quitting right after a party, mentioning nude modeling at work, and more — Ask a Manager

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

1. Can I quit right after a fancy work party?

Is it a good idea to wait to submit my notice until the Monday after a big work party on Saturday?

I desperately want to quit my job. My coworkers are friendly and the workplace is the furthest thing from toxic; it’s just a terrible fit for me personally. I’m afraid it’s actually affecting my mental health. I’m only a month in, but I’m furiously looking for a new job and may actually quit without another one locked down. I could write a whole other question about just this part, but I’ll leave it there for now.

However, my company is holding a fancy soiree at a swanky hotel in about a month. There will be live music, gourmet food, and an open bar. I think this would be a joy to attend, a bright spot in an otherwise dark time, and am considering holding on until then. That said, it feels disingenuous to reserve a spot to go, making my company spend all this money on me, while actively fueling my rocket ship to blast off from Planet Crippling Work Depression.

I’d feel more comfortable attending if I could wait a month or so after the event before quitting, but given that my supply of motivation is already plummeting straight into the negatives, I want to leave as soon as possible. Would it be bad form to reserve a spot for this shindig only to announce I’m leaving as soon as the day after the happening? It’s also possible I end up bouncing before the bash if things in my life pan out that way. I’m pretty confident that announcing my departure beforehand and still attending the hootenanny is A Bad Idea, but I don’t know how soon is too soon after. Should I just skip the work gala and throw my own rager with friends instead?

If your job is affecting your mental health and you would quit now if it weren’t for this party … quit now. No party — well, no work party — is going to be great enough to justify staying.

But if you’re still there in a month (because you decide not to quit without something else lined up), you don’t need to take the party timing into account at all. If you quit right after it, it’s just going to look like that’s how the timing happened to work out. People are really unlikely to think you waited so you could attend the party first, and they’re not going to resent spending the money on you (they’re spending most of that money regardless of whether one particular person attends or not, and the per-person cost isn’t likely to be significant to them).

Either way, a rager with your friends sounds like an excellent idea, whether it’s in addition to or in place of the work party.

2. Is it inappropriate to talk about nude modeling about work?

I work in a traditionally formal space but in a more casual team. Sharing about social lives and personal interests is really encouraged culturally and is built into our weekly meetings. As a result, I know a fair amount about my coworkers’ passions/hobbies and personal lives.

One of my ongoing interests outside of work is life modelling, aka nude modelling for artists. I have been doing it on and off for years. It brings a great deal of joy to my life, and I love having a totally different creative environment outside of work. I have not shared this with my colleagues, because of the nudity of it all. I have been acting under the assumption that mentioning life modelling at work is just a no-go, even when encouraged to share about personal lives. I’m generally fine with that, but I’m curious what you think? Can I ever mention it without it being seen as unprofessional?

It is probably worth mentioning in my case that while I am very qualified and much appreciated, I am also the youngest member of my team. I have been warned by a colleague (outside of my direct team) that some people in my field will discount my opinion as a “very young presenting, good looking woman.”

I wouldn’t mention it. I wish it didn’t matter, but in general it’s not helpful to say something that will immediately cause some portion of your coworkers to picture you naked (and not even necessarily in a prurient way; it’s just how minds sometimes work). That goes double when you’re among the youngest on a team and a woman.

3. How to explain why I’m wearing a mask at work

I work in an office where it seems like someone is always sick and nobody ever (and I mean ever) covers their mouths when they cough. One worker was so sick that it sounded like they were about to cough up a lung and they never covered their mouths (or wore a mask). It makes me angry because even before Covid, it was a major pet peeve when sick people didn’t at least try to contain their germs. Most of the people who work there are at boss level, so it’s not like I can say anything, even politely. Even during Covid they would snidely brag about how they would try to get around certain safety protocols. One lower level worker was out for about a week and a half and I heard one of the top level people basically chiding them for wearing a mask.

I’m vaccinated (and a germaphobe) so I’m about as protected as I know how to be, but I just hate that people seem to think spreading germs is okay as long as it isn’t Covid. I understand that people have to work even when they’re sick. My issue is they don’t even try to cover their mouths.

I have a vacation coming up soon and I’ve decided to wear a mask for a while before I’m supposed to go. I don’t want to risk catching something before a trip that I am really looking forward to and that cost a lot of money to book. I know they’re going to say something because they seem to be so anti-mask. I haven’t been with this company for very long so I don’t want to tick anyone off but I don’t want to risk getting sick because they don’t understand basic manners of covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze. How do I respond without offending them when they inevitably ask about my mask? (I personally don’t care if they’re offended. I just don’t like confrontations or passive aggressive comments/behavior, both of which they seem to do a lot.)

“My doctor recommended it.” I’m sure your doctor would be happy to recommend it if you explained the situation.

4. How do I tell my employee’s friend I’m never going to hire him?

For some reason, a close friend of one of my employees has decided that their ideal career path involves working for me. He’s looking to make a career change, and so he’s applying for jobs he doesn’t have any experience with, and he’s openly dismissive of the talents and skills of my current employees (including his friend). There is nothing tempting about taking this guy on.

The two of them are bizarrely certain that I will hire him eventually, so any job openings we have are taken as a sign that it’s his moment now, and the hints and awkward conversations start. Unfortunately, I am likely to continue to see him in social settings from time to time (he’s been using these as opportunities for impromptu interviews — I ask a small talk question and get “why you should hire me” as a reply — annoying!), and so I want to politely but clearly let him know that I’m not going to be hiring him (not just for the current job he’s applying for, but for any of them). Any suggested wording, or points I should hit?

Is there some clear reason you can give to explain why he won’t be a strong candidate for any of the jobs on your team — like no experience in X or inability to work the hours you need or so forth? If so, that’s the easiest way to do it: “I’ve seen you’ve applied for a few different openings now, so I want to be up-front with you that to be a competitive candidate, you’d need XYZ. The fit isn’t right for any of the jobs I hire for, but I wish you the best in finding the right position.”

If there isn’t something straightforward like that to offer, then you could say, “I appreciate your interest in our work. I don’t think the fit is right for any of the roles we hire for so I won’t be able to consider your candidacy any further, but I wish you the best in finding the right position.”

It sounds like you also might need to talk to the person who works for you, to explain that you’ve determined his friend isn’t strongly enough matched with any of the jobs on your team.

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