company wants me to tell my current job I’m interviewing with them, telling a former intern to honor time commitments, and more

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

1. Potential job wants me to tell my current job I’m interviewing with them

I had an initial phone interview today with one of current company’s vendors. This vendor provides the software that tracks all the manufacturing and inventory activities for the product we make.

They told me that because I work for one of their clients and they want to maintain good relationships and not have people think they poach employees, at some point in the process they will require that I tell our COO and CEO. I didn’t fully clarify at this point when they would want me to do that, but it was said to be before the offer stage.

I understand their point of view, but if the COO (who is my grandboss and previous direct boss) and CEO find out that I applied for this job and I don’t then get the position and stay at my company, I will be iced out. It will be a subtle icing out, but it would torpedo any of my chances of advancement. They are absolutely the type where once you do something that they feel crosses them in some way, you are written off. I would be okay telling them if I knew I was going to get an offer and that I was going to accept said offer, but I don’t want to tell them before that. Oddly, if I just got the job and left, they would be fine and no bridges burned. It’s more if they know you want out but then don’t leave that things become a problem.

How do I go about navigating this with the company I’m interviewing with? I’d like to tell them I have to have something concrete before I tell the COO and CEO. But what if they insist I can’t move forward without doing this first?

Yeah, it’s absolutely not in your interests to agree to that. It may be in theirs, but you’re the one who needs to worry about your livelihood and quality of life at work. You should stand firm on this. Tell them, “I understand where you’re coming from, but sharing that we’re talking before anything is finalized could make my life here very difficult if I don’t ultimately end up coming to work for you. I’d need to wait until we’re at the offer stage before talking with them, but of course at that point I’d be happy to assure them that I approached you and you didn’t try to recruit me.”

Interviewer wants an approval letter from my current job, saying they know I’m interviewing

2. Telling a former intern she needs to honor time commitments

I recently received a message from a former intern — I was not her manager, but rather associate-level in the same workplace — who wanted to ask me about a former employer. Specifically, she’s interested in an entry-level program that I participated in and wanted to get my perspective. I agreed and we scheduled a time for her to call me.

She did not call, nor did she respond to the message I sent her about eight minutes after the start time asking her if she’d still planned to call me. The kicker: I half expected this, because a few months ago, she did the same thing to another colleague. They agreed on a time to meet for coffee, and she showed up 22 minutes late and did not apologize.

This person is smart and was a good performer during her internship. She is also young and may not realize that she’s coming off as having a callous disregard for other people’s time. How can I gently tell her that while she might have a promising career ahead of her, she needs to honor time commitments (and that when she doesn’t, word gets around)?

A few years ago, I would have said that if she gets in touch with you again, you could say something like, “Since you’re early in your career I hope I can give you some advice: it’s really important that you show up on time for appointments you request — always, but especially when you’re asking someone for a favor. If you don’t honor time commitments when people set aside time to help you, it can really come back to bite you.”

But frankly, I’m pretty skeptical that she’s unaware that she should honor her commitments, and I don’t think it’s your job to remind her. If you were her manager, absolutely. If you were a former manager who had really invested in her development, maybe. But otherwise, she’ll figure it out through natural consequences. (Or she won’t. But you have better things to invest your energy in — like helping people who do respect your time.)

3. My interview got cancelled the day before it was scheduled for

I’m writing this in utter frustration and confusion as I don’t know if it’s my bad luck or did I do anything wrong.

I applied for a position of graduate control engineer. I was first asked for a phone interview. It went well and I was asked for a in-person interview after six days. It also went well, and I proceeded to the personality and attitude test three days later. I passed that test and then my second interview with the director was scheduled more than a week later. I was preparing for that final interview but then just a day before it was supposed to happen, I got a email that they found a better candidate and they cancelled my last interview.

It took me around three weeks to go through all of these interviews and assessments, but in the end I did not even get a chance to appear in my final interview to prove myself. They didn’t tell me what did wrong. But shouldn’t they have given me a chance in the final interview to see if really the other candidate is better than me? If they had failed me after the interview, I wouldn’t have been feeling this disheartened.

That’s not really how hiring works. Sometimes it’s obvious that one candidate is head and shoulders above everyone else, and when that happens, it doesn’t make sense to go through the motions with remaining interviews just to create a sense of fairness for the candidates. When it’s clear that no one else will be competitive (and we’ve got a letter coming on that later today!) they don’t really owe you a chance to “prove” yourself; their obligation is to use their time and candidates’ time well to try to identify the strongest person for the role. If they were confident they’d done that and an additional interview wasn’t going to change that assessment, it’s actually more courteous to you not to waste your time.

(If I were advising them, I’d emphasize that “we found a better candidate” needs to include “and that person is accepting our offer” — since it doesn’t make sense to stop interviewing people until you know that person you’re most excited about is actually going to take the job — but that’s advice for them rather than for you.)

I’m frustrated that my interview got canceled because the employer found better-qualified candidates

4. Why does my employer want my emergency contact info?

I work for a medium-sized nonprofit and was recently informed that HR cannot provide emergency contact information in a timely way to my leadership. Leadership thus asked for our personal contact information and that of our emergency contact. It was one of those “asks” that’s not really an ask, based on the multiple times it was requested and the language requiring it be completed ASAP.

I have a personal policy not to rock the boat in these situations, and it’s easier to put down the phone number for a Jiffy Lube in lieu of my partner’s number and move on, but am I off-base thinking this is contact information for THEIR emergencies not mine?

Emergency contact information is usually stored for things like: you have a medical emergency at work and they need to contact someone, you don’t show up for days and they’re concerned about your well-being, there’s a natural disaster in your area, etc.

If an employee recently had an emergency and there was no way to reach them/a contact for them, I could see them wanting to collect it for everyone with some urgency.

But have they given you a reason to think they plan to use it for their own work emergencies instead? The answer to your question really depends on that — on whether there’s something going on that’s made you assume this is to contact you when they just need a file pulled quickly or something. If you’re not sure, you could clarify what the info will be used for (“so I know the best contact to include”).

If they are asking for an outside emergency contact so they can call that person when they need to locate you to do outside-of-hours work, that’s a pretty outlier level of dysfunction.

5. Listing resume achievements when you don’t have metrics

I’m trying to update my resumé since I’ve been fired and have read your suggestions, but I’m having a hard time figuring out what to write on achievements, and here’s why: I worked as a proofreader/copy editor (don’t know if that’s important or not) as part of a team. Every material would go through at least three team members, and I find it hard to specify my contribution to the overall product in these cases. The company was awful at providing feedback, so I don’t really have an idea of what exactly I was doing right. There was also no way to measure productivity and stuff like that, so I also don’t have metrics. I was told I was the best proofreader on the team, but I don’t know how to express that on my resumé, because my achievements really feel like the general responsibilities of my job (correct spelling mistakes, punctuation, syntax etc.). Can you help me with this?

Think about outcomes. For example, you “ensured all materials were meticulously proofread and final versions presented a polished and professional image” and “copy-edited to improve flow, clarity, and voice.” You could also say, “was called the strongest proofreader on a three-person team by team manager” and, if available, you can supplement that with details like “regularly requested as the editor of choice for high-profile materials” or “known for fast turnarounds and high degree of accuracy” (assuming you can back those up).

how to put outcomes on your resume when you don’t have easy measures
how can I write a resume when my jobs don’t have measurable results?

{ 395 comments… read them below }

  1. Magenta Sky*

    LW #1: No way to know if it’s their intention or not, but what they want would put you in a position where they can seriously lowball the offer knowing you will have a very hard time turning it down.

    Especially since they obviously know your company, being vendors for them.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Recruiter here – I’ve been both on the corporate recruitment side and the agency side. It’s pretty common for companies to want candidates from their major clients to be willing to disclose that they are interviewing with them. When you get right down to it, the hiring company cares a LOT more about the client relationship than they do about one candidate. The client relationship is likely worth quite a lot of revenue, not to mention the reputational risks of irritating a current client. I’ve had this conversation with candidates before.

      In reality, it’s not worth saying that you would only be willing to disclose that you’re interviewing with them IF you get an offer – the hiring company will not move forward with your candidacy on that basis, if they are really worried that their client is going to be upset. They will respect the client relationship enough to insist on having that discussion before they present an offer to the candidate. And anyway, even if they did make the offer first, they’ll retract it if their client is upset at them enough to pull their business.

      So, first find out how important this client is to the company you’re interviewing with. If it is a really important client, they won’t jeopardize that relationship. If your current employer is only worth a small fraction of the company’s revenue, you might be in a better position (a sales person is still going to be very unhappy, if their account gets cancelled). Is there any way the hiring company can convince your current employer that this is beneficial for your current employer? (ie. would the hiring company be able to serve their client in a significantly better way, if you joined them? Would the hiring company be willing to guarantee your current employer some kind of consideration – eg. better pricing on their next contract – to make up for the loss of you? I’m not even sure if that is legal, by the way, but companies do do these sorts of backroom deals.)

      Anyway, consider the risks, the potential value you would bring to your current company if you were at the hiring company, etc. etc. and move forward very carefully. Or, bow out and tell the hiring company that the risk is too high for you at this point, but that you would love to keep in touch.

      1. BubbleTea*

        But why would the client company ever find out that the person was interviewing there if they don’t get a job offer? I can’t see a single way that it would be in the applicant’s interests to agree to this. I also don’t see how there’s a risk to the client relationship that can be assuaged by disclosing the interview. Basically you’re saying that applicant’s have to risk their jobs to mitigate against a risk to the company but the company won’t mitigate the risk to the client by waiting until they have selected a candidate.

        1. Jackalope*

          Yes, this is a good way of putting it. This is all risk for the applicant with no reward for the company that they couldn’t get by having the applicant say something AFTER they’ve received an offer.

          1. Claire*

            Yes and when you think about it, isn’t it also worse for the vendor to have this disclosed early? What if they don’t offer this person the job- now they’ve disclosed a delicate situation to the client organization for no reason.

        2. learnedthehardway*

          Because the hiring company won’t put an offer out to the employee of a client company before they clear it with the client company. They’re not going to put an offer out, get it accepted, and then tell the client company, “Oh, we just hired one of your people. Don’t be mad, please!”

          Rather, they’ll want to say to the client ahead of time, “We’re interested in hiring GreatEmployeeofYours. Would you have an objection? Obviously, we won’t jeopardize our relationship with you, ClientCo, but we wanted to get your approval before moving forward.”

          It’s definitely NOT in the candidate’s best interests. But it’s also not in the hiring company’s best interests to upset their client relationship, either.

          1. Cog001101011*

            Wow, what flavor koolaid do they offer?

            No matter how many backflips you do to try to justify, it’s not in the best interest in the candidate to disclose to their current employer that they are looking for another job. That’s a magical theoretical world that the employer won’t feel some kind of way about it.

            I’ve worked in recruiting too, and I didn’t need to try to ruin someone’s real income and job in honor of The Company.

            1. Buzzybeeworld*

              Of course it’s not in the best interest of the candidate. Sometimes the best interests of the two parties are incompatible. The company is not wrong to act in their best interest, and the candidate is not wrong to act in their best interest.

              When the two sides require things that are opposed, it means that it’s time to walk away.

            2. Clever Alias*

              100% what buzzybee said. No one is doing backflips to justify it. It is straight up unfair to the employee. The point is neither company cares. Sometimes lifes not fair.

              1. Lucia Pacciola*

                How is it unfair to the employee? The hiring company doesn’t owe the candidate any kind of accommodation here. They absolutely must prioritize their own interests. If that includes avoiding even the appearance of poaching from their clients, that’s totally reasonable, and not unfair to anybody.

                Though, honestly, I don’t see the dilemma for LW1. They want out of their current job. If they don’t get this offer, they’re going to keep looking, and move on as soon as they can manage it. Being “iced out” by their current employer will be awkward in the short term, but in the long term they’re going to put that nonsense in their rear view and never look back. I see a lot more downside to backing away from this opportunity, than I see downside in accommodating the hiring company’s requirement.

                1. Le Sigh*

                  It’s not clear to me LW does want out. Maybe this opportunity just opened up, so they’re willing to consider it, but would stay otherwise. But even if they do want out and are actively looking, it could be months or longer before they find something that fits — if you have bosses like the one’s LW describes, that can make doing your job very difficult with no end in sight. They could also find themselves on the next chopping block for layoffs or other restructuring and be shoved out the door before they’re ready to leave.

                  Companies will always protect their own interests first, but there are absolutely risks to LW in this situation.

          2. Claire*

            But they are saying that the applicant has to disclose it to her employer. That’s different than the company disclosing it and feeling them out.

          3. Laura*

            This is all absurd. Disclosing this information is not in either party’s best interest and I think the company should just not interview people from the other company.

          4. KTurtle*

            Quote: Rather, they’ll want to say to the client ahead of time, “We’re interested in hiring GreatEmployeeofYours. Would you have an objection? Obviously, we won’t jeopardize our relationship with you, ClientCo, but we wanted to get your approval before moving forward.”

            I understand the impulse behind this, I guess, since Company B has a vested interest in maintaining a good relationship with Company A. However, this gets uncomfortably close to, “we don’t see OP as a person with agency and free will who can make the best decisions for herself, we see her as a cog in Company A’s wheel. We need to check with Company A before making her a cog in *our* wheel because it would be wrong to steal their cog.”

            Company B needs to just not interview candidates who are working at companies they’re afraid to have a strained relationship with. It’s fine if their relationship with their clients are more important to them than potential candidates, but they need to be realistic about the risk they’re asking the candidates to take on.

            1. Random Dice*


              If it’s that important, then DON’T POACH FROM YOUR CLIENTS.

              If you do, then treat humans like humans, or they won’t want to do the job for you that you want them to do.

        3. Laura*

          Exactly. It is absolutely not in the applicant’s interest to disclose this information. Sure, the client company cares more about the intercompany relationship than they care about one potential employee, but employees care much more about not torpeding their careers than they care about the relationship between two companies.

      2. Typing All The Time*

        I understand your explanation but this process can put the applicant in a serious bind. Their employer will be professional to their client but in reality the employee could be put in a serious bind. And if they don’t get the job, I’d imagine it would make for an uncomfortable workplace situation.

        1. bamcheeks*

          I think it’s not really putting the applicant in a bind if you view it as, “realistically, we won’t hire from our clients”. The company presumably knows they will lose applicants over this and doesn’t mind.

        2. Lucia Pacciola*

          How does it put the employee in a serious bind? They fully intend to leave their current employer sooner rather than later anyway. If this opportunity falls through, they’re going to keep looking, and quit as soon as they find another opportunity.

          It’s not like their only choices here are take the new job now, or stay at their current job until they retire.

          1. osmoglossom*

            You need to stop writing fanfic. The LW does not state anywhere in the letter that they fully intend to leave their current employer sooner rather than later.

      3. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        Which is why many companies have a policy not to interview the employees of their customers. Unfortunately for OP, this company is handling this on a case-by-case (or only your case) basis, which puts OP at risk. The company has probably not thought out the implications of this hiring process, so there may be more surprises ahead.

        1. Aitch Arr*

          To this end, many companies have non-solicit clauses (which are different from non-complete clauses) in their employment agreements that employees sign.

      4. ferrina*


        The company isn’t going to put their client relationship at risk over a job applicant (unless they are already willing to lose that relationship). It doesn’t matter if the company didn’t poach you; they don’t want even the possible perception to overshadow their relationship with their client and potentially lose that revenue.

        Is that fair to the job applicant? I’d say it’s not unfair. After all, the job candidate is asking the company to risk revenue just to interview them (and depending on how big a client this is to the company, that could jeopardize people’s jobs if they lose this client). So it’s kind of a trade-off that both the company and the job applicant need to make. The company is being up-front here that the client is worth losing the applicant- they’re doing OP the courtesy of letting OP decide if they want to continue the application process knowing the risks.

        1. el l*

          Agree, and the good news is, OP will absolutely be respected if they say, “Look, we’re in a bind. I can understand your position that this presents risks to the overall relationship.
          And from my perspective, I can’t disclose to my employer, as I have reason to believe there’ll be retaliation. So the best thing to do is to withdraw my candidacy.”

          OP should look elsewhere. Circumstance.

      5. JO*

        You’re doing the candidate a terrible disservice and tbh you should be embarrassed for wasting their time knowing you expect them to tell their employer they’re actively looking for another job.

      6. MigraineMonth*

        OP, please pay attention to this part of learnedthehardway’s advice: “even if they did make the offer first, they’ll retract it if their client is upset at them enough to pull their business.

        I’ve been there, and it sucks so much when your employer is petty enough to threaten their business relationships to screw you over, but it is a possibility. If your company doesn’t have a track record of handling this kind of thing gracefully, it’s much better to apply to places that don’t have a business relationship with your employer. I’m really sorry.

        1. Curious*

          This happened to a co-worker. They were blocked by one person in the c-suite. Offer pulled!!!

          It took a few months, but co-worker was approved for a raise by the other c-suite folks to assuage my co-worker, but that doesn’t happen to everyone.

    2. RedinSC*

      I would be worried that if you continue this process they will tell your company, rather than letting you tell them.

      While it might be standard practice, I feel like you might have more to lose by continuing this interview process than not,

      1. Antilles*

        That was my first thought too. The vendor clearly values their own relationship with the company more than yours; if the interview process goes forward can you really trust they won’t be the ones to give your boss a heads-up?

        1. Tinkerbell*

          An alternative option for OP1 would be to tell the potential new company “I don’t feel comfortable giving them notice before you offer for me, but of COURSE I would be willing to allow them an extra-long notice period – a month? Two months? – in light of their excellent relationship with you.” That puts the burden back on the potential new employer (of having to wait) but still allows them to save face. If they’re not willing to do that, but they STILL want to torpedo the OP’s chances at their current job, then it’s probably not a great environment to work for in the first place!

        2. AnonInCanada*

          …or even not. What if OP#1 decides not to go forward with the interview process and this company nonetheless tells their client/her current employer? I empathize with OP on this one: It’s putting her between a rock and a hard place.

      2. learnedthehardway*

        The hiring company definitely should NOT do this (and it would be a violation of the candidate’s privacy, if they did), but whether the candidate could do anything about it is up for debate.

        However, loose lips sink ships. Some people just cannot be trusted to keep their mouths shut. I’ve run into that situation before, where a candidate withdrew from a process because someone got drunk at an industry function and spilled that the candidate was interviewing with their company. Everyone was very angry about the privacy breach. Luckily for the candidate, they were in such high demand that their current company gave them a raise and put in a retention plan for them, but it could have gone very badly.

    3. Support Project Nettie*

      I’m wondering what it would be like working for them if they’re seemingly more interested in their clients than their employees. I understand the concern, but are they going to drop you once employed simply to satisfy the client relationship? I’d carry on interviewing elsewhere. YMMV.

      1. Awkwardness*

        Wouldn’t it make a difference if one was just employed by the client or if one was working directly with the vendor at the client?
        If the offer falls through, I can see the relationship strained too.

        1. not like a regular teacher*

          I don’t think anyone is saying the company is bad for prioritizing this, just that it may not be in the employee’s best interests to continue in their process.

        2. Zelda*

          That also presumes that an employee moving from one to the other would probably prevent a cordial relationship, like, they’re expecting that the client is most likely going to have a snit fit over one employee making a business decision about where to work. Depending on the role, that might not reflect terribly well on the client’s professionalism.

        3. Magenta Sky*

          God forbid a company be interested in maintaining a healthy relationship with their own employees. You know, the people who handle 100% of their business? Consider this scenario:

          Letter writer tells employer about interview.
          Employer complains to potential employer.
          Potential employer doesn’t make an offer.
          Employer drives letter writer out.

          Taking care of employees is more important than taking care of customers or vendors, because your employees take care of customers and vendors.
          *All the other employees watch this happen.*

          Now speculate on the effect this has on morale throughout the company, *especially the employees who deal with their vendor, the potential employer*.

      2. I should really pick a name*

        They’re prioritizing their client over a prospective employee, not an existing one.

      3. Sloanicota*

        If this is their attitude, they shouldn’t invite the candidate to apply because they’d be too worried about the client relationship, or they should state upfront before the first interview what they would need to feel good about hiring the candidate. But honestly, like non-compete agreements, this kind of thinking really limits the mobility of workers while protecting companies, IMO.

      4. ArtK*

        The agreement between the vendor and client companies may, and likely will, include a “no poaching” clause. If things go south, the client company could sue the vendor company for violating that clause. The fact that the LW approached the vendor in this case just means that the client company would likely not win, but the vendor (and LW) would still go through the legal hassles.

        1. AnonForThis*

          I got screwed over hard by one of those because the company decided to enforce it even after they fired me. They also prided themselves on market saturation, so I would have had to move out of the American Midwest just to find an employer in my field that wasn’t a client.

        2. Aitch Arr*

          No Poaching policies/agreements can be illegal in terms of anti-trust laws.
          They are between companies.

          The following are between the employee and employer:
          Non-Competes are becoming more and more narrow, if not prohibited altogether, which I think is a good thing.
          Non-Solicitation clauses are still legal and enforceable, if written properly.

    4. Harried HR*

      LW1 my spouse was in a similar situation, he applied for a a position with a customer of his employer. Customer said wouldn’t want to move forward without the customer / employer being aware. Spouse decided not to continue and resigned from his employer. When he notified the customer he was leaving he was asked about applying to the aforementioned position since he was no longer employed by the customer they encouraged him to apply. He’s still there 6 years later

  2. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

    #1: I was in a similar situation once. I declined to let my current (at the time) employer know I was interviewing for the same reasons you are hesitant to tell your employer. It all turned out fine. The company I interviewed with understood. I stayed put where I was already working, kept in touch with the people I interviewed with and they even brought me in to interview again a couple of years later after I had been affected by a mass layoff.

    1. K*

      I was also in a similar situation. One of their company’s board members was a C level executive at my current employer. In my opinion at that time it was way too risky to disclose so I declined to continue with the interview process. They were a small company. They were disappointed but they were too small they felt to risk a bad relationship. We kept in touch and when the person they hired didn’t work out they came back with an offer and didn’t force me to tell my current employer until after I accepted.

      1. Carol the happy elf*

        Well, the client company IS known for its petty treatment of its employees, so it’s entirely possible that this OP might the straw that breaks the camel’s back– or would be perceived that way.

        OP might even get hired by New Vendor Company with a “Got you over a barrel” low-ball, and then when the current company renews the vendor’s business contract, they claim it was poaching anyway. Then they get an unbalanced deal that harms your current company, and gets you picked at, hassled and harassed until they fire you, make you jump ship for ANYTHING, or suffer quietly until you yearn to find yourself alone in the desert with amnesia.

        SO– Here’s what I did, and it may seem melodramatic or Machiavellian: (the above was the loud wailing of sympathy, BTW.)
        I wrote the letter, both praising Current Company to the heavens and beyond. I explained that to my dismay, I had to change employment for Nebulously “Urgent” Cause. I explained that because of my familiarity with Vendor Company, I felt that this change would be the least disruptive to me and my Nebulous Urgency. I thanked them for their understanding, and wished them all the best.

        I assured them that were it not for the Urgency Which Must Not Be Named, but involved someone somewhere’s maybe medical Needs- I would stay in place until the suns all burn cold and my Dr. Pepper loses its fizz.

        I SHOWED (!!!) the letter to the recruiter and the hiring manager, with a stamped addressed envelope, and explained that due to the fact that some companies actually fire employees who are changing jobs, I would only mail it- from New Company’s building- on receipt of a signed offer.

        I got my signed offer- with every perk and benny detail included and 5K more than I had asked for- then mailed the letter, raced back to my company to warn them (give notice) and gave 2 highly productive weeks training my replacement. (Who did the same thing with my help 4 years later.)

        Generally, though, this is a “Stand Your Ground” moment because New Company is demanding that you burn the bridge while you’re standing on it!

        It’s like being at the altar and having the bride say “Wait, I’m not sure about this!” Much worse than simply being jilted, because that’s how a manipulative person grabs power for the whole marriage.

    2. Coverage Associate*

      When I was 11, my school had to contact my non parent emergency contact. The school was flooding. We all had to leave, and my parents were at the doctor with my baby sister. Yes, this was before cell phones, but if you are unconscious, you are basically a child in terms of medical decision making, in that someone else has to do it for you. You can write instructions ahead of time, but those are only good if the emergency responders know the instructions exist and have a copy.

  3. Double A*

    I am baffled by letter 4. Why on earth couldn’t HR provide timely emergency contact info? Why would you think “emergency contact” means anything other than someone who your work would contact if YOU had an emergency?

    Is there something really dysfunctional in the company to make the LW mistrust their leadership with something as normal as your contact information? If not it’s pretty paranoid seeming, or is a total misunderstanding of the concept of emergency contacts.

    1. Eric*

      To the first part of your comment, I’ve worked at places where my team routinely worked late, but HR didn’t. If we were working at 8 PM and someone had a medical emergency, we’d have a hard time getting ahold of anyone at HR to give emergency contact info. So I could see my teams management wanting to have emergency contacts on hand.

      1. Friendly neighborhood bureaucrat*

        I work in a large bureaucracy, and last year was on a one on one video call where we were each calling in from our respective homes when the person I was on a call with mentioned that they felt dizzy, visibly swayed, and then fell
        off their chair and was unresponsive.

        They had recently moved, and the 15 minutes it took to track down their address while on phones with various bosses (they were on a fellowship program) and 911 was legit terrifying. (They were ok in the end, but if it had been a stroke, that could have been catastrophic.)

        Darn tootin we tried to get emergency contacts after that for folks on our end. It wouldn’t help in every situation (calls with folks completely on the outside, for example). But I 100% wouldn’t have wanted to rely on HR for that.

        1. AJ*

          Yep, this is exactly what I was picturing. “We had an incident with a different employee that we absolutely cannot talk about. Please give us some numbers so that this doesn’t happen again ever.”

        2. VermiciousKnid*

          This happened at my organization too, but it was a video call with about 5 people. My colleague was ok, it was lingering effects from the flu, but it scared the bejeezus out of people. Later that day, requests for our entire department’s emergency contact info went out. Not sure who has it, but it’s never been abused.

        3. The not quite social worker*

          Yea, we started making emergency contact info available to all managers after we had an employee pass out – no warning and she went down hard and hit her head- and was unconscious until emergency crew responded. And then non responsive. And we realized none of us had any emergency contact info. And our finance/hr person at our small agency who had the info was on vacation. It took us way too long to track her partner down and was hugely stressful for everyone. She was fine but we had a “never again” kind of energy after it. I did find in the last 5 -7 years or so I started getting more frequent pushback from new to the workplace employees about giving us this info and perception hat it was an invasion of privacy to have managers have access. I would always tell this story and it would usually make sense to people. But I do think context for how and why the info eilll be used is impose for people to have.

          1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

            My company recently(ish) switched from having an employee’s personal contact info be visible only to HR, to having it be visible to HR and everyone in the employee’s chain of command. We were told that it was for stuff like if no one can get in touch with us after a snowstorm (which, for a 1000+ person company, it makes sense that HR doesn’t have the capacity to check on everyone, and time-sensitive stuff like this hadn’t even entered the discussion).

            But I was PISSED that they did it silently, without telling us that who had access to that information would change. Making the change effectively outed me to my managers, and while I wasn’t concerned that they would react badly, I would have preferred to be in control of that conversation. And I’m sure there are people who didn’t necessarily feel comfortable with their manager knowing who their emergency contact was and how they were connected. (Yes, I am aware that I could’ve listed my wife as my roommate, instead, if I was that worried about it. But I don’t want to have to preemptively closet myself on the off-chance that the company might abruptly change how it handles personal information without warning.)

          2. fhqwhgads*

            Yeah as far as I know it’s been standard that all of HR, your manager, your manager’s manager, their manager, can all access your Emergency Contacts in our systems. It’s not a “you fill out the form and then also separately give info to some Higher Up who asks”. It’s just permissions in the system of record.
            So even if the OP’s experience was precipitated by a similar emergency, it doesn’t make sense to me the solution was “email people and ask them to supply Emergency Contacts again”. The solution is give additional (appropriate) people access to the existing information.
            I don’t really understand OP’s reticence about anyone up their chain of command having access to it, but I would understand a desire to not resubmit it via some informal channel that might result in the info being used as just…regular contact info instead of Emergency Contact info. But if you’re in a place where the idea of your boss knowing who your emergency contacts are is uncomfortable, that’s probably a place you ought to be trying to get out of.

        4. Michelle Smith*

          I’m okay with this only if people have permission to opt out without explanation, which it doesn’t sound like the LW has. There have been periods of my life where I truly, genuinely would not have wanted anyone contacted on my behalf if I had a medical incident at work. As it stands now, I’d still struggle to figure out who to put down on the form and I really don’t want to have to explain my personal history to my manager as to why.

          1. Peter the Bubblehead*

            Why would you ever list someone you don’t want being contacted as your “Emergency Contact”??
            I would understand if you originally had someone like a spouse listed but now it’s two years later and you’re divorced and you don’t want your ex being called, but it’s as simple as changing who your emergency contact is when the separation/divorce occurs.
            People need to realize, an Emergency Contact is to protect YOU more than it is to protect your employer. Your boss does not have the authority to direct medical care as your next of kin does!

            1. MigraineMonth*

              I believe Michelle Smith was saying that there were times that they either did not have a next of kin or were estranged from their legal next of kin and would not have wanted those people involved in their medical care.

              1. Peter the Bubblehead*

                In which case you simply do not list them!
                If they are previously listed, you remove and replace them the moment you know you don’t want them as your emergency contact!

                1. Governmint Condition*

                  At my workplace, the emergency contact information is entered through the timesheet system. You can literally change this information whenever you want, even on a daily basis. Supervisors can access it, but the system will note it and Administration will eventually the supervisor ask why it was accessed. But you are required to list somebody. (Many people use neighbors instead of family.)

                2. New Jack Karyn*

                  But in this case, management is not taking No for an answer. Yes, a person should update their contact list as family status changes–but if the company really wants a contact, they’re not satisfied with leaving it blank.

                  Now what?

              2. Nicole Maria*

                These types of things don’t have to be “next of kin” though, it can literally be anyone. A friend, neighbor, acquaintance, etc.

          2. Nymwall*

            It was a request… but not a request. We were “asked” for the information and the “request” ended with an instruction that it be completed ASAP.

            Honestly, I don’t want this information available to anyone. This industry is prone to people treating their work like a calling, and the expectation is that unless you’re too intoxicated to jump in that you want to. So I’m consistently cautious to give them more ways to reach me.

            1. ABC*

              But is using emergency contacts to badger people about work actually something that has happened in your workplace or others similar to yours? Or is this just a theoretical possibility?

            2. ABC*

              Forgot to add:

              How do you feel about your job and industry overall? Some people have suggested that the focus on the emergency contact issue is a symptom of a larger unhappiness. Is that possibly the case for you?

            3. Ace in the Hole*

              If you’re seriously considering withholding information that could save your life in an emergency because you don’t trust your employer not to use it to badger you about work, I think you should seriously reflect on whether or not staying in this industry is the right choice.

              Emergency contact information is for emergencies only. Not “emergencies” like urgent work tasks. Real life-safety emergencies. Fires. Natural disasters. Medical events. Missing persons. That sort of thing. If your employer used it for anything else, that would be both a huge boundary violation and extremely unusual.

              1. New Jack Karyn*

                I think Nymwall is saying that they have a real concern that their employer will use the emergency contact info in non-emergency situations. It might well be a huge boundary violation, but it might not be extremely unusual. Don’t we read here all the time about bad workplaces?

                And your first paragraph really looks like you’re telling Nymwall they’re in the wrong job.

                1. Peachtree*

                  I think that is what they’re saying in their first paragraph and also they’re right

            4. Kelly L.*

              I have never had anyone call one of my emergency contacts to ask about work. Those are there in case I have a medical episode at work, that kind of thing. They aren’t even kept by the same people who’d ever call me about work.

          3. fhqwhgads*

            That’s not the situation though. They already submitted emergency contacts when they were hired. HR has it but apparently is not “timely” with providing it to whoever might be needing to do the calling about whatever emergency. OP’s being asked to separately re-give that info to their boss. And OP apparently thinks boss is asking for it so they can use it for not-really-emergency-reasons.
            You’re talking about not having an emergency contact at all, where they’re talking about “on HR knows my emergency contact, not my boss”.

      2. Double A*

        Ah okay this makes sense! I was imagining like…days for HR to get the info. The phrasing of the letter just confused me.

        I mean it seems totally normal to me that managers would have access to emergency contacts because in an emergency you don’t want tons of hoops to jump through.

        1. Check cash*

          Managers always had access to the emergency contact in our management system.
          It would literally be…for emergencies. There’s no point in having an emergency contact that no one can get ahold of, especially if its in the moment.

          1. Millie*

            It’s possible that data storage is weird. In my experience HR has a separate drive/access to systems than managers do. I had to put emergency contact info into our central system for HR, and also filled out a form with my manager in case of any emergencies.

            1. NotRealAnonForThis*

              And in some cases, you have an actual Evil HR person who throws up hurdles when they’re not needed at a minimum, cause further harm at the worst.

              My department manager has “ICE contact information” for all of us separate from HR, because getting the information from HR is a Problem.

        2. Nymwall*

          Agreed! Part of the explanation is that the info provided to HR isn’t kept up to date. We use Workday, we have the ability to provide that info to managers. Why ask for the data a second time rather than tell us to keep the one data set correct? It just doesn’t add up.

          1. Winstonian*

            It sounds like they’re having to go this route because people aren’t doing it on their own, and in my experience, they likely won’t unless someone will do it for them, hence the asking for the information.

      3. Zombeyonce*

        In the era of remote and flexible work, it’s also possible that HR employees aren’t readily available at any moment during regular business hours, either. You can’t just walk down the hall and interrupt someone’s phone call, you have to wait until they see your email/DM or answer a voicemail.

        With an uptick in natural disasters stemming from climate change, terrorist actions (both foreign and domestic), and healthcare problems in the US meaning that people might suffer from medical emergencies more frequently, there are plenty of reasons leadership might want absolutely immediate access to emergency contact information. The chances that they want it so they can bother you to work after hours is such a tiny percentage, and LW hopefully knows if they should expect that kind of terrible behavior from their employer.

        1. Nymwall*

          Sadly untrue, I’m not infrequently contacted on multiple forms of non-official communication for emergencies that could easily be managed by a pre-existing emergency response system. Not always, but people who feel “close” to me do not have an issue doing this. I don’t know that it’s EVERYONE, but that door is definitely not closed.

          1. Anonomite*

            Right, but is it common for them to contact family members? That’s what it’s really about. Not that they try to get you on your phone, or email, or Discord, but whether they actually are calling people listed as emergency contacts.

            1. Humble Schoolmarm*

              Good question! I have a new manager who encroaches on our off-work time for non-emergency emergencies (group text at 6:25 am to ask if anyone was willing to cover a class), but they’ve certainly never called my emergency contact period, let alone to answer a work emergency question.

          2. Churu*

            “Sadly untrue, I’m not infrequently contacted on multiple forms of non-official communication for emergencies that could easily be managed by a pre-existing emergency response system. Not always, but people who feel “close” to me do not have an issue doing this. I don’t know that it’s EVERYONE, but that door is definitely not closed.”

            I don’t want to keep kicking a dead tree but this doesn’t really make sense and I’ve read it several different times. What are you trying to say here?

            Actually scratch that. Maybe spend less time trying to get everyone here to see why it is somehow totally normal to give a fake number out as an emergency contact (it is very much not normal) and instead use that time to fix up your resume, work your network, and do whatever else you need to do to get a new job and/or leave the industry you’re in entirely. Because I definitely think that’s the only real solution here (and it seems like I’m not the only one who thinks that).

      4. Brain the Brian*

        This is precisely why we have a shared doc for all employees’ first-line emergency contacts where I work. We work in multiple time zones, and people are constantly flying across continents. (A example: Several years ago, I got sent overseas with just a few hours of notice. The nature of the trip meant I really couldn’t call my family to tell them, and I just asked my boss if she could do it as I dashed out of the office.)

        1. Rosemary*

          This is what we have. We are a small company so don’t have an HR department. I actually led the charge on this after we had an employee not show up – we could not reach him and were concerned something bad had happened (turns out he thought he told someone he would be out that day, but did not).

          As someone who lives alone, I WANT my employer to have emergency contact information in case I don’t show up – they are likely to be the first to realize that something may have happened to me. This happened to an acquaintance – she did not show for an important call, her manager knew this was unlike her and reached out to her emergency contact. Turns out she had had a significant medical event; had much more time passed before someone found her, the outcome would not have been good.

          1. But what to call me?*

            Good point about living alone. I remember realizing once, when I lived in another state where no one knew me except at work and during I time in my life when I often disappeared into ‘busy can’t talk’ land for days at a time, that if anything happened to me in my apartment it could be days before anyone realized anything was wrong. I realized this while climbing on a very precarious chair to reach something. I decided to go find a more stable chair.
            But the point is that yes, I sure hope my employer would have told my emergency contact if I didn’t show up at work.

            1. gyratory_circus*

              We had this situation a few years ago – coworker lived alone, mostly kept to himself, and didn’t show up for several days. His emergency contact lived in another state and hadn’t heard from him either. We had to call the police for a wellness check, and they found him dead. It was awful.

          2. Winstonian*

            Seriously. As someone who is single and lives alone if something happened to me, even at home, it’s very likely the first people (actually 100% sure unless I had specific plans with a friend) who would know are my coworkers when I don’t show up to work.

          3. Coverage Associate*


            I don’t have numbers, but it’s very common for the news to report “officers began investigating when his office reported he didn’t show up for work.”

          4. SLG*

            I once had an employee not show up for work, in an industry where that was uncommon, without any explanation, and I couldn’t reach them through usual channels, and I had reason to suspect mental health challenges. And, their emergency contact info in our system was old.

            So that’s how I ended up having an extremely awkward, short-on-details phone call with the only emergency contact listed, who turned out to be their (recent) ex. If that hadn’t worked, my next call was going to be the police, to ask for a wellness check. Thankfully I was able to reach the employee and they were OK.

            After that, when I needed my team to do the annual emergency-contact-info update, I told a sanitized and anonymous version of that story. (“Please don’t make me call your ex if something goes wrong! This has actually happened to me before!”)

      5. Sharkie*

        This! I organized and”chaperoned” a client trip on the opposite side of the country this year. My coworkers and I exchanged our S/O ‘s contact information with our boss just in case. It made me feel better that if something happened on the trip, my boss or coworkers would be one to tell my partner instead of some hospital employee/ police officer.

        Having some type of contact info easily accessible completely normal. In any type of emergency time is a scarce resource and literally the difference between life or death. Quite frankly it’s a bit of a beige flag if your boss doesn’t ask for some type of emergency contact. If management abuses this contact information, that is a reflection of their inability to manage.

      6. anon24*

        Yeah, obviously this is way different than an office job, but I’m a first responder, so it’s totally normal to provide emergency contact info to both HR and to management. HR stores it in their system, and management puts it in their system that can be accessed 24-7 by any supervisor on duty, so if I get run over by a car at 3am while on scene, they can track down my emergency contact. This wouldn’t even make me blink. Also, I’ve worked other jobs where HR was in a completely different state and it just made sense to make sure my manager had my emergency contact information so that if something happened they could deal with it themselves instead of having to contact a faceless HR person 500 miles away and wait for them to pull my file. Not once has my emergency contact ever been abused, and I’ve worked for some bad companies.

      7. Yellow*

        Agreed- My company has a 3 shift manufacturing component. I, along with all the “desk jobs”, including HR work 8-5. If you’re woring 3rd shift and you get hurt, your boss needs to know who to call, and HR will likely not be available to help.

        1. JustaTech*

          I’ve had to do this in the other direction as well – I had to go to our manufacturing site where there are (reasonably) no phones in the clean rooms. And I was going to be in the clean room for the whole day, likely 6 hours at a go.
          If something happened to *me* there were plenty of people around to tell my emergency contact, but if something happened to one of my family members they would have no way of reaching me for hours and hours, so I gave my husband my boss’s contact info (because my boss would be able to relay a message to me) – with his permission, since I included his personal cell.

          Stuff happens, and I’ve had too many coworkers sprint out the door to respond to family member’s emergencies (all OK in the end) to not want to provide that info to my boss.

      8. PurpleShark*

        I work for a large local school district and every individual school has asked for this. We have an HR but the local school requests this for many of the reasons given here.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      If it is really about OP’s emergency (medical incident etc) it seems like the system they have in place isn’t adequate, instead of 2 copies of the information to be kept up to date there should be some way for management to access the list HR has, with appropriate controls (it is audited and recorded that they accessed it).

      If it is really about the company’s emergency – it unfortunately isn’t unusual that companies try to track someone down when they are out of office but “needed”. I’m sure there are cases of that on this site already, and I observed it personally. A colleague of mine was on holiday in a foreign country and some “emergency” happened in the company. They did call the emergency contact (his parents, who knew he wasn’t at work as they had dropped him at the airport) who must have told the company something ending in “off”, so the big boss then went round pumping everyone for details on what the colleague might have said about where they were going and even got people to start calling hotels! And to make it worse – I could have dealt with the thing and was right there, but due to “assumptions” they didn’t stop to think that I had the info. Nowadays I would have said “hold up, I can answer this, why are you trying to track down John in Italy?!” but back then I didn’t like to speak up…

      1. Zelda*

        “who must have told the company something ending in ‘off'”

        I am delighted with this evocative turn of phrase.

      2. Vax’ildan*

        This. This right here is why I do what LW4 does, so what happened to your colleague doesn’t happen to me. I’ll refuse to give a number, or give “911”, or just a bogus number. I think the chances of it being abused are much higher than something happening to me AND my company having that information would make a meaningful difference.

        1. Check cash*

          That seems like an issue at your workplace though. This is not at all common in regular, normal sort-of companies. It would be shocking to me for someone to use EC in this manner.

          1. Ellis Bell*

            Yeah, I was pretty shocked that someone would be contemplating giving a fake number for a potential emergency. That could create a very bad situation all round if an emergency does happen and it’s not like accidents or incidents like a random fainting are the same odds as the lottery. If I was really concerned about the number being misused, I’d inform my emergency contact to be like the parents in Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd’s example – I would tell them that any non emergency calls should be treated with great disdain and a hang up. I might also check “what level of emergency would you use this number for?” beforehand. For all OP knows the number they provide might get a pre-check call and I do not think it would be a lot of fun if they have given the bosses a fake number.

            1. ABC*

              That idea of giving a fake number seems like the product of “It could never happen to me” thinking. It doesn’t even make sense to me. If your employer calls Jiffy Lube after you’ve been carted away in an ambulance, you actually want them to say “Wow, they really got me!” and then shrug and hope it all works out? If my direct report did that, I would be really disturbed and upset that there would be nothing else I could do to help (and, later on, I’d be annoyed that she lied to me).

          2. Rosemary*

            Agreed. I cannot imagine giving a fake number because it is just such an unlikely scenario for it to be abused. And if I DID work somewhere that this was a legitimate concern…then yeah, I’d be looking for a new job because it likely would be indicative of larger issues with the company/management. But to just out of principle not give an emergency contact is just weird/paranoid.

          3. Nightengale*

            I didn’t give my doctor my phone number because I can’t take calls during the day and was getting multiple calls from equipment companies. I had told them to use the portal messaging. I did give my mother’s number as an emergency contact. She lives in another state. I would want her contacted in an emergency like I was hospitalized and unable to contact her myself type of emergency.

            Imagine my surprise when my mother got a call from the office trying to set up a referral. My PCP and I had discussed a possible referral and she had entered it into the computer with the mutual understanding that I would then reach out to the specialists office down the road if needed. Well once it goes into the computer, someone tries to set it up. And apparently the person trying to set it up doesn’t know what “emergency” means.

            As a health care provider myself, this does not increase my confidence in that office.

        2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          Highly unusual. And in the event of an emergency for you, they have lost the ability to let someone know.

          Emergency contacts are not something to play games with. Give accurate information. If it is abused, address that. But don’t give false information and make a bad situation worse.

        3. Maggie*

          I guess it comes down to the company. We’ve had to contact emergency contacts a couple times and I won’t blast peoples medical issues even anonymously but it was an extremely good thing we had them and we able to check on the individuals.

        4. DramaQ*

          That is actually an incredibly dumb idea. My husband had a medical emergency. While the EMTs were treating him his boss called me directly because I am his emergency contact. I talked to the EMTS and since my husband was awake they asked me which hospital I preferred he go to and I told them the one I worked at. If he had put down a fake number there would have been no way to reach me. What if he had died? What if he wasn’t awake? If he was not awake as his spouse I would be the one who would have to given consent to treatment. I can’t do that if they are busy calling Jiffy Lube instead of me. In the 14 years I’ve been in the workforce I’ve never had my employer use my emergency contact as a free way to get ahold of me. But I HAVE had my husband’s used for an actual emergency. Everyone thinks it won’t happen to them till it does. Then you’re paranoia about your employer is going to come back to haunt you.

        5. Peter the Bubblehead*

          The first time some medical emergency happens to you and you manager calls the emergency number and get “Jiffy Lube” on the other end, it isn’t going to end well when no one can authorize the proper medical care for you!

          1. Special Sauce Phanatic*

            Yeah here’s the thing — you’re going to scare and confuse some random person at Jiffy Lube or Wally World or whatever first of all. But this doesn’t work out in the LW’s favor either way:

            They’ve had a true medical emergency, your next of kin can’t be contacted to be by your side and/or making medical decisions about you, you upset someone at Jiffy Lube or wherever, AND your boss knows you gave a fake number, which is going to look super weird no matter now non-dysfunctional the place is.

            OR, the company uses the info inappropriately, you inconvenience someone at Jiffy Lube, then your boss knows you gave them a fake number, which if the place is dysfunctional enough to do this, is going to have who knows what consequences.

            There’s no reason to do this fake number thing.

        6. Nancy*

          This is a terrible idea. I guess be thankful you have never been involved in an actual workplace emergency.

          1. Peter the Bubblehead*

            And you are going to regret that the first time someone requires background information you cannot supply and they cannot reach your partner/spouse/parent/next of kin.

      3. Nymwall*

        OP again, it’s this sort of thing. My workplace claims to be people-first, but as we saw during the pandemic that only works when it’s convenient. If the organization has a need that it greater than mine then my boundaries go out the window.

        1. Hell in a Handbasket*

          But then in that case, what do you think is going to happen the first time they go this route and get Jiffy Lube?

          What it comes down to is either (1) they won’t misuse the information, in which case the fake number is pointless and also dangerous for a real medical emergency, or (2) they do use it, find out you lied, and then you suffer the consequences of that (including getting in trouble for lying and also probably being pressured/forced to provide a real number).

        2. Lucia Pacciola*

          This is how you handle a creep in a bar, when they want your partner’s phone number. If you feel that you need to treat your employer like a creep, for wanting your partner’s phone number in case you need emergency care at work, you have way bigger problems than giving them your partner’s phone number. Ghost that employer ASAP!

    3. anon_sighing*

      Everything from HR not being able to provide this information in a timely manner to LW’s concern that this info is for their emergencies is making me pause and think there’s a larger issue looming over all this.

      1. Pretty as a Princess*

        I don’t know of anywhere that HR is *instantly and always available* 24/7. I think it is far more likely here that like someone said upthread, there was an incident with another employee where getting to HR and getting the info took longer than someone felt good about, and so this management is adding in another layer of preparedness.

        A colleague of mine collapsed a few years ago in a hallway and someone on his team called 911. All the people who witnessed the incident were pretty junior and none of them would even have known HOW to contact HR without logging in to our intranet and looking up the HR team. Luckily, one of them DID know the coworker’s wife’s name and was able to locate her in the guy’s phone and have her meet them at the ER.

        I am really, really grateful that our HRM gives me, as a manager, access to emergency contact info. I think it would be bonkers to ever use that information to try to…. get someone to do something after-hours. I would think that the LW’s organization would have to have a lot lot lot of other exposed toxicity if LW are worried about that. But I would not think that concern about the timeliness of being able to access info that had to go through an HR team would be suspicious in its own right.

        1. anon_sighing*

          I’ve only worked in the public sector. This info would be kept with your boss and after some discussion, it was kept on a secure (i.e., only accessible with your badge in computer) admin Sharepoint so anyone on our team could access it if it’s ever needed. In my state job, since we’re a smaller team, it’s kept in a locked office that everyone has a key to in a “out of way” place (this choice was made because in an emergency people may not be able to fumble with or find a key if they’re the one dealing with the emergency, so it removes a perceived barrier — also we don’t have concerns of misuse, which may be different in other places).

          I just feel having emergency info in a place where it can’t serve it’s function (emergencies can happen at anytime!) is an HR inefficiency that banks on the assumption that emergencies are 1) somehow rare in the workplace and 2) will happen when people are around.

      2. Spreadsheets and Books*

        I work for an extremely large company, like parent company is top 10 in the US kind of large, and we have HR departments coming out the ass. HR for this function and HR for that function and honest to god I have no idea how to actually get ahold of the correct HR person for this kind of thing. I’d hope my bosses do (maybe there’s a portal or something? we have those coming out the ass, too), but having it on a team level can really cut down on the confusion in a big company.

        1. Phryne*

          My big company has a functioning HR system where both HR people and direct bosses have access to such information via their respective own portals to said system. I can imagine a small company not having top of the range software, but it seems unlikely an extremely large company is functioning on locally stored spreadsheets and hope.

          1. Spreadsheets and Books*

            Oh, we have top of the range software, and extremely capable teams, but we just have far too many of both. We recently got an email saying compensation statements are available, and it took me 15 minutes to comb through my many employee profiles to figure out where exactly those lived. I have worked here 5 years.

        2. ABC*

          Same. I don’t love the idea of going through the HR phone tree or waiting for the HR chatbot to respond to my message of “Hey, my employee just had a heart attack, who do I call?”

      3. Nymwall*

        OP here, there are not abundant red flags, but there is enough suspicion to be concerned. The 40 hour work week is a social contract to be respected, when I see that not happen it makes me very cautious about making myself available in any way that does not fit into 40 hours.

        I know salary is “different,” but it’s an employer’s obligation to create jobs that can be completed in 40 hours, as posted. My being out of communication outside of that is a choice I get to make.

        1. ABC*

          None of this has anything to do with emergency contacts, who are by definition not you.

          You are conflating work-life balance concerns with an unrelated, logical, extremely common workplace process.

        2. Peter the Bubblehead*

          If you honestly think your boss is going to call your significant other at 8pm on a Saturday night because they want you to do work, then you have bigger problems than not listing an emergency contact.
          You need an entirely new job and to get out of there ASAP.
          Otherwise, like ABC said, emergency contacts are, by definition, not you!

          1. Glazed Donut*

            Agreed. And OP, if this has happened in the past, please just plainly say so. Otherwise so many commenters here are thinking you do not understand the utility of an emergency contact.
            Has your manager/boss contacted your prior emergency contact for routine work? For non-essential information outside of work hours? Is there a history of this, or just concern it may happen?
            Are you upset that coworkers have contacted you on social media (or some other non-business platform) for non-emergency needs?
            In 99.9% of workplaces, this is normal and reasonable and your extreme anti- response is making it seem like your meter for regular protocol is off, not your workplace.

        3. K8T*

          Okay but if you get hit by a bus, then what? This is short-sighted and frankly an immature reaction. I’ve had to call someone’s emergency contact before when they were being taken to the hospital and I don’t know what I would’ve done if they gave me a bogus number.

          1. Winstonian*

            Yeah. At my last job we had an employee (fairly high up) go out for a run during lunch and collapsed. His family wasn’t here and he hadn’t updated his emergency contact so it was a little bit of time before we could contact his ex. Meanwhile, he’s in the hospital dying because the only people who could be within him were colleagues.

            I completely get why they want the info because a lot of people don’t take emergency contacts seriously and fail to update them (or give them). You get more response when you say you’ll do it for them rather than asking them to do it themselves.

        4. Glowworm*

          It seems like you’re confusing something common (a company working its staff more than 40hrs/wk) with something extremely uncommon (a company contacting your emergency contact to ask you to work late or something, instead of in an actual emergency.)

          This just isn’t reasonable and you should give the name and number of the person you want contacted if you’re being carted to the ER. No one here can/will make you do that, but I’d give a second read to this thread and really consider that your ideas are off-base here. You do you, but be advised that goofing around with emergency info is silly and dangerous.

        5. Ellis Bell*

          But your EC number isn’t your own contact number, so how can they use it to contact you? It’s far more reasonable for your EC to say “Well, I’m not OP” or “This number was provided for emergencies only” and hang up, than it is to play games with the number you provide.

        6. DramaQ*

          But then the question is why are you working at this place if you think they are going to contact your EC every five minutes? That is an extremely toxic workplace.

          My husband had to have me contacted in a medical emergency. My husband had to call my boss when I was a tad busy giving birth. I had walked across the street to get something to eat from the cafeteria and didn’t come back. I left my computer at my desk. For all they knew I disappeared off the face of the Earth. Letting my boss know I was fine and not hemorrhaging in a bathroom somewhere is just common courtesy.

          We had a secretary in my department at a university have a heart scare. We had someone have a heart attack at my employe before this one.

          You can hope it will never happen to you and it probably won’t but how unfair it is to make it so your loved ones can’t be contacted in an emergency out of paranoia about being called about a powerpoint.

          At my current company HR doesn’t even work in the office and A LOT of their duties have been shipped off shores. I have no idea who I would call or what chain to utilize to get that information. I am going to guess I contact our Chicago based department HR person but IDK? Not exactly something I want to play around with in an emergency. We fortunately have a department EC sheet that is easily accessible within seconds.

          I think you keep using the phrase emergency contact and not understanding what it actually means. Emergency contact is who they go to in the event of a medical emergency or a mass shooting, a fire, tornado that leaves you trapped under the stairs, etc. It is not for “emergencies” like your boss wants that PowerPoint at 6pm on Friday and at least from my understanding if it is abused like that you can call them out via HR.

        7. Nancy*

          Do you understand what an emergency contact is? It’s not to call someone else to ask you to work after hours.

          I’ve had coworkers have heart attacks at work. I can’t imagine my manager calling their emergency contact and getting some store instead.

        8. Humble Schoolmarm*

          I hope you don’t feel piled on, OP, but I also want to push back on this. I’m a teacher in K-12, so I know exactly what you mean about jobs where it’s highly suggested that you light yourself on fire to keep others warm (and then when you get 3rd degree burns, you get criticized for that too). Plus, the 40 hour week for teachers is such a unicorn that there are blogs about how to maybe, kind of get there.

          All this to say, I get it. My manager texted me at 6:25am a month ago for an “emergency” that could easily have been taken care of 2 hours later when my work day actually starts. But, and this is important, they still have my emergency contact. If I fall down the stairs (either at home or at school) and am lying unconscious, people who know me, will care for me and are equipped to make medical decisions on my behalf need to know. It’s just that simple.

        9. anon_sighing*

          I sense the lack of trust in your workplace and that there may be a toxic environment there beyond what you’re outlining here. I don’t believe this is the first time you’ve been asked for emergency contacts unless this is your very first job…I would give it to them but trust your gut and look for employment elsewhere. As other have said, most other places only store this info use in an emergency. It would be bonkers out of line for them to contact your EC to ask “Do you know where OP keeps their TPS reports? Could you call and ask?” Presumably if they wanted to do this they would require employee personal numbers be provided…not an EC.

    4. amanda_cake*

      I am an elementary school librarian. While HR has my emergency information, my school nurse also has that information. If something was to happen to me it is easy faster to have that information at my school than waiting on someone from central office to pull it up.

      1. Becky*

        Same thing on a college level for me. I have the emergency contact info for all my staffers in the library available to me because we work all sorts of non-9-5 hours and emergencies have and do happen. It doesn’t have to be catastrophic. Could also be panic attack or something else mental health related.

    5. Helen J*

      We have a emergency contact binder at my employer. Employees fill it out and it gets put in a binder, in a locked drawer in the security office. It only gets used should someone need emergency medial attention/transport to a facility. Since our HR is in a different building across town, this is so that the employee gets medical attention in a prompt manner and emergency personnel can be told of any allergies/medicines/conditions that may affect how their care is handled. Security or the person’s manager will call their emergency contact so they can come be with the employee, as well as make any necessary calls/arrangements should the employee have children or are a caretaker for someone.

    6. Baunilha*

      Both me and my husband have had emergency situations at work (mine really was an emergency, his was thankfully a misunderstanding) where neither our workplaces had each other’s contact’s information. In my case, my boss went to my Instagram profile (!) to see if my was husband was tagged in the pictures, and proceeded to message him from there.
      And when my husband didn’t show up for a Very Importat Meeting and wasn’t answering his phone, his boss had to ask around for a while until he tracked a coworker who we were friends with outside of work and had my number as well.
      It all turned out fine in the end, but both cases were very stressful for everyone involved in the emergency-contact-treasure-hunt.

      If OP has reasons to believe their boss or workplace would misuse the information, than they have bigger problems.

    7. Nymwall*

      I’m OP for this! And agreed. There are some emergency response responsibilities for some of the roles included, but there are ample pre-existing structures in place to manage that. It’s a mystery to me why this was requested….

      1. Peter the Bubblehead*

        It was requested because you immediate manager feels it would be in all his or her employee’s best interests to have the information directly on hand rather than have to wait to contact someone who may or may not be sitting at their desk, or when an emergency may occur at a time outside the usual HR person’s working hours. And from the initial description, that’s exactly what happened.

        1. Pretty as a Princess*


          LW there are so so many examples in the comments of situations that have happened to real people where this can make a difference.

          Is there a bunch of underlying toxicity/prior bad behavior by management along these lines in your workplace that leaves you suspicious of the motive?

      2. Nancy*

        There is no mystery. It was requested because it removes the step of having your manager call HR for the number and hope someone is there to take the call.

      3. Special Sauce Phanatic*

        “It’s a mystery to me why this was requested….”

        It is so that if something happens to you at work, they can contact your emergency contact.

      4. JustaTech*

        Serious suggestion: why don’t you ask?
        You know your company better than any of us, so you’ll know if they’re “put the paperwork on their mother’s grave” boundary-exploding and evil, or if they’re garden-variety overstepping. And who knows, maybe you’ll get a “I can’t tell you specifics but another department had a bad thing happen and we realized that we can’t get anyone’s contact info unless Glinda and Ozma are on-site”.

        (I’ve watched two coworkers sprint out of the building after getting calls that their family members had medical emergencies, so these calls do happen.)

        1. JustaTech*

          I will also say that I’ve seen people be a bit over-protective of their personal info – I was on a work trip with a boss and we’re at the airport after a cross-county flight and since he has the company card he’s arranging our Lyft back to the office.
          He was so paranoid about anyone getting his personal cell number he very nearly didn’t pick up when our driver called because he was afraid that now some random Lyft driver had his phone number.

          (That’s not how that works, and it ended up being OK, but the thought of being stranded at the super busy airport because he didn’t want to answer his phone was extra stress no one needed.)

      5. Peter the Bubblehead*

        9-1-1 is not considered an emergency contact number. It’s the number they are going to call if you have an accident or medical emergency on the jab whether you list it or not, and all it’s going to do is have the paramedics arrive and probably take you to the hospital. They cannot make life or death medical decisions on your behalf that only next of kin/legal representative can make. They do not know your medical history, any special issues you may have (such as allergies or reactions to certain medications) or anything else that can contribute to your successful treatment beyond the usual first aid they normally provide.
        Listing a fake number as your emergency contact not only includes all the downsides I just listed, but the added complication of your employer now going through the stress to find whoever really does have your power of attorney/next of kin but brings someone else that should never have been a part of it into your drama.

      6. Tea*

        “ It’s a mystery to me why this was requested….”

        The only mystery is why you think it’s a mystery. Unless you’re working for HYDRA or something, this is a very normal and smart ask. So giving HR a random mechanic’s number instead of your actual emergency contact, is just going to backfire if there ever is an actual emergency at your workplace and someone does need to reach your actual emergency contact. And from what I can tell, you haven’t revealed anything about the company culture that indicates WHY you think this request is so strange. It’s your right to not reveal that info, especially if it would somehow ID you (although I really think that the vast majority of letter writers who think their situations are SO unique and SO identifiable…are actually not) but without that additional context, the majority of us are going to side-eye your reaction.

      7. courtbot*

        I’m confused why you’re confused, it’s generally understood that emergency contacts are for if something happens to *you*. It sounds like you’re conflating work emergencies with personal emergencies here, is that what your leadership is actually asking for or are you just assuming it is one and the same? To use an example from my own job that sounds like what you’re getting at in this comment – I work in Environmental Health & Safety at a manufacturing facility. If an emergency (chemical leak, equipment failure, etc) occurs at the factory I will get called to respond using the facility’s emergency response protocols, in no scenario even if I can’t be reached would they then call my emergency contact for a work-related issue.

      8. QED*

        I think you can definitely ask why emergency contacts now need to be with management in addition to HR since this seems like a policy change, but I would not give a random number to them. First, it’s extremely unlikely that as a matter of course, management is going to start calling emergency contacts whenever they want to reach an employee outside of business hours. Plenty of people’s emergency contacts aren’t people they live with, and for example, if my boss called one of my parents to see why I wasn’t picking up work calls on the weekend, they’d probably be like “I don’t know, ask QED”, which is a waste of my employer’s time and they know it. Not saying it never happens, but it would be way more efficient for them to just tell you during work hours that you need to be more available. Second, assuming there’s some reason why your HR is less available than leadership, such as working in a different time zone or different hours, as other commenters have said, you WANT your emergency contact information to be readily accessible ASAP for medical emergencies. If your coworkers/boss really believe that something is wrong because you missed all your morning meetings without explanation and they can’t reach you, without an emergency contact, the next step is likely a wellness check by the local police. In many cases, getting cops involved is not a net positive, so getting an emergency contact on the phone first can make a wellness check unnecessary or can mitigate some of the potential adverse effects (something we learned in my workplace, unfortunately). And if your situation is that all your work is done in the office, so that situation will never happen, as others have said, there’s value TO YOU in getting your partner on the phone immediately if you have a medical emergency at the office.

    8. Someone Online*

      One memorable out-of-state trip we were all checking out of our hotel room to catch our flights home. Only one employee didn’t show up. And she wasn’t in her hotel room. And the hotel staff were not able to tell us anything (for privacy concern reasons, which I do understand and appreciate). Turns out missing employee had a medical emergency and was at the hospital, unable to contact her coworkers because she was unconscious. Her coworker missed her flight home trying to find missing coworker. And HR was unavailable because we were in a different time zone.

      Now when we travel, we make sure that someone on the team has emergency contact info.

    9. Lucia Pacciola*

      What baffles me about letter 4 is, where is the partner in all of this?

      LW4 should really ask their partner if they want the employer to be calling a Jiffy Lube when LW is having a medical emergency. “No problem, my love. I’ll just find out you’ve been rushed to the ER with internal bleeding, the next time I get my oil changed.”

    10. Ace in the Hole*

      My employer is a small organization that operates 7 days a week. If something happens at, say, 6am on a Sunday, we’ll be able to contact at least one supervisor or manager… but not necessarily someone who has access to the HR files.

      However, I have had many jobs over many years and the only time anyone’s actually called my emergency contact was when we had a tsunami and my phone stopped working.

    11. Glowworm*

      Agree, much like the marital status question earlier this week, your emergency contact info is not private and it’s not weird of them to ask for it! It’s who they’ll contact… in an… emergency.

    12. Coverage Associate*

      1. There are procedures in place at hospitals where someone comes in alone and anonymous. It happened to a family friend. She collapsed while jogging, wasn’t carrying ID and was a Jane Doe at the hospital for a few days until she regained consciousness.

      2. If you have a medical emergency at work and work can’t reach anyone for you, as a practical matter, you have dumped the problem of finding someone on a hospital social worker and possibly your coworkers, as your work will still be their only point of contact. If you can’t make your own medical decisions, the hospital will want a proxy, for liability reasons.

      3. But there are people estranged from family and new to town. Consider that the hospital won’t know about the estrangement unless you put them in touch with someone who knows, preemptively by having an emergency contact (and ideally the legal paperwork). If I really had no one and work really needed the form filled out, I would put work’s contact information there. It’s unlikely to be legally binding in the health care proxy sense.

    13. Coverage Associate*

      For years, I was able to use my mother’s business’s main number as my emergency contact. She’s a doctor, so the number was staffed 24/7, but the staff was an extra layer against misuse of the emergency contact. Now that number has a recording for off hours that gives a second number to use for medical emergencies, and I sometimes still use it.

      But abuse of emergency contact information does happen. My sister’s teacher once called my mother at home because the teacher’s daughter was pregnant and having complications. The daughter had her own doctor, but people can be weird when their children and grandchildren are sick.

      If there were frequent workplace misuse of emergency contact information, tell your emergency contact how to handle that or get a new job. Also, who picks up calls from strange numbers on the first call? Work can leave a message explaining if it’s a work or medical emergency (just which one) and the emergency contact can call back only if it’s medical.

    14. Lizzianna*

      I agree with the second part of your comment, I can’t imagine having so little trust in my leadership that I didn’t want them to have my husband’s contact info in case of an emergency.

      We discovered the hard way that our emergency contact info is kept in a database that has to be accessed from a computer on the network or VPN when an employee at a public event passed out on a Saturday, and no one was in the office to pull the info to let her husband know we were taking her to the hospital. Luckily, she came to enough to unlock her phone so we could get her number. Since then, the event supervisor is required to have emergency contact info for employees onsite.

    15. Tazzy*

      At my last job, we thankfully needed emergency contact info very rarely. The final instance I recall was that someone passed away, and the police were calling to get her emergency contact information. And I’ll clarify that (1) we could confirm that it was actually law enforcement calling and (2) they did not provide the reason at the time of the call.

    16. trex20*

      An employee where I work was in a horrific accident in the middle of the night. It was not work-related but through a series of chance events, co-workers/bosses found out about it but had no way to contact family, and no one (including the hospital or police) could find emergency contact info. I (a manager) got a call in the middle of the night but did not know how to find the info either. I did, however, have our HR manager’s personal cell phone and was able to get in touch with her to get the information. Had I not had that phone number, we would have had to wait until business hours for a truly emergent situation.

      This is likely rare, both in event and the fact that people he worked with found out about the accident before anyone else, and that we had to use that information for a non-work related emergency, but I can see how having a distant HR team would make managers nervous (and I’ve since learned how to access emergency contact information).

  4. NotSarah*

    There’s something about LW 1’s question that really bothers me – that’s a big ask from the prospective employers. Unless I was 100% certain I was going to accept the offer, I’d quietly withdraw (citing a very different and unrelated reason).

    1. GythaOgden*

      Looks like it’s about client relationships/conflict of interests etc. The response above from the corporate recruiter is quite interesting as a glimpse behind the scenes as to why it matters in this case.

      1. Other Alice*

        Yeah, I can see why it would matter for the company, but I’d rather withdraw entirely at this point. Telling the company would go against the employee’s interests. It’s their livelihood.

        1. ferrina*

          That’s why the company is telling the applicant about the policy. The company isn’t going directly to their client (OP’s company) to say “hey, OP’s interviewing”. They are being open with OP that they will require OP to disclose- OP gets to decide if they are willing to risk that.

          Seconding GythaOgden- yes, this is a big risk for the applicant, but it’s also a big risk the company interviewing them.

    2. Scarlet ribbons in her hair*

      How on earth could you be 100% certain that you would accept their offer, since you wouldn’t have any idea of what the salary would be, what kind of health insurance they offered, and how much PTO you would get?

    3. Gritter*

      At this stage you are not even sure you will receive an offer, let alone accept it. What if they make you tell your employer and then drop you in favor of someone else?

      If the company is so concerned about their relationship with their client that they would place such an unreasonable demand on candidates at a presumably advanced stage of the process then it would be far better for them to have a blanket policy of simply not considering candidates employed by the client.

    4. Bast*

      I wouldn’t be comfortable with this either, as I’ve worked for companies that will terminate you upon learning you are looking for another job. I’m not willing to risk my definite paycheck for a “maybe will get a job, maybe not.” I work in an industry where one firm will accuse another of “poaching” as well. Companies would do better to look at *why* the “poaching” company is able to do so — is it the pay? Better benefits? The flexibility? It should be a call to up their game to be competitive instead of just accusing another company of “poaching,” as clearly, they are offering something people are looking for and find lacking in the other company.

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

      Same. If the OP doesn’t agree to their terms, they probably won’t give her an offer anyway, so it’s a bit of a wash now. With the added info about how the OP’s current leadership would react, I would probably withdraw from consideration and make sure they know that I expect professional discretion in my job search.

    6. Lucia Pacciola*

      It’s also a big ask from the prospective hire. They’re asking the hiring company to risk its client relationships for their convenience. Big asks on both sides.

  5. Ellis Hubris*

    LW1- a company my job worked with, indirectly through one of their clients, approached me about a job. I had taken a different job in my industry and this other company would be going back to what I do generally.
    We met and things were all decided, I had an offer letter in hand, and the company felt they needed to let their client know they had offered me the job, as my company and the new company shared the same client. Client went to my boss. I have no idea if client was told to keep confidence but didn’t. New company pulled the offer as ” there was too much awkwardness”. Which they had created. National company I will never use again.

    My boss transitioned me out of the company. Essentially a long layoff. It’s never to your benefit to let your company know. These days, if a company asks for this, I bow out. Destroyed a year of my life and I ended up looking flaky to those who didn’t know what happened. Run.

    1. Zombeyonce*

      I was thinking about this possibility as well. LW needs to make it very clear to the company that if they decide to approach LW’s current employer before an offer is made and accepted to “keep it all above board”, that would create serious hardship for the LW. I worry a company that doesn’t recognize what kinds of issues their request might cause for a potential employee would also disregard those same issues if they considered telling the person’s current employer themselves.

      1. Tracy*

        When I was interviewing with my last awful job (they looked fine during the interview, though there were some red flags and I was desperate to get out of my current position due to their illegal activities) the owner offhandedly mentioned he was going to call my current employer for a reference! I had to beg him not to because I would either be fired or be made incredibly miserable until I quit. The interviewer said he thought I had given permission and that he must have confused me with someone else and was upset I wouldn’t let him do that. Funny thing is that he would have gone absolutely ballistic if he thought one of his employees was leaving! When I eventually gave my notice to get out of that hellfire he had a tantrum and said I was stabbing him in the back.

        I absolutely would withdraw from a hiring process with a company that didn’t understand I couldn’t tell my current employer I was interviewing. That even goes for my current job that’s only 10% as toxic.

  6. Pink Sprite*

    Re: letter #4: Unless you have evidence that your bosses are complete banana pants, I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want someone (at least a trustworthy colleague) to have the contact information for your emergency contact.
    If, god forbid, something scary happens, wouldn’t you want your spouse/SO/partner, parent, family member, close friend, etc. to be notified?

    1. Sarah*

      I agree, I just don’t understand the hesitation. If they abuse (unlikely) the privilege then just get your contact to block the number.

      1. GrooveBat*

        I don’t understand the hostility. The anger seems out of proportion to the ask. Does OP always have such an adversarial relationship with their employer?

        1. ferrina*

          Yeah, this is a pretty normal ask. Most employers have some sort of emergency contact list that they will never touch. Unless there’s something else very weird about the company, OP’s approach is really hostile.

    2. Eternalfiresong*

      10000%. I will indulge in a personal story – I had an employee get into a serious, life threatening motorcycle accident on the way back from lunch. He was late, and it wasn’t like him. It wasn’t sitting right with me. On a weird hunch I went and started checking a local site that keeps track of auto accidents and saw a (graphic) photo of HIS bike and the entire team had an OMG moment.

      He was unconscious and fighting for his life, listed as “John Doe” at the time. We couldn’t figure out where he was. No one could give us info as we weren’t related. Obviously his contact info was with him (phone was ruined, actually). But we had his emergency contact on file and we were able to get in touch with his partner. She was able them figure out where he was taken, etc. It was a very harrowing experience. And emergency contact info definitely helped us.

      Thankfully, after about 8 months of recovery, he is able to walk again and came back to work too. He has to make certain accommodations for a lingering affects of a TBI but overall, we were extremely thankful for how everything turned out. Including being able to get his partner informed as soon as possible.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        That sounds very traumatizing, not just for him and his partner, but for you and your team! I’m glad you were able to contact them and that he’s on the mend.

      2. Phlox*

        I’ve been in similar work situations and it just *all the swear words* sucks. emergency contact information should be filed separately and your boss should easily be able to share where, how it’s separate and what’s the plan, and then yeah, if the absolute worst happens, they’re on your team for getting your people where they need to be.

      3. AcademiaNut*

        Yeah, I’ve seen several cases where we needed next of kin information for a coworker, either because of a medical emergency, or they stopped showing up for work.

      4. Myrin*

        I have never had to give an emergency contact in any of the jobs I’ve worked – food service, academia, retail, and now local government. I’ve also never heard of anyone else IRL for whom this was a thing (although granted, this isn’t really a topic that just tends to come up, of course), so I’m really wondering if they just, for whatever reason, aren’t a thing here (we are not in the US or the UK)?

        In any case, I’ve always thought that the concept is hugely practical and helpful and even upon first encountering it here, I thought that it seems simply logical to have someone to contact in a (presumed) emergency and also that surely, someone somewhere at my different places of work has encountered a situation where such a contact would’ve been at least beneficial, if not downright needed.

        All that is to say, stories like yours have definitely reminded me of that again and I think I’ll actually ask about this – maybe I’ll get HR to see the advantages!

        1. münchner kindl*

          Not-US, not-UK, but EU, so data privacy laws might make managers very wary of requesting information.

          I, too, have not been explicitly asked formally for an emergency contact by my employer, but I also saw that it would be a good idea (a colleague was ill and lived alone), especially in big cities were many people live alone, with neither family nor partners nearby, so work might be the only place that checks up when they disappear.

          Similar to power of medical attorney in case of accident, the average person doesn’t think something will happen to them – to seniors, dementia is a problem, but I’m healthy (now); but a stroke can hit anybody, as can a traffic accident with brain injuries, and if you don’t have power of attorney, and somebody to contact people close to you, you can’t solve the problem.

          Better to be prepared in advance.

          1. amoeba*

            Switzerland and I literally updated my emergency contact info in the system as well. My partner’s in the EU and has it as well (huge corporation), so doesn’t seem to be any problem with the local laws! It’s not mandatory, though. But it certainly *would* indeed be illegal to abuse it for “company emergencies”, so I wouldn’t be worried there! (Apart from the fact that our companies luckily aren’t as bananapants for that to be a concern in the first place, legal issues aside…)

          2. Media Monkey*

            GDPR (the data privacy laws) allow data to be stored for a specific purpose that you have given permission for. so i would think that would cover emergency contact info (assuming to deleted it once the employee left the company)

          3. Allonge*

            EU data privacy rules don’t prevent storing personal information, you just need to have your thinking and paperwork around it in order.

            This is stuff like justification of why it’s needed (not a problem for emergency contact), who has access (should be figured out anyway), what it can be used for (so no use of this for chasing someone on leave down) and often even top of all that, consent (we add our own contacts in the system ourselves).

          4. Phryne*

            I’m in the EU and I can input and edit/update my Emergency Contact information directly into the system, via the same portal where I can find my contract and employment details, get reimbursements, etc and the like. Not even HR needs to ever see this info unless it is needed, and in that case it is accessible to both HR and my direct boss.
            Privacy law does not forbid sharing private info period, it just regulates how you store it and who has access.

        2. UKDancer*

          I don’t know exactly how it works outside the UK (or UK companies abroad). When I worked in Belgium it was for a UK organisation based there so as far as I remember we were asked for emergency contact details.

          Every company I’ve worked for has asked for emergency contact details. As a manager I can see on the system contact information for my staff if I need. It’s pretty clear this is for use in emergencies. So a few jobs ago when someone didn’t show up for 2 days and I knew he had a range of health issues I contacted his emergency contact to see if he was alright (he was, just really bad flu and hadn’t managed to send an email to let me know).

        3. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          I’m in the US and every job I’ve ever had (office jobs, not retail or food service) has required this as part of the onboarding paperwork. Even before I developed a medical condition that is normally 100% managed with meds but which could be catastrophic if I needed emergency surgery and it wasn’t accounted for, I’ve always wanted someone to know if I was hospitalized because of something that happened at or en route to work.

        4. Nancy*

          I’m in the US and every school,
          job, volunteer position has asked for emergency contact info. I live alone and absolutely want that info at work. If I don’t show up, then something has happened and someone needs to know.

        5. skunklet*

          I’m in the US, office job.

          Had a coworker have a stroke at work.

          Same job, had a type 1 diabetic have a low blood sugar episode at work and passed out.

          Both times emergency contacts were called. That’s what they’re there for!

      5. WS*

        Yes, something similar happened in my small town – my co-worker’s husband worked for a different business and a young staff member didn’t show up. It turned out that she had been caught in a flood and been swept away and tragically died. But the office was 9-5 in another town, and the business was dairy-related and started work at 6am. They couldn’t find her emergency contact number, and called my co-worker, who knew who would have her parents’ number, because they were volunteers for the football netball club. After her parents confirmed she had left for work, her workmates called emergency services and started a search, and her car was found later that morning.

        1. myfanwy*

          Yeah, I have lost two friends over the years who were both found in their apartments when their employers became concerned and called their emergency contacts. I think the finding of the bodies would have been an even more distressing experience if they’d been delayed any longer.

      6. The OG Sleepless*

        I work in a small office (12-13 people). We have an employee with a chronic health condition that can cause occasional emergencies (this is common knowledge in the office because it’s happened before), and our job is somewhat dangerous. We have a list of everybody’s emergency contacts and preferred hospitals posted on the wall. Everybody is ok with this, because we can think of several scenarios where we might need them in an instant.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Agreeing with this, and adding that the emergency contact is some combination of:
      • The person you would want with you at the hospital.
      • The person who can provide medical information and make medical calls for you if you can’t.
      • The person who knows where your child is and when they would expect to be picked up.
      • The person who can see to your pets, other commitments, and any other “Welp Luna won’t be doing that because she’s unconscious in the hospital” problems.
      • The person who knows whom to contact for any of the above.

      1. Jackalope*

        I would add that the top emergency contact if at all possible should be someone local to you. I had some close friends that I had as my EC since they lived a 10 minute drive from my workplace and my family lived a minimum of 2 1/2 hours away, so if I needed an emergency pickup they could be there much much faster.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Sometimes a more distant person–like a retired relative who routinely answers their phone–can make sense, with the assumption that they will take over contacting whoever makes sense for the specific emergency.

          (Recalling someone who couldn’t have her phone in the field, and daycare insisted on speaking to a parent before applying a bandaid to a skinned knee (whole thing here about how school/daycare default to calling mom) and so would get her summoned back to an office for this, and eventually solved it by having her mother (note: a female presenting person, even if in another state) designated as the first call.)

      2. Rosemary*

        One of my emergency contacts is my doorman. I live alone. If I don’t show up, this is who my employer should call first as they will be able to get access to my apartment quickly to make sure something has not happened to me. I obviously have family members/friends listed as well, but this is who should be called if it is an issue of me not showing up.

    4. kiki*

      It depends on the leadership, but I’m wondering if LW suspects the emergencies her bosses want to contact people about are, like, presentations that need revisions but so-and-so is MIA because it’s 11pm and they’re asleep. So now the boss wants to be able to call their employee’s roommate and see if they can get their employee back online.

      I’m confused why HR wouldn’t make the emergency contact info available to managers/leadership instead of asking for a new list/having to keep two sets of contact info up-to-date. Maybe there’s some sort of restriction on sharing on HR’s end or the person leading this initiative just didn’t think of that option, but the suspicious part of me thinks maybe HR said they wouldn’t share because they know leadership wants to use this contact info for things they’re not intended.

      1. Leenie*

        It would be pretty wild to call an employee’s mother, spouse, or next door neighbor because a PowerPoint needs to be updated. Being a long time reader of this column, I have no doubt that someone has done that. But it seems like outlier behavior. Also doesn’t sound like it would be terribly effective. Maybe the roommate situation that you mention might result in a login by the employee, but a lot people live alone, or with people who wouldn’t answer a call from their roommate or partner’s employer at 11 PM, when they know their roommate is safe at home. In any event, I hope the LW’s concerns are unfounded. A boss like that would be very difficult on a lot of levels.

        1. kiki*

          It would be rare and not my baseline suspicion! I don’t think my boss would ever use my contact info that way. But if LW has had bad experiences with their boss or past bosses misusing contact info in this way, I could understand being suspicious of this.

    5. Justin*

      Yeah I don’t get it either. Emergencies happen.

      Like, my boss at my last job had to call me one time when there was a potential covid exposure. If I hadn’t picked up… she would have called my wife.

      (I was fine.)

    6. Bast*

      Yeah, I didn’t really understand the hostility either, unless, like you said, Boss has a history of inappropriately using contact information. In just about anything that I need to fill out a form for, I have been asked to fill in an emergency contact — work, a yoga class, etc. I’ve never thought twice about it. I’ve worked with some… interesting… bosses who had my contact info, and never once was it abused, though I don’t doubt it does happen. Frankly, my direct manager had my number anyway, as we were expected to call/text if we were going to be late, needed a sick day, etc. I’ve always just figured it was on the off chance something terrible happened, they could reach someone close to me.

      1. AnonTiiime*

        Your point about needing to fill out emergency contacts for non-work stuff raises some other questions about LW’s hostility. Like, is this the first time that they’ve encountered needing to provide an emergency contact? Even prior to adulthood and entering employment there’s a lot of circumstances where emergency contacts are needed. If someone has so little life experience that this is a brand-new and alarming ask for them, there may be some other issues at play.

    7. Peter the Bubblehead*

      This is the second similar question on AAM this week, and both came from what seemed by their initial letter to be people who only recently joined the work force. Is there something creating this level of paranoia in the latest generation of workers that they are all questioning what has always been a common workplace request for their own safety and well-being?

  7. Heidi*

    For Letter 5, if you’ve been keeping track of how many projects you’ve handled, that can also give an idea of how much experience you have. You might also want to break it down by types of projects – journal articles, book chapters, editorials – and if you have any particular subject matter expertise. I think that people underestimate copyediting, thinking that everyone can do it. But doing it well is a real skill. Good luck!

    1. lunchtime caller*

      This was exactly my thought as someone who also has proofreading on my resume—it’s about what future employers will want to know, that volume, turnaround time, type of material, and if you were the go-to person for some sort of high priority material were all things I highlighted for mine. The point was to show I was quick and could handle large volumes of work while keeping a level of performance that made me highly trusted.

  8. JSPA*

    #3, They are not required to find the hypothetical “best person” for the job, in any case.

    Maybe their decision process takes a while… and they need the person really badly… And the additional steps after the final interview (which are invisible to you) take additional weeks of background checking and haggling over the offer.

    They reasonably may therefore have to keep interviewing even if they made an offer weeks ago. (That can be one reason that they schedule lag into the process for you.)

    They could very well have been prepared to offer you the job at that final (or “final”) interview, if the candidate with the offe turned it down…and had thus given that person a hard deadline shortly before your interview.

    It’s easy to extrapolate from your process to the company’s process. But They are intrinsically different.

    A job seeker often does interviews with multiple companies concurrently, so that offers might happen at the same time, and they can pick the best offer. But the company can only make one offer for that one position, at a time. So the job seeker process and timeline are not a mirror image of the company process and timeline.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Agreeing. It’s very upsetting to have an interview cancelled, but it is just as upsetting to be interviewed and have your time wasted when someone else has already been chosen.

      It’s more considerate to NOT bring someone in for an interview, when you already have a demonstrably more qualified candidate to whom you plan to make an offer.

      I rejected 3 people based on that reasoning this week. If the offer falls through, I’ll be happy to present them to the hiring manager. But if the hiring manager has already made up their mind, I’m not going to disturb that process (my job is to get the role filled). And the hiring manager isn’t likely to change their mind, if they feel they have a more qualified candidate.

      I will say, though, that the messaging wasn’t great. If I have to cancel an interview, I’ll say something like, “I’m sorry to do this. We have gone to offer with another candidate. The timing just did not work out as I had expected. If the offer doesn’t work out, I will come back to you.”

      1. Zombeyonce*

        It’s so much better to get rejected before sinking more time and prep into the interview process than to go through it and wait and wait and wait to find out if you were hired or not (or get completely ghosted and never officially get rejected). They gave LW the gift of being able to move on, though I agree that they could have phrased it better.

      2. Sloanicota*

        I do think OP would probably not be happy to be rejected no matter what, and is focused on the messaging in a way that probably isn’t helpful (like the people who swear they’re not upset about the breakup, just that it was so close to their birthday / via phone / they said X thing instead of Y more reasonable thing – I have been there!). Part of the resentment seems to be the number of steps and the amount of time they invested, which the company could probably think harder about, but is just one of those things. I guess I try to only spend time I’m “willing to waste” on interviews because of how abruptly they can drop you for all sorts of dumb reasons.

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          I think its the rejection too. They said the company could have failed me after the interview.

          OP, job interviews are not pass/fail. They aren’t giving you an F if they don’t hire you. They are looking for the person they think is the best fit for the job. That doesn’t mean you failed or were the wrong fit, just not the best. And given they get 100s of applications, and there can be only 1, its not personal or that you did something wrong. Its just they went with someone else. That’s it.

        2. Butterfly Counter*

          I also think OP considers the last interview as the opportunity to REALLY pull out all of the stops and wow them. This was going to be the interview to “seal the deal” where they would sell themselves in such a way that the people in charge would be left with almost no other option than to hire OP. At least, this is what OP was telling themselves. I know, because I’ve been there: “They weren’t able to get the best view of me because I was going to go all out and blow their socks off with this last interview because now I know what they want and are interested in.”

          It’s okay, OP. You did your best in the previous interviews and were a finalist. This is a good reminder to treat every interview as your last and “leave it all on the field” every time.

        3. Raisin Walking to the Moon*

          @Sloanicota that’s exactly what I thought, too. It reminded me of a poor hire we had to let go, who said “you guys didn’t even give me a chance” when he’d been with us almost a month and just absolutely was not going to work (imagine the job was filing and he didn’t know the alphabet). How many chances did we owe him?

      3. Antilles*

        It’s very upsetting to have an interview cancelled, but it is just as upsetting to be interviewed and have your time wasted when someone else has already been chosen.
        I agree. My general belief is that as soon as you decide that Candidate X is no longer a viable candidate (whether because you’ve selected another candidate or are just 100% convinced that X won’t be a fit), the company should let them know as soon as reasonably possible. Do it politely and professionally of course, but it seems kinder than letting the candidate waste time/energy preparing for something that’s not happening.

      4. SpaceySteph*

        Yup, your first paragraph. OP is presuming that she could have blown them away with her final interview and changed their minds and looking at it through that lens. But if she presumes instead that their minds were made up, the other person already had the offer, and imagines they gave her a courtesy interview anyway… that’s way worse! Then they wasted your time, made you jump through another hoop just for the hell of it, etc.

        Its hard to critique the company’s rejection when we don’t know what they actually said and what we do know is filtered through OP’s anger at the situation. But I do agree that when a company puts multiple interview rounds into a candidate and has a final interview scheduled very shortly, it is best to be as kind and tactful as possible.

    2. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      Yeah, and all kinds of other stuff can happen in there too, like:
      – I’ll check references on everyone I’m doing final interviews on if I know I’m going to need to get an offer out quickly afterwards – sometimes I find something in the references that makes one candidate clearly the top choice or reveals a candidate I thought was strong is not actually a good match at all. This would cause me to cancel an interview last-minute.
      – I learn new information about a candidate that makes them a “we absolutely cannot hire them”. Again, I’m canceling that interview before I have an accepted offer from my top choice. This isn’t necessarily something egregious, but by the time I get to final rounds I’m really looking for red flags for all my finalists, so sometimes a little thing can make someone an obvious mismatch.
      – I find out that a very strong candidate got another offer and I need to move now if I want them to consider ours. Even if I have a second potentially strong candidate, I’m confident that I would be happy to hire Top Candidate and don’t want to lose them, so I expedite that offer. In this case I would cancel the interview with Second Strong Candidate (something like “our timeline has slowed, we won’t be able to do the interview as scheduled, stay tuned for more details”) but wouldn’t reject them until Top Candidate has accepted.

      1. Paulina*

        And the finalists don’t start with a clean slate going into the final interview. LW3 writes as though they do, as though the competition is now the final interview. This isn’t “Cake Week” where the judges don’t care what the competitors did during the previous “Bread Week” as long as they weren’t eliminated — there may be some significant advantage that another candidate has, with respect to their skills or experience, and as long as that person does well in their final interview they’re getting offered the job. A phenomenal final interview from LW3 isn’t going to change that, so as soon as that other candidate interviews well and gets and accepts the offer, there’s no point in continuing the process. The decision on the full package can be made without all the results if there’s no way that the missing information (LW’s final interview performance) can make up the difference.

  9. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

    #2: I think some students need to be taught to respect other people’s time. From time to time, we get proposal requests for projects that we later figure out are hypothetical projects from MBA students for their class project. They are often very late or even don’t show up to scheduled calls. We try to give them the benefit of the doubt and reschedule but it is really a waste of our time, especially since the “projects” they are requesting proposals for aren’t real and we could have spent our time and energy on a real client who was actually going to buy our teapots. Even I f it’s for their class project, they should at least act professional and be on time. We would be more willing to be helpful, even if we figure out it’s not a real project.

    1. English Rose*

      In LW’s situation, I probably wouldn’t take time to give feedback unless I was asked again. In which case I would say something like “I’m sorry I can’t reschedule this call with you, as you did not call as agreed last time, nor let me know.” That would get the message across that not respecting other people’s time has consequences.

    2. Sloanicota*

      I was wondering if the student had a more college-type framework, where professors are generally assumed to be available to students – that is their job, after all – and have office hours that are drop-in style. Although nobody should be wasting their time either, she may honestly not quite understand that senior people in the office are not there to help and mentor her.

      1. Servelan*

        As a college professor, I am groaning. Most of my appointments are not drop-in style because students are busy and find the office hours to be inconvenient. Usually, we set a specific appointment time that works for them and about 50% of the time, they don’t show up. I am as irritated with my time being wasted as the next person and I do try to teach them that this behaviour is not acceptable in the workplace. But it’s a problem I’ve experienced wayyyyyy more in the last few years.

    3. NothingIsLittle*

      I agree. I find it frustrating when people say it’s obvious that you should be on time, because it absolutely is not. As a student in particular, I was an English major; I turned in every assignment late and was late to half my classes. Even in high school getting a class on, “here’s what’s expected by polite society,” or “being an adult in the real world: how to pay your taxes and get a job,” would make a big difference for a lot of kids.

      I’ve been late for things or cancelled last minute my entire life without consequence, so it was a genuine shock to me to learn people were upset by that habit in adulthood (the ADHD/Autism also contributed). Until I was explicitly told that people found lateness disrespectful, it seemed obvious to me that I was late because I have no sense of time. I’ve gotten better about being on time for things, but I specifically picked a job where I don’t have a set start time for a reason.

    4. Rosemary*

      Ohh I would be so angry if I was not told an RFP was for a class project! If someone were upfront I likely would be willing to give (some) help depending on my availability, but if I were flat-out lied to, that person(s) would definitely be put on the “NOPE” list if they ever reached out in the future for a job. It is bad enough when I have clients reach out for a proposal when they know they are going with someone else, and just need to get competitive bids – but that is just life/how it works – you win some, you lose some. (And honestly, we stop writing proposals for potential clients if time after time we do not win the business, because it becomes clear they are just shopping for competitive bids)

      1. JustaTech*

        Professors need to not assign things like this, because they should have the experience to know that it is incredibly rude! *And* does a disservice to their students.

        When I was in grad school I had an assignment to build a website for a public-health related imaginary charity. Which is fine, but I had to argue several times with my professor and the TA’s that the reason that my links didn’t work was because I didn’t want anyone to find my website and think it was a real charity! Sometimes professors forget that these things can impact people beyond the school.

  10. IT Relationship Manager*

    We actually had an emergency contact situation in our group where one of our team members hadn’t shown up and wasn’t answering his phone. He drives about an hour to work and we were concerned that he could have been in an accident on some country road. We had a heck of a time trying to get his wife’s number and two minutes after we did get it, we got a call from him.

    Turns out he woke up sick as a dog and asked his wife to text our manager to let him know annnnndddd she forgot to. He went and conked out asleep with his phone in another room and woke up a few hours later to our increasingly frantic attempts to get ahold of him.

    Our team is pretty close with one another. We genuinely like each other and are involved outside of work with our extracurricular hobbies, kids and community events. This incident let us to come up with an internal emergency contact list that was very willingly given. I live alone and have given permission to my team that if I don’t show up they can come looking for me haha.

    HR’s system was a bit of a hindrance and if we had his wife’s number to begin with, we wouldn’t have been so worried for several hours. I understand why access isn’t so easy to get and it makes sense. We shouldn’t have personal personnel data just lying around. This is just a solution for our team that we were all comfortable with.

    1. nodramalama*

      Yeah someone at my work had a slightly similar circumstance but even weirder where someone appeared to have a stroke or seizure in the middle of giving a virtual presentation. Unfortunately their emergency contact was interstate so it was quite difficult to find someone to check on them.

      1. RedinSC*

        I have called the local police to do a wellness check. One of my coworkers was extricating herself from an abusive marriage. She got COVID and then no one heard from her. It was the morning of her final court hearing for the divorce and we hadn’t heard from her. She had said, if noone hears from her to do a wellness check because after her ex punched her and tried to strangle her, we all were worried he’d escalate.

        So, morning of court date, no one hears from her, so I called the cops.

        Turns out that she was in the hospital with a concussion (she said she tripped and fell, I am skeptical) but at least she was getting medical help.

        1. amoeba*

          Yup, the local police department is the place to call for that kind of thing! Although if somebody seems to have a seizure, I’d just go straight to 911 and not bother with “checking in”?

      2. Sette*

        This happened to my mother in law. She was on a zoom work call when she started having a stroke. Luckily, the colleague she was meeting with recognized what was happening right away. The quick response time helped her immensely.

    2. JSPA*

      I was someplace fairly small (more than 15, fewer than 50 people, turnover of ~10% per year) with a system that worked well for this. (Worked well, in that it was only used ~once every three years, and there were no signs of data leakage).

      The lunchroom had a suggestion-type drop box, labeled “open in case of health emergency.” People were requested to put a sealed, dated envelope with emergency contact info, as well as nested sealed envelopes with relevant health info, if they were found unconscious or confused, for private but potentially pressing medical info (major allergies, diabetes, on meds that can make you light-headed and don’t play well with other meds, POTS, known stroke risk, whatever).

      You could update whenever by adding a new envelope with an updated date, that said “add to prior” or “replace prior.” Once a year or so, they’d cull the priors for “replace prior.”

      I know there are workplaces where there’s zero level of trust that someone would not secretly jimmy a box and steam an envelope, but this was a functional, mutually-respectful place. And a place where people could often work late and alone, or early and alone. So it made sense to have something more accessible, while protecting day-to-day privacy.

      There was also a sheet on the wall where you could voluntarily update contact information you wanted others in the company to have, and checkboxes to indicate whether others could use each method:

      a) for things like shift coverage (this tended not to be checked, but people who wanted hours / overtime would check it)

      b) work-social (who’s bringing what to potluck, do you need a ride to [event]) (variably checked)

      c) for things like, “did you mean to leave [device] on overnight, it’s [not an emergency, but doing something to indicate this might be problematic and unintentional, or it might be intentional]” or “we noticed [situation] that’s not like you, and we are worried about your well-being” (about 80% checked)

      Again, this would not work if the workplace culture is boundary-crossing, or coworkers have bad judgement about what constitutes a reasonably worrisome situation. But there, it worked fine.

      1. MistOrMister*

        This sounds hugely cumbersome to me. In case of an emergency it sounds loke you have to either track down the person/people who can open the box or stand there and break it open and then go through all of the letters and pick out which is newest before opening and reading it. That is a lot of time wasted that could be crucial for someone.

    3. D*

      Once I overslept for work–not a thing I was at all known for doing. But my coworkers knew I’d mentioned that my dad worked for the same (very large) company, so they looked up my (uncommon) last name in the directory to get ahold of him, because I didn’t have an emergency contact.

      1. Bast*

        Yes, I can see why people might be concerned if an employee who is usually very punctual doesn’t show and also doesn’t call, text, or email to let someone know they’d be out/late.

        1. Sloanicota*

          In which case, calling my elderly folks in another state is going to do precisely zero except upset them and make them think they should be doing something, three hours sooner than you would otherwise be able to do so. I’m assuming this is different for someone’s spouse who can say, “they left the house at 7.55 this morning and were last seen heading West on 295,” but I live alone, and honestly wouldn’t really want my neighbors involved either. I don’t have the answer for this, I’m just a bit skeptical that my boss really needs 24 access to my contacts and can’t wait the amount of time it takes for HR to act; what is my boss going to do for me urgently? If I’ve had an emergency, it’s going to come out soon enough and I don’t need them to serve as my medical proxy.

          1. Peter the Bubblehead*

            But SOMEONE may need to serve as your medical proxy, and unless you manager knows who that is, permission to perform life-saving treatment may not come in time to help you.

              1. hello*

                it’s not just permission. there may be things like prior medical history, medication allergies, etc. that the emergency contact could provide that would help with treatment.

          2. Bast*

            Why bother listing someone who is so far away though? I’m not trying to be contrary, but usually people list someone close to them that is accessible in an emergency, whether that be a relative, friend, neighbor, etc. It’s not exactly useful to list someone who can’t assist with anything and would have no knowledge of your life at all. I suppose if someone truly has no one, that would make sense, because there is no one to list, but if you DO have someone you want contacted if you say, suffer a medical emergency at work, building burns down, no one’s heard from you in days, etc, I can’t see expending the capital in that fight unless the boss is nuts. If I have an emergency at work, I’d want them to call my ER to let them know rather than have my family just wonder what happened to me and worry. If you’re in a larger company, the amount of time it takes HR to act can be days, or heck, even in a smaller company if HR happens to be sun tanning on a beach in the Bahamas and has spotty service you may not hear back. There’s plenty of reasons why HR may not be reachable 24/7.

            1. Peter the Bubblehead*

              You may need to list more than one person depending on the situation. The next door neighbor makes sense if the employee who is never late hasn’t shown up in two hours, while the mother two hours away makes sense when the employee collapses at work and is taken to the hospital unconscious and the doctors need permission for life-saving medical treatment or to find out the employee’s medical background.

            2. Helen J*

              We had an employee whose elderly parents lived in another state so she listed her close friend and I believe a neighbor. When she had an accident and had to be taken to the hospital, we called her friend. That friend came to stay with her at the hposital since friend had medical POA and she made the decision of whether or not to call the parents.

    4. Sloanicota*

      See this one is interesting to me. Having HR have the info, not the manager, is a safeguard; I really wouldn’t want my boss calling my parents at the drop of a hat, so I’d prefer they have to make the case to someone impartial before they get that number. But of course, the team finds the safeguards to be a hindrance and would rather get around it by keeping the info themselves. It needs to be a conversation. “Call my parents if the building just collapsed and you’re pretty certain I was inside, but not if I’m running late and you’re getting antsy because I haven’t answered your texts.”

      1. Rosemary*

        I think you have to trust your manager/coworkers to use the information judiciously. I work at a small company and we have a shared doc with this info (no HR). I have no problem with my bosses and coworkers having access to this information, because I know they are not going to use it to track me down when I am out of the office. But I WANT them to be able to contact someone if I don’t show up unexpectedly. I live alone, and most days they are the first people who would notice I was gone.

        As for companies who do have HR – sure that is an option for them to keep the information, but that another step when time could literally be of the essence. Not to mention what if something happens after hours/on a work trip.

      2. Bast*

        Unless you work for a shady boss who is known for misusing information, I wouldn’t jump to the assumption that they would use the information of a random emergency contact for “Jane is running 5 minutes late and we’re impatient; where is she.” Asking for an emergency contact is normal in many places — the gym, work, a doctor’s office, etc. I realize it’s anecdotal, but I’ve worked at some pretty toxic places and have never had an issue with an emergency contact or personal number being misused. I can’t think of a time outside of a medical emergency that the information has been used at all, with the exception of one, “Jane hasn’t shown up for work for 3 days and isn’t answering calls or texts and we’re concerned.”

        1. Sloanicota*

          To be fair, and maybe I’m just the devil’s advocate here, my position wasn’t that you shouldn’t have emergency contacts on file – it’s that, having already put contacts on file, I’m not as happy that my boss wants the same information separately because they don’t want to wait for HR to act. I think my biases here are that I’ve had crazy bosses and small enough companies that HR is hardly some unreachable behemoth that can’t be dealt with.

          1. Helen J*

            We open earlier and close later than our HR’s office hours, so that maybe the case here. If something happens and HR is not available, the person made need someone who can make decisions for them.

  11. Isben Takes Tea*

    LW #3: It may also help to consider reframing your perspective of “they failed me” during the interview process: their finding a different candidate that they consider a better fit could be based on quantitative or qualitative factors beyond your control (or even logic), and you’ll never really know. It’s not necessarily a failure on your part.

    1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      OP3, you’re assuming two things: (1) you could have changed the hiring manager’s mind, and (2) if you were not hired, it’s a failure. Neither is accurate. You’re probably assuming that the employer would not make any offers until they have interviewed everyone. While that is often the case, sometimes it isn’t. I’ve hired for dozens of roles and sometimes I find a clear standout (think Pele in football) and make an offer while others are still in the process. That doesn’t mean the other candidates “failed” or are not successful.

      1. Rosemary*

        Exactly this. When we hire, it tends to be a rolling process – we don’t have application deadlines, we review them as they come in. We may start the process with Candidate A, things may be moving along well, then Candidate B applies. B also shows promise, so we start the process with them. Perhaps we realize that B is the stronger candidate, but we keep on with A until we have an accepted offer. If B had never applied, or turned down the offer, maybe it would have gone to A. Us offering the job to B instead of A is not anything against A – it is just that B as a better fit, at that time. But regardless once we have an accepted offer we do not continue with the other candidates, because that is a waste of everyone’s time.

  12. nodramalama*

    I am so confused by LW4s concerns. If i just didn’t show up for work and was non-contactable, or had a serious injury at work… I would want them to be able to get in touch with my emergency contact. That’s what it’s there for.

    1. LizB.*

      Absolutely! I had a brain abscess that was causing disorientation and intense headaches (I had no idea – all I knew is my horrible migraine wouldn’t go away) and ended up no-call no-showing to work because I had no idea what day it was. My boss was worried I had crashed on my way into work because it wasn’t like me to not show up and not call ahead. She called my husband, who incidentally was taking me to the doctor at the time since I was clearly Not Okay. And that opened up a line of communication so that he could contact her to update re: my condition/work absence.

      It’s thankfully the only time my emergency contact had to be called, but it was necessary. If I can’t be at work, they need to be aware.

    2. Mornington Crescent*

      That was my thought too!

      If something happens to them, and their workplace needs to speak to their emergency contact, they might be doing themsleves a massive disservice, even harm, by listing a junk number instead of a real person who cares about them.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Not only making themselves non-contactable in a true emergency, what if it is a case where the company is unreasonable and uses it for their emergency? They are going to call the fake number you left and find out what you did. This is already an unreasonable company do you think they are going to react reasonably to finding out you did this?

        Better to give a real number. If its misused and they call it to track you down for something work related — oh darn the family member couldn’t find me, or my phone was on Do Not Disturb or something.

        1. WeirdChemist*

          Yeah, best option is to give a real number! If your company is a history of boundry-stomping that makes this a real worry, make it someone you trust to tell your employer “golly gee, couldn’t get ahold of them!” if it doesn’t seem urgent.

          Regardless of why your boss would use your emergency contact info, they will be very upset if they try and use it and they find out it’s fake. If it’s a true emergency, then they’ll be upset to have another obstacle added onto an already anxiety-inducing situation. If they’re abusing the system, as you said, they won’t be like “aw shucks, foiled again, oh well!” They’ll be mad at you for it.

    3. Pichi*

      That was my same thought. I’m particularly confused that this is the 2nd letter about the subject in a week or two, so it’d seem that a lot of people are weary of providing emergency info. Why? What am I missing that’s going on?

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes I was wondering. I mean this is really routine in every UK company I’ve worked for. When you’re onboarded you fill it out as part of the onboarding forms and it’s put on the system. It’s made clear to managers as part of their access that they use it in an emergency (no-show, serious incident etc) and only then. I mean I guess you could not fill it out but it would be considered a bit weird not to supply it.

      2. doreen*

        I think some people are just extremely strange about this. My job had a policy that employees were to notify of any changes in contact info immediately. Additionally, some of us worked at a secure location controlled by a state agency which had the same policy for non-employees who worked at that location. One day, someone I supervised forgot to turn in her keys when she left on Friday. She had not provided a cell number and when her home number was called it was out of service. No one heard from her until she came into work Monday. For whatever reason, they waited until Monday before re-keying all the locks , which was lucky for her , because she would have probably either ended up paying or been barred from all of that agency’s facilities , which would have resulted in losing her job.* On Monday, the conversation started with something to the effect of ” Is your phone number 555-1212?” Her answer was no. There were a couple of more questions and she gave answers with no information and was acting as though someone was just wildly wrong when her phone number was put in the records. Until someone asked “Did 555-1212 used to be your phone number ? ” and she replied “yes”. And then she had to be asked if anything else had changed, like her address or her emergency contact. I have no idea why she didn’t just change her contact info when she moved or why she insisted on playing 20 questions instead of just saying ” Oh, that’s my old number, I guess I forgot to change it”. But it was absolutely her issue – no one would have called her about work, not even to ask where a file was.

        * People with her title only worked at locations controlled by this other agency , so there was nowhere for her to work if they wouldn’t let her in.

      3. ABC*

        Is there a story floating around on social media related to improper use of emergency contacts? I guess that would explain the timing. Otherwise, yeah, it’s an odd mini-trend.

      4. doreen*

        The other letter was a little different- it wasn’t really about providing the contact info. It was about why the employer asked for marital status ( separate from the emergency info ) and for the relationship of the emergency contact .

        Some people are afraid ( justifiably or not ) that giving their personal contact info will lead to calls asking for them to do outside-of-hours work , but some people are just strange about it . My earlier comment with this story disappeared – but I used to supervise someone who left work without turning in a set of keys on Friday. This was in a building under the control of a different agency, not the one that employed her. Both had policies requiring that she update contact information immediately. An attempt to call her resulted in finding out the number had been disconnected. Fortunately for her, they did not re-key the entire building over the weekend – if they had , they would have either charged her for the re-keying or banned her from their facilities , which would have resulted in her losing her job. . When she showed up Monday , she acted as though someone made a mistake entering her info until she was directly asked if 555-1212 used to be her phone number. I don’t know what her issue was , but no one would have called her outside of work hours for anything other than ” The building is closed tomorrow- go to this alternate location instead”

        1. Peter the Bubblehead*

          I can understand why the employer needs the relationship of the emergency contact for their employee. A parent/spouse/child is going to have more authority to authorize medical care than an employee’s next door neighbor would. So just listing an emergency contract without stating who that contact is in relation to the employee may ad one (or several) additional steps in a medical emergency should something happen to the employee while at work.

          1. AnonORama*

            Years ago I moved away from the state where my family lived (not about them; needed a change of scenery for other reasons) so I listed a friend as my emergency contact at work. But, I also gave my friend my mom’s and sister’s cell numbers. So, if the question was “Anon didn’t come to work, can you help us check if she’s OK” she’d do it, and if the question was “does Anon have a healthcare power of attorney” she’d call my fam. Thankfully, I never needed either, but everyone thought the solution made sense.

            (I’m super pro emergency contacts after my officemate had a seizure and we didn’t have her contact, or whether she had epilepsy or something else was going on. Either way the solution was to call an ambulance, and she revived enough to call her husband. But she was asked to put something on file, as was the whole office after that. As it turned out, she did have epilepsy and had gone off her meds because they made her too sleepy to drive (!), but she didn’t have another seizure at work while I was there.)

  13. Daria Grace*

    #3, After putting so much effort into the process it is entirely reasonable to be frustrated. But, as frustrating as it is, they on balance did the right thing by their candidates. For many candidates interviews are various forms of costly. It might mean paying for parking/travel, turning down shifts at their current job, stressful preparation time or burning goodwill with their current workplace by disappearing for another “appointment”. Job hunters are mostly willing to pay those costs when they have a real chance of getting the job but its unkind for employers to ask that of people they secretly already know they won’t be hiring.

    1. Bast*

      I agree. If a company has truly made up their mind that they are moving forward with someone else, and there is nothing I can say or do to change that, I’d rather they cancel instead of stringing me along and having me take time out of work, rearranging my schedule, etc for something they know going in I won’t get. Is it frustrating and upsetting, absolutely, especially when you are at the end stages and think you have a decent shot, but I’d appreciate them letting me know instead of wasting my time.

    2. Moths*

      I agree as well. I can completely understand where LW3 is coming from and the frustration they’re feeling, but if I were a candidate and I found out after an in-person interview especially that the company had essentially already decided on another candidate already, but let me interview just for the sake of it, I would be even more upset about a waste of my time. I know the LW is instead proposing that they have not made that decision ahead of the final interview, but sometimes you just know someone is by far the best candidate. It is much more respectful of companies, IMO, to let the other candidates go as soon as possible rather than continuing to make them spend their time prepping for/going through steps that won’t matter.

  14. Tiger Snake*

    LW#3; when you come and reread this letter in a few months’ time, you are going to wince at yourself. Probably more than once.
    So let me say now pre-emptively to future-you: Don’t worry, we get it.

  15. Decidedly Me*

    LW4 – unless there is more context than you’ve shared here, I don’t understand why you believe they’d misuse your emergency contact info. I personally have emergency contact information for everyone on my team and I’ve never once used it for anything other than it’s intended purpose. HR probably has it somewhere, too, but HR systems change, are a bit of a mess, and keep changing. However, I know exactly where I have it and I work to keep it up to date.

    A friend of mine recently had an employee pass away. He didn’t have any emergency contact information for her so when she stopped showing up, he had no way to check and see if she was ok. A week later the family reached out to let him know what happened. He now makes sure to collect emergency contact information for everyone and urges everyone else in his company to do the same.

  16. Leenie*

    I have access to emergency numbers and other relevant personal data for everyone who reports to me, through our online system. It seems like it would be best for HR and leadership to solve their issue in a systemic way, instead of having various people collecting the same emergency contacts from the same employees multiple times. I really have no idea if the LW’s concerns are based in their experience with this company (it would be extraordinarily poor practice for managers to use emergency contacts to chase people down for work reasons). But this just seems like an inefficient way of handling the issue.

    1. RedinSC*

      Yes, at my last job where I was the head of a department I had access to all of that through our payroll system.

  17. Late dater*

    For #2, I would treat it the same as I treat early stage dating in the apps. You get one ‘gimme’, as in more than 5 minutes late without a verifiable reason if you let me know as soon as you know you’re going to be late. Strike 2, and you’re not seeing me again. Ghost me and there are no gimmes.

    When she contacts you again, my reply would be along the lines of, “I don’t have time to waste on people who don’t show up. No.”

    1. anon_sighing*

      I generally consider myself to be pretty lax with people being late since I can entertain myself for a bit, but only if they let me know as soon as they know they’re going to be late (although it comes with the stipulation that you will now meet me where I have gravitated in that area, like a coffee shop, or I’m ordering first). Things happen; sometimes things happen multiple times to the same person. But my goodness, some people really would rather be late than shoot a quick message saying as much. Sometimes you just *know* when nothing happened and they woke up late (just say so!) or didn’t manage their time correctly (just say so!!)

      Being late is already disrespectful of people’s time, circumstances or not, but the lack of communication is really what makes it such a deal breaker – personal and professional.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, this. I don’t schedule anything 1:1 with my time optimistic friend, only as a group, and we tend to do things together where one person being late doesn’t really matter. We don’t wait for her to show up before starting. Like if we have coffee at someone’s house, we don’t wait for her anymore. If we’re going to a show or concert, we make sure she has her own ticket and can show up whenever (she’s usually one of the last people to show up on time while we’ve found our seats long since, but waiting for her would spike my anxiety, so we don’t).

        I had one friend I stopped scheduling stuff with and basically ghosted when I realized that her utter inability show up on time frustrated me so much that I no longer enjoyed her company when we finally managed to get together. We didn’t have any mutual friends to schedule stuff with, either.

        Granted, some time optimists also get anxious if they realize they need to text the other person that they’ll be late. Regardless of the reason, I can’t be a good friend to people who don’t text me if they’re late, my brain weasels are incompatible with theirs, and that’s okay. (I’m one of those early is on time, on time is late people.)

        In the LW’s place I wouldn’t say anything now, but if the person tried to schedule another call I’d decline and tell them why.

      2. Bast*

        Yup. Look, I get 5 or 10 minutes, it happens. I get antsy (I’m so focused on time that I am usually ultra early) but if you continue to make me wait for you time and time again, I will stop making plans. On one particular occasion, a friend and I were going to meet and get lunch at 1:00. By the time Friend showed up, it was nearly 2:30. No call, no text, nothing, and there really was no good reason — “Oh, I said we’d go to lunch around 1:00, not exactly 1:00.” Okay, well, 2:30 is not “about 1:00” it’s way later. I was not only annoyed, I was hangry, and let him know in no uncertain terms that if he was more than 10-ish minutes late in the future with no text or call in the future, I’d just turn around and leave. It has not happened again.

    2. No username*

      One thing I might add is for LW to tell her they know this is at least the second time she’s done this recently and she’s losing credibility because of it. No one is going to waste time setting up appts with her when they’ve heard she’s unreliable and disrespectful of their time.

      1. MsSolo (UK)*

        For her, she was late on two unconnected occasions with separate people, and the impact of that is probably diminished in her thinking if she’s regularly on time for other things. That other people are talking about her being late, that they see that as important information to share on a professional level, may take her by surprise. I think when you’re young reputation building seems very linear – you impress your teacher repeatedly until they conclude you’re impressive (because even though teachers do talk, a lot, in theory your marks are based just on your performance in their class) – and the fact it’s much more diffuse, that people form opinions based on what they hear about you as well as what you do in their presence, means a bunch of separate events can form a pattern in other people’s minds even if they don’t in yours.

      2. LW2*

        I’m LW2. I ended up opting against letting her know that I knew it was at least the second time she’s done this, because frankly I didn’t want to be seen as gossipy (even though my industry practically runs on gossip). What I did do was say that I had limited time, and if she could make herself available at a specific time and a specific date, to please send a calendar invite to my email with a reminder that would chime either 15 or 30 minutes beforehand. That way, I said, we’d both be prepared. We did end up having our phone call the second time around, and I’m hoping that the framework I provided can be a new best practice for her.

  18. Support Project Nettie*

    #3. turn this the other way round. Imagine you’re interviewing with several prospective employers and one of them makes you an offer. It’s your dream job with a dream employer – everything about the offer (salary, hours, location, work environment, great management etc) is such that you’d be absolutely foolish to turn it down – you’re definitely are saying yes to this!

    Would you carry on interviewing with the other recruiters knowing full well you’re not going to accept a role with them, or would you contact them, thank them for their time but you’ve accepted an offer elsewhere etc?

    I’d argue the latter in this scenario is the way to go. You’ve made up your mind and accepted a dream role – it makes no sense to consider the other roles. I wouldn’t expect one of the other recruiters to ask me to give them a chance instead (that might actually be a red flag for me). They simply have to accept that an offer has been accepted elsewhere. They may ask why and I might tell them why as a courtesy.

    It’s the same for the employer. They’ve found their ideal candidate and it makes no sense interviewing others knowing full well they won’t recruit them. Sure, it’d be nice of them to say why this candidate is preferred, but they needn’t do so.

    Thank them for their time, wish them well and move on. Its perfectly possible that you would have been second choice and a potential first choice.

  19. Caz*

    LW4: HR at OldJob were difficult to get hold of. There was a phone number that was only manned in the mornings and an email address that might take a couple days to get a response from. A member of my team fainted at work (he made a full and swift recovery) and getting his emergency contact info from HR would have been painfully difficult, but you’d better believe I needed it. I had to ask him for it, while he was sitting on the floor coming back to consciousness. It was awful all round and I wished I just had it easily to hand. In five years of managing people that was the only time I needed that kind of information from people, it’s one of those “hope to never need it but need to have it” things.

    1. JustaTech*

      For several years our HR contact was a black hole of an email on the other coast (I don’t know if the person there just didn’t answer our email or had been laid off and no one remembered to tell us).
      Thankfully there was a payroll person at another site who was willing to be our HR contact, but even she went home at 5 and we often worked odd hours.

  20. Xan*

    The intern in #3 reminds me of a friend, she is constantly late and seems shocked there are consequences, even minor ones like she’s come 45 minutes late for dinner, so we’ve already ordered and she doesn’t get a say! I don’t understand how it’s a surprise in every aspect of her life, but the intern is not a unique case.

    1. Bast*

      At Old Job we used to go out to dinner and have events like picnics and baby showers somewhat regularly (our team specifically, it was not company sanctioned). There was one specific person that was ALWAYS late. We started to give her slightly off times because her being late tended to hold things up for everyone else, and it got frustrating. She would always “try” to be on time, but never managed to be, so we’d tell her the dinner was starting at 5:00 when really it was 5:30, and then she’d stroll in at 5:45 pleased with herself because she was “only a little late this time.”

      I’m not sure why people think the world will wait for them, when if the situation were reversed I am sure they would be annoyed. For certain events, it is not possible to hold it up for the one person and if they aren’t there… Oh well. I kind of wonder how people can function in their professional lives — most doctor’s offices won’t bother if you’re late, and if it’s a job interview you can pretty much kiss the job goodbye. It shouldn’t be a surprise, you’re right.

      1. JustaTech*

        I have some friends who used to be late to everything – I joked that they would be late to their own funerals.
        And they generally weren’t *that* late and would let you know promptly and it was always understandable (traffic was unpredictable, finding a parking spot took 40 minutes).

        But then they stopped being late to stuff. I don’t know what changed, but they just started being on time, or even early!
        So perpetually late people can get better!

        1. Piscera*

          I heard of someone who was cured of being late to everything, after some friends who invited her on a long road trip left without her.

        2. Random Dice*

          For some of us it’s a late-in-life diagnosis that allows us to get meds that make our brains work.

      2. Peter the Bubblehead*

        I’ve begun telling my wife we need to leave for an event 15 minutes before we actually need to leave just so I can be sure we will be out the door on time.
        Got frustrating that we were late (and a couple of times almost missed an event) because I said we need to leave at 5:30 and she’s still putting on her shoes at 5:45.

  21. Lorax*

    I’m really confused by LW #4’s concern. Providing emergency contact information to your employer is really common, if not ubiquitous. I’ve had to provide emergency contact information for every single job I’ve ever had, usually to HR, but sometimes to both management and HR if there’s not a good system for management to get that information from HR in a timely way.

    Now, as a manager, I want that information for all the reasons Alison laid out: medical emergency, natural disaster, or other safety concern. It seems like a basic aspect of a company’s responsibility to it’s staff. I could definitely see requesting that information urgently if I found out we didn’t have a good contact for a person or if I found out we systematically missed collecting that information. Particularly given how common things like natural disasters and active shooter incidents are becoming.

    I understand that some employers abuse the emergency contact system by contacting emergency contacts for non-emergencies, for THEIR emergencies, and/or for general work purposes, but I feel like that’s REALLY uncommon: it’s literally never happened to me or anyone I know. So that fear seems overblown, unless the letter writer works for a deeply dysfunctional company, at which point, this level of knee-jerk distrust is probably a sign to look for another job.

    Also, if I found out one of my employees provided the number to Jiffy Lube in lieu of an actual emergency contact, I’d be concerned. I think I’d first assume it was a typo, but if I found out (somehow, however unlikely) that it was on purpose or if I got outright resistance to providing an emergency contact, I’d worry about the person’s judgement. It seems flippant of basic safety protocols and oddly adversarial. Not that that would be a an actionable “problem” on its own necessarily, just… it would be weird enough that I might be left with a nagging question about whether the employee was being cagy about other things too or didn’t properly weigh risks, particularly in the absence of an actual conversation about WHY they were hesitant (or unable) to give that information. Like, I wouldn’t be angry, just confused and concerned.

    Though I guess if the LW has *evidence* that their emergency contact information would be abused, then all bets are off, and do whatever you have to do protect yourself and your contact. But also, maybe look for a job that doesn’t blatantly violate those boundaries? Because, again, I feel like most jobs aren’t that actively abusive.

  22. Janet Pinkerton*

    For letter 4, let’s game this out. Four scenarios:
    1. It’s actually for emergencies and they never need to call
    2. It’s actually for emergencies and they do need to call at some point
    3. It’s for “work emergencies” and they never call
    4. It’s for “work emergencies” and they call

    If you give the Jiffy Lube number, options 1 and 3 are fine. Option 2 is very bad for you if they need to be able to reach your partner, like a health crisis. Option 4 is also bad for you, because they will realize that you have purposefully disregarded their request and lied to them.

    1. HonorBox*

      These scenarios are great. And if the correct info is provided and #4 occurs, there can be additional discussions between employee and management about inappropriate use of that very important information. Like “boy who cried wolf” discussions.

      1. Ama*

        I have had some boundary crossing managers in my time and yet I can’t imagine any of them ever calling my emergency contact to get a response from me that’s how far from the norm #4 would be.

        1. AnonORama*

          I do have to wonder where the boundary is. I’m super punctual, which is usually a good thing, but a few years ago I walked into work around 10am and my manager was like, “Oh my God, where WERE you! I was SO worried about you, I was about to call your emergency contact.”

          If it matters, I’m not in a coverage job, I’m salaried/exempt and I had told her where I was going (getting a Covid vaccine), as well as putting it on my calendar! I thought it was ridiculous to consider calling a contact after an hour, and was really happy she didn’t, but that was a case of her anxiety and boundary issues rather than a flaw with the system itself. (As mentioned above, after seeing a colleague have a seizure, I’m a fan of emergency contacts.)

    2. DVVM*

      And in option 2, the people at Jiffy Lube would probably end up knowing your personal business. As someone who has had to call emergency contacts, I would likely continue to pass the info regarding the emergency on to whoever answered the phone, in respect of the wishes of the emergency contact number provider. That would probably feel distresing to the kind folks at Jiffy Lube.

  23. Sss*

    As a former copyeditor, I’m surprised #5 didn’t have any sort of productivity metric to refer to. It’s very normal to have a target number of pages, words, or articles that one must edit in a given time period, or even just a timeline for how fast to complete whatever work one is given. This can be true even if others will edit the work as well.

    1. Isben Takes Tea*

      I think it depends on the role you’ve had and how it was structured, and also the role you’re trying to be hired into. I also worked as a copyeditor/proofreader, both as one aspect of a salaried job and exclusively as a freelancer, but everything was quoted/evaluated on a job-by-job basis: it was understood that some work would take longer than others because of the varying qualities of manuscripts.

      When I was in charge of hiring proofreaders/copyeditors for projects, known speed was less of a factor than the level of edit typically given; sometimes I would hire the slower editors specifically because the manuscript needed more thought and care. If I had nothing to evaluate a copyeditor on except a productivity metric, I would actually count higher-than-average numbers with more skepticism/trepidation than average numbers.

      So I could see some people caring about productivity metrics, and others not considering them useful at all.

      On the other hand, any role hiring for a proofreader/copyeditor will likely have an assessment of some kind, which should help even things out.

  24. nic*

    LW4 – I also work in non-profit. I’ve had to provide an emergency contact in every job I’ve ever had. Indeed, as a head of department I have direct access to emergency contacts for all my team, at any time. I have never had to use them and no-one has ever called my mother or spouse with a work query for me. This is totally normal and standard in many, many businesses and sectors. It’s for your benefit, should something happen to you on the job or if the organisation is concerned about your safety. Unless you have some example of this information being misused, you should give them the contact.

  25. Brain the Brian*

    We don’t know the specifics of where LW1 works, obviously — and with good reason. But how would this change if they currently worked for a government agency and were interviewing for a position at one of the agency’s contracted vendors? Are there anticorruption regulations that would come into play and require disclosure?

    1. Pretty as a Princess*


      There is paperwork they have to complete with their ethics & compliance office specifically for this purpose to prove that there is no conflict of interest or “switching sides” on a matter in which both parties are engaged. (That’s basically the gist but google “Darleen Druyun” if you want to see a doozy of a story about why it’s necessary.) There are different rules for different kinds of matters depending on how senior the person is. In some cases the person has to recuse themselves from certain matters if they are in the process of seeking employment with a participant. In addition, there are rules about the kinds of activities you may engage in post-government employment, over different time periods.

      If this were the case for the LW, their organization would have very clear instructions publicly available about seeking employment post-government service, and contact information readily available for the appropriate ethics office (without needing to get that info from their supervisor).

      1. Brain the Brian*

        As I suspect — thanks. I couldn’t remember Darleen Druyun’s name (I was just a little too young to really internalize that news), but I recall something similar happening at the Pentagon over procurement for a CSAR helicopter around the start of Obama’s first term.

    2. doreen*

      There might be regulations that require disclosure – but in my experience (with a state and a local government ) it’s more likely to be a ban. Not necessarily a ban on any job with that vendor – I can take a job with an organization that has contracts with my former employer so long as I have nothing whatsoever to do with my former employer.

  26. Everything Bagel*

    LW1, I was in a very similar position as you a couple of years ago. The difference being I didn’t realize that the potential new employer had any relationship to my current employer. I was informed of the relationship by the new employer when they offered me the job. They told me that they would not discuss my joining them unless and until I’d formally accept the job. This thwarted my intent not to bother telling my current employer where I was going, but that wasn’t a big deal to me. My new employer agreed to wait until not only had I accepted the job in writing, but passed the background check. When I gave notice I told my former boss where I was going and then my new employer had a discussion with them. The relationship between the two companies did not sour and my former employer is actually still using my current employer for work.

    There is no reason this new potential job needs to have this conversation until you’re actually joining them. If you cannot get them to agree to this or you don’t think they will stick to it, you’re probably better off to decline to move ahead in the process and tell them this is why you are declining. Maybe they will reconsider their position.

  27. ijustworkhere*

    Has something happened at work that has created this distrust about wanting an emergency contact number?

    Our organization collects these each year when we have open enrollment for our benefits and the form gives a few examples of when we might use an emergency contact number. It is absolutely not used to contact employees after work hours about work business.

    1. Isben Takes Tea*

      There are some workplaces that do abuse it; I have a friend that would get early-morning calls from their mother’s workplace if their mom was later than usual—when her shift hadn’t even started yet! (And it definitely wasn’t because “We’re worried for her health and safety.”)

      I think it’s unusual, but if someone has had a bad experience, I could see why they would be wary.

  28. Tussu*

    It’s interesting to see you say your advice would be different a couple of years ago.

    I just checked and it looks like you wrote a post about how your advice has changed over the years back in 2016 – it would be really interesting to read another one given how much has happened in the world since then

      1. Myrin*

        I believe Alison said somewhat recently (in like, the last two years or so) that she’s been becoming less lenient as she got older and that it’s okay to decide that you don’t have to expend endless energy on something when you’d rather not; it’s possible I’m getting her confused with someone else, though.

  29. Frances*

    I had a similar situation years ago. and I ended up being rejected from the interview process because I wanted to wait until I officially received an offer. The problem was if anybody finds out I’m interviewing I was worried about being fired and having no job. And these people wanted references from every job I ever had but they want emails. It was ridiculous.

  30. Broken Lawn Chair*

    LW 3: they didn’t “fail” you. Hiring isn’t pass/fail. Or, to the extent it is, many people will typically “pass” – that is, many will be acceptable to the employer, able to do the job, someone the employer would be willing to have in the position. It sounds like you passed, or you wouldn’t have gotten as far in the process as you did! But if they have one opening, they can’t hire everyone who could be good at the job – they must choose. I encourage you not to think of this in terms of failure.

    1. Pocket Mouse*

      This. OP has to reframe what’s going on. An interview isn’t a test (or at least, not in the pass/fail kind of way). It’s a conversation to determine fit—both ways—and the hiring outcome will always be based on fit relative to the other candidates on their end, and fit relative to other potential employers on your end.

      This reminds me of the latest Abbott Elementary episode (S3E8, “Panel”) and I recommend watching it to see the parallels!

      1. AnonORama*

        It’s super frustrating to go through the process and get a no, particularly if you’re really excited about the job. But, that doesn’t mean that either you or the employer did anything wrong. One of the reasons job searching makes people want to tear their hair out is that it is so effing subjective!

  31. Check cash*

    OP1: A lot of companies with not hire from their partners because it causes issues. I don’t agree with that, because I don’t think you should stop the flow of labor, but I have been told this by some of our partners that they will not look at people from my company.
    So, if this vendor is that worried, maybe they should take it upon themselves to deal with it in a way they are comfortable instead of putting it on the OP.

  32. Morning Reading*

    LW4: use of the term “partner” makes me wonder if she is worried about being outed in some way by providing contact info for her SO. I just want to reassure that you don’t have to identify relationship (although you may want to specify friend or family member) for your emergency contact. It’s just a person you would want to be notified if you have an emergency, preferably someone who could contact all your other significant others. Could be parent, partner, sibling, child, friend who most often answers her phone, whatever. The only reason I can think of that someone would prefer to keep the identity of their “partner” or “emergency contact” private is that it would reveal more than they wanted to reveal about their personal life. Apologies if my inference is incorrect. But if it is, providing a contact name and number will not out you.

    1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      Good point, I hadn’t thought of that. When I was young and single, I always used my mom. But then I moved several states away and my contact had to become a new local friend because I didn’t know anybody else locally.

      Truly, it’s just for emergencies. A coworker once died at work – I can’t imagine if they hadn’t been able to reach his wife that day because they didn’t have her number. And a lesser, but still scary, version is a few years ago my partner passed out at work while walking. His boss called me while they were loading him into the ambulance to tell me what hospital they were taking him to because he was conscious but couldn’t talk clearly. I was able to get there just after him and be with him in the ER.

    2. JustaTech*

      Right. I was thinking about this when we were filling out the emergency contact info for our daycare. The two people listed as “permission for emergency pick up” are not either of our parents (who aren’t local) but our local friends (who our kid at least sort of knows).

      So it’s fine to have “friend” as your EC, and it’s fine for your EC to be situational.

  33. K*

    The answer to number 5 is not convincing to me. Those are claims without any proof. You can claim that you worked efficiently, or whatever, but unless you can actually prove that to me I don’t know why you’re listing it.

    1. K*

      Also, some of those examples don’t seem particularly impressive. You were the best at something out of three people? Okay? That’s really few people. Who cares?

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        Resume numbers aren’t baseball card stats.

        Even when actual numbers are provided (“saved the company $15,597 by sourcing new teapot handles”), those numbers are not going into some sort of spreadsheet to rank the candidates. These descriptions of less “measurable” skills tells me about what the team/mgmt thinks of the candidate (like the types of assignments they get), and what the candidate feels are their strongest skills. This information helps to liven up their understanding of how you perform even the most basic tasks of the job.

        It gets the resume out of “what I was supposed to do” and into “how well I did it”.

    2. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      I’m not convinced you’re a manager, since you can’t prove you understand the concept of qualitative descriptions. Maybe you’re not even a person, maybe you’re a bot! You haven’t proven you’re not.

      If you were in a field that needed quantitative facts you would have a skills test as part of the interview process. If not, then this is how resumes work. The “proving” happens by scheduling an interview and talking to the person.

      You are also wrong that being the best out of 3 is not impressive. You invented a small number in order to be dismissive. The letter writer can safely ignore your negging, since it does not improve on Alison’s advice.

    3. JustaTech*

      I’m curious what kind of “proof” you would want?
      Like, I can’t show you my company’s internal numbers, so you don’t actually have “proof” that I saved the company $Y, or that I wrote X documents or anything else that’s on my resume.

      What kind of evidence are you thinking of when you talk about “proving” something?

  34. Kesnit*


    Several years ago, I accepted a 4-month fellowship at the local office of a statewide agency. (This was the first time the agency had done this. It was a chance for them to check out prospective employees and for prospective employees to find out if they can do the work, since the work is well-known to be emotionally brutal.) Everything was going great for me. Then towards the end of the fellowship, a full-time permanent position opened. I jumped at the chance and applied.

    A few days before the job posting closed, the head of the office announced she had hired someone for the job. Someone who wasn’t me. I was crushed, wondering what I could have done wrong. I mean, I was there! I was working for them, doing the kind of work that this full-time job involved. I would literally have been able to switch from fellowship to full-time without any hiccup. I could even stay in the same office!

    So I went to the office deputy and asked why I didn’t get the job. (The head of the office was out by the time I screwed up my courage and swallowed my pride.) Turns out the guy they hired was coming from another office and had been doing the job for several years. He was relocating because his fiancee lived in the area.

    I no longer felt crushed. The reason for hiring the other guy made perfect sense.

  35. Jam Today*

    LW3, ish happens. I had an interview canceled by email an hour after I got an email saying they wanted me to advance in the process and talk to more people. I had a third-round-interview VP no-show on me after rearranging my day on the road and making sure I was in a quiet parking lot where I could take the call without distraction. I had an interview canceled seven minutes before it was supposed to start. Acknowledge, and move on.

    1. Raisin Walking to the Moon*

      This is such good advice. I want to go a step further, because OP3/LW 3 says “I did not even get a chance… to prove myself.”
      #3, it would be really valuable for you to sit with this for a while and think about what it actually means. You completed multiple interviews. You got multiple chances!

      I’m stressing this because I see it in both romantic relationships and in hiring, and it shows a deficit of empathy. “I interviewed, but they didn’t even give me a chance,” much like “We went on a date, but she didn’t even give me a chance” doesn’t acknowledge that the other person is in fact another person. Whole, with needs and context you don’t have.

      Please try to understand that “giving you a chance” doesn’t mean giving you the outcome you want. And, hey, good luck with the next interview! You’ll get there.

    2. Bast*

      Canceling an interview seven minutes before it’s supposed to start is a bit inconsiderate barring an actual emergency occurring… I’m hoping it was via Zoom. Having to take time off from work, drive around and find/pay for parking, etc., only to have them cancel last minute would have left a bad taste in my mouth.

    3. Glazed Donut*

      Yes, this. In job searching, I had two disappointing interviews:
      1- I drove to another city to do an in-person interview. I had my home city and my cell (with home area code) on my resume; I wasn’t hiding where I lived. After the (what I thought was a great) interview, I was disappointed to hear I wouldn’t be moving forward because I didn’t live in the target city. Disappointing, yes, and I would have preferred someone said that BEFORE scheduling the interview. Ultimately, I think it was a false reason and they really just had an internal/buddy candidate they wanted more but wouldn’t say.
      2- I had an interview cancelled <1 hour before (Zoom) because they were extending an offer to someone that day. Also disappointing, but at least this time I didn't sink too much time or energy into the process.

      In the end, the disappointment stemmed from still NOT having a job – the process will never be perfect/smooth/what you want….until you land the job ;)

  36. SheLooksFamiliar*

    OP 4, you said, ‘I have a personal policy not to rock the boat in these situations, and it’s easier to put down the phone number for a Jiffy Lube in lieu of my partner’s number and move on, but am I off-base thinking this is contact information for THEIR emergencies not mine?’

    Yeah, you are off-base, and I hope you read this – and several other responses – and come back here to tell us why you’re so suspicious of a very reasonable and practical request. If your employer has an emergency, say, a fire or office closure or something that affects your work, it makes sense to let you know about it. If their emergency is, ‘I know you’re out sick today but I have a question…’ THEN you be indignant, and deal with it directly.

    Speaking of direct talk…if you have a ‘personal policy’, just own it. Don’t put down a retailer’s number or other nonsense like that. If you ever did have an emergency, your employer will be delayed in getting help to you, notifying your family, and so on.

  37. Gray Lady*

    #1 is nuts. I understand the company’s concerns but in most situations, employees don’t want their employers to know they’re interviewing anywhere *at all*. If she does this, and they don’t offer her a job, then her employer still knows she’s looking to leave, which could have negative consequences for her with no benefit.

    If hiring her away from her current employer would jeopardize some of their professional relationships, and they’re that concerned about it, they can just….not hire her. Making her risk her job security isn’t it.

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

      yeah, and there’s more that they could do to help keep the relationship. Such as being flexible with the start date if the old company needs (a little) more than 2 weeks for OP to wrap up projects.

  38. Siege*

    LW 4: May you never end up in the situation I was in where I had a cardiac arrest at work and we didn’t have emergency contact info. My coworker is childhood best friends with my partner and was able to get in touch with him by going on a Discord server used by their mutual friends and get someone to get a message to him; my partner was then able to contact my parents and other family.

    Without that connection, I would have been hospitalized for at least 48 hours before anyone noticed I was missing. Emergency contacts are for your emergencies.

  39. Michelle Smith*

    LW1: Maybe it’s my tendency to catastrophize, but I am concerned about you moving forward with that company at all if they don’t immediately do a 180 degree change once you have that conversation with them. If you think there is any chance, however remote, that they’d feel obligated to inform your CEO and COO since you say you won’t do it, I’d withdraw now and try to apply other places.

  40. el l*

    There’s all sorts of scenarios why they would just move ahead and not do a final interview. Perhaps it was an internal candidate. Perhaps it was someone with a lot more experience than you. Perhaps they had to move quickly on their preferred candidate who stood out for some undefined reason. Perhaps it was the boss’ niece.

    Whatever, doesn’t matter. Take them at their word that it wasn’t going to happen anyway, and move on.

    Get that it’s frustrating, but a certain amount of time-wasting is a necessary evil during hiring processes. Be glad they didn’t waste more of your time.

  41. HonorBox*

    OP4 – I don’t want to come across harshly, but your reaction seems out of proportion to the request. While we don’t know everything about your workplace, it is very possible that having a duplicate copy of emergency contact info somewhere other than with HR would be a huge benefit. If the system your workplace has in place now doesn’t allow easy access to that info for a manager, a delay may result in serious issues. While I’m sure it is possible for emergency contact info to be used inappropriately, this request should be answered assuming positive intent. Providing a number to Jiffy Lube or Papa John’s isn’t going to benefit you if someone actually needs to get in contact with your EC in the event of an emergency.

  42. 3DogNight*

    LW 4–I work at a very large company so I have so many examples of needing emergency contact information. We have, twice, in my team saved someones life by calling emergency contacts when they missed appointments or work. My husband has had the same experience on his team. We’ve also had to call uncountable times for people having emergencies at the office. And recently had to call family because their loved one died at work. We have also used the emergency information and found people already passed away.
    All of this to say, it generally isn’t to call you after hours for non-sense, but is a person trying to keep you safe. Most people are pretty kind.

  43. Anon for this*

    for what it’s worth, I have had times in my life where I didn’t have an emergency contact to give – and I can say for sure there are a lot of complicated emotions around that. I can see why the company wants those contacts, but also in those times, the absolute last thing I wanted to have my manager know is “there’s literally no one in my life who would meet me at the hospital”, and I’d probably be cranky if they kept pushing

  44. Justin*

    My HR is in a completely different time zone. They’re good at their jobs but if something happens to me before noon, they’re not going to call my wife, and I have a toddler.

    There are many reasons for emergency contacts.

  45. Hiring Mgr*

    I don’t think it’s a big deal either way if you talk to the intern. I wouldn’t proactively seek her out, but as you said she was a good performer so if she does contact you and you’re so inclined you could say something like “People are always glad to help a former intern but you have to make sure if you have a meeting scheduled you show up” or something

    Either way though I’m sure she’ll figure that out. I’m also curious also why Alison said she would have advised saying something a few years ago but not now.

  46. RagingADHD*

    Re: emergency contact info. A lot of us take our health for granted when we are young and / or haven’t ever had any major health problems. But even if you’re perfectly healthy, you have to think differently about emergency contacts when you’re responsible for someone else.

    If you’re supposed to take care of a disabled relative or a small child and it is essential that you pick them up on time, or get home on time, then you can’t afford to be cavalier about having a backup if anything goes wrong.

  47. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

    LW4 is giving me flashbacks to the desperate phone trees of 9/11. In NYC, cellphones weren’t working and landlines were down or intermittent. I had a semi-working landline and spent part of that day calling all over the world letting total strangers whose loved ones did not even work at my company know that they were OK. If you reached me with a list, I called. I did not once reach Jiffy Lube, btw. All the numbers connected to frightened people who were thrilled to hear from random me.

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

      thank you for doing that! I bet everyone you spoke to felt like you were an angel.

    2. AMH*

      This made me tear up, imagining the absolute earthshattering relief you were delivering to people who must have been several hundred leagues beyond terrified.

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

    With the LW and the emergency contact. I can think of a time where we needed to contact an employees family in an emergency. Worked at a store with no real HR. The only people who had access to employee info would have been the store manager and assistant manger. Both of which lived at least 20 minutes away. A coworker had a seizer and hit her head. The ambulance was called and they had to airlift her to the hospital. No one, not even the shift manager, could access her contact info. She was new in town so wouldn’t have been in the phonebooks (this was early 2000’s and cell reception was spotty) Luckily it was a really small town and they knew her partner’s name and somehow got a hold of him. But what if we couldn’t? He would have been waiting for her to come home, and would not have had anyone to call because the store would have been closed.

    Even in my office job now we sometimes do not have a manager who has access to the HR portal to find emergency contact info. And our HR is short staffed right now so sometimes you can’t get a hold of someone.

    The thing for Emergency Contact is that we dont want to have to use it but we’re thankful when we do have it.

  49. BlandToast*

    LW #4: One of my coworkers died suddenly and unexpectedly. She lived alone. She had been out sick for a few days with a regular old flu-type virus (this was prior to Covid) – but she had a chronic condition that left her more vulnerable than most of us. She was super conscientious, and each day she called in to let her manager know she was still too sick to come in. The first day she didn’t call, he was concerned enough to notify HR. A worried HR director sent the police to the coworker’s house, and they found her body. Because HR had her emergency contact info, the police thus were able to notify her parents. Without this info, there could have been a long delay in reaching the parents.

    My sister is my emergency contact. It doesn’t have to be a partner if that weirds you out for some reason, OP.

  50. Nat20*

    #3, it’s so hard to remember when you’re in the spot you’re in and feeling really discouraged, but do try to remember that someone else being a better fit actually has nothing to do with you. It’s competitive so of course you feel like you’re being compared to someone else and have been judged to be “worse”, but in reality, the fact that someone else had a stronger application doesn’t mean that there was anything wrong with yours. You lament that they didn’t tell you what you did wrong, but that’s because you didn’t do anything wrong!

    I can’t remember if I read it here or somewhere else, but some advice I’ve heard is to remember that employers (good ones at least) are really comparing you to the vacancy they’re filling – not comparing candidates to each other. When someone else fits into the job-shaped hole more snugly than you do, that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t have fit just fine, or that you did anything wrong – it’s not about you at all.

  51. FairInterviewer*

    LW3: I’m going to agree with other commenters that you need to change your perspective, but disagree with the rationale.

    You went through multiple rounds of interviews over multiple weeks, and (according to the timing), the “better candidate” was chosen after having a round that you did not have. Logically, if this candidate was that much more impressive, it would have come out in previous rounds; if that impressiveness was only seen in this last round, then logically, other candidates (such as yourself) would have also had the chance to show that same impressiveness with the same chance given to that candidate.

    Other commenters said it was better to let you know early and not waste your time; however, your time was more wasted by going through weeks of preliminaries just to not have the same chance the “better candidate” did to do the interview that you and they both qualified for.

    You *do* need to change your perspective: see that you dodged a bullet.

    1. AngryOctopus*

      Strong disagree, and this does a disservice to LW3 to say so. It’s entirely possible that they had a strong candidate already and thought they’d like to hire them. But they don’t know if the candidate will accept their offer! So they keep interview other strong candidates who they would also be happy to hire. LW3 had already proven they were a good candidate by advancing. But their first strong candidate got an offer and accepted, so they let LW3 know. Your argument that the better candidate only came out in the last interview, therefore LW3 was disadvantaged by not having it doesn’t actually make sense and isn’t how hiring works. People don’t save their most impressive performance for the last interview. They were interviewing candidates, seemingly on a rolling basis (or dependent on those candidates schedules lining up with those of people at the company), they had someone they really liked, they made the offer, it was accepted. Backup candidates were told “thanks but we have hired someone else”. Yes, they could have phrased it nicer, but this is in no way a ‘bullet dodged’ scenario. The company doesn’t owe you the same number of interviews someone else has had just because you think you’re going to pull out all the stops in your last interview. That’s actually a terrible way to interview, if you wait till the end to pull out all the stops and make yourself an attractive candidate.

      1. amoeba*

        Hm, maybe it also depends a bit on the field? For us, it would be super unusual – you generally schedule 2-4 people for the final round and yeah, you generally do wait until of of them have interviewed before you decide. Everything is done in a pretty synchronised and pre-planned manner, so basically “we do screening interviews this and next week, then on-site (whole day) in week 5 and six, and decide by week 7”. So I’d be miffed as well if my second round interview was cancelled, for basically the reasons above – how did they know I wouldn’t do better than that guy?
        That would also mean I’d start getting super anxious about getting an early time-slot because being in one of the later ones would mean a high risk of not being able to interview at all… so naaah, for me, it would definitely also be a red flag in our context. But I understand that different fields are different.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          It’s not about “doing better than that guy”. It’s “oh, we interviewed guy #1 first, he’s excellent, we need to fill the position, we should make him an offer. If he accepts nobody else in the company needs to put aside time to interview 3 other candidates over the next two weeks.”. You have to get rid of the mindset that you’re doing *better* than other candidates if you get the offer. It’s highly likely that almost everyone they have interviewing would be able to do the job well (barring out-there behavior from a candidate, which we all know can happen). They need to fill the job and not make their staff interview people for the next 2 weeks ‘just in case’. Some places might want to interview 2-3 people. But maybe they already have. It’s often just a matter of luck, and you’ve got to accept that you can only put your best self forward at every interview, and it’s not really in your hands as to decisions and timelines.

          1. amoeba*

            As I said – in my field, the way it goes is generally that we have a fixed number of final round candidates (3, typically) that are interviewing during a fixed time period (a week or two), with no advantage for the one that goes first (the interviews are usually also all scheduled at the same time). And then, yes, we decide which one of those 3(ish) candidates was the best suited and make them an offer. Yes, probably they’d all do well, so… the one whose interview is scheduled first gets the job? This wouldn’t make sense…
            It’s also not a rolling process at all. If you apply after the first round interviews already happened, you’re out of luck, unless (unlikely) there’s not enough qualified people in that pool.

            This is why I said that maybe in other fields it’s different, but it would be weird here. And if LW is from a similar culture, I understand why they’re unhappy with how it went!

            1. AngryOctopus*

              Don’t get hung up on “I’m owed this interview because the other person had it” and “they got the offer because they were first to interview that round!”. They had the interview Monday, they were already the strongest candidate, offer was made and accepted Tuesday, they cancel your Wednesday because they have someone who accepted an offer. It doesn’t have to be weeks between. They already had a strongest candidate emerging. That person got the offer. You weren’t rejected because you were bad. You were not at the top of the pile, and that’s going to happen to most of us in most interviews. Maybe they were scheduled first because they were the preferred candidate, they did great, and the offer was ready to go for them. If they said no, or even, I need until Friday to consider, then you get the Wednesday interview, and you get turned down later. It’s not about being “owed” anything or having a “first” advantage. It’s just that you weren’t the top choice and the top choice said ‘yes’ already.

              1. amoeba*

                Huh? I’m not the OP (nor have I ever been in a similar situation) – I’m just saying that what you describe just… isn’t how hiring usually works in my specific field and a situation like this one would thus be highly unusual and at least to me a bit of a red flag, just because it’d be really far from the norm.

  52. Coffee Protein Drink*

    LW3, sometimes you can do everything right and still not get what you want. It’s frustrating as all hell, but it’s a fact of life. I’m sorry it happened to you, but realistically it’s probably going to happen multiple times as you search for a new situation.

    While in an ideal world, you would get reasons for a rejections in a reasonable amount of time, not an hour before the interview, you did get one before the organization asked you to spend more time. Some people get outright ghosted, or go through 7 and 8 interviews over a period of several months before finding out that the potential employer decides they aren’t suited for the job. Employers are interviewing for fit, not just what’s on your resume and how you articulate it.

  53. Ana Maus*

    Metrics on resumes frustrate me too. Some numbers are easy to produce–I managed five people, I was working on seven projects with a core team of four and 20 stakeholders and such. KPIs though? Much of my job depends on soft skills and you can’t really measure those.

  54. LetterWriter1*

    An update on this situation since I emailed Alison a couple weeks ago. I don’t want to give too many details but basically after another interview and getting some more info about benefits, I decided to withdraw. The position wasn’t exactly what I wanted or was excited about and my current company has golden handcuffs when it comes to benefits, specifically health insurance (especially if you’re doing employee only like I am) and time off.
    Hopefully no one mentions to anyone in my current company that I interviewed, but if they do I can probably explain it away well enough that it won’t blowback on me.

  55. Ex Auditor*

    LW 1: As someone currently seeking a new job and having friends in other industries also seeking work – this feels like it is more and more common. It cost my friend an interview because she refused to get a signed letter from her company saying she was “allowed” (?!) to interview for a new job. I was personally asked for a reference from my direct supervisor before a company would even schedule an interview – which is basically the same thing! It is a gross power play and seriously discouraging for those trying to find greener pastures.

    1. Bast*

      … Are they hoping people will get fired before they can extend an offer? This would not go over well in so, so many companies. It also narrows their hiring pool from those that pull out because of that — they are left with the unemployed, people getting laid off, and those that genuinely don’t care if they get fired over it. And maybe there are a handful of employers that are just chill with this, but I can’t see it being many. They will lose a lot of candidates.

      1. Ex Auditor*

        You would think this is a bad strategy, right? I think they are looking for people who are “committed” to the company they are interviewing (whatever that means) and it also means they can lowball their offer, knowing that the candidate may not be in a good place to remain at their current employer since, you know, they had to tell everyone they are trying to leave.

        Just a weird, weird move for someone trying to hire. I keep hearing about it from my friend network though!

  56. Database Developer Dude*


    #4…..Emergency contact information is something normal in the corporate world. The sole purpose isn’t for you to be reachable 24×7, it’s for if something happens to you during the workday. If you’re married, they call your spouse….that’s all.

  57. JPalmer*

    #1: Yeah, def don’t tell them. There are other ways to handle this. “I am not able to do that, but in the event an offer is formalized, I think a long notice period and a clear statement of notice that I pursued this change would better solve that need”

    #3: A chunk of the time it says nothing about you when they boot you off the process. It’s possible the company is scaling back and the position isn’t even really open anymore, but they’re trying to save face. It’s possible it’s a cross-department favoritism hire. The thing to focus on is you aren’t wasting time and energy with a company that won’t value you. It sucks to be treated that way but it is likely that you didn’t do anything wrong.

    #5: Were you one of the longest duration proofreaders on the team? Were you onboarding or teaching others the role’s responsibilities. I’ll sometimes indicate myself as senior on a team (even if I wasn’t a Senior in title). Definitely finding a good way to state you were the top performing proofreader helps.

  58. Database Developer Dude*

    #1…seriously, this is the kind of thing that would be a huge red flag, and cause me to withdraw my candidacy. You don’t tell your current employer that you’re looking when you don’t have anything. That’s the quickest way to get pushed out the door.

  59. ANON4This*

    Emergency contact: I was on a zoom meeting and one of the people on the call fainted/passed out, we just saw them slump and then heard them hit the floor. It was after hours in the time zone where HR was located. Luckily, I was able to get ahold of someone from HR (only because we were friends and I had her personal cell number) who could access the person’s emergency contacts and was able to call the person’s spouse. The person had an allergic reaction to a new medication and had to be rushed to the hospital. It could have saved about 30 minutes of time if I had been able to access that information.

  60. BellyButton*

    #1 — hmmm I wonder when in the process they would want you to tell them. If it is after you receive the offer, then that is fine. But if it is during the process- no.

  61. Meghan C*

    LW#4, it’s extremely common for companies to have your emergency info with your direct managers as well as HR and giving them a Jiffy Lube number won’t serve you well if there’s ever an incident where they need to reach someone if you’re unconscious/in an emergency. (Hit by a car in the parking lot, building on fire, a terrible chef coworker brings in a potluck dish)

    Additionally, disaster recovery plans, which are legally obligated for many large corporations, often include these backups. I work for a fortune 100 telecom which has excellent emergency notification systems and we still are asked to provide our emergency info to our directors/managers as a safety net. When we suffered hurricanes the disaster recovery plan was used, but it was also expected for management to reach out to your emergency contact if they hadn’t heard from you.

    I don’t know. Either LW #4 is exceptionally inexperienced to the working world, or they work for the second most dysfunctional company I’ve ever heard of. Yes. You read that right.

  62. H3llifIknow*

    LW4: I don’t know why you’re so against providing emergency contact information! Sh*t happens and everywhere I’ve ever worked, requires it be provided, except one, early in my career. My Mother died suddenly of a massive stroke, 800 miles away. I had no way to reach my team, my boss, anyone after hours. I had to Google through my tears to find a phone number, finally, for a woman in my office and call her hysterically sobbing that my Mom had passed away and I’d be leaving town for an idefinite amount of time to help my Dad. It was a mess. When I returned, there was a call roster of everyone in the office with their home/cell numbers so that never happened to anyone again.

  63. 1-800-BrownCow*

    LW #3: There’s a multitude of reasons they decided to cancel your interview the day before and it’s not because you did something wrong. I can tell you right now from my experiences, finding the right candidate for a position can take a lot of time. As a manager, if I’m lucky to find 2 really good candidates for a position on my team, I will start interviewing both. If 1 stands out way more than the other, I’ll make an offer to the one, but continue the process with the other until I have acceptance in writing. Or possibly after all the background checks, etc. are complete and I’m 99.999% sure that candidate will be starting the job, at which point I’ll have HR stop the process with the other candidate. There’s no reason to make the first candidate wait longer until the 2nd candidate is “given a fair chance to prove themselves” because first candidate may have another offer and doesn’t want to wait around for us to maybe give an offer at a later date. Additionally, once I find the candidate to make an offer to and they accept the offer, I’m not wasting my time, my team’s time, or the 2nd candidate’s time with interviewing when I know at that point they aren’t going to be offered the job. But something to consider, if you were a candidate that I was considering at one point, you’re going to be added to our “great candidate” file and if the 1st person eventually doesn’t work out or another similar opportunity comes up within the company, we would likely reach out to you again to see if you’d be interested in the new opportunity.

  64. Aggretsuko*

    I’ve been having the problem #1 has: I’m applying for state jobs, which according to my HR friend there, they are NOT supposed to talk to my supervisor since I don’t work for the state yet. It is mandatory if you work for the state that they talk to your current supervisor (which seems awful to me), but I was told they CANNOT do that if you don’t work for the state yet. My supervisor wants to fire me and the only reason this hasn’t happened yet is that I am on medical leave (again). As far as she is concerned, I’m a failure, and I am well aware a supervisor can say whatever they want against me when called. Trust me, my org doesn’t care if I sue them since they wrote me up every time I made a typo and have a great case against me. I tried so hard and failed all the time.

    However, almost every single job I’ve gotten an interview for, they tell me that (a) I have to sign a piece of paper permitting them to call my supervisor, (b) I have to provide my current supervisor as a reference, or (c) they just tell me, WE WILL CONTACT YOUR SUPERVISOR. I pushed back against this and got told no, WE WILL CONTACT YOUR SUPERVISOR, and I’ve given up on trying to stop them. The most insistent interviewer also asked in the interview what my supervisor will say about me when they call and I had to openly say that my supervisor doesn’t think I can do anything right. I had the best interview of my life there, but obviously I didn’t get that job. Another job asked if I’d been disciplined and there went that one. I have good references otherwise, but they may just not matter compared to Current Supervisor.

    I just don’t know what to do. I can’t stop them from contacting my supervisor (and I was required to put their contact information on every job app), they won’t not do it when I ask, and saying, “My supervisor will say the worst about me” pre-emptively just screams, “I’m the problem, it’s me.” I feel like I’ll never have a clean slate again or get hired again.

    Back to OP, why has this become common now? Doesn’t everyone know you can get fired if your supervisor finds out you’re leaving? What if your supervisor is awful? Are you trapped forever until you get fired? How are you supposed to leave safely if it’s now become common practice to ALWAYS contact them?! My HR lady friend said it looks worse if you pre-emptively bring up that your supervisor will slam you, and I agree, but I just can’t get around being a horrible employee there when I might be great elsewhere.

  65. NotARealManager*

    LW4, Emergency contact does not mean “for work emergencies”. It is a way for your employer to get in touch with your friends/family if you have a serious injury or illness at work. Or it’s for your employer to contact someone on your behalf if you are not reachable, but otherwise should be (like if you didn’t show up for a shift and your employer received no other notice).

    Our company had to utilize this recently when an employee didn’t show up to work and it turns out they’d had a serious stroke.

  66. Nonanon*

    This is a really weird comment (is it? Is it really? Sure.), but thanks for the unintentional reminder to update my emergency contacts; I had them set before my partner got assigned to night shift only and realized that not having a backup might result in an unintentional delay while my employer tried to reach out to someone who will only be awake for their last hour of business (assuming he doesn’t sleep past his alarm, which knocks it down to… zero hours!)

    1. Evan Þ*

      Yes, thanks for the reminder to check my emergency contacts too! Turned out I needed to update my mom’s phone number.

  67. DVVM*

    Emergency contact info is actually super important to provide to the people around you (employers, schools, medical providers, mental health providers, etc), and if you have any concerns as to how it may be used, it would probably be helpful to you to ask for policy surrounding its usage. And this might be silly of me, but I would hope that the people in my immediate vicinity at any of these places would be able to access this information easily. It seems like bad organization for HR to not make this information readily available to people’s immediate supervisors, since it is for *emergencies* you know, situations that require quick action. I’m guessing this request to the OP occurred because something bad happened, which is sad. Also, if the information you provide regarding an emergency contact would make you upset knowing others will see it (for example the nature of your relationship with the EC), provide different information, because this stuff is meant to be seen by others. The last thing anyone needs is to have suffered some sort of work injury and then your boss finding out personal business you wouldn’t have wanted them to know otherwise.

  68. Piscera*

    OP1: Not quite the same, but when I worked in BigLaw firms as a staffer, I was always amazed at how many lawyers saw nothing wrong with contacting their friends at a candidate’s current employer for a backdoor job reference.

    Besides outing the candidate’s job search, it was possible the friends didn’t know the candidate or their work. Being in the same department didn’t mean everyone had worked with everyone else on projects.

    1. StandardProcedure*

      This is pretty common everywhere – if someone knows someone at a current or previous employer they’re going to ask. It’s the sensible thing to do from their perspective. Most of the time it’s not a boss and that person keeps the info to themself. I’d say maybe 10% of the time I’ve walked into an interview and been told So-and-So mentioned you often did X, can you comment on it or similar. I’ve been called about folks a few times myself.

      1. Piscera*

        Being pretty common doesn’t make it a good idea, in my book.

        If only everyone were as ethical and professional about this as you are. Which they should be anyway.

  69. Luanne Platter*

    LW4 Emergency Contacts: I used to feel like the LW does about giving my partner’s information. Since then, in my career, I’ve had to call a report’s emergency contacts 3 times, all for serious, truly emergency situations. Once when someone had a major health event at work– I notified their partner and advised which hospital they were being transported. If I had dialed that number and gotten a Jiffy Lube, that partner would have lost precious hours with my associate and wouldn’t have been able to give the hospital team their critical health information.

    It’s such a bad idea not to give a legitimate contact number. Best-case scenario, the employer will never use it.

  70. Tea*

    LW4, you know no one is FORCING you to stay at this job/industry, right? Like, you can leave. Yes it may be very hard and/or time consuming, depending on your specific circumstances but like you don’t actually HAVE to stay at this job/industry that you clearly are not happy in.
    And don’t try to argue that you’re actually happy with it because no one who is satisfied with their job/company/field would be putting up such a weird fuss about a very basic, necessary request for emergency contacts the way that you are. This is beyond what’s normal that it has to be indicative of a much larger dissatisfaction with your job and maybe that field altogether based on some of your comments.
    So like, maybe find a different job or consider something else entirely before your thinking gets warped any further.

  71. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

    #4 knows best whether his workplace is likely to misuse emergency contact numbers, but it reminded of the letter writer whose boss kept calling the LW’s spouse to find out where they were and then kept calling the spouse to apologize when told it was inappropriate.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      I can see why it brings that letter to mind, but LW4 hasn’t stated that their boss has a history of overstepping in that way. It’s a fear they have, because of their industry, but they didn’t give any examples.

  72. OddSituation*

    LW1, most companies would not interview someone from a client to avoid issues. Most employers have some sort of policy or agreement – often one you have to sign and that could lead to legal action if violated – prohibiting their employees from going to work for a vendor or client (or competitor). I’m pretty surprised they’re talking to you at all and don’t blame them for wanting some assurance it won’t be a problem. That said, I agree that this is a big ask and something where walking away may make more sense than compliance.

  73. HowDoesSheDoItAll?*

    Related to the emergency contact question: Several years back, my manager died of a heart attack while driving to another destination about 2 hours away for a work meeting. His administrative assistant got the call from the police officers who discovered his car parked on the side of the highway. (He somehow managed to pull over and avoid a collision.) The only contact info in his car was his business card. Of course, the admin was very shook up and contacted HR. Unfortunately, his emergency contact info hadn’t been updated in 25 years, when he was hired for the job. All HR had was an old phone number for a retail store where his wife worked decades ago, in the times before smartphones. As a result, our staff here at work knew about his death before his family. It was awful. That’s why it’s important to update HR with any changes in emergency contact info.

  74. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

    If you’re worried about your employer or coworkers misusing the contact information, you can deal with some of the “in case of medical emergency” part by putting the contact information in your wallet/purse as well as on your cell phone. If a person is unconscious, the EMTs or a nearby friend or colleague will be able to find it, without it being available to someone who wants to ask work-related questions in the middle of the night.

    That may also be useful if something goes wrong when you’re not at work, or if your emergency contact person is unreachable for some reason.

  75. a librarian*

    I had to send an employee who was very private and lived alone to the hospital. My work place was open an hour to two hours (depending on the day) after HR closed up and went home. If I hadn’t had their emergency contact info their family wouldn’t have known how dangerously ill they were until they were coherent enough to contact them (at least a few days, from what I know).

    I’ve never once looked at the form with this information on it outside of making sure it was filled out for everyone and this one time I sent an employee to the hospital.

  76. Rachel Greep*

    #4: I’ve known at least five people who lived alone, died alone at home, and were only discovered when they didn’t show up for work. Give your employer an emergency contact number so they can have someone check up on you.

    1. Ciela*


      I work for a very small company, ~15 people at any one time, and twice in the past 5 years we’ve had to reach out to emergency contact people for such situations.

      One co-worker had terminal cancer, and had passed out in his bathroom. We called his dad the first day he did not show up. He decided that he should spend his last few days with family.

      The other co-worker, we did not have easy access to contact info. It took almost a week to track down his sister. He had died of fentanyl poisoning… sometime in the previous 5 days. Most likely being able to reach his sister sooner would not have helped him, but what if he had just fallen and broke his leg, and could not reach a phone?

  77. Hilary*

    regarding #4 and emergency contact information – I write as a boss who has held the hand of a colleague while waiting for an ambulance, clearing vomit from their mouth, and listening to to the 911 dispatcher telling me what to do, as I was frantically trying to remember my CPR in case she was going to die in my hands. In this case, the information given to HR (and thank goodness it was a weekday or HR would’t have been available to us) was inadequate, and it was HOURS before I got a loved one to that person’s side in the hospital. I ask for emergency contact info separate from HR systems (which are often limited to two or three rigid fields)- including multiple phone numbers and info on if I should call, text, both. I also ask for “if I am calling about you in an emergency” and separately “if I am trying to reach you and it is urgent” so people can give a number to one place and not the others. A single number won’t do it if cell towers are down, power is out, person is in a meeting, or person is out of town. Give this information, please.

  78. Coyote River*

    LW4, I wonder if things are the same in your country as mine. Here, nearly every form you fill out will ask, just so if you have a medical emergency *someone* knows who to call. It’s such a common question I don’t even think about it any more.

  79. Dorothea Vincy*

    LW4, I saw a social media post a few weeks ago where someone claimed they would provide a Jiffy Lube number the next time someone asked them for emergency contact information. I don’t know if you were specifically inspired by that post or if it was a coincidence, but please consider:

    1) That was a joke.
    2) If someone has to call that number, you could end up alone in a medical emergency. If they do call it for some non-emergency-related reason, you’re not going to look cool or whatever for refusing to provide them legitimate information; you’re going to look strange at best.
    3) There are plenty of options that are not your partner, if there’s a reason you don’t want to use their number.

    Just. Come on. Don’t do this.

  80. Ying*

    #2 – I have a visceral disagree to this response. There is no reason not to email that intern and let her know that she wasted your time. I feel like the vibe is, “The trash will take itself out” or “the universe will handle it” -but no. She behaved disrespectfully, twice. She would benefit from knowing that there are real consequences to her actions.

    I say this not as a spiteful person who has been stood up, but instead as someone who, for many many years, was like the intern. I burned a lot of bridges being careless and insouciant. And I wish someone had told me sooner, because by the time I figured out that, oh, I am kind of blackballed in my work field, it was too late.

    Not that the onus is on LW 2 to remediate the intern’s behavior or fix her. But if LW is annoyed (and it sounds like she is), you could argue that it’s a benefit to the intern to *hear* that. Maybe she will be like, oh I messed up again. I better mend my ways.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      It’s not that the universe will handle it. It’s that the intern already wasted LW2’s time. Why should LW2 take additional time to teach the intern she was wrong? There is absolutely no obligation to. If LW2 WANTED to tell her, sure, no reason not to. But the bigger picture is that since the onus is not on LW2, LW2 can just proceed with life.

  81. nnn*

    “I burned a lot of bridges”

    That’s kind of the point. Those are the natural consequences AAM was talking about.

    Did you really not know all those years that you’re not supposed to stand other people up? I find that hard to believe.

      1. Ying*

        Fair point. It’s less that I didn’t know. Of course I knew. But I never saw any consequences, because a) I was willfully not paying attention and b) I worked in a healing field, I guess you could call it. Many people chose the gentle route and it just. did. not. get through to me. Whatever my reasons for being an absolute troglodyte, my point is that I wish someone had called me out on it directly.

        And that’s just one side of the story. Even if no one has sympathy for my rationalizations – totally fine- I still believe OP2 should let her know. It’s super rude and OP2 is allowed to express that to the intern.

  82. Freya*

    Re #4
    Australia is getting the right to disconnect as of 26/08/2024 for most employers and from 26/08/2025 for small businesses, thanks to the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes No. 2) Act 2024. What this means is that if your employer or a related third party (eg a client) contacts or attempts to contact you outside your normal working hours, you have the right to refuse to monitor, read or respond to it, unless it is unreasonable for you to so refuse. (For example, if you’re getting paid to be on-call, it’s unreasonable for you to refuse to respond to a call. If you’re on annual leave and your boss needs you at 3am to find an email they sent you, it’s reasonable to refuse to respond, and your boss is prohibited from retaliating)

    We’re reviewing policies and training in advance of this coming into effect, to ensure we and our clients don’t mess this up.

    All of which is to say: your emergency contact info should only be used in an emergency. If someone uses it to try and circumvent reasonable work/life boundaries, then it’s not being used for the purpose for which it was collected, may fall afoul of laws and policies, and the person or business doing that needs to be removed from your life ASAP. But requesting emergency contact information does not necessarily mean that it’s being collected for nefarious purposes – it SHOULD mean that the business wants to know who to call if you get hit by a bus.

  83. Procedure Publisher*

    I appreciated the answer to number 5. What I was know for was the guru who could our content management system and process. I was a regularly bringing up topics on a committee that eventually got demonstrated on a larger call. I had been struggling with showing tthese things on my resume.

    1. Procedure Publisher*

      *could explain our
      Forgot to include the could. Should have proofread my response first.

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