the “low ego” job posting, getting reimbursed for parking, and more — Ask a Manager

Here are four updates from past letter-writers.

1. Job posting asks for candidate with “low ego” (#5 at the link)

I did take the job that said the ideal candidate would have a “low ego.” Turns out that means “willing to turn a blind eye to manager’s backhanded/ passive aggressive comments” and “unconcerned with career development or having a manager that will be an active participant in supporting your work or helping develop your career.” For those and many other reasons I couldn’t have known before coming into the position, I started job hunting again within a month of taking the role. You live and you learn.

2. Can I be reimbursed for parking when I have to bring my car in for a work task? (#4 at the link)

When I actually went to ask the office that deals with finances and reimbursement for parking reimbursement, that set off a kerfuffle, shortly followed by a formal policy that employee parking at work could never be paid for by the unit regardless of circumstances. I then decided to put my foot down and say no to any sort of task that would require bringing in a car! Having a car during the day was not part of the job description, so it didn’t seem like they could make me. I was pretty new at my job when I wrote this and since then it’s been a lot easier for me to question things and say no. Students need food for an event? It’ll need to be something that can be delivered. Items need to be picked up? They can be mailed and that’s the cost of doing business. Very rarely has there been anything in the past few years that I’ve actually needed to drive somewhere to get or obtain and if that does happen, I either ask my boss to do it (who does drive in!) or do it on a night/weekend once I’m home and flex my time accordingly.

3. Demotion vs. firing (#4 at the link)

An update: My grandboss was the hiring manager for this position, for a few reasons that made sense at the time, and suggested we demote the manager rather than fire her. The underlying hope was that she’d see the writing on the wall and find another job before too long. That didn’t feel quite right to me given her timeline before we hired her (unemployed for a few months in a very employable field!). Thus, my letter to you. It was an optimistic hire. Some individuals who lacked a manager background/skillset in our line of work would have been able to rise to the occasion, but this one clearly had no self-awareness, lacked a sense of professional norms, and wasn’t receptive to feedback.

Upon reflection, I am realizing my grandboss does a lot of optimistic hiring moves, which doesn’t feel great but hasn’t been disastrous elsewhere yet, and at least gives me something to look out for when grandboss does bring on new people. Blessedly, grandboss is no longer the hiring manager except for his own direct reports.

When we brought the demote vs. fire issue to the VP, he quickly said to cut ties–it wasn’t working and we had mission-critical work and needed a committed, improvement-focused person on the team. It was nice to get a definitive answer, as I had a lot of concerns about team culture after a demotion. The firing meeting was drama-free and short. It didn’t feel great–knowing someone is losing a paycheck isn’t great–but the team really has been better off. After the initial shock with the other teammates, then reassurances of their great work, the few pieces of manager’s recurring work were picked up quickly and seamlessly. For what it’s worth, another teammate is going to be promoted to manager (after a good work track record!). The fired manager un-friended me on LinkedIn (as a burn I guess, after she added me a few weeks prior) and from what I can tell, is still unemployed.

4. How to explain an incomplete master’s degree (#5 at the link; first update here)

This past year has been a roller coaster. I left my retail job last November because it became very obvious I just couldn’t keep up physically anymore on top of a change in culture where I would not have fit. I also just didn’t have the patience for customers anymore. I took some time off, partially because of a back injury but also just because I needed a break. However when I started doing 6 different wordle variants a day I realized I needed a job.

I began a hunt and started applying. I managed to get an interview during what became the longest month of my life as it was the big storm in May and sadly my father passed. However I was still able to focus on the interview, I used all the AAM advice I could think of. I prepped questions, I studied the company, I personalized my cover letter to my relevant experience, I sent a thank you note, and more.

As for the result of that, I just finished my 6 month probationary period last week. I passed my evaluation with great scores. I’m now the head of IT at a local nonprofit that provides a variety of services to seniors and those with disabilities. I seem to have landed a unicorn honestly, the pay is good, has benefits, currently 30 hours a week, given a great deal of freedom for my schedule and work from home. Very reasonable expectations for my progress and skills and most importantly the culture, I’ve met almost everyone and they’re all great, everyone here is so nice and it’s chill, we took a break last Friday and made paper snowflakes just for fun.

Honestly I could see staying here for quite a while, compared to working big box retail this is night and day.

So first thanks for your response to my initial letter, thanks for the support of the community and thank you for all the good interview and job hunt advice you’ve posted in the past.

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