“You’re just so nice.” (A rant)

I believe that I’ve reached a point in my career in which one of my tragic flaws is that I come across as too nice. It’s something that I hear a lot, actually. From recruiters, from strangers, from hiring managers, from interviewers, from uber drivers, from coworkers, from anyone on the planet that doesn’t actually know me. I guess that’s just how I come across to the world.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe there’s anything bad about being too nice. I like being nice. I like being reliable, dependable and approachable. I like that people feel they can come to me. I like my calm voice and my quiet demeanor.

Somewhere along the superficial exercise that has become job hunting in 2019, being nice has become a flaw. People don’t see being nice as something they need in their business. People don’t believe that I can stand up for myself, and therefore, that I can stand up for them and their business.

The catch 22 in all of this? In reality, I’m not all that nice. If someone were to speak with any of my family or friends, they’d learn really quickly that I’m an ornery human being. But, when someone takes all of 1.5 minutes to read your resume and that’s the conclusions they draw about you, that’s what you get. That’s all you get.

I received an email last night that was really thoughtful and filled with helpful advice for my in my career search. It was an email that contained some really great, helpful advice that I’m definitely going to look into and try and try to incorporate. And, while I really appreciated the email and thought that it was very kind of said person to write it to me, one of the things that was said in the email was a reminder of how people are so quick to judge.

“You seem like a nice candidate, not a need candidate.”

I’m nice and people don’t need nice. That’s what I keep hearing.

If people believe me to be nice and nothing more, then I need to do some restructuring of my resume and cover letter again to come across as less-nice. Again, I see nothing wrong with being nice. But, that’s apparently not what companies want anymore.

I have no problem standing up for myself. Actually, one of the reasons why I am no longer with my previous employer was because of my standing up for myself. But, perhaps the soft voice and calm demeanor doesn’t convey that. Perhaps the friendly cover letter doesn’t showcase what it is that I’m capable of because people are to busy thinking ‘she seems nice’.

It’s funny, you know, trying to navigate what it is that people want. The majority of the hiring managers I’ve dealt with this year are men. And men, I’ve come to find, really don’t like strong women. In my 30 years on this earth, I’ve met very few men who actually like strong, opinionated, powerful women. They prefer women to be calm, cool, easy going. So, I convey a version of calm, cool and easy going in job hunting as a mean of appealing to said stereotype and all I get is ‘you’re so nice’.and ‘you just seem so nice’ and ‘you’re too nice’.

Where’s the balance? There doesn’t seem to be one. There doesn’t seem to be a way to win. You are either wrong, or you’re wrong.

And that fucking sucks.

I’d be curious to see what they’d say if they met the real, ornery, put-you-in-your-place, no qualms about me. I’d be curious to see what they’d think of me then.

I realize that you have to ‘play-their-game’ in order to get hired. But I just happen to be someone who thinks their game is fucking stupid.

90 thoughts on ““You’re just so nice.” (A rant)

  1. Yes yes yeeeeees! I can relate. When they think you’re too nice, you get looked over or taken advantage of. I actually don’t have a slew of friends…I can count on ONE hand how many I have. And I also have a track record of never staying at a job because of the “I’m too nice,” theory.
    Thank you for sharing and I’ll work on my tips as well (saw my therapist this morning and it’s EXACTLY what we were speaking about: nice vs mean).

    Liked by 4 people

      1. I know, I just got hired at a job yesterday and believe me, I have been jumping through hoops to work on getting a job…however, I really want a CAREER. I want to be able to find the one thing that I love and don’t care about getting up at the crack of fucking dawn to do it. I don’t want to feel like I am busting my ass for nothing for some motherfucker that doesn’t give two shits about whether I having one of my depressive lows, or whatever I may be going through. Ok, sorry that was a rant! lol

        Like

  2. THIS. I just quit my job yesterday, because I was done trying to “be nice” with everyone, especially my boss. I admit that I had to “play the game” in order to get hired, and I hated it. Similar to you, I come across as quiet and passive at face value, but talk to me and you get a different side. Unfortunately as (once again) unemployed, I think there’s no choice but to “play the game” in order to get hired– what’s more important is that, once hired, the job will be a fit for you and compensate well for the work you put in.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. It’s sad that there’s no choice but to play their stupid game. I hate it. I totally understand where you’re coming from and I’m sorry you had to quit.

      Like

  3. There is one basic atavistic reason why employers don’t want to hire or promote 30 years old women. It’s called pregnancy leave. Whatever the woman says to that question. Or you have to have stellar qualifications and recommendations. Which you probably don’t have since you slammed the door on your previous employer over some promotion issue.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’ve run into that a lot this year too.
      On three occasions I had a job interviewer flat out ask me when I planned on having children.
      Not only is it against the law in this country but it’s also none of their fucking business and they get away with it all the time.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Most recruiters don’t ask that question because they assume that an educated applicant knows that they’re legally allowed to tell a LIE in order to answer that question. So bosses or recruiters don’t ask, but make a calculated guess of how much a pregnancy leave wold cost them and how high the statistical likeliness of such an event to occur is in your case.

        Like

      2. It’s not even that we’re legally allowed to tell a lie to that question – because I am legally allowed to lie to any question they ask me. They’re not legally allowed to ask that question in Canada. It’s considered workplace discrimination, treating females as though they’re less valuable employees because they have a possibility of getting pregnant.

        People still ask it though. All the time. It’s quite sad.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. People usually have no idea what they’re talking about! we need “nice people in our life”!! whether it was a business, a job etc. As u said, being nice does not mean you cannot stand for yourself ! Don’t let this affect you ! they have no idea what they’re saying, just trying to find excuses!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I just think being nice is a bonus. I’m good at diffusing any stressful situation. Having someone like me around in times of crisis, I’m going to fix things whereas someone else might just yell or freak out.

      Two sides. Guess they want the other side.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Someone really said the nice/need quote?!? That’s not ok.
    For my part, I get that a lot, too. But I think folks misunderstand me. The people who get me say things like, “You can rip someone’s face off and it’s still smiling when it hits the ground”.
    Those people get me.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I know what you mean.

      The people who know me are the ones who say similar things too. For the most part, the people who know me say ‘You’ll be smiling to their face while you slice their throat’. Those are the people I think really understand my personality.

      Cut throat with a kind heart.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I can relate it’s like when you got a boss who wants to be friendly to everyone. so he hands you the job to be the bad guy.,people used to ask me why always had an attitude & rant & rave when things didn’t go right? and I was hired to be the bad guy. usual answer ”If you do the job right you won’t have to listen to me.” bottom you can’t be a mouse 24/7 That Tiger has to come sometimes or your eyeballs will pop out lol. There are a lot of men love strong woman, somebody crossed her there would be hell to pay & I expect that your just like her.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m not a mouse, though.

      I’m actually kind of a bitch in real life.

      If I put that on my resume though, people will think I am a bitch and won’t want to hire me. You can say there are a lot of men who love strong women, but I have met a lot of men in my life and can probably count on one hand the amount of them who actually appreciated strong women.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well you can add one more to your finger. I enjoy a bitch, my wife was a bitch and we lasted 32 years until she died from Alzheimer. Sometimes, she was a little to, bitchy, & I had to chill her out. I guess it’s just me but I enjoy it when you let you bitchy side out every so often, makes people set up & listen, I still say you could make a little money blogging Erma.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I get that too! Job hunting or being asked a “favour”! People are surprised when I say “No”! Why do people judge others on if they look “too nice?” Pisses me right off!! Best of luck with anyone job hunting!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank You for the luck.

      I hate it when you finally do say no and people are like ‘what the hell, you’re always supposed to say yes!’

      Like

  8. A lesson that took me years to learn is how to be the same Jodie all the time. The person you read in my blog is who I am at home with my husband, with my friends and very much who I was in my career. Of course I edit the person the larger world sees from who I am at home, but the basic way I present myself is always the same. Personal integrity. It pays in the end. I struggled with it until I was in my 40s.

    Best of luck in your job search. ♥

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I hope it doesn’t take me to 40 to realize what people want out of me. It seems like they don’t want me to be myself. So now I’m really not too sure, sadly. Feeling a little lost in this whole process.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hear you, Vee. I”m feeling lost in other areas. I’d kick anyone today who tells me “this too shall pass” so I won’t give you any cliche sayings to make you feel better. Maybe today is just about being pissed AF and for me… being sad, really sad. Hang in there my friend.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. You may be right. I’ve tended to get too comfortable in interviews. Chatty. I’m thinking it makes me look less “down to business.” If only they knew how businesslike I was!

        Like

      2. Yeah, that’s the hard part of interviews, they don’t bother to learn how business like you are.

        I went to a job interview two days ago and the woman didn’t ask me a single question that related to the job at hand. She asked ‘How do you deal with difficult people’ and ‘What is your personality type’? Great. Am I dating or applying for a job here? lol

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Haha! Well, I’m guessing you’ll find your connection. I have friends who do a fair bit of hiring and personality angles can make a difference. But it sounds kind of subjective. Seems like they could mix in some questions on qualifications, to get a more complete picture.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Thank you. I know personality plays into it, but at the same time, skills and qualifications should bring something! So thank you. I bet your friends are very wise.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. my hunch is its not about being nice necessarily its the tone of voice , I only use my nice voice with preschoolers. I use my “professional” voice and words in interviews and with adults. Like a doctors receptionist haha. its not a conversational tone. at least they have a reason, businesses here never told me why i didn’t get hired with the exception of elementary schools. hang in there .

    Liked by 3 people

    1. People judge me as being too nice both in interviews and, based off my resume and cover letter without ever talking to me. So it could be about my voice partially, but I think it’s just how I convey myself. People think I’m too nice and therefore I just don’t belong.

      Like

  10. I agree with you. There’s nothing bad about being nice. I like being nice too. I’m happy if I can make others feel comfortable around me. I’m happy if I can be helpful for someone else. But, I don’t like when people think that I’m weak and can’t stand up for myself just because I’m being nice. Actually, they don’t know that I can be “dangerous” when they try to messed up with me.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. This is brilliant, funny yet true. 👌 I adored your honest uncensored thoughts. I, too get those “you’re so nice” or the ever irritating “you’re cute” in response to a subject where you try to shed some light, a bit of wisdom. Not just in the workplace, but in general.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. When someone asks me to define a certain action I usually reply with, “I’m just a bad person.”

    Now. What if you did that? Burned some bridges? Tore up the white flag? Used the olive branch as kindling? You know. There’s nothing wrong with being yourself. Unless. I hate it. Then, there’s just one less person to worry about. Go. Step on some flowers.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. When someone asks me to define myself I tell them I’m a equal parts high-maintenance princess and sarcastic asshole.

      Then people go on to think ‘Nah you’re just a harmless little girl’.

      Not sure how many flowers I can step on with nothing blooming these days. But it’s clear the strategy has to change!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ever look at knots in trees? A tree is a neat idea. It basically, copies itself year after year growing more dense to carry more weight. Knots. Something happened. The shell, broke free and it still grew. If you do the same, rather than make a knot and keep going you will be where you are. Everyday. Like, trees. Make, more knots. Drink, more whiskey.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. There’s also. The thing when, you don’t fit you, lateral. A friend. Gave up a good career at one of those multi-national beverage companies to put spin on destroying the Earth for oil. She, loves it. We met, at a protest. I hated her. She loved it. 😂 🤷‍♂️ So, I learned that power concedes not by affection or empathy but by, envy. She liked me. I used it against her, to push a more ethical boundary and to free some more aggressive protestors. Just, don’t be another lost millennial. Learn to fight.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. You expressed it wonderfully.
    For a woman (or anyone whom is considered “the minority”) it is often damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t. The “rules” are always adjusted to meet the selfish needs of those who are insecure, yet in positions of authority. It is a dangerous global cultural phenomenon.

    Like

    1. That’s how I feel some days. And I know that I’ve got it much easier than women of colour. I just feel like women as a whole are treated as less than men. And I realize I sound like I’m whining. I just think if I were a man I would have a job by now with my stats.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I was like 28 or 29 I had gone for an interview, when he said something like, this is what we can offer you at the moment. Cos any day you can come and hand us the notice that I’m resigning cos I’m getting married. As if, people are more than sure that because I’m this age, so desperate, that I’ll marry any second now. What is a joke? Getting married the next moment or finding a good job? Bullshit! I totally get you Vee. This sucks!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The whole marriage and kids scapegoat is a bullshit one.

      When a man gets married he’s treated as an even better employee because his employer believes him to be a family man and that he needs to provide for someone so he’s definitely going to stay.

      When a woman gets married they’re all like ‘when is she gonna get pregnant and leave?’

      Like

  15. Hi V – I just started following you and find your posts very interesting. After reading this post, I’ve given some thought about it. I do get what you’re saying. ‘Being too nice’ has been something that I have been labeled with as well. In high school, I was voted ‘most friendliest’. I struggled with this… It seems all the asshole guys were more attractive to the fun girls, the guys really barking orders at work were the most revered, so on and so forth. But the way I look at it, being “too” nice is a very unique quality and very special. It is something that you have that is a strong asset…not a liability. The thing that is most important is balance. It’s not one or the other…being nice or being a bitch…being dominant or being submissive. For me, I have learned how to balance my sincere love and respect for people, aka; ‘being too nice’, with the side of me that doesn’t come as natural. That is, dealing with conflict and standing my ground. Learning how to say no with kindness and grace. I call it “getting in touch with my inner asshole” 🙂 It’s not natural but important at the right times. For me, being nice has propelled my career far beyond the “not nice” people. But again, it’s a balance.
    Stay true to yourself, work on the balance and understand that the “game” is not weighted against you. Oh and by the way, I spit out my coffee when I read about your frustration with the resume review. Too funny. That one hits home to me too. I think a resume is a document that finds a reason NOT to hire you. That said, there are ways to “minimize the damage”. I’m pretty good at messaging and would gladly give you some resume feedback if you like…completely offline. Anyway, I seldom comment on posts and NEVER to this length. Your post resonated with me and I felt compelled to comment. Have a great day.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your note. Honestly, I’ve been trying to find a balance… a balance in how to show that I’m a nice person but I’m capable of standing up for myself. I guess that balance hasn’t shown.

      Thank you for the offer of looking over my resume. I think at the moment, I’m a little gun shy about showing it to anyone else. I’m just not in a good headspace today. But if I change my mind once I cheer up a little, I’ll let you know. Thank you again.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I am also labeled the “nice” person and I think the problem is that people equate “nice” with being equal to “pushover”. I have heard it time and time again when people talk about me and it’s NOT TRUE. Being “nice” does not mean I won’t stand up for myself when the time calls for it. But I think that is the way people see it unfortunately.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s crazy to me how frequently people equate niceness with being a pushover. The reality is, I bet if someone got in your way, they’d mean a real mean Geneva. The same would stand for me. People see what they want to see, though. I don’t know…

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being nice, but I DO think people equate gentle and accommodating words with being passive and submissive. They’re not necessarily looking for someone who isn’t nice, just someone who can be nice with a whole lot of authority. I think one of the things that can help, if you’re hearing “too nice” before you even get an interview, is to review your resume and cover letter for passive language. Basically take out everything that isn’t necessary. You’ll be left with text that’s direct and has authority.

    All the best luck in your job search!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I’d actually had a friend look over my cover letter about a month ago and she told me there was too much passive language in my cover letter. I do think that was a helpful suggestion. Now that the passive language is out, I think I just need to change the language to ‘You need me’. Gotta figure out how to do that! If you have any suggestions, I’m all ears.

    Thank you ❤

    Like

  19. I feel your pain, as I have been labeled, “too nice”, most of my life. However, trying to change who and how you are is also painful. Perhaps you’re simply in a vulnerable place right now, one where the voices of the naysayers cloud the waters. Be yourself, V. It’s the best long-term plan. You WILL find a job with a company who values and appreciates who you truly ARE!

    Liked by 3 people

  20. I used to work for a bank, a job which I despised with a fiery vengeance. In spite of my vile hatred of being a drive-through teller, I was always polite to the customers, which never led to the kind of sales numbers that the powers that be wanted me to be able to brag about. And I’ll never forget something my assistant manager said to me… “Assholes finish first.” Clearly, the exact opposite of the cliche “Nice guys finish last.” The bank wanted me to be polite when running transactions for my customers, but they also wanted me to be pushy when it came to getting those same customers interested in mortgage rates and credit cards. There is no winning.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Yes, I’m totally with you. I get where you’re coming from. And it sucks. I’m sorry 😦

    I don’t know what you think of Jordan Peterson, but he says he’s trained many clients in his clinical (psychologist) practice to be more assertive (less agreeable) in order to further their careers. But, from what you’ve said in this post, it would seem that already you have no problems being assertive.

    I have no idea what the answer to your situation might be. It must be frustrating as hell for you being in this Catch 22. All I can say is that I found a useful attitude to be, “If they don’t want me, then it wasn’t meant to be. When the right position comes along, everyone involved will feel it.”

    I know it can be hard to think that way, especially after repeated knockbacks. But jobs have seemed a bit like busses to me… none for ages and then 3 at once! I hope it’s similar for you.

    You’re talented and resourceful. The employer who does eventually take you on will be lucky to have you. It’s a talent to be able to be nice when necessary but also tough what that’s required too. Sound to me like you can do both. Perhaps (some of) your interviewers were threatened by you and your competence?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is so sweet. Thank you so much for pumping up my motivation this morning. I’d kill for three jobs right now! I can’t even get Wal-Mart to hire me, even when I dumb down my resume! So I need definite motivation.

      Thank you for your note and for making me smile. I’m hoping something comes soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. By the way, a few months ago, I helped an online friend to brush up his CV (resume) and cover letter. Within a few weeks, he had his dream job. He credits me in large part for his success (I try not to let it go to my head!) I know you’ve already had several similar offers, but if you’d like me to take a look at your CV / cover letter, I’d be happy to.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for the offer. I think I’m going to hold back for the time being. I adopted the “All help is good help” outlook for a while and took it from everyone who offered and my resume/cover letter did so many backflips and I have nothing to say that it’s helped so far so I’m a little gunshy.

      I thank you for the offer though. If I ever change my mind, I will take you up on it.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. This was so relatable! As someone who’s also battling the job hunt, it’s definitely tricky to find that balance between being genuinely kind & helpful to people (because you sincerely enjoy that inner satisfaction) and being viewed by interviewers as a rather passive pushover who seeks to please everyone. From what I’ve seen you’re incredibly talented and driven to improve yourself, so I hope something good turns up for you soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I’ve seen and witnessed that game with the interviewers when I was unemployed for 7 months, prior to landing my current job. During those moments, I had folks who interviewed me either said “you’re really pleasant to talk to; just that you’re not the person we want to hire at the moment.” Or “wow, you are a nice person. I really appreciate your insight about your previous job experience.” One week later – “oh it was nice chatting with you but we moved on.” Job hunting is frustrating and mentally exhausting. It’s why I have no problem grilling the interviewers when they’re not being transparent. If I get an inkling that they are trying to take my niceness for weakness, they don’t know what’s coming for them when I ask them questions about their work culture. 9 times out of 10, they wouldn’t proceed because I was vocal and upfront. I’m really glad you posted this article because it shows that even at this day at age, playing this “nice” game with them is a double edge sword.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s the worst double-edge sword, seriously. Hearing that you found employment after 7 months has me motivated to land my job soon. I really need a change and for someone to take my niceness as a good thing and not as a bad thing. Here’s to hoping.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I believe in you. I know one way or another, you will find a company that will take your niceness as a great quality trait. Believe me when I say that the road to finding a job has been horrible and I was in a depressed state for quite a while. But I kept praying and did what I can to stay motivated. If you’re keen on working remotely, check out sites like We Work Remotely, Job Espresso and Remote.co to see if you’ll be able to find anything that matches your skillsets. I also recommend following Brigette Hyacinth on LinkedIn and Twitter as she shares her insights about the job market and networking with other members in the field who may be looking for a job.

        Like

  25. I relate so strongly to this! Do you feel that it may have something to do with being female as well as being “too nice”? I am curious about the possible correlation and how gender may play a role. When you think of what a female CEO or in a position high on the corporate food chain? Usually I think of someone rigid and cold, kind of a hard ass. It seems like a completely unfair ideal.

    Like

    1. You know, I couldn’t tell ya. I can speculate, but speculation isn’t much more than a guess.

      I can say that I went to an interview last week and the person interviewing me didn’t ask me a single thing about my skills. Everything was about my personality and what I would bring to staff game night. The whole interview was about my personality. Then she said “You just seem like such a sweetheart but we’re selecting someone else”.

      I just felt really jipped from the whole situation. Personality should be a small fraction of what gets you hired, not all of it. Ya know?

      Like

      1. It seems ridiculous to me, basing most of an interview on personality. I guess it is just the game of life though, being too likable or not likable enough. The perfect balance being unknown to me. I definitely understand feeling jipped.

        Liked by 1 person

  26. What I’ve learned since becoming part of the hiring process is, you honestly can -not- predict what the person on the other end of the interview will think of you. I’ve been part of group interviews with my team of 10+ people, most of whom i consider sharp, where the candidate leaves after an hour and i think “she’s perfect, I have no concerns at all” and the person next to me thinks the total opposite. I just don’t think there’s any way to predict what someone is looking for. Each person brings a totally unique swirl of biases, expectations, and baggage to the interview table. I truly believe if you follow the general rules of applying and interviewing, and present yourself in a truthful way, you will eventually end up in the *right* place where you do mesh well with your hiring manager.

    There’s so much at stake and the whole process is totally subjective. Try not to take the rejection to heart. You are more than enough. Sometimes it’s just a matter of waiting for the stars to align. ❤

    Like

  27. Hey, I see what you feel there. I keep ranting about things too. I too, feel tired about getting this you’re good and you’re nice label. You might want to have a look at my blog. The way you write and your content, I am pretty sure you will like my rants too. 🙂

    Like

  28. How’s your job search going now? I’ve also got turned down for a job & rather than “too nice” it was “too lovely”. & he meant it as unassertive. Turned out it was a shi**y misrepresented job dealing with shi**y people & being yelled at & mistreated.
    Same guy interviewed me for another job (these were internal vacancies) & decided my people skills were exactly what was called for.

    “A calm voice & quiet demeanor”. Oh how I wish you were a coworker of mine.
    Maybe it’s as simple as your personal statement on your CV starting with “you need me”. Best wishes,

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s