is the kiss emoji appropriate at work, manager wants me to find coverage after I quit, and more — Ask a Manager

here are the 10 best questions to ask your job interviewer — Ask a Manager

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

1. Is the kiss emoji appropriate at work?

This is a low-stakes question, but I keep wondering: Is the kiss emoji 😘 ever appropriate in work communication?

Most of our team are in our thirties and forties. Our work environment is fairly informal — few emails, but lots of Slack messages, so of course emojis are everywhere. I enjoy using them, we even have silly traditions among coworkers. (Think: one of them writes that a famous llama groomer from France will be visiting next week, and instead of 👍🏼 or ✅, people will react with 🥖 and 🍷.)

It’s a lighthearted way of joking around, but for some reason, when people use the kiss emoji, it rubs me the wrong way. I helped a coworker out with something the other day and they wrote back, “Thank you so much! 😘” I like them well enough, but this felt odd. A different coworker recently put a kiss emoji underneath a Slack post in which one of our grandbosses announced a small perk (think additional parking spaces for our team in the company lot).

Obviously I would never say something, I’m not the emoji police. But just so I know whether my gut feeling is right or I‘m being overly literal: This is weird, right?

You’re taking it too literally. People aren’t using it to me “imagine me kissing you.” They’re using it to mean “you’re awesome” or “this is great” or “I like this.” I can see why you’d be weirded out by it if you considered it in a vacuum … but you’ve got to take it in the cultural context, where it’s just a more effusive version of the thumbs-up.

To put it in much more old-fashioned terms, it’s like opening a letter with “dear” — you’re not really saying the stranger you are writing to is dear to you. Language, and now emojis, evolve in strange, non-literal ways.

(Only slightly related to this, I recently came across this old post and what.)

2. I misspelled the company’s name throughout my cover letter

I spent the last hour putting together a detailed cover letter and tailored resume for a job that I thought was a great fit for my skill set. Right after sending it, I realized that I’d consistently misspelled the name of the company throughout my application materials. To give myself a little credit, it is a kind of weird name, and my brain is pretty fried with applications, so somehow I didn’t notice the error in the many times I proofread my materials and checked them against the job description. Of course I noticed right after sending instead, and now I can’t stop cringing.

This is a fatal error and I should just write off the possibility I’ll ever hear from this job, right?

Well … it doesn’t look great. If it’s a job where attention to detail is important, it’s probably going to take you out of the running, or at least move you down the list. That said, it’s not going to put you on a do-not-hire list there or anything like that, and you can try again in the future without it being held against you.

3. My job wants me to find coverage after I quit

I put in my two weeks at work (food service job) because I’m going to be moving for the summer. After I did, I got an email back from my manager saying I needed to find someone to cover my shifts for the week after I quit because they’re “going to be really busy.” Are they allowed to do that? Isn’t that their responsibility?

I’m literally going to be moving and I don’t want to deal with the stress of finding someone to cover me for a whole week after I QUIT.

Haha, nice try, manager. They’re can propose anything they want — they can ask you to find coverage for the entire next year if they want to — but they have no way to make you comply.

I suspect what you’re worried about is less “can they make me do this?” (they can’t) and more “will I be violating some kind of professional convention if I refuse?” And the answer to that is also no. Finding coverage for after you’re gone is not your responsibility. (To be clear, if they want you to spend some of your time on-the-clock searching for shift coverage for dates after you’ll be gone, they can assign that as a work task. But it sounds like they’re expecting you to do it on your own time and … no.)

Respond with, “That’s not something I can do, but you can certainly schedule me through the 24th” (or whatever your last day is).

4. My friend applied for a job reporting to me and I don’t want to hire her

I’ve recently accepted a new job where I’ll have a small team reporting to me. I’m due to start next week. The organization is growing and this week my boss advertised a role that I’ll take over the hiring for once I start, and that will report to me.

Not knowing this role reported to me, a close friend of mine applied for it. She sent me a message saying she was applying at (company) and it was only when she told me the job I knew it was the one in my team.

The problem is, I don’t want to hire her. I’ve worked with her before — it’s actually how we know each other — and she’s a good worker. She gets stuff done, is pragmatic, and people tend to enjoy working with her. She’s also incredibly emotional, has very few boundaries, and has struggled a lot over the years with work stress, which I think is often created because of those boundary issues. While we used to share a lot of “work chat,” like sending funny memes or venting about our bosses, since we last worked together (~2 years ago) I’ve really worked on myself to have a better experience at work. I got a promotion into people leadership and had a massive perspective change about what it means to be the boss, having so much more appreciation for what my ex-bosses would have likely been struggling with. I’m excited to go into this new company with that perspective change and am actively trying to stop the cynical humor that I used to think was just a bit of a laugh, and I now see can sometimes be uncomfortable for colleagues. The old memes don’t really resonate anymore, but she sends them still. And to be honest, I don’t want someone reporting to me who complains about their job all day long. How should I handle this?

A talent acquisition team will do first round screening, and I’m concerned she’ll ask me why I didn’t tell them I want her to interview.

Even without the issues with her work style, it’s smarter not to manage a close friend. Would you be comfortable being up-front with her about that? You could say, “I know you do great work, but I don’t feel equipped to manage a close friend, and I especially don’t feel comfortable hiring a friend as one of my first moves there.”

If you don’t think she’ll get it, it could be easier to simply explain that the applicant pool was highly competitive and a lot of really qualified people didn’t get interviews. (It’s also quite reasonable that you wouldn’t want one of your first moves to be overruling the talent team to secure an interview for a friend.)

5. I’m grossed out by our potlucks

Our director has made potlucks an office tradition. The last one we had, I found multiple dishes with hair in them. I’m choosing not to participate in the next one and not consuming any dishes. I’m bringing my own lunch. Am I wrong?


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