A reader writes:
I’ve been casually job searching for a few months and had an interview last week. The job was for a logistics specialist at a shipping company. The woman who interviewed me, Marcia, seemed distracted the entire interview, shuffling papers and mumbling her questions. I knew pretty quickly I wouldn’t be taking the position, based both on her description of the job (which was quite different from the online posting) and the general feel in the office. At the end of the interview, I thanked her for her time and consideration and offered my hand to shake. She looked at it for a long moment, then didn’t take it and simply nodded her farewell. I got home, emailed a very polite “thank you, but this position isn’t for me” note, and considered it done.
Well, today I got an email from Marcia that was beyond strange. At first, I figured I’d just think of it as proof this job wasn’t for me, but now I’m wondering if I should reach out to someone else at the company to alert them. The email read:
“I realize this is highly irregular, but I felt it would be a grave misstep on my part not to reach out to you. During your interview, I noticed the scars on your arm and wanted you to know that whatever pain you are feeling is temporary. I am certain there are people who love you and would miss you. Please find love for yourself and get the help you clearly need. If I could offer you some additional advice, I fear those scars will be detrimental to you obtaining any meaningful employment. They are highly triggering, and you should seek permanent ways to disguise them. Good luck, and God bless.” Marcia then attached two documents — a brochure for suicide prevention, and one for a church-run support group.
Not that it matters AT ALL, but the scars are from a burn I got while baking during the pandemic. I was teaching myself to make fruit tarts. Did you know the bottom of tart pans pop up, so you don’t have to break the pastry during removal? My forearm and I learned that the hard way. In my opinion, they don’t particularly look like self-harm scars, more like long scratches that are still healing. Almost like you’d get from a cat.
I was prepared to just consider this an experience to laugh about and go about my life. But I’m concerned that Marcia might be offering other advice that is equally problematic to other job candidates, or her staff. Should I reach out to someone else at the company? Or just let this be? It’s possible the fact I think this is way over the line and pretty offensive is skewing my opinion of this. Thoughts?
This is a wild overstep from Marcia and you should tell her company about it.
First, as your situation shows so well, it is very possible for scars to be from all sorts of things, not just self-harm. It is a huge overstep for a virtual stranger to assume they know anything about what scars indicate.
And it’s even less a stranger’s business if the scars are from self-harm. That’s a deeply personal and private thing that no stranger should be commenting on. (Ever, but especially someone like Marcia who clearly doesn’t understand the first thing about it, since it’s very common for cutting not to be linked to suicidal ideation at all.)
Also, “they are highly triggering, and you should seek permanent ways to disguise them” is a Very Bad thing for a hiring manager to say to a job candidate. She put in writing that she believes you have a disability and you should hide it. That’s legal liability for her company.
And then there’s the church-run support group she feels you should attend.
And she’s willing to say all of this to a job candidate, someone she barely knows. Imagine what she’s saying to people who work for her.
I don’t doubt that Marcia felt she was acting from a place of concern and compassion, but unfortunately her actions were invasive, inappropriate, and uncompassionate.
She needs better training and more oversight.
So yes, please do forward her email to her company. If they have any sense at all, they’ll want to know she did this, explain to her why she can’t, and take a closer look at what else she might be doing.
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