open thread – March 31-April 1, 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 :)

{ 1,416 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. SaraV

    I’m filling out an online application, and they’re already asking(!) for three professional references. Already enough of a pain, but they’re also asking for addresses. The other part of the equation is that the address field is required. So! Do I A) Place a false street address, but use the correct town and state information, B) Use the business address, since who I’m thinking of using are all current coworkers, or C) Ask them for their actual addresses?

    My other question is that I’m applying for a job in a field I haven’t been in for 5+ years. Do I use a reference from that job 5+ years ago, or am I better off using three references from my current jobs?

    Reply
    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Business address! Definitely don’t use their home addresses—usually you use the professional address for professional references ;)

      Can your 5+ years ago reference provide a strong reference? If so, I’d use them (especially since the other two will be from your current job).

      Reply
    2. Anonymous Educator

      Definitely use the business address.

      I would probably also give one professional reference from your current job, one from your job from 5+ years ago, and then the third reference can be whatever.

      Reply
      1. k

        If there are two from your old field that you’re still in contact with/knew you a long time/will speak very well of you, I’d use those and then one from your current job. I think it’s important to have references that can speak to the field you’re applying to, but you’ll want at least one current person. If you only list very old contacts it may look odd, like you’re trying to hide something.

        Reply
    3. Jessesgirl72

      I fill in those fields with “Will supply if required”

      And then supply with the business address if it gets that far.

      Reply
  2. Report to a Peer – Thoughts?

    My Director suggested that my reporting structure change. I am a Compliance Manager providing services across my department. Over time, my duties have expanded to provide work across the entire department – not just her division. My Director requested that I report to my peer, another Manager who provides support across the department for an unrelated are with different responsibilities. Both of our titles will still be Manager.

    I am concerned about reporting to my peer. My peer and I respect each other’s work, and we will professionally manage this change; however, I’ve never heard of this before. Managing the typical duties seems difficult – like task oversight, performance evaluations, discipline, time off, etc. . . Reporting to a manager will look like a demotion to future employers. It will impact my job prospects, and salary. My Director has given me the opportunity to think about this. What do you think?

    How do you suggest I handle this?

    Reply
    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Is there a department-wide manager? It seems like the appropriate solution is to have both managers supervised by someone higher up the chain/org-chart.

      Reply
    2. BenAdminGeek

      Agree that I’d like to know the rationale behind it, but I don’t think it will impact your job prospects or salary- why would a future employer care about the title of the person you report to? If you keep your existing title I don’t think it will matter at all.

      I’m guessing this is your Director trying to either 1) increase your peer’s skillset (potentially she’s interested in moving into management) or 2) reduce her own workload.

      Reply
    3. Report to a Peer – Thoughts?

      My Director suggested the change because the work I do supports all the divisions, and not just her division. She also seems like she’s overworked.

      The only department wide manager is the VP. All of the directors report to the VP. My peer manager reports to the overworked VP too.

      Thank you for responding, everyone.

      Reply
      1. introvert

        Happened to me a while ago. I found it very frustrating to start reporting to someone I considered an equal prior to the change (there were other factors contributing here but too long/detailed to share right now) – it did feel like a demotion no matter how much they said, “this isn’t a demotion, it’s a business decision not at all based on performance!” However I don’t think it’ll impact my job prospects in the future – my own title and role haven’t changed, my senior director just wanted fewer directs. In our org, all of the senior directors report to the VP. The directors get to decide how their teams are structured. My director has a huge team so he split it into 5 subject matter groups and put a manager in charge of each so now those 5 managers are the only ones who report directly to him. I used to report directly in, now I report to a peer who I considered an equal and is now above me. It kind of stinks but I get why they did it. It’s just hard to be the person they put lower on the org chart instead of higher, you know? You work your tail off and get great results, and then someone edges you out just a tiny bit and suddenly they’re the boss and it totally changes the dynamic. It’s hard to adjust to, but you just do it (or you leave… I’m considering leaving, but am not being rash about it – I’m giving it a chance and putting some feelers out to see what’s out there).

        Reply
        1. Report to a Peer – Thoughts?

          Thank you so much. Your perspective really helps. I’m sorry you’re going through this too.

          Reply
    4. Newby

      Are you comfortable enough with her to say that it feels like a demotion and ask about the reasons behind the change? More information might actually change your perception of the situation or your director might change her mind about the change.

      Reply
      1. Report to a Peer – Thoughts?

        Yes, I am, Newby. We will talk on Monday, but I am pretty uncomfortable with it. I see the logic behind changing my reporting structure. I also don’t know why she selected me to report to someone else. It might matter that my peer manager is in headquarters in another state by her and the VP, and I am remote on the other side of the country.

        Reply
        1. CAA

          I wonder if they plan to promote your current peer to Assistant VP or something like that and give her more responsibility. If not, can you suggest that you report to the VP instead? If they agreed to that, I’d be concerned that if the VP is remote and already overworked, the trade-off for not feeling demoted would be that you’d get less feedback, and less relevant performance reviews which can have an effect on your compensation over the long term.

          There might not be a good solution here if you can’t stay with your current manager.

          Reply
          1. Report to Peer - Thoughts?

            I doubt they’re promoting the peer manager. You make a good point about the trade offs. In this position, it’s already been a downfall. Many of the people I do work for don’t have input into my performance rankings.

            Reply
          2. Jerry Vandesic

            If they are looking to promote the peer, then any reorg beforehand is premature. At this point it is a demotion. It’s a different story if the peer is promoted and the OP starts reporting to the peer.

            I would push back for now. If this is foisted on the OP, it might be time to put out feelers for other job opportunities.

            Reply
    5. Engineer Woman

      I’d not worry about future employers as they probably wouldn’t know what the title is of your supervisor.

      I’d worry that this limits your opportunities and upward mobility at your current company. Is the other manager more senior than you (despite same lateral position)? If so, then it might make sense your director is grooming that manager for future promotion . But if your quite even in skills and performance, then this would feel like a demotion.

      Definitely ask details – what is the next step for you at current company? Why for you to report to the other manager and not vice versa (only ask if valid – if you are very new manager and the other had been in role for much longer and has a few more responsibilities, then not a good question)

      Reply
      1. Jerry Vandesic

        I would interpret this move as a limit on growth opportunities with the current employer. The boss is saying that the OP is seen as less (by some measure) than the peer. This is useful feedback, and shouldn’t be ignored.

        Reply
        1. Report to a Peer – Thoughts?

          I thought of that too. Why report to him, and not the other way around? He is, of course, competent and professional, but so am I. It does speak of my value to the company, and – you are right – is useful feedback.

          Reply
      2. Report to a Peer – Thoughts?

        It does feel like a demotion.
        My Peer Manager also manages positions that are administrative too. So, it’s a bit defeating.

        Reply
    6. Pat Benetardis

      For me, the question is, is the prospective manager really your peer? Anywhere I have worked (big companies, all in one industry), you can’t report to someone on the same level as yourself. And would it be a conflict of interest for that manager to work to promote you eventually, which would result in the employee passing the manager. I wouldn’t like it.

      Reply
      1. Report to a Peer – Thoughts?

        Yes, Peer Manager is indeed my peer and on the same level as me. I’ve never seen it before either. You make a very valid point about promotion that I haven’t thought of.

        Reply
      2. Nerfmobile

        Oh, in my company it’s common for senior people to report to someone at the same pay grade level as themselves, or even someone a grade lower. We are a large software company with parallel technical and management tracks, so you could easily have a very senior technical staff member reporting to a manager at the same level or even one or two lower. And for the past year, I was at the same grade level as my manager (though he just got promoted so that has changed).

        Reply
    7. Beezus

      I would try to avoid looking at it as a demotion, and look at it as a chance to report to someone who has the right tools to help you be successful across multiple divisions. I don’t see how it has any bearing on your future job prospects. I’d also avoid thinking of the other manager as your peer, if the change moves forward.

      I’ve seen this done a number of times when someone has too many reports and needs to add a level to manage their workload. I’ve never seen anyone given a choice about the change or an opportunity to push back, that angle is new to me. I currently know someone affected by a similar change who sees it as a demotion and is letting it affect her professionalism and work ethic, and it’s effectively becoming a demotion because of those factors, when it really wasn’t before.

      Reply
      1. Report to a Peer – Thoughts?

        You make a good point about looking at the other manager as my peer if this moves forward. It’s hard not to see this as a demotion, but I will not let this impact my professionalism or work ethic.

        Reply
        1. PollyQ

          I can see where it’d feel like a demotion, but given that you’re doing the same work for the same pay with the same title, it really isn’t. (IMHO, anyway.) Having worked on distributed teams, I suspect the geography of having peer in the same location played a role in the decision, or maybe he specifically requested more managerial responsibility.

          Reply
    8. Not So NewReader

      I know what I would say, can’t promise you would gain ground but I think it’s a good point.

      You are doing compliance. Is it really appropriate for you to report to someone who is a peer??? Let’s say you find a serious compliance issue in her area/her bff’s area/her arch enemy’s area. So now it is up to her to remedy that compliance issue. How will that play out?

      I’d explain to my boss that compliance issues can impact the company on several levels and because of that impact I should be reporting to someone who is NOT my peer and that person should not be responsible for her own peers’ performance.

      This is just not a good set up, in my opinion. But it could be that I am not reading your post accurately and I missed something.

      Reply
      1. Report to Peer - Thoughts?

        You are reading it accurately. I am the head of compliance for my department. I’ve been so focused on the other issues, I hadn’t yet gotten to the Compliance complications. Thank you, Not So New Reader.

        Reply
      2. Troutwaxer

        This sounds like a big deal to me. “Give me a few days to fix this problem and I’ll approve that vacation you wanted.”

        Reply
    9. Truffle

      I would suggest having several options in mind, and adjusting as the conversation develops.

      Compliance varies a lot, but if it’s very important in your organisation, would it make sense for you to report to the VP?

      You might need to suggest ways you could make VP’s workload with you as low as possible, but if you don’t need much support, you might be able to make it work.

      Maybe you could split the management of your position? If Peer, Director & VP are all geographically distant, would it make sense for you to report everyday issues to a local Manager, and report only things you & local Manager can’t resolve & tricky compliance issues to the VP?

      Reply
      1. Report to Peer - Thoughts?

        Thank you for that suggestion. It’s a really good one. I don’t have a local manager – I am WFH. But, I could do a variation of that. I must start doing more project-based conversations with each of the Directors (who I don’t report to), and have admin stuff go to actual peer manager.

        Reply
  3. Folklorist

    To the writers/editors out there: what types of professional development have been beneficial to you?

    I’m an editor at a small engineering association magazine, and I really love my job. I get to do everything from writing and editing to photography and artwork (all of which feed off of my degrees). I’m really happy doing what I’m doing, and hadn’t really given any thought to “moving up” or anything like that. That said, I welcome any chance to learn something new and don’t want to pass up professional development opportunities!

    My boss says that we have more room in the budget for professional development this year, and since I got a promotion, he wanted me to start getting my hands dirty in the management of the magazine. I’m used to working on shoe-string budgets with no room to dream big, so I was going to ask him to buy me a used copy of Alison’s management book. But then he said something about, “Well, we might not be in a position to send you back for your MBA right now, but is that something you’d be interested in?”

    My mind was blown! I don’t know if I want an MBA or to go back to school at all (I already have two master’s degrees and am pretty burned out on higher education), but I clearly need to be thinking bigger than a self-help book. I think that there are a lot of possibilities for growth that have never occurred to me. I do enjoy thinking about magazines and other projects in a bigger picture, so something about creative management might be cool, but I really just…don’t know where I want my career to go from here. That’s a bigger question I need to explore, but am curious about what others have done!

    So. What have you found helpful?

    Reply
    1. ThatGirl

      Oooh, good question, I’m an editor who’s in transition and looking for inexpensive professional development. I was thinking of looking into some SEO training myself.

      (for you I don’t really think an MBA is needed, but I’m interested to hear what others think!)

      Reply
      1. Terra Firma

        SEO training is a great idea. I work at a media agency and we’ve hired a full editorial team to create content for clients that’s both well written and SEO friendly. The need for that kind of experience is growing quickly.

        Reply
          1. MoinMoin

            I believe I’ve previously seen AAM commenters mentioning Google’s SEO certification being free and decently respected on a resume, though I don’t have any personal experience with it.

            Reply
            1. Terra Firma

              Google doesn’t actually offer an SEO certification. They have learning materials, but only offer certification in their paid products. You can be certified in Analytics, SEM, Mobile, Display, Video, and Shopping. Those certifications are appreciated on resumes for entry level hires, and expected on more senior resumes in many agencies.

              Reply
              1. MoinMoin

                Thanks for clarifying! I’ve only read about it here in passing, so I was hoping if I put my vague recollection out there someone would come by and “ACTUALLY…” my answer. :-)

                Reply
    2. Kat M

      Have you thought about applying for Seth Godin’s Alt MBA? It’s only four weeks, but if they’re looking for you to try something newer and bigger, it might be right up your alley.

      Reply
    3. CAA

      Is there a conference or seminar that you could attend where you’d meet people from other similar sized magazines? I’d encourage you to travel to an event rather than trying to take courses online, because face-t0-face networking for a few days can really help to broaden your horizons and understand what types of opportunities are out there. Even if you don’t want to leave your current situation, just seeing what others are doing can spark ideas on changes you could make where you are.

      Reply
        1. em2mb

          I’d look for one that’s specific to your niche, versus a general conference for writers/editors, if you can. I attend an education-specific conference every year. It’s the most helpful training I’ve ever gotten!

          Reply
    4. dappertea

      I find conferences in your field can be a great opportunity for professional development without the time commitment and price tag associated with a post-grad program!

      Reply
      1. Mira

        3rding the SEO training. Learning Experience Design is another very handy medium of knowledge for writers/editors – the e-learning industry is BOOMING.

        Also, if you can learn the basics of content and community management, it’ll definitely add a punch to your resume!

        Reply
    5. theletter

      Go with project management. Y0u can take a class as a student at large – and one class ought to do it. I had a great time in my class, and I got a certification at the end.

      Reply
    6. UTManager

      Ooh! I can help you on this one!

      I am a former editor and current manager in the publishing biz, and I think your boss is bringing up topic of MBAs so that you grow into a professional who can weigh in on operational and strategic decisions in the future, not just editorial/creative matters. Many (most?) editors I’ve worked with and managed have had a very difficult time taking off their “grammarian hats” when called on for a more objective, strategic perspective, and this makes them unpromotable. If an editor sees the business so myopically, I can’t trust them to make decisions and sacrifices to help the entire business succeed. My word of advice would be to ensure you’re learning how to think about what the business overall needs, and start seeing your role as feeding into the overall business strategy. Your boss probably sees you as a “big thinker” already, so you might well already be doing all these things!

      Reply
    7. Working Rachel

      In a similar job, I found going to the Society of Scholarly Publishing conference helpful. Helped me see what the larger industry was doing. SSP focuses mostly on medical and science journals; there is also Association Media and Publishing that’s more magazine-focused. If you search around you may find other associations and conferences in this space, too.

      Reply
  4. ThatGirl

    Anyone had any experience with Right Management or similar outplacement firms? I have three months of their service as part of my severance from my recent layoff. I went to an intro meeting this week and it’s a LOT… but it seems like it could be helpful. I’m rewriting my resume for the 50th time.

    They also told us we should be doing “networking coffees” three times a week. I don’t think I know that many people who would be helpful or willing or able to meet!

    Reply
    1. Graciosa

      I think they were helpful in some ways, not so much in others. The pluses for me included help with my resume, practice interviewing (including video interviewing, which was new to me), and access to research information about prospective employers.

      Some of their networking guidance was not appropriate to my personality (or, thankfully, my industry).

      Use what you find helpful and don’t worry about the rest.

      Good luck –

      Reply
      1. ThatGirl

        Thank you. I definitely appreciate a review of my resume and I could use the interviewing tips… but some of it definitely seemed geared toward older folks and more MBA-types (I’m 36; the woman on Wed. made a remark about “interviewing with people 20 years younger”… uh. Not so much for me.)

        Reply
    2. Bethlam

      My company contracted with an Outplacement service for the 60 people who lost/are losing their jobs from our impending closing. They have been awesome! My boss asked me to sit in on the first workshop for the first group of production employees being furloughed, and I’ve facilitated interactions between the assigned career coach and other employees, and I’ve been really impressed.

      Many of our employees have been here for 20 – 40 years, and job hunting today is VERY different than the last time a lot of our employees were in the market – a lot of the production employees have never created a resume; a couple of our long-term employees never even filled out an application; just got the job by referral. She has had excellent advice for everyone, regardless of their type of employment. Much of her advice is very similar to what I’ve seen on AAM.

      However, we used to use a different outplacement firm, and we’re using this new one for a reason. Previous one was very disappointing. The new one is stellar.

      Reply
    3. Emmie

      When I worked with Right Management (three years ago), their resume work was hyper involved but VERY helpful. I recommend it, and will hire their resume writer in the future! I didn’t do the coffee – too far from my house. They had some online networking you could do in place of the coffees, but I didn’t do that either.

      Reply
      1. ThatGirl

        They have weekly “accountability groups” and “power networking” seminars, I’ll probably at least go to a few seminars … but she made it sound like we should be meeting 3x a week with people we know, out on the town, doing 1 on 1 networking. Which … I can do that with a few people but not 3x a week indefinitely.

        Reply
        1. Emmie

          I agree. That was wayyyy to much to do on top of looking for a job. Plus, I was uncomfortable with that. I thought the resume “writing” was really helpful. I have it in quotes since it’s really really intensive coaching where you write it yourself and they coach. Good luck!!

          Reply
    4. Channel Z

      It was a long time ago that I used Right Management, before video conferencing was common. I agree with Graciosa’s comments. They were very helpful with resume’s and cover letters. Another advantage was that I moved from US to Ireland, and RM had an office in Ireland and I was able to transfer the services to the Irish branch. This was even more helpful because I could get realistic salary expectations and address any differences in the job hunt process, including wording of cover letters. Networking coffees wouldn’t be a thing.

      Reply
      1. ThatGirl

        Thanks! So far their advice mostly seems fine, I haven’t delved into cover letters yet. They do have a nice variety of resume samples that aren’t too far off from what I already had. One stat that I thought was interesting, they claimed 55% of people found a job with equal or higher pay to their last position … which to me that 45% who *didn’t* stands out.

        Reply
    5. Ebrofin

      My company uses Right Management, and as they are offshoring several hundred jobs to Bangalore, many of my colleagues have already started the process with Right Management. All of the feedback I’ve heard is very favorable– great help with the resume, LinkedIn, and interviewing. One person did say that not very many people show up for the coffees. So far, a number of my friends have found new jobs, and they all say Right Management was a factor in helping them find a new role.

      Reply
      1. Gadfly

        Just FYI–That may qualify for Trade Act, which put my husband through nursing school and has some relocation benefits and other benefits above and beyond unemployment. I’ll link to it in a reply.

        My husband got it because the financial person at the school he went to knew about it–Workforce Services (who handled all the unemployment type stuff) acted like no one ever got it. His case was a LOT less direct than “they offshored my job” and wasn’t that hard. So it might be something for your friends and colleagues to look into and see if it might be of value to them.

        Reply
  5. intldevtprof

    This February, I was given my very first supervisory role. (Eeek!) I only supervise one employee, an administrative assistant who works on my project and a few others. Overall, her performance is good and she clearly has a lot of potential, but I’m having issues with her…casualness. We are both young (I’m 26, she’s 21/22ish), this is her first job, and our office is a relatively casual and friendly workplace where swearing in meetings, lighthearted teasing of coworker friends and even bosses, and jeans all week are the norm. I think this may have given her the impression that certain behaviours are much more normal than I think they are. For example:

    -She walks into my office to ask a question and begins with “Hi friend!”
    -I’ll stop at her desk to say hi and ask about her day. Her responses are way too frank: “Finance is really getting on my nerves about this requisition.”
    -She’s prone to excessive hyperbole: “I’m sorry, I will literally never ever forget to email you the teapot invoice ever again.”

    Since I’m a new supervisor, I’m struggling with: 1) assessing what is actually appropriate given our pretty casual workplace; 2) how to correct her in the moment. I plan on addressing these issues during her three month check-in, but I don’t know how to correct in the moment without sounding overly harsh. “I’m not your friend, I’m your boss” seems a little….arrogant? We also work in an open concept office, so I’m cautious about taking her to task in front of co-workers. I have a horrible feeling that I’m chalking up to be a not-great supervisor, so any advice is appreciated!

    Reply
    1. TotesMaGoats

      I think it’ll be hard to correct her on “casualness” when the office is that way. You should be setting the example of preferred behavior.

      1. I would correct with, “Call me , thanks!” In a light way.
      2. I’m not sure how that’s too frank. You are her supervisor, she should be telling you if things aren’t going well. Maybe that wasn’t a good example. Do you have others. I know I’ve heard and said a million variations on that same statement.
      3. Ehh. With clients, I’d probably have a problem with it but with you, I’d probably chalk it up to quirk if it doesn’t impact work. I had that tendency when I first started and eventually learned not to do it. It was a process for sure.

      Reply
      1. intldevtprof

        Yeah, maybe not the best example. Another example is: “Oh, I finished the teapot spouts yesterday, which was totally *super boring* but whatever, it’s done now.” I understand that she should be able to come to me with concerns about her job, but there’s a level of diplomacy in phrasing that I think she should learn (and will benefit her in her future career). And doing teapot spouts is a part of your job that you knew when you started!

        But I’m seeing that most of the comments below are flagging that these things aren’t as big of a deal as I think they are, so maybe I’m overcompensating because I’m so nervous about being responsible for someone’s professional development!

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          No, that’s unprofessional. She’s in her first job, working in a casual office, and she’s not clear on boundaries with your boss.

          I think you’d be doing her a favor if you gave her some coaching on this stuff, and you could frame it as “we’re an especially casual office so this stuff might not be a huge deal here, but it’s the kind of thing that could come across less than professionally in future jobs so I want to give you some feedback on it now and help you build good habits around it.”

          Reply
          1. intldevtprof

            Thanks Alison and other commenters! I’ve been ruminating on the best phrasing, but everything I’ve been thinking of comes across as too disciplinary. This is all really helpful.

            Reply
            1. tigerStripes

              If possible, do this right away, before the 3 month check in. Otherwise she’ll get nervous before every review. You want to bring up issues promptly so that people don’t worry about what you’re not telling them.

              Reply
        2. Elizabeth H.

          I have a slightly younger coworker who does exactly this too – she is way too frank (to an extreme) about expressing frustrations with normal elements of the work and describing things as chaotic or difficult in a hyperbolic way, and it comes off as extremely unprofessional. She even does it to people outside our organization and made a comment of this nature in a job interview to an interviewee (!!!). I was actually collecting specific examples of this in case I would write to Alison for advice on how to raise it/if I raised it. I don’t supervise her though although I trained her on some stuff. It really bothers me, but then my desk got moved into a different office than she is in so I’m removed from the situation now.

          Reply
      2. evilOlive

        I didn’t read -all- the replies, so I’m not sure if anyone mentioned this.

        “Hi friend!” while casual, is a great non-gendered greeting. It’s warm and open, it’s also a nice soft punt that is shorter than “hey Ms. Marple (or Esmerelda), do you have a second? I have some questions.” As a millennial myself I find myself tending towards either specific names or non-gendered groupings “hello, everyone”, “good morning, Gretchen”, “thanks to all for coming, I’ll make this quick”. I find myself really focusing on not misgendering folks or mispronouncing names. As one of the ones with an incredibly difficult ethnic name, I see and appreciate when others pay attention or go out of their way to welcome.

        Reply
    2. BenAdminGeek

      I’d work on formalizing your own interactions with her. That sets the tone and will help model norms (assuming she picks up on these things). In my first management role, I wanted to people to like me, which wasn’t what I really needed. Avoid the temptation to come down to her level of casualness.

      Reply
      1. k

        I agree with this. Her behavior doesn’t seem so bad that I think anything needs to be specifically told to her, so modeling more formal behavior may be a good way to subtly get her to change.

        Reply
    3. Coffee

      -She’s prone to excessive hyperbole: “I’m sorry, I will literally never ever forget to email you the teapot invoice ever again.”

      I’d ask her how she’ll make sure that never happens again and express that you’d rather hear the corrective actions she’s going to take instead of a blanket statement like that. Hopefully it’ll help her stop and think and lead her to a more professional perspective. I think this can be done in the moment without it sounding too harsh.

      Reply
    4. EA

      1. I don’t think the “Hi Friend” is a big deal. I think it is more friendliness than her actually think you guys are friends. But if you are worried on her getting the idea she is friends with you, maybe formalize your interactions with her.
      2. Could other people hear the finance comment? I think if she said it to you in private, it is fine. If others can hear you can talk to her about open concept offices and finding a private place to talk about concerns.
      3. Personality quirk that is someone annoying, but she is far from the only person who does that.

      I know this is harsh, but I don’t think these are real serious issues, I think you are insecure in your new role and afraid of failing.

      Reply
      1. intldevtprof

        Yeah, I agree that there’s very likely an element of me panicking/overcompensating. That’s why I’m so glad to have the objectivity of AAM commentators!

        Reply
      2. TootsNYC

        funny…I literally say “hi, boss” to my boss now and then, just to establish that while I am proactive and senior, I do actually recognize that they’re the boss.

        I’ve just always felt that it was smart to remind us both now and then, that she IS my boss, and that I DO recognize it.

        Reply
        1. TootsNYC

          And if I had this employee, this might be one of the issues I’d coach them on–that even the chill-est of bosses might occasionally value reassurance that their authority is recognized and respected, and that this might be even more important in a casual atmosphere.

          Reply
    5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      “Hi friend” is not ideal but could be ok. The informality could be a problem, but I actually think the bigger problem is that it suggests you’re peers, and because you’re young, I worry that she might not meaningfully understand that you’re her boss. Do all direct reports have this level of casual-ness with their managers at your workplace? If not, then I’d say something like, “I know we’re a really casual workplace, but it’s not really the culture/practice here to be that casual when you’re approaching your supervisor.”

      The excessive hyberbole is not really a problem, although you could gently respond in the moment that you don’t expect perfection, but you appreciate her commitment to ensuring she’s meeting her responsibilities.

      The second issue is worth immediate correction. If you’re in a public area, I would ask if she can step into your office (or another somewhat private area), or you could save this for your regular check-in meetings (you’re meeting with her every 1-2 weeks, right?). Tell her it’s normal to feel frustration with other departments but that the requirements exist for a reason, and it’s not really professional/appropriate to complain about her personal feelings regarding those departments/processes. That said, if she’s noticed something about finance’s requisition process that seems to be impacting your company’s effectiveness, she can bring those things up with you and you can help her determine if the feedback would be appropriate to pass along.

      Reply
        1. intldevtprof

          Yeah, this is kind of my main concern/how I want to frame the issue. It might be okay in our super casual office, but if she ends up moving to another job and within 3 weeks of starting is complaining about other departments or whatever, it will affect how people perceive her.

          Reply
    6. Tuckerman

      I would focus more on shaping the behavior you want. None of what she is doing is especially egregious, you just want to make sure she can function in a variety of office settings. For the second example, when she says something about finance getting on her nerves, I might say something like, “It would be more helpful to me to know what exactly finance is doing that is getting in the way of this requisition being processed so we can determine how to proceed.”

      Reply
    7. katkat

      I’m 22 and in my first fulltime professional job, and I think it would be really helpful for you to say something to her. Since you get along, it would be a lot nicer for her to hear if from you than someone down the road or having people not take her seriously when she walks in like “hey pal!!”
      I think you could address the frankness and hyperbole in the same conversation. In your check-in, you could say, “I appreciate you always being honest when something bothers you and that you take things seriously, but sometimes the way you communicate that is more than necessary.” give her the examples you wrote here, and tell her why they aren’t appropriate.

      As for in-the-moment, you can give her cues about her behavior if you’re uncomfortable saying it flat out in front of others. When she says “Hi Friend!” you can laugh a little bit and repeat “friend?” just to hopefully make her think whether that was really the right greeting. When she says she’ll literally never make that mistake ever again, say, “ok, you don’t have to take it over the top, but that will be fine.”
      Good luck!

      Reply
    8. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

      1. “She walks into my office to ask a question and begins with “Hi friend!” – I’d ignore this. Frankly, it seems juuuust a tad petty to get on someone for saying this. I agree it’s a little chirpy, but.

      2. “Her responses are way too frank” – This is probably not a bad thing. She’s giving you substantive answers rather than polite fluff, which can be a little offputting if you’re expecting “Great, thanks!” but again, correcting her on this would be a bit petty.

      -She’s prone to excessive hyperbole: “I’m sorry, I will literally never ever forget to email you the teapot invoice ever again.” – THIS is where I’d talk to her. “Griselda, I understand you’re trying to communicate how serious you are about correcting this mistake, but using this kind of hyperbolic language makes you seem a little unserious, and makes promises you might not be able to keep.”

      Reply
      1. N.J.

        See with the overly frank responses, I would see those as the biggest problem. A lot of professionalism is getting along with coworkers. She has to learn to channel frustrations and push through work stress without letting it color her view of other departments etc so much. The OP’s other example, of the assistant saying a task was very boring, is problematic as well. It makes the assistant sound childish and unrealistic. As someone who has both been a bit too frank at work recently, which bit me in the ass a bit (I was told I sounded whiny when I expressed frustration to a manager regarding a department’s unhelpfulness) and who has worked with complainers and negative nelly types, this can also pigeonhole the assistant as someone negative or who doesn’t understand the concept of teamwork and could hurt her professional trajectory. The OP would be doing her a great service by discussing appropriate ways to express frustration or concern and the link between attitude and perceptions of professionalism.

        Reply
        1. Elizabeth H.

          Agreed, I think those are the biggest problem. It’s just not professional and not okay to describe normal parts of your job as frustrating, boring, etc. In situations where it is something extremely egregious like some unprecedented crisis, it’s different but it sounds like it’s not a very extreme situation but she’s still sharing her feelings about it. You’re not really supposed to express your feelings about all the parts of your work you don’t like, at work. You can bitch about it at home or to your friends all you want, but at work we usually do a mix of stuff we enjoy and find rewarding at least a couple things that we don’t enjoy or are frustrating. Ideally more of the former and in the very best cases, we find almost all of what we do worthwhile and rewarding, but there are always going to be a couple annoying things that we just have to do. It’s why we are getting paid for it instead of doing it for free, for fun. That’s why not complaining about aspects of your work, at work, is part of being professional.

          Reply
    9. AvonLady Barksdale

      She sounds really annoying to me, but not egregiously so. Except for the 3rd point, because I hate responses like that. All she should be saying is, “I’m sorry, I’ll make a note and try not to do that again.” When she does the “literally never ever forget” it sounds to me like she’s being dismissive of the issue. Granted, my response is definitely colored by picturing someone I know who talks just like this, is overly casual, the same age, and just got her first job. So, you know, grain of salt. Anyway, I would address the hyperbole only: “Jane, there is a chance that you WILL forget again, and that’s ok. I simply want you to understand that you made a small mistake, correct it, try not to do it again, and move on. Thanks.” Well, maybe that’s cold. But something along those lines.

      Reply
      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

        Yeah, the hyperbole comes off as unserious, despite itself. I like your script.

        Reply
    10. Lily in NYC

      I don’t think any of this is problematic. To me, a good manager lets employees be “themselves” as long as it’s not inappropriate. And some people, myself included, are very prone to speak in hyperbole – it’s a personality trait that would be very difficult for someone to change.

      I used to have a boss (I was her assistant) who was very casual and joked around with and teased everyone. I gently teased her about something car-related (it was so minor, really) and she called me into her office, shut the door, and told me exactly what you want to tell your admin (I’m not your friend, don’t joke around with me, blah blah blah). I immediately started looking to transfer away from her and got promoted to a different dept. behind her back. She flipped out when she found out because she thought we were such a “good team” and asked me why I was betraying her. I told her flat out that it was because I wanted a boss that allowed me to be a human being. She kept trying to get me back because she couldn’t find a good assistant after I dumped her. Honestly, I truly think you are in the wrong here and if she’s good at her job you should let this go.

      Reply
      1. intldevtprof

        I completely accept that she’s just a bubbly personality (unlike me). I would never tell her not to joke, and I definitely haven’t said “I’m your boss, not your friend”…that’s just my intrusive thought whenever she says it!

        While there is a small element of me being petty about personal quirks, I guess I’m mostly concerned that she’s going to be perceived a certain way. She’s very smart and asks great questions, and I want people to take her seriously.

        Reply
    11. paul

      model the behavior you want to see as best you can. But on some of that…I mean if you ask her how her day is, be willing to get an honest answer, particularly as it pertains to work. If something work related is going really badly (or really well) that’s good for a manager to know.

      And I’d honestly just try to ignore the hyperbole. It’s annoying but some people are like that and I’m not sure it is a hill worth dying on

      Reply
    12. AnitaJ

      I’m also a new supervisor and having the same kind of issues. My supervisee has wonderful technical skills and a bubbly personality, but lacks the professional polish that many others in our office have. Our environment is, as well, somewhat casual, but we still want to maintain a level of decorum.

      I’ve begun coaching her in our weekly 1:1s around the topics of professional growth and development. I’ve framed it as ‘We are very happy with the work you’re doing here, and so excited to see you get to that next level. I’d love to spend some time during our meetings to speak about things that I personally have learned from my mentors/coworkers/bosses, and the things that I wish someone had said to me when I first started out.” This covers a range of things like behavior at happy hours, dress code, email communications, etc. I do really want to see her grow and thrive and while it’s uncomfortable sometimes to have these conversations, I push myself to do it because I know it will help her succeed.

      You sound like a conscientious supervisor. I wish you luck!

      Reply
    13. Marisol

      I am inclined to agree with the other comments, and have this to add: it might be helpful to consider her overall demeanor separately from her actions. While it might not be optimal to tell you “uhmahgod I will LITERALLY never make that same mistake everz” what’s even more important is, does she change her behavior in response to your feedback? Does she follow through, meet deliverables, etc. even if she communicates about it in an annoying way? If she basically does her job duties correctly and takes you seriously when you give feedback, then you can be assured that the unprofessional delivery isn’t indicative of insubordination. If, on the other hand, she says, “oh, sorry friend! I majorly screwed up. Oh well! It was boring anyway and I didn’t really want to do is” and just laughs your feedback off and doesn’t take your directions seriously, then that’s an actual problem. I don’t get the sense that that’s what’s happening though.

      I think you will have to cut her some slack. I probably wouldn’t address the way she speaks too much, although I can completely understand why it would bug you. If you think her communication style will hold her back or will make the company look bad, you could say something like, “it’s fine talk to me that way, but you might want to keep in mind that when you speak to big boss, it’s better to be a little more formal. For example, instead of ‘hi friend’ you might want to say ‘good morning Felicia.'” I wouldn’t problematize her entire way of being–she just needs to know how to adjust her tone to fit certain contexts. And I would personally encourage my employees to be frank with me about things, so I’m not sure I would push back on the way she communicates with you–perhaps you can reframe her informality that as a sign that she trusts you, rather than as a sign of disrespect.

      Reply
    14. Mindy Moore

      So, I find the ages very interesting. You are both in your 20’s. That makes you both millennials. I really don’t like grouping people and your are both a perfect example of why. We recently received supervisor/management training on dealing with millennials. Much of it revolved around the very issues that you brought up being concerned about. She fits the millennial stereotype-of casualness and perceived lack of professionalism and you do not. Our training came down to…. is she doing her job and doing it well? Suck it up, the next person could be a lot worse. Millennials aren’t going to change so you have to adapt to them. Look at her work ethic and not her personality and try to pick your battles.

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        But they do change :) If they have good managers and mentors, they get coaching and feedback and they do indeed adapt to professional norms, just like any other generation when they were newer to the workforce.

        Reply
    15. Not So NewReader

      I am not seeing anything that terrible. I have done similar things myself at some point.

      Let me ask you this (sincere question) if she were 40 or 50 years old would this look differently to you? I have had to think about this one myself. I supervised a group of people ranging in age from 20 to 50 plus (I was 30 something). This forced me to think about my reaction to what was said based on the age of the person. I realized I needed to be fair and even-handed.

      I have noticed that as I age, people are less apt to pick my sentences apart or misread my actions. I remember being 20ish and seeing A LOT of criticism that was off base and gave me a lot of mixed signals. People spoke to 20 year old me a lot differently than they speak to 50 plus year old me.

      So first, do not wait to her three month review to tell her. She should not be hearing anything that is new at her review, as you should be coaching her as you go along. Frankly if you waited three months to tell me not to call you “friend”, I would die a thousand deaths worrying about what else you have not to told me. If it bothers you,okay, so be it, then just tell me now, so I don’t keep doing it for the next three months.

      Complaining about others. I have watched bosses do this, instruct an employee not to complain about others. The employee thinks the boss is from Mars because everyone around the employee is complaining all day long. Why isn’t someone telling them to “shadup”, too? So what I would do is frame it this way: “Jane you are going to see people around you complaining all the time. But I have learned that the people who complain the least are the ones who get ahead. What they do instead of complaining is they offer ideas to improve things or they change what they are doing so the situation improves.”

      Here the strategy is to go big picture: “If you do X then Y is more likely to happen.” Where X is good handling of a situation and Y is desirable outcome. You focus on what TO DO rather than what is wrong.

      Hyperbole. Here, again, big picture focus. “Jane, I appreciate that you mean you will do your best so that this does not happen again. So you can just say it that way and I will believe you, I promise. We are in an environment where speaking accurately is very valuable. So we need to watch exaggerations in speaking.”

      You get bonus points if you can relate a story where you did a similar thing as the behavior you are targeting. Then you tell her what happened to you because of what you did.

      You are finding your “boss voice” and she is finding her “employee voice”. In fair turnabout, ask her what she needs from you as a boss. What can you do more of? What is not working? Tell her you will ask her on her review, so she has time to prepare a couple of things. Tell her to pick the top 2-3 things she would like you to know.

      Reply
  6. Anonymostest for this post-est

    I could use some positive thoughts and maybe advice. I’ve been looking for jobs since last summer, and I’m developing a pattern: I make it to the final round and then get rejected, but the rejection comes with unsolicited positive comments about my candidacy. This has happened three times now. I was rejected from a job this week, and the hiring manager actually called to say how much I had impressed everyone and that they’d keep me in mind for later openings.

    I feel pretty stuck. I think I should expand my job search to less-senior positions in order to be a stronger candidate, but it’s also clear that I’ve been a strong contender for the jobs I’m already applying for. I apply selectively, I almost always get an interview, and the interviews go well. The employers encourage me to re-apply. But I don’t actually get an offer.

    Any tips on closing the deal? Should I lower my sights? Just keep applying?

    Reply
    1. Newby

      Is there a reason not to expand your search to include slightly lower positions? How much do you need a new job? If you want a new job ASAP, it would make sense to apply for the less senior-positions, but if you can afford to wait or are ok with staying at your current job longer, then it doesn’t make sense to apply for jobs you don’t really want.

      Reply
    2. Caro in the UK

      Is the field you’re applying in unusually competitive? It might just be bad luck.

      You could try asking for some constructive feedback, if you feel comfortable doing do, and if you think they’re be willing to. The fact that they’ve all been very complimentary about you suggests that they might. You could try from the angle of “I’d love to apply again in the future, would you be able to give me any advice on how to improve my candidacy next time.”

      Of course they might just say that another candidate had slightly more experience etc. But you might find that they all highlight a particular area that you could work on. Good luck!

      Reply
      1. Anonymostest for this post-est

        I asked for feedback the last time it happened, and the response was, “You were great, but we went with a candidate who had experience in XYZ area.” I’m shifting fields slightly, which I think is hurting me, and that’s why I’m thinking of applying to more junior positions—if part of the problem is that I’m losing out to people with experience in the area, maybe I need to start lower down the ladder and get that experience myself.

        Reply
        1. PollyQ

          I was wondering about the experience question too, so if you feel like you’re on the lower end of what’s being asked for, maybe it is time to look at junior positions.

          Reply
    3. Chriama

      Wait, have you only gotten to the final stage in 3 interviews since last summer? Or just 3 have rejected you with unsolicited positive comments? If the former, I think you need to change something about your search – seniority of positions, resumes and cover letters, whatever. If the latter, go back and ask them for more advice! Tell them you appreciate your feedback and you’ve noticed a common theme in your interviews. Is there anything in your profile that could take you from “really good” to “definitely the best”. Is there any part of your work experience that isn’t quite strong enough, or any concern they had? Basically, you understand that you’re a strong candidate but want to be able to tackle the few remaining reservations so you can stand out better in future interviews.

      Reply
      1. Anonymostest for this post-est

        Three have rejected me with unsolicited positive comments. I’m in a small market and I only apply for positions that I think would be a great fit, so I’ve only applied for ~6 positions. In addition to the three I mentioned, I’ve had one rejection after a phone interview, one interview that I’m still waiting to hear back on, and one application where I wasn’t contacted for an interview.

        Reply
        1. Anonymostest for this post-est

          Correction: positions that I think COULD be a great fit. I’ve applied for a few (including the one where I was rejected after a phone interview) where I wasn’t sure but wanted to learn more.

          Reply
    4. Artemesia

      This happened to my daughter several times in a job search such that she was beginning to worry about a reference issue that might sabotage her. And then she got a great job offer. Sometimes it is just the competition. Certainly think about how to strengthen your interviewing but it is quite possible you are doing the necessary in a tough market.

      Reply
    5. Thlayli

      I had this exact thing for months and in at least one case I know I was a close second and the person who got the job had just one year more experience than me. It got to the stage where I really needed a new job and I lowered my expectations and got a job in 2 days. It seems like there are just slightly better candidates than you out there, or maybe you’re reaching slightly too high.

      Reply
    6. Clinical Social Worker

      I’ve had this happen to me. They feel guilty about turning down a great candidate and want to give you hope, because again, they feel guilty.

      You are getting clear signs you are a strong candidate. Keep going. You will find something. Job searching is always tough but remind yourself that you have all the signs of being a good candidate. Persistence (as in keeping up the high performance with each application, not badgering the same place over and over) is the name of the game.

      Reply
    7. Buu

      Does your industry have networking events or conventions? Perhaps just going about and meeting people might either let you find out about jobs before they advertise publicly, or let you make a positive impression on the staff there before you do apply?

      Reply
    8. Kit

      To me that sounds like you don’t need to do anything different. There have been plenty of times when I loved two candidates but only had one position open and had to make a relatively arbitrary decision between them. My final criterion is which of them will stay longer (according to my own gut feeling) but other hiring managers are going to have completely different tie-breakers.

      Reply
    9. Anonfornow

      I’ve been in a similar situation (without the majorly positive feedback at the end!)..I’m also shifting fields, as well. What I have done is snoop around on LinkedIn to see who has filled the position; for the positions I was able to find, the person who ended up with the job always has more experience either in the specific field (I don’t have healthcare or legal experience) or in that environment (I have no university experience). I’m a pretty strong candidate but I’m in an oversaturated market. I WAS able to look back and see some flaws with some of my interview answers, so it’s still important to reflect on that, but I still don’t believe — after seeing the winning candidates — that I would have gotten these jobs even then, considering the competition. I’m still figuring out how to retarget my search, and I think with some creativity I’ll figure out how to do it (and so will you).

      Reply
    10. Anon for This

      This happens a lot to me, too. I manage to get interviews, but I can’t seem to close the deal.

      Sometimes I think to myself that my age or my being a member of a minority are hurting me.

      I always seem to be everyone’s “Second Favorite Choice” for whatever I apply and interview for.

      Reply
      1. Anonymostest for this post-est

        This is how I feel too (not the discrimination part, although that’s a possibility). I am apparently a great second choice, which feels surprisingly lousy.

        Reply
    11. misspiggy

      On ‘closing the deal’: during the interview try setting yourself the mental puzzle of working out what your interviewers most want. Which questions have a little tell of concern or anxiety, showing they really need whomever they choose to have x or do y?

      Answer those questions simply and positively. So while you’re scrabbling for examples of how you fixed poorly fitting teapot lids, sit up straight and say, ‘Yes. When I was assistant teapot wrangler I…’ Even if you don’t think your example is a great fit for what they’re asking, behave as if it completely is.

      Then if you can, try to work your new understanding of what they want into your subsequent statements and questions.

      Reply
  7. anonderella

    on a business card, what is the difference between:

    an office number
    a office number with extension
    a direct number
    a cell number

    obviously, I understand the difference between office/cell numbers, but “direct” throws me off. And when all of these are present, I really have no idea what number to enter into our system.
    I’ve googled on this for weeks, and still don’t really understand.

    Reply
    1. ZVA

      In my office, my direct line is what an outside caller would dial to call me, well, directly (without going through our receptionist).

      It’s a different number from our main line.

      Reply
    2. Another Lawyer

      Office number = main number, likely to speak with a receptionist
      Office number with an extension = you dial the main number and can input/ask for the extension
      Direct number = call the phone of the person directly, but still an office number
      Cell = cell

      Reply
      1. Amber T

        Nice and simple. This probably varies a bit by office, but the office number with extension is *probably* only used outside normal business hours (or whenever the receptionist isn’t there), when the automatic voicemail system will ask you if you want to enter your party’s extension.

        Listing the top three together seems a bit overkill, tbh.

        Reply
    3. Karo

      In my office, office with extension is typically an 800 number that gets you straight to the person, while direct is a local number that also gets you straight to the person.

      Reply
    4. Amtelope

      Office number means the number for the person’s office, which may or may not be answered by a receptionist. Office number with extension means that you’ll definitely get either a receptionist or automatic phone system, and will need to say or key in the extension to reach the person you’re calling. Direct number means it’ll ring through straight to the person you’re calling, no receptionist involved.

      Reply
    5. Amy Farrah Fowler

      I think the “office number” would be the main office line (the one that would be answered by a receptionist or a recording that will get you to the directory). The office number with extension tells you the main line and also that person’s extension. A direct line would call that person only. As far as what to put in the system, that will depend on whether you need to always reach that person directly, or whether it would be better to reach someone at the company if they are out or unavailable at that moment.

      Reply
    6. EA

      An office # is typically the main # or receptionist … Depending on their phone system, you may be able to enter the extension # on your phone, or you may have to ask the receptionist “Could you please transfer me to Sam at extension 12345?”

      A direct line will typically be the phone that is physically on that person’s desk, as in it rings directly to them.

      In some cases, people may list their direct # as the office #, particularly if there isn’t a receptionist. For example, my dept. doesn’t have an admin or receptionist, so if I had business cards, I’d probably just list my direct # as “Work” or “Office”

      Reply
    7. LCL

      Office number usually means one person is answering the phone for a group and will be able to take messages, contact them. Reporting relationship associated with this varies widely. Sometimes but less common, if someone says call my office they mean call my direct number, I am the only person that answers that phone.

      Office number with extension-the extension is associated with one person, you will either talk to a live person and ask for extension X, or key it into your phone.

      Direct number-you call, the person you are looking for answers. Usually. May be routed to others via voicemail if the company has a voicemail system and the person is out of office. Again, this may be phrased as call my office but means call me directly, I answer my office phone exclusively.

      Cell number-you call, the person you are looking for answers. Here, where most of our calls are internal, it is widely understood but not stated that you call a person’s cell if you want to talk to them right now, but you will call their office number if you want them to do job functions that can be routed in.

      Personal cell-can mean the person is up to something nefarious and doesn’t want the company involved. Usually means my company phone is broken or sitting on my nightstand at home or lost, but I still want you to be able to reach me.

      Reply
    8. Sibley

      office number – you get the front desk
      office number with extension – person’s desk
      direct number – person’s desk
      cell number – person. be careful if this is a personal cell.

      Reply
    9. anonderella

      @ everyone

      Hm, that basically answers my question about what it means. Thanks!

      My company uses outlook, and there is no “direct” number label available when creating a contact.
      So, when all of these numbers are listed on a business card (office + extension, cell, and direct), is there anything lost by disincluding the “direct” number? Or is it a preferable number to the office + extension? Or, is that what the “primary” label means (for other Outlook users)?

      Short question, if I could only include the cell and one other number, what is the best one to put?

      Longer question, how on earth am I seeing business cards with office + extension, direct, and cell?? How can they have two numbers that go to their office? Or are they trying to indicate these numbers reach them at different places, but not specifying where? so lost.

      Reply
      1. TootsNYC

        Short question, if I could only include the cell and one other number, what is the best one to put?

        I’d put the direct one. If I call, I want to get them directly, right?

        The advantage of having the “office” number is that you might get a receptionist who would redirect you if that person is out.
        Is there “work” and “main”? You could use the “work” label for the direct number, and “main” for the office number.

        Reply
      2. Marisol

        If you’re managing contacts for one or two other people as an assistant, you’ll probably want to check to see the format they’re already using and/or ask them. In general, when I input a business card, I think about what is the most likely way my boss will reach out to the person. Usually, he’ll start with the direct land line. So, that goes on the “business” drop down. Cell has its own line. I usually put the main line, i.e. reception, on “business 2.” If there are other funky numbers, I put them in the notes section with the appropriate label, like this:

        South Dakota Summer Home: 310-555-1212
        2nd Assistant, Delilah Pupendorf: 310-555-1234

        For lines with extensions, I enter the number on the “business 1” or “business 2” line and go ahead and use text to denote the extension:

        310-555-1212 x1234

        Any text you input will cause you to lose the auto-dial function, where someone can click on the number from their cell phone and have it ring automatically. I have never had this be a problem but for some people it would, so be advised.

        In general, I never, ever, ever redact information on a business card, except things like company slogans, which I will omit. If there are ten different phone numbers, that information gets inputted. Pick the two or three most important ones to match to the dropdown menu, then stick the others in the notes section.

        You might do a few sample contacts, print them out, and show to your supervisor to make sure you are following best practices for your company.

        As to why companies do complicated phone number systems…each company has a different approach to managing workflow and information. It’s not uncommon to have different phone numbers ring to the same phone, or sometimes an office has a main desk phone, plus an auxiliary phone, although that’s usually not listed on the card…there’s just a kajillion ways to implement phone systems. I don’t think there’s a practical way to answer that one.

        Hope that helps.

        Reply
        1. Marisol

          Forgot to say two things.

          1) it is certainly possible to add any text you want to the phone numbers text box. So if you want to note a line as “direct” for some reason, go for it.

          310-555-1212 direct

          As I mentioned, this will prevent anyone from autodialing by clicking on the number link.

          2) I think that in some cases, a “direct” line and a main line plus extension collapse into one. So, 310-555-1212 x8888 is the same as 310-555-8888. So if you notice that pattern, you could probably omit the extension line, and just list the direct line.

          Reply
      3. NotCanadian

        My direct number is my cell phone because I’m a remote employee. I think it varies office to office, but I’d generally say that if a direct number is offered, it’s usually the best way to reach the person.

        Reply
      4. Marisol

        I just reread your question and see I skipped something. Regarding “primary,” I personally don’t use that one, possibly because it falls low, visually, on the list, but also maybe because it is less specific than “business.” I have a feeling this is the case with a lot of people but I really don’t know.

        The thing is, Microsoft designed Outlook to be somewhat customizable, as much as one can customize within the office suite. So there is no absolute best answer–it is ultimately a question of what works best for you. That’s something for your boss/your peers in the office to decide.

        Additionally, whatever fields are populated will show up when you click open a contact, as long as there are not more than 4. (If you open a contact, you’ll see that four data boxes for phone numbers show up. If you’ve inputted more than 4, then the others will be hidden.) Usually, a business contact has fewer than four phone numbers. So whether you label the number “primary” or “business” or whatever, it will still show up on the screen, easily accessible. So the exact label is probably not as important as is, say, inputting the number correctly.

        Reply
      5. Snazzy Hat

        I had one job where I had a phone and an extension, but no direct line. To reach me, you had to either be an internal caller (dial only the extension) or call the front desk and ask for extension ABCD. Calling what should have been my direct line resulted in a “your call could not be completed as dialed” message.

        My last job’s phone situation was worse: I could only make outgoing calls to other extensions because my phone didn’t *have* an extension. No calls could come through to me, and I showed up as something like “unknown” to my co-workers. Luckily, making and receiving phone calls was not part of my job, but geez.

        Reply
      6. Mephyle

        Which number is better to put depends on a number of things:
        Are you usually at your desk or generally away from your desk? How does your voice mail system work? Is there a human receptionist, and if so, are they good at finding people, at taking messages, at giving callers an idea where to find you or when you will be back?
        Do you want to receive calls, or does it work better for you to have people leave messages for you?
        The answers to these and similar questions will determine what number you should give. Consider the needs of your callers and why they typically call you – how urgent is it that they reach you right away when they call? If they want you, is it only you who can help them or are they better served by being directed to someone else if you’re not there? Which of your numbers can accomplish the desired effect?

        Reply
      7. kittymommy

        In my industry the best number is going to be the main office line, but I think it’ll depend on the office , accepted practice, and the person/job involved. Some positions are at their desk all day, or most of the day and the direct line would make sense, but if you’re in a job that is out a lot, then I would think running through the main line would be best as their may be someone else that can be of assistance.

        Reply
      8. anonderella

        @ (more) everyone

        Wow! Thank you so much – I’ve been missing out on the last few weeks of open threads by getting there too late; I saw it open up today and zipped my question out.

        Thanks again!

        (ps to Alison – thank you/not thank you for sharing the TinyKittens live stream this week; me, my mom and coworker are all a lot more invested in a cat we’ve never met than we should be.
        and a pregnant giraffe, by association/proximity to that chat room.)

        Reply
  8. Mona Lisa

    I have a question that I’m hoping someone might be able to answer for me. In my previous two jobs I worked with a particular CRM pretty closely, but in my current job, though I’ve been advocating for it to be implemented, it’s likely that it won’t be before I leave. I’m starting to look at other job openings now that my husband is finishing his doctorate, and I found one that relates back to the work I did with the CRM. On my resume, should I keep my work history in chronological order as it is right now, or should I create two sections (“relevant experience” and “other experience”) to get the most relevant jobs to the top of the page?

    Additionally, this CRM offers on-line courses and tutorials that I’ve been working through on my own to gain more experience with different areas of the system. Should I include this information somewhere? Maybe in the cover letter? It looks like I could also connect it to my LinkedIn profile, but I’ve always been wary of that. (For example, I don’t think my status in Duolingo automatically reflects my “level of language fluency” so I haven’t synced that.)

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      So you’ve had three jobs (including your current job), and the current job is the only one that’s not directly relevant? If it’s just those three, I’d keep it in reverse-chron order, because ostensibly your current job includes transferrable skills. Two sections would be overkill if there are only three jobs you want to report on your resume. But if you’ve had a bunch more jobs than those three, then I would begin to figure out what can be cut.

      Reply
      1. Mona Lisa

        Technically I have four positions on my resume (at three institutions) because the two positions I had at OldJob were pretty different. (I went from being essentially office manager with a side component of migrating our CRM to managing the CRM.) Should I collapse those two into one heading and keep the most relevant bullets from each position to streamline it, or should I keep them separate?

        Reply
        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          So it may depend. I had two positions at one employer, and the positions were completely different (think Staff Attorney v. Legal Director). I represent it as:

          EMPLOYER NAME, City, State
            Position #1 Title, Dates of Service
              Bullet Point
              Bullet Point
            Position #2 Title, Dates of Service
              Bullet Point
              Bullet Point

          However, if my position is mostly the same but reflects a title/seniority change, I put it down as:

          EMPLOYER NAME, City, State
            Senior Teapot Assembler, Dates of Service
            Teapot Assembler, Dates of Service
              Bullet Point
              Bullet Point

          Reply
    2. College Career Counselor

      If you have enough experience to do a “relevant experience” section, I think that’s the approach I would take. Keeps the relevant skills/experience higher up on your resume. I would not put the online tutorials/courses in your resume at all. I wouldn’t just list it in your cover letter either–use it as a way to show that you’re a self-starter/motivated learner and ideally how you’re using these skills now.

      Good luck!

      Reply
      1. Mona Lisa

        Oh, yes, I definitely wouldn’t just list what I’ve done on the cover letter. Ideally, it would be a paragraph about how, even though at CurrentJob we don’t currently use the specific CRM, I’ve been keeping my skills up-to-date and preparing myself for CurrentJob’s conversion by doing these on-line tutorials.

        I have 3/4 jobs that have some direct link to the CRM. I’ve always had my resume in reverse chronological order, but I was wondering if moving my most current position to “other experience” below the relevant experience would help make it clearer why I’m applying for these positions at first glance.

        Reply
        1. Mona Lisa

          I should mention that the position for which I’m considering applying doesn’t require a cover letter as its through a recruiting site, but I plan to treat the e-mail body as an opportunity to outline some of my experience and why I feel I’d be a good fit for the position.

          Reply
  9. New Girl

    I need some advice. I have an employee in a customer facing role. She’s overall great at her job except one thing. She’s not personable and she always looks unhappy. I’m not sure if I should just let it go or if this is something I need to have her work on. I have had multiple customers comment on how she’s more of it get it done kind of person. Doesn’t chat or do pleasantries. I’m conflicted because I don’t need her to be friends with customers or even like them but a part of her job is being friendly to make customers want to come back. Thoughts?

    Reply
    1. Amtelope

      I think in a customer-facing role it’s fair to give this feedback. I’d reassure her that you’re happy with the rest of her work, but tell her “When you’re talking to customers, you need to smile, say ‘hi, how can I help you?’ (or whatever), and make sure you’re not coming across as impatient to get back to other work. Helping customers is an important part of our work, and customers need to feel welcome to approach us, not like we see them as interruptions.”

      Reply
      1. Grits McGee

        Working on verbal friendliness/customer service scripts was so helpful when I was in customer service roles. Facial expressions (especially “concentrate face”) can be difficult to change in the short term and a forced smile can look worse than RBF, but tone/word choice/salutations are great concrete suggestions and easier changes to make than trying to fight your facial muscles.

        Reply
        1. AMPG

          Agreed – I would focus more on the verbal warmth, especially since there can be a lot of messy gendered stuff around facial expressions that isn’t relevant or fair to a competent employee who’s just not a naturally smiley person.

          Reply
          1. Amtelope

            I, hmm. I think it’s inappropriate to ask female employees (or any employees, but this often falls on women) to smile all the time, or when dealing with their co-workers. But when you’re actively engaging with clients/the public, I don’t think the smile is optional. It’s part of visibly shifting gears from “concentrating on something else” to “focusing on the client in a friendly and engaged way.”

            Reply
            1. zora

              I don’t think it has to be literally “Smile or Nothing” though, that’s not really an accurate dichotomy. I have definitely talked to people in customer-facing situations about just working on their body and facial language. Standing up straight, having a ‘pleasant’ and open expression on their face. It doesn’t have to technically be a smile, but there is a difference between a frown with a furrowed brow and an open facial expression, raised eyebrows, etc.

              It is definitely not something that can be changed over night, and takes some practice, but it is a good skill to coach. I basically focused on what to think to make your face and body more approachable. You can “Think” a smile, and consciously brighten your face and think “I am looking interested and approachable.” and the words you say to customers then go along with that and reinforce it.

              But yes, it is important to avoid making it sound simplistic and just “telling a woman to smile.” it’s not about “smiling more” it’s about “presenting a positive and open persona to customers.”

              Reply
      1. fposte

        “Doesn’t chat or do pleasantries” would seem to cover it for me. Those are usually important in a customer-facing role, and I would give feedback based on that.

        Reply
        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          These sound like performance problems that merit feedback/correction. If she’s in a customer-facing role, it’s expected that she has customer service skills… which include being personable, chatting/pleasantries and an approachable demeanor. To be approachable, her body language, tone of voice, and expressions should be accessible/inviting/responsive. She doesn’t have to smile to do have an “accessible expression”—I wouldn’t tell her to smile—but she shouldn’t seem like she’s channeling April Ludgate.

          Reply
        2. paul

          focus on that, not the face. Unless she’s actively scowling at people or giving them the stink eye…I mean, if someone just has that sort of face there isn’t much they can do unless you want a forced smile non-stop (also incredibly creepy!)

          Reply
        3. mb

          In our reference training this was framed as “being approachable” – because if you use personality words like “friendly”/”personable” it may sound more like an indictment of personality, whereas feedback about being approachable just sounds like another work skill. So it was a list of traits like open posture, eye contact, smile and greeting when someone looks at you/seems like they’re about to approach you. It comes across more as standard job training than “you need to be more like some other personality.”

          Reply
    2. SophieChotek

      I admit I’m a little confused how she can be “overall great” yet “not personable, looks unhappy” if the primary focus of her job is customer-facing. Yet at the same time, working in a coffee shop, and tending to be happier doing “the work (i.e. washing dishes, making the drinks, prepping)” than talking to customers, I understand…but eventually I realized part of the job was being personable with the customers — making them feel welcome. they didn’t just come back for the product, they liked to feel welcome and noticed. Maybe that might help your employee see it isn’t just “faking being nice” because you-said-so — it really can be about building a relationship with customers (not to be friends outside the store/office), so that they come back to this store/vendor/office, instead of the one down the road that charges the same, or even charges less, or has better parking.

      Reply
    3. RVA Cat

      Please, just make sure what you’re looking for is the exact same you would expect from a man in the same position.

      Reply
      1. New Girl

        All the men in the same position as her display all the “personableness” I would like her to have. As do the other women.

        Reply
        1. Zathras

          New Girl, something that might help navigate the unfortunate gender angle of this is to use the men as examples of good behaviors when you are coaching her.

          Reply
    4. Anon Accountant

      Encourage her to take an interest in customers. You’d be surprised how far a comment about the weather can take you for example.

      “Thought about putting away my snow shovel but glad I didn’t! Do you like snow?” Etc.

      Reply
      1. PollyQ

        I would say this very much depends. If I’m popping in somewhere as a customer for a quick transaction, I would MUCH rather we just stick to the business at hand rather than be asked irrelevant time-wasting questions by the person who’s supposed to be doing a task. If we’re both waiting while some process finishes, then I don’t mind a little chit-chat.

        Reply
    5. HeyNonnyNonny

      A counterpoint: I don’t necessarily like friendly or chatty customer service representatives; I prefer someone efficient and quick. If I described someone as a ‘get it done kind of person,’ that would be an incredible compliment from me!

      Reply
      1. Marisol

        yeah, while on the one hand it seems common-sensical that you’d want to coach someone serving customers to be friendly, I’d still want to confirm that the feedback the OP was getting from customers was actually negative.

        Reply
    6. Jadelyn

      I can definitely see addressing it with her, since her job is customer-facing and that’s part of the skills she needs to show on the job.

      If/when you do, I’d frame it as a question of task-oriented vs relationship-oriented, because that helps it feel less like a value judgment on “you’re not good enough with people” and more “your natural tendency is A, but this role needs to show equal amounts A and B, so you need to work on adding more B to your demeanor.” That’s the framing that’s helped me, because I am super task-oriented but I also know that I need to at least give lip service to relationship-oriented behaviors. I actually have to remind myself when I answer the phone that I need to start with a greeting rather than just jumping in with “Hey Wakeen, what can I do for you?”, and framing it as balancing my natural tendency towards being task-oriented with the need for my role to have relationship-oriented elements has helped me not be resentful or annoyed about doing that.

      Reply
    7. The Rat-Catcher

      Is she greeting them when they approach? Having been both a customer and a customer service rep, that is one of the most important things. Customers should not have to feel like they are interrupting you. It’s a tangible item to work on, without being gendered.
      I’ve had plenty of reps that had RBF that I was perfectly satisfied with. It’s about creating a rapport with the customer. A lot of people find that smiling makes that easier, but it can be done without it.

      Reply
    8. Troutwaxer

      If she’s not good with people, maybe coach her on a couple small talk kinds of subjects: “How’s the wife and kids?” Or “Lovely weather we’re having today.”

      Reply
  10. Anon Anon

    So, I have an interview scheduled and it’s for a senior level position and the interview is scheduled for an hour. It’s the only interview. To me this is a red flag. All other positions of this nature that I’ve interviewed for have resulted in multiple interviews, with one being at least half a day where I meet the staff who would be reporting to me, directors of the other departments, etc.

    The Glassdoor reviews are older, nothing from the last two years, and they are mixed. Plus there has been a change in leadership within the last couple of years.

    So is the length of the interview a red flag or am I just being paranoid?

    Reply
    1. The Other Dawn

      Since this is your first scheduled interview and you haven’t gone yet, how would you know whether or not there will be more to come? If they’re interested after the first one, then presumably there will/may be further interviews. If they’re not, then that would by your only one. Did they specifically say that this will be the only interview and they’ll make a decision from there? If so, then I’d think that’s a bit strange for a senior level position.

      Reply
      1. Anon Anon

        Yes, they told me it was the only planned interview. Of course, they may opt to schedule a second one, but they specifically told me that they don’t do multiple round interviews. I just found it very odd, because the last time I had one interview with a decision based on that interview was almost 20 years ago.

        Reply
    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      I think you might be paranoid. I’ve interviewed at places where the practice was to have multiple interviews, and at others where the practice is one interview with the decision-maker. It honestly depends on the nature of the position, and the organization’s culture and size. But it’s not inherently a red flag. Why not go, check it out, and see how you feel after?

      Reply
      1. Anon Anon

        I’m going to go. I just seems very off to me. I’m meeting with the person who would be my supervisor, an HR rep, and one person who would be a direct report, all at the same time.

        Reply
    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      I think it’s a red flag, personally — but when I’ve written here before that I think hiring on the basis of one intervew is a really bad idea, I’ve gotten a lot of pushback from people who apparently are in industries where that’s common. I still think it’s a red flag though — about their rigor, about who your coworkers might be, and about how likely you both are to know if it’s the right fit or not.

      Reply
      1. Anon Anon

        Thanks. If I was in an industry where one interview was the norm that wouldn’t surprise me. But, even for low level (coordnator, assistant, etc.) type positions most places do at least two interviews. This position has three direct reports and about 10 indirect reports. It just seems very off.

        Reply
        1. Minerva McGonagall

          Do you have a connection at / to the company? That’s the only thing I can think of where one interview would make sense, because a trusted colleague has vouched for your work and they are just interviewing to assess fit?

          Reply
          1. Anon Anon

            I met the new CEO there at a workshop a few months ago and we spoke for perhaps 10 minutes. That is literally it. And I get the impression that they aren’t interviewing anyone multiple times. That their entire candidate pool is going through the same thing.

            Reply
  11. The Other Dawn

    It’s benefit enrollment time at my company and I’m trying to decide if I should switch over to the HSA plan. I’ve been on the standard copay-based plan for years and I’m nervous about going to an HSA or HRA. How do I go about deciding whether the copay-based plan is better or if the HSA or HRA makes more sense? It’s just my husband and I with no plan to have children and we’re in good health. I have to admit the HSA and HRA premiums are very attractive.

    Reply
    1. Natalie

      I found some pretty handy calculators online that took into account the differences in premiums, taxes, and deductible. Do you have a decent idea of how much medical spending you have in a given year?

      Reply
    2. Graciosa

      If you’re looking only at premiums, you’re not making a fair comparison. You need to assume you will be making regular contributions to your HSA account in larger amounts to ensure you can cover higher potential expenses.

      In my case, this was still a better deal and I’m happy with the decision (which I think is typical – IF you are disciplined about ensuring you have the savings in hand) but you need to be sure you’re not going to get hit with a bill you can’t pay.

      This means not relying on the hope of continued good health instead of actually having access to the money you need.

      Reply
    3. BenAdminGeek

      I obviously don’t know your personal situation. In general, employers find that employees over-cover themselves- they could pay less and come out ahead, but want the security blanket of the lower deductible. If your company does an employer match, that really improves the HSA. If not, I still tend to favor them due to the tax-favored nature of the savings and the lower premiums. I did find that it took a year of not having a lot of doctor’s visits to really start making the HSA work well for me. Once I started to build up that nest egg it worked well. For what it’s worth, I do have children and we’ve still found it advantageous.

      I’m not a fan of HRA plans just due to the restrictions a lot of employers/plans place on them, but some folks love them.

      Reply
    4. NotMyRealName

      Questions to consider (we just did this and here were our main things) Will your employer contribute to the HSA account? Can you cover the deductible? What is your/your spouses health situation?

      We went HSA, my employer contributes to our account and it’s been very helpful for stuff that wouldn’t have been covered.

      Reply
      1. ThatGirl

        Yeah, my husband a couple years ago had an odd plan, it wasn’t an HSA but some other similar term… his employer covered the first $1500 of a $3000 deductible, there was the “donut hole” where we were on the hook for the next $1500 in expenses, and then the rest was covered 100%. Depending on your finances and healthcare needs it actually worked pretty well.

        Reply
        1. AMPG

          I was on one of those – a high-deductible HRA plan. It worked really well as long as you didn’t have anything catastrophic happen; we only had one year when we had to pay our portion of the deductible, and that was the year I gave birth.

          Reply
          1. ThatGirl

            Well, and to me a $1500 deductible isn’t so bad, especially when everything is covered 100% after that.

            Reply
    5. Lizzle

      I would start by measuring the difference in premiums over a year + any amount your employer is putting into the HSA for you vs. the difference in deductibles. At my workplace, the company puts half of my deductible into the account over the course of one year, and my premiums are also significantly lower, so the math was really conclusive. Basically if I just put in the premium savings, after a year I’d have my full deductible amount in the account.

      Then you may want to go on to factor in the cost of your copays, and if there is a different out-of-pocket maximum between the plans make sure that you could float either cost in an emergency.

      Reply
    6. The Other Dawn

      My employer will contribute 1,300.00 total for the HSA or 500.00 total for the HRA plan.

      Ok, so I would need to make contributions in addition to whatever premiums I pay, correct? I didn’t know that. Not sure what I was thinking. I guess I thought that the premiums went into the account. I know, I know. Health insurance mystifies me.

      Reply
      1. Lisa from scenic Michigan

        You should contribute so you always have enough to cover the out of pocket costs in addition to the deductible.

        Because anything can happen! Bodies are tricky that way.

        Reply
      2. Anomanom

        You can contribute, you do not have to (on most plans). HSA is great for two reasons though – the funds roll over and are portable. So you can build up enough to cover your deductible then leave it and not contribute if you want, or slowly build it up over time. If you leave your job, the account is yours and you can continue to use those funds or roll them into another HSA.

        If you are healthy, they are a great option to keep your health costs lower and instead save those funds for the future. They are not a 1 size fix though, if you have a lot of doctor’s visits is can add up, and until you build up your HSA there is a window that you may take a big financial hit if there is an unforseen issue. I am a big fan of them, but this is why I dislike when people try to push them on everyone.

        Reply
    7. Lisa from scenic Michigan

      I’ve been on an HSA plan for a couple of years, and I have mixed feelings about it.

      It’s good for folks who are heavy utilizers of health care, or who never use it at all. For example, a coworker hits their deductible AND out of pocket costs by February of each calendar year. The rest of their care is covered 100% for the year. Of course, if you’re healthy and just get mostly preventative care, that’s inexpensive or mostly likely covered.

      I’m somewhere in between. I’m 45 and have a couple of chronic conditions that need meds and monitoring (asthma, depression). I’ve had a few female internal parts issues that have been getting treatment. So, I don’t hit the out of pocket tier…I think I hit my deductible last year? It’s one more thing to keep track of, IMHO. And I don’t necessarily think it makes me a better “health consumer” because it’s not like you can really shop around for health care prices.

      Just giving you my 2 cents worth. Hope it helps! I’ll peek back if you have more questions. :-)

      Reply
    8. Rowan

      I thought I was “in fairly good health” until I switched to an HDHP/HSA. (I’m a woman in my early forties with no major ailments). Then I discovered I had allergies and needed immunotherapy, and even that relatively minor concern blew the savings-cost calculation out of the water, especially with all the testing to even figure out it was allergies.

      I know this is a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem for the US, in that medical costs won’t come down until more people are on HDHPs (and even then, it’s dubious), but with medical costs the way they are now, it doesn’t make financial sense for most people to be on an HDHP.

      Reply
    9. CDM

      We switched to a HSA last year.

      DH’s employer had a rough cost/benefit analysis on their enrollment info packet. For their two plans, the highest and lowest consumers of healthcare benefit from the HSA/HDP, the ones in the middle do better with the higher cost plan and the medical FSA account. We have been pretty consistently at the bottom of that higher consumer spending tier, so it looked like the HSA would benefit us.

      Essentially, DH and I were both contributing the max $2,500 to our FSAs, and spending all of it on us and the kids. Switching to the HSA meant contributing the same amount overall to the HSA that we did to two FSAs, (plus his employer contributes to the HSA since they are paying less in premium) plus a reduction in our premium, so our fixed expenses dropped by about $2,500. A full year’s contributions to the HSA is more than our family out of pocket max on the HDP policy, so unless we go overboard on glasses or dental implants or something not covered by insurance, we should never run out of money in the HSA account to pay the medical bills.

      I found after the switch that certain preventative healthcare and prescriptions were free with the HSA where we paid copays and deductibles with the old plan, so we saved money there that I had budgeted into our withholding. We did end up with an unexpectedly very light healthcare year, so we carried more than expected over to the current year.

      The thing to beware with the HSA, is you can’t spend money that isn’t in the account, unlike a FSA. I held my breath the first few months (and mentally cursed when one kid ended up in 3x/week PT at the end of January) One big accident or illness early in the year could have been bad. Took us about 4 months to build up the equivalent to one person’s deductible in the HSA. With rollover money, that’s not a concern for us for subsequent years.

      I am finding that our routine stuff isn’t costing significantly more now that I’m paying “in full” (negotiated rates) instead of a copay. Especially considering that we’re saving $2,500 in premium per year. Paying $60 to the dermatologist or $70 to urgent care when the copay was $50 is NBD. Primary care bills run us $30-$40 when the copay was $25. Orthopedist bill with x-rays was $180, would have been $50 copay plus $80 or $90 for the x-rays as part of the deductible.

      And with the HSA debit card, I don’t have to upload every single receipt, like I did with the FSA debit card.

      Once I got over the sensation that we had jumped off a cliff and weren’t quite sure the airbag at the bottom was inflated, it’s been a good move for our situation.

      Reply
      1. Judy

        You can’t spend money that’s not in the account, but you are allowed to submit items for that year later. So once there is enough money in the account you can submit a bill. Yes, you have to have the float to be able to pay it and then get it paid back.

        One co-worker wasn’t planning on putting money in there, above what the company contribution was. Then one of his kids broke a leg. He increased his contribution for the rest of the year, and got the money (pre-tax) back as it went into the account.

        Reply
    10. Trout 'Waver

      I’m a huge fan of HSAs in general. I’d suggest running the numbers 3 ways: 1. No health needs for the year, 2. the average for someone your age, and 3. a maxed out deductible. Compare the numbers. If you’re relatively young and healthy, you’re going to most likely be in category 1. and your insurance is to protect you from category 3.

      Once you get a full year’s deductible in your HSA, the peace of mind is incredible.

      Also, remember that you’re getting your health care in tax free dollars with an HSA, so that’s a straight discount at your marginal tax rate on top of everything else.

      Reply
    11. Artemesia

      How do they work? If they are catastrophic coverage coupled with an HSA then I would do that with your current status especially if the HSA is adequate to cover your annual routine stuff. The most important thing about health insurance when you have pretty good income is insuring against the indefinite high side. it is like trip insurance which we never bought when young — ultimately you don’t need to insure lost tickets or luggage — if you can afford to travel you can afford to lose that money. What you need to insure is the need for air ambulance home which can bankrupt you. Same with health insurance when you have a decent income — you are guarding against that cancer diagnosis that will cost a million dollars.

      I’d look at your usual costs and just compare the policies to see which puts you ahead. And be very sure you have very good catastrophic insurance not one with enormous co-pays.

      Reply
      1. Natalie

        High deductible health plans with HSAs are different than catastrophic coverage. They have standard health coverage once you hit that deductible.

        Reply
      2. Jennifer M.

        Under a HDHP you pay everything out of pocket until you hit the deductible. At that point coverage can be anywhere from 70% them/30 you to 100% them. When I say you pay out of pocket, you don’t pay sticker price. You pay whatever rate the insurance company has negotiated with the service provider (ie if a cardiologist has a sticker price of $500 per visit, but his contract with Aetna says he can only bill $100 per visit and you are under an Aetna HDHP, you pay $100 out of pocket until you hit your deductible).

        In 2017 the minimum deductible in an HDHP is $1,300 for single coverage and $2,600 for family coverage. The maximum deductible is $6,550 for single coverage and $13,100 for family coverage.

        And remember that Out of Pocket Maximum is a completely separate number. Say your single coverage deductible is $1,300 but your OOPM is $7,000. After you hit your deductible, your coverage is 70/30 (usually the lower the deductible, the higher the percentage you have to pay after hitting the deductible) . So you are in a really bad accident. You have to pay the first $1,300 of your medical bills. Then the insurance kicks in and they start paying 70% of the costs and you pay 30% until your total spent in that insurance plan year (which may or may not match the calendar year) hits $7,000. After that the insurance plan covers everything. Of course the out of pocket maximum only includes covered services so if you have a procedure that isn’t covered, that is separate from the $7,000.

        Reply
        1. The Other Dawn

          So, say something isn’t a covered service and I have to pay for it. Could I use the HSA money to pay for it? Or would I need to use money I have in my checking account (or wherever)?

          Reply
          1. Trout 'Waver

            Yup. Common examples of things that you can use HSA funds for include contacts, LASIK, and dental procedures.

            Also, if you make it to 65, your HSA essentially converts to a traditional IRA.

            Reply
          2. Kinsley M.

            You *can* use HSA funds for expenses that are not covered by the IRS. However, you will pay a rather hefty tax, similar to if you’d take out money from your 401K early.

            Reply
            1. Natalie

              Also, if you pay for something with your HSA funds and then later get a check from your insurance company for that same thing, you have to deposit the insurance reimbursement in the HSA or it’s considered a non-qualifying withdrawal with the same tax hit.

              Reply
    12. The Rat-Catcher

      Everyone else has given really good advice. The only thing I will add is to do your own calculations – don’t necessarily trust the samples presented by your company.
      At my company, they sell us on HSAs hardcore. Their tax-benefit calculation assumes the 25% tax bracket – conveniently ignoring the fact that only those with “director” in their title are paid enough to fall into that. Most of us are more like 15%. It doesn’t mean HSAs aren’t worth looking at, but it changes the numbers.

      Reply
    13. Overeducated

      I chose a regular copay plan over an HSA for my exchange plan this year. My reasoning:

      The copay plan has a deductible that’s only about $200 lower than the HDHP, but has predictable copays for most common services. Premiums were less than 15% more expensive than the HDHP. So the out of pocket costs at our current low level of health care consumption were fairly similar for both, and the HSA had the chance of leaving us financially better off at the end of the year.

      BUT my mom switched to a HDHP recently, and she said there is a noticeable administrative time commitment to file your bills to pay from the HSA. I also spent a lot of time during pregnancy calling my insurance company, provider network, and individual providers and hospitals trying to get cost and coverage estimates to be a “responsible” consumer (which they mostly said they couldn’t give me until after billing, so I couldn’t make decisions with cost in mind!). In my current job I just don’t have the time to spend on that. A small tax free savings incentive would not be worth the headache, or the sense that I would be gambling financially every time I took my kid to the doctor.

      So I am spending more for more traditional coverage. YMMV – since my parents just retired, they have time and need to cut costs, so the HSA is better for them.

      Reply
    14. copy run start

      I almost switched to the HDHP+HSA this last benefit year, but I realized at the last minute that a medicine I rely on wouldn’t have been covered under the HDHP. My employer advertised the HDHP as covering certain preventative/maintenance medications completely vs. the copays required under the traditional plan, but my medicine wasn’t on the list. Instead of paying $15 for 90 days I would’ve had to pay cash price (~$50 for 90 days) until I hit my (now higher) deductible. In my calculations the deductible was high enough that I was coming out behind, even with employer reimbursement.

      So if there’s a schedule of benefits or formulary provided that’s different from your companies other plans, I suggest reading it very carefully. My pharmacy recently starting posting the cash price on my receipts, but Good RX might also have local pricing for you.

      Reply
  12. Folklorist

    It’s your wet and gross and cold outside (at least in my corner of the world) ANTI-PROCRASTINATION POST!!!! What have you been putting off? Go and do it and come back to brag about it! Rip that crusty old bandaid off and feel free!

    For me, I’ve been avoiding sending a rejection email to a writer that I had previously told we were accepting (ouch–my boss overruled me after the fact). I need to find a way to let this young writer down while still encouraging him. Sigh.

    Reply
    1. Purest Green

      :(

      Would it be a no-no to suggest other place he might submit pieces to, and say his submission or whatever isn’t a good fit for your publication this month (or whatever makes sense)?

      Reply
      1. Folklorist

        Yeah, I’m going to coach him on ways to tweak it and make it more suitable. He’s honestly a better writer than we usually get; the submission just wasn’t right this time. I’m also going to recommend that he apply for a columnist opening that we will likely have available in the next few months.

        I just feel so bad for telling him yes first! (I ran it by my boss first and he agreed, so I gave the guy the good news–then boss thought more about it and nixed it. I wasn’t trying to get his hopes up!)

        Reply
    2. Lizabeth

      I came to the library today to work on “stuff” since there’s no good place at home to do it (no extra bedroom for an office setup, just the corner of the master bedroom) It seems to be working out. I don’t think they’d let me bring my sewing machine but I could do hand embroidery!

      Reply
    3. Sarasaurus

      FY18 BUDGETS! I promised my clients a working draft before I leave for vacation on Tuesday, so I actually can’t put it off any longer. Lucky for me, I work much better with a deadline looming.

      Reply
    4. Kowalski! Options!

      Our city uses a smartcard system for transit passes and fares, and I finally got around (four years later) to registering and being able to buy my passes online. It probably wasn’t smart to do it on the last day of the month, I guess (what should have taken 10 minutes ended up taking almost an hour), but it’s done.

      Reply
    5. Snazzy Hat

      About ten job applications. I went to a job fair last week, and I’ve been looking through the local job listings too. Working one day a week has led to me getting pretty lazy on non-work days. For example, I woke up a little after noon today. Gonna try for at least three applications today, but five would be ideal (and I’ve completed that many in one day before).

      Also, taxes. It counts as work-related because I have to file a 1040 + Schedule E for rental income. I filled out the “does not apply” sections months ago. I need to sit down with all of my bills and expense receipts from last year and actually do calculations. I keep acting as if it’s more difficult than it really is. I keep everything where it belongs; it’s just tedious.

      Reply
    6. Raia

      I did my taxes! Finally! I used TaxAct and submitted Fed and state, and I hina I hit submit local. Not sure.

      Off to fun busy weekend!!! I’m so glad I took the day off today for me time.

      Reply
    7. HeyNonnyNonny

      Finished a slide deck of THREE total slides that I’d been putting off. Aaaaaand now I feel silly for leaving it for so long.

      Reply
    8. Charlie Q

      I got back from vacation this morning and fully unpacked within two hours of getting home, which kind of clears me of all procrastination-related guilt for the rest of the day! ;) Or not. But I am getting a haircut, which I’ve been putting off.

      Reply
    9. Zis

      I was putting off updating the “insurance bible” for our property, mostly because the drawer all the tenant documents that are left to update is in an inconvenient spot. Then I got told they were transferring me to another property. Now I’ve finished it and my previous feels like it’s twisted 20° wrong. But it’s worth it. no more 45 minute drive for me!

      Reply
  13. He got it at Jared!

    Piggybacking off of one of the discussions this morning – can you think of any reasons why an employee would not get a cost of living increase, other than they are at the top of the scale or budget for that particular role? The comments on #2 got me wondering what other possibilities there could be.

    Reply
    1. SophieChotek

      Company is not making a profit. I haven’t gotten a raise, and I’m sure it’s because we’re not making enough money so no one is getting raises. They probably figure: at least you have a job versus the X people we laid off instead.

      Reply
    2. Nan

      Because they aren’t a Thing at a lot of placed. For us, if you don’t meet a minimum criteria in your review, you don’t get squat.

      Reply
      1. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo

        This. One of my previous companies made it very clear that annual raises were given on merit alone, not cost of living – only people who averaged 3 out of 5 on their annual review would get raises. (Unfortunately, this was much easier said than done in certain departments, including the one I worked in. The managers were notorious for dinging for really tiny things so scores didn’t quite average to 3. It was kind of an open secret that the only way to get a raise in the department was to be promoted.)

        Reply
    3. Natalie

      Sometimes costs really aren’t going up. Year over year inflation in the US as a whole has only been about 1% for the last few years, and I would bet real money that in some regions they are actually in deflation.

      Reply
      1. Artemesia

        I always wonder about those figures. Medical costs are skyrocketing; our medical insurance has gone up faster than our social security for example. It is sort of insulting when Medicare raises it rates by Xplus Y and social security doesn’t go up at all because ‘no inflation’ so the check goes down. Plenty of people still working also are facing insurance cost rises. Our pharma costs have also skyrocketed and our insurance policy for drugs has gone up and so have the co-pays.

        Our housing costs have gone up and the cost of groceries has certainly gone up.

        I am unclear in my life where all this deflation is.

        Reply
    4. Brett

      In public sector, there is always an issue with public perception of cost of living increases, e.g. all the people going “I don’t get a cost of living increase, why should people being paid out of my pocket get one.”

      Old employer suspended cost of living increases in the late-80s and has yet to reinstate them. This was actually somewhat useful, because a when rude people decided to excoriate you in public about pay raises for public employees they would inevitably start with, “You already get cost of living increases….” ‘No, we don’t. Last one of those was in 1986.’

      Anyway, this meant that, instead of cost of living increases, we would get small raises to somewhat keep pace with inflation. Sometimes people at the bottom got skipped simply because money was limited and managers used strange rules to allocate their limited resources like going in seniority order or increasing higher paid employees first since they would have more of a fight getting those raises.

      Reply
    5. really

      This was part a discussion my husband had with a coworker over 30 years ago. If you have a contract that specifies a COLA you get a COLA otherwise the raise is what we call a the cost of doing business. You get a raise so hopefully you will stay but the reality is that there are a lot of reasons an annual raise does not happen and there is a limit to what any job will be worth. Take your salary today and compound it at 5% annually (what everyone wants). Do you think your job is truly worth what your salary would be after 10 years?

      Reply
    6. Trout 'Waver

      If there is a pay discrepancy between two people doing a similar job and the higher paid one is overpaid.

      Reply
  14. VQ

    Has anyone ever had a coworker who quit without giving notice and just stopped coming in to work (or done it themselves)? It happened at my workplace this week and there has been so much fallout and work not getting done because of it. I work at a Fortune 500 company and this is my first full-time post college job (9 months) but some of my coworkers who have decades of work experience have never seen it happen before. It’s been interesting and I’m just wondering what others have experienced.

    Reply
    1. Dizzy Steinway

      An old university peer of mine went AWOL. Apparently they wrote ‘Where is Wakeen?’ on a whiteboard in Donnie Darko style.

      Has the person definitely quit? If they’ve gone AWOL it’s always possible they’re in hospital or something.

      Reply
      1. VQ

        She’s definitely quit. Our boss blocked her internal transfer to a different team because he didn’t want to lose her. She was told it had been blocked by her manager and therefore the offer was rescinded. This was last Thursday. Last Friday the manager was off all day and lots of people were leaving early. She pretended she was leaving early but really she went to HR and resigned. She gave back her company mobile phone and was given a check for her pay up until Friday and she left. She told HR she had told her boss and coworkers but she didn’t tell anyone. HR is at a different location than us and they don’t know her or our boss personally or anything like that. Our boss couldn’t get in touch with her on Monday when she didn’t show up because she had given back her phone when she quit. No one has any idea how to contact her but HR said she was very clear that she was quitting, even though she didn’t give them a reason.

        Reply
        1. Detective Amy Santiago

          Was the transfer a promotion? Or in a different area where she wanted experience? If so, I can’t say I blame her for quitting after finding out it was blocked.

          Reply
          1. VQ

            It was to a team that was more in line with her interests and what she had gone to college for. It wasn’t a promotion, the title and pay grade were the same, but I understand why she was upset too. My boss on the other hand is clueless as usual.

            Reply
            1. Caro in the UK

              I can totally understand why she wanted to leave after that then.

              I wouldn’t have necessarily quit without notice, but if your boss blocked a transfer that she really wanted, because s/he couldn’t do without her… well I can completely see her deciding to effectively say “well you’ll HAVE to do without me now”.

              Someone (HR ideally) should really spell it out for your boss that this is a very real consequence of blocking internal transfers :(

              I’m sorry that it’s left to you to pick up the slack, that really sucks.

              Reply
              1. Amber T

                Why do companies allow managers to block internal transfers? Wouldn’t it make most sense to the company that if an employee wants to move, and is the most qualified for that position, they allow that employee to move? I get that it could hurt the manager, but instead, the company and the manager (hopefully not the employee – hopefully she had something else lined up) are hurt because they lost a good employee.

                Reply
                1. Not So NewReader

                  I would think that it would be wise to transfer the employee if possible. But I have been told that in some cases a critical employee may not be allowed to move. This is because it would be detrimental to the business.

                  I think that upper management should be able to have the final say on an immediate boss’ refusal to approve a transfer.

        2. Menacia

          Yeah, I probably would have done the same thing, what gives your boss the right to block her transfer just because *he* did not want to lose her? Ultimately, your boss gave her no choice, and she wanted out, so she got out the only way she had left. Look at the mess HE made. I am seeing this more and more with younger employees who have done all the right things (educate themselves, show up every day, etc.), but when they start looking to move up the corporate ladder or into a different area, they are held back but the difference is that they are not afraid to walk out the door. This is especially true in my organization when women want to move into the areas that have been male-dominated and run by males who still think women should belong pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen….but I digress….

          Reply
          1. Fortitude Jones

            This is the story of my life. And like you said, I have no problem leaving altogether. Companies need to stop playing these stupid games with employees, especially the ones that are good and have options.

            Reply
        3. Falling Diphthong

          So that’s a standard quit with no notice, rather than vanishing. Not quite a rage quit so much as a controlled burn quit, fulfill the one legal formality and walk out the door.

          I’m not feeling a lot of “who could ever have predicted this?” sympathy for management–they made it clear so long as she has this boss, she won’t be allowed to move out or up. So she changed the one thing in that formula that was under her control.

          Reply
        4. paul

          Not professional of her but your manager pulled a fairly skeezy stunt there and I can’t blame her for being mad.

          Reply
          1. Trout 'Waver

            I wouldn’t call it unprofessional. I think that’s a perfectly appropriate response to how she was treated.

            Reply
            1. PollyQ

              I think it’s still unprofessional not to give notice. It’s also possible that faced with the guaranteed loss of the employee, the manager would have given permission for the transfer, whereas now she may be on a do-not-hire list due to quitting without notice

              Reply
              1. Trout 'Waver

                Blocking an internal transfer after there is already an offer on the table is the nuclear option. It destroys the relationship. There is nothing left there to save at that point.

                Reply
                1. Amber T

                  I agree that her relationship with the boss was already ruined (seriously, dumb move on his part), but it’s possible she left coworkers in a lurch. You never know who you’ll run into in future jobs, so if a coworker remembers her as the one who just up and quit with no notice, that could work against her. I don’t think a coworker or anyone could fault her for choosing to leave after a transfer was blocked like that, but it’s the way she left that matters.

                  (Though to be honest, I’m cheering for her on the side!)

        5. TootsNYC

          “Our boss blocked her internal transfer to a different team because he didn’t want to lose her.”

          And now he has!

          Good for her.

          “HR said she was very clear that she was quitting, even though she didn’t give them a reason.”
          I would think that HR, of all people, ought to know why; that’s very probably why she didn’t specifically say.

          Reply
        6. Artemesia

          Good for her. This should be the outcome for ever yutz who blocks a transfer internally for one of his employees because what he wants is more important than what she wants. Hope she finds or has a great new job and he can just sit and spin.

          Reply
    2. Not Australian

      I actually did that, the last time I was employed by someone else. (These days I run a small business of my own – no bosses!) I was in a very bad place emotionally, which turned out to be due to some mis-prescribed medication I’d been taking for more than fifteen years and had never actually needed in the first place… Anyway, I got into such an emotional tangle that I just couldn’t face work any more; I wrote a letter of resignation and enclosed my keys and that was that. There was never any follow-up from management, not even so much as a phone call to ask if I was all right, so I concluded they were as glad to see me go as I was to leave; they just stopped paying me, someone sent on my P45, and I never looked back. I may be mixing with the wrong people, but I’ve also seen it happen with others … especially in my early working days when jobs were easier to come by and people really didn’t think twice about walking out. Times have definitely changed, however!

      Reply
    3. Murphy

      Yes. (She broke up with her fiance a month before her wedding and had to move back in with her parents, who lived in a different city.) We were hourly shift work, so we had to immediately rearrange the schedule to ensure coverage.

      Reply
    4. LisaLee

      Yes, but only in retail, where it’s slightly less of a big deal. In my case the woman never showed up to her shift, never responded to texts or calls, and never even came in for her last check (!!). The only reason I know that she didn’t have an accident or emergency is because a mutual acquaintance told me she was trying to get fired from that job.

      I’m amazed someone would do pull this at a full-time office job.

      Reply
    5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Wait, your coworker quit without notice, or she simply stopped showing up? I’ve seen the former, but the latter is less common in non-retail/service positions (although not unheard of—job abandonment is a thing.

      Reply
      1. VQ

        Both. Our boss blocked her internal transfer to a different team because he didn’t want to lose her and her offer was rescinded. That was last Thursday. Last Friday our boss took a PRO day. She pretended she was leaving early but really she went to see our HR and resigned. She gave back her company phone and was given a check for her pay up until her last day. She told HR she had told her boss and coworkers but she didn’t tell anyone. HR is at a different location than us and they don’t know her or our boss personally, there are thousands of employees.

        Reply
        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          So this was definitely not the most awesome way for her to quit—particularly the part about not telling anyone but saying she did—, but there might be more to the story that you don’t know about. And it could be that those unknown details make her approach less-than-ideal but justifiable. I have a feeling she was livid about being blocked on the transfer and was done.

          If she resigned without notice, though, that’s not the same as “she stopped showing up.” It sounds like the missing link was communicating that she had resigned to your team/boss. In most cases, not notifying your boss is not great, and she should have done so (either by leaving a resignation letter on your boss’s desk or by sending an email or some other communication making it explicit she was gone).

          Reply
        2. Engineer Woman

          Good for her.

          To answer your question: no, I’ve never known anyone to quit without notice or just leave work one day and not come back.

          Reply
        3. neverjaunty

          But that isn’t “just stopped showing up”; that’s simply quitting without notice.

          It is a little odd that she didn’t tell her boss, but under the circumstances, I can kind of see why. I suspect that he would not have handled it professionally.

          Reply
    6. Xarcady

      At one job, someone quit without notice. He’d been up for promotion a couple of times, kept getting told he would be promoted, but the promotion never happened. After two years of this dragging out, he came in one morning, went to the boss’s office, stayed there 5 minutes, came out and left. In the middle of a huge, important project he was working on.

      He’d lined up another job already, and felt absolutely no loyalty to his old company. And he was angry about the lack of promotion and wanted to make life miserable for his old boss, who was most likely holding up the promotion because he didn’t want to lose a good employee. (He happened to be my brother’s good friend, so I got all the gory details later.)

      At another job, someone just stopped coming in. He had died of a heart attack while on PTO, and it wasn’t until two concerned coworkers visited his apartment that anyone found out.

      That’s for my 30 years of experience in office jobs. In retail or fast food, this does seem to be more common. I’ve been at a retail job for 3 years, and can think of at least 3 people who just faded away.

      Reply
      1. Artemesia

        The only two cases where I know someone just didn’t show up for work, they were both discovered dead in bed. Two different guys; two different decades; luckily both had co-workers who were concerned enough to check. One’s wife was out of town on business; the other was separated.

        Reply
    7. CAA

      I had a contractor no-show one day after a month of working regularly. We knew that he was single and lived alone, so we tried the contact info we had for him over the course of a few hours and were unable to get hold of him. We notified the agency who employed him and they couldn’t reach him either so they called for a police welfare check and found out he was o.k. They apologized to us profusely and rebated part of his hourly fee for the prior month to us. I never did find out any more than that.

      Reply
    8. Clever Name

      I had a coworker put in her 2 week’s notice but left about four days into her notice period. That’s the closest I’ve encountered to a quit without notice or a no-show. I think she was in a really bad place mentally, and she felt like she had gotten screwed over by the company. She did have another job lined up.

      Reply
    9. paul

      I’ve seen it here, once. It was a relief really because the person was *so* damn annoying. Actually OK at a lot of the job but she drove us all up a wall and none of us were sad to see her go.

      Reply
    10. AnotherAlison

      Oh yeah. I had a coworker do this in January of this year, but that was the first time in my 17 years of professional experience. He was an engineering project manager, so you would think he would be more professional, but nope.

      My husband did it once, too. He was ~25 and in a construction job, so it was probably not as unusual there, but I was pretty po’d when he did it.

      Reply
    11. Sabrina the Teenage Witch

      Someone we hired for a new part-time position called in on day 3, but no-called/no-showed for two days the next week. My boss and I were both out the first day of it (I was responsible for training her) and on the second day I had to tell my coworker, who is second in command, that she needs to call her. We planned to slowly integrate duties, so there wasn’t much fallout from it except for some orders being off for days.

      Reply
    12. JeanB

      I’ve done it. When I was in my late teens or early twenties, I clocked out about 3 hours after I’d clocked in and went home. I don’t even know if I told anyone. I may have called the next day (it was an overnight position). It was in a call center type place and I was bored out of my mind.

      Reply
    13. Elizabeth West

      We had one at a previous job–he had been really dissatisfied with things for a while, and when a seriously ill child he and his wife fostered was declared terminal, he walked out and never came back. He literally got a call on his cell from his wife while he was standing next to my desk talking to me, said “Oh God, etc.” and walked out the door.

      I imagine he told his boss the situation later (I assume he told somebody besides me) and it was a good reason to quit. Although I think he would have given notice sooner or later anyway even without the child situation.

      Reply
    14. DCGirl

      I signed up with a temp agency right after college to have some income with job hunting. For my first assignment, they sent me on an envelope-stuffing job. They also sent an older gentleman as well. Well, I had worked in the development office at college for four years, and I was a wicked fast envelope stuffer. The older gentleman commented on my speed and how I was making him look bad. I toned it down a little, but you could tell he thought envelope stuffing was beneath his qualifications. At some point, he got up and walked away. I thought he’d just gone to the bathroom, but minutes ticked by and he didn’t come back. I thought maybe he went to get lunch, but minutes turned into an hour and then two hours. The person we were reporting to came by and asked where he was. I said I didn’t know. She called the agency, and they said he’d just called them from pay phone on the street to tell them he quit.

      Reply
    15. Hibiscus

      Yes. We worked a a narcissistic nutter who liked putting people on PIPS. My colleague didn’t come into work on a Monday, and we didn’t find out until the boss came in she’d emailed and said she had a new job starting in another state in 2 weeks and was moving, so sayonara. I think it was completely fine–that place was awful, the boss too, and we were all demoralized. 10 years later she’s doing fine too.

      Reply
    16. JustaTech

      I had a sort-of intern ghost at the end of summer, just stopped showing up. I wasn’t particularly sorry to see him go; I’ve never worked with anyone who could make such a mess! Puddles and stains everywhere!
      It was kind of surprising that he totally ghosted since he was in medical school (or just graduated) and the position was created for him at the boss’s wife’s request.

      Reply
    17. Construction Safety

      It happens all the time with our craft people. It happened one time with a relatively senior staff guy. Just vanished. Left his College diploma on the wall vanished. About 3 months later we found out that he had a chemical relapse.

      Reply
    18. Jessesgirl72

      My husband is at a Fortune 500, and his MANAGER gave 2 days notice.

      That was almost 6 months ago, and there is still the occasional fall out from it.

      It’s not common, and said Manager burned some really major bridges- and for no real reason. He wasn’t mistreated and the place isn’t toxic. He stated outright that he thought giving two weeks notice was stupid.

      Reply
    19. Gadfly

      We had a coworker go to lunch and never come back or call. Eventually (a few days to a week later) my supervisor got through to her and it turns out she had decided to follow her boyfriend to another state (he was on a pro-hockey team) because he was transferred/traded/something or other.

      Reply
    20. Chaordic One

      I once worked at a place where a coworker in a different quit on the spot when he learned that his bosses had hired someone who had previously been his supervisor at a previous job. (He had been promoted to a where he was now at the same level as his former supervisor.) He didn’t get along with his person and gave his current boss an ultimatum, either her or me, and the employer said “her.”

      The new employee (former boss) was a decidely “meh” employee, but not as terrible as the quitter might have made her out to be. After he quit, he kept in contact with some of his former coworkers in the his former department. He found another job and then “poached” several people from the department.

      Reply
    21. SC in SC

      We had a scientist in our group wh didn’t come to work on a Monday. We didn’t think much of it since we don’t require staff to call in for sick days. Tuesday comes around and she’s still not there. On Wednesday we started to get a little concerned since most people call in if it’s more than a day or two just to let us know the situation and to say that they’re okay. By Thursday we’re calling her but get no answer. Friday comes and now we’re very concerned so we check with one of her work friends who causally mentions that she’s left the country. WTF?! Turns out she was seeing someone who got a position in the UK and decided to go with him but just didn’t bother to tell us. Needless to say she was a bit of a free spirit.

      Reply
  15. an anon is an anon

    I’m not sure if this is more relevant for the weekend post, but if it is, apologies in advance and feel free to delete it.

    I get 4 weeks of vacation at work, plus a week of sick time, a week of personal days, summer Fridays, and work from home whenever I want. I don’t have the budget to travel at the moment (seriously, not even weekend trips are feasible) and I don’t have any projects to do around my apartment or in general. Most of my friends have moved on from the area or have families and no spare time anymore.

    I’ll take a day off here and there, but I don’t know how to spend my vacation time. I want to use it all because it doesn’t carry over and I’d hate to lose it, but I can’t fathom taking four weeks time off with nothing to do. Staying at home makes me stir crazy and I’m allowed to work from home as often as I like, so I use that when I need a respite from being in the office.

    So, I guess, for those of you who don’t have the budget to go on vacations or things to even do at home with your time off, what are your suggestions? It’s a struggle to even get through a week and a half of vacation days, but four weeks is rough. I feel guilty even complaining about this since I know a lot of people don’t even get half the time off I receive.

    Reply
    1. LQ

      Wednesdays off. Just like all of them. Or half days. I really like half days. I use them for my hobbies. I’m a writer so in November I’ll take 2-3 half days a week all month. In winter I take skiing time. I think about how I can use them for my hobbies primarily.

      Also recharge time.

      Reply
        1. LQ

          You can’t take the same day every week? Maybe rotate through? I like a midday rather than a 3 day weekend, it just feels different somehow. 3 day weekends feel like I should Do Something Fancy. A midday week feels more like I can relax. (Or do all the cleaning/whatever I normally do on the weekends but then have the weekend totally free.)

          Reply
    2. SophieChotek

      Instead of taking large chunks of time off, could you do 1/day a week or every other week. Is there a cause you are passionate about? Like an animal shelter, the library, food shelf, local religious organization, museum? Could you plan on one day a week volunteering/working with them? You might meet new people and feel like you were doing something else, but you probably would only be sacrificing half your day. (A couple hours, plus time to drive there and back).

      Other than that, I guess I’d say…maybe explore a new hobby? Look up on MeetUp to see if there is a group already centered around a hobby/activity you enjoy.

      Reply
      1. an anon is an anon

        Nah, I’ve thought about that, but we’re not allowed to take time off every week or every other week if it’s routine.

        I already volunteer on my weekends and nights and the same goes for my hobbies, and a lot of the organizations I volunteer for are more centered around after work/weekend activities as it is.

        Reply
        1. Aunt Margie at Work

          That’s the worst. At my office most people have been here 15 years or more and have four or more weeks vacation. They take every Friday off from June-August or every Friday from October-December. And the office goes on. I am more of a Thursdays off person and that works too. Your office sucks.

          Reply
        2. Artemesia

          The issue seems to be not enough income to do something like head for Europe for 3 weeks or go hike in the national parks for a couple of weeks. So maybe start thinking about what you can do to make yourself more $valuable with the time you have. Can you improve a skill that would help you get a better paying job? Could you spend the time job searching. Could you get a part time job weekends and use your vacation time to give yourself the occasional ‘weekend’ in the middle of the week and save that money for next year’s great vacation. You have time and not money so figure out how to turn the time in to more money. Or figure out some vacation activities that are inexpensive like housesitting in a different city or camping or ‘staycationing’ where you do local activities that are not costly but require some time like local hikes, photo walks, etc.

          Reply
    3. Corky's wife Bonnie

      Do you have to do the four weeks consecutively? If not, then break them up throughout the year. My husband would just take off random days to sleep in, get caught up on bills, meet me for lunch, etc. Last year we had some pretty big car bills so it ate up our vacation budget. So, we spent one day at a lake, another touring a town not far away with a chocolate factory, had dinner, etc. One day was ugly weather so we went to the movies and then to a winery. Do you have any museums nearby? That’s always nice to have enough time to meander through it at your own pace and stop and really admire something.

      Reply
      1. an anon is an anon

        I think the issue I have is that I’ve been in this city for years so I’ve seen most of the things there are to do, and any new exhibits aren’t full-day worthy.

        But no, I don’t have to take the four weeks off at once. But I’ve taken random days off when I feel like I need them or want to chill, but I never seem to get up to four weeks worth that way.

        Reply
        1. tigerStripes

          How about taking a 1 week staycation at 4 different times this year? You can sleep in, get a few things done, check out a DVD or 2 from the library and binge watch, etc.

          Reply
    4. Another Lawyer

      I use it to catch up on errands and personal stuff, and then I usually work out a ton, e.g. take a yoga class every day for 7 days. I cook a ton of stuff as prep for later. I also take days to provide childcare for friends so they don’t have to take a day when school closes, etc.

      Also you could look into side gigs if you have that much time but need more money.

      Reply
      1. Epsilon Delta

        Yes, errand-days are awesome.

        I also get 4 weeks of vacation, but my husband only gets 2. So we do a one or two-week family vacation each year, and then I’ve still got 10+ days to spend by myself. Here are some things I’ve used those extra days for:

        Errands (e.g.: grocery shopping in the middle of the day. So relaxing!)
        Doctor appointments (usually a half day)
        Volunteer
        Craft projects
        Deep clean the house
        Go visit a friend who lives far away/host a visiting friend/take a day trip with a friend
        Extra time off around Christmas for shopping/getting ready for the holiday
        Be lazy and take a nap in the middle of the day when I have the house to myself

        Alternately, a lot of people at my office just take the last 2-3 weeks of the year off because they don’t use their vacation time throughout the year. They don’t necessarily do anything other than hang out at the house, but at least they are not working.

        Reply
    5. AvonLady Barksdale

      I used to take 2 days off– always a Monday and a Tuesday– to go to yoga classes and the movies. I would have a nice four-day weekend to do things I didn’t get a chance to do that often, with very few people around (in NYC, that was the real bonus). While I was unemployed, I filled my days cleaning and baking. No joke. If you like to do crafty things, take some time to devote to those things.

      I’ve also done touristy things in my own town. I once took a week off to go to the zoo, spend some time in the park, go to a nearby beach, etc. Weekends are great, but museums and galleries can be much more enjoyable at “off” times.

      Reply
      1. Yetanotherjennifer

        I was going to suggest playing home town tourist well. You could set a goal of exploring every park in your area or every museum or every bakery. Pretend you’re writing a best of. Or take a published best of and see if you agree.

        Reply
    6. Stop That Goat

      Well, personally, I’m a staycation kind of guy. I just took a vacation a couple months ago and spent most of the time doing upkeep on the house that I had put off for awhile. Sounds like you don’t really have that need though.

      Does your city offer any sort of free activities or sites that you can visit? Since you don’t have any projects already in place, what about starting one? Learn a new hobby? It sounds like you are a bit tight for cash and a bit restless as well though. I think you’re going to have to be a bit creative with options to stay busy.

      Reply
      1. Amber T

        Staycations are the best. It’s awesome being able to get stuff done around the house, little errands that always get pushed to the end of the to do list.

        I also fully admit I take the occasional day off to do *nothing.* Usually at the end of a busy time at work, or if personal life is getting to be too much, or because it’s my birthday (I took my birthday off this year and it was wonderful!). I stay in my pjs, I watch Netflix or play video games, I read. Those days are the best. I’m very much a homebody, so I understand if that’s someone’s definition of hell, but to an introvert like me those days are bliss.

        Reply
      2. Kj

        Day trips, if there are cute towns/good hikes nearby are nice as well. I like the idea of a new hobby. An arts center in my city offers week-long workshops and I’ve been tempted to take one of those as a vacation. It would be cheaper than traveling and fun (I’ve always wanted to be a blacksmith!)

        Reply
    7. fposte

      I just lose a lot of it. Does it get paid out if you leave, and how much can accrue?

      (I also do a lot of stuff around the house, more than traveling, even.)

      Reply
      1. an anon is an anon

        It gets paid out if I leave, but I lose it all by the end of the year and then start over with the four weeks in January.

        Reply
        1. Thlayli

          Too much free time, not enough money… have you thought about getting a second job? Or starting your own business There are a good few things you could do for cash that don’t require a full time job. Pinterest is full of ideas

          2nd idea is look into budget travelling. Couch surfing, volunteer travel, all of that sort of thing.

          Also, it doesn’t sound like you have a partner or close friends nearby so if you wanted to change that you could try to spend time doing meeting people stuff. I believe there are even apps for meeting new people non-romantically now!

          Reply
    8. Insert Nickname Here

      I volunteer for a nonprofit, so generally my vacation days off are either trips to see my family or working events that my nonprofit puts on. Maybe take up a hobby or work with an organization that could use you (and that way you’re staying busy plus developing new skills)!

      Reply
    9. Amy Farrah Fowler

      Oooh, that’s tough, but what I’d suggest is seeing if there are free activities to do in your city, whether they’re festivals, tours of places you haven’t been (some cost, but some are free). You could also take some days to just spend reading a good book or binging on netflix (if it won’t make you too stir crazy). Maybe you could find a meetup group that does fun stuff in your area and make so me new friends to do things with, too… It’s tough being somewhere without much of a social network.

      Reply
    10. Not a Real Giraffe

      I live in NYC, so my experience may be very different to yours, but this is what I like to do during a “staycation” of sorts: Visit museums (fewer crowds during the work day!), hop on the subway and go to the beach for the day, walk through new neighborhoods or even get a ticket to a tour bus and be a tourist in my own city, sleep in, cook elaborate meals, try out a new gym class, read a bunch of new books (I am unfortunately a very fast reader, so I can get through several books within a week), try a new restaurant or two, treat myself to a mani/pedi or other spa-like activity, and convince a friend to take off one day to enjoy the staycation with me (even better if you can convince a few different friends to take off different days — then you have someone to hang out with a few times!).

      I don’t get stir-crazy the way it sounds like you do, so I’m perfectly content to spend a few days being lazy on my couch in front of a Netflix marathon, but the above are just a few of things I’d do to get out of the house.

      Reply
    11. The IT Manager

      Tourist in your own town – museums, wandering around beautiful parks and building.

      A vacation with specific plans to read a book(s) or binge watch a tv series.

      A mid-week day off to do shopping, errands so you’re not fighting the weekend crowds and your weekends are free for fun stuff.

      Leave a few hours early to go to free evening concerts or any evening activity without being rushed.

      Reply
    12. Newby

      Personally, I like to have a baking day. It helps me relieve stress and I get tasty treats. You sound very budget conscious, so one thing you might use the day for is to cook a bunch of freezable meals which will save time and money for the rest of the month.

      Reply
    13. Purest Green

      I know travel budget is an issue, but could you go visit (as in stay with) your friends or family for a week or so?

      Reply
    14. Longtime Lurker, First Time Commenter

      This might sound odd, but you could take a few extra long weekends to learn a new art skill or develop a new hobby?
      Take a day off to go see a midnight premier if that interest you, or take a day when a new show gets released on netflix and spend the time lounging around the house! If you like animals, you could see if a local shelter is accepting volunteers and take a few days a year to volunteer for larger projects than the Vols usually can get to. Actually, if you are looking for a community to plug into to get more social stuff onto your calendar, volunteering in general would help you with that. Just pick an organization and go!

      Feel free to take the ideas or leave them.

      Reply
    15. Merci Dee

      Several people have already mentioned this, but take a few days or a week and turn yourself into a home-town tourist. Check online to see what kind of interesting tourist attractions are in your city (and there may be things that you’ve never even heard of!). Volunteer once a month to help out at a local elementary or middle school (my parents volunteer at my daughter’s middle school, and the office staff absolutely loves to have someone else around to help with filing, making copies, taking kids to and from the lunch room, etc.). Check the weather to find an absolutely gorgeous day, and then pack supplies and food to spend the whole day at a local park, camped out under a massive shady tree while you re-visit a book you loved but haven’t read since 8th grade. Or, if you’re close to a creek or a river, spend $10 to get a nice inflatable and some rope — tie up your inflatable to a handy rock or a tree close to shore, and spend the day drifting lazily on the current.

      Suddenly, spending a day on the river sounds like a good idea. I may have to make plans soon . . . .

      Reply
      1. Merci Dee

        If you can’t think of a book you read in 8th grade and loved, then here’s a book that =I= read in the 8th grade and loved . . . and I found it a few years ago just so that I could re-read it.

        The House of Dies Drear

        A house built by a prominent abolitionist, a college professor and his family who are new in town, rumors of a fabulous treasure, and a bunch of nefarious bandits who are trying to find it first . . . .

        It was enough history, adventure, spookiness, and mystery to keep me glued to the pages. :)

        Reply
    16. CAA

      Here are my ideas:

      Take an intensive class. Learn a new language or skill. Take a professional cooking class.

      Get some travel on someone else’s dime. Take a temporary job as a companion. Work at a summer camp. Become a courier. Maybe you can even get paid enough that you could afford vacation travel next year.

      Volunteer for a big project that needs full-time attention for a few weeks. Run your town’s annual flower show or the library book sale or the 4th of July parade. Organize building of a Habitat for Humanity house.

      Reply
    17. paul

      I go do stuff around town or short day trips–anything within about 2 hours drive time is fair game to me, 3 hours if I really want to see a place. Get an atlas, get a compass, draw a circle that’s within an easy day’s drive and see what’s there. I’ve seen a lot of cool places this way. Cost a tank of gas an usually lunch but that’s about it. Maybe admission fees but most of the places I wind up are cheap or free (god bless our state and national park system and weird small town museums).

      I take a Thursday or Friday off every few months for a trip to the shooting range or a hike I can’t take kids on (5 miles hiking in rough terrain does not work with a 2 year old). You can’t take the same day off every week, but taking 2-3 days at a time every 3 months should be ok right?

      Hell, about once a year I’ll take 3 days off, make a giant picture of margaritas and play through a new computer game.

      Reply
    18. yarnowl

      You should check out atlasobscura.com and search for things that are close by to you! I’ve found a ton of cool museums and parks and stuff like that relatively close to me.

      Reply
    19. EngineerInNL

      Do you have any hobbies or just stuff you enjoy doing? I know I could take a week off work and just read a dozen books and just relax in general or even wait until the weather is nice and explore around your City? Just being outside when it’s nice out makes me happy

      Reply
    20. Anonygoose

      On another note entirely: is there a way you could make there be a budget for travel? I.e. cutting something out of your budget, or getting a part time job? Travel can so be worth the perceived sacrifices.
      Alternately, a part time job might provide you something to do during your time off as well – work 1 day a week for most of the year, and then take ‘vacation’ and work more hours during a busy season (i.e. summer or Christmas)?

      Reply
    21. JustaTech

      If you really can’t think of anything else to do with your vacation time, can you donate it? As in, is your organization big enough that there might be someone in another department who could use more time off to deal with something really major (terminally ill family member, or something)?
      A university I worked for let us donate sick time to other employees who had serious medical conditions (like cancer) so they could stay “employed” and keep their insurance.

      Reply
      1. AnonAnalyst

        I was thinking of something similar. If you really aren’t able to use the days, maybe there’s a way to donate them to someone else who needs more PTO?

        Long term, do you think your company might be open to negotiating your comp package? If they have any flexibility, you might be able to negotiate for a salary increase in exchange for giving up some of your vacation time (but you might have to wait for your next salary/performance discussion).

        Reply
    22. Celeste

      You don’t say if travel is a goal per se, but you do say your budget is too snug for it. I can also see why you wouldn’t want to start a new hobby, because of the outlay needed for tools, supplies, classes/books etc. Could you arrange to be a casual worker on your days off? Maybe there is some other skill you have that could you could leverage into serious cash, or maybe you could just find some work in an area you have always thought was interesting but that you wouldn’t do full time for some reason. I’ll give you an example. I love to tinker with the home. I could see myself helping people get organized, or do childproofing, or make room for an aging relative to move in. Pet sitting. House cleaner. Patient advocate. There are lots of kinds of at-will services that people do need and will pay for, if someone would be willing to do it. You would make some extra cash, and you never know who you’ll meet.

      Reply
    23. Janice in Accounting

      So first, let me say how jealous I am of all that time off! I get two weeks and it’s not nearly enough. But I do recognize the problem; I wouldn’t like sitting at home all day either, because there’s only so much Netflix a person can watch. (Theoretically.)

      As for suggestions: if there’s a non-profit you are particularly passionate about, perhaps you could schedule a block of volunteer time. If you’re good with kids, maybe volunteer to help at a summer camp or chaperone a trip; if you are part of a religious community, I’m sure there’s a Vacation Bible School-type thing where they could use a responsible adult. Hospitals, animal shelters, and food pantries love volunteers. Meals on Wheels can always use drivers and you can do that as little or as often as you like; that might be a nice thing on some of your summer Fridays. Pick up litter in a local park, enjoying the outdoors while doing something nice for the community.

      What about visiting those out-of-town friends? Offer to house-sit for one of them while they’re away on vacation, and get some time in a different city. Or trade houses for a week, if they’re interested in spending time in your town. Maybe even research the possibility of house sitting for an agency in another city, where you’d earn enough to pay your way there and enjoy some fun activities.

      Reply
    24. oranges & lemons

      If there are any festivals or similar events coming up in your area, maybe you could volunteer for one? It can be a great way to participate without having to pay. I’ve done this for a tall ships festival and it was great–a lot better than actually paying since I didn’t have to wait in line and got to hang out with the crew all day. Film festivals, music festivals, and local theatre are good as well. A lot of these are set up so volunteers get a free pass to compensate them for their time.

      Reply
    25. Gadfly

      So, reading the replies, it kind of sounds where you’ve just hit that spot where everything sounds blah. This is generally the point where the only option other than the rut you’re in is doing things outside of your comfort zone. Find a thread of interest, no matter how small, and follow it. It might not be the thing, but odds are good it will take you to other things you are a little interested in, until you find stuff worth doing and worth dealing with the logistical issues in order to do.

      Reply
    26. Not So NewReader

      I have not seen this one suggested. Why not take a temporary job for three of those weeks? I am assuming you would take all four weeks at once? Then use your last week as your true vacation from everything. You might be able to pick up work through friends of friends or by asking around.

      Nurseries need help potting up plants, there might be light construction work available, etc. Take a look around to see who is entering their busy season. Explain what you are looking for and give a general idea why. “I want to fill up my vacation time with some type of small accomplishment.”

      OTH, you could look at taking a course or two. There might be something available locally, I have seen pottery classes and stained glass classes here. I am picking up on some boredom going on, that could be a misread on my part. But if so, maybe try a class in something you have never done before and wanted to try.

      Reply
    27. Chaordic One

      I know this sounds pathetic, but one time when I had a job with low wages and a lot of vacation, I ended up taking the vacation time off from my regular job and then working a temp job for a couple of weeks.

      Reply
    28. AJennifer

      Could you do a housing swap? Or rent your place on AirBNB for a week or two at a time and use the money to in turn get a rental in a different place at the same time for the same price? You might be able to arrange a getaway that with a swap doesn’t actually cost you any extra money.

      Do you have any passions that could translate to volunteer vacations? A summer camp for kids or families that you think is cool and needs volunteers for a couple weeks? A project your local library or historical society is working on that could benefit from some dedicated help a few weeks a year?

      I also like the ideas put forth for staycations and doing things in your own community that you might not otherwise do. I’ve found pleasure in having a reading list lined up and taking day trips to local parks and beaches with books and snacks. It’s amazing how quickly a day goes by when you’re into a good book.

      But lastly, though you hate to lose that vacation time if you don’t use it, if using it creates more stress than not using it, just work if that’s what keeps you grounded. You wouldn’t be the first person not to use all their vacation time. Things might be different down the road but if that’s what works for you now, so be it.

      Reply
    29. Voice from the wilderness

      My company allows me to cash in vacation days. I once cashed in half my days and used the money to fund a vacation on the remaining days.

      It was a win win situation for everybody.

      Reply
  16. EA

    How do you stay motivated and focused when you don’t have a lot of work to do? I’m in an technology analyst role, and a lot of my job revolves around coordinating the quarterly releases and (possibly weekly) routine maintenance outages from our primary software vendor.

    Right now, we’re between releases, and the vendor hasn’t published the list of features for the Q2 release, so there’s not really any ongoing work for that, and planning for the weekly outages takes about 20 minutes a week (send a few emails, make sure everyone knows their part of the checklist to follow, done).

    I’ve asked my manager for more work, and she’s working to try and get some for me, but one project got delayed, and she hasn’t had a chance to talk with her peers yet to see if there’s anything that could be shifted to my plate.

    I work from home on Fridays, and I noticed last week that I spent probably more time reading (and periodically moving the mouse, so I stay active on Lync) than I did actually working. Does anyone have any tips for ways to stay somewhat engaged when there’s really no deliverables that I can be working on?

    Reply
    1. kbeers0su

      I came on here to post something similar, so I’ll be following this. My work is critical to our business, but the work isn’t consistent. So I have to exist in this role, and can’t necessarily tack on extra work that would be consistent. But I find myself at times with significant stretches of time with nothing to do. I read anything that is in any way somewhat relevant to my work, I’ve offered to be on two search committees, I’m one one company-wide committee and a related ad-hoc committee. And I still find myself bored. This is also a change for me, as I was in a different, but related role for years before this. The work in that area was more consistent, so I’ve never dealt with this before.

      Reply
    2. Pup Seal

      Maybe you can use the open time to learn new skills? I’m not sure what skills a technology analyst role needs, but when I first stared my current position I taught myself how to use different programs and software during spare time, and I’ll read my old accounting book once in a while to see if there’s anything we can do to make our budget better.

      I’ve also found it’s a good idea to clean the office area during downtime. Cleaning may not sound like a productive task, but I feel better when the offices are organized.

      Reply
    3. Morning Glory

      Are there any skills or technologies that you could benefit from knowing that you aren’t very familiar with?

      In slow periods I’ve started exploring Excel pivot tables, its new mapping tool, etc. It’s not relevant to any projects I am working on at the moment, but it’s close enough where I could see it being directly applicable to future projects so I consider it a gray area between actually working and slacking.

      Reply
    4. Trout 'Waver

      Ask for a flexible schedule? I assume you’re absolutely slammed around release time and working more hours then.

      Also, a team that’s 100% busy 100% of the time has no capacity to deal with emergencies or unexpected demands. Being available and ready to deal with emergencies that don’t arise is still work.

      Reply
    5. Marisol

      I play an online task management program called Habitica that’s free to download. You set your own goals and I have one goal as “30 minutes of productive work time” so that I get points every time I log in time actually working. As opposed to reading and commenting on blogs…

      Reply
    6. Epsilon Delta

      I had this problem the first few years I was at my company. Now that I have been here for awhile, I have projects that aren’t aligned with a specific release date. This includes things like documenting existing systems, creating new processes, creating and improving internal tools. Now when I don’t have anything to do (at the moment) for my release-driven projects, I can fall back to one of those other projects. Some of these projects I came up with myself and others my manager or coworkers have assigned to me.

      Reply
    7. Cookie D'Oh

      Could you create some process/training docs about how to perform your current functions? If you’re on vacation or have to train someone new those might come in handy.

      Reply
    8. Not So NewReader

      I like to use down time to prep for the next busy time.
      Is there something that you wish you had organized better?
      Are there things you want to research and never have time?

      You could also make yourself a notebook or start a document to collect up these ideas when you are busy so you know what you would like to do when you are free to do it. At one point here I had a tray where I tossed reminder notes to myself. That didn’t work out for various reasons. but it was another collection system I tried.

      Reply
  17. Detective Amy Santiago

    Tell me something good that’s happened for you at work recently. We’ve had a chaotic week at the office and it’s way too easy to dwell on the negatives.

    Reply
    1. Stop That Goat

      My ‘win of the week’ was being able to find a solution for an issue that our programming team and vendor support were struggling to solve. Those kind of moments are what continues to draw me into IT. I get a big rush from being the problem solver when others have failed.

      Reply
    2. GigglyPuff

      A couple of people in my division have left recently which means I get more work, which I’ve really wanted. I get bored on the same thing pretty easily, and get more done if I can shift my focus multiple times. So now I have more work, yay! But at the same time, it’s been a while since I’ve had to focus this much. I’d really been coasting for a while, so it’s kind of a little anxiety inducing, when I start to slip back into coasting habits.

      Reply
    3. Purest Green

      I’ve been in thick of it at work lately too, but I had a performance review this week with a merit increase! That certainly helps me deal with the workload.

      Reply
    4. C Average

      I’m planning to return to school part-time and had been dreading asking my manager (I work retail) about changing my schedule. When we finally did have the conversation, though, she congratulated me, asked me about the program I’m doing, and said she’d be happy to work with me to keep me on staff and make my new schedule work for everyone.

      Reply
    5. yarnowl

      The bulk of my job is working with sales staff to write proposals, and when I started, the process in place took about a month (anything under three weeks was almost impossible) and we were always scrambling to print and bind things an hour or two before they were due.

      This morning I printed and bound a proposal that was requested a week and a half ago, with still a few days left before the deadline! The salesman and his team were blown away, and the proposal turned out great. It felt really good to see the process I designed and manage basically all on my own work so well!

      Reply
    6. BBBizAnalyst

      For me… Got a great review, huge bonus, pay increase and I’ve been given the green light to transition some of my low level responsibilities to another team so I can focus on more high level work. The team I’m on has, over the last year, been adding more interesting analytical work to our day to day since our clients are becoming more complex. Of course, that’s meant some turnover for the team but I think the remaining members are up for the challenge and morale has been much better without the constant complaints of our former colleagues.

      Reply
    7. Lemon Zinger

      I’ve been tasked with some mentoring/training for newer staff and it’s going really well so far. :)

      Reply
    8. TheLazyB

      This morning i was interviewed for a programme in work that’s basically ‘let’s make our organisation better by talking about what it’s like when work is Really Good’. We do a lot of talking about what’s wrong and trying to improve that, which is hard! So it was really nice to spend an hour talking to someone i don’t know from a totally different team about the really good days, what​ makes them good, and how this could be replicated over the organisation as a whole. It really made my day much better. Although i had rabbit-in-headlights pose when i first started prepping and couldn’t think of a single good thing :) i got loads of good examples after that though!

      Reply
    9. OhBehave

      We got an RFP this week with a due date of Monday! My boss (new owner of the co.) hadn’t done one before and I’ve only been working here for 2 months. I worked two days on this and submitted my portion before I left today. I just got an email in reply telling me that it looks fantastic and that he’s very impressed! Yay Me! I was just bemoaning the fact that I didn’t have much to do.

      Reply
    10. Sidestep

      I’m starting a new job on Tuesday: more interesting work, 30% more money, and better hours! This came after a really rough year, and feeling like I had no opportunities open to me I planned to go back to school to try and get something better. It was a position that was handed right to me, and knowing that my years of hard work have been seen and rewarded feels so unbelievably awesome.

      Reply
    11. Annie Mouse

      I’m not very good yet at reading ECGs but a few weeks ago, I managed to spot that a patient’s ECG was out of whack and arranged for us to take him to the most appropriate place of care, by myself. When we got there, it was confirmed he was brewing a heart attack but would be alright. Six months ago, I would have struggled to recognise that there was anything particularly wrong with it!

      Reply
  18. I'm working with someone who despises me

     For anyone interested, I have an update.  Things have gone from weird and bad to, let’s say… weirder and better. 

    Over the space of about a week, Cersei’s behavior toward me has warmed considerably.  She’s not being NICE or anything, let’s not get carried away, but her behavior is more closely approximating acceptable social norms between human people who don’t owe each other some kind of blood debt.  

    She’s answering my emails in a timely manner and reaching out to me on occasion without going through Wakeen.  She’s even spoken to me a few times.  And honestly, this was all I wanted in the first place.  Becoming her bestie and watching Sleepless In Seattle together was frankly never a dream of mine. 

    I have no idea why the sudden turnaround.  Maybe hating on me so aggressively was getting exhausting, maybe Wakeen finally told her to get a grip, maybe she just really likes having her own bathroom.  While I’m curious, I don’t really care that much.  

    This has definitely made my workaday more bearable while I weigh my options (I still see myself leaving sooner than I originally wanted, but I might be willing to stay a little longer if she keeps on this path) but needless to say, I’ll never be able to trust her again and I’m sure I’ll always be waiting for the other shoe to drop around her.  

    I have to thank everyone again for their comments that helped get me through this.  Two shout outs in particular (although I genuinely appreciated everyone’s contributions):

    Marisol, your comment about what to do if Cersei should suddenly start acting normally again was both eerily prescient and completely bang on.  I’ve done just that, taken my cue from her and acted like nothing ever happened.  It was exactly the right thing to do and however this shakes out, I am proud of my behavior.  I’ve held onto my professionalism and I never sunk to her level.  I don’t THINK I would have, but your look-ahead comment was exactly what I needed to hear.  I’m very grateful.  

    NotSoNewReader, you sure know your stuff when it comes to difficult human interactions.  I can see why this community looks to you for wisdom and guidance.  Everything you said was spot on and exactly what I needed to hear.  I wish I could buy you a cup of coffee or something.  Thank you so much.  

    Reply
    1. Marisol

      Well you just totally rocked it! Cersei saw that her strategy wasn’t going to be effective (i.e. that she couldn’t manipulate you), so she dropped it. Now you’ll always have that technique in your back pocket for any other similar situations that arise. I’m so very glad I could help.

      Reply
    2. BuildMeUp

      I’m so glad things are going better! I do agree that continuing to look into leaving is a good idea, because it sounds like your manager’s lack of managing is the biggest problem.

      Reply
    3. Not So NewReader

      Glad to be of help. And I am glad you are in a better place now.

      Keep looking around, you can find a better place than this one. Don’t slack off on your job search because she is showing you how she is going to treat you. It is reasonable to assume you will come back to this again.

      I love the story of the two sisters crossing the river on horseback. The younger sister was following the older sister. The younger sister lost control of her horse because she got mesmerized by the rapidly moving water. She started crying. The older sister yelled, “Look up, look up!” The younger sister raised her head and she could see the shore, with determination she took control over her horse and they both made it to safety.

      It’s so easy to get mesmerized by our problems that we forget to look up/ look around. Insist on looking for the bigger picture when faced with a difficult situation/person.

      Reply
      1. I'm working with someone who despises me

        Well, I just got a fortune cookie that says I will soon make a change at work. So there are clearly good things approaching! Lol.

        Reply
  19. Call me Ishmael

    Semi-regular commenter going a little extra anon for this one…

    I work in proposals. It’s a very deadline-driven environment that suits me personality-wise in a lot of ways, but I’m mid-career, and I can’t see doing this until retirement. There are plenty of other industries I could try out that also need proposal skills, but I pretty consistently hear that proposal jobs all have the same drawbacks (long hours, difficult and demanding work), but the trap is that I’m paid pretty well, and don’t feel particularly qualified for anything other than proposal work (after doing it for nearly a decade). I’d love to move to a more strategic role, but those opportunities are incredibly few and far between.

    Does anybody have any experience with successfully breaking out of the proposal coordinator/manager niche? Or any suggestions on how to make a move without taking a huge step back (particularly in terms of pay)?

    Reply
    1. SophieChotek

      I don’t know if anything like project coordinators or fund-raising would be any less demanding or comparable pay. They strike me as potentially similar/related, but not necessarily the exact same thing.
      I suppose it depends on your industry.
      Also review proposals (for a different company), but not actually have to write them.

      Reply
    2. Dizzy Steinway

      I switched from a totally different field so I don’t have specific advice but I was struck by your line about not feeling qualified for anything else. Been there! You are almost certainly overlooking transferable skills.

      Reply
    3. Hiding From You

      Marketing can be a pretty seamless transition, especially if you’re heavily involved in writing/editing the proposals (I know some places separate management/coordination from the actual writing). But also don’t discount the field entirely. Yes, you’re going to see crazy stress and long hours in most proposal shops, but it can vary widely depending on volume and turnaround time. In my current job, our turnaround on complex proposals is 7-10 business days, and we’re typically running at least two at a time. It’s exhausting and unmanageable. Next week is my last week. I’m moving to a company where turn around time is measured in months. By all reports, most people in the group work pretty much 8-5, rather than the 8-7 that I’m used to. So I’ll still get to indulge my inner adrenaline junkie a bit, but I won’t be driving myself completely insane all the time.

      Reply
    4. RainRainGoAway

      Currently in this same predicament. After 8 years of proposal management, I’m feeling burned out and ready to move on to another field where I have slightly better control of my work capacity and bandwidth. I find marketing roles require a similar skill set, and offer nearly equal pay. Both fields are deadline-driven and require you to juggle multiple projects simultaneously, but marketing deadlines are not driven by clients, and therefore, the power is in your hands.

      Reply
    5. Jules the First

      So nice to hear that feeling like we’ve got no transferable skills is a common problem!

      I love proposals (the short-term, master-this-new-set-of-requirements quickly) is really a great fit with my personality, but I’m finding it’s not challenging enough after ten years…that or everybody wants me to start doing cold-calling or sales (yeuch….) as I get further up the hierarchy.

      Reply
    6. Spondee

      I went from proposals to copywriting. To be specific, I used to write proposals to conduct clinical trials, and I’m now a medical copywriter. At the time, I felt as though I wasn’t qualified for anything else, but even 10 years later, interviewers still react really positively to my proposals experience – particularly flexibility, ability to learn/work quickly, and the ability to clearly explain complex subjects.

      Every time I’ve found a new job, I’ve felt as though I had no transferable skills, but my next job has never been a linear move. You can do more than you think!

      Reply
  20. LQ

    Thank you so much to everyone who had work travel suggestions for me. It was incredibly exhausting, and the social group wanted to go out every night (and I knew it was important to build that so I went with, but I took the mornings to myself). We did get some good interactions and conversations between all the socials and most of the smarts. I was really happy overall with how it went.

    I personally felt way over my head on the material, but I think I did ok based on what expectations for me were? And I’ve followed up by doing some more continuing of conversations and those I think went very well.

    Thank you again so much for all the great words of wisdom and packing tips!

    Reply
    1. Ashie

      At my current job I didn’t know where to empty my personal trash can for about 4 months. Someone would come by and empty it every once in a while but in between I just kept shoving stuff down trying to make it all fit. At a certain point it gets weird that you haven’t asked.

      Reply
      1. Annie Moose

        It’s been six months and I still don’t know where the Kleenex boxes are stored. At this point I’m just hoping to catch someone getting one so I can figure out where it’s from.

        Reply
    2. Master Bean Counter

      I’ll admit it, I’m Jane. And for the love of little apple pies don’t bombard me with anything work related right as I walk in. If you want an answer that isn’t wrong or sarcastic wait at least until the first cup of coffee is in.

      Reply
    3. C Average

      This was funny! Thanks for posting.

      True story. I worked at Big Company for eight years, and early in my tenure, I was told by various people that the two people who knew EVERYTHING were Connie and Lynn, who had both been with the company forever and a day and were smart and helpful and all-around great. I don’t recall ever getting officially introduced to Connie or Lynn, but I did at a certain point start trading emails with them from time to time, and I’d see them in the hallways and chat with them. I had a casual but very good working relationship with both Connie and Lynn, and came to respect them quite a lot.

      Five years into my time at Big Company, Lynn received a big award at a quarterly meeting . . . and the person I had always thought was Connie walked onstage to receive it! For five years, I’d thought Connie was Lynn and Lynn was Connie.

      Reply
      1. hermit crab

        OMG! This is straight out of a sitcom! What a wonderful story (though I’m glad it didn’t happen to me!).

        Reply
    4. jordanjay29

      Paychecks, paychecks, paychecks!

      My first internship took me halfway across the country, which I was thrilled about. It was a paid internship, and decent enough wages too. I left town with about $50 in my bank account, got to my internship and only after the first week did I learn that my paycheck wouldn’t come until a month after I started working.

      So, new city, new job, higher standard of living, and…basically broke. The site manager graciously gave me a loan for the first pay period to make sure I didn’t starve. Thankfully the company was covering my housing, fully furnished too, so I didn’t have to worry about that, but without the loan I would have been on a ramen diet for three weeks.

      Now I make sure to check how positions are paid when I get to the point of talking money with companies.

      Reply
      1. Bananistan

        At my first job, I signed up for direct deposit, and they didn’t tell me my first paycheck wouldn’t be included. I got an email 6 months later asking if I was ever coming to pick my paycheck up. The lady made some comment about how she couldn’t believe I’d forgotten an entire paycheck. But I had no idea it was there!

        Reply
    5. Zathras

      When I first started my job it took me at least five months to figure out how to print from my laptop to the department printer at the university where I work. I hardly ever have to print anything, but there were a handful of occasions where I printed something to the publicly available library printers IN ANOTHER BUILDING and went over to get it.

      I have no idea why I didn’t just ask someone to show me how. I guess because I work in IT, and by the time I needed to print anything I felt like I had been there too long to ask dumb questions? But it’s not like being in IT means that you magically know the network address of every printer in the world.

      The only reason I finally figured it out was because it was out of toner or had a paper jam or something and sent an alert to an email list I am on.

      Reply
  21. SophieChotek

    Sorry…a little mini rant here.
    I am not in charge of data entry at my company…so when I get asked to send emails to our buyers, I have to ask another colleague to send me a list. But literally every time I ask for a list it is wildly different. I understand that our buyers will change, but a list from three months ago will be wildly different from a list I got yesterday, and names keep dropping off and reappearing, yet if I ask for an explanation one time the answer will be “oh, they did not make any purchases from us for X amount of time, so I consider them inactive” but then three months later that same buyer will appear on our list and if I ask for clarification she’ll say “oh, well they still carry our products but haven’t purchased anything new…”. I suppose I should just take whatever list she gives me and not worry about it, but I usually have to go through her list and slightly reformat it to make it work with Constant Contact, so I see all these variations.
    And it all came to a started when we sent a list to HQ of current buyers (like 40) and I was going to use that to send an email my boss wanted me to send to all our current vendors, so I asked her for clarification because it was so much shorter than my last list . So she sends me her most recent list to me (about 2 weeks later) of current buyers went up to about 150 yet some of those same buyers are ones she tells me and email the next day that they are inactive…
    Sigh…thanks for letting me vent. Back to staring at lists and going “huh?”….

    Reply
    1. the.kat

      Is she running the same query for you every time? If not, that might explain why things vary so wildly. Maybe you need to be more specific about what you’re looking for. As someone who occasionally runs those sort of queries, what you ask the system will wildly affect what you’re given.

      You could ask her to run the same report she ran for you last time with any updates on a weekly/monthly/quarterly basis if you knew you were going to get asked to send emails that regularly. It might save you some time and save her from staring at a blank screen and wondering what exactly it is that you want.

      Reply
      1. SophieChotek

        Thanks. I have no idea how she run the query. I have no idea if she does a database and pulls from that or is enters it all into excel.

        I do know the last few times I’ve asked her for the exact same thing: current buyers – and received widely divergent lists in the space of 4-6 months. (To be considered inactive, buyer generally has to not buy for a year, sometimes two.)

        But good point. I’ll try to ensure she is clear on what I want.

        Reply
        1. Anonymous Educator

          While I’m sure you’re being clear, it may not hurt to put the onus on her for clarity of details. “When I’m asking you for current buyers, can I ask what criteria you’re using in your queries?”

          Reply
        2. Borgette

          From a database standpoint, “current” is a really poorly defined term! Try asking for a list of all buyers who have [performed specific behavior] since [date] or something similarly explicit.

          Reply
          1. SophieChotek

            Thank you. You are both saying the same thing — I need to clarify what I want or ask her to clarify how she defines “current buyers” (or “active buyers”) so that we are on the same page, when I ask for the list.

            Reply
            1. Anonymous Educator

              Well, really, she should be clarifying with you if you’re being too vague (instead of just handing you an arbitrary list), but since she isn’t doing that, you’ll have to clarify with her.

              Reply
          2. Troutwaxer

            Your question should be phrased something like this: “All purchasers who have spent more than $100.00 between March 31st 2016 and March 31st 2017.” Your database person will then translate that into a database request that looks vaguely like this:

            “SELECT Name, Street_Address, City, State, ZIP_Code, Phone_Number FROM Customers WHERE Total_Annual_Purchases > $100.00”

            You might also ask your colleague about what fields are available in the company database, then you can make your request in the form of those fields. Here’s a simple introduction to SQL database. You can ignore the stuff about HTML and CSS:

            https://www.w3schools.com/sql/sql_intro.asp

            The exact fields in your database are probably different than those in the examples. If your data is kept in a spreadsheet it’s still useful to ask about what fields are in the spreadsheet (fields will probably be called “columns” in a spreadsheet.) Ask your colleague to explain how records are kept and how to query them and learn a little about how the database works and you’ll really improve the quality of the data you get.

            Reply
  22. Kit M. Harding

    It’s been suggested to me (by my mother, and it sounds weird) that the reason I haven’t been getting jobs is because I haven’t been wearing pantyhose to the interviews. I have nice flats and knee-length skirts, although I haven’t been wearing nylons either. Pantyhose seems old-fashioned, and I can’t concentrate while wearing it. But I have two interviews coming up so I thought I’d ask! (Also, I have now acquired a bright blue suit.) It’s not a conservative field; I’m a children’s librarian.

    Since I’ve been having a *lot* of interviews and no jobs, also, any suggestions as to common mistakes?

    Reply
    1. Karo

      I will say that there was a great pantyhose debate here some time ago. I think the general consensus was that a few people hate when others don’t wear them but that most people don’t care what you have on your legs.

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yes — the first post I ever had to close comments on because some pantyhose fetishists showed up.

        There may still be a few very old-school industries that expect pantyhose. Most others don’t care.

        Reply
      2. Anonygoose

        I think also it was sort of determined that since SOME interviewers judge candidates for not wearing pantyhose, it might be better to just suck it up and wear it for interviews even if you personally dislike them, provided they wouldn’t be an insane distraction during the interview. Most interviewers probably wouldn’t care, but it’s better to wear them in case you get one that does.

        Reply
              1. Emi.

                Right, but if the proportion of employers you apply to who require pantyhose is P, then your chances of working for a pantyhose-require go from 0 to P*R (where R=your success rate at those interviews when wearing pantyhose). Even if R is close to 1, P might still be small enough that P*R is still pretty much negligible.

                Reply
          1. Bibliovore

            hah! one of the reasons I became a children’s librarian was to never wear pantyhose again. That said, every interview 25 years ago, 20 years ago, I did wear a skirt and pantyhose. Dressing up for interviews was what was done.
            5 years ago for this job- interviewed in dress pants, a shell, a jacket.

            An no- never wore pantyhose again.

            Reply
            1. zora

              My mom told me when she finished her teacher’s certification in the early 60s, they gathered all the new teachers together and told them they had to wear a skirt suit, pantyhose, high heels and white gloves to go interview at schools. Hats were optional.

              Reply
        1. Claire Roux

          NOPE!

          I do not want to work for anyone who thinks pantyhose are required for interviews or otherwise. If you’ll judge me harshly for that– awesome, don’t want to work with/for you.

          Reply
    2. regina phalange

      For my current job, I had two Skype interviews & one phone interview. During the first Skype, I still had a brace on my nose from my nose job & two black eyes, and still got the job. Lack of pantyhose is probably not the issue. Also they are so uncomfortable, I wouldn’t be able to concentrate either. I hired someone once who showed up to an interview in jeans.

      Reply
    3. kbeers0su

      Hahahaha. That’s an odd thing to hang a claim on. I didn’t wear hose to my interview and only wear them now in winter (and they’re more tights than hose). I think mom’s just looking for a way to offer advice, which is sweet, but incorrect.

      Reply
    4. AvonLady Barksdale

      I would have to know more about your interviews and your, say, presentation before I could make suggestions, but I can tell you this: your mother is very likely wrong. Like, way wrong. Like, people-don’t-often-notice-such-things wrong.

      Reply
    5. Another Lawyer

      I am always a little surprised when attorneys don’t wear them to interviews, but a children’s librarian I can’t imagine would ever need them.

      Reply
      1. Children's Librarian

        Am children’s librarian. Haven’t owned pantyhose in more than 10 years. I do love some fun leggings for my day to day work though!

        I usually wear pants to interviews, but haven’t been on one in a long time.

        Reply
    6. Isben Takes Tea

      I’m not able to link to the discussion now, but there was a Great Pantyhose Debate you could search the site for, and it seemed to shake out that there may be some particular regions or industries where pantyhose are Required, but for the most part they are not in the least necessary anymore.

      I’m guessing the lack of offer comes from the fact that from there are very few librarian jobs and a lot of potential librarians, and has nothing to do with your pantyhose. I’d skip them, especially if wearing them would put you off your game!

      Best of luck on the two coming up!

      Reply
      1. anonymouse

        THIS. I too am a children’s librarian and there are probably dozens if not hundreds of applicants for every open position. The fact that OP is getting interviews — plural — is encouraging.

        Reply
    7. BenAdminGeek

      Maybe certain people care. I cannot recall anything about what people’s pants/legs/skirts look like from interviews I have conducted. Except the dude with ripped jeans and an untucked shirt for a job that required business casual. That dude I remember.

      Reply
    8. Manders

      I haven’t seen anyone wearing pantyhose in years, and I work at an office where people dress fairly conservatively for my area. I think it’s much more likely that your lack of success so far has to do with the fact that you’re in a competitive field.

      Reply
      1. gwal

        I’m in my late 20’s and occasionally wear flesh-toned stockings (I guess that falls under the definition of pantyhose?) with close-toed shoes. Honest question, do people potentially see this as a faux pas for my age bracket these days?

        Reply
        1. Sarah in DC

          As a fellow 20 something I don’t think I would even notice. And if I did I can’t imagine a situation in which I would care or judge you for it one way or the other.

          Reply
        2. Manders

          I don’t think so? I’m not sure I’d notice, to be honest. Pantyhose always looks conspicuous on me because it’s not really made for people with olive skin tones, but if it actually matches your skin, I’m not so sure it would even be obvious enough to notice.

          Reply
    9. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      It depends on your region and industry. Based on my biases, however, I find people who obsess about nylons, especially when your skirt is knee-length, are ridiculous. It’s also just an insane reason not to hire someone who is otherwise professionally attired.

      Reply
    10. Spoonie

      On the occasions that I wear a skirt to an interview, I usually wear black tights/black skirt. I’m much more of a slacks/trousers type, so…I don’t know that my opinion is valid. Also, I’m quite pale, so finding hose that looks like it belongs in the same realm as my skin type is very difficult.

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth West

        Me too–and I don’t like wearing dress shoes without some kind of barrier between them and my feet, because I get blisters. I know they have those little sock things you can buy now (like Peds) and wear inside flats, pumps, etc. But one of the main reasons I don’t wear dresses or skirts, besides feeling fat/uncomfortable in them, is the no-hose thing.

        Reply
      2. Bibliovore

        And in terms of job openings, children’s librarian is more marketable as a children’s librarian is perfectly capable of doing adult reference but there are adult reference librarians who can’t/won’t deal with kids.
        Oh and there is a great job opening in White Plains NY if you are near there.

        Reply
    11. Teapot librarian

      I’ve been interviewing candidates for a position in my office, and my boss (also in the interviews) is incredibly judgy about this stuff. One woman had teal nail polish on and my boss thought it was inappropriate. So yes, you’ll run into issues like this. But unless you’re applying to be a children’s librarian consultant at a Fortune 500 company, you should be fine. In my opinion, at least.

      Reply
    12. paul

      I’ve never heard anything like that. Not to be crass, but how old is your mother? My MIL is…jeez, 70 now I think? and the fashion advice she tried to give my wife when she was interviewing would be more appropriate to the era she was working in (and she left the workforce in the 80s!). It could just be that sort of disconnect.

      Reply
      1. Kit M. Harding

        Oh, she’s in her late fifties, but she does hiring at times for her workplace (a different helping profession than mine, but still involves working with children), and as I understand it most definitely Judges the new grads applying for not wearing pantyhose.

        Reply
        1. Not So NewReader

          I’m in my mid 50s so maybe a couple years younger than your mother? I have not worn pantyhose in 20 years or so. I seem to find jobs.

          Let’s look at this from the opposite direction. Do you want to work for someone who makes hiring decisions based on pantyhose? Tell your mom that you don’t want to work for anyone who makes hiring decisions based on whether someone is wearing pantyhose or not. That is not how to run a stable business.

          Reply
    13. Joa

      This varies by field and location, but the public library world is firmly in the camp of “hose don’t matter.” Of course, you might run across the odd interviewer with a personal hang-up, but that would be unusual. I’m a library director and few librarians I’ve interviewed have worn hose. Tights in the winter, but not sheer nylons.

      Reply
      1. Bibliovore

        I can’t tell you how happy I was to ditch the “interview suit” Mr. Bibliovore told me I looked like a nun in it.

        Reply
    14. copy run start

      I DO wear pantyhose, but only because my skin is perpetually dry and the pantyhose covers up the dryness! I don’t judge anyone who forsakes them… I’m actually really jealous.

      Reply
  23. Halls of Montezuma

    In honor of April Fools Day:

    On AAM, we’ve heard lots of horror stories about pranks and jokes gone wrong (or where they were just plain mean in the first place), but what about where they genuinely were fun?

    Reply
    1. Tau

      When I started work there were googly eyes on my PC. Apparently they’d been added for my predecessor because my coworkers wondered if he’d notice them. He didn’t, but I love them and have kept them! :) It helps when I’m getting frustrated with how slow my computer is (it doesn’t have the best specs) – I take note of the way it’s looking at me sadly and go “aw, I’m sure it’s trying as hard as it can.”

      Reply
      1. C Average

        I love this!

        A few years back I needed googly eyes for a craft project and bought a huge bag of them because it was a better value. My younger stepdaughter decided to glue them on various appliances around the house, including the toilets. It’s not unusual to hear laughter coming from our guest bathroom the first time a visitor encounters Lou, as we’ve named that particular toilet.

        Reply
      2. Havarti

        I taped one of those really tiny baby chicks made from pipe-cleaner with seed bead eyes to my boss’s phone to see if she would notice. She did and she kept it. It’s still there to this day.

        Reply
      3. Fact & Fiction

        When a beloved former coworker left my current job, she placed googly eyes on various office supplies of the folks who sit in our immediate area. We were a small group that gets along well and she has a fun, kooky sense of humor so it made us laugh. My googly eyes are on my tape dispenser and I smile and think about her every time I see them. Or the little Star Wars figurine she gifted me when she left because she knows I play SWTOR. I really miss her!

        Reply
      4. SC in SC

        I had nothing to do with these pranks but they had to be two of the best I’ve seen. One colleague went overseas for a few weeks. While he was away a group of people walled-up the doorway to his office. It was quality work where you couldn’t tell there was an entrance there. Our VP was so proud of the work that he used to drag people from the hallway to show it off. The other was with the same group. One of their team had recently got married so they decided to have a little fun and install an actuator on his desk drawer that tied to a pump they loaded with perfume so that it sprayed down from the HVAC vent over his desk every time he opened his desk. They thought it was hilarious that he would go home every day smelling like perfume. That one didn’t go over so well since the company said it was a safety issue climbing into the ceiling to set it up.

        Reply
    2. EA

      I had a manager once who was an Ohio State fan. I’m a Michigan fan. (for those who don’t follow sports, OSU-UM is one of probably the top 5 major rivalries in college sports)

      He had his desk decorated with OSU paraphernalia … I took a stack of blue and yellow post-its, and put a big M on his computer monitor, and also brought in a Michigan flag and hung it over his OSU flag.

      Not much in the way of pranks, but he and I both got a good laugh over it.

      Reply
      1. Rache

        My boss is OSU alumni and extremely vocal about it. There have been UM and MSU pranks pulled on her – but not April Fool’s timing related – it usually happens during football season.

        Side note… my birthday is April Fool’s Day. :) Best day ever!

        Reply
    3. Ihmmy

      We filled my coworkers office with balloons and ridiculously photoshopped pictures of him one time, he had a blast swarming through the balloons and popping them. The two balloons we tucked a cup of water into surprised him though… but he was still entertained. I got him an annoy-a-tron from think geek for xmas that year which he loved using on us.

      Same office, different coworker, used to hide under my desk in the morning and jump out and scare me as I turned the corner to get settled. Like, once a week did this, and it still startled me every time.

      it was a small, pranky office for a little while there. All well natured, but also small and most of us were youngish, and it was a culture we fostered. I wouldn’t do any of that in most offices

      Reply
    4. MeridaAnn

      In my last office, I brought in a bowl of what looked like just M&Ms, but actually had skittles mixed in as well. I took the time to take out the skittles colors that don’t exist as M&Ms and removed a lot of the same-colored M&Ms so that the color balance wouldn’t look off or anything (yellow skittles are the most convincing, because you can’t see the “S” very well). There were only 4 or 5 of us in that office and I knew ahead of time that there weren’t any dietary concerns with the Skittles.

      One by one, each of my coworkers grabbed a handful of the candies, started to chew, just stared at me for a moment, and then laughed. It went over really well. And the best part was that they continued to eat them throughout the day by the handful, not separating out the Skittles even when they knew they were there.

      Reply
      1. BigSigh

        I did this in my own candy bowl on my desk, My boss was pissed and asked me to separate them out. Even brought me a spoon to do so.

        Reply
      2. Marisol

        this is so creative, so gross, so hilarious, and yet ultimately, so low-stakes. The perfect prank. I wish April 1st fell on a weekday so I could do this.

        Reply
    5. Not Australian

      Fun but also hard work – Work Colleague and I put a false appointment in our boss’s diary, then came in early and cleared all the furniture out of his office and locked it in the store room. (The false appointment was to give us time to put it all back again after he’d enjoyed the joke but before he needed to meet with anyone in his office.) Okay, it did waste a bit of working time – but we were both so far ‘in credit’ with him that we felt we could get away with it. Luckily, he agreed. The next time we wrote anything in his diary he actually checked with us that it wasn’t a joke: we’d put “Work Colleague and Not Australian are getting married on [date] – please come and help us celebrate”. He was the first person we told. Happy memories…

      Reply
    6. Halls of Montezuma

      Our office has a set of twin brothers who look so much alike that people tend to confuse them until they work closely with one or the other. They are both engineers with similar specialties, so one day they swapped offices and waited to see who figured it out and how long it took… one particular project manager did not notice for weeks, because the other brother was perfectly able to answer his questions!

      Reply
    7. BenAdminGeek

      It was a small thing, but always made me laugh. OldOldJob I had the same cubemate for 6 years. Every week he’d put a piece of tape over the laser for my mouse. I never got used to it. I’d get all flummoxed and start banging the mouse until he started cracking up and then I would too.

      Reply
      1. Sarah in DC

        Last year a coworker tried to do this to me but used clear tape so the mouse worked pretty much fine. I only noticed because the edge of the tape was catching on my mouse pad and making a little scratching noise. I thought it was funnier that he did :)

        Reply
    8. The Cosmic Avenger

      I had a coworker who actually liked pranks, but was very considerate and kind, and so never played one on me, but we talked a lot about filling someone’s office with balloons up to the ceiling, or doing something odd to our own cubicles, which were adjacent.

      So one day he was out, and since we had been recently joking about merging cubicles and doing something weird with the space (I think making it into a tiki bar, sand and all), I figured out the font that we use for “nameplates”, which in our office are just a piece of paper behind a piece of clear plastic. I put a piece of paper with “Cosmic Avenger (annex)” behind the plastic but in front of his name, and waited until he came back to tease him about having to pay me rent. :D

      I think he left it up for about a week.

      Reply
      1. BigSigh

        A coworker, just this morning, said: “Hey seeing as we’re not in tomorrow, I have to tell you something today.”

        Me: “Ok.”

        Her: “I love you.”

        Me: “Awwww, that’s sweet.”

        Her: “Just kidding, April Fools!”

        Me: “Awww.” Sad face.

        Reply
    9. Hilary

      When a co-worker was on vacation, I secured access to their office to do the following: cover desk and office furniture in post-its, create post-it mural (like a post-it “around the world” quilt) on wall, hide approx 30 pictures of David Hasselhoff through his career (he’s played Captn. Hook and Nick Fury!), and a layer of balloons on his floor a foot or so deep.
      The victim…err…coworker loved it! The best part was that he was still finding Hasselhoff pictures when we moved offices months later.

      Reply
    10. C Average

      I used to have a job that included writing internal blog posts for our customer service team. Typical posts would be about new product launches, emerging bugs, PR statements about news items involving our company, policy changes, that sort of thing.

      Every April Fool’s Day, I’d write something really ridiculous and PhotoShop something funny to go with it. One year, I wrote about how we were releasing a version of one of our most popular products for pets. (Our product line was definitely for humans, not animals.) Another year, I wrote about our plans to open call centers on other planets to ensure that we were ahead of the competition when Mars is colonized. I invented (and PhotoShopped–it took forever) a really absurd product collaboration between our company and a competitor. These posts always got far more looks and likes than anything else all year. Every year, I looked forward to trying to outdo myself.

      It wasn’t an April Fool’s Day prank, but my best work prank ever was actually inspired by a comment on AAM. Before I left my last job, I created a folder on the shared drive labeled “TOP SECRET — DO NOT OPEN.” I created about a dozen sub-folders with similar names. In the last one, I created one Word doc that contained only one line, a hyperlink: “WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT CLICK THIS LINK.” The link was to Rick Astley performing Never Gonna Give You Up, and I disguised the link with a bit.ly address.

      I got an email from a former colleague about it nearly a year later, and he said it delighted the whole team on an otherwise boring Thursday.

      Reply
      1. Detective Amy Santiago

        My favorite tea website did an April Fools thing a year or two ago where they announced they were launching Tea for Cats.

        Some of my friends were quite disappointed that it wasn’t legit.

        Reply
      2. An Anonymous Person

        I drive our April Fool’s jokes at my work. They’re internal only. The first one was about turning our much-beloved caterpillar mascot toy into a cat. I developed one for last year that didn’t get used because a company tragedy happened days before, so I’m hoping to get it up and running for this year. Introducing a company-wide uniform – caterpillar onesies. (We play on the caterpillar thing a lot, our mascot is VERY popular with our retail team members.)

        Reply
        1. C Average

          Yeah, I can’t remember who posted it, but it was on an “embarrassing work confessions” thread. I remember reading it and thinking, “Embarrassing? That’s not embarrassing. That’s GENIUS.”

          Reply
    11. Erin

      My work did an April Fool’s article last year on an underwater hotel being built in our area. It blew up on social media and it’s still coming up in Google searches, a year later.

      Reply
    12. CDM

      DH had a co-worker who bought a pack of peanut M&Ms at lunch every day, and was tracking the lot numbers and color distributions.

      DH brought home a pack of M&Ms from the cafeteria, I opened the packaging, replaced the M&Ms with pink breast cancer awareness ones, plus one orange one, and re-sealed the package to look new. (not going to tell how, but it is scarily easy)

      Another co-worker distracted him at lunch so DH could switch his bag for the rigged one.

      The joke is that after they went back to the office, he left the rigged pack on his desk, and left the office for several minutes.

      He thought he’d won some sort of contest, lol. Even when they told him he’d been pranked, he couldn’t figure out how they’d done it. “The lot numbers match!”

      Reply
    13. Bonky

      I scotch-taped a picture of Simon Cowell’s face to the underside of a work friend’s mouse so it blocked the optical sensor. Only confused him for about ten seconds, but the reaction when he turned the mouse over was priceless. Nobody was hurt, the tape was the easy-remove sort, and everybody laughed.

      Reply
    14. Annie Moose

      Not an April Fool’s prank, but at OldJob there was a tradition of hiding this, ah, extremely startling goblin/demon/??? head in people’s offices. (it wasn’t scary, just not what you’d expect to see–kind of like a Japanese oni mask, with this big grin and huge staring eyes? I’m not actually sure what it was originally for) So you’d come in one day and pull out your chair and he’d be sitting there looking up at you. Or you’d open your cupboard and he’d be inside. You never knew where he’d show up next.

      Reply
    15. Elizabeth West

      I think I’ve posted this before. I used to work at a materials testing lab and a previous employee had left behind a life-sized cardboard cutout of Frankenstein’s monster. We would put it behind doors, around corners, etc. to startle each other. They got me once when they put it in the bathroom behind the door—I came in, shut the door behind me, and BOO there he was. They tried to get me by putting it in the file room in the basement, but I caught a glimpse of him before turning on the light, so that one fell flat. Once I put him in the metallurgist’s darkroom and it scared him silly. He got mad at me–I apologized, but we secretly giggled about it for the rest of the day.

      We also had a big rubber rat that squeaked when you squeezed it (I have no idea where all this stuff came from!) and we would put it in the fridge on top of people’s lunch. When they opened the door, it would scare them. The business closed in 2001 but I still have the rat. It hangs out on the bookcase in my living room. :)

      God, I loved that job.

      Reply
    16. Pharmgirl

      I had to work Christmas Eve, and came in that morning to find *everything* wrapped in Christmas paper. That one was pretty fun, and we still finding random pens and such wrapped up even now.

      Reply
    17. AnonForThis

      One time the administrative assistant in another group managed by a useless boss went on FMLA for 2 months. The useless boss then started bombarding my assistant and all the other managers with requests, despite the fact that her admin had left detailed, color coded, annotated instructions for her or whoever was covering. Our admins were overwhelmed and annoyed, so the other managers and me told them to refer all requests to us and we would either pass them on, do them ourselves, or say no.

      For eight weeks we got things like
      “Can you send me the email I sent last week, or was it last month? I think it was to Fergus or maybe Jane?”
      “Can you send me $file that everyone in the department has access to?”,
      “Can one of you come with me to X meeting so I have someone to give me directions when I drive (we have work phones with maps”
      “Can you send Y to Wakeen (Y is a report she wrote and we have no Wakeen in the office and could not figure out which external Wakeen she meant)?”
      Etc. about 30+ times a day

      The day before the admin returned from FMLA, all of us wrote ridiculous requests on post it notes and covered her screen, mouse, keyboard, etc. and on her chair we put a gift that was something the other admins had told us she was saving up to buy. When she saw it she started laughing so hard that she started to snort laugh and cry. She thanked us and said it was the best welcome back.

      We also went to her managers ‘s boss and laid our experience on the table. Incompetent manager went on a PIP and finally got fired

      Reply
  24. J.B.

    Has anyone gotten an additional degree or certificate at a community college for purposes of switching careers (or at least switching focus within your own industry)? Were there any useful job search/career connections available to you through the community college?

    Reply
    1. I Like Pie

      I’m currently taking Allied Health courses at my local CC to change into the health sector. Completely different from what I do now. I’ve had instructors who, in addition to teaching us the subject matter, are also really helpful with career advice/experience to the class. They have told me how to break into the field, what employers will want to see on the resumes, etc. It’s been really helpful for me, as a 35+ yr old trying to get into a new field. (I have 25 years of office work experience that can be transferred to a new job, but none of it health field related.) My campus has a career center which will post jobs and the Allied Health advisor sends us lots of information on internships, volunteer opportunities and job fairs. It’s definitely worth looking into; my only negative is that the program I am in is new to the campus, so it’s not as detailed as it is at other sites. I am not required/placed in an internship, which would have been good to know ahead of time.

      Reply
    2. NoMoreMrFixit

      Currently doing so. 3 weeks left to go and school is finished! There is a career centre but the jobs they get are geared to new graduates finishing school for the first time. For an old guy like me they’re too entry level. The profs are another matter and a resource you should mine with enthusiasm. They often have connections to former peers and students who are now working and can help you find that next job.

      Reply
  25. not really a lurker anymore

    My husband submitted a resume a few weeks ago. They promptly asked for a phone interview, which lasted about 45 minutes. He’s interested. Company rep also discussed the planned timeline and assured my husband that they wanted to bring him in for an in person interview.

    When the week the company had said they wanted to do interviews in passed, my husband emailed, inquiring about the timeline. He was told that there had been some issues on their end, that they hadn’t held interviews yet and still wanted to interview him.

    I think it’s been a couple of weeks. He wants to reach out again to them. I know from here that he probably shouldn’t do it but would it really be that terrible to do? He wouldn’t reach out again.

    Reply
    1. jordanjay29

      I’m in the exact same boat right now. I’m assuming that “having some issues” is going to persist until they reach out to me, and calling them won’t make it conclude faster.

      Tell your husband to move on. If they call back, great. If not, he’s moved on to applying to other opportunities and has more options to pursue.

      Reply
    2. BRR

      I don’t think it’s the worst thing but I wouldn’t do it. It’s very unlikely to result in anything and might annoy them. They know he’s around for when they do interviews.

      Reply
  26. Bee

    Feb. 5 – I applied for a job
    Feb. 16 – They emailed me to schedule a phone interview
    Feb. 23 – I had my phone interview
    Feb. 28 – They emailed me to schedule an in-service interview
    March 7 – I had my in-person interview
    March 10 – They emailed me about a “final interview” on the phone with a higher-up
    March 15 – I had my final phone interview
    Then I never heard from them again.
    March 27 – I emailed to ask if they could share a timeline about next steps. No response.
    Is there anything else I should do now? I feel like I just need to go on with life assuming that I didn’t get this job.

    Reply
    1. ThatGirl

      Yes, just move on with your life. I know it sucks. Back about 10 years ago I was interviewing for a job I was excited about, and they moved suuuuuper slowly. I had a phone screen, then nothing for six weeks, then an in-person interview, nothing for ages, a second interview … then dead air. I think two months later I got a postcard telling me I hadn’t gotten the job.

      Reply
    2. Last but not least

      I would definitely move on. If you get a response, it’ll be a nice surprise. I had an interview process a few years ago that was similar – though much more disorganized. I interviewed with HR, the hiring manager, then they forgot they scheduled an interview with me and I met with the hiring manager again and then had a meeting with several in senior management. After 4 interviews, you would think I would get some kind of personalized response, but no. They mailed me a form letter that began Dear [lastname]. No Ms. or Mrs. or Miss. Just Dear Peterson. And up until that point all of our communication had been via email. It was cowardly and immature. And since the person they hired left after 5 months, i’m pretty sure I dodged a bullet.

      Reply
    3. jordanjay29

      I’d assume you didn’t.

      On the off chance that you’ll still get it, they may have had delays in getting heads together to discuss your candidacy. Or HR is out this week and hasn’t gotten a chance to respond to your email (and no one else is checking). It’s also possible budget problems are holding up the position, or they want to wait until after the current deadline to bring in a new hire.

      Reply
  27. EA

    One of my supervisors (I have 3, this is the one I do the least amount of work for) is making rude comments about my vacations/travel situation. I am trying to shut her down, but nothing so far has worked. I make 60k a year, live in a high cost of living city, but try and budget and save to travel. It is important to me so I prioritize it. I also don’t have children, so I imagine that helps.

    The first time, I was going to Hawaii. I got “Are you parents taking you” when I said no ‘Is your boyfriend taking you” I just said “wow, and no, I am taking myself”. I tried wow because it is Alison’s script she uses. Whenever I request days off (the company gives us a lot of vacation), I get “really, MORE vacations, I can’t imagine how you travel so much” I generally just nod. I just got back last week from another trip out west. Everyone was talking about weekend plans, and I said I didn’t have plans. I get “I imagine you need to chill out for a bit to pay off the credit cards bills from all your trips, right?” I was so stunned I just was silent. About 15 people heard this, and I really hate her insinuating that I am in debt. This one pisses me off because I have worked hard to save and afford these things, and do not just put them on a credit card.

    Should I just try not to take it personally? Or be like “I’d appreciate if you stopped making comments about my travel situation”.

    Reply
    1. Natalie

      I don’t know that you can’t do both, although since this is a supervisor I would probably lean more towards taking it less personally than asking her to stop. Instead of continuing to try and explain to her, could you just give a short, chipper “Yep!” or “Nope!” as relevant and nothing else?

      Reply
      1. Marisol

        I agree, do both. Since it’s your supervisor and you’re an EA, I imagine you work fairly closely with this person? My philosophy for situations like that is that you’ve built enough equity into the relationship to speak your mind freely. If I were in your shoes, I’d try something like this:

        Sup: So, I bet you’re up to your eyeballs in debt, har har!
        EA: Why do you say things like that? Are you trying to make me feel bad?
        Sup: Naw, I’m just teasing you! You’re just being sensitive!
        EA: I know you’re not trying to be mean, but I don’t like having my boss insinuate that I can’t manage my money. As you know, I earn a modest living, and to have someone who makes significantly more money than I do, and who, moreover, is my boss, tease me about my finances is really humiliating. Would you please quit it?
        Sup: [grumble, hem, haw…etc.]

        I see a script like that as 1) coming from the heart, 2) respectful, and 3) strong. There are some people, especially a lot of EA’s I think, that would never confront a boss so directly, but I say, it’s the relationships that really matter where you have to stand your ground and advocate for yourself. Otherwise, the entire foundation of the relationship is shit, and business objectives will suffer. I might be too afraid, or too lazy, to have lots of necessary confrontations in my daily life, but the confrontation I think is most necessary, ironically, is the one where I’m pointing out when my boss is being a jerk to me. And you’re speaking from the heart about how you feel, rather than making accusations or being disrespectful. So it’s not “improper” to have a conversation like that, as it would be if you were to attribute an evil motive, call him a jerk, etc.

        What I wouldn’t do is make repeated pointed, one-off comments, like, “wow” or whatever. I’d have a direct, heartfelt conversation about it.

        If that doesn’t work and she continues, then I would respond to her comments by looking at her blankly and in total silence. No offended face, no rolled eyes, no exasperated sighs, just blank face and silence. Doing that makes people feel really self conscious and stupid, so as a last resort perhaps shaming her into behaving would work.

        Reply
    2. Stop That Goat

      Wow…I think that’s pretty inappropriate and honestly comes off as a bit of jealousy. I vaguely remember a similar issue coming up in a previous column.

      Personally, I’d comment next time that “I’m glad that I’m able to budget and save for trips.” If it comes up again, I’d be more likely to pull her aside and express that she seems a bit preoccupied with your finances and ask if there is a reason why this keeps coming up.

      Reply
      1. Telly

        100% this supervisor is jealous of you and wishes that she had the money/time/inclination to travel more herself. There is no reason for her to make these comments other than jealousy and trying to make herself feel better through being passive-aggressive. Have a little empathy that she is obviously discontent with some aspects of her life, and mostly ignore her. I like the idea of having a simple response like “I’m glad that I’m able to budget to save for trips.”

        Reply
    3. Kimberly R

      That is annoying. Can you say something directly, such as : “Jane, why do you think it is appropriate to comment about my budget or my money?” If you won’t lose too much from the work relationship by doing this, I would do it. Especially in front of other people. I’m sure everyone in earshot feels uncomfortable that she is discussing your finances (without knowing them!) in front of them-put the awkwardness on her where it belongs. If she says something about how much you travel or how expensive your vacations are, you can just comment that you work hard for them and end the conversation.

      If you would get too much flak to be able to say the above question, I would just give her a cold look and walk away. Your finances and vacations are none of her business.

      Reply
    4. Not Australian

      “No, aren’t I lucky, I don’t need to borrow money for anything!” And your cheesiest and least-sincere smile…

      Reply
    5. INeedANap

      I would try and put it back on her with a question. “Supervisor, is my travel a problem for this position? You comment on it a lot, and I’m wondering why. Can you tell me why this is an issue for you?”

      Reply
    6. Amy

      If this was a peer, I’d consider telling them to cut it out. Since it’s a supervisor, I’d be concerned that might not go over super well.

      I think what you’re doing is pretty good. When she asks appropriate questions, give a brief answer and move on. When she says something inappropriate, “Wow (insert side eye here), that’s a weird assumption! No, I’m taking myself/no, my finances are fine/whatever.” She sounds jealous and awkward, and may or may not pick up on those kinds of comments being unwelcome, but people around you will see your response and recognize what’s really going on.

      Reply
    7. Anonygoose

      Ugh I love to travel too and while nobody has made any comments about it at work, I get it sometimes from my extended family. If I know them well enough, I usually just tell them: “Yupp, that’s the benefit of going without Cable TV/Daily Starbucks/Manicures/Owning a House/insert whatever ‘normal’ thing you cut out in order to budget for travel.

      My fiance and I were recently asked if we would move to a bigger apartment or buy a house when he starts working (he is currently in school). They were presented as the only two options. I told them that we would be doing neither – our current cheap rent means we can travel more when he’s done! Woohoo!

      Reply
    8. Spoonie

      I’m really loving that “what an interesting thing to say” response I’ve seen floating around AAM lately. Your supervisor sounds ridiculously jealous, and I’m personally impressed with your ability to travel — it’s something I’m working to attain (building my PTO bank, sigh).

      Reply
    9. Falling Diphthong

      This is where the anthropology approach might help. View her as odd but not your job to fix, and try to reach deep and find some mild bemusement.

      Reply
      1. EA

        Alison’s anthropology approach is one of my favorite things on this site. I’ll just pretend that I am observing this alien race of entitled people without boundaries.

        Reply
    10. Clever Name

      It sounds like your coworker is jealous and taking it out by making sniping remarks. I think how you react will depend on your relationship with her and your personality. I think the safest path may be to ignore it or simply don’t discuss your vacations when she can hear you. You can also say, “You seem to be overly interested in how I pay for my vacations. Why?” I have a coworker who made some snarky comment about me buying a new car and making car payments on it and implied that he was superior for paying cash (like a couple thousand) for his cars. Sure, everyone makes different financial choices, and I later realized that he’s probably jealous of my financial situation (me- own a house, no cc debt, no college loans, ample retirement savings; him- rents, cc debt, college loans, probably no retirement whatsoever), and he’s trying to make himself feel superior about snarking on me taking out a car loan.

      Reply
    11. Academia Escapee

      “That’s weird. You’re very interested in how I spend my money. Does that mean you’re giving me a raise?”

      Reply
    12. Not So NewReader

      I had bought a used SUV years ago. I drove it to work the first day and one of my coworkers commented on it. Finally he worked himself around to saying, “So that costs around X amount. You probably took out a Y number of years loans, so you must have ended up with a loan payment of Z per month.”

      I shook my head. “Naw. I just paid cash.”

      It was fun to watch his jaw hit the ground.

      Why would you take it personally when it has nothing to do with you or your life? It’s not reality. And who cares what she thinks, truly.

      Honestly, I would just shut it down.
      I see two approaches.
      1) Head on like I did. “Jane you always ask me about finances for my trips. I believe in paying in cash and not using much credit. So that should answer any questions you have now or in the future. I am great with budgeting and I do a solid job planning nice trips for a reasonable price.”

      2)Ask to speak to her in her office. “Jane, it’s happened several times now where you ask me about debt. I have noticed that unfortunately you ask me in front of others. What’s up with that?”

      Here you are going to the same basic place. “I follow a written budget I have for myself. I take my time and plan my trips in a cost effective manner. My trips are factored into the budget plan I follow.”

      Keep in mind, that if a person has never seen anyone do this, she might genuinely be surprised/intrigued. At which point, you can offer to show her how you find economical trips… or not. Then you can tell her that you would prefer not to discuss your finances, period.

      If she is just doing it to be a jerk, then you can just cut to the part about, “Jane, I don’t see how my finances have anything to do with my work here. If the topic comes up again, I will be reminding you that it has nothing to do with my work here.” Then do just that.

      Reply
    13. LCL

      I disagree with many of the responses given. When did every small talk work interaction become so freaking adversarial? It’s not you EA, it is the general social climate. So many posts on so many sites, that all boil down to ‘someone asked me a question/said something to me and I don’t like it, should I be offended?’

      Be offended or don’t, think what you want. But a lot of these remarks are just stupid remarks, and are the result of a coworker clumsily groping for some conversational topic. If someone’s interests are different from the majority of the group, people are going to have questions. In most workplaces that I am familiar with, the single person who stringently budgets to travel is a small minority. And those of us that don’t travel for ‘reasons’ admire you for that and are curious and want to know how you do it.

      Reply
      1. Call me St. Vincent

        I think the difference here is the supervisor is saying these comments to belittle the OP. It isn’t just a work comment or small talk being take out of context–it’s pointedly trying to hurt OP’s feelings, which is not okay.

        Reply
  28. Hermione

    I’m curious if others have funny things they way overthink about at work. For me, it’s CC’ing and e-mailing in general. It will take me ages to craft an e-mail if I let myself take as much time as my anxiety would prefer, even for e-mails with really low stakes. It just gets me nervous – what if I say the wrong thing, or bug someone important?! Ugh, I’ve been working on it.

    Anyone have any simple things that you way overthink?

    Reply
    1. MeridaAnn

      Emails are so stressful for me. I want them to be short enough to be to the point and so that no one misses anything, but I don’t want them to come across as curt or blunt, either. And does it matter what order you put the addressees in? Is someone going to feel slighted if they’re later on the list or CC’d instead of included in the main line? And a million other questions that get in the way and make me hesitant to hit send, but I have to get it out quickly so I can get a response, and and and and… Very frustrating…

      Reply
      1. Accidental Analyst

        For me it’s 1-10 minutes writing the body and I don’t want to admit how much time thinking of what pleasantries to include. I’ve taken to putting a highlighted ‘insert pleaseantries here’ line so I can write the email first without getting blocked by the fluff. I’m trying to standardise the pleasantries but it all feels so forced/fake

        Reply
    2. Volunteer Coordinator in NOVA

      Emails is a big one for me. I also have a lot of anxiety ordering food for groups or events as I’m never sure how much I need/how much is too much/not enough. I spend a ridiculous amount of time looking at pizza/sandwich orders!

      Reply
    3. Amber Rose

      Yes, emails. I will stress over it with my cursor hovering over the send button, debating whether I should read it over *one more time* just in case I messed something up.

      I also stress a bit about filing when my boss is in his office because the filing cabinets are right by his door and I don’t wanna seem like, intrusive. Which I know is ridiculous, but I still find myself quickly filing when I see he’s away from his desk.

      Reply
    4. Purest Green

      People in the elevator, to talk or not to talk? People in the echoing stairwell, to greet or not to greet? People exiting the door you’re entering at the same time, what do I even do?

      Reply
      1. Arjay

        Ha! I love at the end of the day when one person says Hello” and the other person says “Good night.” Both are appropriate, but when they’re combined, I find it quite amusing.

        Reply
        1. Purest Green

          I witnessed this exchange recently in the lobby. A passerby said, “good morning” to a woman who responded by shaking her head. I died.

          Reply
    5. Vieve

      I have this problem with email too!!! Honestly sometimes it gets to the point where I just hit send because I’ve spent so much time on a message…and then I later discover I actually had a typo or something and that biting the bullet and hitting send wasn’t even a good way to deal with it. I hope I’m just getting better with practice, though.

      Reply
    6. yarnowl

      I do it with emails a ton too! For example, I work on a lot of projects where it will be me working with a very senior salesperson and then their account manager, and sometimes I work more closely with the account manager and sometimes more closely with the salesperson, and if I’m ever emailing the account manager something but I want the salesperson to see it too, I have this big dumb debate in my head about, “Should I cc the salesperson or put them in the To: field? Should I put them first or the account manager first? Will they be insulted if I put the account manager first?”

      It’s gotten much better as I’ve developed relationships with people and figured out which ones would actually care about something like that and which ones wouldn’t. But I still overthink it a lot!

      Reply
    7. LaurenB

      I send emails every so often in my second language. I will never, ever let my manager know how long I take to craft those emails! Grammar, spelling, word choice, phrasing… and then I end up with a super stiff sounding email so I have to go back and make it sound more friendly. Often to the point of taking out phrases I just spent 10 minutes looking up.

      Also, who to sit with in the cafeteria. It’s exacerbated by the bilingual workplace thing, and that I’m obviously not that comfortable in the minority language, and if I sit with people speaking that language they often feel obliged to switch to English… I end up just going to the gym rather than dealing with the office and language politics of the cafeteria.

      Reply
    8. Snazzy Hat

      At my last job especially, each time I had a new issue I needed to e-mail a client about, I would go over the wording with my supervisor (which, while I was in training, could vary depending on the task) before sending the e-mail. I had no clue how they communicated in that industry or department or company, and I didn’t know how much autonomy I had. Could I say, “I’m sorry, we can’t do that,” or did I have to say “I’ll have to check with my supervisor” knowing full well that the supervisor would tell them we can’t do that? Could I write as little as, “Your request is attached,” and sign it “Thanks, Snazzy”, or did I need to be more formal and say, “Thank you so much for choosing Awesome Company for your coolness supplies. We appreciate your business, and have provided the information you requested as an attachment. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Have a great day. Sincerely, Snazzy Hat, Order Fulfillment, Townville, ST”

      Reply
    9. Squeeble

      SO many things, but a big one for me is asking clarifying questions. What if it’s a stupid question? What if the answer is hiding in an email somewhere that I’ve forgotten? What if someone just said the thing I need to know, but I wasn’t paying attention, and now everyone will know? What if I ask my boss a question so inane that it makes her realize how inept I am?

      Reply
    10. TL -

      Not emails, but email subject lines. I’ll spend way too long trying to think of something that is relevant, nice, and non-awkward.

      Reply
    11. Annie Moose

      Ahhh, emails are hard for me too.

      Something I do is when I catch myself obsessing over an email, I make myself just leave it as is and do something else for awhile, and only come back to the email later, like at the end of the day. (if it’s not a super time-sensitive issue, of course!) I’ve found that when I reread it after some time away from it, it usually sounds just fine, and all the things I was worrying about really don’t seem that big anymore.

      Reply
  29. DevAssist

    So…apparently payroll was processed but it hasn’t yet hit our accounts. Our poor HR assistant (Who doesn’t actually handle payroll) is swamped with calls. We all normally have DD that shows up by like 5 AM, and it is now 8:15AM and we’re all still waiting.

    So…how is everyone else doing?

    Reply
    1. SophieChotek

      Hope it gets sorted out soon! Poor HR assistant…I’d be stressed (especially if she doesn’t know much anyway.)

      Reply
    2. Cece

      We had that once last year. It took until about 10:30 for everything to get sorted, but in the meantime HR sent around a “known issue, a thousand apologies, getting it sorted immediately” email to all staff.

      Reply
    3. SaraV

      This happened a few years ago with the husband. I deposited a check on his payday at the bank, and our account balance was totally missing a number. (This was late morning) Told husband about it, and he went to talk to his boss, also owner. Someone else overheard him and said “Oh yeah, I noticed that with my account, too.” And you didn’t mention it? They were able to get the money in the next day, but the company had to cover some overdraft fees.

      Reply
  30. Lost and Found

    Have an odd question for you. We recently found a random earring in our offices. We checked with all of our staff including part timers and the cleaning staff that only comes in a few times a day and it doesn’t belong to any of them. So now the assumption is that it belongs to one of the women who recently came in to interview. My feeling is that it would be odd to contact them about something like a random earring that may or may not belong to them, as they are probably eager to hear to other jobs they are applying to (we have filled the position by the way, so they would have already received a rejection), so it’s best to just forget about it. But IS there a way, or a compelling reason, to follow up with them to see if it belongs to any of the candidates who were in recently?

    Reply
      1. kbeers0su

        If it looks like even a decent earring I would shoot a quick email out with a subject line that makes it clear that it’s not about the job. You never know what monetary or sentimental value something like that might have.

        Reply
    1. Here we go again

      I think it is very courteous to let them know an earring was found and ask if they would like it back, particularly if it was expensive or unique. I don’t think you need an additional, compelling reason, just an FYI, we want to find this earring’s rightful owner.

      Reply
      1. Lost and Found

        It’s actually just a simple hoop, so not all that fancy but you never know when something has sentimental attachments.

        Reply
        1. Rache

          I have simple hoop earrings that were a gift from my HS sweetheart – to see them, you wouldn’t think they were even remotely sentimental. But, we’re still great friends after breaking up over 20 years ago – and I would be brokenhearted to have lost one and have no hope of finding it.
          I agree to the suggestion of sending out an email to all interviewees (BCC’d of course) – with the subject line of “found earring” so that they have the opportunity to recover it if it’s theirs, but also to avoid creating the momentary false hope that comes from getting an email from your company.

          Reply
    2. Elizabeth H.

      I’ve lost a couple earrings before and it is so sad. I think it would be awesome if you would contact them to ask about it. (Even if it doesn’t seem expensive, all of my jewelry, items, etc have sentimental value to me) If I were in the situation as a job applicant I would be so grateful if they had found an earring I lost.

      Reply
    3. Epsilon Delta

      Personally I would find it pretty odd to get an email about a lost earring, especially after I had been rejected for the job. And doubly so if it looked like just a plain old earring and not something unique/valuable (like if you drop a dime on the sidewalk and someone chases you down to give it back to you). However, others have pointed out that they would appreciate it, especially if it was a lost earring with sentimental value, so it might be worth the weirdness.

      Reply
  31. Pup Seal

    I had my interview this Monday, and it was such a disappointment!

    Before my interview I looked up the company reviews on Glassdoor, and man, it was not looking good. My interview confirmed all the negatives. There were so many red flags:

    -Pay would be LESS than what I’m making now (and I’m already underpaid at my current job)
    -Employees are not allowed drinks at their desk. This includes tea, coffee, and water (the day before my interview someone told me she knows someone who got fired on his third day for having a mug on his desk)
    -Employees can’t personalize their desk. No photos, decorations, or anything
    -Tension was high when I was there. I felt so uncomfortable when I walked by all the cubicals. You can tell the employees weren’t happy
    -Women are not allowed to wear pants! I currently work at a place that allows jeans, and I understand many places dress business professional, but the hiring manager said that women can’t wear dress pants. They can only wear dresses and skirts with panty hoses. I ask about leggings since I don’t own panty hoses, and she said those aren’t allowed either.
    -Glassdoor reviews also mentioned a lot of sexism attitudes toward women in general

    Well, back to job searching.

    Reply
    1. DevAssist

      Sounds like you dodged a major bullet there!

      I live in leggings. No way would I be ok in that kind of environment.

      Reply
    2. Karo

      Are you in the U.S.? And if so – Can Alison/a lawyer tell us if the skirts thing is legal? They’re clearly singling out a protected class and making rules only about them.

      Reply
      1. Arielle

        Yeah, I was wondering that as well. If men are allowed to wear pants and women aren’t, that seems like a pretty clear situation where the rules are different for different groups of people based on gender.

        Reply
      2. Natalie

        Sex differences in dress codes are really tricky and generally get ironed out in the court system rather than clear guidance by the EEOC. However, I did find a few articles that indicated they are considered acceptable if they don’t put significant additional burden on employees of one gender. Requiring women to wear skirts may very well be okay, law-wise.

        Reply
      3. Elizabeth West

        If the company is affiliated with or owned by a religious organization, I think they can do that. There’s a large one headquartered here and a former classmate of mine is a member of the church and worked for them. She told me no pants allowed. I’ve mentioned it before–it’s the one where their bible college employment page says employees cannot drink, curse, fornicate, dance, or be homosexual.

        Reply
    3. Bantha Pudu

      Are you in the Midwest? If so, I have an inkling of what company you’re referencing. People I’ve known who have worked there definitely don’t regard it as a place for long-term employment.

      Reply
        1. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo

          Oh, if this is in the Chicago area, I need more clues, so I know never to apply there. : )

          Reply
          1. Pup Seal

            Not Chicago area. ;)

            This company has many locations, but headquarters (where the job I applied for is located) is in a city near the border of two Midwest states.

            Reply
    4. zora

      No pants!? In 2017???!! Woooowww.

      I worked in a private dining club (like a country club, but in a high rise) in the 90s, and women were not allowed to wear pants, skirts and dresses only. But tights or pantyhose were acceptable. And it was more like a restaurant uniform so it made a little more sense.

      But I’ve heard that even they dropped that ridiculously sexist dress code about 10 years ago!! Yeeessh, you definitely dodged a bullet, eff that.

      Reply
    5. Snazzy Hat

      I wouldn’t have wanted to work there either for all of those reasons.

      -Pay would be LESS than what I’m making now Equal, maybe. Less, only if by a dollar per hour.
      -Employees are not allowed drinks at their desk. I didn’t balk at this when I worked retail, because I could walk to the water fountain between customers. If I have a desk, you’re damn right there’s gonna be a beverage on it.
      -Employees can’t personalize their desk. Not even with a stern-looking photo of the boss in a frame with the company’s name on it?
      -Tension was high when I was there. I probably wouldn’t have been able to stay through the entire interview if I had the same vibe you got.
      -Women are not allowed to wear pants! And that’s when I would have gotten up and thanked them for their time.
      -Glassdoor reviews also mentioned a lot of sexism attitudes toward women in general Not applicable because I’ve already left the interview. Holy crow.

      Reply
    6. Epsilon Delta

      Woah. I worked for a retail store run by fundamentalist Christians who tried periodically to convert employees to their religion (yes very illegal), and even they allowed women to wear pants.

      Reply
      1. Zis

        How can proselytizing be illegal? Unless they were holding your job over you as a threat, it should be protected speech.

        Reply
        1. Natalie

          It’s not that proselytizing is illegal generally, but in the workplace it can create a hostile work environment (in the official sense) which would be illegal.

          Reply
    7. Natalie

      Tension was high when I was there. I felt so uncomfortable when I walked by all the cubicals. You can tell the employees weren’t happy

      My stars, how on earth could that be? It sounds like such a great place!

      Reply
    8. Audiophile

      I wouldn’t cut it there. I’ve worn pants, bordering on jeans, every day at my new job. I’m working on acquiring some skirts and dresses to throw into the mix. I’ve also been wearing sneakers the entire time as well, because I sprained my ankle and wearing my boots makes me hobble.

      Reply
  32. Last but not least

    Happy Friday everyone!! Anyone out there in the process of changing careers? I’m close to wrapping up a master’s degree while working full time and the prospect of changing careers and all that entails (a definite pay cut, an entirely new skillset) are a little overwhelming. I’m hoping some of you out there might have a few stories of encouragement or wisdom to share?

    Reply
    1. Dizzy Steinway

      Hang in there! I did this – went back to studying, took a pay cut, juggled some stepping stone work with part-time study and volunteering – and ended up with a job I really love…

      …but it’s not the kind of job I thought I was going to get!

      Funnily enough I was tidying out my spare room yesterday and I found a notebook with ‘shiny new career plan’ written on page 1. I followed that plan for a bit then veered off wildly. Never expected to end up where I am but it’s been so worth it!

      Reply
      1. Last but not least

        I recently had a serendipitous conversation with an acquaintenance who manages a department I would love to work for and they were very interested (or showed interest anyway :) in the fact that I was a) graduating this summer and b) would love to work there. So, I’m starting to configure how I might be able to make something like that work because I think if I don’t take the opportunity because of something like a paycut, I’ll kick myself later.

        Reply
        1. Dizzy Steinway

          That does sound promising!

          I’d say the big thing is not to put all your hopes on getting The Job straight away. You might need a few stepping stones to get there and that’s okay. Good luck!

          Reply
    2. periwinkle

      I completed my master’s in 2012, took some contract jobs for experience, networked, and then landed an awesome permanent position in the new field within a year. I was 47 when I earned the M.S. so youthful energy wasn’t a factor. It was scary but so worth it.

      Network, network, network. Join the relevant professional association, join the local chapter if there is one, get involved, and get yourself out there. If a shy introvert like me can grit my teeth and make connections, anyone can!

      Reply
  33. PersonalSpaceInvader

    I have been working for a small non profit for just a smidge over a year. I want to take a day off at the end of April to go to a really awesome local conference, but I feel awkward telling people about the conference or why I am going. You see, it is a local autism conference, and I have autism. I have not disclosed to anyone at work as I do not need any accommodations and my job is pretty solitary most of the time. I am proud of who I am but people have all kinds of ideas about autism, and most of them are wrong. I don’t want others thinking that I’m less capable or whatever other crappy stereotypes and biases they have. I would like to think my colleagues can be cool, but I heard too many horror stories about disclosure, even in progressive spaces, to not feel really anxious. I really like my job and want to stay here for a lot longer, so the last thing I want is for things to get weird. However, it’s going to come out eventually as I will be doing activism and self advocacy work, so I really should just rip off the bandaid. Does anyone have positive disclosure stories or suggestions on how to navigate disclosure?

    Reply
    1. fposte

      I think this is two questions. You can absolutely take a day off without stating that you’re going to an autism-focused conference; it doesn’t need to push you into disclosure. But it sounds like you think you might want to disclose at some point and are thinking this might be a good opportunity. And if you do want to disclose, I agree; I think it’s really easy to say “Yeah, I’m taking Friday off to go to Autism ’17; I’m pretty active in our community” and that saves you bringing it up as a Special Conversation. I think most people won’t give much response at all to that, which to me is the ideal.

      But it’s also not now or never–you can feel free not to use this occasion knowing that another is likely to present itself. Since you’re not looking for accommodation, I think the drop into conversation is fine whenever it comes up–and you also don’t need to make a point of ensuring everybody is informed, so it’s fine if you only dropped it into conversation with a manager and somebody else at the coffeemaker.

      Reply
    2. Not Australian

      Could you start by telling them that it’s an area you’re particularly interested in and that you’d like to do some advocacy work eventually? Their reaction to that would surely give you some pointers about how to navigate the rest of your disclosure, and when it would be appropriate to mention it. In other words, this may be a good case for taking the Band-Aid off slowly and carefully…

      Reply
    3. paul

      put in PTO request, no reason given. Lord knows most reasonable places don’t care why you’re off most of the time (exceptions being blackout dates or a day when there’s already people out of the office).

      Reply
    4. jordanjay29

      You’ve been there for a year, they know you and what you’re capable of. Unless you’ve met some employee that gives you the wrong feeling about it, I’d rip off the bandaid. Maybe to your manager first to test the waters, or a coworker that you trust well, since they can help you field the unveiling.

      Hard of Hearing here. I used to hide this as well, but when I made a big fuss about it at one place, no one really batted an eye. I don’t need hearing aids or much accommodations, mostly just people looking at me when they talk and using appropriate volume. Them knowing I’m HH just saves the glares and misunderstandings of me asking them to repeat themselves time after time.

      Now I’m usually just upfront with people, unless someone rubs me wrong. Sometimes I’ll forget to say something and people will just adjust after the first few “what?”s, and sometimes they’ll look at me like I’m from Mars. I know to be a little cautious around the latter type, but I’m not shy about my hearing loss. Some people need reminding, and many people overcompensate their volume, but on average I get a good experience.

      Reply
    5. Kj

      I am not on the spectrum, although t I am VERY dyslexic/dysgraphic. I am big into de-stigmatizing LDs (and mental health stuff in general), so I usually work the fact that I have LDs into a conversation. Maybe I’m writing something and I mention my handwriting might be hard to read because I’m dysgraphic or I ask to not be the one writing figure on the board at a meeting because I will transpose #s. People are pretty understanding and kind- they usually either ask me what that is or, if they know, they tell me about someone else they know who’s dyslexic or dysgraphic and life goes on.

      My advice: Mention it casually, as in “I’m going to a conference in April; I’m really excited about _____ talk because it addresses what it is like to have ASD in the workplace/in a hobby you do/in relationships and that is something I deal with.” Then be prepared to explain about how your ASD looks. “For me, my ASD means I have trouble with ________, ___________ and _________, but it doesn’t affect _____________. Most people are going to have maybe a question or two, then be fine with it.

      Reply
      1. Kj

        Adding that I love that you, a person with ASD, are doing advocacy work for ASD; I work with kids with ASD and so much of the ‘advocacy’ for ASD is done by NT parents, which can be….problematic and can lead to goals that may not be the goals that people with ASD want for themselves.

        Reply
  34. Tactful Writer

    I work for a marketing company and we have regional websites (this isn’t one, but think neworleans.com) where we write about the local area and try to drive tourism. We have thousands of clients that we promote on our sites based on how much they pay us. So certain restaurants will be promoted over others, for example.

    However, we always write about restaurant openings and closings, regardless of if they’re clients or not (we just can’t link to them/give them priority). Sometimes I reach out to these businesses to ask if they’d be willing to provide a photo for the piece.

    Sometimes the restaurant or business will then say, “I’d love to do an interview with you.” I’m not sure how to tactfully explain that A) We don’t do interviews very often because we’ve found we won’t get the revenue from the piece to make it worth our time and B) I can’t promote them as much as I may like to because of client priorities.

    How can I tactfully decline the interviews, and also maybe drive them to our sales team to see if they’d consider advertising with us? I’m afraid it will come across as, “I’m writing about you but have no interest in actually talking to you. I can only do the bare minimum for you and this article unless you spend money with us.”

    Reply
    1. SophieChotek

      Could you must put something in your email when you reach out to them like “Due to time constraints, I cannot do any interview, but we would still like to mention your restaurant on our site and would appreciate if you could send us a photo that we can use”? I mean, they might still ask, but that might nip some in the bud? I mean, it’s still free advertising either way. Or just say “for a longer feature, that is something that would be a paid promotion (or however you put it)”…

      Reply
    2. Dizzy Steinway

      If they’re paying for the interviews then you should really consider that advertising and declare it on the webpage. Editorial coverage shouldn’t be paid for. I don’t know the legalities over there but I’d say this is widely frowned upon if you aren’t making it clear that they’re advertorials. Sorry, I know that’s not quite what you asked.

      Reply
      1. Tactful Writer

        That’s okay, it’s very hard to explain what we do. Our clients don’t just pay for articles, they moreso pay for social media coverage, ads on our sites, etc. On occasion there will be a “package” that includes an editorial.

        It’s just that, if they’re paying for advertising or otherwise working with us, we’re much more likely to “give them some love” as my boss says with what we’re writing/blogging about.

        Reply
      2. The Cosmic Avenger

        I think if the website is clear that it is promoting the restaurant industry in Westeros, it’s pretty obvious that you’re not necessarily getting the level of objectivity you would get from a food critic or independent food blogger, and the content will be promotional more than critical. Besides, that doesn’t mean it’s not useful, accurate information.

        Reply
    3. Celeste

      “I’m sorry to say that our business model doesn’t allow me to do interviews for the newsletter portion that I write. If you’re open to it, though, I’ll gladly direct you to our Sales team to discuss becoming our client.”

      You have to say no, but this way it just clarifies for them how things work there.

      Reply
  35. Isben Takes Tea

    Alison has hosted several discussions on the best time to let someone go, but what do managers think is the best time to resign? Which day of the week? In the morning? At the end of the day? During a regularly scheduled one-on-one?

    Reply
    1. fposte

      Are you in a workplace where you’ll be walked out the door immediately? Then the end of the day. If you’re not, whenever you’ve made time to tell your manager is fine; resignations aren’t generally that big a deal for employers.

      Reply
    2. Anonymous Educator

      I think a resignation is different, because you’re generally giving at least two weeks’ notice. For a firing, you’re not generally (there are exceptions, obviously) giving someone two weeks to get out.

      Reply
    3. Anonymous Educator

      For what it’s worth, I’ve never thought about the time of day or day of week when letting my employer know I’m leaving.

      Reply
    4. CAA

      Any time when I am in the office and not on a conference call is fine. No calendar appointment necessary. I travel for work and I also have remote employees, so if you have to do it as a phone call I understand. I’d really like to get it in a conversation rather than an email though so we can have a quick chat. I promise I’m not going to try to coerce you to stay, or give you a hard time, or make you answer anything you don’t want to answer. (Though there are some people whose feelings get terribly hurt if you don’t try to coerce them to stay. Sometimes it’s hard for a manager to know.)

      I will say that Monday mornings are the most common times for people to resign. Most want to leave on the Friday two weeks hence.

      Reply
  36. MeridaAnn (Holiday Party Question)

    I know it’s a bit early to be talking about winter holiday parties, but my question is about how we pay for our party, so I’m trying to address it well in advance.

    First off, my department is under the federal government, so there is absolutely no “company money” available for the holiday party. The current system is that all the supervisors pay for entry/raffle tickets for their direct reports and themselves. My concern with this is that there is a significant disparity in how much different supervisors pay (anywhere from $30-$125) based on their number of direct reports with no regards to their own salaries (which aren’t directly related to the number of direct reports they have).

    For example, Horace is the head of the Teapot Spouts division – under him are Minerva (Spout Designer) and Pomona (supervisor of the Spout Production Shop). Minerva doesn’t supervise anyone, but Pomona supervises 15 employees in the Production Shop. Under the current system, Pomona paid for all 15 of her employees and her own supervisor ticket, but Horace only paid for himself and Minerva, despite being in a higher and better paid position than Pomona. (Our department chief, Albus, also is technically only responsible for his own ticket, since all of his direct reports are supervisors, but unlike Horace, he gives a generous donation each year to supplement the holiday party cost.)

    I’m responsible for collecting the money for the party, and I *haaaaate* it, especially because I don’t feel like what we’re asking from each supervisor is fair. The rest of the planning, I don’t mind as much, but that part really bothers me. A few of the supervisors I’ve had to hound a bit the last two years to get their money in the days before the party (well past the two-weeks-out deadline), which is incredibly uncomfortable for me even ignoring the price differences.

    But I also don’t know if I have the standing to suggest any sort of a change, since I’m not a supervisor myself. One person on the party committee – Sybill – is a Supervisor, so I might be able to send suggestions through her, but even then it seems complicated. I imagine Rubeus, who’s paying $125 would be grateful for a more even distribution, but Horace would definitely be resistant – it’s hard enough getting him to pay the $30 for his two tickets as is.

    Am I off base in being uncomfortable? I suppose this could be seen as each supervisor’s gift to their employees, so maybe it’s not that different from if they were each buying a little trinket for everyone under them, but it still feels weird. Should I try to suggest a change in how the supervisors pay? Or should I just keep quiet and stick with the “traditional” way we do the tickets? I haven’t heard of any of the supervisors complaining about the current method, but I think with the office politics, it would be hard for them to do so, so there might be better luck if change is suggested from someone who doesn’t pay in.

    Then again, do I just need to not think about it so much, or maybe say I’m not comfortable being the one collecting money at all and ask that one of the supervisors take on that role? As head of the department, Albus can’t ask for money from those under him, but I *think* Sybill or another supervisor would be able to, since even though she’s at a higher pay than some of the other supervisors, none of them report to her in any way (but I’d have to double check the rules on that). Would it be reasonable for me to ask not to be responsible for collecting the money any more, or could that somehow reflect badly on me?

    Reply
    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      It sounds to me like a lot of people are unhappy with it, so I think you might need to dump the whole party, if not the model you’re using. I’d suggest that you have pay bands, where for example everyone making <$40K pay a flat $10, $40-60K they pay 0.1% ($40-60), $60-80K is 0.15%, etc. This would still allow people to pay based on salary, which isn't always fair but is definitely a fairer way to go about this than your current model. But I would first suggest asking who wants to pay for the party with this model, and see how many people vote yes. And set a date, a week or a few weeks in advance, maybe, after which point the tickets are no longer sold, period. If you don't pay by then, you don't get a ticket. If you do that under your current model you have a supervisor who can ruin the party for their direct reports, but if you take that factor out, you don't have to be responsible for chasing down anyone or collecting money from them, they either come to you or they don't.

      Reply
      1. Emilia Bedelia

        Yeah, if you’re in government, why not base it on the convenient salary/seniority bands that you are all in already?

        Reply
      2. Merida Ann

        There are about 150 people that come every year, and the party is well liked. It’s during lunch break and on-campus, and I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from everyone. And, like I said, I haven’t had any actual complaints about the current pay structure – it just makes me uncomfortable to ask for it because I think it’s unfair. I agree going by pay grade seems the most fair, I’m just not sure if it’s my place to suggest a change…

        Reply
  37. Mustache Cat

    Has anyone noticed that Idealist is terrible now? When on earth did this switch happen? And where does everyone go now to look for nonprofit jobs?

    (Not job searching, but this is still something I should know)

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      What changed? The only thing I noticed was when I logged in to post a job this week, their set-up for entering your password got much easier (and the site is faster!).

      Reply
      1. Mustache Cat

        The site is a lot faster, but they got rid of so much functionality! I can’t effectively filter or search for anything (if I’m wrong about this, someone PLEASE correct me). The old site had a few too many filters, I agree, but the search function just doesn’t work anymore. I work in public health, but the search term “health” brings back anything that contains the phrase “health benefits”. The search term “public health” brings back anything that contains “health benefits” AND anything that contains something like “public school” or “public-private partnership”. It’s extremely frustrating!

        Reply
      2. namelesscommentater

        I’ve struggled with the new layout and their location finding services. They used to have amazing geographic recognition for regions (‘San Francisco Bay Area’ ‘Los Angeles Metropolitan Area’) and now seem to only be able to function with google maps recognized places (‘San Francisco, CA’ ‘Redwood City, CA’ and not able to group the two together).

        I would love to hear any work-arounds people have found other than entering each town in your region into different searches!

        Reply
    2. Volunteer Coordinator in NOVA

      I think it must be somewhat recently as I was there about a month ago and when I went on yesterday, I was so confused as the first few listings were not non-profit jobs. I’m not sure if there is anywhere else as that is listing just non-profit jobs as where I’ve always looked!

      Reply
    3. RR

      I think this just happened this week. I was on their site last weekend, and it was fine. Now, if you want to use it to look for jobs, not sure how it would work. Supposedly one clicks on the heading one is interested in (ie “jobs”) but if you do, nothing comes up. Maybe it’s just a temporary glitch related to the new site, but agree, right now it does not look promising.

      Reply
    4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      They are in the process of upgrading the site and are experiencing bugs as they roll out new functionality. All of the search functions will be back; they weren’t planned losses.

      (This is per the ED, who is an acquaintance and Facebook friend.)

      Reply
      1. Mimmy

        Thanks for that update – I did not realize the site underwent a major redesign until now. I liked having all of those search options, so I’m glad they will be back.

        Reply
    5. Gadfly

      I just want to say thank you for mentioning them. I’m just about to start job hunting in a new area and with a new degree and with the direction I think I want to go there are some openings that look good (if not the best paid). And I found a volunteer opportunity I may have to follow up on.

      Reply
  38. PintSizedAdmin

    I caught an awful cold over the weekend that’s left me with a cough and a creaky-to-non-existent voice today. I feel fine otherwise and my doctor cleared me to go back to work, but a good bulk of my duties is talking to clients over the phone…. so it hasn’t been super fun explaining that no, they are not talking to a crotchety old witch when I pick up the phone! Ugh. Lots of tea and vocal rest for me over the weekend, I guess.

    Reply
    1. Annie Mouse

      I answered my phone the other day to one of my senior managers and got ‘oh I didn’t recognise your voice, you sounded squeaky’!! I was recovering from a cold at the time.

      Reply
  39. Robin B

    Resume Confusion– A recruiter submitted my resume to Company X, but was told they had already been sent my resume. So recruiter now refuses to work with me about Company X, since I presume she wouldn’t get paid now.

    Can I call X’s HR department to see if my resume is still under consideration? (To make sure recruiter didn’t cause them to discard it?)

    Or is that a bad idea, since they did say they already had my resume?

    Reply
    1. CAA

      Did you send them your resume? Or do you have it posted online somewhere like Indeed? If not, and you don’t know how they could possibly already have it, then I would say you can email Company X to explain the situation and ask about it. If you already know how they got your resume, then there’s no need to contact them.

      Reply
  40. Kimberly R

    I have a coworker from another department who tries to get me in trouble (it isn’t paranoia-other people have noticed and commented.) She attempted to do so again last night in front of one of the big bosses and got reprimanded for it. She said that I shouldn’t have done something to a contract employee and after the fact, was told in no uncertain term’s that she should NEVER do that and that I had done as I should and had followed the policies that are set in place. Its immature of me but I am quite happy that someone in power finally heard it themselves and took care of it in the situation!

    Reply
    1. OhBehave

      Yay for the big boss. Just reading some of these comments tells me wimpy bosses abound.

      And is this coworker still in jr. high? How immature! Glad she was caught and reprimanded.

      Reply
  41. Effie

    I’m having such a bad day, going to vent for a sec.

    My coworkers that are a higher role than me keep leaving more and more stuff for me to do on Fridays when I’m in and they’re not. There’s more stuff than usual today because we were beta-testing a new system to make teapots, so even though in the long run it may be more efficient this week it wasn’t. Plus, I was one of two people who was comfortable with the system so I kept getting pulled away from my work to help other people figure out what to do next. And my thanks is extra work on Friday.

    I need to leave the office for a standing appointment in ten minutes and won’t be back for an hour and a half at least, and I expect there to be a pile more work when I return, especially since another coworker who helps cover on Friday just told me that he has so much stuff of his own he can only do part (which is fine, he always does a ton). It’s just…I have a ton of stuff too. We need a better system for this. Or maybe I’m just grouchy because of the rain.

    Thanks for letting me vent.

    Reply
    1. BadPlanning

      Are there some things that you can just let fail? Or on Monday, “give back” the coworkers’ tasks. “Sorry, I had several items that were higher priority and was unable to do your extra tasks.”

      Reply
      1. Sadsack

        This. What else can you do? Plus, maybe start asking for deadlines when you are given tasks do you can plan better. I assume that not everything must be done by end if the same day.

        Reply
    2. Effie

      Thanks everyone! I can’t take Friday off too because I have a second job that requires me to work some nights so I can’t fit 40 hours in M-Th the way others can.

      Ideally everything does need to get done because otherwise people don’t get their teapots on time (trying to be vague). People are supposed to get their teapots by Thursday so Friday is already late (and processing on Friday can mean that they don’t get it on Monday, so processing Monday would be even later). The actual thing is something substantial that you’d be upset if it was late.

      Usually people are okay with getting it late as long as it’s done by Friday (same week) because usually they submitted it late to us (our deadline for people getting their teapots by Thursday is submission by 5pm on Monday). But even if it’s their fault it’s late we’re not supposed to put it off until next week. Again, better system needed :(

      So glad I’m not alone though!

      Reply
    3. Elizabeth West

      I’d go to my boss and say something like, “Elrond, Arwen and Glorfindel keep leaving me these tasks when they’re out of the office on Friday. I’m fine with helping out when I have time, but since Gandalf usually needs them by Monday, Legolas and I often end up with more to do than we actually have time for. How would you like me to prioritize these?”

      Or at the last, “Is there another way we can spread the workload out a little? If they know they’re going to be gone, maybe they could send things to Legolas and me earlier.”

      Reply
  42. Myrin

    My interview for that job I really want was yesterday and I feel like it went really well. Keep your fingers crossed, guys!

    Reply
  43. SQL Coder Cat

    I wanted to thank everyone who offered me encouragement on the open thread a few weeks back about my nerves about my conference presentations. I used a lot of the advice! I took something to calm my stomach before presenting. When I started my speech I asked how many people were on the technical side of things, and pointed out that this was a technical track presentation. A few people left, but not many. It turns out that my topic is something of a hot issue for many people in my field right now, and everyone in the audience was very interested in what I had to say! I had a room full of alert, engaged people who followed along and asked great questions. I made some fabulous contacts and had a great time. Now I just need to decide on what topics to present next year!

    Reply
  44. Red

    I got accepted to college! I’ll be doing a double major in math/stats and economics, as I want to work as an actuary. I’m so excited!!

    Reply
    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      Congratulations!!! I have two friends who are actuaries who have loved it and been very successful. On behalf of my partner, who teaches economics, go to class, pay attention, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. :)

      Reply
    2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

      Congrats! I got a minor in geospatial statistics, so my recommendation is to be prepared for 4-8 weeks of feeling like you’re drinking from a fire hose, and then an abrupt chrysalis where you all of a sudden start thinking like a statistician and understanding what the hell is going on. That will happen no matter how good at math and stats you currently think you are.

      And I’m jelly, because actuaries can basically name their salaries these days.

      Reply
    3. finman

      Congrats, but I have a suggestion based on how you would answer this question: What do you want to do as an actuary? If the answer is something along the lines of working for an insurance company, analyzing warranty trends, financial loss forecasting (credit cards, banks, etc) or is it more analyzing data in a more macroeconomic standpoint more in line with government work?

      If the answer is A you may want to look at a business degree (finance, accounting, marketing) instead of economics as understanding what the data means and how to make a useful business decision from that can be very powerful when looking for jobs. If the answer is B you may want to look into taking some political science electives if you have the time.

      Reply
    4. Snazzy Hat

      Woo! Math! Congratulations!

      Random side advice: Go to office hours if you don’t understand something even after recitation. I had major anxiety for my first few years of college and believed office hours were for discussing that advanced research project you’re working on, or to show off your knowledge by bouncing ideas back and forth with your professor. I was awesome at math up through high school, but in college (when I had to drop my initial major and switched to math) I just could not understand calculus. I sat quietly confused, rarely asked questions, boggled my eyes over test questions, and racked my brain trying to remember when the professor said we could bring note cards to the test. (Yes, that actually happened; all of my classmates had notes and I believe even calculators, and the only thing I brought was a pencil.) What I should have done was go into the professor’s office during office hours and say, “look, I swear I’m good at math, but I don’t understand any of this and my lack of comprehension is scaring me. what the hell am I doing wrong?”

      In short, professors will be happy that you try to do well and ask them questions, especially during times that they’ve left their schedule open so you can ask them questions. And even the jerkiest and least-approachable professors have colleagues and students who know their stuff, so you can always try asking those folks instead.

      Reply
    5. Borgette

      I have a similar degree! It’s pretty awesome! The one thing I would have changed about my coursework would be taking 1-2 more programming classes on top of the required Python 101 course. Best of luck!

      Reply
      1. Ultraviolet

        According to a survey in my undergraduate math department, “Take more computer science courses” was the most common piece of advice that alumni would give current students. (That was about ten years ago I think.)

        Reply
  45. Master Bean Counter

    First I’d like to offer up my sympathies to anybody who has to deal with Atlanta traffic. May you find a way to work around the mess.
    In a pleasant turn of events we now have an office dog. The CEO has decided his dog did well the other day in the office so she’ll be a regular around here now. She’s a very sweet 10 year old golden retriever.
    In a not so great turn of events I’m watching my control freak of a boss headed for burn out. He’s over working himself since my colleague left. I tried to get up to speed on the colleague’s work before he left. The boss blocked me from doing that. He insisted he could do it. I’ve offered to help numerous times since, all refused. Even actively blocked. So now I’m sitting back watching the show and trying to stay out of the fall out. Any tips?
    Also if you are a high level financial person who wants to live in the Southwest I’d love to see your resume.

    Reply
    1. Corky's wife Bonnie

      No tips but I’m am super jealous you have an office dog, I would love that!!! A golden sometimes comes here to visit and I get to greet her in my lobby entryway, and it is a nice stress reliever.

      Reply
    2. KR

      My tip is to pet the dog. I’m also jealous that you have an office dog. My new job *which I haven’t started yet GRR* is just me and 2 technicians in an office that isn’t public facing or open to the public at all. No one else will work there except for occasional visits from my boss (who’s a dog person) or other people. I’m hoping after my probationary period I can work in a low key request to bring my old man (dog) to work with me.

      Reply
    3. Construction Safety

      Thx on the traffic. It’s gonna be FUBAR for a long time. The north-bound span has to come down, no word yet on the sections on either side of the damaged ones. I could see rebar sticking out of the columns in one of the pics last night. Glad no one was hurt/killed.

      Reply
  46. Cece

    Academic industry question:

    There’s a project across two universities that’s looking for two postdocs, and each university is advertising for its own postdoc. Is it a faux pas to apply for both?

    They’re very similar positions, and my skills/experience would fit both. If the project is on chocolate teapots, say, one is for research on dark chocolate teapots (my specialism), and the other is on milk chocolate teapots (so close to what I do that I’d have no hesitation applying in other circumstances). The cover letters will be very, very similar since I’ve been working on chocolate teapots for the last few years.

    Reply
    1. SophieChotek

      I personally would say no it’s not. Each university presumably has its own budget, review committee, etc. That was my initial thought. However, when I look at your question again it looks like you are saying two universities are working on a joint project, but are each hiring their own postdoc to work on it. In that case, they might have a joint review committee, etc. — so maybe you could get in touch with the coordinator and ask?

      Reply
      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

        I read it as, the dark chocolate initiative is hiring two postdocs to work on one project sponsored by two universities, and that each university also has openings for postdocs on other projects unrelated to the collaborative one.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          I read it as Whassamatta U and Greendale are partners on the chocolate initiative, with Whassamatta handling the dark end and Greendale handling the milk, and each is going to be hiring a postdoc to work on it.

          If so, feel free to apply for both.

          Reply
          1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

            Yeah, either way, apply to both – it’s not weird, as long as you make it clear that you’re not just cranking out applications to any vaguely related postdoc that might hire you.

            Reply
    2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

      No, it’s not. It’s generally understood that potential postdocs are basically applying for almost everything that could potentially fit with their PhD research. Your applying for both would be completely normal and even expected.

      I would, however, write two different cover letters. If one PI reads both, you want both to come off as unique and thoughtful about each particular project and your role in it, not as if you’re cranking out variations on the same core letter. The milk chocolate teapot project letter, in particular, should be really focused on bridging between that and your specialty, and making the case that you’re committed to and eager for the shift in focus and that it fits into your overall research goals.

      Reply
      1. Cece

        Thanks! I hope the desperation of my career stage will excuse applying to both, if the PIs compare notes when shortlisting.

        The person spec for the milk and dark posts only differs on three points, and quite a lot of the core work experience transfers across. Your points about career goals are helpful, though. I’ll think about what I’d want the next job to be after this project ends (5-year plan and all that), see if that inspires two dazzling and unique letters!

        Reply
        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

          You’re on the right track! The objective is to make the point that “this is work I really want to do and I’m applying because I’m passionate about the topic and want to broaden my research experience,” not “This is the 37th postdoc I’ve applied for, please give me a job because it’s sort of in my field and I can do it.”

          Reply
  47. Margaret

    I’ve started a pretty strict diet and it requires a lot of weighing of food to make sure I get an accurate calorie count. Because of how much time it takes to prep food and the fact that I don’t want to eat the same thing all the time, I’ve started bringing in different components and stashing them in the shared fridge. When I have to weigh things out, I do it in my cubicle with my “door” closed (I have some hanging beads I draw across the threshold when I am taking lunch, calls, etc.). However, some people have been giving me weird looks, but no one’s directly confronted me about this. Is this a huge faux-pas?

    Reply
      1. Margaret

        Besides the standard selections of ketchup, mustard, pickles, etc that seem to populate any shared fridge, it’s mostly empty (freezer space is at a much higher premium). However, I try not to take up more than 1/3 of a shelf, which is about what each person gets if you divided it up evenly.

        Reply
      1. Margaret

        I’ve done that before. This was supposed to bring a little more flexibility: if I want it spicier, need some sweetness, want more veggies/protein/fat/carbs, etc.

        But if people start to think I have an eating disorder, I might have to go back to that.

        Reply
        1. paul

          as far as spices; I’ve *never* calorie counted there. Chili powder, cayenne, fresh ground red pepper, etc are all so low calorie it doesn’t matter. some spice *mixes* it can if they’ve put in sugar since that’s calorie dense, but stand alone spices…you’d have to eat a whole container to matter.

          Reply
    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

      I wouldn’t call it a huge faux pas, but it’s enough outside the norm that it could raise some eyebrows. Why not do the weighing at home and bring lunch already packed?

      Reply
      1. Margaret

        From above:
        I’ve done that before. This was supposed to bring a little more flexibility: if I want it spicier, need some sweetness, want more veggies/protein/fat/carbs, etc.
        But if people start to think I have an eating disorder, I might have to go back to that.

        Reply
        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

          Gotcha. Could you have a little kit with some condiments, spices, and toppings and so on, so you can at least adjust flavors – even if you need to decide your basic ingredients and components in the morning? I make grain bowls with leftovers in much this way, and then I have a little collection of sauces and chutneys and salsas that I can doctor it up with as I please.

          Reply
    2. fposte

      Are you sure people are giving weird looks because of your food and that you’re not just feeling somewhat self-conscious? (And when are you seeing these weird looks?) How do other people in your workplace lunch at their desks?

      If nobody closes a curtain, it might seem a little secretive; one possibility would be just leaving it open and saying blandly “Yup, rules of the diet; it’s amazing what you find out when you do it this way, too.”

      Reply
      1. jordanjay29

        Yeah, I’m going to back this one. It feels awkward and uncomfortable the first time, but if you just brush off the looks casually with something self-deprecating, most people will shrug and go back to what they’re doing. Or just bring it up off-hand when someone asks what you’re having for lunch.

        Reply
    3. Christian Troy

      I suspect it’s probably because it seems like you’re bringing a lot of stuff into a shared work resource. I think the norm is generally people bring in a lunch, like a lunchbox or a brownbag or whatever and that’s it. Maybe measure everything out for your work lunch and then do something more flexible for dinner and breakfast?

      Reply
    4. Halls of Montezuma

      I wouldn’t think it’s a faux-pas, but I’d be really curious. I’ve heard of bakers being very serious about food weights, but a diet with strict food weights would not occur to me… I’d try to resist directly asking (AAM has beaten in that coworkers probably don’t want to talk about eating habits), but curiosity would eventually kill the cat and I’d end up awkwardly asking what you were doing.

      Reply
    5. paul

      been there, done that. Got mild ribbing but nothing else. Didn’t notice much in the way of repercussions.

      That said I eventually started just weighing it all out at home and bringing it all in a tupperware container.

      Reply
    6. Buu

      You can get lunch boxes with portion control partitions or containes designed for small snacks. Perhaps prepare and divide at home then bring those in? or pack each pot by calorie count then just take different ones adding up the count each day?

      Reply
  48. Amber Rose

    Friday Rant: I was out of the office all last week on business, and spent the first three days of this week writing a 119 page report on that business (uggggh). My supervisor has been super passive aggressively angry at me this whole week about it. On Monday she slammed some work on my desk and told me it needed to get done because it was old (I do this task once a month. It was done last month.) On Tuesday she forwarded me an email order than had been sent to me with her copied and said that I needed to make sure it was done that day (yes?). Wednesday on she’s basically been ignoring me and answers my work questions very shortly.

    Because I have a legal and ethical obligation to get my report in by a very brief deadline (I swore an oath, this is a government task), I basically just said yes to her… and then left the work alone and did my report. Except for the order, which I did do because it only took 5 minutes. There’s no point in arguing with her because she just sulks or brushes me off.

    The problem is that my boss (the general manager) refuses to clarify what my position in the hierarchy is. Am I an office worker reporting to this supervisor (or another)? Am I a supervisor, since I run my own department? If I’m both, which takes priority? He’s insistent that running my department is only a part time job, which it is sometimes, until it isn’t. The other part time job is helping my supervisor. But I also have another part time job: helping outside sales. And a fourth part time job: designing marketing materials and running/maintaining the website. Oh, and the fifth: assembling document packages for customers. Oh, and RMAs, I do those too. Oh, and don’t forget accounts receivables (wish I could). That’s what, seven?

    So basically because nobody will clarify my position, I call myself (and feel like) the office dog. Because that’s how I’m treated. Amber does the garbage jobs nobody else wants. Fetch girl, fetch!

    This job would be intolerable if I didn’t like my coworkers so much. They vastly improve my day.

    Reply
  49. How to find a new career

    Does anyone have any suggested resources to help someone assess what career might be a good fit for them? I am sick of my desk job. I know what I like, what I’m good at, and what I’m bad at. I’d love to take some sort of quiz or assessment to help me fit the pieces together and figure out a better career path.

    Also, are there any find-a-career resources that allow you to set a floor for income potential? As much as I’d love to be a professional artist or dog walker, I can’t afford to make less than $60K.

    Reply
    1. Alex

      If you’re in the US, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is a good place to see what careers are out there, how much they pay, and what type of education or experience is needed. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/
      I also would recommend the book Designing Your Life http://designingyour.life/the-book/ It’s a little “self-help-y”, but it makes you think about the things you enjoy and value and how to get on track to do something new.

      Reply
      1. Dienna Howard

        I saw “Designing Your Life” mentioned in an Interview Magazine interview with Michelle Pfeiffer yesterday and put a hold on it at my library. It seems like a popular book and just what the doctor ordered.

        Reply
  50. Librarian

    For the librarians on here (I know there are a few):

    What’s the average amount of time you have stayed at a job?

    Reply
    1. EmilyG

      Since grad school, I’ve got a five-year stint, a three-year one, and I’ve been in my current job a few years. I guess my average is about three years at the moment but I hope to stay in my current job for a long time, and my previous departures were partly motivated by personal-life stuff. Two of those jobs have had a lot of 20+ year colleagues, and the other one… well, there was a reason it didn’t.

      Reply
    2. Last but not least

      I work for a library, though not a librarian. We have staff that have been here 20+ years and others that job hop a bit. In some cases they leave for more money (other public library systems pay more than we do), other times, they leave because they want to work in a different library field (public library to academic or law librarian or museum curator or what have you). I find it depends on whether the librarian is in the role they want. If they are, they will nail that job down and stay as long as they can.

      Reply
    3. Records Manager/Librarian

      I was at my last job for 2 years and 8 months, but that was as an archivist. At my current job for 1 year and 11 months. I would stay as long as the job remains interesting and there are new challenges or opportunities.

      Reply
    4. miki

      Usually my gigs were around a year (projects/contract work) with BA in LIS (outside the U.S.), then with MLIS current position (US based): it’ll be 5 years this October.
      I find that most librarians stay as long as it is feasible for them to stay. Some move for better positions, some leave because the spouse/partner gets a job out state…

      Reply
    5. dear liza dear liza

      I’m an academic librarian. I stayed 3 years at my first job, and am almost 20 years at my current job.

      Reply
    6. ThatLibraryChick

      I started as an archivist and worked there for about 2 years. Then I became a library assistant for about 2.5 years before moving into my current position a few months ago as programming librarian. Unless an opening for advancement comes up soon and I am qualified, I’m probably going to be in this position for a while which is fine with me.

      Reply
    7. Borgette

      My husband finished his MLS last fall. He’s been working at the same library for ~6 years, and has been in his current role (adult outreach provider) for ~3. He’s low key job hunting for an actual librarian role right now, and will ramp up his search this fall when we get past the window where the library’s tuition assistance program would require us to pay them back if he leaves.

      Reply
    8. Joa

      I was in a paraprofessional position for two years, at my first professional library job 7 years (which included a promotion after about 3) and I’ve been at this one for three. I’ve committed to myself to stay here for five years and then assess how I feel about things. I’m the director of a smallish library, so there’s no room for advancement without moving to a larger library, but lots of room to make this job what I want it to be.

      Reply
  51. Volunteer Coordinator in NOVA

    I’m at (and have been for awhile) the BEC stage with someone I have to work with. She use to be my supervisor and is still senior to me but I got moved to a new manager (partially because she wasn’t very good) but we still work together. I feel like everything I do, she has to go against and the way she says things make it seem like I’m doing something wrong/not doing my job correctly/am just stupid. I think a lot of this comes from the fact that she doesn’t really have a good connection with anyone in our office/her work isn’t great and shes getting a lot of pressure from above. Every time I have to talk with her, I just want to yell at her which isn’t productive for anyone. I’m trying to be professional but I clearly have a look on my face that says I want to run her over with my car. I’m not sure if there is anything I can do mentally to better deal with her but if anyone has any tips, I would greatly appreciate it!

    On a side note, I posted a few weeks about working with bad anxiety and really appreciate everyones response! It made me feel a little less alone. I’m still struggling but I talked with my doctor so they adjusted my meds which hopefully will help a bit. I’ve also been listening to podcasts when I can as that helps me feel a little less anxious. I got my own office which I think threw me off because ever though I was really excited about it, it was a change from being with someone every day. I really like my current set up as it’s very cozy and I have lots of snacks in case of low blood sugar which some people suggested! I’ve also been making to-do lists every day with just a few items as I find breaking it down helps as it feels less overwhelming. I have bad insomnia so I’ve been working on fixing that as well as I know a lack of sleep makes everything more challanging.

    Reply
    1. Celeste

      I’m sorry you have to work with someone so difficult. Sometimes it helps me to consider all the ways in which my life is better than that person’s life–how many good friends I have, how much fun I have with my pursuits, how great my hair looks (you get it!). If nothing else, it will put a smile on your face and take your mind off of vehicular manslaughter (so messy).

      Reply
    2. Not So NewReader

      Can you harness some of that excess energy caused by your former boss by writing some poetry or making up little one-liners.

      I was thinking;
      Mary, Mary quite contrary
      How does your own job go?
      [You can take it from here. My husband used to land on the phrase… “and one freakin’ turnip”.]

      Maybe you could time her to see how far into the conversation she can get without saying something contrary. I had a boss I used to do this with. Then when she said something contrary, I’d say to myself as if I was talking to her “Quick, say something contrary. Even if it’s wrong.” It made me laugh to myself.

      If you are pretty sure she is on her way out, really the best you can do is just keep a humorous dialog running in your head to try to pull yourself along. This works better on some days than others.

      Reply
  52. more anon venting

    Is there anyway to get out of working on a project with someone without coming off poorly?

    I caught someone plagiarizing last week on something and called them out on it. A few days later, I caught more of it again. (This was newly submitted content, so by this point, they should’ve known I was onto them). One of my manager’s semi-defended this person which made me lose tons of respect for said manager.

    I think this is a huge deal. At this point, I have zero respect for this individual and don’t want to associate myself with anything that they do. I don’t have the time or energy to police this and I cannot put my heart into working on this project anymore.

    Any ideas on getting out of it?

    Reply
    1. fposte

      Depends on the specifics. Is this a situation where you can take the question to your manager? “Given that Lucinda has plagiarized twice just in the last week, I’m really uncomfortable with having to team with her on the proposal; since I don’t think I can trust the originality of her work, that means I’m going to have to check it all and then rewrite her portion as necessary. Is there any alternative?”

      I think it’s likely that she should have been fired for this (again, depending on specifics), and maybe that’s in the pipeline. But in the meantime telling your manager both gives you a possible way around the problem and makes clear the damage of keeping such an employee.

      Reply
      1. more anon venting

        I mentioned the issues to a different manager the first time around, but at the time they were more related to personality conflicts and the plagiarism issue was minor (relatively) as to why I wasn’t sold on working on this with her. I had honestly thought after I called her out on it the first time, it would be fixed. Next thing I know, she is being really nice and I thought we were all on the same page. I started to edit some of her work and recognized that the writing didn’t sound like her…. Her writing is horrendous (I’m talking fragments that end with things such as “?!”), so even non-plagiarized work has to be rewritten. I even caught fact errors when she should be the Subject Matter Expert. And yes, she should be fired for all of this, but I would be very surprised if that happens. This is just a disaster.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          Then I’d go back to a manager (it sounds like you might not have one that’s specifically yours) and make your case.

          Reply
  53. Mbot1re

    What is a tactful way to ask what the pay rate for a job you have gotten an interview request for but the job posting did not state a salary range? I work in the admin field and pay varies greatly so I want to be sure it’s not a waste of time for either party but don’t know the best way to pose this question before agreeing to an interview. I would hate to miss a good opportunity!

    Reply
    1. The Pretty One

      I would just be honest and say to the hiring contact: what is the typical salary range for this position? I want to make sure we are on the same page regarding compensation.

      Reply
    2. BenAdminGeek

      Unfortunately, I’ve found you often need to get through the interview first. Otherwise it seems like you’re “only focused on the money” and it’s held against you.

      Reply
    3. AdAgencyChick

      I’m not clear — did you apply for this job and you are hearing back, or did they recruit you out of the blue?

      Either way, I think you can say, “Can you tell me what the salary range is for the position so we can figure out whether it makes sense to move forward? I don’t want to waste my time or yours.”

      They will very likely counter by asking you how much you’re looking for. If they called you out of nowhere, you can tell them, “I honestly haven’t given it that much thought because I’m not job hunting, so I’d like to hear your range.” If you applied, though, you’ll probably have to name your range before proceeding.

      Reply
  54. The Pretty One

    Two questions, I guess.

    First: how do you know you’re in the right job? I’m in my early forties and I’ve worked for corporations and colleges and social service agencies. The same pattern always emerges, which is: everything is great for about 6 months, then I get bored and start looking. This pattern repeats itself across entry level jobs, management jobs, etc. I am now debating going from a management job to a high level individual contributor (been in current job for 2.5 years), but not sure it is for the right reasons other than the bright and shiny.

    Second: how would you deal with a manager who is really upset with the organization? She didn’t get a promotion she was expecting and now calls me in after every meeting to point out how someone in the meeting has it in for her. I tried to make sympathetic noises, but it feels like she is unraveling right before my eyes. She is also my boss, so I’m afraid to be too honest with any feedback on this behavior.

    Reply
    1. Dizzy Steinway

      I think you might be asking the wrong question. Reading your post, I wondered what happens at the six-month mark, how your feelings change compared to at the start, and what payoff you get from starting new jobs that you don’t then get six months down the line? I wonder if focusing on finding the ‘right job’ might result in another repeat of this cycle as you’d again be focusing on the beginning and not the middle? What’s missing for you six months in – is it something that’s there at the start then goes? Or is it a change you’re hoping for that never comes?

      I wonder if it might help to talk to a life coach or a therapist to try to work this out? It’s just it’s not clear if you’ve been in the wrong jobs or if it’s more to do with some aspect of how you feel at work, what you need and how you fulfil those needs?

      If you need a lot of change, would contracting be an option?

      Reply
      1. fposte

        Yes, I totally agree–this doesn’t sound like a repeated series of the wrong jobs but somebody who just has itchy feet. So do you not want itchy feet, The Pretty One, or would a career path that brings you a lot of novelty solve the problem?

        On the second one, I don’t think it’s something you can change, and that sympathetic noises are the right approach until the boss figures it out.

        Reply
      2. The Pretty One

        I think you are on to something. After 6 months, I usually know the quirks and “dirty laundry” of the place to some extent. The shine has worn off and I settle into a routine, which I don’t really enjoy.

        Reply
    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      I’d be interested in answering your first question as a standalone post! If you’re up for that, want to email to me and ideally flesh it out with more details?

      Reply
      1. Ordinary Worker

        Can’t wait for this standalone post! I am similar in that I’ve moved jobs or departments on avg. about every 2 years….. I just get bored with doing the same thing.

        I’m in this same spot now although I’m trying to ignore it and NOT look for a different spot.

        Reply
      2. Mimmy

        I too am looking forward to this post.

        I just finished my second week in a new job and, as has happened in past jobs, am already getting itchy feet (great analogy, fposte!). It’s considered a part-time, per-diem position though I do have a regular schedule. I want to be sure that it’s just a matter of me being patient and that more interesting things will come in time, or if I’m heading down the wrong path.

        Reply
    3. Chaordic One

      In my last few jobs the pattern I’ve noticed is that I will seem to be doing fine in my job, and then there will be some big change (usually a new supervisor) and the job will turn into poo-poo and I have to start a job search.

      I would certainly be sympathetic to your supervisor. If she tells you that someone in the meeting has it in for her, you might gently disagree and say something like: “I can’t believe that’s true. There’s probably a good reason why “someone” has said or done what they did.” You say things like, “That’s awful.” and “That’s very disappointing.” You might also bluntly suggest something like: “Well, maybe you need to start looking for another job, since they don’t seem to appreciate you here.”

      Reply
      1. Troutwaxer

        I wonder whether the supervisor’s problem (from the organization’s standpoint) is that she believes simple disagreements over facts or strategies are really pissing contests, and then she makes drama, if only in her own head. If she can get past that her career might come unstuck.

        Reply
  55. Murphy

    My university has a paid subscription to a particular e-newsletter. It comes out once a month, always with a warning not to share the link outside of your institution, since it is a paid subscription. I’m responsible for distributing it at my institution, which I always do in such a way that it requires a university login.

    A professional organization that I’m a part of was mentioned in last month’s issue, and a member of the organization just sent it out to the entire listserv (the entire newsletter, not just that article), which is definitely a no-no. I don’t know what, if anything, I should do about this. I hate to be the police, but it makes me feel a little uncomfortable.

    Reply
    1. Manders

      In my experience, it’s pretty common for people to bend the rules with these things at universities. Academia gates content in a weird way that can exclude people who aren’t in the university system or who just want to pay for one item and not a recurring expense like a newsletter subscription.

      I wouldn’t worry too much about it; it doesn’t sound like there’s anything confidential in the newsletter, and this member just forwarded one of them, not the entire back catalog of them.

      Reply
    2. Morning Glory

      Was this one of the people you send the newsletter to, or a completely separate organization and you happened to see it? If it’s the second one, and you are not responsible for it, I would let it go.

      If it’s a subscription issue and not a confidentiality issue, that sounds like a problem the newsletter is asking for, the way they have it set up.

      Reply
      1. fposte

        In general, I think publications that operate on that model expect a certain amount of leakage. I wouldn’t worry a ton about this, but I think it would be okay to send a reminder that the newsletter is a paid subscription and that people are on the honor system to keep it in-house.

        Reply
      2. Murphy

        No, it was someone at another university who sent it out to a professional organization that we’re both a part of. (If it was someone at my university, I definitely would have said something.)

        Thank you, and everyone else. I’ll let it go.

        Reply
    3. more anon venting

      You can send a private message to that person reminding them, but otherwise, I wouldn’t worry about it. Chances are that the organization distributing it has some kind of forward tracking on it, so they would be able to tell and police it as necessary.

      Reply
  56. Manders

    Digital marketers, which job boards do you use? I’m looking for jobs just past entry-level. Craigslist is full of internships and entry-level positions, and Indeed’s pickings seem slim. I’m pretty sure more advanced options are out there for people who have some experience in SEO and UX, but I don’t know where to go to find them.

    Also, is it common to be expected to do a skills test before you even speak to an interviewer? I’ve submitted two applications and been asked to take a test for both. I turned one down because they wouldn’t give me a salary range and proceeded with another, but I was peeved about having to take a test (which was actually full of really basic errors!) before anyone would speak with me.

    Reply
    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      At one point, I was looking for jobs at digital marketing agencies. I had the best success on Glassdoor and LinkedIn, and, of course, agencies’ own websites. My city has an AMA chapter that holds great events for networking; I went to a local agency for a webinar/meeting and met a lot of cool people.

      I know it’s been brought up 1000 times, but really, networking is soooo important, especially in the digital agency world. Around here, it’s a lot of start-ups, and they often will hire someone with great potential who has skills they foresee needing down the road.

      Reply
      1. Manders

        You’re totally right, I should up my networking game. I’ve seen about 10 marketing meetups in my area, I just need to find the time to go. I’m in a startup-heavy city too, and I have a skill set that could be a good fit for a company that needs to build some buzz as it launches a new product.

        Now that I think about my schedule, maybe I should tap the brakes on my job hunt until I’m done with my house hunt. Networking AND rushing out to open houses at the same time is not a great combo.

        Reply
  57. Freya UK

    I handed in my resignation this morning – one week of notice to work then I am out of this boring, oppressive, negative office \o/ Free to actually live my life while looking for a new job \o/

    Reply
      1. Freya UK

        It certainly does. A bit nerve-wracking going without an income of course, but I got to the point where that risk is far less awful than forcing myself into the endurance test of that office any more. Thank you :D

        Reply
    1. Corky's wife Bonnie

      Yay!! Good luck with your job search…and try not to skip too gleefully on your way out next week. :-)

      Reply
  58. Liquid Lunch (not that kind)

    I got braces about six months ago. For 1-2 weeks after a monthly dentist appointment, what I’m able to eat is seriously restricted. (This may not be typical, but it’s necessary in my particular case, and it’s not going to change for about a year.) I’m in school right now and can get through the occasional student-group dinner because my friends know what’s going on.

    However, I’m interning this summer at a place that has fairly frequent group lunches, free bagels in the breakroom, etc. I don’t want to be TMI Girl, and nobody needs to know what’s going on with my mouth. On the other hand, eating together is an important part of bonding as a group, not to mention networking. Sometimes I won’t even be able to order the vegetable soup (I’ve tried), so peeking at menus beforehand won’t solve the problem completely.

    Does anyone who’s gone through this have tips on how to explain the situation with grace? Is there a professional way to explain that sometimes I can eat actual food and sometimes I can’t, or will I have to establish a green-juice norm and pretend to be extremely healthy?

    Reply
    1. fposte

      Well, a definite no to the last, at least :-). I think it’s fine and not TMI to say “I have a dental thing that’s flaring up” and order only a milkshake at lunch. Just say it with a “What can you do?” shrug. “Nah, I’m okay; just no bagels for me for a week or two.”

      It’s possible, especially with interns who may not have much experience, that they’ll want to know more or want to find you food you can eat. It’s up to you how private you choose to be, but I think it wouldn’t be a problem to say “It’s just orthodontia, and once it’s all over next January I can go back to normal. In the meantime, I’m really fine with the milkshake approach.” Generally the more matter of fact you are the more matter of fact other people will be.

      Reply
      1. Liquid Lunch (not that kind)

        Thanks, fposte! Mentioning that it’s orthodontia, if they seem *really* curious, would probably head any stranger assumptions off at the pass.

        Reply
    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      Honestly? I think you’ll be just fine. Most people I know, myself included, have had braces and we remember the drill. Even barring that, everyone I know has had dental work followed by discomfort. My best advice is to keep your sense of humor about it. “LL, just getting soup? How about a sandwich?” “Thanks, but I just had my braces adjusted, I’m a little sore. That salad looks awesome, though.”

      Servers in restaurants deal with unusual requests all the time. They may not be able to puree your soup, but in the case of something like vegetable soup, they might be able to strain it so you just get broth. Just ask. Don’t be afraid to order side dishes like mashed potatoes. I think people will be much more sympathetic than you realize.

      Reply
      1. Liquid Lunch (not that kind)

        Thanks! It’s good to know that people will be understanding. I’ll make sure to stay relaxed about it.

        Reply
    3. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

      I think you repeat this as necessary: “I had some dental work done recently, so I’m avoiding chewy/hard/crunchy things right now. ” If people press you for details, I think you can just say, “Really, it’s completely fine, but the braces are making my teeth hurt like crazy, so chewing is not a thing. So how was your weekend?”

      As fposte says, be matter of fact, answer plainly, change the subject, and people will get the message that it’s Not a Big Deal.

      Reply
    4. MegaMoose, Esq

      I’ve started noticing a decent number of people around my age (late 20s to mid 30s) getting braces recently, so I don’t think it’ll be a big deal – just be matter of fact as fpost said. Sit with people, eat what you can, sip on an ice tea if you can’t order anything off the menu. Don’t get into the details of when you can and can’t eat things, just address the immediate issue if someone asks and then move on.

      Reply
    5. yarnowl

      I don’t think it’s TMI to say something like, “I’ve got a dental thing I’m dealing with that makes it hard to eat certain foods.”

      I can’t eat dairy, and my office has a LOT of food-based activities as well, and in the few instances where there was just absolutely nothing I could eat (sitting and watching my coworkers eat pizza and cheesy bread was AWESOME) I still go and just get a drink and then eat on my own time. If people ask, I just say, “I have a dietary restriction, so I’m gonna eat a little bit later,” but honestly most of the time people don’t say anything.

      Reply
    6. Elizabeth H.

      Why not just explain it? “Because of my orthodontia work I can’t eat anything chewy or solid for about a week after my braces get tightened.” This is really normal and not TMI *at all*. Most people are familiar with braces and I actually think it would be weirder and more awkward if you tried to conceal it or give other reasons like making up a dietary restriction or special diet or something.
      Is the issue that your group is going to a restaurant and you are embarrassed if you can’t order anything on the menu? I do understand how that can be awkward and you might worry you are making people uncomfortable by going to a restaurant and not o