my boss ignores me at social events, employer is illegally asking for salary history, and more

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

1. My boss ignores me at social events

I’ve been at my job for several years and am part of my company’s senior management team. I work very closely with my boss (think, he’s director and I’m assistant director, or he’s CEO and I’m CFO). We work great together and I’ve been promoted several times and get consistent positive feedback from him. He is in his mid-to-late 50s and married with several adult children, and I’m female in my mid-thirties, unmarried, no kids.

Our company has occasional work social events, such as holiday parties, happy hours etc. Typically these occur only a few times a year. At these gatherings, my boss, who is very extroverted, makes a point to circulate and spend at least a few minutes each talking to pretty much everyone.

Everyone that is except me. Like ever. Not even for a minute or two. I can’t tell if I’m just being paranoid/over-sensitive, but we’ve had enough events now and it happens literally every time, to the point where it feels to me kind of deliberate. I don’t think he has any bad intent, but I can’t figure out why he’s doing this. I can be socially awkward, but so are lots of our employees (who he knows much less well than he knows me; plus I manage to socialize with others there just fine so I don’t think I’m that bad!). I think I’m one of the few people on staff who is unmarried/without a long-term partner. Is he pulling a Mike Pence and thinks it’s inappropriate to be seen “socializing” with a single woman?

I’m definitely not planning to say anything to him about it as it wouldn’t be worth it. But it does bother me, mainly because I already feel so much social stigma at times as one of the increasingly few people my age who is unmarried and without kids. It’s hurtful to think that someone who knows me and otherwise values me as an individual at work sees me as just another single person in social settings. I guess I’m wondering if there is a way I can frame it for myself that might make it sting less, or whether it maybe is just in my head or something else I might be doing that’s causing it? It’s to the point where, at future events I don’t think I would be comfortable approaching him to chat since it feels so obvious to me that he is uncomfortable talking with me in that environment.

I don’t think it’s all in your head, and I doubt that you’re doing anything that’s causing it. I’d bet it’s one of two things: either (1) yes, it’s a Pence situation, or (2) he uses these events as a chance to talk to people who he doesn’t get to talk with much the rest of the time, and that’s not you.

At the next event, pay attention to who he does/doesn’t talk to. If there are other unattached women, see whether he avoids them too. If there are other people he works with as closely as he does you, see whether he steers clear of them as well. That’ll probably point you in the right direction.

my boss will not physically acknowledge me in social settings

2. Employer is illegally asking for salary history before they’ll interview me

I am a senior corporate financial executive currently pursuing new opportunities. It has been an unfortunate surprise to find that a number of organizations, particularly the nonprofits, are still asking for salary history when setting up interviews. This is happening even when their headquarters are located in a state that outlaws this practice, in addition to it being clear on my resume that I reside in a state that also makes this practice illegal.

I believe this is happening due a lack of awareness by the person initially sending out interview requests. They are often executive assistants to the CEO, or in another administrative role not normally associated with HR.

Per your past advice, I have skirted the question by providing the salary range that I am pursuing.

However, there is one EA who is refusing to set the interview with the CEO until this information is provided. Her overall tone in the few messages I’ve received indicates that she may be on a bit of a power trip – I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for other red flags to see if this is the culture or just one individual. However, I am currently struggling with language to respond that does not sound too cranky (this royally pisses me off!). I know I am preaching to the choir, but this is how wage gaps between genders, races, etc. are perpetuated and I have no problem declining to interview if needed. (My particular case is the opposite – I am pursuing roles that I know pay a little less than my previous employers since I have been in a notoriously risky industry that normally has to pay a premium to attract high quality talent.)

Any thoughts on how to respond without sounding too annoyed? I truly wonder if the CEO is aware, and I do plan to bring up my experience later in the process (if we get that far). I’m willing to give it one final shot with this EA, but will then decline to interview if she still holds firm on requiring my historical salary information.

Have you told her directly that asking for salary history is illegal in your state/her state?

Assuming not, say this: “StateName has made it illegal for employers to request salary history from candidates, but I can share the range I’m looking for, which is ___.”

If you have told her that and she’s insisting you answer anyway, I hope you’ll forward the whole exchange to whatever agency enforces the law in your state. (You might do that regardless, actually.)

3. Job rejection with a request to meet up informally

I’m in the middle of a grueling job search and I was just sent a job rejection after two interviews as they wanted to move forward with someone else. I was disappointed, but it’s just the way it goes sometimes. However, the HR representative also said that one of the interviewers was interested in meeting “informally” in person next week as they enjoyed our discussion in the interview and they might be expanding their comms department in the future. During the interview process, it sounded like they wouldn’t be able to do that for a couple of years at least and the role would be a more junior one.

My first instinct is not to do it: if they are assessing my suitability for a role, I feel like that should happen within the context of an interview process. And if not (which seems to be the case as they aren’t currently in a position to hire more comms people), then I’m not sure what the benefit of the meeting would be. It’s nice that they enjoyed talking to me, I guess, but I already spent time and effort applying and interviewing for a role that actually exists, so I don’t know if I want to put in additional time with no possibility of a job offer in the next year. I’m also not looking for junior roles. However, friends and colleagues suggested that I go anyway and part of me thinks it might be a good networking opportunity. Is this normal? I haven’t really come across this situation before.

This can indeed be normal! If there’s any part of you that’s willing to go, you should go. You don’t have enough info to know for sure that they won’t be hiring in the next year or that any new role would be a junior one; things can be happening behind the scenes that they wouldn’t share with a job candidate.. For all we know, someone in a position you’d like is leaving but it’s not public yet and that’s why they’re not saying it. As for thinking any assessment should happen in the context of a formal interview: that’s just not how this stuff goes some of the time — they may know their colleague is looking for someone with your skills and suggested that person meet with you informally since they’ve already gone through a formal process with you. Or none of this could be true — maybe it’s purely networking, with no concrete plans for anything. Even then, though, it’s still worth your time; employers don’t typically suggest this unless they consider you a very viable candidate. This is the most qualified of qualified leads.

In the middle of what you described as a grueling job search, here’s an employer that seems interested in working with you. I’d go.

4. Should I be paid more for being the automated drive-thru voice?

I work at fast food chain. My voice is the automated drive-thru voice, and it’s been my voice for over a year. I’ve been here for over three years and get paid other people’s starting rates. Should I be getting paid every time my voice is played?

No, it doesn’t work like that. You’re thinking of something like actors’ residuals, where an actor might be paid every time their show appears in syndication, but those are negotiated by actors’ unions or individual agents; they’re not typical outside of a performance context, and they’re definitely not used in a drive-thru context. You also wouldn’t be paid separately for being, say, the voice on the business voicemail.

You should ask for a raise based on being paid a starting rate despite having years more experience, but being the automated drive-thru voice isn’t a reason to use.

5. Should a manager speak to an employee about small mistakes?

All employees will make a mistake at some point. It’s clear that if the mistake is large in impact or shows an error in professional judgment, the manager should speak to the employee. But what about infrequent small mistakes (e.g., an employee of nine years misses a single meeting without notification, an internal deadline is missed by a day one time, etc.)? In my organization, some managers speak to an employee at a single infraction (and note it as an “area for improvement” on written annual reviews) whereas others are much more lenient. What is your opinion on how to handle these small transgressions?

It really, really depends on context. Missing a single meeting without notification is generally just normal human error; if it’s not part of a pattern, it might not require a response at all, unless their absence created a problem. If it did create a problem — like if they were supposed to be running the meeting or a client was counting on them being there — I’d approach it as a “what happened / is everything okay?” type of conversation, not as “we must discuss your serious misstep.” Same thing with missing a single deadline — the nature of your response should depend on how much it mattered.

Generally, though, what you want to pay attention to are patterns. All humans will mess up now and then because we are human. When someone makes mistakes repeatedly, that’s when you need to get involved: naming the pattern, asking what’s going on, and ensuring there’s a plan in place (either from them, you, or the two of you jointly) to stop it.

A single small mistake should not show up on someone’s annual review unless it had significant repercussions.

{ 232 comments… read them below }

  1. nodramalama*

    I think for LW5, I agree with Alison that is depends. I would say that I have had quite a few people tell me what when someone I supervise makes a mistake, address it immediately and don’t wait for a performance review or to see if its a pattern. And their justification has always been that it makes it less of a big deal if you just flag it contemporaneously rather than make it seem bigger than it.

    1. Emmy Noether*

      I think the question was whether to adress it at all, not when.

      I feel like for small, one-off mistakes, the employee should be made aware they made a mistake, but it doesn’t need to be a whole conversation. If they are already aware (they apologized, for example), no need to adress it. For big mistakes, adress it in the moment. For patterns, in the moment and at review time.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        Wanted to add: under no circumstance should one be confronted with a laundry list of mistakes one wasn’t aware of at review time.

        1. Longtime Reader*

          For sure! If something was not important enough to mention at the time that it happened, it’s definitely not important enough to mention in a review. Really, nothing that comes up in a review should be a surprise to the employee, if management is doing its job.

        2. Momma Bear*

          Agreed. If the general tone of the review is news to them, then the manager hasn’t been communicating well the rest of the year. Missing a meeting really depends on context – were they supposed to talk to a client? Be the SME to move a project forward? Or was it just one of those informal meetings you get 15 of in a day? Or were they out of office but forgot to remind you? That kind of thing. I’m not taking a meeting from a doctor’s office.

      2. Bast*

        I think another part of it should be whether the person reasonably knows they made a mistake (ie: if they are relatively new, they may not even know, and if they are never told, they never will know) and if it is actionable or not. Some firms I worked for LOVED to highlight every little error someone made, whether or not they were part of a large pattern. It really demoralized people and particularly for more Type A individuals, it tended to lead to “I need to check everything 50 times and constantly doubt myself so I don’t get called out in a meeting” feelings.

        For example — someone makes a small typo in an email that perhaps autocorrect does not catch. They know they made a typo. It was a careless error and clearly not because they don’t know the word. They normally do not have this issue, so it is not a reoccurring issue of typo-filled emails. It’s human and berating them or pointing this out is not going to accomplish anything. It would be entirely different if it’s a “Jane’s emails to clients are always riddled with errors and look unprofessional” situation.

        For a newer employee, I might give them the benefit of the doubt that there are certain things they just might not know yet, and if no one informs them, they will never know, but I would approach it in a kind manner. “Hey Jane, can you open up the Smith file? That document that you just saved in is actually an EOR, not a medpay ledger. The difference is XYZ.” That way Jane knows in the future how to not make the same mistake, but is also not made to feel embarrassed about something she might not have encountered yet. It should NEVER be, “Why would you think this is a medpay ledger? How have you been here two months and can’t tell the difference? You must not be paying attention” or calling Jane out in a meeting for something like this. Worked for one firm that would randomly pull “weekly highlights and lowlights” during the team meeting and ANY mistake no matter how small, or how long ago, could be found up on the projector for the whole firm to see, and you’d be openly berated. I don’t think anyone actually learned anything this way.

        1. EvilQueenRegina*

          I see you’ve met my old boss. She had someone doubting herself so much that she was afraid to do anything without checking with one of us first, and then Umbridge pulled her up about the fact that she was always checking with people. (No one else had actually complained).

          Umbridge certainly wouldn’t have taken into account what you said about people being new and perhaps not knowing that something was a mistake – it wasn’t unusual for her to go after people when she hadn’t quite got the whole facts, so it was possible that something might not actually have been a mistake after all, or not that person’s fault, but she’d still bite their heads off first before finding that out.

          While she didn’t tend to save things up for our annual reviews, we did have monthly one to ones, so it was quite common for her to address something in the moment when she first found out about it, but then to bring up the same thing again in the next one to one.

          1. Kindergarten was a long time ago*

            This addresses what I would have added, either to the question or the response. Sometimes it’s not the what (whether or when to correct the mistake), but the how. Is the manager invested in making you feel wrong and small and making mountains out of molehills?
            The examples given would have been ok to receive a comment or question, but not a raking over the coals. I’ve received both types of feedback, and the latter (with a threat that I could be “written up”) made me wonder if I was supposed to take a time out in the corner. How old am I? Six?

            1. EvilQueenRegina*

              I ask myself how I managed not to ask that exact question to the aforementioned ex boss the day someone dragged and dropped an email into the Completed folder by accident and she gathered us all round and asked “Who’s going to own up to it?” (Even if anyone knew it was them, and I still think now that whoever it was genuinely hadn’t realised they’d done it, I doubt anyone would have felt comfortable “owning up to Umbridge” about it). I did feel like saying “You do realise we’ve all left primary school?”

              (In that boss’s case, she was following in the footsteps of someone who had been too hands off, and was so determined to avoid making that person’s mistakes, she went too far in the other direction and wasn’t quite seeing that that itself could be a mistake).

        2. Smithy*

          I think to the points that everyone has mentioned, while doing things like missing a meeting or email typos are unambiguously wrong – I do think that inevitably that level of hyper correction for those details leads to depressed independent action and ambitious thinking/risk taking overall.

          So, when every error is noted, addressed, corrected – then it creates an environment where no one can make mistakes. Not an environment where there are safe fails to catch mistakes because the stakes are high, but where everything at all times needs to be perfect.

          In the broader world of cultivating a staff that can act independently – knowing the difference between “this isn’t going great, maybe my manager should know and we should adjust to get us back on course” and “oops, my bad – but this doesn’t derail us” is a skill you want your staff to have. And your staff won’t get that if you don’t let them work through mistakes without being forever penalized by them.

      3. ecnaseener*

        Yeah, whether the employee already addressed it makes a huge difference. The examples in the letter of no-showing a meeting and missing a deadline are both very much affected by this – did they communicate that they wouldn’t be making the deadline or did they just submit the work late with no acknowledgment? Did they apologize for missing the meeting and say what happened, or did they ignore it completely?

      4. Hannah Lee*

        For me, as a manager, I’d run threw some questions when deciding whether to bring it up at all and then how to bring it up.
        – was it serious with actual repercussions
        – do they already realize they made a mistake, taken steps to fix it if it needed fixing
        – is it part of a pattern of xyz (lack of attention to detail, low quality, missing deadlines or whatever)
        – is it a change in employee’s usual mode, or are they seeming stressed, distracted or otherwise off their usual game
        – was it just a random oversight or misunderstanding
        – or was it indicative of a skills gap or training/resources needed or misunderstanding of priorities/context/experience… ie using style, informality of an internal peer communication with an external audience, important client

        Based on that, I can figure out how to proceed. If it’s a good employee who had one “oops, totally spaced that status meeting” moment and they already acknowledged their mistake, or a simple typo I’m not going to bother them or me with it. We’re all imperfect human beings and nit-picking stuff like that won’t do anything to improve anything going forward and may just cause new problems.

        Like, if the CEO points out a typo in an internal email, or mentions I haven’t collected that random non-confidential document I printed out 5 minutes ago and haven’t bothered to pick up yet because I was doing higher priority stuff, it’s not going to improve my performance.

        It’s going to irritate me that he’s expecting perfection and immediate performance of random non-important stuff from someone who is wearing 15 hats, who juggles dozens of competing priorities and also manages whatever random issues pop up on any give day (plumbing leaks, spot staffing issues, customer down, ERP system misbehaving, a drum of industrial chemicals was just delivered and no one knows what it is, who sent it or why it was delivered on the heels of the sales VP mistaking the truck it came on for the one scheduled to pick up an export shipment not due to ship until later, causing a mad scramble to finish export compliance stuff, etc etc)

        If I’ve got my self-doubt at bay I’m going to think he’s being a jerk or an idiot, just doing some recreational scolding of imperfections (to his standards in that moment) and process his “feedback” accordingly.

        If I’m feeling insecure for whatever reason, I’m going to worry there’s something big he’s irritated about he just hasn’t gotten around to mentioning. Neither of those things are going to change my work for the better.

    2. londonedit*

      I think if it’s something that can be easily and quickly addressed there and then, it’s always helpful to do that – just in an ‘Oh, we actually don’t use the LB2 form when we’re booking in a new llama anymore – you need to use the LB1, it’s on the server’ sort of way. In the case of someone missing a meeting, if they don’t have a history of missing meetings then I’d definitely a) firstly try to contact them at the start of the meeting (‘Are you coming to the meeting with Jane Thomas? We’re just getting started’) or if they couldn’t be contacted, after the meeting I’d catch up with them and say ‘Hey, what happened with the Jane Thomas meeting? We thought you were coming’. Definitely don’t save it all up and then present the employee with a whole list of errors that they might have completely forgotten about. It’s much easier and much more helpful if you just point out a small mistake in the moment, so the employee knows it’s happened and can correct it for the future.

      If these things keep happening, then it’s definitely worth a broader conversation along the lines of ‘I mentioned to you a couple of months ago that we shouldn’t be using the LB2 form for new llamas – I know it’s a new process, but I’ve had feedback from the booking team that you’re still using the LB2 when we should be submitting an LB1 form. Can you make sure you use the correct form from now on?’.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      And as an employee I can then fix it. e.g. This is when I realize that some email isn’t going through, or I thought the Palmer report and the Parker report worked the same way and now I know there’s a slightly different protocol. Or this is when we work out that something got lost in translation and I wasn’t at the Thursday meeting because I was in Omaha.

      Trying to do those 8 months later at a performance review isn’t nearly as useful for anyone.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        Yes! We had an issue in OldJob where things were not translating right from our data setup to the informatics people. We didn’t know this until the informatics guy suddenly got angry in a meeting and yelled about how he was sick of fixing our mistakes and it was taking up so much time out of his day, etc etc. We were all very taken aback, and then several of us spoke up and said “Why wouldn’t you tell us that before? If you don’t tell me there’s an issue, I can’t fix it, both where the issue is now and in the future”. I can’t fix it if I don’t know about it, and I don’t like being yelled at when I didn’t actually know that there was an issue.

    4. I should really pick a name*

      If something is going to be addressed, it shouldn’t wait until a performance review.
      But that’s only IF it’s going to be addressed.

    5. Allura Vysoren*

      My boss once flagged that I was late to a meeting and it turned out I had never been invited. If there’s a chance there’s an error in the process, I’d rather know about it before it becomes a pattern and reflects poorly on me as an employee.

    6. I Have RBF*

      Everyone makes small mistakes, even missing meetings. The manager should mention in contemporaneously, but as an “Oh by the way.” If it becomes a pattern, then address the pattern, but as it comes up.

  2. CanadaGal*

    Number 3 letter writer: I would be curious to know if the person interested in talking to you is male, and if you are female? What kind of informal setting would they like to talk to you? You can indicate your preference for a virtual chat during the day, and if the person pushes back to something after working hours, over dinner or drinks, I would be a bit weary.

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      My thoughts exactly. Been there, suffered through the awkwardness of what I thought was a professional coffee meetup and he thought was a first date.

        1. Yorick*

          Some men do try to trick women into a date, and it’s unfortunately something women have to be aware of. The fact that there’s a plausible business reason for the meeting unfortunately doesn’t make it less likely. Indeed, LW wasn’t sure the business reason for the meeting made sense!

    2. MK*

      Eh, I see why your mind went there, but I think this is Higley unlikely when the request for meeting came through HR. If that was his intention, he could have easily used the contact information on her application to call directly.

    3. John Smith*

      Why would their sex matter in this context? I’m reading this as an inference that the interviewer may be looking for more than an informal chat (i.e, a date, sexual hookup etc) in which case this can happen with people of any sex and it need not be heterosexual. Apologies if my assumption is wrong.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        While this is very likely innocuous since it went through HR, please don’t ignore the long history of men inappropriately using work/professional connections to hit on women, much to women’s detriment.

      2. I should really pick a name*

        Not that I would try to arrange a date with an interviewer, but speaking as a gay man, I make sure I’m pretty confident that I know someone is gay before asking them out.

        Society is far more accepting of opposite sex advances than same sex ones, so it’s pretty unlikely that an interviewer with ulterior motives would reach out to an interviewee of the same sex just on the off chance that they might be gay.

      3. Ellis Bell*

        It happens way, way more often to women when dealing with invitations from men. See also: Men using your LinkedIn profile as a dating profile and being contacted about how great your photo looks. I wouldn’t automatically assume that it’s happening, but I would be highly unlikely to go to a networking, or informal business meet with a guy without being prepared for the *possibility*. I would have my scripts all ready for a straight man, whereas if the meet was with a gay woman, I would not expect it to go there at all; I would find that very surprising and practically unheard of. I’ve had several men tell me that “of course” men who meet me through work will try to date and me. Never heard a woman express anything like that.

      4. kitto*

        absolutely there is reason for caution from OP and the gender matters in that conversation. (unfortunately) out of all the occasions in which male (ex-)colleagues/professionals in my area of expertise asked for an informal meeting to discuss an idea/ask for my advice, more than half of them then acted inappropriately when we met (context: i am a woman in a male-dominated industry). i’ve tried being very up-front before meeting them, looking for red flags, steering the conversation back to work once i’m there, etc. but i’m actually really quite scared to meet men in an informal professional context now because there’s been a really strong pattern of behaviour and i don’t feel safe! to contrast, i have had FAR more informal meetings about work/career with women (of all sexualities and i am also gay) and this bait and switch situation has literally never happened. it’s important to recognise that a lot of men use the workplace or professional environments to force their sexual advances onto women and that the caution women have to exercise in these situations is warranted

        1. Bruce*

          I’ve worked with women at all levels relative to me for 40+ years, and I’m very confident about 1-1 meetings at work, but if I’m reaching out to ask for an off-site meeting or lunch I’m very aware I may be setting off alarms. A couple of times I’ve made a point to invite another coworker my contact already knows to join us… one of those times my contact commented (in a joking tone) that she’d checked with the other coworker to make sure I was not a creep… Fortunately I was vouched for and we had a good lunch and productive discussion :-)

      5. dawbs*

        Well, it’s a line that women have to walk all the time –and man many men are ignorant that it even exists.
        It’s the line that leads to “well, obviously it was a date” countered with “how dare she be uppity enough to think it was a date?” and “well, it was leading him on” or “she flirted to get the extra time”

        Please believe women that this exists. It does. It’s something every woman here will tell you that they’ve at least had to think about, because assuming “obviously they’re a professional and it isn’t a date” causes a slew of problems and assuming “ugh he’s not professional it’s a date” causes a different slew of problems and it’s a high-level calculus that we’re doing all the time.

        1. a woman here*

          Speaking as a 50-y-o heterosexual cis female, this is something I had never heard of. I do not doubt that your experience is very, very common, but up until now I was ignorant that the line you have to walk even exists. I know it’s a culturally accepted thing in the US to say “all women” without actually meaning “all women”, but it is a bit alienating. And that obscures your important point!

      6. Texan In Exile*

        I have never had any qualms about going to lunch with a female customer or vendor, but damn – the men.

        A really important male customer asked if I wanted to go to lunch and of course I said yes because maintaining good relationships with customers is important. And I thought it was a business lunch.

        He picked me up, even though I had told him I would meet him at the restaurant – and he turned on a Kenny G very romantic song.

        At the restaurant, he told me all about his divorce and how lonely he was.

        Then he asks me how can it be that someone like me isn’t married.

        All I wanted to talk about was our product – boxes – which couldn’t be further from dating talk. (Although I do find boxes fascinating and have shown really good boxes to my husband.)

        How do you even manage a conversation like that? Where someone who is very very important to your company is hitting on you?

        1. DJ Abbott*

          I would probably say something like, “I’m sorry you’re having a hard time, but I’m happily married and need to keep this about business.” (Or in a relationship if he knows you’re not married.) If necessary, embellish with how jealous your husband/boyfriend is.
          And then excuse yourself as soon as possible and call your husband or rideshare or a taxi to take you back to the office.
          And if you have a good boss, report this as soon as possible.

          1. Ellis Bell*

            It’s weird, but the guys who try this are usually great at sussing out when you’re single, and also have a damp donut for a boss. In some ways it’s worse when the creep hasn’t done a sweep for men on the horizon; those ones are even more shameless. The one I’m thinking of had heard me talk about my husband often, but he still invited me for early runs on the beach, repeatedly, even after my saying “Why would I, when I absolutely hate running and you walk in here off the street all the time anyway?” He was important to my boss, so my only defence was very deadpan expressions and moving away from hugs and kisses with a pointed backwards step and a raised hand: “Oh I don’t hug”.

            1. DJ Abbott*

              How icky! I’m sorry you had to deal with that.
              I misread Texan’s comment, I thought it said she was married. We can still mention our jealous boyfriends though!

    4. JSPA*

      The use of “informal” rather than “personal” SHOULD preclude this… but unfortunately it doesn’t always.

      And that’s true regardless of the genders and orientations involved.

      LW, I think you could say that you’re always happy to grow you “professional network,” and ask what range of topics they had in mind.

      If they hedge at all about it being professional networking, or can’t come up with topics, or they come up with double-entendres, or they straight out say they just want to get to know you better, you can say that this sounds more like a personal than a professional meeting, so, sorry, you don’t mix those streams.

      1. English Rose*

        I think the time to question this is when the meeting arrangements are suggested, not before.
        So if the HR rep suggests Thursday morning coffee at the offices, I wouldn’t think twice. If however they say dinner on Thursday evening at a restaurant, that’s when to ask for more of an idea what the topics are.
        Otherwise there’s a risk of souring what is more likely than not to be a normal meeting request.

    5. DJ Abbott*

      Unless the meeting is an obviously inappropriate place – like 9 PM at a singles bar – OP could go and see what it is. If the interviewer behaves inappropriately, they can always leave.
      OP, follow the safety rules – don’t let the interviewer or anyone else get you into a situation where you can’t leave at any time.
      Good luck!

      1. UKDancer*

        This would be my suggestion. If it’s for daytime, morning coffee or similar in a public place then I think it’s wise to go. It might lead to something in future and there’s more to gain than to lose. Or suggest a virtual coffee if you’re not in the same place and don’t want to travel.

        Obviously if the proposed meeting venue is a romantic candlelit dinner then you know it’s more personal than business.

    6. Snow Globe*

      I’d suspect this if the request came from the person who wants to meet with the LW, but this came through HR, there’s nothing secretive about it. Meet in a public place, sure, but I wouldn’t pass on the opportunity.

    7. M2*

      I would go you have nothing to loose except your time. I had this happen years ago and I ended up in a more junior role but within the. next two years was more senior than the initial role I applied for and directing a better department.

      I had this happen a second time and the person just wanted to hear about my life and experiences which was annoying. I have lived all over the world and done some interesting work and the person wanted to hear about that more than talk about future roles. I’m glad I didn’t get the 0role also because this place had been in the news a lot lately, but it was a waste if my time in this regard.

    8. Ex-prof*

      Yeah, that’s where my mind went too, sadly. It _should_ seem like a normal request, but there are circumstances where it wouldn’t be.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      I had the same exact thought, but since the request came through the HR rep, I’m inclined to think it’s legit.

      Regardless, even if OP is not looking for junior roles, it might be worth grabbing a quick meeting just to discuss it. The interviewer could remember the conversation later if something more suitable comes up. Also it’s not a bad idea to expand your network if you’re job hunting.

      1. John Smith*

        Alison directly stated that the work is not the same as an actor voice over and does not need to be paid for. If you wrote some instructions on how to use the photocopier, for example, are you seriously suggesting that you should get paid every time someone prints something out after reading your instructions?

        1. AcademiaNut*

          I know people who did voice work for software localizations (such as GPS voices), and they got a one time fee, and no residuals.

          1. Emmy Noether*

            and I assume they’re not already working for the software company. If they did it on work time, that’s the pay (though a company may choose to pay even employees extra for that kind of thing for extra motivation, even if not obligated).

            1. The Real Fran Fine*

              I work for a software company and have done voice work for some of our trainings, and I can confirm I was not paid extra for the use of my dulcet tones, lol.

              1. kalli*

                Voice work for software is usually a one-off engagement or done by staff (already employed, situations ranging between whoever’s working on the software and dumps in a guide track and it gets left in, to dedicated in-house VAs like Disney Voices International Inc), and while number of sales/downloads can be tracked, the number of times that recording is actually used isn’t, hence the one-off contract or work-for-hire contract. VA and SA residuals work because the structure exists for them to be paid for reruns and home release sales, which is part of why the writers, screen actors, and voice actors have been striking – they haven’t been paid residuals for streaming because those numbers aren’t released, and they actually do rely on those for payment (especially at the TV guest role level where they are not making $15 million a season or $30 million a film and they actually need that money to eat and their pay has been structured with the expectations of reruns and syndication that has sort of evaporated). It’s also why Spotify paying 0.00007c a listen is pretty darn miserly, because now that physical media is a luxury item and all but the biggest names are maybe printing like 2000 CDs at a pop, the 6000 listens in the first 6 months are the main source of musicians’ income; royalties from radio, covers, songwriting credits and live performance often come in at ‘i can pay for three days food’ levels, but the respective licensing organisations have tracking and reporting structures to ensure those get monitored and paid out.

                No drive-thru is monitoring how many times their automated ‘Welcome to O’Malley’s Ballyhoo, please proceed to the speaker and give your order’ is being set off, so even if there was a contractual structure that gave whoever recorded it residuals, the data just isn’t there to pay it out. It would also be a super low payment; if Taylor Swift gets 0.00017c every time someone listens to ‘Shake It Off’ then that Meat Bun Kingdom franchisee already running on a razor thin margin ain’t paying more than 0.000001c. The worker is already paid for performing work as assigned, may be receiving supervisor or dangerous work allowances, and is probably being stiffed of breaks and at least one other thing they are actually entitled to – checking on that is far more likely to come out with a net benefit than chasing residuals for something they have already functionally been paid for.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            Not to mention people who record the message on the office’s voicemail, including updates, and don’t get paid beyond “additional duties as assigned.”

            1. Lucy P*

              Exactly what I was thinking. My voice has been used for the answering machine/voicemail message for years. I’d love to get my residuals now, but know that’s not gonna happen.

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

                Also, residuals are from movies/shows being watched again by consumers, meaning someone is paying to watch the movie after its initial release. That’s not really the same thing as a voice on a machine. No one is chosing to go to the business to listen to the voice. They are there to get their food or whatever and it’s not them actively choosing to listen to the voice, they just have to listen to the voice to get thier food.

        2. rollyex*

          “It’s cool job. I’m ostensibly the office manger, but I get to work on my screenplay.”

          “What’s it called? Could I take a look.”

          “Er, the working title is ‘How to Unjam the Printers in the Mailroom.'”

        3. Itsa Me, Mario*

          Similar to that, or to Alison’s example of being the voice folks hear on the phone tree, I once had a job where not only did I have to be the voice of our office voicemail, I had to record a fresh outgoing message EVERY DAY (for industry-specific reasons) as part of my closing out tasks. I was not compensated in any way for this beyond my regular pay. Nor should I have been, aside from the fact that it was a massive pain in the ass.

    1. Min*

      No, I disagree.

      “Welcome to Circus Burger, please speak into the clown’s mouth,” is not an acting job.

      1. Pescadero*

        1) Yes, it is absolutely a voice acting job
        2) It’s a “work for hire” under “additional duties as assigned” – so you aren’t entitled to any pay.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Of course she did a real job, but it’s the job she’s already being paid for. There’s no legal entitlement to separate pay for this unless it was negotiated separately before the work was done, which would be extremely unlikely. Again, think of all the employees who record the office voicemail; you don’t get paid extra for that, just like you don’t have any legal entitlement to additional pay when your boss asks you to do other special one-off tasks.

    3. allathian*

      Not really, like others have said, it’s other duties as assigned and she was paid for it in her normal salary/wages.

      That said, when employers ask employees to do extra tasks using skills that aren’t a part of their regular job description, I think a crucial thing to consider is the employee’s ability to decline the request. When our graphic designer who formerly published a web comic was asked to draw a one-off cartoon to be published in our internal staff magazine, he was paid separately for that because he could have refused to do it without it affecting his terms of employment, and he retained the copyright to the cartoon and later published it on his website.

    4. NerdyKris*

      I read this as it’s a greeting or an instruction, not something like the whole menu and directions. Trying to compare a single voice recording to voice acting is trivializing voice acting.
      And even if it was the full menu, she was paid, because she was an employee at the time. If she wanted more, the time to negotiate would have been before performing the work.

      1. Antilles*

        If she wanted more, the time to negotiate would have been before performing the work.
        This. Actors get residuals because their contract states it; without an actual agreement, OP isn’t getting them.

        1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

          I think this is the key point. Residuals are not something people are entitled to under law, it’s something people negotiate into their contracts.

    5. ecnaseener*

      As a fast-food worker they’re probably paid hourly. As long as they were on the clock for the recording, they were paid.

    6. Support Good Regulation*

      Unfortunately, it’s only in properly regulated environments that “other duties as assigned” is limited to mean minor or incidental tasks *related to the position* so that every possible scenario doesn’t need to be written in explicit detail.

      In poorly regulated environments, it is permissible (legally, not ethically) to misuse the concept in the way the letter writer describes. One would be hard-pressed to find voice-over work in a common description of any position in a fast food chain, but in the poorly-regulated private sector, that legally doesn’t matter.

      1. I should really pick a name*

        How is spending a few minutes (or even half an hour) recording a message not a minor or incidental task related to the position?

        They’re reading off of a script. They aren’t developing a character, or expressing different emotions. It would seem a bit much to actually hire a voice actor for such a tiny job.

      2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        I worked at McDonald’s in my first job and saying “Welcome to McDonald’s, may I take your order?” in a pleasant voice over the drive-through speaker absolutely was part of my job. I didn’t get paid extra for “voice work.” I don’t see how recording it makes a difference.

        1. ecnaseener*

          This. The work was 100% in line with the usual fast-food work of reciting customer service scripts all day. Recording it doesn’t materially change that, it just saves a few hundred recitations a day. There’s no ethical issue.

        2. Kit*

          Yeah, when I was working as a receptionist I’d occasionally have to record a voicemail message when we had all-company meetings – very much ‘other duties as assigned,’ because I was being paid to be the pleasant-sounding voice who established who they’d called and either forwarded them to the right person, or (as here) told them why nobody was picking up and when we’d be back. Sorry to OP, but this is just not something you should expect to impact your paychecks, especially retroactively!

    7. Goosey*

      I do corporate voiceover work sometimes and don’t make residuals every time XYZ brand trains a new class of managers using the video series I narrated; it’s a one and done fee. Even if this were a voice gig, the two minutes it took to record the message a couple times would be pretty fiscally negligible.* I think the writer needs to let it go.

      (*I mean, in a real context there would be a minimum charge to make it worth taking to account for equipment, editing, etc., but I’m assuming this was just speaking the message into a recording device the company provided.)

    8. JubJubTheIguana*

      I’ve worked as a professional actor and voiceover actor – this absolutely is not voiceover acting. I’m sorry, but it’s simply not.

  3. Area Orb*

    LW3, I was in a very similar position to you roughly this time last year – I was fruitlessly job hunting, getting nowhere, and was growing more and more demoralised in a comms job that provided zero mobility, paid poorly, and was a terrible cultural fit.

    A member on the three-person panel I (un)successfully interviewed for asked to keep in touch after that interview. She referred me onto other job openings in the org, invited me into the office to meet key staff, and kept in touch after two other unsuccessful job applications and one unsuccessful interview with that exact same organisation. Eventually, that panel member got me into the org via a six-month parental leave backfill in her team.

    Through that EOI, I’ve absolutely flourished in my career, doubled my annual salary (not hyperbole), and have since landed a permanent contract in the same org.

    Mine is obviously a best case scenario, but you have very little to lose by taking the staffer up on their offer, and potentially much to gain. Good luck with your job hunt!

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Even if it weren’t this best case scenario, there are a lot of other plausible scenarios. They might know of an opening somewhere else in the org you can fit, or they know of another org hiring right now, that while they would hate to not be able to hire you, they know somewhere else you could fit.

      This is networking. Even if its not this particular job. This gets you known to someone who you can build a relationshp with that might pan out later. Its worth an informal chat.

    2. SpaceySteph*

      It’s not quite as fantastic a story, but I also kept in touch with one member of a 3 person panel that interviewed me in Feb 2022 and then ultimately picked someone else. Over the course of a year he checked in occasionally to keep me informed of changes in his org, keep tabs on my career progress and interest… and a year later hired me (without even conducting another interview, just called me up and offered me a job) and I started in May of this year.

      It doesn’t hurt at all to network and remain open to possibilities.

    3. CanadianPublicServant*

      Agreed! I have hired a good amount for entry level positions, and I often see really promising people that I can’t hire right now, or for whom the job I am hiring for isn’t quite right. I regularly offer to keep in touch, perhaps offer some advice to break into the field, and either go back to them when I do have an opening or pass them on to someone else who needs someone. In my last role, I was described as the go to when you were recruiting, and I loved that – connecting good people with career opportunities is something I love doing.

  4. Zombeyonce*

    #5: Anyone suggesting that one-time, minor mistakes deserve inclusion in an annual review is a bad manager. It’s not only ridiculous to include a small mistake in an annual review, it will also make employees feel piled on if they get to their review and hear a long list of insignificant infractions that happened so long ago they don’t even remember them, especially if they were fixed right away. It just feels petty.

    1. John Smith*

      Yep. My manager does this. Any minor mistake made leads to a conversation as to how and why it happened, whether it was systematic and whether procedures need to be changed and extra steps introduced to prevent it happening again. It’s utterly infuriating and demoralising to have to sit there and listen to a list of petty moans whilst at the same time hearing zero for having saved the department from my managers multiple and daily fuckups. I think Peritos(?) Law applies where 80% effort is put in for 20% output.

      1. Jules*

        I once worked for a boss who, when I made a mistake, always said, “how can we make sure this never happens again?” I was thinking, “well, I can quit this job and that will solve the problem.” But I did stay there longer than any other EA this guy had, which is pretty sad because I was only there about 9 months. It got to where I was so scared to make a mistake, I ended up making a few stupid mistakes. Then he wanted me to manage all of the paperwork for his SBA loan, which I was completely unqualified to do. I tried to stay for the much talked about bonuses, but I just couldn’t take it, and I left before the end of the year for another job.

    2. Sean*

      It also conveys the impression to me of a manager who smiles sweetly and is outwardly pleasant to their staff throughout the year, while quietly cultivating a list of mistakes to present as a gotcha when the time comes.

    3. doreen*

      I had a single instance of using the wrong form mentioned on my evaluation once. One single infraction, not even a long list. Turns out someone above that manager was of the opinion that everyone can improve ( which is true) and on the way down , that somehow turned into “every evaluation must have something negative” .

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I feel like that’s a corruption of the good principle of identifying areas for growth. It isn’t supposed to mean you’re doing anything wrong now, though. Maybe you’re so great at chocolate teapots that your manager wants you to learn about toffee teapots, too.

    4. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      I got the feeling from the letter, they raise it in the moment — you missed a meeting, don’t let it happen again and use it at performance time. Which is doubly crappy. A missed meeting from someone you know is reliable is something you check to make sure everything is okay. Then you move on. You don’t also raise it later in things that can affect raises.

      1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

        And also, like… yes? we discussed it, it happened, it hasn’t happened again. It was a one-off, I can’t time travel to change the past, so exactly how is this a thing I can “improve” on?

    5. Kali*

      As someone who works for an organization where this has repeatedly happened to me, I wholeheartedly agree. Basically, it’s gotten to the point where I loathe half the supervisors in my division, and I’m already planning my retirement for the first moment that I can get out with a pension. I’m in an industry where people are very loyal and tend to stay with one organization for their entire careers, but I will peace out asap because of this behavior, and I’m not the only one. It’s incredibly demoralizing and has really made me check out, especially when the great work I do gets zero recognition (isn’t that always the way?).

    6. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      #2 Since you are able to decline this interview/job, please do inform this jerk EA that her demands to know your salary are illegal. Other applicants might need a job urgently and not feel able to do this.
      If you do get an interview, the CEO should also be told that his EA is acting illegally, so he can tell her not to do this to other applicants.

    7. Parakeet*

      Something similar to this was organizational policy at one of my (otherwise pretty good, honestly!) previous jobs, that any “feedback” from the year had to be discussed in the annual review. And yeah, it was demoralizing, though at least I knew it was coming since it was an organizational policy.

      1. Jules*

        That is terrible! I’m sorry you had to deal with such stupidity, even if you knew it was coming.

    8. FrivYeti*

      My experience is that it’s less petty, and more a deliberate tactic to avoid giving out raises when you have a raise structure based around performance.

      I’ve worked in two jobs that included one-time minor mistakes (one of them, in fact, dinged me in a quarterly review for being late to work one time when my *house was broken into* because I should have been able to get someone else to wait for the police.) In both jobs, these minor mistakes meant that the review ended with a “room for improvement” and smaller raise than if there had been no mistakes, and in both cases we were less than a year out from major layoffs.

      1. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

        I got caught in this at a previous employer. You had to average 3 out of 5 points on your annual review in order to get any sort of raise at that company. (They didn’t give cost of living raises, only merit raises.) My department was notoriously stingy about that – it was kind of an open secret that the only way to get a raise was to be promoted, or in line to be proomoted once an opening was available. (Or if you were a favorite of your manager, which I definitely was not.)
        I went into my last annual review at that company feeling good about it – I’d had a good year and took on a few more responsibilities. Well, my manager ended up dinging me for a really small mistake at the beginning of the previous year (think something like making a typo on a document that the manager caught and I fixed before it went to the client. That scale.) and the ding was enough to put me just under the average needed to get a raise. I couldn’t believe it!

  5. Zombeyonce*

    #1: Would it be appropriate for LW to ask the boss why they’re being ignored at social functions? I like the advice to see how they treat other people in similar situations, but after that I’d want to bring it up directly if I were the LW and see if the relationship could be improved. (Especially if neither marital status or working relationship appear to be the cause.)

    1. Sloanicota*

      OP says she doesn’t want to bring it up, but I could think of a few indirect ways to raise it that might give them at least a hint. Assuming he doesn’t avoid all single women, I can think of several decent reasons why this might be happening without it being a problem for OP; maybe he fears he’ll get caught in a longer work conversation with you, or finds it too easy to slip into a CFO/CEO type dynamic and really wants to work the room talking to the little people. Maybe you could say, “boy, I barely saw you at (event last night) – I meant to ask you about (Y unrelated to work thing like his football team or hobby)” – and just see how he responds? You could also lead a little bit like, “it’s pretty hard to catch you at these things, you’re always doing a great job moving around the room! Is that a networking strategy?” It doesn’t have to be “why am I unworthy of your attention??”

      1. kalli*

        Asking if circulating at a work event is a networking strategy would probably not make someone who’s a c-level 2IC to this boss person look very smart.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          Maybe, but nitpicking what’s meant to be an example phrase (not a script) seems a bit excessive.

          1. kalli*

            It’s not a good example if it’s not actually going to improve things and can risk LW’s reputation – in that case it’s not ‘leading’ it’s ‘demonstrating LW doesn’t understand a basic facet of the situation’. I’d rather be seen as nitpicky and push back on something that could hurt LW so they at least know it can do that.

    2. No Longer Working*

      I’d like to know, when she arrives at the social event, or sees him arrive, has she never gone over to him and said hello? There should be a greeting between them, then he is free to network & socialize with other people. I wouldn’t think that weird at all. But they should at least be saying hello to each other.

      1. human-woman*

        I had this thought as well. I’m an introvert, so in a networking setting like this, I often (unconsciously) wait for people to come to me. It takes effort to realize – oh yeah, I’m equally capable of approaching them. And even more effort to then go and do that.

      2. Anonym*

        Yes, I had the same thought. If he greets OP (wave, hello, or at least a nod/smile of acknowledgement), I’d be inclined to think he’s just focusing on connecting with the people in his org that he doesn’t get a chance to connect with in the day to day. Which an exec should definitely be doing at this sort of thing!

        If he avoids eye contact or any acknowledgement at all, it could still go either way, but it’s weirder.

      3. AngryOctopus*

        Yeah, I suspect boss is consciously making the effort to go chat with people he doesn’t see most of the time. He probably sees LW and thinks “Oh I should go say hi, oh wait there’s Jane from accounting and I almost never see her, gonna go say hello, oh, also Dave from legal is nearby, wanted to connect with him too, haven’t seen him in months” and before you know it, the event is over and he’s never said hi to LW and isn’t thinking much of it because he saw LW yesterday.

        1. Chris too*

          My boss and I tend to avoid each other at social things and yet we too work closely together and get on very well – I’ve always thought it’s because we don’t want to seem like too much of a two-person unit together. I don’t mean any kind of inappropriate unit, more like assumptions of favouritism, or that if one of us heard something that perhaps we shouldn’t have, we’d automatically tell the other. I think I’d think of it this way first before thinking of a Mike Pence situation.

        2. Beth*

          If I were OP1 this would be my assumption. It almost doesn’t matter whether it’s true–it’s the framing that would make his behavior most understandable and least hurtful to me, and that makes it useful to me. We can’t change other people’s behavior (especially our bosses!), but we can decide how we want to think about their behavior.

    3. anonymouse*

      I started reading that letter and thought Alison is on vacation because I remember this one. And then I saw the link. Oh, there is more than one person who is unsure if they are being snubbed by a colleague. But this one is not as bad. I think the other person is actively ignored v. this person being snubbed.
      I get feeling 100% uncomfortable in work/social situations as well as getting in your own head about “A Thing.”
      But OP, you can end this. Say “I just wanted to say hi before you made your rounds.”
      And if you are feeling confident, add, “because I seem to miss you at these things!”

  6. Mialana*

    LW5 – Wow, what kind of superhumans work at your workplace who miss their first deadline after YEARS working at the place? With this kind of mistakes it’s obvious that it just slipped their mind once (unless their’s a pattern) and you should let them go. Mistakes that look like they are caused by a misunderstanding should be addresses immediately because those will repeat if you don’t address them.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Years ago, I was asked about why I entered deadlines in a database incorrectly. My answer was that everyone else had called in sick, and our policy was that we couldn’t all be out (there were 4 of us). Even though I realized I had a fever partway through the morning, I had to stay and do all the essential work of the department.

      Oh, and I am a human and not a machine.

      Sometimes the mistake can be the fault of management decisions.

      1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        Your last line–I had a grandboss mark me down on my annual review for an error that was due to inadequate training. I consider that HIS error–if I didn’t know X because managers never got trained on X, how is that MY fault? His “reasoning” was that he got dinged for it and it couldn’t just be his fault, could it? This was in a year that I worked my rear off with great results.

  7. History better than range*

    I’d much rather give people info about salary history than provide an expectation of what I want to be paid without having already gone through enough of the interview process to have a good sense of the job, the working environment, and other factors. I also want to understand the benefits.

    If I’m pushed for a salary range I’ll push back and ask what they want to pay. Most of the time that works, and sometimes I’ve gotten a number higher than I’d have put out there myself. If they don’t budge, I’ll offer up salary history of some sort rather than give out numbers that may undercut what they’re willing to pay. Note that I don’t necessarily offer my last/current salary, especially if it’s lower than norm for some reason (non-profit, academia), but salary history that makes sense in the context of the job.

    1. BubbleTea*

      When they’re asking for salary history, they’re assuming that the amount you’ve been making most recently is what you’re looking for now, so the risk of undercutting etc is still there. Plus the fact that they’re deliberately breaking the law, which exists for good reasons, is a red flag.

    2. SarahKay*

      My salary history has been used as an excuse to underpay me in the past, and using salary history has been shown to perpetuate discriminatory pay.
      I’m glad you’re happy to talk about your salary, but the fact is that OP#2 isn’t, and it’s *illegal* for potential employers to ask them to do so.
      Not to mention that I can’t see why giving a range that I want is any more (or less) likely to undercut what they will pay than offering up salary history will.

    3. Magpie*

      What if your salary history puts you in a lower range than they would otherwise be offering? They might look at the pay you’ve accepted on the past and figure you’d be very happy with a 5% increase on top of that, and you’d never know they were actually willing to offer a 50% increase. This is why it’s a bad idea to offer salary history. You never know whether you’ve been making substantially less than their target range and potentially undercutting yourself.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        THIS. Salary history is used to base what they are willing to pay you on what you historically made, not what the role pays. It keeps underpaid workers underpaid.

        Asking for salary ranges isn’t much better. Employers need to list the salary range so people can have some idea if their range meets what is being offered instead of making the employee, who is already in a lower power position in that they are job seeking, play guessing games as to what the employer is willing to pay.

        1. Anonymask*

          Agreed. I won’t even apply to a job without a salary range listed anymore. I don’t want to waste my time if it ends up being way less than what I want/need.

    4. Hlao-roo*

      I’d much rather give people info about salary history than provide an expectation of what I want to be paid without having already gone through enough of the interview process to have a good sense of the job, the working environment, and other factors. I also want to understand the benefits.

      I think it’s fine to update your salary expectations when you learn more about the role. Most companies should be understanding if you say something along the lines of “when I initially said my range was $X to $Y, I wasn’t aware that the [job title] is also responsible for data analytics. Now that I know more about the role, I’m looking for something closer to $Y + 10.”

    5. Justme, The OG*

      Classes of people who are chronically underpaid, like women and people of color, would disagree with you.

    6. The Username Lost to Time*

      There’s a lot of good advice from Alison and others on how to assertively handle the illegal salary history question. I’m wondering what the potential fallout would be if a job seeker were pushed into a corner and simply lied about their salary history.

      1) An employer could do some digging and find out that the job seeker lied. Ok, no job offer.
      2) But, once someone is hired, is an employer going to terminate their employment because the employee lied when asked an illegal question??? Isn’t that along the lines of an interviewer asking a woman if she has kids and then firing her because she lied about not having kids?

    7. ecnaseener*

      I don’t believe any of the laws are against a candidate proactively giving information about their salary history, just against the employer asking for it. So you can feel free to do this, and LW can push back on illegal questions without affecting you.

      1. Threeve*

        I agree, but I strongly disagree with the advice to forward the exchange to a state agency ~before~ trying to contact the CEO or HR.

        It would be an enormous overreaction to risk getting the entire company in legal trouble based on an few emails with a single EA.

        1. Statler von Waldorf*

          If the company is breaking the law, they deserve to get into legal trouble.

          You seem to be more concerned that the company might get into trouble than the fact that the company is probably breaking the law so they can pay their employees as little as possible. I’m not.

        2. Lenora Rose*

          But would it? That company is responsible for hiring and training this staff member. This leaves only a few possibilities:
          1: This member was not adequately trained. This is on the company, not the staff member, and punishing her for it is wrong. (someone in one of the threads about when to talk about mistakes points exactly this out.)
          2: This member was trained but told explicitly in their training to do something illegal. Again, that is on the company, not just the employee who either didn’t know it was illegal or is having to weigh their own job security against pushing back. She may carry a part of the blame, depending.
          3: The staff member was told – even repeatedly – not to do this but is blatantly ignoring training. If so, there will be documentation, and the company itself can defend itself under investigation, and only she will bear the brunt.

          The thing with contacting the company’s upper levels is that *even if* 1 or 2 is true, they will throw her under the bus, get her fired, and they’ll get away with it, even though the fault lies deeper in and may well be repeated. An outside investigation reduces the risk of tossing the cog when the machine is what’s really broken.

        3. Starbuck*

          No, why should they get multiple chances? They’ve already very clearly broken the law; the enforcement agency can decide if they way to be lenient or not. There’s already far too little enforcement of worker protections. Of course, OP should assume she won’t be working there after exercising that option.

        4. Who Plays Backgammon?*

          Don’t assume the EA is on a “power trip” when the insistence on a salary range may actually be coming from from their boss. It may be the CEO is the ignorant one. Saying that asking for salary history is now illegal in your state is fine (EA can pass that info to their boss). Administrative workers get caught in the middle all the time, and it’s not OK to make it worse for them.

    8. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      None of this matters. It’s illegal. Your opinion of the law is yours, but your preference does not trump it.

    9. Beth*

      I really think the solution here is for the employer to provide their salary range (and a reasonably narrow one, not the “$50k-$120k” nonsense I’ve seen on some job postings). They’ve done the market research to know what the norm is for the role, and they know what their budget is. Asking a candidate to name the first numbers is just a game to see if they can get a good candidate for cheaper than expected.

      And it’s a game that’s going to backfire in the long run, too. Their new hire will realize they’ve been underpaid and get upset, or a pattern will develop (because there are social patterns to who is underpaid and therefore who will accept less) and suddenly it looks like the company is paying a protected group consistently less than others, or they’ll need to hire another person for the role and have a hard time with it because their expectations for salary vs experience are out of line with the market. It would save everyone–employers included!–trouble if companies just stop the song and dance and name their real numbers from the start.

    10. There You Are*

      In addition to what everyone else is saying about how giving your salary history could / can / does cut your chances of getting decent pay bump, it’s also true that giving your salary history could get you automatically cut from the pool of prospective interviewees because the company thinks you make too much already for them to hire you, without ever considering that a *lot* of people switch industries or roles for a better work/life balance fully understanding that there will be a cut in pay.

    11. Lauren19*

      LW – this happened to me last week. On the initial call with the recruiter, at the end he asked what my base and total comp were last year. I responded I’m more curious about how they think about comp structure — base, bonus, profit sharing, other deferred comp, etc., and what the budget was for this role. He talked a little about structure, then ‘guessed’ my base with a 100k range. Said he didn’t really have a range and that he’s never had a problem getting what he asked for candidates.

      A week later, during an email exchange following an interview with the hiring manager, he asked current base salary again. I did give my salary expectations, which I maybe shouldn’t have without the range first, but oh well. Since I live in Maryland, I then replied with:

      “I also wanted to make you aware of the Maryland pay transparency law, which restricts employers from asking about salary history during the hiring process, and also requires employers to provide salary ranges upon request. I know you said you didn’t have a range for this role, but this might be a good opportunity to counsel [employer] on establishing ranges moving forward as I do want to make sure all of you remain in compliance.

      I hope to connect again soon on this opportunity!”

    12. Freya*

      I’d rather not be paid something close to a job in a low cost-of-living area when moving to a high cost-of-living area – and I’d rather not be out of the running for a job just because I’m moving somewhere with a lower cost of living and have calculated that even though I’ll take a pay cut in pure dollar terms, the portion of my budget that’s available for discretionary spending will be higher because I’m not spending so much on rent. Pay history tends to inform future pay offers, but it doesn’t tell the story of what it was actually worth to you.

  8. Irish Teacher*

    LW1, my immediate thoughts were quite similar to Alison’s, either he is seeing these events as giving people access to him that they wouldn’t normally have and he already works with you (in other words, he is seeing these events as being work and about networking rather than relaxing with his work friends) or else he is concerned about rumours. There could be many reasons for this, from him having heard somebody gossiping about ye to him having an SO who is very jealous to a view that anybody who sees a man and woman together even for a moment will suspect impropriety.

    Given that he seems to have no problem working with you and that you say he talks to everybody else, not just the men, I would be inclined to guess it’s not a concern about being seen with women in general, but it still could be that he fears rumours about the two of you specifically. Alternatively, perhaps he does fancy you and is taking care to keep things professional.

    1. GammaGirl1908*

      My first thought absolutely was that Boss spends a lot of time with LW already and uses the events to see people he normally does not.

      I also thought that maybe LW is a bit of a talker? Or very passionate about work and loves to drill down into the details? Or something else that means Boss knows he’d spend 20 minutes with LW when he needs to be doing 5 drive-by chats with other people in that amount of event time?

      1. GammaGirl1908*

        Either way, it would be ideal if boss just said hello to LW and kept it moving, instead of pointedly ignoring her. It’s the pointedness of the ignoring that makes this weird, not Boss’ desire to schmooze with as many employees as possible.

        1. kalli*

          If he’s just spent all day with LW it may not even be pointed or deliberate, just ‘we’ve already spoken today I do not need to greet this fellow human’ like you don’t say good morning to everyone in the office every time you go back to your desk after a meeting, cuppa, toilet run, etc. because you already say hi.

        2. Jennifer Strange*

          Pointedly ignoring her would indicate that the LW greets him and he doesn’t respond. It doesn’t sound like that’s what’s happening here, he’s just not specifically seeking her out.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I went straight to “He talks to people he doesn’t spend lots of time with every day.”

      1. Aquamarine*

        Me too. He talks to the OP all the time, so he’s using the social event to talk to and get to know other people. That seems waaayyyy more likely to me than the other possibilities.

    3. Seashell*

      Yeah, my thought was less Mike Pence, and more like your last sentence – he thinks she’s hot and doesn’t want to risk any flirtation.

      1. kalli*

        but he’s perfectly okay working closely with LW the rest of the time and flirtation isn’t magically inhibited outside of work-designated ‘social’ activities (which are still, arguably, work-based given that you can still be fired for misconduct for things that happen there). If there was any concern, it wouldn’t be isolated to the only times he gets to circulate with people outside his day-to-day team and check in with them.

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

        Which would still be completely inappropriate!

        Also, why would he flirtation be a risk at these social events and not in their more common day-to-day interactions?

    4. M*

      Particularly with the Director/Assistant Director relationship, it does seem very possible that LW1’s boss just… thinks they’re dividing up the room between them. Like, I’d very rarely socialise with my boss at company events – because we’re in meetings together most days, and split a set of joint responsibilities between us, including the supervision of staff. We’re both seen as “The Authority”, so to speak, so we both need to be visible and accessible at company social things, not sequestered off talking to each other.

      If that also rings true for LW1: it might actually be very low-stakes to raise and confirm! “I’ve noticed we’ve fallen into a natural rhythm of dividing up the room at company social events. I wanted to check in and see if you wanted to do a quick debrief at our next meeting after each of those – sometimes I find out things that cast a different light on problems with staff, like [insert example], and I wonder whether we’re sharing all that knowledge effectively right now?” Maybe he’d be surprised to hear LW1 thinking it’s deliberate, and reflect on his own behaviour – or maybe he’s been assuming for years that that’s what they’re doing.

      1. WFH FTW*

        Oh, I like this: “…they’re dividing up the room between them”. Seems totally reasonable!

    5. lilyp*

      Gender dynamics aside, I could also see him thinking it would look cliquish or unapproachable if he spent a lot of time chatting with other C-suite execs. I could also see him worrying about an appearance of favoritism if he already works more closely with OP than with other people at her level and then also spends time talking to her. But overall I think “mingling with people he doesn’t see everyday” is the most likely explanation!

  9. JSPA*

    LW#2, If this is at a nonprofit, consider tracking down one of the board members and letting them know.

    1. Jackalope*

      That could also be an option, but as we’ve seen from many letters in the past, boards often don’t listen to outside feedback. In fact it’s possible they think it’s a good strategy and aren’t interested in the fact that it’s illegal. Even if the OP reports it to a board member I would also recommend that they report it to the official governing body of the state because it’s more likely something will change if they do that.

      1. HonorBox*

        I think it depends entirely on the board and the specific board member. I’ve worked for boards and if a candidate had approached a few of my board members, probably nothing would have been done. If they’d have approached several others, all hell would have broken loose (in a good way in this sense). Depending on the understanding the board member has and depending on their role within the board, a lot can change, and it may be unlikely that the LW knows specifically who to approach.

        I get reporting to the official governing body, too, but I’m wondering if reaching out directly to the CEO might move the needle, too. They may not realize that what is being asked is illegal. They should, of course, but they may not, especially if it is a smaller organization. If the CEO doesn’t realize, they might be in a better position to put a stop to it. And it might make it easier going forward if the LW actually wants to work for the organization. Reporting to the governing board will take more time, and may blow up their opportunity to move forward.

  10. münchner kindl*

    LW #3, meeting after interview: I thought of interviewers who asked me at the end of the interview whether they could keep my files if similar jobs opened up in the future, and I said yes (and was contacted later).

    Maybe the interviewer wants to ask you “now that you didn’t get the job as lama groomer, would you also like a job as alpaca groomer?” and depending on your answer, he will keep your data and maybe contact you later.

    Or maybe the job opening doesn’t appear, and he doesn’t contact you. But I would take the chance (unless there’s skeevy signs, so just coffee during daylight).

  11. Ella*

    regarding LW 5 question:

    I think if you are 100% certain that the “offender” (person who made the mistake) absolutely knows something went wrong, owns up to it and it is just clearly a mistake that she won’t do again, I actually wouldn’t say something.

    I still think fondly of a managing director of the consulting firm I worked for on one of my first jobs. Due to travel problems (missed train connections) I arrived at a hotel close to the customer’s company at 2 am at night (instead of 11pm). The director was already checked-in and sleeping soundly :-)

    the next morning, I grossly overslept, as in: I was called by the hotel because my taxi had been waiting for 10 minutes.
    I arrived about 40 minutes late to the event which I was supposed to run. I very clearly was sorry, but there just wasn’t time for a talk about it or anything. And the director expected me in a friendly, helpful way, just very clearly trying to get the stuff done without blaming me for the reason we were in a rush.

    It’s hard to explain but we both just nonverbally acknowledged that OF COURSE I can’t oversleep!! But at the same time, it just happened and there’s no purpose in talking in through. It was just so obvious that it shouldn’t happen again, that we never talked about it and I am still so very grateful that I was just allowed to process it myself and make a point of not doing it again while not being treated like a little school girl.

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

      I recall making a mistake, my manager brought it up in our next regularly scheduled 1-on-1 meeting, I just started ranting about what went wrong, why it was my fault, and how I would do things differently. When I finished my manager said “well, you’re being harder on yourself than I was going to be, so enough said about that.”

  12. bamcheeks*

    LW3, how about suggesting an online meeting or a phone call to the manager? It’s extremely understandable if you don’t want to take time off work and travel for a face-to-face meeting with no obvious job in sight, but if you can find a lower-energy way to preserve and deepen a connection with someone who actively *wants* to employ you but doesn’t have a job available at the moment, that can pay off long-term.

  13. Melissa*

    My read on 1 is that he sees you all the time (daily, I’m assuming), whereas for almost everyone else, this is a rare chance to chat with him. If he’s in a CEO or other similar position, part of the purpose of these gatherings is for him to be available to the employees who don’t normally get to interact with him.

    1. TX_trucker*

      +1 This is such a regular part of being an executive, that I’m wondering if the OP is “working the room” or just socializing with their team. Most folks mistake me for an extrovert, because how outgoing I am with staff. That is 1000% not my natural state. But it’s part of the expectation for being c-suite. We just had a 2000 employee party last week and I am mentally exhausted from all the socializing.

      1. Angstrom*

        I’ve talked with retired State Department embassy personnel who said that part of their job evaluation was their “performance” at social functions. Working the room, greeting new people, introducing them to other people, taking care of VIPs, picking up bits of useful information, trading notes with other staff, etc. A party was NOT a time to relax with friends — they were expected to be on duty for the duration.

      2. lunchtime caller*

        It’s in fact so normal for that type of role that I was absolutely bewildered the LW would assume it was anything else, let alone the thing about her being single. It came together when the LW admitted that’s a growing insecurity for them in their personal life; the classic problem of “ah, of course the thing that I’m carrying a lot of negative emotion about is the reason for everything a little bit bad or awkward that happens to me” that our brains are so good at feeding.

    2. Anonymous 75*

      agree and I’d tack on to that the idea that’s it’s also very possible that the boss sees the letter writer out there socializing and talking to people herself and See’s that as an asset to both the company and himself. The LW, right now, is coming off as a mature, independent valuable member to his team who doesn’t need hand holding.

      I used to work for politicians and high up government employees and the ones who saw each other every day/worked closely together, never really interacted at work social events. they all kinda worked and moved around the room to make sure the employees felt like they all got “facetime” with the higher ups.

      1. kalli*

        If LW was socialising and working the room at these kinds of events it should actually be pretty difficult for her to monitor boss’ behaviour to this level. It’s what she should be doing at these events as a c-level executive, the same as he is, and if she was doing it then he could maybe take fifteen minutes to have a breather with a drink and check in with LW and other c-levels to take the temperature of the room or pass on ‘hey you should talk with this person before they leave for reasons’-type intel, because everyone would get their facetime with a senior exec but not all the same single senior exec. But also, if she was doing it, it would have to be an extremely small company for her to be able to keep one eye on boss enough to know where he is and that he’s talked to everyone by the end of the event; otherwise her role would have her on the opposite side of the room, facing away from him, outside while he’s inside etc. and she may even be too engaged to notice she hasn’t spoken to him for a couple of hours (gasp).

        The Pence kind of avoidance wouldn’t just be noticeable at events – they work closely together! LW would absolutely notice if they were never alone in a room, the door was never closed even when they were working on high-level confidential strategy, they never had meals or worked late without keeping other staff in (and paying them overtime for the whole purpose of not being alone unchaperoned). That’s why the Pence thing was so egregious, because it directly impacted the ability of ‘available’ women to work with him; that really doesn’t seem the case here.

    3. MCMonkeyBean*

      I agree, this sounds fairly normal to me for him to make sure he’s interacting with people he doesn’t usually talk to–for them having the chance to speak personally with the CEO is exactly the kind of thing that is the reason to go to a work function like that in the first place! If he’s like not even acknowledging you with a hello or a polite wave he probably should, but otherwise I think it makes sense for him to spend all his time at work socials with the people he doesn’t work with every day.

  14. Hiring Mgr*

    If #1 has been working at this job for several years, wouldn’t she already know if it was a Mike Pence scenario?

    It seems far more likely your boss is just trying to circulate and network.

    1. Aquamarine*

      Agreed – seems like if it were a Mike Pence thing, the time you’d really notice it is when you were alone with him at the office. I really think it’s that the boss and the LW talk all the time already, so he’s spending his time with other people.

      1. Clisby*

        Yeah, I don’t recall Mike Pence saying he wouldn’t talk to a single woman in a crowded room full of other people.

  15. TX_trucker*

    #1 I always avoid my second in charge at social events. If I don’t, we start talking about work and never get around to talking to other people.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      ^This is very much a thing. And you start putting out a “important work conversation, do not interrupt” vibe that is counter to the point of these gatherings.

  16. Emma*

    I recorded the greeting on the phone system at a former employer. Several years later I had occasion to call and was surprised (but also not) to hear my voice. I decided to take it as a compliment. Now I wonder if anyone ever changed it before the company closed.

  17. Lucidity*

    Regarding LW2, I am not in the States so am wondering if someone can clarify this law. Since OP resides in a state where it’s illegal to ask for salary history, would the company need to comply with this even if they’re located in a state where it’s legal?

    1. doreen*

      It doesn’t matter exactly where the company is located – what is likely to matter is where the job is located and/or where the interview takes place. Residency itself is usually not enough but residence plus a remote position usually is, as the work will be done in the state where it is illegal.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      My understanding is it matters both where the role is located and where the interview occurs. So if it’s a remote phone/zoom interview and the interviewee is in a place where it’s not legal, then it’s not legal for them to ask, regardless of where the interviewer is. If the interviewee is currently, during the interview, somewhere where it is legal to ask, but the job itself is located somewhere it’s not, then the employer should also not be asking during the interview, still regardless of where the interviewer is. Also, fun bonus, if neither the interviewer nor the role are located somewhere it’s illegal to ask, but the candidate is located somewhere it’s illegal to ask during the interview (even if, say, they were just on vacation there at interview time but don’t live there and won’t be working from there), still can’t ask.

      1. doreen*

        I don’t know what the actual answer is, but I don’t see how it can be illegal based on where the candidate is for the phone/zoom interview. How would the company even know where the candidate is? How can a company that perhaps only operates in one state be expected to know the laws of every state and city a candidate might be vacationing in? ( cities sometimes have their own law even if the state doesn’t)

  18. Falling Diphthong*

    OP2, I would directly state that it’s illegal.

    Best case: The person asking was unaware, and not only do they check up on this and correct what they are doing here, it goads them to more broadly consider areas where “the way we’ve always done it” might not fly with current regulations and more broadly pull the org into better practices.

    Medium case: The person asking was unaware, and will be mildly embarrassed when you point out they are in the wrong. This should usually be recoverable, especially if the person is along the lines of an HR functionary rather than the hiring manager. (If they are the hiring manager: There just is no way “Will go into a huff and pout and refuse to communicate with you if you point out they are breaking the law” is going to be a good quality in the boss assigning you work.)

    Worst case: The person may or may not have been aware, but does not care about “laws” and “state and federal regulations affecting our industry” and this is not the only area where this will come out. This is good information to have as you back away.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      … or they are aware on a personal level that it’s illegal, but are being pushed into asking it by their boss (or the hiring manager!) and for whatever reason feel unable to push back.

      1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

        Right, but clearly stating it’s illegal and seeing what the response is will make that obvious. If it is that situation, LW doesn’t want the gig.

    2. Khatul Madame*

      Yes, the LW2 should say that this is illegal and wait and see what shakes out.
      In this particular case the asker is an EA on a power trip, but the LW2’s position is strong, since she is already (rightly) pissed off to the degree she is willing to walk away from this opportunity.
      Please update us, LW2!

      1. Anonymous 75*

        there isn’t anything in the letter I saw that it’s an EA on a power trip (other than vague undefined reference to emails with no specifics). it’s just as likely (and imo more likely) that it’s a directive from the EA’s boss not to make the appointment without the info.

    3. Onomatopoeia Cornucopia*

      Agree, from OP’s phrasing to doesn’t sound like she has clearly included the fact that it’s illegal, but is instead using the pushback tactics for people in states where it’s not illegal yet.

      You can still be warm/gentle in tone, but if you’re not noting that it’s against the law, your communication is incomplete. You can use the tone of “Oh, just as a reminder, this isn’t legal anymore!” instead of “gotcha!” but you need to do more than just imply, since otherwise it’s confusing and a weaker pushback.

      And yes PLEASE forward to whoever would enforce this law (once you’re sure you’re not pursuing each job)! This is the only way this will become widely observed.

  19. I should really pick a name*

    What happens if you approach your boss at these events?

    If you wanted to get paid for that, you would have had to negotiate it before making the recording (and there almost no chance that they would have agreed to pay you for it)

  20. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP5 (should you address small mistakes) – this is quite a difficult one. I agree with the responses saying you don’t have a “conversation” with someone about a one off small mistake, but on the other hand, lots of things have the potential to become a pattern, and then when it happens again you are stuck with a vague recollection of that having happened before but not much recall of the timing, detail, etc. I have a pretty good memory for detail so wouldn’t necessarily make a note of all of these, but I think some people should. Too many times a pattern gets missed because all the instances happened as individual one offs and were then overlooked.

    1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      But you could note that for yourself in a file. You don’t need to put it in their performance plan.

      Or… if it’s that infrequent that you can’t remember the details, maybe it’s not really a problem. (See: humans make mistakes all the time.)

    2. Dek*

      On the other side of it, I think sometimes folks looking for a pattern will find one, even if it’s tenuous at best. It turns into a sort of “nibbled by ducks” scenario, and it’s exhausting.

  21. Knope Knope Knope*

    LW#2– Goooooooo! Maybe it’s nothing, but this person obviously has hiring power and thinks highly of you. Maybe they just got a grant or landed a big client and they need to build up the new team fast! Maybe it will be bigger than they originally thought. Maybe they just landed a job in a different department that they didn’t mention for their own reasons and now they’re building up a whole new team. Maybe they just put in their notice and are hiring their replacement. Maybe someone in a different part of the team quit and HR said they could use the headcount for a new and different role that’s not posted. I’ve gotten two excellent jobs by networking before the job was posted or even public. You should definitely go!!

  22. Honestly, some people’s children!*

    LW5…We had shift supervisors so employees read A LOT into managers bringing up almost anything. If it was minor I was always careful to say why I was mentioning it. “Deb and Ron are pretty busy right now so I just thought I’d mention…”. Anything much other than longer suspensions or firing supervisors usually took care of.

  23. Knope Knope Knope*

    LW 5, if it’s truly a one-time, small mistake then of course it doesn’t belong on a performance review. Sometimes, I see that managers and employees don’t always agree on how big a mistake truly is. Sometimes this is due to poor communication on the managers’ part, sometimes due to a feeling (either from the employee or the manager) that managers are there to pick up slack, or sometimes an inability for the employee to clearly understand feedback.

    If an employee misses a meeting… what was their role in that meeting? Were they supposed to take notes? present important information? Did they miss important information that wasn’t related back to their team or incorporated into their own work? If they miss a deadline by a day without communicating it would be late, was it an arbitrary deadline? Or did they miss the opportunity to submit needed paperwork, to communicate key findings to hard to reach stakeholders? Did it leave their manager left adding extra work to their own plate, or caught unaware with their own boss?

    And in what context is that an area for improvement? Does the employee want a raise or promotion? If so, is the improvement that before they can advance, they need to show they’re comfortably managing their own workload and ready to take on more?

    If there are truly so many meetings and deadlines that are arbitrary and unnecessary that there is a whole pattern of giving useless feedback on it then your company is poorly run. But if not, I’d ask yourself about the impacts of the one-off mistakes that are being addressed, because the examples you give could have a wide range.

  24. Marvin O’Gravel Balloonface*

    My husband is the CEO and at the big fancy office parties I’ve attended with him, the only time I’ve ever seen him talking to the other C_O folks or even upper management is if he’s saying hello to their spouses or if I’m talking to them. His role is to chat with people who don’t usually interact with him, usually lower-level employees. It would be weird for him not to acknowledge the people he spends all day every day with, and if your boss is truly ignoring you that’s bizarre, but the big office party is work for the boss, not fun socializing time.

  25. Nancy*

    LW1: that is normal director/CEO at social work event behavior. He is using the time to speak to the lower level employees he doesn’t get to interact with often, not his second in command that he interacts with probably every day. Have you tried socializing with him?

  26. Dulcinea47*

    LW5, is an “area for improvement” required on your annual evaluations? From my own experience and stuff I’ve read here, some reviews have phrasing that makes supervisors feel obligated to put down “something you did wrong and need to do better”. If you’ve not made any grave or serious errors, they’ll pick something small. Whether or not this is the actual intention of the review varies; yes there is always something you could do better but it doesn’t mean you’re currently doing something bad/wrong. One of my supervisors handled this by letting me use the “what can you improve on” section of the review to talk about new skills/continuing education type stuff, instead of interpreting it as “what did you screw up”, and I really appreciated this. (however, that same supervisor also saved up a thing I supposedly did that I definitely did not do, and sprung that on me at my review when I barely remembered it, which was one of the worst experiences in my professional life.)

  27. HonorBox*

    LW1 – I’m thinking back to social events and I interact only minimally with my boss at most. He spends time circulating and talking to other people and that’s incredibly important. I get plenty of face time with him throughout the week. If you frame that way, even though it is odd that there’s zero interaction at all, it probably isn’t anything to worry about.

  28. Capt. Liam Shaw*

    In 2014-2105 I did a job search. Every application had salary history requested it seemed. In 2019 my state made requesting the history illegal. This past summer I did another job search. Of 66 applications only 1 asked for it.

    To be fair industry is banking not nonprofit. Companies can follow the law if they want to however, some just don’t want to.

  29. Sneaky Squirrel*

    #5 – Ask yourself what is the goal of pointing out the mistake whether a conversation solves anything? If the employee is aware of their mistake, knows the repercussions already, didn’t cause anything that wasn’t mostly fixable, and doesn’t make it a habit, then skip a conversation. You may find that you’ll build a more trusting relationship by occasionally accepting the mistakes for what they are and skipping the conversation.

    1. Sneaky Squirrel*

      Typo: Ask yourself what is the goal of pointing out the mistake AND whether a conversation solves anything?

  30. NoOneWillSeeThisComment*

    A note on your annual review for a single minor mistake??? Sounds like my company! They especially love mistakes that weren’t mine, or that didn’t even happen.

  31. Qwerty*

    OP1 – You are on the senior leadership, so aren’t you also making the rounds and trying to mingle with as many people as possible? I barely see senior leadership folks together at company wide events. Especially because getting some attention from one exec is special, but having multiple in the conversation can feel intimidating. Your boss is working at these events, and odds are that you should be too.

    You don’t mention any attempts to talk to your boss at these events. Just that he doesn’t proactively track you down and interrupt your conversations. He isn’t skirting the crowd to escape you or rudely shutting you down when you say something – this doesn’t sound like he’s even avoiding you at all, but you jumped really quick to accuse him of being sexist. (Also – Mike Pence’s rule is “never dine alone a woman”, he still talks to them at crowded events, so unless your entire company is men, surely you’ve seen him socially converse with women?)

    As a shy introvert – any chance that you feel left out due to overall demographic differences and those feelings are getting redirected to your boss? He’s going around making people feel included so you want him to come find you.

  32. Candy*

    LW1 – Imagine you went to a party at the home of a couple who live together and they spent the majority of the evening only talking with each other. That’d be weird, right? Normally you expect hosts to circulate and socialize with their guests.

    It’s the same at a work event. As management you’re both the hosts, so to speak, and it’s your roles at a work event to network with your guests (ie. those you don’t see often or work closely with)

  33. Melody*

    If I were LW1 at the next gathering I would approach my boss and say “the last couple of these have been so busy I missed getting to catch up with you”! Or something similar. Then proceed with the small talk, or whatever. That way you are A- getting that face time, B- noting that you haven’t gotten that face time at the last gatherings but without assigning blame or making a big deal out of it. Then see how the next few go- and if it’s still happening, rinse and repeat at future get togethers. You don’t have to wait for him to approach you!

    1. Marvin O’Gravel Balloonface*

      If I were the boss, I would find this really bizarre. They already work closely together. She gets a ton of face time. The office party is for everyone else.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        This exactly. LW doesn’t need face time with the boss. He’s going around having it with people who don’t normally see him. LW sees him all the time.

      2. UKDancer*

        Yeah I always go to opposite tables from my boss at social events. I speak to him fairly often on day to day basis so at parties he needs to network and so do I. If we talked to each other then we’d not be giving more junior staff face time.

    2. Observer*

      That way you are A- getting that face time, B- noting that you haven’t gotten that face time at the last gatherings but without assigning blame or making a big deal out of it

      Considering how closely they work, this would be very weird. The OP does not need face time – she has it in spades.

      For her this would be a purely social interaction, which is not the purpose of these events.

    3. Starbuck*

      But they’re getting face time all the time while working together? What does LW really need out of this interaction, other than just acknowledgement? I’d just say Hi probably, and leave it at that.

  34. Lizzo*

    LW3: I interviewed for a job more than 15 (!!) years ago. I did not get it. Another applicant had specific experience in an area that I did not. However, the hiring manager wanted to stay in touch because she was impressed with me. Maintaining that relationship has been incredibly beneficial for me as I’ve progressed in my career. Consider this conversation part of building your network.

  35. Hiring Mgr*

    I think it’s fine to meet, but if #3 is unsure she could always offer to chat by Zoom or phone if that’s less of a burden.

    For a role that may or may not exist in two years that’s totally fine

  36. JaneDough(not)*

    LW1, this — “I already feel so much social stigma at times as one of the increasingly few people my age who is unmarried and without kids.” — dismays me. If you’re criticizing yourself for being unmarried and without kids, I’m begging you not to:

    (1) Many people don’t want to be married. Many people don’t want kids. Those choices are just as valid as the choices to marry and/or have kids.
    (2) Many people who have kids shouldn’t have had them; the worldwide epidemic of antisocial behavior by unhappy people — which is nothing new — is clear evidence of this. The proliferation in the past 50 years of self-help tools and of therapy shows that some societies are starting to acknowledge that most of us don’t know how to raise well-adjusted kids and that most adults are in pain.
    (3) Roughly half of all marriages end in divorce. Not only is marriage not right for everyone, it’s not right for many people who embark upon it.
    (4) An increasing number of people are matter-of-fact about not wanting to marry and/or not wanting to have kids; this is a pretty good time, societally speaking, to be in that cohort.

    All of that said, if being unmarried and not being a parent causes you pain, then please find some way to address that pain without turning it into self-criticism or self-stigmatization. I would say this to anyone who is criticizing him-/her-/themself about anything significant; life is hard enough without being a 24/7/365 enemy to ourselves.

    Finally, if you feel stigma because you work in a conservative culture that has narrow ideas about who people should be, then please think about finding a different workplace culture. (I’m not blithely throwing that out there; I realize that you’ve got a lot on equity in your current co.) Or, please think about carrying yourself unapologetically, not only for your own well-being but in an effort to chip away at your colleagues’ narrow-mindedness: “Hmmm, Jane is so great — she’s smart, capable, kind, interesting … A person doesn’t have to be married and/or a parent in order to have value or be respected.”

    1. Dulcinea47*

      I didn’t read any of what LW said as self criticism, at all. I’m also unmarried and not a parent and have aged out of ever becoming a parent. I’m totally fine with it. But because it’s not the norm, people still have a reaction to it socially, and I’m pretty sure that’s what the LW was saying. For instance, lots of people (women) cannot think of one thing to say to me after they find out I don’t have kids. That’s completely on them but it’s still a weird thing I have to experience regularly.

  37. Megan*

    LW1: Networking is part of your and his job. My boss has an unwritten rule that employees should be talking with others and not each other at events like this. I bet it is along those lines.

  38. miss_chevious*

    LW5, to me, the time and place for raising those small and infrequent mistakes is in a normal one-on-one, which, in my instance, happens frequently. I don’t go into it in detail, but would say something like “Hey, I noticed this, is there anything I should know about it?” and then react appropriately. Because of the frequency of these meetings, it’s low stakes, so the employee knows I noticed, but also doesn’t feel punished or “in trouble” for it, and has the chance to explain if there is anything to explain. Also, this way if the mistake is the start of some pattern of poor performance, I can raise it again at a later date noting that the issue has been addressed before.

    It also gives me the chance to correct things if there is a training issue or a gap in information or a mistake on someone else’s part that led to the trouble with the employee. But I wouldn’t call a separate meeting about it, and it wouldn’t show up on a performance review unless it became a pattern.

  39. VP of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*

    OP 2…

    I live and work in a state that bans employers from asking directly or indirectly about salary history.

    However, my employer just happens to be a state agency, so some of my salary history is already public information. Even so, prospective future employers are officially not supposed to look me up (but they probably would anyway).

  40. NutellaNutterson*

    For LW 2, asking for history is obviously not okay. Since nonprofits are likely to be using history as a proxy for “can we afford this person?” something that might help smooth things is if you include something like “I recognize that moving from xyz industry to nonprofit means that compensation is generally lower.” You shouldn’t have to do this, and you shouldn’t have to name a range first! But since it’s such a common concern from nonprofits, I’d try view it more from that concern rather than the power trip and gross overstep angle.

    Though come to think of it, actually, if it’s a high enough position, just pulling their filings and seeing what the current/last person is earning could also be a part of your statement. “Based on your public records, your salaries are in line with my expectations.” could be enough.

  41. Pink Candyfloss*

    LW#3: this happened to me! Very similar circumstances, and I ended up being offered a position within 3 months of the discussion. The person who asked to meet had been working on building a case for a new role, flagged me during the interviews as a near-perfect candidate for that, sought my input on the position without really giving me the history – tweaked the role a bit based on some of my feedback – got it approved, hired me, I was happy in that role for several years. Good luck with whatever you decide to do!

  42. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

    LW#3 I would definitely go. Sometimes when there is a really good candidate and you have the situation where there are vague future plans it can help solidify those future plans. The current thinking might have been a future junior role, but the skills you bring might have given them an idea for a more senior role.

    We had a candidate once that we realized could solve the issue we were having where team A needed a ~0.75FTE and team B needed a ~0.75 FTE and we were waiting until business could justify 2 junior roles, but instead after talking to them we were able to create a more senior full time role that took the majority of both and were able to rework some of the lighter tasks into other junior roles.

  43. RagingADHD*

    LW2 – the EA is not on a power trip. They 100 percent do not care what you make, or whether you get an interview or not. They are following instructions from their boss. That’s the source of the illegal request.

    Tell them it’s illegal (in writing) so they have collateral to push back on the demands being made of them. And cc the HR department or whoever was the original recruiting contact. They need to sort this out internally.

  44. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

    LW3 – on the hiring manager side, I often use this tactic when I know I’m going to be hiring soon, have a super-strong candidate, and want to shape the role around them. Like, I might want to talk to the person I want to hire before writing the JD, to get their feedback on what I’m thinking for the role. Also feedback like “that role is more junior than what I’d consider” is super helpful in those contexts – it often gives me what I need to make the case to make the role more senior. (Like “I really want to hire candidates like Joe, but they’re looking for X” is super useful to push my HR department.)

    Of course I always run an open hiring process at the end of the day; these informal interviews aren’t a guarantee of a job at the end of it. But in all but one case where I’ve used this tactic, I did end up shaping the role around the person I was talking to (including significant increases in my anticipated salary ranges in several cases) and did end up hiring the person I’d talked to. Sometimes that was 6 months later, sometimes it’s been 6 weeks later.

  45. Two Fish*

    Nothing bad happened, but I once made a mistake I wish my boss had told me about then.

    I didn’t know that Outlook delegate access and Zoom delegate access to his Calendar, were two separate things. So a Zoom meeting I set up on his calendar didn’t work because Outlook saw me as the host, not him. For all practical purposes, I was in my own calendar instead of his.

    The meeting involved only one other person, so my boss probably just created another Zoom link on the spot. Fortunately I figured this out before the next time I had to do it, for a much higher-ranking manager.

  46. Green Goose*

    Ugh, I’m sorry you are going through that. Your letter brought back a memory of my former Mean Boss from years ago. We were a team of two and he also ignored me in all work social situations, which was weird, but he was also a jerk in other situations too. The specific memory was about two weeks after I started there was a large gala for our organization with hundreds of people, where staff from all over the country flew in so I didn’t know anyone except for my boss and the handful of people who worked in my office (but they were all organizers for the gala so they were busy and I couldn’t hangout with them). I didn’t know who was a client, staff member, community member or donor, and didn’t feel comfortable just inserting myself into people’s conversations when I was so new, and an entry-level employee.
    There was one other new person who started on the same day as me. As I stood or sat awkwardly for hours at this gala, not really knowing what to do with myself and my boss gave me no direction of what to do I saw the other new employee with her manager. Her manager was taking her around and introducing her to everyone, making sure she got the chance to meet staff from around the country. My boss didn’t introduce me to a single person and avoided me while smoozeing with other people. It was awful, and definitely on brand with how he treated me for the next 18 months.

  47. JJ*

    Hi #1. In my management team, there’s an unspoken understanding that we should divide up at office events/parties and speak to as many people as possible, not stand around talking among ourselves while everyone else wonders why managers aren’t socializing broadly. Maybe this is all your boss is doing?

  48. You want stories, I got stories*

    LW3. Please provide an update after the meeting. The pendulum in the comments going from, “It is a stalker guy wanting a date with you” to a “manager wanting to get you the next big opportunity” as me quite curious to know which way it is.

    And have we ever gotten an update on that Pence story? Cause I want one please.

  49. Blue Dog*

    #2 – Rather than getting confrontational, tell them that you have an NDA and cannot disclose your salary history. You might smile and say, “Never been asked that before — most people know you aren’t supposed to.”

  50. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    OP 3 – it’s probably not a bad idea to go if you have the time — if the person they hired doesn’t work out and they find out quickly, they may want to call on you to fill the spot.

  51. Me*


    Every time I come to this site, it just reinforces for me how much managers at my company could benefit from coming here to read the questions and comments posted.

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