed teams in four different settings (beacuse they had fours jobs), Lisa just one
            – external having had experience with different methods of Llama grooming (not used at this company but theoretically interesting)
            – external having a qualification Lisa does not have (not a 2-week course she was denied to do but, e.g. a Masters specialisation)

          2. Impending Heat Dome*

            I’d agree with that. If you’ve been coaching an employee for a position and making sure they have the skills required, and they also have the benefit of institutional knowledge, why would they NOT be the best candidate? An external candidate comes along and you hire them instead, and tell Lisa, “Sorry, I know we spent the last few months specifically working on this but XYZ Candidate just won out,” that’s going to completely tank Lisa’s morale. Especially since it already took a year for the new position to be approved.

            Either a company is deliberately misrepresenting an open position to an internal candidate, or to external candidates. I personally don’t think that practice is ethical unless it is made abundantly clear to all candidates that they’re being considered along with internal/external candidates who are also qualified. There’s a big difference between messaging a promotion as, “I think you should go for it, and if you want my help with some skills to make you a better candidate, I’m happy to do so,” and “Let’s get you up to speed so you’re ready for this position once it’s approved–oops, someone external beat you for the role”.

            1. Allonge*

              But hiring is not like a checklist – just because Lisa checked every condition it does not mean the rest of the world can be ignored.

              In hiring there is always someone better qualified – the question is whether they apply at all.

              You are right about morale of course and that is why managers should not be promising a job to anyone until the last decision is made. But that is a very different question.

              1. Also-ADHD*

                Even if you don’t promise the role, you better have a REALLY amazing reason to pass them over if you coach them to be ready for it. If you promise then the role and pull it, that might even be illegal, but essentially pretending to coach someone for a role (even with no “promise”) and then pulling the rug out even if they perform amazing when you coach those skills, because you happened to find a shiny external candidate is not managing the original employee in good faith. Now if you don’t directly coach then for the role or ask anything extra and they just go towards it themselves, if you tell them that external candidates may get that job and they shouldn’t count on any of that extra work mattering, then that’s fine, but that’s not what is described. Companies want their cake (employees who are looking to grow and engage) and to eat it too (hire the very best candidates with no concerns for employee loyalty or engagement) too often and it’s unethical because they want to treat people dishonestly.

                1. Allonge*

                  It feels like this happened to you or someone close to you maybe? Sorry, that must have been tough.

                  I totally get being disappointed if you (general you) felt that there was a job you wanted and it was a sure thing and yet someone else got it anyway. Best thing to do is find a different company and make your own success.

                  But this does not make hiring externally unethical, especially if there are no promises made. Nobody owes you (again, general you) any job.

                2. Vaness*

                  Doubt it would be illegal. The problem with the situation LW is in is that it sounds like LW went too far in promising the role to Lisa despite the fact that the company follows specific policies for hiring. That’s on LW though.

                  I think paths for growth and promotion are important, but so is bringing in external candidates. Ideally there is a balance between the two.

      4. MK*

        Employee growth is not the purpose of a company, benefiting their shareholders are. Employee growth is one of the tools to achieve that. If management is prioritizing their employee’s best interests over the interests of the company, they are abusing their authority and mismanaging resources. Also,

        “I understand wanting diverse teams and such, but that should not come at the expense of providing trajectory.”

        is hardly ethical, in my opinion. You are dismissing diversity, which benefits both the company and society, as a “nice to have”,m for the benefit of providing better career opportunities to present employees (statistically more likely to belong to priviledged groups).

        Also, why is it unethical for your current employees to compete with external candidates? It is an excellent way to judge how qualified and competent your workforce is, and if the internal candidates are consistently not getting promoted in favour of external candidates, you can evaluate and adjust the training you provide and/or the efficiency of your hiring practices. Reallistically, internal candidates usually have the advantage over external ones; if they lose out, it’s usually because either you got a great external candidate or the internal ones are underperforming. More often than not, the internal candidate will get their promotion; when the external candidate is hired, the company will have gotten a better hire and the internal can re-evaluate their position.

        1. Czhorat*

          It’s a non-trivial question.

          I’ve worked some places in which it seemed that the only way up is out the door; you could argue that “employee growth” isn’t the company’s main focus, but that ignores the demoralizing effect of knowing you can’t advance, the loss of institutional knowledge that departing employees take with them, and a poorer sense of continuity within the office. At its worst, filling higher-level positions from outside creates churn and a lack of investment from lower-level employees who don’t see a path upward for themselves.

          On the other hand, diversity is an ABSOLUTELY important thing, and an insular culture hurts the employer as well (along with being actually unethical if opportunities for minority groups are curtailed to prioritize internal candidates).

          It’s not easy, and there are no simple answers. I do agree with Allison on one thing, though: once you’ve chosen your priority (and giving at least a chance to outside hires is a good one) you need to carry out the process in good faith. Saying that you’re open to all and giving a pro forma interview to someone you never intend to seriously consider because you’ve already in your heart chosen the new person for the role is the absolute worst way to handle this.

            1. MCMonkeyBean*

              I actually don’t think that’s true; good companies absolutely should put that as one of their high priorities. It may not be the reason the business was created, but once the business exists they can certainly make it one of their goals.

              1. Elitist Semicolon*

                Yeah, but it’s not the goal they will protect if their options are a perfectly adequate internal candidate vs. an absolutely stellar outside one.

              2. Allonge*

                One of the priorities? Sure, but I think any company that even implies this can go against business interests is lying.

                People’s careers are mainly their own responsibility – a company can provide training, coaching, opportunities, but not a promise that you will reach your full potential there.

              3. MK*

                How high a priority? Because the comment I replied to actually suggested it should take priority over hiring the best person for the job.

                Reallistically, it’s not a goal in itself, only a means to an end to attract and retain good staff.

          1. MK*

            I would say that a non-profit management that prioritizes employees’ careers over hiring the best person for the job is even more unethical.

        2. Also-ADHD*

          I wasn’t dismissing diversity, but hiring diverse teams shouldn’t come at the expense of people you hired in good faith (who are capable and want to grow). It should be done from the start. Diversity is important but you don’t have to completely disconnect from current employees and screw then over to get it and if you do, there’s something way worse wrong with your company and prior hiring processes that considering 2 external candidates and individual managers like LW aren’t going to fix.

          1. MK*

            What start? Unless you are founding a company, you can’t go back in time and make sure you have diversity. And of course individual managers considering external cadidates every single time they hire is the way to fix the problem of prior bad hiring practices. By your logic there is nothing to be done and companies should just go on with the same employees till they retire or leave on their own, and only then can they consider getting diffferent people in?

            And frankly, all this talk of screwing current employees over is fearmongering. In this case, Lisa already has a huge advantage over external candidates in that she is a known quantity and familiar with the company and role. OP wanting to rig the interview process in her favour isn’t giving her a growth opportunity, it’s just bad hiring.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              This is precisely the diversity issue at my current job. We have a culture of internal promotion and long tenures. We’ve also made significant improvements in hiring, so our pool of new hires finally reflects the racial diversity of the population we serve.

              So now we have lots of racial minorities in our new hires… but all the managers/leadership are white (because they were hired 10-40 years ago).

          2. Allonge*

            Keeping someone in their current job (and hiring someone more qualified for their desired job) is not screwing them over. It’s a business decision that may result in the person leaving, for sure, but that is part of doing business.

            1. Also-ADHD*

              Giving them the impression they’re working towards career growth and then looking outside after they’ve engaged in that IDs screwing then over, especially if you give the impression of growth for a long period of time, ask more of them, and then pass them over in this manner. That’s why no one has loyalty to their jobs, I guess? I only have loyalty to my current one because they do have a history of delivering on promotions when roles open if you’ve completed the requirements, no looking at shiny things and pitting us against external hires. We do value diversity in the hiring process and hire outside when there’s a role no one has qualified for or wants, but if my manager had me working on skills to move into a new job, thought I was doing great and meeting those goals, and then they made it a competition with anyone external who happened to apply, I’d certainly disengage and never give any extra effort to the company and look to leave. So I guess I think it’s ethical to behave that way but only if you’re fine with employees not caring if the business does well and doing their bare minimum. (It’s also fine to say someone isn’t qualified for advancement etc but that’s not the same as putting them in the situation Lisa would be in.)

            2. Also-ADHD*

              It is if they’ve been coached and asked to do more to prepare for a higher role with no indication that they are just one of the masses.

              1. MigraineMonth*

                I think that’s where LW went wrong here. They never should have promised the job to Lisa when they knew they were required by policy to interview at least a minimal number of outside candidates.

                I’d say Lisa still has excellent chances, as a known quantity with relevant experience and coaching by the hiring manager, but it’s still a competitive process.

      5. Momma Bear*

        It doesn’t have to be either/or. They’re looking for the most qualified, and sometimes that’s internal and sometimes it’s not. As others have said, maybe Lisa will continue to be a shining star…or maybe there’s another candidate that is better. I’d still be looking for/encouraging opportunities for career growth for Lisa even if she’s not the one picked this time.

        Also, if this is a known company rule, then candidates should be looking to boost their application as much as if THEY were the outside hire, not just assume they’ll get it next. I’d be disappointed if I applied and didn’t get it, but if I did get it, I’d be happier knowing I beat out other options. Don’t we often complain here about the missing stair/promotions for promotions sake vs promotions earned? If Lisa is the best qualified, she’ll get the job. But don’t backfill until/unless she moves up.

        1. Bast*

          I think I am perhaps biased, but I worked for an organization that always found a reason NOT to promote internally and had a million excuses — the new “something shiny” was always better for them, so an internal candidate stood just about no chance of promotion, regardless of whether they were truly the “best fit” or not. While the “best fit” should win out, I can understand that “Something Shiny Syndrome” happens. On the other hand, if I were an external candidate and had no chance of getting the job, PLEASE do not waste my time with an interview.

      6. ferrina*

        From a business perspective, it’s actually not healthy to have all your mid/upper level management come from within.

        I worked at a company that had a strong employee promotion policy. Their main goal was to promote from within- not posting openings externally.
        This ended up hurting the company because all of the mid/upper level people had made their career at only one company, and had no idea what alternate organizational systems and cultures existed. It meant that they were slower to innovate, because they were constantly reinventing wheels. It also meant that in the rare instance they did hire from outside, their onboarding program was terrible because they assumed that all companies did things the same way they did, and they skipped crucial trainings then were annoyed when new hires didn’t know what they were supposed to do.

        Business wise, you want a mix of internal and external hires. Doing external interviews is crucial to this process. Sometimes the internal candidate truly is the strongest. Sometimes they aren’t. The goal of the company isn’t to keep employees at all costs, it’s to build the strongest possible team to get the best outcomes. Unfortunately, this means that sometimes you’ll lose good people who get better career opportunities elsewhere, but there was never any guarantee that they’d stay anyways.
        (that said, all companies should invest in a strong employee development program. Being able to find and nurture talent from within saves on onboarding and gets you a talent pool that already has institutional knowledge which is so helpful)

        1. Panda (she/her)*

          THIS + 1000. I worked for a very similar place – everyone director and above had been with the company for at least 10 years, and typically more like 20-30. The senior management guys (yes, all men) had no idea how things were done in different organizations. It was a privately owned company with a partner structure, and a ton of nepotism.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            I worked for a company that only hired for entry-level and preferred candidates with no previous working experience.

            Why yes, it *was* dysfunctional AF, abusive to its employees, and very nearly qualified as a cult.

        2. Irish Teacher*

          I’m very much seeing this at the moment. Our school just got a new deputy principal from outside. We had a number of internal candidates, one of whom would have been excellent, but while there is a learning curve for our external hire, he has also already made a few suggestions along the lines of, “we did X at my last school. Do ye think that would work here?” Not all suit our school but he seems willing to listen on that and he’s come up with a few ideas that sound great that I don’t think anybody internal would have thought of.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            Our principal on the other hand was practically BORN at the school (not that far off; he taught there since the mid-80s, attended the school himself as a teen and I think he may have attended the primary branch before that) so it’s a nice mix of awareness of and respect for our traditions and knowledge of what will work for us along with new ideas and innovation from outside.

        3. Smithy*

          This to the millionth degree.

          In addition to not having a true onboarding process (which many places can lack) – there can also just be a lack of a culture of onboarding. I used to work on a team with a heavy culture of promotion from within and without those external people in leadership. In that team, onboarding was sincerely talked about as “throwing people into the deep end” – and for a team that had all joined the team in the most junior roles and promoted over time.

          So an onboarding process that took a week, maybe two of being taught systems and then thrown deep into work processes. In a junior role, whether or not this is ideal, it wasn’t so bad but that approach applied to more senior roles was insane. Junior staff’s work had more internal review and they did work jointly with more senior staff, so this approach had a longer tail of support. For senior staff expected to supervise, lead teams, develop strategy, etc etc – this philosophy on onboarding made the team look antagonistic and nasty to external hires. What was sad is that they genuinely couldn’t imagine other ways of doing it and when gently called out how perhaps there were more thoughtful ways to onboard than “throwing people into the deep end” – they’d get really defensive.

        4. kim*

          I worked at a place where I started mid-turnover, when the senior management who had been there and doing the same thing for 30 years were starting to retire. At least half of the staff had also been there for decades. My boss was a micromanager who wanted everything done exactly how he wanted it – exactly the way it had been done the past 30 years, down to arguments over whether we really needed a modern website (this was 2014!); he was also terrible at onboarding and training because he was so accustomed to the way things had been that he didn’t know how to explain it, or even realize it needed to be explained at all. I spent the first six months, at least, constantly doing things wrong and being reprimanded because no one told me “launch meetings are Tuesdays and Thursdays, but not every Tuesday/Thursday, only when we need them, and we don’t use Outlook or any other shared calendar system, you just have to dig the meeting times out of this long email that’s about seven other things in addition to the launch meeting.”

      7. NotAnotherManager!*

        The way we approach is that we can do non-competitive, internal promotions to a certain level. There’s no reason for me to do competitive hiring to promote my Llama Mohawk Sculptor (a niche position for which there are rarely outside candidates, and even finding two other applicants to interview would be a challenge) to Senior Llama Mohawk Sculptor or similar. If I need a VP of Llama Hairdos, then that has to be put out externally, though internal applicants are welcome to apply (and can be encouraged to do so). I also find that managerial positions are a different skillset from individual contributors, so I am going to talk to all candidates about their people management skills, not just subject matter expertise.

        I think it’s important to offer internal promotion opportunities and to not jam them up by requiring X number of candidates be interviewed unless you don’t have someone who ticks all the boxes. But I also think that seeing external candidates is helpful and that having new ideas/perspective on your team can also be valuable – though I would never hire an external candidate over a clearly more qualified internal candidate (what a morale killer). What concerns me about OP’s post is that they don’t seem to have a terribly open mind about the existence of qualified candidates other than Lisa. It’s possible that there aren’t, but the belief their isn’t before recruiting actually begins is problematic.

      8. Critical Rolls*

        You seem to have had some bad experiences around this. Your framing is very personal; screwing people over, denying them opportunities, wasting their time, breaking trust. Really, all that’s required is balance and transparency (which is where OP has gone pretty wrong). It’s good policy to genuinely consider external candidates; it prevents stagnation in the company, and you never know when you’ll be surprised by a fantastic applicant. It’s good policy to help employees do the things that can get them promoted; even if they don’t get it that time out, it still builds their resume and helps them progress. Missing out on a promotion isn’t, by default, screwing someone over. It should just mean that there was someone more qualified. Now, it’s bad policy to essentially promise a job to any candidate when you haven’t even seen the pool, and it’s bad policy to say “check these boxes and you’ll be promoted,” especially when you can’t (and shouldn’t!) deliver. OP messed up, but by overpromising and being unwilling to follow good hiring practice, not by being unable to bestow the position on the internal candidate.

      9. Wes*

        I don’t know about the ethics of it but what I do know is this: twice in my career I have applied for an internal position (that I believed I was well qualified for and had been actively working towards) and didn’t get it, and I left the companies within six months both times.

        It wasn’t so much that I felt I was owed the promotion, but it made me realise that the way I thought my managers perceived me was very different than how they actually did.

        TL;DR: rejecting internal candidates is very difficult to do well, so you better be prepared to lose them

    3. helper_monkey*

      I’m interested to read if others think this viewpoint should change in cases of temp-to-hire positions. I work for an organization that has an internal temp worker program, and many positions are recognized as temp-to-hire opportunities. However, when the permanent position is posted, it is still policy to interview a minimum number of external candidates as well as the individual who has been in the temp position for weeks-to-months. Individuals who take these temp-to-hire positions are taking a calculated risk, with some expectation that if they work well, they’ll be rewarded. They’ve got to commit to being not eligible for benefits or PTO for as long as they’re a temp, but often risk it because of the expectation that if they do well at their jobs, they’re going to be rewarded with that full time position. However, the organization is required to post all positions as external and interview a minimum number of external candidates along with the person who may have *already been doing the job successfully* for a long period of time.

      1. Allonge*

        What would be the alternative though, as long as there is a temp-to-hire programme?

        If there is a guarantee that someone is going to be hired, that’s not temp-to-hire, it’s just hire with no benefits for the first X weeks (which is bad) and maybe less scrutiny at the actual hiring (?, also bad).

        1. Lumos*

          My understanding of “Temp-to-hire” is they will evaluate your performance and offer you the job at the end of you rplacement if you’ve done well, not post the job at the end of the placement and make you reapply so they can evaluate you then.

        2. Starbuck*

          Using a probation system instead seems like a better deal. Instead of doing a guaranteed two rounds of interviews/hiring for the same position, you may only have to do it once if the person passes their probation.

      2. bamcheeks*

        I would wonder how many candidates they’re losing because they don’t want to take a fixed-term no-benefits job OR compete against an internal candidate who has already been doing the job. It feels like you’re sorting for people who are either in the “can work without benefits and stability because someone else pays the bills” OR the “so desperate I can’t say no” category, and there must be a fair number of qualified candidates who are neither.

        1. Just Guessing*

          I’m sure there are a lot of people who will never consider such jobs. That’s what I said in the past. But in the current environment, it’s not like full-time jobs are safe either.

          1. Bast*

            While nothing is ever truly “safe,” I would rather hedge my bets with a full time job than a temp, or temp to hire position. Most things are calculated risks, but I would not trust “temp to hire” when I have a family to support and bills to pay. Granted, if I were absolutely desperate and just needed a check I would, but if you’re looking for stability it just seems…a bit too risky, even if accepting a full time job is also a risk.

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        If a temp-to-hire workers is a strong performer, I think the should have first right of refusal on a full-time position without having to jump through hoops. The temp position is already a pretty big hoop to jump through. If temp performance is not good enough to qualify for full-time employment, I’m not sure it makes sense to continue with the temp at all.

        My mom got strung along for a very long time on a temp-to-hire position, and it was really stressful. They had her training the new temps before they even came close to offering the full-time role with benefits.

    4. SeluciaMD*

      I’ve experienced this and an external candidate could surprise you in ways you can’t even imagine now.

      A few years ago I was part of a very small organization hiring a new ED. We thought a long-time volunteer who knew the org inside and out was going to be the best possible option. My fellow staff person and I were convinced of it but our Board of Directors wanted to cover their bases and so interviewed a couple of external candidates. One of them absolutely blew us out of the water. We hired them. I could not have imagined that being possible going into the interview process but I’m so glad our Board insisted on it. Our “internal” candidate would have been great but that external candidate was exceptional.

  2. Fikly*

    LW1: Besides all the excellent reasons AAM listed to not list the awards, the awards in question are ultimately just a popularity contest, because they were awarded (on in theory were awarded) based on votes, not any kind of results, and only within your department at a small start up.

    If I were evaluating that, I wouldn’t take that as evidence of anything positive, and I would actually take it as a mild red flag as to your judgement, that you think it’s relevant and important enough to spend space on your resume on it. Take AAM’s advice, think about what skills you had that made your coworkers value you, and highlight those.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      And the LW can’t be sure that the manager was even telling the truth. He probably was because it would be an odd lie to tell, but the LW doesn’t appear to have any way to verify it and it is possible that a manager who was annoyed somebody was leaving might do “well, if you weren’t, you’d have gotten those awards! Now, aren’t you sorry you quit” or that he might have wanted to undermine Rick.

      None of that is very probable, but I’d be reluctant to assume something and place it on my resume based solely on the word of one person, who doesn’t appear the most ethical. “You would have won, but we doctored the results.”

      1. ecnaseener*

        Yes! If this manager really was a “pathological liar,” LW can’t assume he was telling the truth about any of this – not the vote counts, not the part where the manager consulted with the company director.

        And even if he was telling the truth, it was the director and not the CEO who was allegedly aware of LW’s secret wins. So the CEO’s not likely to give LW the award names to list.

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

          By almost literal definition, pathological liars don’t need a good reason to lie. In fact they are unable to stop themselves from lying even when the lie is obvious or hurts them.

    2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      The Awards and Accolades sections, if you even have one on your resume, are for big things like industry wide awards, notable recognitions at conferences. Things like that. Maybe in some cases a company one like top salesman because that can be quantified. But department MVP based on coworkers votes? Not going to give the hiring manager any valuable information about what you actually bring to the job.

      1. Sloanicota*

        For the record I do not have such a section, and nobody has ever questioned it or seemed disinclined to choose me for that reason! (this could vary by industry, perhaps?). But the template is supposed to serve you, not the other way around. For the record, if you had won MVP of the department I would have mentioned that in a bullet under that job description so I don’t think it’s a “red flag” to include it, but it’s not worth tracking down here.

        1. kalli*

          See, I’d hold that back for the interview and use the resume space to talk about duties and skills and achievements that describe those – typing speed of 100wpm or processed 300 time entries in an hour, similar to how listing heavy vehicle licenses, JLPT-N2 or professional association membership indicate an independently recognised and measured degree of proficiency (all our employees are members of National Cavoodle Whisperers Association so you know your fluffy baby is safe with us!). Unless it’s something the business can sell, they generally don’t care if you have that section or not.

          In industries where awards and publications matter those tend to end up as their own separate document, such as a citation list that includes conference papers and grants as well.

          For the record, I used to list scholarships and university prizes on my resume, because in my area they indicate a level of social acceptance that grants access to upper middle class roles. That doesn’t exist with internal awards, and nobody who doesn’t know what they are actually cares or benefits from my listing those.

          1. Bubbles*

            Another option would be to use it as supporting detail in a cover letter. Ex: I sometimes mention that a former manager described me as someone who could work with anyone on anything (a quote from an old performance review) as a way of illustrating my soft skills. In this case, it could look something like “In my role at Llama corp, my skills in shearing were particularly appreciated by my team. In addition to shortening our average grooming time by 10%, my manager told me that other staff considered me the team MVP” or something like that.

        2. anonymous 2*

          I agree – I think it’s fine to include these types of things because it does say *something* about your department/manager holding you in high regard. But in this case since they *didn’t* win, then there’s nothing to put, even if they did remember the names (or the CEO gave them the names).

          For what it’s worth, I think it makes a lot of sense that they give these awards to people who are not leaving. Awards like this are about retention, good will, internal celebration, etc – lots of stuff that matters for employees who are staying and not for employees who are leaving.

        3. MsSolo (UK)*

          Yes, it’s the R of a STAR format. We did this, I changed this, line went up and I got an award. Unless it’s an industry wide award, it isn’t anything on its own; you have to link it to an action or a skill.

        4. Observer*

          For the record, if you had won MVP of the department I would have mentioned that in a bullet under that job description so I don’t think it’s a “red flag” to include it,

          That’s the thing. In this context it would not be a big deal, but I’d flag it as a sign that at least their peers thought they were doing a good job, which is generally a good sign. But putting it in a separate section would be a different thing, and would make me look at it in a negative fashion. Because it’s putting way too much weight on it. And it would make me wonder about their judgement and understanding of industry standards.

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

          I have a line in my resume “Won employee of the month for…” followed by a description of the project for which I won said award. It’s not even a whole line on my resume, never mind a separate section. I did get grilled on it by one interviewer.

          1. Allonge*

            I think that’s great, really. Some indication of the outcomes is always good and this is not an unreasonable thing to put there.

      2. Momma Bear*

        I’d say something like “received recognition for…” because you did, you just didn’t get the trophy.

        1. Kes*

          If anything I’d be tempted to say ‘voted MVP by department’ because they did vote that. But really I agree that it’s better to leave off

      3. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, the only awards I’ve ever listed on my resume were statewide journalism awards (Best Headlines, thank you) – but those stopped being relevant about 13 years ago.

      4. ferrina*

        Exactly. Industry awards, publications (in fields where publishing isn’t an expectation), big publicity from third parties….things that most of us won’t get in our career.

        The internal award might be a bullet point, but even in that case hiring managers are more interested in the accomplishments that led to the award rather than the award itself. An internal company award means nothing outside the company.
        (weird exception: I’m a consultant and one of my projects won my client an award from their large Fortune 500 company. I definitely say that my work won my client an award, because a key part of my job is to make my clients look good)

    3. MCMonkeyBean*

      I think it’s too far to suggest including an internal company award is a red flag; that would be a very normal thing to put on a resume! But I agree that they are not particularly meaningful outside the company and it’s more important to talk about the reasons people would vote for you to receive that award.

      1. Don't Call Me Shirley*

        Some companies are enormous – if you win a Google wide engineering award, or a UPS wide logistics innovation award, it’s very meaningful. There’s an internal award where I work that is awarded to teams, and usually has tens of patents and major profit or cost savings in the 10s of millions listed in the write ups. These are maybe more significant than an external ‘best presentation’ award

    4. Sprigatito*

      I have seen resumes with “awards” sections that were nothing but “employee of the month” type things, and it really did come across as a negative for the candidate. When you take up valuable resume space with something that minor it looks like you can’t come up with anything better to say about yourself so you’re padding it with fluff.

    5. fhqwhgads*

      If you won a Nobel Prize, a Pulitzer, a MacArthur, a Tony…an award from an external entity established as an authority on what’s good in your field, sure list the award. Any internal award is meaningless – or if not meaningless, impossible to evaluate.

  3. part-time worker, full-time struggling*

    Related question to #5. I’m currently working part-time while completing my master’s (started as an intern last summer, staying on part-time with an offer to go full-time when I graduate in May). I’m not a contractor, but I’m not receiving benefits either. My understanding is that my current hourly wage, as basically one step up from an intern, is within the lowest payband for full-time employees in the role I’ll be starting in full-time (likely to be a team lead).

    I’m hoping to negotiate coming in at a higher pay band because I’ll have been performing many of the same functions for a year by the time I graduate and excelling based on the feedback I’ve gotten. But should I assume there’s a possibility that given that I’ll start receiving benefits, my salary might work out to be a lower or similar wage? Ex: current hourly wage works out to around 85k salary if I worked 40hrs/wk and the scuttlebutt is that the lowest full-time payband is 80-100k.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      When I am recruiting roles that can go either permanent or term contract, usually the term contract has a markup of about 25-30% in cash, with no vacation or benefits payments.

      In your situation, definitely make sure that your year of part-time experience in the role gets factored into the compensation negotiation if/when you’re hired permanently.

      Remember though, that even if you’re making less per hour as a perm employee, you’ll be making a lot more in actual cash than you are now, because you’ll be full time. I would aim for the middle of the band, and hope for the best.

    2. Fikly*

      Salaries are not calculated to include the cost/value of benefits. For benefits that include a cost you pay for, for example, when you have to pay for part or all of a health insurance premium, you get paid your salary, and then the cost of whatever benefit you are responsible for is then deducted from your paycheck, typically post tax.

      There are some benefits that are pre-tax (commuter benefits are a good example) where the amount taken out of your paycheck that goes toward that is then taken out of the amount of your salary that is taxed for income purposes.

      Regardless, the amount you pay doesn’t reduce the amount of your salary on paper. If your salary without benefits is 100k, your salary with benefits is still 100k. It’s just that when you are eligible for benefits, sometimes if they have a financial cost, it comes out of your paycheck. But there are also benefits that don’t have a cost, and you have to consider those too. Vacation and sick days, that’s money in your pocket. Your employer’s contribution toward a health insurance premium, matching a 401k contribution, all kinds of things actually end up in your pocket, but don’t count as part of a salary.

      This isn’t to say that going full time salaried will automatically be more money than the equivalent hours at a part-time hourly wage. But it’s like deciding between the same product in different sizes when grocery shopping. Usually bulk is a better deal, but you have to do the math to be sure.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        Yes, you have to consider the whole package. I technically took a pay cut to come to CurrentJob, but with company 401(K) contributions and match, and smaller health insurance premiums (larger company), I ended up taking home the same amount of money and getting more in 401(K) money, and more vacation. Make sure you take everything offered into consideration–you may make “less” than you did part time, but if you’re getting vacation and other benefits and your payroll taxes paid by the company, you end up ahead.

        1. Sloanicota*

          What I find so tough about this (is it unique to the American system?) is it’s really hard from the outside to know the costs of some of those premiums, and they *can* change in future years! My new standard is that it has to look like a good deal without hinging on the insurance question only, because I’ve been surprised in both good and bad ways once I started on those.

          1. Area Woman*

            I certainly have been at jobs where our out of pocket max for health insurance went up several thousand dollars, and became a pay cut for anyone with any kind of tiny health problems. I was just going to PT for an bike injury and had to pay full price for several sessions all of a sudden. It was awful.

          2. Cmdrshrd*

            “is it’s really hard from the outside to know the costs of some of those premiums,”

            It might be hard as a completely external person, but OP already works for them, I would imagine they have access to the full benefits paperwork. That should detail the employee premium cost of various insurance plans, low deductible version, high deductible, PPO/HMO plans etc…

            I have found that most employers during the hiring process usually once an offer is extended but before you accept) will provide you with their benefits sheet/package. That will usually detail the exact costs of their plans. If they don’t you can certainly for it and if they refuse to show it to you that is a big redflag, for me that would be a hard stop and withdraw from the process.

            But yes premiums/deductibles should be a major consideration. In some jobs you can have higher gross pay, but end up with lower take home pay once you factor insurance premiums.

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

              Even for a mere candidate, once you get to the offer stage, you can ask for benefits info including insurance info like premiums (and the employer/employee shares thereof), deductibles, etc.

        2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          To paraphrase Augustus, it sounds like your choice was less pay and more compensation. Something we’d all be wise to keep in mind is a possibility.

        3. Freya*

          It’s the difference between ‘wage/salary’ and ‘total remuneration’, in my field (and in my country). Total remuneration includes the entire package of things that you get for working there, wages/salary often doesn’t include anything that isn’t cash (calculated before tax is withheld).

          (this is modified by the individual state definitions for the purposes of the workers comp insurance that’s mandatory for all Australian employers to have, but in general, wages/salary = cash money, remuneration = wages + superannuation + non-cash benefits)

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        I read their comment as saying they think once the company has to pay for their benefits, the company will not be willing to go as high on salary. Nothing to do with their own costs. They are currently being paid an hourly wage that comes to $85k. I think they are worried that once they are full-time with benefits, the company might want to only pay them $80k.

        I’m sure companies look at the full picture, but I think budget-wise salary usually comes from a different bucket than benefits so hopefully they aren’t at risk of that. You have to decide for yourself though what you would be willing to accept and how you want to negotiate.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          Sometimes it’s worth taking a pay cut for better benefits. But if you’re moving up within the same company I would not expect them to look at it that way.

        2. MCMonkeyBean*

          Sorry just adding one more clarifying thought–to me this question is very different than the letter because I think the biggest piece in the letter is that OP was responsible for taxes that the employer is now paying. Whereas for an intern or part-time employee the employer would have already been paying those so there is no change there. Just the change in benefits.

      3. Aitch Arr*

        Most benefits that one would consider standard at US companies are deducted on a pre-tax basis, including medical, dental, vision, and 401(k) (unless a Roth).

      4. irianamistifi*

        I’ve been applying like mad to jobs and one of the application questions I absolutely abhor is when they ask for a specific number for salary. And then ask you what you expect to be the total value of your non-salary benefits. I… I have no idea what that value should be! How much is PTO worth? How much is a 401k? Do I calculate my medical benefits based on the assumption I stay relatively healthy? Or do I calculate it based on ‘what if I really need good medical help’?


    3. Sloanicota*

      The formulas are a guidance, but if they don’t work in your specific situation definitely advocate for what you need. If you wouldn’t be excited to take the full time job at the lower salary and you’d rather stay a freelancer as you look for something else, that’s very fair as a position too, and you should feel free to indicate you need the higher wage.

    4. Wilbur*

      A few thoughts on the pay bands-how much do you know about the system? My current company has a very rigid salary grade system, when a job gets posted it is assigned a salary grade or pay band. To change it, they need to repost the job completely and go through the whole process (min time to have a job open, interviewing X # of candidates, etc.) If they’re opening up a position with you in mind, it might make sense to talk to the hiring manager about what you’re expecting before the process gets too far.

      Is there someone at the company you feel like you can trust that you can ask?
      -“I’m looking at converting to full time, what would you expect someone with X years of experience in Y role to make?”

      If you’re able to find out what the pay bands are, don’t be surprised if you’re not able to get anything in the top half of the pay band. Some companies have policies against hiring people in in the top half of the payband so they don’t “top out” too early in their career. You might also find that people only spend a year or so at a certain pay band.

  4. LinZella*

    OP 2 — Your approach may be to make it a priority to promote from within. However, from what you’re saying, your company’s approach is to hire the best candidate, hence their requirement to interview two external candidates.
    Those are two different viewpoints that may or may not work out for a particular candidate for a particular position. And you just won’t know until you do it and do it according to what your company says. And to look for lesser qualified candidates just so you can hire Lisa is just plain wrong and icky.

    1. MK*

      I really do wonder that OP didn’t realize how problematic her thinking was when she had to tell HR to rig the process so that she can hire Lisa. “I won’t even look at candidates thay might be on Lisa’s level, since I doubt I will change my mind” is illogical. Also, intentionally using a higher role to recruit for a lower one is a bait-and-switch if ever I heard one.

      And I fear OP has already messed this up, since it sounds she has given Lisa the impression the job is hers.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        Yes, and HR saw through it. (Did OP already know about the external candidates policy the whole time – unclear). OP may be in the receiving end of a “do things the way the company does them” conversation soon. Yes, as a manager there is a certain level of autonomy but not so much so that the manager runs their team like its own independent company.

        1. bamcheeks*

          Yeah, although I’d say this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “We prioritise hiring from within” and “we prioritise ensuring we get the best candidate whether internal or external” are both completely legitimate recruitment strategies. If LW has been given the information “you have to interview external candidates” but not been given the logic behind it or the reasoning, it’s not surprising they’re still wedded to their own priorities.

          Where I work, you have to do a short training session before you can sit on an interview panel (never mind chair one), which will take you through the organisation’s way of doing things and why. If you come out of that thinking, “that sucks, I’m going to do it my way”, then yeah, you’re the problem. But if you’ve just been told the process and not the reasoning, that’s just as much HR’s failure as the manager’s.

          1. Allonge*

            So – I agree that if the why was not covered, that is an issue with the training/policy/HR, but once someone is a manager in the position to hire people, they also need to ask that question.

            Which, to be fair to OP, they are asking here at least, so that is something.

            1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

              Agreed, “I didn’t understand why so-and-so said that so I just ignored it and did what I thought” isn’t a good look for anyone, but especially someone with supervisory responsibility who ought to have a higher level of critical thinking.

          2. Cmdrshrd*

            ““We prioritise hiring from within” and “we prioritise ensuring we get the best candidate whether internal or external” are both completely legitimate recruitment strategies.”

            I don’t think those ideas necessarily contradict each other. Saying we prioritize hiring from within/internal promotions is not the same as only considering internal hires. Hiring the best candidate does not mean it can’t be an external or internal.

            If you have two candidates and they were both external Joe might score say a 97 on x metrics, and John might get a 95 on x metrics, if they both external candidates Joe would be the best candidate.

            But if Joe is an external candidate and John is internal while Joe is the best on x metrics, it would be reasonable to consider John as the best candidate overall because while he might less qualified in x metric, John being internal knowing the company, clients, process etc would mean John could get a running start on the position.

            That only goes so far if Joe the external candidate is 97 on x metric and John is only at 80/85, the internal bump would likely not be enough to put them over Joe.

      2. Sparkles McFadden*

        I don’t know what the hiring process is at OP2’s company, but I seriously hope that other people will be involved in the hiring decision. When I’d interview people, I’d send my boss and HR my top two or three choices with summaries as to why they were the people I chose and summaries on what the other candidates lacked. The boss would do round two interviews and we’d discuss everything with the HR rep.

        I don’t mean this to sound harsh, OP2, but you should be more concerned about your own career development. This is not the way to hire or manage, but it is a very common thought process with people who are new to management. Please get input from someone senior and look into some management training (some of it is nonsense, but I always found a useful item or two in every class).

        1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

          Repeating this: “This is not the way to hire or manage…Please get input from someone senior” in this hiring decision.

      3. House On The Rock*

        I think your last sentence sums up the real problem. OP forged ahead with putting Lisa on what she thought was a promotion track (which is good!), but didn’t appropriately set expectations with Lisa about the reality of moving into the higher level position.

        Now she’s stuck and doesn’t want to disappoint Lisa, but the issue isn’t the organization’s policy about external candidates, it’s that OP thought she could ignore the policy and wasn’t transparent about it with Lisa. I feel bad for Lisa here, because it sounds like she’s been working in good faith to take on more responsibility, but the fault is not the company’s.

    2. Language Lover*

      Plus, keeping lesser qualified candidates so you can pre-recruit for a future lower-level position if you promote Lisa is unfair to those candidates.

      They’re applying for a higher-level position. Maybe they’d be interested in a lower level position if it opened up, but it’s also possible that they wouldn’t be and you just wasted their time.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yeah, I don’t personally have any moral qualms with OP wanting to prioritize their existing employees career path–but I think she needs to realize that was really not a great way to go about it. There probably are some people who apply for a stretch position and would be happy to settle for a lower one, but in general it’s not a great idea to bring in candidates for a higher level position and then secretly be considering them all for a lower one.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        Yeah, I have no problems with asking a candidate if they wish to apply for a *higher-level* position in lieu of the one they submitted for, but I think offering them a lower-level position is kind of insulting and not a good look. (I find it irritating when recruiters offer me an “exciting entry-level opportunity!!!!” via inMail when my LinkedIn clearly shows I have over two decades of work history, most of it at a manager or higher level.

    3. Clare*

      My take was that the OP wasn’t intentionally trying to protect Lisa, but rather trying to get something useful (a potential Lisa replacement) from what they considered to be a useless process.

      The OP came across to me as thinking that the options are either a) external candidates not quite as good as Lisa; or b) external candidates not nearly as good as Lisa. The idea that there could be an option c) external candidates much better than Lisa didn’t appear to be considered in the letter.

      If there’s nobody out there as good as Lisa then she’s not being affected positively or negatively by any changes in the candidate pool. The logic might not be correct, but it is internally consistent. The underlying premise is flawed, but that doesn’t make the OP some Machiavellian mastermind, just naive.

      1. Oatmeal Mom*

        I agree, seems like they aren’t even considering the possibility of candidates better than Lisa emerging from outside of the company. Which the situation could be! But it’s better to be open minded and then see if she really is the beat candidate.

        My company recently promoted from within and the CEO said that outside candidates showed how competitive and talented the internal candidate was. They went with her after considering all options. An ego boost for that candidate as well!

      2. Guacamole Bob*

        Yes, this is how I read it, too. And in my job it might not be that naive – I’m at a government agency and we are frequently hiring for roles that focus on obscure, homegrown, or heavily customized technical systems, or on the integration of multiple such systems. Sometimes we know that any external candidate, however capable, will have a huge learning curve to get the depth of knowledge of an internal candidate. (And we know the systems used by our peers, unlike in the private sector. So we know that unless someone from City X applies we’ll have to train on system Y.)

        I don’t think OP should bias the candidate pool, of course, because you never quite know. Better to ask HR to keep the batch of resumes and reach out to invite likely candidates to apply if and when Lisa’s old role is posted. But I kind of get where OP is coming from.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          I say this as someone who was originally hired at my current agency a number of years ago after beating an internal candidate who was considered to be likely to get the job. But that was more junior and the technical skills were less specialized than what I describe above.

          It’s always good to go in with an open mind, and I don’t think OP is approaching it in the right spirit. But I think there are times when you can realistically assess that the likelihood of an external candidate applying who is a better fit are very low. Is that true in this case? We can’t tell from the letter.

          I’ve also had multiple hiring rounds as a hiring manager where I had a strong internal candidate and hired them, but then ultimately also hired one of the external candidates that we were required to interview by finding a way to open up a second position, or reaching back out to ask someone to apply for a different role, or referring them to an opening on a different team, and so forth. So I think OP may also not be doing the best thing in the long run by trying to skew the external pool to more junior candidates.

          1. sparkle emoji*

            This is a genuine question, not a gotcha– In your experience, is it common for companies like yours where the most qualified candidate is typically internal to have a rule about interviewing a minimum number of external candidates? It seems odd to me to have that rule if realistically most hiring will be internal, but I am open to being wrong.

      3. Sloanicota*

        I think it’s nice that OP is so loyal to her people, but ultimately the company has rules about hiring positions and I hope OP didn’t promise Lisa anything yet. It’s an example where trying to be nice could end up being unkind.

      4. Emmy Noether*

        I agree.

        The problem is that if OP all but promised Lisa the position, they are in a moral quandary: the outcomes are (a) going back on a promise and disgruntling Lisa, (b) wasting candidate’s time (and possibly not acting in the company’s best interest by skipping a better candidate in favor of Lisa), and/or (c) bait-and-switching the candidates. The only way out is if the external candidates are all in fact terrible and can be dismissed entirely with a clean conscience.

      5. Observer*

        My take was that the OP wasn’t intentionally trying to protect Lisa, but rather trying to get something useful (a potential Lisa replacement) from what they considered to be a useless process.

        That’s valid.

        I would say it’s still a problem on several counts.

        One is that it’s really unethical to the people you interview. Now, I get that your obligation to people you don’t employ is lower than your obligation to people you do employ. But *basic good faith* is something that *everyone* is entitled to. The OP is basically planning to get people to waste their time applying for a job that they have made unavailable.

        It’s also not likely to accomplish what the OP wants. Because there is a good chance that people who, at least in theory, could match the required qualifications for the higher job are highly unlikely to come back for a lower level job, if you reach out to them. If during the initial process it becomes clear that that was the whole idea to start with, it’s even less likely that they will be interested, because good candidates don’t want to work for managers (and companies) that are not honest with people. It creates a fairly toxic workplace. Which means that the “low level recruiting” that the LW might do is likely going to net people who just feel like they just don’t have good choices – which generally is not your best talent pool.

        Lastly, it closes off the OP to the possibility that there actually might be someone better out there. And given what the OP says, that sounds like a mistake. From their own description, Lisa sounds like a strong contender but not THAT strong that the LW could reasonably say “She’s so good that I can’t see anyone outshining her. And if she leaves, the department would be devastated.”

  5. John Smith*

    re #4. As well as the advice in Alisons response, I think you could also set up a rule for emails from colleagues containing the subject header to be sent to your junk folder or deleted. At least your colleague is looking at them – my automated monthly reminders get completely ignored.

    I’ve also had one colleague who did not have knowledge of automated emails.
    When she received an out of office reply from my account, she emailed me back asking why I was emailing her when I was on leave (HR had words about the accuracy of her resume).

    1. tg33*

      I was wondering if it is possible to add a line at the end of the email something like:

      “This is an automated email, please do not reply”

      1. londonedit*

        I was going to suggest the same thing. In my experience there’s usually a line like that at the end of an automated email – whether people read it or not is a different matter, but it might help!

      2. Harper the Other One*

        I’d actually put it in the subject line if possible: “Do not reply: monthly reminder to X.” People are probably more likely to notice it there!

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          Then setup a rule to delete all emails with the subject containing “Do not reply:”.

      3. ecnaseener*

        Yes, that’d be a good idea just in general. But I’m thinking it would still be a good idea to reply directly to this person once to make sure she sees it – if she has a mistaken impression that LW’s overseeing this work, that’s worth correcting before it causes problems.

      4. AnonInCanada*

        You’re funny. You really think people read those? I’ll get responses from people all the time who respond to the auto-reminder saying “But I already sent you an order,” not reading the “This email is automatically generated since (bla bla bla you’re a customer). If you already placed an order and received acknowledgement, please disregard this email.” To which I respond copy-pasting that very line from the auto-sent email.

        1. Governmint Condition*

          I can do one better. I recently got an auto-generated e-mail from within my department that had the “Do not reply to this address – this message was auto-generated; this address does not accept incoming mail.” The message asked for a reply and gave me an e-mail address to use to do so. It was the same address as the one that sent the message, which supposedly does not accept incoming mail. (I followed the instructions, and my message got through.)

    2. I am Emily's failing memory*

      I’ve gotten burned by setting up a rule in my inbox to auto-file emails with a certain subject line.

      In a nutshell, I’m on a small team in a large department. My role deals with marketing technology, and more than half of the people not on my small team are Llama Handlers whose roles involve caring for a handful of llamas kept at our stable and regularly taking them to events for marketing purposes. Someone periodically uses the all-department list to circulate a list of all the llamas currently in the stable with their current details, and request that all Llama Handlers review the list, indicate whether their llama will be brought to the next 4H event, and make sure all the details listed for their llama are accurate. These emails always have the same subject line: “Llama Review for Upcoming Event: Please Respond by XX/XX.”

      In an effort to save my inbox, because I don’t handle a llama or attend 4H events in my role, I set up an inbox rule to have those messages skip my inbox and go directly into a folder. Well, it turned out that one day, one of the llama handlers forwarded one of these messages to me to ask if I could pull a list from our database of all llamas who had been to 4H events in the past 2 years. Her message was only tangentially related to the subject of the original email – it was basically just the email that spurred her to realize she wanted such a list. So rather than start a new thread with something like, “database request for llamas who have attended events,” she just hit forward on “Llama Review for Upcoming Event: Please Respond by xx/xx.” The email skipped my inbox and it wasn’t until about a week later that I happened to bump into her in the kitchen and she asked for the status of her list request that I uncovered what had happened and had to scramble to get her the list in a hurry since I’d already unknowingly left her hanging for a week.

      So yeah, after that experience I’m very wary of auto-filtering any emails unless it’s strictly based on the sender, and it’s some kind of newsletter or marketing list sent by an external company. You never know when a coworker is going to forward an email with an irrelevant subject line to you, with a highly relevant subject in the body.

      In this LW’s case I could see someone replying to one of these messages with something that would be relevant, like, “I’m going on leave for the next month, can you set these up to deliver up Alicia while I’m out?” or, “I haven’t gotten one of these work order reports in a while, can you check to make sure it’s just because no work orders have been submitted and not that the auto notifications have been down?” Or, “Could you modify these to include X additional info?” etc.

      1. Ginger Baker*

        I use auto-filters into folder LIBERALLY, but (because of this exact scenario) I make a point to glance through the current batch once every day or so and mark everything as read (so I know I reviewed it, however casual that review was). I check my “meeting invites” folder a bit more often because I work with one manager who has forwarded me calendar invites where it’s really a question *related to* the meeting! But I would never give up my rules/filters…

    3. Tammy 2*

      Yes, I was going to suggest that, too.

      I used to send out an automated reminder that said something like “No need to reply if you are on track to meet this deadline. If you are not going to meet the deadline, please call.”

    4. Beth*

      This was my thought as well. I’m betting these automated emails have a predictable automated subject line–it’s easy enough to filter off e.g. emails with that subject line, emails with that subject line that are sent by this coworker, etc.

  6. Satan’s Panties*

    LW#1: So basically, your boss admitted that the awards were arbitrary. Not worth mentioning, then, even if you’d been allowed to receive them.

    1. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

      Agreed – what’s the point of voting if the powers that be are just going to give them t0 their choice anyway?

      We had a voted-on Employee Of The Year, which one year went to somebody nobody liked. It was stopped after that.

      1. Lionheart26*

        I had a colleague who rather enjoyed the fact that most people hated him, especially management.
        he made himself an “employee of the month” poster with his photo and a glitter border and put it on the office pinboard. He’s my hero.

    2. Sloanicota*

      If this helps OP let it go, so be it. But to be fair, people reading the resume wouldn’t know that, and if OP is comfortable explaining how they were awarded if probed in an interview, it could have still been valuable. I realize everyone commenting here is a rock star who has won the nobel prize of their fields haha but for average people, the hiring manager is looking for any indication of quality (witness all the stuff like “X didn’t write a thank you note” or “Y was curt with the secretary”) and “voted MVP of the department by their peers” isn’t terrible. But it’s not worth chasing down now since it didn’t actually get awarded.

      1. Observer*

        I realize everyone commenting here is a rock star who has won the nobel prize of their fields haha but for average people, the hiring manager is looking for any indication of quality (witness all the stuff like “X didn’t write a thank you note” or “Y was curt with the secretary”) and “voted MVP of the department by their peers” isn’t terrible.

        If, and ONLY if, this was in the context of the description of the job. I don’t pretend to have won world or even state-wide prizes. But I *do* know the difference. And someone listing an award like this in the same way that they might list a work based, external, non-local award (eg Best X product in the State) is going to get some side eye.

    3. Antilles*

      Can I say that I actually agree with the manager on overriding the vote?

      Giving Department MVP to the person who’s leaving that day would have been incredibly off-putting. The whole point of these sorts of awards is as a morale booster for current employees, thank the team for a great year, then energize people for next year. I don’t think it’s “arbitrary” to decide that OP, an employee who was literally leaving that day, shouldn’t really be eligible, and go with the second-place vote-getter instead.

      1. Sloanicota*

        True but it would have been kind to leave them with at least one award, since apparently they did win more than one. Maybe not MVP if they’re leaving, but something would have been better than nothing.

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yeah, I actually think it was probably the right call too. If the award comes with money, then I would be pissed lol. But if it is just a little company ceremony for moral then I agree it would be weird to give it to someone who has already quit.

      3. Michelle Smith*

        I agree, it’s the weird conversation after where they told her about the vote change that I take the most issue with.

      4. House On The Rock*

        This was my thought too. I think the real problem was that OP’s manager framed it as something OP deserved and was “robbed” of, instead of that the award was intended for current staff who will continue to do good work for the company.

        But truly OP, these sorts of things should never be a deciding factor in hiring. I’ve hired a lot of people, and (rightly or wrongly) give a bit of side-eye to candidates who include lots of internal staff awards. Your experience and ability are what sell you to employers, not “Team MVP”.

  7. JM60*

    #3 As a candidate who hates interviews, I’d rather not be interviewed if my odds of getting the job are practically 0%.

    That being said, interviewers like the OP should remain open-minded about candidates. Depending on the situation, it’s possible to maintain an attitude of open-mindedness, and still genuinely believe a candidate has a practically 0% chance of getting an offer.

    1. Mister_L*

      Yeah, I once had to attend an interview where I knew I wouldn’t get a job.
      They told me, I’d get an answer by next friday, which also didn’t happen.

      Personally, I would have let the interviewing when I know it won’t work slide, but the no answer soured it so much for me I’d never apply there again.

    2. Aggretsuko*

      I did not enjoy interviewing for a job only to find out it was rigged for another internal candidate at my office, for sure. Found that out too late.

    3. Clare*

      Oh for an honest world where job postings could plainly say “We have a strong internal candidate, but high performers are encouraged to apply.”

      Sometimes people with the perfect blend of personality, skill and experience really do blow the internal candidate out of the water. I’ve seen it happen as recently as this month, actually. But as someone who prefers to stretch up, I’d genuinely appreciate knowing that the only viable candidate is someone with a long and stellar track record in a highly similar role.

      1. Astor*

        The institution that I work at uses almost exactly that language, and it really makes it better for everyone – the hiring committee, the external candidates, and the internal candidates.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        For teaching in Ireland, jobs have to be readvertised before a person can be offered permanency. Basically, you get offered a job for a year, then you have to reinterview and if you get offered the job again, you are eligible for permanency at the end of that year (it’s more complicated than that, but that is the simplified version). This means a lot of jobs are advertised for form’s sake. So I would love wording like that because there is always the possibility that the school is not happy with the person or that they are open to a stellar candidate replacing them, but…often it’s just to tick a box.

        What really annoyed me was when I was called for an interview about 3 hours from my home where they kept me three minutes and clearly weren’t even listening to my answers – think asking “tell us about your teaching experience,” “well, I have experience of teaching English to both junior and senior cycle,” “And have you any experience of teaching senior cycle English?” I strongly suspect it was an interview for form’s sake and kind of feel that if they were interviewing people they had no intention of employing, at least stick to local candidates (the interview was in a large city; there would be plenty of local candidates). There was a fair cost to the travel and I spent 6 hours between getting there and back, for the sake of a three minute interview where they weren’t even listening to me.

        LW2, I think it would be equally bothersome to call people for interviews where you’ve already decided they are weak candidates. I realise you are considering them for the lower position, but they may not even be interested in that.

        1. Michelle Smith*

          That’s really important to note and I hope LW2 sees your comment. If I’m applying for a role of Senior Customer Service Rep, that’s the role I am applying for. If you interview me and think I might be a better fit for Senior Sales Associate, I *might* consider it. If you interview me and then try to hire me on as Junior Customer Service Rep, I’m going to be annoyed that you wasted my time. I don’t spray and pray apply to jobs. I apply to jobs that I’m qualified for, that I’m interested in, and that pay what I need to make to at least maintain my current lifestyle. If you offer me a job with less pay and less responsibility than I was shooting for, I’m not going to think you’re being generous and a good hiring manager. I’m going to be insulted – especially if there are other openings (perhaps on other teams) for Junior Customer Service Rep that I specifically did not apply for based on my own criteria.

      3. Sloanicota*

        That language would really help me! Sometimes I really do think I blow the requirements out of the water, but a lot of the time I’m not sure, and knowing they already have a “good-enough” option would be valuable to save me time.

      4. Caramel & Cheddar*

        Many do! I’m in the non-profit world and increasingly I see stuff to this effect, which seems helpful and transparent to all.

      5. Friendo*

        That seems like a good way to lower your applicant diversity pool, no? Women are less likely to apply to a posting if they don’t meet 100% of the criteria, I have to imagine that white men are going to be the group most likely to see that language and apply anyway.

        1. Observer*

          That seems like a good way to lower your applicant diversity pool, no? Women are less likely to apply to a posting if they don’t meet 100% of the criteria,

          Yeah, but refusing to post is going to to more harm to diversity. And bringing people in for interviews where they have no chance does nothing for diversity, but harms the people who need the most boosting.

          So, there is no perfect answer. The best you can do in these situations is that you provide transparency.

          1. Friendo*

            Yeah, I agree, I think the answer is pretty clearly to post the job normally and keep an open mind to the people who get brought in. The answer isn’t transparency, it’s behavior.

      6. Michelle Smith*

        I’ve seen similar language only once ever and it did prompt me to skip the application. So while I do appreciate that they saved me some time, the company doing that has to accept the risk that candidates that may have been highly qualified as well will opt out when seeing that disclaimer.

    4. TechWorker*

      To be honest I think the policy of always interviewing external candidates is a crap one. Especially in cases where someone is very much ready for promotion – the fact that there is someone external who in theory might be better doesn’t make them any less ready for promotion. (It does make them much more likely to want to quit, which is not the ideal thing to do to your top performers).

      I’m sure there are cases where the promotion is a big jump the internal candidate isn’t ready for but there’s also a lot of cases where ‘incumbency bias’ is… not really a problem. (I don’t buy it increases diversity, don’t see why your initial hiring would be any more or less diverse than your hiring later on…)

      1. Phryne*

        I work in semi-government (not in the US) and we are legally required to post job openings. Internal candidates can apply and might have a better position, and in some cases we only have to open the position for internal candidates, but it is illegal to not have the job advertised at all. It is an anti corruption/nepotism thing.

      2. Lionheart26*

        I agree. I can see an argument for advertising a position externally, and reviewing resumes. If a stellar candidate is out there, they would have objective metrics that would come through on the resume (because if you had a strong internal candidate, you’d never hire someone external over them based on “potential” or “confidence in the interview”).

        If someone like that applies, then great. You’d presumably be excited to interview them. But if not, then forcing you to do 2 interviews for candidates you’re not excited about is a waste of your time and theirs.

        1. Beth**

          I was on an interview panel like this yesterday. The internal candidate has been doing the role for 6 months on a temporary basis. He gave a terrible interview. We are interviewing the only other candidate (external) tomorrow.

          Before yesterday’s interview, I think the hiring manager was convinced the internal candidate would definitely get selected, but if the external candidate gives a decent interview, he will probably be successful.

          1. TechWorker*

            Tbh I still think this is sort of bollocks – what information are you going to get out of an interview that you don’t get from watching them do the job for 6 months? If they’re doing a bad job don’t hire them, but if they’re doing a great job why would you assume the interview is a better way to assess performance?

            1. bamcheeks*

              I think that’s generally true if you’re interviewing for the job they are already doing, and I think that’s usually a really shitty thing to do to people. But when it’s a promotion there often is a lot you need to know about a candidate will approach new situations or new duties that you wouldn’t necessarily know from working with them.

              1. Justin D*

                Ok so maybe the external candidate can wax poetic on future hypotheticals because they’re not doing the job right now.

            2. Beth**

              I am not the hiring manager, I was there to be independent. It sounds like the permanent job is a bit more wide ranging than what the person has done so far.

              The internal candidate gave a particularly poor answer on a question about creative problem solving, which is something he hasn’t had to do much of so far, but would in the wider job.

              There’s also an issue of fairness between internal and external candidates. When we interview the external candidate, all we will be able to go on is his interview. So it doesn’t feel very fair to me to discount the internal candidates interview and compare his 6 months of performance with an hour chatting with the external candidate.

              1. TechWorker*

                Haha I almost think the opposite – but I guess it depends on how you view risk :)
                If the full role is different from the temporary version very reasonable to dig into that. But performance in interview does not perfectly correlate with performance on the job. You know your internal candidates strengths and weaknesses. Your external might interview well and be a walking disaster. Or not. But I don’t think it’s ‘unfair’ to make use of knowledge you have, it usually works both ways for internal candidates.

      3. Nebula*

        I used to work somewhere that had this policy, and there was a huge amount of resentment because external candidates seemed to always be hired because they matched the job requirements more closely – because it was often people making lateral moves, and there was little to no development internally. Internal knowledge wasn’t valued at all. Also, and in retrospect I realise how unusual and bad this was, external candidates could negotiate salary within the payband, and internal candidates couldn’t. So external hires were usually earning more than people at the same level who had been promoted internally. It was such a terrible organisation, can’t believe I wasted nearly seven years there.

      4. Harper the Other One*

        I’d argue this one actually. Once you’ve been in a company for a while it’s REALLY easy to forget that the folks who work with you may not be representative of the broader norm. External candidates have been exposed to different tools, other ways of managing processes, etc. Or you may just be used to thinking that a certain task takes X long because that’s how long your internal person takes. It can also help you recalibrate expectations like compensation – a good manager should be noticing that all the external candidate are expecting a $Y salary when they were only planning to pay $X.

        As for improving diversity, as best practices change the broader candidate pool changes. A more diverse entry level group results in a more diverse middle career group several years later, with all the same qualifications that your internal candidate has, but with different experiences, perspectives, and ideas that also have value to a company.

        I’m a supporter of promoting from within, but I always think it’s a good idea to keep an open mind and ask yourself not just what extras the internal candidate is bringing, but what you might be passing up or missing out on if you don’t treat external candidates seriously.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’m thinking how many companies have only recently opened up remote positions. The internal candidates are therefore all ones who were able to commute to work.
          WFH has opened up an entire new pool of candidates: People with physical disabilities. If you’re in a historic building without an elevator it’s likely anyone who uses a wheelchair simply didn’t bother to apply in the past. You could have been looking for a theoretical physicist and excluded Stephen Hawking.

          So there’s ONE bit of irrefutable increased diversity.

      5. Watry*

        I left my last job because I kept getting passed over for external candidates, and when I’d ask what I could do to improve for next time, would get “nothing, they were just better”. Then I’d have to teach them to do our job, which is fine, but I’d also have to teach them how to make the decisions they were hired to make.

        So maybe it’s role-dependent, but it was a real morale-killer for the department, as I wasn’t the only one.

        1. Bast*

          I worked for a company that rarely promoted from within. Turnover was high. People realized there was nowhere to go, got some experience, and most were gone within 2 years (many much sooner) to somewhere with better pay and the chance for promotion. The excuse the company gave was that promoting some people and not others encouraged “bad will” and “poor dynamics” between people who used to enjoy a relationship as colleagues now having to adjuster to boss-reportee role. In reality, it generated everyone’s bad will to upper management, as they were really taking a chance on those external hires instead of choosing someone with a proven work ethic. Some of those external hires were absolutely awful; it was spitting in the face of all of the hard working, reliable employees. Most of these outside hires also had no experience in the field (they may have been management in a different capacity, but not in our field) and likewise had to be taught the terminology, norms, processes, etc.

      6. Sloanicota*

        I agree with you. A company shouldn’t have *no* external hiring roles, but they should have some X and Senior X roles that aren’t typically advertised if there are worthy internal candidates. Or, they should plan to have pretty generous raise/retention bonuses if they want longevity from folks. Staying in one role a long time is boring and doesn’t look as good on your resume.

      7. allathian*

        Yes, this.

        I work for the government, and for permanent positions above a certain level we must hire externally. In my experience, in every single case when the internal candidate wasn’t hired, they either quit or at the very least switched teams (temporarily in a few cases, usually permanently).

        Especially in cases where the promotable employee has been trained with the promotion in mind, they’re almost certain to quit if they don’t get the promotion.

        In lots of organizations, even when there’s lots of diversity among the entry level employees, the higher up in the organization you go, the less diverse the employee base tends to be.

        1. Hazel*

          ‘Where the promotable employee has been trained with the promotion in mind’ is the problem. You want staff and potential new hired to develop and bring a range of skills. Assuming everyone goes straight up the ladder internally deprives staff of chances to develop in other ways and means the company doesn’t benefit from other skills and perspectives. That’s the OP’s problem; they are developing employment not employability for their staff. They are training one person for one specific job, for which they must dutifully await a vacancy. That’s bad for staff and the company.

          1. Michelle Smith*

            I don’t really understand this perspective. You should want your employees to grow and move up rather than remaining stagnant. I don’t see an inherent issue with training staff to develop the skills they and the business are going to need in the future. Most people do not want to stay in the exact same role/level forever, at least until you get high enough up the ladder.

    5. Gazza1990*

      Yeah, earlier in my career my boss wanted to promote my peer, who was his only choice at the time, to a vacant managerial position in our department. I was the alternate candidate who tried my luck and put in my name in the hat. I guess I managed to convince him I was a better candidate and got the position instead. My peer then took over my position when I left the department 2 years later.

      Kudos to my boss for being open-minded and decided to go with me instead!

    6. Tammy 2*

      I am pretty sure I’ve been the second-choice finalist who lost out to an internal hire three times in the past year. I totally understand why this happens but it’s frustrating! I would much prefer not to have gone to the trouble of applying and doing several rounds of interviews.

    7. Random Dice*

      I interviewed, and had a clear preference going in.

      But another candidate knocked my socks off, and the socks off the interview panel.

      We hired her, and every day I am amazed by how incredible she is.

  8. Language Lover*

    lw#3, I agree with Alison.

    It’s also important to remember that you can get a cold and COVID simultaneously. It might start out as just a cold, but that doesn’t preclude you from picking up COVID, especially if you’re traveling to the conference.

    The symptoms, whether they’re from a cold or COVID, could lead to you spreading the virus more than you might if you were’t coughing or sneezing. And you might exercise less caution because you think you’ve already identified the source of the symptoms.

    At the very least, you need to contact your roommate. They might not care because there’s already going to be some risk with travel and being around a bunch of people. But they might want to avoid a potential increased risk.

    I’d also recommend taking COVID tests while you’re there since most symptoms aren’t going to be a signal to you of a potential case of COVID.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      I have tried sleeping with a mask on, as I was traveling to see my mother, we only had one room to sleep in, and then THAT NIGHT she was all, “oh, btw, I have a cold” in 2021. Good lord, can you NOT SLEEP with a mask on. I did not appreciate having that one surprise being thrown at me at 11 p.m.

    2. Zelda*

      Yes, if you’re actively having symptoms of something-or-other, test! Possibly daily– I think I’ve seen things that the latest strains may not pop a positive until three or four days after the onset of symptoms.

      For any strain, the false negative rates on home test are high enough that a negative test in the morning doesn’t mean flinging your mask aside for the day. It’s more that a positive test would mean a) don’t attend public events /restaurants /etc. at all, and b) get yourself treatment /medical advice ASAP so you have the best chance of good outcomes for yourself.

        1. Gyne*

          Interestingly, both my children recently had covid (a month apart, so not from each other) and they tested positive immediately on day 1 of symptoms. And each case was so mild I can see why it’s still out there. kid 1 had about 36 hours of mild nasal congestion. kid 2 spiked a high fever one time and was otherwise asymptomatic. I can easily understand people missing this entirely. we have a pretty low threshold for testing (I’m in medicine and work with a large number of immune compromised people of varying degrees) so tend to test at any hint of not-100%-normal.

          And I think even with a negative test, it’s still reasonable to mask/isolate with a non-covid respiratory illness. It’s just the time frame of doing so isn’t as clear.

        2. Reba*

          Yes, this was my situation when I had Covid a couple months ago. And, I “pushed through” my “cold” to do some professional and mixed personal-professional things that were important, but would have gone on without me. Thankfully I masked stringently, but I felt terrible for exposing people!

          1. WhyAreThereSoManyBadManagers*

            If you knew it was Covid, why did you purposefully expose others? What if some of them were immunocompromised or had at-risk family? And there’s always the risk of developing Long Covid also, even from a mild infection, which could lead to someone having to stop working or becoming incapacitated. I just don’t get why people who know they have Covid purposefully exposing others. Masks aren’t perfect and if everyone isn’t masking then the risk is even higher.

            1. alienor*

              It sounds like they thought it was just a cold while doing the activities, wore a mask anyway out of courtesy/not to alarm people, then found out later that it was covid. This seems to happen pretty frequently when people have symptoms for a couple of days before they test positive.

            2. MCMonkeyBean*

              In the context of this thread, it seems they are saying that they tested negative so they specifically thought it *wasn’t* Covid. Then later they tested positive. This was my experience as well, I had a sore throat after traveling so I tested and it was negative. The next day I tested again and got a very immediate and very red positive line.

            3. This_is_Todays_Name*

              The use of “cold” indicates to me that Reba “thought” she had a cold and went based on that assumption, only to find out later she had exposed a bunch of people to COVID, potentially after testing negative. She was proving a point.

            4. Beth*

              It sounds like they didn’t know it was covid when they were around other people–they tested negative at first, went out in the world (wearing a mask presumably because they’re conscientious and don’t want to spread a cold), and then later tested positive and felt bad about having been out and about.

              I don’t think most people are knowingly exposing others to covid by choice. I’m sure there is a subset of people who are–it got so politicized and so polarized, and that makes people behave badly–but most people don’t want to get other people sick at all, much less sick with something that could be serious. I think a lot of exposure is unwitting (the person didn’t have symptoms, thought their runny nose was allergies, tested negative, etc) or unavoidable (our system does sometimes force people into awful choices like “come into work sick and contagious or get fired”).

              1. Alice*

                It sounds like Reba underestimated the rate of false negatives, and wore a mask in the meantime, which I would call prety good.
                But, separately, re your belief that most people aren’t exposing others to COVID by choice – someone close to me tested positive when I asked them to test before visiting me. It turned out that they had already had symptoms, but didn’t test until I gave them one. Surprise (was it really a surprise?), it was COVID.
                You are supposed to isolate for 5 days after your positive test, according to CDC (and Delta ;)) guidelines. What did you do? Drive around in a car with people, go into restaurants to get takeout, and get on a plane, all in her “isolation” period. Was she wearing a mask? I have avoided finding out, because I don’t want this to ruin the relationship with my close friend. I’m a coward.
                All these activities were optional, btw. So, I’m sad to say, I think that you overestimate the degree of unintentional transmission and underestimate the degree of DNGAF transmission.

      1. analyst*

        If you’re actively symptomatic, a negative rapid test doesn’t mean you’re clear- you have to have a negative PCR test to confirm. If you’re sick, just assume it’s covid and act accordingly. Cause you know, no one wants whatever non-covid thing you have either.

        And yeah, if I had a random roommate at conference show up knowingly sick? I would be livid (I mask in public places still as I’m immunocompromised).

        1. Pat*

          Yeah, you can’t just spring that on a hotel room roommate. OP really needs to find a single room if they go to the conference.

          1. Momma Bear*

            I agree. At a conference, I expect that there is a high chance of exposure to lots of illnesses, but I would be really upset if my roommate knowingly showed up sick. OP needs to get tested, wear a mask, and find another room. OP doesn’t know this person well, either, and has no idea if they are extra vulnerable, have small children or elderly parents, etc.

    3. Zzzzzz*

      #3: DO NOT go and share a room with a stranger knowing you have even a cold. You have no idea what the other person’s immune system/life/caring for someone etc etc etc is (also, sharing rooms with strangers… what???.. kind of cheap place org is this?) nor if they even get sick time if THEY come down with a cold or other illness? Come on now.

      1. Llama Lover*

        So much this. I’m allergic to most cold medicines, so “just a cold” is a big freaking deal for me. There’s nothing I can take to make me more comfortable. At all. A friend showed up with a cold to my birthday dinner a couple years ago and got me sick for two weeks. I’m still salty about it!

    4. pcake*

      Agreed, but home Covid tests are pretty ineffective. My husband had Omicron last year, and he tested negative at home every time; so did I when I had Covid. Lab tests are much more effective, and you can usually get them done at your local pharmacy.

      1. Baska*

        Depends on where you’re located. Quebec, where I live, doesn’t offer PCR testing for the general public anymore.

    5. babylawyer*

      Hey— I’m OP for this question. I asked a couple weeks ago so the conference has come and gone. I had arranged to have a single room and mask the rest of the time, but I started feeling much worse the night before and ended up staying home. I repeatedly tested for COVID and it kept coming back negative, but I’m still glad I stayed home because I was very sick that weekend.

      1. borealis*

        Sorry to hear you missed the conference – that does suck, but you clearly made the right call. Hope you are feeling better now.

      2. Hlao-roo*

        Thanks for the update! Seconding borealis that you made the right call. Hope you’re feeling better now.

      3. GerminatingPollinating*

        Hi OP, if this is the conference I think it is (bc of the room sharing part w strangers) you’re really not missing out on much in terms of networking or leadership training. Good call on staying home.

      4. Beth*

        I’m glad you rested! I’ve just gotten over a cold that really knocked me out, and was shocked that I tested negative for covid throughout–turns out there are still just plain old nasty colds in the world. I’ve never been more grateful for remote work. It was great to be able to hole up at home without worrying about sick days or contagiousness.

        1. I Have RBF*

          When I get a cold, it lasts at least a week, sometimes longer. Some colds are mild, mine seldom are. The best thing about remote work and masking when I’m out? No longer getting colds and “con crud”. (Mind you, my most recent case of “con crud” was Covid, because of hotel issues.)

      5. iglwif*

        Sorry you missed the conference, but you made the right decision, and I want to applaud you for that!

      6. I Have RBF*

        You did things right:

        1. You arranged to have a single room and mask
        2. You stayed home when you became to sick to attend

      7. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Thanks for the update. As I said in my comment – before reading your response – I’m glad that you asked for advice on this one about how to be respectful of others when ill. You absolutely made the right call to stay home, for yourself and for others. I hope you’re feeling better!

      8. lyonite*

        Good call! Several years ago (pre-Covid), I finally managed to get sent to a scientific conference by my employer. Showed up feeling fine, had horrible flu symptoms by dinner time and nearly passed out in the shower. I got almost nothing out of the experience and I would have been a lot better off staying home and using my sick days.

    6. Sloanicota*

      I really don’t know what we’re going to do now as a society if every sniffle is basically exclusionary (I’m not coming at this from a place of criticism, but as someone who very often has minor sniffles and has always powered through them in the past, and am now trying to deal with this new reality where my leaf allergy is considered potentially fatal to others).

      1. I should really pick a name*

        I think people are less concerned with minor sniffles, and more concerned with full out sneezing and coughing.

        Things will probably go back and forth a bit and hopefully settle to a workable middle ground.
        Frankly, I don’t think we were in a good situation before where people would come to the office when they had significant illnesses.

      2. amoeba*

        I mean, I’d say it all really depends on your definition of “a bit of a cold”. That’s such a broad spectrum for different people and I think that makes discussions about it really hard!

        For instance, I had a very minor cold last week. Basically meant I had a dry throat and sometimes a dry cough because of that (like, a few times a day, and it usually stopped after a sip of water). Then some very mild congestion for a day or so. No other symptoms, felt completely fit, etc. For that, I would basically test for COVID regularly in case it turns out to be a very mild case of that and otherwise live as usual (although I might consider not room-sharing because even a mild cough during the night can be super annoying!)

        But for other people, “just a cold” is anything up to elevated temperature, headache, sweating, constant coughing, constantly runny nose… and for those, yeah, I think you should indeed stay home whenever possible, and wear a mask/stay away from people if you go out. Please don’t come to my conference or travel on my train without a mask.

        (That’s actually the main reason why I’m not too worried to do stuff in public with the first kind of cold – at any given even, there’s almost guaranteed to be several people from the second side of the spectrum present.)

        1. Sun catcher*

          This comment makes some really good points. I certainly want to be considerate of others and for others to be considerate of me, but some sort of balance needs to be achieved. There are many thing that you need to register for and pay for far in advance, and very few of those things allow refunds. If I have a cold but generally feel well enough to attend and it’s something I’ve paid a lot of money for and cannot be refunded for, I’m attending. This is probably going to be an unpopular opinion, but I also think it’s reality.

          1. Michelle Smith*

            And it should be unpopular. Your decision to go to the conference because it was expensive will knock someone like me on their ass for a month or more. It’s not always about you. Sometimes you have to think about how your choices impact other people.

          2. Alice*

            So are you asking your professional associations to introduce a better refund policy for health reasons? Or are you just giving up and saying, welp, guess I have n choice but to expose my colleagues to whatever I’ve got?
            Let tell you, I am sick and tired of being the person who writes to colleagues organizing in-person events and outing myself as disabled to argue for safer policies that will benefit everyone, including easier reimbursements. The more non-disabled people (or, really, not-yet-disabled people) who do the same, the better.

            1. J*

              Same. I’m just so tired of everything being actively dangerous for me and everyone demanding I compromise, like it won’t potentially leave me more disabled to do so.

            2. I Have RBF*


              I am actually glad that masking is more acceptable now. But even pre-covid, I wore a mask when I had the sniffles, in case it was allergies a mask reduces pollen, and if its contagious, it reduces the exposure of others.

              I would be less angry if, when people came to work or conferences sick, they would mask up around other people. It’s a courtesy, and should be automatic.

              But no, in the US wearing a mask is seen as a “political statement”. Yeah, a practice that shows that I care about others and preserving my own health is now “political.” To me it should be the default to care.

            3. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

              Exactly. Better refund policy and having things be hybrid by default. That way, if you get kinda sick, you can just attend virtually. Virtually is not the same as in person, but it’s better than not being able to attend at all.

          3. HR Friend*

            You’re going to get flamed here lol, but I agree. Life doesn’t stop because I have the sniffles.

            There’s a group of people (mostly on the internet..) who expect the hypervigilance of 2020 while moving about as freely in public as we did pre-2020. It’s unrealistic.

            1. Sun catcher*

              I knew I would get totally lit up lol. I’m glad someone else is able to admit that stopping everything for days on end when you have minor sniffles in unrealistic. I’ve been in the boat of having to be hyper vigilant due to being immunocompromised (cancer sucks!), but unfortunately you have to bear the brunt of the burden of that hyper vigilance and can’t expect the majority to cater to you. It’s dangerous to trust the majority to cater to you in that way.

              1. Cassandra*

                Stopping everything for days on end for sniffles *is* unrealistic and I don’t think anyone is advocating for that? I think that the main issue here is that it is *already dangerous* for immunocompromised and disabled people to trust the majority to cater to *any* of their needs (wearing a mask if you are/suspect you are sick) even if catering to those needs is effortless and inconsequential to one’s day besides “the public did not gaze upon the lower half of my face today, and this mask makes my ears hurt. :(”

                How dare certain people who are excluded from physical spaces – due to no fault of their own, because people do not choose the immune systems they are born with – ask and advocate for fairer accommodations and healthier, inclusive social contract practices so that they too can participate in society. I would very much like, at the very very least, for my mother-in-law to be able to safely go to the doctor’s for treatment that she needs, but that’s not even remotely tenable when so many healthcare practitioners now refuse to mask and are in CONSTANT, DAILY contact with sick people.

            2. J*

              Yes, we’re mostly on the internet because we’ve been excluded from physical locations due to risk. Thank you for noticing.

          4. Starbuck*

            It is unpopular; but it doesn’t have to be reality. There are people with the power to change this – whoever’s in charge of the refund policy – and they need to do something about it. Making fellow attendees suffer is not a good status quo.

            1. J*

              You’re also a person with the power to help support change. Write to event organizers, talk to people in your org. Don’t expect the most vulnerable to handle all that unpaid labor themselves.

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        Ugh, I know, this caring about other people thing is so hard right???

        No one has genuinely suggested your allergies should mean you are excluded from everything forever so it’s pretty hard to see this as a good faith comment. If you know your sniffles are allergies, then make your own decisions accordingly. If you are going to be in a space with a ton of other people, take a covid test and consider wearing a mask. Masking up might even help with your allergies. Take care of your own health and be respectful of the people around you.

        1. I Have RBF*

          A good N95 mask will absolutely help with pollen allergies.

          I’m allergic to dust and just about every type of pollen, from ragweed to tree spooge, and wood smoke. In high pollen season, I will absolutely wear a mask alone while driving! It keeps me from sneezing and coughing behind the wheel. The same in wildfire season.

          So, from personal experience, I can say absolutely that masking up in a proper mask will help alleviate allergies. It makes it possible for me to go outside on high pollen days.

      4. Tammy 2*

        I guess it depends on your definition of “exclusionary” but I think the bare minimum is masking if you’re symptomatic and must be near others in public, and not sharing sleeping space with someone who hasn’t had a chance to give informed consent.

        I have allergy sniffles, too, and am also one of those dorks who occasionally alarms others by choking on their own spit. I apologize/explain/mask/move away as situations warrant and yeah, it can be inconvenient but it’s better than exposing someone to a germ I don’t think I have because it’s ragweed season and the symptoms look the same.

      5. Oxford Comma*

        I think if you’ve done your due diligence and tested and it is really just your allergy, you’re fine. But even pre-Covid we lived in a world where one person has a cold and it means they sneeze a couple of time and they’re fine and they pass it to someone else who is off for a week in utter misery.

        At a bare minimum OP needs to tell the roommate their situation.

        1. I Have RBF*

          One year, pre-covid, I was at a convention and started having what I thought were allergy symptoms. I had N95 masks from wildfire season, so I wore one to try to keep the pollen out of my airway. It turned out to be a summer cold. Because I was masked, I didn’t spread it to my wife or roommate.

          IMO, if you have dust or pollen allergies, N95 masks help a lot.

      6. Freya*

        One of my coworkers has a kid who gets hospitalised every winter because of a cold + existing medical issues. I take antihistamines that don’t affect cold and flu symptoms, not only because I have allergies that make my asthma worse and the office doesn’t deserve to have to deal with me sniffing and coughing all day, but also because I need to distinguish between allergies and a cold – if it’s just allergies, I’m fine to go to work, colds and other infectious stuff means I stay home and ensure I don’t feel guilty about passing a cold to my coworker with the vulnerable kid.

    7. Dust Bunny*

      Ultimately, I don’t care what it is, I don’t want your germs. Please give me the chance to not share a room with you if you’re sick/have a cold.

    8. Love to WFH*

      I have asthma. The last time I had “just a cold” was the winter before the pandemic started. It went to my lungs with a vengeance, and I had a wracking cough for 2 months. There were 4 doctor’s visits, 4 rounds of prednisone, one round of antibiotics, and 2 chest x-rays.

      The old attitude of not worrying about spreading a cold to others really needs to go away.

      Also, with the symptoms of colds & COVID being so similar, and COVID tests have so many false positives, one really cannot know that what you have is a cold and not COVID. A relative had COVID in February, and it did something to her vestibular system. She’s still doing PT and having trouble walking.

      1. Love to WFH*

        ARGH! I meant “COVID tests having so many false NEGATIVES”.

        A rapid test telling you that you don’t have COVID is not reliable.

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

      “a cold and COVID simultaneously”

      While it’s not untrue that you can get two illnesses at once, it’s also true and probably more likely that you can have COVID that presents with only symptoms of “a cold.”

      Also, at-home tests (which OP didn’t mention either way) can report negative even if you do have COVID.

    10. Nancy*

      It’s also important to remember that other diseases exist. I don’t want your flu, step, pneumonia, cold, or random virus we haven’t identified yet either.

    11. I Have RBF*

      What I find to be hinky about this is having a roommate at a hotel who is a stranger. WTF?

      It’s one thing to room with a colleague from the same company, but a stranger? This sounds like some shoestring academic thing that treats everyone like freshmen at summer camp.

      Seriously, in the age of Covid, having strangers as roommates at a conference would be a “no go” for me. I am Covid cautious, because of age, disability and comorbidities. To put me with a random stranger who may a) have Covid, or b) not take the same precautions is just begging for me to get infected. Hard pass.

      But the LW with a cold should at least mask up, and tell the organizers so that the poor unsuspecting roommate doesn’t get to their arbitrary shared room and find that their roommate is contagious. If I was the roommate, I’d be livid, even if it was “just a cold.”

      1. Hungry Magpie*

        There’s a major toxicology conference that has an optional room-sharing program. I only used it once but matched with a lovely professor and we had a great time together. She helped me with networking and we both saved some significant money. I imagine that for some folks the program might mean the difference between going and not able to go, especially in my case (only person from my non-US institution who went).

  9. Sean Combs*

    op #4 why in the world are these automated emails coming from you instead of noreply? seems like an oversight if there isn’t a specific reason for it.

    1. musical chairs*

      If you use Microsoft Flow or other equivalent no-code programs to run simple processes but don’t have admin rights to send replies from another inbox (very common at large organizations), emails can only come from the Flow writer.

      LW, if you are using MS Flow with Office 365 you can have Power Automate send correspondence on cards in Teams to save your inbox. She can reply all she wants and it goes to no one. If it’s a suite of programs, ignore me!

  10. WoodswomanWrites*

    #3 — For my example, I’m assuming the illness isn’t COVID. If this were me, I would plan on getting my own room at the hotel. It wouldn’t be an option to do anything else because it doesn’t feel right to knowingly expose someone to an illness.

    For the conference itself, I would seriously consider cancelling rather than risk making others ill. At a minimum I would mask everywhere, sit or stand in the back away from others, and eat my meals outside or far away from everyone.

    1. WellRed*

      In which case, OP should cancel because standing away from everyone and eating alone is the opposite of networking.

      1. kalli*

        Networking is just one aspect of conferences, and if they don’t offer online equivalents or streams, losing the knowledge or info from presentations may be worth peace and quiet in the lunch break, if OP wasn’t sick and still at the level of being cautious.

      2. Baby Yoda*

        So true. I remember (pre-pando) having to attend a conference where I had the worst cold ever, and spent most of the time out in the hallways trying to listen to the speakers. No one would come anywhere near me. I decided from then on to cancel for colds.

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        I am still masking indoors around others (probably indefinitely) which means I do not eat indoors. I still sometimes socialize with other people while they eat and then step outside to have my own food. I have attended several networking functions at my company recently doing just this and it was fine.

        1. J*

          It’s really weird for people here to talk about how exclusionary it is to want sick people to stay home but also that people who are still masking and not eating indoors in public can’t network or gain any benefit so we should just stay home and be excluded.

        2. I Have RBF*

          Same here.

          I’m high risk due to age and comorbidities, and I have roomies who are immune compromised and/or high risk. I mask in public indoors or around crowds, period.

          I’ve had Covid, was sick for two weeks, then took about six weeks to recover from that. It cost me two months of productivity. It took my wife even longer to recover.

          We don’t want it again.

  11. Excel-sior!*

    LW#4 going out on a limb here because that automation sounds familiar, is this a Smartsheet system? If so you can change this! In the workflow go to the email portion of the action path and click on it, there’s an option for “send from triggering user” that you can change to either your organization or to Smartsheet automation. Replies will still go to you if you’re the sheet owner but I’ve found people are way less likely to reply if your name isn’t in the subject line.

    If that isn’t what you’re using there may be options like this as well that you can look into, but I figured I’d offer a potential fix just in case!

    1. MondayMonday*

      Good to know!! I am a Smartsheet user too. Microsoft Power Automate does this too. I am new to that as well and I am assuming there is a way to change who the email comes from there as well.

  12. MK*

    “Depending on the situation, it’s possible to maintain an attitude of open-mindedness, and still genuinely believe a candidate has a practically 0% chance of getting an offer.”

    Frankly, that would be an incredibly rare situation. If you are allowing external candidates to compete with your internal one, you can have no idea who will apply; you might get exceptional candidates, you might realise your internal candidate isn’t as perfect as you thought, etc. There shouldn’t be a situation where you are 100% sure an external candidate won’t get the role if you are genuinely open-minded. The only case I can think of is if the internal candidate has some truly rare combination of skills and expierience.

    1. Clare*

      Sometimes this can be true if the role involves living in an undesirable location. A manager might be pessimistic about their chances of finding a second similarly qualified person being willing to live somewhere undesirable, when their skills would be a ticket to leave. No reason not to search anyway, of course. Amazing people move back to their dull little hometown all the time.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        Or, as I said above, if it’s super specialized. There are a lot of government technical systems that have been running on old code and duct tape, basically, and most of the people working on system maintenance came up through the ranks internally because of the learning curve involved. If you’re hiring for a role that needs in-depth knowledge of the back end of custom software from 1993, you may have a pretty good idea that the really competitive external candidate pool isn’t going to be large.

    2. JM60*

      Perhaps that is a rare situation. In a world of ~7,000,000,000 people, there almost always exists someone out there who would be better at the job then the best candidate you’ve familiarized yourself with so far (in this case, an internal candidate). But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re likely to get one applying. There could be thousands of better candidates out there, while still being a “1 in a 1,000,000”.

      If you can tell from reading my resume/application that the odds of me being one of those people is less than 1%, then you’d probably be wasting my time by interviewing me.

      1. JM60*

        To be clear, I’m very much not against seriously considering external candidates when you have a good internal candidate. But I would hate to be someone interviewed just because there’s a rigid policy of interviewing external candidates, and they needed me (and perhaps others) to tick that box.

        1. Bast*

          Yes! If you are hiring me just to tick a box to say you interviewed X number of external people… please don’t waste my time. If you think I might be the unicorn who is going to knock your internal candidate off the horse, so to speak, and I have a fighting chance, sure.

    3. Sloanicota*

      Sometimes someone comes in who is just … great. They have a vision they can clearly articulate of how they would approach the work that is much better than the status quo you were hoping to maintain by internal promotion. Also, they have may just as much internal experience (say, they worked at the org a few years ago, or they applied from another department) and you never would have known they’d be interested except by advertising. I have seen it happen. However, they are unfairly held back by your sense of how annoyed your internal candidate will be, particularly if they have to work together, and your sense of how likely internal candidate is to quit over it.

      1. Norm Peterson*

        I’m about to be an internal candidate for a position created with me in mind. If I don’t get it, I’m definitely job searching and leaving for the first offer I get, just because it would be demoralizing to have been told I’d be great for it and then not get that position. In fact, part of me feels like I should be applying to other jobs just in case so I don’t have to stay any longer than absolutely necessary if they do go with someone else.

  13. learnedthehardway*

    OP#2 – – all other considerations aside, this is not an effective way to hire for the lower level role. The candidates who apply are active NOW, and will probably have other job offers before your lower level role opens up for recruitment. You might end up with some candidates who are open to considering your lower level, because they are too junior for the more senior position, but you’ll waste your, HR’s and most applicants’ time if you focus your recruiting under the wrong title/mandate. Someone who applies to a Sr. Llama Groomer wants to be considered for that position, not for Jr. Llama Groomer – even if they are too junior for the sr. role.

    Your company wants to ensure they have the right candidate. Lisa may get some preferential marks because she’s internal as well as qualified and ready to do the role. That’s fine – companies should prioritize hiring internally. But Lisa should still be evaluated as a candidate against a slate of other qualified candidates. That’s your company’s policy, and it IS a good one because it ensures that whoever gets the role really IS the best candidate (or is good enough that there’s no compelling reason to hire externally). Also, you may meet candidates who make you realize that Lisa still has some growing to do in some dimension that you hadn’t considered before.

    1. Constance Lloyd*

      I once applied and interviewed for a position in the upper 5 figures. It was clear they were barely paying attention to my answers, and the very next day they told me they’d hired someone else for the position, but would I like this $12.00 per hour position instead? Reader, I would not. The position they offered me paid 1/3 of the position I interviewed for and half of what I was making in my government job with excellent benefits. Bait and switch is absolutely not an effective way to hire!

      1. Allonge*

        Exactly. And on the other hand – even if there is not such a big difference in the salary – there are likely a bunch of people who would be happy in the lower level position but did not apply for this one because it was too much for them.

      2. Lily Rowan*

        Early in my career, I was looking to relocate, and MORE THAN ONCE I got called in for an interview where they told me in person they weren’t actually considering me for the job I had applied for, but a lower-level one. That didn’t pay (IMO) enough to live on. After I had spent four hours on the bus to get there for the interview.

        1. Bast*

          I wouldn’t have been happy after sitting on a bus for that long only to figure it out it was a bait and switch once I got there! While there are several times I have applied for what I considered a stretch position, but would have taken a slightly lower level one had it been offered, I would not have been thrilled to discover that upon arrival. Have the courtesy to tell the candidate before they get there. “Unfortunately, while we don’t think you’re the right fit for Position A, we are also looking for Position B where the role consists of ABC and the salary is $123. Would you be interested in coming in and interviewing for Position B?” It gives the person the chance to say no thanks and move on without wasting time (and potentially a PTO day, money on gas, bus fares, Uber, whatever).

          1. Constance Lloyd*

            Yes! If LW wants to save time they could certainly have HR pick out a few applicants who aren’t necessarily qualified for the higher position, but could replace the internal candidate, should she be promoted. Just be transparent that this is for a different job when you offer the interview.

  14. Caz*

    LW2, I’ve interviewed as an external candidate where everyone including the interview panel assumed the internal candidate was going to be the best on the day and get the job. They were pleasantly surprised by me. Don’t go in thinking you know the outcome, go in looking for the best person (which might well be Lisa, but it might not be too) and then get the best outcome for your department.

  15. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP4 (automated system messages that come from OPs email) – this is an interesting dynamic. If she thinks it is actually OP sending them, rather than an automated system using OPs address, that means she thinks OP is notifying her of outstanding tasks etc all the time. Wouldn’t she perceive that as an overstep? I don’t think OP is senior to her or assigns work as such.

    Or perhaps she does realise the system is automated and thinks it is overkill, so sends these little replies to irk OP a little bit…

    (The other day I took a train and heard someone at the ticket machine next to me say “thank you sir!” to the machine in what seemed like a sincere tone, so who knows…)

  16. Ms. Murchison*

    LW3, what seems minor to you could be major to the other attendees you will give it to. Or their family members. Or the other people they’d give it to on their plane and train rides home from the conference.
    Plus Covid can look like a cold.
    You definitely should mask up and warn your roommate like Alison recommends.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yes, even if it’s not Covid you believe it is contagious because you think you caught it from your boyfriend! It would be extremely inconsiderate to share a bedroom with a stranger while you think you have a contagious illness!!

      If you want to go to the conference anyway the absolute minimum must be: make alternate sleeping arrangements, test for Covid every morning of the event, mask up the whole time. Anything else would be irresponsible.

    2. iglwif*


      LW3 has reported elsewhere in the comments that they ended up not going because the illness got worse. But this is good advice.

    3. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      I’m very curious how the LW has determined that it is a cold and not a COVID infection. As you say, Ms. Murchison, COVID can look like a cold. These days, it seems pretty common for people to get symptoms, not test, and insist that it’s a cold in the absence of any evidence either way. Anecdotally, there seems to be a lot of stories where people insisted it was a cold, tested only because they were required to, and it turned out they got COVID.

      If you haven’t done any testing yet, you should both get PCR testing, if possible. If not, rapid tests where you swab your tongue, cheek, and nostrils with one swab. A rapid test can’t guarantee that you don’t have COVID, but if the test is positive, it’s extremely likely that you do.

      I appreciate that you wrote in for advice, LW, and that you want to be mindful of others. So I’d encourage you to get the information you need about your health so you can make good decisions about how to protect everybody, if you have not done so already.

  17. Other Alice*

    #3, I came back from a company event with someone else’s minor respiratory illness and I was down for a week. I was extremely annoyed when they told me they’d been feeling ill for some time but decided not to mask because it was not covid. At a minimum you should avoid sharing rooms and mask in shared spaces.

    1. I Have RBF*


      People really need to start masking up when they have any contagious illness.

      Even if it isn’t Covid, a week long cold or flu could knock someone who is living paycheck to paycheck into homelessness. These people are most likely to be low paid service workers, with less access to medical care.

    2. Tapatoes*

      I had this happen in a board meeting of all places. With no prior message, two members showed up sick and/or still contagious. What followed was me being sick for 2 weeks, with a cough that lasted just over 2 months.

      I resigned.

      And all that could’ve been avoided if *someone* had just said “I’m still sick, let’s have the meeting on Zoom.”…

  18. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

    Could LW2 be opening up their company to legal liabilities too? If, for instance, Lisa is white and a Black candidate is turned down, if they could prove you had already decided on Lisa, could that risk looking discriminatory in legal terms, even if not LW’s intent?

    And it sounds like it wouldn’t be hard to prove this, given the internal conversations you mention.

    1. JM60*

      I’m not a lawyer, but I think you’re right. I believe these policies are usually implemented partly to reduce the likelihood of legal issues.

    2. Delphine*

      Wouldn’t you need to prove that Lisa was chosen over the external candidate because of her race? Internal/external is not a protected characteristic.

    3. MsSolo (UK)*

      IANAL, but since internal/external is not a protected characteristic, there’d have to be a more obvious pattern, even with asking for poorly qualified external candidates, like turning down multiple black candidates. I can see a scenario where in an area with a predominantly black recruitment pool, preferring internal white candidates could create that pattern, but it’s pretty rare for it to be cut and dried. One of the reasons organisations that prefer to promote over hiring externally can quickly become monolithic is affinity bias, where managers groom internal applicants that appeal to them without thinking about why they appeal.

    4. MCMonkeyBean*

      IANAL but if they proved you had already decided on Lisa, that seems like it would specifically prove that it was *not* about race?

      1. B*

        The issue arises more if, say, the internal candidate is white and a Black external candidate applies, who is more qualified on paper but is rejected. That gives rise to an inference of racial discrimination. The company has a policy that requires them to give due consideration to external candidates, so the LW saying that they always intended to hire the internal candidate — in direct contravention of the formal policy — is not a very compelling argument against a discrimination complaint.

        1. Observer*

          The company has a policy that requires them to give due consideration to external candidates, so the LW saying that they always intended to hire the internal candidate — in direct contravention of the formal policy — is not a very compelling argument against a discrimination complaint.

          Why? The key here is that in a case like this the company could make a compelling case that racial bias was not the issue – because in fact it was not the issue. The OP would have made a decision *before* meeting any of the contenders, so it’s not possible that they decided against the more qualified minority contender because of their race.

          Being an idiot and failing to follow company policies are not things that the law generally gets involved with.

          1. B*

            Because the company would have to articulate a legitimate, nondiscriminatory basis for the hiring decision, and it’s not if your best legitimate, nondiscriminatory basis was “the manager had secretly already selected a preferred candidate and was conducting other interviews to hide that they were violating company policy.” Plus the existence of the policy makes it easier to argue that is just a pretextual excuse.

            1. Observer*

              Because the company would have to articulate a legitimate, nondiscriminatory basis for the hiring decision,

              Yeah, but the decision does not have to be a GOOD or SENSIBLE decision, just *real*. It could be against company policy. None of that matters in this context. It’s still not discriminatory.

  19. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

    LW1, the very experience you describe with your own Awards is a great example of why they don’t mean that much on a resume.

    1. kiki*

      Yeah, internal awards can add a little boost to a resume, but most hiring managers won’t put much stake into it because they don’t know how meaningful the award really is. Is it a situation where every employee gets some sort of award at the holiday party? Were there actual achievements measured for the “MVP” award or was it just a manager playing favorites?

      I don’t think they’re hurtful to include, but for LW it’s doubtful that having these awards would make or break their candidacy for any position.

  20. Sickie*

    I am so glad to read the answer and comments about #3 after a tough decision to miss an important event today because I don’t feel well. I think it’s sensible but disappointing, but I’ve been tying myself in knots wondering if I made the right call.

    1. Zelda*

      Ouch. I’m sorry you had to make that sacrifice, but as someone with a vulnerable family member, Thank You.

  21. bamcheeks*

    There have been lots of letters about people having to share rooms with a colleague, which horrified me a lot, but sharing a room with a STRANGER? My flabber is ghasted.

    1. slashgirl*

      That’s what my union used to make you do. Now, if someone else you knew was going, you both could list each other on your form so you could room together. A lot of times it wasn’t just one local going to the events (and given we have around 300 folks in my local, I don’t know all of them….)

      One of my first overnight union functions, about 25 years ago now, was being held at a hotel. I came in to register at the front desk and the clerk told me my room mate’s name was Allison. My name is Stacy (she/her). So, I go down to where some of the other union folks are waiting and asked if Allison was there. HE raised his hand and said, “That’s me.” Yeah, those forms we filled out didn’t ask for gender.

      We talked to the event facilitator and I was given my own room, of course. Probably 15 or so years ago, the union changed it’s policy so that everyone going to any union event gets their own room. Much nicer and easier.

    2. Mellie Bellie*

      Yeah, this alone would make my attendance a “Oh, hell, no!” for sure. My lawyer brain can’t even wrap my mind around all the potential issues here. But maybe it’s common in the LW’s industry?

      In any event, since the LW doesn’t know the roommate, they have no idea whether the roommate or their family have any particular risks. There’s no good way to avoid exposing someone you’re sharing a bedroom and bathroom with to your germs. So, I think this is one the LW has to miss if they cannot get their own room.

    3. Not your typical admin*

      Yes!!!! I can’t imagine a being comfortable sharing a hotel room with a stranger even not being under the weather.

    4. Perfectly Particular*

      At my old company, we traveled a decent amount to conferences with a mix of office & sales staff and had to share rooms. It wasn’t uncommon to share a room with someone you had never met in person, and possibly never even spoken to. So a stranger, but with parameters I guess? It was awkward & we all hated it. We also shared rental cars – so we got to know our new “friends” really well over the course of a few days.

    5. FashionablyEvil*

      I also find the idea of sharing a room with anyone on work travel to be weird, but it’s pretty par for the course in academia.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Not UK academia, even as a postgrad. Sometimes postgraduates travel to something using their own money, in which case obviously you sleep on someone’s floor or a youth hostel or whatever. If you managed to get any official funding for travel though, you’d absolutely have your own room. I am actually really confused by the idea that all these hotels HAVE twin beds!

    6. Sloanicota*

      We had someone in my current (kooky) job who was told in his first week we’d be going to a conference and he’d have to share a room with someone he’d never met (we are an all-female staff other than him, so we were all paired up together). I beggggged my boss to please just spring for a single room this one time. He was brand new! It was cruel.

        1. Sloanicota*

          No, they had the women all share rooms (but at least we knew each other) and assigned the new guy to a random male roommate he’d never met, from another organization. In his first week!

    7. TX_TRUCKER*

      I’m on the board for a non-profit. Their annual conference has a sign-up list for strangers to share a hotel room.

      I have never shared a hotel room with coworkers in my “day” job. But it seems common in the non-profit world.

    8. Don't Call Me Shirley*

      I was previously in the military, for courses we shared 4/room same sex, including senior ncos and junior officers.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Jeez, I hope those were military bunks or something, because I don’t know what hotel room has four beds. Please say the front desk sent two cots! There was a post here about making staff share beds haha – minds were blown.

    9. Rose*

      I was about to say the same thing. Is it common in the US to share hotels when travelling for work? It is entirely unheard of in my area of the corporate world, and I would find it completely unacceptable to be asked to share a room – be that with a colleague or a stranger.

  22. pcake*

    LW #3 – often Covid only appears to be a cold in some people, but when someone catches it from them, they can get very ill. This happened in my family. Home Covid tests aren’t very effective, although lab tests are more so.

    But even if you don’t have Covid, you could be exposing people with health issues to whatever you have, and they could get it much worse than you. If you plan on masking throughout the convention, please don’t share a room with anyone and risk making them and their family members ill.

  23. Not your typical admin*

    To me the biggest issue is the hotel room. At the conference you can take precautions. When you’re sharing a hotel room you just can’t do that as well. On top of that, I know when I’m under the weather I tend to snore, cough, and blow my nose frequently at night. It would be incredibly unfair to a roommate to keep them up all night with that.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I think this is a good line to draw. I do feel like at this point in our society we’ve decided that, by going to conferences (traveling and sitting in rooms with unmasked people) we’re taking on some risk of getting ill – I know I made that calculation with the last few I went to. When I was more concerned about it, *I* wore a mask, because I knew there were likely other people who were knowingly or unknowingly sick and were not going to mask. During the initial waves of the pandemic, I would have agreed that anyone experiencing any symptoms was wrong to travel. Now, that’s not (in my opinion) where we are. But sharing a room is the next level.

      1. Alice*

        I’d like to point out that, if we are as a society deciding to accept that by going to conferences we are at some risk of getting ill, we are also deciding that including the voices and perspectives of people with disabilities is not a priority.
        Now, that is 100% where society in general is at. Is that also where your professional organization or hobby organization is at?

        1. PeopleSuck*

          I am still forced to isolate because everyone else gave up. I’m disabled, ridiculously high risk, and medically unable to wear a mask. And I can’t drive because of my disability so I can’t just go out on my own.

        2. kalli*

          If the answer to inclusion is pandemic-level isolationist orders, then we’re doing inclusion wrong.

          Being around a bunch of people *always* carries risk of getting ill. We need to normalise precautions and develop ways of reducing risk, like ensuring the conference space is well ventilated, has wider doors, ramps, doesn’t shove access seating in a corner with a bad view of everything, allows for social distancing, that presentations can be accessed online and translated or transcribed as needs be, for example.

          If the only solution is ‘everyone who might be sick has to stay home to protect the disabled’, that’s a society that assumes people with disability don’t exist who can take care of themselves, and that’s a society that promotes ableism.

          1. Alice*

            I’ve written to two organizers of two conferences about making their events safer, just this week. And it’s Wednesday! Are you doing that too? Or are you just knocking down straw men on the Internet about “pandemic-level isolationist orders”?

    2. kiki*

      The sleep issue also occurred to me! I definitely snore when I’m sick and would hate to inflict a terrible night’s rest on a person I just met.

    3. Freya*

      I fart in my sleep. I am NOT up for subjecting a stranger to the night time stench of my travel-stressed guts!

  24. Magenta*

    I wonder if OP2 has already told her employee that she is going to get the role and now feels she has to follow through.
    It is a really bad plan to promise people things there is no guarantee you can deliver it causes a lot of problems.
    My brother was promised, multiple times over more than a year, that he would be promoted when his boss left, it turns out that the company has a policy like OP2s and he had to interview. It left a really bad taste in his mouth and now as he is waiting to hear whether or not he was successful he is looking for other jobs. He is not sure he will even take the higher job if it is offered to him as he has lost all trust in the company.

  25. English Rose*

    LW2 – Alison and others are right that Lisa may not be the best candidate when compared with others, but there is another potential practical consideration. How many letters have we read here at AAM from people saying variations of “I think I’m about to be/have been offered a promotion but I’m currently nearly at offer stage for my dream job, what should I do?” It’s always possible that Lisa isn’t in it for the long haul anyway.

  26. Jayne not Jane*

    LW3 – As others have stated I would get your own room. Can you send your BF for a COVID test now? I would test yourself as well in about 48 hours and see what the results are. Maybe pack a few tests too.

    This spring my youngest daughter caught a cold. She honestly wasn’t even that sick. Just a runny nose. She gave it to me and it started off really mild, then morphed into the sickness from hell. Then I tested myself for COVID and I got a positive. So you never know!

  27. Dinwar*

    #4: If you use Outlook you can set up a Rule that automatically pushes those emails into a specific folder instead of your Inbox. The only trick is that you have to occasionally glance through it to make sure there was nothing critical that you missed.

  28. Delta Delta*

    #1 – Don’t list the awards you didn’t win. While chances are the reference checker isn’t going to ask about the award, they might. And then you’re in the position of looking like you were untruthful. Or if you feel the need to explain, then you look a little odd and not in the “wears mismatched socks for fun” sort of way.

    I’m also wondering if maybe OP1 needs to update their resume with a different format. A resume doesn’t need an “awards” section – it’s the kind of thing you create if you won awards and they’re worth listing.

  29. Brian*

    How do you stop a coworker from hitting ‘reply all’ to staff emails? I’m tired of getting ‘thanks for the info!’ every time the boss emails us something.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      Disable the reply all button.
      (If there’s an email client that lets you do this, please let me know)

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I found instructions for how to disable the reply all button in Outlook. I typed in “disable reply all outlook” into Google and found an article titled “Disable Reply to All or Forward in an Email or Meeting Invite” from the website techtipsgirl(dot)com.

        I followed the instructions on my desktop Outlook client and they worked for me.

        1. I should really pick a name*

          Every company I worked for has a LOT of unneeded reply emails to answer for!

  30. HonorBox*

    OP2 – Kudos to you for helping Lisa with her skills. Kudos to you for believing in someone and wanting them to be successful. Those are great things and show a lot about who you are as a person and a manager.

    Now having said that, I’m going to suggest something potentially unpopular: You should probably remove yourself from the interview and decision-making process. You have a seemingly close relationship with Lisa and believe her to be the right candidate. You’ve suggested to HR that you’d like to fudge the process a little bit. You may not be in the right position to make the right decision for the role and the company. And I don’t say that in an overly critical way. I just say that because your mind seems to be made up and the company needs the interview process to run openly and without preconceived notions.

    I’m sure many of us have been in interviews where there was some sort of preconceived notion. Even if it not obvious, there can be signs. And you don’t want to give the other candidates any sort of perception that your mind is already made up. You’d be doing Lisa a favor, too, if she can show herself to be the best candidate to others who have not decided that the interview process is flawed.

    1. LB33*

      If the OP is the manager of the team, I don’t think she should take herself out of the process.

      Agree she needs to stick by the company policy, but she can do that while keeping an open mind, even if she thinks she favors one candidate. She can also use the other interviewers as a sanity check.

      1. HonorBox*

        Agree that a sanity check is good. But given the letter, I wonder if stepping back in the first round of conversations would still be good. HR may have some concerns given the conversations about changing the process, and tagging someone else in to conduct the interviews would ensure an even field.

    2. MicroManagered*

      Yeah this is an extreme take. OP2 is the hiring manager – she needs to find a way to participate in the interview process objectively, not just recuse herself.

      This is actually a very common problem (to have an internal frontrunner for a promotion), so the fact that you’ve suggested this makes me wonder if you’ve ever been a hiring manager. I don’t know about every employer on earth, but at MINE it would look VERY strange to even request this.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Also, the person you supervise is a huge factor for your job satisfaction as a manager. A lot of managers complain about inherited direct reports and generally look forward to the opportunity to hire their own. Passing up on this means you’re stuck for the next however many years managing someone you may, for whatever reason, not gel with.

      2. HonorBox*

        I have. And have had internal candidates. The only reason for the more “extreme” take is that the LW went to HR in an attempt to change the process so that the internal candidate was the shoe-in. As others pointed out above, if an external candidate were to find out that Lisa was really the only one being considered, there could be some legal ramifications.

        I’m not suggesting that a mentor can’t be fair and objective. I’m adding the mentorship the LW has taken with Lisa to the suggestion that HR change the job description. There may be problems if the LW can’t be fully objective. And that’s not to say that isn’t possible. It is just a thought…

  31. MicroManagered*

    OP2 I once had a similar hiring situation. I had an internal candidate who was an absolute shoe-in, but was still required to interview at least 3 candidates. I ended up interviewing a second candidate, who definitely would’ve gotten the job if I didn’t have an internal. I ended up hiring that external candidate like a year later when I had another opening. So I try to look at the interview process that way now — I am doing the due diligence my employer has asked me to by having an applicant pool of more than just one person AND I never know when the connections I make during that process will come in handy. It’s also good practice for me, as an interview-ER because I don’t have to do it that often, thankfully!

  32. FrogFriend*

    LW2- if I were one of the lower qualified folks you want to focus on and then potentially hire for Lisa’s position, finding out that you were someone who went about things in bad faith like this would sour me on you for good.

  33. Raspin*

    True story! I was once on an interview panel that was interviewing internal candidates for an insurance fraud investigator. IC1 had actually been doing the job temporarily for about 6 months and walked into the interview expecting to get the job because he had been in it temporarily so it was his and clearly the interview was a formality. IC2 had very obviously spent time preparing for the interview and had very good and thoughtful answers to the questions. IC2 got the job. IC1 had a fit! He filed public records requests for any jobs that had been filled permanently with the person who had been in the job temporarily (including, coincidentally, mine) and generally made it clear why he wasn’t promoted. But wait: IC1 was later arrested and convicted and fired for conducting insurance fraud (a different type than he investigated, but still) during which one of his partners (also a coworker) was murdered by the third partner in the scheme.

    Anyway, don’t assume the internal candidate you have in mind is the best person for the job.

  34. Jane Fiddlesticks*

    LW1: I would put more effort in contacting your most supportive and highly-achieving colleagues from your former company and ask them to be a reference. Especially the CEO. They can give your next opportunity the leg up you need.

    1. Jane Fiddlesticks*

      PS If you don’t trust the CEO to only say nice things, you could have them write a letter (or better yet, write your own recommendation and send it to them to sign).

      I did this with a manager I wasn’t 100% sure of. They signed my recommendation letter and I handed it over to HR after I got a job offer. Worked like a charm.

  35. CLC*

    One reason I absolutely hate conferences is the germs. One of the first major Covid outbreaks in the US was at a biotech conference. I’ve always stayed home with a cold (I realize having sick days is a privilege in the US). Pre or post Covid, no one wants to see someone else sniffling and coughing and sneezing and blowing their nose, and I don’t know if anyone can power through a conference and the energy that requires with a cold—you won’t come off looking great anyway. It’s likely most people there are going to get sick anyway (has anyone ever not come home sick from a conference?) but I would skip it.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I have such mixed feelings about this. My current coworker always calls out with a cold every time we travel, and I do think it’s both noticeable (we paid for a registration and hotel room he isn’t going to use) and annoying (because I usually have to fill in for him at the booth / panel he was going to be a part of, as well as doing my own work at the event, and my boss often has to scramble for last-minute coverage). I’m not saying he’s making it up, but I do think it’s a consequence of a slightly lower bar for illness; I sometimes have minor complaints myself but tend to suck it up.

      1. Bast*

        I… think I would be a bit suspicious if someone managed to get a cold every time there was a (maybe boring?) conference and then were right as rain a day or two later. It’s sort of like the adult equivalent of being “sick” every time you have a test you didn’t study for in high school.

      2. JaneDough(not)*

        Please know that I’m not sticking up for your coworker, about whom I know nothing — I’m simply adding another perspective.

        A dear friend of mine who, for years, worked insane hours in a NYC design firm under insane bosses, got sick *every* time he went on vacation. *Every time.* He thinks it’s because his somewhat-self-destructive work ethic (passed on by a cold, demanding, hyper-critical father) kept his immune system humming along while he needed it to keep working and then essentially dropped out of sight when it was time to take care of himself and his non-work needs. And I think this was so, because there’s no separation between our bodies and our psyches.

        It’s possible — possible — that your coworker gets freaked out about work travel and the attendant duties and that the stress translates into lowered immunity.

        1. DontStop*

          yes, this. I get sick to the point of being non-funcctional every time I take off work because I don’t have something else to focus on to help me push through. My body keeps going then falls apart the moment I stop.

  36. Observer*

    #4 – Automated reminders.

    If you can make the following changes:

    1. The “from” should be changed to something that reflects what is going on

    2. The actual return address should either be a non-functioning address or one that is designated for catching these replies.

    3. The *text* of the reply should contain verbiage like “This is an automated message from [System]. Replies to this email will not be seen or read by a human.”

  37. Sneaky Squirrel*

    #1 – I’d let this one go. We had a candidate once who brought in proof of their awards from their previous company and all it got was a bunch of eye rolls. I think that’s because people recognize that many company awards are ‘pat on the back’ moments to improve morale.

    I think there is a place for an ‘awards’ section of a resume if the applicant has won national awards, industry recognized awards, or awards with some kind of measurable goal behind it (e.g. top salesman of the year where you can use it as a talking point for how many widgets you’ve sold). Beyond that, revise the section to something more relevant to your skills.

  38. Kristin*

    #1 – I must say it’s not a very “good look,” for this company to have constantly and unjustly enabled some jerk, with one of his enablers ultimately let go. What a mess. Listing any award by them might actually be a disadvantage, depending on what else is going on there and who knows about it. Consider yourself a winner for leaving and paving your own way.

  39. Nathan*

    LW5: First of all, the advice to get them to name a number first is spot on. I guarantee that internally they have a dollar value pinned to the benefits package you get as a full-time employee, and you probably won’t know that number. If you are forced to give a number first, I would recommend that you convert your hourly rate into full time and say something like “my current hourly rate translates into a full-time salary around $200,000 a year. Of course I would expect you to factor in the benefits package when converting that to take-home pay”.

    However, the fact that you’ll be doubling the hours you work is very relevant. Do not undersell yourself by pinning to what you make today based on a 20-hour work week if you are going to be working 40 hours when full time! While Alison is correct that converting from a contractor to an employee with benefits often results in a lower amount of take-home pay, I think the answer discounts the fact that you’ll be working more hours. That’s critical.

    1. Morte*

      and at the current rate of 100$ an hour full time they’re be bringing in 208,700.00 if they were full time at that rate.

      So the hours definitely matter.

      (a fairly accurate way to calculate annual pay based on hourly is to multiply the hourly wage by 2087)

    2. JaneDough(not)*

      With respect, that’s not how it works for freelancers in creative fields. (Have you ever freelanced in this field or a comparable one? I have — I’m a longtime copy editor).

      Unless the LW is writing copy for the most profitable and prestigious ad agency in NYC (or something comparably profitable in an equally high-COL city), they’re not going to get an offer for $200K + bennies.

      The high hourly rate paid to FL-ers always — *always* — takes into account that the FL-er isn’t earning bennies and doesn’t work 2080 hours a year (because the FL-er spends a fair amount of time drumming up business). Likewise, the employer ponies up the higher amount *in the short term* because it doesn’t have to embark on a costly job search and because it isn’t paying bennies to the FL-er.

  40. Liz the Snackbrarian*

    LW3, you need to book your own room now and COVID test, including on the day you leave. And remember, something minor for you could be something serious for a vulnerable person. It would be unfortunate to miss the conference but that’s how timing is sometimes.

  41. Michelle Smith*

    LW3: What is a minor illness for you can devastate other people whose immune systems are not as strong as yours. You could be knowingly spreading something that would give a person like me a much more serious issue. Every single time I am around someone who just has a “little cold,” I end up with bronchitis and a cough that lingers for WEEKS.

    I get it when people are asymptomatic, mostly recovered, etc. and don’t know that they are contagious. We’re not perfect beings with perfect knowledge. But if you know that you’re sick, please for the love of god stay home.

  42. CubeFarmer*

    There was just a conference in my field that turned into a superspreader event. At the very least, LW#3 needs to not share a hotel room (just don’t give the other person the option of making the decision) and mask up.

  43. Lobsterman*

    LW4: Alison’s last sentence is correct. If you don’t ever want a reply to a given email, make it physically impossible to receive one.

  44. Common Sense Not Common*


    You have lost your ability to be objective and that should send red flags to you, your team including Lisa, and HR.

    Your company policy is to interview two external candidates yet you prefer not to.
    You requested that HR focus on external candidates on the lower end of qualifications to justify your desire to hire from within.

    If Lisa is truly the most qualified after conducting objective interviews it will be apparent and you can go about your plan.

    But perhaps someone else will be more qualified and a better fit for the position. The real position they applied for not Lisa’s current position.

    You are either too invested in Lisa, your desire to hire internally, or perhaps your just not manager material any longer bid you cannot see your lack of objectivity and your willingness to go against company policies to get what you want.

    Interviewing external candidates, as per company policy, is not a waste of time, at the least it is part of your job.

    If I was in HR I’d report you for trying to get me to focus on candidates with lesser qualifications. If I was a member of your team I’d start looking for a different job because you have thrown too many red flags.

  45. This_is_Todays_Name*

    So, while reading #3 (re: Cold vs. Covid) I have to wonder… is sharing rooms, potentially with STRANGERS really a thing that is DONE that often?? I’m gobsmacked! I travel for business all the time. If I was told I *had* to share a room with anyone other than my spouse, if I brought him along, I would look at them like they had 3 heads and say, “No, sorry not comfortable with that. If I need to pay the difference, I will but, no frigging way am I sleeping in a room with a potential snorer, someone with nightmares, a sleeptalker/walker, sexual weirdo, whatever.” Can they really MAKE you do that?? Holy Moly. Is this specific to certain careers, such as academia, specifically? Or maybe non-profits? Just curiosity on my part.

    1. Don't Call Me Shirley*

      I think this is really context dependent.

      I have been to student events or industry conferences (as a grad student) where you had free sponsored accommodations potentially with strangers. One person per room halves the number of sponsored students.

      I have shared sleeping accommodations with Guides/Scouts, the military, bands, and a sports organization, all as an adult. My friends have shared rooms for fly in / fly out jobs and all summer tree planting. Friends working for a resort or on a cruise ship had roommates. My for profit company doesn’t make me do so, but I have slept in a room with adult non family members at least 3-4 times this year for other organized activities.

      You can choose what you’re willing to do, but yes, this can be normal.

    2. babylawyer*

      I’m LW3– the conference was for a union side labor law fellowship. I had the option to pay extra for a room when room arrangements were being made weeks in advance of the conference, but opted not to at the time because I’m early in my career and couldn’t really justify paying extra when I could go for free. When I started feeling sick, I reached out to the organizers of the conference and explained the situation and asked for a single room, which they accommodated. But then I ended up too sick to go at all, which is a bummer.

      1. This_is_Todays_Name*

        Ahh thanks for the clarification. I’m sorry you didn’t get to go and I’m really happy the venue was initially willing to help you out at least! The things I read on this site often make me feel a little….sheltered like “people who don’t KNOW each other share rooms?” And it’s nice to get the context behind the scenes!

  46. Going Against The Flow*

    LW2. The key is managing expectations. If Lisa understands the process and has been told it will be competitive- great.

    A few things: Don’t lead Lisa on and if she doesn’t get it create a clear path forward and don’t then change it at the application time (eg our plan had you focused on getting X, Y, & Z experience but now we’ve decided A, B, & C are crucial and we kept you from that work). If she’s been doing senior work to prove herself then you need to be sure you aren’t expecting to keep working above her pay grade. It’s a horrible trap I got in “prove you can work a level up then you can be promoted… years later nothing b/c consolidation, promotion freeze, no openings, need outside perspectives”. Finally if you’re comfortable hiring the outsider b/c Lisa will help and backstop be prepared to lose her.

  47. Can Can Cannot*

    #4, you might want to set up an automated reply that sends a “warning” email to users that reply to the automated response. Should be pretty easy if you select the right keywords. Also automatically delete their reply email.

  48. Ssssssssssssssssss*

    LW2: An example of hiring internally first. While my employer invests no time whatsoever to support individual career growth, opening jobs to internal candidates first allows for those who want to to move up as their seniority grows. But process is laborious and not always transparent.

    I work for a very large union and all staff are unionized. All jobs are posted internally first and “qualified” candidates are then sorted by seniority and then interviewed and often tested in that order. Note that they are not interviewed concurrently. Only the most senior candidate is interviewed and if that falls through, the next senior candidate is then interviewed, making it a weeks long process sometimes to hire internally.

    If a job is deemed desirable, the rumour mill as to who will apply and who is likely to win runs overtime, based on seniority and perceived skill set. And yet, sometimes surprises happen and “Oh, X applied and they had the most seniority and did well in the interview? I really thought Y was gonna win that one.” is heard said. Or “Oh, Z was deemed not qualified? Really?!” (there’s been accusations of favoritism in the past.)

    And sometimes, it’s not the one with the most seniority that wins. I was third in line for seniority when I won my permanent spot; the first one failed the test; the 2nd one changed her mind; and I interviewed and tested well.

    If no one was deemed qualified, or if all the qualified candidates didn’t do well in the interviews and testing, then my employer will post the job externally. This was in hindsight not the best plan for our previous HR Senior Director. (Hoo-boy.)

  49. iglwif*

    For LW3 and others in a “sharing living space while sick” situation, you absolutely CAN sleep in a mask (I recommend a head-strap one so your ears don’t hate you in the morning). It’s not the most fun but it is very doable. Add an open window, if possible, and/or a portable HEPA air cleaner, for better air quality.

    I have now done this twice when my spouse was sick (first with a cold that kept testing negative for COVID so maybe it was just a cold, idk, and most recently with definitely COVID) and have avoided catching what he had. He refused to wear a mask while sleeping so I did it instead.

    1. J*

      I know I had to sleep in a mask when I was in the hospital for another unrelated issue. It definitely was not fun but it’s something I did because my health meant that much and also because hospitals didn’t want to do the work anymore on infection control. I think an optional conference with a stranger would change my math on this but things like minimizing hospitals and home spread risks are worth it to me personally.

      1. iglwif*

        To be clear, if my choices were “go to the optional conference while symptomatic and sleep in a mask” or “skip the optional conference and stay home with my symptoms” I would choose the latter every time.

        I was just addressing the very specific assertion that one can’t sleep in a mask.

        Unfortunately, I am hearing from a lot of people that seeking medical care is scary right now because so many health care settings are no longer requiring or even encouraging masks.

    2. I Have RBF*

      I technically wear a mask every night – I use a CPAP with a nasal mask, but I also have a full face mask. But neither one filters my exhale much.

  50. Silicon Valley Girl*

    The only awards worth mentioning on a resume are ones that would be recognized outside of the company — industry-wide awards or something like a Nobel Prize ;)

  51. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

    LW#2 – an additional consideration to the ones I have already seen others mention. What if Lisa uses her promotion to get an even better job somewhere else? Then you have to hire for the both positions. And if you were refusing to even look at the best candidates the first time, they are less likely to apply when the job is reopened.

  52. BobsYourUncle*

    Hello copywriter!
    There are a few ways to get an idea of a full-time salary. Ask other folks you have worked with for ballpark numbers, though this can make some uncomfortable. Also, check out the following:

    1. If you are based in the USA, this is handy:

    2. Google similar jobs (try Glassdoor) and see what the pay range is. Use that to inform your decision-making

    3. Check out this spreadsheet. I found it very helpful. I’m not sure how to date it is, but it gives an idea of going rates, and you can see how it’s broken down across country, region, role, ethnicity, etc.

  53. JaneDough(not)*

    LW5, I’m a highly skilled copy editor who has worked as a freelancer for about 25% of my career, so I’m offering some info. That $100 per hour not only compensates you for (as Alison noted) the payroll taxes, PTO, health-insurance contributions and retirement contributions that the co. would pay a FT employee, it also indirectly takes into account that FL-ers spend a fair amount of time drumming up work — they don’t work a steady 2,000/2,080 hours per year.

    So, $100/hour as a FL-er translates to about $40/hour as a FT-with-bennies employee. As Alison sagely notes, don’t limit the salary conversation by assuming that they’ll pay only about $40/ hour + bennies — but be prepared for that, because it’s pretty much industry standard for copy-editing (which isn’t a super-far-throw from your field). And, do your homework: Check out the salary range for copywriters in your area, with comparable experience, and if possible working for companies of comparable size / prestige / mission (e.g., a well-known ad agency will pay a lot more than do many other enterprises).

    One other thing: Unless you’re working for a co. in NYC or LA, you’re being paid an extremely high rate as FL-er and therefore are unlikely to come near that as a FT employee. For context: In 2010, when jobs in my field were scarce, I worked as FL copy editor for Co. 1, which I’d left on excellent terms two years earlier. I had been laid off from Co. 2 ( = the copy desk of one of the best publications in the US) because of the Great Recession, and I had 10+ years of experience — but even so Co. 1 paid every FL-er only $25/hour. (I had earned the equivalent of $28/hour + bennies + annual bonus as a FT employee there.) And, right now, a prestigious and major publishing house in NYC is paying FL copy editors (who have to pass a rigorous test, and who are among the best in the country) only $37/hour.

    So even as you plan to negotiate as high a salary as you can, be prepared for a figure that’s a lot lower than you’re now anticipating. (I hope it won’t be, but be prepared.) Good luck.

  54. Sara without an H*

    Umm…LW#3, if I showed up at a conference and found that I’d be sharing a room with somebody who had any sort of upper respiratory crud, I’d be back down at the front desk ASAP, trying to book a separate room. Even if I had to pay for it myself on a librarian’s salary.

    At the minimum, please contact your soon-to-be roomie, introduce yourself, and explain about your situation. You owe them the option to make other arrangements.

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