open thread – May 23, 2014

Sam under sheetIt’s the Friday open thread!

The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

{ 1,097 comments… read them below }

  1. thenoiseinspace

    Digital portfolio question!

    I want to have a digital copy of my portfolio on hand for interviews or networking events. I’m trying to decide between putting the files on my phone or buying an ipad for the sole purpose of loading my samples onto it. What are your thoughts? Hiring managers, which would you prefer (or would you rather see paper copies?)

    1. Sascha

      It can be difficult to see/read things on a phone, even the larger ones, so I recommend a tablet, or bring a flash drive with your files in case they have a computer to use. Or, load up your portfolio on a website and send them the link.

      *I’m not in any kind of a design field so I don’t know how important a paper portfolio is. However I have participated in interviews for instructional designers (university), and they usually have portfolios of courses they designed, and I always prefer digital versions, especially since our business is online courses.

    2. SevenSixOne

      Not a hiring manager, but I would prefer the larger screen of a tablet to squinting at a tiny phone display, especially if another person will be looking at it at the same time… and bring the paper copies too in case the tablet conks out.

      1. Cautionary tail

        +1 on the paper backup plan.

        I’ve given several external presentations where the projector died and because I had a backup plan and knew the material so well I was able to continue while the venue staff got a working projector.

        1. Cautionary tail

          Important note: the projector died in the “middle” of the presentation.

          1. ITPuffNStuff

            Previous experience in an IT support role that included projector maintenance gives me the impression they generally die during presentations. This makes sense, after all; projectors don’t usually spend a lot of time powered on outside of presentations, and they aren’t typically going to fail while powered off.
            -ITPuffNStuff

    3. LizNYC

      I’m not a designer, but I know when my company interviews web designers and graphic artists, we generally do so in a conference room with a computer or with one of our company tablets so we can pull up the interviewee’s stuff right there. If you brought your own, that would probably be fine, but I don’t think it’s an essential. But YMMV with different employers. (Also, I know our interviewers preview everyone’s portfolio ahead of time so they’re familiar with your work.)

    4. Design manager

      Definitely a tablet. A laptop would be fine too, although a little more awkward for a network event. I would to prefer not too look at a phone. It’s too small, and it seems a little unprofessional although I can’t put my finger on why. Also, make sure your work is saved offline – don’t assume that there will be wifi wherever you are being interviewed/networking. I’ve seem some people get tripped up by this. I’d advise against bringing a flash drive or DVD, unless the intention is for the person to look at it later (although this would be unnecessary if you have a website to show your work – and whoever is interviewing you should really have looked at it before your meeting). I don’t have an office space, so when I interview people it’s often in a spare conference room or even a cafe and I don’t have a computer available.

      1. thenoiseinspace

        “A laptop would be fine too, although a little more awkward for a network event.”

        That’s what I’m worried about. I have at least one networking thing come up, and I don’t want to be too awkward/cumbersome/time-consuming. If you were, say, at a networking coffee with one or two people, and one of them pulled out a tablet to show you portfolio items, would that annoy you, or would it be basically the same as doing it on a phone?

        1. AVP

          I would much prefer for you to pull out a tablet (or even a laptop, if you already have one) than a phone! Im young and my eyesight is good but I just feel like so much good design gets lost on those tiny screens,

    5. TotesMaGoats

      You can buy, pretty cheaply if you are doing a lot of interviews, personalized USB drives from places like 4imprint. Buy as many as you need, load the portfolio on each and then you can leave it with your interviewers at the end of the day. Your name and contact info can be imprinted on the outside of the drive.

      1. PizzaSquared

        It really depends on the industry and type of companies you’re interviewing with, but some large security-conscious companies have policies against using USB drives (or USB drives from unknown sources) on their corporate computers. It can be a way for malware to spread. Probably not an issue for the OP, but it’s worth keeping in mind if you’re going to companies that are likely to have strict IT security policies.

        1. TotesMaGoats

          Absolutely true but I assumed, given the information provided, this wasn’t an issue.

        2. Cautionary tail

          +1 on the IT security policies. If someone handed me a flash drive there is no way I would ever stick that into a company computer. I can see the next day’s Wall Street Journal headline, “Cautionary tail brings down MegaCo’s entire network. 40 million customers’ data is compromised.” No thank you.

    6. Rayner

      I suggest an iPad or tablet that’s a comfortable size and price for you. Apple sell refurbs that are cheaper but are of excellent quality. I have one. Very handy during travelling to entertain, and less hassle than a laptop.

      I like mine – not the latest, but the one before – it was a big investment, but it’s a great size for showing images or lots of text, and it was able to connect with everything else.

        1. Chloe Silverado

          Apple has the refurbs available for sale on their website! I personally have a refurbished MacBook Pro and it’s great. I’ve taken a look at the iPads – they typically have various generations and models available, so you may be able to go with an older, more model with less storage if it’s just to show your portfolio.

        2. Rayner

          Online only – look for your region (America, Canada, England etc), and look under refurbished etc. My iPad (16 gbs, wifi only, w/ retina display) was about £70 cheaper than a brand new one.

          Personally, I like iPad because they’re able to connect to other Apple devices, and they’re pretty intuitive. However, they are pricey, so if you get one, I’d stick low down the scale. I have a sixteen gbs. I work in text docs and emails, and then have it for iPlayer and watching downloading programs and it’s more than enough for me.

          Go to a store and try all the tablets (android and apple) out in person (best buy or whatever, the big box stories idk what they’re called), and see what feels good, and you think you could use quickly – you’re going to showing people fast so you don’t want one too complicated.

          Oh, and get a case that stands up. Best investment ever.

          1. Katie

            I have a refurb 1st gen iPad and it’s still going strong, uh, four years later. It’s a bit slow now since we can’t upgrade the iOS but I wouldn’t hesistate to buy a refurbished unit again.

    7. Esra

      Have you considered a non-apple tablet? You can get android tablets much cheaper that are still great for digital portfolios.

      That said, I have a portfolio book and last time I was job-hunting 4/5 interviewers said it was refreshing to see a proper book and not a digital presentation.

      1. Jen RO

        I definitely recommend an Android tablet. I’m a Nexus fan – I have the 1st generation Nexus 7 and a Nexus 5 phone, and my boyfriend has the 2nd generation Nexus. We are both very happy with them!

        1. Audiophile

          Not to hijack, but I’m debating between the Nexus 5 and the S5. I have an S4 now, which I like for the most part, but I really liked my galaxy Nexus.

          I’m just indecisive at the moment.

          1. mm

            I have an S5 and love it. I used to have an iPhone but switched to Samsung Android a few years ago and would never go back.

            1. C Average

              How come? I am curious about what makes you say that. I have only ever used a company-issued iPhone in the era of smartphones. I have an Android device I use for research at times, but it’s not attached to a data plan so I’m not getting the true experience. So far, I much prefer the iOS device. It seems like people are fiercely loyal to one or the other, but it’s unusual (in my experience) for someone to have made the switch and be able to actually make a meaningful comparison between the two user experiences. (Almost everyone I know is an Apple fanperson.)

              1. Sophia

                I’ve had an iPod touch and I have an iPad. I have a galaxy s3 phone.

                iproducts tend to be more seamless in design and faster. So I have tended to prefer apple for my heavy, mobile computing use (I use tablets a lot). However, I will be switching to a surface after this iPad dies because I find windows to be soooo much more flexible and I really want a proper hard stylus. (At the time I bought this iPad, I felt other tablets just didn’t work as well as apple products. I think some have caught up now.) (I use windows computers because they are a lot more customizable and I do a lot of hard core gaming.)

                I will always have an android phone (of which I really like Samsung galaxy’s right now) because they are more customizable, I can expand their memory, they are very very easy to load random software onto without having to jail break, and MOST important of all: I can change the battery!!!! When traveling or away from civilization, I keep a couple spare batteries on me ($10 on amazon) to swap out. I will never ever give up battery swapping for an iPhone. A bulkier case to extend battery life or a non-instant charger doesn’t appeal to me.

                Now, because of apples seamless design and easy to use interface, I would probably recommend a non techy person get an iPhone. My mom would barely even know how to switch out a spare battery and some people just don’t find personalization all that necessary.

          2. Jen RO

            No idea about the S5, but my boyfriend for an S4 for work and the Nexus is noticeably faster and has a better screen.

    8. Chloe Silverado

      My sister is a designer and she has her portfolio on an iPad, as do most of her colleagues. If you’re actively job searching or frequently attending networking events, I think it would be worth the investment!

      I’d avoid a USB, as you never know what the set up will be in an interview room. My current role is primarily marketing but requires some design so I did need to show samples. I had a USB and print outs just in case, and ended up needing to use the paper versions for the interview.

    9. HAnon

      I’m going to assume that you’re talking about some kind of graphic design/photography/creative work here.

      I work in this field, and pretty much everyone has wanted to see a portfolio website. It’s helpful because the interviewer can also review your work online (if they wish) before the interview and then ask more specific questions about your body of work. When I was working for an ad agency, we did not even consider candidates who did not have an online portfolio (at least partial) to give us an instant idea of what kind of creative style they have. I don’t know if it’s the same at all agencies, but with the amount of resumes we had to go through, those were the candidates that got call backs (with links on their resume).

      I usually bring in my laptop with the files pulled up in case there is an issue with their internet connection for any reason (you want to have a backup so you’re not left scrambling if there are technical issues), and then some copies of finished print work so they can have something to pass around and look at in more detail. Although print isn’t going anywhere, digital is only going to continue to grow, so you want to show in your portfolio that you’re experienced in that arena and you’re keeping up with the trends. Hope this helps!

    10. Brett

      Put your portfolio on dropbox or google drive. Then use bit.ly or a similar link shortener to create an appropriate customized link that is easy to remember. Now you can access your files on whatever device is handy or let the manager access the files later.

    11. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

      You might already have this taken care of, but if you’re planning to pass your phone around, be really sure that no text messages, etc. are going to pop up on the screen. awkward :-)

  2. Audiophile

    I want to thank the commentors a few open threads back, who encouraged me to list my volunteer social media experience under my work experience. It really hadn’t occurred to me prior to that. Since then, I’ve been applying to jobs and I have some in person and phone interviews lined up for next week. Really excited to see what happens.

  3. Random Reader

    Happy Friday everyone! I’m watching the clock tick down to noon so I can start my roadtrip to Nashville! What are some of your favorite receipes? I feel like I make the same boring (but delicious!) noodles. I’ve found that I’m actually starting to like vegetables- growing up I hated them!

    1. Audiophile

      Ooooh that sounds like fun! Please tell us about it I. The next thread. I have vacation time and Nashville is one of the places I’m considering.

      I have no recipe advice, sorry.

      1. Random Reader

        Will do! I’ve never been to the South before. It’s supposed to be warm/hot and a lot of fun :) Looking forward to eating my way through BBQ joints and drinking down Broadway street!

        1. The LeeGal

          I just went to Nashville, and had a wonderful time. No recipes here, but if you get a chance then eat at the Loveless Cafe. It was a super long wait, and worth every minute. A great experience.

          1. chmur

            I live in Nashville and it’s a great city.

            You can sometimes get into the Loveless without a wait if you go for lunch on a weekday. I recommend the fried chicken with creamed corn. Their creamed corn is amazing.

            If you want to try Nashville cuisine, you should check out hot chicken.

            If go to Jack’s BBQ, don’t go to the one on Broadway, go to the one on Charlotte. They don’t make the food at the Broadway location.

            If you want southern food, I also recommend Monell’s.

            If you’re staying downtown, I recommend the Capitol Grille in the Hermitage Hotel for something a little more upscale.

            Pretty much my favorite thing to do is eat, so if you want more any more recommendations, let me know.

            1. Random Reader

              Keep the recommendations coming! I love to eat too, so any suggestions are fine by me :) I’ve heard multiple people say the Pancake Pantry was amazing and I have to go- only downside is the wait.

              1. chmur

                The trick to going to the Pancake Pantry is to go more toward 11-1 than in the morning. Their pancakes are really good, but kindof expensive.

                My favorite restaurant here is 1808 Grille in the Hermitage hotel. I haven’t tried their spring menu, but their fall menu was amazing.

                I haven’t been to there, but Husk is supposed to be really good.

                If you’re looking for steaks, you could try Jimmy Kelly’s.

                For tourist stuff, go to the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau, then select Discounts and Deals, then select Special Ticket Offers, then select Total Access Pass. This is a great deal and covers most of the tourist stuff.

                Hope you have a great time!

                1. Kelly O

                  Pancake Pantry is totally worth it though.

                  xoxo,
                  Have not been to Nashvegas in ages…

            2. Vanilla Bean

              I live in Nashville (until next week, when I move back home -yay!) as well. Here are my recommendations:

              I really like the Loveless Cafe (get the biscuits). They have cute gift shops, too. Loveless is a HAUL from downtown though, just so you know.

              If you’re downtown, you should try Puckett’s for southern food – very good. Good BBQ and a smoked sausage and cheese plate.

              There’s a great ice cream place downtown as well – Mike’s Ice Cream. We took some friends there this past weekend and it was good.

              I went to Prince’s Hot Chicken (the most well-known hot chicken place in town) a few months back and it was alright. We had to wait about an hour and a half and IMO, it wasn’t worth it. Don’t get me wrong – the food was good, but not worth the wait. Plus, it’s in a really sketchy part of town.

              If you get the chance to visit downtown Franklin (just south of Nashville), you should go. It’s a really cute area. There’s also a great restaurant there (Gray’s on Main) that has AWESOME chicken and waffles. :)

              1. Vanilla Bean

                Oh and if you’re in East Nashville, check out Jeni’s Ice Cream – pricey and the line will be long but it’s pretty good.

                If you like cupcakes, the Cupcake Collection is phenomenal. My friend has these at her wedding recently and they were yummy.

              2. EE

                Puckett’s! I was in Nashville just before I got married and fulfilled a childhood dream of eating fried green tomatoes (though not at the whistlestop cafe) there. Delicious food!

                Nashville’s all about the music though, so make sure you don’t forget that.

          2. TheHRLady

            I live about 15 miles from the Loveless. If you are up that early and want breakfast, you can usually get right in before 9 am on Sunday. Enjoy your visit to Nashville:)

        2. Karowen

          I also have no recipes, just food suggestions: Check out The Pharmacy in East Nashville. There is always a line, but their burgers (especially chili burgers) are delicious. There’s also a place on Broadway, Robert’s, that my sister always recommends – you can get a moon pie, a PBR and a bologna sandwich for only $6! (That never seemed impressive to me, but she loves it.)

    2. matcha123

      I stopped eating vegetables when I started elementary school, but like you, I’m eating more of them these days.

      My go-to meals are usually:

      Thinly sliced scraps of beef that I cook in a frying pan with vegetable oil and a little bit of salt and pepper. I slice up some red and orange peppers and throw them in the pan, and then eat that with rice.

      “Buta-kimchi” which is a Japanese-Korean fusion type food. Thin slices of pork, with the fat still on the slices. Cooked in a frying pan with vegetable oil. Then I dump a bunch of kimchi on top of the pork and pour some sesame seed oil over everything, cook until the kimchi is hot and soft and eat it with rice.

      And finally, after eating the noodles out of Cup Noodle, I put a few scoops of cooked white rice into the soup, pour on Sriracha sauce, mix and eat. :9

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.

        This all seems awesome! I highly recommend using olive oil and/or coconut oil over vegetable oil, though. There are lots of indications that pressed seed oils (your corn, canola, etc) are really bad for you!

        1. S from CO

          I started using coconut oil in 2012 for baking and breakfast type foods/cooking because I heard of all the health benefits. It took a while and now I really enjoy it! I think it’s yummy on pancakes. :)

    3. thenoiseinspace

      I’m a total fruit bat, so all my favorite dishes are fruit-filled. My favorite recipes are ones that incorporate fruit into meat dishes – Malaysian and Moroccan recipes are particularly good for that, but my favorite is actually one I had in Budapest. It was a take on schnitzel – chicken breasts pounded and lightly coated in almond meal and slivered almonds, lightly fried and topped with fresh peaches that had been grilled and diced. Delicious!

      What kind of recipes are you looking for? More noodles, or veggie stuff, or desserts/random?

      1. Random Reader

        Random! I love meat and I’m definitely not a vegetarian. I think as I’ve gotten older I can appreciate more complex foods, whereas before it was all NOODLES! BURGERS! JUNK FOOD!

    4. Claire MKE

      Pasta primavera or homemade fried rice or stir fry are great ways to incorporate a lot of veggies easily. I like to do breakfast scrambles for dinner a lot too or make pita pizzas

    5. Celeste

      I highly recommend cooking blogs! Some favorites are Smitten Kitchen, Homesick Texan, Tea and Cookies, and Dinner: A Love Story.

      1. HMV

        I got a recipe from Homesick Texan for King Ranch Chicken. Delicious! It’s now one of mine and my husband’s favorite meals.

            1. Celeste

              One day on the blog she announced her book deal, and said to email if you would want to be a tester. It meant committing to cook and review within a week or so, in exchange for being named in the book and a copy of the book when it was published. Two years later she got a second book deal, and I agreed to do it again. It was fun! I had been a commenter on the blog for a while, so maybe that helps. Anyway, I had to learn a few new skills and I definitely found some things I’ve made again. Not all bloggers use recipe testers, but if you’re interested, it can’t hurt to speak up!

      2. Kelly O

        I have to add in a quick vote for Gina’s Skinny Recipes and and Shrinking Kitchen if you are looking for healthier alternatives.

    6. anon in tejas

      coconut curry is a really easy way to eat veggies and try somethign different.

      you need to get curry paste (green or red, avail at most major stores), soy sauce, fish sauce (avail at most major stores), coconut milk, brown sugar, protein (I use chicken), and veggies.

      Many recipes online, but you can use all sorts of veggies from greens to broccoli to peas to asparagus to stir fry mix (frozen) at the store.

      1. Eden

        For crockpot lovers who aren’t necessarily looking for health food*, I will share my cousin’s awesome crockpot chicken fettucine recipe–easiest thing ever to make and sooooo good!

        Put the following in your crockpot:
        Chicken breasts (I use 3 b/c that’s how they come, but more or fewer will work)
        1 stick butter
        1 package cream cheese
        1 can cream of chicken soup
        1 packet Good Seasons zesty Italian dressing mix

        Cook on low all day.** Make fettucine. Fork shred the chicken and mix the crockpot stuff with the noodles.

        *And I mean that in the “not at all” kind of way
        **I usually go from ~10-11 am to ~6 pm

    7. Amy B.

      I eat vegan so vegetables are about 60 -70 percent of my diet. One of my favorite dishes is Ratatouille. It is great over rice, or my favorite, quinoa. The recipe is simple and something I can throw together after a long day at the office.

      Big frying pan over medium heat.
      Cook some onions and garlic in olive oil until tender. (cook 5-7 min stirring occasionally)
      Add some thyme & cubed eggplant with skin on. (cook 5 min stirring occasionally)
      Add cubed zucchini, yellow squash and diced red peppers (cook 5 min stirring occasionally)
      Add diced tomatoes, fresh chopped basil, salt and pepper to taste (cook 5 min stirring occasionally)

    8. Ninja

      Best- Finally, our central air and heat system is now installed at home! No more window units!

      Worst- closed my pinkie in a folding chair (in the actual folding mechanism). I’m going to lose the nail and it is all black and blue! ouch

    9. AmyNYC

      If the Bluebird Cafe is a real thing and not made up for the show, I’d check that out!

    10. Vancouver Reader

      Check out Just One Cookbook if you like Japanese food (or if you just like to drool over gorgeous food pics) and I get a lot of inspiration by searching on Pinterest.

    11. Just Me

      I had just started looking, but hand’t been seriously focused in my search. A recruiter contacted me over linkedin, and six weeks later I’m on week two of the new job.

      Before you hate me–I’ve been seriously undervalued for a long time. I’m now working with a great team, actually be managed and developed (with serious plans in place), and getting paid what I am worth!

      Best of luck in your search. It’s such a difficult and stressful process; but it is worth it in the end.

    12. C Average

      If there is such a thing as the opposite of a foodie, I am it. If I could buy a fifty-pound sack of nutritionally complete people chow every month or so and just live on it, I totally would.

      My go-to lazy non-foodie’s recipe:

      Cut up a bunch of in-season veggies (my current go-to mix is asparagus, zucchini, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes. Toss them with olive oil. Take a salmon filet and brush it with olive oil. Put it on a sheet of tin foil on a cookie sheet and roast it in the oven at 425 until it smells done. (I think this takes about 15 minutes, but I’m honestly not sure, because I’m usually zoning out watching the Rachel Maddow Show while dinner cooks and I forget to watch the clock.)

      Eat up! Delicious, nutritious, and no dishes. Have some rice or couscous or quinoa or crusty bread or whatever other carbage you prefer along the side . . . and, of course, a glass of wine.

    13. Schuyler

      Random Reader, I hope you’ll check back in on another open thread and share anything cool you did in Nashville! I’m heading there in about a month and I am *super* excited. Have fun and be safe!

  4. BB

    I would like to make a rule that no one shall tell another person how great their job is and how lucky they should be to have it when they know nothing about it

    1. My Scintillating Pseudonym

      I work part time at a bookstore as my second job, and I can’t tell you how many people think that is the COOLEST EVAH. You can tell that they think you just get paid to read all day and drink free coffee from the cafe.

      1. Elkay

        I loved working in a children’s bookshop as a teenager but what I didn’t like was the parents who let their kids tear up the shop while smiling over them (the ultimate was the parent who helped their child scale the bookshelves). Also, the people who asked for recommendations for their very bright child who it nearly always turned out was at the standard reading age.

        1. De Minimis

          I worked at Borders for a while back on the early 00s. It got pretty tiring after a while. I enjoyed helping customers find books and keeping the store neat and organized, but hated the other parts of it…working in the music section, and running the cash register. Most of the negative customer interactions were at the cash register.

          1. LizNYC

            Former Borders worker here! I agree with the cash register, especially when people tried to use expired coupons or didn’t understand that it was one coupon per transaction and then yelled at me for it (like I made the rules). I loved being out on the floor, giving recommendations. I hated the headsets, though.

            1. De Minimis

              I think they started the headset thing not long after I left.

              My big complaint about the register were the people who would show up at 9 in the morning to buy a newspaper with a $100 bill. It was always this one guy…he wasn’t trying to pass a fake bill or anything, he just thought it was perfectly acceptable to do that and would always get irritated when I’d tell him I had to get a manager to get his change out of the safe.

              The store was located in a luxury mixed-use development so you had a lot of wealthy [or wannabe wealthy] people who were sometimes abusive to the staff. I still preferred it to the store I moved to later, neither the staff nor customer base really had an interest in books and the store was a complete mess. I quit not long after that.

          2. Allison

            I worked at Borders shortly before they closed, and while it wasn’t the worst job I’ve ever had, I didn’t exactly enjoy the register either. Those POS systems were so old and outdated, and we had to enter long coupon codes manually. Not to mention management would crawl up your butt if you didn’t meet quotas for reward card signups. They put me on magazine duty each week, and I liked getting to spend so much time working in the back room. Shame that job didn’t work out.

      2. Sascha

        I worked at a local coffee shop when I was 17 and it was definitely not what “Friends” had taught me coffee shop employment was like. :)

        1. Kelly L.

          Oddly, I actually liked coffee shop employment. I was pretty good at it and it wasn’t as gross as some of the other food-servicey jobs I’d had at the time (i.e. no fryer), and I got free coffee all the time. i doubt I could do it now, though, with my much older feet!

          1. C Average

            I spent a few years working at one of the busiest Starbucks in Portland, and it was actually really fun. I didn’t like the erratic schedule, but I enjoyed the caffeine-and-adrenaline-fueled camaraderie quite a bit.

            1. Sascha

              I did have fun with some of my coworkers, and making espresso and baked goods…but I had a terrible manager who took out her personal problems on the staff, and was also afraid of conflict, so she wouldn’t manage people. It was fun as a summer job for a teenager, not sure I would want to do it now!

      3. Liz

        I worked my university’s bookstore for 4 years. I only got a teeny tiny discount on books, since my store doesn’t actually mark them up all that much from the price they had to buy them at (I think it was roughly 20%. Compared to the clothes at a department store were it might be 200% that’s really not bad.) Golly gee how I loved getting b*tched at about the price of books. But my favorite part was being the target of their anger when the books were not worth much or anything at the end of the semester. I can tell you all the reasons why, but the main one is that no professors at our school or otherwise are telling the stores they will use that book next semester. That means no market for that book. That means we have no reason to buy it from you. Blame the publishers for coming out with a new edition every 8 months.

        1. De Minimis

          I used to just wait until the course was offered again if it was a book where I knew not much would be changed.

          I didn’t sell many books back in grad school–I either needed to keep the accounting books for reference, or they were tax related and had no value for the following year. Managed to sell a few business/marketing books though.

      1. fposte

        “Lucky” is obnoxious, but coolest job evah seems like a pretty innocent pleasantry to me, and I hate to stamp out innocent pleasantries.

        1. ArtsNerd

          I think a “wow, that sounds so cool!” is perfectly fine! But lots of people have really skewed ideas of what other careers are, and a lot of times that comes across as “you don’t know how good you have it” or pushing it a little too far in other ways.

          I personally suspect that the sexier the job title, the more messed up the reality of working it is, but the more you actually hear those kinds of comments. it can be rough putting on a happy face or finding a diplomatic remark when your work sends you home in tears every day.

        2. Vicki

          I think it’s like the “Dream job” threads. The job is always greened on the other side of the fence…

    2. Anonymous Educator

      Can we pair this with people who have never been teachers complaining that teachers are overpaid and have some kind of sweet gig by having the summers off?

      You think teaching is easy? Become a teacher.

      It’s rewarding, sure. But it is not easy!

      1. Sophia

        Who says teachers are over paid!? That’s crazy! IMO they’re one of the most underpaid professions!

      2. A Teacher

        Amen and that we “get paid for 12 months when we only work 9 months from 7:30-2:30” Actually I get paid for 186 days and they split my paycheck up over 12 months. Don’t know what’s going to happen to the pension that I have to pay into and fully fund myself because my district doesn’t fund it for us. I like my job a lot but easy isn’t what I’d call it, especially with Common Core; PARCC, and unfunded mandates down the drain pipe. Not to mention the Danielsen Model for evaluation.

      3. fposte

        I think in general it’s never cool to say negative things about somebody else’s job. I think innocently positive things are worthy of defense, though, even if it is just “Oh, I’d love to have summers off.” I think sometimes this taps into the busyness competition–we incline too far to thinking that people who like the sounds of our jobs think that they’re all glitter and roses when all they did was like the sound of it, and we feel like we’d be bragging or failing on the suffering front if we admitted that we did like some things about the job too.

      4. BB

        I think a lot of people feel they are underpaid and overworked. No one can know 1. what goes into another person’s job or 2. what they are being paid so ALL people really shouldn’t make comments about their job being harder or less hard than anyone else’s compared to what they make.

        Probably from loads of unreliable research/studies, the world has a totally skewed view of people’s jobs. Everyone assumes social workers are poor and all finance people are rich (I’m not saying that’s what you are saying- just a general view). I know lots of traders who are struggling and social workers who are living comfortable. Just using this as an example but I think a lot of my friends assume because I work in a profit making business, I must be making tons of money when in reality I make less than most of them- I only make half of what my teacher roommate makes. I’m not saying anyone is right in all of this- just saying we shouldn’t make assumptions about who’s job is better or more valuable when you don’t know anything about it

        1. fiat lux

          I’m a social worker, and you are right, people tend to make a lot of negative assumptions about my field. In my last job, I made decent money and had excellent benefits, hardly ever worked more than 40 hours a week, had supportive coworkers, etc. It’s a tough field, but fantastically rewarding, especially if you find a supportive workplace.

      5. Vicki

        My sister-in-law was a teacher, as was my stepmother-in-law. My Mom was a teacher before she had kids (and did substitute teaching after we were older).

        My sister taught 1st/2nd grade for one year and then went off to get a Masters and ended up in HR and then a PMO team.

        Teachers are by no means over paid. Hats off and a big thank you to anyone who sticks with it.

  5. Trixie

    How about some job hunting success stories? Looking for motivation on this lovely holiday weekend.

    1. LAI

      I am finishing my first week in a new job and I am SO happy! I realize it’s still the honeymoon phase but I love everything about it. My coworkers are friendly, hard-working and competent and my work is challenging and inspiring. My biggest tip would be to research carefully before you even apply and during the interview process, and don’t be afraid to say no to a job that isn’t the right fit for you (assuming that you can afford to, of course – I was searching while employed so I could afford to be picky and it took me about a year to find the right job).

    2. brightstar

      I looked for a job in my field for almost four years. During that time, I worked a variety of administrative and retail jobs to pay the bills. I spent hours daily following Allison’s advice, crafting individual cover letters, revamping my resume numerous times, and applying to jobs that were in my field and out.

      After 3 1/2 years of this, I am now in a job in my field that is going great! I honestly thought it might never happen, but it did. Part of it, I think, was moving back to my hometown where I had a stronger network and where job opportunities were stronger than the previous area I was in.

    3. ManderPants

      Don’t pass up applying on something just because you don’t think something will come of it. I got my job after a year of searching. I applied through a Simply Hired Simply Apply posting which is easy-peasy to apply to. And they contacted me back and now I work for a great family-business style company (they sold their family business to a corp, but retained the family business culture.)

      1. Ben

        Agree.

        I applied for my new job without thinking I’d have a chance.

        2 interviews later and I am now working out my notice period.

    4. Jennifer

      A friend of mine recently got a job after 2 years of unemployment and she says the people there are soooooooo nice. I’m jealous.

    5. littlemoose

      It took me a year and a half to find my job in my professional field, though (a) this began right when the recession hit in 2008, and (b) I had not yet found AAM and was doing a lot of things wrong. But I did eventually find my current job, which I love – I like the work, good benefits and work-life balance, and good coworkers. So hang in there! Good opportunities await! Best of luck to you.

    6. Golden Yeti

      My story isn’t finished yet. Still searching. But asking for feedback after an interview (where I hadn’t advanced) put me in semi-regular contact with one of the company honchos, and it’s looking like she may end up being a kinda sorta career mentor, which is cool. So it’s not success in landing a job per se, but it’s success in building a camaraderie that may lead to one later.

      Because I’m still in the thick of things, I’m actually wondering about something somewhat related: any tips on how to keep your game face (happy face) on at work when you’re already mentally checked out? I’m having more and more trouble pretending to care these days…Resting Bitch Face is becoming my normal office face, haha.

      1. Jazzy Red

        I know what you mean about it being hard to keep a smile on your face when all you can think about is escaping from your job/prison. Try to focus on doing your job really well, every single task. Make it part of your professional attitude – “I’m no slacker – I do things thoroughly and right!” Sometimes I would channel Alice (“must…control…fist…of…death”), and take enormous pride in myself when I was able to shrug off some the workaday cr@p.

        You *will* find a better job. You just don’t know when, or where. But trust that it will happen, and your present job will shrink in your memory and eventually fade away.

        Good luck!

      2. K

        Try to do something every day that is connected to your job search. It can be anything, even one task that is small and simple, but it’s still something that is going to help you get out of there.

        It’s also a good idea to make your time off work as pleasant as possible. Do things that make you happy and hang out with people who are supportive.

      3. Pip

        My number one motivator for staying fabulous even when I had decided to quit OldJob:

        Make those bastards miss you when you are gone!

      4. C Average

        Maybe try to keep in mind that temporary bad work behavior can calcify into habit? When you get into that new job, you don’t want to have to re-learn how to focus and demonstrate a good attitude and work ethic. You want those attributes to be sharp from constant use.

    7. Jen RO

      My horrible soon-to-be-ex coworker managed to get a new job, so there is hope for anyone if she managed this feat!

    8. TheSnarkyB

      I’ve got a success story for you!
      I’ve been feeling really upset that I only had time to apply to 8-10 jobs this year- it’s been my last semester of grad school and my goal was more like 30 but between the exhaustion and anxiety, it just wasn’t physically possible. But then I started getting responses and *somehow* had an incredible response rate. So from 10ish applications (with much networking), I got interviews at 3 and they all went really well.
      SO, in the past week, I’ve graduated with 2 Master’s degrees, and have received 2 job offers, and accepted one!! It’s my first professional job that’s actually in my field so I’m super excited. I’m really glad it turned out this way, even though I didn’t cast as wide a net as I should have, and I really think that the networking, the cover letters, and the interview prep really made this happen.
      Also, one other thing is that it’s part time and so I’ll prob. be back here for more tips on managing that and hustling for extra cash the rest of the days.

        1. TheSnarkyB

          both are in Psychological Counseling. It was a long program, so there’s an Ed.M. at the end and an M.A. en passant

    9. Jazzy Red

      My favorite job ever was in the 90’s. I got a call from HR saying that they were looking for an executive secretary. I was looking for a job as a department or division secretary, and I didn’t think I really had the skills for C-level, but I went to the interview anyway. I thought maybe if they liked me, they’d call me when they had an opening for a department secretary. Well, HR liked me and said they would call me for an interview with the Director. Weeks passed and I didn’t hear anything. I was disappointed, but I just kept up with my job search. After 6 weeks, they called and we set up an interview. I met with the Director and another executive secretary, and it seemed to go very well. HR said they would let me know if I got the job or not. Weeks passed, and again I didn’t hear anything, and again I just kept on with my job search. 6 weeks later, they called and offered me the job. I accepted and later I found out that my director did a lot of international travel, and was often gone for 4-6 weeks at a time. That’s what the holdup was both times. I was there for 13 months, and honestly, it was the best job and best boss I ever had. I guess I just need to be bitterly disappointed before something good happens to me!

    10. A.

      I was unemployed for 11 months before landing the job I have. Literally put in at least 50-60 applications, maybe went on 10 interviews, but finally landed a great full-time position with an excellent benefits package. Also, my organization just hired someone who’d been unemployed for 2 years. Keep the faith!

      1. Scuba Steve

        50-60 applications? in 11 months?

        When I was unemployed for four months I was putting in 10 per day, seven days a week with targeted resumes and cover letters. I have special skills and was willing to relocate and thus covered the entire USA and beyond.

        1. TheSnarkyB

          This is interesting because I’ve seen really varied numbers posted by people who’ve been unemployed for a long time.
          But I think the take-away for me is that job searching is really individual. For instance, in my field, I could be doing maybe 10 a day for 3 days, but after that stuff runs out and if I were still doing that many, I’d be doing something very wrong. And being willing to relocate, and having a field where that even makes sense, makes a huge difference.
          Quantity is not quality.

    11. Piper

      I got laid off last summer from a contracting job. Within a little over a month’s time, I had 4 job offers, three in different cities than the one I currently lived in. I took what seemed like the best of the bunch and while there is definitely some nuttery here, there’s also a lot of opportunity (specifically for me and what I do).

      I recently got together with someone who works at one of the companies where I turned down a job. It was my second choice job, so close that I waffled and lost several hours of sleep over trying to decide. She validated that I made the right decision by telling me about the nuttery I avoided by not taking that job. The nuttery there seems even crazier than what I deal with. And I’m convinced that there are no normal workplaces. They just don’t exist, at least in my experience.

      Best of luck to you in your job hunt!

    12. tereghan

      I’m three hours away from leaving my last day at a job that kept me as a temp for over a year (“temp-to-hire” my ass, they’ve had people temping here for over two years) and promised some sort of medical benefits, but didn’t deliver.

      On Tuesday I start a new job with more than a $2/hr raise, medical benefits, PTO *and* sick days, and actual room for advancement. I’ve been stunned by the speed and professionalism with which they conducted the entire interview and hiring process was conducted. Best of all my technical start date is Monday, even though it’s a holiday. Yes, my “first” day on the job is a (verified) paid day off!

    13. azvlr

      My success story: I just finished week three after being unemployed for just under a year! I had made a previous attempts to change career fields, but ended up signing next year’s contract because I wasn’t getting any nibbles. My first attempt was completely unfocused and I looking back, I realize how unqualified I really was. My second attempt came after an amazing internship and three semesters into my Masters program in which I discovered what I want to be when I grew up! I kept hearing “You don’t have enough experience.” so I created evidence of my experience and linked my resume to the work I created. I posted it on my LinkedIn page and someone fairly high up in my new company noticed. They reached out to ME! After a lengthy and nail-biting interview process, I was finally hired. I love my new company, the people and how opposite it is from all the nightmares I read about on here! As an added bonus: my new office is a six minute WALK from home!

  6. Sunflower

    I’m an event planner and we hand out evaluations after all our events where attendees can rate parts of the event on a 1-5 scale, 1 being unsatisfied and 5 being very satisfied. There is a section to rate event location, space and events staff- i choose the location and space and obviously I am the staff. For most of my events, I receive almost all 5’s, some 4’s, very rare 3’s and have never received a 2 or 1. How do you think I should put this on my resume? Should I calculate it or just speak generally in terms of attendees satisfaction?’

      1. Sunflower

        Attendees can go anywhere from 25-150 people at each event. At these events, I’m basically a client service person for 2 full days. Any problems they have or stuff they need, I’m the go-to. I also just make sure the event runs smoothly.

    1. thenoiseinspace

      I think it might mean more as a comparative. If you have the numbers, could you say something like “consistently ranked in the top 10% of planners by event attendees,” etc? Without knowing more about the group, it seems very possibly that nobody gets a 1 or a 2, so I wouldn’t really know how you rank. (Not trying to be rude – sorry if it sounds that way!)

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

        yes – I think you need to put it in context for them. Do you know how you did in comparison to others? Is there some other way you could show that your scores were really exceptional?

    2. anon in tejas

      This is how I would frame that information:

      regularly receives highest marks/praise on anonymous post-event surveys for organizing X events for total number of Y participants over the course of Z

      (off the top of my head)

    3. MaryMary

      I’d do the math and express it as a statistic. “90% of attendees are very satisifed with their experience and 100% report being very satisifed, satisfied, or neutral.”

    1. Sunflower

      Best- I got to go to So Cal this week for work and stay in a beautiful resort. Also got to see some friends out there (I’m on the east coast). This week ended up flying by and I’m going to the beach for the weekend!

      Worst- I barely got to go outside because I was stuck inside working all day. And I had to come to work right after taking the red-eye home. Plus I didn’t really get any professional development outside of work done.

      I’m calling this week A WIN!

    2. Anoners

      Best – New bad girls club season started (guilty pleasure)
      Worst – Waking up early every AM.

      1. Connie-Lynne

        Best – Someone else watches BGC!
        Worst – Mentee having an emotionally hard week and not being able to offer much more than sympathy.

    3. a.n.o.n.

      Worst: Still in the wrong job.
      Best: CEO of the other company wants to talk as soon as I close on my new house. :)

      1. a.n.o.n.

        Another Best: Finished the final dental appointment for my root canal and crown. Got my shiny new crown yesterday!

      2. chewbecca

        Best – I got a new dress that I wore to work on Tuesday. It had pockets that I didn’t know about when I ordered it!

        Worst – Went to the eye doctor yesterday and they decided my astigmatism is weak enough that we’re trying not correcting it with my contacts, so my brain is trying to re-learn how to see without the correction. My left eye has felt funny since.

        1. Someone Else

          OGM, dresses with Pockets are the best, and surprise pockets are even better, my favorite dresses have pockets in them. I even looked for a wedding gown with pockets.

          1. chewbecca

            I know! I’m hoping that whatever wedding gown I find has pockets. My fiance didn’t understand why I was so excited when I tried it on and discovered said pockets. I think his exact reaction was “….okay?”.

            1. Persephone Mulberry

              I would think that you can almost certainly have pockets added, as long as the skirt isn’t a skintight sheath.

              1. LV

                My wedding dress had pockets too. The staff at the shop where I ordered it didn’t know that, and they told me when I came in for my fitting that they had initially panicked, thinking that the openings for the pockets were tears in the skirt!

              2. Cath in Canada

                My husband wore a kilt for our wedding, and he loved the sporran so much! He said it was way better than pockets. I think this is a “the grass is always greener” situation, because I’d prefer it if more women’s clothes had usable pockets.

                I offered to buy him a nice leather shoulder bag, but he decided it would result in way too much teasing from his friends.

                1. Connie-Lynne

                  My sister knitted a giant over-the-shoulder bag for my husband. He takes it everywhere because it’s small when nothing’s in it, but the yarn is stretchy and expands.

                  He gets nothing but compliments from cashiers!

            2. Annie

              YAY POCKETS! Boys don’t get the pocket thing because ALL OF THEIR CLOTHES HAVE POCKETS. They always have a casual place to put their hands and their stuff, but we (okay-I) always end up with my phone, ID, & cash/card in my bra and my hands on my hips so I look bossy or like a sorority girl in all the pictures… ::ugh::
              That’s to say my brothers & ex-boyfriend didn’t get it either and it took showing them my work pants and dresses for them to get it.

              1. Jazzy Red

                Brothers! I once told my brothers that I had locked my purse in my car, and had to go into a store and use their phone to call my sister to come with a spare key. They said “well, don’t you have a spare key in your wallet?” and I said, “yes, it was in the purse that was locked in the car”.

                It’s kind of a relief to find out other brothers are rather clueless, too.

        2. chewbecca

          Addendum – I’m wearing my Karen Hallion designed Doctor Who/Sleeping Beauty shirt today.

          We also get to see some friends we haven’t seen in waaaay too long tonight and play games. They’ve requested Elder Sign, so it looks like we’re going to be battling The Ancient Ones tonight.

          1. Al Lo

            I have 6 of Karen Hallion’s Disney princess/Who prints on my living room wall, and just ordered another 6 steampunk princess prints for a different wall. Love.

            (And I also have the Cinderella/Who t-shirt. But today I’m wearing the Doctor Who selfie shirt from Teefury.)

          1. Eden

            I’m going to lend a dissenting voice, because I will actively reject skirts or dresses with side-seam pockets. I don’t need to look any hippier than I already am. Having said that, patch pockets rule.

          2. Daisy

            I sometimes want to invest in having pockets sewn into any dress I buy. Dress with pockets is clothing perfection! =)

    4. Virginian

      Best: my boss thinks I’d be good for a position that will be opening soon.

      Worst: It’s been a very slow week.

    5. Elkay

      Worst – getting home from work on Monday and going straight to bed as a sobbing mess due to work stress

      Best – hopefully the beer festival tomorrow (weather permitting)

      1. Jazzy Red

        I’m from Wisconsin. We never let weather get in the way of drinking beer. Who cares if the tent is blowing away?

    6. LBK

      Best: Leaving at noon today to go up to Maine for the weekend! Woo hoo!

      Worst: Dealing with my increasingly frustrating coworker. Honestly, if this guy doesn’t get fired soon he’s probably going to make me quit. How stupid is it that I’d actually leave a job because of one person? Probably really stupid, but he drives me insane.

      1. nep

        Wow. Drag. What is it about the coworker that affects you? Is he doing something that ends up hampering your own performance?

    7. C Average

      Best: met with a job-seeker who’d sought out networking help from me and it went really well. She’s smart and receptive to feedback. I think I can help her shore up some skills and then navigate the application process here.

      Worst: I am in charge of maintaining the internal known issues list for the experiences and devices my team supports, and there are about 20 new ones after Wednesday’s site deployment. Ugh. Bugs, bugs, bugs.

    8. Felicia

      Best: I went to the drop in no commitment choir last night, and after learning the song, we went outside to sing! Singing in a big group always makes me happy, but doing it on busy downtown street (College, for anyone familiar with Toronto) was amazing! Our impromptu audience was appreciative.

      Worst: Friend I made plans with tonight decided to ditch me at the last minute without even an excuse. I hate when people do that and it seems to be happening more frequently

    9. Sascha

      Best: had a flat tire, thought I was going to have to replace it, got it repaired for free! (for a Dodge Ram, them tires are expensive)

      Worst: After many days of back and forth with a DBA about a query at the company that hosts our major online course application, I finally provided a script to the DBA and said, RUN THIS EXACTLY, and it will give me what I need. He ran a completely different script and said, is this what you need? No, no it is not. *facepalm*

    10. Cath in Canada

      Worst: my end-of-year finance report for the main grant I manage looks like it’ll be late through no fault of my own – one of the institutions involved is having IT problems and won’t be able to generate their part of the data until the day of the deadline. First item on today’s to-do list: negotiate a deadline extension.

      Best: I finally got the missing information I need for the scientific progress report for the same grant, after a pretty long wait. The person who had to send the information apparently got bored on his long flight to Ottawa this week and wrote his section up on the flight.

      Oh, and my colleague and my brother-in-law both got back from trips to the UK this week (separate trips, although they ended up on the same return flight), and both of them brought me some of my favourite British junk food! Galaxy chocolate and Walker’s smoky bacon crisps FTW!

    11. Claire MKE

      Best: Settling into my new role and feeling very stable & satisfied in my professional growth for the first time in a long time

      Worst: After working non-stop to finish two huge projects right after I started, it’s been slowwww

      1. Claire MKE

        And non-work best, finally ordered a skirt I’d been eyeing for a long time and I LOVE IT

    12. CollegeAdmin

      Best: I started going to the gym, and I feel AWESOME. Aside from the obvious health benefits of being active, I’m watching less television (not home to do it!) and working off job-related stress.

      Worst: It’s a toss-up between yesterday’s train wreck of a meeting about our website and getting a $400+ quote to get my trapped snug piercing removed. (I ended up doing a little DIY surgery on the piercing – kids, don’t try this at home! – and am now doing warm salt soaks. This sucks.)

        1. CollegeAdmin

          So this is a snug piercing: http://i.imgur.com/4e6CC.jpg

          Mine is/was stuck in my ear – the skin grew over one end of it, like how skin will grow over a splinter. I managed to get it so the end isn’t covered anymore, but it’s still swollen and unhappy.

          1. Jazzy Red

            Oh, OK. I couldn’t imagine what a snug was, but that’s cool enough that I would consider having one.

            1. CollegeAdmin

              It’s definitely an interesting piercing, but I wish I’d know 2 1/2 years ago when I got it how tough it is to heal and take care of. I also have a daith piercing and a two-point spiral helix (see links) on my other ear, and I haven’t had any problems with either. I’m going to try to heal the snug and then take it out – it’s not worth the hassle to me.

              Daith: http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lubkj4VkcK1r1exze.jpg

              Two-point spiral helix: http://www.piercingtime.com/images/238/spiral-piercing-on-right-ear-cartilage.jpg

              1. Glor

                Oooh, I like the spiral. Yours is higher than mine is, but mine’s a 3-point. Well, technically four if I included my second lobe piercing — the piercer sized/measured it like that so it could be expanded if I want.

                How long did it take to heal it?

                1. CollegeAdmin

                  That photo isn’t my ear, just a general Google search – mine’s a tad lower. I’ve never seen one low enough to be able to include a lobe pierce, though.

                  Surprisingly, it didn’t take too long to heal – few months, maybe? I got it done in the fall of 2011, right around the time I got the snug done. I sleep on the side with the snug, though, so it’s saved the spiral from issues and only compounded problems with the snug.

        2. Payroll Lady

          I think it is also called a Dermal piercing. It’s the one that sits just under the skin, and the skin grows around it so all you see is the stud. Should actually be taken out by an MD.

          1. CollegeAdmin

            Nope, not a dermal – the piercing has a curved barbell with 2 distinct ends for jewelry, not a single point.

    13. Eden

      Best: I drafted what I thought was a terrible letter for my boss and she used it pretty much verbatim. Usually I get the final copy and not a syllable is used from my draft. Win!

      Worst: Rampant anxiety about upcoming home inspection on 74-year-old home not in terrific shape. We know it will be a fixer-upper if we decide to actually purchase it, but I’m worried inspection will find that it should be condemned. Aged owners can’t afford to do much so may have to walk away if it needs tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of work.

    14. Lamington

      Best: Long weekend and going out of town

      Worst: Dealing with insurance after car wreck

      1. De Minimis

        Best: Long weekend.

        Worst: Had a really rough time with the monthly budget report this month. My managers aren’t financial people and just want to spend money without worrying about the impact of it. There’s also a major flaw in our communication as far as letting finance know about new hires and pending hires. Last year it was not an issue because there wasn’t a lot of turnover/hiring, but this time it is causing a problem, and they act like we are supposed to know information we have no way of finding out about. I try to explain the problem and they just don’t get it….

        Just being ground down by this place, but I have to stay until I find something else comparable. Haven’t heard anything about the position with the other agency, don’t really expect to. If I don’t get that position, I’ll probably have to commit to staying here at least another year. I’m basically living for the time when I’ll be able to apply for internal federal jobs and we can finally move to another part of the country. It’s still over a year away….

    15. en pointe

      Best – Tuesday was my birthday, and this weekend is my party. But my party theme has neither CEOs nor hoes (promise). Instead, it’s meant to be kind of silly – “What’s in your Wardrobe?” Basically, I’ve just told people to wear the weirdest thing they own.

      Worst – hmmm, don’t really have one. I guess too many early mornings.

      1. nep

        ‘Wear the weirdest thing they own’ — what a cute idea. That should be fun. Happy celebrating.

    16. anon in tejas

      BEST: my partner is done with school for the semester, so this week we got to spend a lot more time together and he was SO much less stressed

      WORST: I went to conference last weekend, got back home late on Monday and had to go to work Tuesday morning. It feels like no break/downtime/weekend. I am exhausted.

    17. Amanda

      Worst: starting Monday morning at 7 am with two clients absolutely losing their minds via email over a tiny, tiny problem that was fixed within five minutes.

      Best: got engaged on Tuesday night!

      1. chewbecca

        Congratulations! I’ve been engaged for about 3 months and it’s still kind of surreal. Best of luck!

    18. Mimmy

      Best: Got my sunglasses back!!

      Worst: Nearly missed a site visit yesterday because the bus broke down before getting to my bus stop! Thank goodness my husband was home and could come by and take me to the agency himself.

      1. Mimmy

        Just thought of another worst: Our contractor, who’s doing wall work in our laundry room, accidentally tore a small section of our gutters backing into our driveway. He did immediately own up to it, but it still stinks.

    19. thenoiseinspace

      Worst: Nasty case of the flu, badly sprained ankle, and a nail in a tire.

      Best: My ankle isn’t fractured (as we thought it might have been), I’ve got a lead on a great possible apartment for my upcoming move (it even has a cat!), and X-Men comes out today.

      1. C Average

        Rough week–I’m sorry.

        Did I just read that you have a lead on an apartment that includes a cat? Is this a thing? If it’s not, it should be.

        1. thenoiseinspace

          Yeah, not my best week, but not nearly as bad as it could have been.

          Haha yes! I’d be renting a room in an apartment with a friend of a friend who has a cat. I love cats but don’t know if I could afford to really take care of one right now, so finding an apartment that already has one is perfect! And it’s got, you know, laundry and a kitchen and stuff, but I’m more excited about the cat. I’ll be checking it out in about a week, so fingers crossed!

    20. LizNYC

      BEST: Yesterday was the first day I haven’t been totally slammed at work in three weeks so I actually had time to eat lunch and do things like use the restroom without feeling stressed.

      WORST: My house is still in a state of carnage because we’re trying to pack / paint / stage in anticipation of putting it on the market. Every room needs one or two more things done to it before it’s “finished,” so it just feels like neverending chaos.

    21. Mallory

      Best: the academic year is over, so with the faculty mostly gone I’ve been able to catch up on my backlog of admin paperwork

      Worst: With all the faculty and students gone for the summer and it being so nice outside, it is really, really hard to come back to work after lunch out!

      1. Mallory

        Also best/worst: My boss will often not come in to the office unless I schedule work time for a specific task.

        Best: I’ve been avoiding overtly summoning him here because I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to work on what *I* want to work on.

        Worst: I think that decision may slightly backfire on me when he notices that he hasn’t been as productive this week as he should have been. It’s going to be my fault.

        Oh well. No regrets :-)

          1. Mallory

            So, I’ve been working for him for about five years. He is head of our university department, plus he has his own business just across town, and he gets invited to lecture at different state and regional conferences for his profession and at different universities. So he travels A LOT. He has so-called office hours, but a lot of times he will prioritize workload items from one of his other jobs over that if we don’t schedule specific work items. It usually works out (he knows what he needs to do, and I’m his second brain). This semester we were unusually busy and I got behind on some of *my* administrative stuff, so this week I worked on that stuff and let the “second-brain” duty slide a bit. We’ll get his stuff done on time, I just wanted the luxury (ha) of doing some of my work.

            Is that dynamic still weird? It’s been more or less how we’ve worked for the past several years. I just roll with it.

            1. C Average

              It seems odd to me. I would have a really hard time taking charge of my boss’s task list! I can’t even imagine what that would be like.

              1. Mallory

                He told me when he became my boss that I would need to manage him because he’s so busy. So we talk (either in person, by cell, or text) so that I have a complete understanding of everything that’s on his calendar and what he needs to accomplish within a certain amount of time. And then it’s my job, with my understanding of his calendar and what he needs to get done, to schedule the work time and get the necessary parties lined up on his calendar for him. For this past week’s work, I was one of the main “necessary parties”, and I felt double-booked with all the stuff of my stuff I needed to do plus working with him on stuff he needed to do. So I prioritized myself and let him slide a little.

                1. Mallory

                  And I just returned from his downtown office, where I laid out to him what I had prioritized over what the past week or so, and why. We went over what we still have to do by a July 1 deadline, and picked out some times in between his lecture circuit travels, his private business priorities, etc. to get it all done. I was worried that he would be irritated about what I prioritized and what I let slide, but we’re totally on the same page again now.

          2. Mallory

            He was made department head so that he could use his connections to bring to our program to greater national prominence. Some people thought his talents might be better aimed at the deanship and that the department headship might be better defined as more of a workhorse position . . . but what we have going on right now is a head who is nationally respected and prominent, but isn’t as around for the day-to-day stuff as another person in that position would be. Everyone has had to work harder (especially me, it seems, as his assistant) and a lot of people are ready for a head who will sit at his desk everyday and be a daily presence. I think we’ve accomplished most of the big-picture items we set out to accomplish, but some of the everyday administrative stuff has been tougher.

    22. Someone Else

      Best: A finalist for a promotion at work in my department :) SO proud of myself. (Sounds like the job will most likely be mine, but you never have the job until you have the job, Thanks AAM)

      Worst: Diagnosed with two kidney stones Monday night at the ER. :( On Friday they are still refusing the vacate the premisis no matter how many time I try to evict them.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        This is probably inappropriate to share, but I originally read that as “refusing to vacate the penis.” Which actually seemed like it might fit with the rest of your sentence but I was still surprised by the over-share.

        1. C Average

          Huh, huh. What rhymes with “Beavis?” (Yes, I am well in touch with my inner twelve-year-old boy.)

    23. Anonymint

      Best: Partner got a clean bill of health after several years of unidentifiable chest pains (possibly fixed after he started taking Vitamin D and reducing his stress levels – Vitamin D is the best if you have an office job and don’t get outside much) AND I got assigned to a new project at work that is aligned with my personal interests!! We also finally got our apartment sprayed for bugs just in time to open all the windows for some gorgeous weather.

      Worst: Funeral for a friend who passed away unexpectedly over the weekend (which prompted partner to go get himself checked out). :-(

    24. Anna

      Best: Busy week complete with a student fashion show is ending and there’s a three day weekend, one day of which will be spent tasting whiskey at a local distillery.

      Worst: Before I taste whiskey, I have to meet a friend for coffee and have an awkward conversation.

    25. A Non

      Best: teaching a coworker how to set up a domain controller! I enjoy teaching when the student has the right level of background knowledge and is excited to learn.

      Worst: trying to balance useful sympathy with unhelpful complaining. Time to work hard on some mindfulness stuff, I think.

    26. louise

      Worst: Customer yelled at me over something was truly a small matter and easily resolved. Did not listen to how I said we would solve the problem and called my boss (who is the owner) ranting about the problem and that I refused to fix it. Boss believed her and chewed me out for being uncooperative (I really wasn’t! I had stayed calm and explained how we would resolve but customer just wanted to be upset!).

      Best: Someone who works with the ranting customer called me to say “I understand someone connected with us unnecessarily escalated something that I believe was a small problem and that I understand you are already in the process of fixing. Please know that she does not represent us and I hope this does not reflect on our business as we would like to continue working with you.” Sweet vindication! I told her no, it certainly does NOT reflect, and in fact, I was thinking how sorry I feel for the people who have to work with her regularly. If this is her reaction over small things that are easily resolved, I can’t imagine how she reacts to more serious things!

    27. Kelly L.

      Worst: People being racist idiots in my local fandom circles.

      Second best: FINALLY was able to resolve a crazy Gordian knot of bureaucracy that’s been consuming me at work for about 3 weeks.

      Best!: Long weekend, boyfriend’s birthday, we’re going to see a play in a park and drink ALL THE CIDER and have lots of fun.

    28. Elizabeth West

      Worst: two rejections (eh).

      Best: have five days off coming up (we have to use our PTO up before the end of the fiscal year; we’re only allowed 40 hours rollover). I’ll be de-cluttering, skating, writing, and will have to do something for my birthday next Wednesday. I’m also going to go through all my clothes and get rid of anything that doesn’t fit/is old and crappy, and repair/polish everything that is still good. Oh, and learn how to tie scarves. I never wear them but I have some really nice ones and I’d like to try it.

      1. Ali

        Best: Got the support of my boss to apply for an internal position. (I talk about that down the comment thread, so I won’t rehash the story.)

        Worst: Missed out on one of the biggest hockey games of my team’s season because of work and had to read about how much fun all my friends had. Hate social media envy!

        1. Annie

          Best: Job lead from a resume I sent to a friend months ago- got passed along to a friend of hers who sent me the application late yesterday.

          Worst- was sent a job lead from the county workforce group and it was so vague that I was extremely under-qualified and embarrassed that the staffing agency (who I have an active account with) emailed me with an ” we have your information but you’re not qualified” email… which made me feel like an idiot for even emailing them to send me for it.

    29. SD Cat

      Best: Volunteering for an afternoon at a golf tournament outside in really nice weather with friendly fellow volunteers
      Worst: Almost getting a part-time job (before they got some free interns at the last minute)

    30. Jill-be-Nimble

      Worst: Hate my temp job and they just extended me for two months.

      Best: Got my amazing comments back from AAM on my resume and have been revamping it to very good effect. Wrote to some old supervisors so they could help me figure out some “successes” I should add to it–and got some really nice comments back! It was a nice little ego-boost that will carry me into the next round of apps. I’m taking these two months of steady paycheck and really hitting the job market with refreshed, super-charged materials and attitude.

    31. ExceptionToTheRule

      Worst: crawling around on the (very dirty, very gross) studio floor scraping masking tape off of it, so I could spend the week putting up a set for two debates we’re hosting next week.

      Best: I’m on vacation for 11 days at 5:30pm.

    32. Persephone Mulberry

      BEST: Our housing plans are finally coming together. We had TWO rental applications approved (after having three rejected), signed a lease, and got our current landlord to extend our move out date by two weeks. We’re still homeless for a month, but at least it’s after school is out.

      Also: THREE DAY WEEKEND! A coworker had a “family emergency” today. Hmm. (Of course, if she really did, I’m going to feel bad for that comment.)

      WORST: Nothing jumps out, except as a previous poster mentioned, the weather has finally been gorgeous and I haven’t had a chance to get out and enjoy it at all.

      May has been a very up and down month.

    33. De (Germany)

      Worst : spending hours looking for a problem where there was none because a software tester gave me some wrong information.

      Best : the whole department moved offices this week. 9 instead of 40 developers in an office (I ended up in the largest, most are 3 or 4 people)! Being able to look out of the window! 15 minutes less of a commute each way!

    34. literateliz

      Best: My supervisor (who gives me amazing feedback, but is usually a little gruff and not very generous with the compliments) told me I did a great job on an awkward conversation I had to have with a freelancer about his work. Also, long weekend!

      Worst: I proofread a book of writing prompts that should have been simple, but had a bunch of inconsistencies, and the editor told me I couldn’t fix them because “the copyeditor put a lot of thought into it and wanted it that way for emphasis” (I don’t want to go into too much detail and I know reasonable people can disagree on these things but there was really no reason for it). Still a really cool project to work on (and I fixed a lot of other things), but that drove my OCD brain crazy!

      1. C Average

        Ugh, that would drive me crazy, too. And that seems like a thing just about guaranteed to madden a decent percentage of the target audience for a book of writing prompts. Writers notice this stuff!

    35. Mints

      BEST: I get a half day today and I’m finishing my costume for my first ever cosplay (TOMORROW)

      WORST: I’m getting paralyzing procrastination and I’m worried it looks terrible

        1. Mints

          Haha thanks for the laugh as I panic! I don’t know why I did so badly at this. I haven’t been so nervous at the mountain of work looming since college finals

    36. Elizabeth

      Worst: Our unbilled accounts receivable is 4x what it has ever been at its highest point, because of changes we’re making to our billing processes. We don’t know how long it will take to get all of the changes in place so that we can actually bill everything. Guess who is responsible for the technical work behind all of the changes.

      Second worst: Yesterday, I let my mouth start talking at the same speed my brain works at (very rare), and I completely confused everyone in a meeting. Upside: At least 2 people in the meeting understood what I was talking about, and they were able to confirm that what I was saying was a workable solution to a problem, if we could get it to test out.

      Best: I’m wearing a dress & shoes today that make me feel extremely confident & in charge of the world. Done deliberately because I decided not to wear pantyhose today for the first time since I was in high school, and I knew I needed an extra boost with the bare legs.

      1. C Average

        The power of the right kind of short-skirt-long-jackety outfits is really astounding sometimes, isn’t it?

    37. SaraV

      Worst: Found out our auto insurance won’t be renewed next month. Didn’t know roadside assistance calls counted as full-blown claims. :/
      Best: Parents are headed into town for my birthday weekend extravaganza. :) And, a very favorable forecast for this weekend

    38. Jen RO

      Best: Stupid coworker quit without the boss having to drag her through a PIP! Which was the cherry on top of a generally good week at my new-old job (came back a week ago, after 9 months in another comapny). I am getting my boss’s support in all the things I want to implement!

      Worst: Stayed at work until 8 pm on Tuesday because of a stupid software problem that is probably unsolvable (a bug in the Adobe software we use), but which might have a big impact on customers.

    39. Rat Racer

      Best: After weeks of brainstorming am finally able to put some structure around the new white paper I need to publish in June

      Worst: Honestly, no one really cares about said white paper except me. Am trying to figure out how to bring value to my job, and not getting much help from my boss.

      Other worst: the dog ate a bunch of insulation and barfed on the porch AND I had to yank some out of his butt while we were on a run. He is lucky that he is such a sweetheart because he is seriously about as smart as a bucket of rocks.

    40. Julie

      Best: Getting an interview and follow-up interview with a possible new employer
      Worst: My boss at current employer chickening out of having a real talk about my future with the current place. I’d like to give him right of refusal but he’s making me realize he doesn’t care as much I do about what I do.

    41. Emily, admin extraordinaire

      Worst: Not sleeping well all week, and consequently having a lovely headache every day when I wake up.

      Best: I went to a Dave Ramsey live event last week, and one of the sponsors had a drawing for $1000. I got a call today– I WON. I never win anything! I’m going to use the money toward paying off my last student loan, which means I’m $500 away from being COMPLETELY DEBT FREE!!! Woohoo!!

      1. TL

        WOOHOO!!!
        I have a little under $15,000 left but every time I reach a significant milestone I feel like partying!
        Congrats!

      2. C Average

        That is AWESOME!

        With significant help from Dave Ramsey’s books and podcasts, I got out of debt a few years back. It felt so amazing. Congratulations on getting there, too, especially even sooner than you’d hoped. It’ll be a great feeling.

        I don’t love all of Dave’s politics, but I think the kind of help he gives to everyday people with everyday finances is truly inspiring.

    42. ThursdaysGeek

      Best: my week started while I was still on vacation, and got to hold my sister’s baby goats. They were less than a week old, all sweet and soft, and just starting to get bouncy and jumpy.

      Worst: I’m back and work, and I can’t figure out how to make this dumb aging report age properly with my changes.

    43. Sara

      Worst: found out my insurance was terminated because I didn’t renew in time even though I had NEVER received anything from them. Then spoke to a state representative to obtain health insurance and she kept giving me the wrong information and was extremely rude, condescending and finally hung up on me. What makes me sad is that I know if I had ever psoken to someone like this I’d be fired asap…..but the people in these job situations…will never get fired or disciplined.

      And then I learn more and more about health insurance and the staggering amounts of $$$ that have to be paid and it’s left such a bad taste in my mouth…esp bc when I first heard about Obamacare a few years ago I was all for it.

      Being a clumsy person, I was running for the bus and I tripped and fell face first in the middle of the street. Thankfully nothing more than a few scrapes and an aching knee, but it was 1. humiliating and 2. scary as hell, aka what if there’d been a car?

      Best? I’m going to have to think about that one…..

      1. Vancouver Reader

        I hope the day/weekend gets better for you. I’ve made it a policy never to run for a bus, a girl from high school got killed running for a bus and that scared me away from doing it ever again. That and I hate running.

    44. Anonylicious

      Best: my vacation time for next month got approved.

      Worst: It is so cold in my office that I might die of hypothermia before I get to take my vacation.

      1. Carrie in Scotland

        Worst: my best work friend and colleague managed to tear a calf muscle whilst on lunch break – she might be off for weeks. Also not good is trying to revise for an upcoming exam when all I want to do is…anything else. Oh and a new colleague at work seems very highly strung – drama, drama.

        Best: coffee with a friend, picking out lots of cute thank you cards for my team, being appreciated at work, only having 7 working days left of this job.

          1. Fish Microwaver

            Torn calf muscles are no fun but shouldn’t keep someone off work for weeks. She should be able to hobble into the office by Monday.

    45. KC

      Best – Took Thursday off to drive a speaker down to my Alma Mater. Had a fantastic reunion with my college adviser and the speaker was really interesting (which is good when you’re stuck in a car together for 3 hours!). I befriended the speaker and now have a really new, interesting acquaintance in my home town!

      Worst – The meeting I’m sitting in RIGHT now.

    46. Piper

      Best – It’s Friday afternoon and I’ve got a three-day weekend coming. Also, we launched a new product that I was heavily involved in designing and so far, it’s been a smashing success.

      Worst – One of my dogs was sick with tummy troubles this week and had me up several nights in a row. After a trip to the vet, she’s feeling much better.

    47. KarmaKicks

      Worst: Getting a rejection notice for the first job I’ve applied to in 17 years. At least I got interview experience!

      Best: Hearing my baby’s heartbeat and getting the crib put together. Hubby and I – 1, Crib – 0, no causalities. Yay!

    48. AnAmy

      Worst: Found out I need to find $15,000 for a new roof.
      Best: Cats. I’ve got lots of cats.

    49. Ninja In-Training

      Best – My promotion to manager was finally announced…very excited and a little nervous but I know this is what I want and I am going to do everything I can to be a successful manager

      Worst – Getting feedback I feel was a bit undeserved right before the end of the day yesterday…my boss took my asking about my official start date during the announcement as me putting her on the spot as the official date is not yet known due to HR holding things up. It really wasn’t meant that way. I assumed since it was being announced that she had been given a date and honestly don’t think it was a big deal! Apparently in my boss’ eyes it’s an indication that I need to work on my professionalism & timing! Ughh

    50. Kelly O

      I’m skimming over the worst. It’s an attempt to always look on the bright side of life.

      Best – Seeing how excited my 3.5 year old daughter was about taking dinner to a friend’s house. The mom is a friend of mine and was recently diagnosed with Lyme Disease and is just starting treatment. Their daughter is about a year and a half older than Sarah, and when I told Sarah we were taking them dinner, she was all excited and wanted to help me get something.

      She was also very, very excited to carry the bread and one bag herself, and give it to them all by herself. Because “I love my Harper, Mommy.” It was too stinking cute.

    51. Skye

      Best: Got a raise! WOO!

      Worst: My cat’s kidneys are getting worse and I get to put him on special medicine now. :(

    52. OfficePrincess

      Best: I’m getting married in two weeks and finally have the seating chart DONE!
      Worst: Our director is visiting our site next week so all of this week was spent on self-preservation. In fact, I’m going in to work tomorrow and Sunday just to clear up a few more things so he has less to complain about (wishful thinking).

    53. Windchime

      Worst: It’s been gloomy and rainy most of the week and is supposed to be that way for the weekend as well.

      Best: It was my birthday yesterday, so I got special treatment all day. It ended with cocktails and crab cakes for happy hour!

    54. Sabrina

      Best: Had 3 phone interviews, one resulted in a second with the manager and one asked me for a face to face.

      Worst: I have this feeling that I’m being blamed for problems one of my clients is having with us. The problems started before I took them on, and are largely due to either issues they created themselves or other departments inability to communicate. No one has said it’s my fault, but I get the sense that I’m being excluded from stuff so I don’t mess it up more.

  7. Clinical Social Worker

    I’m linking helpful entries of your blog for a support group online that helps people cope with toxic work environments. Someone posted a link to being bullied in the work place, by a Dr. Namie, have you heard of this Alison? I think one thing he suggests you do is to out the bully and talk to people about it. I think this conflicts some with your advice, what do you think? Here’s his website:
    http://www.workplacebullying.org/

    1. Jess

      Ooh, I hope she answers. I would be interested in reading the response and ensuing discussion.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Will you give me the basic summary of the stuff he suggests? I probably won’t have time to really dig in and read his site. Thanks!

      1. Clinical Social Worker

        This is a quotation from the section in particular I had questions about: “The real risk was sustained when you were first targeted (Targets lose their job – involuntarily or by choice for their health’s sake – in 77.7% of cases). It is no riskier to attempt to dislodge the bully. Retaliation is a certainty. Have your escape route planned in advance. Remember, good employers purge bullies, most promote them.

        1.Make the business case that the bully is “too expensive to keep.” Present the data gathered (in Step 2) to let the highest level person you can reach (not HR) know about the bully’s impact on the organization. Obviously in family-owned, or small businesses, this is impossible (so leave once targeted).
        2.Stick to the bottom line. If you drift into tales about the emotional impact of the bully’s harassment, you will be discounted and discredited.
        3.Give the employer one chance. If they side with the bully because of personal friendship (“he’s a great conversationalist and a lunch buddy”) or rationalize the mistreatment (“you have to understand that that is just how she is”), you will have to leave the job for your health’s sake. However, some employers are looking for reasons to purge their very difficult bully. You are the internal consultant with the necessary information. Help good employers purge.
        4.The nature of your departure — either bringing sunshine to the dark side or leaving shrouded in silent shame — determines how long it takes you to rebound and get that next job, to function fully and to restore compromised health. Tell everyone about the petty tyrant for your health’s sake. You have nothing to be ashamed about. You were only doing the job you once loved.”

        The section about telling everyone about the tyrant for your health’s sake, I was wondering about this? I’m dealing with an incredibly toxic work place and I do talk about it often with those that support me because well, I need to in order to survive and come back into work, but it seems unwise to “badmouth” a future employer.

        However, when you are really traumatized at work (and you’ve mentioned this sometimes on your blog) it really does effect job performance and how you come across. I’m wondering how to handle that when I move on from this job. How do I tactfully explain what I’ve been going through in an effort to help people understand that I’m a bit raw?

        1. Rat Racer

          Just curious: how do you define a “bully”? I’m having trouble wrapping my brain around how this manifests in the workplace (although I’m sure it exists).

          1. Clinical Social Worker

            If you click the link to his website overall, it talks about things that manifest.

            In my experience I’ve suffered the following:
            Being told I’m stupid.
            Being told that if there was an intellectual competition in the office, I would lose it.
            Being yelled at over inconsequential matters.
            Being stonewalled, as in people will intentionally ignore me when I am speaking to them and use the secretary as a “go between” for communication.
            Being told that I am attacking the psychiatrist by writing down what a patient/inmate said. That I’m “sinking as low as the inmates” and trying to ruin her reputation, by taking notes the way I was trained. When I attempted to exlpain or intervene she simply yelled over me.
            Later that week when she asked about a patient and who he was assigned to, and I said it was me, she rolled her eyes, said “Oh boy,” and accused me of not caring whether the individual committed suicide because I would blame her (again, during a team meeting).
            After this incident I had several people say “the doc is crazy, don’t take it personal.” The message from my boss was to just not take anything personally. The doc threatened to quit several times and there was a lot of effort put into keeping her as she is viewed as irreplaceable despite this behavior. When I mention my concerns to my boss he says that I shouldn’t take it personally yet the psychiatrist’s behavior continues, no one really points out that it’s inappropriate.
            Being called a liar and a manipulator for trying to address a highly inappropriate comment.
            Being told, after I clarified instructions given by our boss in a meeting, “NO shit I know that! I’m talking to the boss not you! You’re always in everyone’s business, when it comes to me stay away!”
            A favorite tactic, as I’m the lone social worker in the office, is to trash my profession. Bring up examples of someone in my profession doing something unethical and fixating on the fact that this person was an MSW. After one of these sessions the psychiatrist actually said “Social workers bring out the worst in me” at a team meeting.

            Stuff like that. I definitely feel that my workplace is hostile.

            1. Rat Racer

              That’s so unbelievably horrible that someone like you, who has a job taking care of the people in our society whom no one else will take care of, is berated like this by your COWORKERS. That’s insane.

              Teachers and social workers: two of the most important jobs holding together our social fabric and you folks take abuse from all sides for barely survivable wages.

              I hope you can find a job where you are able to follow your vocation in an environment that’s not actively trying to thwart you.

            2. butter beans

              Thanks for this post and follow up–it motivated me, a long time reader, to make my first post. I recently escaped a very toxic work environment myself, and now that I’m no longer in pure survival mode, I’m reflecting with all sorts of complicated emotions on what happened to me. I experience guilt when I hear from former coworkers still struggling there.

              With regard to the suggestions of the bullying site author, I did not try to handle the situation, largely because I found out that other targets tried and nothing happened. It got worse because Bully didn’t know who went to HR, so everyone was a suspect. Direct manager refused to get involved. That was a weakness of Old Workplace, but often you may not be able to predict the consequences. I think you have to carefully assess the situation before possibly burning bridges, especially if you might need a positive reference from a previous boss in the future. Instead, I made use of therapy to manage the anxiety and made a plan to accomplish a few goals and move on.

              When I interviewed for new jobs, I did my absolute best to scrutinize the interactions between people. I also asked questions about how everyone works together, what aspects are collaborative, etc. I did not attempt to explain why I didn’t accomplish more at my previous job, I just focused on what I did accomplish and discuss how it might fit with their group. I found a place where a very diverse group of people were hired, each for their own unique and respected skill set. The boss actually told me that keeping everyone working together well was a priority. I got that job and I adore it. I have never been more motivated to do amazing work with amazing people. I have to keep from gushing and stay normal around them, but I express a lot of gratitude, I think.

              Do not give up. There are good places and they are worth finding. Also, your feelings are real and valid. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise and try not to question yourself. Lastly, be prepared for some weird feelings even after you’re in a better environment. Best of luck to you.

          2. A Non

            The website Clinical Social Worker linked defines bullying as:

            “Workplace Bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators. It is abusive conduct that is :

            Threatening, humiliating, or intimidating, or
            Work interference — sabotage — which prevents work from getting done, or
            Verbal abuse
            […]
            Workplace Bullying…
            Is driven by perpetrators’ need to control the targeted individual(s).
            Is initiated by bullies who choose their targets, timing, location, and methods.
            Is a set of acts of commission (doing things to others) or omission (withholding resources from others)
            Requires consequences for the targeted individual
            Escalates to involve others who side with the bully, either voluntarily or through coercion.
            Undermines legitimate business interests when bullies’ personal agendas take precedence over work itself.
            Is akin to domestic violence at work, where the abuser is on the payroll.”

            My personal definition is very gut based. If the thought of being around the person makes me feel upset and sick to my stomach, their behavior is no good for me and I need to do something to protect myself and/or get away from them. It’s not the same as disliking someone, or the same as having a tough boss – I was very nearly fired, and deservedly, by a boss who was one of the most evenhanded, respectful people I know. I feared losing my job, I never feared her.

            1. Clinical Social Worker

              Thank you for helping me out with the definition.

              It definitely exists. Currently at my work place people alternate between behaving poorly and then acting as if nothing bad has ever happened. Incredibly unsettling and even when they are being “nice” to me or interracting normally, I have that nasty scared gut feeling you are talking about.

              I’ve sweat through shirts and had to go home and change. It’s terrible.

              1. the invisible one

                “alternate between behaving poorly and then acting as if nothing bad has ever happened”

                Just in case you haven’t encountered this before (or for anybody else reading who hasn’t), when somebody is horrible to you sometimes, nice/normal to you sometimes, *and* tries to tell you that: the horrible things weren’t actually bad, never happened, you misread them, you imagined it, every one of that long string of bad things was an isolated incident, they’re being nice right now so why are you so hung up on that little bad thing they may have done, or similar things that make you doubt your own perceptions and judgement, that’s called gaslighting.

                1. BCranston

                  This happened to me at my last job. The only solution, since that boss, in addition to the above, also trashed my reputation and lied about my career ambitions to the head of the department ( who didn’t choose to investigate himself), was to quit the company. I’ve heard they won’t be backfilling my position and just piled the work on top of everyone else.

                  That boss was extremely controlling and I made sure his last direct report knew it and to watch out for certain habits and power plays. I moved to a new country and city and its taken almost 6 months to get my mojo back, to feel like myself again after locking it all away for 3+ years. Its hard to believe it happens, but your gut won’t lie when it is screaming for you to get away as fast as possible from that person.

                2. bullyfree

                  Gaslighting by a Director was almost the final nail in my coffin. I was struggling with Major Depression, Severe PTSD while trying to work. The Director would tell me to do A and B but not C because C was someone else’s responsibility. A day later yelled at me for not doing C. When I attempted to bring up the conversationwe had the day before, she interrupted me, scolding ” You are not taking ownership of your job!” The gaslighting and scolding got so bad I was convinced I had lost my mind, my short term memory was shot, and I lost nearly all ability to focus. I nearly ended my life. Luckily, I had great doctors and care in the hospital which included education on safe and unsafe people. Unsafe personality disordered people in the workplace quite often are those who bully.

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          I’d agree with strategies #1 and 2. I don’t agree with #3 (give the employer one chance) — people sometimes need to hear something a few times before the true impact sinks in. 4 seems a little extreme on both ends — your departure doesn’t needed to be shrouded in shame, but you also don’t need to go on a publicity mission about the bully. I’m not sure what he’s going for there, other than that I think he might be exclusively focused on mental health impact and not thinking about career impact at all. (Although even with mental health impact, I don’t agree with that strategy — I think it’s better for your mental health to decide, “eh, this isn’t where I want to be anymore, so I’m leaving,” not “I was driven out.”) Career-wise, I don’t think there’s a ton of good that comes from focusing on this.

    3. Not So NewReader

      CSW- really great link, thanks for sharing that. I am glad to see that people are putting into words behaviors that are almost not describable because of the subtle destruction these behaviors cause.
      One story does not stand on its own. there has to many stories to show the harm. This gets exhausting for the receiver of the bullying.
      I read a little about the woman who committed suicide because of her toxic boss. That was so tragic.
      I enjoyed (found relief in) the description of how bullies pick their targets- the characteristics of the target. It made sense out of what I have seen in life with myself and others.
      It was impressive to me where the author(s?) of the site caution that anyone who is currently experiencing an attack of a bully might not be able to read through the site. Now, here is a group of people that actually understand the devastating effects of work place bullying. They advise to stop reading and try again later on. Wow. Yeah, that is on target- people could start having severe stress symptoms just by reading about other people going through similar stuff.

      I hope this group is successful with raising awareness and creating change.

      1. bullyfree

        WBI has started offering workshops for targets and I think they sound very supportive and empowering. I am hoping to attend one of them this year!

  8. My Scintillating Pseudonym

    Is there some requirement that x percent of Craigslist users (and by x I mean in the neighborhood of 85%) have to be drooling idiots? I’ve been trying to sell some things and find a new rental, and I’m about ready to just give the things away and live in a yurt.

    1. Trixie

      I’m having the same exp this week with a lovely floor mirror on CL. I’m thinking too many students are trying to sell at the same time. You may be in better position to donate to Goodwill for tax credit.

        1. Turanga Leela

          Yes, where I live you can rent out other people’s yurts. The last time I was looking for an apartment, I saw multiple CL yurt listings.

            1. Turanga Leela

              There’s a lot of open rural space near where I live, and apparently some people set up yurts on their property and rent them out. Many more people do this with trailers, but that’s less funny. :)

    2. TheHRLady

      If you think selling the idiots come out when you are selling things, try giving them away and see what happens. There is a website called FreeCycle where you can post free items that may be of use to someone else. Sounds like a really good thing to do, but sadly I’ve had to stop due to the bizarre things that have happened as a result of trying to give away items.

      1. louise

        I tried to sign up for my local freecycle a few years ago and got back an email from the group moderator that they had chosen not to accept me…um, what?!

      2. KarmaKicks

        Same here! I’ve found it’s much less trouble just to give things to our local thrift store. Less time, less hassle, less crazies.

      3. HR Pro

        [I’ve actually used HR Lady as my moniker for several months now, but didn’t want to use it here in response to “TheHRLady” in case that could be confusing.]

        I love Freecycle and have mostly had great experiences. The only negative stuff I’ve experienced is people who respond saying they want your item but then never respond back again to tell you when they’ll pick it up, so you have to start over again.

        I think Freecycle is best for stuff that would otherwise go in the trash, but you think someone might have a use for it. I try not to use it for stuff I could donate to Goodwill. So for instance, I’ll Freecycle old magazines, moving boxes, bubble wrap, partially -used household products like a bottle of shampoo I used once but decided I didn’t like the scent, etc. If no one responds, then I’ll throw it away.

        Over the years I’ve only had to throw away a few things — most everything I’ve offered on Freecycle has been claimed. People often want to use stuff for purposes other than the intended purpose – for example, a used tire could become the edge of a garden.

    3. Vanilla Bean

      Oh gosh – I feel your pain. I’m moving next week and have been using Craigslist to sell/give things away.

      I think it’s a really bad time of year if you’re trying to sell furniture/home stuff because of all the students trying to unload their stuff. I have an awesome book shelf I’ve been trying to sell for a few weeks, but no takers. :( I’m going to hang on to it and try again later this summer.

      I had a couple of items (furniture) in the Free section earlier this week and OMG – those people will bug you to death! I had the same dude call me like 10 times (and text too) within a two day period. We figured out a pick-up time and he never showed – then called me at 11 p.m. that evening and said he could come pick it up then. Thankfully, he picked it up the next day and I haven’t heard from him since.

      1. Jill-be-Nimble

        Vanilla Bean–where are you located and how much? I’m in the market! My basement flooded and the carpet company just ripped my old bookshelf in half while throwing all the books on the floor. I can’t even get into how incompetent all these people are.

          1. Jill-be-Nimble

            Rats; I’m in DC–seems like there’s a lot of DCers on here, so I had my hopes up (always nice to help someone out IRL if you can!) Good luck with the sale!

    4. Lori

      Try the Apartment Therapy Classifieds (Krrb) if you are in a big city. Definitely better than Craig’s list for selling stuff.

    5. fiat lux

      When I needed an affordable used car, I briefly looked on Craigslist before giving up and going to a dealership.

      Everyone I contacted was either an idiot, shady, or both. People unable to answer basic questions about their cars. People trying to sell cars with a salvage title for the value of a car with a clean title. People trying to convince me that the car was a good value because they’d just changed the wiper blades. Nope & bye!

  9. Ali

    Happy Friday everyone!

    I have a work question. Does anyone have any advice on what to do when you’re the internal candidate for a job? I’ve never been in this position before, as my paid position after my internship and my promotion were pretty much offered to me straight out and not really advertised outside the company (that I knew about). But now, I am applying for a job that’s been advertised outside the company and there are plenty of internal candidates as well.

    I’ve been on AAM for a while so I know all the usual advice about not acting like the job is guaranteed, moving on mentally, etc. But since there are a lot of internal candidates and there are a lot of good people at my employer, how can I stand out? My manager (who, despite his faults, has been very supportive of me applying for this role so I don’t have to hide anything from him) suggested sending an e-mail to the hiring manager with my resume attached and said he’d look it over before I sent it. So should I get the interview, what’s next? Do you still approach the interview like you would if you were a company outsider? Should I be prepared to answer more questions about my work there in the last few years?

    This job has the level of responsibility and tasks I’m looking for, so I’m really hoping to get it.

    Also, Alison reviewed my resume the other day and I’m taking a little break from my search with the holiday weekend here and all, but I’m going to get back into it next week with my new resume and hope I see better results.

    1. LBK

      I would treat it 100% like any other interview. Unless you already know this hiring manager personally (and it sounds like you don’t) your actions are going to reflect the same way they would if you were applying externally – so something like forwarding your resume without being asked will be annoying. Really the only difference comes down to not having to give background/details about the company you work for now in your interview, otherwise it’s probably going to play out exactly the same way as an external hiring process.

    2. Celeste

      I don’t know where you are on the length of service internally compared to the other candidates, but I think you be prepared to talk about what you love about the place and how you want to grow *there*. It’s something you have in common, and you may want to see if there is a connection there. I think when you can show such positivity, it makes you stand out over the ones who want to escape a spot, or just want more money, and so on. Of course those may be feelings you also share, I’m just saying don’t lead with them.

      1. Ali

        I’ve been at my company for four years, but I haven’t been told anything about the other internal candidates, so I don’t know how long they have been at the company, what positions they are in now, etc.

        I do know the pay is not a huge bump from what I’m making now, but that’s not why I want the job to begin with, so I’m still OK going for it knowing that.

    3. Malissa

      Treat it like a regular interview. But also use your inside advantage to find out as much as possible about the job.

    4. LAI

      My advice would be to treat it like any other interview in most respects, but don’t act like you’re a stranger. For example, shake hands with your interviewers when you enter but don’t introduce yourself if you know them; talk to them the way you would normally talk to them in a meeting context. And when answering questions, you can leverage the fact that you know a lot about the business already so you can often give more specific or more relevant answers than an external candidate could. Don’t waste time explaining background/contexts that you know they are already familiar with.

      1. Ali

        I work remotely so it would likely be a Skype or phone interview….ergo, no shaking hands. But the rest of the advice is good!

    5. C Average

      There’s an incredibly talented woman who’s now on my team, and I was on the panel interview when we hired her after she’d completed a contract stint in another department. We already thought really highly of her and were pretty confident she wouldn’t have serious competition from the other candidates HR had sent us. (We tried to come into the process with open minds, but we all knew her and had worked with her and really, really liked her and her work.)

      She knocked our socks off. She came dressed and prepared as though she didn’t know any of us and had to prove her worth to us (even though we already had a great impression of her). We knew her as a colleague with a laid-back (though by no means inappropriate) style, and we got to see a whole new polished, professional side of her. She absolutely killed it. We couldn’t hire her fast enough.

      tl; dr = Take this seriously and overimpress your interviewers. Can’t hurt, might help!

      1. Leeloo

        Thanks for sharing this, it’s really encouraging! I’ve been an internal candidate before and felt like any benefits of being internal were outweighed by not being able to come in with a clean slate and make the impression I wanted to make for that particular position.

        Now, I’m looking forward to applying for a position at a different organization that I’m currently at short-term, and my boss’s boss encouraged me to check it out before I even brought up with her that I’d be interested. So I’m just loving hearing a story about “we knew she was great, but wow!” and hoping there’ll be one about me in a few months!

    6. MaryMary

      When you’re an internal candidate you have the inside track, so I’d use that to your advantage. You can use your network to learn more about your interviewer (discreetly, of course), ask you manager or other contacts for interview tips, etc. I once had a manager who gave me a list of sample interview questions with “answers” (behaviors an ideal candidate would show) when I interviewed for an internal position, and I returned the favor for other coworkers down the road.

    7. kbeers0su

      I’ve been an internal candidate (and got the offer) both times. I heard the same thing posted here (treat it like any other interview) but didn’t really understand what they meant until after my first internal interview. You have to pretend that the folks sitting across from you don’t know anything about you. And although they work in the same business, you have to pretend that they don’t know anything about the skills or knowledge it takes to do the job you’re applying for. So be careful not to fall back on the assumption that you share language or a base level of knowledge with the interviewers- go into this assuming that they don’t know anything about the job itself, so that you’re sure to answer in an in-depth manner about the skills, knowledge and accomplishments that you can bring to the company.

      1. Ali

        Good stuff guys. I talked to one of the hiring managers for the job today (two of them are working on it, it sounds like) and he said he pulled my resume from the system as soon as he noticed it and he’d schedule a call next week at some point. My boss also helped me out with the e-mail I sent over to the HMs, so that was nice.

        Things look decent, but I know not to get too excited. Hopefully it works out, though!

    8. KJ

      I’ve been an internal candidate (both unsuccessfully and successfully), and I’ve been a hiring manager for positions with internal candidates.

      I would approach the interview as an outsider in the sense that nothing is guaranteed, but with the understanding that you’re expected to have more context than outside candidates. For example, if you’re asked a question about strategic planning, I should hope you know how your organization’s planning process works and what it’s goals are, and that you can work those details into your answer. This may seem obvious, but I’ve seen internal candidates fail to do this sort of thing.

      On the reverse side, I think it’s helpful when internal candidates can show they are aware of industry happenings and trends outside their organization. When that’s the case, your internal experience is less likely to seem like a limitation, and that can help mitigate one of the advantages that outside candidates have–their fresh perspectives and unique experiences. Depending on your industry, participation on community organizations or professional associations is a great way to get “outside” experience that will help you get an internal promotion.

      One last note: don’t be too discouraged if you don’t get it! The first two times I went for promotion, I didn’t get past the first round of interviews. But my applications for those roles let The Powers That Be know that I was interested in advancement, and I was careful not to be bitter when I learned I was being turned down. When the right job finally opened up, I got it. I see a lot of internal candidates get very discouraged after one rejection, and they are often reluctant to try again. I think you really have to see your candidacy as a learning experience. Conduct yourself professionally throughout the process, and even if you don’t get the job the first time, the fact that you went for it won’t hurt you–and it may end up opening doors down the line.

  10. a.n.o.n.

    Well, I was finally able to talk (via email) to the CEO of the other company I want to get into. I told him I’m still very interested, but I’m buying a house and can’t have a job change until it’s done with. He said that’s good for him since he’s still working out some issues. He wants me to call him once I’m ready to close on the house and we’ll talk more.

    I’m feeling so much better since I told my boss this job isn’t for me. I’m much less stressed and feeling more like the positive person I used to be. And knowing that there’s still interest from the CEO at the other company is helping me deal with the day-to day frustrations of being in the wrong job and having to deal with certain other things.

    1. C Average

      This sounds like a good, solid state of affairs. I’m glad things are going well for you and hope the trend continues.

  11. Felicia

    I have a Skype interview on Monday! I’ve never had one before, and only used Skype twice in my life. I’m going to prepare like a regular interview, but anything different I should do/expect from Skype? I’m super nervous for some reason, possibly because of the unfamiliar format.

    I also have a totally different interview (in person) in 2 hours. I’m really nervous about that too but I like the part where it’s a 5 minute walk from my house.

    1. Riki

      There was a post on video conferencing/interviewing not too long ago. Someone said that they attached a small photo just above their camera to create an “audience” on which to focus. I thought that was such a great idea and used it during an video interview I had a few days later. When you’re talking to someone via video chat or Skype, it’s really easy to start looking at your monitor rather than the camera. This destroys any sense of eye contact, which is not a good thing during an interview!
      https://www.askamanager.org/2014/05/video-conferencing-at-work-heres-how-to-be-more-likable-on-video.html

    2. LAI

      I’m personally not a fan of Skype interviews. They just feel more awkward and less personal, and I think there’s research showing that they are less likely to lead to an offer. Tip #1: make sure you have a comfortable setting where you will absolutely not be interrupted or disturbed in any way (I did one at home with my dog locked in another room but then he started barking and I was distracted by worrying whether they could hear it). Tip #2: be more enthusiastic/outgoing than you normally would be. I’m not completely sure that this works, but my sense is that the online format makes it hard for those emotions to translate, so you have to try extra hard to make them apparent. Good luck!

      1. Felicia

        I’m worried about my dog too, because he randomly barks when i’d least expect it, but luckily I have a neighbour who’s also a friend who can take him.

        I’m not a fan of Skype interviews even though I’ve never done one…I’m not sure why, the idea just makes me uncomfortable. I wish they’d stick to the typical phone/in person. I’m not sure why they chose to do it , but the job seems promising, so I’ll see how I do :)

        I also found out I have an in person interview next Thursday, which is good news!

    3. A Non

      Practice setting up the equipment and starting a Skype call with a friend. You don’t want technical glitches at the last minute!

      (True story: I once borrowed a camera for an interview, then waited to the last minute to set it up. Then had driver issues, and ended up having an audio-only interview. For a tech support job. Not good.)

    4. Polaris

      It sounds like you are already doing what you need to do by treating it like an in person interview. Skype is awkward because it is harder to act naturally when speaking to a screen. The suggestion of looking at a photo placed just above your camera that Riki mentioned is good.

      This is not necessary, but could help. Test your webcam in advance and adjust the angle and distance to the extent you are able to be as flattering as possible – ideally, you want it to show the webcam equivalent of a professional headshot. You should be the focus and the background should be plain.

      Good luck on both of your interviews!

      1. Felicia

        I finally found a place to sit where it’s just plain wall in the background and I can get it at a flattering angle. It feels more complicated than an in person interview to me. Hopefully if I do act a little awkwardly, though I hope I don’t, they won’t hold it against me!

        And thanks! I am pretty sure my in person interview today went well (and 5 minute walk!). At least I’m happy with how I did, was able to be confident and thoroughly answer the questions. And I think the job would be a fit. The only downside is it’s part time, and I really need something full time. But it’s better than nothing! Skype interview is for something full time that might be just as good, so I’m nervous.

    5. Persephone Mulberry

      Plug your computer directly into your modem if it’s not already (don’t rely on wifi, even at home).

      +100 to practicing talking to the camera and not the screen. I helped one of the managers here with a skype interview yesterday (she’s not very technology savvy). The candidate was very well spoken but didn’t make eye contact once during the interview, which the manager found really offputting. I had to point out to the manager that she was probably doing the same thing back to him. :)

    6. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

      if you can, get someone to talk to you on Skype shortly beforehand . There might be things they notice about the “view” – something on the wall behind you that looks super weird on camera, the appearance of a stick coming out of your head, etc. Also have them check the camera angle and help you position it in a way that is most attractive/natural. And if you have an enthusiastic cat, make plans to eliminate meowing.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

        just realized that “eliminate meowing” thing sounded kind of sinister. I meant like put the cat in another room :-)

      2. Felicia

        I have an enthusiastic dog that barks at random times, so a friend/neighbour is taking him for an hour, which was my biggest worry! So was not being used to the technology, so maybe i will have that friend Skype call me on Sunday, even though I know she is a Skype novice too.

  12. Cath in Canada

    I was talking to a colleague the other day whose 16 year old daughter is looking for her first ever summer job. Apparently the daughter has been going into local businesses in person, and isn’t having any luck.

    My colleague said, “I keep telling her you don’t show up in person any more, but she insists! I don’t know where she’s getting this from! I even found a few online application systems for her, but she said she has to show up in person! It’s very frustrating”

    It was nice to hear that there is good parental career advice out there, but slightly discouraging to hear that, like so much good parental advice, it is sometimes ignored…

    1. My Scintillating Pseudonym

      Someone finally found a kid with gumption and it’s the wrong kind. :\

    2. ArtsNerd

      On the other hand, it IS still normal to show up in person for retail and service industry jobs, which are frequently the types of jobs that hire 16-year olds.

      1. Claire MKE

        This isn’t true in my experience…when I was looking for retail jobs right after college (so 2-3 years ago), everywhere directed you to apply online. Most places didn’t even have a paper app you could fill out in-store.

        1. Anonsie

          It really varies– a lot of the larger, chain places look at you like you’re stupid if you go in, but many smaller places only have paper applications still.

    3. A.

      I’ve seen job listings that specifically ask for the person to come in person and apply. The listing usually lists the address and time(s) to stop by. Unless the place has a “Now Hiring” sign hanging up in the window, I wouldn’t show up in person. The only exception to this may be fast food.

    4. OhNo

      I can’t help but wonder if the daughter isn’t doing something else when she is out “job searching”. No judgement if she is, I just find it so very, very odd to hear of someone under the age of forty who still thinks going to jobs in person is the way to go.

      Where is she getting it from? Did her friends find jobs doing it that way?

    5. KrisL

      That’s how I got a job at McDonald’s – showed up and asked if they had an application for work. But that was a long, long time ago.

      1. Felicia

        That’s still how you apply at McDonalds and most fast food/retail here, so here at least, most places a 16 year old should be going in person. Not how you get hired at McDonalds anymore because they can get like 100 applications per position, and tend to only take those with previous retail/fast food experience that’s relatively recent , so not everyone can get a job at McDonalds, and certainly not just for walking in. But walking in is how you apply

  13. LBK

    Reposted from another comments section: How do you list non-charity/community work that’s done as volunteer on your resume? There’s a pretty well-known website where the customer service and tech support is provided by volunteers (with the exception of 2 paid staff members that oversee the whole thing). All tech support/customer service requests are public and anyone can write a response that’s hidden until one of the more senior volunteers approves it. As you answer more questions you can submit reviews and get promotions, which come with privileges like the approval ability I mentioned as well things like getting access to more information about a customer’s account. I did this for about a year and by the time I stopped doing it I was an administrator (only one level below the paid staff members in the hierarchy), so I was providing performance reviews for other volunteers like you would do for an employee and granting promotions, addressing escalated customer concerns, working directly with developers on serious technical issues, etc.

    How the hell do I list this accurately on my resume? Right now I just have it included in my work experience with a note that it was on a volunteer basis. Is that disingenuous?

    1. ArtsNerd

      What would be disingenuous about it? You clearly label it as volunteer work. Another option is to have a “Volunteer” or “Community Involvement” section on your resume (if you’d be able to put more than just this one project in it.)

      1. LBK

        Yeah, that’s the issue, I don’t have any other volunter experience to put with it in a full volunteer work section.

    2. Clinical Social Worker

      I don’t think so. You were doing unpaid work. I think internships can go under work experience. If your title says Volunteer/Intern after it, it’s fairly clear it’s not quite the same as if you were paid/professionally employed by that organization.

    3. ModernHypatia

      Former LiveJournal volunteer here, in similar position. Here’s what I do:

      My recent professional jobs are on the first page of my resume with detailed bullet points/accomplishments. Older jobs (which now includes that time) are on the 2nd page, and listed more briefly (header with the job title/location info, then just a couple of sentences summary, not bullet points.) and the word “Volunteer” is in the header.

      It basically says what I did – usually that’s something like “Responded promptly and professionally to social network user concerns about A, B, and C, providing consistent answers to complex situations including those with legal requirements such as copyright. Provided training and oversight for newer volunteers. 10-20 hours per week.”

      I adjust the precise wording depending on what the job I’m applying for cares about – some places the training is more relevant, some places the fact it’s online communication is more relevant, etc. Giving the number of hours helps someone put it in context of a full time job.

      It’s come up a few times in interviews, and generally people have been curious about how much time it took, and what the collaborative process was like (at which point I’ve explained a bit about how we shared out workload, communicated about cases, etc. and focused on the stuff that’s applicable to a lot of collaborative work.)

      (My other big volunteer work has been an organisation that puts on two events a year: the stuff related to that goes under my ‘other skills’ section, because it doesn’t have the same kind of week-in, week-out time commitment that the LJ volunteering did.)

      1. LBK

        Yeah, that’s essentially how I have it now. I’ve gotten some really intrigued responses in interviews as well. How long ago were you an LJ volunteer? Maybe I know you (although I’m assuming you were in Abuse if you were dealing with copyright stuff).

        1. ModernHypatia

          January 2003 – September 2004 (not as this username, but feel free to email/ping via the professional website, and I’ll share the other.)

          And yeah, Abuse – which had all sorts of unexpected job moments in terms of figuring out how to deal with complicated things on the fly, and was suprisingly good prep for my actual field (librarian here.) It means that random stuff that comes up dealing with patrons almost never surprises me anymore.

    4. Artemesia

      That is what I would do. I know someone who did some computer development for a non-profit as a volunteer; she listed is along with contract and consulting work she had done that was similarly technical. It as an example of things achieved and of skills. She had been primarily a SAHP during a couple of year period and folded volunteer work that was professional as well as paid contract/consulting work that was professional as a way to show that her skills were sharp and that she had been working professionally during her time out of the full time workforce.

    5. Amy

      I know it’s late for this post but – me too! I probably know you too, unless you’re “new” within the last few years. I formatted and treated it the same as any other job but put “(Volunteer)” at the end of the position title (which I made up because “SH” and “admin” aren’t descriptive to the general public). It occurs to me now that strictly speaking of dates, I was there longer than I was at my longest “real job”. But it’s no longer interesting/relevant to interviewers, and now that I’m in a completely different field, I’ve taken it off to make room for more recent stuff.

      An early newbie mistake I made was putting a location to make the format exactly the same as other non-remote jobs. Then someone asked how I liked living in Portland and I realized that was the wrong way to do it!

  14. Celeste

    Programmer! I missed OT last Friday but I wanted to say that I saw your update and I am so happy for your good news! Thank you so much for the update, and I hope this has been a good week, too.

    1. E.R

      Wow, that is beautifully written. You can really get a sense of who she was, as a person and an applicant.

  15. Goofy Posture

    Tips for dealing with an unclear communicator?

    I have to work (temporarily) with a higher-up for a totally different company on a collaborative project, and her emails are always dashed off in a hurry. To the point where I am not always sure what she means.

    As an example – one of the emails I received was “Yeah your marking plan so great” in response to me saying “Did you mean my email signature? Yes, I plan to update that once we publicly announce this project.”

    Getting her on the phone is not likely, so I’ve got about another month or two of deciphering this. Or just asking for clarification over and over.

    1. C Average

      Ugh, we have these, too.

      I hate to say it, but I’ve found a CYA strategy most important.

      If there’s an action item for you, summarize your understanding of it in an email, followed by a yes-or-no request for confirmation that you’re correct, e.g., “My next step is to fill in Column H in the chocolate_teapon_spreadsheet.doc and then forward it to Legal. Then after that I’ll send it on to you for final review. Does this approach work for you? Please confirm.”

      If there’s an action item for her, keep the ask really succinct and request a confirmation that she is also on board, e.g. “Can you please supply the Column J data for reverse logistics? I’d like to have that by end of week. Does that timeline work for you? Let me know.”

      Basically, match her communication style in terms of length as closely as you can–she’s shown you she’s not someone who appreciates lengthy communications–but make sure you’re as close to 100% clear on expectations as you can be, and give her as many yes-or-no questions as you can.

      (I know some people would say “pick up the damned phone,” but I like having a trail! So I lean toward brief but polite emails and only turn to the phone when that approach fails to yield results.)

      1. Chinook

        “If there’s an action item for her, keep the ask really succinct and request a confirmation that she is also on board, e.g. “Can you please supply the Column J data for reverse logistics? I’d like to have that by end of week. Does that timeline work for you? Let me know.””

        It may also be useful to put in the subject line what it is you want the person to do with the email. Things like “Status requested – Project X” or “Approval needed – Colum J data”. I use this with emails I send out to busy people and I know it helps them to eb able to figure out what emails they can deal with quickly with just a glance in their inbox plus it focuses what I need from them.

  16. Ask a Manager Post author

    Question for open-threaders:

    These open threads are now routinely hitting 1300+ comments. (I thought making them weekly would help lower that. It did not.) One on hand, it’s a sign that people like them. On the other hand, it causes some people to not even try to read or engage.

    What do you think about the idea of confining them to workplace/career related topics, as opposed to the current free-for-all? Or, another option would be to do one or two total free-for-alls each month, with the others confined to work.

    1. LBK

      I like the idea of maybe one monthly free-for-all topic, if they’re going to be culled somehow. I love chatting with the community here so I’d hate to see the social aspect die completely!

    2. limenotapple

      I like the idea of one for each type of topic. It would make them easier to navigate, and you could avoid the things you weren’t interested in.

      1. Chocolate Teapot

        I must admit that I find the 1000+ posts a little unwieldy to follow, although there are often interesting ones to be found once I have sifted through.

        Perhaps one or two free for alls per month and the rest work related?

    3. Lamington

      I would prefer the option of confining it to career and have 1 or 2 free for all. Thanks Allison

      1. Chinook

        Add me to the ones that would prefer confinign them to career with 1 or 2 free for alls (and maybe specify that they are NOT career releated?).

    4. ArtsNerd

      I think keeping SOME free-for-all is a good idea, even if you’d like to limit it.

      And have you considered a collapsible comment structure? That might help people sift through parent comments more quickly to find ones that interest them without having to scroll past every reply.

        1. books

          I second ArtsNerd, that would make a huge difference in my initiative to interact with a 1000+ comments thread.

    5. Sascha

      I’d still like to see one or two free-for-alls each month, and the rest are for work topics only. I like the non-work discussions as well as the work ones. Keeping them separate would help.

    6. Trixie

      It now takes me pretty much the week to read an on Open Thread. Maybe try one or two total during the summer?

    7. badger_doc

      I think the collapsable comments would work wonders for your open thread. I think the majority of the 1300 comments are just replies to original comments, correct? Also, if you’re getting that much traffic, does it matter that others are not engaging or are they emailing you to complain about not being able to engage and wanting shorter threads? I’m just curious why it matters about people who avoid the open threads when you already have so many people who love them. I tend to skim through them myself early on fridays, but generally do not return to them on the weekends because they are so big, but if the replies were collapsible and all I saw was the original comment, I would probably come back to read through those and expland the comments if I wanted to see what others had to say. My two cents :-)

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        It’s a good question. Ultimately I care because I want to stick to the site’s mission, and if unrelated stuff is getting in the way of people using the site for work advice, I’m compromising that a bit. On the other hand, it’s only one post a week, so there’s an argument that it doesn’t matter.

        I totally agree that collapsible comments would solve at least a big part of this.

        1. Joey

          I’ve been one who has been avoiding the open threads recently. Personally I find most of the non work issues distracting. And the work related issues have been so buried in the open threads that I would welcome the change. That’s said Id probably avoid the non work related threads altogether.

        2. Heather

          I don’t mind the non-work discussion – it’s only the scrolling that mostly keeps me away from the open threads. Collapsible comments would be great (although not Reddit or Jezebel-style…those are awful, I’d rather scroll!).

        3. TheSnarkyB

          PLEASE don’t get rid of the non-work related ones! And I think just a few over the summer would really stink, I think.
          I hope this doesn’t sound cocky or rude, but really when we’re sticking strictly to work topics, I’m mostly only engaging when I think I have useful advice, not when I think I’ll get something out of it for use in my own workplace (I don’t have one). This may be true as well for others who don’t work in traditional office environments.
          So while I love being part of this community, I get the most “direct” benefit out of it when the definition of “work-related” is loose. That’s also when I find it most interesting.

          I would definitely love a Sunday free-for-all open thread but I’ve hypothesized that you don’t do Sunday posts bc of the moderation they’d require, so… there goes that idea.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Actually, moderation isn’t all that onerous. Well, for me, that is. It might suck for you guys, because I’m less likely to be sitting by the computer and thus comments that get stuck in moderation will stay there longer — but that’s a tiny percentage of the overall comments.

            I stopped doing Sunday posts just because I needed to cut back somewhere, and traffic is way lower on weekends.

            I’m not opposed to weekend open threads though.

            1. Smilingswan

              I would love weekend open threads! By the time I get to them after work on Friday, it’s not even worth posting anymore because there are already 1000+ posts. I don’t have the opportunity to access AAM at work like other do.

          2. Heather

            Yes!! I hadn’t really thought of it this way before, but it’s true. I’m not a manager, so I feel like I’d be just talking to hear myself talk (typing to hear myself type?) in most cases. The threads that generate a discussion of larger issues are the ones where I feel like I can participate and actually bring something potentially useful.

    8. Elkay

      I like the current free for all but it does get unwieldy if you don’t get in early. If you are going to split them could you make Fridays a work focussed one and open up for a free for all on Sundays as if memory serves there isn’t a Sunday post at the moment.

      1. Kay

        I like this idea. I’ve noticed weekend posts don’t tend to get as many comments, so maybe having a free-for-all would get people coming in over the weekend and if you’re not interested in non-career stuff, it would be easy to skip over.

      2. Katie the Fed

        Love this! Free for all sundays would be great because it’s hard to post at work.

      3. Eden

        I would vote for Sunday open thread. I really like the open threads, because with such a great group, it’s nice to get advice/encouragement in non-work areas as well.

      4. Labratnomore

        I like this idea as well. Also the collapsible comments will be a great help.

      5. Not So NewReader

        I am chuckling. Alison, you started with one open thread a month. Now, you have us trying to sell you on the idea of eight open threads a month!
        You’re good. What can I say?

        I think shifting the open threads to the weekend is a great idea. I see you still do other posts with the open thread on Friday, isn’t that like triple the work you do any other day? Open threads can stand alone and do just fine.

        I think that if each post could have a subject headline (with the collapsible threads) that would be a huge help for the open threads. Animal lovers could skim down and find the cat/dog threads. People that just want to talk about work could skim for the subject line that says “resume help” or “advice about my boss”, etc. (set the subject line as a mandatory field)

        I think if that grows to unwieldy, then, yeah, limit the discussion to work and work related issues. I am hoping, that it would not be a strict, narrow limit. Because I think that people get a lot out of being able to talk about their commute time or getting a good night’s sleep- tangent subjects but not subjects that are in the workplace itself.

      6. Nina

        I think that’s a great idea; having a post dedicated for careers and another dedicated to the free-for-all.

    9. CollegeAdmin

      How about switching every other week? So for example, if next week’s open thread was workplace/career related, but the week after that was a free-for-all (or even specified as non-work related)?

      I also like Elkay’s suggestion about free-for-alls on Sundays.

    10. Celeste

      Twice a month social FFA’s would be okay. I think it’s a nice idea for people to have a work-only FFA because time is usually of the essence.

      1. Ali

        I have suggested a work only open thread in the past and would like to see that, with maybe one free for all a month. But keep them to every week!

    11. fposte

      At this point, I think divvy them rather than solely work-restricting them; they add community value, which does ultimately enhance the blog. But be patient if we forget which week it is :-).

      What about trying them on different days? Personal could be Saturday or Sunday, since it’s lower traffic, while work could stay Friday.

      1. Persephone Mulberry

        +1

        I about fell off my chair this morning when I refreshed for the Open Thread and saw 300+ comments less than 10 minutes in.

    12. Dan

      1000+ is too much for me, I generally end up skipping the open threads. I’m not one for “talk about your favorite recipe” in a work related forum, so if you got rid of the free-for-all, I wouldn’t complain.

      1. Lyndz

        Im with Dan on this one. Reading about someone’s kids/food/etc doesnt really interest me. I come here for work related stuff.

    13. Cat

      What about a work open thread and a non-work open thread each week so people could just read what interested them? (I know that might be a lot more moderating work though.)

    14. Annie O

      I like some of the free-for-all conversations! The book recommendation one was awesome. And I’m fine with scrolling past anything that doesn’t interest me.

      1. Annie O

        Ooh, here’s another idea. What about having some themed open threads once in awhile? As in, Open Thread: Resumes, Open Thread: Networking, Open Thread: My Boss is an Ass, etc.

        That might also keep some of the regular weekly posts more on topic as well. It seems like there’s an increasing trend of commenters going off on semi-related tangents. (And I’ve been guilty of this myself.)

        1. Ali

          I like that! Makes me think of Twitter chats where the broad/general topic never changes, but there are themes. For example, I’ve been in a sports job chat, but we have themes every week such as mentoring in sports careers or advice for sports sales careers. Something like that. And we do socialize a little/do off-topic stuff as our “warm up.”

        2. CTO

          I like this idea too! I enjoy the Open Threads but they are so time-consuming to read, and then a lot of people actually using them for career advice don’t get input because their questions get lost.

    15. Mimmy

      I love the Open Threads, but it has gotten hard to follow. I generally skim through–I scan the first sentence or so on a parent thread and skip if it doesn’t interest me.

      I think keeping it work/career-related with occasional FFAs would help stay consistent with the site’s mission without eliminating the social aspects people love.

    16. Daisy

      I agree with others that the collapsible threads would help and/or a ‘reply with quote’ option.
      However, I think separating work and non work threads would be beneficial and maybe limiting free-for-all threads.

      1. JW

        Casting my vote for eliminating the free-for-alls. The main reason I come to this site is to ask, learn, and engage in work-place issues, not to read about recipe suggestions (just google it?).

        I know this has turned into a community, but for those who don’t have time to participate in comment conversations as much, the open threads are a mess and waste.

      2. Daisy

        I’m slightly amused that this thread on number of comments has much fewer comments than usual (due, I’m sure, to the long weekend).

    17. Lyndz

      Please confine this to workplace topics. Usually when I see Open Thread Fridays they are filled with so much random stuff I dont even bother to read :/

    18. Claire MKE

      I like the free-for-all. It’s a chance to bring a social aspect into a community that’s work focused in every other post – like a happy hour for the AAM office.

      1. Jen RO

        I’m also a fan of the current format, I like meeting the people behind the job titles.

    19. Jennifer

      Workplace only, please. I’d like to wade through it all, but it’s just too damn much.

    20. BB

      I like the idea of separating them. However, there are a few things that end up kind of straddling the two. For example, it seems like people are frequently struggling with ‘I feel like I should be further in my career/not good enough at work’- which is totally fine and I enjoy chatting about that but does that belong in work or FFA?

      1. KMC

        I like the free for all and the workplace, so I’d vote for not getting rid of the free for all altogether.

    21. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      :(
      I want it all.

      I want off topic conversation and also threads that are more navigable.

      I think OT once a month is the closest that will make that happen.

    22. The Other Dawn

      I would like to see most OTs restricted to work topics. I enjoy the free-for-all once in awhile, but I find that I no longer spend much time looking at the OTs. Too many comments and I don’t usually find something I want to comment on since I’m not looking as closely as I used to. And if I want to ask a question later on Friday, I find that by then it’s pretty unlikely to get any response.

    23. Rayner

      I feel like free for alls are good though – people talk, and although some of it is off topic, there’s also a lot of on topic q&a, and people contributing to other people’s questions and answers.

      There’s a vast amount of life experiences here, and personalities, and it’s nice to swap ideas, thoughts, and opinions, about things, and pick each other’s brains. If you got rid of that (albeit for good reasons), you’d lose a lot of that, and there’s no where else connected here that has the option to communicate slightly anonymously directly linked to this place – facebook / linked in you have to be logged in with real names.

      I think two posts – one for not work and one for work, would be best, and strict monitoring to make sure that they both don’t become FFA would be awesome.

      And I would do a test run of things in different ways – my thinking is that people would either take to it, or you’ll get one with 1000+ and one with 100, but idk. Might be, might not.

    24. LV

      I actually really like the current format/frequency. For me, the whole appeal of the open thread is the free-for-all aspect. And as far as I can tell, most threads *are* workplace/career-related.

      1. Arjay

        I agree that I enjoy the free-for-all threads. There are people here whose opinions I value and respect, and it’s so nice to be able to engage with them on other topics. Just as one example, I love seeing Katie the Fed’s wedding-related questions and posts.

        1. Student Affairs Program Coordinator

          Totally late to this thread but agreeing!! I look forward to the Open Threads all week. I am at a happy, stable place in my career so I don’t have much personal use for most of the workplace posts now, but I love reading this blog so I still come back every day and at least skim. I really enjoy getting to read about off-topic things (seconding that I love the recipe talk and the book recommendations, and I really love the wedding talk!!). I would be very disappointed if they went away entirely. I will say though, that I very rarely comment on the Open Threads for all the reasons mentioned above – not a lot of time at work to sit around and read new posts and keep up with other commenting on mine, plus they seem to get flooded with posts quickly. It really does take me the better part of the next week to sift through and read it all (but I enjoy it!).

      2. Rayner

        Me too. I think once a week is perfectly acceptable to let people talk off topic – being stricter in the regular posts about stuff is a good idea.

        Collapsible threads would make it more accessible to everybody who didn’t want to read lots of comments.

    25. Sabrina

      I’m fine with keeping them “on topic” so to speak.

      Another idea is to have a forum set up on the site for folks to “tawk amongst yourselves”

    26. Steve G

      A free-for-all once every 2 months would be ok, but every week is too much. I love the workplace/careers questions/drama stuff even if it produces less content.

      I don’t think free-for-alls are a bad idea per se, but honestly, those sections of these open threads tend to be the least interesting. The career and workplace stuff is always much more interesting.

      1. Fish Microwaver

        Yeah, but a lot of the career only stuff seems to travel a well worn path. I see so many questions that I can’t believe people are still asking. I really like the crazy, out there questions and Alison’s advice is always good. I have learned a lot about how to better phrase questions and concerns by reding AAM.

    27. NavyLT

      I’d say split it up. From the other comments it’s pretty clear people do come here primarily for workplace/management advice, but if you had a free-for-all thread in addition to the work-related one (say, every other week) it would be easy enough for the people who are just interested in the work-related stuff to skip a post they know they aren’t going to read.

    28. Liz in a Library

      I worry that if there are no places to discuss non-work stuff, we are going to see even more OT side conversations on regular questions, which would frustrate me more. I rarely read all the way through the open threads, but they are easier to skip than OT comments in a regular post would be. Plus, I think the site’s feeling of community would suffer.

      Just my $.02.

    29. Marketer

      Hi Alison, how about having monthly threads but dividing them into topics (Job Hunting, dealing with coworkers, career development, non career)? Or implement some sort of tagging and drop down menu to filter? I love the WTH threads but my eyes glaze over at some of the personal stuff (recently, weddings. Bleh!)

      1. Ali

        I agree on weddings. One of my coworkers is getting married in July and I’m so sick of hearing about it and all the times he can’t work because he has wedding stuff to do. Then I come here and have to scroll past wedding discussion. Bleh!

    30. Anonymous

      I vote for a Sunday free-for-all in addition to the Friday open thread. I really like the sense of community engendered by the OT posts, and I could use some Sunday reading, too!

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

        This is a really good idea. I don’t know if it useful for Alison’s purposes. It might be too much clutter for the blog. For me, though, (all about Me?), Sunday morning is a great time to kick back and have some conversation.

        An “on topic, all about the workplace) open thread on Friday + Sunday morning coffee & conversation thread would be awesome.

        Too much clutter? Maybe.

    31. Number One

      I like the current structure, and would be disappointed to lose the genuine open threads if they were restricted as described.

  17. Katie the Fed

    Wanted to follow up on my workplace snacking and all the great advice I got last week. Basically I’ve turned my lunch into an all day snackathon. I pack several baggies of small portions of veggies, a yogurt, a little babybell, some fruit, a little something carby, etc and then nibble throughout the day instead of having a big lunch.

    It’s helped a lot and I’ve resisted all the treats my colleagues bring in.

    Thanks for the great advice!

    1. Elkay

      I applaud your preparation, I can barely throw a sandwich in a box in preparation, chopping is way above my planning level!

      1. Astor

        In case some ideas help:
        I do all my chopping on the weekend, and put big containers of pre-cut vegetables in the fridge with a little water or ice cubes. And then I divvy some up the night before. This also means that it’s really easy to come home from work and plate up some vegetables for a snack, so I can crunch on those while organizing dinner.

    2. Celeste

      Great update! I’m glad it’s working so well for you. I need to get my act together and try this.

    3. Natalie

      Huh, I might give this a shot. I always wait too long to eat lunch, then eat too much and get sleepy.

  18. Lamington

    I think I’m ready to move on to a new job. How can I tell my boss since before we apply for an internal position? I bet he will be mad once I tell him. But I feel there’s nothing going on for me in the group with all the budget cuts the group is very flat and promotions are handpicked by our VP and his clique.

  19. Virginian

    I found a job description for what seems to be a great position in Vermont, but I’m worried about applying for it.

      1. Virginian

        I feel as if I’d be tossing into a black hole. Yet, if I don’t apply, I won’t get a response either way.

            1. BB

              I always look at it as a ‘whats the best/worst that can happen’:

              Don’t apply: you’re not getting the job

              Do apply: Maybe you don’t get the job and it’s a waste of time. Or maybe you get an interview and decide you love VT and want to live there. Or hate VT and never want to go back. Or hate/love the company.

              So I just always apply!

    1. LF

      Go for it! If it’s not an entry-level position, it’s unlikely to go into a black hole. Just don’t be shocked if the pay is low. Pay is kinda low here.

    2. Not So NewReader

      If I were to move ever again, I would go to Vermont. Burlington probably.

      I say give it a shot, see what happens.

    3. C Average

      I’ve lived out west for all my life (mostly in the Pacific northwest), and I barely survived my one winter in Vermont. I found it bone-chillingly cold and, honestly, kind of dull. The leaves are beautiful and the ice cream is tasty, but I couldn’t get back to my beloved Pacific northwest fast enough!

      Good luck. Bring a warm coat and some studded shoes for the ice storms.

  20. Mighty Mouse

    Oh Alison, thank you so much for this blog. I find myself immediately referencing this site whenever a work-related problem arises.

    For instance, yesterday, I was sent an unnecessarily rude email. I’m still reeling from it. My manager was cc’ed and she was taken aback as well. I’ve only been at this job for a month and everyone has been respectful and polite; this was my first run-in with such rudeness. I read through some of Alison’s old posts for comfort. :P

    1. JW

      I love the old posts too! I had a “I need your salary history” issue and came straight here.

  21. Manager of Impending Doom

    I am facing my first layoff as a manager. Due to funding issues, we (a small arts non-profit) are laying off a project coordinator who reports to me (a department head). The President of our organization will be the one who conducts the conversation – she is a nice person but not great at advocating for junior staff – I’ve spent a lot of time in her office explaining why we have to be fair in certain circumstances. I think I should be in the meeting, which she is open to allowing – this is the right thing to do, yes?

    If you’ve been laid off – what did your immediate manager do that made it a little less awful? Or, made it worse than it had to be?

    1. Colette

      Be proactive with information (Is her job over immediately? How long will she have access to the building? When will she get her last paycheck? How long will her health insurance be in effect? Is there severance and, if so, what is it and when will she get it? Will you pay out unused vacation? Are you offering her outplacement help? Will you offer to be a reference?)

      Know what you need from her. (Passwords? Location of plans for project X? – this should be stuff that she can provide in 30 minutes or so, not three weeks of work unless you’re paying for it)

      Tell her first – don’t let it be a rumor with others.

      And yes, do it face to face, away from the rest of the staff if possible. (Not in a coffee shop or something, but ideally a conference room where she can pull herself together before she has to face anyone.)

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Everything Collette said. Also: If there’s truly no performance reason for it, emphasize that. If she’s done great work, tell her that. Some companies make these meetings cold and clinical; don’t do that.

      1. Manager of Impending Doom

        I think that is why this is such a struggle – there HAVE been performance issues. Almost all of them prior to my being his manager, but the people who worked with him at the time, including the President, never forgot. He’s improved a great deal in the last 2 years, but since I was hired, I have had to repeat a variation on – you decided to keep him on during the bad times, knowing the issues, you can’t keep punishing him now that he’s improved.

        The layoff is a legitimate response to a financial need, but there are a lot of people who will be pretty happy (at least relieved) that he will be in the first group to go – and he knows it.

        I can honestly say now that I am willing to serve as a positive reference, after all of his hard work in the last 18 months – and I plan to tell him that.

        Thank you for your thoughts!

        1. Annie O

          Oh, that’s tough. I saw something similar once. A co-worker had some performance issues, was put on a PIP, and improved. A year later, that co-worker was in the first round of layoffs… due to the previous performance issues. I don’t know if it’s the best course of action, but the manager chose not to mention the performance aspect at all and instead told the co-worker that the layoff was due to budgetary issues.

        2. Leid Hoff

          I’ve been laid off twice.

          The first time I was told I would be laid off in 3 months time, however everything was immediately taken away from me and I had to sit at my desk doing nothing for three months, and I was not allowed to look for a job or use the Internet during my in-office time. This killed my self-esteem and put me into a depression because I had to drag myself into the office every day. Toxic boss told his entire staff to not speak to me for this whole time. I think the HR manager thought he was doing me a favor by keeping me on the payroll, but it was a battle between toxic boss and HR manager and I was stuck in the middle.

          The second time, it was a one-minute conversation and I was out of there. As bad as this was it was refreshing compared to the prior situation.

    3. Elkay

      Being on the receiving end this is what helped me:

      Let her go home if she wants to, I was allowed to do this and it was great to be able to go home and not have to sit at work with a brave face on it.

      Let her know when everyone else will be told.

      Pull her into a meeting first thing the next morning to see how she’s doing.

      1. Jennifer

        Or just do it at the very end of the day (preferably Friday). Don’t deliver bad news at 8 a.m.

        1. OhNo

          Oh, no, don’t do it on a Friday. If it were me, that would absolutely ruin my weekend and destroy any plans I might have had.

          Close to the end of the week? Certainly. Maybe Thursday afternoon or something, so that the employee can leave early if they are distraught, and maybe even take a long weekend if they really need to.

    4. Natalie

      Be as generous with severance as you possibly can. In particular, I would pay out her banked vacation whether or not your state requires it – that was part of her compensation package and she should get it.

      If her job isn’t ending that day, tell her later in the day and then give her the rest of the day off (paid). It’s hard to have that conversation and then have to go back to work, particularly if she didn’t notice this was coming.

    5. Joie de Vivre

      Provide any information she will need in writing (i.e. last paycheck, insurance info, severance etc.). She’s likely to be upset and those type of details are often forgotten.

      Ask if there is anyone she is particularly close to that she’d like to speak with herself before you tell others.

      Be prepared to offer transportation home if she feels too overwhelmed to drive.

      1. CC

        Offering someone a chance to tell selected others before the official announcement is nice, but delivering the bad news then telling the just-laid-off person that they have to tell their co-workers the news right then, as part of handing over the projects they’re working on, is uncomfortable, to say the least.

        They did the rest of it pretty well; toward end of the day, all the details in writing, stuff like that.

    6. CTO

      I am actually about to be laid off from a nonprofit (funding cuts, but at least I’ve had several months of warning). Since I’ve had a very long notice period I have been able to take the time to take care of those small details gradually along the way.

      What I wish I had from upper management is, “I’m sorry this has happened; we will miss you.” Seriously, no one has said anything like that. It’s like they don’t know that they are dealing with a real human being whose life will be negatively impacted by being laid off.

      My direct supervisor has been very supportive about keeping me informed, letting me know how I’ll be missed, transition planning, serving as a reference, etc.

      So it sounds simple, but it makes a big difference: express sympathy and thank them for their good work.

      1. MaryMary

        I think offering to serve as a reference or help with the impending job hunt can be very helpful, but only do that if you are comfortable following through. It sounds like there may have been on and off performance issues, so if you are willing to be a reference it could mean a lot.

    7. Rayner

      Offer her time to go home and compose herself if you can, or at least offer her a break so she can gather herself. Don’t press her for comments or remarks or information about projects then and there. Give her a time line for information that you need – 24 hours at minimum, on paper, and tell her that there’ll be another meeting later where she can plan her remaining work and projects and how to pass it off.

      Find before the meeting everything that Colette has recommended, and as much information as you can find about things like procedures for references, her calculated severance if you have any etc.

      And put it on paper.

      It’ll probably be distressing for her or at least a blow unless she somehow anticipated it and she’s not going to retain information very well. Put it on paper, so she can refer to it later.

      This is only if you trust her. Giving her respect is important at this point – you want to make this as easy and fair as possible. The goal isn’t to get shot of this person as soon as possible, it’s to make the transition and let everybody save face and get the best solution for them.

      Go in with that frame of reference, and you’ll find it easier. I wish you luck!

    8. HR Pro

      Others have given good advice. I wanted to add this:

      Yes, you should be in the meeting, too, because you are the person’s direct manager/supervisor. You are the one they have a relationship with (you’re the one who is generally in control of their working life). If you didn’t attend the meeting, the first thing the person would do is seek you out to ask if you knew about it.

      Prepare a lot ahead of time (go over what you’re going to say, anticipate questions, etc.). You (and the President) might get nervous ahead of time, but almost always, the anticipation is worse than the actual meeting.

  22. limenotapple

    Would you hire someone who was convicted of a felony? Would the circumstances matter? We interviewed someone who did something stupid when he was younger, and really wanted to give him a chance for a part-time job because it seemed like he got his act together, but he wouldn’t take responsibility for what he did. He kept saying, “Oh, it wasn’t my fault because X and Y and these other reasons”. I think if he would have just taken responsibility and explained how he turned things around, it would have been more encouraging.

    1. ArtsNerd

      Yeah, deflecting the responsibility is a big red flag. You want to hire someone who can own up to mistakes on the job and move past them, and not just blame everyone else for them.

    2. Del

      I think the circumstances would matter enormously. What the conviction was for, what the job would entail, how long ago they committed the crime, what their attitude was in discussing it… all of these would be highly relevant.

      But good on you for considering it and hoping strongly to give him the chance! I think you were right to be concerned about the refusal to take responsibility, but I still really like that you didn’t write him off out of hand.

    3. Turanga Leela

      I agree with ArtsNerd. I would hire a convicted felon, the circumstances would absolutely matter, and I wouldn’t hire someone who was still making excuses.

      I would want to see different levels of contrition (for lack of a better word) depending on the particular crime. If the candidate had really hurt someone, I would want to know that she had reflected on the crime and changed her life. It would be a serious conversation. On the other hand, I know a guy with a felony conviction for illegally downloading movies when he was in college. I would still expect him not to make excuses for that, but the reality is that many, many students were doing the same thing at that time and he was unlucky enough to get caught. If he said, “It was dumb to do this, I should have known better, and I don’t do it anymore,” that’s pretty much all I would expect.

    4. CTO

      Agreed. I’ve worked with and supervised many people with felony records. The only troublesome ones were the people who refused to take responsibility, own up to the mistake, and explain what’s different now. The felony isn’t a red flag so much as the inability to own up to it is.

    5. MaryMary

      I used to volunteer with a organization that worked to place difficult to employ individuals. Almost all of the individuals had felony convictions, some also had past substance abuse problems. The first thing people in the program were taught was to take responsibility for what had happened. They were also trained to emphasize what they had learned from the experience and why it was important to them to move on. Some people had made a one time, stupid, youthful mistake. But I worked with other people who had committed serious crimes (grand theft, fraud, assault, and even murder). Participants were not permitted to enter into the employment program unless they were serious about changing your life and taking responsibility for past mistakes. The program had a great success rate, but it could not be completed without participants doing at least two mock interviews (which was my role as a volunteer), which included taking responsibility for their past.

      1. Not So NewReader

        This. Let’s say it truly was not his fault. He can still say “I learned about choosing friends. I learned that I had to be more picky about who I hang out with and what activities we do together.” OR He could say something similar to “I was hanging out in [rougher section of town] and I do not go there anymore. I found productive activities to fill my spare time.”

        Watch the blame game. I have a friend who is so determined to live a different life that everything he mentions about the past he will say “That was my mistake because I should have chosen Y, not X.” He is able to explain how he is responsible in some manner for what happened. Sometimes his critique of his own behavior is hard to listen to because he is so blunt/candid. But what he says make sense.

        The guy you are talking about is not there yet.

    6. Henrietta Gondorf

      It absolutely matters what the circumstances are. Aggravated assault is substantively different than receiving stolen property or a drug offense. How long it’s been since the offense, other signs of trouble are also key.

      I won’t say a felony is an absolute non-starter, but I need to feel confident the candidate can do the job and poses no risk to the business, its money, employees or clients. It’s also position dependent, both with respect to what I’m hiring for and what the conviction is for.

  23. Anon for this one

    I have a question for anyone who’s made the jump from non-profits to the corporate world. I’m considerig leaving my non-profit job if circumstances don’t change in the next year (increase in pay and responsibility). Did you find it easy to switch over? How do you craft a cover letter when there’s no mission you believe in or participate in? Right now, I can talk about my personal commitment to the field, but I don’t know that I can make such a strong statement for a corporate job. Did you also feel guilty about leaving a field you care about? Right now that’s a big one for me, but I don’t see upward mobility here and I want a more livable wage and more stability. Many thanks!

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Cover letter: Talk about your commitment to / passion for the work you’d be doing, as opposed to the organization itself, and why you’re awesome at it.

      Guilt: Oh yes. But you can contribute in other ways, lots of which can end up having as much or more of an impact than working in the field.

    2. anon in tejas

      I went from nonprofit to government job a few years ago.

      It was an interesting switch. I got a major (like $12K) raise so that helped considerably.

      Both were direct services work, but being at the govt job allowed me to donate more time/effort to nonprofit volunteer work off the clock instead of being too burned out to do that.

      I think that you have to think of your motivations/goals away from mission driven to the org. It’s not hard, because we all have them. For me, it was toning down the intensity of my day to day work, increasing my skills by being around more skilled people with opportunities to grow, increased person and organizational stability, etc. I think that it’s fair to say those are motivating factors in making the jump.

      Also, you should be able to demonstrate that you’ll be good at what you do and how/whether you get motivation from that. Lots of people work outside of nonprofits and struggle with the issues that you are articulating, I think that if you give it some thought you’ll do some front end thinking on how to find the best fit.

    3. Dan

      In the more general sense, I find the statement “I work for a nonprofit” to be quite fascinating. I’ve said this before on this forum — nobody ever says “I work for a for-profit.”

      I made the jump from a for-profit to a non-profit. Interestingly enough, I more or less do the same thing technical work. I could easily jump to the government or back to a for-profit and still do similar work.

      The advice to focus on the *work* is spot on. TBH, I could care less that who I do the work for makes a few $ off my back, or that they aren’t making anything. What I *do* care about is whether or not making a buck takes priority over getting my job done right.

      Not all for-profits have to act like it. By that, I mean at the worker-bee level, I don’t have to come to work and listen to management complain that we aren’t making “the numbers.” I don’t have to listen to management make vague statements about “cutting costs” without any real substance to it. (Non-profits *can* — and do — lose money, so it’s not as if $ isn’t something that never gets talked about.)

      In the end, I think a lot of people over-emphasize the “feel good” nature of non-profit work. Not all for-profits suck to work for, and there are plenty of bad non-profits. Focus on the work/field and you’ll be fine.

      One thing though — you say you can talk about your commitment to the field, but then you are feeling guilty about leaving the field? That seems to be a conflicting statement.

      P.S. My nonprofit does pay living wages (and then some) so that tax status alone shouldn’t imply that you yourself have to live a life of poverty.

      1. Lucy

        Someone once told me that there are many ways to “make a difference” – a fashion designer can make a difference by creating a piece of clothing that makes someone feel great about herself, etc– I think this is an important thought to keep in mind when leaving non-profit for a for-profit job.

      2. AVP

        I work for a company that is legally allowed to make a profit but does not – and I always want to co-opt that terminology!

    4. CTO

      I’m in the process of making the same leap! It’s intimidating, for sure.

      What helps me feel less guilty is realizing that I’ve been putting my career ahead of other personal priorities for a long time (because those priorities cost money that I won’t make in the nonprofit sector with my current experience/education). I’m not chasing more money for money’s sake, but for the things I can do with it: go back to school, raise kids, be in a better place for retirement, things like that.

      Over time, our priorities may shift back and forth. That’s very normal and very important. As others have said, you can still have a very positive impact on the world. And for what it’s worth, 100% of my nonprofit-sector friends understand and support my choice. Some even envy it.

    5. Rat Racer

      I went from working in a non-profit to a for-profit, and for-profit companies have missions too (although often the second clause of the mission is, “…and make a million bajillion dollars for our stockholders!”

      The guilt is hard. I have a degree in public policy and all my grad school colleagues are off saving polar bears and fighting government corruption, while I work for a for-profit insurance company that shows up in the media all the time as the quintessence of evil.

      I will say this though: never in my career have I worked with such smart, dedicated, accountable and kind people at this for-profit company. And the department I work for is doing amazing things in health care, even though their focus is on the bottom line. My point being that it’s not black and white: for-profits can do great things for the world too.

      (Still, I’m not about to brag about who I work for at any UC Berkeley alumni happy hours…)

  24. KarenT

    Here’s a question. I’m hiring right now for a position that’s one step above entry level. Naturally most of our entry level candidates apply. I have one applicant who applied and I know he thinks he’s got a great shot, but I’m not even considering him. He doesn’t report to me now, but he works closely with my department. He has no sense of urgency–he is seriously late with everything and has a really negative attitude to go along with it. I’ve heard him say multiple times, “X Company sucks” and he complains about our company processes ALL. THE. TIME. He’s been spoken to about the consequences of his actions–his lateness has delayed some important projects but it doesn’t seem to have sunk in. He also doesn’t seem to care much for accuracy either. Mistakes in his work are often pointed out, and he really doesn’t seem to care.

    I’m going to tell him I’m not going to interview him (although my company will probably make me sit down with him and discuss his career/future options, what he could do to get his position in the future, etc.). I’m fine with telling I’m not going to interview him, and I’m even fine with telling him why, but I’m not sure how much information to give him. Should I just say “Based on the work we’ve seen from you we can’t consider you for this position,” or do I tell him about the attitude problem as well? I’m not his current manager, so I’m not sure it’s my place…

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I would call it out, both on principle and because it will actually help him to hear it. For instance: “I want to be honest with you that I was surprised to get your application, because you’ve been so vocal about not liking Company X. Can you tell me more about that?”

      1. KarenT

        Sold! I’m using that exact wording. I’d like to tell him, as he’s a pretty smart kid so I think if he turned his attitude around a bit, he’d have some potential.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          It might also be worth nicely telling him at some point during the conversation that regularly trash-talking your employer not only makes it unlikely that you’ll get promoted, but it can even make it unlikely that you keep your current job :)

          1. KarenT

            I’ve wanted to for a while, but I’ve been worried about stepping on toes since he’s not in my department. This is probably my shot.
            I also think it’s something he does with peers as a bonding thing, or a venting thing. He’s never said it to me directly, but in my presence to his peers.

    2. Daisy

      My company requires an ‘acceptable’ performance evaluation in order to apply to an internal position (no idea if they actually check that, though). Does yours? Does he meet it? I’m surprised he is still working there if his performance is so sub-par.
      If he’s generally qualified otherwise and you feel you need to address why you don’t want to interview him, I would skip the attitude part because it would add fuel to the fire of his negativity (although maybe then he’d leave!).

      1. KarenT

        I think his performance is good in some areas, and pretty weak in others. The rest of the internal candidates are pretty awesome, so in my eyes he doesn’t even compare.
        We actually don’t require a positive performance review to promote (the argument being that someone struggling in a sales job might do well in editorial, or vice versa). But we can pull them as part of the hiring process. I could take a look at his last PA but I don’t think it would influence me much.

  25. Amanda

    I have a bit of a professional ethics dilemma I’ve been waiting to ask about.

    In grad school, I did some work for what could loosely be called a next-generation educational company. They wanted my expertise in my field of study mostly in writing, fact-checking, and editing. I wasn’t wild about the way they assigned me work or the way in which they wanted me to carry it out, but I was well-suited for it and it paid well and I needed the money.

    That work dried up and I moved on. Shortly after that, the company was sued by a more longstanding educational company for copyright infringement; nothing connected to the work I was doing, but it still left a bad taste in my mouth.

    Fast-forward a few years to now. They’ve asked me if I want some more work. I’m saving for a new car, a down payment, and a wedding. I could really use the money. The work they’re asking me to do seems like it will fit better with the way I want to work. However, I’m a bit squicked out by the lawsuit. I still work in education, in a small niche corner of it, and while I personally haven’t done a single thing connected with copyright infringement or anything else the lawsuit alleged, it makes me nervous.

    Thoughts? Questions I should ask? Should I just stay away, no matter how welcome the money would be?

    1. Amanda

      I should add, the company settled the lawsuit out of court, all details are sealed, and they are proceeding in their work, so while clearly they admitted some culpability they were not halted in their work and presumably what they’re doing going forward has not caused any problems.

      1. Not So NewReader

        A lawsuit can be settled out of court to avoid an admission of guilt. Sometimes the opposing party can agree to such an arrangement because the opposing party knows it does not have that strong a case. The defendant agrees because this is actually cheaper than going to court and being cleared of culpability.

        I would ask questions about their current policies and procedures. Is there a book or a document on their intranet that employees can access and review as needed? Is the document updated at regular intervals? If you encounter an “iffy” situation yourself what is the SOP that you should follow?

    2. KarenT

      Unless you know of deliberate wrong doing on the company’s part, I wouldn’t worry about it. Big companies sue each other All. The. Time, and copyright and trademark law are so confusing right now that companies are struggling to understand best practices. I work in publishing, and we’ve got inhouse legal counsel, a firm that works with us on intellectual property issues, and we still get sued all the time while we are doing are best to comply with the law.

      1. Amanda

        Thanks, KarenT, that does help actually – this is related to publishing. As an academic, copyright is something I take extremely seriously so it was worrying to even see the allegation. I don’t know any of the details, really, and didn’t know of any deliberate wrongdoing. Seemed like more a case of pushing the envelope and then tripping over it.

    3. Del

      I would definitely ask about issue — the details of the settlement might be sealed, but you can still ask, for example, what procedures changed after the settlement, and what new procedures are in place to make sure the issue doesn’t arise again.

    4. Cat

      I would say that settling doesn’t necessarily mean wrongdoing. It might mean that they felt like they had some exposure and didn’t think it was worth spending the money litigating. Copyright law is far from a simple “yes/no – wrong/right” dichotomy, and being sued for a violation of copyright law doesn’t necessarily mean you plagiarized wholesale. It might well mean you were doing something most of us would view as fair use but which the copyright holder in question happened to dislike; but showing fair use is a highly fact-intensive inquiry and very expensive to litigate. The incentive to settle is high.

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with asking about what happened, but I do think it’s good to keep in mind that copyright suits in the corporate setting are often much murkier ethically than an undergrad plagiarizing a paper.

  26. KerryOwl

    Let’s say you call out sick, and you’re actually legitimately sick (like stomach troubles, or a migraine.) If you’re feeling better by lunchtime, do you think you’re (morally/ethically) obligated to go back to the office, assuming you could get there in time to put in a full afternoon? Or attempt to work from home? Or do you think it’s all right to then do something else — like laundry, or shopping, or even something fun?

    1. Programmer 01

      It really depends on you and your situation. If I was in the middle of a project push I’d go back, but if it was a quiet week then taking the rest of the day as self-care is totally fine. Chores, errands, even fun can all fall under self care!

      Just… don’t do it where someone from work is going to run into you, because it’s pretty much guaranteed to happen. ;)

    2. LBK

      I think it depends on the impact to your office. If the only person whose work is thrown off by you not being there is your own, go for it. If there’s a big project deadline coming up or some other team item that will put other people behind and cause more work for them if you’re not there, I’d probably try to go in or WFH.

    3. anonnypants

      I think it’s probably up to you. You could think of the half day as a “mental health day” if it would help you take it off.

      Also, sometimes you feel a lot better, but you might still be too tired/hazy to do good work at your job.

    4. anon in tejas

      I call out sick and tell my boss at the time whether or not I think that I will be able to make it in. I normally shoot to do so, because of the nature of my position/work.

      so, at my office, yes the expectation is that you will come in.

      1. anon in tejas

        also we have incentives to keep our sick time usage low.

        my old office did not have these policies, incentives or culture, so people would generally be out the entire day.

    5. Anoners

      I wouldn’t go back to work, but I also wouldn’t leave my house to do chores or phone things in case a coworker sees you. I would probably just chill out in my house and call it a day.

    6. Claire MKE

      I say no, I wouldn’t. Plus, in my experience, pushing yourself as soon as you’re like “hey, I feel better!” is the best way to not fully recover and end up sick again later/the next day, so even if you think you’re all set by lunch, I’d still take the rest of the day to recuperate. (Honestly, it would be weird/surprising to me if a coworker called in sick and then suddenly showed up after lunch, barring some kind of emergency)

      1. Elizabeth West

        Me either–I’ve found that if I’m sick enough to stay home even part of the day, resting is best. If I get up and around too soon, I pay for it.

    7. littlemoose

      I’ve definitely experienced this – migraine in the morning, called in sick, and then with medication and more sleep felt better. I’ve never gone back into work at lunch or for the latter half of the day, although I’ve considered it. I am somewhat concerned that it cos come back, and I would hate to show up for work and then leave again. I guess I’ve also thought that it might make me look flaky, like maybe I just didn’t feel like getting up that morning rather than actually feeling poorly. I have just stayed home and done some light household chores, maybe gone out to run one quick errand but that’s it. I have gone out that evening, but generally felt guilty about it, even though the work hours are over anyway.

    8. Jennifer

      I’ve always wondered about it. I suspect that it makes you sound like a bogus liar to be all, “I’m too sick to work” at 8 but then you’re fine by 11 a.m., though. I wish I could call in sick just for the morning (I’m a night owl and pretty much don’t feel normal until around 11 anyway), but I think it just makes you look suspicious to bosses. So if you’re already out, you might as well stay out.

    9. Mints

      I’m definitely not going in later in the day. My commute is so terrible.

      But I think doing household chores is probably the best split because you feel productive now that you’re feeling better but not guilty since you’re still “working.” Is that just me? I’d feel guilty about going out to do something fun (meaning fun outside the house, Netflix or novels is totally fair game)

    10. Anonymous Educator

      I think it really depends on the type of job you have.

      If you’re on some kind of shift job, and someone has to cover your shift, and your going in in the second half of the day would make it easier for that person (and you genuinely are fully healthy, not just “feeling better but not 100%”), go in.

      If, however, there really isn’t that much added benefit to the company or your co-workers of you going in later, and you actually have to use up a sick day to stay home, might as well take the rest of the day to relax and get fully rested so you’re ready to go full throttle when you return to work the next day.

    11. Not So NewReader

      I very seldom call in sick. Therefore, once I call in that is it for me for the day. Even if I feel better, I then take a ME day. I do stuff around the house that I have been meaning to do and never had time.
      I don’t go anywhere. I could be seen by someone and the rumor mill being what it is, that is just not worth it to me.
      I think if you go shopping, etc that could bite you later on. Best to just stay low key. I had one toxic job that calling in sick automatically meant I would feel better before noon. I decided my mental health needed some quiet time, too. So I would stay put at home.

    12. KrisL

      If you call in sick, and you feel better, I don’t think you’re necessarily obligated to go back, but I do think you shouldn’t go out. Stay at home and take it easy; that way you’re more likely to feel totally OK the next day.

  27. Kay

    Have an interview today that I have been “practicing the crap out of” while reviewing AAM’s interview guide. Wish me luck!!!

    1. Vancouver Reader

      You don’t need luck, you’ve got it covered by reading AAM’s interview guide. You’ll rock it.

      1. Kay

        Thanks!

        I think it went pretty well. I talked to the guy for ~3 hrs! Longest first interview I’ve ever had, but he seemed really intrigued by my variety of experience. I think I’ll be asked back for a 2nd interview that could be a whole-day event.

        How does one prepare for a full day of shadowing/skills testing?

  28. Programmer 01

    I just wanted to say that partly in thanks to this community, I returned to work this week and only had 2000 emails to deal with after two weeks out, heh. I have TON of support from my manager and my project manager, they say anytime I need out it is okay, no questions asked. The new meds seem to be working, although they’re making my head a little funny now and then.

    Someone here (I think?) suggested Focus At Will and I had tried the free version for a bit, and decided to pay the yearly fee — it’s honestly been incredible. It filters the office noise really well, and yesterday when I was feeling tired I pumped up the tempo and it was like a cup of coffee. Some of my PTSD treatment includes cognitive behaviour therapy, and some of it involves conscious relaxation which can be hard to do at work and still stay active and productive, but this seems to really fit the bill.

    You’re the best. Thank you.

    1. Celeste

      Hooray! This makes me so happy. I was looking for you upstream as I missed OT last week.

    2. C Average

      I love the updates from you and am so glad things are looking up. I hope the positive momentum continues for you!

  29. LAI

    Anyone have suggestions for how I can motivate myself to be on time for work when no one is really checking on me? My last job was extremely flexible on schedules and I regularly came in 60-90 minutes late – if I had arrived on time, I would have been the only person in the office for at least half an hour. I was/am exempt, and I usually worked through lunch/stayed late/took work home so I’m confident that I worked well over 40 hours per week and that no one ever thought I was slacking off – they just didn’t care when/where I did my work. In my new job that I started this week though, the work is much more of the nature that must be done in the office and people tend to arrive on time or even early. It’s my first week so I obviously need to be making a good impression but even still, I am finding it hard to get in at 8am! I snooze my alarm, I take too long getting ready, I stop for coffee on my way in… I realize that the answer is just to stop doing those things, but then I also think that no one really notices whether I get in a 7:55 or 8:05… do they?

    1. Anon For This

      It would depend on the type of felony, how recent the crime was, whether s/he was convicted, and the job requirements. For instance, I would probably not hire a person convicted of theft to work as an accountant. I also would not hire a person convicted of armed robbery to work as an armed security guard. If the person presents some kind of danger to the workplace, I lean towards not hiring the person. Yet, I would consult with your employment law attorney regarding whether s/he should be hired if you feel that s/he is the best candidate. I do agree with you… I would be reluctant to hire someone who did not take responsibility for the crime, and explained how s/he turned things around.

      1. Heather

        Great misplaced post…I think there are people who think not getting in to work super early should be a felony ;)

        LAI – No advice, but I totally sympathize. One of the things I’d be afraid of if I were switching jobs is that I’d have to come in earlier and I wouldn’t be able to pull it off.

        I try so hard to get to bed earlier every night, but I have the most energy after 8 pm and it’s really hard to shut myself down just when I’m being the most productive. Weekends are even worse because even if I try to get up at a normal time, it’s like my body knows it doesn’t have to be anywhere and will not cooperate. I’m pretty sure morning people just think I’m lazy.

        1. Jill-be-Nimble

          I’m in your same position! I’m a night owl by nature. The only thing I like about my current temp job is that nobody rolls into the office until ~10:30. I wake up around 9:30 every day after many Snoozes and remind myself that most people have already been in the office for at least an hour! I’m frantically looking for a better job, but losing this part will make me sad. (And I’m terrified that I won’t be able to adjust!)

    2. fposte

      In your first week, they may well notice. Put the clock across the room, lay out your clothes the night before, and get there on time for a while.

    3. Jess

      I am a lot like you. I am routinely up to an hour “late” for work but nobody cares (my boss knows and is okay with it, so basically it’s flex time). I do have to make it up at the end of the day though which kind of sucks. To get myself out of the habit I started setting multiple alarms on my phone 5:30 to wake up, 5:45 to be done with breakfast, 6:00 to be done with coffee/staring into space, etc., so I’m constantly aware of when I’m dilly dallying.

      I have to admit, some mornings I just can’t deal with the rushing around though and end up ignoring the alarms – but it is a conscious decision.

      1. Heather

        Ooh, I like the idea of setting alarms for each task! Sometimes I set an alarm at night to say IT IS TIME TO GET READY FOR BED but it never occurred to me to do it in the morning. If it works, you will be my hero.

        Now if only I could set one for the cat that says “petting time is over, Mom has to go earn money to keep you in Temptations.”

        1. LBK

          My cat has been the cause of my lateness on multiple occasions. Either because just as I’m about to get up she plops down on my chest and falls asleep and I don’t have the heart to move such an adorable little fluff munchkin, or because she posts herself by the front door demanding head scratches and nips at my ankles if I try to leave without giving them to her. She’s a cute but stern owner.

          1. Heather

            Exactly. It’s the feline equivalent of “the dog ate my homework.” (And cats are too smart to eat paper when they can just go nag their person for real food.)

          2. LAI

            Seriously, I have told people (at my old job) that if my dog were not so adorable when he asks for belly rubs, I would be consistently 10 minutes earlier to work every day.

      2. Mints

        I do this in my head, not setting actual alarms. Like 6:00 I need to be done grooming and start breakfast. But If it’s 6:05 and I’m still fighting my hair, I consciously think “I’m having nice hair and eating on the way or bad hair and eat now.” I still end up rushing sometimes, but I know ahead of time I’m running late

        1. Heather

          That’s sort of what I try to do now, but I’m way too easily distracted. I’ll be 95% ready to go and then suddenly 10 minutes have gone by and I don’t even know what I wasted them on.

      3. Chloe Silverado

        I do this too! At my last job, no one cared if I arrived 20-30 minutes late as long as I got my work done. At my current job, my manager essentially said this to me during my first week and then completely changed her tune a year later during my performance review, citing my frequent lateness as an issue. I was mortified and explained my misunderstanding, but obviously I had to change my behavior. I so wish she had told sooner though!

        I now set up my coffee maker the night before, set 2 wake up alarms (one of which is across the room), drink my coffee while I’m getting ready and have a 15 minute warning alarm just in case. If I’m feeling particularly blah on a certain week and think waking up will be harder than usual, I sometimes ask a friend to shoot me a text at a certain time reminding me that it is time to rise and shine! This has worked out pretty well.

        1. TheSnarkyB

          This sounds like a great set up.
          For some reason, I’m almost only ofntime when I drink my coffee in the shower. My boyfriend thinks it’s the weirdest habit but my hair is super thick and takes a long time to get wet so I have to spend that time well!

      4. LAI

        Thanks Jess! I really like this idea. I do know basically how long each task takes, and how long my commute is, so this would be easy to do. And then if I’m running late, I can decide which things I still have time for and what I need to skip!

    4. Jake

      This totally depends on your company and industry. My industry has a huge population of workers that worked hourly for 20+ years, but now they are salaried. As such, they tend to notice people leaving early or showing up late, and they do not account for work taken home.

      That being said, I’ve heard enough stories about workplaces don’t care about the clock to believe that they exist, so the only way to know is to observe your new environment.

    5. Allison

      I’m in a similar boat, adjusting to a new work schedule. One thing that motivates me to get there on the early side is parking; our lot fills up by 8:15, if I get in later than that I need to park across the street. Big pain. And the sooner I get in, the sooner I can leave, and leaving earlier means less traffic and more parking when I get home. In theory, anyway.

      (we’ll see how all that pans out this afternoon. can’t wait for all the fun vacation traffic, it’s gonna be greeaaaaat)

      Another thing that helps is having a routine and sticking to it. Get up at X time, eat breakfast, brush teeth, get dressed, keep an eye on the clock and really try to be out the door by a set time. I keep the TV off and limit my web browsing during breakfast.

      Not sure how you’re getting to work, but find some motivation to get in early, and tell yourself that when you’re tempted to hit the snooze button or dilly dally.

      1. LAI

        Thanks Allison! I actually take public transit which sometimes makes the problem worse. Like if I’m not sure I’ll make the train and don’t want to run, then I might as well just stay at home for 10 more minutes and get the next one.

    6. LCL

      If you are working for a place that has a definite start time, they will notice. Lateness can cause you to be seen in a very negative way. The chronically late are perceived as either arrogant or stupid. I am not calling you any of those things! But people will think that.

      Lateness is heard as “getting to work on time is for all you little timebound people with small horizons and small brains. But I am more perceptive than you and know better so I’ll get there when I get there.” Or you are just too dumb to figure out a routine that works.

      It may not matter in this office, I realize there are many jobs where it doesn’t. Better to play it safe until you learn the office culture.

    7. CTO

      I find I’m never late (and usually early) for a job/appointment that starts at a specific time, but if I don’t have a concrete important reason to be there at a certain time I’m much more likely to be late.

      If you’re the same way, perhaps it would help to have some kind of meeting/appointment first thing in the morning?

      1. LAI

        It definitely would! Part of the problem is that we are supposed to be there at 8am but the office doesn’t officially open until 9am so usually nothing is scheduled 8-9am. The other problem is that it’s easy for me to go straight to my office when I get in without seeing many people so they don’t really know when I get here. I also get paranoid that if I leave my office anytime between 8-9am and someone sees me coming back that they will think I just arrived!

    8. rollcake

      If others are early or on-time, they will notice. I was surprised to learn that my supervisor was noticing very carefully when she gave me this positive feedback: “Thank you for coming in early so that you can hit the bathroom / grab coffee / etc and be actually working when the clock strikes 9.”

      I also set various activity alarms: first wake up, second wake up if I neglect to snooze (sometimes I use the snooze alarm as cat-petting time if I end up rousing myself on the first ring), and the all-important Leave For The Bus Right Now No Exceptions alarm.

    9. Not So NewReader

      The answer to your “do they notice?” question is always YES, until proven otherwise. Matter of fact, the best answer is “Yes, they notice and they are writing down every time you are late.”

      Until someone comes up to me and says “You know, we wander in between 8 and 8:30 and that is okay”, I would be on time each day.

      I had a job where I would get dinged for being 30 seconds late. Yes, 30 seconds. Which was really interesting because no two clocks had the same time so how did they figure out what the exact time was? (Pre-computer days.)

  30. Anon For This

    It would depend on the type of felony, how recent the crime was, whether s/he was convicted, and the job requirements. For instance, I would probably not hire a person convicted of theft to work as an accountant. I also would not hire a person convicted of armed robbery to work as an armed security guard. If the person presents some kind of danger to the workplace, I lean towards not hiring the person. Yet, I would consult with your employment law attorney regarding whether s/he should be hired if you feel that s/he is the best candidate. I do agree with you… I would be reluctant to hire someone who did not take responsibility for the crime, and explained how s/he turned things around.

  31. Mimmy

    Those of you who’ve been following my posts know that I’ve been involved in several committees/groups/councils, including a recent appointment to a state-level council that is related to what I hope to eventually build my career around. Plus, I have applied to a graduate certificate program that I think will help in working effectively with this council and any future opportunities.

    So….my question is how to leverage all of this towards finally getting back into meaningful employment. Here are my concerns:

    1. As some of you may remember, I have a disability, and a lot of my recent work has been with disability advocacy groups. I am also involved with a council that focuses on broader human service issues, but being so involved in disability groups could also backfire–the groups I’m involved with are comprised mostly of people with disabilities. Yes, many of us have professional work experience, but still, employers do discriminate, unfortunately.

    2. I also don’t want to be tagged as a perennial volunteer. Because I’ve had such a difficult time finding work, I decided to get involved with all of these groups as a way to learn new skills and acquire knowledge that I felt I was lacking. This is also why I applied for this grad certificate.

    3. I will also admit that I’m probably not suited for most traditional work environments. I’ve done the whole fast-paced, working with the public thing in internships and past jobs, but it’s not for me. Just give me a project that involves some research or writing or even putting together a resource document, and I’m a happy camper!

    I think right now, I’d at least like to find a part-time job that’ll bring in extra income (my husband works full-time) while staying with my current activities. People suggest working from home, but dang it, I’d like to see the world occasionally! lol.

    So what can I do to ensure that I’m not going to be stuck in the volunteer silo while at the same time not getting myself into a situation where I’m going out of my mind? I know not to act like I’m using these groups with the ulterior motive of getting a job, but I do want people to know that I am very career-minded. I have the passion and potential…I just need an outlet that also brings in income and doesn’t involve such a sporadic schedule. Or should even let the whole “I need to get a job” mindset go?

    1. fposte

      I feel like you’re asking a few different things here, so let me tackle them in my brain’s order.

      You would like a job, but you’d like a fairly specific kind of job, and you’re pretty geographically limited, as I recall. So are you seeing those jobs, and have you been applying to them? Because if you’re not seeing them or applying to them, the volunteer issue is moot as far as job translation goes.

      You do have a work gap, a subject that gets talked about here pretty frequently (like in the previous post today), but you also have some really substantial volunteering that will get you more cred than most. I think you might find it useful to make as many contacts as possible when you’re doing your certificate, because academics and academic-adjacent fields tend to be some of the likeliest places to find the kind of work you’re talking about.

      But you may also want to think about what you want your life to look like if you don’t find a position within those parameters, because that’s a pretty specific target to meet. Would you still want to do the volunteer work you’re doing if you weren’t aiming toward a job? Can you find something that’s less sporadic, even if unpaid, in the places you’re already involved that you’d be satisfied with doing long-term? Do you feel obliged to be “career-minded” or is it something you really, really want?

      1. Mimmy

        Good things to think about, fposte. Let’s see what I can answer now:

        I’ll concede that I’ve pretty much given up actively searching–I still do check selected job search sites and university job postings to see if something appropriate comes up. However, I think I literally need to start from scratch. I do hope to make some connections in my council and, if I get into this certificate program, through my classes. My problem is coming up with what to say that’s accurate but still keeps me in a positive light. I think this might be where I’ve been falling short in previous attempts to make contacts.

        because academics and academic-adjacent fields tend to be some of the likeliest places to find the kind of work you’re talking about.

        I would love to work in an academic or academic-adjacent (not sure what that means) setting. I’ve read that this can be a very difficult niche to break into, but I’m still hopeful.

        But you may also want to think about what you want your life to look like if you don’t find a position within those parameters, because that’s a pretty specific target to meet.

        I’ll admit that I’ve probably been pretty narrow-minded.

        Would you still want to do the volunteer work you’re doing if you weren’t aiming toward a job? Can you find something that’s less sporadic, even if unpaid, in the places you’re already involved that you’d be satisfied with doing long-term?

        Oh I’d absolutely stick with the volunteer work regardless! The woman who recruited me to the state council said that it is quite a bit of work. They put out a reminder to the new members to sign up for committees, so hopefully that’ll yield more regular work (if the Chair of the committee I want to be on ever gets back to me!!!!)

        Do you feel obliged to be “career-minded” or is it something you really, really want?

        This is something my husband sometimes asks – he worries that I’m feeling pressured to get a paid job. He does say it’d be appreciated when I told him I hope to get something part-time. I do really, really want a meaningful career, but I also feel a slight sense of obligation because my husband’s job is often subject to potential layoffs (he’s been with his company, I think, 26 years). Especially since he’s technically eligible for retirement–he’s still young, so he’s sticking around as long as they’ll have him, but the company occasionally asks for volunteers to retire, so he could easily be called upon for this.

        I feel like I’ve just been winging it, and I’m not proud of that. I’ve been wanting a career coach/counselor just to talk things through and get a sense of my direction, but I’ve lost faith in previous resources, and private coaches are too pricey.

        1. Not So NewReader

          I totally enjoyed going to a life coach. The best part was looking at all the aspects of my life, as part of thinking about what a job for me would look like.

          My other thought is have you told people you are looking for paying work? If yes, then find new people to tell. If no, then start saying “hey if you see an opening that looks like something I would like, would you let me know?” I have found that the people who come back to me with information are NOT the people I am closest to. So that was an odd thing to learn.

          The times in my life that I have struggled the most is when I have allowed myself to be alone, I did not reach out for more and more people. This gets tiring after the 300th person, but keep going. Don’t allow yourself to job hunt alone,keep bringing in other eyes and ears until you land something.

          If you can stomach it, which I could not do every day, is ask people what they see you doing. On good days, I would ask some trusted people and their answers were surprising.

          1. Mimmy

            I like that, NSNR! Yeah, getting nowhere after the 300th person definitely contributed to my pretty much putting my hands up in the air.

            I hear ya on the surprising answers, even when I don’t ask the question directly. I’ve had some people tell me I’d be good as a lecturer or instructor. I actually would love to be a “subject matter expert” and have thought of giving a class on a specific topic, but the idea scares me.

            There are roles I’d love to take on or at least try out, but I always have a “but” for my ideas and chicken out. (Yes, I know it’s a confidence issue). That’s why I need someone to sit down with and patiently help me think out my ideas, potentially dispel any of my concerns, and just figure out how to make the doable ideas a reality. That’s what all my unsuccessful outreach attempts have centered on.

            1. Not So NewReader

              It could be just me. But I honestly don’t believe that person exists as ONE person. The kind of inputs you are looking for come from several or more people and you string their answers together in a logical manner.
              That only sounds like PITA because it is.

              Random thoughts here:
              Subject matter expert. Learn the topic. When you know that you know, it matters
              less what others think.

              chickening out: Very few people were born with confidence. That is something you work at building up. So lack of confidence is more under the heading of “welcome to the human race”. Nobody can stop you from chickening out. BUT. Oddly, the more you try the more people will climb out of the woodwork to help you. I find that for the most part people will not help until I start something. Then I get five sets of hands helping out.

              dispelling concerns: I would love an exorcist to drive my fears right out of me. Nope, only I can drive my fears out of me. If you want to do better at X, find someone who is good at it and stay beside them for a bit. Fear is simply lack of information, knowledge. Find out what you don’t know and need to know in order to progress. I can be very afraid of something- but when I am beside a person who knows what they are doing my fear diminishes substantially and my learning starts.

              Go back to the people who said you should instruct and ask them what they think your best topics would be.
              Maybe consider Toastmasters for a few months to see if that is something for you. (Hint: If they have coffee together after, stay and have coffee with them.)

              Make a list of the 3-5 roles that really interest you. Hang on to that. Think about what the common threads are through out the group. (My common thread is living beings- plants, animals, people.)

              Make a short list of 2-3 things you feel you need to learn. Start looking around for trusted people that might have some suggestions on learning this stuff.

              You may be burned out on outreaching because you need to go through a spell of learning/training. This can be a relief from all that outreach stuff, an opportunity to recharge a little bit. Maybe get some new stuff under your belt and then try the outreach stuff again, later.

  32. Ann Furthermore

    So it was funny that there was a discussion in the open thread last week about aging, because the next day I had what might have been my first senior moment.

    I went to the mall Saturday morning to get one specific thing. When I was ready to pay for it, I realized I’d left my wallet in the car. So I said I was going to run out and get it, and I’d be right back. I went back outside, but through a different door than the one I’d gone in when I got there.

    I got completely disoriented and turned around, and walked around the parking lot for about 15 minutes trying to find my car. I pressed the horn button on my key remote, and got nothing. I started to freak out a little bit, and my mind immediately went to the worst-case scenario of my car disappearing, along with my drivers license and all my credit cards.

    Before completely panicking and calling 911, I called mall security first, figuring that’s what they’re there for. A very nice guy came by, picked me up, and we drove through the parking lot looking for my car. Didn’t find it. He finally said, “I really think you parked over there [the next section of the parking lot]. 99% of the time, that’s what it turns out to be. So we headed over there, and sure enough, there was my car.

    I was so relieved….and so embarrassed! I thanked the guy profusely, and told him I was hoping to at least make it to 50 before doing something like this, and he laughed and told me not to worry because it happens all the time. So the crisis was averted, I went back and paid for my purchase, and went on my way.

    If I hadn’t been worrying about my wallet, I probably would have found it on my own, but OMG. I felt like such an idiot. Getting old is not for sissies!

    1. Daisy

      I always park in the same part of the mall lot. That way I know where my car is, what store to use and where the door to the parking lot is.

      1. Elizabeth West

        That is exactly what I do. Because huge parking lot, and it’s incredibly easy to get turned around inside the mall even if you’re totally paying attention. Always in and out at Macy’s. Plus, for some reason, there are usually more parking spaces on that north side. :)

      2. Not So NewReader

        I do the same for each stand alone store I go to. A friend and I were laughing when we realized we both were doing this. It’s carelessness that causes my problem. I am going over my list, thinking about where it is in the store and totally neglect to notice which row I parked in.

        In my younger day, I knew every single store in the mall, I never forgot what row I was in or what door I used. Now, I find malls and large stores annoying/time consuming/not convenient. This attitude sets the tone and my grumbling chews up the brain space that used to remember where the car is. So I grumble more.

    2. Dang

      Haha! Glad you found the car! If it’s any consolation, a few years back my friend called me hysterically crying from the mall, saying her car had been stolen. She went to security and they helped her find it… In a different parking lot, where she had actually parked. She was 25 so I don’t think it was an age thing :)

      1. Arjay

        My brother stopped at a strip mall one afternoon, went into a store, came back out, and found that his car key suddenly wouldn’t open the car door . (This was back in the day before the electronic key fob.) He was headed to class and whatever was wrong with the car was going to make him late, so he was a little agitated. There was a dry cleaner in the shopping center, so he went there and borrowed a wire hanger to pop the door lock. He finally gets the door open, gets in the car, and notices all this weird stuff on the dashboard that doesn’t belong to him. Yes, he had just broken into a stranger’s similar car in broad daylight, when his car was parked another 5 or 6 cars down the row.

        1. Ann Furthermore

          Ha! One of my friends told me that she unlocked her car at the mall once and got in, and then wondered why someone had broken in and left a bunch of random stuff in her car. Then realized she had been able to unlock a car that wasn’t hers. LOL!

          Another friend went out of town, and when he came back he got into his car and started it up. Then wondered why someone would break into his car and change all his radio presets. Then realized that his favorite station had changed to a Spanish format while he was out of town.

    3. C Average

      True story: I almost always walk to work, but one day a few years back I drove my car for some reason. At the end of the day, just through force of habit, I walked home. When I got home and my car wasn’t in the garage, I absolutely panicked. It was–not even kidding–a solid five minutes before I realized my car was in the parking lot at work.

  33. Blue Anne

    I dyed my hair brown, for an interview. For the previous two years it had been an ever-changing neon.

    My manager has pretty clearly put two and two together and figures that I’m job-hunting. The first thing she said when she saw it was “Oh my god, Anne! Your hair! Are you job hunting?!” But at that point it was in a jokey way. I kind of wish I’d said something like “No, I was at a funeral over the weekend,” but…

    I’m pretty sure that sometime soon she’s going to sit me down and ask me more seriously. Hopefully I’ll have a job offer by then, but if I don’t, does anyone have advice for how to handle being asked flat out whether I’m interviewing elsewhere?

    1. anon in tejas

      I have been asked this before, and I don’t lie well.

      so, I have told the truth. And it luckily has not bit me in the butt. I would be cautious though.

      1. anon in tejas

        ps. you can use it as a reason to articulate what you are not getting from your job. for example, I am burned out because I am asked to fill many roles, and don’t have enough support. OR I’m looking for more stability, etc. It can be an opportunity to talk about what you are looking for elsewhere and whether or not your supervisor/boss can help with that. I may try to deflect the conversation into “I maybe looking, and if I was, I would be looking for X, Y, Z different from my current position”

    2. Jennifer

      You could tell your manager that you have a visiting relative around who freaks out at the idea of colored hair. (Possibly sounds stupid, but since I have relatives like that….)

    3. KarenT

      I’d probably just say that I was sick of the upkeep neon hair, or finding it getting to be too expensive.

    4. MaryMary

      If your manager does address job hunting with you directly, you could hedge your bets and say you’re considering it. It gives you the opening to bring up some of your concerns about your current job (hey, you never know) without outright lying to your boss. It’s awkward to say you’re not job hunting, and then put in your notice a couple days later.

  34. Lucy

    I have an interview next week that I’m really excited about. However, it’s a small world, and I know that a former co-worker has also applied to the position and has had a phone interview (I have had a phone interview, submitted three written assignments, and now have the in-person meeting scheduled). I know I’m a strong candidate, and I know there will always be other applicants– but somehow the fact that I know this woman is one of them is stressing me out! Any advice for putting this out of my mind?

    1. Ash (the other one!)

      Do you know if she also did the writing assignments and the in-person? You will always have competition, you just have to be confident in your skills. Don’t compare yourself to her, just self-advocate about all the things you can bring to the position.

      1. Lucy

        I don’t know, just heard through the grapevine that she had a phone interview. You’re right though- I need to think focus on myself. It just makes me squirmy thinking about a friendly acquaintance (someone I trained!) applying for the same job!

        1. Not So NewReader

          Wait. You trained her?
          The ball is in your court, because you trained her.

          I am almost wondering if you are concerned more about the relationship with your trainee than you are the interview. In other words, it is easy to advocate for ourselves. But when there is someone that we like or we feel some sort of bond with (trainer-trainee) it becomes harder to say “hire me, not her!”

          But that is not what you are going to say. Reality. You are simply going to explain to the interviewer why you are a good fit. It is up to them to decide between the two of you.

          I think you think warmly of her? It’s okay to continue thinking warmly of her. It’s not a conflict. Your personal opinion of her has no bearing on their hiring decision. Apples and oranges.

  35. Ash (the other one!)

    I need good vibes. Had a really good interview for a job I really want yesterday. It sounds like I have stiff competition though but I am really hopeful. I know, put it out of mind, but especially hard for this one!

  36. Franny

    I interviewed for an accounting position (entry level) that would require me to brush up on my excel skills. Any recommendations on sources to look at for practice guidance? I’m thinking more along the lines of vlookup and pivot tables than basic sum/average type formulas.

    1. Ann Furthermore

      I don’t know of any formal courses, but I am an accountant-turned-IT-geek and I’m not quite as good with Excel as I used to be, just because I don’t use it all the time anymore. But when I need to figure out how to do something in Excel, most of the time I Google it and find exactly what I’m looking for.

    2. Blue Anne

      Groupon usually has a deal on for an Excel course that covers a lot of ground. I bought the deal and it’s really been worth it. Even on the stuff I already new, I went through the lessons anyway and picked up a lot of new shortcuts and things.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Have you ever seen one for MS Word? I need to get up to speed on some stuff.

    3. Anon Accountant

      Is there a community college you can take classes through even if those are online?

      I found an Excel class online for $95 for 6 weeks online through a community college. Can you check your local university or a comm. college?

    4. Mints

      The Microsoft/excel sites have a few good practice guides. The best ones have videos and practice files

      1. Franny

        Thanks everyone, I bookmarked the chandoo and gifted myself the Excel with Business groupon. I’ve had courses before, but it was time for a refresher since nothing I’ve done lately required any advanced thought.

  37. cecilhungry

    I’d like to thank Allison for the resume review she offered! My boyfriend got one, and she was able to point out some of the weak spots I’d noticed & was unable to articulate, while offering concrete, helpful advice. Hopefully a job will come out of this for him! Thank, Allison!

  38. CollegeAdmin

    My old, clunky, troubled laptop has given up the ghost – the screen no longer comes on. I started online grad school courses this week, so I need to get a new one ASAP.

    I am looking at an HP Pavilion or an HP Envy – does anyone have either of those? Do you like it or hate it, and why?

    If anyone has other suggestions, I’m willing to hear them. I want Windows 7, which limits me severely in terms of what’s available. Several people have recommended MacBooks, but since I can use a MacBook about as well as a cat can use a bicycle…not a good option.

    1. Lo

      Just going to throw it out there–I was previously a windows-only, macs-try-to-eat-me person, and I got a macbook after multiple laptops kicked the bucket (a lenovo, an asus, and a HP). Learning to use it took about five seconds, no joke. They do cost more, for sure, so if that’s a consideration I understand. Other than that–I know a lot of people have issue with HP laptops, and other than my “bad lemon” lenovo I keep hearing good things about them, and they are beasts–my friend is notoriously rough on hers (like plop goes the laptop off the bed onto the floor) and the laptop has lived through these incidents without a problem.

      1. LAI

        I have been a PC person at home but my current company uses Macs. I’ve been using a Mac at work for a little over a year now and I find it really hard to switch back and forth at home! For that reason, I’m considering getting a Mac next even though I would prefer to use PC for both.

        1. Windchime

          I’m another long-time Windows person who has gone to a Macbook for my laptop. My kids have had nothing but trouble with Windows laptops; it seems that they only last a couple of years before something goes wrong. One of them finally bought a Macbook about 4 years ago and even though the outside is falling apart, the machine still runs great. I bought my Macbook about a year ago and have had zero problems.

          As far as learning to use it, it was nearly seamless for me. Really, really easy and so dependable.

      2. CollegeAdmin

        We have a MacBook for the office work-study students, and I use it when I’m staffing a workshop for my boss. I consider myself a fairly tech-knowledgeable person, but a toddler could kick my butt on it. Last time I used it, I couldn’t even figure out how to save files in subfolders – I ended up saving everything to the desktop and then dragging/dropping it where it was supposed to be afterwards.

        That is good to know about the Lenovos, though, since I was not the kindest/gentlest person to my now-dead laptop through the years.

      3. Adam V

        Something to keep in mind – installing Windows on a Mac is not difficult, and you can get the best of both worlds (Windows programs running on a very nice computer).

    2. Sunflower

      I’ve had HP’s since college and they are MUCH better than Dells. I got a HP Pavillion in 2011 but the one from 2006 still works! I like it- except it’s huge. I wish I got a smaller computer but for the most part, it runs fast and doesn’t take long to load

      My sister’s Dell crapped out after 4 years. My sister got a Chromebook for Christmas and loves it !

      1. AdminAnon

        I have a Chromebook and it’s great, but it may not be the best for grad school, since nothing can be saved locally. I use Google Drive for any documents or files, but for something like school or work I would strongly recommend a traditional laptop.

    3. Claire MKE

      I love my HP Pavilions! Had a ginormous one from 2007-2013 (and it was still working, just slowing down) and I replaced it with another (also sticking with Windows 7) when I decided I wanted to get speedy again. It’s great, and I use it all the time (seriously, if I am at home, I probably have the laptop on) so it definitely holds up to intense use. The only downside is that the webcam isn’t as nice as I’d prefer it to be, but I wasn’t really shopping for that and I can always buy an external if I want to do anything besides Skype my friends (it’s perfectly good for that).

    4. Elizabeth West

      I have had great luck with Toshiba Satellites. HP apparently can’t get their shiz together with laptops; every time I hear about issues, it’s always an HP one.

      1. littlemoose

        My boyfriend has had two Toshibas, and he loves them. He’s really hard on his laptops ( has spilled things a few times, drops them, etc), and they’ve held up OK.

    5. chewbecca

      I had a Sony Viao for 6 years, and that thing was awesome. The only reason I had to stop using it was because I wasn’t very nice to the charger plug and it got bent, so it wouldn’t charge any more.

      I recently bought a small, touch screen HP (I’m not sure of the name), and I’m so so on it. It’s really slow, and I can’t figure out why.

      1. Persephone Mulberry

        Hard to ssy without seeing the specs, but if they’re comparable to a traditional laptop, then your issue is probably that a good chunk of the power that is meant for running programs is now being diverted to the screen functions.

    6. littlemoose

      I had two HP laptops. The first was a total lemon and barely made it two years. The second lasted a lot longer -about six years – but REALLY showed its age at the end. I asked two techie friends what they recommended, and both said Asus, Lenovo, and Apple. I didn’t want to switch to the Mac OS, and the Apples were more than I wanted to pay, so I ruled those out. I wound up with an Asus 15.6″ laptop, and I love it. I’ve had it for about six months now, and no issues (except the power plug that my dog chewed, but hey, it still works!). It doesn’t get hot after being on for long periods, has good battery life, and boots up very quickly. The touchpad is a little annoying, but I bought a wireless mouse and that solved it. Overall I recommend!

    7. Malissa

      I love my Toshiba! I got it for grad school and I’m still using it. I’m going to buy one for my husband soon. I’ve used and abused it. It’s been dropped and treated badly and it still works beautifully.

    8. Mints

      I actually just went with the cheapest Windows one with the best Intel processor. Is that too geeky? I got a Dell with i3 processor (a few years ago). It was the Fry’s weekly deal or something, and got it like $150 off the regular price. (No Windows 8 worries at the time)

      Fry’s ftw

    9. OfficePrincess

      I have a HP Pavillion and it’s not bad. I ran into an issue with the screen dying completely (pretty sure it was the connection since I could hook it up to the TV and everything was fine) but that at least happened before the warranty ran out. I like it for the most part, but I am nervous about it’s future.

    10. ITPuffNStuff

      As an IT professional, I think the brand generalizations here don’t make much sense. *All* consumer grade computers have some hardware failures, and generalizations about any brand being more or less reliable than others are speculative at best.

      Avoid assuming anything based on brand and buy the machine which gives you the best specs for the price you want to spend. Once you have a computer, assume its failure is inevitable and have a realistic backup plan. That plan should enable you to continue using your data, applications, and hardware with minimal disruption. Here’s a sample plan that satisfies the above:
      1. a 2nd computer. if you have access to your office outside business hours, your work PC can be the 2nd machine.
      2. all of your applications already installed on machine #2
      3. an external USB hard disk on which you back up all new/changed data daily
      4. a USB memory stick which you manually copy your current critical files (whatever you are currently working on for school) at least hourly

      I hope this is useful to you. Good luck!
      ITPuffNStuff

  39. Rinkydink Curdlesnoot

    My CEO, who has only been with the company for eight months or so, yesterday was “made redundant” (ie, reading between the lines, politely fired) with no notice. I have no idea what went down, but I really liked him and thought he was good at his job, and we got on quite well.

    Do you think it’s a good idea to reach out and say something like, “I was really sorry to hear you were leaving, I enjoyed working with you,” or something like that? A coworker at lunch said she thought he’d be really embarrassed to hear from people since it was sudden, but I did really like and appreciate him.

    1. fposte

      I think I would really appreciate a note like yours if I were him. I think it’s a lot more embarrassing if people pretend you were never there.

    2. Annie

      When I was ever so politely made redundant (which I should have seen coming LONG before I did) the best thing anyone did was my former coworkers emailed and texted me that day and the folowing weekend to make sure I was okay and that they liked working with me (and were willing to act as references- which has been a huge help since then).

  40. chewbecca

    I just have to rant for a second.

    I’ve been noticing an increase in sales calls where the person asks for an obviously fictitious person and when they’re told we don’t have anybody here with that name, they ask for “the current business owner”. I don’t know why they’re doing this, but it’s more annoying than simply calling and asking for the business owner. Don’t try to be deceptive about it.

    Speaking of deception, about every 3 months or so, I’ll get a call from someone saying they’re from “our copier company” and they need me to give them the model numbers of our copy machine. When I ask them what company they’re from, they immediately hang up. It confused me the first time because if they were really our copier company, the would have that information in our file.

    I asked our office manager about it the first time it happened and she said it’s a scam and they’ll send toner we didn’t order and then bill us for it. The sad thing, they wouldn’t be doing it if people didn’t fall for it.

    1. Elizabeth West

      Yep, the toner thing is a total scam. I took a receptionist job where the previous person got taken in by it and it took the company ages to extricate itself and stop the bills.

      At Exjob, one of those people called one time and I told her we didn’t have a copier; we used carbon paper. While she was hesitating, I said, “Bye!” and hung up. :D

      1. Elizabeth West

        Just to clarify–most offices lease their copiers, and you will NEVER get a phone call from your office machine company asking about toner. You call them if you need it.

      2. Adam V

        FYI – if they send you stuff and ask you for payment later, and you don’t already have a relationship with them, I think you can treat their shipment as a gift and not pay them, according to the FTC. :)

        1. Elizabeth West

          The problem is that on those calls, they try to get you to say “Okay” or “Yes,” and then they can come back later and say that you agreed. You might be able to get out of it depending on how shady the company is. I’m in Missouri, though, and our AG’s office is pretty tough on those people.

          So if you get one of the toner calls, just hang up. No reason to even speak to them. Same with the Yellow Page listings ones.

    2. sev

      In one of my past lives as a receptionist, I used to have fun with them by giving serial numbers like UM-4D-BR0, 1-MN-07-57-UP-1D, etc.

      Have you gotten the “update your listing in the phone book” scam calls yet? Those are hilarious too.

      1. chewbecca

        Oh, yes, I love those.

        We’ll also get people from a magazine call to renew someone’s “free” subscription. One of the people they were calling for hadn’t been here for a couple years at that point. It’s bad enough that I start to recognize their voices.

    3. Sascha

      Ugh, I’ve been getting robo calls on my office phone, too. Most of the time they leave a message (I work from home 3 days a week), and at the end of the message, it says “Press 9 to be removed from our list.” So one day, they call me, I recognize the number and I think, okay, time to press 9 and end this! I pressed 9 at the end of the call…and it just completely disconnected me. Jerks.

    4. Megan calvet

      When I worked as a receptionist and was still new, I got a call from someone who said, “Hi, it’s Alexander, is [boss’s name] in?”
      I went into boss’s office to say Alexander was on the line, he said “Alexander Smith?” in a very surprised tone. “I think so,” I said.
      Turned out it was a marketing call – I was tricked by the guy. My boss was not happy with me. I learned to be very skeptical of every call after that, and to basically quiz everyone on why they were calling.

    5. SherryD

      Ugh! My work gets a lot of calls about updating our business listing (they never say where they’re calling from), and calls for the owner (we’re a corporation… I wouldn’t have the first clue how to get a hold of them!). As a novice receptionist, it’s a good chance for me to practice my manners… no matter how tempted I am to slam the phone down.

  41. Autumn

    Open thread! Yay! I just got offered a new job this week, my first full time with benefits position (I’ve been cobbling together part time jobs for 3 year). I’m understandably thrilled, but also terrified! This position is a lot more responsibility than I’ve had in the past. Additionally, I’m nervous about some of the technical aspects if the position. This is a position that involves a lot of cataloging in a database. The current database they use I am very familiar with, but in the interview the mentioned that they want the person in this position to take change of migrating the data to a new database, one that I’m less familiar with. I was very clear that I haven’t used the new database in the past, but apparently that wasn’t an issue because they still hired me. I’m afraid I will screw it all up, but I’m not sure if that’s just imposter syndrome or if I really am I over my head!

    Fortunately, I have a month until I start. Guess I’ll just spend that time learning all about the new system!

    1. thenoiseinspace

      Don’t worry! In my experience so far, nobody knows all the aspects of a job before taking it – they learn a lot of it by doing. Plus, you’ve got plenty of prep time. You got this! Congratulations!

    2. Apollo Warbucks

      Congratulations on the new job don’t worry about the migration for two reasons:

      Firstly you can not under any circumstances make a bigger mess of a database than I have before. (A serious enough I thought I’d get sacked)

      Secondly you’ll have a back up so restoring after any mistake should be easy.

      If you’re buying a new system you should get plenty of help from the system vendors, see what implementation help they offer.

      good luck.

  42. Annie

    I am currently out of work (and have been for just over a year) and I am “interning” for a local event venue that I was told I needed “help” with their website. Since then I have dug through all the pieces and pages and realize that this is going to be a major overhaul and not just updating the website with some new photos and wording.
    This now becomes two questions:
    1) how do I list this on my resume? I’m out of school for 7 years and “interning” seems not quite right- at the same time I’m doing this for the experience so I’m not sure that its a true volunteer position.
    2) How do I go back to the owner and say “I need to be paid for this.” Originally we had talked about having this arrangement through the end of this month, and now that that is arriving I’m concerned that she’s going to say- “Nope can’t pay you, thanks for what you did.” (Which yes- I realized was a possibility when I signed up for this but am only now realizing that she’s a little flakier & cheaper than I originally thought).

    1. Annie

      I should add that I’m no where near done with updating the website to the quality that it should be to compete in the area. I’m going to need to work on it at least through the summer to get it in that kind of shape- so she would have 3 updated pages and at least 3 pages that weren’t updated and the need to create at about 3 more pages.

    2. fposte

      Experience isn’t what makes it an internship–it’s whether it’s a specific program for a fixed amount of time, which it sounds like it isn’t. It sounds like volunteer work to me (hopefully they’re a nonprofit so that’s legal), and I don’t think you can do work that was planned as unpaid and then ask for money for it.

      What you can do is go back to the owner and say “Now that I’ve dug deeper, this turns out to be a paid-level job. I’m happy to do it if you want to hire me, but I understand if you can’t; here’s what I’ll achieve as a volunteer and what I can leave for the person who will ultimately do the job.”

      1. fposte

        And I’m confused by “realized this was a possibility”–was it genuinely not clear if this was a paid position or not? That sounds sketchy, if so.

        1. Annie

          I did website & social media work for a previous position- I left there rather abruptly and didn’t have the chance to save copies of what I had done for any type of portfolio. So when we started this I wasn’t going to be paid because she needed proof of my work before I was hired in a paid position.
          There are other positions that I said I’d help with onsite (parking coordination, serving during events, set up, etc) but because she wasn’t sure about if my work was what she wanted we said we would come back to that in a few weeks. So I knew that what I was doing was under what she called “interning” until she saw my work. (And I am saving the pages as they are updated to ensure I do have copies of my work this time.)

          1. Annie

            edit: I have what I would be paid for the onsite positions- but she put off the discussion of what I would be paid for the remote work.

          2. fposte

            Oy, this sounds really messed up. She basically stated you had to work for her for free before she would hire you. That is not likely to be legal no matter what she calls it, and it’s pretty sleazy.

            I don’t think she’ll pay you, and I think she’d be bad to work for even if she did. I’d decide what your volunteer level commitment is and then go with roughly what I said.

            1. Marketer

              I thought it was the law that you had to be receiving training and some sort of educational Benefit for an unpaid internship? If it’s a volunteer position they should state it as such., and this isn’t legal if it’s a for-profit company

              1. Felicia

                It is the law, but it’s a law that’s rarely enforced, and technically illegal “internships” are common.

    1. E.R

      I believe it! Part of the problem definitely lies in our high expectations of ourselves as partners, parents, and adults. as well as the expectations we place on those close to us,
      Our roles as workers are typically much more narrowly defined, plus we make a point of thanking our colleagues and giving them feedback on good work.
      Only a few months ago my long-time partner left me, and despite the sadness, I’m feeling tremendous relief at not having to cook dinner, do laundry, clean, run errands to someone else’s expectations. More sadness, but much less stress.

    2. Jennifer

      I’ve had phases like that. When my dad was dying, and/or my friends and boyfriend were having drama, my work was an oasis of quiet. Nowadays, well, it’s the other way around.

    3. Not So NewReader

      I can understand that. Work has limits, other people are assigned to various duties. But at home, everything is mine to do.

      The range of knowledge it takes to run a home, take care of a family seems to be limitless. There is always something that needs to be figured out or totally redone or something. Work knowledge is limited to certain areas.

      But I think the article is assuming a healthy, normal work place. If you have a toxic work place that orderliness flies out the window, a chaotic, messy home becomes more appealing than at toxic workplace.
      I like the two-mindedness of work life and personal life. Thinking about one is a reprieve/vacation from thinking about the other. It’s just human nature to want random time outs or down times from either aspect of life.

  43. thenoiseinspace

    So I interviewed two weeks ago for a position that I really, really want. I thought I did well and they gave me a test (apparently a good sign, as not every candidate gets one.) I completed the test and emailed it in. No response. I waited a week, and sent a pleasant follow-up checking that the file had gone through (it was rather large, so there’s a legitimate chance it didn’t.) No response. Now I’m worried – I don’t want to be annoying, but on the off-chance my emails really aren’t going through, I don’t want them to think I just blew off the test! Any suggestions on what to do next? I’m guessing “mentally move on,” but is there anything else anyone can think of? It was sent through Google Drive – is there a way I can view through Drive if it was received or downloaded?

      1. thenoiseinspace

        Thank you! I looked there and it only shows my activity, so I wasn’t sure if the HM’s would show up there too. I know I should just move on, and that’s what I normally do. This one is just bothering me because, until I know she got it, it still feels like the ball’s in my court. If it takes them months to move forward, so be it, but I hate feeling like I’m supposed to be making the next move and am keeping them waiting, you know?

  44. CanadianWriter

    I’m going back to my summer job tomorrow. I love it there, but after getting used to working from home in my pajamas I’m kind of annoyed that I have to wake up early tomorrow and put on real pants.

    1. Eden

      I’m struggling with dressing myself for work everyday after thirteen years of scrubs, which is really about one step removed from working in your pyjamas. It’s hard to pick outfits every day!

  45. Xay

    I posted in last week’s open thread about the unexpected, unsolicited informational interview – it happened yesterday and went well. I’m still not completely clear why my friend/classmate brought me up to her colleague, but he is interested in my background and experience because their company is trying to develop that aspect of their business. I’m not sure if anything will come of the conversation, but I’m increasingly interested in exploring my career options right now so it’s good to know there are opportunities that I had never considered because I thought that my background didn’t fit their model.

    I’m also making the adjustment to being recruited rather than seeking opportunities. I had an interview last week as a result of being contacted out of the blue by a company’s internal recruiter. I think after years of establishing myself in my career, I missed the point that I became established.

  46. Claire MKE

    I heard from a friend today that her company is placing the “final decision” on hiring a new receptionist based on how well she does on a 4-hour (!!!) personality test, AND that higher ups have to interview with a psychologist. What the heck?

    1. Sascha

      Whaaa?….

      However after experiencing the many moods of the receptionist at my office, I’d be grateful for a more rigorous selection process (maybe not that rigorous though)…receptionists are very important! Ours is very grouchy and has cursed at customers on the phone. Repeatedly. Yay for bad management!

      1. chewbecca

        Ugh. I’m the receptionist at my company and while I understand part of the job is to be pleasant (even if I REALLY REALLY don’t want to be), the woman who covers for me when I’m gone does not. I don’t know if she’s ever cursed at someone, but she definitely doesn’t hide her displeasure for being up here.

    2. Not So NewReader

      So the point of the four hour test… if you are witchy after four hours of testing then you can not do the job???
      Hmmm. I wish them luck with that.

  47. Sarah

    CSS/HTML classes: any good recommendations either in the Denver area or online?
    I’m a beginner with HTML and really want to move towards being more proficient. We outsource our web design where I work right now and I want to be available for quick fixes.

    1. Lucy

      I have had success with Code Academy online. I know General Assembly also just launched an online HTML course, but I haven’t checked it out!

      1. Mints

        I really like Codecademy too, but if I was more serious, I think an actual class would make me make more polished sites. With Codecademy, I would learn something, tweak a bit, feel like I had a good sense, then move on

        I think if I was assigned a more specific website to show to someone, I’d try harder to make it prettier

    2. Sascha

      I would definitely look on youtube or something like that for free tutorials. Smashing Magazine is an online mag with lots of tutorials and free code examples. It also helped me to just download free templates and mess with them. If you google “free CSS templates,” there are some good sites with tons of free templates you can download.

    3. Programmer 01

      A friend of mine is a huge fan of http://teamtreehouse.com/

      She works as a web dev and is constantly updating her skills, so it comes pretty highly recommended! I have it saved for that day… someday… when I learn to do web stuff.

    4. OhNo

      Not sure about classes, but I highly recommend this book: HTML and CSS: Design and build websites, by Jon Duckett. It is a very visually styled book, which I found helpful, and it has a lot of code examples on the associated website (www.htmlandcssbook.com).

      I just had a beginning web design course this semester, and this was our textbook. Best twenty bucks I ever spent.

      1. Sarah

        Thanks for all the advice! Since I am the only person in my office who knows any code I am constantly being asked to fix things so I need to brush up a little!

    5. Apollo Warbucks

      I like this site http://www.vtc.com there are a tone of good videos the first handful are free so you can see if you like them before you buy them.

      Also have you checked the terms of your contract with the firm you use to out source the work? I only ask as the developers we use are really fussy about not supporting anything we develop in house. The last thing you want is an argument about who is responsible if something breaks.

      1. Marketer

        I took a pretty good class through my community college that was conducted online through the company ed2go. Live instructor, practice assignments, message board, and only $99.

        Fun fact: when interviewing for my previous job, they asked about my HTML knowledge. When I said I had only experience with WYSIWYG editors, the hiring manager was like “…oh. It’s pretty important to know HTML code for this job.” I signed up for the class that night, mentioned it in my thank you note a few days later, and got an offer several weeks after. HM said she was really impressed with my passion and initiative and thought everything else could be learned on the job. :)

  48. EA

    How do you persuade yourself to keep doing quality work when you hate your job? Ever since my team combined with another team back in October, the job has been going steadily downhill.

    My previous team was a team that had been around (with various people) for 5-6 years, and was a small, but highly functional team. We merged with a team that had been around for about 6 months, and in the process, we lost a lot of freedom and efficiency.

    We are an IT support team … Instead of being allowed to work from home when we are on-call, we are now required to work in a windowless conference room, with 3-5 other team members (yes, even on weekends), and the room is manned from 6am-10pm daily. (Previously, most of my team worked from 9-5, although we could come in a bit earlier or a bit later if we wanted).

    Some processes that were streamlined before have had 3 or 4 extra (unnecessary) steps added to the process, just so the new manager can feel important, and feel like they are in the middle of everything.

    I’ve been job searching, mostly other internal positions within the same company. (I’ve been here nearly 10 years, with increasing title and responsibility, and overall, enjoy working for the company, it’s just this current team which has become a toxic environment)

    1. Esra

      For me, a big part of continuing to do good work in a bad environment was that doing good work really benefited ME. Doing good work is key for your own career and success, so it becomes less about helping the hateful job and more about securing your future.

      1. Chloe Silverado

        I have to remind myself of this every day. I’m not in love with what I’m doing, but I know if I phone it in it only makes me look bad.

        EA, your job sounds like there’s a lot of negatives, but remember that you want to maintain a good reputation! The last thing you need is to get fired for poor work ethic from a crappy job, so try and be as positive as possible. View it as a temporary stepping stone to better things. I hope you find something better soon.

      2. Sunflower

        this is how I feel too. I keep telling myself that any extra work I do here, is going right on my resume and benefiting me.

    2. littlemoose

      I second what Esra and Sunflower said. There’s also the flip side – I know I’ll feel even worse about the job and myself if I turn in a shoddy work product. I’ll admit that my disinclination toward turning in crap has been my primary (even only) motivator on lousy projects before.

    3. Celeste

      Think of it as, don’t let this team cause you to “undo” all of your good karma with this company. Find a way to compartmentalize what you think of the group. In these situations, it’s caring about the negative stuff that will do you in. Don’t let the bastards get you down!

    4. Programmer 01

      That is so frustrating. If you’re where your icon suggests, are there internal relocation positions you’d be able to look at?

      I work for a Ubi studio, I’m sure the skillset transfers over although I have no idea if our support teams (as opposed to in-house) work from home or not, or if you’re open to relocating globally. The visa process is surprisingly simple and they provide several years of relocation support/gaining citizenship/etc no matter where you go.

      I only put up these assumptions about mobility because it’s so standard for the industry, so if I’m wrong then I really hope you’re able to find ways to make things work for you there.

      1. EA

        (My avatar is a reflection of my initials, not my work location. With that being said, I do enjoy some of their games)

        Thanks to all who have responded. I know that I need to continue to do good work, regardless of the conditions around me, it’s just difficult to stay motivated sometimes.

        1. Programmer 01

          Haha, okay. It’s a small industry, so whenever I see someone looking for a job I like to help because chances are if I don’t know them, I know someone who does.

          Shame you’re not, one of EA’s studios has a ball pit! We live in constant envy.

          On the other hand you probably make a more reasonable living!

        2. Not So NewReader

          I think it is fine not to FEEL motivated. The problem is when that feeling turns into action (or inaction as the case may be).

          I have told myself “I am going to be a superstar here because when I leave I take the knowledge in my head with me. And I will be a uber superstar at the next job.”

          I have also told myself “If I do have baked work, then they win, not me.”

          Honestly, the power players are work are the ones who come in everyday and do their best everyday. If you are doing your best every day you will be less apt to get caught up in the drama going on around you.

  49. pizzagrl

    Hi LILY IN NYC,

    Sorry I missed last week’s thread. I was recovering from LASIK, but was wondering if you could help me understand what an executive assistant is really supposed to do and what skills I should work on to be truly great at it! Thank you.

  50. Esra

    I’d love some suggestions on working with a management peer who is a lot more emotional/into feelings than I am. We’re both new to management, and collectively have a small team of 12 people. She’s very concerned with how people are feeling, and it’s not that I’m not… but I tend to be more the type that’s concerned people can happily do their jobs, rather than be their friend/social support.

    Our non-profit org has a lot of events that staff can volunteer their time for, but I’m pretty big on setting a standard that the work I do here is paid for. I don’t think it’s a good idea to volunteer my time or money to my employer. I think it sets a bad precedent. On the opposite end of the spectrum, she believes every member of the org should be volunteering their time and money.

    I’ve always gotten good feedback about being well-liked in the workplace, but this fellow manager finds me cold and wants us to be more friendly. I’m not totally sure on how to shut her down when she talks about wanting to be my friend outside of work, or wanting our collective staff to be more open with her emotionally.

    1. fposte

      I think there are two different things here. “A manager believes people should volunteer/donate and I don’t” is one thing; “My manager wants to be everybody’s friend and know their feelings and WTH?” is another.

      The first isn’t uncommon in org culture, and while I think it’s fine for you to set an example of another practice, that’s going to be more an org call than a managerial one. You can certainly contextualize it as something you’re not prepared to ask of people and that hasn’t been your org’s practice but that reasonable people can disagree on, but it may end up being something your organization likes and takes up.

      The second–ew. Can you use the emotionality as an access point and note that regardless of her personal charms, the power dynamic means that it’s not emotionally wise for her employees to be friends with her and she can’t change that? How will she feel when she has to fire one of those people? I’m less concerned about you, since she’s not your boss and you can just not hang with her, but you can always note you’re modeling behavior for your staff.

      And seriously, send her here. She sounds like she really wants to be friends with all her reports, and you know that doesn’t end well.

    2. Katie the Fed

      This is…odd.

      I’m about as emotionally/touchy feely as you can get (I’m an INFP on the MBTI – totally an outlier in my field). This kind of reminds me of that thread on emotional intelligence.

      Part of being emotionally intelligent is empathy and understanding that not everyone needs the same things. My team is incredibly diverse when it comes to what they need from me. Some are like my cats and just need basic care and feeding and a few toys. Some are like my dog and need a lot of attention and validation. I have some members of my team I could tell you their life story, the current status of their relationship, etc. Another one I couldn’t even tell you if he’s married.

      Successful managers figure out what works best for other people and communicate to them in that way.

      That’s where she seems to be struggling. She wants everyone to communicate the way she’s comfortable with, and she’s got it ass backwards. She she communicate the way THEY want.

      Can you work with her to talk about each member of the team and what approach you think works best with them?

      1. Esra

        I think I’m going to have to suck it up and do that.

        I’m finding out that while I enjoy the responsibilities of management, helping people develop and grow in their roles, I do not enjoy dealing with the feelings. As long as someone is performing well and is pleasant to deal with, I don’t really care beyond that.

        As fposte mentioned, I’ll share this site as a mutual resource too.

      2. Jen RO

        I love that cats and dogs analogy! (And I love that, according to it, I’m a cat. Yay cats!)

      3. Not So NewReader

        I’m a dog. And, yet, I feel this manager is just cruising for problems.

        If you want to engage in deeper conversations with people, whining about it is not how to get there. People talk about their personal lives/feelings IF they feel like it. It’s a privilege, it not something you demand of people. This is something she will have to earn. Her expectation is way off base here.

        In the past, the bosses who have whined about me not sharing enough are the VERY bosses I make sure not to share with. Why? Because they can’t handle the responsibility that comes when people start discussing personal matters or feelings. And generally, they seem to lack the creative problem solving skills I would need for my situation. But that is beside the point.

        In short, I think I would tell her that being a boss is a special and unique role in a person’s life. As a boss, it is up to her to make sure her crew knows policies and procedures so that they can stay employed and be successful employees with a stable income. No one else in their lives does this for them- only her. And she needs to focus on helping everyone be the best employee possible.

        (I am willing to bet my last chocolate donut that people would come to you for personal advice/discussion looong before they would come to her. She does not seem to be the Rock of Gibraltar type of person that inspires that behavior.)

  51. jasminek

    I’ve read AAM’s posts about how you should almost never quit a job once you start it. But I am wondering if there is an exception regarding temporary jobs. I was recently (yesterday) offered a position that I’m excited about, but was saddened to learn it is more of a contract position, that will end in December. I want to accept it because I don’t have any other concrete job offers lined up and it is in my field, but I’ve still been applying and interviewing for other permanent positions. If I was to be offered another job, with much better pay and with benefits (which this temporary job does not offer), would that be an acceptable reason to take a different job once I have accepted this temp job offer? I have mixed feelings about it. My mother says you never want to take a job and then leave, but also argues that you should always do what is in your best interest. Knowing that this job will end in December makes me a little less loyal to them, as they will be terminating me (in all likelihood) in a few short months.

    1. Anoners

      Personally, I would take the temp job and then quit when I get a better offer. Unless of course this is a temp job at a company you don’t want to burn bridges at.

    2. fposte

      I think contract and temp jobs are leavable for permanent, but make sure there are no contract terms that would interfere with that.

    3. HAnon

      It might take you that long (until the end of your contract) to find another job anyway, and they really cannot expect you to stay if they state up front that they are only offering you temporary employment. No reasonable person will fault you for accepting a more stable, permanent position when everyone needs the long-term paycheck and they’ve told you that’s not something they can offer…but when you leave eventually, I would try to do it in the most gracious and helpful way possible. Be the best employee you can possibly be while you’re there. And on your resume you can just list it as a temporary or seasonal position.

  52. Sophia

    Hi Alison!

    Quick thought – have you thought about moving the non open thread posts on Friday to Sunday or move the open thread to Sunday? That way the convos on the open thread are more easily managed and the non open thread posts can get more comments (plus, selfishly, I love reading something everyday!)

    1. Sophia

      I see this has kind of been suggested up thread re: open threads for work discussions or catch all! My vote for that would be the catch all on Sundays and a work related one on Fridays – if you don’t mind two. But I agree, collapsible comment threads will probably get rid of most the unwieldy-ness

      1. Fish Microwaver

        Yeah, Free for all on Sunday is a good idea. That way people can read/post/be involved or not.

        1. Windchime

          I think that Alison has mentioned several times that she would like to not work on Sundays so that she can have a bit of a break. So maybe Open Thread on Saturday?

          1. Sophia

            But Alison sets up the publishing of posts in advanced, so an open thread on Sunday wouldn’t require any more work, aside from scheduling an extra post (that doesn’t require answering)

  53. KFL

    I have a decision I’m struggling with. I was laid off from my prior job (Job 1). I loved it there: close commute, challenging work, great coworkers, a lot of flexibility to work from home if I need to. I moved on to another company (Job 2), which offered me a promotion in title, much nicer office and a huge increase in pay. While talking with my boss about my performance my boss said that I’m doing well and when I asked how stable my position was my boss said it was unlikely to be cut in the near future. However, my problems with Job 2 are upper management is very involved in low level, day to day decisions, the work can be boring and low-level, it’s a far commute, I haven’t made any work friends despite initiating conversations, and I have limited flexibility to work from home.

    Job 1 ended up contacting me about coming back to a higher level position that the one I was in before, which is the same level position I’m in now. The initial offer they gave me was much lower than what I’m making now. When I said what I was looking for, they then offered 5% more than the initial offer and said they couldn’t get more. I mentioned the amount I had in mind which was 10% higher than the initial offer (but still about 10% less than what I’m making now. What I make now is in line with the market in my area). They said the second offer was the best they could do. After taking the weekend to think about it, I declined the offer and put it out of my head.

    Just yesterday, I got a much higher offer in terms of a sign on bonus and guaranteed annual bonus (the annual bonus is based on meeting targets and you can get $0, 10% of salary, 20% of salary, 30% of salary based on meeting targets…I should note they’re not on track to meet their targets, so the fact that its guaranteed is huge).

    What bothers me is that it took me walking away to get this offer and I’m worried if I take the job, the only way I could get a raise I deserved in the future would be to get another job offer (or that I’d have a hard time getting one of my staff a raise). Am I wrong in my line of thinking? I never negotiate so I don’t know if this is normal. But it makes me a little mad to think, what if I had settled for the lower amount because they said they couldn’t go any higher, when it turns out they could go higher?

    My other concern is how this will look on my résumé. I was at Job 1 under a year, and I’ve been at Job 2 under a year. If I go back to Job 1 and work there for years, will the blip of Job 2 on my résumé look bad? The thing is, I’m not actively looking to leave Job 2. It’s just the benefits of working at Job 1 that I like.

    Any insight would be appreciated!

    1. Lori

      If you end up staying at Job 1 for a while, you can probably omit Job 2 from your resume by the time you start looking again. But one thing I’d be concerned about that I didn’t see you mention is how stable is Job 1? Especially now that you will be making a higher salary. If they do layoffs again (which they might, if they aren’t making their goals) will you be on the chopping block again?

      1. KFL

        Thank you for your comment! I think the position could be eliminated if there was a company-wide restructure. But they just finished going through a company-wide restructure and I can’t see them doing another in the next few years. But you just never know. I get a bad feeling when I think about going back, and I never really get “bad feelings” about things. I tend to base decisions on logic. I might need to go with my gut on this though.

    2. CTO

      I think you should be wary about the fact that you had to walk away to get the higher offer. It sounds like you negotiated pretty solidly, and they really, really played hardball. I’d question not only your ability to get future raises (especially if they’ve stretched their budget to bring you on), but the likelihood that they’ll be honest with you in future negotiations.

      If you can stay at Job 1 for a nice long time, than Job 2 will be a blip on your resume by the time you’re looking again. But if you get laid off again, or if you have to leave because you can’t get a raise/advancement, or if there are budget cuts that restrict your ability to do your job well…

      Would you be better off by just starting a search for Job 3?

      1. KFL

        Thank you for your comment! Yes, that is exactly my concern, that I’m stretching the budget, and that I really had to fight hard. When they made the initial offer, they said I wasn’t based on market or my worth. When I asked for 10% more (which, again, would be less than what I’m making now by about 10%) and they offered during the same conversation 5% more, they also said it was not based on the market or what I was worth. It was just all they could offer. He said he had been pre approved to go up to that amount and stressed that he could not get more. After the weekend I declined citing the salary. He said if I wanted to go up another % or 2 he could probably do that. Then as I mentioned, days later, came back with an offer that blew me out of the water.

        Anyway, there are things about my current job that I don’t like (which is true for any job), but it’s by no means a bad job. It’s the first professional job that I’ve had where I don’t do any work when I go home. Very low stress. The company is very fair. The offered me a much higher salary than I was making at Job 1 even though they knew my salary at Job 1 and I was the least experienced of all the people they interviewed. I wouldn’t seek to leave Job 2 at this point. It’s just that Job 1 approached me and I really did enjoy working there.

        1. CTO

          What gets you where you want to go next? Job 1 or Job 2? It sounds like Job 2 is less stressful (even if you’re micromanaged) while Job 1 is more “fun” or pleasant in terms of culture, commute, etc. Which do you prioritize right now in your career? A fun, convenient workplace, or higher pay for a good-enough job? Either choice is legitimate.

          1. KFL

            I guess that’s my dilemma. I want Job 1, which is the more “fun” job. But I get a bad feeling when I think about going back. I’m not sure if that’s because of the negotiation process with Job 1 or guilt for leaving a company I’ve been with less than a year that has treated me fairly after they put so much into training me.

            I think both jobs will position me well for my next move, but if I went back to Job 1, I’d probably eventually move on to another large company. If I stayed at Job 2 I’d probably move on to another small company. But I’m hoping that would be many years down the road.

            Thanks for your input on this.

    3. Not So NewReader

      Uh… not clear on the bonus structure. You are guaranteed $0 or these other amounts????
      They are NOT on track to meet their targets? It sounds like you could get 0 for your annual bonus.

      This is muddy. I would take the bonus out of the picture because it sounds to me like you will never see it. They will have some excuse, instead.

      That leaves the sign on bonus. A one shot deal that will be hit with what % tax rate???? And oh yeah- your 5% raise. Maybe that is up to 7% now, but still.

      Let’s go back to they have laid you off once already. Currently they are not meeting goals. I am a bit concerned about the future of this company. They seem to be all over the map. (Seen also with their negotiation process. Best case scenario they do not know what they are offering you. It keeps changing.) I am skeptical because less than 12 months ago they seem to not be able to afford you. Now, suddenly they can afford you plus more. If it were me, I would love to look at their income statements and balance sheets.

      I say trust your gut.

      1. KFL

        Thank you for your input. To clear up the information about the bonus structure. This is how it works: if you meet less than 90% of your targets, you get no bonus. Between 90%-99.99% of targets you get a 10% bonus. Between 100% and 109.99% you get a 20% bonus. If you meet 110% or more of your target you get a 30% bonus. So what they offered me is a guaranteed 20% bonus whether they meet that target range or not.

        But yes, I think I need to go with my gut. I feel like I don’t have much to lose by staying at my current company and more to lose going back to my old one. The hard part is my old coworkers are campaigning for me to come back and be their boss and I don’t have that kind of relationship with my reports at my current company.

  54. KC

    I wanted to thank the following folks for weighing in on my post last Friday. You all helped me get some perspective (and in the case of Programmer 01, an appointment with a psychologist to help me work on some self care):

    C Average
    AVP
    Programmer 01
    Colorado
    BausLady
    Pixel Pusher

    This community is the best. <3

    1. Programmer 01

      I am so glad for you, and so so happy to hear you’ve got an appointment. I hope you hit it off, and never forget it’s okay to fire your psychologist (or doctor or anyone) if things don’t work — there will always be others. We are also here for you too!

    2. C Average

      Thanks! This is a GREAT community. I’m glad you’re finding some helpful advice and support here. Best of luck with the help you’re getting. It sounds like a really good place to start.

  55. Janie

    We have a summer intern who just started, and something about her personality is just…annoying. Nobody can quite figure out what it is. She’s trying her best and obviously has a lot of questions, as this is her first internship, but it’s a real struggle to not get irritated whenever she asks something. Any thoughts on coping strategies?

    1. Janie

      Also, during the hiring process, we all agreed there was something slightly annoying about her. I was inclined to go with somebody else (because I think you do need to like the people you work with), but my colleague argued that that wasn’t a good enough reason to reject a qualified candidate. Am I out of line here?

      1. Ash (the other one!)

        No, personality clashes can really destroy a workplace environment. But since she’s already hired, you will need to figure out how to work with her and limit your annoyance.

      2. OriginalYup

        Well, ‘annoying’ is pretty vague and unactionable. Is it specific behavior(s), like interrupting people or showing up late for meetings? A personal quality, like a squeaky or booming voice? A social nuance, like she stands to close to you when talking or tries to hug people at work? I do think liking your coworkers is an important part of workplace satisfaction, but it’s worth it to figure out what specifically is bothering you because it can be very subjective. I’m annoyed by people at work that others find totally delightful.

        If an example helps: I found one of our recent interns annoying because she didn’t seem to understand office hierarchy or workplace mood. She was always trying to start a lengthy conversation with me just as I was walking into a meeting, and the way she talked about her education and background was pretty arrogant. (Her: “Oh, you’ve never been to Shanghai? I was there last summer for an internship and it was amazing. I can’t believe you haven’t been there. It’s such a global hub for business. I met so-and-s0, and so-and-so…” Me: “Um, that’s great.”)

      3. fposte

        It’s a good enough reason to reject a qualified candidate, but it’s not a necessary reason to reject a qualified candidate. I might also give it less weight in a summer intern who’s going to be out of there in an eyeblink anyway.

        However, if you can identify what it is that’s annoying about her and articulate it in workplace terms, that might also be really helpful to her. That means obviously “nails on chalkboard laugh” is out as feedback, but “laughing when you’re saying something serious undercuts the message” would be relevant.

    2. Jennifer

      I used to have a friend like that. She knew she was annoying and god love her, she tried to do her best not to be, and I appreciated that. But…there was always that vibe of annoying going on, somehow. For the record, she dropped me as a friend totally out of the blue, so I guess I was annoying too! I just sucked it up and tried to appreciate that she was trying to moderate her a-bit-too-needy, a-bit-t00-whiny, a-bit-too-wishy-washy behavior, because we all do that shit, you know?

      I’m kinda borderline on whether or not that should have prevented her hiring. If that was the ONLY thing but otherwise she was clearly the best candidate, I don’t know. If everyone else was also as good as she was, I think that would have edged her out for me.

      I can say that when I used to have to interview people at work, I spoke up against two candidates: one who seemed nice but gave off some kind of crazy vibe (later she got hired elsewhere in our office and then they got rid of her at the end of the probation period) and another guy who was creepier than that guy in the basement with the stapler in Office Space. The latter guy would have done excellently in the job, but I literally did not want to breathe the same AIR as that guy somehow and said so. He would have been great to work with if he was telecommuting and did not have to have contact with humans. I felt mean about it, but I literally didn’t want to be around him!

    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      Try to articulate it. The fact that everyone is feeling this way says it’s less about personal preference and more about something she’s doing that really is annoying. It would help to be able to figure out what it is — you might be able to give feedback on it that would really help her.

    4. Not So NewReader

      I guess the starting point is the questions.
      Are her questions showing progression or are they inquiries into unimportant details?
      Does she ask the same questions over and over?

      If you said that you want to show her a procedure and you will take questions when you are done explaining, would this help in any manner?

      On the other hand, are you guys all maxed out and lacking time for the full answer her questions deserve?
      Do her questions make you feel like you are hand-holding?
      Would things go better if she had a Q and A session at the end of each work day for 15 minutes or so?
      Lastly- try to figure out if she is different from other interns in some manner. (Not catching on, too eager/impatient, disconnected from the answers she is given, etc)

  56. Darcy Pennell

    HR question. I found an error in my vacation accrual which meant I had lost ~20 hours of vacation time. Brought it to HR’s attention and they replied that no, in fact the error was against me: not only is my accrued vacation not too low, it’s actually ~35 hours too high and they are reducing my accrued vacation by 35 hours next pay period.

    I checked and triple checked and I don’t see how this is possible. HR says they will share their data with me but they haven’t done so though I’ve asked twice.

    I’m not asking “is this legal,” but am I unreasonable to be upset? That many benefit hours is a lot of money. I feel like if they’re going to take that much away from me they ought to at least show me the math. I’m willing to be convinced, but until I see the data I don’t believe they are correct. Is it appropriate to push them on this, or should I just let it go?

    1. Malissa

      I’d want to see the math. If for no other reason but getting a better understanding of the accrual process.

    2. Ash (the other one!)

      Okay, back up —

      How many hours are you supposed to earn each pay-period (vacation, sick, or combined)? Is your pay-period monthly, semi-monthly, or bi-weekly?

      How much have you used YTD? Did you have rollover from last year? Have you come in late/left early that can be counted against leave?

      Do that calculation and see what you should have. If you have documentation (i.e. your offer letter) of how much you should be earning make sure to submit that to HR along with your calculation…

      If your calculation is significantly higher, then, yea, you should be pissed. I’d be pissed regardless since they said you had so many hours… but go in prepared.

      1. Darcy Pennell

        I reviewed every pay stub from the past 18 months & calculated what I should have based on the accrual rate, rollover, accrual cap and vacation taken. Checked my math twice. Also read the vacation policy document on the HR site to make sure I wasn’t misremembering.

        If they can show me that my math is wrong I’ll accept that, but “trust us, your math is wrong” isn’t going to do it.

    3. Esra

      Personally, I’d push them on it. Either you can find the error in their math, or if they have it right, put your mind at ease.

    4. H. Rawr

      I’d ask again. Whenever I have to do something like that, there are meticulous notes. They had to get to that 35 number somehow, so there’s no reason not to explain it to you, 35 hours is almost a full week…

    5. littlemoose

      Thats a big discrepancy, and yes, I think it’s worth pushing back (politely, of course). I would ask Hr one more time for the specifics as to how they calculate your leave balances. If they still aren’t forthcoming, perhaps asking your supervisor for assistance would be in order?

    6. CTO

      I see their side (you shouldn’t be getting to use benefits you haven’t actually earned), but I also think it’s unwise of them to suddenly strip you of a week of vacation time. It wouldn’t cost them much to allow you to keep all/some of the time and it would be a morale boost.

      I think you should keep fighting this issue until they show you the math. Could your supervisor go to bat for you if needed? If they insist on taking away time, could you negotiate a compromise like 20 hours?

      1. Persephone Mulberry

        I’m confused by your response. Where are you reading that he’s trying to use vacation time he hasn’t earned?

        1. fposte

          I think CTO means that’s how Darcy’s employer was seeing it.

          BTW, Darcy, check your state’s laws; California and Massachusetts, for instance, would have problems with the disappearance of earned vacation.

    7. Not So NewReader

      So you were over your limit by 55 hours???

      I think you would have noticed that before now, if you were indeed off by that much. This is over a week in extra time off. Most people have a very good handle on how much time they have coming to them. I could see a 5 hour discrepancy, stuff happens. But 55? Nope.

      I think I would ask my boss’ advice about this whole thing.

    1. Esra

      Pretty accurate for the English and Philosophy majors I knew in school. All the polisci people ended up as librarians.

    2. Sascha

      Interesting! I have a BA English, but I’ve been working in IT jobs for my entire working life. I would like to see what fields the English grads are managers in. Just listing “managers” is pretty vague.

      1. KC

        Also BA English (and have been a project manager on primarily software dev. projects for the last several years).

      2. AdminAnon

        Another English BA here. I’m an executive assistant at a non-profit in the youth service field, so apparently I am an outlier. Most of the people I went to school with are either teachers or in grad school to become professors/librarians.

      3. C Average

        Fellow English major here. I’m a knowledge base author for my company, which basically means html copywriter with a lot of proprietary tech-related subject matter expertise.

    3. Del

      Seems about right.

      Though of course I say this as a religion major currently working in the financial industry :)

    4. Sabrina

      In HS one of my classmates asked our AP History teacher what someone could do with a History degree besides teach History. His answer was “Sell insurance.”

    5. Mimmy

      Cool chart, but it’s hard to follow! I think it’s my fonts and/or web browser :(

  57. Malissa

    Woohoo! It looks like I’m finally going to get my certification! I made it through the committee yesterday. Now all I have to do is wait for the Board meeting on the 2nd of next month.

  58. Megan calvet

    What do people think of purposefully doing temporary/seasonal work? My current job is with a great organization and I love it to pieces, but the place is only open in the summer (tourist industry). It’s my second summer here and I’d love to continue in the future. Last year I worked seasonal jobs and it turned out pretty well, so I’m thinking of doing that again (both places I worked last year said they’d like me to come back in next season). This allows me to work the unusual job I’m very passionate about. It also gives me some freedom and flexibility, since I’m not entirely sure what I want to do as a career yet (still a fairly recent grad). Would anyone advise me against this? Does it look bad to have seasonal work on a resume, even if it’s with the same companies for several years in a row?

    1. H. Rawr

      I don’t think so, especially if the work is in an area you can build on or it’s the same type of job or better than you’d have if you were to take a non-seasonal position.

      1. Megan calvet

        It’s probably the best job I’ve ever had when it comes to supportive management, opportunities to move up, great coworkers, interesting work, and creative freedom. Which is why I’m working the rest of my year around it :)

    2. StaminaTea

      I think that it depends on where you are in life and where you want to go with your career. I did a lot of seasonal work in my 20s, and am now in a regular full-time job that is a step in my career path.

      I think that if you are in a position in life to do seasonal work and you enjoy it, then do it! That kind of flexibility and change is fun. It won’t hurt you since you don’t know what you want to do. Since it’s the same company every year, I think it’s totally fine, it’s just a lifestyle preference. And if your seasonal work increases in responsibilities year to year, that would look especially great on your resume!

      1. Megan calvet

        Thanks for the reply! I feel that now is the time to take advantage of seasonal work and its positive aspects. A lot of people express envy when I tell them about my current job because it’s really fun and allows for a lot of creativity. I love it and there are ways to move up in the company – so I’m making it work for now.

    3. Anon Accountant

      It shouldn’t reflect badly especially if it’s related to your ultimate career goal.

      You’re still gaining work experience, hopefully having accomplishments, and earning good references from managers and coworkers.

      And as a recent grad it’s not unheard of to be doing seasonal work until you land a full time position in your field.

      1. Megan calvet

        I guess my point is that I don’t have a field, and that I’m choosing seasonal work instead of looking for something permanent – I worry that making this choice will reflect badly on me.

        1. H. Rawr

          I don’t think the seasonal nature of the job in and of itself is a drawback, so if that’s the only concern, I’d stick with it if you enjoy it!

    4. Programmer 01

      I think taking time to work in something you really love and are passionate about is really helpful, because it can let you see how to make a career out of it. This place may only be open during the summer, but if you’re open to relocation, it can be summer in a whole lot of places. I know people who worked cruise lines for a few years and got SO much experience out of it, especially when it came to event planning and hospitality. Plus you get to see some pretty awesome places.

      Sometimes you don’t realize a thing can be a job until you really look at it and options that can branch out from it. I make video games for a living, and every time I talk to kids about it they are completely shocked it is a viable career path. So are their parents. Heck, so are my parents. It took 10 years but we’ve finally gone from “When are you getting a real job?” to “Your company was in the newspaper today!”.

      1. Megan calvet

        Thanks for the reply! I’ve learned a lot at this job and made valuable connections. Plus I want to stay. That should be reason enough for now.

    5. LAI

      I think this is great if you’re doing something you love and you don’t mind the instability. However, I do recommend that you start thinking about where you eventually want your career to go – if you don’t know that yet, then start researching and exploring now. As long as you can make your seasonal work and tourism job part of that career path, great! But you don’t want to choose a profession 5 years from now and then discover that you are competing with recent college grads who have more recent skills and relevant internships, etc. I was lucky enough to choose the right career straight out of college and now I’m in my dream job. In contrast, I have a friend who just decided a year ago that she wanted to work in my field and even though we’re both 30, she’s applying for entry level positions that pay half of what I make.

      1. Megan calvet

        Are you suggesting I pick my career now? Because I definitely can’t decide on a career path right now. I have no idea where I want to go and really have no point of reference for what I would like or what I’d be good at long term. Which is why I’m now working a job that makes me happy and gives me good experience. Hopefully I’ll have a better idea of my long term goals in the next couple of years though.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Okay, I will be Negative Nancy. I took a lot of seasonal jobs…for YEARS.

          Like you are saying, I could not decide what do with my life.

          It turned out to be a mistake that hurt me, I feel. Let’s start with the income that worked like a yoyo- up and down. I hated the months of unemployment and people asking me what I did for a living. That got tiring. Next, my indecision became a habit. It took quite a while for me to force myself to do something more with my worklife. I was comfy where I was at and scared to branch out.

          If I had it to do over again, I would have picked a FT, year round job. Even if it was modest and use that as baby steps towards facing my real problem, which my lack of decision making.
          If you think the decision is hard now, it could be worse in five years.
          Maybe you are already set to go for this season. If so then I would roll with it and then use my lay-off time to find something else. I made the mistake of thinking a career path was a HUGE decision to be carved in stone. Reality is that it can flex, you can start out with one idea and move to another.

          In short, if you do not deliberately plan something for yourself, it makes everything much harder. Instead of just looking at jobs you like, also add in jobs that you would naturally do well with. Start there.

          1. Megan calvet

            I see what you mean. The thing is that my current job is so fulfilling in many ways, and I do really well there, but it’s only for part of the year. So I’m afraid to commit to other things because I love this job so much that I want to work around it (instead of just indecision, though that’s part of it).

  59. Anon Accountant

    Cute cat!

    Question for posters: As AAM states you should focus on listing your accomplishments on your resume instead of your job duties. I’m terrible at tooting my own horn and whereas some may feel it’s going “above and beyond the call of duty”, I just view as me doing my job.

    So any tips on focusing in on what should be considered achievements or accomplishments? I realize this is a very broad questions so hopefully it’ll help others in the same boat.

      1. Anon Accountant

        I like that post. It’s great.

        I’m having a hard time thinking of things that I’ve done that another employee might not have done or didn’t do. We are pretty much assigned our clients and you do what needs done for them. There are 2 slackers that I’m aware of- it’s painfully obvious because the 1 manager will reassign their work to others to get completed. It’s unclear to me if they’d be people to compare against as being “mediocre” employees b/c they’re not completing assignments.

    1. Sabrina

      Try to pretend like you’re not talking about how awesome you are, but how awesome your best friend is. If you were trying to get them a job you wouldn’t leave any of their accomplishments out, and you’d be more likely to come up with things that they’ve done and achieved.

  60. Choxie

    This is an update from a question I asked in last week’s Open Thread. (I was the person that asked about a manager’s inappropriate conversation at a work event.)

    My supervisor and I were both very uncomfortable with the conversation that took place. She spoke to the manager privately and told him that his words made several people uncomfortable. He was absolutely mortified. He has since apologized profusely to her, to me and others on the trip. I really respected the way he handled it actually.

    I later found out that others at the event (not this manager) were having inappropriate conversations of their own (bashing homosexuals and religious groups). Ugh.

    Thanks for those who posted responses to my question last week and for giving me the courage to speak up. :)

  61. coconut

    Is anyone else tired of “self-important” people? I’ve had more than my fair share of them this week.

    1. Sascha

      My manager is one such person. I do my best to avoid him. Probably to the detriment of my career, but he drives me crazy.

      1. Windchime

        The UK version is the first version I ever saw, and it was truly cringe-worthy. So horrible that it made me feel guilty for laughing. I thought I would die of embarrassment for David and Gareth when they were playing the guitar and singing during the meeting. Yikes. LOL

        1. Vancouver Reader

          That is definitely the episode that sticks out in my mind. I almost crawled under the sofa in sympathy cringing over that one.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Ahh, this person(s) was impressed with themselves enough for the both of you. No need for you to be impressed. That has been handled for you. /snark

      The truly important people don’t need to announce themselves.

  62. Vanilla Bean

    Let me preface this question by saying this is a SINCERE question, and I’m asking this a non-parent:

    How important is it to stay on a child’s schedule when they are young (let’s say under 2 years of age)? A lot of my friends who are new mothers seem to circle their schedules around the kids sleeping/eating patterns, which is fine and I understand. However, some of these same friends will get highly offended/upset if I a.) can’t change my schedule to match Baby’s and/or b.) can’t make a meeting/get-together time work. For example, I have a friend who is very strict about her daughter’s eating/sleeping times but constantly wants to get together with our group of friends – however, the get-togethers need to be on Baby’s “time” and she gets really offended if everyone else can’t make it then.

    I’m trying to be a good friend and I’m sure that one day when I’m a parent I will have a different perspective but honestly, it’s kind of irritating at the moment.

    1. Katie the Fed

      I think it doesn’t really matter what the answer is (how important the schedule is) because to these new mothers, it’s very important. So even if you presented them with a pile of studies saying otherwise, it probably wouldn’t matter at all.

      Sounds like your friends are having trouble adjusting to having a more restricted schedule, which is totally understandable. Hell, I got a dog and it was an adjustment that I couldn’t go out right after work anymore. Nobody wants to feel like they’ve been abandoned by friends just because they’ve had a baby.

      Likewise, you have every right to be irritated that they’re expecting you to work around their schedule.

      I think both sides are going to have to lower their expectations for the amount and quality of interactions they’re going to have for the time being. As much as possible, try to accomodate – stop by with some food, allow the parents to bring the baby with them, etc. But they need to be reasonable too that your life doesn’t revolve around their baby.

      The reality is that some of these relationships are going to change completely. That’s normal. Relationships ebb and flow as we move through life – some of these friends you might still have in a few years, and some you won’t.

      Good luck. I’m the childless friend of many with kids so I deal with this a lot.

      1. Vanilla Bean

        Excellent points! You always have such great insight.

        I probably should have added this in my original post, but I’m not trying to change the parents’ minds about scheduling – I’m merely looking for background info as to why it’s so important. I want to better understand it. :)

        1. Vanilla Bean

          Along these same lines – is there such a thing as “mother’s guilt?” I know a lot of my friends will feel bad about leaving their child with the father, so they don’t do it. I would think you would want to leave kids with their dad, as well as get a break for themselves.

          1. TotesMaGoats

            It totally exists but not everyone has it. As I say I “foist” my kid off on my husband on a regular basis. He needs time with his dad. I need time away from both of them. It’s not healthy to intentionally take all that on your shoulders.

          2. BridgetteB

            In my limited experience, a few of my friends who do not want to leave their kids with the dad do it because they don’t think the dad can take care of the kid as well as they can. They are the stereotypical helicopter parents. Not all of them are like this – some of my friends are thrilled to leave the kid with the dad, an in-law, a friend, whoever to get some free time! But I often find people who say they “feel bad” about something* use that language to cover up the fact that they are uncomfortable with the other person’s way of doing things. It’s just a control thing.

            *I’ve seen this apply to many, many things in life, not just child care.

          3. Jen RO

            There’s even guilt for NOT feeling guilty! One of my best friends has a 2.5 year old daughter and she does not feel guilty when she leaves the kid with her ex-husband or ex-MIL… but she sometimes checks with me if it’s OK not to feel guilty about i! (I kinda like that I am turning into the cool childfree friend, I was really worried that our friendship would die out after she had children.)

        2. Katie the Fed

          I think it is actually kind of important. Like, the kid won’t die or turn into axe murderer or anything, but changing the schedule can mean many long nights of crying, screaming, sleeplessness, etc. For an already exhausted parent, it’s not worth poking the bear.

          Mother’s guilt – yes probably. Plus a lot of new moms I know tend to, um, run a very tight ship and don’t really trust that their husbands can do the job to their standards.

          (As an aside, thank you for not calling leaving the baby with its dad “babysitting.” It drives me crazy when someone says her husband is babysitting her kids. He’s PARENTING, not babysitting.)

          1. TotesMaGoats

            Totally agree. My sister said to me after she had her first kid and I was pregnant with mine that it’s not that she’s afraid that her daughter won’t survive without her but that dad won’t do as good a job. Replace dad with grandparents as well. And she was like “you’ll understand and feel the same too”.

            I don’t. I don’t worry about my son when I’m not with him. In all honesty, my husband worries more about our kid that I do. I make sure he’s got the bottles he needs and then go do whatever. On our first date night after our son was born (and all the ones since) I’ve never called to check on him. And I figure that my parents managed to get me and my sister to adulthood, they can handle my baby for a couple hours.

            The one time I did call was my first girls night out, baby was maybe 2.5 months old, and I called to see if baby was chill enough for me to stay out longer. And I did.

            Maybe I’m an outlier though.

            1. Katie the Fed

              My sister was like that for her first kid – about as type A as you can imagine. By baby three she was more like “oh eff it, he’s not eating glass shards, he’s probably fine.” I think your give-a-shit factor is often proportional to how much energy you have :)

              1. TotesMaGoats

                My energy comes from caffeine.

                Having a kid somewhat later in life than my peer group means I saw a lot of “not gonna do that when I have a kid”. When you don’t worry about ridiculous stuff you have a lot more energy too.

                1. Celeste

                  I had my one and only at 40, and you are so right! Fads come and go, and in the end babies haven’t changed any. They have set needs, but once those are addressed they’re pretty much fine.

                  You are so fortunate to have family living nearby! We have zero, and we know what we’re missing out on.

            2. Vanilla Bean

              When I become a parent, I want to be just like you Toats! Completely, completely agree with everything you said.

              I like Katie said this above, but I think a lot of these actions are the result of the mother being in control. I’m thinking of two friends of mine in particular and both of them were control freaks before Baby and they’re the same way now. One friend is married, but I’m not sure how much she “trusts” her husband to take care of the baby in the way that she would. The second friend is a single parent (by choice – she adopted), and her support system is pretty weak.

            3. Persephone Mulberry

              Amen, Totes. I also don’t understand waiting months and months and MONTHS to start leaving Baby with the grands, or Auntie Sue, and having a grownup dinner out. I love my children dearly, but having an infant not leave my side for 6+ months would make me batty. And I know someone who didn’t leave their child overnight until the kid was FIVE.

          2. Vanilla Bean

            Also, Katie – TOTALLY agree with you about the “babysitting” comment. It drives me nuts when people refer to the husband/dad babysitting. When I hear this, I always want to say (but never do),”Um, the last time I checked, Dad is a parent too and it’s his responsibility to take care of HIS child. And if he’s too much of a ‘man child’ (a frequent complaint among the women I know) to take care of the baby properly – WHY IN THE WORLD DID YOU MARRY THIS DUDE?”

    2. Adam V

      It sounds like maybe your friend thought they were the center of the group, and the group wouldn’t function without their presence, and when everyone else gets together without them, it’s a slap in the face.

      She needs to realize that she made the choice to have her baby, and just because her schedule changes as a result, doesn’t mean everybody else needs to jump through extra hoops too. Accept that having a baby means that you can’t necessarily live the same life as before.

      (Personally, *my* life probably wouldn’t change much, because I don’t have much of a life.)

      Is this the kind of thing you, or someone else in your group, would be able to explain to her without her getting upset?

    3. TotesMaGoats

      I’m a new mom. Little man is five months old. I think you’ll find that parents will go both ways on that. The eating times are set by when I wake him up and it’s every 3 hours after that. So, it’s pretty set. I do try to keep close to his normal sleep schedule mostly because I want to get some sleep. Too much sleep and he’s cranky. Too little sleep and he’s cranky. When the baby is little, it’s really hard. All that being said, if I want to go out or have a work event that runs late, I have my husband to depend on. Tomorrow is the 3rd saturday in a row that I’ve got plans. Some are fun, some are work. If you don’t have a spouse or family member to help, it’s really hard.

      And some moms won’t turn over the reins to the dad and that’s just sad. If the kid is eating solids and mom isn’t breastfeeding anymore and has a spouse/family member to help then there is no reason that she can’t get some alone time to hang with friends.

      I don’t know if my ramble helped alot. You aren’t wrong to feel irritated though.

    4. Celeste

      She is out of line to ask you to work around her child’s schedule. What she should be doing is telling you when is a good time for her, and seeing who is still available, and then showing up.

      Yes, a lot has to do with just how difficult her child is to keep managed. They are so unhappy and so unpleasant when they aren’t rested, and when they need to eat. It also matters how much support she has from her partner to take the helm so she can have some time to herself. He may not feel like he has great skills with the child, but the way to get them is by putting in the time.

      It’s a reality that being the first one in a group to have a child really changes your availability and shifts the dynamics. Right now it sounds like she is doing more taking than giving, and this is what is going to do in her friendships with those who aren’t mothers. If she always cancels, she is going to find herself alone, as she would even if she didn’t have a child.

    5. Callie

      Keeping in mind that all kids are different… when my daughter was a baby, if I put her down for her scheduled 9 am and 1 pm naps, she would go to sleep within 5 minutes with no fussing. But if I deviated from this schedule by more than 15 minutes late, she would scream adn cry and resist sleeping even if she was horribly tired, and then she would be in a foul mood for the rest of the day. So yeah, pretty important.

  63. Lori

    What are the best website platforms for creating an online freelance writing landing page and portfolio? Preferably free and intuitive for someone with no web design experience, but I am open to budget-friendly options, too. Thanks!

    1. Esra

      WordPress. There are a ton of free portfolio templates, and even paid ones are only 10-50$. I sprung for a paid one to get a good, responsive site. Worth every penny.

    2. CanadianWriter

      I use wordpress for my site. My sister uses wix and it’s way cooler, but I’m too lazy to switch.

  64. Kate

    Would you take a contract job that after taxes the pay would less than minimum wage hourly?

    I am currently unemployed and something is better than nothing and it is only a temp contract so I don’t feel like I could leave if something better came up.

    1. Katie the Fed

      Yes, absolutely, especially if it’s in your field. It’s better to be employed when looking for other jobs than unemployed.

      Even if it’s a temp contract I think you could leave if you found something better. They can’t expect people in temp contracts not to make other plans.

      1. Kate

        There are a couple of other reasons I need to commit. A family member works there and is my referral for the job and I wouldn’t want to do anything to jeopardize that.

        It’s not in my field but I would learn a new skill and that is never bad.

    2. Colette

      I don’t understand why you feel like you couldn’t leave – most people understand that someone working a temp contract will leave if something better comes along.

      1. Kate

        It is a family referral who works at the company and I wouldn’t want to do anything to mess that up.

    3. HAnon

      If I understand correctly, you’re asking if you should take the contract job in the meantime and continue looking for other more stable work, then leave once you find it.

      As someone who was in your position a while ago, it stinks to be underpaid, but it stinks worse not to be paid at all, especially if the alternative is going into debt (in my case I didn’t have savings to fall back on). I worked about 3 part time jobs (two were freelance, one was a retail type job with very low pay) to pay my bills and then quit all of them once I found a more stable full-time position (just to be clear, I did wrap up the freelance projects so I didn’t leave anyone with unfinished work). If this is your only option right now, I’d say go ahead and do the work, but make sure you continue to pursue other options for employment in the meantime, and try to keep your hand in some kind of work or projects related to your field as well.

    4. fposte

      And remember, minimum wage gets taxed too, so it’s not like you’re making less than people who earn minimum wage.

      1. HAnon

        I think the commenter probably meant that as a contractor, you are responsible for additional taxes (you pay the employee and employer’s share of tax) so the rate you take home after taxes is lower than what you would take home at the same hourly rate if your employer was paying a share of the tax.

  65. Jen RO

    Happy Friday! Mine has been great – my manager told me that I’m the de facto team lead for my new team (even though the current team lead is still here – he was laid off, but he can stay til December) AND the stupid lazy coworker just announced she is quitting! The next week’s will be glorious.

  66. Qwerty

    Does anyone know of any good accounting job boards, particularly for the NW corner of the US?

    1. littlemoose

      This isn’t accounting-specific, but when I was job-hunting, I used to see a lot of jobs listed in my city’s business journal (they have a print edition, but I was using their website) that I never saw posted elsewhere. Maybe that could be an option?

    2. Malissa

      indeed.com pulls most of the jobs into their listings. Is there a specific area you are looking at?

      1. Annie

        I second indeed.com. I get 5 emails from them daily- 3 in the areas I want in a 50 mile radius of my town, 1 in my preferred salary range in 30 miles of my town, and one from a company I’d really like to work for with no area. I really like them because you can limit your searches with out killing them- I have one that’s for event planning that automatically takes out anything where nursing, PhD, MD, or Physician’s Assistant is necessary (because the words event & planning were showing up in those job descriptions and making it hard to find the jobs that I actually wanted).

  67. Reidi

    Hope I am not too late for some input –

    I recently applied for a job. The employer has reached out to candidates and said that before scheduling interviews, they want to confirm that a salary of X is in line with our expectations. Unfortunately, salary X is significantly lower than I could accept. Any suggestions for how to draft a response that advises that I do not wish to go forward based on the salary but expresses what is my real disappointment? This position sounds incredible in every other way and I would love to work with this employer in the future.

    1. Adam V

      I’d say just what you wrote here – “Unfortunately, that salary is outside my range. I wish you the best in your search, and hope to get the chance to work with you in the future!”

    2. Katie the Fed

      “Thank you so much for getting in touch. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be able to accept a position at that salary, which is very disappointing because every other aspect of the job sounds wonderful. I hope you’ll keep me in mind if similar positions become available at a higher salary in the future.”

    3. OriginalYup

      Are you sure there’s no room to maneuver?

      “Thanks so much for providing this advance information. I’m seeking a salary in the range of $X +15%. If your suggested salary is negotiable for the successful applicant, then I’d be delighted to continue with a scheduled interview. However, I certainly understand if this isn’t possible. In which case, I wish you the best in your search, and (etc etc etc).”

      1. Reidi

        Thanks all, these are great suggestions. The wording of the email suggested the salary was non-negotiable, but I will think about whether to add that to my response. My range is so much higher (like X + 40%), that I’m not sure it would help.

        1. OriginalYup

          Ah, yeah — that much of a difference is probably too much to bridge in negotiation. Bummer. In which case, Adam and Katie’s wording above is probably more useful. At least this organization is now on your radar for future! :)

  68. AVP

    Do you all have any tips for staying on a budget?

    I make enough money for my life, and have a good budget that in theory I should have no problem keeping to, but…I don’t know, it’s just kind of boring and I get tired of it, and then someone invites me out for drinks, and on the way I pass a store with a pretty shirt in the window, and…sigh. None of this is necessary spending, and while I can afford it I would REALLY like to be putting that money away instead.

    Do they make human blinders that one can wear while walking down the street?

    1. fposte

      How do you track your budget currently? I find it a lot tougher to be impulsive when I have a clear burn rate and have to put in every item purchased. Can you frontload the IRA contribution/savings part right when you get paid?

    2. Esra

      Have you thought of trying the cash/jar method? I don’t know if you’re a Gail Vaz-Oxlade fan, but she has a lot of great tips for this sort of thing.

      It’s important too that a budget have some fun money if possible, it needs to be realistic.

    3. Katie the Fed

      To me, impulsive shopping is a bit like overeating – there’s a reason you’re doing it, and you probably need to figure out what that is and why you’re doing it. Do you have any idea of what need it’s filling? Boredom? Insecurity?
      Or do you just like pretty things?
      Is there a way you can satisfy those desires without shopping? Like a once-a-month trip to Good Will to see what you can find with a $50 limit? Avoiding those place entirely?
      If you’re really having trouble, I suggest going to a cash-only system and locking up your credit cards. When your paycheck comes in, have some auto-paid to your retirement account. Some goes to an emergency fund or savings account. Some goes to bills. And then you give yourself, say, $150 for incidental expenses. Have it in cash – when that money is gone, it’s gone. No more for that week.
      The key for me saving money is not being able to see it. So when the paycheck hits, it’s automatically divided into several different accounts, including a “fun money” account.

      1. Jen RO

        Every time I get paid, I put a certain amount of money into a savings account. I’m not sure if it’s the right term, but it’s an account that’s not accessible from my card, with a slightly better interest, but with no losses if I take the money out whenever. This way, I only have limited money at my disposal, but if I *really* need some extra I can just transfer it back.

    4. StaminaTea

      I use Mint.com – it automatically tracks my budget for me. I still go over, but it paints in vivid detail how much I spend in each category each month. It helps to know where my money is going!

    5. Malissa

      Save the money first in another account. Have it direct deposited in there if possible. Then it becomes money you never had.

    6. Chloe Silverado

      I opened up a savings account with a credit union and have my checking in a regular bank. When I get my paycheck I immediately transfer the amount I want to save over to the credit union savings account, so it’s as though I never had it. It’s helpful for me to have it in a completely separate account because I’d occasionally dip into my savings for unnecessary things when it was at the same bank as my checking account (just a quick online transfer and suddenly I have more spending money!)

      I also try and use cash as much as possible. With a debit card, you don’t see the money physically disappearing so it makes it feel infinite. If you’re using mostly cash…when it’s gone, it’s gone and you know it’s time to pass on the new shirt.

    7. Gail L

      ‘This is more of a behavior in sticking TO the budget…

      It’s important to think about your behaviors. Do you track your expenses? If not, do so for the past month or two. Look at your biggest “unexpected” categories. If it’s drinks out with friends, you should think about your behaviors at those specific times. What’s most tempting? Is it the outing itself? Is it buying super-expensive drinks? Or drinking too much? What feelings do you have when you get to that “I don’t care, it’s only [one drink/$5/one night]!” What pushes you to spend that extra?

      Once you figure this out, work on changing the situation. If the fact of going out at all is the temptation, try switching it up. “I’m on a tight budget right now. Why don’t you come over for drinks and dinner? Or we could take a walk in the park to mix it up.”

      If it’s buying lots of drinks once you are out, you might want to try using cash only, no ATM. Take $20 and once it’s gone, you’re done, whether you get 5 $4 beers or one $15 cocktail. The rest is water or finishing the evening.

      You kind of get the idea. The thing you have to do is identify the specific feelings that tempt you into the purchases, then find a way to A) avoid the feelings (don’t walk by tempting stores); or B) change how you prepare so you limit yourself (don’t carry credit or debit cards).

      Also, build some fun money into your budget.

      Finally, you might want to try a new policy: any purchase outside your budget, you have to wait 1 week before you make the purchase. Even if it’s on a special fire sale. If you still want it in a week, it’s probably something you REALLY want, not just a thoughtless purchase.

    8. AVP

      Thanks all! I track it using excel. I’ve tried to use the BDGT app but I’ve found that hand-entering the numbers is helpful for me.

      I think the problem is that it’s allllll essentially “fun money” after rent and the internet payment goes out – I don’t have any real obligations after that, so I get bored and go shopping and then spend more then I really wanted to.

      I really like the idea of changing my direct deposit so that my salary is going into savings, not into checking, and then having a certain amount move over every week. Right now I have it the opposite and it’s just too easy to spend it before the savings transfer kicks in. Kind of like the ‘envelope’ or ‘cash jar’ plan but digital. This could work!

      1. fposte

        It sounds like you might need better categories. It shouldn’t all be generic “fun money”–it should be divvied up for clothes, eating out, entertainment, tattoos, whatever the heck your big expenditures are. Currently you’re not really setting any internal limits–you’re just relying on the bank account limit.

        If you’re doing it on Excel, does that mean you don’t have your budget on you when you’re out and about? Can you at least get it on the cloud so you can see it when you see that shop window?

        1. AVP

          Both of those statements are very true and fixable.

          I also like that this is coming to me in the voice of Flora Poste, although I think her budgeting advice would be quite bad.

          1. fposte

            Nonsense. Flora is impeccably organized. If she can do the farm’s books, she can budget.

          2. Astor

            My credit union also allows you to have an infinite (or seemingly) number of chequing/savings accounts, and I use that to manage my categories. The ‘envelope’ method never worked for me because I didn’t like carrying cash, but it was really hard for me to keep to a virtual envelope. This made me get the best of both worlds.

            First I used a budget method (like the Pear Budget Spreadsheet) to figure out how to budget over a whole year. (I have my own spreadsheet now, but that’s how I figured out a system that worked for me.) It sounds like you have that, but have trouble sticking to it, which is exactly the situation that I was in, which is why I eventually figured out these next steps.

            I grouped my budget according to major types and created a bank subaccount for each. For example, I combined all my utilities into one major type, so that I have one bank subaccount called “utilities” instead of one for internet, one for cellular, etc.

            And then I let it do most of the work itself. I get paid on the last day of the month, and it goes into my “payroll savings account”. On the first day of the month, everything then gets moved – via auto transfers I set up with my bank – into various sub accounts:
            rent/insurance
            utilities
            savings
            household
            wardrobe
            groceries
            entertainment
            etc

            For some categories, the money that goes in and comes out is fixed, but over the long term. For example, I pay in the same amount for my rent and insurance every paycheque, but only the rent comes out monthly. The remaining balance gets carried over, until my insurance is due once a year. This is easy to calculate ahead of time, and it means that I never have to worry about accidentally spending that money. Utilities are similar – I put in the same amount every paycheque, and my phone and internet bills are the same monthly, but my electricity bills fluctuate over the year. But I never have to worry about it, because I’ve pre-budgeted as if I’m on an equal payments plan.

            For other categories, this means that I have flexibility. I put money into the wardrobe category every paycheque, but I personally hate clothes shopping. So this means that I can save it up until there are good sales and I’m in the mood and etc, and I know exactly how much I have to spend on clothing, without worrying about infringing on other things I have to buy. Ditto my ‘entertainment’ budget. That’s my ultimate flexibility budget – some months it gets spent on restaurants and drinks with friends, other months it gets spent on books and DVDs. For me, I’m much happier if I do have a generic “fun money” bank, which just relies on my mood and my bank account limit. BUT, because I’ve determined my limit on that account by already pre-budgeting every other aspect of my life, that’s okay.

            This works for me because I can access my bank account online and easily via my phone. I worked with this method for a while by deciding to buy something, moving money from the right account into my (Canadian) debit card account, and then paying for it.

            These days I pay for everything with a credit card, which emails me right away with a receipt. Then I move money into a “credit card” subaccount. (I have gmail flag these emails as they come in, and then I unflag them as I move the money.) That means I have the money to pay off my credit card when it’s due, I know exactly how much money I have in each category, and I’m earning points.

            I rebalance my budget when major things change, but otherwise I have a system I trust, and that I don’t need to fiddle with. I know that I always have enough money to pay for the things I need to, my savings money gets put aside so I don’t spend it on impulse buys, and I also have some money that is specifically for impulse buys.

            And if I decide I want something special that doesn’t fit into my budget? I rework my budget, ideally by reducing my entertainment budget, and then create a new sub bank account. I work backwards: “this is going to cost $200 and I want it in 10 months, so I have to reduce my entertainment budget by $20.” I decide if that’s worth it, and then make sure I “hide” that money by putting it into the new sub account, instead of trying to keep it in my entertainment account.

            Use other people’s systems to figure out what works best for you. And keep tweaking it. You’ll get there! But definitely take all the advice about putting away savings first, rather than trying to put them aside after. Good luck!

            1. Persephone Mulberry

              Oh man, I would LOVE a bank/CU that allowed me to set up something like this.

            2. Smilingswan

              This is a truly brilliant system. I’m bookmarking this comment for future reference! :)

      2. Anonsie

        Definitely put the savings money away as soon as you get your pay check. My grandfather used to say “pay yourself first,” meaning when you get your money you set the savings aside before you make any other payments.

    9. Persephone Mulberry

      What about putting the money away FIRST, either as a direct deposit from your paycheck (if your employer offers direct deposit you can usually designate more than one account), or by setting up an automatic transfer with your bank for payday?

      We are working on saving for a house down payment, and we supplement our auto deposits with on-the-fly transfers – if I’m tempted in the morning to stop for coffee, I’ll transfer that $5 into the savings account instead. It satisfies that spending itch just a little bit, and BOY is it interesting to see how much we’re (not) spending on impulse purchases.

    10. LV

      I’m in a similar situation, I think. I’m fortunate to have a spouse whose salary would be enough to provide us with a comfortable lifestyle, so it’s easy for me to fall into the mental trap of thinking of my own salary as 100% disposable income.

      I have 3 savings accounts: one for retirement (which is still a long way off), one for vacations, and one that I just refer to as my “money hoard” because I’m not saving it for any particular purpose, but just like having the money there. (I’m getting to the point where it would be smarter to invest it, but it makes me feel nice and comfortable knowing that the money is steadily earning its 1.35% monthly interest at absolutely no risk.)

      Every payday, I transfer 75% of my salary to these accounts (25% to each one). I keep the rest to spend however I like – I don’t feel bad about buying that pretty shirt or ordering those drinks because I know that I saved huge chunk of my money. However, I rarely end up spending the entire amount that’s left over.

      1. Persephone Mulberry

        OK, where do you bank that has a 1.35% APY on a regular, non-CD savings account? The highest I’ve been able to find right now is 1.1%.

    11. JBeane

      I had a really amazing turnaround in my finances when I stopped trying to have a “budget” and instead started thinking of it as a “spending plan”. In my case it helped me feel in control of my money and spending according to my priorities. The plan for a portion of my money is to “sit in savings and wait for emergencies” and I never draw from savings to cover checking anymore.

      FWIW this epiphany came about as a result of using the You Need A Budget (YNAB) app, but that’s only because this particular system worked for me. I’m sure any number of budgeting apps and programs (or even Excel) could give the same kind of clarity.

    12. Anonymous Educator

      I’d recommend using only cash and not a credit card. A lot of the “funny money” feeling comes from just seeing a number and signing a receipt.

      You’d be surprised—the feeling of taking the actual bills out and then seeing them disappear from your wallet or purse genuinely puts a damper on the spending. Or, at the very least, you can’t spend money you don’t have (credit cards by definition spend money you don’t have).

    13. Not So NewReader

      I am not so sure this is a financial question but rather a life question.

      You have great advice on how to handle the money here. Running at the same check out your personal goals/dreams. How are those doing, anyway?
      Watch how you fill your spare time. The boredom indicates to me that you are probably ready to take on an after work activity that fills your mind as well as your time.

      Definitely allow yourself some fun money, don’t stop doing that. Set a specific amount that is reasonable.
      But do something to curb the boredom that leads to free-spending. This could be volunteering, it could be a new hobby or learning a new skill. Does not matter. The only thing that matters is that it appeals to you right now.

  69. Reality Bites

    Last week I posted a question about whether or not I was overreacting to not hearing from my new employer after I accepted their offer and aske some small questions.

    Turns out I was as other posters suggested. But my spidey sense wasn’t off, the recruiter left the company. She was very helpful during my interviewing process, though she’d only been there a couple of months. Anyway first day is next week and I’m very excite as well as nervous since my new role is in a different area, something I wanted, but still in the same industry I’m used to.

    The only thing that keeps coming to mind is that I probably should have negotiated more than a 10% increase from my last salary. However, I think I already see the possibility to approach salary by next year.

    Here’s to hopefully a long and positive experience/relationship with my new company :)

    Have a great Memorial Day weekend everyone!

    1. fposte

      I’m glad that the start worked out despite the recruiter, and I hope it’s all a great success for you!

  70. C Average

    Because my role interfaces somewhat with the external call center our company uses, and because the call center employees know and like me, I get hit up a lot with “how do I get a job at [company]” questions.

    A couple weeks ago I agreed to meet with a call center employee with whom I’ve spoken a few times, and who’s always come across as bright, conscientious, professional, and interesting. I agreed to take her to lunch on campus, look over her resume, and talk to her about her chances of being competitive for a particular role in my department.

    The resume and cover letter she sent me were really disappointing, and made me question my assessment of her and struggle with how I’d talk to her about what it would take for her to get a job here.

    We did lunch yesterday, and I found her really receptive to my feedback and every bit as promising as I’d remembered her. She just needs some work on her written communication.

    I offered to help her with her resume in stages. I told her I want to take the long view of this project: I want her resume to be 100% her work product, but I want to show her how to build an effective one. I’ve been reviewing all the AAM content on resumes to brush up in this area and make sure my own biases aren’t too much in play.

    For a start, I asked her to make a full list of EVERYTHING she’s done, not just the stuff she thinks is relevant, and I’m going to help her with the cherry-picking. She’s done a lot of really cool things she left off her resume because she just hadn’t thought about how they form a coherent narrative. We’re going to meet up next week and go over her list and come up with some new parameters for “relevant.” I’ve asked her to make a similar list of skills and interests.

    After that, she and I will tackle format.

    I really love helping people like this. So far, I’ve helped five people get hired at my company. Two of them outrank me now!

    1. Vancouver Reader

      That’s great, both for her and for you. You can start asking for a commission for all the work you do for these people. ;)

  71. Sky of Stars

    Seeking advice on coaching/mentoring a member of my team:

    I have an employee whom is insecure/has low self-esteem. She told me she has difficulty managing her subordinate, because the subordinate is “young and bubbly and everyone likes her.”

    The subordinate has quietly sought my advice on how to connect with her manager, as the subordinate senses something is amiss. What could I do to help both of them?

    1. Katie the Fed

      So if I have this correct, your subordinate is having trouble manager HER subordinate, right? So you actually are in a position of authority over this person?

      This is kind of bizarre. Really someone that insecure probably shouldn’t be in a leadership position at this point. As I’ve learned too many times, management is not for the thin-skinned.

      I guess if I were coaching this person, I would tell her she needs to focus on actions, not personality. Is there something that her subordinate is doing that makes her difficult to manage? If so, those are the issues she needs to focus on, not this woman’s personality. I’d start there and have her break down the actions that are bugging her.

      If it’s really a personality clash, I’d move the subordinate to another team, if possible. I don’t know how this is something that can be overcome with this manager in particular. She really sounds like she’s not ready to be a manager.

    2. TotesMaGoats

      Is the employee hard to manage because of performance issues or a personality clash? I think you first need to get the manager to accurately articulate the issues.

      If it’s performance issues, then work the manager to address those with the employee just like you would with anyone else.

      If it’s personality issues…you can’t penalize the employee for being bubbly. Just like we shouldn’t penalize people for being quiet. Is the manager jealous? I know that sounds harsh but I’m getting “8th grade popularity contest” vibe. Give your manager a safe space to share that feeling, if that’s what it is. There may be some impostor syndrome going on as well. This conversation may stray way over into the psychological and/or feelings area. If you aren’t comfortable providing that level of support, figure out what you can do.

    3. Not So NewReader

      Did you hire the junior employee or did your employee hire her?

      Is it possible that your employee feels that her job is threatened by Miss Bubbly? As in you would prefer to have a more lively/confident person working directly for you?

      Does your employee have everything she needs from you to provide supervision, work materials, policy information to her subordinate?

      If these questions don’t come close to fitting your setting the only other thing I can say is to encourage them to talk to each other more. It is not up to you to manage people’s relationships with each other. You can just encourage them to speak directly with each other.
      At this point, I am more concerned about your direct report than the junior employee. Maybe you can suggest some good books for her to read about managing all different kinds of personalities? A big piece of management is to be able to work with all kinds of people. (Sometimes I think it is more about dealing with personalities than actually doing the work itself.) Maybe you can discuss these things with your subordinate.

  72. Sharm

    I applied to a job about 7 weeks ago that is both interesting to me, and something I’m well qualified for. I know I can’t say that I’m a shoe-in for an interview, but I actually applied for this job and received a phone interview. The main problem then was I wasn’t in the location I the job. I am now, and have two additional ears of local experience.

    The automatic response to my application says they’ll contact qualified applicants within 2-3 weeks.

    Since it has been 7 weeks but the job is still open, could I email HR once to follow up?

    1. Sharm

      Dammit, that should say I applied for this same job two years ago, and then got a phone interview.

    2. fposte

      I love the “two ears of local experience”–is that like ears of corn or human ears?

      I think you can send a followup query asking if there’s any further information about the time frame, but this is the classic “move on in your mind” situation.

      1. Sharm

        Ha, yeah. People out here are very particular about being local; I think they’ve experienced employees moving all the way out here and leaving after two months. I only mentioned it to show that I followed through on what I told them, which is that I was planning on moving out here, and did it, and did well.

        I agree with the mentality, but with it still being posted, I was just curious. I think maybe just one email about timeframe, and then that’s it.

  73. Sara

    I have a question about linked in. REcently I saw that my profile was viewed by 2 recruiters. I sent them an invitation to connect and both accepted within minutes/hours.

    So, I guess my question is: since I connected, can I also reach out to them via email/message, that I’m looking for opportunities? Or would that be too weird?

    IF it IS OK, then what do I say?

    And, I guess it’s useless to ask since it already happened, but should I not have requested to connect to them? (In case something like this pops up in the future)?

    1. Katie the Fed

      I have no particular insight on this, but I can’t imagine you have anything to lose. The worst that happens is they say no or ignore you. They’re not going to be all “Well, I WAS interested in recruiting Sara but then she had the utter gall to message me with her interest!”

  74. Teacher Recruiter

    I had a very tough performance conversation with a direct report a couple of weeks ago (the improve on X, Y, Z, or you will no longer be employed conversation – this after X, Y, Z have been discussed multiple times). The conversation went super well because she responds well to feedback and agreed with my assessment, which made it easy to go back to our shared space and go about my day.

    My question is this – what do people typically do after these conversations if they don’t go well? Seems like someone might want some space to cool off or if they don’t respond to feedback well, they might not want to be staring at their manager all day the rest of the day. What would others suggest for those situations?

    1. Katie the Fed

      Totally depends on the person. I usually give them some space and let them decide when to reengage, as long as they do it within the next day or so. I also might follow up in a week and say something like “you seemed pretty rattled last week, I wanted to see if you had any lingering concerns.”

      I had one who basically gave me the silent treatment for a week, which was fine until she didn’t loop me in on something she needed to, then we had to have a second Serious Discussion. She even told me “well, I didn’t want to talk to you because I was still upset about last week” which was super fun to deal with. Oy.

        1. Katie the Fed

          Ha, yeah. It was actually ok though because I’d been needing to talk to her about general maturity in the workplace, so that was a good example. You know that whole “20% of your people will take up 80% of your time?” – so true.

          1. Teacher Recruiter

            I’ve never understood how someone who is on thin ice (and knows it) would disengage like that and then even say something that ridiculous to the manager who just had a conversation with them.

  75. Two Oranges

    Does anyone have any experience with career coaches?

    I’m stuck in a pretty typical mid-late twenties “I don’t know what I want to do with my life” moment, and have been having a really hard time getting un-stuck. I’m considering seeing a career coach, who could maybe help me examine my skills/talents/interests and support me in figuring out a career path – but it’s a super expensive endeavor, and I’m not sure how useful it will actually be. I don’t want to waste my money if it’s going to be the equivalent of reading a career book or talking to a variety of insightful friends.

    Any advice or experience from this always-brilliant comment section? Thanks in advance!

    1. Katie the Fed

      I tried one briefly a few years ago when I was burnt out and going through that phase. She was an absolute twit. She had me do some exercises like you’d do a college career center, but really she had nothing useful to offer.

      Of course your mileage may vary but I found her a complete waste of time and money.

      You can always ask us for free :)

    2. StaminaTea

      Have you already browsed the career section at your library? I had some success with “What color is my parachute?” in my early 20s. It’s a little cheesy, but it helps you decide what’s important to you and where you want to go. It’s like a career coach in book form.

    3. Robin

      Maybe if you have an approximate idea what field you like, try talking to people in that field? Especially people who are a bit more advanced in their careers. Look up the informational interviews tag on this site for some thoughts.

    4. Jennifer

      In my experience, career coaches, counselors, what have you are only good if you come in with a plan and a goal, saying, “I’m applying for X job, help me with my resume and cover letter”-type stuff. They are NOT good at vague, “gee, I dunno what I want” stuff. You might as well read a career book and talk to your friends and take the MBTI test for cheaper, because it’ll pretty much be the same experience. This is not to diss the profession, but it’s nigh impossible for any other human to help you figure out what you want when you don’t know. All they can do is offer suggestions that