open thread – February 10-11, 2017

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that 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.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue :)

{ 1,612 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Mimolette

    A bit frustrated at my job this week. I work at a tiny company and my job (also everyone else’s job) primarily involves reaching out to reporters and sharing information about our clients. The industry standard way to approach this is by curating a relatively small list of reporters for each email blast, ensuring that you are only reaching out to those who would be interested in covering the topic. My manager, however, believes the most effective way to reach out is by sending emails to the same list of almost 3,000 reporters multiple times a week. I have been trying to delicately suggest we try sending outreach to a smaller, more researched group of reporters, but she all but refuses to try that strategy. (I’ll note that she also recognizes that our current strategy is not working, but says “there’s no other strategies to use.”)

    This week, one of my coworkers believed that a bunch of his email distributions were getting sent to spam, so he resent about a week’s worth of emails. He woke up the next morning to a TON of angry reporters from top-tier publications, who sent him things like “You have sent me the same email 10 times, never contact me again,” and “You need to better coordinate your PR strategy, because it is a mess.” When he told this to our boss, she said “It’s so weird how reporters get mad about that, oh well.” Now, a few days later, our company account on an email distribution site has been suspended (possibly permanently) due to sending spam. My manager thinks this is the email distribution site’s fault.

    I’m frustrated because my manager’s inability to address problems and let us try different approaches is impeding for my ability to do my job effectively and deliver for my clients.

    Reply
    1. SophieChotek

      I’m sorry! I have to reach out to reports/clients, to and my boss does similar things – expects me to add people to my list that never agreed to be added, then they get upset for being added….

      Why can’t your manager recognize this? She recognizes it is not working, but is unwilling to try something else. I feel your pain.

      Reply
      1. Mimolette

        I’ve actually looked into this before, and I don’t believe we are because our emails have an unsubscribe button at the bottom. However, when I mentioned to my boss that I delete from the list any reporters who ask to be removed, she told me to only delete them if they’re not from an “important” publication. I do NOT follow that advice, but anyone who does might be in violation.

        Reply
        1. Jessesgirl72

          Not might be. Are in violation. The law doesn’t change if the publication is a “big” one- anyone who requests to be taken off your mailing list has to be removed.

          Is there anyone you could report her to? An ethics line or something, since she is absolutely putting the company at risk for some hefty fines.

          Reply
        2. paul

          There’s no “might be” in that. Yikes. Your boss is actually telling people to break the law. Have they been dumb enough to put it in writing?

          Reply
        3. H.C.

          Agree with Jessesgirl72, and here’s a nice blogpost summarizing what CAN-SPAM does and the consequences of violating that law:

          http://www.silverpop.com/blog/CAN-SPAM-and-Other-Global-Email-Laws-and-Regulations

          Of note, you/your org has 10 days from unsubscribe request to honor them and there are no restrictions to who can opt-out, even if it is an “important” media outlet.

          And lastly, the penalty is $16,000, plus $250 for each subsequent email sent ($750 per email if the plaintiff can prove you’re willfully ignoring the opt-out request).

          Hopefully these figures can help your boss / CEO realize the risk they’re setting themselves up for and that they should at least honor the opt-outs and at best, use smaller distribution lists to begin with.

          Reply
    2. Marcela

      I’m sorry, your coworker and boss seem like they are not able to see facts. What did your coworker think it was going to happen resending email being marked spam on the recipients’ email? That the email fairy was going to make the emails non spam and relevant? I hate spam with the intensity of thousand suns, so I would probably send a very terse “remove me from your list, spammer!” reply to him, and make sure that all his emails are trapped in my spam folder forever. Precisely the opposite reaction you need, and it is worrisome and frustrating that both of them are unable to see that if reporters complain, you simply have to stop pushing, period.

      Reply
      1. Mimolette

        I honestly feel for my coworker here. This is his first PR job and his first job after graduating college. He’s just following our boss’ advice but has definitely questioned the approach before. When he re-sent the emails, he thought he had troubleshot the problem, but it didn’t really work out that way.

        Reply
    3. animaniactoo

      “Boss, have you seen the functions that allow people to mark e-mail as spam? Do you use them?”

      “Well, other people do. I think that because our e-mails have been going to so many people who don’t have any interest in them, enough of them have marked them as spam that the e-mail distributor is forced to treat them as spam. We may need to setup a new e-mail address to get around this, but if we don’t stop blasting this to everybody we will just end up back in the same place and they’ll be more likely to mark it as spam because they’re already frustrated with us.”

      And then don’t *delicately* suggest sending to a smaller group. Say, straight up: “I know you’ve said there’s no other strategies to try, but everywhere else I’ve worked, we’ve sent to small curated lists based on who would be most likely to be interested in the information. I really think we should try that in an effort not to end up in the spam folder constantly, because we’re even less effective if our information is going to spam.”

      Also – is there somebody above your manager that you can talk to?

      Reply
      1. Mimolette

        I’ve said it straight up like that before, as well as just doing one distribution my own way, and showing how many more email opens/interest we got. She has a litany of concerns, like it wont reach enough people and what if our lists overlap. The only person to go to is the CEO, but I’m not sure how I would be received.

        Reply
        1. animaniactoo

          I would say the CEO would be EXTREMELY interested that she’s got you ending up on spam distribution lists and pissing off people at top-tier publications. As in, this is a major issue, do not minimize it – what she’s doing is actively damaging the reputation of the company and any effectiveness it may have.

          Reply
          1. Mimolette

            How would you suggest I approach this? I’m new at the company (1.5 months) and I email the CEO frequently but have only met him once and don’t know him well. I don’t want to come off as arrogant and malicious.

            Reply
            1. animaniactoo

              Ah, I didn’t realize you are that new. That does make it a lot more problematic – but it also gives you some leverage as the “outside person” who can “see the problem”.

              First, if you haven’t done what I’ve asked below, do that. If that doesn’t work, I would e-mail him to say you’re having an issue with something you’d like to discuss with him that you’ve tried going through your manager about and haven’t had any success, is he available to talk?

              In that meeting, I would simply tell him “I’m not sure you’re aware of the impact of the way we’ve been doing outreach e-mails. I understand Lucinda has concerns about XY & Z, but I think that the focus on those things is backfiring. I’ve tried suggesting some changes to be more in line with industry standards that tend to be more successful, but she doesn’t seem to be willing to try those things. I don’t know if the way we are currently working is your preference, but are you aware of the feedback we’ve been getting?”

              Reply
            2. Lazy Cat's Mom

              I’m a journalist with a few very specific beats. But I still get a dozen emails a week from PR people who just blast releases that have nothing to do with my beat.
              Maybe you can point out to your boss that some journalists, like me, are less interested in writing up something that went to every publication. There’s no value in me covering it.
              You could point out to your boss how many people get emails from aggregators such as Google News. Why would I bother covering something when I know a reader will see it five times in an alert?

              Reply
              1. Bonky

                I was a freelance journalist until 2011. I haven’t worked in that world for six years now, and I STILL end up on the receiving end of PR agencies’ widecast foghorn of press releases, often nothing to do with the two very niche beats I covered.

                I also mark them as spam.

                Reply
        2. animaniactoo

          Also – have you tried addressing the concerns? “Yes, it’s true that there might be a few people it will miss with the targeted reporting, however the big picture is that it misses a lot more people when they dismiss it as spam or ignore it. So as far as effective reach goes, it’s better to miss a few people people while actually gaining interaction with more people.” “Lists may overlap, but if we set the system up correctly, it will only send the e-mail to people once even if they’re on two or three different lists”.

          Reply
        3. Observer

          Go to the CEO. And if you don’t get a reasonable reception, polish your resume and start looking for a new job. This manager is NOT going to be able to perform for the clients, which jeopardizes your position. And, in the meantime, this nonsense tarnishes your reputation.

          Can you also just do YOUR mailings your way without discussing this with your manager?

          Reply
    4. reporterlady

      Hi. I’m a journalist at one of those top-tier publications, and i get a few dozen of these emails a week. OH MY GOD STOP.

      Ok, that’s out my system. But really, I ignore 99.99999% of these. I have a broad beat, and my name’s in some databases as covering something because it’s tangentially related to something I wrote about a year ago. Spamming reporters just pisses them off, they’ll never write about it if they think you’re sending the same information to your competitors, and every bad pitch makes the good ones have to work that much harder.

      I only wish all PR people were as smart about it as you, but unfortunately, the bulk seem to be closer aligned with your manager. It’s made me hate the entire industry.

      Reply
      1. Hmmmmmm

        Same here! I make it a point to ignore the releases from the people who send it to me 8 times and then call 4 more times as a follow-up.

        Sorry that this is happening! There are many PR firms though, so many you can switch? Best of luck

        Reply
      2. Artemesia

        Exactly. Reporters open targeted Email from people they know. Your boss has well and truly poisoned this well. None of this stuff is going to make it into print.

        Reply
        1. Artemesia

          Do you have a close personal relationship with any of these reporters? Is there someone who would actually email your CEO and boss complaining about the spam without mentioning you?

          Reply
          1. Mimolette

            Unfortunately, no. I have mentioned the poisoning of the well, and I said a few weeks ago if we continue like this we would eventually have to scrap our list all together. No one seems willing to listen.

            Reply
      3. Mimolette

        I’m honestly really sorry. I’ve seen first hand how little respect a lot of PR folks have for reporters and their busy schedules. :(

        Reply
    5. Anna

      This is so frustrating and I’m sorry you have to deal with it. Your boss is unreasonable, if only because she believes here is literally no other way to do this. I’m pretty sure entire textbooks have been written to describe other strategies to use that don’t make you come off as completely out of touch.

      Could you frame it as a “new and innovative way to market (TM)” and see if she’ll let you “try it out?”

      Reply
    6. a girl has no name

      I know your pain. I work in PR as well and our director thought this was the way to go. She still values quantity over quality. Smh But, I get better results when I take the time to strategically pitch. That has given me some leverage. Something that has worked well for me is looking up the journalist on Twitter. My distribution site can’t keep up with reporters when they switch beats or even outlets. Generally Twitter has their most recent work. The only thing that seemed to help was getting the results we weren’t getting before. Good luck! I can imagine how difficult this will be going forward when you have some very angry journalists. If it makes you feel better, you are most certainly correct in your view of all this.

      Reply
    7. Bomb Yogi

      You have my sympathies. I used to work in PR and would have to send out press releases a lot. Luckily, my boss never wanted me to send them out to reporters and writers who weren’t in some way connected to the subject matter. She would ask me to call and badger certain reporters to “make sure they got the release.” Reporters just looove this (big eye roll).

      On the flip side, I work as a freelance writer and get TONS of press releases weekly about stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with what I write about (a very niche sport). It’s annoying but I just delete them – I never reach out the PR rep and yell at them.

      Reply
    8. Bend & Snap

      Is this actually PR, or something else? Because the email blast is the quickest way to kill media relationships. Personalized emails are typically the way to go.

      Reply
      1. H.C.

        It depends on the industry. There are quite a few fields where blasts of an official release is the norm (statement from public official or releasing financial reports, for example.)

        Reply
        1. H.C.

          That being said, even those blasts should be curated to journalists on that beat (or if you really need to go wide, use a wire service).

          Reply
    9. BizzieLizzie

      Sorry to hear about this, very annoying indeed.
      I have many years experience in the Marketing Technology & have dealt with many clients trying to solve problems like this -i.e. how to I get a better response rate to my email marketing (through technology)… but really a lot of the best practice principles apply irrespective of how fancy or otherwise your technology is. (Good email design, good subject line, TARGETING THOSE MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND ;) and so on.

      The name of the game is surely ‘how many responses/opens/click through’ and so on we get? Not – how many people can we blast!
      If people only knew how few emails actually even make it to a recipients inbox, never mind how many are opened:) Really surprised that people still think it’s like the lottery, the more numbers the more chances.

      Can you influence your boss with facts about response rates based on different approaches. (His way – is so odd that if I quote to one of my customers they would think I was patronising them, up, vs the more sensible way you are suggesting).

      Reply
    10. CM

      Get a new job!

      Alternatively, is it possible to just quietly try your strategy on your own, without asking permission? If you get results, you can show them to your boss and say, “Here’s the approach I used, here’s how well it worked. We should all do this.”

      Reply
    11. Arielle

      Ugh, this is so frustrating. Not only will you fail in delivering results for your clients, you’ll lose out on cultivating relationships with your media contacts. Your professional reputation will follow you even if/when you leave your current place of employment. Could you talk to your manager’s manager about alternate media relations strategies? Or the heads of your clients’ accounts?

      Reply
    12. Lord of the Ringbinders

      Former reporter here. Spam laws aside, this is how to guarantee that nobody gives you coverage. Ugh. I’m sorry you work for such frustrating idiots…

      Reply
    13. Letters

      Is it possible during the course of your job to bring IN a reporter who you do have a good relationship with to talk to your boss? Maybe coached beforehand, so that it doesn’t seem like THIS is the actual purpose of the visit, but have them mention it directly, and say something along the lines of the things the reporters in this thread have said — that they delete almost all of these emails, and remember the people that send the unrelated ones, or mark that type of person for their spam folder?

      I’ve learned through many years of customer service that managers who don’t listen to ME often listen to clients or customers.

      Reply
    14. em2mb

      I’m on the other side of those email blasts (I’m a reporter), and you’re totally right. Even if I’m not going to follow up, I don’t mind PR folks pitching a story idea if it’s related to my beat or the general geographic area where my station is located. But I ask to be taken off of other distribution lists for a reason. It drives me batty when people don’t respect that!

      Though in the future, I’ll try to keep in mind that it might not be the poor individual PR person’s fault.

      Reply
    15. Audiophile

      While this wasn’t a primary part of my job, I’ve been in your position before. At an old job, part of my job was writing press releases, they had old lists of PR and journalist contacts, they’d made no effort to nurture these contacts. I knew that when I sent out a mass email about our event or re-branding that it would’t be picked up, because I got a bunch of auto replies about people leaving companies, etc. I explained this to my boss, who just shrugged, nothing changed. Since this wasn’t a regular part of my job, I didn’t push it any further than that.

      You and your coworker definitely need to start honoring people’s requests to be removed from your list of contacts. I think anyone can understand their frustration at being contacted multiple times about the same thing.

      Reply
  2. Bad at This

    I’ve been thinking of going back to grad school again. Sorry if this is a stupid question, but does anyone have any advice on how to approach my old professors? I’ve always really struggled with this.

    I’d be going for a Master’s in a different degree than my undergrad. It’s been almost 5 years since my graduation, and, well, I haven’t kept in touch with any of my old professors…and also don’t feel I’ve accomplished much since then to report. I was in touch with them once about a year after I graduated, asking them for job references. But I had some medical and family crises going on, and that particular job search ended up not working out. I had to take some more time just doing freelance work before getting back on my feet again, so I just… never followed up with them.

    I know that’s really bad, but I didn’t know what to do because I didn’t feel I had anything to follow up with. Since then, I’ve worked my way up from several “real” full time jobs to a field I’m now passionate about. The Master’s I want to pursue will enable me to do higher level work in this field.

    My professors loved me when I had them. But is it even appropriate anymore to go back and ask them for references when I’ve been rudely out of touch for so long? I’ll probably need to take a couple prerequisites for this Master’s; should I just try to get references from those courses (though I’m assuming those won’t be as strong)?

    Reply
    1. KL

      I’d talk to your intended master’s program first. I just applied to join an MPA after being our of school for about 4 years. When I asked my program, they said they liked having a former professor write a letter, but 100% understood if I couldn’t get that because I’ve been out of school for so long.

      Reply
      1. Artemesia

        Assume they have no memory of you. Maybe your name evokes a slight positive sense but I doubt they remember much else or that you didn’t follow up on job recs unless you were really rude about it. Assume they have no memory of you.

        So you write telling them you are a former student and are planning to head to grad school. Tell them what inspired you about their classes and remind them of particular work you did. Perhaps you wrote a very well received paper on turtle evolution or headed a class team project designing a marketing plan for an organization or did a well received oral report on the Italian judiciary. If you can be enthusiastic about the class and remind them of specific things you did it will either kindle a memory or provide one.

        Let them know what you have been doing; if nothing you want to talk about, you can say after working for 5 years you want to redirect your career and get a masters in X and request they write an academic reference for you. In that paragraph indicate the course you took with them and your grade, and your GPA if it is very good. All this gives them a little bit to work with and makes writing a letter easier on them. If you have done volunteer or hobby work in your new field or any work in the new field, note that and how it makes you want to pursue it in the future.

        Reply
        1. Rob Lowe can't read

          This is exactly what I did when I applied to grad school in a new field, four years out of undergrad. I was lucky enough to only have two required letters of recommendation for the programs I applied to (professional program, related to the field I was by then already working in), which seemed way less daunting. I provided information about why I was going back, about what I’d done since graduation, and writing samples from both the classes I had with those professors as well as some more recent writing I’d done on the job. Two of the three professors I reached out to responded positively. (The third never replied personally, but I later learned that she was dealing with health issues – so, understandable that my email was not a priority.) I ended up admitted everywhere I applied, with sizeable scholarships at a few programs. So don’t despair! It can be tricky but not impossible!

          Reply
        2. Not So NewReader

          Confirming, just assume they do not remember you. If they remember you they will stop you mid-explanation. A couple of profs at my school made a big point about this- “No, we will probably not remember you. Remind us how we know you.” This saves a lot of awkwardness and gets you closer to a reference that is crafted in a meaningful manner because the prof has actually figured out which student you are.

          Reply
    2. ArtK

      I applied for grad school after a 35 year gap. I have zero contact with my old professors, more than a few of whom have passed away in any case. I used letters of recommendation from my professional contacts. I will say that my program is not an academic one, it’s a professional one, a Master’s in Engineering Management.

      I can’t really address the issue if you need strong academic references. I would have had to go the professional contact route if I had applied to an academic program.

      Reply
    3. katamia

      I’m in a similar situation, only I had horrible undiagnosed depression in college, so I KNOW that what my college professors saw of me was not an accurate representation of what I’m capable of. I plan to take a few prerequisite courses, too, and I’ll be asking professors from them because they’re more current. This won’t be my first time applying to grad school, and only one of my professors remembered me a few years ago, so they certainly won’t remember me now. Plus, since it’s library school and I’m volunteering at my library bookstore, I’ll probably ask one of my bosses to write me a rec because they freaking love me.

      Reply
      1. Anxa

        Same here. I’m not sure exactly what the diagnosis was, but let’s just say college was the confluence of a lot of different storms for me. I since went back for an A.S. on the super cheap to test my academic maturity and, despite not having taking any sort of medications or having a clear diagnoses, I ended up with with a great GPA, at the top of my program, and gushing praise from my instructor.

        But still, I only really had one instructor in my core classes that just taught pretty much everything, since it was comm college. I also know it’s not the same as university, but I ended up at the top of my class (non-credit) for a post-bac certificate, too. But that is also tricky, because we had about 30 different instructors that came in for different topics and seminars. It’s also been about 7 years since then and I’m not sure they’d remember me.

        I did have a few researchers comment on how they wish I was one of their graduate students, so I do have that, but they weren’t professors of mine, but rather volunteer/internship supervisors.

        I’m looking to go, but I’m so worried about wasting all of the application fees if my grades and lack of accomplishments so far as non-starters. The finances of actually attending depend on whether or not I find a program that allows me to go a research route, as I’d make more money on a grad student stipend than I do now.

        It’s devastating to have issues like this erupt in college because there really aren’t a lot of practical ways to get a do-over.

        Reply
        1. katamia

          Yeah. I so wish I could have some sort of do-over, and it kills me that I graduated with just below a 3.0 (major GPA was much higher, but that doesn’t seem to matter), so a lot of graduate schools will never even consider me even though I would be so good at it now that I know what went wrong before.

          I’m committed to going just because I can’t think of any other ways to improve my career trajectory, but I’m still really worried I won’t get in, and then I don’t know what the heck I’ll do.

          Reply
          1. Been there

            Katamia,
            Although a short-cut- your undergraduate GPA is NOT an indication of future success in library school.
            Focus on your present day references. Take one course non-matric. to demonstrate your ability to complete coursework successfully.
            Having had that undergrad experience, you will work harder than everyone else to prove yourself where it matters.

            Reply
      2. Bad at This

        Yeah… that’s pretty much the same boat I was in. Though these professors did like me, because I did well in their specific courses, I was really drowning towards the end of college and really didn’t get my life back together until a couple years after graduation. Good for you for making it out!

        Reply
    4. Honeybee

      Professors are used to former students getting back in touch with them after several years to apply to graduate school. Don’t feel bad for not having stayed in touch – they don’t really expect that from former students they weren’t super close to. I would try to get 1-2 references from professors from undergrad and then the other 1-2 from the prerequisite courses. If the program is a professional program (like an MPA, MPH) getting one from a professional contact if you work in a related field may be okay – I’d ask the program.

      When you reach out, just be polite and straightforward “Hello Dr. Smith. My name is Melody Keene; I took your Intro to Basketweaving course in the Fall of 2006; I got an A in the course. I’m currently applying for a graduate degree in Ultimate Frisbee. Would you be able to write a letter of recommendation for me?” If it were me I’d also attach the following documents: 1) a resume or CV and 2) a draft of your personal statement to this program explaining why you want to go and just write “If you feel you can, I’ve attached a resume and a draft of my personal statement.”

      If they can’t, the worst thing they can say is no and then you just have to find someone else. But don’t feel guilty about asking.

      Reply
      1. Bad at This

        Thanks! I just feel so awful about it, because these professors had very high opinions of me, and I just wound up not accomplishing much so far and being really behind my peers.

        The program isn’t a professional program, no, but what I do now is related to what I’d be studying and what my career outcomes would be after the program. What are the usual scripts when you reach out to the program to ask details like this? Is there any info I should give upfront about myself, or just the bare basics/questions?

        Reply
        1. Viktoria

          Are you me? I was very high achieving, my profs loved me, and it all fell apart right at the end. That was 5 years ago and I have felt so embarrassed and guilty about it all that I completely lost touch.

          Now I’m considering applying to law school and stressing about it. But the school I’m applying to puts a big emphasis on work experience so I’m hoping that professional rather than academic recommendations will do the trick.

          Good luck!

          Reply
          1. CM

            Both Bad at This and Victoria: I guarantee your professors have seen multiple promising students fall apart, and most professors will see this as an unfortunate setback rather than being disappointed in you personally. If anything, they may be happy to see how you’ve pulled yourselves together.

            Reply
        2. Government Worker

          In my grad school experience there’s an administrative person in each department who handles admissions questions, and you don’t need to try to impress them as long as you’re generally professional and not memorable in a bad way (badgering, rude, etc.) Think of it like contacting HR, not a hiring manager, before applying for a job.

          “Hi, my name is BadAtThis and I’m planning to apply for the Teapot Engineering program in the fall. I graduated from college several years ago and have recently been working as a Teapot Assistant, so I’m not sure what would be most helpful to the admissions committee for my letters of recommendation. Should my recommendations be from recent professional contacts, professors from college, or a mix? Thank you, BadAtThis.”

          Reply
    5. periwinkle

      I suspect that the recommendations from the faculty teaching the prerequisites could be stronger because they will have fresh knowledge of your current abilities. If any of those pre-reqs are graduate-level classes, even better!

      Reply
      1. Bad at This

        The weird part is, my recommendations from my old professors would be from graduate level courses (I was briefly enrolled in a BA/MA program there). But the prereqs I’d be taking now would be lower level, introductory courses, which is why I was worried about depending solely on those for references. Hopefully I can still make that work, though.

        Reply
        1. wanderlust

          You will be fine with undergrad references. Probably most of the other applicants will have undergrad references also, no?

          I applied to a graduate program last year with only professional references after being out of school for several years (not counting the enormous amount of pre-reqs I had to take just to apply!) and I think if your application is strong overall with good grades, test scores, and essays, having only professional references will not count against you. Especially if your Master’s will be in a field relevant to where you already work!

          Reply
    6. Cupid

      The school I got my Masters at offered several post-grad certificate programs (the classes could be used as electives towards a Masters as well), which I did before starting the full program – the application process for the certificate program didn’t require references or GMAT/GRE so I bought myself some extra time while earning the certificate. Then, when it was time to apply for the Masters program I was able to use professors from that same school whose classes I had just taken – it worked out perfectly and honestly made the whole thing so much easier! If your school offers any sort of post-grad classes (or pre-reqs) I suggest looking into that.

      Reply
    7. Lady Julian

      I’d encourage you to reach out to your professors; if they’re worth their salt, they’ll be happy to provide references and help you succeed.

      I’m a college instructor myself and am always happy to provide references for students I’ve had in the past; it’s so fun to reconnect! Also, I am in the middle of applying for grad school, mostly in a different field from my original degree. It’s been seven years since I graduated, I didn’t really keep in touch with my professors, and they were still happy to hear from me, talk through options, and provide references. Explain about your family / medical crisis (not in detail, of course, just a background), and ask if they’d help you out.

      Your former grad school professors will be much better than prereq courses, as they can speak more fully to your ability to handle graduate level work and top-notch coursework.

      Good luck!

      Reply
    8. Anonymous Poster

      This is so normal. They’re used to people asking them out of the blue for recommendations for graduate programs. I worked in the humanities department at my undergrad and this happened all the time. Some pointers:
      – Remind them of the year and class, that may jog their memories
      – Share what you enjoyed about the class and why you’d like them to recommend you
      – Explain why you’re doing the graduate level work (optional)
      – Give them an out to say ‘no’ (something like, “I understand if you don’t have the time for something like this, and hope you’re still doing well. Please feel free to say no if you need to or aren’t comfortable.”)

      The first two are kinda obvious to rebuild the repoire you had with them, the last one helps them gear the letter better to the university. You also want to give them the chance to say no, because nothing is better than something lackluster.

      For both of my masters these letters haven’t meant much really, so I’d only stress about this if it were something very tough to get into.

      Good luck!

      Reply
    9. urban teacher

      I am currently going for an MPA after not being in school for years. I asked my professional contacts for references and the only issue was they weren’t used to the electronic form and didn’t know to look in email for it. So I missed a deadline for 1 school. Otherwise, it wasn’t a problem.

      Reply
    10. Channel Z

      I returned to grad school recently and I had the same dilemma, but for me it had been 17 years, plus years of stay at home parenting so few work contacts. I was really embarrassed to ask my former Master’s advisor, as I had struggled but finished way back in 1999. Anyway, he replied with a candid two page account of my struggles, and ultimate triumph. I was floored. I did reply with an equally candid story of my life and its disappointments and successes.
      If you worked closely with some professors on projects and they liked your work, chances are they remember you and would be happy to write a recommendation. It doesn’t hurt to ask, the worst that can happen is that they don’t reply or say they don’t remember.

      Reply
    11. LibbyG

      I’m a professor, and I think you should feel free to reach out to your old professors. Five years isn’t very long at all, and they’ll be delighted to get this update!
      Admissions committees for grad programs are have three big questions in assessing applicants: (1) Does this person really know what they’re applying for? (2) Can they do the work? And (3) Is this someone we want to have as a student and representing us as an alum?
      Your old professors maybe can’t say much about 1, but they’ll be able to say a lot about 2 and 3. The more recent references can cover 1 well, affirming that you aren’t just going to grad school because you don’t know what to do with yourself.

      Reply
    12. Marillenbaum

      That’s excellent! Don’t sweat being out of touch; that’s very normal. When you email, explain what you’re planning on doing, and if they agree to write you a rec letter (in my experience, most will), include a copy of your CV and perhaps your statement of interest to help jog their memory.

      Reply
  3. the_scientist

    NOTE if this is too long, please feel free to delete :)

    Outside of my job, I am member of a national volunteer organization that provides emergency medical services in a specific recreational environment. At the local level, I am being groomed for a leadership role in this organization. Despite my relatively new status (this organization has many members who’ve volunteered for 25+ years) I am considered to be both skilled at the actual technical work, as well as a competent leader. I should also note that the organization is actively trying to recruit “youth” and is predominantly male, especially in leadership roles (may or may not be relevant).

    One of the other volunteers is another young woman, a bit younger than me (she’s a student; I’m a young professional.) She has actually been a volunteer for longer than I have and grew up around this organization as her father is a 30+ year member; as a result other volunteers tend to view her as a favourite niece. She is technically skilled and pursuing an emergency services career. Unfortunately, she absolutely rubs me the wrong way. She is condescending and sarcastic to people she isn’t interested in currying favour with. She inserts herself into conversations and situations that aren’t really her business. She throws actual, honest-to-goodness tantrums when she doesn’t get her way She is incapable of letting someone else take the lead on any work and will often forcefully take over the work of others. She frequently uses the word “retarded” which is one of my personal hot buttons. To my knowledge, her behaviour has never been addressed publicly by leadership. For the first couple of years I volunteered, I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt- she’s young, after all, and she has sort of a familial relationship with many members. But I think I’m done. She’s been aggressively rude to me recently, and she hasn’t exactly made any strides forward in the years I’ve known her.

    When I move into this leadership role, I’ll have some very limited authority, but not enough to make significant changes. Basically, I’m not her manager, or really even a manager. However, I would like to confront some of her worst behaviour- in particular, the sarcastic, condescending tone and comments- even if I only succeed in getting her to stop using this tone with me. What is the best approach here?

    Reply
    1. AnonEMoose

      Even if you don’t have the authority to address how she behaves generally, you absolutely have the right to address how she behaves to you. Just like you might say to a co-worker “Please don’t talk to me that way” (or the equivalent), I don’t see any reason you couldn’t say that to her. And I think you can absolutely address her use of the word “retarded.” Something like “using this word in this way is pretty offensive to me; please don’t use it as an insult.”

      And I don’t think you actually need to wait until you move into the leadership role. If you’re sticking to how she interacts with you personally, I think you can push back on that, especially because it’s a volunteer organization. Just make sure it’s specifically about how she’s interacting with you, if that makes sense.

      Reply
      1. Liane

        I think even if you don’t supervise her, saying “using this word in this way is pretty offensive to me AND many of the people Org works with, which is damaging to our reputation; please don’t use it.”

        Reply
        1. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

          THIS. I believe this is the best option you have. Call her out in the moment. “Jane, that’s hardly appropriate language for this organization. That’s a very offensive word and is not acceptable to use. Our organization responds without discrimination and using that word damages our reputation.”

          When she interjects in your conversation, push her out. “Jane, if I need to discuss this with you, I will come talk to you. Please let Wakeen and I finish our conversation.”

          When she tries to take over duties, shut her down. “Jane, you were directed to prep bandages. Please focus on that and not on the AED. Yes, I’m well aware you are AED certified – so is Wakeen. But he has been given this task and he will be the one completing it.”

          I was the know it all student interjecting myself all of the time. I’ve been that stupid. It honestly took feeling like everyone hated me to back off. No one ever had a simple conversation with me saying, “Seriously, mind your own business.” But I finally had someone not all that much older than me step in and start shutting me down, and the dominoes fell – everyone else followed through and shut me down. They were all scared to do so because I had so long been involved but once one person did, they all joined in. I’m still a part of that organization but I’ve really grown and learned how to control myself. She will, too!

          Reply
          1. Parenthetically

            Yep this right here. Saying something in the moment is really powerful, and it’s something everyone can do, and it spreads. People like this person thrive on and take advantage of the awkwardness of confrontation.

            Reply
        2. Not So NewReader

          This. Target issues that most people will agree she needs to fix. The use of the word retarded is a good, solid example.

          I think of it this way, what is she going to do, report you because you told her not to use an insulting word? That should not play out well for her, if your org has decent people in it.
          In a similar vein, if she tells you something like STFU, you can feel free to say that expression is not appropriate in this (volunteer work place) setting. Again, what is she going to do, tell everyone that she said STFU and you simply said that was not an appropriate expression to be using.

          Keep your statements short and simple. Try to be flat and unemotional. Until you learn the landscape target this issues that most people would agree you are correct. Honestly, I think just by doing this much you will either change her or she will move away from the group.

          Reply
    2. TL -

      You don’t actually need authority to call someone out. It’s fine to say things like, “wow, your tone is coming off as really harsh.” Or, “I actually find that word incredibly offensive. Please don’t use it around me.” “It seems like you’re really upset. Can we talk about it later when we’re both a little calmer?”
      And my favorite, “that’s rude. Please don’t speak to so and so like that.”

      Reply
      1. Evergreen

        I’d even go so far to suggest starting that now – otherwise when you step into the leadership position you risk looking a bit mad on power or something.

        Reply
    3. Relly

      I feel like being briskly cheerful / businesslike about it might be the best way to shut down tantrums. You are a wall of politeness with firm boundaries.

      “You may not realize it, but that word is very offensive to many people. I would appreciate it if you didn’t use it.”

      “Your tone is coming off as harsh. Please don’t speak to others in such a way.”

      “I’m sorry, but this conversation is private.”

      No matter how she escalates, you stay polite and calm, utterly unmoved by her drama. You are the black hole where drama goes to die. You shrug off all rudeness and firmly restate your boundaries and ignore, ignore, ignore the rest.

      Reply
      1. the_scientist

        “the black hole where drama goes to die”- I love this and I’ll make it my new mantra. You’re all correct of course, I just need to (wo)man up and say something. It’s funny because generally speaking I have no problems speaking up in the moment, but this organization is so weird and full of drama, and she’s such a favourite child, that I’m totally out of my element there.

        Reply
        1. neverjaunty

          Yes, this is beautiful.

          Also, on the tantrums, treat it the same way you would a child – “Elspetina, you’re clearly too upset to discuss this. I’ll come back when you’ve collected yourself.” *walks away*

          Reply
    1. RKB

      I’m a few months away from being a speech therapist and all the ones I’ve shadowed or worked with for my practicums love their jobs. It helps that in Alberta, speech therapists make a starting salary of 6 figures, which I know isn’t the norm.

      Reply
          1. Chriama

            Some medical services can really make bank in Alberta. Dentists make easily 300k because their fees are unregulated here. If we had any real cities instead of sprawling suburbs I would stay and marry a dentist (or, evidently, a speech therapist).

            Reply
            1. Toronto, Canada, Anon

              OT, but my dentist was lamenting the fact that she can’t afford a home in Toronto and likely never will, even though she and her fiance are both dentists.

              Reply
    2. AnotherAlison

      Well, you caught me on a bad day, but sometimes, yes. I’m an engineering project manager with a mechanical engineering background. I work for an engineering/construction firm.

      Reply
    3. Claudia M.

      I wouldn’t necessarily couple like what you do with motivated.

      I love what I do – the work, specifically. And I am paid rather nicely for it.

      However, I am not motivated to keep coming here. For many reasons other than the work itself, I am looking at promoting again.

      It is possible. But, for me, eventually I get antsy and have to promote. 3-5 years at one position is more than enough before the urge to move starts up again.

      Reply
    4. Tookie Clothespin

      Haha yes, I am in consulting, in a speciality area of tax. However, I’ve also had positions I’ve hated in consulting. It took some time to get to the team I wanted to be on in an area I wanted to focus on.

      Consulting is definitely hit or miss, but there are opportunities for the right fit.

      Reply
        1. Tookie Clothespin

          Nope, tax consulting at a Big4 firm. I couldn’t find a legal job out of law school and ended up at a small consulting firm doing a lot of tax compliance (which I hated), but I got to know a lot of people in my speciality area and ended up doing some work for them – the law degree was very helpful in that regard. That firm ended up blocking my attempt to transfer over there full time, and I ended up finding an opportunity to move into my area in the Big 4 full time.

          Hours can be a little nuts but they really do respect work-life balance in my team. (I’m lucky!). Work is interesting and in my practice they’re really good about letting people pursue interests like going on rotations in other speciality groups, cross training, etc.

          Reply
          1. Anansi

            I know a lot of people who work at Big 4 tax/accounting firms and they all seem to love it. I do policy (including tax) for a corporation and I like it a lot most of the time. It’s very busy and fast paced but I prefer that to being bored, and as long as you do a good job you get a lot of flexibility.

            Reply
        2. Some sort of Management Consultant

          I’m a management consultant at a Big4 firm. So not the kind of incredible pay one can get at the big Strategy firms. But I also rarely work more than 40-45 hours a week and the pay’s still decent.

          And I love it l!

          Reply
            1. Some Sort of Management Consultant

              Sure!
              What would you like to know?

              I should probably note that Big4 firms vary A LOT between countries and even between offices and teams.
              I work within our Organization and Change team and our Seniors are a lot more invested in work-life balance than, say, the Risk management team.

              But ask away!

              Reply
              1. Sunflower

                How many years have you been in the workforce?
                What was your degree/major and work experience prior to being there?
                Is it a difficult industry to break into?
                What kind of personality/skills do well in this position?

                Reply
                1. Honeybee

                  One of my close friends from graduate school is a management consultant with McKinsey, and I’ve got a couple of other acquaintances who have gone to BCG, Bain, and Booz Allen Hamilton. My second-hand experience is that you can work as a lower-level business analyst in the business with a BA, but after 2-3 years they really expect you to get a graduate degree. All of my friends who started with consulting firms had graduate degrees – some of the firms (especially McKinsey and BCG) have actively begun recruiting non-MBA graduate degree holders. They call them “advanced degree candidates.” They get paid the same amount as MBAs, and go through a mini-MBA training process in the first couple weeks at work. They also all went into consulting straight out of graduate school.

                  A couple of the top firms have short 3-4 day programs where you can learn about consulting and network with some leaders – I’m pretty sure it guarantees you an interview. McKinsey’s is called McKinsey Insight and BCG’s is called Bridge to BCG.

    5. Manders

      I really like working in SEO. The industry pays pretty well, although I think at this point I’m far below market rate in my area (I took this job because they were willing to train me, and it was totally worth it).

      My partner teaches at a private high school. With his level of education, he gets a very nice salary even though he isn’t full time yet, and may eventually switch to the incredibly swanky school in our area that will give down payments to teachers so they can buy a home near the school.

      Reply
    6. Christy

      Yes, I work for an advocacy organization within the US government (admittedly, there have been a few recent motivation issues, but my agency is safe) as a management and program analyst (and SharePoint developer). My work help people, I solve fun problems to help our other employees help people, and I have great coworkers. Plus my hours are good and my benefits are great.

      Reply
    7. fposte

      How are you defining high pay? I make under six digits but I’m in an LCOL area and have quite a nice life on my pay. My job’s a bit of a purple unicorn, but it’s higher ed.

      Reply
    8. Lindsey

      I’m a program manager and work in executive education. I design curriculums to make people better leaders…but my organization dips both into professional and personal development, so some days I’m working with Ivy Leagues and some days I’m planning a trip to the Bahamas.

      Reply
    9. Adlib

      I’m not sure I love my industry, but I do enjoy the fact that I’m now in a position I have a degree in as well as an area that is more of a personal interest where I’ve cultivated enough self-education to be competent. Recently brought up to market rates for what I do, which is nice. Finally!

      Reply
    10. Honeybee

      I do. I’m a user researcher at a video game company. I design research studies to understand users/players’ needs and preferences in video games – what works, what doesn’t work. For example, I might design a test of the first level of a game and find out it takes three times as long as expected because it’s too hard, or interview players about their experiences playing multiplayer online to figure out new features we need to add (both things that I’ve actually done).

      There are user (experience, or “UX”) researchers across tech companies. Games user research is a small subset of the field, but basically everything that humans use – our cars, our phones, most apps on our phones by big companies, webpages, IoT devices, you name it – are tested at some point by a UX researcher or someone who has UX research in their role. Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, Snapchat, Uber, etc. – they all have big UX research outfits. So do most of the big games companies – Activision/Blizzard, Bungie, Ubisoft, Bethesda, Sony’s studios, Microsoft Studios/Xbox, etc. I work for one of the big game companies on a household name game.

      I looooooooove my job. It’s not even just the gaming, although that’s great too – I love working in the video games industry. But it’s bringing the human aspect to technology – understanding how and why people use technology – and then using that insight to improve the tech and make it more usable. I like doing it for video games, but I think I’d like it just as much with social media or smartphones or search engines. But that’s because 1) my background is in psychology and I love it; and 2) I’m obsessed with tech.

      As for pay – user research salaries in tech start in the upper five to lower six figures depending on where you work. Smaller companies and boutique UX consultancies usually pay in the $75-90K range, and the bigger companies typically start you at $100K or more. Most user researchers have a master’s in psychology or human-computer interaction or some related social science field (or sometimes business or marketing and some research experience, but many have PhDs and some have BAs and lots of experience.

      Reply
      1. Manders

        Oh my goodness, UX is so interesting. May I ask how you got into the field? I got a chance to dip my toes into web design UX with a focus on conversion rate optimization this year and I’m loving it, but I have no idea whether it’s possible to progress in the field with no formal background in psychology or web design.

        Reply
        1. Honeybee

          I got a PhD in social/health psychology. I originally intended to become a public health researcher at a university or a government agency, but I wanted to keep my options open so during my PhD program I did a 6-month market research internship, during which I worked on video games market research. I also did some statistical consulting. Both of them turned out to be great preparation, because I got bored with public health during my postdoc and decided to apply to a bunch of UX positions to see what happened.

          Many UX research jobs are actually pretty used to people coming from adjacent and seemingly unrelated content areas, and are really interested in whether one has the research skills to do the work. You don’t need to have a formal background in psychology per se – we interview people without it all the time, and on our team we’ve got people with backgrounds in photography, chemical engineering and nursing. They all bring a unique perspective on user research, though. What I have told some other folks already in tech is to look for a way to get some UX skills/experience in their current role – whether that’s spearheading an A/B test on their website or calling for some user feedback on some aspect. Some companies also have junior level positions that are essentially research assistants, and a lot of people start there. I would say that eventually to become a fully-fledged research, most people do get a master’s degree. I do know one person who has been able to advance relatively far with a BA in informatics, though. He started out in a different role in my company and then moved into that role later.

          Reply
      2. AJaya

        I’ve always been interested in this field. I’m currently in a marketing role. What’s the best way to transition into this kind of work?

        Reply
        1. Honeybee

          Ooh, marketing is like our cousin field :D We work with market research pretty often, and lots of people make that jump. So one way might be to move through market research into user research; we do have a lot of people go that way. Another might be to look for a market intelligence position, which is kind of like the bridge between market research and user research. Several of our teams have 1-2 market intelligence researchers (who basically help us paint a picture of what our audiences look like to give us an idea of the features and devices and software we *should* be building – now and into the future – to keep up. They look farther out than the user researchers, who are usually concerned with an immediate product).

          I will say that my team does explicitly consider a background in market research or strategy consulting when we look at resumes for open positions. I think one of the most important things is being able to articulate in an interview that you know what the difference between marketing/market research and user experience research is, and how that’s going to change your work and your mindset.

          Reply
      3. plain_jane

        This is an area I’m really interested in moving into. I’ve got 15 years of experience in consumer market research, and graduated university with a Computer Science degree. I’m concerned that my resume will be overlooked because I’ve spent so long outside of UX (which was what I _wanted_ to do when I graduated). Any tips?

        Reply
        1. Honeybee

          I think it’s going to depend on the company. My team hires people with really diverse resumes, some (many, actually) of which never had any formal experience in UX research specifically before they worked here – although all have had some kind of social science research background, broadly defined. Other divisions within my company, and other companies, really value the UX research background and don’t really hire people without specific types of degrees and experience. In my experience, though, the biggest companies don’t think that narrowly – I’ve chatted with recruiters at some big tech companies and they’ve all viewed my weird non-HCI, non-UX background positively.

          That said, I think that your market research experience can be viewed favorably especially if on your resume you articulate skills that are directly applicable to user research. If you’ve done any qualitative research, I’d highlight that (lots of positions look for both qual and quant – we do lots of interviews and usability studies). If you’ve worked directly with non-business teams in product development of any type, highlight that too (most UX researchers are either embedded directly in product teams or work very closely with product teams on a daily basis). One of the big skills we look for is being able to create actionable insights from the research you gathered, so highlighting any evidence of that – and potentially how you convinced someone to transform something into something better – could be good to highlight in a resume or interview. Your CS background could be used to emphasize that you know how to speak developers’ language and can bridge a potential gap between developers and researchers to help them achieve their design intent. Having technical knowledge can be an asset for a UX researcher.

          Another potential way is if you live nearby a tech company with a UX team – see if you can have an informational interview with one of the researchers. I and others on my team actually do these all the time with people who basically cold e-mail our team to ask questions, particularly if their resume looks intriguing, and I keep them in mind when we have an open position.

          Reply
      4. JHunz

        Speaking as a software engineer, a good UX person on the team is worth their weight in gold, which is probably a fair bit more than the actual salary they’re getting paid.

        Reply
      5. Ann O.

        Oh man, I’m jealous. I’ve been in tech writing, but my wonderful, perfect job is changing out from under me into a horrible nightmare. I really want to switch to UX. I was part of a UX project of our customer documentation portal, and it was so wonderful. My academic background is Anthropology, so it was like coming home.

        Reply
    11. LawCat

      Government lawyer. I’ve always enjoyed it, but am waaaaaay more relaxed since I stopped doing litigation. Government work is kind of all over the place in pay depending on what government entity you work for. My current employer is one of the higher payers for government lawyers in my geographic area.

      Reply
      1. CM

        Second happy lawyer here — it’s not necessarily a profession I’d recommend for high pay + happiness, because you have to be pretty lucky and do significant planning to have both. I’m in-house counsel at a company that does something I think is really cool and useful, and is not an evil soul/environment-killing type of corporation.

        Reply
    12. Mon Mon

      Yes! I switched from Financial Services to Retail (working in IT), and my pay is very decent for the geography, although I “gave up” a couple things by switching industries. Namely bonus, and some vacation time. But! Despite that, I actually love working at my company. I learn about a whole new industry where we throw around celebrity names in meetings (that never happens in Financial Services), showcase some new products in all-hands meetings, and for my job specifically…I get to work on what I want to work on, when I want to work on it. I spot gaps in our process and set about rectifying those by soliciting input and rolling out my recommendations. And the kicker is…everyone seems very happy with this! I have very little direction on what I should work on aside from a couple things and I determine my strategy for learning the business. All in all, it’s pretty cool (in my eyes).

      Reply
    13. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

      Environmental scientist and consultant here. I get paid a very decent salary to do a job that’s directly related to my field of study, and while I’m occasionally not motivated, it’s nothing to do with the job.

      Is it what I enjoy doing? I dunno; I wouldn’t do it for free, but I find it sufficiently engaging to put on pants every morning, so.

      Reply
    14. Jen RO

      My answer probably won’t help you, because I am not in the US, but I’m a technical writer, I love the job, and I make very good money for my country. (I think the situation is quite different compared to the US, mainly because the industry is relatively new here, so it’s a candidate’s market so to say.)

      Reply
    15. Master Bean Counter

      I love being an accountant and the pay is really nice. But I’ve got two degrees and took a very expensive series of tests.

      Reply
    16. Grapey

      I do. Logistics/operational analytics in a biotech industry … 6 figure salary after 10 years.

      I got a bachelors in biology 10 years ago, got a job at a non-profit doing basic entry level lab stuff, and over time I got more interested in the logistics and supply chain side of things. I was lucky to have management that cared about what I was interested in and they let me shadow/work with the higher level process engineers and management.

      Reply
    17. Triangle Pose

      Yes! I’m an in-house lawyer at a telecomm/media company. I’m paid more than I made at BigLaw firm and my hours are 8:30-5:30 and flexible with WFH. I negotiate agreements with sophisticated parties, I advise my clients on business strategy and I’m paid 190k+ a year and we have 5% 401k match. I realize how lucky I am and I really try hard to support my business units and do a great job.

      Reply
    18. Anonnie

      I also do strategy work but I am usually on internal teams supporting senior leadership, and have spent my career moving around from industry to industry. I just moved into a new role and I thought I wouldnt enjoy it as much but I LOVE it. Now I work in strategy for a regulator as the outside view – what is going on in the market, what could that impact, would regulations need to be required to help consumers further or manage/avoid concentrated market power, etc. We will be having a big impact on a major global name/player soon which means the work is very interesting every day.

      I could make more money in industry, but after a disaster of a workplace at my last job, to have a calm interview with people who were intelligent and likable was a breath of fresh air. Sacrificed some (not much) pay for a prestige name on my resume, a workplace that lets you go home at the end of the day (so I have time to work on my own projects), and interesting work with very smart people who I like spending time with.

      I fell into strategy the back way and didn’t go the traditional route of MBA-> Big4/mgmt consultancy ->industry but I do have a masters in economics and I do actually use it every day. Strategy consulting does contain a high level of egotistical jerks, but also some very bright people with wicked sense of humor. A thick skin is a must and the ability to think on your feet and know/play the politics of the org you are working in. If you are a natural born strategist that almost comes automatically!

      I actually got this job through a recommendation from someone at my last job.

      Reply
    19. Bibliovore

      Depends what you mean by “high pay” I have “enough” I pay the rent, have a car, eat what I want, have some to support family members, and health insurance.
      I am an academic librarian in a big ten university. I love, love, love my job. Seriously. I love it so much that if someone gave me a million dollars, I would still do my job but I would endow the position and perhaps hire another assistant.
      Before that I was a teacher/librarian in a school library. I loved, loved, loved it. Same as above but I would have also hired a car to drive me to work everyday. (my commute was an hour and some on public transit)

      Before that I was a public children’s librarian in a very busy urban environment. I loved, loved, loved it. Same as above but I would have hired three more librarians to assist in my department AND worked only 4 days a week and no nights. (yes this one WAS exhausting bridging on burnout)

      Reply
    20. Rob Lowe can't read

      I am a public school teacher making almost $70k, so I think I am really lucky to have such a great job AND get paid very well for the profession. I am especially lucky in the role I have because I am not constrained by any particular curriculum, or even really by the Common Core Standards, so I get to focus on what my students actually, demonstrably need rather than what some corporation or administrator thinks they should need. Also, I don’t have to go to 4 hours of meetings every week during prep periods like some of my colleagues do.

      Reply
    21. JHunz

      I’m a software engineer working on software for gaming peripherals. The atmosphere is great, the products I’m working on are really interesting in a lot of ways, I get free stuff that I use for my heavy gaming habit, and I get paid decently because I’m not actually making the games themselves (which is a hugely passion-based and therefore generally underpaid section of tech).

      Reply
    22. Clever Name

      I’m a consultant at a boutique environmental consulting firm, and the pay is pretty darn good for someone with a life sciences degree who isn’t a doctor. I also don’t have to sell my soul to work for an oil company.

      Reply
  4. SOS

    My boss informed me that he was giving me additional work to do. So now instead of doing the jobs of two and a half people, I’ll be doing to the work of three and a half people. Goody for me.

    I was already contemplating leaving because the job has been affecting my mental health severely (panic attacks, sleepless nights, depression, etc) but this has settled it. I have been searching for new employment for a while now with no luck but my current job is making it far more likely that I will have to leave even if I don’t have a new job to go to. I’d started planning some time ago because I had a feeling things were about to get worse in my office, which has proven to be true. I have enough money in savings to last me at least eight months, more if I take the offers of friends and family for free/cheap housing. Current exit window would be right at the end of our busy season so at least I won’t leave them with the impression of ditching them at the worst time of year.

    What else should I be thinking of if I’m about to make this terrifying leap into unemployment? What do I say to nosey coworkers asking why I’m leaving if the answer isn’t for a new job or because I’m pregnant (the only two reasons we’ve had for people leaving lately)? And what do I say to employers I’m interviewing with when they ask why I left? Just trying to think of everything I might need to cover my bases before I make this drastic choice.

    Reply
    1. mamabear

      I think you can tell coworkers that you’re shifting careers and taking time to figure out your options/your next move.

      For employers, would you feel comfortable telling them that over time, your role at ExJob shifted significantly and it was no longer a good fit?

      Reply
    2. Chriama

      To coworkers I would say “I’m taking some time off and considering a few options.”
      To employers, just be matter-of-fact. “Two employees left and their positions weren’t replaced, so I ended up working 80 hours a week for 6 straight months. I decided to take some time off to really focus on finding the right fit in my next job.”

      Reply
    3. ChrysantheMumsTheWord

      I’ve so been there and I just want to start by saying I’m sorry. Your situation sucks. It’s a tough decision to leave without something else lined up and you really have to bottom line it and say, “Am I willing to take positions outside of my desired career path/below my current skill level to get by if necessary?”

      Earlier on in my career I quit a job because of the mental/emotional stress without anything lined up and it took me almost a year and a half of searching to land somewhere. I ended up temping to get by and eventually find my place again. If your search goes on longer than the money you have saved you have to be prepared to make tough decisions.

      Last year I left a company after 10 years of working my way up. When you are leaving due to dysfunction or stress it can be tough to find the words during the hiring process that don’t make YOU look like the problem. I found the best way was to highlight what I wanted and why my current workplace wasn’t able to accommodate that. For example, “I have a passion for doing XYZ but as my position responsibilities changed I found I was unable to focus on the things I was truly passionate about so I’m seeking to replace that.”

      Good luck!

      Reply
    4. EngineerInNL

      I worked as a lifeguard at an outdoor pool for $8.25/hour which was a whopping $2.25 over minimum wage at the time so I was the rich friend for those summers haha

      Reply
    5. paul

      Ditch ’em in the worst time of the year, why not.

      I may be in a bit of a burn it all down mood today though…but seriously, you don’t owe employers loyalty like that if they’ve treated you badly.

      Reply
    6. Sibley

      You actually have another option you could try first. You have FU money. Try using it. Go to manager and say, “hey, I’ve been working 80hrs per week for 6 months now (or whatever it is), and it’s really not sustainable for me. I’m going to have to resume a more standard work schedule of 40-45 hours per week. Can you let me know which tasks I should prioritize to complete?” Then actually work 40-45 hours per week. Period.

      What’s going to happen? They fire you? You’re already planning to quit, so how is that a problem? You might be eligible for unemployment. But you might be surprised – you might just be working 40-45 hours per week .

      Reply
      1. it happens

        I’m with Sibley. And even better, if you can get those 40-45 hours in four days, giving you a day to devote solely to job searching. (after a few weeks with a day of self care only…)

        Reply
    7. SM

      For co-workers just go for vague… “I felt it was time to move on” or something along those lines.

      When I was interviewing to get out of a bad job I tried to keep it vague as well, “it wasn’t a good cultural fit”, but I found more often than not that the interviewer didn’t react well to that or kept pressing me for more information. So I went with something that kind of hinted at it being a terrible workplace, but then brought it right back to the interview. Something like “I didn’t agree with the way management handled the workload, so I’m looking for a place that’s more organized and places more value on work-life balance”. This was really helpful because if you watch people’s faces closely when you say work-life balance, you can actually get a really good sense of the company. If they flinch or look nervous, be very cautious going forward.

      Reply
    8. Whats In A Name

      First of all, sorry to hear you are in this situation. But good for you for recognizing it, planning for it and creating a nice little nest egg for yourself.

      In regards to your co-workers: I am of the mind that it’s really none of their business. I mean, I’d be tempted to say “I’ve decided to hunt down purple elephants in Antarctica”. But seriously if you do want to share I’d just say you were leaving to get some personal things in order & leave it at that. Same with family/friends/acquaintances.

      Now, the employer thing can be tricky in my opinion. I think you have to explain your situation but you really have to be careful. Sometimes “not a fit”, “took time to sort out some personal issues” “took an emotional toll” can be perceived as you not getting along with supervisor, being flaky, etc. Not saying it’s even fair but it is a reality to consider.

      Can you point to something factual and concrete and emotionless?

      When I left my last job I was out of town 22 night a month for 5 months in a row. I was up front with interviewers about the face that I enjoyed the job but with the commitment being more than I agreed combined with my supervisor informing me this was the new expected norm. They seemed to get that, but luckily I found something before I quit.

      I think if you can point to concrete facts you mentioned above. You need to demonstrate that you are ok with pitching in and helping out your team/company/manager when needed but that an important work-life balance is also something you value and are taking into consideration in new jobs.

      Reply
  5. katamia

    I’ve been volunteering at my library bookstore for awhile now. I mostly shelve books, as do other volunteers, although I’m the only one doing it at my time. Our price tags are all dated, and when there’s no room left on a shelf, we’re supposed to take the oldest books off to make room. In the last couple months, we’ve had another volunteer not do that–they’ll just slide the books horizontally on top of the shelved books. (I know it’s a volunteer and not a customer because the horizontal ones all have the same dates and because it’s just happening so consistently that it’s really unlikely that we just have a bunch of customers suddenly doing that.) This is making my shelving harder because I have to fix/juggle their mess in addition to putting books on the shelf. However, since I’m the only one there at that time, I have no clue who it is or why they’re doing it–laziness, poorly trained, or something else. Is there anything I could say to my boss, or would it be too weird to say something?

    Reply
    1. Persephone Mulberry

      “I’ve noticed when I’ve been shelving lately that someone is overloading the shelves instead of removing the oldest books the way I was trained. Is it possible one of the other volunteers needs a refresher on the correct procedure?”

      Reply
    2. Kyrielle

      I’d be tempted to use something like this: “I’ve noticed lately that when I go to do shelving, the newest books have been laid horizontally above full shelves. My understanding was that I was supposed to remove the oldest books to make room for them in the shelf – should I be laying them on top when the shelf is full, instead?”

      Reply
    3. SophieChotek

      Could you just ask nicely – “hey has the procedure changed? I’ve noticed lately when I shelve books, I was told to remove old books because….but lately I’ve noticed when we run out of room, someone has been putting books horizontally on top of other books? Are we now doing this to ensure our patrons have the largest selection of books to buy from?”

      Guess you could try that?

      (I suppose if all the books are the same date, you might be able to figure out who is doing it by looking at a volunteer schedule and matching up dates…if the schedule is available to look at…)

      Reply
    4. ArtK

      When you bring this to the boss, make sure you point out how this is affecting your job and the bookstore’s mission. It looks bad to customers to see stuff piled up like that. It leaves outdated books on the shelf. It slows down the restocking process making you less efficient and unavailable for other tasks.

      In other words, don’t tattle (“Some volunteer isn’t doing their job”), report that there is a problem that is affecting the store and your ability to do your job.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        Definitely this. All you need to do is point out pretty soon there will not be enough room on the shelves if these old books are not weeded out regularly. Make it about “what” not “who”.

        Reply
      2. Tabby Baltimore

        This is also a safety issue. Loose books lying on top of already-shelved books can be jostled (think kids running around and hitting the bookcase, or someone trying to pry out a tightly-fitted book on the shelf) and fall into a bookstore patron’s face (eyes, nose, mouth), neck, chest, or feet, resulting in anything from a scratched cornea to broken toes.

        Reply
    5. Volunteer Coordinator in NoVA

      Totally worth saying something as your boss may not even realize whats happening. It could be lack of training or that the other volunteer just doesn’t understand and that will never be corrected if they don’t know about it. I often have volunteers point out things (sometimes super small and sometimes larger issues) to me as I can’t see everything happening at once and it’s a great way to get feedback but also to make sure I’m (or someone on my staff) is training people correctly.

      Reply
    6. BettyD

      I’d bring it up to the supervisor/volunteer coordinator as mentioned above. Sometimes library volunteers have trouble with treating books like commodities that need to be refreshed or discarded when necessary. I wonder if this is a person who thinks they’re doing a good thing to “save” the older books.

      Reply
  6. John Ames Boughton

    I’m trying and failing to figure out how to approach making a lateral move. I have a white-collar job as part of a small consulting team in a 100-person company, and I do all sorts of things: I write parts of reports, I manage our project-tracking system in Salesforce (and I designed it too), I’m involved in developing new products, I do follow-up calls with clients to track quality and look for new problems we can solve, I do sales support by writing proposals and similar stuff; the list goes on.
    It’s not a bad job, but when I think about my next career step, I’m completely stymied, and that’s pretty miserable. I don’t really have a title here (“content manager”), my job description is very vague, and I’m not sure how to translate what I do into a category that fits the way other companies search for employees. That means that when I go looking for a similar position somewhere else, I don’t know what what I’m looking for would be called, or what to call what I’m doing when I talk to other people. I know networking might help, but I’m in a smaller town in north Idaho – there’s not a lot of people to talk to. Help?

    Reply
    1. AnotherAlison

      Sounds like what we would call a business development coordinator role, or potentially a marketing coordinator in the consulting industry. Depending on what you like, you might also lean towards a marketing analyst or BD analyst role (spending more time on report writing and Salesforce, less time on the other).

      Reply
        1. AnotherAlison

          Well, that doesn’t have to be your destiny if you don’t want it to be! Product development would be outside of the BD/Marketing realm. You could focus on that.

          Reply
    2. Marcy Marketer

      What about a project manager (non -technical). There are also roles out there just for managing salesforce within organizations. Business Development is pretty salesy, but some of what youre doing sounds right for that.

      Reply
      1. zora

        Yeah, if you are good with Salesforce and you like working with it, that is a whole job category right there. You could just search for “Salesforce” in the title on job boards and look at the job descriptions to do some research?

        Reply
      2. John Ames Boughton

        Technically I figured out what we needed the system to look like and then worked with someone who knew how to actually build things in Salesforce to get it in place. I’m pretty proud of this project; the company was going to spend $20K on a Salesforce add-on until I raised my hand and said that we could do everything we wanted to do already, for free, if we put a little time into it.

        Reply
    3. Chriama

      When you think about your career step, what do you want to be doing? Come up with a title that accurately reflects what a junior-level version of that job would be doing.

      Reply
    4. Cherry

      Maybe Product Marketing Manager or Project Coordinator? You could even focus on technical writing or proposal management pieces if those interest you. (waving from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho)

      Reply
    5. CM

      For networking, could you find people on LinkedIn (ask friends for introductions if necessary) and have phone calls with them?

      Reply
    6. DoDah

      What does “involved in developing new products mean”? Writing feature/benefit statements? User studies? SWOT analysis? Managing release calendar?

      Do you practice Agile? Are you scrum certified?

      Reply
      1. John Ames Boughton

        We’re a lot less systematic than that; the projects I’ve been involved in have been more ad hoc, since we’re a seven-person team with a lot of autonomy. For a current product we’re developing, for example, numerous clients I talked to mentioned that they were interested in measuring something related to the consulting service we were already providing. As it happens, one of the other departments at the company is providing a product whose user data could provide a pretty good answer to that question, so I asked my boss if it seemed like a useful addition, talked to the other department, and we’re setting up a system that’ll let us pull that data into the report. Once that’s in place we’ll let sales know it’s a thing they can mention in their pitches.

        I’ve taken an Intro to Project Management course online and have a copy of the PMBOK in my desk, but that level of organization is wild overkill for the scale I’m operating at.

        Reply
    7. Grapey

      I have a very, very similar job description. My best guess would be something like “business analyst”; sounds vague but it really means someone that knows the processes very well and is therefore qualified to wear all sorts of different hats.

      Domain knowledge (where stuff is; who to talk to; why things are the way they are) is a very important skill to have. Business analysts need to have that skill, and you have it.

      Reply
    8. YesYesYes

      Sales Operations. Sales Reporting. Market Reporting. Market Analysis. Business Development.
      Your level might be Analyst/Specialist/Manager depending on the size of the company.

      Go out to a job board like linkedin or monster and start searching jobs with key words that you both do now and like. Like “product reporting” and “salesforce” and “product development”. Read through the job descriptions until you find a job that sounds interesting. Use that title as a new search and do the same exercise again. Keep going until you identify the roles that you are targeting.

      Reply
  7. RKB

    Let’s take a trip down memory lane!

    What was your first job and how much did it pay? You can provide the year for context but don’t have to ;)

    I worked concessions at a movie theatre. I made 8.25 an hour.

    Reply
      1. Bethlam

        Me, too; $35 a week, but this was in 1973. Although, technically, I guess you could say babysitting was my first job, at 50 cents an hour.

        Reply
    1. Dawn

      Girl Scout summer camp counselor. I think I made maybe $1000 for 10 weeks of work. I loved it and sometimes I wish I could go do it again as an adult!

      Reply
    2. Traci

      I was a hostess at a local diner. $4.25/hr, which was more than the minimum wage at the time of $3.75/hr…I thought I was rich!

      Reply
      1. Used to be bored at work

        Me too! Except it was a city library and in 2006 we made $6.92 which was above minimum! Huh this just make me realize that I’ve more than doubled my hourly wage in 10 years. Interesting to think about it that way.

        Reply
      2. Anon scientist

        My first job was as a page as well. $6 per hour, which was $.50 more than state minimum wage. Because of family connections, I started as a senior page. The junior pages got paid less than state minimum because we were municipal employees.

        Reply
    3. SophieChotek

      serving coffee and cookies at church on sundays. maybe $6 an hour? possibly less.
      I was 14 so any money was awesome at this point.

      Reply
    4. Ms. Meow

      My first job was as a receptionist at a YMCA getting paid $5.50/hr (which was a bit above minimum wage at the time IIRC).

      Reply
    5. AnotherAlison

      Collator at a printing company. I basically pulled customers print orders and got them ready for shipping. $6.23/hr for day shift in 1995.

      Reply
    6. Kyrielle

      Phone surveys. I think it paid about $40…total, because I only lasted one day. (I honestly don’t remember what the hourly rate was, but it was probably near minimum wage.)

      I’d asked whether I’d be doing cold call sales, and they said no. I didn’t think to ask about cold call surveys…. Sigh.

      Reply
      1. Nan

        ha! I telemarketed Kirby vacuums, chiropratic services, and meat. I did pretty good at vacuums and back cracking, but made it less than a week at meat. I just ghosted them.

        Reply
    7. Manic Pixie HR Girl

      Mine was a camp counselor, specifically assigned to the arts and crafts room. So fun! I made … $4.50/hr. I feel old being old enough that minimum wage was that low!

      Reply
    8. Anna

      Office assistant on a Marine Corps base. I made less than minimum wage. Because apparently the government doesn’t have to follow its own laws. :P I think it was $1.95/hr. I was 14.

      Reply
    9. ExceptionToTheRule

      I was a part-time file clerk in a medical office for minimum wage. Google tells me that was $3.35/hour in 1988. I rode my bike to work because I wasn’t old enough to drive.

      Reply
    10. Today I'm Anon

      Walking beans – $5/hr. I was working for my dad and I’m sure he gave me a premium over what the job was actually worth.

      Reply
      1. vpc

        Walking… beans? (I’m envisioning a line of snap beans attached to leashes, followed by a tumbling bundle of dried pinto beans…)

        Reply
      2. Mananana

        Oh, the dreaded walking beans. Spent many o’ summer day chopping weeds out to the soybean field. Mosquitoes, humidity, jeans wet from the dew…… all for the glorious sum of $3 an hour.

        Reply
    11. alter_ego

      I worked at Limited Too for $7.25 an hour. I of course quit to make $8.50 an hour somewhere else a couple of weeks before my state raised the minimum wage to $8.50 anyway.

      Reply
    12. TheLazyB

      Waiting on staff at a hotel. £3 an hour, back in summer 1992. I was 16-17 ish. My younger sister got me the job. I got drunk the night before I started and stuck my head out of the window and threw up down the side of my mum’s car. My sister (2 years younger) was totally mad at me. I didn’t really get why at the time. I was fine once I’d thrown up!!!!

      I got classier as I got older I swear.

      Reply
      1. TheLazyB

        Oh actually also teaching violin and piano to small children for £6 an hour, although usually only for 15 or 30 min. I was about 15-16.

        Reply
    13. Anatole

      My first job was a waitress. I can’t recall what the minimum wage was for waitressing at that time. (It was also the only time I was a waitress. And I didn’t stay very long)

      I also worked concessions at a movie theatre, making $4.50/hr a whole $0.25 above minimum wage. :)

      Reply
    14. College Career Counselor

      Telemarketer for newspaper subscriptions for minimum wage (at the time $3.35/hr). We were eligible to get paid on a commission basis (which was better), but you had to make more than 8 sales per four hour shift. As I recall, I never made more than five, which only happened a few times.

      Reply
    15. Tuckerman

      Other than babysitting. I taught roller skating lessons to kids when I was 12. I did competitive roller skating ballroom dance (yes, it’s a thing!), and the roller rink let me in to group classes/free skate for free if I taught classes once a week for them. It was a great way to offset the cost of my hobby.

      Reply
    16. Grey

      I made $3.35 an hour at McDonald’s in 1987. I worked there until I had enough to buy my first car, a 1977 Cutlass Supreme for $500.

      Last summer, I bought another 10-year-old car in similar condition for $7,000. How’s that for inflation?

      Reply
    17. fposte

      I worked at a library. I made $2+ an hour. (I believe it was under minimum wage even then, but it was some kind of under-16 “not a real job” exception.)

      Reply
    18. Emlen

      My dad managed a bowling alley throughout my childhood until when I turned 18. When my brother and I were 4 or 5, we got 25¢/pair for spraying and putting away rental bowling shoes. We pretty much grew up there, getting additional responsibilities and pay as we matured. By the time I was 14-15, I occasionally ran the place myself for short durations. I managed the alley’s largest league. I loved it.

      Illegal, totally, but my brother and I ended up with a work ethic and conscientiousness way past most of our peers.

      Reply
    19. nonprofit manager

      Babysitter from ages 13-16 or 17. Don’t remember my hourly rate. The last one I did was watching two boys all day during the summer. I was constantly breaking up their fights. The pay seemed like a lot when I accepted the work, but turned out to be not enough.

      Then first job as a non-babysitter was in a deli and I earned the minimum wage. This was in 1982 I think, so I don’t remember the amount. What I do remember is getting in trouble for clocking out when I was done working, say like at 9:15pm or 9:20pm, instead of at 9:00pm when the deli closed. Yep, I was supposed to finish cleaning up off the clock because there were times that the deli wasn’t busy and I wasn’t doing anything. Good times.

      Reply
    20. Nan

      Worked in a metallurgical lab in high school (my mom was the secretary/bookkeeper). I read test results every 2 hours for like 8 hours on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. If I recall it paid $8-9 an hour which was pretty good in the mid 90s for a high school gig.

      Reply
    21. AcidMeFlux

      $2.00 an hour in 1972, working as a file clerk in my mom’s office (in a big city government job.) Yes, the cost of living was much lower then, even in Metropolis…..

      Reply
    22. the gold digger

      I started babysitting when I was 11 and I made 50 cents an hour.

      My first W4 job was as a lifeguard when I was 15. I made whatever minimum wage was in 1978 – $2.75 an hour? I was in tall cotton!

      Reply
      1. Robbenmel

        I was coming here to say the same thing…babysitting for .50 an hour, starting at age 13, in 1972. Next was a job at a five and dime store…don’t remember the hourly rate there. But my first job out of high school in 1977 was calling to set appointments for insulation salesmen, at $4.00 an hour…talk about rich! My friends were making $1.75 an hour at Six Flags.

        Reply
    23. Raddest

      A summer cleaning vacation rentals every Saturday. $80 a house.

      I only ever got one house per week because I was new, but the renters always cleaned the houses before they left. I’d spend maybe two hours singing along to whatever music I’d brought while I ‘cleaned’ an already-spotless house. It was AWESOME.

      Bonus: I got to keep whatever the renters had forgotten in the freezer. The whiskey and vodka went to my parents (I was underage and didn’t like them anyway) but I feasted on ice cream about every other week.

      Reply
    24. KAZ2Y5

      I worked in a shop that sold stationary, china, fish and model cars and rockets (small town). Minimum wage was $2.30 and I can’t image I made much more than that.

      Reply
          1. Not So NewReader

            I have my hourly pay from my first job on the fish. You have to feed them. ($1.95. This is high stakes stuff.)

            Reply
    25. FN2187

      Babysitting — $3 an hour. This was 2003-2006, so I was definitely far below market rate.

      2008 – Hostess at an Applebees. I made $2.13/hour plus tipout to make minimum wage ($5.50 at the time in my state).

      Reply
    26. Sadie Doyle

      My very first job was park district youth softball umpire, but I can’t remember what it paid. $20 or 30/game, maybe? Enough that it was a lot of money to 14-year-old me. If I had known how mean some parents can be, I would have asked for more, heh.

      Reply
    27. Rivakonneva

      First job: Candy Striper at a local hospital. Paid nothing. :)

      First paying job: cashier in fast food. Paid $3.15/hour, which was minimum wage at the time.

      Reply
    28. Rache

      I helped my mom’s friend run his silk screening business. $5/hour under the table – I was in 6th grade (early 80’s). Obviously total child labor and it was pretty much a sweat shop in the summer. :) First “official” job was Wendy’s in 1990, and I probably made minimum wage which was about $4/hour then.

      Reply
    29. smokey

      My very first day at my very first real job (meaning, I paid taxes) was at a Hallmark store in the mall on Black Friday. I had never in my life even left the house on Black Friday. It took me 45 mins to find a parking spot. It was insane, but it set such a standard for “work” for me that I’m really glad it happened that way. I can’t remember exactly but I’m pretty sure I made $6.00/hour when the minimum wage was $5.25.

      Reply
    30. Really

      Zayre (doesn’t exist any more, think KMart) 1.75/hour – 1972
      Although babysitter year before at 50 cents an hour.
      First non retail job – about $3/hr at government agency as a college co-op – 1974

      Reply
    31. lionelrichiesclayhead

      1998-salesperson at an accessory/fashion jewlery type store. $7.50/hr. I quit after only a couple of weeks when they told me I had to do ear piercing and overnight inventory on a school night. NOPE.

      If we are counting babysitting, then $10/hr, off an on 1992-2005.

      Reply
    32. Beachlover

      Cashier at Home improvement Center – 2.35 per hour (1978). This was a dime above min wage, cashiers started at more, because we handled money :)

      Reply
      1. krysb

        In 2006. Prior to that, I worked in a couple of factories, making $8.06/hr (2004) and $6.13 an hour (2005).

        (I now work in legal/tech and make a salary of over $40K.)

        Reply
    33. Beachlover

      Cashier at Home improvement Center – 2.35 per hour (1978). This was a dime above min wage, cashiers started at more, because we handled money :)

      Reply
    34. Stephivist

      Waitress, $3.25 + tips. It wasn’t a very busy restaurant, so it was an good weeknight if you walked out with $25 in your pocket after a 5-6 hour shift.

      Reply
    35. Parenthetically

      Worked in the kitchen and drove delivery at a pizza place. Made 6 something an hour. This would have been… summer of 2000?

      Reply
    36. Erin

      Clerical Assistant, 2004. $8.50 an hour at San Francisco minimum wage. I was 13 verging on 14. I’d hold that job (summer only) until 2007. It was friggin’ awesome! I got to take home old magazines and catalogues (great reading material) and I also learned how to fix a lot of things.

      Reply
    37. Kittymommy

      First legit job (meaning not being used as free labor at the law firm my mom worked at)? Interning at said law firm in high school. Minimum wage so probably $6 something an hour.

      Reply
    38. Noah

      Lifeguard, $5.15/hour when I started, it was 1999-2002. I loved it. So much fun, I worked with a great group of people, and we got to be outside most of the day.

      Reply
    39. CheeryO

      2003 or 2004, babysitting, $5/hour. First “real” job was Tim Hortons in 2006. I think I started at $7.05, which was a teeny bit above minimum wage. I started in the summer and worked 30 hours that first week and was over the moon when I got my first check – I thought I was absolutely rolling in it.

      Reply
    40. Jen RO

      Sales agent, trying to sell advertising space on a crappy website. The pay is not relevant for most readers because I’m not in the US.

      Reply
    41. H.C.

      In high school, I’ve done tutoring gigs that averaged out about $9-10/hour.

      But my first real job was barista-ing in college, and that was $7/hour + tips.

      Reply
    42. youremindmeofthebabe

      Water Country (most kids in our area get their first jobs at WC or Busch Gardens) Minimum wage was $4.25 in 1993, but I think I made a bit more than that at the time.

      Reply
    43. Amy in HR

      Grocery store bagger in 1990 for $5.25 an hour. I thought I was rich! I was also in high school and had no bills to pay. :-)

      Reply
    44. Amadeo

      McDonald’s. Whatever minimum wage was in 1996 – $4.75? Something stupid low. I hated it and fast food service will always be my last choice of desperation. I’ll fold clothes again at JCP first.

      Reply
    45. Sarasaurus

      Cashier at a grocery store. I think I made $7.25 an hour. I loved that job! All my friends worked there, too, so it was like paid social hour when the store was slow.

      Reply
    46. Ama

      I was a student assistant teacher at my dance school. Technically I got paid just above minimum wage (at the time this was 5.25, I think – late 1990s), although since the school also waived tuition for the assistants it was a pretty good deal.

      Reply
    47. Awkward Interviewee

      Gymnastics instructor at the local YMCA the last few years of high school. I made $6.60 an hour, which was pretty exciting given that minimum wage at the time was $5-something per hour.

      Reply
    48. Felicia

      $7.75 per hour as a Walmart cashier when I was in high school. That was adult minimum wage at the time (it’s like $4 higher now), and I was super excited, because I was a minor, but got more than the minimum wage for minors, which is always lower than adult minimum wage.

      Reply
    49. Lemon Zinger

      Lifeguard at the local pool. $7.25/hour. I stayed for three years and when I left, I was making $10/hour. It was a great first job!

      Reply
    50. Merry and Bright

      In the 1980s I had a Saturday job making sandwiches in a baker’s shop that had a cafe at the back. I was paid £10.00 a day. This was pre-minimum wage in the UK.

      It is also the only job I’ve been sacked from. (I spread the butter too thickly).

      Reply
    51. Punkin

      1973 – 11 years old – Sold newspapers (they called it street sales) to businesses after school. It was an afternoon 5-day-a-week small town paper. Basically just walked thru town and stopped at every business to see if they wanted a paper. Took me about 2 hours. I made 50% of what I sold (dime paper, so a nickel) plus tips. I usually sold 50-80 papers a day & taking home $7-10 a day (a lot of $ for 2 hours of work in 1973) was not unusual. When I shed my jacket and hat when the weather got warm & it became apparent that I was a paperGIRL, my tips REALLY went up. ;-)

      Reply
      1. Punkin

        OOOF! I worked at the Dairy Queen in my home town when I was about 14. Min wage was $2.10 an hour then. I got $1.10 an hour, plus paid full price for all meals. I worked close to 40 hours per week & would be lucky if I cleared $25 a week.

        They knew that I had to have a job and they took advantage of that point. What is worse, I was in the same class in school as the owners’ son.

        Reply
    52. That Would Be a Good Band Name

      Not counting babysitting, I worked in food service for a theme park starting in 1992. I worked there for 3 summers and it was minimum wage that first summer which was 4.25 at the time. We did get raises each year that we were invited back and by the last summer I was up to 5.something, which I thought was great since the other people I knew in high school were just at minimum wage.

      Reply
    53. Anon Anon Anon

      Delivered newspapers. £4.35 a week.

      My first US job was when I was a senior in high school. I made $4.25 an hour.

      Reply
    54. Sparkly Librarian

      If we discount babysitting (which for me was largely informal and for the next-door neighbors), my first job was working at a candy store. It was a tiny shopfront, with only one employee on shift at a time, and it was right next door to a bar. I worked after school until closing (4 until 11). During my hiring, the manager informed me that “If the people from the bar get a little rowdy, just lock the door for a bit until the sidewalk clears out, then you can reopen.” This was at minimum wage, which I believe was $6.75/hr. And free samples.

      Reply
    55. Pseudo-Fed

      McDonald’s. $2.00/hour, which was minimum wage at the time. I took “Basic Crew Training” in order to get a 5-cent raise. Soon after that, the minimum wage went up 5 cents.

      Reply
    56. RR

      Opening boxes for a children’s book store. I got 25 cents per box to open, sort, and update inventory cards. Bonus: I got to take home any paperback book with the cover removed (technically a no-no, since they were supposed to be destroyed). I was an eleven-year-old bookworm and it was heaven.

      Reply
    57. zora

      Picking up trash in the neighborhood for the HOA, $5 for 1 hour a week (they were cheap). Also delivered the local newspaper for a while, that was also about $5 an hour I think.

      Reply
    58. Frustrated Optimist

      Travel Counselor at AAA – summer job in college, starting in 1984. The pay was minimum wage, which was $3.35/hour.

      First professional job (with a master’s degree): Non-profit social service agency. Annual salary: $19,200. This was in 1988.

      Reply
    59. SCAnonibrarian

      First real job was babysitting and housecleaning. I had actual references from the start at around 13, and CPR and lifeguarding certs as soon as I was old enough to qualify – I think at 15 or 16. I got $10 an hour for each kid, plus a flat fee of $20 for light cleaning after the kids were in bed and/or another flat fee of $40 to spend the night. I made BANK in our small rural area by being willing to stay the night.

      First job I actually got tax papers for was a work-share program in high school. I walked across the street to our local library and shelved books and created children’s book displays for the grand total of some school credit hours and $3 an hour from the library. I didn’t have to get paid minimum wages because I was technically an intern or student worker of some sort. Thankfully I wasn’t doing that one for the money.

      Reply
    60. Venus Supreme

      My first job was working for the local newspaper for the “Teen Scene” section. It was 2007. I wrote music, tv, film, and theatre reviews and I was a featured story once! (It was a piece about remembering 9/11 and I interviewed a friend who had lost a family member). Reviews and smaller stories paid $15 a piece, and featured stories were $30 each.

      Reply
    61. Forrest Rhodes

      Printer’s devil—yes, that was the job title—in the in-house printing department of one of the state’s largest (at the time) banks, 40 hours/week, $324/month (about $2/hour), 1962. I started the job five days after my high-school graduation, and I felt like the richest woman in the world.
      (I submit this with some fear of possible “Good grief, it’s a dinosaur!” reactions, but … oh, well!)

      Reply
        1. Forrest Rhodes

          Yeah, thanks, Olympias, I’m still a big print-shop fan too. That job gave me the greatest possible introduction ever to the world of work—in addition to becoming part of a team that ranged widely in age, experience, and gender, I got to learn the entire printing process—from creating the original document, to photographing and masking it and burning the metal plate, to using the metal plate on the printing press (a Multilith 1250, if that means anything) to create the final product. I still love the smell of printer’s ink! Happy to know I’m not alone.

          Reply
    62. Elizabeth West

      I worked in the hospital cafeteria one summer when I was sixteen. Not only was I nowhere near ready to be working, but I hated it and ended up quitting abruptly. I think I made minimum wage.

      Reply
    63. A Teacher

      Babysitting for $20 for 4 hours (age 12-15)
      Easter Seals summer teachers aide 7.12/hour age 15.

      That was almost 20 years ago for Easter Seals, I feel old.

      Reply
    64. Karen K

      Besides babysitting? Waiting tables at a Howard Johnson’s. $1.15 per hour plus tips (1975). This job put me through college.

      Reply
      1. Mimmy

        Correction on above – I started the job in 1997 and worked there for 2 years.

        I just remembered – my first regular paying job was as a church rectory receptionist, primarily to answer the phone or door. This was in 1988-1989, while I was in high school.

        Reply
    65. Sophia Brooks

      I was 15 and a cashier at a grocery store for minimum wage $3.35/hour- it was probably 1990. I remember minimum going up to $3.75. I actually stayed all the way through high school ond college, so about 6 years, and I ended up making maybe $7.00 when I left. Maybe $6.00

      Reply
    66. Whats In A Name

      My first under the table job? Scooping ice cream at a local antique shop for $20 a day.

      My first job where I got an actual paycheck? Part-time receptionist at our tiny hometown Honda Dealer. I made minimum wage – which I think at the time was either $5 or $5.25 an hour.

      Reply
    67. Witty Nickname

      I worked for a department store during the holiday season when I was 14 (1993). I started on Black Friday and worked every Saturday from then until Christmas – they put me in women’s wear, which means I folded a LOT of turtlenecks and hung up a lot of windbreakers. I was mostly there to help keep the department neat and assist the cashiers so they could handle the non stop lines of people waiting to purchase their items. I still hate turtlenecks and folding turtlenecks and thinking about all the people who just walk up to a table of turtlenecks while someone is standing there folding them, pick one up, and drop it back down unfolded without even looking at it.

      I made $4.25 per hour, which was minimum wage at that time.

      Reply
    68. Piano Girl

      Unofficial job – cleaned house for my cousin (my piano teacher). W-2 Job – worked at the local theatre doing concessions. I want to say I made $1 an hour. I was probably 14 when I started back in 1973/74.

      Reply
    69. OlympiasEpiriot

      Delivered groceries or helped carry groceries back to someone’s home from a neighborhood grocery store. Tips. (I was really young, looking at the law now, it probably wasn’t legal, but I always was trying to come up w/ pocket money as I didn’t get an allowance unlike literally everyone else I knew.)

      First “real” job, worked on a union newspaper when in high school, started with proofreading, got assigned to write historical pieces, then got to learn a very little bit about reporting on outcomes of court cases potentially affecting the membership. Paid $11 an hour in the early 1980’s, I thought I was amazingly well-paid and was very grateful. The experience was fascinating, too. I was there during the transition from waxing the layout to computers.

      Reply
    70. Jean

      I’m pretty sure it was in 1976 or 77, I was working at a local amusement park serving BBQ for I want to say around $2.65 but I may be misremembering that.

      Reply
    71. Gaia

      I worked as an appointment setter for a carpet cleaning company. I sat at a grey colored conference table with a 1980s style phone and copied pages from the phone book. I’d call each person and tell them who I was and that we had a special we’d like to discuss with them. If they were open to it, I’d set an appointment for someone to come to their home and pitch carpet cleaning to them. If I didn’t set at least 20 appointments in one week, I didn’t work the next week (as punishment). I only lasted one week. It paid $6.25 an hour and all the free red licorice I could eat. I was 15 and one of 4 workers. I hated it. I did a lot of jobs like that when I was young.

      Reply
    72. Rob Lowe can't read

      Exhibit facilitator at a small museum. I started working there in 2002, when I was 16, and I think I made $7 per hour. It might have been $7.25, I can’t remember.

      Reply
      1. hermit crab

        High-five for museums! I worked in visitor services at a local museum, starting the summer when I was 15. I made $6/hr. (This was back when 10-10-321 ads were still a thing. I really enjoyed telling people that I made “10 cents a minute, and 10 cents a minute after that!”)

        Reply
    73. De Minimis

      Dishwasher, 3.35 an hour [minimum wage back in 1989.] Was fired due to lack of speed about a month after I started.

      Reply
    74. Honeybee

      I worked as a program assistant in my college’s office that managed nontraditional students. I made $6.00 an hour, which was something like 75 cents above minimum wage at the time.

      Reply
    75. Kj

      I worked a half day summer camp when I was 13. This would have been 2000. I was paid about $100/week, which was great money back then.

      I also pet sit around that time and could be paid A LOT for very little work. After all, I had to walk the family dog anyways. I would make about $100 week for very little effort.

      Reply
    76. Drago cucina

      Babysitting in high school I made $0.50 an hour. When I joined the Army in ’76 I was made $288 a month. I remember after a couple of years I was earning $400 and I was putting $125 every month into savings. I had a car, shared an apartment, and paid for my own food.

      Reply
    77. MommaCat

      I worked as a student carpenter for a college theater and made a $500 stipend for the whole summer. Pretty good considering I only had two classes of technical theatre under my belt and no prior carpentry experience…

      Reply
    78. Johnster

      I worked as an auto wrecker at a recyling center. $2.50 an hour (1975). We had to remove the seats (or just the seat cushions) and gas tanks from old cars before they were crushed and then hauled away to be ground up and melted down for scrap metal.

      Reply
    79. Anony Mouse

      Camp counselor, $200 for the whole summer, paid at the end of camp. IIRC the boys hauling coolers and such got $300 for the summer.

      Reply
    80. Yeah, right

      Donut shop & also Target (while still at high school), I was 15. Can’t remember how much I was paid, but it wouldn’t have been much! Probably just a couple of dollars an hour. It was 1976. My first full time job at 18 (insurance broker clerk) paid A$99 (net) a week. I thought it was a lot of money!

      Reply
  8. dress code question

    Happy Friday everyone. I’m posting because I want to seek input on the dress code at my work and whether it’s normal and I’m out of touch or it’s the other way around. In the employee handbook the dress code is labeled as business casual. Things like khakis or black jeans are acceptable as are golf shirts. Some people wear shorts sleeved collared dress shirts but no one wears a tie or a blazer. Cardigans and fleece sweaters without logos are allowed under the dress code. Sometimes people wear dress pants or women wear dressy or sleeveless blouses. The only rule for shoes is no sandals or open toes.

    I started working here 7 months ago. Some of my coworker’s wear dresses and skirts sometimes. I always wore pants but I bought a couple of new dresses this weekend and I wore one to work this week. However I got sent home because the dress code says that dresses and skirts must touch or go to the kneecaps when the employee is standing and cannot be any shorter. My dress was far from a mini dress but I still was sent home to change. I didn’t get docked or written up because it was my “first offense”. People here have visible tattoos and piercings. I have never seen dresses or skirts that were meant for work that are long enough to fit the code. I do get that it was my mistake for not reading the code more closely and I’m not going to do it again but I think this part of the code is way out of touch. The rest of this week I paid attention to other women on the train and in my building and not one had a skirt or dress that went to the knee, even though they still looked professional. Am I really that out of touch with things? I appreciate any feedback on this.

    Reply
    1. RKB

      I know for my work the rule is that the back of your dress must be two inches past your fingertips. (With your hands hanging down of course)

      Reply
    2. Dawn

      To me, that’s not only ridiculously out of touch and infantilizing it’s also sexist. So if you show an inch of thigh above the knee… bad things will happen? Suddenly all the men in the office will be too busy staring at your knees to do their work?

      Reply
      1. Chriama

        I don’t think it’s necessary to jump to sexist. They have a dress code, and knee length isn’t all that long. Maybe it’s a little conservative, but they’re not mandating pantyhose and makeup so I personally would save my outrage for something else.

        Reply
        1. Jadelyn

          So, you go ahead and save your outrage, and Dawn can go ahead and spend some of her outrage on this issue, and everyone’s happy!

          Reply
      2. dress code question

        To be fair it applies to men who wear dresses and skirts as well (and I do have a male coworker who wears them sometimes). Shorts are also allowed under the dress code from Memorial Day to Labor Day for both women and men, and they have to go to the knees as well. So men in a skirt, dress or shorts can’t show thighs either.

        Reply
    3. NK

      I agree with you that it’s unusual/conservative, given the other context around the dress code. I would guess that if it’s a workplace that enforces their dress code (which it sounds like it is), they found that touching the knees was more of a bright line than, for instance, inches above the knees, mid-thigh, etc.

      Reply
      1. Chriama

        Yup, that’s my assumption. It’s easier to do that than tell employees to stand straight with their hands by their sides and check where the fingertips of their middle fingers fall. I don’t think a dress code needs to be that explicit anyways (just say modest/work-appropriate and leave it to common sense and manager discretion) but it sounds like they’re pretty explicit about other stuff too so this isn’t so out of line with that.

        Reply
        1. alter_ego

          I’ve always loved that fingertip rule because I am very short, with a normal sized torso and short arms. Standing straight, my fingertips land above the bottom of my butt cheeks.

          I’ve always thought that if a rule must be made, inches above the knee is probably a better metric to go by.

          Reply
          1. Manders

            Same here. I always assumed that those rules were made by people who don’t know much about female anatomy, or were only thinking about their own anatomy. An exactly fingertip-length skirt would definitely not look professional on me, and I’d probably have to shop in the junior’s section to find one.

            Reply
          2. Chriama

            Yeah, I agree. But with the fingertip rule you’re not touching the person you’re inspecting, and since it originated in schools (I assume) that’s probably safer for them. All it takes is one irate parent…

            Reply
          3. Jean

            Yeah, if I wore a skirt that came only to the end of my fingers, I’d be wearing something to my upper thighs. Short arms here too.

            Reply
    4. Chriama

      I don’t think you’re out of touch. I never wear anything longer than an inch or 2 above the tops of my knees because I’m short and it makes me feel like I look even shorted when I do that. However, if your dress code says something different and everyone else is following it then I wouldn’t fight this. If you want to try again maybe try the dress with thick tights/leggings — but if there’s a risk you’ll be written up then I’d ask first or not do it at all.

      Reply
      1. dress code question

        I would be sent home without pay and written up. The dress code doesn’t mandate tights or hose and bare legs are allowed, but no matter what skirts and dresses must go to the knee. I was wearing leggings when I got sent home to change and my dress was only 2 or 3 inches above my knee.

        I don’t plan on fighting it or doing it again but I do think this part of the code is out of touch. Even the suits I’m seeing online don’t have skirts that go to the knee.

        Reply
        1. Sled dog mama

          I feel your pain. My new job has a dress code that mandates no leggings, so I asked is that no leggings period or no leggings as pants? It’s none period. I was floored, I mean I get no leggings as pants but it’s cold in the winter and I can’t wear leggings under a skirt? Nope, dress code says skirt = panty hose or tights so no skirts for me. I refuse to wear a garment like hose that does nothing but make a line around my middle when there is the much better option of leggings.

          Reply
          1. SarahKay

            I’m curious – why do tights make a line around your middle, and not leggings? Or is it that both do, but you hate tights? Which is cool, if so, I’m just genuinely interested as I love my thick winter wool tights on cold days, but I’m not a huge fan of leggings. Although I do wonder if your workplace would rule my tights out as looking too much like leggings.

            Reply
            1. NaoNao

              Probably because leggings have a thicker waistband that is less intense elastic as tights, and also tights/hose tend to end at the exact waist, with no or little wiggle room (ie, if they’re lower, they sag/feel uncomfortable). Leggings can often be worn lower/higher without the same negative result.

              Reply
              1. SarahKay

                Sorry for coming back so late, but thanks for the explanation, that makes sense.
                I admit I only really took to tights and pantyhose after M&S (UK clothing store) started making them with some extra elastic/lycra (or whatever is used to make them grip rather than sag) woven into the top thigh and body section, so they didn’t sag around the crotch area.

                Reply
          2. Leena Wants Cake

            Assuming your footwear covered you at least up to the ankle (like boots), how would they ever be able to tell the difference between leggings and fleece-lined winter tights? I love wearing leggings under boots (for the “tights” look) in winter–because I agree with you that tights are way less comfy (and warm).

            Reply
          3. Marcela

            I really wonder… how would they know? Are they honestly ask me to take off my knee high boots or look under my skirt to see I’m wearing leggings every day, because tights are so uncomfortable? Really?

            Reply
          4. Whats In A Name

            The company I am working with has the same policy.

            It had to be changed no leggings explicitly for one reason: Jane would wear leggings as pants & then go to HR saying “but Susie wore leggings last week” when she got in trouble. After it happened a couple dozen times (not exaggerating) they went to a strict no leggings policy at the request of management.
            Sometimes it’s a time suck because people can’t exercise discretion.

            Reply
              1. Whats In A Name

                HR doesn’t get involved at that level of individual dress.

                That is management’s responsibility and after management said “Susie wore something” 24 times they had to make a change. Losing a few hours of productivity because someone has to go home and change it affects business outcomes and so the policy changed. Which is a shame but I get it.

                Reply
        2. That Would Be a Good Band Name

          Yikes, I’m short. 3″ above my knee would be inappropriate on me, especially once I sat down and it rode up to expose my entire thigh. I’m sure someone with longer legs would be just fine.

          However, knee length was the dress code requirement at every place I’ve worked that had a written dress code.

          Reply
    5. Lady Blerd

      Some places have old fashion rules. Where I work, the rule for dresses and skirts is that they can’t be more then a couple inches above the knees and they can’t reveal too much thigh when you sit down and I have worn much shorter skirts albeit with opaque tights. And wearing jeans’s toleration depending on who the boss is. So like many work disciplinary rules, their enforcement depends who who’s in charge.

      Reply
    6. Claudia M.

      For every job I have worked, both entry level and management, this has been the normal.

      Hems at or below fingertips, or at or below the knee, typically.

      Goes for shorts, skirts, and dresses.

      Having seen places without the code, I am VERY grateful for it…

      Reply
    7. Faith

      That is a bit ridiculous. I’ve worked in very conservative environments, and I’ve work suits where my skirt did not touch my knee cap. I always thought that the rule of thumb was 2 fingers (approx. 1 inch) from the top of your knee. A skirt that actually hits mid-knee or below can be such an awkward length too – it tends to make your legs look cut-off and stumpy on too many body types.

      Reply
    8. Spoonie

      My company’s dress code is simply “business casual, no denim except Fridays. No tshirts ever”.

      Generally, the clothing vibe here trends toward the more formal end of business casual (with some outliers). However, I have seen some female coworkers wear some skirts/dresses with hem lengths that are quite questionable and seem more appropriate for a night out than the office.

      Reply
    9. Sunflower

      Yikes! I would 100% talk to someone(HR?) and see if this guideline can be adjusted. There are plenty of skirts/dresses that hit above the knee that are entirely appropriate. I’m just shy of 5’2 and all of my skirts need to be an inch above the knee or I look absolutely stumpy. Winter I could probably pass with wearing pants everyday but in the summer, its just too hot. And I’m not getting rid of/refusing to wear a bunch of clothes which are absolutely appropriate.

      Reply
    10. Manders

      Ugh, that’s frustrating.

      I’ve found that some pencil skirts tend to be long enough to cover the knees when you stand, although I’m only 5 feet tall, so everything’s long on me. You may also want to try looking for “tea length” dresses, which fall just below the knees or to the mid calf when you stand.

      But you’re right, most professional dresses are cut so the hem falls at the knee or a bit above it, depending on your height. Which is part of why I dislike the X part of the clothing item must touch Y body part rule for women’s attire–with so much variety in height, hip size, and waist size, it’s hard enough to find professional clothes that fit right without adding more arbitrary rules.

      Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        Seriously – I’m tall and most of my height is in my legs (I’m 5’8, but I could stand next to my father, who’s 6′ even, and our hips were at the same level), so skirts and dresses are literally NEVER actually knee-length on me, no matter how hard they try. It’s not my fault my thighs are a good few inches longer than most people’s and thus clothing designers don’t make things that reach my knees!

        Reply
    11. Lee

      I keep going back to that show “Ally McBeal”, where all she did was prance around in mini-skirts and it did look inappropriate, so I can understand the need to create a rule about dress/skirt length .
      It can get very uncomfortable in professional settings and your employers may be trying to avoid that by creating a generalized rule about it.
      Also, wouldn’t most pencil skirts or maxi-dresses be at a length that complies with your employer’s rules?

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth H.

        Maxi dresses are virtually never work appropriate. I can’t remember seeing one that is. Most pencil skirts are, but a lot of the workwear dresses I can think of go to above or to the knee.

        Reply
    12. Helena

      The dress code at my current job is “everything from the middle of your thigh to an inch below your collar bone must be covered with clothing, and no see-through clothing or anything with offensive logos, photos or profanity”. That’s it. You can wear shorts and flip-flops every day. You can wear most tank tops. You can have a purple and green mohawk and be covered in tattoos. You can wear a strapless dress that goes to mid-thigh. As long as your torso/middle is covered up you are fine. It is the most casual place I have ever worked. We still get people who violate the rules. Your code is more strict than mine but it still sounds fairly casual and it’s probably easier for them to enforce the knees rule for everyone equally, since you say it applies to both men and women in skirts, dresses and shorts.

      Reply
    13. Sunshine on a cloudy day

      Ugghhh… I hate this specific rule. Its so dependent on height. I’m fairly tall female with particularly long legs and it is impossible for me to find skirts/dresses that go to the knee. Unless I buy “tea length”, which is knee length on me. Even pencil skirts meant to hit just below the knee tend to hit me an inch or two above the knee. I used to go to a regligious school that had this rule, and this dress code rule was a particular issue when I hit my growth spurt in 7th grade.

      I have no problem with banning “mini-skirts” or even using finger tips as a marker (I’m sure some people have different proportions, but it does seem a bit more fair to the tall women out there).

      Also – I work in a generally conservative industry (including a year or two spent temping so I’ve seen a lot of offices) and have never heard of a “knee-length” rule in a work environment.

      Reply
    14. Parenthetically

      Wow, this is wild to me. I work in what I’d call a VERY conservative environment (small private school with students who wear pretty sharp uniforms) and I have plenty of skirts and dresses that hit a good 4 or 5 inches above my knees. I wear them with tights most of the time, but my boss is really good about assuming that we are adults and can dress professionally without him having to nag at us or send us home to change (!!!). Our only rules are “dress appropriately for a professional environment” and “no jeans.” I’ve never seen a colleague in something inappropriate.

      Reply
      1. Gaia

        This is so interesting to me. When I picture 4 or 5 inches above the knee I picture a mini skirt and in no way can I wrap my mind around that being work appropriate.

        I wonder if this is regionally contextual?

        Reply
        1. TL -

          4 or 5 inches above my knee is still hitting midthigh or a bit lower and I’m on the short side. Especially with tights, it does not look inappropriate.

          Reply
    15. CheeryO

      That seems a little conservative (and no open toes is also a bit conservative), but I wouldn’t necessarily call it out of touch. It’s an easy line to draw – an inch above the knee might be more flattering and easier to find, but then you have to split hairs over what an inch is, exactly, without busting out a ruler. The fingertip rule doesn’t really work since everyone has different proportions – I have a super long torso and regular length arms, and my fingertips barely come to the bottom of my butt.

      I would either avoid skirts/dresses or go the midi/maxi route. You could also buy long and get them hemmed to the knee, but that’s a lot of effort and expense for a job that you may or may not be in long-term.

      Reply
      1. CheeryO

        I should mention that I’m in the engineering field on the east coast, so my “normal” probably skews conservative…

        Reply
      2. Not So NewReader

        Speaking as someone who has ripped out her big toenail twice while vacuuming the house barefoot, I understand the no open toe rule. For a little thing it reeeally hurts and it takes forever to get a new nail. Right, I had to do this twice before I learned.

        Reply
    16. Leena Wants Cake

      This thread makes me want to hear about sneaky dress code rebellion stories: the things they do to get around overly stringent dress code regulations (or ways they follow the letter of the code while violating the spirit of the code).

      Reply
      1. Manders

        Oooh, that would be a fun thread. From my private school days:
        – Coloring in the lines of your plaid skirt with highlighters and sharpies
        – Wearing combat boots (never actually prohibited by the dress code, I guess because no one had thought middle school girls would wear them)
        – Carrying weird accessories/piling on massive numbers of accessories to telegraph status. I remember fish-shaped pencil cases and prayer bead bracelets being all the rage.
        – Walking riiiiiiiight up to the line of natural hair colors with that “red” dye that’s really purple
        – Learning to crook your arms in a specific way so your fingertips were anywhere you wanted them to be
        – Sitting cross-legged or splay-legged in skirts so your bike shorts showed–unladylike, but not actually against the dress code
        – Taking off your elastic tie and flicking it at your friends in assembly

        Now I’m an adult and I actually have to dress to impress, but I’ll cop to some sneaky casual cosplay.

        Reply
      2. Not So NewReader

        Scotch tape is a wonderful thing. You tape your hem up where you would like it. When you know it is time to line up to get your hemline measured, you take the tape off before the nun gets to you with her ruler. Presto. You pass inspection. And you have more tape in your handbag.

        Reply
      3. Kj

        Rolling skirt hems was a big one. Also the assessories! There weren’t rules about jewelry once you got to high school, so you could wear a big old necklace. One a free dress day, one of my friends got away with a marijuana leaf t shirt. It was very subtle and tasteful and I was in awe.

        My rebellions tended to be less in dress than in action though, so I’m likely missing some of my peer’s rebellions here. I tended to dress the angel statue in the courtyard for rebellion instead of dressing myself. The angel was a gang member, construction worker and santa, plus many others over the course of my senior year. Strangely enough, they never stopped me. Although I think the only one that knew it was me was my chemistry teacher who was an atheist so she was amused, not offended. But they never took the costumes off the angel and I caught the nuns laughing about it once, so…..

        Reply
  9. Forged Initials

    As part of my job, project managers submit to me close out documents for projects and an invoice. I make sure that the documents are accurate and complete and then I initial the invoice which then goes to the accountant to be paid. Recently one of the PMs forged my initials on the invoice and gave it directly to the accountant. The accountant asked if I had initialed it since she noticed the handwriting was different. I said no. She said ok. As far as I know she told the PM’s boss that this had happened. I know it’s not the same as forging a check or something, but should I escalate this to HR or legal? I personally find that this is completely inappropriate and unethical. Thoughts?

    Reply
    1. SophieChotek

      Do you think the accountant maybe already did? Or will be watching that PM’s closely. She seems to have noticed is and is on the ball. Definitely not cool.

      Reply
    2. ArtK

      I’d talk to the accountant and ask how she is handling it. This really should be brought up to the PM’s boss by one or both of you. It is extremely unethical. Frankly, that little thing would be enough to trigger an audit of some of the PM’s previous projects.

      Reply
      1. Forged Initials

        I think the PM’s boss was made aware of it, but should I file a formal complaint or something? I don’t know necessarily how boss handled it, she seems pretty nonchalant about most things.

        Reply
        1. Jessesgirl72

          I think you should tell your boss and ask how they would like you to handle it. Tell them the accountant alerted her boss.

          Reply
        2. Observer

          You should NOT be talking to legal. The people who you should be notifying are your boss and the PM’s boss. Make sure you put it in email (and bcc yourself) so it’s clear that you did your part to make sure that the relevant people know what’s up. After that it’s not your issue.

          The only other thing I would say is that you should give extra scrutiny to anything this PM gives you, since you now *know* that she is liable to provide false documentation.

          Reply
    3. Sadsack

      Why not ask the accountant if she brought the matter to anyone’s attention? I think I would at the very least tell my own manager about it. This seems like a big deal to me. Don’t be afraid, you are not doing anything wrong.

      Reply
    4. Chriama

      > I know it’s not the same as forging a check or something, but should I escalate this to HR or legal?

      Yes it is. This is how fraud happens. This is a firing offense.

      Reply
    5. Ama

      I’m curious about what the invoice was for — was the PM actually trying to hide an expense you might have questioned or were they just trying to save time on an routine expense you always sign off on? The former is cause for serious concern, the latter might just be a misconception about why there are financial checks and balances.

      I’ve been in two separate jobs where people got away with misusing funds for years so I definitely take stuff like this seriously, but I’ve also run into coworkers who would never in a million years engage in financial misconduct get really huffy about financial approval levels that they see as a “waste of time” or an insult to their integrity.

      Reply
      1. Forged Initials

        The invoice was a final payment for a contractor. It’s usually a small amount, but it’s not supposed to get paid until all close out materials are received and approved. I think the PM just wanted to pay it since there are often problems that need correcting and can take a while to get resolved, which is part of the responsibility of managing a project.

        Reply
      2. Mephyle

        If it was low-stakes, it might be a misconception as you say. Or it might be a test run on the part of the forger – if challenged they could claim some defense like “just trying to save time, no harm done”, and if not challenged they could aim higher next time.
        So it’s a cause for serious concern either way.

        Reply
      3. Observer

        It’s cause for serious concern in any case. For one thing, Mephyle has a good point. For another, people who won’t follow procedure on stuff like this normalize the failure to follow procedure and make is very hard to spot genuine wrongdoing.

        This case is much worse, though, because the person actually forged a signature! This was NOT a case of “Oh, this is just a routine thing that always gets approved anyway, so I’ll just ask forgiveness rather than ask permission.” This was a case of someone who KNOWS what the procedure was and LIED about what she had done – implicating someone else in the process.

        The OP’s explanation makes it pretty clear that the person was lying not just to skip one annoying possible bottleneck, but to avoid having to do HER job, includes making sure that all of requirements have been met. Frankly, if I were that person’s boss I would be having a VERY. SERIOUS. TALK. I’d also be launching an audit of any work that person had signed off on, and talking to HR about next steps.

        Reply
      4. Not So NewReader

        I agree with Ama’s last paragraph. Bare bones minimum I would say something to the PM to the effect of “do not do this ever again”. I’d ask for a photocopy of the forgery and stash it at home, just in case.

        More than likely I would report it, in writing. This could be testing the waters. It could be a one time occurrence but no way to know. Meanwhile it is my professional rep at stake. No way would this go by me.

        Reply
  10. Collie

    I have a problem with self-sabotage in interviews. I’ll say things that inner-me knows is at best risky and at worst just plain stupid in the moment. I think it’s because I never really feel like I deserve the job, regardless of what it is. Intellectually, I know that’s not true, but obviously parts of me are at odds and the stupid one wins consistently in interviews. Self-talking myself into believe I deserve it isn’t really helping. How have others handled this?

    Reply
    1. Undine

      I would recommend practice interviews. You’re feeling nervous and under pressure. Just like sports, the more times you can do it right, the more likely the learned behavior will kick in, instead of the bad one.

      Reply
    2. emma

      If you’re able to afford it, I’d recommend counseling, since you seem to understand the problem, but seem stuck. Counseling helps me when I’m stuck on a problem- I kind of view it as an as-needed thing.

      Reply
      1. Collie

        Interesting idea. I’ve been looking into therapy for other issues, as well, so I’ll add this as another reason to go. Thanks. :)

        Reply
    3. Marisol

      I do EFT tapping for issues I feel insecure about, in particular I do this for people I feel insecure around, and it has helped me enormously. Google EFT tapping for instructions. Good luck!

      Reply
    4. Not So NewReader

      I’d add self-care to the list also. A tired mind/body can make all kinds of poor choices. Ever deal with a tired kid or pup? Same idea, this very normal sweet being becomes a pile of randomness. If you can add consistency to your life in different ways, such as self-care, it might be easier to be consistent on interviews also.

      Reply
  11. katamia

    And another one–I’m inquisitive today. I’ve been trying to figure out which of my non-native languages I can comfortably list on my resume, but I’m really struggling with how vague the concept of fluency is overall and trying to figure out which languages I’d really be comfortable working in. Does anyone have any suggestions on things I should be able to do in the workplace or things to keep in mind when evaluating whether or not to list a language? I know some languages have official tests you can take to determine your fluency (e.g., French and Japanese), but my best non-native language doesn’t have a test or any other objective method to determine rough fluency levels.

    Reply
      1. SophieChotek

        I would agree. And depending on the industry, you probably also need to know correct industry-specifi terms in that language. Also there may be levels for spoken vs. written vs. reading vs. translating. Business where I work, the people who claim multiple languages are regularly called on to translate from one language to another (often daily, sometimes even from one language to another to another — like the documents needs to be produced in Chinese/French/English), be able to provide real-time translation at press conferences/industry events, and correspond with customers/clients in said language.

        If it’s just enough to get around town, it’s probably not fluency.

        Just my two cents…

        Reply
      2. Gandalf the Nude

        Yeah, and fluency in general is a little different than fluency in a business context. I could speak fluent Spanish, but really struggled with using it in a business context.

        Reply
        1. katamia

          This is what I’m struggling with. I’ve been working mostly from home as a freelancer for the last few years (so I’m out of touch), and even if I hadn’t been, the jobs I’m applying for are in different fields, ones where I don’t know exactly what will be required in a business context. But I also don’t want to sell myself short if it turns out that my language skills are good enough, either.

          Reply
          1. AnotherAnon

            It might help to have a look at the way language skills are categorised on the CEFR? It’s fairly detailed, so it can give you a decent idea of around which level you are. I believe B2 level (some say B1) is considered “fluent” enough to work in (although I doubt it’d be considered sufficient for fields that need highly technical language skills – like translating, interpreting, etc.)

            Reply
          2. TL -

            You can put Conversational Language – if your Klingon is good enough to call and set up a videoconference, for instance, but not good enough to have a detailed conversation about proper security protocol on the Enterprise, I think Conversational would cover that.

            Reply
          3. Gandalf the Nude

            Well, I think maybe the most important thing to consider when trying to decide whether to list a language is actually whether you want to work in that language. It might make you more marketable to positions you’re not actually interested in. (The real struggle of job searching with a foreign language degree without wanting to use it at work!)

            But if you’re committed to working in that language, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with listing yourself as fluent as long as you are later upfront that you would need to brush up the specific vocab that goes with that industry. And if you know the industry and are committed enough to the interview process or interested enough in the job, start studying up that particular lingo.

            Reply
    1. Lemon Zinger

      I once heard someone say “You aren’t fluent in any language unless you grew up speaking it. You can be ‘highly proficient’ in a language, but not fluent.”

      While I don’t 100% agree, I think the spirit of the statement is important. If you can conduct your field’s business in another language, I would say that you are fluent.

      Reply
      1. Mephyle

        It sounds as though they were using the word ‘fluency’ to mean ‘native proficiency’. I don’t ascribe that meaning to ‘fluent’. I agree with your second paragraph. Actually, it doesn’t really matter what ‘fluent’ does or doesn’t mean. @katamia, you should list any languages on your CV that you would be able to do business in.

        If you’re not sure whether you could do business in your best language, and there is no formal test, my suggestion is that test yourself by reading some web pages about, say, current events (and about your industry, if relevant) in the language. Now turn away from the text and explain out loud everything you read. Pretend you are talking to a native speaker, an imaginary person, who is there with you.
        Try the same thing with a Youtube video in the language. Watch it – did you understand everything? – and then retell it to someone. Write an account of what you heard. Were you able to?

        Reply
    2. SM

      I wouldn’t say fluent unless you know the technical terms for your industry. Could you conduct a meeting in that language comfortably? Could you have a conversation with your boss about the technical details of a project in that language?

      If you’re not that level of fluency, but you can converse at a high level with native speakers, maybe you can include the languages and say “advanced” or “conversational” or something along those lines.

      Reply
    3. ... & Vinegar

      You should definitely include your language skills! What do you want a prospective employer to know about your skills, and what would you like to be able to do with those skills at work? Let those things determine how you present them.

      The guideline I was given for “fluency” is the ability to complete crossword puzzles in that language. The implication is that the cultural references are included makes this a really useful guideline. Having worked in a bilingual office, what mattered was the ability to talk about daily business, and to be able to write in “business” language, to be able to chat on the phone without any of the body language cues, and to be able to shift back and forth between languages.

      “Conversational” is a good descriptor if you’re happy to carry on conversations about daily life and general ideas.
      “Business” is a good descriptor if you can talk about business but not necessarily about daily life.
      “Translator” or “Interpreter” are very specific skills (and very different from each other).

      But definitely include them, you’ve got a lot more than most of us in the US.

      Reply
    4. smthing

      People acknowledge different proficiency levels. It might be useful to look at the US State Department levels (https://careers.state.gov/gateway/lang_prof_def.html) and see how they relate to your own. Even lower level proficiency can be an asset on a resume, as long as you are clear about what you can do. Just don’t represent yourself as fully proficient if you’re not, especially if it’s a job requirement.

      Reply
  12. bassclefchick

    I have a resume question. Several of you know I have made poor choices recently and have been fired from two jobs in the last 6 months. My last job that ended on a positive note ended in June. It was a temp position and the project came to its natural conclusion, so it doesn’t reflect poorly on me.

    My question is this. Which is worse on a resume? An almost year long gap of no employment or a smaller gap, but ending 2 jobs within a few months of each other? I’ve been leaving the last 2 jobs off. If I were to put either of them on the resume, I would only put the one that lasted 4 months. The other one I didn’t even make it through the probationary period.

    I’m just really concerned that hiring managers are looking at my resume (temp for 5 years, then either nothing or 2 short term jobs that should have lasted) and wondering why no one will hire me. I feel like I’m stuck and just don’t know what to do to fix the problem and get a good job I can stick with for the near future.

    Reply
    1. NK

      I would absolutely leave the two jobs off. A gap (especially less than a year), while not entirely ideal, is far better than having to explain a firing, let alone two. Rather than worrying about gaps, think about what jobs will add to or take away from your resume. If it’s a net negative, leave it off.

      Reply
      1. Anna

        Agree with NK. If they ask about the gap, is there something you can tell them that is true, but doesn’t go into the two jobs?

        Reply
        1. NK

          Since the last job she left on good terms was the temp job, I think “my temp job ended and I was looking for other work” would suffice.

          Reply
    2. Creag an Tuire

      I haven’t followed your “poor choices”, but can you phrase the gap as a “health issue, since resolved” without mentioning the two jobs during that period?

      (I’m assuming you HAVE resolved whatever issue was driving you to self-destruct, otherwise fix that first.)

      Reply
      1. bassclefchick

        The poor choice was to take a rebound job without doing due diligence into whether it would really be a good fit for me. The first job seemed to be going well and then suddenly I was told it wasn’t working out and they let me go. No warning at ALL. So, I panicked. Instead of taking my time and figuring out what the next step should be, I jumped at the first permanent position that came along. I have been reflecting on the choice I made and what I can do to be sure the next job I get will be stable and healthy for me.

        The second job was a disaster from the start. I knew I would be fired. But, I think it was a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy in that I was so panicked about being let go from the first job that I sabotaged myself in the second one.

        Reply
        1. Creag an Tuire

          Hmm… I think you’re beating yourself up too much, TBH — it sounds like the first job just turned out to be a crappy place that treats people crappily, and you wouldn’t have known that going in.

          Not sure about whether to put that on your resume — on the one hand, it might not be a great reference*, on the other hand, it’s a smaller gap and most people are allowed one “mulligan” after a decent job history (and the rest of your history is okay, leaving aside that it’s temping, right?)

          * Did they at least give you any details on what “wasn’t working out”? Like, was it a skills mismatch, or did they accuse you of browsing Facebook all day?

          Reply
        2. writelhd

          If it makes you feel better, my husband had pretty much the same experience you did with respect to the first job. I don’t have a happy ending to report yet either (still job searching) but he decided to leave the short term job off the resume.
          (And for anybody else thinking about working for a software tech startup where they hire a whole bunch of people at once who may not actually have software experience…proceed with CAUTION.) Although I think it would be perfectly fair to say that the job just wasn’t a good fit and you didn’t know that until you tried it.

          Reply
  13. Anonymous Problem Solver

    Lovely AAM readers. I’m contemplating exploring some new job opportunities, but I’m struggling to identify what kind of position is in line with my skill set.

    My greatest strength is problem solving. I can take a concept and work through the details to get a finished product. I’m basically a walking cost-benefit analysis. I’m also obsessed with process improvement. I am the annoying person who is always thinking “how could this be done better?”. I currently work in Finance but am not tied to the industry. I’m experiencing some frustration in my role as it doesn’t appear I’ll be a decision maker for at least 20+ years and I’m the kind of person who likes to at least have some partial ownership.

    Does anyone have any thoughts of what kinds of positions I can investigate?

    Reply
    1. Dawn

      Business Analyst, Research Analyst, or Project Manager. Since you like partial ownership, look into Project Management. You can get a PM certification on your own (will cost about $3K, at least where I live) and that will absolutely give you a leg up on getting hired.

      Reply
    2. Trout 'Waver

      Chemical Engineer? You need the degree for it obviously. But you’re constantly tweaking and optimizing processes, and you get to actually make something instead of purely push numbers around.

      Reply
    3. Kat

      In addition to looking at positions, look closely at the culture for any company you’re interested in. I’m like you – I *need* to fix and improve process. I can’t help myself. I’ve been happiest at companies with flexible/flat hierarchies that value any contribution or idea regardless of the level of the employee. In organizations with stricter reporting lines and hierarchies, I’m frustrated and bored.

      If you have strong writing skills, look at technical writing – in particular software or process documentation. Or even requirements management! That field is all about identifying a need or problem and coming up with a solution.

      Reply
      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?

        This. Anything with finance will feed into that, strategy moreso than ops/process to start. I thought I would love to do ops and process improvement, but it quickly turned out that was not suited to my skills of sitting and thinking and picking a problem apart and testing ideas.

        Reply
    4. Starts with Zed

      Hello, are you me? I fell into accounting but then made the jump to project management at a company whose main focus is finance, and am very happy here. I will say that although there is overlap, project management is more people management and business analysis / systems analysis is more of an individual producer role, so consider which suits you better. (although you don’t need to decide now – a few people in my company have gone back & forth even at a senior level.)

      Reply
      1. Associate Project Manager

        Adding on to say: your city may have chapters of PMI (Project Management Institute) and IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis) – they’ll have networking events and seminars to help you identify what might be a good fit for your background and talents. I have to say your comment below about having a Finance major/English minor might position you well for a BA role at my company (we’re not in the US though).

        Reply
    5. Beachlover

      Demand Planning – need skills in analyzing sales trends, inventory trends etc. Quality control – especially if you are process oriented. Many types of Operation positions require someone that can analyze workflow and processes. Posssibly a manufacturing Engineer. Once you have more of this kind of experience under your belt, look into consulting. Lots of smaller businesses need help developing processes when they start out.

      Reply
    6. JCurtis

      I’d second the Business Analysis recommendation. But ask good questions about influence, ownership and decision-making in interviews as the role can very dramatically from org to org. Another thing to look into would be Product Ownership for organizations who practice Agile – but this is probably something you’d have to work into.

      Reply
    7. Government Worker

      We have a business process reengineering group within our IT department and a more general performance office, both of which sounds like they might be good fits for you. We also have a few people outside those groups with titles that have words like “strategic initiatives” in them, which in practice means they can insert themselves into projects or initiate new projects agency-wide that seem like they need the kind of skills you describe.

      I’d search for job listings with keywords like “strategic initiatives,” “strategic planning,” “performance management,” “cost benefit analysis,” “systems analyst”, “systems engineering,” “business process reengineering,” and “business process improvement”. See what turns up and how it fits your interests and skills and go from there.

      Reply
    8. SM

      Project management. Try looking on job boards for it…There’s project managers in almost every industry. The problem is some of the industries require a lot of technical knowledge and years of experience in that industry to be able to manage a project (think engineering or construction), while other industries you could jump in with only the management skills and not need the technical ones because of the way projects are organized.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous Problem Solver

        Thank you all for these great ideas! My undergrad is in Finance but I minored in English. So I sometimes feel like it’s hard to find specific jobs that align with the blend of skills I have to offer!

        My dad recently transitioned from being a technical engineer to a project manager, so I think that may be in the genes. Or at least all the graphs at the dinner table helped shape me to think like one! Haha.

        Reply
  14. The SIL

    International relocation question!

    My sister-in-law, who currently lives in Europe, has accepted a job offer in a very large Midwestern city. My husband–her brother–and I live about three hours away from this city.

    As part of her offer, the company has told her they will pay for her airline ticket. She learned yesterday that they are planning to fly her out on a weekend…to start work on the following Tuesday. While she does have a furnished apartment lined up, three days of lead time doesn’t seem quite adequate to move to a new country, get in the right time zone, do basic things like shop for groceries and toiletries, AND dive into a new job.

    It appears that the ticket may have already been purchased. My suggestion to her, since she is now the owner of that ticket, would be to call the airline, pay the change fee, and arrange to fly into my town–three hours away–at least a week in advance. I had planned to take some days off from work, take her shopping, then load up the car and drive her to her new city and get her settled in.

    She’s concerned, though, that her new employer is going to…I don’t know…side-eye her for this? They had planned to pick her up from the airport, so they would definitely know she had changed her travel plans. I think she’s afraid to look ungrateful for their help in moving her. My opinion is, if she can change her travel plans in a way that doesn’t inconvenience her new employer–and in fact will make her a better employee during her first week, since she’ll have had time to get settled in–and since she’d bear the cost of changing the ticket herself, there’s no harm at all.

    What would you think if you were her employer, and what would you do in her situation?

    Reply
    1. Dawn

      If I were her, I’d just go back to whoever is coordinating the move and present it as a win-win for the company- “If it’s not too much trouble, can I fly into [town] on [date that’s a week earlier than planned]? I have family in that town and they are going to help me settle into my new apartment, which would mean I could dive straight into the new job already having set myself up in [town].” See what they say, and she could always offer to pay any fees to change the flight if they were hesitant for money reasons.

      As an employer, I’d be happy that she had found a way to get settled in before starting the new job- to me it shows that she’s already thinking about how to be the best employee she can be even before she sets foot in the building!

      Reply
      1. MoinMoin

        Agreed. If the company relocates people with any sort of frequency they likely have people coordinating the relocation -internally or through a relocation company- who wouldn’t bat an eye at this. I don’t think the hiring manager would side-eye the request anyway, but there’s a good chance she wouldn’t even be involved with it.

        Reply
      2. Ama

        I’ve had jobs where I purchased flights for new employees before and usually places that do this will have some kind of policy for how these requests are handled. They may or may not pay the change fee and they may or may not ask your sister to handle the change themselves, but they shouldn’t think the request itself is egregious.

        Reply
    2. Jessie the First (or second)

      Why doesn’t she just ask her employer? She can ask if they’d mind if she changed the ticket so that she can come in earlier to get set up and that she’s willing to pay the change fee. It doesn’t have to be done undercover of night as if there is a big problem. The company probably just wasn’t thinking through logistics of her move.

      Reply
    3. SophieChotek

      It’s surprising she didn’t get any say in the time, etc.
      I agree three days doesn’t seem like enough lead-time to move internationally
      i don’t think she should change without their knowledge — I think she’s should call and explain she’d like to change and move sooner for more time to settle in and be sure she’s ready to start new job, full rested, somewhat adjusted to move, etc.

      Depending on cost/type of ticket, it might be able to be changed without fees? or business will be willing to pay. (For instance, where my Dad works, they always buy full cost tickets that are fully refundable, can be changed, etc. specifically because things happen.)

      Reply
    4. Lucy

      I think she needs to be 100% straightforward about this, and that there isn’t much to lose by her taking this approach.

      “As you know, I’m moving from [place in Europe]; it’s a fairly significant move and the travel schedule you’ve suggested doesn’t give me a lot of time to get settled before starting my new role. I was wondering if it would be possible to [change the ticket to {your city} so that I can get some help from family with moving]/[some other reasonable change request – more time, different flight, etc.]. I would be happy to handle making the change with the airline myself, or I’m happy to let [however the company normally books travel] handle it – which would you prefer?”

      It’s presumptuous on their part to decide that three days is plenty for an inter-continental move, but this could be for all kinds of reasons (from “no one thought about it in any detail before booking the ticket” to “this is just how we work and you’re going to have to deal with that”). Asking could have a range of consequences depending on their motives (from “huh, we didn’t consider that” to “sorry but you’re just going to have to deal with that and now we think you’re difficult”) but I’d err on the side of assuming it’s thoughtlessness rather than malice. What your sister would be asking for is not unreasonable, so this is a good opportunity to find out how reasonable the new company is.

      Reply
    5. Lindsey

      I think she can absolutely talk to her employer, it’s a pretty reasonable request.

      On the other hand, I’ve moved internationally (cross-continents, same deal), landing on a Saturday and starting work the following Monday. It wasn’t bad. I actually appreciated it as it helped me with adjusting to time zones more quickly, and my colleagues were able to give me tips and tricks on all the moving things (best places to find groceries, etc.).

      Reply
    6. fposte

      I agree that she shouldn’t do this without checking first with the company. However, I’ll also note, in case money is relevant, that you don’t just pay the change fee–you have to pay the difference in fares, which can be substantial.

      Reply
      1. Jessesgirl72

        If she is flying on the same flights, just a week earlier, there might not be a difference in fare. But yes, she should be prepared for that possibility and her best bet would be to try to get the exact same flights and day of the week.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          It also depends how much closer to the date she is. While the fares might drop, it’s more common (IME) that they’ll go up, even if it’s the same flight and day.

          Reply
          1. Jessesgirl72

            It depends how close, yes, the fares might go up.

            OTOH, if she picks a less busy day (Tuesday instead of Monday, for instance) the fare could go down, even if it’s closer.

            I’m sure you’re aware of how to play the airlines’ game. :)

            Reply
    7. Amarzing

      I think I would tend towards the not-making-waves way of doing this, which it sounds like she does as well, which would be take them up on their offer, let them pick her up, etc. I’ve never moved internationally for a job but I have driven out the Friday before a job started on Monday (multiple times I’ve done this!), staying with a friend for a night or two, without even having found a place to live, and it went fine, a place was acquired, moved into, toiletries purchased, etc. Most jobs – while I totally support the idea of hitting the ground running – really aren’t at their most difficult for the first couple weeks and I would guess (hope?) they aren’t thinking about squeezing productivity out of her in her first week, they just set up this day for whatever reason (it was the cheapest, they didn’t want to presume she was free/not working/ready to leave the week before, etc) and completely expect and get that there may be utilities to set up, or conversations with coworkers about the best place to go to get this or that, etc, and it’s just part of the deal.

      If I were an employer, I don’t think I’d side-eye about how she wanted to set up her international move, although I am not currently in charge of anyone, so I definitely think is this is what she wants, just ask her contact about it, but ultimately I’d be careful to remember, this is her decision, let her do what she’s most comfortable with, and I think the weekend before is certainly doable if she’s okay with it.

      Reply
      1. TL -

        If she’s moving internationally, she’s unlikely to have a friend in the area. I’ve done the move you’ve done, but without the friends, and it’s a lot harder if you don’t know anyone, plus you can take a lot less in a plane than in a car. Much more reasonable to have a few days.

        Reply
    8. LCL

      With the time zone thing, she will be moving backwards in the day. She will feel like the walking dead for the first couple of days. So ask to change the flight date if possible, just because of the jet lag.

      Reply
  15. Episkey

    My husband & I have been trying to get pregnant for a little while and have been having some issues. I finally got pregnant this cycle, but had a miscarriage at the beginning of this week. I was still very early (only about 5.5 weeks along), but it hit me really hard. I had to leave work early the day it happened and then the next day, I started crying at work. I work as an assistant to a real estate agent & it’s just the 2 of us. My boss & I have a good relationship. She naturally wanted to know what was wrong but I was really struggling with whether I should tell her specifics, so I just said it was a family matter and I would be OK. She again asked what happened and I said I didn’t want to talk about it. I think she was a little hurt, actually.

    The next day we were talking and she brought up the subject of our annual review. She said she was giving me a raise and then went on to talk about how she had really leaned on me this past year (in 2016) because her mom had passed away and she was unavailable for some time. She started tearing up about her mom dying and then I lost it (again SIGH) and finally just told her everything that happened.

    She was really supportive and I expressed my concerns that she would worry about me coming back to work if I did get pregnant etc and that she might fire me and she said she never would do that. It did feel like a relief to tell her. I know this would be totally inappropriate in some offices, but we aren’t really a traditional workplace in the first place.

    I hope I didn’t make a mistake in telling her. If you are a manager and your direct report told you something like this, would it be OK?

    Reply
    1. Dawn

      I’d be honored that they felt comfortable enough with me as a manager that they’d share something so deeply personal. I’m so sorry for your loss, and I hope that you have tons of comfort as you are grieving your miscarriage.

      Reply
    2. TCO

      I’m sorry for your loss.

      If I were a manager I’d completely respect your telling me and wouldn’t punish you professionally. And regardless, it sounds like you knew that this was the right choice for YOUR job, and it worked out well for you.

      Reply
    3. orchidsandtea

      I’m very sorry for your loss. Please be kind to yourself — you’re experiencing a pretty intense hormone crash, even after 5.5 weeks, and you’ll likely be low-energy for a couple more weeks while your body does some repair work. Rest as much as you can, and take some vitamins to rebuild your stores. If you need any commiseration, advice, or support, I’ve found Reddit’s ttcafterloss to be very helpful.

      I told my boss, too. I needed a week off (I was 9 weeks along) and I also needed a lot of grace for…three months or so? It’s just really hard for a while, though it does get better. He was gracious and helpful.

      Reply
    4. emma

      Yes, I’d just want to support my employee. It sounds like your boss appreciates how you’ve covered for her during her family issues, and I’m sure she wants to return the favor (which she would hopefully do even if you hadn’t been covering for her).

      And as someone who had a miscarriage in July, I’m sorry. It sucks, and I hope your physical and emotional recovery goes well, and that you continue to have supportive people around you.

      Reply
    5. Sunflower

      I dare say…I think this happens more often than you think. Not this exactly but I think we all have lives outside of work and as best we try to keep our personal problems out of work, we do spend the majority of our time here and I think good managers realize that sometimes these things are going to cross.

      Also think about it like this- Did you think it was inappropriate that your boss teared up? No you didn’t. Sounds like you guys have a pretty good relationship. I’m so sorry for your loss- spend your energy taking care of yourself instead of beating yourself up over this.

      Reply
    6. Jessesgirl72

      First of all, I’m so sorry for your loss. It doesn’t matter how “early” it was, and you shouldn’t feel like you need to qualify it as such- it was still a loss of a much wanted baby.

      Yes. Telling or not telling was entirely up to you, and you would have been right either way.

      And also, she couldn’t legally fire you for getting pregnant, even if she wanted to, and most people do realize that. If you are ever working for someone who you really believe would fire you if they knew you were pregnant or trying to get pregnant, please seriously reconsider working for that person. That’s not normal or okay, and you (and everyone!) deserves better than that.

      Reply
    7. Ask a Manager Post author

      Yes. And also, I’d be actively glad that you’d told me so that we were able to get your worries about being fired out on the table and addressed so that you didn’t have to carry that worry around anymore.

      Reply
    8. ExceptionToTheRule

      Yes, but if you’d rather not tell me; I’d like to think I could be supportive of whatever you’re going through without invading your privacy.

      Reply
    9. Gaia

      I’d be glad you told me for two main reasons:

      1. I would be able to support you (although this can be done even if you don’t get into the details) with whatever accommodations are needed

      2. I would be able to give you some measure of comfort that you were not going to be fired. You don’t need one more thing to worry about and no decent (or even mediocre) manager would fire you for anything related to family planning.

      Reply
  16. gwal

    Hello,

    I thought about sending this to Alison but it’s time sensitive so I’m posting it in the comments instead (posted it too late to get anything from last week’s open thread) and I would love any insight you all could provide!

    I’m currently employed as a “teapot technical expert” (salary, benefits, retirement account) in a two-year career development program, which more often than not results in permanent employment for those individuals who complete the program.

    The way the program is structured requires a temporary appointment in a different segment of the organization. I’m wrapping up my temporary appointment (as a “teapot business analyst”, so a very different skill set) in one month, and today my temporary supervisor offered me the opportunity to complete the two year program in this analyst position. This does happen in the program, though I have never indicated to my home office that I might not return.

    I live in a city that is uniquely well suited to the analysis field, but I have graduate training in both the analysis field and the technical field. My supervisor in the original position recruited me from a very small technical-field firm where I had worked for only six months, but I had not enjoyed the work or the environment. I feel loyalty to this home-organization supervisor, but I enjoy the analysis work more than the technical work.

    My husband is also in a transitional job, searching for academic positions across the country. Both the technical field and the analysis field would provide me with skills and experience that are transferable to other locations.

    This situation has presented a conundrum! I can see arguments in favor of keeping the analyst position–it’s unique to the city we live in, and is somewhat high-visibility and very interesting. The technical position, on the other hand, is the reason I’m part of this program in the first place, and in the first twelve months I worked there I learned a lot and took on a good amount of responsibility–that segment of the organization is more than half “over 50” (based on an anonymous survey of >100 people, and I know at least 3 who will retire in the next 1-3 yrs in my section of the org), so as an early career professional I’m in line to take on a lot of projects within the same technical role (but official promotional opportunities in the two organizational segments are similar). It’s really tough to decide whether to stay or to go back, and I was hoping you could provide some insight into how these things would look on a resume, and whether it would be completely bridge-burning to leave the organizational segment that brought me on in the first place.

    Reply
    1. Dawn

      “I enjoy the analysis work more than the technical work”

      There’s your answer. Right now you’re in a good position where either way you go, there will be opportunities for you. However, in the technical track it seems like there’s some “if” attached to promotional opportunities- *if* those people retire and *if* the company decides to fill their positions and *if* they choose you to fill those positions. Also, you have said yourself that you like the analysis work more than the technical work, *and* it’s high visibility (cannot overstate how valuable this is in a position), *and* you find it interesting.

      Reply
    2. AnotherAlison

      I don’t think you would be burning a bridge by not staying with the segment that hired you. The bigger question for me would be which direction you wanted your career to go, and which position is more likely to get you there. If you don’t go back to the technical side, and decided 3-4 years from now you DID want to go back, that door might be closed (you could be too high on the salary grade with too little experience, or that’s just not How We Do Things). If you ultimately want to be in management and both paths get you there (you say both paths have promotional opps), then it might not matter.

      Reply
    3. Joshua

      I believe that the purpose of many of these rotational programs/development programs is so that the company can get a great worker in the spot they’ll be happiest and most productive. The company wants you to see the different roles and decide on where you want to be since it’s a win-win for you and the company. I think most managers participating in the program know that sometimes the worker will want to say with them and sometimes someone else, but either way the company gets a great (and happy) worker.

      I think it’ll look totally normal on your resume either way. It’s the same company, you’d just say for 2015-2017 you were in the career development program, with postings in X and Y departments and then you had Analyst position 2017-present. It doesn’t even look job-hoppery because you’re with the same company in an obvious next step role.

      Reply
      1. Trout 'Waver

        I agree with Joshua here. Another purpose of these programs is to cross-pollinate workers so that no matter where they wind up, they know and have connections with multiple departments. If you started tech and wind up in analysis, that connection with the tech side is still a positive for the guy who recruited you into the program.

        It sounds win-win to me, and you have two good options to pick from.

        Reply
    4. Jessesgirl72

      Stay in the part of the field that you love.

      Even if the technical side had more obvious career opportunities, that’s not really the important thing, to me personally. I want to do what I enjoy every day- not climb in a career I don’t enjoy.

      Since the analysis side also would transfer to other areas, I’m not really seeing the dilemma here. It’s good to be loyal to a company, but not to the point where you’re giving up something you want just out of a sense of loyalty.

      Reply
  17. Butch Cassidy

    I’m considering participation in “rapid response”-type direct actions, like the crowd that blocked the ICE truck in Phoenix from driving a DACA-eligible undocumented woman to detention. If I did this, it would require my being ready to get up and leave work, probably for the rest of the day, with no advance notice.

    I work a job where I can just come in on a weekend day and make up whatever I’ve missed, but I know that it’s not okay to just bail with no explanation. How would I have a conversation with my supervisor about this?

    Reply
    1. Anon13

      I think this is extremely dependent on your supervisor’s temperament, your relationship with your supervisor, and your supervisor’s political views/views on what you’d be doing. (I know this isn’t a great answer!) If you think your supervisor would support your participating in these actions, you could explain what you’re doing and why you may need to leave suddenly. If not, it gets a little dicier.

      Either way, good luck!

      Reply
      1. Manders

        Yeah, I’d love to have a supervisor who would support this. If you *can* be honest, that’s awesome.

        I’m pretty much ok with “I’m feeling ill/I have a doctor’s appoint”-style white lies when you’re leaving work for a good reason that you don’t want to hash out with your boss, like going to an interview or a protest, so long as it’s just an occasional thing. But that depends on a lot of factors like how comfortable you feel fudging the truth, how likely it is that your boss would find out you were at the protest anyway, whether you regularly work with time-sensitive projects, whether you can catch up on work later in the day from home, etc.

        Reply
    2. Temperance

      There is typically at least a little bit of lead time for these rapid response actions. My boss is fine with me leaving to go join protests – she does it herself and always invites me to join in – so long as she knows where I am, generally. This is with the caveat that I wouldn’t or couldn’t skip on client meetings etc. to join the resistance, but I wouldn’t want to do that anyway (because the resistance needs lawyers!).

      Not knowing the nature of your job, do you have clients/meetings/etc. to handle, or are you largely independent?

      Reply
      1. Butch Cassidy

        Largely independent. We have regular team meetings twice a week, but those are in the morning/early afternoon. For the most part, all my boss cares about is that our goals are met and we’re in the office most of the time so we can help each other out when needed.

        (I would have more leeway to work from home had another member of the team not messed things up for the rest of us by involving her husband in a work question, when we handle sensitive information on a regular basis and the company is very twitchy about security.)

        Reply
    3. LCL

      I would ask you to lie to me and take sick time. Government job, I am not allowed to interfere in your politics, vs shiftwork critical function. So we would both be maintaining a polite fiction and procedures are followed and everybody’s happy.

      Reply
    4. MsMaryMary

      You might also want to take into account how likely it is your supervisor or another coworker will see you participating in the rapid response. Someone who might not mind if you were straightforward about your unexpected time off might have a different reaction if you told them you were going to the doctor and then show up in the lead story on the evening news. I’d tell your manager the truth if you feel comfortable, or leave it vague if you don’t (minor emergency, unexpected situation you have to take care of, etc).

      Reply
    5. zora

      I would probably just be vague about having to leave for an “appointment”. Maybe even talk to them ahead of time and say I might have to take some appointments with little-to-no-notice in the next few weeks. I’ll be making sure to come in on the weekend and make up the work, but I wanted to let you know.

      Reply
  18. Hmmmmmm

    Work etiquette question:

    My boss found out two days ago that I was being promoted to lead my own department. We’d previously connected in a dotted line fashion, really, as his job function is not terribly related to mine, but he has past work experience that enabled him to help out if I struggled.

    He was a big help for about 6 months early 2016, but our relationship is now strained. As soon as I was comfortable standing on my own feet last year, he reacted oddly. Lashing out, finding fault where there wasn’t any, telling his boss what a poor job I was doing…. He didn’t really do anything connected to my position for the last 8 months besides complain that I wasn’t doing it well. Fortunately, his boss let my results speak, and is now promoting me to report directly to him.

    Here’s the thing. My boss has known for two days and a company-wide announcement went out yesterday. And my boss hasn’t spoken to me since he found out. Do I thank him for him help early last year? He was thanked in the company wide announcement, but that was from his boss, not me. Also, he hasn’t said anything to me. I’m not just saying he hasn’t congratulated me—he literally hasn’t spoken to me. I kind of feel like I shouldn’t bother. I have no plans to ever use him as a reference and he’s made it clear he doesn’t plan on working nicely with me.

    Reply
    1. Marcy Marketer

      If you don’t think you will use him as a reference, it doesn’t matter. I don’t think that he will change his behavior if you write him a note, but I think you should try anyway. Maybe you could also ask him directly if you’ve done anything wrong?

      Reply
      1. Hmmmmmm

        I honestly don’t care at this point if he thinks I’ve done anything wrong, as I’ve been successful without his help for 8 months. I was trying to figure out the line between being polite (do people normally thank a boss if someone else promotes them?) and deciding not to bother as he consonantly undermines me and says rude things.

        You raise a good point about changing his behavior–which this wouldn’t affect. I’m leaning more toward no, now.

        Thank you!

        Reply
    2. Drew

      IMO, a sincere thank you note for all the help he gave you would be a gracious gesture, but if you don’t think you can write one that won’t come off as sarcastic (or if even a sincere note would be taken poorly by soon-to-be-former boss because that well is so poisoned), you can let it go.

      Reply
    3. Camellia

      If I read correctly, he will be your boss after your promotion? And he only found out you were being promoted two days ago? Sounds like he wasn’t involved in the process at all; that seems unusual. I would be talking to both him and with grandboss to try to figure this out and make it work.

      Reply
    4. emma

      I would politely thank him for his past help. If you don’t think you can do it well in person, I would send an email. It costs you very little, and at the very least it will take the wind out of his sails if he wants to badmouth you or something. What your describing makes it sounds like he felt threatened by you because he was fine helping you at the start, but once you started doing great he undermined you. I’d just keep being professional, and rocking it. That will stand out to others, even if he keeps being petty.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        I agree with this. At one time he did right by you, so thank him for that. This does not have to be a long note and definitely do not exaggerate or say anything you do not mean.

        You are correct in saying the fact that the company thanked him is not the same as if you thank him.

        If you found out ten years from now that he had Life Changing Problem going on right now in his personal life, you might be glad that you rose above the tension of the moment and thanked him for the parts he got right.
        It costs you nothing to do this. And it could mean something later.

        Reply
    5. Sadsack

      You could just say tell him it’s been nice working with him and thank him for whatever help he provided early on in your role. If the last part is a stretch, don’t bother. Just say the nice working with you part.

      Reply
    6. NK

      I wouldn’t do anything to burn the bridge. As much as you might want nothing to do with him, you never know when your paths may be forced to cross again. I wouldn’t give him a big effusive thank you, but I would say something brief and pleasant to him about your moving on.

      Reply
    1. Librarian Ish

      I ask because I’ve been getting more involved in activism work (I was volunteering 3-5 hours a week before the elections, but now I’ve increased that quite a bit, in addition to a 40-hour a week job) but I’m starting to feel like I don’t do anything *but* work. But what’s normal, right?

      Reply
      1. Taylor Swift

        Is that sustainable for you in the long run? Just keep in mind that you won’t be able to help much at all if you get totally burned out!

        Reply
    2. Temperance

      Recently, it’s been pretty terrible, but I work in a sector that is actively involved in the resistance and my job is basically arranging lawyers to help. So it’s been like 12-14 hour days for the past 2.5 weeks, including weekends.

      Reply
    3. Anon13

      Mine is horrible right now, for many of the same reasons you’ve mentioned, but, as someone who’s been involved in activism on and off for my entire adult life, I’ve found that participating in activism in ways I enjoy (and, when possible, with friends) goes a long way toward making it feel less like work. I love writing and don’t get to do it much for work (other than boring letters and the like), so, in the past, I wrote a blog for an organization I supported. I also recently started working with refugee families to help them learn about American culture, etc. (well, I haven’t started, but I started the training). I absolutely loathe making phone calls, but I love coordinating meetings, so I do very little of the former, but a lot of the latter. I know it’s tough because a lot of the things I enjoy are the same things everyone enjoys and we need people to make phone calls, canvas, etc., too, but doing things I genuinely enjoy has always really helped me avoid burnout.

      Reply
    4. fposte

      It tilts pretty strongly toward the work side, but I love most of the work. I’ve also got the common academic blurring of the line, with friend stuff shifting to colleague stuff in the blink of an eye, and with a lot of weekend hours doing work-related stuff while I cook and play music.

      And it probably could balance more toward play if I consciously made that happen, and I’ve been doing that more in the last couple of years. But it’s a pretty worky life, and that’s okay by me.

      Reply
    5. krysb

      I work full-time, attend college full-time, and am gearing up to volunteer with the local Legal Aid Society. What is play?

      Reply
    6. Lemon Zinger

      Not great. I work full-time and often have to work overtime with no additional compensation. My boss occasionally approves flex time, but not always. Fortunately I do have periods of down-time at work, which I use to do my homework (I am in graduate school part-time for a degree directly related to my field). If I’m careful about it, I never have to do homework or class reading at home.

      I find it hard to detach from work because my boss emails and texts at all hours, even sometimes on weekends. Removing my work email from my phone has helped. I love my job and care a lot about the people I work with, so it’s really never far from my mind.

      I wouldn’t mind the overtime if I was fairly compensated for it, but I don’t think the new FLSA regulations will go into effect with our current administration.

      Reply
    7. Sprechen Sie Talk?

      Pretty good – I get to work at 8 and leave at 5 most days, although sometimes I take work home or do stay late when required. Right now its a good balance. However..

      We are about to enter a heavy “gig” cycle for us (my partner and I) between next week and beginning of May. Our thing together (other than cooking, travel, data analysis, software and technology, etc) is music and we love the same stuff (what brought us together really). Some fabulous shows coming up the first half of the year for us, but they tend to be later (one next week starts at 11 pm. On a school night! But we haven’t seen the artist since 2012 and I REALLY wanted to see him again and we were late booking) or multiples in a week. So by the time I leave the house at 7:10 in the morning to catch train, go to work, meet with other half somewhere in town, see the show, then get home I can be out a good 15 or 16 hours. Don’t get to sleep until 1.30am and the alarm at 6.15 seems really early!

      So…. maybe skewed a little too much on play soon, but let’s hope work doesn’t blow up simultaneously. Which it could do.

      Reply
    8. Bibliovore

      Nonexistent.
      I work. As an academic librarian on tenure-track, this seems to be the norm. If I am not teaching, I am prepping to teach. If I am not writing, I am researching. If I am not doing those, I am working on strategic plans. Or a grant, or updating my dossier, or prepping a lecture, or giving a lecture, or traveling to a conference or prepping for a conference or mentoring the next assistant librarians, or posting on my blog or social media or revising my book, or reading a book for review, or reading articles for prep for teaching or evaluating materials for classes, or answering reference questions or filing departmental reports and statistics or fund raising or community engagement or planning for the next event or writing the department newsletter. Oh, yeah and collection development. If I am not doing those I am giving service on professional committees.

      Of course…saying all of that, I have spent the last 3 days in bed with the flu reading mystery novels and streaming Bones. Taking the weekend off for more of the same. (although the Newsletter is due and I will probably complete a draft by Sunday)

      Reply
      1. Bibliovore

        And now ,I am feeling better, so will do the grocery shopping this morning. Run out my materials budget, (80 percent has to be spent by the end of Feb). and do the newsletter that is due to the designer on Tuesday. There will be a nap.

        Reply
    9. Overeducated

      My actual work is confined to Mon-Fri 9-5, which was a major attraction of my position. I spend a few hours a week on job searching outside of that (I’m on a grant so always thinking toward the future), but don’t have the time, energy, or library access to also continue the independent research necessary to keep a foot in the academic world.

      Other commitments include parenting (most of my free time), church, and protesting, which is a thing I am just starting to do but trying to make it regular. “Play” is usually restricted to one or two nights a week when I don’t fall into bed immediately after the kid, and weekend mornings. I used to be a distance runner and I haven’t figured out how to make the time, but my body is feeling the change and it’s not a good one.

      Reply
    10. Giant Fox

      I worked 4 months last year and vacationed the rest of the time. Getting ready to get back to work in the next few months. By choice.

      Reply
    11. Honeybee

      Mine is pretty good. I work about 40-55 hours a week depending on the week. Next week, for example, I have a study so I am working all weekend – my hours will probably come out to about ~55 hours that week because of that. But normally I work 40-45.

      I volunteer an average of 3 hours a week; I teach Saturday writing classes to high schoolers in a college prep program every other Saturday. I’m the director of the writing and on the executive committee so there’s administrative work that goes along with that.

      So really every other weekend I set aside for doing nothing and/or spending time with my husband and my dog. And my evenings are generally my own. I wish I took actual vacations more often, though. Last year I spent most of my vacation time visiting family which…not really a vacation, lol.

      Reply
    12. Gaia

      I would describe it as a bitter laugh.

      I have no balance. All work and no play makes Gaia cranky and sad :(

      6 more months to go.

      Reply
  19. Anon13

    Sorry to complain basically every week in the open thread.

    Yesterday, my boss didn’t allow me to take a lunch so I could complete something personal/not work-related for him. I got sick/started dry-heaving/almost passed out on the way home because I hadn’t eaten all day and had eaten an early dinner the night before, so it had been 24 hours since I’d eaten (yes, I know I should eat breakfast). Today, I’ve spent the morning trying to find things for his daughter, whom he insists on having come in to “work” for us, to do. She’s bright enough, but there’s nothing for her to do at this point and finding things for her to do actually take significantly more time than it would for me to complete the tasks myself. She doesn’t work for us regularly, so there’s not a huge value in training her to do some of the more difficult work.

    I need a new job yesterday (yes, I’ve been looking).

    Reply
    1. Tuckerman

      Could you have just told him you’re going to quickly run across the street to grab a sandwich to eat while completing the task he assigned you? Was the issue that he didn’t want you to take a break, or that he wouldn’t allow you to eat?

      Reply
      1. Anon13

        Unfortunately, our office is in an industrial park – the closest fast food restaurants/restaurants of any kind would require about a 15 minute break, minimum, if everything went smoothly. There was no way for me to eat without taking at least a short break. And this occurred at 3:45ish, already well past “normal” lunch time. (I don’t take lunch at a set time every day, but the job is 8:30-5:30, so 3:45 is obviously pretty late in the day.)

        It was frustrating because it wasn’t even remotely work-related, I’m not a personal assistant/assistant of any kind, the task wasn’t remotely in my job description, and, the kicker, he could have easily done it – he was watching CNN (which is not related to the type of work we do) while I completed it. He just didn’t want to do it.

        Reply
    2. Drew

      That’s awful. I wish you luck finding something soon.

      I’d be tempted to assign her the task of going out to get food, if you aren’t going to be “allowed” (WTF) to take your own lunch break.

      Reply
      1. Anon13

        Thanks for the sympathy and for the well-wishes!

        Ha ha. I should assign the task of going out to get snacks in case this happens again. I’m hoping to get to actually take my lunch break today (there are many things I don’t like about this job, but, luckily, this was an anomaly), but, if I can’t, maybe I’ll send her out!

        Reply
    3. NK

      I’m sorry. I hope you can find a new job soon.

      Next time, say something like, “I need to grab something quick to eat, or I’m going to end up passed out cold on the floor before I can finish your rice sculpture!” Use a lighthearted tone. You shouldn’t have to, but when you’re desperately trying to get out, do what you can for self-preservation and to mitigate the impact of the jerk boss.

      Reply
      1. Anon13

        I will be prepared with something like that if it happens again! It just caught me so off-guard that I didn’t know what to say. I’ll probably bring some small snacks in to leave at my desk and/or in the fridge, as well – this was unusual, so I wasn’t prepared with what to say or with something to eat!

        Reply
        1. Awkward Interviewee

          That was going to me my suggestion – bring in some granola bars, protein bars, nuts, whatever it is you like that you can keep in your desk to eat in case something like this happens again.
          And I’m sending some good job search vibes your way!

          Reply
          1. zora

            Yeah, stock up on food. I have found peanut-butter filled pretzels and nuts work really well for me when I need to eat but can’t stop working.

            But really, that is f*cking ridiculous, and your boss needs to let you have at least a short break to eat. That kind of crap can lead to people having to get retrieved by ambulance/workers comp claims/lawsuits.

            Reply
          2. blackcat

            I keep nuts and dried fruit at my desk for emergencies. Dried fruit gets me the short sugar boost (and is marginally more healthy than candy) and nuts can get me through the afternoon.

            I buy in bulk, so it’s not too expensive. Unlike granola bars, it doesn’t get sticky and nasty if it gets too hot.

            Reply
        2. Elizabeth West

          Yes, definitely bring something and/or keep a stash. I used to work in an industrial park with one nasty place across the road and that was it–other than going up to the Kum N Go truck stop. (Though the K&G chicken fingers were great haha.) I almost always brought my lunch and something to snack on. Too many big trucks meant you couldn’t always count on running out for something and getting back in time.

          Reply
    4. krysb

      I hate bosses that try to force me to do non-work-related work for them. I get paid by a company to do company-related work. If you want a lackey, I advise you to go hire one with your own funds.

      Reply
      1. Anon13

        It’s a small business and he’s the owner, so I guess he feels he has a little more leeway to make us do personal work (and, in reality, I guess he’s right). It’s still frustrating, though! I know employers can technically ask you to do anything that’s not illegal/immoral, but it’s irritating when it keeps you from doing the job you were hired for!

        Reply
      1. Anon13

        I did. I’m in Ohio, one of the few states where it’s not illegal (as long as the employee is 18 or older). Having worked several retail jobs in Ohio in the past, I definitely thought it was, because every retail company I worked for was strict about us taking breaks. But they were all national companies, and I think they just used the same rules across all stores.

        Reply
  20. WellRed

    Here’s one for the silly job titles file. I came across a job posting for a “chief chaos manager.” Basically, sounded like an officer manager position for a local branch of Keller Williams realty.

    Reply
    1. Marcy

      LinkedIn has been referring me to a position called “Legal Ninja” for the last six months. Bravo to this company for seeking out the reclusive Law-jutsu clan, but I guess they’re not biting. Must be too busy knocking their enemies out with large stacks of contracts and disappearing into clouds of espresso steam.

      Reply
    2. Antilles

      At least they’re being honest – their branch is horribly disorganized and they know that. Points for honesty I guess.

      Reply
    3. krysb

      At my company, we have Director Employee Happiness (HR person), Culture Warrior (handles all things about company culture), and Production Commander.

      Reply
        1. krysb

          She’s really our only HR person, but does other things. Like, on one hand, she is overhauling the employee evaluation system, but on the other hand, she is the main party planner (and throws some pretty bitchin’ parties). I’d say that the title is eye-roll-worthy, but that is a function of her job.

          Reply
      1. zora

        yeah, these kinds of job titles are becoming common in the bay area, and I’m honestly not sure how to feel about them. I want to eyeroll, but maybe I’m being too judgy….

        Reply
        1. krysb

          Ha! We’re kinda hipster in Nashville. We weren’t always, it’s mostly how they re-tooled when we moved offices a couple of years ago. We have a pretty fun company culture.

          Reply
      1. hermit crab

        Haha! My undergraduate major department has a “departmental dogs” section on their faculty & staff website. Said dogs specialize in research topics like “Tennis Ball Studies” and “Olfactory Analysis of Just About Everything.”

        Reply
  21. EA

    I know Alison has talked about this before, but I couldn’t remember on what thread.

    Does anyone have any advice on how to distance themselves from constant negativity of coworkers. Everyone in my office spends a tremendous amount of time bitching. Usually the thing they are bitching about is frustrating, but our company is filled with bureaucratic frustrating things, it is truly a part of the industry. I feel like a loop of constant complaining exists, and it is effecting my mood. I don’t want to be like a ray of sunshine or anything, but this is exhausting and none of the things they complain about are changing. How can I get away from this for my own mental health when I still want to participate in the office? We also work in an open concept so I can hear everything.

    Reply
    1. Marcy Marketer

      Can you put on headphones when people start complaining? Smile sympathetically and say, “I’m sorry, my new year’s resolution is to be more positive. I’m just going to throw these ear buds in but you guys keep talking.”

      Reply
      1. EA

        That’s a good idea. I can’t wear headphones all the time (from an image perspective they think they look bad); but on days where the bosses are not in the office it could work.

        Reply
    2. Drew

      I’m trying to break myself of that habit, and one strategy that’s helping me is to remember that I want to find solutions, not more problems. I’m trying to model this behavior for my coworkers as well: “Yes, this is really frustrating, and it is the situation we have to deal with. How can we move on, under the circumstances?”

      I am not perfect at this. But I’m getting better.

      Reply
    3. Leslie Knope

      I distanced myself from around the main offenders. I take a break from the office for lunch. I go on a walk, sit outside, or even eat at my desk and put in headphones. I will wear headphones as often as possible when I hear the complaining. I also start my day at my desk with 3 things I’m grateful for. I also play “Pollyanna” and don’t egg on the negativity and just smile and say something like “I’m sorry. That sounds really challenging.” and then change the subject.

      Reply
    4. Sabrina the Teenage Witch

      I have a coworker who can’t seem to ever voice a positive comment. We used to get each other into a downward cycle, but we’re no longer friends so it’s not a problem anymore. I can still hear her constantly complaining though.

      Reply
    5. Argh!

      I used to be that person who wouldn’t go along with it. I was characterized as a Pollyanna and not a “team player” by these negative nellies.

      I used headphones to block them out, and when that didn’t work I switched to speakers and played this until they went away:

      http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/flash/choccy

      It’s probably not possible to turn them around but you can be more annoying than they are, which is something.

      Reply
    6. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

      I agree with the headphones as a temporary stop-gap. But for the long term, look into where the behaviors manifest. Are your coworkers gathering around your desk to have these discussions? If so, shut that down. Just let them know you are trying to focus on a task and ask them to take the conversation to their own desk or down the hall. I often have to do that – my coworkers have individual offices while I am in the community space. They often stand around my desk (but really in the area between their two offices) to have discussions and it’s so flipping distracting. Especially if I am on a phone call!

      What other times are they commiserating? Breaks, lunches? Find something different to do. Don’t completely segregate yourself, but maybe take on a new walking challenge and spend your breaks walking around the building. Shoot, you can even tell them that your Resolution this year is to focus on the positive and not the negative things you can’t change, so you will be Pollyanna. If they are going to be negative, you are going to smile and tell them how fortunate they are to have a job to complain about.

      Reply
    7. Not So NewReader

      Tell them once they have a plan to fix it, you will jump in and help them. Optionally, add, “But I have not been able to figure out a plan yet.”

      Reply
    8. Lord of the Ringbinders

      Colleague at oldjob liked to intensely rant about things. Every time she tried it with me I said: “Thanks for letting me know but that’s not a problem for me,” or “Thanks for letting me know but I don’t want to talk about that.” It drove her completely crackers and she stopped trying.

      I think it’s best not to actually explain why you’re not joining in (as that gives them the opportunity to judge or feel judged). Just change the subject or put headphones on or whatever – but don’t explain.

      Reply
  22. NowManagingPeople

    I started a new job where I’m the project manager and personnel manager. Previously just managed projects, not people. I’m facing some issues with my team due to how one of them can’t quite seem to let go of how they were the defacto team lead while the company was looking for a new manager. I was told that Gepetteo didn’t want to be a the manager because they didn’t have the technical skills, but would be happy to stay a teapot analyst. That probably should have been a red flag for me, but I was ready to leave my old job. It turns out Gepetteo is is good at recording requirements but not really good at much else an analyst would do. But that’s not the main issue. The main issue is that the team continues to turn to Gepetteo on project manager decisions even after explaining processes and finishing out transitioning admin items. I think the team is doing this out of habit and it’s a habit I would like to break. Would love some tips on how to break that old process habit and how to work with someone that can’t quite let go.

    Reply
    1. Drew

      Can you turn this into a positive by enlisting Gepetteo’s help? “I know the team is used to turning to you for a lot of these questions, and it has to be eating into your own time. Let’s figure out some ways that you can redirect those questions to me so you aren’t getting interrupted so often.”

      Reply
    2. fposte

      What are the situations where they turn to Gepetteo? Is he more available or proximal than you, and are there things you can do to change that? What happens when they ask him instead of you? Does it mean there are mistakes and misunderstandings, and can you use those to identify the reasons for people to report to you?

      Assuming no tragic errors are happening that need immediate and severe correction, I would focus a lot on the first and make it much easier for people to talk to you–you initiate more frequent one-on-ones and check-ins and find ways to be more approachable while you explicitly make the point that these are things that need to be brought to you, so you’re making what you want to happen really easy. I’d also ask Gepetteo to help you on this, in a way that makes it a partnership and not a punishment; as team lead, he’s trusted to triage what stuff needs to go to you, so it’s important he understands when he needs to direct people elsewhere. And make this part of transition feedback for all the staff, not in a “don’t talk to Gepetteo” way but in a “we need to use our manager effectively” way–recognize when it’s being done appropriately, counsel (selectively rather than ruthlessly) when they’re slipping into the old patterns.

      Reply
  23. The Lizzy

    I’m really curious about this.

    I found this blog a few years about and the posts and readers have helped me a lot in my job searches in that time and manage issues that have come up at work (and even get a good laugh in too).

    But this is my question – I feel a bit like we talk a lot here about an ideal that I am not living and that no one I know is living. While every place has issues at times when I read posts and replies I feel a bit like people are describing an environment / company / managers that don’t seem based in reality. Not talking about the outrageous ones but the positive places, that are supportive and that people feel good going to work to every day… that people feel engaged and encouraged to do their best work. That’s where I’d like to be but haven’t found that yet and I wonder – is that really out there?

    My last few jobs have been very strange environments… one with a manager that was inept and spoke in corporate speak so much even he didn’t seem to know what he was talking about. The owner of the business still had his wife (separated) and girlfriend working there… The next place was a temp job related to an large event. I worked for two people who were abusive and unreasonable yet expected me to do their work for them.

    Where I am now has a number of issues, I struggle with whether to stay every single day. My husband and friends all have major issues at their jobs too. Some behavior they deal with is not only inappropriate but some against the law… but people don’t want to lose their jobs so they do their best to persevere.

    So I’m really curious – do you all work at great places that you feel good about being at? I wonder if I’m hoping for too much at times, I read the ideal here but the reality seems far from it.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. katamia

      I feel similarly to you sometimes about things I see on here because most of my jobs have been pretty awful as well. I guess the closest I’ve ever gotten to a decent place is my last freelance job. The coworkers were decent but quiet (perfect for me), I could wear headphones all day, management was very supportive, they emphasized training…and it was such a horrible fit for me that I stopped sleeping and started basically losing my mind due to lack of sleep. So I don’t know.

      Reply
    2. Dawn

      Every company has issues- every company of every size, every industry, every type of ownership. Even people who talk about having a good group of people to work with, with teams that are respectful and helpful, with good compensation, and doing a job where they fill personally fulfilled have “those days” or “that stupid policy” or “that one guy”.

      My last job, for example- 3K people, worldwide; was a software company. I felt fulfilled, I worked with some great people, I was learning a lot. I had a good manager and VP. I was compensated well. I was not overworked.

      In that same job, I had a guy on my team who I could not *stand* (who eventually got fired), someone on another team I worked closely with who was the biggest brown-noser I have ever met in my life (whose lack of expertise- obvious to me immediately but apparently not to all- eventually caught up to her and she left instead of getting fired), plenty of petty annoyances at my manager who was great but who had a completely different working style than I did, plenty of stupid/short-sighted decisions coming down from leadership (which ended in me getting laid off along with almost 1/5 of the entire company), etc etc etc.

      So at that job yes, there was a lot of good, but there were still tons of annoying things to deal with every day and there absolutely were times when I contemplated quitting because the annoying little things kept piling up.

      One thing that I see happening with a lot of people in their jobs is having unrealistic expectations of what their job actually *is*. I did it for a year and a half in my current job, constantly having resentment for the work I did and how I felt like my bosses never relied on me like I wanted. However, someone pointed out to me that no matter what my job description said at the time I took the job, nor what I *wanted* and *expected* my job to be, in reality, my job is more like an in-house consultant that they pay a retainer for so they can pop their heads in whenever they want and ask me to do stuff on the occasions that they need stuff done. That was my lightbulb moment about this job, and while I’m still absolutely gonna go look for another job because I cannot stand not having work to do, I am now much more at peace with the *reality* of my job instead of constantly struggling with my perceptions of how it *should* be.

      Reply
      1. fposte

        Yeah, I think sometimes it’s about avoiding a Swiss cheese situation, making sure the job’s deficits don’t align with your vulnerable points. Hate bureaucracy? Can’t stand slow administrative movement? Then academia will be a nightmare for you. I can shrug those off, whereas I would feel really constricted by a lot of corporate practices.

        Reply
    3. Beautiful Loser

      I think the concept of ideal is whatever you are willing to tolerate. Some places are truly dysfunctional while others only mildly. My workplace sucks and is all kinds of dysfunctional but like most, I still need a paycheck so I am stuck till I find something more tolerable.

      Reply
    4. The IT Manager

      Hmmm … I like my job most of the time. I occasionally enjoy it, but not lately.

      Sometimes it’s stressful. I work long term projects that seem to have long term issues, and project completion comes every 2-3 years. We don’t have time to celebrate the smaller successes because a smaller success is immediately followed by the next phase which is getting a late start and is having its own problems.

      Also I recently realized that the parts of the job I most like may have shifted to the contractors. It’s hard to tell because the day to day is the same (email, teleconferences, etc) and not the same as we move the project from planning to completion over several years.

      Also I don’t feel a good rapport with the senior leadership as we reorganize and reorganize, but my supervisors are good and supportive.

      The biggest thing I found is liking and working well with the people you work with every day. If you don’t have that I think you’re probably not too happy. But a good boss and co-workers can make bad situations a lot better.

      Reply
    5. Drew

      I am working in one of the most dysfunctional companies I have ever seen. But I love my work and I love most of my coworkers and on balance, it’s worth putting up with the nepotism, back-biting, complete lack of appropriate boundaries, and sometimes outright sabotage. (Among other examples.)

      Plus, I have the BEST stories when I do finally leave this place.

      Reply
    6. Manders

      I think they’re out there, but it’s easier to get into that kind of workplace when your skills are in demand and you’ve built up some judgement and ability to spot red flags. My career path started with a totally dysfunctional internship, and every time I switch jobs, I get a bit closer to the ideal. Right now, I’m at a place that’s a little disorganized sometimes and not a great culture fit for me, but I like my job and I feel supported.

      I do happen to live in a big city with a hot job market. Things might be different if there were only one major employer in my area, or I had chosen an industry that rewards toxic behavior, or I felt pressured to take the first job that came along instead of being choosy.

      Reply
    7. writelhd

      I have come to the conclusion that I work at a pretty darn good place and I feel pretty good about being here. That doesn’t mean there aren’t issues, and that doesn’t mean I don’t have frustrations. That doesn’t mean I don’t doubt and have periods of lack of engagement. Just yesterday in fact I got super wound up about two departments I work with both being dysfunctional and having a terrible working relationship with each other and one coworker in particular who’s a real ass to me and everyone else and his boss doesn’t do well managing him. I woke up in the middle of the night with the monologue running of how stressful I find it is to deal with him and how tired I am of watching projects shared between these two departments flop around like, as one coworker described it once, “a dying fish.”

      But overall, there are at least 15-20 people here who, even when we’re dealing with some dysfunction, are an absolute pleasure to work with, talk to, be around, to learn from, each in their own unique ways. They’re mostly honest, interested in everyone’s success, capable and engaged, and feeling that from my coworkers does affect how the general culture *feels.* I am lucky enough to work under an exceptional boss in particular whose leadership style has affected our culture for the better in palpable ways. When I’m having a bad day, getting frustrating, feeling imposter syndrome, feeling confused about how to handle my very nebulous job, I remind myself that I’m working for *them* and it helps. So, the people make the difference.

      Reply
    8. Jessesgirl72

      Every place has issues.

      What I think the value of AAM is, so you get to see a glimpse that places that aren’t so obviously dysfunctional do exist- or you come to realize that your employer really is that bad, and that you should maybe think about finding a job someplace else. That will still not be perfect, but that will be not actively terrible!

      And also, seeing that no, it doesn’t really have to be this way, and you don’t have to accept crappy/illegal stuff can give you the strength to push back against the worst of it (In Alison-coached ways that are pushing back in a way unlikely to get you fired). A lot of times, it just takes on person to start pushing back, and then others follow, and the dysfunctional place becomes less so.

      The bad places want you to believe that no where else is better. It’s how they keep you there, taking their bad behavior. But it’s just not true.

      Reply
      1. Allypopx

        I agree wholeheartedly with this. Knowing that your standard for normal might be skewed by your workplace can be very empowering.

        But I also get where The Lizzey is coming from where so many times Alison says “this should work in any reasonable workplace….” and you think “sure, yeah, but.”

        I like my job most days. I like my team. The work I do is pretty cool. My boss can be challenging, I never truly get to disconnect, there’s a lot of politics and inter-departmental conflict, and I manage 20-30 people at a time with one co-manager, all of which can cause significant stress. It’s not perfect. But I know I’m valued and good at what I do, I’m compensated decently and there are a lot of perks I enjoy. Sometimes jobs are truly awful , but I also think sometimes it comes down to perspective.

        Reply
        1. Jessesgirl72

          It’s good to know, though, that the “sure, yeah, but..” isn’t always right. So many times, bosses get away with stuff because no one even tries to push back in useful way.

          And if if IS right, then *ding*ding*ding* you’re not working in a reasonable workplace.

          Reply
          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Yes, so much yes, that so many times people just haven’t tried to push back on it in a reasonable, professional way.

            And yeah, when I say “in a reasonable workplace, X should work,” and you’re thinking “no way would this work at my job,” then … there’s a conclusion to draw there :)

            That said, no workplace is 100% perfect. You might find somewhere that’s 90% great but they’re really weird on a couple of issues. Often that’s totally ok if you look at it holistically.

            Reply
            1. Jessesgirl72

              It’s like marriage/partnership.

              No one or no job is perfect. It’s all about ending up with someone or in a place where you can accept the flaws and who can accept your flaws.

              Then, it’s knowing that if things are really making you unhappy, sometimes you can work for change- and have success and happiness at the end. But if you can’t, then know you’re not trapped, and sometimes the best answer for everyone is to walk away. Realizing that can be really empowering.

              Reply
              1. tigerStripes

                I’ve been working at the same place for a long time, and of course it isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty functional, and I like it. That being said, yes there are stressful days and a co-worker who I avoid, but you can’t expect perfection.

                Reply
    9. Lord of the Ringbinders

      Yep. Nice managers, clear objectives, training, lot of paid time off, one difficult colleague but otherwise it’s great. I’m sorry it’s not like that for you.

      Reply
    10. ThatGirl

      My workplace is not perfect, but it’s good. There’s a reason I’ve lasted almost 9 years and it’s not because the work itself is fascinating. But the work-life balance is very good, my managers have nearly all been wonderful, hard work and talent is recognized and appreciated. The benefits are not amazing but they are good (18 days vacation to start, health/dental/eye, 401k, bereavement days, short and long term disability, company discounts, etc). Ethics are taken seriously. On a corporate level we may not always feel appreciated, but my department and managers definitely do their best.

      Reply
    11. Anonym.

      I’ve been in one of those positive environments for the last five years. They’re real. That’s not to say it’s perfect – there have been conflicts between people, and the bureaucracy is out of control, and my manager has some irritating qualities. He talks over people, occasionally takes credit for our work and sometimes says sexist things; he also graciously accepts correction on those things and has improved significantly. He’s kind, well-meaning, doesn’t micromanage, supports our growth (including discussing future roles outside the team) and pushes for promotions and raises. My team is open, supportive, honest, and everyone pitches in when things need to happen, regardless of role and rank. We argue sometimes, but it’s generally productive and often fun. It actually makes it hard to leave – I’d like to move into a different field, but I know I’ll miss this when I’m gone, and worry about being able to find it again. How do you tell what you’re walking into based on a few interviews? Here’s hoping my luck holds (and that anyone who’s in a bad situation has the same good luck in the future!).

      BTW, we’re program managers in a large financial firm, and are in a bit of a bubble; the whole firm isn’t like this, but our broader department, led by its head, has this kind of culture, and I’m grateful for it.

      A good friend is now at a stable, well-functioning workplace for the first time in her 15 year career, and has had a bit of trouble believing it. No random firings, respect for boundaries, professionalism (mostly) and a boss who’s just plain nice.

      Reply
    12. The Cosmic Avenger

      I work for a small company that is very well managed, and supports employees in keeping a work-life balance. It varies a bit from manager to manager, but my last boss believed in getting your work done in 8 hours (or less) and only handling true emergencies after hours, which are few and far between in our work. (I’ve had maybe one every few years or so.)

      Our management is transparent about any changes in benefits, like when we switch health plans they give a report of what our previous plan wanted to renew us, and what they bargained for with the new provider to get us a better deal. Or what other offers they were able to solicit that weren’t better than our current provider, which is why we renewed despite an X% increase in premiums.

      We also do a lot of cross-training. Any skills that anyone at the company has, we are encouraged to go ask that person for advice or training if it applies to our work, even if that person doesn’t work on our projects.

      Those are just examples, but I think they exemplify some of the things I like the most about working for my company.

      Reply
    13. AvonLady Barksdale

      I’ve worked in different environments, all with their ups and downs, and I’m now in a place that feels good FOR ME. I think that’s the key. I had drinks this week with a former co-worker, and she’s really happy at a place that made me insane, stressed, anxious, and miserable. If you interviewed us separately, she and I would probably tell you the exact same things but have different opinions of all of them.

      Reply
    14. Sprechen Sie Talk?

      I finally found a place that is great and supportive but after so many years getting beat up at other places, it almost seems… strange? Or that I feel I have adapted some level of combativness that doesn’t jive with the ethos of the place. That’s been a bit scary to realize. But this job… I had people I could ask and really pick around to find out what it was really like inside. I still can’t believe it some days.

      I’m just happy I don’t have to deal with the corporate bullshitter or my boss farting in my direction at this job. Or a nasty passive-aggressive boss lying about my capabilities. Or some blowhard Irishman yelling in our direction because he again doesn’t understand the difference between revenue and volume and needs someone to explain it to him before meeting with the CEO.

      Reply
    15. yarnowl

      I work at a company that is great and that I love working at!

      The one caveat I had to that was a pretty awful manager, but her boss heard me and some team members out, and after a few pretty-bad events, she was let go this week! Which has actually made me love this place even more; an executive of the company heard us out, took our concerns to heart, and acted on them, instead of just letting things continue as they were.

      There’s a huge focus here on retaining employees, keeping us happy, and giving us the opportunity to grow. Every receptionist that has worked here has moved on to higher and higher positions in the company, as well as everyone that has worked in the mail room.

      I honestly just stumbled into this place after applying for a job through a recruiter, but after being here for almost a year I feel like I could see myself having a career here (and it’s pretty common around here for someone to have been working here for decades). It’s not perfect here, but I feel extremely lucky and like I want to stay here for the foreseeable future.

      So yes, they do exist!

      Reply
    16. Happy at work :)

      Maybe I’m thinking this way because this is my first job, but I’ve been here 8 months and I love it. Very well supported, I laugh every day at work, genuinely friendly with my supervisor and I know everyone at work cares about the mission. My work isn’t always thrilling but my supervisor tries hard to make sure I also get to do things I want to do.

      Reply
    17. Not So NewReader

      Job A I loved the work, the boss was so-so, the coworkers were okay. This is the only job where I LOVED the work. I could not hack the chemicals. Now most of those chemicals are banned.
      Job B The boss was great and everyone was nice. The work involved long periods of extreme boredom. But the money was good.
      Job C. The boss was great, the work was nightmare but we could sit and cry together.

      The point is I can tell nice stories from each of these jobs. It makes it sound great. But there is always an added wrinkle or an unmentioned factor. My guess is that when people talk about a great job they are overlooking a not so hot aspect or two. My theory is that people have certain priorities, if those priorities are mostly met then people can overlook other parts to the job. If I work in a place where the boss/coworkers/work/ pay all suck, I am probably going to be complaining about the job. This makes sense as there is not much right about the job.

      My parents were depression kids. They instilled in me to take any job and be grateful for it. Yeah, this works. NOT. I started reading here years ago and found it fascinating that people actually demanded nice work places. So I started watching how they were doing that. And I am doing much better with picking work places.

      My suggestion is to look at your core beliefs to see if anything is a self-defeating belief. (For example, I no longer believe that just because I can do the work, I should do the work.) Next take a look at how you search for jobs, what can you do differently from what you have done in the past? (For this one, I had to learn to be more forthright. In order to be more forthright I had to figure out my wording on particular questions.)

      Reply
    18. Honeybee

      I work at a large company. I love my work and I do love my immediate team of coworkers; I also mostly like the larger team that I am on, although I think sometimes we have some weird processes and requirements that don’t necessarily make sense. I also generally like my company, even though I think it’s so big and bureaucratic that things get done very slowly and there’s often a thick layer of unnecessary red tape. It’s also very who-you-know based, so a lot of information and opportunities I need or would like to keep my career moving seem a bit opaque unless the right person lets you know about them.

      But generally speaking, 80% of my day to day job doesn’t require any of that and I do look forward to work in the morning and feel good about being on my team.

      Reply
    19. Mirilla

      My last job was at a family run company that went bankrupt basically due to poor management. I witnessed stealing, cheating, lying, and nepotism. My immediate supervisor was self-admittedly selfish and often unapproachable but my boss was good. A good boss can make all the difference, but he too was stressed there due to the money problems (we worked in accounting but had no say on how the owner ran the company.)
      Current job is even more dysfunctional although financially doing well. I now see the effects of having a bad boss. It affects everything about the job. I work with some great people but I’ve witnessed plenty of outrageous behaviors in our immediate department which go unchecked due to bad boss being unapproachable and unfriendly. Our immediate supervisor is one example. She has a self admitted track record of being fired at past jobs for poor performance and probably abrasive, rude personality but seems to love this job since bad boss avoids confrontation and just places the work which she can’t do on the rest of us. The work distribution is unreal. She admitted she’s not detailed, never learned to type, and isn’t good at data entry. Our head boss promised us a working manager but she admitted to us she’s not so good at doing things so that’s why she manages. I’m not making this up. It’s made me too question if there are any decent places out there to work. I know they exist though. I want to walk out of my job most days though and just hope I can get a new one soon. You aren’t alone.

      Reply
    20. Rovannen

      Management.

      Our worst-Murphy’s Law day under our new administrator (education) is better than our best day ever under the old administrator.

      Reply
    21. AliceBD

      Yes, I am at a very positive place. My coworkers are competent and friendly and trust me to do my job and do theirs. My boss intervened when I was overworked and took a big thing off my plate so I could do stuff more in line with my interests/job description instead of spending most of my time doing something that is absolutely critical to our business but repetitive and boring and that someone else could be easily trained on. I enjoy what I am doing very much and like going into work.

      There is one person who is a perfectly nice person and can do the technical aspects of her job well, but she is a TERRIBLE manager. Terrible. Fortunately I don’t have to work with her very much, but I feel bad for her direct reports who have to deal with her every day. (I do work with her direct reports, who are fantastic to work with.)

      But, I am job searching. Part of it has nothing to do with the job itself — I am at least a 5 hour drive from my family (longer if there is any traffic or weather), and I’m looking to move to a city 1.5 hours from my parents and in the same city as other relatives. But another part of it is that I don’t feel the larger corporate entity supports my division, and they’re showing it by doing things like not replacing a coworker who passed away last near, eliminating our advertising budget then asking why we aren’t connecting with new consumers, and so on. And while I work at a 20k person multi-national company, there are only a few hundred people in office roles, and most of them are not in marketing, so there is no where for me to move up. So I need to take another job to get new experience.

      Reply
    22. Bethlam

      Interesting, but I had the opposite reaction when I first found AAM – I couldn’t believe how many people worked at dysfunctional places and it made me appreciate my workplace all the more. I’ve been here 13 years, love my job, the company, and my coworkers. I’m devastated that I am losing my job in 6 months due to a restructuring and closing of our facility and have been bookmarking various AAM posts that will come in handy when I begin job hunting, and may come in handy if I end up in a working environment that’s not as great as this.

      My previous jobs were also mostly great. Although, when I worked at the bank and mentioned to a work friend how great the bank was to work for, she replied, “No, your DEPARTMENT is a great place to work.” I try to remember that when I talk to co-workers – not everyone who works for the same company necessarily has the same outlook on their jobs. Types of work, co-workers, bosses, personalities, even where you sit, all affects your individual experience.

      Reply
  24. Marcy Marketer

    I have an interpersonal work issue…. There’s this coworker, who is technically below me despite having more experience, though I am not his supervisor. He constantly shifts blame publically, and won’t back down if I push back, forcing me to either accept the “fault” in front of our supervisor or push the conversation to a passive aggressive, awkward argument. An example might be, if a project is delayed, hint that it was because I didn’t get him a widget he needed, despite him not asking me for the widget until the day after the deadline or the day it was due. If I say that, he’ll be like, “Well you knew I was working on the teapot!” or just escalate it some way that it becomes this big confrontation in front of everyone.

    Another example is saying I didn’t inform him of the need for a new process. I’ll say, well I see you used the process two weeks ago, so you seemed to have known. And he’ll say, “I used it just because, not because I knew about the new process. But now that I know I’ll do it that way.” And since the conversation is verbal I have no record, and everyone in the room thinks I didn’t inform him, but I did!

    I have spoken to my supervisor about it and she says it’s not a big deal and that she knows these instances aren’t my fault. But I told her that I can’t come to her on every issue. Plus, I want to be able to resolve it myself. Any ideas? Tips or tricks? I think this stems from this person being very reluctant to accept perceived blame or admit fault for some reason. No idea why since we have a laid back work environment. I often take responsibility for failure and apologize, and am happy to do so if I’m at fault.

    Reply
    1. ArtK

      The next time you talk to your supervisor, start by saying that you appreciate that she isn’t snowed by his attempts. Then point out that his actions are likely affecting how others perceive you and that they don’t all have the same perspective that she does. In other words, this could be damaging your reputation and effectiveness at work. Point out that it *is* a big deal, or could become one. Ask for recommendations on how to manage this.

      As far as things done verbally that there isn’t any evidence for? Start creating evidence. Communicate things with him only in e-mail. After a conversation, send a “This is what we discussed, please correct me if I’m wrong about that” kind of e-mail. That puts him in the position of having to put his stuff in writing, which takes away a lot of his power.

      Reply
      1. Dawn

        After a conversation, send a “This is what we discussed, please correct me if I’m wrong about that” kind of e-mail.

        THIS TIME A MILLION!!!!

        When you’re working with a weasel you *have to* cover your butt like this. So even if it seems dumb, even if it seems pedantic, even if you feel silly, document every work-related conversation that you have with him in an email. If he comes to your desk to ask for whatever a day after the deadline and you give it to him then, immediately send him an email that’s like “Fergus, I gave you the widget you needed after you asked me for it at my desk just now. If you need anything else, please let me know.”

        Reply
      2. Marcy Marketer

        So the widget thing is in writing, but i guess I’m looking for how to deal with it in the moment. When he says “I delayed X because I was waiting for the widget,” that’s true. But also he wouldn’t have been waiting for widget if he had given me a due date and a few days notice. But if I say that in the moment, it becomes A Thing.

        And this guy isn’t a weasel. He’s a good coworker with just this one annoying problem of being really bad at admitting mistakes and accepting feedback, from people generally but also me specifically, I think because of the experience disparity.

        He only does this in front of my boss, not anyone outside our department.

        Reply
        1. Anna

          You can put it back on him and avoid getting sucked into his Thing. “Oh, I got your email about the widget on DAY AFTER PROJECT WAS DUE. I’ll definitely check to see if I missed your first email about it. Anyway…(directing it back to your boss) we completed the project and sent on the finished product.”

          Don’t get into a back and forth with him. State fact, move on.

          Reply
          1. Mela

            And if doesn’t let you move on, act puzzled. “I don’t understand why you’re arguing with me on this” for the “Well you knew I was working on the teapot!”–again puzzled, “Why would that mean I should do the widget? I still need the request to come from you first.” With the unknown processes, act more concerned: “Oh, I had sent you an email a month ago outlining the new process. Let me resend it to you so we’re both on the same page.”

            Reply
        2. Not So NewReader

          Respectfully disagreeing with you. He is not a good coworker, he is a nightmare.

          I guess it depends on how much you can tolerate, but the public put downs need a shut down in my opinion.

          How about asking him to discuss the matter with you after the meeting or in private?

          Perhaps you can find times where you see a recurring pattern and you can say, “We had a similar mix up before. Let’s get together later and figure out a plan so we can stop having these mix ups.” Ask for a plan each time you see recurring problems. Be as nice as pie, but insist that the two of you craft a plan.

          Or if you do not mind turning the tables a bit, maybe you can meet with him in private and tell him that yelling at you publicly does not reflect well on him. You know he does good work and you would hate to see his rep damaged by others misconceptions.

          OTH, you might solve the problem by saying, “How come you only mention problems to me when we are in front of our boss?” But say it in front of the boss.

          Reply
  25. TheLazyB

    This week I feel like I’ve caught up on my inbox for the first time since October. Literally.

    I’ve got tons to do now but that’s ok, because I know what it all is. I was hugely anxious about it having got so out of control but everyone kept telling me to drop everything and do x or y or z.

    Also, this is the first full week I’ve done since mid November and it was actually fine. So that’s good too.

    Just needed to get it off my chest, but any yays much appreciated :)

    Reply
    1. Josie Prescott

      Yay! It feels so good to be caught up on your inbox. I know that feeling of worrying there’s something important buried in there you’ve missed.

      Reply
    2. caledonia

      Yay! My inbox is slightly jealous….
      (As someone inclind to worry and fret, I dislike an inbox with loads of emails in it).

      YAY! (again)

      Reply
  26. Shabu Shabu

    Anyone else get telemarketing calls at work? My phone number is different from everyone else’s and I don’t think the number is indicated as a business line so I get anywhere from 2 to 10 telemarketing calls a day.

    I always answer, “(State) Department of Teapots” and 70% they just hang up or panic and yell “wrong number!”

    I’ve already asked my IT what they can do (they are the first line of defense in this case since our phone, computer, and internet are tied together). I tried to add my number to the do not call line but when I call outside lines, my number shows as Private. I think I can enroll online, but I have to give them my email? Fiddlesticks.

    Reply
    1. Emily

      I get telemarketing calls at work, but not nearly so many! Maybe 2-3 per week.

      I added my (home) number to the Do Not Call list but I don’t remember having to give my email (and I signed up online). Maybe they changed that?

      Reply
    2. SophieChotek

      Yes you can enroll online at DoNotCall[dot]Gov.
      No idea if it actually “works”
      I think to sign-up you do need to give the number you want to register plus an email…
      if work related can;t you give work-email
      or just go to google and make up a “throw-away
      email?

      Reply
      1. ArtK

        My experience is that it doesn’t work, at least not for the telemarketers that I get. Sometimes 3-5 a day offering “free estimates” for “home improvement.” Often using bogus company names “The Home Center of My Town,” when there is no “Home Center.” Pointing out that I’m on the DNC hasn’t helped. I had one person say “Yes, I have the DNC right here in front of me…” (my reply was nastily sarcastic.) I had one tell me “Oh, honey. Nobody obeys that.” Gee, color me surprised.

        That said, it’s worth a try. Perhaps there are other, more ethical, telemarketers out there.

        Reply
        1. Drew

          A lot of telemarketers are now spoofing their caller IDs, anyway. The DNC was a good idea at the time, but technology has rendered it basically toothless.

          Reply
      2. Emi.

        I’m on that DNC list and I still get spam calls. On the last one (number blocked), I said, “Please put me on your do-not-call list,” and the guy said, “Yes, of course I will do that, ma’am, but first will you give me a blowjob?”

        Reply
          1. Emi.

            I know, right? To put the icing on the cake, between traffic noise and his accent, I didn’t understand what he was saying–all I caught was “job” and it was allegedly some sort of survey, so I thought he was asking about my actual job. I kept saying “What?” and he kept repeating it, until finally he said “Blowjob, B-L-O-W-J-O-B, do you know what that is?”

            Reply
          1. Not So NewReader

            “Will you stay on the line one more second? The police/FBI almost have this call traced. You’re the one with the ransomware that everyone is looking for, right?”

            Reply
    3. Taylor Swift

      My old work phone number was one digit off of the main contact line for two different departments. 70% of the calls I ever got were wrong numbers. I asked to have it changed, but nobody ever got around to it. I just left that position and I think my old boss is going to make sure it gets changed if somebody new gets hired.

      Reply
    4. Not So NewReader

      I enrolled at work as well as at home. I have DNC bookmarked and I can quickly type in a number.
      DNC seems to do nothing. I think they have a crushing load of complaints.

      If I could just get rid of one particular robo-call I would be thrilled. Supposedly they are collecting on a debt. Well, one day I did all the press 1 or press 2 it asked me to do. I ended up having a won a vacation in the Bahamas for $500. It took 15-20 minutes to reach this point in the “conversation”. One time this place actually had a live person call my work number. I asked them to take me off their list and they said they would. They lied, of course.

      I guess the cable company here is making a list of known robo-callers and will be blocking those calls for customers who have their phone with the cable company. I kind of picture a computer melting down and smoke pouring off the top of it under the stress of sorting all these numbers.

      Reply
    5. Chaordic One

      Where I worked we would seem to get them from some sort of auto-dialer that would dial every single number combination possible. The extensions in our office are all in sequential numerical order and so everyone in the office will get a call one after the other. It’s really annoying. When we know it’s a telemarketer or a robocall, we just let it go to voice mail and most of the time they won’t even leave a message.

      Years ago when we had a whole bunch of fax machines we’d get a whole bunch of telemarketing calls going to the fax machines. The fax machine would ring and then you’d hear the voice on the other end of the line saying “hello? hello?” What a pain.

      Reply
  27. Roscoe

    How much leeway do you think senior employees should get? Me and some colleagues were discussing this. I personally think the “less desirable” tasks should be given to the junior staff members more than the senior staff members since they have already put in their time. Others think that those tasks should be divvied out equally since no one likes them. What are your thoughts.

    Reply
    1. Allypopx

      I agree with you. One of the perks of moving up is the ability to delegate some of the less desirable tasks.

      That said if something is truly awful (like cleaning up human waste of any kind) I tend to do it as opposed to having my employees do it because I also think there’s a threshold of “I get paid more than you this should be my problem.” I don’t word it like that but that’s the concept I go by.

      Reply
    2. NeedANap

      I think it depends a lot on the value of everyone’s time and what the tasks are.

      Senior staff are senior because, in theory, they have more experience, more skills, and are working on more important or key projects.

      Junior members are junior because they have less experience, fewer skills, and therefore are the logical people to assign to the “less desirable” tasks.

      Think of it this way – are you going to pay a senior member $XXX to clean the kitchen, or a junior member $X to clean the kitchen?

      Reply
    3. Not So NewReader

      I think that equal division of labor is an illusion. Even if you try very hard, the work just will not be divided up equally. It doesn’t work that way in marriages and it does not work that way in the work place.
      I do think that it is best practice not to encourage people to think that tasks are divided equally, this almost begs for arguing to follow.
      However, I don’t see a problem with putting disliked tasks on rotation so no one person does it all the time. OTH, boring, repetitive work might be divided between two people.
      I have NO patience for someone with seniority who lords it over junior people that they do not have to do X or Y anymore because they are “senior”.
      And as another person has already said, I would (and have) cleaned up that bathroom mess rather than sending a junior person/subordinate to do it. There are some things that are just over the top and that in my opinion is one of them.

      Reply
  28. ChildcareLogistics

    So I started a new job last week, and my bosses have asked me to pick some training. It’s Oracle training, which is 5 days long (and pretty intense I hear). So they offer in-person classes and online classes. I’m not able to do the in-person classes because of child care logistics…my husband works night shift and can’t take time off right now, so it’s going to be very complicated to get a sitter for my toddler for basically 24/7 if I attend an in-person class somewhere else in the country (they’re not offering one in my city any time soon). My daughter is 2, so she’s a bit of a handful right now and doesn’t really sleep well if she’s not at home.

    I’m fine with taking a virtual class, but my question is, if my bosses ask if I’d rather do the in-person, how do I explain it? Is it okay to say my child care situation won’t allow it? I’m afraid of being seen like I’m going to be high-maintenance or someone who lets her personal life interfere with her work life. Am I just overthinking this? Thanks for your input!

    Reply
    1. Murphy

      Your personal life will interfere with your work life sometimes and anybody reasonable will understand that. Your reasons make perfect sense, so I wouldn’t be shy about it. Just say you’d prefer the online and tell them the truth if they ask why.

      Reply
      1. ChildcareLogistics

        Well that’s a good point. I’ve just had some bad coworkers where it seemed like ever day they had another reason why they were unable to come to work/stay at work, and I don’t want to be seen like that at a new job. Side note: I’m also the type of person who has to be forced to take vacation and stresses over every request for time off. So I definitely overthink things. :) Thank you!

        Reply
    2. Undine

      Start by saying you prefer virtual. If they push, since travel is required, I think it’s easy to say you’re not in a position where you can travel right now.

      Reply
    3. Turtlewings

      I think you’re overthinking it. They offer two choices because they want you to have two choices. I doubt your boss will give a single thought to why you’ve picked one over the other. If she does, the explanation that it works better for your childcare needs is perfectly unexceptional, and is probably one of the major reasons the virtual option exists.

      Reply
    4. Demoralised

      I think its different than usual as well because its in a different city.

      Presumably if it was in your city and you could do it within normal work hours it wouldnt be an issue. I’m presuming this on the grounds that you should be available to work your normal working hours.

      I would say something like “If it were here in our city yes but as its not and is further away that would mean a major change to my normal childcare arrangments. It would be a lot better for me to do it online.” That conveys you wont normally be difficult (though everyone should be reasonable that life happens) while getting the point across.

      Reply
    5. TheLazyB

      I work with a guy in his early 20s who does football training nearly every night. I have a small child and have to get extra childcare when I travel for work. We’re both treated very equally (and fairly) about our wishes not to travel too often or stay away overnight unless necessary. So employers like this do exist :)

      Reply
    6. ChildcareLogistics

      Thanks everyone for your comments! I’m also experiencing just some new job anxiety…I was in my last job for 7 years, so it’s quite the change. My new bosses have been very nice so far, and I really don’t have any reason to believe they’d put up a fuss about this, but I’m just anxious to impress.

      Reply
  29. Amy The Rev

    Just need to vent and confirm that this policy, while reasonable (I suppose) is nevertheless a bummer.

    I work as a temp in the admin offices of Teapot University. My city had a blizzard yesterday and so on Wednesday night, the head of HR sent out an email saying that non-core staff should stay home on Thursday (blizzard day), and that: “If you are not core staff, you will be paid for the day. For hourly staff, your supervisor will add the hours to your timecard. For salaried staff your timecard is auto-populated with your hours.” So there I was, thinking how great it was of TU to pay their admins for a snowday instead of making us use vacation days (which I don’t have, so I would just have to take the day unpaid otherwise), plus my supervisor emailed me Thurs morning to confirm that she didn’t expect me to WFH that day (which I knew already, since temps can’t WFH)…

    I called HR today to confirm that I should follow their policy and put the hours into my timesheet for the temp agency, and she informed me that the policy was only for actual TU employees, not temps. I’m not any worse off than I was Wednesday before the email went out, when I had assumed I’d have to take the day unpaid anyway…and yet it really stunk to get my hopes up and then find out I was gonna miss out on a full day’s pay after all. Plus I found out about 15 minutes later that I had been approved for food stamps (yay!) but that I was only going to get $16/month…which isn’t terrible, because that’s $4 extra per week that I can use, but obviously wasn’t the ideal outcome. Plus it seems as though the actual EBT card was either lost/delayed in the mail or potentially stolen. This week is just not my week.

    I’m so sick of being a temp and not having any paid vacation or paid federal holidays or WFH privileges during a storm or retirement benefits or sick days….I’m so, so sick of it, but I have to stick it out until there’s an opening in my field in my region. It takes a lot of mental energy to pretend to be looking forward to the 3-day weekend next weekend like everyone else in my office, and I’m just sick of it.

    Reply
    1. sNOwday

      I’m a federal government contractor and this is also the policy with my job. Employees employed by the government directly get paid for snow days and many have the option to WFH, but neither is the case for me. I can use PTO or take it unpaid. It’s a crappy policy and I’ve tried pushing back since there are other instances in which I can’t work for reasons I have no control over (like Inauguration Day) but won’t be paid for. So, while I don’t think it’s an entirely unreasonable policy, it’s not the first I’ve heard of it.

      I do get paid federal holidays, though, and your policy on that just seems unreasonable to me. I’m so sorry you’re struggling. I can only imagine how exhausting it must be.

      Reply
    2. zora

      Ugh, yeah, that is SOOOOO frustrating, but yes, I’ve had the same policy most places that I have temped. And omg do I feel you on the not getting paid for holidays. I have had so many holidays I didn’t get paid for. In fact, this December was the first holiday season I had paid in years and it was amazing. So, maybe that’s the upside, when you finally get paid holidays/vacation again, you will really appreciate it??? That’s all I got…

      Yes, though, that is common for temp positions. Also, for my dad, who works as a contractor to various Federal agencies, most of his positions are the same thing, no paid holidays, no paid snow days. Although, he has often had the option to work holidays anyway or somehow put in extra hours. But obviously for admin jobs that’s not usually an option.

      I’m sorry it is frustrating, though. You will get through this week, and it’s only a matter of time until you get a clergy job and won’t have to deal with this anymore. Good luck and good vibes!!

      Reply
    3. BRR

      I’m so sorry. My husband went through the same thing. His employer does this with all new hires in his department. He was a temp for over a year. Finally got converted to full time doing the exact same thing but with vacation days and insurance.

      Reply
    4. Cryptic Critter

      Some Temp Agencies do pay out vacation time and sick days if you’ve worked for them something like 1500 hrs consecutively. I temped for a year and a half for the same agency and was eligible for those benefits. Not all do this, but it’s worth looking into for yourself!

      Reply
    5. Pineapple Incident

      I’m sorry you’re in such a crappy position in a temp job like this- that policy is horse poo :/

      3 years ago I was working in an awful retail chain for an irresponsible boss – she couldn’t get it together to make our store’s schedule starting on Sunday any earlier than Friday night/Saturday daytime. My coworkers and I were at her mercy for any days we wanted off just praying she’d remember the reminders, with no PTO because she’d hired us all in as part-time though we routinely worked over the 32 hour minimum for full-time.. it sucks to be duped. It gets better eventually though, I promise- job after that one had PTO, but with crappy pay, and the one I just started is even better.

      Pulling for you Amy- hang in there!

      Reply
  30. give me a second chance

    I’m trying to leave my government job for the private sector and it is really, really tough. I applied for and interviewed at the company that makes some of our software one month ago – a rare opportunity that would be PERFECT for me and teach me new skills. However, I never heard back; I reached out to HR to see if the position was still open and never received a reply. Today I see that the job I applied for has been reposted; the job posting is exactly the same word-for-word as it was when I applied a month ago. Question: should I reapply? On the one hand, I feel like it’s obvious that they didn’t want me. On the other hand, I feel like “what’s the harm?” If I do reapply, what should I say in my cover letter or email to acknowledge that I interviewed a month ago but would like another shot?

    Reply
    1. Turtlewings

      I know it’s not what you want to hear, but they already decided against you. It would be a waste of everyone’s time for you to try again when neither your skills nor their needs have changed. If they can’t fill the position and decide to take another look at folks they’ve already interviewed, they know where to find you. Don’t waste your time.

      Reply
    2. JobSeeker017

      Give me a second chance, please don’t invest any further time or thought in this company.

      They (HR and hiring manager) behaved unprofessionally in not responding to your email. The company could have sent you a rejection letter, a simple one or two lines indicating that they were expanding their search for candidates with particular experience, or just stated they were still interviewing.

      The lack of response at all troubles me, particularly after you interviewed for the position.

      You’re a talented and qualified person who deserves to be treated with professionalism.

      Don’t let this experience take up valuable real estate in your mind. On to bigger and better opportunities!

      Reply
  31. Gen

    What’s the best way to address/cope with a manager who insists on talking about how much work the department has to do, and how urgent it is, for hours at a time? Other less senior managers have started emulating him so some days we get an hour long lecture about the work load, a thirty minute recap from someone else by which point he’s back for another go. It’s frustrating as he has us in for 14 hour days and weekends when some days he’s talked for nearly 4 hours!

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      This is going to hinge on how much rapport you have with him / how much standing or seniority you have / and how open he is to feedback. Also, your relationship (if any) with his boss. Give me us that context and I’ll come back!

      Reply
  32. orchidsandtea

    Tips on getting other departments to make minor changes in habit? We need them to include the customer name in the email’s subject line. Since the Spouts and Handles departments now share a group inbox, it means 15 people have to open each email to see if it’s theirs.

    Whether I reply requesting this, draft a guide for how to get the fastest possible response, or go in person to say “Hey please do this,” the response is “Oh sure” + dismissal / doing it wrong every time.

    Reply
    1. Murphy

      Do you have folders for every person? Maybe when the first person opens it and sees that it’s not theirs, they could move it to the folder of whoever it belongs to. (Because unfortunately, you can’t make people follow directions, no matter how clear or insistent you are.)

      Reply
      1. orchidsandtea

        We only have folders for archived mail, but we tag items in the inbox with people’s names. But when we’re swamped (and we’re always swamped) it’s really easy to ignore an email that just says “#12345” because there’s a 14/15 chance it’s not yours. And that’s how time-sensitive things get missed.

        Reply
    2. Sadsack

      I would ask the other department’s leader to distribute a process improvement that your department now requires. Maybe go to that person to explain it initially, then follow up with an email that provides the details do he can send it to everyone else. This doesn’t sound like it should be a deal for them to start doing.

      Reply
    3. Rache

      How about sending it back to the originator and telling them it cannot be processed until the subject line is correct? Have everyone that monitors that inbox do the same thing. Granted, it’s still a pain and it’s additional work, but if they receive enough of those they may actually start remembering to do it?

      Reply
      1. Ama

        Yeah, it’s going to be a pain, but in my experience the only way to get some people to learn a new process is to not humor them when they do it wrong.

        Reply
        1. orchidsandtea

          You’re right, of course, and I do that. But if I’m gone, no one else does, which makes it hard to get traction.

          Consistency is hard with 15 people, and there’s probably no magic formula for getting other depts to cooperate unless our 15 are consistent first. I leave on maternity leave in a week. It’ll take them a while to replace me, and no one else has ownership of this. *sigh*

          Reply
    4. fposte

      Can you institute a reward system for compliance? $10 Starbucks card to everybody who hits a 95% compliance rate by the end of the month? That way you’re putting your thumb on the scale to weight it away from convenience and old habits.

      Reply
    5. A Cataloger

      Candy. I was in a (I’m guessing a smaller organization) and when I was trying to get people to consistently initial and date change forms, I kept a bag of mini-chocolates and created a thank you for initialing & dating the form note (about 12 or 16 to a page) and would put the note and chocolate in the mailbox of anyone who initialed and dated their forms. After awhile everyone was initialing and dating forms and I could stop the chocolate.

      Whatever you do good luck!

      Reply
  33. Banana

    I’m trying to figure out if my expectations are off or if this is standard practice:

    I’ve been in my job long enough that I deserve a promotion. This has been agreed to by my boss. However, I work in a department where, she says, we can only have X number of “senior” people. So, I won’t get promoted until one of them leaves.

    Now, I would completely understand this if the “senior” people had a different job, but in this context, the “senior” people do exactly the same job, with the same amount of responsibility and workload, as the “junior” people. (And if we’re being honest about things, in many cases the junior people do more.) So, basically, there are X number of people getting paid at the much higher “senior” rate, and X number of people getting paid at the “junior” rate, but we’ve all been here so long that we do 100% the same job. And all of the senior people were junior people a shorter amount of time than I have been (almost half the amount of time, in at least one case).

    It is not only a case of salary, but an entire different job category that would change my benefits package as well.

    Am I wrong to feel that this is unfair? When I brought it up with my boss, I got a reaction that made me feel like I was acting entitled and spoiled.

    Reply
    1. Josie Prescott

      This is not uncommon. They only need half the staff to be senior level, and have determined they are OK with having turnover from folks outgrowing their positions. They are paying for the level of employee they need, not the level of experience you have. It sucks, but it is what it is.

      Reply
      1. Banana

        Yeah, I guess you are right. At the same time they tell me “it is very important to us to retain people,” but obviously I am looking for another job and will leave ASAP because their actions aren’t really in line with what they are saying.

        Reply
        1. College Career Counselor

          Sure, it’s important for them to retain people. But if they’re getting “senior experience” work out of a junior-paid person, there’s no incentive for them to increase your pay. Hence that phrase should actually read “important to retain people at the lower pay scale” since it helps their bottom line..

          Reply
    2. Judy

      This is generally a standard practice where I’ve worked. There’s a pipeline of people, and the expectation is up or out. Although usually the benefit package change happens when you go from individual contributor to manager.

      Reply
    3. krysb

      This is not uncommon, but it’s a bad policy that hinders people in their career paths, forcing them to look elsewhere to seek that fulfillment.

      Reply
  34. shep

    My position is one that requires me to wear many hats, and some not that often. I learned earlier this week that I made some mistakes on some files a few years ago. I was still pretty new, but these files are things I only put together a few times a year, so I am STILL not entirely comfortable with them.

    Anyway, these affect our productivity numbers and may require some further action and management overrides. My supervisor has been very nice about the whole thing and said it’s not a huge deal, but I’m worried (1) this will tarnish my reputation a little anyway, and (2) that I’ve made similar errors on a few other files. So I’m frantically digging through my old files to make sure I haven’t missed anything, and I’m betting there are at least a few files with the same issues.

    This is the first time I’ve had any real performance issues in any position I’ve had. I’m embarrassed and worried my supervisor will think less of me. I’ve gotten excellent performance reviews in the past, and feel like I do great work. Part of me feels like this is an overreaction (I admit I am a worrier!), but I also know myself well enough to know that I just have to let myself worry and try to ride out the worry-storm until I feel like I’m on more solid ground.

    I suppose this is less of a question and more of a vent, but if anyone has been in similar situations (and is likewise a worrier!), I would love to hear how you dealt with the worry.

    Reply
    1. Banana

      Part of your reputation will be how you handle mistakes. So focus on doing a great job of addressing the mistake: make any fixes you can, take responsibility for it, put a plan in place to that it does not recur, etc. You can’t change that you made a mistake, but you have an opportunity here to make a good impression with how you handle it.

      Reply
    2. writelhd

      I too wear many hats and have some things I only do annually. I have definitely looked back on work I did in the previous year and realized I made a mistake, once one that would affect a public-facing marketing report. I absolutely internalized the hell out of it for days. But I explained what happened and published a correction and an explanation. It sucked, and I may be facing having to do that again…but I really have no choice but to just try to keep moving on and be as honest and thorough of a worker as I can.

      I find that when I do things once a year, writing myself clear notes on HOW to do it is very important. I wasted a lot of time looking an excel spreadsheet going “huh, how’d I come up with THAT?” without documenting what I’d done and why I’d done it.

      Reply
      1. shep

        Thank you! This is so helpful and reassuring. Ironically, I have several notes and example files, but there are a few issues with those–the examples were outdated to begin with when I started learning the processes, and we’ve tweaked the processes further since–so my notes are a bit of a jumble. I think you’re exactly right that I need to make myself clearer notes (AND making sure to clearly mark and discard the old ones once everything’s put together!).

        Reply
  35. Beth

    A year and a half ago, I was contacted by a recruiter about a position at her company, and was told if I was interested to contact a specific HR Associate. It sounded pretty interesting, but my manager had just gone on medical leave and I knew it would have been pretty awful to leave her in the lurch, so I told the recruiter that it sounded great, but the timing wasn’t great, and to let me know if a similar position opened in the future.

    This week, I saw that the position was open again (there are multiple people at the company who do this work, so doesn’t necessarily mean someone left after a year and a half). I looked on LinkedIn and saw she was still with the company, and was promoted to the HR Associate position I mentioned above. I wrote a cover letter and mentioned her name in it, but to my dismay there was nowhere in the application process for a cover letter, and I couldn’t backtrack to combine the files with the resume. I can’t even look at my submission with their system.

    I guess my question is.. should I reach out to the recruiter (now HR Associate) who contacted me a year and a half ago and let her know I applied to the position? I’d be replying to her LinkedIn email, so she’d see the history that she’d previously sent me a message. But, it WAS a year and a half ago, so.. I don’t know how weird it would be.

    Thoughts?

    Reply
  36. Bigglesworth

    Hey everyone! I have a question for those who have ever done electrical or blue-collar work. My spouse is an electrical apprentice and started at his current company May 2016. He just found out yesterday that the journeyman he’s been working underneath has been removing any overtime my husband has earned before doing the final submission of the timesheet. He noticed that it happened this week when his journeyman told him to not put the overtime on the paysheet (so he can save the time up for a rainy day) and he did it anyway since he had worked that time. He confronted the journeyman about it after he realized what had happened and the journeyman said that my husband doesn’t listen to instructions when filling out timesheets. When asked if he’s done this before, he admitted that he had. We don’t know if this has been on every paycheck since he started or if it’s just happened a few times.

    When he took this issue to the big boss, the response was, “I’ll look into it to see if there is any ill-intent. However, you have to give back to the company one in a while. If you just take and take and take, eventually you won’t have a job.” My stance is that he needs to report this to the Dept. of Labor, but he most likely will be fired if he does so. Plus, the fact that this has been going on since he started at this company has us royally ticked off. It’s a smaller electrical company if that makes any difference (but still over 15 employees).

    Anyway, are there any steps we should be taking or pieces of advice you all might have for us? We’re trying to figure this out, but aren’t sure what to do. Any help would be appreciated.

    Reply
    1. ArtK

      Well, in most states, what is happening is illegal. You might want to have your husband point that out, assuming you’re in such a place. They’re obligated to pay him for the hours that he works. If the company doesn’t like OT, then they need to send him home before it goes that far.

      Reply
      1. Bigglesworth

        We live in Oklahoma and (if I’m understanding the laws correctly) it’s illegal. What is concerning to me is that when he mentioned that it was illegal and went against labor laws, the response was essentially, “Do you want to keep you job?”

        Reply
          1. Bigglesworth

            That’s really good to know. Thank you! I have the feeling that they’ll make his life miserable, but that won’t be any different than how it is right now.

            Reply
    2. Lillian Styx

      Is it union? If so, start there with the union rep. Although I can’t imagine any union letting a company get away with this. Anyway, it’s big time illegal and he should talk to an employment attorney for sure.

      Reply
      1. Bigglesworth

        It’s not union. He’s working with a non-union apprenticeship program that places students with employers. Although we have a friend in a union who has been trying to recruit him and this may just push him over the edge to join.

        Reply
    3. Beautiful Loser

      WOW! I have a friend who tracks her hours but her boss only allows her to submit 40 per week and says the rest will be “banked” for future vacation time. She is in the same boat and needs to report to the dept of labor. However, she also needs her job and paycheck despite being ripped off on a weekly basis.

      If your husband can get a job somewhere else and this won’t affect his employment reputation (though he is totally in the right), I say go ahead and report to the dept of labor.

      Reply
      1. Isben Takes Tea

        Right–it’s a ripoff because overtime is time-and-a-half, so “future vacation time” is not legal compensation.

        Reply
      2. Bigglesworth