my boss unfollowed me on Instagram, I was offered an interview even though they’d already filled the job, and more

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

1. My boss unfollowed me on Instagram … but still follows everyone else

My senior head of department follows all her team on Instagram. She followed me and then out of the blue unfollowed me. I’m not an over-poster; it’s usually just my dog or a quote, plus family pics. Anyway I checked and she still follows the rest of the team. I never asked her why and went on to unfollow her back! It sounds a bit pathetic, really, but why? It’s been bugging me for ages, and I suppose only she can answer that, but now I feel ostracized. I get a sixth sense she doesn’t like me. Am I being ridiculous?

There are so many reasons this could have happened! Who knows — maybe she’s grieving her dog who looked just like yours and it’s painful to see your photos right now, or she has a schnauzer phobia, or your brother looks like a guy she used to date, or you once posted something really personal that she assumed you wouldn’t want her to see more of, or she clicked unfollow by accident and doesn’t even realize it happened… or sure, maybe she finds you horribly irritating on Instagram, but any of these other possibilities are just as likely too.

That said, when you ask if you’re being ridiculous … what you’re being is human! It’s easy for me to sit here and say you shouldn’t care, it’s only social media, blah blah — but the reality is, when your boss appears to be shutting you out socially in a way she hasn’t done with anyone else on your team, it’s normal to notice and wonder about it. The best thing you can do is to assume it’s one of the harmless reasons above (or even find a way to enjoy the mystery of it, if you can manage that!) and then focus on how she treats you at work. Is she a decent manager who gets you what you need to do your job? If you work on keeping your focus there, it’ll likely take a lot of the sting away.

That said, if your sixth sense that she doesn’t like you is related to anything other than the unfollow, that’s worth exploring more. But that would be about whatever you’re picking up on at work, and what it means for your ability to thrive there (and then the unfollow would be a symptom more than the meat of the issue).

2. Is my current degree program harming my job search?

I am going to school for cybersecurity and am expected to have my bachelor’s degree in less than a year! However, I was recently laid off from my previous job as an administrative assistant due to a lapse in funding for my position (I had been there for a few years). I am actively looking for jobs and had an interview last week for a senior office assistant position, but this week I was informed that I was not selected for the position, with the employer stating I having a strong resume. When I went in for my interview, the hiring manager asked about my education, even congratulated me for making it so far, and asked what I wanted to do with my degree. I answered their questions about my schooling and what I wanted to do, but now I feel that is the reason I was passed over for the job, considering the timing for when I graduate. I have asked for feedback after the rejection, but I want to hear what your thoughts are: is being close to graduation with a bachelor’s degree in an irrelevant field in which I’m currently searching for a job a potential deterrent in why I’m getting passed over?

Yes. It might be different if you were getting a degree in something with a less specific professional focus, but very few people go to school for cybersecurity without the goal of working in that field. So employers assume that as soon as you graduate, you’re likely to change jobs — which means they’re likely to lose you in less than a year. Most people hiring for admin assistants don’t want to go through all the work of training you and waiting for you to master the job, only to have you leave a few months later; they’d rather hire someone more likely to stay for at least a few years. (Obviously things change and anyone could end up leaving sooner — but you’re seeming like a particularly bad bet on that front.)

So you’ve got to think about ways to overcome that. It could mean targeting jobs where your schooling will be an asset, or being vaguer about what you’re in school for, or looking for jobs where staying for less than a year isn’t such a big deal, or some combination of all three.

3. Coworkers think I’m Jewish and invite me to safe spaces, but I’m not Jewish

I have a Jewish-sounding last name and dark curly hair, so people often assume I’m Jewish, but I have no (known) Jewish heritage. I’ll casually correct them if it seems like they’re trying to build a connection over a heritage we don’t actually share, but sometimes I’ll just say nothing.

Yesterday, I received an invitation from a very well-meaning colleague (albeit one I don’t know very well) to an informal conversation about the events occurring in Israel. It was VERY clearly meant for Jewish employees, inviting them to a safe space for Jewish employees to come together and process the events. (Note from Alison: The writer shared the invitation with me and it definitely reads like it’s only being sent to fellow Jews.) There are about 40 individuals on the list, and we are a very large law firm (over 600 attorneys alone), so it’s a relatively intimate group.

Obviously, I’m not going to attend; this is not a space for me. But I’m not sure how to respond to the invitation. Is it best to just ignore it? Thank them for the invitation, decline, and offer support? Am I overthinking this?

Ignoring it would be totally fine if you prefer that, but it would also be fine to write back and say, “Apologies if I’m misreading, but I think from your wording this is intended for Jewish employees so I wanted to let you know I’m not Jewish. But I really support you in doing this and hope you’re okay.”

4. Does “no upward gifting” apply if there’s no gift?

At my job over the past year, for each of the executive’s birthdays there’s been a private channel created on our team messaging tool where all employees have been automatically added, asking us to contribute to an e-card for their birthday. This e-card has no way to give gifts, it’s just positive birthday messages and gifs, but it’s only been done for the executives. Part of this might be because the whole process has been run by what I think is the executive assistant to the C Suite. If the context matters, we’re an approximately 300-person company, not some intimate 10-person startup.

My company does an end-of-the-year employee feedback survey, and if this is inappropriate like I feel it is, then that’d be an anonymous way to comment on it.

Does this birthday card only trigger the no-upwards-gifting rule, or am I biased because I tend to worry our company leans a little “cult of personality” around our executives? If it is inappropriate, what’s the most professional message to give that feedback, without sounding like I want these people to have bad birthdays?

It’s not as bad as if they were pressuring you to contribute money toward gifts for executives, but it’s definitely a little ick — it makes the execs look self-important (even if they had nothing to do with setting this up) and like only their life milestones matter, and it creates inherent pressure to “perform” birthday wishes toward people with power over who don’t give you the same consideration back. It also feels a lot more performative than it would if it were being used within a team for everyone within that team; that’s a context where people would probably have more genuine interest in wishing colleagues a happy birthday, whereas it’s pretty unlikely that people give two craps about the birthday of a random exec multiple levels up who they might never interact with. It’s somewhere on the same continuum with that CEO who made everyone watch a slideshow of his vacation; people just don’t care that much about the personal lives of their company’s leaders.

So yeah, if you feel like mentioning it as part of your anonymous feedback, you wouldn’t be off-base to write something like, “It feels like an odd use of power to organize all-staff birthday greetings for executives and no one else. I’d rather see individual teams recognize the birthdays of their members at all levels, not just managers (with no pressure to participate on either side).”

5. I was offered an interview even though they’d already filled the job

I reached the final interview round for a job I was pretty excited about. A few days before my final interviews (four one-hour interviews), I got a call from the recruiter that an offer had been accepted by another candidate and I was no longer in consideration for the role. Having sunk quite a bit of time preparing for the interview (a previous round of interviews, a written assessment, and numerous hours of prep), I was pretty disappointed, but I understood this is par for the course during a job search.

Here is where something came up that I’m not quite sure what the right call should have been. The interviewer said the team wanted to acknowledge that I had already put quite a bit of time into the process, and, as a show of goodwill, they are all willing to still interview me at the scheduled time in consideration for a future role that might open up. I asked a few questions and was told there was no timeline for when an opening would come up but “maybe sometime next year.” In addition, everything I had done so far would remain in my candidacy package and if I decided to forgo the interview now, I would be fast-tracked through the interview process should a future opportunity open up. I decided to decline the interview but thanked the recruiter for their time and said I would appreciate being contacted if an opportunity became available.

My rationale was this: the benefit of doing the interview would have been to get practice and get my name out to key members of the company. However, the huge drawbacks seemed like 1) I would have to take PTO and give up a lot of time to interview for a non-position when I could put that time to either my current job or further job searching, 2) I was concerned that the interviewers would see this as a waste of time and potentially bias them against me (the interview was scheduled for the Friday before a long weekend), and 3) who knows whether I’ll even be job searching when that future role finally opens?

I followed up with some close mentors afterwards and their opinions were mixed. Some thought I should have gone for it because I had already earmarked that time to interview, done the prep, and “you never know what can come of it.” Others agreed it would’ve been a waste of time and effort and even if I had done well, there was no reason for the company to lock me in as a front-runner for a future position. I know I’m curious what your advice here would be.

Yeah, I wouldn’t have done it either. It sounds like they were offering it mostly out of guilt for short-circuiting your interview process at the last minute, not out of any strong desire to have substantive conversations about a future job. I could maybe see doing it if you hadn’t interviewed with them at all yet, because that could be a chance to get to know each other and explore future possibilities … but you’ve already met with them. I’m skeptical that enough good would come out of doing a non-interview to warrant the time and energy.

{ 315 comments… read them below }

  1. Ali + Nino*

    LW #3, just wanted to thank you for your sensitivity, which is much appreciated in general and especially during this difficult time.

  2. Hiccup*

    LW 4 Go ahead and mention it in your survey. But you could probably just ignore the card request unless it’s your boss. They probably are uncomfortable reading it anyways.

    I’ve seen several execs take their birthdays wayyyy too seriously with parties, gifts, tshirts and office decor. At least it’s just a card

    1. Ink*

      TSHIRTS??!!! I cannot imagine what those were like… literally can’t, i think if i do i’ll melt into a puddle of secondhand embarrassment

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        Someone once gifted my teammate a mug for her birthday. The mug had pictures of my teammate all over it. Ha! I laughed so hard. It looked like such an ego thing. She didn’t want to seem ungrateful but said she felt so strange using it!

        So of course I did the only appropriate teammate-y thing, and took the obvious next step by claiming the mug for myself and drinking out of it at every meeting.

        Some people got it and laughed. Others must have just thought I was her #1 fan.

        1. Eff Walsingham*

          A dear friend of mine received a t-shirt with her grade eleven class photo on the front of it, for her birthday, from her grandmother. She showed it to me after we met in college, saying, it was a sweet thought, but what on Earth am I going to do with it? I immediately relieved her of it, so that I could wear it for her birthdays and other significant milestone events.

          I wonder if I still have it tucked away somewhere? People would think it’s MY granddaughter by now! It *was* a very good photo of my friend… but why do people give these things?? Not everyone wants to be celebrated/ embarrassed by a friend like me. ;)

          1. Quill*

            A good friend had the sense to give me a custom printed thermos with the photos chosen appropriately – i.e. not photos of us, but of the sights on a europe trip of hers that I’d envied!

            It lasted most of a decade too…

    2. ferrina*

      Agree- this is exactly what this survey is meant for (I say that as someone who has run employee satisfaction surveys).

      The leadership may or may not actually do anything about it. If they really like it, they may choose this hill to die on. A good exec should understand the optics, but I’ve met plenty that either don’t get it or don’t care.

      1. Smithy*

        I also enjoy AAM’s language that this is more of an “odd use of power” as opposed to an abuse or otherwise inappropriate.

        The reality is that for as many people as there are who don’t care about work doing something for their birthday (or wedding, pregnancy, passing of a parent, etc.) – for other people it really does mean something. Maybe just a token that you’re not invisible, maybe more than that. But the reason so many workplaces have budgets or systems in place to do *something* for those moments, is because it’s often easier practice to try and do something for everyone than figure out a bespoke response for every staff member suited to their preference (i.e. no for birthdays, but if my parents pass away – obviously I want a card).

        And so to make this effort for only the executives, it’s going to get to people who would appreciate something. Maybe people who don’t mind not getting an office birthday card, but also notice that Accounts celebrates all life moments for their team. And their team didn’t do anything for their engagement or parent passing, and that’s starting to sting when the c-suite execs are getting org wide birthday cards.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          It seems like the EAs for the execs enjoy doing this and so send out the cards. However, the equivalent position for non-execs doesn’t like it, or thinks it’s too much work, or any one of a number of reasons. You can and should mention it in the survey, but I just wonder if it’s a consequence of the execs having staff who want to do that sort of thing.

    3. Martin*

      Or, just sign your name to the card and let it go. It’ll take ten seconds out of your day. I don’t see how that should be a big enough deal to complain about.

  3. Betsy S*

    LW #1: suggest applying for IT helpdesk or tech support jobs,. Presumably you have some amount of tech skills and your cybersecurity training will be an asset. Might also try computer or electronic stores with ‘geek squad’ type roles.

    1. It Takes T to Tango*

      A lot of tech companies would jump at the chance of hiring someone who’s still working on their cyber security degree. You might start off at their help desk or doing customer support with the promise/assumption that you’ll move into the security department soon after graduation or they may even start you as a level 1 in their security department. If you end up doing call center tech support at first and the company reneges on promoting you after you get your degree, you’ll have some tech experience on your resume and should be able to get a security position at another company fairly quickly.

    2. MrsBuddyLee*

      Also consider roles at defense contractors. We love to promote from within and cybersecurity skills are in high demand. You could stay in office admin type roles or go for a general security role so that you get to know the lay of the land, get your clearances in place, etc. while you’re finishing your degree.

    3. OrigCassandra*

      Yup, OP1, I think you’re underselling yourself. No reason I can imagine you couldn’t get an entry-level job in a SOC (security ops center).

    4. ccsquared*

      Totally. I could also see lower-level analyst or project management roles in IT being a good way to leverage admin skills but also develop them more in the direction of working on IT initiatives.

  4. Viette*

    LW2: it’s worth considering how to frame this honestly, and how to effectively job search, if you *are* interested in your specific degree field when you graduate.

    You don’t say in your letter that actually you discovered you dislike cybersecurity and you don’t want to get into it after all. It’s may well be hard to convincingly pitch that you’re a good long term candidate for this long term admin assistant job if in fact you do want to leave once you graduate. All job interviews are a hustle but straight up lying about your interests and plans gets tough to sustain.

    It’s worth planning around your realistic best outcome. If you want the safety of a super secure job but are realistically going leave to after a short tenure — well, it might work better for you to aim for jobs that would be open to a shorter tenure. That’ll get you a job now and then hey, you’ll leave it after you graduate anyway.

    It’s a question of what you want long term, and what you need now in order to get there.

  5. Rich*

    LW2, I am a 25-year cyber security professional. As I’m sure you know, there’s a massive shortage of qualified professionals in the industry, and most of the open positions are likely to pay better than admin assistant / office assistant positions — likely significantly better. Alison is right that they almost certainly assume they’ll lose you as soon as you finish your degree.

    Is there a reason you aren’t targeting cyber security roles exclusively? It sounded like you might be on the hunt in the field. If you’re less than a year from your degree, you very well may be qualified for a lot of entry level positions in the industry. That’s not to suggest you shouldn’t finish your degree — you should for a lot of reasons.

    But getting into a professional setting as soon as possible — while you’re still in school if you can — is incredibly valuable. So much success in the field is through OJT and working experience — tooling, processes, risk priorities, analysis, communication norms are all hugely influenced by a particular employer’s business and technology environment. Learning to adapt your (very valuable) education to those realities can be challenging. The sooner you start learning how to make those adaptations the more successful you’re likely to be.

    1. Selena81*

      I find it a bit weird that LW2 doesn’t mention targeting jobs in the cyber security field: focusing on jobs within your field makes sense as soon as you start an education, but especially when you’re in your last year, and when it’s an in-demand field.

      1. Harper the Other One*

        I think a lot of people are used to the idea that you have to have completed qualifications before you’re eligible to apply for jobs in a field – which is true in a lot of areas! But my understanding is that technology jobs are much more open to a combo of on the job learning and formal education. OP may just not have realized applying of cybersecurity jobs was an option at this stage.

    2. Office Plant Queen*

      It’s possible that OP needs to work part time now, but will probably want to work full time on graduation. I’m not sure how many part time roles there are in cybersecurity, but in any field, not a lot of jobs are going to be set up for part time with a transition to full time after a few months. So they might still be in a position of needing to leave in less than a year to find a permanent full time role

      1. Garblesnark*

        Fair, but tech has a ton of contract work OP could do as well, especially if they’re in/near a city and OK with some moving around. Even getting a little but of network-hooking-up jobs on FieldNation or something will make OP more competitive than cybersecurity grads with no experience and almost certainly pay better than entry level admin.

  6. John Smith*

    re #3. I’m intrigued as to how it was determined who to send the invite to. If it was sent to someone who is not Jewish, is it possible that people who are Jewish but don’t appear Jewish or dont have a Jewish name (I’m only basing that phrase on what the LW said) miss out on the invitation that they would otherwise have accepted (or worse, an invite being sent to some who definitely would not have been welcome). It sounds to me like profiling based on looks and name which is something that is usually frowned upon. Also, in hope that the thread doesn’t go off track, I’m asking this solely in the context of a work environment.

    1. Anonys*

      I think it’s probably best not to derail the discussion too much on this point but this isn’t an official company event, it’s “an informal conversation/meeting” organized by (a) Jewish employee(s). So I don’t think not having a 100% accurate invite list is a big deal.

      The organizers wouldn’t have a list of all employees and their religious and ethnic background (to be fair, I don’t think HR or the company has such information about employees either, unless people have asked for specific religious accommodations). They probably based who to invite mostly on who they know is Jewish from conversation but also included people like OP where it was assumed based on surname. So of course it’s very possible some employees with Jewish identity who have never mentioned it (to the organizers) and don’t have a Jewish sounding name have been left out. That happens. Often these types of invites also include a “please feel free to forward to anyone else this might be relevant for” caveat.

      Of course the whole complex around looks/identity/ethnicity is very complex, but I don’t see how someone from a marginalized ethnic group assuming someone who is white (I presume from the letter) is also part of that group is harmful or amounts to profiling. (Racial) profiling usually refers to state actors/security acting and enforcing (harmfully) based on assumptions made regarding appearance/ethnicity, so I don’t think it’s a term that really applies to the work environment at all. I think what you mean is less about profiling and more about making assumptions about ethnicity based on looks and name in general. But we all make those assumptions – while some people appear more ethnically ambiguous, anyone looking at me knows/correctly assumes I am white, anyone looking at my best friend knows/correctly assumes she is Asian. It’s discrimination/prejudice based on these assumptions that is wrong, not the observation itself.

      That being said, if they had accidentally invited a Palestinian employee to this safe space for Israelis (which I assume you mean by someone who would not be welcome) that would be very awkward but also seems unlikely.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Re your last paragraph, please don’t equate Jews to Israelis. In addition to being simply inaccurate, it feeds into harmful tropes about diaspora Jews’ “true loyalties.”

          1. fish*

            This fellow may identify however he likes; however, in general “Palestinian Jew” is typically a term used by non-Jews or Jews who are not from a middle eastern background, to make a political point. Something about Jews being a sort of subcategory of Palestinians rather than an independent people with their own identity.

            Most Jews with recent middle eastern roots would call ourselves Sephardic or Mizrahi, and would consider “Palestinian Jew” an inaccurate at best, offensive at worst term, for the reasons described above.

            If you are talking about us please use our own terms for us. I know of no more than a handful of Sephardim or Mizrahim who honestly kind of set themselves up as political tokens, who use that term.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Not to mention, about 1/5th of the people living in Israel (excluding Gaza and the West Bank) are Muslim.

          It’s complicated.

      2. Think About It*

        I am a very light skinned Black american who has been mistaken for white more times than I can count. Assumptions can and are often wrong and folks ought to be very careful doing this as the observation generally comes with prejudices and assumptions, otherwise why even bother making the observation? I have had racist white people make racist remarks in my presence assuming I’m sympathetic because I’m white like them (it’s so much fun getting them told).

        The invite should have been sent to all with the criteria to self-select in. People marry, changes names for other reasons, can’t go by that either. OP should definitely provide feedback.

        I don’t get equating Israelis to being Jewish as though there are no Jews anywhere else.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          “I don’t get equating Israelis to being Jewish as though there are no Jews anywhere else”

          Including in Palestine, for the record.

        2. LifeBeforeCorona*

          Years ago I formally converted to Judaism, for personal and religious reasons. It was a private choice that few people are aware of unless I mention it. I’ve heard many sentiments over the years and it’s best not to disparage any race, religion or ethnicity because you never know whom you could be insulting.

      3. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Other people have called out the problem in your last paragraph – but please be careful about how you’re labeling people and assuming their allegiances or personal feelings, especially right now, but always.

        And that point is also why organizing a group this way isn’t great. Sure, we observe phenotypical traits that are typically associated with different ethnic or racial backgrounds, but this isn’t about observing it’s about taking action based on these assumptions. Being excluded from what seems to amount to an ERG based on not seeming “Jewish enough”, especially if someone is currently struggling, could be a really big deal. I don’t mean “legally actionable” – but I don’t like the tone of your comment, it’s very dismissive of the intent of this group and the problematic nature of how it’s been organized and how that could really impact people.

        Also HR does often have that data, for the record. They wouldn’t share it for something like this but they often have it.

        1. Purpleshark*

          “Also HR does often have that data, for the record. They wouldn’t share it for something like this but they often have it.”

          Do they though? I work at a US public school and we don’t have that category specifically. They indicate White/Caucasian if they identify as Jewish. We don’t have a category that specifies that because Jewish is an ethnicity, not a race. At least this is true in the US. I have never seen a question that asks this – not even my taxes. And now specifying your race is even optional.

          1. iglwif*

            They might, because you can have all kinds of categories for people to self-select into if they want.

            But there’s certainly no reason to assume they do.

            1. Purpleshark*

              Right, but for our purposes they still put that category. In general, the categories have nothing to do with skin color. This is why there is a tremendous amount of controversy surrounding what people are categorized as in contrast to what they identify as. The categories are narrow so many are left wondering what to put if they don’t identify as any of those.

              1. Dahlia*

                Do they??? You have Black Jewish people selecting “white” instead of Black on your forms???


              2. iglwif*

                I have my doubts that, for example, Black Jews or Ethiopian Jews or Iraqi Jews are ticking the “white/caucasian” box. That makes no sense at all.

                (FTR, I am white and also Jewish, and I tick the “white” box and write in “Ashkenazi Jewish” if there’s an “other” option.)

        2. Sneaky Squirrel*

          I’m not sure I would say that HR “often” has data on religious background. I’m not aware of any self-disclosure forms that ask for religious background nor have I ever been asked to complete that data on behalf of our employees for any legal reporting purposes. HR often collects race, ethnicity, gender identity but not religious background unless they’re working with you to make an accommodation.

        3. Nightengale*

          Maybe? I don’t think our HR collects religion data or if it does it is extremely opt-in. They do collect gender data. One day I got an e-mail opting me into the Women Physician ERG because I was marked in the system as both a woman and a physician. While I am a woman, I did not appreciate being put into the group and I can only guess how the email would have landed for someone who still has an F gender marker with their employment information but does not identify clearly as a woman. It took me some time to get off the list and to make what I HOPE was a convincing case that information should be sent to everyone (regardless of gender marker) but that enrollment should be opt-in rather than opt-out.

      4. Stopgap*

        Why would you assume that they mean Palestinians by someone who isn’t welcome? It’s not like antisemetic violence is specifically a Palestinian thing.

      5. Jessica*

        I don’t know how to explain to you that:

        A) Not all Jews are Israeli, what the ever-loving f***.

        B) Most Jews–even those of us who vehemently oppose the occupation and are frustrated by the assumption that we should have opinions (or have to answer for!) every detail of the policies and actions of a nation we don’t live in, don’t vote in, and don’t pay taxes in–are very much affected by the current events because it’s set off a *worldwide wave of antisemitism,* including antisemitic violence.

        This isn’t about “safe spaces” for Israelis. This is about being Jewish and being on social media, encountering discussions about what’s going on at every turn by gentiles who are generally deeply ignorant about everything from Jewishness to the history of the region to the relationship between American Jews and Israel, getting messages from our synagogues and community centers and day schools that there have been threats, etc. It’s *exhausting* just to be Jewish right now, and all of that is even before you get to whether an individual Jew has friends or family in Israel.

        Regardless of our position on the state of Israel, we’re almost all tired and scared and grieving.

        C) You say you’re white, but don’t say you’re Jewish, so I’m assuming you’re not. So maybe stop gentilesplaining ethnic profiling to members of a group that *actually gets profiled and is sometimes in physical danger because of physical appearance.*

        D) The conflation of “Jews” with “Israelis” is a big part of what’s behind that wave of antisemitism and violence, so please stop being part of the problem.

        You very clearly have very little understanding of any of the issues involved here, so maybe stop talking and start learning.

        1. Christabell*

          I want to offer whatever support I can here. My husband and I are both Catholic (not really practicing but brought up in it) but he has Jewish heritage. Our last name is a traditionally Jewish one and a lot of people look at him and assume that he’s Jewish. I’ve been there when people have said to us in conversation things like, “well, you’re Jewish, so you know what I mean” and then he has to explain that he’s actually not. It’s never offensive unless someone targets him (which did happen at least once that I know of). He’s stressing right now about what’s going on over there and what could happen over here as a result, and I’m trying to learn as much as I can about the history and the current events. I just want to say that I’m sorry for any stress this is causing you. I want to be an ally in any way that I can. And I’m sure everything I just typed sounds so stupid. So I’m sorry for that too.

      6. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

        I’d assumed they meant anti-Semites by “people who are not welcome”, not Palestinians. There may be Palestinian Jews and so on.

        1. fish*

          In general “Palestinian Jew” is typically a term used by non-Jews or Jews who are not from a middle eastern background, to make a political point. Something about Jews being a sort of subcategory of Palestinians rather than an independent people with their own identity.

          Most Jews with recent middle eastern roots would call ourselves Sephardic or Mizrahi, and would consider “Palestinian Jew” an inaccurate at best, offensive at worst term, for the reasons described above.

          If you are talking about us please use our own terms for us. I know of no more than a handful of Sephardim or Mizrahim who honestly kind of set themselves up as political tokens, who use that term.

    2. Cedrus Libani*

      I assume that there was some…manual curation in this particular case. Thinking back to the past few jobs I’ve had, not counting the startup that could barely spell HR, but the others that had tens of thousands of employees, I recall being given the opportunity to disclose a variety of identities that would get me put on a mailing list with occasional special invites like this.

      1. Selena81*

        In the large organizations I was in we’d get regular (2-3x year) company-wide reminders that the intranet had special-interest groups that you could join. Leaving it to the employees themselves to figure out if there was anything on that list of groups they identified with.

        I think doing it like that (company-wide and self-selection) does make the most sense, but it only works in very large companies.

        1. Lady_Lessa*

          Could a company wide invite, but include something uniquely ethnic help ? I’m thinking of saying that a study group would end with praying the Rosary. That would identify the group as being aimed toward Catholics. (FYI, I am a Catholic.)

            1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

              Maybe to open it to people who want to pray the rosary but aren’t necessarily Catholic?

              1. Think About It*

                Praying the Rosary is an entire thing and not something done casually or easily. I doubt many non-Catholics would be interested.

                1. Lady_Lessa*

                  That is why I suggested as an easy, self selecting way, without someone else deciding who might be interested and/or appropriate for the group.

                2. KateM*

                  TBH, being non-religious, I would just think “oh, as this will be at the end of study group, I will just say goodbyes before they start praying (or sit patiently while they are doing it)”. After all, I took my kid to a baby group run by a church, too, and it started with a little “thank you God for this and that” song and that was all that it had to do with religion.

              2. Jessica*

                So, Catholics, help me out here, because I’m Jewish, and since Judaism is a closed tradition that doesn’t evangelize, our attitudes toward participation from non-Jews are probably different from Catholics’.

                But my understanding is that there are some similarities in that Catholicism is something you have to be either baptized into or convert into, and that while non-Catholics are welcome to attend Catholic services, there are rituals that non-Catholics are not supposed to participate in, like taking communion.

                Is praying the Rosary one of those types of rituals?

                1. Lady_Lessa*

                  It is a fairly long prayer that uses beads to keep track of the number of repetitions of the same prayer. Since a single rosary has 50 repetitions in groups of 10 each, beads definitely help. I generally dislike it because of the repetitions (I’m a convert from the evangelical branch of Christianity.)

                  Any one can pray it, but it is fairly unique to Catholicism, that is why I chose it as an example that can help people self select in or out of a group activity.

                2. Christabell*

                  As a Catholic (who has not been to mass in a long time but was baptized, confirmed, etc)… Praying the rosary takes a long time. I don’t know how much you know so I’m not trying to be condescending. Every bead represents a prayer. So you hold a specific bead and recite the prayer, silently or out loud, then you move on to the next bead and recite the prayer. In order to pray the rosary you need to know the prayers, basically. You could read them off a paper but most Catholics had to memorize them as part of Sunday School as kids and a lot of them are part of Sunday mass, so even though I haven’t said them verbatim in a long time I could call them up easily.

                  I don’t know why anyone would be excluded from praying it as a non-Catholic. It’s kind of a solitary thing, unlike taking communion at mass. I know there are prayer groups that might pray it “together” but I’ve never been to one. I imagine them sitting together with their individual beads and doing it silently. My grandmother would do it when there were times of distress, like a very sick family member. It’s like a meditative thing.

                  If a Jewish friend wanted to learn about it, I’d be happy to show them.

                  Does any of that make any sense?

                3. doreen*

                  It’s not something that non-Catholics are not supposed to participate in , it’s something that most non-Catholics wouldn’t participate in because most non-Catholics don’t ever use a couple of the prayers ( the Hail Mary and Salve Regina).

                4. STAT!*

                  To Christabel: where I was brought up (suburban Australia) praying the rosary was very much a group thing! There was a little shrine of Our Lady that got circulated around the parish. Families would put their names down for it, & your address would be printed in the parish newsletter. Sometimes random parishioners you’d never met before would turn up in the evening to say the rosary, but mostly you’d invite in friends & neighbours you knew were Catholic. We recited the prayers aloud, with a leader doing the first parts & the group doing the second part. The best bit for us kids was jumping up at the end to blow out the candles!

                  And as doreen says, the prayers are all Marian: actually the whole thing revolves around the Joyful, Sorrowful & Glorious events of Mary’s life.

                5. Retired Accountant*

                  It’s not closed to non-Catholics, but generally speaking Protestants would not consider praying the Hail Mary, as they do not pray to saints. I assume non-Christians would not have much interest in praying to a Christian God or Christian saints. But it’s not a sacrament as the Eucharist is, and I’m not aware of a reason that non-Catholics would be excluded from it.

          1. Snow Globe*

            With a company-wide group, it would be best to just say it straight out without using some type of coded language hoping people guess what it means.

            1. amoeba*

              Yup. You can always just openly state if the group is also open to allies/people who want to know more about that culture/religion, even if they’re not members/etc.. No need to make up weird criteria to avoid naming the actual purpose?

          2. She of Many Hats*

            History Lesson: Way back when Christianity was only Catholic saying the rosary was a universal thing but with the segmenting of believers (Lutherans, Calvinist, Baptists etc), only Papists (Christians who looked to the Pope in Rome i.e. Catholics) kept the rosary as part of their prayer rituals. It became a symbol of being Catholic and therefore not encouraged by those other religions. Today, some non-Catholics will say the rosary as a meditative form of prayer or in community with Catholics.

            1. Trying to be Helpful not Pedantic!*

              I don’t think this is intentional but “Papist” is, in the US at least, seen as a derogatory term towards Catholics, not just a general term for people who recognize the Catholic Pope as their spiritual leader- also “Christianity was only Catholic” is not a historical time period, so says the Christian East at least :)

              1. Lady_Lessa*

                +10, says one who likes the Orthodox icons and tries to support their churches when they have festivals.

        2. UKDancer*

          My large company is similar. When people joined they were given a list of the major staff networks in case they were interested. Most of the networks post articles on the Intranet at intervals too which raises awareness of what they do.

          So it’s very much on an opt in basis.

          1. ferrina*

            Yep, my mid-size company does the same. It lets people opt in, and it means we don’t make assumptions about who is/isn’t part of a certain population if they haven’t told us.

          2. londonedit*

            Yep, that’s what we do. We have lists of the various networks on the company intranet, and periodically we’ll get an email to all staff reminding everyone that we have mental health/BAME/parents and carers/LGBTQ+/disability networks etc and inviting people to join a network if it’s appropriate for them. Totally opt-in. Sometimes the networks will host events that non-network people can take part in (like if it’s Pride Month or Black History Month), or publish articles on the intranet relating to what they do, but you can keep your own membership of a network confidential outside of that network if you want to. Might be a good idea for the OP’s company to think about doing something similar, then the Jewish Network would just be one of several and it’d be for people to opt in themselves.

            1. UKDancer*

              I think it’s the best way. Some people are more interested in doing things with a network than others whether or not they are part of the group in question.

            2. Rainbow*

              I agree with this. If you want a space specifically for Jews you still have to say, as most ERGs may have allies tagging along to occasional events. For example, my colleague comes to certain LGBTQ+ events sometimes with her boyfriend who also works at the company, and he is bi.

              I made the mistake of asking her whether she’d be interested in presenting a seminar for queer llama-groomers and she politely declined saying she was only an ally. I had had no idea :)

    3. Coverage Associate*

      I have a first and last name that read Jewish. My mother is not Jewish, but took Dad’s name when they married. Both Mom and I get emails from Jewish organizations that have just searched the internet and large employers for particular last names. My has similar experiences (while having Jewish Israeli relatives). A friend of ours went to the same first event of a new Jewish organization haven gotten the same email out of the blue, again probably just based on the name.

      The organizations aren’t sharing lists because I never sign up for Jewish organizations through work, so I can stay in touch if I change jobs.

      My point is, if OP works for a large law firm, this is probably not the first time something like this has happened, even if it’s the first time it’s happened internally.

      And I agree that there probably was probably a “please forward” message.

    4. Lilo*

      It’s definitely something that happens, though. My Dad has dark curly hair and grew up in New York, so it wasn’t uncommon for us to be invited to things like Seder or High Holy Days services, usually by people my Dad worked with. My Dad always very gently notes that we aren’t Jewish but makes clear we’re open to attending things like open Seder dinner if it’s okay. My sister (who looks like Dad) lives in Miami and got a similar invite from a colleague. It may go beyond just look, like Dad would tell someone Happy New Year for Rosh Hashanah.

      I think Alison’s advice matches pretty well how Dad taught us to respond. Obviously this situation is a bit more delicate based on subject matter. You don’t invade a space but you also make clear the invitation isn’t unwelcome.

    5. I should really pick a name*

      I’d be concerned if the company had an official list of people’s religions.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        You shouldn’t necessarily be concerned. I worked at government agencies where people were asked if they self-identified as a lot of different things. The purpose was no more nefarious than making sure there were employee resource groups available for those who self-identified as a particular racial, ethnic, religious, or LGBT minority group. Filling out the form was not mandatory.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          ^ This is pretty common, even outside government agencies. Always go with your own personal comfort, of course, but it’s not unusual to be asked or for this information to exist somewhere.

          1. Jessica*

            There was a field for religion in the new patient intake form I recently filled out a doctor’s office. As long as it’s optional and confidential, I don’t think it’s automatically sus.

            1. Michelle Smith*

              Yep, I regularly get care at a hospital system that was historically religious but is no longer affiliated with any particular group. They have the same question on their forms. I’ve never asked about it but I assume it’s in case something happens to me while in the hospital, they’ll know what kind of priest or religious leader to contact to do their thing. I just smile and decline to have a religion added when asked and no one has ever pushed me to put something down.

              1. Retired Accountant*

                I asked about that because it seems to come up a lot more frequently than in the past, and was part of every intake questionnaire. I was told it was for Jehovah’s Witnesses with respect to blood transfusions.

    6. PK*

      I agree that in a work context in particular, sorting through last names is a strange way to get to your audience. Why not just announce that there’s a group for Jews who are interested in talking? Where I work, someone emailed all the people of color for a safe space meeting and they missed inviting a few people (based on looks) who were hurt.

      (I would have loved to see this invite go to my cousin’s wife who is Korean but who took her husband’s unmistakably Jewish last name.)

      The LW is patient and kind.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        “Why not just announce that there’s a group for Jews who are interested in talking?”

        That would not feel safe to me right now. It would not feel emotional/psychically safe because I would be concerned about an anti-Semitic response to the announcement and it would not feel physically safe because I would worry about advertising that a group of Jews would be in a specific place at a specific time (assuming this is a physical gathering).

        I’m in the US.

          1. Jay (no, the other one)*

            There is no perfect solution. If it were up to me, I would send a note privately to people I trust with the option/request to forward it as they see fit. Yes, some people will be missed and some people may be on the list who aren’t Jewish. And if there’s one thing I am sure of it’s that there would be disagreement within the Jewish community. I’m reminded of the listening sessions my org did after George Floyd was murdered. One of my Black colleagues said she really appreciated it when we reached out to her. Another said she wanted work to be an escape from everything and did not want anyone to reach out. No group is a monolith.

            1. Salsa Your Face*

              Two Jews, three opinions.

              I don’t love the idea of being on a list of Jewish people. I’m already dealing with the news of the 23andme leak, which I’ve used, and the idea of being on that list, with my home address, scares the heck out of me. I don’t like the idea of people going around tallying up all the known or suspected Jews.

              1. Jay (no, the other one)*

                Yup. I totally get that. Probably best to keep it out of work altogether except for private conversations with people we know well.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          I’m sorry for the anxiety you’re dealing with right now.

          My concern is that if the way recruitment for this group is happening right now is hitting random non-Jewish folks on the invite list, that risk still exists, albeit in a much smaller way. I’m not sure what the solution is but it doesn’t seem like this is it.

      2. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Missed the comment about your cousin’s wife. My cousin’s wife is Chinese/American. The year after they were married, she was in grad school and apparently confounded the professor who asked them to raise their hands if they needed to leave class early for Passover seder. She didn’t convert but NOBODY was late to my grandmother’s seder.

      3. iglwif*

        Jewish person with a definitely non-Jewish last name over here.

        There are a lot of ways that an informal invite list like this could have been curated — at a company with 40-ish Jewish employees, some of those employees are going to naturally find each other (this one’s wearing a hamsa necklace, that one wears a kippa, these two notice they’re both taking the same days off in September, these other two recognize each other’s given names as Jewish in origin … the possibilities are endless). I am 100% sure that “has a Jewish-sounding last name” and “looks Jewish” are sometimes part of the equation, but they’re not going to be the whole thing.

        But when you’re putting together an event like this I’m guessing you also don’t want to accidentally miss anyone who would want to be included, and so you send the invite to LW3 just in case. That’s my theory.

      4. Bookmark*

        My experience of these things is that informal networks form of people in a minority group, who tend to be conscious of traits/behavior/etc that are associated with membership in their minority group. An analogous situation would be how LGBT people tend to identify each other. Sure, in spaces that have made formal efforts around inclusion there are probably affinity groups and mailing lists that people can self-select to join, but in others it may not feel so comfortable setting up or participating in something that highlights a minority identity. So they form organically, and there are inevitably going to be people accidentally left out, or accidentally included. My own experience of being mistaken for Jewish at work was a coworker sending me an IM out of the blue asking if I was a MOT.

      5. Layers of anonymity*

        I’m Jewish. I have a *very* obviously Jewish name -one that is exclusively recognized as such by Jews and antisemites. I also look very stereotypically Ashkenazi. So, y’know. Intracommunity privilege and all, but… if I saw an event like that, I’d find it terrifying, not helpful. “Hey, everyone! We’re trying to get all of our Jewish employees in one place at one time! Here’s where and when they’ll be! Do with that information what you will! ;)”

        Even if it’s online and not in person, I’m already dealing with enough verbal harassment on the internet. Enough community security stuff and zoombombing in services. I’m actively avoiding talking about the situation with my non-Jewish *friends* because I don’t feel safe enough -like hell am I signing up to subject myself to that from colleagues. Gets worse the larger the company is, because the more people there are, the more of a guarantee there is that there’ll be people with very fixed and mutually incompatible settings for what the “good kind of Jew” feels about Israel, and all of them treat refusal to play the game as confirmation of being the “bad kind of Jew,” which they then use to justify antisemitism.

        This is something that would scare me for a positive gathering. It’s panic-inducing for something this bad.

    7. doreen*

      Yes, they are going to miss people who don’t have a Jewish-sounding name and don’t look Jewish – and they are going to invite people like me, who have a Jewish sounding name and /or a Mediterranean complexion ( I got my German father’s name and my Italian mother’s complexion – and I live in NYC). It’s not going to be looked as as “profiling” because profiling usually involves something negative in some way. This is more like sending an invitation to join ethnically-based fraternal groups based on name – maybe not the best way to publicize it, because you will miss a lot of people ( people with, for example, Italian ancestry and Chinese surnames) and include a lot of people you didn’t mean to ( “Rosa” is a surname in multiple ethnic groups ) but people don’t generally find it offensive.

      1. Think About It*

        Profiling doesn’t have to be negative. It’s just categorizing folks based on external characteristics. Racial profiling is usually meant in the context of assuming all black men are criminals or “fit the description”, so yes it is negative. But otherwise,not necessarily.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          The definition isn’t negative. I’d say that at this point, the connotations of the term “racial profiling” are definitely negative.

    8. Eff Walsingham*

      If the invitation was sent via email and the OP has a fairly common last name, I could see this as being a simple emailing error. In a large company, how often do people end up copying Sarah Cohen in IT when they meant to include Simon Cohen in accounting? But the advice still works, because no umbrage is being taken.

    9. HannahS*

      For context for those on this thread who are missing it:

      1. Why isn’t there a list of Jews that the employer could use to correctly identify who should be sent this invitation?
      Many Jews don’t want to be officially listed on employer databases as Jewish, or even on national censuses, and will decline to identify themselves. In case you’ve forgotten, powerful people having a handy list of all the Jews has, historically, endangered us all. Even if such a list existed at this employer, employees should not be able to request access. HR might know, but this was an employee-organized event.

      2. Why is this traveling through word of mouth and assumption?
      Those of us who aren’t obviously Jewish by our clothing identify each other by name and “look,” and then drop hints. It’s not perfect, and there are important inter-community discussions about what it feels like to not be read as Jewish by other Jews. Again, for reasons that I hope are obvious, going up to someone and asking if they are Jewish is often frightening.

      3. Why couldn’t this just be publicly announced, and then anyone Jewish could go?
      Events that involve gatherings of Jews can result in increased violence and antisemitism. It is standard for synagogues and community Jewish gatherings to hire security. Arranging things without non-Jews knowing that we are meeting is a way for us to protect ourselves, both to shield from physical threats, and to reduce accusations of conspiracy (you can read about the roots of the word “cabal” if you are interested in learning more.)

      4. Is this profiling?
      Members of a marginalized group trying to find each other without attracting hate and violence is not profiling.

      1. iglwif*

        Thank you.

        I sometimes have to drop quite a lot of hints because I have had a non-Jewish last name all my life (both bio father and spouse were/are not Jewish), my given name isn’t obviously Jewish, and I don’t necessarily look the way people expect a Jew to look.* There’s an art to it, and people sometimes get it wrong, and it doesn’t always feel safe to even try.

        In no way is it ever going to feel safe or advisable for Jews to all be on a list that’s accessible to the world. It astounds me that we even have to say this.

        *Let’s please remember that both Jews-by-birth and Jews-by-choice come in all races/colours/etc.

        1. Ali + Nino*

          *Let’s please remember that both Jews-by-birth and Jews-by-choice come in all races/colours/etc. –> 100%!!!

        2. Jessica*

          “*Let’s please remember that both Jews-by-birth and Jews-by-choice come in all races/colours/etc”


        3. Wry*

          Just popping in to say same and I totally feel you. As a blond-haired blue-eyed Jew who has my non-Jewish father’s last name and a first name my parents plucked from a French film, I’ve spend my entire life feeling like I need to justify my Jewishness and am not easily identified by other Jews as one of them compared to people who look the part or have Jewish-sounding names. It’s frustrating, and I also know that it’s even more frustrating for, for example, Black Jews and other ethnic minority Jews to feel that sense of belonging among a community that uses certain markers to identify each other. We’re all struggling right now and this sort of thing just makes it harder.

      2. John Smith*

        Can I just say, I’m absolutely horrified that anyone has to go to such lengths. I’ll admit that, being gay, point 2 brought a wry grin to my face as it reminded me of conversations “can you tell if someone’s gay” and so on that I’ve had and the various techniques ive seen by fellow gays in the past using to let each other know they’re, ahem, “interested”. I simply do not get why there’s is so much hatred and prejudice in this world that Jews, indeed anyone, has to hide who they are. So, so sad.

        1. fish*

          Yes as someone who’s both gay and Jewish, gaydar and Jewdar can function very similarly.

          There’s often a lot of reasons you don’t just ask or make a company-wide announcement.

      3. MigraineMonth*

        Very well put.

        Someone experiencing trauma is trying to reach out to others in their community to get and offer support. OP isn’t hurt or offended, they just want a script to decline. Let’s not get all get caught up in trying to fix a problem that isn’t there.

        1. Smurfette*

          Agreed. This is not an event where the organiser had the luxury of lots of planning time. They were undoubtedly doing the best they could with the resources available.

      4. Hrodvitnir*

        As someone who is in zero relevant groups (American, Jewish, links to Israel/Palestine): this is a perfect comment. Especially the last part.

        I felt obligated to look into the details before engaging anything online, and my heart just hurts.

      5. fish*

        +1 this is the answer

        You just kind of feel things out because sometimes that’s all that feels safe

        1. fish*

          Funny story: this once spectacularly backfired to me. A coworker had described a lot of Jewish-sounding things in her background, yet just did not seem Jewish to me. I just couldn’t tell!

          So one day when she asked my weekend plans, I said my spouse and I were going to light candles, have a nice relaxing dinner etc. In my mind I’m obviously describing Shabbat.

          She thought I was describing a romantic getaway and told me to “make sure you love up on each other.” I about died.

          (Later found out she was not remotely Jewish, but of another small middle eastern minority religious background and it all made sense.)

    10. soontoberetired*

      I have had this discussion on names with someone who insists anyone with a certain spelling of a name is jewish (she’s jewish, btw). And I told her in my neck of the woods it just means they are german. There are a million different spellings of that name, and it has more to do with where your ancestors came into the US, than where you were from. You just can’t assume based on a name. I can think of 3 german names that have multiple spellings and it all goes back to what the immigration officials did, nothing else.

      1. Lydia*

        I’ve had a couple people ask me if I’m Jewish based on my last name, which I thought was just an Americanized spelling of a not uncommon German last name. For us, the Americanization happened two generations after immigration by my great grandfather for whatever reason. There is no perfect system.

        1. 1-800-BrownCow*

          My maiden name is Scandinavian, however it was “Americanized” (by dropping the ending) when my ancestor’s came over, making it very similar to an “Americanized” version of a Eastern European Jewish last name (by changing the spelling). We didn’t know this growing up as we lived in a very rural area was mostly settled by Scandinavians and other Northern/Western Europeans, so no one ever questioned it. But when my brother and I both left the area for college, we met a few people who thought we might be Jewish, even with our blonde hair and blue eyes, just because of our last name.

      2. Caramel & Cheddar*

        I grew up with a German last name and was surprised the first time someone asked me if I was Jewish based solely on my last name. So many names that people assume are Jewish definitely overlap with German names, so I’ve never understood making assumptions based on this.

        1. Anon for this*

          My spouse is still searching for a polite way to say, “I’m not Jewish, this is just my nose!” It is also his father’s nose. As far as we all know, they’re Wayback Irish. It is a lovely, strong, distinguished feature, and it suits their faces.

          People also seem comfortable saying to me, “He’s part Jewish, right?” or “Is it his mother or father who’s Jewish?” or something of that sort. Usually it comes right out of the blue, and I stammer out, “Er, no.” or “Neither.” and feel incredibly dumb and awkward about how I’m handling it.

    11. Ticotac*

      The OP said that they usually correct people if it seems like Jewish people are trying to connect with him based on being Jewish, but “sometimes I’ll just say nothing.” It’s very possible, then, that the person who organized the meeting heard someone refer to OP as Jewish, saw that OP didn’t correct them, and assumed that OP didn’t correct them because OP is, in fact, Jewish.

    12. Era*

      A lot of this thread seems to cover what would be the best way of handling an event like this — but I would hazard a guess that anyone putting in the effort to organize a space for Jewish people to process their reactions to current events is likely having a few reactions themselves and may not be at their peak. With that in mind, I have to say I think this was a reasonable way of handling it. A little over-broad to not miss people the organizer didn’t personally know, still curated to make everyone feel as safe as possible, with words in the invitation to make it clear who it was specifically targeted at.

      1. Jessica*

        I mean, also, a lot of this is acting like this is a formal company initiative, with HR involved, and there’s a lot of discussion about whether or not companies should keep lists of employees’ ethnicities and all that.

        All of that is irrelevant. None of that is what’s going on here. What the LW described is *informal,* and it’s being spread by *other employees.* It’s not an Official Company Thing.

        Jews are allowed to try to connect with other Jews in their workplaces. We’re allowed to get together and try to support each other when something happens that most of us are going to find stressful/upsetting/traumatic/dangerous.

        Jews in the LW’s workplace decided to get together and support each other. A Jewish coworker mistakenly assumed the LW was Jewish and invited them. The LW just wanted a polite way to decline.

        None of this is something that requires company policy. Frankly, it’s something the company should not interfere with at all.

    13. Itsa Me, Mario*

      I belong to a marginalized group which isn’t associated with phenotypes, surnames, or any “visible” means of guessing whether someone belongs to this group or not. It’s also a group where it would not be proper for HR or the DEI team to share a list of employees who belong to this group, even if only to community leaders for a benevolent reason like the one in this situation.

      We are left doing it on a word of mouth basis, or encouraging people to voluntarily self-identify through membership in employee groups, joining certain Slack channels, etc.

      Events like the one mentioned are a great reason for a company to have a system of Employee Resource Groups. Membership in these groups is voluntary, but it means that when things like this happen, information about decompression sessions or other resources can be easily shared with people who’ve already come forward as being interested in participating in this sort of thing. In addition, the “please circulate this to relevant folks we may not have reached” works well in that context. Since most people involved in the ERG know others who may want to attend an event like this, even if they’re not an active group member.

    14. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      This is a fair point. My best friend is Jewish, on her mother’s side and she has virtually no relationship with her dad. But she had her dad’s last name before marriage, and her ex-husband’s name now … neither Jewish sounding. And she does not look stereotypically Jewish at all. Most people do not know that she is Jewish and that she has close family in Israel right now.

  7. Roland*

    OP2 – if your schooling has been compatible with your job hours so far, maybe try leaveimg it off your resume and apply to similar jobs?

    1. ecnaseener*

      +1 leave it off for unrelated jobs, since it doesn’t sound like it’s explaining any gaps or anything.

      1. Anon in Canada*

        Yes, this. Leaving a degree off isn’t lying. Only listing the school name with no program/major will just invite questions about what you’re studying, and once the question is asked, you can’t lie to that, so it’s best to leave it off completely. The main caveat with that is if leaving the degree off creates a big, recent gap on the resume, but in this case since LW already had a job, it seems unlikely to be an issue.

    2. Butterfly Counter*

      Also, OP2 might consider temping?

      It’s not glamorous and depending on your skillset may not pay well, but they don’t expect long-term employees. And there are some temp jobs that have pretty standard office work with an open-ended stop date.

      1. Ama*

        I do think temp work might be the best way to go here — OP can inform the temp agency that they are interested in longer term assignments. I’ve worked at several places that brought in clerical temps to help with long term projects, or to cover a position where someone was on medical leave, and even once when the intention was to eventually have a new full time position but HR’s process for getting a new position approved was known to take almost a year and the workload couldn’t wait.

  8. Lucy H*

    #LW5, I wouldn’t have gone ahead either. If they open a position next year, you will be a year better qualified/more experienced, so could give a better interview at the time anyway. You wouldn’t want then relying on memories of a year old interview. At least they were honest, although I think they should have held off appointing until they’d completed their interviews. They might have missed out on a better candidate!

    1. ferrina*

      Agree. Especially since OP says that they previously did a round of interviews. They would already have a sense of who OP is and what skills they have, and I’m not sure what the additional interviews would have done to make them more memorable. This just feels like a misguided attempt to hold to a commitment to interview.

    2. tamarack etc.*

      Me neither, and I agree with Alison’s advice. If the employer wanted to have or offer to LW5 an informal conversation about potential future roles, they should have pivoted from “interview” to “1:1 call with the hiring manager [or whoever oversees the function they’re hiring for] at some later date”.

  9. Green great dragon*

    It’s so easy to hit unfollow when you’re scrolling on a phone! Or to ‘like things you really don’t.

    1. londonedit*

      Especially now with the ‘tap twice to like’ thing. I’m forever accidentally liking random adverts or sponsored posts that I really don’t like at all, because I accidentally double-tap when I’m trying to scroll past. I’ve also done things like accidentally hitting ‘report post’ when I didn’t mean to! I can definitely see how you could unfollow someone without realising you’ve done it.

    2. Mister_L*

      I’m not on social media, but I can’t even count how often I ended up on the advertisement below a youtube video just from picking up my phone.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I actually think this is a feature, not a bug. They put the ads in lots of places you will accidentally click – I guess either out of the hope that if you see the landing page you’ll be interested, or so the site can show a higher click-through rate and charge advertisers more even though they’re mostly just accidents.

    3. Lily Rowan*

      Yeah, if I were that OP, I think I would re-follow the boss and see if they re-follow back. Then you can assume the unfollow was a mistake. If they don’t, *then* you can start thinking there is something behind it.

      1. Anna*

        Or that there is NOTHING behind it, but the boss just doesn’t use instagram regularly, doesn’t want to follow more people right now, etc. Please don’t overthink this- better to stay focused on work-related interactions with your boss.

    4. The OG Sleepless*

      I’ve accidentally sent FB friend requests to people by accident because they come up on “people you may know” and we have several friends in common. I click on their name to see what group of people we have in common and hit the button by mistake. Argh.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        One of my colleagues once accidentally sent a friend request to the then new principal. He meant to add him to the school’s Facebook page, which he ran, but friended him on his personal page instead. He said he was tempted to delete his entire account, especially as the principal accepted the request.

    5. Charlotte Lucas*

      Just last week a coworker accidentally unsubscribed from all work listservs. And in “don’t sign me up again without my permission” way. It was fun sorting that out.

    6. nm*

      I once blocked someone on a social media platform by dropping my phone on my face while lying down, and then couldn’t figure out how to undo it. So I just hoped he didn’t notice.

    7. I forgot my user name again*

      Something similar happened to me at work. I took it so personally until I heard my coworker who I was friendly with complain about the same type of thing happening with a different person. I realized how silly it sounded for adults to be worrying about these things. In the end it I believe
      it was accidentally anyway because we’re back to following each other

  10. Tweet tweet*

    Re. #1, Twitter (pre the muskrat infestation) used to unfriend my best friend for me every few months. Only her. I still don’t know why. I would only realise when either (a) I started wondering why she wasn’t posting or (b) she noticed and messaged me to ask if I hated her now (joking!) or if Twitter was doing the thing again.

    I don’t use Instagram but it’s very possible that something similar is happening. She probably hasn’t noticed.

    1. KateM*

      Too bad that”ages” have passed and OP has themselves and purposefully unfollowed their boss. It makes it rather difficult to go and ask “aw do you hate me now”.

        1. K8T*

          That’s weirder to me. Like if the boss truly unknowingly unfollowed OP, then she’ s going to be like “hm, weird, why did OP unfollow me in the firs place.” And then if the boss deliberately unfollowed OP, she won’t be enthused to see the notification.

          Boss shouldn’t be following any of you anyways – I’d just ignore it.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        I don’t think OP should have done anything differently honestly–maybe the boss unfollowed her by mistake but I don’t think it would be worth the awkwardness to outright say “hey, I noticed you aren’t following me anymore on instagram.”

    2. Smithy*

      Because I think there are 100% reasonable “no big deal” reasons for this unfollow – I think that it’s almost more important for the OP to trust their gut if something feels off and begin tracking other cases with their boss.

      Maybe what’s happening is more formal bullying that would ultimately connect to an employment lawyer or HR complaint. Or maybe what’s happening is just part of a systematic frostiness with their supervisor that’s indicative that while they won’t get fired, they’re also unlikely to be on a strong professional growth track either under this supervisor. If at any point they need to show cases of what’s happening, the Instagram unfollow won’t be the “a-ha!” evidence and it’s good for the OP to know that about the general public. But if that’s set off the OP’s spidey senses to be mindful of other things, there’s no reason to stop looking either.

      1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

        Disagree. OP sounds like they might have anxiety and if so, they cannot trust their gut. Their gut is full of anxiety lies.

        They jumped from the fact of “boss unfollowed me” to the emotional conclusion “boss must secretly hate me and is ostracizing me”, instead of the more measured and thoughtful, “hmm, I wonder why? oh, here are several banal reasons.” They have given no concrete reasons for thinking this (you know, actual behaviors of boss) only vague non-specific anxiety brain stuff.

        1. lost academic*

          This is very valuable advice, especially that anxiety makes you lie to yourself. Some useful advice also given to me years ago was “it’s actually a little arrogant to assume things are always about you” said with a smile – because it’s true! Forcing myself when my anxiety rears its head to pull up and say “it’s probably not about me in any way, lol” (and being in the capacity to do that) has really helped.

          Everything on the internet seems so intentional! But…. it’s not.

          1. Anna*

            Yeah, maybe the boss was paring down their list of instagram follows, but got interrupted partway through and didn’t get around to unfollowing the other coworkers. As someone who uses social media only sporadically and then tries to cut back periodically, that’s something I would do. It most likely has NOTHING to do with the LW.

  11. Holy Carp*


    Don’t ever believe that an “anonymous” employee feedback survey is really anonymous.

    I’ve been burned TWICE as an adult for believing that.

    Yes, I’m a slow learner.

    1. Snow Globe*

      Most of the time, they say that the feedback is “confidential”. People assume that means anonymous, but it does not. Just means that feedback isn’t shared publicly.

      1. iglwif*

        Surveys in places where I’ve worked have always said they’re anonymous. But like … sure, they don’t collect your name or your email or any other identifying information, but unless you work in a large team in an absolutely massive company, it’s very, very difficult — even with the best intentions on both sides — for your answers to be anonymous.

        People have distinctive writing styles. People have an idea of one another’s beliefs and opinions about the workplace.

        I’m not saying management is nefarious! But most if the time, if you really don’t want anyone to know a comment came from you, probably just don’t make that comment.

        1. Lydia*

          This. One of the work surveys from earlier this year was supposed to be anonymous, but asked which department I was in and what my title was. Now, there are some titles that many people have across many departments, but I am in a department of 5 people and the only one with my title. Even the vaguest part of my title (coordinator) would still tell them exactly who I was. I did not take that survey.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            Yeah, I had one once where I was one of two people who were at the same level and reported to our director. Any comments we made could clearly have been traced to us.

            On the other hand, I create online surveys, and there is a way to make them truly anonymous by removing iP addresses from any responses. But answerers to questions could still help identify people.

      2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        I’ve seen a lot that say they’re anonymous, right after explaining that each survey link is unique so please don’t forward it. Yeah right.

    2. ferrina*

      It REALLY depends on the company.

      I used to run these surveys, and there are certain ways that you can set it up to capture or avoid capturing data. Here’s some things to look out for:
      -Demographic questions. Answering one usually won’t out you, but when you answer a series it can lead to identifiers. A good survey will have the option to skip demographic questions; if demographics are required and there isn’t a “prefer not to answer” option, run.
      -Open-Ended questions. Keep it vague. If you have a distinct word-choice pattern or writing style, run your comment through Google Translate a couple times. Misspell things if you are a good speller; use meticulous spelling if you are a bad speller. Assume your open-eneded responses will be read verbatim and are able to be lined up with the answers to your demographic questions.
      -Survey links with built-in identifiers. Look for a ? in the link followed by a string of random characters. This can be a captured identifier. Copy the part of the link preceding the first ? and paste it into a new tab. This usually removes the identifier. NOTE: Always go to the “Edit Hyperlink/Copy Hyperlink” to see the full link. The link that appears in the text isn’t necessarily the full link, so you won’t always see the identifier.
      -Who has oversight on the survey. You won’t always know this, but you might be able to ask. It’s pretty normal that executives get access to the full results. Be wary of things that are run in-house; ask who will be seeing and analyzing the results. The person with admin access to the survey (i.e., the one that sets it up) almost always has access to the results. Make sure it’s someone that you trust.

      If you don’t feel safe, don’t take the survey. Or grey rock the survey- “I’m not sure” or “Agree” to every answer. People that analyze surveys HATE this and it can mess with the results, so only do this if you really hate the company. If you merely dislike them, be conveniently “too busy” or “forget” to take the survey.

      1. SpaceySteph*

        YES I also worked on these surveys for a time. Even amongst a large pool, once you answer demographic info and a few short answers, its VERY obvious who it is. Anything you put in that survey you should assume isn’t anonymous. Don’t put anything in there you wouldnt want attached to your name.

        We had someone report unwanted sexual advances from a colleague through the survey and management used the info in the survey to figure out both the victim and perpetrator.

    3. No Drama Llama*

      In an old job I got dragged into what I still call SurveyGate, where a subset of staff were using an anonymous survey intended for customers to air all manner of grievances about specific directors, managers, and teams.

      I was singled out by them as being someone who had been deeply wronged by one of their targets, I think because I was well-liked in the organization and they thought I would back them up. Instead, I was raked over the coals by HR and leadership as being somehow complicit and ended up having to do a lot of rebuilding of trust with higher ups!

      I actually believe that it was anonymous, but that made it worse since there was no way to prove that I wasn’t one of the malcontents! I still feel queasy when asked for “honest, anonymous input”.

  12. Selena81*

    I liked the thoughtful response that Allison gave to LW1. (I like that it’s generally acknowledged on this website that it is totally understandable that you freak out over anything that might jeopardize your job)

    Social media has given us a way to quantify popularity and social exclusion (following and liking), and it’s completely reasonable to notice and feel worried about getting shunned.
    At the same time a lot of people try-not-to-overthink their social media use, and end up accidentally liking a hateful post, or (un)following without much sense for professional etiquette.

  13. carly*

    LW3 – I have the same issue occasionally! My appearance and my husband’s surname separately don’t elicit anything, but I guess together they cross the threshold. I’ve never been sure what to do if it’s not overt – usually it’s subtle enough that I simply don’t respond to the hints and it doesn’t go any further. (Or later I drop a Christmas reference around the person.)

    1. Stay-at-Homesteader*

      I have a similar problem, which is compounded by the fact that I have a *lot* of Jewish friends and know a lot about Judaism (I actually considered converting at one point). It’s so awkward to thread the needle between not wanting to claim someone else’s identity and also not sound like you’re rejecting it/upset that they’ve mistaken you for one of their group. If someone makes a comment that makes it clear they’re expecting me to jump in to a convo/share an experience as a Jewish person, I really pleasantly say something like “oh, that sounds awesome/awful/meaningful. As a unitarian, that’s not something I’ve experienced!” It sounds simple but that’s a response I’ve come to after a lot of awkward conversations where people assume I’m celebrating a holiday and I’m just left unsure about how to respond without sounding like a killjoy, especially if it’s a tossed off comment as they’re on their way out the door.
      That said, that works for normal, less fraught situations. LW’s situation is a lot tougher due to the circumstances, and I really like Allison’s wording.

      1. never mind who I am*

        I too know a lot about Judaism, have heard more Jewish jokes than average, and I live in a fairly Orthodox Jewish neighborhood. If I know someone well enough, I say “I happen to be of the goyish faith.” That’s a fairly small group, though.

        The President/CEO of my institution sent out a message this morning, but to everyone in the organization.

      2. Bookmark*

        I have similar experiences, made more complicated because I am (very quietly and introspectively) considering conversion. But generally, people I’m interacting with don’t need to know the details of my spiritual journey in progress, so depending on the situation I’ll sometimes just leave it ambiguous or just smile and say something like “oh, I get that a lot, but my family isn’t Jewish.”

    2. 4Lemons*

      Same! When I get a sheepish apology, I just smile and tell them it happens all the time, or it’s just a quirk of being me ;-)

    3. Ann Onymous*

      My last name is actually German, but is assumed to be Jewish by a lot of people. I don’t get it in person as much (I look like my German and Scandinavian heritage), but for awhile my parents were getting a Jewish newspaper that they never subscribed to.

    4. CallMeAl*

      This happens to me as well, largely due to my social group, and in person I usually just go with “oh I’m actually not Jewish but [thanks for the invitation to Seder/I loved attending other people’s bat mitzvahs/moving right along].” I’d probably use more softening language if I were replying to this email, but during a more casual conversation I don’t think there’s any reason to avoid saying you aren’t Jewish!

    5. whatchamacallit*

      Yes this happens to me too! Usually a quick “Oh, I’m not Jewish” does the trick. The assumption has also mostly come from other Jewish people and I just try to make the tone kind of neutral surprised since I certainly don’t want it to sound like I am insulted in some way by being assumed to be Jewish.

  14. I should really pick a name*

    Consider it a blessing that your boss isn’t following you. I can only see downsides to it, no benefits.

    If you get the vibe your boss doesn’t like you, look into it, but try not to worry about this specific symptom.

    1. Anon in Canada*

      Yeah, boss/employee should never add each other on any form of social media. There are too many risks and it’s just poor etiquette. Other communication channels exist, like email and texting.

      1. BethDH*

        This depends a lot on your industry. In mine, it is very common for people to have mostly-professional accounts and these are used a lot for networking and keeping people informed about projects where email lists and such don’t exist. Many include some basic personal stuff and some people bleed their personal life into their professional one, but it would be weird for me not to follow my supervisor and vice versa.

        1. Anon in Canada*

          Does that mean that people have 2 accounts on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, though? A personal one and a professional one?

      2. Ama*

        I do actually wonder, given how inconsistent Instagram’s algorithm is these days, if for some reason OP’s posts were showing up in boss’s feed more than the other coworkers, and boss had a change of heart and decided to unfollow OP just because of the potential work complications but didn’t remember that they were still following the other coworkers because they don’t see their posts.

    2. Christina*

      I thought the same thing! I love my boss(es) but the idea of having to watch what I say in my social media because my boss is seeing everything I post gives me the most gigantic case of the willies. haha NO THANKS.

    3. jellied brains*

      I have a very firm rule that I do not add/follow/whatever anyone from work.

      Even though my Instagram is mostly photos of my cat or random animals I’ve seen on various hikes, it’s just not worth the hassle.

  15. Anon in Canada*

    LW2 – If you have had a part-time job throughout the time you have been in school, and the company you’re applying to doesn’t have jobs related to cybersecurity, you may want to leave your degree off your resume.

    Obviously this is only possible if doing so doesn’t generate a gigantic recent gap on your resume, and you don’t want to do this with a company where you may eventually apply to a job in your field (because they could react badly to a degree suddenly appearing on your resume when you’d left it off shortly beforehand).

    Falsifying the program/major would be lying, and you can’t do that. But leaving something off isn’t lying, and if that something is harming your job search, then you gotta do what you gotta do.

    Of course this could become tricky if your availability is limited.

    I have a degree (completed, not currently attending) that I’m not using, and since it’s in a pretty specific field that usually leads to a job in that field (not a humanities degree, for example), I leave it off. I had a part-time job through most of it, so the gap is mostly covered. It’s never been an issue.

  16. Delta Delta*

    #5 – the only possible upside I’d see to doing the interview is if something happened and the person they hired ended up not taking the position. But that’s a bit of a reach, as is “oh, we might hire you next year.” I think this is a great place to say thanks but no thanks, and to reapply in the event something else comes up that looks interesting.

  17. Anon in Canada*

    LW5 – if this is a medium or large size company, telling you that you’ll be fast-tracked through the interview process for a future opportunity is very likely to be a lie. This is something they say to be nice, but that they virtually never follow through on – companies of that size usually have rules they must follow when hiring, and that does not allow for going through past applicants like this. Future opportunities will be posted and all candidates, including you, will have to go through the standard process. I would only put any weight on that statement if this is a small organization.

    1. amoeba*

      Eh, not necessarily! I’ve applied to a very large pharma company in the past, did two interviews – they liked me but the timing didn’t work out. They told me that I should just contact the hiring manager (department director) by mail once my postdoc was finished and we could have an additional interview with that team and then see if it worked out. No need to go through the whole process again.

      Now, the guy was a bit slow in responding when I contacted him, so I’d ended up taking a different job in the meantime. But he did indeed suggest said interview and didn’t tell me to just apply all over again. It can happen! (Also, people are being headhunted as well in large companies, and they certainly don’t then have to go through HR screening, etc before talking to the hiring manager…)

      1. Hanani*

        And “fast track” can mean lots of different things – I once applied for a job and wasn’t hired, but the hiring manager reached back out when they had another opening and told me to use the same cover letter. Still would have had to go through the full interview process, but would have saved me the work of customizing a new cover letter. I appreciated it.

    2. Tortally HareBrained*

      I work in municipal government and if we have a similar (same category/job level) opening within 6 months of the previous interview we are able to use the same documentation to process candidates.

      1. Anon in Canada*

        Do you proactively contact previous applicants without them even having to apply, though? Or does “using the same documentation” only come into play if they apply for the job themselves?

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          My company proactively contacts old candidates or people whose resumes we have on file. It’s not an uncommon part of a recruitment pipeline.

          1. Anon in Canada*

            This idea is wild to me. Maybe it’s because I’ve worked at big companies…? I was always taught that “we’ll keep your resume on file” is just boilerplate that means they keep it on file due to recordkeeping requirements, and that “you’re on top of the pile for the next opening” was just something employers said to be nice, but in reality never follow through on unless maybe they’re small mom-and-pop organizations (and even then that was still a stretch).

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              I don’t think it’s specific to small organizations, it’s something I was told in grad school is a best practice for shortening search times and something that’s been built in to most places I’ve worked

            2. Change name for today*

              I don’t think it’s the size of the company, as much as the type of position. Example are some positions are more terminal with less advancement that people stay in for most of their careers so there is less chance of more openings or of there is a limited number of those positions total but others can have more future opening in an area that is expanding, or has more turnover from promotions or a more predictable with positions opening up.

              There is also a big difference between we will keep you on file if something opens up and, we anticipate another opening in 6 months to a year.

            3. Also in Canada*

              …I’m in Canada and I’ve been on the applicant end of this scenario at a large private-sector company. Got to the final round of interviews for one position, didn’t get an offer, then they reached out to have me interview for a kind of similar position in another department few weeks later. I’ve also seen this from the other side as well, in organizations of all sizes. Searches go sideways all the time, and sometimes reaching out to a strong alternate candidate for a related position is the fastest way of rounding out a pool of people to interview.

              While it’s to some extent boilerplate language, I think you’re also working with overly narrow assumptions about how companies require applicants to progress through the recruitment process.

    3. Happy meal with extra happy*

      Agreed with amoeba above, not necessarily true! My mom applied for a position at a very large national company, didn’t get it, and they told her they would keep her resume on file. A month or so later, they reached out to her about a new position, and she got it after getting to do a fast track version of their application process.

    4. Old hat*

      My thought is that if they have a similar posting, it’s likely that something is different enough that they might want to do the interview again anyway.

      This might be a different team composition, needing slightly different skills and wanting to ask more about those different skills, or enough time has passed (more than 6 months).

      If they were serious about LW, and not going through the motions, then would be trying to skip steps early in the process in future posting regardless of if LW did this additional interview. But I’m thinking this is rare and only for certain skill sets.

    5. TX_TRUCKER*

      My company has over 10,000 employees. We absolutely contact previous good applicants for similar vacancies within 6 months of their interview. We will make a job offer without an additional interview if it’s been less than 3 months.

  18. Bookworm*

    #5: I haven’t quite had this experience exactly–I’ve been asked to interview for another job after they filled the one I applied for but I do get your reasoning. Sometimes it has been extremely strange: for one org, the position was completely out of scope for my background and I had nothing that I could think of on my resume or the first interview for them to hire (I went in for an internship in making teapots and they asked me to return to interview for a FT job selling teacups–same org but different department and really different job).

    It could be they do think another position that is similar could open up or they really liked you and hoped they could find something somewhere but fumbled the execution. I think you were right to decline.

  19. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    View from the UK for number 2. I don’t know much about USA employment but for this site so please disregard if this doesn’t apply over the pond.

    I’m an IT manager with special interest in security and data management but my degree(s) are in an unrelated science field – that of virology. When circumstances meant I had to leave that field I wanted to go into IT.

    I got a LOT of the same questions you have. Why did I hold advanced degrees in virology and want to go to a low ranked job in an unrelated field? Because I needed a job!

    My degrees are still on my CV of course but I had to contact prospective employers when I applied for a long while to assure them that I’m not going to jump ship in several months and return to the labs.

    1. Anon in Canada*

      Would it be considered a major misstep in the UK to take a degree off your resume, if it is not related to the job you’re applying for?

      I’m sure conventions around this can vary by country, and Alison writes from a US perspective (which in the vast majority of cases also applies to Canada, but not necessarily to the UK). She’s made it clear before that leaving an unrelated degree off a resume is perfectly acceptable.

      Of course there can be complications with this and it’s not always workable, e.g. if leaving the degree off creates a huge recent gap, or if you worked in that field for many recent years and it’s clear you could not have had those jobs without the degree. However, in some cases there are no complications, like if the degree is very old, or you had a part-time job while in school that covers the gap (a resume does not state whether a job was full or part-time) and if you never worked in the field. My case fits into that, I took the degree off my resume a while ago, and it never came up as an issue.

  20. Addison DeWitt*

    “or she clicked unfollow by accident and doesn’t even realize it happened”

    If there’s not another obvious reason, that’s the likeliest one.

    1. Turquoisecow*

      Probably not likely in this case, but my old boss and I were Facebook friends until one day we weren’t. I didn’t say anything but at some point later he jokingly mentioned that I had unfriended him. I said that I had not. At first he didn’t believe me but eventually it came out that his wife had unfriended a bunch of people (mostly young women) for him. (I got the impression she was somewhat jealous of me because we spent a lot of time together and he probably talked about me a lot because I was his first (and for a while only) direct report). He apologized to me about it and seemed embarrassed but didn’t make the effort to reconnect and I didn’t request him because I figured if he had ended the connection it was up to him to reinstate it. We never did, but our working relationship was otherwise fine.

      I didn’t want to insert drama into his marriage anyway, and since his wife was apparently closely monitoring his account, I figure if I had friend requested him she might have declined it for him.

      I don’t think from the letter that this at all relates to OP’s case but there could be a situation where someone else gained access to the boss’s account without their knowledge.

      OP, I’d try following her again. Instagram will alert her she has a “new” follower, and if she doesn’t want to connect with you, she can decline, and if it was a mistake she might even be apologetic about it.

      1. K8T*

        I would NOT re-add her. It would make the situation so, so, so much more awkward and to be honest if the boss truly doesn’t want to follow her, adding her again doesn’t give her an out.

        OP – it’s a weird situation, but she shouldn’t have followed any of you in the first place. Just ignore it.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          Yeah, I would feel weird if I were in OPs shoes too… but I actually think it’s weird and not a good idea for the boss to follow her team on insta anyway!

      2. Sage*

        That is so fcked up! I would be tempted to ask if he needs help andletting him know that there is als help for male victims of domestic violence, in case he needs it.

        Although I guess it would be a bad idea to say too much.

        1. Turquoisecow*

          Yeah I didn’t want to get involved. I didn’t get the sense that he was in physical danger or anything, just that they had a tumultuous relationship.

  21. Ask A Manatee*

    Re LW3

    The group email, as described, is inappropriate for work, having been compiled from work addresses and sent in a work context. I say this solely because the audience was selected according to (bad) assumptions about personal things. That’s just bad in a work context, where ancestry, religion, nationality, political views (none of which are the same thing, btw) should not determine who gets what information.

    Just send an email to everyone offering “safe space for any employees wishing to commiserate about the events in the Middle East” (my company’s wording).

    On a personal note, I think it bears repeating that being “Jewish” is different things to different people. I’m ethnically Jewish (which is just a fact of biology), but very strongly atheist, and have no personal connection to Israel. Loss of life is horrible in any country.

    1. Kelia*

      this wouldn’t work. as a jew, I would not feel remotely safe discussing this topic outside of an explicitly jewish safe space.
      the fact that you don’t want to be part of it doesn’t mean that other jews or israelis don’t value this. the fact that you don’t need support doesn’t mean other people don’t.
      if you don’t want to go, don’t go. you don’t have to try and ruin attempts to support other people who might need it.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Yeah, no. Not now.

        And I imagine an open announcement of a safe space for Jews would make Palestinians feel unsafe.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Why would it make Palestinians feel unsafe? It’s labeled as a safe space for Jews, not a pro-Israel or Zionist space. There are Jewish Palestinians and plenty of non-Zionist Jews.

          1. Silver Robin*

            Well, the pro-Palestine protest in New York ended up having Nazi imagery displayed. I am avoiding going to any rallies because I have no idea who else is going to show up with some bullheaded sign that will end up on the front page of the news. Do not want to be associated with it.

            Safe spaces are different, but Jewish folks do not know how much compassion there is going to be for them in Palestinian spaces and Palestinian folks do not know how much compassion there will be for them in Jewish spaces when the reason for the spaces is Israel/Palestine. I get being antsy that the space risks setting up a situation where people start saying really cruel things about those not in the room and not necessarily knowing how that will be handled.

            I mean, *I* was nervous about going to work because two of my teammates are Middle Eastern Muslims and they both know I am Jewish. They are warm, kind, dedicated individuals who I get along with great! But they are also relatively new and a small part of my brain was worried our conversations might go sideways if the news was brought up. So far, nothing but the continued warmth and kindness, as would be rational to expect, so that part of my brain calmed down. But you never know; very thoughtful people I respect have come out to say really upsetting things.

      2. Ask A Manatee*

        “I would not feel remotely safe discussing this topic outside of an explicitly jewish safe space.”

        Understandable. But that excludes the workplace, which will never be (nor should be) a place for exclusive safe spaces offered only to employees who meet a bogus profile.

    2. Hiring Mgr*

      I don’t think you’d want to use that specific wording though if this group is only for Jewish people. Also, it’s pretty common for US Jews to either have Israeli connections themselves or know people that do.

    3. Clara*

      I don’t think you can be vague about this kind of space though, you want to be clear what the intentions are. I’d be expecting to go and talk about how upset I am for my Palestinian friends and what is happening to their loved ones in Gaza. Either offer individual support for everyone or group support for the groups that would find each other supportive for that purpose.

      1. Delphine*

        I agree with Ask a Manatee, in general. But I think you’re right that specificity is important currently. There’s too much risk that a general event would get out of control and make either Palestinian employees/allies feel unsafe or Israeli employees/allies feel unsafe.

    4. Roland*

      > . I say this solely because the audience was selected according to (bad) assumptions about personal things

      You literally have no idea how the audience was selected. We more or less know how OP specifically was added (though it could have also been a typo and it was sent to John Greenberg and not Josh Greenberg). We know nothing about how anyone else was invited. Many workplaces have way for employees to sign up for interest/affinity groups, people know other, etc. You’re making up a scenario to get angry at.

      1. Roland*

        Also, a space for Jews doesn’t preclude anyone else from talking about whatever they want. Not everyone needs a “safe” space but Jews quite literally get attacked across the world in times like this and “Loss of life is horrible in any country” is such a weirdly insensitive thing to say for s group of people who might be feeling literally unsafe.

        1. Delphine*

          I’m guessing that by saying, “Loss of life is horrible in any country,” the OP might mean that there’s another group of people in this situation who are traumatized and who would also need safe spaces to process, rather than a broader generalization. A safe space for Jewish people might not always exclude them by definition (i.e., Palestinian Jewish people), but in practice, it’s what would happen. So safe spaces do sometimes preclude people from talking about what they want.

          1. Roland*

            Like I said, Jews having a space to talk will not prevent anyone else from having a space to talk. Do you really think a mixed group will be “safe” in the same way for both groups?

            1. Ask A Manatee*

              ““Loss of life is horrible in any country” is such a weirdly insensitive thing to say”

              How so? It’s not horrible? That doesn’t minimize any one situation, ie Israel’s. I don’t have to choose which war is worse than others, nor who is more deserving of a safe space. Just make sure you are addressing the people you think you are addressing if you send an email like that.

              And please, let’s not debate which of us feels less safe as a Jew. I’ve felt that plenty of times and it’s not a contest.

              1. Hrodvitnir*

                It is insensitive in an “all lives matter” esque way. I have feelings about the way western media ignores horrendous loss of life every single day to only focus on countries we’re friends with, so I get the sentiment.

                But saying that in the context of a hugely violent loss of life by a group that are experiencing increasing hatred internationally, when the full situation is actually horrendous (I very much doubt anyone (decent) mourning the deaths in Israel is happy about killing Palestinians) sounds entirely dismissive.

                We can’t all feel everything equally deeply. When a white supremacist NZer murdered Muslims in a our first mass shooting in decades, it hurt in a way that the hundredth US mass shooting doesn’t. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about what you all live with.

                I am currently a non-American, non-Israeli, non-Palestinian person “explaining” anti-semitism to an ethnically Jewish person. It feels bad. But I am the one here, so I’m saying it.

                1. Ask A Manatee*

                  “It is insensitive in an “all lives matter” esque way.”

                  That’s a helpful comparison. What I said is not a known rallying cry the same way, but your point is well taken.

                  As for “explaining” anti semitism to me? You’re falling into the trap of extrapolating all kinds of things about me that we haven’t discussed. FWIW, I know about anti semitism from my personal experience as the object of it, historically in the diaspora over the centuries, and from never knowing all my family that was killed in the Holocaust. So just be careful about your assumptions please.

      2. Ticotac*

        Also, OP says that they don’t always contradict the people who assume they’re Jewish.

        If Ben (who isn’t Jewish) tells Alex, “Happy Rosh Hashanah, by the way,” and Alex (who isn’t Jewish but is often confused for one and just rolls with it when it’d be more trouble than it’s worth to explain that he isn’t) says “thank you, you too,” then it’s not exactly shocking for Leon (who is Jewish and was sitting nearby) to think “ah, I see that Alex is Jewish too.”

      3. Ask A Manatee*

        No, I’m taking the OP at face value when they say they are mistaken for Jewish because of their last name. Please refrain from accusations per the commiting rules.

        The point is that OP’s receipt of the email is proof that the email list isT least partially mistaken. And there’s no way to be certain that you’re only addressing Jews without asking for opt in. So that would be an option.

        I’m not begrudging anyone their fear of safety. I’m just saying work is a bad place to send any email using a list based on assumptions of identity.

      4. Ask A Manatee*

        [reposting in the proper threading]

        “You literally have no idea how the audience was selected”

        No, I’m taking the OP at face value when they say they are mistaken for Jewish because of their last name. Please refrain from accusations per the commenting rules.

        The point is that OP’s receipt of the email is proof that the email list is at least partially mistaken. And there’s no way to be certain that you’re only addressing Jews without asking for opt in. So that would be an option.

        I’m not begrudging anyone their fear of safety. I’m just saying work is a bad place to send any email using a list based on assumptions of identity.

    5. Jessica*

      “Just send an email to everyone offering “safe space for any employees wishing to commiserate about the events in the Middle East” (my company’s wording).”

      The last thing most of us need right now is to have to try to explain our positions on Israel to gentiles, argue with them about it, manage their feelings, etc.

      People lose their freaking minds in the weirdest ways about anything touching on Jewishness, I/P is an incredibly hot topic, and every time there’s a tragedy that affects a Jewish community both Christians and antisemites and people who are both come out of the woodwork to harass Jews.

      There is no way for the discussion to be a safe space for Jews if it’s open to anyone.

      1. Smurfette*

        Yup. This is pointless lip service and doesn’t do anything except make the company execs feel like they care.

        1. Ask A Manatee*

          “Yup. This is pointless lip service and doesn’t do anything except make the company execs feel like they care.”

          Except that in my workplace this has worked well and has benefited many people. Hardly pointless. Will it always work? Of course not. Just don’t be so dismissive of something that works sometimes. YMMV.

          “I’m guessing that by saying, “Loss of life is horrible in any country,” the OP might mean that there’s another group of people in this situation who are traumatized”

          Not quite what I mean. Rather that any population who needs support through a trying time whereby other people in the world are subject to violence, deserves safe space. If it’s offered via work, just do it in a work-appropriate way (ie not based on last names).

      2. Ask A Manatee*

        “The last thing most of us need right now is to have to try to explain our positions on Israel to gentiles, argue with them about it, manage their feelings, etc.”

        Yikes. That was a big leap. Who was suggesting that?

        I don’t think it’s controversial to say that sending an email ostensibly for Jews should be actually addressed to Jews. Don’t we all agree that OP was included by mistake? And if so, surely there are Jews who didn’t get the email bc their name doesn’t look Jewish. That’s happened to me and it’s not good. I mean, just don’t choose people by guessing.

        1. Jessica*

          Who? The person who suggested that anyone who has feelings about current events in the Middle East should be invited to the space.

          That is an *open invitation* to harass Jews.

          1. Ask A Manatee*

            Sigh. Not “THE” safe space, A safe space. And if you think that’s how safe spaces work, the ones you’ve attended must have been different than the ones I’ve used. They’re not adversarial like that, esp if they are well thought out.

            It seems to me that you think offering safe space to everyone means it diminishes it for the primary group.

            But even if that were true, just don’t make choices based on someone’s last name for ANYTHING at work .

            1. Jessica*

              I know what a safe space is, thank you. And having been a facilitator for several, I know how hard they are to create and maintain.

              And yes, opening one to everyone usually diminishes it for the primary group, because it usually, no matter how hard facilitators try to prevent it, ends up meaning members of the marginalized group for whom it was supposed to be a safe space get put in the position of having to educate/manage nonmembers’ fragility around the topics/etc. and takes the focus off support for the primary group.

  22. MistOrMister*

    LW5: whenever I have been given a line like that it’s never panned out, and I don’t think I would have done that last interview either unless I had nothong else to do and it wouldn’t inconvenience me. Since it was going to lead to loss of PTO for you and there was no currently open position, it didn’t make sense to go forward. Them saying you shoukd do the interview to be fast tracked in the future doesn’t hold water. You had already done multiple interiews and a project for them. That is more than enough information to decide if they want to contact you in the future. I think it’s better, as well, to hwve declined so you don’t dpend any time thinking about the possible position. I was declined for a position once where the person told me they might have something else opening soon and would call me if they did. I wasted so much mental focus on hoping to hear from them, which, of course I never did. I am sure some interviewers mean it when they say that but some are just trying to be kind and it is just too easy to read into those sorts of thibgs when you’re on a job hunt.

  23. 15 Pieces of Flair*

    LW 2- Your current situation evoked an important lesson I learned the hard way during undergrad: employers don’t deserve your full transparency. In addition to rarely being fully transparent themselves, employers hold much more power in the relationship, and your need to support yourself trumps their interest in the full truth.

    One summer during undergrad I had to stay with my mom to complete a mandatory (unpaid) internship because my jobs were academic year only and my aid package wouldn’t have covered another 3 months near campus. I planned to get a summer job that could be scheduled around the internship to cover my expenses. I interviewed for waitress jobs and didn’t understand at the time that I didn’t get any offers because I was honest about planning to return to [college city] to finish my degree.

    Being honest left me without income that summer, which was devastating as my mother was also unemployed during that period. I vividly remember scrapping up loose change to buy bread and peanut butter to feed my younger siblings. If I had an opportunity to redo those server interviews, I would claim that I wasn’t sure if I would return to campus due to costs.

    1. jellied brains*

      I got a summer job at a big box store but claimed I’d stay through the fall semester.

      I quit the second week of the term. Boss was big mad, as if I was supposed to be grateful to be selling overpriced tech and being sexually harassed by old men.

      You don’t owe employers anything beyond 8hrs a day.

  24. Michelle Smith*

    LW2: If you’re struggling to get a stable job and need the income right now, I want to suggest using a temp agency for placements. I temped after college while trying to find a full-time position and, while I was doing retail, my understanding is that there can be some office placements through those companies.

  25. A. Nonymous*

    I think there are some relationships that can involve gifting up, provided they are based on mutual respect. I am an executive assistant, and my boss and I always gift each other books on our respective birthdays & at Christmas. Anything more expensive would be too much and would create awkwardness, but books I think can be at an appropriate price point for someone above you on the org chart with whom you have a good relationship. YMMV, of course.

  26. I Live There*

    What is with birthdays, inequity, and work drama? I’m not a big birthday person but I do make an effort for friends and family when their birthdays come up to tell them how much they mean to me. But work is just weird about it. Some people get full out celebrations with balloons and streamers, over the top decorations, gifts, and baked stuff and for others it’s like here’s a dollar store card and a mint I found under my car seat. Ignore the lint. Some are forgotten all together until the boss realizes and lures them away so coworkers can try to slid in and quickly decorate before that person get back to their desk (cause that’s subtle).

    How is that going to affect office dynamics? Why is it so hard to just have one birthday policy (x decorations and a card. Period. Nothing more, nothing less) to avoid work feeling like high school with The Cool Kids vs everybody else?

    Why is it so hard to just be adults with common sense and think about how what you’re doing makes other people feel and choose to NOT be a jerk about it?

  27. Charleston Girlie*

    I’m not LW, but #3 is helpful for me as well to have a script! I also have dark curly hair and an Eastern European last name, and I get mistaken for Jewish a lot (in college, I even started receiving emails asking me to sign up for birthright Israel from my college’s Jewish studies department). This is a great script base to use next time I get invited to go to synagogue!

    1. Turquoisecow*

      I have curly hair and I guess look Jewish despite having no Jewish heritage, so I have on occasion had people start talking to me about holidays I knew nothing about. I politely corrected them, they acted surprised, and we moved on. (We did have a very observant Jewish coworker who dressed very traditionally and another coworker asked me about the reasoning behind a particular part of his clothing. I had no idea, and the coworker was surprised as he had assumed I would.)

      Then I married a Jewish man and took his name which is not super Jewish but is recognizable as such by people. And he’s not very observant but I have celebrated some holidays with his family, so now I could talk about some of them with people. But oddly enough people have not made the assumption as much since then.

  28. Serious Pillowfight*

    LW1 (boss unfollowed on Instagram), you’re SO not being silly. People can poo-poo social media all they want, but I’m still a little messed up about the fact that a former coworker (who I wasn’t even close with) unfriended me on Facebook. I even saw this woman at the grocery store before she unfriended me and avoided her because I didn’t feel like talking to her. Then I posted some personal stuff and I’m fairly certain she unfriended me then. It hit me hard. She’s still mutual friends with many others from that job and has something like 2,400 friends.

    In my mind, it’s equivalent to someone walking up to you and saying, “I don’t want to be friends with you/connected with you anymore, but I do want to be those things with everyone else, and I’ll tolerate you when/if I see you.” That may not be the message the person (in my case or yours) intends at all, but social media, while a very modern construct, is inextricably tied to our deep-seated, even evolutionary need for acceptance.

    1. lost academic*

      Except in your case, and a bit in the OP’s, all of that subtext is pretty much entirely invented. It has no basis in reality and no suggestion that it ever did. It doesn’t mean your feelings aren’t real, but people have their own reasons for managing their social networking experiences that don’t have to have anything to do with your own, and projecting motives to this extent is asking for trouble.

      In your case and in the OP’s case – no one had an actual conversation about… anything … with the other person whose action may or may not have had anything to do with you/OP.

      I don’t think OP is silly but I think this kind of train of thought is a waste of energy at best and emotionally damaging at worst with a high likelihood of poisonings the work relationships.

      1. iglwif*

        ^ This.

        Seriously, the number of ways in which someone can accidentally unfollow someone else is … well, there are multiple ways that can happen. I’ve done it, people have done it to me, the platforms themselves sometimes do it for no reason. And because The Algorithm chooses what people see in their feeds, it’s also very very possible to not notice for a long time!

        It’s not silly to worry about it … but I do think OP should try not to.

      2. Serious Pillowfight*

        Oh, I’d never ask the woman about it or try to re-add her as a friend. I’ll leave it alone. It’s just something I noticed and took as rejection. I know it’s my issue to deal with.

    2. Cmdrshprd*

      “but I’m still a little messed up about the fact that a former coworker (who I wasn’t even close with) unfriended me on Facebook. I even saw this woman at the grocery store before she unfriended me and avoided her because I didn’t feel like talking to her.”

      If anything I think by avoiding her you maybe showed her that you didn’t want to be friends/connected with you anymore.

      That might be how you feel about social media, but it is not necessarily how others feel about it.
      When I first joined I added a ton of people on social media, most people I only met once. At various times I have thought about trying to cull the “friends” list but it seems like so much work that I have not. But if I ever did, it would not be anything personal against anyone, just removing people that I have not talked to in years (decade+ even) and just clog up my feed, trying to keep the people that I want to more actively see stuff from.

      1. Serious Pillowfight*

        As I typed that, I wondered if it was related. I didn’t go out of my way to avoid her, I just avoided eye contact and opted not to approach her. (She did the same, if she even saw me.)

        As you can probably guess, I’ve had a hard time drawing boundaries and am one of those people who treated work like school for the longest time, thinking I could make friends with everyone. This site helped me recognize that work friends are different from life friends.

        1. Gemstones*

          If you’re not even close enough to say hi at the grocery store and avoided her…what’s the big deal about her not following you? Like, if you’re avoiding each other in real life, why do you need to be connected on social?

    3. Old and Don’t Care*

      I have unfriended many people on Facebook because I don’t care for their Facebook posts. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to be friends with them, though. I just have no patience for or interest in political posts, memes, or tired jokes. But these things come up much less in actual in-person interactions. So I have many friends who I am no longer Facebook friends with.

      1. Anon in Canada*

        Standard Facebook etiquette is that if you unfriend someone, it means you don’t want to talk to them at all. If you just don’t want to see their posts but are still open to talking to them, you should be unfollowing those people (which they won’t know you did), not unfriending them. Unfriending when you still want to talk to someone is a recipe for awkwardness and confusion.

        1. Michelle Smith*

          To you. Not to everyone. Especially when we’re talking about former coworkers, not close friends. There are absolutely people I unfriend on social media because we don’t talk anymore and don’t work together anymore and there’s no reason for me to see updates about their kids’ milestones or whatever. That doesn’t mean if we were at a convention or something I’d run and hide from them or that I hate them. They just aren’t a part of my life and I don’t see the need to pretend we should stay connected by covertly unfollowing them.

          I use unfollowing for people I want to stay connected to, but whose posts I don’t want to see at the moment, for whatever reason. Maybe they’re posting a lot of happy photos with their new spouse and I’m going through a breakup. Maybe they’re making a lot of comments about current events that aren’t necessarily problematic (I have unfriended/disconnected from multiple people over the weekend for islamophobia and will not hesitate to continue to unfriend over hatred), but are bringing up difficult emotions for me and I’d rather not be inundated with those posts. Or maybe they’re just posting A LOT and clogging up my feed so that I can’t see anyone else’s posts (happens sometimes with Twitter retweets especially). Eventually, once things have subsided, I want to be able to resume receiving updates from that person without having to request to be re-added to their network.

          I’m not playing weird manipulative games with my social media accounts. If you are feeling badly about me removing you from my friends’ list and you have another way of contacting me, like my phone number, because we were actually friends at one point, I have no problem with you calmly reaching out to ask why. But I’m not going to sneak unfollow you when what I really want is to never speak to you again.

          1. Anon in Canada*

            I may have expressed myself poorly – I totally understand that people who may have added me on Facebook in the past may no longer want to talk to me at all, and if that’s the case, then they have every right to unfriend me. Most of the time I won’t notice. If it was someone who I really wanted to reach out to who unfriends me, it will sting, but I’ll get over it. Being rejected is part of life.

            However, if someone unfriends me and then a month later that person runs into me and talks to me, or contacts me through another method… I’ll be confused. By unfriending me, they signaled they didn’t want to talk to me. If they say “oh I just wanted to stop seeing your posts on my home page”, I’d be like, “huh that’s what unfollowing is for”.

            1. I should really pick a name*

              I don’t think you’ve expressed yourself poorly. I think Michelle Smith just disagrees with you (and so do I).

              I think the word “standard” is doing a lot of heavy lifting in your initial comment.

              Sometimes people just prune their friends lists of people who they haven’t interacted with much on facebook. This is independent of whether or not they interact with them in other ways.

              If I noticed that someone unfriended me (and it would be surprising if I noticed), I wouldn’t assume they want to avoid me in person.

            2. Also in Canada*

              Some of us disagree that “standard Facebook etiquette” is a thing, or that this is it. I have unfriended actual friends on social media because the way they use it conflicts with why I’m there. In real life, they are warm and lovely folks who I’m happy to see and catch up with. I can readily think of 2 people who I did this with. In neither case did they ask any questions or show any offense, and I’ve re-added both (one in a limited way) after a few years as our social media use evolved.

    4. Morning Reading*

      I think this is *why* people poo-poo social media. You can become upset about stuff that has absolutely no significance. Someone who is not your friend is no longer your “friend” on social media. (How do you even notice this, I wonder?) you are having an emotional reaction to a non-event. That is the damage, or one of the damages that social media is known for.
      I’m sorry it made you feel bad. It seems to be something that it is designed to do, that is, provoking negative emotions to make you engage more. Resist!

      1. ABC*

        I’ve wondered the same thing about noticing that people have unfriended you. I don’t think any networks notify you, do they? I’ve only noticed a few times, when I realize that I haven’t seen any posts from a certain person for a long time (like a year or more) and checked directly, but it seems like a lot of people keep really close track of this somehow.

      2. Serious Pillowfight*

        In this case, I noticed because I clicked on one of my “memories” and looked at the likes and this person’s name appeared with “Add Friend” next to it. I didn’t unfriend them, so it had to have been on their end.

    5. Stopgap*

      Seems like that could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If a friend takes it as a personal slight that I’m tired of, say, seeing 20 posts every day about a movie I have no interest in, I might not have the patience to deal with that emotional fragility.

      1. jellied brains*

        I wish more sites utilized tags and filtering. I love Tumblr for many reasons but one of them is that I can filter out someone’s obsession with whatever show/movie/sport that they’re posting about 50 times a day.

    6. The Charioteer*

      But you avoided her in the real world. Is that not supposed to make her feel “a little messed up”?

    7. biobotb*

      The ironic thing is that you actually wouldn’t tolerate her when you saw her, but are offended by getting the same (assumed) message.

      1. Serious Pillowfight*

        The grocery store piece of the story is only meant to illustrate that I’m not close with her so, yes, me being stung by her unfriending me does seem like an overreach. I was trying to sympathize with LW1. When I saw her, I wasn’t filled with dread or anything. It was just like how when you’re in public and you see someone you know but don’t necessarily feel like chatting. You’re just trying to get your errand done quickly. That detail is carrying more weight than it should.

        Or maybe I’m just ridiculous.

  29. Ann O'Nemity*

    #2 You’re going to have a tough time landing an entry-level job in cybersecurity without previous experience in a related internship. Stop looking for admin jobs and get in the game.

    1. lost academic*

      I have to concur though I think it’s probably more complicated than that – what I take from the way the OP wrote the letter about the job, etc, is that s/he has and needs a full time job and it sounds like maybe school is part time/night? So it may not at all be feasible to pay things like bills and rent without a fulltime stable job, but Ann O’Nemity is also sadly right – you can’t break into cybersecurity without leaning in pretty hard to that specific kind of role.

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      Not everyone can simply not have a paying job. While finding an internship might be valuable advice – doing so in lieu of a FT job isn’t an option for many people.

    3. Tiger Snake*

      I don’t fully agree. LW#2 will have difficulty getting a higher-position job, but I think they have good chances if they look for junior roles.

      There’s a lot of companies that specialise in provider cyber security to other companies. LW#2 would likely have success if they start looking for when new entry hire on those companies opens up.

  30. iglwif*

    LW2 — If you were my kid, I would suggest you have 2 main options for finding work between now and when you get your degree: (1) start looking for work in the field you want to end up in, because you might find people are totally interested in hiring you now even though you don’t have the degree finished yet! (2) look into temp work and/or maternity/parental leave contracts for the time you have left — you have good admin experience, and the people hiring won’t be looking for a long-term commitment either.

  31. Alex*

    Assuming you know who’s Jewish and who isn’t (and what that means to them) by their name and how they look isn’t a game that is best played at work. (Or…pretty much anywhere.) How many people did they leave out who *are* Jewish but don’t have Jewish names? (Like me!)

    1. AnotherOne*

      I live in NYC and watching people from Chabad in front of my local grocery store trying to figure out who’s Jewish so they can give them is always hilarious.

      As is explaining to friends who have been stopped why they’ve been stopped.

    2. Delta Delta*

      Or who aren’t Jewish but their families are and are understandably upset and concerned about their family members in Israel and Gaza? (Like me!)

    3. Avery*

      My name isn’t stereotypically Jewish, either first name or surname. My appearance isn’t stereotypically Jewish. If you wait around to hear me referencing Jewish holidays or keeping kosher or taking time off for the High Holy Days, you’ll be waiting a while, because I’m not observant in the slightest.
      But I’m still Jewish. Ethnically, culturally, that’s a part of my identity.
      Also Jewish are the family friends who all have the surname of the Chinese-American father. And the family friends with very stereotypically Italian names. The friend from rural Mississippi, with that gorgeous wavy brown hair? Yep, she’s Jewish too.
      Trying to figure out who’s Jewish and who’s not based on stereotypes and assumptions not only means accidentally including people like the letter writer, but accidentally excluding some or all of the kind of Jewish person highlighted in this post, who might very well be interested and feel bad about being excluded.

  32. Chai Tea Morning*

    I work for a 100+ people company and we have a Slack channel for birthday messages and work anniversary congrats, etc. Which is a good way to go about it I think, even though I’ve muted the channel because there are too many notifications. But I would be annoyed too if only execs got birthday messages.

  33. Mark*

    Most people I know don’t want their bosses following them on any social media, and would be glad to be in #1’s shoes.

  34. AnotherOne*

    OP 2, (I’m sure this has been suggested a ton) but I’d try connecting up to a temp agency. Obviously it wouldn’t have the benefits of a full-time position because you’d probably be moving here and there but you are really just looking for something from now until you get a job post-graduation.

    Temp agencies aren’t going to care that you are finishing a degree because they’re hiring people to go places short-term.

  35. BellyButton*

    LW2 – look for a coordinator or admin assistant role in IT. I often hire admins or coordinators who are getting their degree in my field. This allows me to mentor them and once they have a degree there may be an opportunity for them to move up! This is win-win for me and for them. Having someone in those roles with an interest and the beginning knowledge of my area makes them better at their role, faster to train, they tend to be more invested in the work, and learning.

  36. I should really pick a name*

    Are there people who find they benefit having the kind of discussion described in #3 with coworkers?

    Personally, a group from work is low on the list of people with whom I’d want to have that kind of delicate conversation.

    1. Delphine*

      Agreed! But I think politics has crossed over into corporate culture a lot recently. Plus since folks spend so much time at work, maybe it’s the easiest way to find people to attend an informal discussion.

    2. Michelle Smith*

      Yes. At prior jobs I’ve been invited to conversations around police violence after murders of Black folks. While I did not attend them, they kept being organized so I assume others benefited from having that kind of support at work.

      1. UKDancer*

        Some do and some don’t I think. I had one Black colleague who really wanted to talk about George Floyd and felt really badly affected. I had another at the same time who didn’t want it mentioned at all and refused to participate in any meetings on diversity issues in the 2 years we worked together.

        People are so different in their reactions.

    3. Parakeet*

      I (Jewish) would rather get a root canal. I like my coworkers, but there’s only a handful of people I’m comfortable discussing the relevant current events with and my coworkers are not on that list, so I declined to go to my org’s similar thing (notice of which was sent to the full staff list, but with the the very unambiguous statement that only Jewish staff should attend). But everyone’s different. Other people clearly value them, or nobody would go.

    4. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

      There are a lot of these at schools and workplaces after national and international events. I’d rather not go to them because 1) having a singular shared trait with someone is already not enough for me to want to talk to them in a vulnerable way and 2) as you said, especially not my coworkers. Also work actually becomes my ‘safe’ space in times when my head is a mess because of personal stuff. I have a reason to disconnect and focus on something else (I guess this might be why some people don’t take long bereavement leaves — it’s a convenient distraction from the cacophony of your mind during times like that).

      However, that said, I can see why some people would feel it’s of value to know there are others who are trying to be ‘normal’ around them, too, and they’re not alone, both at work and in private.

  37. SchuylerSeestra*

    5. So as a recruiter I actually recommend going in for the interview. Timelines change, they could determine whether you may be a fit for another role. It’s good to keep the convo going. I’ve definitely seen it work out in the candidates favor many times.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I also recommend this but I understand if someone decides it’s not worth their time

  38. Alan*

    Re #4, this isn’t quite the same thing, but our CEO sometimes sends out gushing company-wide e-mails and holds celebrations for people who serve them personally (e.g., assistants) and are leaving. On the one hand, I’m happy for the executive assistant who gets acknowledged. I’m sure they’re extremely competent and really nice people besides. But the accolades come across pretty tone deaf to the literally thousands of other people working here who will never get anywhere near that level of recognition. We have no idea who the CEO’s personal assistant is, so it’s really not a major impact on us when one leaves.

    1. jellied brains*

      Yeah on certain people’s anniversaries, sometimes the higher ups post really effusive messages which leaves me with this “well fuck my drag” feeling every year my hire anniversary goes unmentioned.

      Either do it for all or don’t do it at all.

  39. Pierrot*

    As a secular Jewish person, I am not sure what the solution is for emailing colleagues about something like this, especially at a large employer. There’s an inherent risk that Jewish people will be left out/unintentionally excluded and that people who are not Jewish will accidentally receive the invite. In the former category, a number of BIPOC Jewish people I know have told me about times that people (including other Jewish people) have questioned their Jewishness and made assumptions about their background/relationship to Judaism. That said, I don’t want to sound overly critical about the email or intentions behind it, because this is a tricky space to navigate.

    I think that if I were to send an email like this, I would send it to people who I know are Jewish based on interactions with them, acknowledge that I do not know the names of all of the Jewish people in the company, and I’d ask recipients to forward it to colleagues who are Jewish that they don’t see on the list. You still run the risk of leaving people out and potentially including people who aren’t Jewish, but you would be leaning on your network of Jewish colleagues and avoiding assumptions.

    1. Ticotac*

      Honestly, I wonder if that’s what happened. The organizer may have sent the email to the colleagues they knew were Jewish and then asked to forward it to the colleagues they knew were Jewish.

      OP does say that they don’t always correct people when they’re mistaken for Jewish. They do when it’s a Jewish person trying to connect based on a possible shared background, but with other minor cases they just say nothing. So it is possible that someone told OP, “Happy Rosh Hashanah” or something like that, and OP said “thanks” and the Jewish colleague saw that and assumed it meant that OP was Jewish too. That never truly comes up again until this email passes around, at which point the colleague goes “oh yeah, OP is Jewish too,” and forwards it to them.

  40. 1-800-BrownCow*

    LW#1: I wouldn’t read too much into it unless you’re seeing a pattern of cold, unfriendly behavior from your boss that wasn’t there before. Then maybe speak to them about your concerns. Otherwise, you might be just creating drama in your mind that doesn’t exist (ugh, I’m guilty of this sometimes and have to remind myself that it’s usually not as bad as I think it is).

    I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve friended or unfriended people on social media sites that I didn’t mean to. Especially after a couple of glasses of wine and some accidental button tapping, I usually don’t even know until I get a notice that someone accepted by friend request.

    Also, a few years back I went through my FB friends list and cleaned it up. I removed a bunch of people that rarely or never posted that I vaguely knew. People I was once coworkers with but hadn’t spoken to in several years. And while doing all that, I accidentally unfriended a couple people I didn’t mean to unfriend because I was doing it so fast. Then there are the times I’ve forgotten to shut my phone screen off before putting my phone in my pocket and purse…..I even once “butt ordered” food through a food delivery app, ugh. On the flip side though, I’ve also chosen to unfollow people because certain things they post bother me mentally, it’s nothing against them, I just don’t want to see those things when I scrolling social media. So there could easily be a multitude of minor reasons that are more likely than you boss just not liking you.

  41. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

    #1 Every week or so Instagram feeds me a list of people I follow that I don’t interact with and sometimes I go through and delete them because I see they haven’t posted in a long time, or their posts have drifted from what I first followed them for. Since user names aren’t usually a good indication of their IRL identity, and I follow a 100+ random strangers who are also obsessed with plants, I could definitely see myself unfollowing someone without realizing who they are IRL.

    Another thing I notice in my feed on IG, is if I start seeing a bunch of content that I don’t like and in the Likes area, it’ll show someone I’m following liked the post (sorry that’s a mess of a sentence). If I see an ongoing pattern that IG is suggesting offensive or annoying content to me based on the Like patterns of who I’m following, I unfollow them. I definitely look at who someone else is Following before Following them, even if their own content is fine. The social aspect of social media means you are connecting with all of their Followed and Followers too.

    If you want to have a social media connection to coworkers and managers, you might think about having a separate account that isn’t tied closely to your personal life. Post, like and follow employer, industry or professional accounts.

  42. whatchamacallit*

    LW 3- I have nothing to add or really a solution (agree with Alison’s advice!) but I also more than once have been assumed to be Jewish at work. No idea where it comes from, as I do not have a Jewish-sounding name and have no Jewish heritage whatsoever. Some people seem to make the assumption based on where I went to undergrad which had a sizable Jewish student body? But I have never said anything alluding to being Jewish. So far it has not resulted in anything too awkward (like being invited to an event that was clearly not For Me) but I just try to quickly go “Oh, I’m not Jewish actually,” when someone says something indicating they think I am.

  43. cosmicgorilla*

    Honest question – how do you tell if someone unfollowed you? Does instagram notify you? Are folks keeping track of the # of followers? Have you memorized that it’s 232, and you immediately notice that it’s 231? Why are follows/unfollows such a big deal? Why do people care? I always see that some celeb unfollowed some other celeb, and I always wonder why the heck it’s news.

    1. Anon in Canada*

      I don’t use Instagram very much (although I do have it). I’m not sure if unfollowing on Instagram has the same meaning as unfriending on Facebook, but in the case of Facebook, unfriending is usually an extremely clear signal that “this person doesn’t want to talk to you”, and it stings because being rejected in that way by another person does sting! So yes, being friended or unfriended on Facebook can be a big deal because people care about rejection. I have no idea if Instagram follows/unfollows carry the same connotation.

      1. cosmicgorilla*

        Anon in Canada, but even even with Facebook, how do you know? I don’t pay attention to the # of friends. If I see FB suggest a friend I’ve already friended in the past, I think it’s a spam account. Or I think they’ve done some cleanup work at some point, especially as I’ve seen FB connections say that they want to cull their friends list to only their nearest and dearest. It’s definitely not a “clear sign” about their feelings towards me. That’s just how some people are choosing to interpret it.

        1. Anon in Canada*

          If it’s someone I have not talked to in years, that I was not regularly looking at their profile, and was not trying to contact them, then I probably won’t know.

          If it’s someone whose profile I was regularly looking at, or that I was trying to reach out to, then of course I’ll notice!

          And yes, if I was trying to reach out to someone by sending messages, and they unfriend me within a short timeframe after receiving the messages, it means they don’t want to talk to me. It will sting for a while, because rejection stings. However, if someone truly doesn’t want to talk to me, I’d rather that they unfriend me than drag things along by not reacting. It will hurt for a time but I’ll be able to move on more quickly than if they don’t react at all.

    2. Ticotac*

      Instagram doesn’t notify you, in my experience. There’s some social media apps where you can only be “friends” with someone if that person “friends” you back, but that’s not the same for Instagram. I’s not like Facebook, where if you unfriend someone then that someone doesn’t see your posts on their timeline anymore. Realizing that you’re not mutual “friends” anymore does, in fact, involve either checking your own friend list or going to their profile and seeing that they don’t have a little “this person follows you” text under their description.

      People care about someone unfollowing them because – as long as it wasn’t done by accident – it means that that someone didn’t care about the things they were sharing. Should they care? Ehhh. The ideal would be not to care, because there’s loads of people who are lovely in person but incredibly annoying online and you’re not necessarily saying that you hate them if you decide that you don’t want to follow them on Twitter. But, realistically, it’s not abnormal to feel self-conscious when you realize that other people don’t care about what brings you joy as much as you do, and it’s not wrong either.

      But is that a big deal? Depends. Most of the time, probably not. It may sting, but you can’t force people to go through your neverending Our Flag Means Death posting. It’s definitely a big deal to the kind of person who checks their friend list to see how the numbers are going, though.

  44. 1-800-BrownCow*

    My maiden name is Scandinavian, however it was “Americanized” (by dropping the ending) when my ancestor’s came over, making it very similar to an “Americanized” version of a Eastern European Jewish last name (by changing the spelling). We didn’t know this growing up as we lived in a very rural area was mostly settled by Scandinavians and other Northern/Western Europeans, so no one ever questioned it. But when my brother and I both left the area for college, we met a few people who thought we might be Jewish, even with our blonde hair and blue eyes, just because of our last name.

  45. Ada Lovelace's Bestie*

    LW2: I wanted to echo the other responses telling you that you can and *should* already be focusing on cybersecurity jobs. I’m in software engineering, but cybersecurity is our close cousin and I have friends in cybersecurtity. I also used to help with junior recruiting at a previous employer.

    Internships in software are always paid–sometimes quite highly paid. It’s also not uncommon for companies to allow interns to start remotely while they’re in school, some employers even set up satellite offices near universities specifically for hiring interns during the semester. Some might allow remote after getting established in-person over winter break. (Hint: Look for the companies that visit your university even when there isn’t a job fair. If you’re a remote student to a physical university, ask your professors if there’s any companies that come talk to the in-person classes or are known to frequently hire from your school.)

    It is currently the middle of the primary hiring season for the summer 2024 internship season for most software companies in the US. Many companies do a second hiring season for the early spring semester, but you should apply ASAP.

    Having an internship on your resume will make it 10x easier to land a full-time job once you graduate. You’ll probably also have an automatic full-time offer from whoever you interned with.

    If you’re doing your degree program in-person, consider looking at student worker positions at your school to bridge the gap if necessary. Since you’re towards the end of your bachelor’s you should be qualified as a TA for the entry-level classes. If you have a good relationship with any of your professors it’d be good to see if they’re needing a TA next semester. These won’t pay as well or have as many hours as an remote-start internship though, so treat it as a plan B.

    Good luck wrapping up your degree, and good luck with your search!

  46. Tradd*

    For LW 3:

    I totally get how someone not Jewish, but with hair/complexion and maybe name that might pass for Jewish, might be assumed to be Jewish. I have dark hair and eyes and an Eastern European last name that some people seem to think is Jewish. Coworkers have invited me to seders, services at their synagogues, tried matchmaking even years ago. They were all very surprised when I thanked them, but indicated I was not Jewish!

  47. Jew by Choice*

    LW #3: I also think it’s problematic if they are sending them to colleagues they think are Jewish based on name or looks. This would exclude people who are Jews by choice (like myself who have zero ancestry and didn’t “marry into” a Jewish family), as well as many lifelong Jews who do not fit a horribly inaccurate stereotype of having to have a Jewish last name or look a certain way.

  48. Brevity*

    LW 1: I wonder if your boss has had bad experiences with employees who misuse Instagram — we’ve all read about the coworker who took nudes of herself at the office and posted them to Facebook — and she unfollowed you because she knows she can trust you. You said yourself that all you post is doggie pictures and helpful quotes. Maybe your boss unfollowed you because you’ve demonstrated she doesn’t have to monitor you for bad behavior, and it’s one less task for her.

  49. PurpleGal*

    Regarding LW3 – my company has a variety of employee networks as part of its DEI initiative, including a Jewish Employee Network. When the network was formed, an invitation to join was sent out to all employees in all international branches (as was done with other employee networks like the LGBTQ+ group, the BIPOC group, the women’s group, the neurodiversity group, etc.). The members include Jewish people from a variety of backgrounds, people with Jewish partners or children, and allies who want to learn more about Judaism or Jewish issues (everything from holiday celebrations to concerns about anti-Semitism). People chose to join (or not join) for a variety of reasons. Opening the network to all employees makes it possible for anyone who’s interested in a Jewish group to participate (rather than relying on assumptions based on surnames, appearance, country of origin, etc. to invite people to join). It also means that people can join any of the networks they identify with (for example, someone can join both the Jewish and LGBTQ+ groups if they wish).

Comments are closed.