open thread – April 21-22, 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 :)

{ 1,748 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. my name is Rory

    Has anyone ever been jealous in a good, awestruck kind of way (as opposed to a mean, toxic kind of way)?

    This week there was a huge conference and trade show for my industry. One of the managers from my work was set to give a talk and presentation but he was a no show. Later it came out he was at the bar back at the hotel but he was even texting people saying he was on his way though he wasn’t. His assistant ended up doing it. I don’t mean any disrespect to her but she only started here in August, is not even 20 years old yet and had no previous experience or school classes/training in our industry. And she did amazing. She has no training in the topics the manager was supposed to present on. But she had some of his notes and she engaged the audience and tried to inject some humor into it. She pulled off a 30 minute talk and presentation along with a question period in front of over a thousand people. If she got asked something she did not know the answer to she asked the person their name and their company name and said someone would contact them. I can’t explain it but she managed to still make it look like she knew exactly what she was doing even when she was admitting she didn’t. She got a standing ovation and for the rest of the conference people were only saying good things. She saved the company huge embarrassment because slots to give talks are limited and not every company gets one ever year. She didn’t even ask, she just took the notes and went on after her boss was introduced for a second time.

    The management here is impressed with her and so am I. I am almost twice her age and have been in the industry for years and the thought of doing what she did makes my stomach flip flop. She said she does comedy, improv and theatre in her spare time and has no problem being in front of a crowd. I am jealous because I could never pull off what she did, but in a “you’re awesome, great job” kind of way. I was honestly the best presentation I have ever seen at one of these things.

    Reply
      1. Another Lawyer

        Eh, you don’t know what happened with the boss so that’s a pretty big leap to firing. But she does sound awesome.

        Reply
    1. Nic

      Wow. That’s super impressive! I get what you mean by jealous in a good way.

      I’ve had a few of those. Usually it’s folks in whom I see habits or characteristics that I really admire.

      Reply
    2. Catbird

      That’s awesome! I hope your company does something to recognize and foster that talent, or else she’ll be on to greener pastures in short order.

      Reply
      1. Fortitude Jones

        Pretty much. She’ll be running that place soon, or at least her current department if her boss doesn’t get it together.

        Reply
        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

          I recognize that I’m going to come off as a killjoy here, so my apologies if that’s not in the spirit of this nice thread about a talented person.

          But: While the manager here clearly has significant problems and this young woman clearly has a great deal of poise and skill in giving presentations, that doesn’t necessary translate into leadership/expertise/skill in other areas.

          She deserves public kudos & thanks (and to have her manager managed, whatever they decide to do about him), not (necessarily) a promotion.

          Reply
          1. Fortitude Jones

            While the manager here clearly has significant problems and this young woman clearly has a great deal of poise and skill in giving presentations, that doesn’t necessary translate into leadership/expertise/skill in other areas.

            This is true. But she clearly knows how to think on her feet, how to inspire others (as per the OP), and seems eager to learn, so even if she doesn’t have all of the things she’d need to be management material right now, she’s definitely on her way.

            Reply
            1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

              Totally. If I were her manager, I’d be heaping on praise and looking for opportunities to help her grow in the organization. She seems great.

              I’m just a grumpus about the idea that excelling in one highly public skill means that you will automatically excel in the less-glamorous parts of any job. (Ack, my bitterness is seeping out. :))

              Reply
              1. paul

                I agree. I don’t want to downplay what the person did, and they certainly deserve it noted in their WPR and public recognition, but being good at this doesn’t mean that she’ll be a good manager. I also agree that it’d be worth them looking at mentoring her and providing her extra opportunities to grow.

                Reply
                1. Catbird

                  Agree with you all! I’m not saying she should be promoted straight to manager, just that she obviously has talent and the company would be smart to foster that.

          2. LBK

            Yeah, I agree. And while this is absolutely impressive it’s still only a relatively small amount of information; sometimes people who are charismatic and confident are nightmares in myriad other ways (as someone who works in sales support, that pretty much describes all of our top sellers).

            Reply
    3. Emily

      That’s amazing – major props to her! I hope that the company finds a way to recognize her for her performance.

      Reply
    4. ann perkins

      I love that story! Thanks for sharing. Also, curious as to what is going to happen to the manager who was at the bar instead of giving the presentation.

      Reply
    5. Jane Gloriana Villanueva

      I have experienced that positive jealousy, and I think the key to not letting it sour is to do part of what you’ve started to do, first of all praising her to her face and to management. Her good performance reflects well on all of you (and deflects from some of the potentially negative attention paid toward that manager!). I would continue to find the good points in the presentation and the manner in which she conducted it and see what you might be able to bring into your own work in areas you feel could use improvement. It might be helpful to think of this as in informal mentor relationship — I firmly believe that mentors aren’t always older — and see if you can develop more of a sharing arrangement to continue to glean insights back and forth.

      Reply
    6. CBH

      Hi Rory
      That’s great that you so admired your colleague. You should congratulate her on a job well done.

      You sound a little jealous. To be honest I would be too. Just remember that everyone is good at something; everyone has something to improve upon. Your strength may be her weakness. Your colleague is great at presentations. You never know your colleague probably admires your work and would like to talk about your experiences.

      Reply
    7. Amber Rose

      Yep, I often have positive jealousy. It’s kind of fun, especially with younger people, because you just know they’re going amazing places and really deserve it.

      She deserves some kind of work recognition, I hope she gets it.

      Reply
    8. animaniactoo

      That is amazing. Kudos to her. I’m in awe – I’m known to have all kinds of chutzpah and I still don’t think I’d have had that much.

      Reply
    9. AnitaJ

      Totally understand professional jealousy, but it does sound like you are happy for her! If jealousy lingers, I’d try and think about the ways in which you may have contributed to her success. As you said, she made you all look good–she saved the company from embarrassment. So I’m sure you did something, either directly or indirectly, that helped her. Kudos to all.

      Reply
    10. ZVA

      Have you told her how impressed with her you are? It sounds like maybe you have but I strongly encourage you to do so if you haven’t! I agree with Jane Gloriana Villanueva that a great way to keep that “positive” jealousy from souring is to tell her (& others) how you feel… Honestly, I wouldn’t even call it jealousy, b/c that has a negative connotation I don’t think applies here: admiration, maybe…

      Reply
      1. TL -

        I know what she means – admiration doesn’t go far enough, because there’s also an element of “I wish I could be like that!”
        I feel like that with a lot of people in my workplace – they’re older and much more together than I am, and I really admire it in an “I want to emulate it but I struggle so much!” kind of way. I like it, I want it, and I’m a little envious that I don’t have it (but I’m glad and wowed that they have it!)

        Reply
    11. Elizabeth West

      Yes, I have. I know a couple of skaters who worked really hard and now have careers in skating. One is competing at the elite level, and the other has been traveling the world with Disney on Ice!

      I’m envious, especially of the second person, but I’m also really really proud of them. They have earned these experiences. I can skate, but I know it will never be at that level. However, I have other talents at which I can work and who knows? I might even make it myself. :) So they definitely inspire more than green-faced teeth gnashing.

      Reply
      1. Me2

        I grew up in a skating family and spent my childhood in ice rinks. One sister was in the Junior Olympics and one sister was in either the Ice Capades or Ice Follies, I can never remember which, but she traveled the US and Europe for a couple of years. Boy is it fun to look at pictures of those days now. But I was, alas, the non-talented sister who spent most of my ice time reading a book. I should say the traveling sister did not get to spend much time being a tourist because they were always on such tight schedules, she definitely didn’t think it was anything to envy even though it certainly sounded glamorous at the time. Plus they had weekly public weigh-ins! Enough said!

        Reply
        1. Elizabeth West

          My friend in DoI doesn’t have tons of time for sightseeing either, but she and her fellow skaters are managing to have a great time, if her pictures are any indication. And they’re building some great relationships. :) As for my competing friend, things have been rough for her lately, but I’ve got my fingers crossed for her. She has a lot of determination and tons of support. Neither one of them has it easy–but they both love skating and they know they’re lucky to get to do what they love.

          Reply
    12. Breda

      That’s amazing! It also fits perfectly into something I once read and really latched onto: the difference between envy and jealousy. Jealousy is “I wish I had that instead of you,” whereas envy is “I wish I had that as well as you.” I don’t think this distinction is really the common connotation, but I find it SO HELPFUL for myself. Just being able to recognize that you don’t want to take something away from someone else can prevent the feeling from turning to bitterness.

      Reply
      1. Anna Pigeon

        I was just going to post a variation on this.

        Envy, within reason, is a positive. Envy inspires you to work towards having something someone else has in a more generic way (a great job or a loving partner).

        Jealousy is almost always a negative. It’s the fear someone will take away a specific thing you have or want (that specific job, partner, etc.).

        Reply
    13. Rebecca in Dallas

      That’s awesome! Good for her, sounds like her improv and theatre experience paid off in an unexpected way!

      I know what you mean about being jealous in a positive way. I try to use those people as inspiration! And I try to tell them as well. I had someone tell me years ago that she noticed how much color I wear, whereas she always tended towards black and grays. She was trying to branch out in her wardrobe choices and so she’d think about me when shopping or putting together an outfit. It kind of made my day (and maybe my life, since I clearly still think about it haha).

      Reply
      1. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks

        Kudos to your colleague she was given an opportunity to shine and she did. I know of a lot of people who don’t take advantage of those kinds of opportunities. Be sure to congratulate your colleague and tell her that she did a great job. I’m sure you are great at your job, too. And it sounds like you are inspired. Use that to your advantage.

        Reply
    14. emma2

      Yes – lots of times!

      I never wish badly on others as a result of it, but sometimes it does make me feel inadequate. However, two ways I have learned to deal with it are: 1) Focus on exactly what aspects you most admire, and aspire to these characteristics; and 2) Don’t be afraid to embrace your (healthy) competitive spirit! Yes, I said it. Don’t be afraid see how much you can excel at XYZ to the point of rivaling them.

      The second one keeps me from feeling too intimidated by the object of my admiration and instead convinces me that I can be just as good. The obvious caveat is to not let it become a negative, bitter competition, and to remember that is more a perceived competition (by you) than a real one. (I remember in high school constantly feeling like I had to desperately keep up with one of my friends who not only was an all-around awesome person, but a stellar debater. Later on I learned that our debate team considered both of us to be two of the top performers – so I was perceived by others as being equal(ish?) to her even though I always felt so inadequate. You never know how much others might praise/admire you the same way. )

      Reply
    15. Falling Diphthong

      This is a wonderful example of how you can pick up things that are not remotely in your desired field, and they turn out to have cross-over.

      Reply
  2. ZSD

    Good news!
    A week or so ago, I applied for a job for which the ad didn’t specify a salary range but asked me to include desired salary in my cover letter. (Grr.)
    I didn’t name a number in the letter and instead said something like, “I would be happy to discuss salary after discussing the position more.”
    And I just got invited to a phone interview! So not naming a desired salary wasn’t a deal-breaker.

    Reply
    1. SanguineAspect

      Ooooh! This is exciting! Hope your phone interview is amazing. As my husband tells me before any Big Work Thing: “Go forth and kick ass!”

      Reply
    2. Rebecca F

      I’m having this problem with a job application right now and have been freaking out, I’m totally stealing your response! Good luck!

      Reply
  3. What's for lunch?

    Has anyone successfully gone from being a daily lunch buyer to a daily lunch bringer?

    Some background:

    I enjoy cooking, but am single and live by myself, so I end up with a lot of waste anytime I do cook. There is a grocery store near my work and I have tried to buy ingredients to make sandwiches for the week, but I get bored after two days of the same thing and inevitably start eating out again. I also go to school at night, and I often don’t eat dinner for logistical reasons, so just packing up leftovers from dinner is not really an option (please let’s not debate whether or not skipping meals is okay).

    Between my irregular schedule, my need for variety and the challenges of meal planning for one, I spend so much money on food and waste so much of it that I just cannot find a system that can get me to regularly bring my lunch to work.

    Any ideas? Any success stories?

    Reply
    1. Leatherwings

      I do meal prep on Sunday or Monday night. I usually cook two dishes (easy ones though) with enough food for two to three days and package it up and stick it in the fridge or freezer. Then I’m not eating the same thing for five days straight. It only takes an hour and it’s so much cheaper.

      Reply
      1. Corky's wife Bonnie

        I do this too. I also make a pot of soup and freeze some of it, and keep some for lunches. One day I’ll have it with crackers, another with 1/2 sandwich, another with a salad. That way I don’t feel like I’m eating the same thing all the time.

        Reply
          1. LS

            I’ve been doing this for a while with varying degrees of success. Cooking once or a twice a week works for me, and from a variety point of view I sometimes cook something plain that I can flavour differently per serving. (I’m not organised enough for side dishes…) For example if you make a simple pasta with napoletana sauce, you can add chickpeas & feta, chilli & sautéed zucchini, pesto, sautéed mushrooms & olives, smoked salmon & cream, etc. You’ll notice that most of these are pantry ingredients so if you don’t use them, they don’t go to waste. To a couscous and roast veg salad you can add different dressings and toppings, harissa, feta, olives. These all depending on keeping the flavour of the original dish simple. I’ve also prepared large trays of crustless quiche – you can put a different filling into each corner of the baking dish. (They are good for a couple of days but not the whole week.) Search for make ahead salad and homemade pot noodle recipes for more inspiration :)

            Reply
              1. LS

                Where I live, the cost of a generous serving of home-cooked pasta, topped with (store bought) napoletana sauce, (store bought) pesto and half a tin of chickpeas is about half the cost of a filled roll bought at a sandwich place. If you make the sauce and pesto yourself, it’s even less, and they can be made in bulk and frozen. That sounds like a pretty reasonable option to me, if you are trying to reduce excessive food costs and wastage.

                Reply
      2. EddieSherbert

        This is right up my alley – I hate cooking but I rarely eat out!

        Like Leatherwings, I do the Sunday evening mass cooking of a couple things that can be frozen if I don’t want it in a couple days.

        I also have my staples that I can “swap in” for a meal (all things that can be held onto for awhile without going bad). A coupe ones I’ve been into recently:
        A lot of canned soups last a couple meals if you dump them over pasta or rice.
        Easy burrito = beans mixed with salsa (and cheese!) on a tortilla.

        I’m also a BIG fan of the fresh fruit/veggies you can buy individually (because I never finish a head of lettuce or a bag of carrots) – zucchini, cucumber, peppers are my veggie staples.

        The only fresh thing I might buy a bunch of is bananas, because it’s easy to make banana bread if I don’t eat them all in time.

        Reply
        1. Hanna

          I have long since admitted to myself that the easiest way to get vegetables into my diet is to buy them pre-sliced/cubed/whatever. I know it costs more, but no matter how optimistic I feel about that butternut squash when I buy it, I know deep down that I am just not going to work up the energy to go through the whole prep process myself, and the thing is going to go to waste.

          I’ll take that very convenient container of pre-cubed squash, thanks. At least I know for sure that I will actually eat the stuff.

          Reply
          1. LBK

            Ha, I’m totally the same way – it feels pathetic but I just can’t be arsed to do it myself. I just justify it by saying that I’ve put all my efforts into my work to earn a salary that allows me the luxury of not having to do menial tasks at home.

            Reply
          2. GH in SOCal

            I do the same thing sometimes, so I’m not judging, but another strategy I use is to separate the prep from the cooking. That is, I’ll come home from work and eat something already made (leftovers from the night before or something I froze on the weekend), and then, after I’ve eaten and I’m sitting watching TV, I’ll cut up a squash and maybe some onions, or I’ll trim a bunch of brussel sprouts, and put them in a ziploc and put them back in the fridge to cook another night. It’s like having the premade stuff, it’t just that I premade it — but not while I was hungry or impatient.

            Reply
      3. Parenthetically

        This is what I did when I was single and it worked great. I would cook 2 or 3 things plus a breakfast casserole that could be quickly nuked, portion it all out, and eat off of it for breafasts, lunches, and dinners all week. I could rotate as needed and freeze stuff, and always made sure I could still have popcorn or scrambled eggs or cereal for dinner when I wanted to. Highly, highly recommended. It’s an excellent money saver for obvious reasons, and an amazing time saver because it requires virtually no thought during the week.

        Reply
      4. Rebecca in Dallas

        That’s what I do. Things like soup, lasagna/baked ziti, enchiladas are really good left over. And the recipes are easy to double so I can freeze one batch as well. Then just pack them up in individual containers, grab and go!

        Reply
      5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Me three (or five?). I do my meal planning on Weds/Thursday, grocery buying on Saturday, and meal prep on Sunday/Monday for the week. Oftentimes just having useful tupperware to divvy up “mix and match” food items can go a long way toward making food feel less boring. When I had a more flexible schedule, I would do purchasing and prep twice a week (I really like vegetables, especially fresh ones), but that’s a little harder to maintain in winter when all that grows is potatoes.

        Reply
    2. paul

      Do you have freezer space? make two or three different freezer friendly meals and partition them out maybe? Chili here, a lasagna there, a stir fry…and designate Wednesday as an eat out day? One day a week is better than 5 for that. Cook up the three meals, alternate between them?

      That assumes you have at least a microwave at work though.

      Reply
    3. Rowan

      How much freezer space have you got? The key for me when I lived alone was making big batches of things on the weekend and them freezing individual portions, which worked for either lunch or dinner. I kept a real bowl at work that I could put my defrosted lunch into and microwave it. I still had variety, because I could make enough batches of various things to have something different for lunch every day.

      Reply
      1. Grits McGee

        Soup is great for this– make a pot on the weekend, put single-meal portions in ziploc sandwich bags to freeze (lay them flat to freeze to maximize freezer storage space). Do this a couple time to build up a rotation of meals, then pick a couple to leave in the refrigerator to thaw for the week. I’ve done the same thing with Zatarains boxed meals as well.

        Reply
        1. kb

          I love freezing sauce and soup flat to save space, but my husband has serious issues with getting the liquid to the bag. So he freezes it in ice cube trays or silicone muffin tins, then throws the frozen pieces in a bag the next day. Then to heat, it’s just a few cubes in a bowl in the microwave.

          Reply
          1. Grits McGee

            I use a wide-mouth canning funnel for bag-transference, but an ice cube tray would be a great solution for when I just want a soupy snack!

            Reply
      2. ThursdaysGeek

        Plus, by freezing your lunches, you have something to keep the rest of your lunch cold in the morning. I grab a frozen soup or leftover, add a piece of fresh fruit or veggie, and a goody, put them all in an insulated lunch bag, and have lunch. The frozen soup gradually thaws (but is still mostly frozen by lunch time), and keeps everything else cold, so I don’t have use the company fridge.

        Reply
    4. Q

      I usually do my grocery shopping and cook one big meal on Sunday. I eat it that day and pack up 3 containers as lunches to go. If I stick with taking my lunch Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, then I allow myself to buy lunch out on Thursday and Friday. Its really hard to do a whole week and can get boring eating the same thing over and over.

      Reply
      1. Ashley

        Yes. Give yourself a day or two off a week especially as you get used to packing a lunch. I have a higher success rate if I pack the night before and just have to reach into the fridge or freezer. I also try to keep something stashed in my drawer like a can of microwaveable stew and silverware.

        Reply
        1. Beezus

          Having a stashed alternative is key for me. I’m an on-again, off-again lunch bringer (currently off), but one thing that helps me consistently bring lunch when I’m on, is to have an alternative stashed at work in case I forget or the meal I brought doesn’t sound appetizing when it’s time to eat. I consistently kept pretzels, peanut butter, and oatmeal, and often had a piece or two of fruit. It also helped to leave my money at home (but I live close to work and there’s no risk I’ll be stranded far from home without money).

          Reply
    5. Collie

      I’m the kind of person who can eat the same lunch for literally months or weeks on end. For a long time, I did wraps with turkey, lettuce, tomato, and mayo with a handful of almonds and a vegetable on the side (usually carrots or bell peppers) or a cheese stick. I did eventually get bored of that and lately it’s been more pita with tuna and lettuce with peanuts. I think the key is to work on building a pantry that has items that can last at least a week or two without going bad. Deli meat will last a week or so, wraps will last two or more depending on the type, cheese sticks last a relatively long time (and there are different kinds out there if you get bored), as do nuts. Buy small quanitites of deli meat so you can have multiple kinds going at once to avoid boredom. Use different sauces and spreads. Different breads/wraps. Different nuts. Allow yourself a lunch out once a week so you can look forward to it and work toward it (“I can’t get lunch out on Thursday when my favorite food truck comes/that spot has my favorite special if I don’t bring my lunch M, T, and W.” — Enforcing that can be tough, so know yourself there.)

      This doesn’t quite fix the boredom problem, but I hope it helps some.

      Reply
      1. Parenthetically

        I think having a set thing you eat is a great idea to avoid having to come up with something every day, and then maybe you eliminate the boredom issues just by varying the contents.

        So, say, every day you have a wrap, but each day you have a different kind. Or every day you have a rice/grain/quinoa bowl, but one day it’s cold teriyaki chicken and veggies and rice, and one day it’s farro with cold shrimp and greens, one day it’s quinoa and chickpeas and roasted pumpkin. Or whatever. Pre-make all your proteins and grains, individually package and freeze them, and then just throw them together on Sunday night for the week.

        Reply
    6. Temperance

      What has worked for me is salad in a jar. I do my prep on Sunday nights, and I do make the same salad for each day, but you totally don’t have to. It keeps everything fresh for the week. I keep my dressing and cheese on the side, and just add them later.

      No judgment on skipping meals here. I do wonder if something like batch cooking or freezer cooking might work for you.

      Reply
      1. Gadfly

        I was doing the mason jar salads for a while and if they are stacked right (dressing, meat or beans, cheese, tougher veggies, lettuce on top, any croutons or chips outside of it.) Those stay good for a week and you can use the same base mix with other veggies and toppings to have some variety.

        Reply
      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        I love salad in a jar (I basically love everything in mason jars, which just makes me a ridiculously basic hipster, or an avid canner). I also love batch cooked (frozen then reheated) leftovers for dinner.

        Reply
    7. Sadsack

      I cook a bunch of meat like chicken breasts and thighs or turkey sausage and then freeze them in small batches or infuvidually so I can grab something in the morning and reheat it for lunch or dinner. I do the same with cauliflower rice. I make batches of different types and freeze them in small servings. Often I’ll grab a chicken thigh and a packet of c. rice out of the freezer and throw them in a container to reheat later for lunch. I have a seal a meal machine and I love it! It has helped me plan better meals. I occasionally still get into slumps of eating out, but not as often as I used to.

      Reply
      1. Parenthetically

        I had a seal a meal when I was single and working full time and going to school and it was a LIFESAVER!

        Reply
      2. A Non E. Mouse

        I cook a bunch of meat like chicken breasts and thighs or turkey sausage and then freeze them in small batches or infuvidually so I can grab something in the morning and reheat it for lunch or dinner.

        We do something similar – grill up a bunch of chicken, chop it and save it in individual servings. Then lunch is grab-and-go. My favorite and easiest is those single-serve rice cups, with one of those bags of chicken, throw some cheese on top. Very minimal effort.

        There’s also individual frozen veggies you can pick up – you could do chicken and veggies instead of rice.

        Could you aim to “cook ahead” one thing each weekend? So one weekend make a big pot of soup and freeze what you don’t eat, the next grill some chicken, the weekend after that maybe it’s a chili, etc. – that would give you a good variety to choose from in the freezer each day, and over time enough variety to not be bored.

        Also don’t discount what I call a snack lunch: a yogurt, a fruit and a veggie of some kind. Doesn’t look very substantial, but if you buy hardy fruit and veggies (apples and carrots, for example) it can all be bought for a week at a time and just thrown in a bag, plus minimal clean up!

        Reply
    8. Parcae

      I’m also single and enjoy cooking. I bring my lunch most days.

      The key, I’ve found, is to find the intersection of what you like and what freezes well. I like soup and chili, so that’s mostly what I bring to work. I cook up a big batch (usually on the weekend since my dinners tend to simple pastas, salads, and sandwiches) and freeze it in individual serving sizes. Once you’ve got multiple “batches” of different meals frozen, it’s easy to rotate them so you’re not eating the same thing everyday.

      Reply
      1. EmilyG

        This is similar to what I do. It has to be tasty or else you’re sentencing yourself to hating 4 meals’ worth of food. And you have to know can freeze.

        Usually on Sundays I cook a single batch of something that doesn’t freeze, and a double batch of something that does freeze, and I freeze half of it. Something that doesn’t freeze could be chicken curry, farro and beet salad, pasta with asparagus. Freezable things for me are chili, beef stew, lentil soup, split pea soup, cream of whatever vegetables soup. If I end up with 4 non-freezable and 4 non-frozen and 4 frozen servings of food, I probably won’t waste any. I alternate between the fresh dishes and what’s in my freezer. For example:
        Monday lunch: chicken curry 1
        Monday dinner: farro salad 1
        Tuesday lunch: chicken curry 2
        Tuesday dinner: previously frozen chili
        Wednesday lunch: out
        Wednesday dinner: farro salad 2
        Thursday lunch: previous frozen lentil soup
        Thursday dinner: farro salad 3
        Friday lunch: chicken curry 3
        Friday dinner: farro salad 4
        Saturday lunch: chicken curry 4

        This habit has gotten really elaborate over time! If I have a week where I’ll be eating out a lot, I just make the fresh thing, or I eat from the freezer.

        Oh, and I almost always bring my lunch 4 times a week… but almost never 5 times.

        Reply
    9. paperfiend

      I’ve had luck with freezing leftovers after I’ve cooked something (you mention ending up with waste when you cook, which I take to mean “can’t eat all of it before it goes bad” – freeze those). I use containers that can go straight in the microwave. That way, at least a couple days a week, I can pull something from the freezer in the morning that will become an easy, hot meal at lunch – just add a fork!

      Reply
      1. Parenthetically

        The key with that, I’ve found, is labeling your containers diligently. I’ve also found it helpful to actually write on my calendar a week or two later “lunch: green curry rice (in freezer)” so it doesn’t get buried in the depths.

        Reply
        1. Seuuze

          I stole the idea for labeling containers from a famous chef. Blue paint tape and a sharpie with the item and date. I do this in the fridge too because I can forget how long it has been in there.

          A crock pot is a very useful and can be an inexpensive investment and there are many good cookbooks with delicious easy recipes. You can throw stuff in there overnight and have it ready in the morning, but you have to allow time for it to cool. Or you can prep the night before and put it in the crock pot in the morning and cook your food on low while you are at work. Soup, chili, chicken, all come out great when cooked low and slow.

          When I was in grad school as an assistant and studying all day and taking classes at night, I would bring canned tuna and salad fixings and homemade dressing, egg salad is also a good one, easy to make for a two day batch. Prepping at night for the next day. Also, I will prep stuff in advance and store it with lables. I would also make mac and cheese and freeze it. Soups, homemade marinara sauce, beans, etc. I freeze a lot of stuff in individual containers so I can just grab and heat them up. I do want want a food saver gizmo, but don’t have one yet.

          I had some folks over for brunch, made a wonderful cheesy egg and chili casserole, froze the remainder and had that off and on for a couple of weeks. But I like to cook, most of the time, but as a single person, sometimes it is hard to get up the energy to make some time-consuming dishes. But I still cook in batches
          and freeze.

          Reply
    10. SMT

      I do a couple different salads throughout the week (just changing up your salad toppings will help), and if we have leftovers after dinner, I’ll bring them with me. (It’s also important to note that I prefer eating my leftovers cold, so I hardly ever use the microwave). I do give myself one day a week to go out. It started as a ‘being part of the team’ thing, to go out at least once a week with them – but sometimes I’ll still do my one day going out for lunch on my own so that I have one day of not rushing to get my lunch ready before I leave the house, and one day of enjoying a meal that I didn’t have to prepare. (It won’t save a lot of money, but if you sign up for emails and apps at the restaurants you go to, you can get occasional rewards or freebies.)

      Reply
    11. Catbird

      One of my New Years resolutions this year was to cut down on workweek lunches out. I made a rule that I could go out for lunch twice a week and the rest of the time it was either freezer lunches or something fresh/leftover from home. So far, so good!

      …I’m still pretty terrible at not wasting the groceries I buy, though :-/

      Reply
    12. all aboard the anon train

      I don’t mind eating the same thing each day, which is why I usually make everything on Sunday and eat leftovers throughout the week. Sometimes I’ll get ambitious and make two or three different meals and rotate.

      What I recommend is making a big batch of rice or quinoa or beans and just adding different things to it. Or cooking a whole chicken and making different dishes with it throughout the week.

      When I was in grad school, I would pack food that I could eat cold. Certain pasta salads, spinach or bean based salads, sandwiches, a cheese/cracker/fruit platter, etc. and eat that before class. It was something I could eat on the subway or in five minutes before class started.

      Reply
      1. chloe

        +1 on quinoa … easy to make a. bunch of it then you portion it out through the week. My favorite two combos are waldorf quinoa – slice up half an apple (have the other half as a snack), add in goat cheese, craisins maybe some chicken and toss with balsamic, and then the other one I do is feta cheese, variety of peppers, avocado and toss with a chipotle ranch. (I hate salads, but somehow quinoa works for me!)

        Reply
      2. Sami

        Or instead of cooking a whole chicken, buy a rotisserie one. You can a few very different meals out of one of those.

        Reply
      3. Parenthetically

        Rice, quinoa, and beans all freeze REALLY well too, so you can cook even less often. I used to do it with brown rice all the time — make a massive pot of it (since it takes 40-50 minutes no matter the size of the batch), freeze it in 1-cup portions, and then not have to make rice for a month.

        Reply
    13. Emily S.

      I usually buy, but sometimes bring leftovers. But here are some ideas for you. Good luck!

      27 Awesome, Easy Lunches for Work: https://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelysanders/awesome-easy-work-lunches?utm_term=.dhaXL7re09#.kodY2A7mVB

      Cheap, Healthy Lunch Ideas: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/22371/mealtimes/lunch/budget/for-work/slideshow/cheap-healthy-lunch-ideas-for-work/

      Hearty, Satisfying Lunches: https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/recipe-collections-favorites/lunch-ideas

      Reply
    14. kbeers0su

      Yep! Mine was mostly done for budget reasons, as I used to have free meals at a prior job (not in the food industry). Once I switched to not having free meals spending my own money on food seemed like a waste. So now I pack at least four days a week, but also allow myself to buy once a week if I feel like it. I do sometimes pack leftovers, but I also tend to enjoy snacking more. So I’ll prep on Sunday by cutting up a bunch of fruit, carrot sticks, cheese cubes, etc. And I usually make salads- either actual lettuce salads or chicken/tuna/egg salads. It takes some time to prep all this (mostly because I buy things whole, like the carrots and fruit, although you could buy pre-cut stuff), but it’s definitely saved a lot of money. And allowing myself one day a week to buy lunch is nice, whether just because I don’t want what I have in my fridge or because people are ordering in and I want to join, or because I was running late and just forgot!

      Reply
    15. NPO Queen

      I also do meal prep on the weekends, but I cook a few meals. That way, I can switch them out whenever I get bored. When I worked full time and went to class, I kept a container of oatmeal at my desk for breakfast, would have meal #1 for lunch, and meal #2 for dinner. If you make about three meals, and portion them out into individual serving sizes, you can just grab what you feel like eating in the morning. I also live alone, so a meal for the week is usually what it would take to feed a family of four. Buy family size portions at the grocery store (especially if you cook anything from a box) and it should help.

      Reply
    16. Kyrielle

      What Leatherwings said, emphasis on the freezer. Freeze portions of several meals and taking them becomes easy. (Assuming they thaw okay, grab from the freezer, deposit in the fridge at work, microwave at lunch. Actually, I’ve done this with sandwiches, but I move them to my fridge the night before so they thaw, since I don’t want to microwave them.)

      Also, I keep packets of tuna fish and bowls of instant rice in my drawer at work. As a constant thing, they get old. As an option when I’m rushing and not up to packing a lunch, they’re great. (I do still bring the fruit/veg sides from home, usually baby carrots and a banana or something of the sort.)

      If you’re not dealing with dietary restrictions, buying microwave dinners can also work – it’s not as healthy as a home-cooked meal generally is, but it’s still cheaper than eating out and adds more variety than endless sandwiches. I used to do that a lot, but at this point there pretty much isn’t any I can actually have.

      Reply
    17. cookie monster

      For a long while (though I fell off the band wagon) I was really good about packing everything in advance on Sundays. I bought a bunch of little containers and ziplocks and an insulated lunch bag. I would put together baggies of trail mix, chopped veggies and hummus etc. Then every night, I would pack the lunch bag with those items plus yogurt, an individual fruit cup, cheese sticks, granola bars, peanut butter crackers, gummy fruit snacks, etc. In the morning, I would grab the bag and go.
      This worked for me because I could change up what I ate daily-I didn’t eat one of all of those items each day, just a trail mix and the veggies and a selection of other things. So I didn’t get too bored, because there was variety. Also, I didn’t have to invest too much time (which is generally a problem for me) and I didn’t have to deal with anything in the morning (another problem for me). Usually I would allow myself to eat out on Fridays.

      Reply
    18. fish feud

      I struggle with the same thing but find that searching pinterest for things like “lunch meal prep” helpful. I also cook a lot so I rely on leftovers. Cook large batches of things that will keep in the fridge for a few days or are easily freezable in individual portions. Also it’s helpful if you can prep certain ingredients in large batches that can be used in a variety of different ways. Like shredded or chopped chicken with some basic seasoning – can put in wraps, on salads or grains, tacos, pasta, on it’s own with a side, etc.

      Reply
    19. Squeeble

      My husband did this successfully. He does a combo of buying sandwich fixings and also making big dinners that can easily turn into portable leftovers. We do a lot of big rice or pasta dishes with meat and veggies thrown in.

      Would it make sense for you to make a big dinner on a weekend or a night when you’re home, and then pack/freeze portions for the week?

      Reply
    20. MegaMoose, Esq

      I use ziplock’s divided containers ($3-$4 for two at Target) and make my lunches on the weekend. If you look up adult bento or box lunch there are lots of ideas out there, but I generally just float around my grocery store’s deli section and pick up whatever looks tasty – usually a fruit, veggie, meat, cheese, maybe something sweet. If you include crackers I put them in in the mornings because they get soggy if they’re in the fridge all week. There are lots of pre-made stuff you can get and eat cold or scoop into another container and reheat if you want something warm. I pretty much never cook anything in advance and even just for one person it’s easy to mix and match. The nice thing with the separate compartments is that you don’t get smell or liquids leaking between items. For the large container, I often use silicon cupcake holders to keep things even more divided.

      Reply
    21. The Cosmic Avenger

      I have always brought my own lunch (frozen or shelf-stable, which are less effort than even a sandwich), and for variety I keep a lot of condiments in my office. Hot sauces, soy sauce, etc. Maybe that would help keep you from being bored? For the rest, you may just have to decide that Friday is the day you eat lunch out, and the rest of the time you have to make do with whatever you brought.

      Reply
    22. Ann Furthermore

      I had a cookbook once specifically designed for cooking meals for 2 people. I got rid of it because my husband is a big dude, and has a job that keeps him on his feet all day, so his normal servings are usually way more than the average person’s.

      If you had something like that, you could cook something, have enough for one serving of leftovers for lunch, and not have too much waste.

      I get where you’re coming from. I absolutely hate wasting food or having to throw anything away. It’s such a waste of money. Even though my husband eats larger portions of what I cook, I have to harp on him to eat the leftovers, to the point that I’ve designated Friday nights as leftovers night for dinner. I finally asked him what his aversion was to leftovers, and asked what his mom did when he was a kid. He rolled his eyes and laughed, reminding me that he grew up with 3 brothers, so not only were leftovers not a thing in his house, you were lucky not to get your hand stabbed with a fork if you went in for seconds.

      Reply
    23. rozin

      What I’ve found works for me is to make a regular two-person portion for dinner, eat half, and take the leftovers for lunch the next day and warm them in the microwave. Granted it means eating the same meal for dinner and the next-day’s lunch, but I personally don’t mind (I just have to make sure to have a variety of dinners). Plus I don’t waste any food, which works for me.

      Reply
    24. SanguineAspect

      Like many folks here have said, the cooking on Sundays for the week thing has always been REALLY helpful for me in the past (including things like snacks–dried fruit, nuts, cheese, etc. for when I’m on the go and can’t have a “real” meal).

      But since you like cooking, maybe more often than once a week, have you thought of trying one of those they-send-you-ingredients-you-cook things like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh? I did a trial of Hello Fresh (a friend had a coupon for a free box, so thought I’d try it). It was really fun and it was just enough food for two meals, without the waste of things that will go bad because you only needed 1 carrot but had to buy 6 for your recipe.

      Reply
      1. LBK

        Yeah, I did Plated for a while and really loved it because I enjoy cooking but I loathe meal planning and shopping. You definitely pay a premium for it, though.

        Reply
    25. DCGirl

      When I was single, I really benefited from a couple of “cooking for one or two” cookbooks that scaled recipes down to manageable sizes. If you google, you’ll find a bunch. I remember there was one that had scalloped potatoes for one (involving just one potato) — the normal recipe feeds an army.

      Reply
      1. TC

        I’ve become quite adept at reading a recipe and knowing how to half it because of cookbooks like that.

        To the OP — I can get quite fussy about lunch too, especially repeats. I try to buy the smallest portion of ingredients possible, so if I’m buying deli meat, yeah, you bet I’m only buy 3 or 4 slices or whatever. It must drive the deli guy nuts but it’s cut down on my food waste and I don’t get as weird about repeats because, oops, there’s no more ham left anyway. Sometimes it’s hard because grocery stores insist on portioning out fruit and veg for you, but persevere if you can!

        Reply
        1. DCGirl

          I still refer back to one of those cookbooks (the scalloped potato one got lost alone the way) and just double the recipes for me and my husband. If I cook a recipe that serves four, he’ll finish the pot. Cooking for exactly two is a form of portion control.

          Reply
        2. Seuuze

          You can also use the chopped items in the salad bar for stir-fried meals. It might cost a little more, but you save because you are cooking what you purchased for that meal and won’t have any leftover veggies for sometime later that could never happen and then you are throwing it out again.

          Reply
    26. Master Bean Counter

      Lunch sized freezer containers. When you cook all left over get portioned into lunch sizes and frozen. If it can’t be frozen then you take those for lunch first. I also keep a supply of frozen lunch bowls or single servng things like egg rolls in my freezer for the times when I don’t have left overs to bring in.

      Reply
    27. ZSD

      I bring just about the same thing for lunch every day, but I let myself go out for a cookie or donut in the afternoon a couple times a week. That’s a compromise on spending money, and it keeps me from feeling like I’m eating the same thing every day.

      Reply
    28. AMPG

      I gave up buying lunch out for Lent, which was the only thing that would get me to break the habit. I made an effort to switch things up so I wasn’t getting bored, plus it let me try out different types of lunch combos. One thing that I really liked was bringing a lot of small, easily packable components, so I didn’t have to spend a lot of time and effort putting together a “meal.” I usually had a granola bar or trail mix, some chips or crackers, some fruit or raw veggies, and a cookie or piece of chocolate, plus a protein of some kind. Favorite options:
      – Some of last night’s dinner, if available
      – Cheese cubes and crackers (or good bread, if I had been to the bakery)
      – Single-serving peanut butter cups and crackers
      – Canned soup (this wasn’t as great because I had to remember a dish and spoon – we don’t have a well-stocked kitchen)
      – Yogurt with mix-ins

      You could also try buying a smaller meal (like a half-sandwich or soup) and bringing food to round it out, which will cut costs.

      Hope that helps!

      Reply
      1. Meg

        Yes, this is similar to what I do, too! I usually have a small egg sandwich as the “main” part of my meal, then a bunch of snacks: string cheese, granola bar, chocolate, whole-grain crackers, carrot sticks, fruit, trail mix. Healthy and very easy to prep in the morning. You can mix and match the snacks for variety.

        Reply
      2. Shark Whisperer

        I do a similar thing to keep from getting bored of stuff I bring for lunch. I have a bento box and I’ll bring a sandwich or some other main and then lots of snacks. My go-to snacks are usually a fruit, olives, and peanut butter pretzels, but I switch it up from time to time to keep it interesting.

        I also have a monthly “I am weak and want to eat out anyways” budget. (There are lots of good places to eat around my office. The budget is pretty small, but it allows me to forgive myself if I do want to eat out. Also, if there are only a couple dollars left in the budget, I have to eat my lunch, but I can reward myself with a candy bar. (I do very well with rewarding myself).

        Reply
      3. iseeshiny

        Thirding this method – when my maternity leave ended I was pumping and nursing and was hungry constantly. I usually skip lunch but that was not an option, and I got sick of sancdwiches pretty quickly, so I started packing these massive bento-style lunches in a large tupperware with lots of little things that I prepped over the weekend:
        a boiled egg (already peeled! the only way I’ll really eat it, because I hate peeling eggs in the wild and not over a sink)
        string cheese
        trail mix
        cut marinated cucumbers (like fridge pickles but not so pickley)
        sliced bell peppers, carrots, or blanched broccoli and cauliflower with a small container of homemade buttermilk ranch
        sliced fruit

        I would just keep putting things in the tupperware until it was full and graze throughout the day. I got pretty into bentos after a while.

        Reply
        1. Annie Moose

          Ahhh, I love cucumbers in vinegar. It’s so delicious and very easy. For anyone who’s never done it, here’s my very precise recipe:

          1. Slice up a cucumber in thin slices and put them in a sealable container. (I like to peel them first, but you don’t have to.)
          2. Add a half-and-half mixture of vinegar and water. (I prefer to be on the dry side, so I just put in enough to moisten everything. If you like them spicier, just add less water.) Add a bit of sugar and a little pepper.
          3. Put the lid on and shake it like a Polaroid picture.
          4. ???
          5. Profit!

          If you let them sit a bit, they’ll be better, but they’re good even if you don’t have time to wait for that.

          Reply
      4. Seuuze

        As a trying-to-be-environmentalist, I bring my own washable dishes to work. Dinner plate, salad plate, bowl and mug, silverware and an old cloth napkin too. I buy them at the second-hand store so I don’t care if they get broken.
        I sometimes bring a toasted cheese sandwich and heat it up in the toaster oven, if my workplace has one. Good with some soup.

        Reply
    29. Spoonie

      I tend to cook chicken in a generic way (find a seasoning mix you like and go to town) and then reuse it in a variety of ways. Make a salad then add chicken. Make chicken salad and eat it with crackers or celery or as a sandwich. Quesadilla with chicken and random veggies (sauteed spinach, onion, peppers, mushrooms). Chicken covered with a spinach, sundried tomato cream sauce. I’ll do the same thing with ground beef that I cooked with taco seasoning. Taco salad, actual tacos, quesadilla with taco beef, eggs with taco beef.

      As a single person household, I get your quandary. I’ve also taken to keeping a jar of spaghetti sauce and pouring it over spaghetti squash and other random veggies that I’ve roasted instead of actual pasta. It’s a matter of cooking a protein for the week and then foraging in my fridge to figure out what to do with it in a creative fashion. Some days I’m far more inventive than other days. Hence the prevalence of quesadillas and scrambled eggs in my diet.

      Reply
      1. Seuuze

        I will sometimes roast a bunch of veggies to eat during the week. I just roasted a whole head of cauliflower cut up and a bag of Brussels sprouts and cut up half a leftover onion. I tossed them with olive oil and garlic salt and cooked it all on sheet pan at 400 degrees until tender. With broccoli and cauliflower I will sometimes use a curry powder with the garlic salt. I eat them cold or warmed up.

        Reply
    30. Tuckerman

      As a former full-time worker part-time grad student. The solution might be to bring food some days, but also to try to find cheaper ways to eat out when you don’t bring food. The deli across the street from my job sells half-subs if you ask, for $4. And they are actually quite big. Or, I get a container of chicken salad for $3.50 and buy a banana and maybe keep a box of granola bars in my office. So instead of spending $8 on a sandwich from Panera, I aim to spend $4-5 on lunch.

      Reply
    31. Sal

      Ha, doing this now. I went from a work environment in a rapidly-gentrifying area of a well-known borough of a very large city (you probably know the one) with everything from awesome tacos and horchata to Shake Shack; to a work environment where my outside options are limited to about five, including 7-11 and Subway. I now bring lunch nearly every day of the week. I load up on interesting frozen stuff from Whole Foods and occasional TJ’s run staples because I can’t cook/have no time. Small office so there’s space in the freezer for me to keep some options. I occasionally bring leftovers or leftover takeout; sometimes do something like hard-boil some eggs in the AM or make a sandwich but it’s rare. Yesterday I swung by WF in the morning before work and just rounded up random stuff and ended up eating an entire container of stuffed grape leaves for lunch.

      It’s definitely the biggest downer of my move/job change, but I’m saving so much money!

      Reply
    32. CBH

      I do a lot of batch cooking when I cook. Then I save one batch to freeze in portion/ lunch size containers to use at a future dates.

      Reply
    33. BRR

      One thing I do is bring cheap microwave meals from Trader Joe’s. I’ll grab one and a yogurt and it’s much cheaper than eating out.

      Reply
    34. msmorlowe

      Sandwiches or wraps with the same base ingredients (e.g. cheese, lettuce, spinach, onion, tomato…etc, whatever, choose two) can be easily changed up by having different sauces–and the sauces will last much longer than the fresh ingredients, so you can use a different one each day without worrying that it will go off before you can finish it.

      When I pack lunches, I’ll usually rotate relish, pesto, and hummus (I’m not a fan of mustard or mayo, but they’re also long-lasting!). I’ll also buy different snacks to eat with it, so that’s always something new (a yoghurt, a protein bar, some biscuits, a chocolate bar…etc). I buy different ingredients per week–e.g. spinach one week, lettuce the next–and alternate buying sliced pan, soda bread, and wraps.

      I find I have to prepare and pack my lunch the night before–I put it all together in the lunch box then into the fridge ready for the morning. I know by now that I WILL NOT make a lunch in the morning, no matter how many times I tell myself I’ll ‘just get up ten minutes earlier’ (it will never happen). This usually takes me no more than 5 mins as part of my routine before going to bed, so it’s not a big time committment.

      I will also allot myself an exception day–that can be depending on your budget, but if you’re feeling stuck for choice, one day a fortnight or a week of buying your lunch might help you feel better without spending a fortune every day.

      Lastly, if possible, try eating your lunch in different places–boredom with what you’re eating can be compounded by always sitting in the same chair of the window-less break room–or taking a short walk outside after you finish eating if you can.

      Good luck!

      Reply
    35. Turanga Leela

      Four concrete things have helped me:
      1) Crock-pot recipes. I do stews, soups, etc and pack them up in single-serving containers, usually on top of vegetables (frozen broccoli works well) or rice.
      2) I have shelf-stable meals for when I don’t have anything prepped. I’ve fallen in love with Tasty Bite Indian food. When I don’t have anything prepped, I throw a pack or two of Tasty Bite into my bag along with an apple or granola bar.
      3) I have to make sure to bring enough food with me. When I buy my lunch, portions are big and it feels like I’m not eating a lot—e.g. I’ll have a burrito and nothing else—but in fact it’s a ton of food. When I pack my lunch and there are healthy stews and vegetables, the opposite happens. I feel like I’ve packed a lot, but I actually need to bring snacks for the day, like fruit, nuts, or carrot sticks. Which brings me to…
      4) Have backup food at work. There’s a Tasty Bite in my file drawer, along with several Lara bars and a mini-Tupperware of cashews. When I remember, I keep a pack of string cheese in the office fridge. That can get me through lunch in a pinch, and it also keeps me (usually) for going out to the coffee shop and getting a scone when I get snacky.

      Reply
      1. Zathras

        Seconding the backup food. I bring my lunch daily, but for a while found it was too easy to “forget” my lunch when I was busy/stressed/didn’t feel like making it. I would then end up spending far too much money on lunch out. Now I keep a couple of packages of ramen noodles in my desk – that hits the sweet spot of “this isn’t really what I want to be eating” but I don’t hate it, plus it’s easy to “cook” and clean up in our not-quite-a-kitchen. I keep some granola bars there too for relatively healthy snacking.

        This way I am able to hold myself to the standard of only buying lunch out when I really planned it that way – and as a bonus, when I do plan to get lunch out I don’t feel bad spending a little extra to get something I really want. (Nothing crazy, but springing for the $10 hot meal instead of the mediocre $6 sandwich.)

        Reply
      2. Seuuze

        At shcool and work, I used to keep crackers, nuts, dried fruit cans of tuna, granola bars and sometimes some Indian food packets from Trader Joe’s that didn’t require refrigeration and tea bags, and I kept some cheese in the fridge. It helped so much when I was pressed for time.

        Reply
    36. yourdoc

      I do the same lunch every day except for Friday, when I buy something. That helps me break up the boredom.

      For me, I bring a salad every day (lettuce, red cabbage, turkey, radish and bell pepper), yogurt, applesauce and cheese. This keeps waste to a minimum (the cabbage usually lasts two weeks if I get a big enough head). And then I look forward to Fridays when I can go out and get something totally different.

      Reply
    37. Natalie

      Something that helped me was not being too black & white about the whole thing. YMMV, but when I am trying to develop a habit I have to give myself a lot of permission to fail. Otherwise I will give up on the whole project the first time I slip up. So when I was similarly trying to develop the habit of bringing a lunch, I started with just bringing lunch two days a week.

      Never let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

      Reply
      1. iseeshiny

        +1 Applicable to like everything in my life, wish I’d figured it out in high school re:homework and projects

        Reply
      2. Parenthetically

        Yes! Yes! I periodically teach a class on meal planning and starting small is one of the things I talk about. Like, plan two meals a week. And then when you’re to the point that it’s pretty automatic to do that, take the next step. It’s how I went from being a person who planned zero meals ever and wasted tons of food and money to a person who plans six meals a week and wastes virtually nothing… over the course of about 5 years. Building new habits is hard, and every step in the right direction is something to be celebrated.

        Reply
    38. theletter

      I meal prep on Sundays, making individual salads for lunch and a big soup for dinners. Usually for the salads I can do a head of lettuce, some other vegetable (such as zucchini spirals, shredded red cabbage or chopped beets) chopped deli meat, shredded cheese, nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, and I’ll place one of those stuffed grape leaves into each tupperware. I mix it up over the weeks so I don’t get bored. I take the salad dressing and snacks in on Monday and leave it in the fridge until the end of the week. I find differentiating what I eat for lunch and dinner helps alleviate boredom. Also, I only make four salads per week at most, so I have one day to eat out as a treat.

      Making the salads is a bit of a chore but I’m getting faster at it. If I’m really lazy I’ll take more shortcuts (pre-cut lettuce and vegetables) and it’s still worth it in terms of money saved, food comas avoided, etc.

      Reply
    39. Artemesia

      I don’t like sandwiches and so what I did was to plan meals at home with leftovers I would like for lunch. We always had microwave access so spaghetti, or a rice casserole or whatever worked great for me. If you live alone, having the idea that you are making lunch as well as dinner might be motivating to go to the effort of making something more complicated. Another thing I did was buy a carton of frozen sausage biscuits — I know this is not the healthiest meal ever, but if I didn’t have anything else at hand, I could toss a two pack of sausage biscuits into the bag with a yogurt and fruit and have a lunch I would eat. I also kept a few low call frozen entrees in the freezer so again, I could take one to work if I didn’t have a better option. They are MUCH cheaper than buying lunch.

      My husband spent huge amounts on lunch over the year. For him it was just an essential part of a pleasant work life and so it was money he was willing to spend. I didn’t enjoy that kind of lunch all that much and so was happy to save those hundreds a year by bringing lunch.

      Reply
    40. Alex

      I prepare meals during the weekend, specifically for lunch. I personally don’t mind eating the same thing every day for a week as long as it is something tasty, but you could also make 2 different things and alternate days.

      You don’t have to stick to sandwiches, unless you don’t have any way to heat up a meal at work. Some things I bring include:

      Burritos or burrito bowls
      Pasta dishes
      Spicy rice and beans
      Fancy salads with filling things like avocado, boiled eggs, chicken, chickpeas, etc.
      Meat or veggie burgers (I cook ahead of time, bring a bun and toppings separately and heat up the burger in the microwave with some cheese)
      Homemade pizzas
      Chili

      Many of these things also freeze well, so you could gradually get into the habit of making a large batch of something and freezing it in single servings, and then pulling them out when you need them.

      For example, the first week you might make something that makes six servings, and freeze 3, and eat 3 that week (and eat out two days).

      The next week, make another thing that makes six servings, eat three, and eat one from last week, and eat out one day.

      The next week, make another thing that makes six servings, eat three, and one each from the weeks before. Etc.

      It does take a little organization and planning (and remembering to actually bring it to work!) but not all that much time, since each week you just cook one dish.

      Reply
    41. lifeguard272

      I have a food box subscription – so each week, I get a box delivered with 3 different meal recipes, and the ingredients for 2 servings. I tend to eat one for dinner, and pack the second serving (or third – some of the servings are huge!) for lunch the next day. I literally never have food waste from these. It’s definitely not cheaper than homemaking everything, but I’m never eating the same meals, which is nice!

      Reply
    42. Thlayli

      Ham and cheese sandwiches every day is all I can manage! But Pre sliced everything and it takes 1 minute a day to make.

      Reply
    43. GG

      I’ve waffled back and forth for years between phases of buying lunch every day, then getting the motivation to make and bring from home for a while, then losing motivation and going back to buying. Finally I realized the problem for me wasn’t eating the same things all the time, but always having to make tomorrow’s lunch.

      About nine months ago I finally hit on the perfect solution for me. I’ve been making batches of meals that are semi-homemade remixes of various pre-prepared frozen and canned meals and vegetables. Each of my “recipes” makes anywhere from 2 to 6 servings. So when my freezer starts to get a bit empty, I make up a batch of something I’m low on or out of. Then every morning I play the “what do I feel like for lunch?” game and grab something.

      I always have at least three different meals to choose from. I’ve gotten good at noticing when I’m getting low and being sure to make new stuff before I’m completely out. So there hasn’t yet been a day that I absolutely had to make something for the next day but I had no energy to do so.

      BTW, when I get to work I don’t put my lunch for the day in the fridge. I leave it out in my office to defrost. By the time lunchtime rolls around cold meals are ready to eat and hot meals only take 2-3 minutes in the microwave.

      Reply
    44. Gingerblue

      I’ve found Japanese bento-specific cookbooks useful; they often have tips for making lunch prep easier and faster, ideas for quick and easy sides, easy recipe ideas, how to batch prep and freeze things, etc. If you get bored with food easily, they’re often really good at suggesting how to make complicated-looking and fun lunches with way less effort than you’d think. I really like Makiko Itoh’s Just Bento cookbook, which emphasizes variety with low fuss. (A lot of her recipes turn out to be three or four-ingredient versions of things, like a stir-fry, that in another book would be way more complicated.) The mindset and prep tips are even better than the actual recipes. Megumi Fujii’s Ten-Minute Bento is also good, though I use that one less. (Also, there are whole communities of people dedicated to showing off their tasty lunches. If you need inspiration, they’re not a bad place to browse! Check out the Mr. Bento group on flickr, for inatance.)

      For the easiest options, though, maybe look for a basic idea you can drsss up in various ways? A sandwich is a classic packed lunch for a reason: easy, fast, and with a couple of fillings on hand, you can make a bunch of variations on the same basic idea. Salads are good for this: wash and chop enough vegetables to act as a base, then add different dressings and toppings. Rice with toppings (rice and beans, rice and curry, rice and stir-fry, fried rice, rice with kimchi; rice + stuff is the foundation of a lot of bentos); soup and a roll (buy a couple of boxed soups and a couple different rolls or muffins for the week; portion out 5 lunches worth of soup and freeze the rest for later); and so on.

      I’m also single, and run into the same issues with using stuff up. It’s hard, especially if you need variety. If you find a way to make the process fun, I do think that helps–a cute bento box made more of a difference for me than I’d expected. If you’re actively looking forward to lunch, you’re more likely to get into the habit of packing it.

      Reply
    45. SophieChotek

      I am like you – I hate leftovers (I can usually only eat something one time, except for some random dishes that I love), I live alone and have a very busy schedule, so I often eat on the run or eat at my desk — eating an early dinner at my day job or as soon as I get to my evening job. But I also want to cut down out eating fast food or just going out or even grabbing things at the deli.

      Lots of other people have suggested great things (freezing, storing, etc.)

      Here are two different suggestions:

      This works for me (and might sound weird)- I can eat the same thing day after day if its kind of boring and tasteless? I don’t really like yogurt or banana, but I don’t have think about them, I find them filling enough, and they are healthy. So I eat plain or vanilla yogurt pretty much every morning for breakfast and I often eat a banana and an apple for dinner. I’d say about 75% of the time, during the work week, this what I have for breakfast and dinner. Sometimes I get a little more variety in for lunch.

      I don’t actively “hate” yogurt or vanilla but I would never order them on a menu or enthuse about them, but they are easy to carry, etc.

      Do you have a neighbor or family member that also cooks? Could you do an exchange? Sometimes if I make too much of something and now i won’t eat it, I give it to my mom (we live about 20 mins apart) and she often will give me something different, so then we’re both happy.

      Reply
    46. KellyK

      It might be that you’re going from all to nothing too quickly, not being able to sustain it, and that feels like failure. If you eat out 5 days a week, and your overall goal is to pack a lunch 90 or 95% of the time (leaving a little slack for special occasions or even just forgetting), then packing a lunch once or twice a week is a step closer to your goal. It’s also worth taking a step back to figure out what the real purpose of that goal is. Is it saving money? Is it eating healthier (and if so, for what definition of “healthy”)? Is it not taking a long lunch break and getting home earlier? Maybe a combination of multiple goals?

      I bring my lunch most days, and while it is often leftovers from dinner, I also try to keep my freezer stocked with frozen meals. Most grocery stores have most of an aisle devoted to them, so you can probably get a decent variety. You can also alternate them with sandwiches or salads.

      If you’ve got time to cook on weekends, making and freezing lunches can be helpful. I’ve cooked up a bunch of chicken and a bunch of rice or pasta, then just varied the sauce and the veggies to come up with different meals. Again, you can alternate these with sandwiches, salads, and frozen meals.

      Another thing I do that reduces the amount of eating out that I do is to keep a stash of snacks at work. It might be anything from Wheat Thins to cookies, and I jokingly refer to it as my zombie apocalypse food hoard. It means that if I didn’t pack enough for lunch, I’m not ordering pizza at 2 PM because I’m hungry. It might also be a good way to add some variety to your lunches, by keeping a couple different kinds of chips or canned fruit or beef jerky or any number of things.

      Reply
      1. KellyK

        And, yes, meal planning for one is really annoying. One thing that can help, depending on space and the kind of thing you’re cooking, is to only buy fresh produce when the recipe specifically needs it, and buy it right when you’re going to use it. Like, obviously a caprese salad needs fresh tomatoes and basil. But dried basil and canned tomatoes are just fine in a pasta sauce. I think some cookbooks have recommendations for things you should keep in your pantry to be able to cook a lot of different things. That helps with both the variety and the food waste.

        Reply
        1. Annie Moose

          Something that I’ve been trying to get in the habit of is buying stuff only when I need it–I have a nice small Aldi on the way home from work, and because it’s so small without too many choices, it’s incredibly easy for me to just run in, pick up one or two things on my way home from work. I never thought I’d love a tiny grocery store, but it actually is fantastic for this purpose! (plus, Aldi is cheap enough that I don’t feel guilty about tossing unused stuff)

          Reply
    47. Michelenyc

      I definitely have. Like a lot of others I do some meal prep on Saturday and Sunday. I am a pretty clean eater and rarely eat any thing that is processed. I even make my own veggie burgers once a month. I highly recommend writing a meal for the week. At first it might seem like it takes awhile but once it becomes a habit it’s easy to crank it out in like 10 minutes. Instant grocery list. On Sunday I make whatever grain I plan to use for the week usually short grain brown rice or quinoa, I don’t use canned beans so I also cook a pot of beans to use during the week ( you will need to soak the beans overnight) depending on the bean it takes them about 30-45 minutes for them to cook. Lentils you don’t have to soak overnight and they cook in about 30 minutes. While everything is cooking I make whatever salad dressing/dip I plan to use. The blender bottles that people use for smoothies are great for storing dressings. For my daily dressing I use a spice bottle. Sometimes I make raw steel cut oats to have for breakfast. If you make a raw version you will need to soak them over night. If you can afford it right now invest in an awesome blender. It will save you so much time with meal prep for the week. i am obsessed with my Vitamix. It takes me about 10 minutes in the morning or the night before to pack my what is usually a salad for work. i think we all skip meals sometimes what has helped me from becoming hangry is keeping a few protein bars in my bag or desk. I really like to cook so I could probably go on forever with ideas!

      Reply
      1. an anon

        Overnight oats are really convenient. Just toss oats and water or (dairy or nondairy milk) into a watertight container and stick in the fridge overnight. As Michelenyc mentioned they are raw, but you can microwave them for breakfast and lunch if you’d prefer to have them warm. And you can amend it however you’d like–sweet or savory (if you google “savory oatmeal recipes” there are a ton). I like sweet oatmeal with nuts and seeds so I put in things like walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, oat bran, peanut butter, and/or flaked almonds along with diced mango, raisins, jam/preserves, nutella, berries (frozen right from the bag is fine), and/or a touch of maple syrup.

        Reply
    48. TL -

      I like to bring stuff that I can self-assemble at work (so that I can add/subtract as needed) and also I have a day of the week where I eat out (Friday is sushi day, yum!!!) so that helps a lot – there’s less pressure to bring in food every day. Start with 1-3 days a week bringing food in and build up from there.

      Reply
    49. Liz2

      I mix it up. Leftover often become tomorrow’s lunch, but sometimes I go to a cafeteria and sometimes I drive out.

      I’d say start the big crock pot with frozen mini meal leftover process. Then you can just grab and go.

      Reply
    50. Marzipan

      What has worked well for me is doing a once-a-week cook of something that I can divide into portions. Bonus points if I do it by slinging a bunch of ingredients into the slow cooker and ignoring them for a few hours. Things like soup/stew, a curry, a pasta bake, cottage pie, whatever. I just do that on a Sunday, parcel it up, and stuck it in the fridge. (If you’d get bored of the same thing every day, freeze a few portions and then over a few weeks you can build up a variety of things).

      Also great are those noodle pots where you bung some cooked noodles, some cooked protein of whatever kind, and some vegetables into a jar, add some sort of flavouring (miso paste, chilli sauce etc) and then add hot water at work. Again, you can make several and fridge them.

      Reply
      1. Marzipan

        Oh – and, the food waste thing: again, this is where making soups and stews is your friend. I literally make ‘bottom of the fridge soup’ from whatever is going to be wasted otherwise. It’s easy to do, and means very little goes in the bin.

        Reply
        1. Not So NewReader

          Am chuckling.. I do this, too. I am told I never make the same soup twice. Poor family member asked me the recipe for one soup and believed I was sandbagging when I said, “There isn’t a recipe.” I then explained.

          Reply
    51. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      Batch cooking has saved my life. I aim to prepare 5 portions of anything I make, and if I want variety, I make five portions apiece of a few different things, and freeze all but 2 or 3 meals. It’s way easier than trying to cook single portions, and means I don’t have to think about it during the week.

      Reply
    52. Lazy Cat's Mom

      I’m a lot lazier than these folks who prep ahead. I’ll do that sometimes but other times I try to just keep simple staples with me at the office. I’ll keep a couple baking potatoes, avocados and garlic salt at my desk. I’ll mix the avocado with garlic salt for a simple guacamole and put it on top of a nuked potato. This works with sweet potatoes too.
      Cans of tuna and soup are also easy to keep around. I’ve actually purchased a special bowl with a lid that makes heating the soup in the microwave easy. And to further the lazy, I’ll get the heavy non-perishables delivered by Amazon or a local delivery service.

      Reply
    53. Blue_eyes

      There is already lots of great practical advice on the details of packing lunches here, so I’ll add a big picture comment. You seem to be framing it as bringing lunch every day vs. buying lunch every day. It seems like bringing lunch every day is probably not feasible for you right now, so maybe start with a smaller goal. For now, it could be bring lunch 2 days per week. Once you’ve done that successfully for a few weeks, add one more “bring lunch” day per week. It won’t feel like a massive change all at once, and you won’t feel like you’ve slipped up when you buy lunch some days. I’ve found the following breakdown helpful for me:

      3 days/week – Make and bring lunch
      1 day/week – bring frozen meal (Lean Cuisine, etc. – the tamales from Trader Joe’s are awesome for this)
      1 day/week – buy lunch

      This helps me by giving me a choice of when to use the buy lunch day, and giving me one day (frozen lunch day) where I don’t have to plan or think about it, but I’m not spending as much as buying lunch out.

      Reply
    54. Elizabeth West

      These are all great ideas. I like sweet potatoes, but they take 6-8 minutes in the microwave to cook, depending on how big they are. Instead of hogging the oven at work, you can partially cook one at home and put it in the fridge overnight. Then when you are at work, pop it in for a few minutes and it’s done. You can do it with regular potatoes too. It’s not quite like a baked potato, but still good for lunch. :)

      I also go to Walmart and get those packages of portion cups with lids (the kind dressing or dipping sauce comes in with take-out meals), put a little butter in one for my potato, and throw it in my lunch box. Or use it for dressing if I made a salad.

      Reply
    55. PatPat

      I just bring the same thing every day for lunch. I have variety for dinner every night but for lunch it doesn’t bother me to have the same thing all the time and it’s super easy. I make my lunches for the week on Monday because the thing I eat for lunch lasts in the refrigerator that long so I only have to think about making my lunch one day a week.

      Reply
    56. Elisabeth

      I’m in the process of becoming a daily lunch buyer (my old job paid for my lunches, actually) and a lunch bringer. Prepping stuff the night before is essential, although I can see how night school can make that a challenge.

      One thing that can help is that you don’t need to conform to a proper idea of what “lunch” is. If it’s just a random assembly of tasty and nutritious things, that’s all that matters! I often am more of an “assembler” than a cook. A chickpea salad with tons of veggies, or just a weird assortment of things I like. (Some cheese! And separately, some veggies! And separately, my favorite juice!). Also, bring snacks.

      I wish I could get into freezing stuff – I’m not there yet…

      Reply
    57. tw

      I usually make “fancier” sandwiches, like apple turkey and brie on a fancy bread
      costs a little more, but it keeps me from buying a more expensive one

      also, making twice as much for dinner and then bringing it for lunch the next day

      Reply
    58. Sara

      I changed from eating a full lunch, to snacking throughout the day. I have three different kinds of trail mixes and a box of granola bars in my desk (so variety) and I bring some sort of fruit (usually an apple because there’s zero prep). I don’t eat lunch at a usual time every day, I just eat some snacks when I’m hungry.

      Reply
    59. Mine Own Telemachus

      I do a few things to keep it interesting:

      1. Cook it the night before, rather than the Sunday before. That way I *probably* won’t be bored of it by noon the next day.
      2. Vary my lunch containers—I have several different ones I rotate through so I’m not like, “Aw crap now I gotta wash this thing to use it tomorrow” and procrastinate.
      3. Switch between things that can be heated up and things eaten cold. A couple of days a week I bring sandwiches. The rest of the week is pasta/meat/sauce or rice and beans—things that keep well and can be heated easily.
      4. Switch up the utensils I’m using. I purposefully bring in things that can be eaten with chopsticks (I have a reusable pair) so it doesn’t physically *feel* like I’m eating the same boring thing every day.

      Any leftovers can be stored easily and eaten for dinner in a couple of days! Saves me money and makes lunch way easier.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        I bought doubles of everything I use for lunch for this reason. There days where I just don’t feel like washing the lunch containers.

        Reply
    60. super anon

      I was the same way until recently. I started cooking meals because I was getting bored of eating out constantly and decided “I am bad at cooking” was no longer a valid excuse for what was really my own laziness.

      I don’t cook specific meals for work, I always bring whatever left overs I have to eat for lunch. If I don’t have left overs that day I’ll make overnight oats the night before to bring for lunch. I’ve also made it a priority to have a well-stocked pantry and freezer to give me less of an excuse to be lazy and decide to eat out rather than cooking.

      Some tips:

      – I buy meat in bulk at Cost-Co and freeze it because $100 of meat will last me and my boyfriend meals for a month. Also because meat is heavy and having to carry it to my apartment every grocery trip can be difficult.

      – I only make easy recipes from sites like Budget Bytes that are low effort and low cost, but till tasty. I especially like doubling a recipe and freezing it so I will have food for days when I really don’t want to do anything. When I lived alone and was cooking for myself I wouldn’t cook meals every night and this method worked really well to ensure variety in my diet.

      – I bought an instant pot. It makes cooking things that are usually difficult so much faster and easier to enjoy. I make chilli, stews, soups, roasts, ribs, etc in it really easily. I also like using it to hard boil a lot of eggs at once to take to work during the week for breakfasts.

      – In terms of getting off my butt and deciding to cook something for myself, it’s been really helpful to have a well stocked pantry. Because I freeze meat, tomato paste, stewed fruit for topping yogurt, etc and have rice, beans, lentils, pasta and tons of canned items like tomatoes and tuna on standby the only items I ever really have to buy to make something are fresh veggies and bread.

      – Packaging food up into ready to go containers after it is cooked is also incredibly helpful. I keep my lunch bag and items by the door so I can quickly pack myself a meal and be ready to go in no time. Having everything pre-portioned and labelled makes it a lot faster to grab and go in the morning.

      Reply
    61. The Other Liz

      The food boredom is for real! I struggle with this too. My strategy is: freeze lunch-sized portions for the future, and they’re there in a pinch. I also rely heavily on proteiny snacks, prepackaged, to keep on hand for days with evening activities. When I have evening choir rehearsal, I always throw a cashew larabar in my bag with my music folder. I also find mandarin oranges to be the one fruit I can eat daily without getting sick of it. Soon I’ll get tired of it but I’ll ride the wave while it lasts.

      I also really like having a different dip on hand each week: homemade simple hummus, or store bought tzaziki, and carrot sticks keep for a long time in the fridge… and Trader Joes has good frozen naan. Pita is also SO SIMPLE to make from scratch. I try to buy things that are healthy AND don’t go bad quickly, so that they fit in with my food boredom tendencies.

      Reply
      1. The Other Liz

        The other thing that’s made my life a bit easier: someone at work started a soup group for Tuesdays and a salad group for Wednesdays. Once every 8 weeks, I bring in homemade soup and heat it in the office kitchen crock pot for 10 people. The other 7 Tuesdays my lunch is made for me! Same thing on Wednesdays, but with salad. It also helped people get out from behind their desks and get to know coworkers a bit more!

        Reply
    62. Dead Quote Olympics

      Yes, and very recently. Since my closest “easy lunch out” is the Whole Foods hot/cold bar, I have been SHOCKED (although not surprised) by the hundreds of dollars I’ve saved per month just by staying out of there.

      For a fast recap, since so many others have covered the ground:

      Freezer, freezer, freezer. I usually try and have at least two kinds of soups and a couple of other good leftover single meal portions in the freezer. Soup making is a weekend activity, sometimes I’ll make two pots of different kinds.

      Mason jar salads. I’ve found a few recipes that I really like and have them in heavy rotation. I either make the whole salad on the weekend, or since I like salads for main meals anyway, I cut up cukes, carrots, radishes, romaine lettuce, etc. and store them separately (in mason jars) in the refrigerator so I can make a really fast salad. Storing vegetables and lettuce in glass containers makes them last much, much longer.

      Meal planning. I like the app Mealboard, because it allows you to store recipes and scale them to the desired number of portions, and then generate a shopping list.

      Readymade simmer sauces, marinades, seasoning — don’t make me think about the hard stuff, which is seasoning! I’m a sucker for those pouches from Frontera Grill, various indian food sauces, fancy pasta sauces, etc. Throw your protein and vegetables in, put it on top of pasta/rice/couscous/cauliflower rice/ and freeze multiple portions.

      All those techniques are built around an easy morning — the ability to open my lunch bag, throw something in it with no prep, and leave. The other ingredient is commitment. I’m now rather competitive about it — it’s morphed from “take my lunch every day for this entire week” to “don’t go grocery shopping unless you really can’t find something to make a meal with tonight.” It’s made me actually eat a wider variety of food because if I bought sweet potatoes, by god I’m going to eat them.

      Other secret weapons that assemble in various ways: varieties of chicken sausage, couscous, cooked shrimp, tuna pouches, smoked salmon (the non-lox kind), goat cheese and feta crumbles, cashews.

      Good luck!

      Reply
    63. Sara

      At my office we have a ton of fridge space (2 full-size fridges for 25ish people), so what I do is bring all my lunch for the week on Mondays. Almost always, it’s a salad mix, some chopped other veggies (peppers/broccoli etc), some sort of protein (smoked tofu has been my favourite lately), and then each day just make up a big salad. Sometimes I’ll do wraps, or during the winter I’d make a big thing of soup and bring to work. I don’t have a lot of containers or fridge space at home, so bringing everything to work at once means I don’t have to worry about that. And also I only have to think about lunches once a week. Might not be workable for everyone, depending on your kitchen space, but it’s been an amazing solution for me.

      Reply
    64. Badmin

      I have the same exact problem and can totally relate to the school at night being an issue. I don’t know what your work set up is but I will go shopping on my lunch break at Trader Joes, stock up on their very affordable frozen stuff and keep it in the freezer at work. That way when I want to eat out it’s there and harder to turn down. I also keep sandwich stuff at work.

      I also keep snacks, like those little snack kit things that have cheese, a dried fruit and a nut and they are surprisingly filling/hold me over. You can really just make them yourself too.

      I like to cook as well so will sometimes have leftovers but are such a pain to bring into work on the subway/bus.

      I’ve never tried meal planning but would like to and seems like a good solution.

      Reply
    65. meat lord

      If I feel less drained than usual/have grocery shopped, I’ll make a big batch of food. But what I’ve started doing, because even cooking ahead of time for the week often seems prohibitively difficult, is buying easy-prep items that can be mix-and-matched into a meal as I run out the door.

      Example: individual-size containers of instant rice, a big freezer bag of microwaveable pork buns & and another freezer bag teriyaki meatballs, plus a few veggies & granola bars, have been my go-to this week. I have my rice as a base, some meatballs or pork buns to go with, and maybe some carrots, a banana, a Clif bar, whatever. Takes about three minutes to throw each day’s assortment into my bag as I get ready for work, and about three minutes to cook in the office microwave.

      Reply
    66. JBeane

      Fellow singleton, converted lunch bringer here:

      One thing that really hung me up is that I used to buy fresh veggies, which would often go back before I had a chance to use them all up. Frozen veggies have changed my life. Not only are they easy to prepare in single or double portion servings, but they got me into the habit of prepping different food groups separately, and then making quick dishes in different combinations to stave off boredom.

      For example, this week I had some rice, chicken, and veggies. I prepped the rice and chicken separately with minimal spice, to start. Then on various days I use these in combo with various frozen veggies to make arroz con pollo, ginger chicken stir fry, etc. The same base ingredients have different flavors depending on what spices and cooking methods are used, and no meal took longer than 15 minutes to prepare.

      Reply
    67. Lady Bug

      I despise meal prep for the week, sorry weekends are for relaxing and doing necessary chores like laundry. occasionally I will make a batch of soup or sauce, but mostly I do bagged salad or premade Trader Joe’s salad. Frozen meals are good too.

      Reply
      1. hermit crab

        Oh yeah, if what you are going to do otherwise is buy takeout, then frozen meals give you convenience plus cost savings – even for the sort of higher-end ones (at least, compared to lunch takeout prices in the expensive neighborhood where my office is). I ate a lot of frozen Amy’s meals when I was working and going to grad school full-time. They’re better than some takeout! Just make sure to label them if you keep them in the office freezer.

        Reply
    68. hermit crab

      I’m late to this thread, and what I’m going to describe will not work for most people in most situations, but I thought I’d throw it out there! Some of my coworkers and I have a lunch club at the office. We have around 4-5 people participating in a given week, and everyone signs up in advance to bring in lunch for the group. So the first person brings lunch on Monday, the second person brings lunch on Tuesday, and so on.

      It takes some coordination, but if you have a group of coworkers with similar tastes who all like batch-cooking, it can be AWESOME. I cook once a week but have a different home-cooked vegetarian (!) lunch every day, vs. before when I ate the same reheated beans and rice every day for (what felt like) years on end.

      Reply
    69. emma2

      A good alternative I have found to meal prepping is “ingredient prepping”, where instead of preparing entire meals, I take a couple of hours during the weekend to prepare sides that take more time than I would like on a weekday (like chopping and boiling vegetables, steaming rice, boiling pasta, making sauces, etc.) Then I mix them in different ways throughout the week. This works really well for salads – just chop up a bunch of ingredients on the weekend and through them together in different varieties for your lunches.

      Reply
    70. Elan Morin Tedronai

      So I cook lunch and bring it to work Mondays through Thursdays, and treat myself to something nicer on Fridays. I’ve been doing this since I started working in July 2015, so… I guess my case kind of counts? :)
      That said, I wake up early to cook during those times.

      A large portion of the advice here is for you to do batch cooking (i.e. cook and freeze enough for 5 days on Sunday), but from what I can tell you get bored of eating the same thing every day. In that case, would you be able to plan a menu for a week, then get common ingredients for them? E.g. What I do is that I plan out what I want to eat for the week (normally one pasta, 2 stir-fries and a sandwich/salad) then try to arrange it in such a way that each of them share common ingredients – for this week a couple of common ingredients for me are kale and zucchini, which I’m prepping in a few different ways. It also helps if you can set things up a few days in advance.

      Reply
  4. Cover Letters

    I am currently applying to jobs and am going on a 10-day vacation that starts next Sunday. I will not have cell service during this time, but will have limited access to email (except for a three-day stretch where I will be completely off the grid). Should I mention something like this in my cover letter? There are a few jobs that have application deadlines 1-3 days before I leave for my trip. Should I mention that I will only have access to email, and that it may be limited during the trip dates? How would you word that appropriately? I do not want to come off as presumptuous, but I think I am well-qualified for these jobs and do not want to leave them hanging should they want to move me along in the process.

    Reply
    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      I wouldn’t necessarily mention it in the cover letters, but I would set up an auto-responder for your email and also maybe change your outgoing voicemail greeting to indicate that you are on a trip without service, but will be checking email as you’re able. And give your email address so that people can reach you that way.

      Reply
    2. Gwen Soul

      I changed my VM message temporarily to let people know to email me when i was in a similar position. As for wording, maybe ” I am excited to speak more about the role, please note I will not have phone access from (DATE) to (DATE) but will be checking (EMAIL) daily.

      Reply
      1. Bozo

        Unless people from your current job would try to email or phone you, then they are greeted with a VM or autoreply that says you are excited about talking further about the job opportunity….maybe a generic statement about your availability is best.

        Reply
  5. Tiffany

    I’m looking at a pretty strong possibility that I’m going to need major surgery (brain) soon. I work for a small non-profit that barely offers medical insurance, and definitely does have any kind of short-term/long-term disability insurance that would help cover lost wages while I deal with that. We don’t get sick days and our PTO is minimal (nor do I really want to be forced to use up all of my vacation time to recover from surgery).

    I’ve been told it’s possible to get short-term/long-term disability insurance as an individual….but where do I even start? Does anyone have any recommendations? What questions should I be asking? I had it once through an employer but never had to use it….so I’m just really uncertain about it all. Any insight y’all can give would be very much appreciated.

    Reply
    1. paul

      If your surgery is soon is doubtful you’ll be able to get that type of insurance set up and active before hand :/ I know ours required something like 60 or 90 days before you were eligible and it couldn’t be for a pre-existing condition.

      Reply
      1. Tiffany

        If it happens, it’ll need to be soon, but it’s not so dire that I can’t wait out the grace period or whatever.

        Reply
        1. Jessesgirl72

          You probably won’t be eligible at all. Not without committing fraud.

          My husband has MS, and so we always carry it for him. He didn’t have to disclose anything/pass a physical in order to qualify for the new plan when he signed up at his latest job It was explicit that signing up at any other time would mean he’d have to pass a physical and disclose his full medical history.

          Reply
    2. NW Mossy

      There are companies that sell it (my own employer is one, although I don’t work in that division), but these policies typically require medical underwriting. I’m assuming that you already have a diagnosis, and that’ll have to be disclosed in your application. As a result, if they’re willing to underwrite you (not a given, depending upon the severity of your situation), the premiums will likely be so expensive that it doesn’t really net you much.

      Wish I had a more positive response!

      Reply
    3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      Oh, I’m so sorry you’re in this situation. It’s outrageous that a health emergency can wreck such havoc on your financial and professional life.

      Unfortunately, private disability insurance has exclusions for pre-existing conditions and usually has a (long) wait period. I’m not sure it will give you what you need. :(

      (I’m not remotely an expert on this; I’ve just looked into it a bit after my employer eliminated our short-term disability benefit.)

      Reply
      1. Jessesgirl72

        You don’t even need to go to AAM. There ARE crowdfunding sources specifically for medical problems, or sites set up where you’re getting loans from individuals, and not banks. We looked at all the possibilities when looking at how to fund IVF/Surrogacy.

        Reply
    4. Memyselfandi

      Your state may have some programs. Mine has temporary disability insurance and temporary caregiver insurance programs that people can take advantage of. Check with your department of labor or human services.

      Reply
    5. K

      You should ask your doctor, or the hospital you will have surgery at, if they can connect you with a social worker. Social workers affiliated with hospitals can be great resources for these types of issues and will be able to connect you with the right government programs and explain your options.

      Reply
    6. Artemesia

      You aren’t going to be able to get disability insurance for a condition you currently have. You are going to have to bite the bullet on PTO here.

      Reply
        1. SCAnonibrarian

          Can you financially swing unpaid leave? My job has decent but not amazing leave, and we regularly have staff ‘on medical leave’ who just aren’t getting paid: they’re just taking approved unpaid leave that they cleared with Admin and HR beforehand. If you can take the financial hit to keep your job open to you, you could ask to use unpaid leave for all the prep and pre-surgery appointments? That way you can save your PTO for the procedure and recovery as much as possible, and then revert back to more unpaid leave until you’re able to return to work.
          Some companies are really good about this, and some apparently are not, but if they do agree, be sure to get it in writing.

          Reply
          1. Tiffany

            I could get the leave, I just can’t afford it. I work Tues-Sat, so I’ve been planning all my doctor appointments for my day off on Monday. I don’t make much (about 30k/year, non-salary) and don’t live in a town that’s super affordable (more affordable than the surrounding metro area, but still pricey) + started my own business last year…needless to say, my savings are pretty much gone and there’s no way I can go more than 1 or 2 days without pay.

            Reply
            1. Natalie

              Since you said upthread you can put it off for a few months, I think you’re going to need to spend those Mondays beating the bushes for social services, government services, whatever you can find that will provide some help during your time off. Save whatever you can. Maybe pick up some gig-economy type side gigs outside of work hours, and save the money?

              I’m sorry. This really sucks.

              Reply
    7. fposte

      Ugh, sorry; that really sucks. I know it’s not pay, but is FMLA in the picture at all? Or is there also going to have to be a conversation about leave with with your work?

      (One reason I mention it is that if you do take FMLA, your employer is allowed to require you to use PTO concurrently.)

      Reply
      1. Tiffany

        We’re small enough that FMLA isn’t a thing for us. I’m not too concerned about not being able to get time off…but I’m not in a situation where I can afford to miss work for even a couple days without pay, and I’m looking at probably a minimum of a couple weeks of being off completely, and then several weeks of ‘working as much as I can but it probably won’t amount to 40 hours’.

        Reply
        1. SCAnonibrarian

          Just saw your response to fposte- that sucks. Can you ask HR if they have any procedure for employees donating PTO to other people? Even if it wouldn’t be enough (small company) to totally clear it, any little bit is better than nothing?

          Reply
          1. Tiffany

            We don’t have an HR department. We only have about 10 staff members and the organization has a whole is kind of a dysfunctional mess. There is no policy or procedure for something like that, nor do I think my co-workers would donate even if they could (honestly, can’t blame them, we don’t get much to start with).

            Reply
    8. FiveWheels

      I have no practical advice but years ago I had a life threatening neurological condition. I’m now fully recovered, but I lost my job and it took many years to get my career back on track. So you have my absolute sympathy and well wishes.

      Reply
    9. Mug

      I swear I don’t work for Aflac! But I would highly recommend looking into their additional insurance. It’s super cheap (like, $5 a week) and they give you cash for so many different things. When my brother was forced to not work for two weeks because of an injury, Aflac really came through for him.

      Reply
      1. Tiffany

        I talked to them actually, ’cause it was the only thing I knew of. It wouldn’t cover the situation I’m in.

        Reply
    10. an anon

      I don’t think individual STD/LTD will be an option for you as they usually require a physical. CA, HI, NJ, and NY offer state STD programs but most states do not.

      That said, look around your community for advocacy programs that may help you get hooked up to city, county, state or federal programs that might help you out.

      If you are part of a faith community (or even if you aren’t) your local place of worship may be able to help.

      Depending on your diagnosis there may be local or national organizations that are focused on helping people in your situation.

      Reply
    11. PollyQ

      Two (inexpert) thoughts:

      1) You may be eligible for State Disability benefits, even though you’re still employed, since your company won’t be paying you.

      2) Depending on how long you can put off the operation, is it possible that you could find a new job with better benefits that would cover you? I’m not sure how the pre-existing condition or any possoble waiting period would figure into this. Any HR experts that can comment?

      Reply
      1. Natalie

        Pre-existing conditions are not a factor with employer provided health or disability benefits (or life insurance, but only if you sign up within a specific time period). This is a requirement of ERISA, so it’s not at risk regardless of what happens with the ACA.

        Reply
        1. Company benefits

          Some employer disability policies require you to work for 6 months to 12 months prior to making a claim – even if they cover pre-existing conditions – if you did not have a previous continuous disability insurance. They don’t want you to go out on disability on your first week or month of work for a pre-existing condition. So, make sure you read the policy if you change jobs.

          Reply
    12. ThumbTypist

      I am so sorry. This is awful.

      If you know you need surgery, I expect this is already in your medical record. Which means a private insurer likely will not sell you insurance. I feel for you; I am completely uninsurable in the private market (except health, due to ACA).

      If you are symptom-free and able to wait it out, I’d think about job hunting now. If not, I agree with other posters…start researching state aid programs.

      I’m sorry. I hope it works out ok.

      Reply
        1. kmb213

          Seconding FlexJobs. It was a huge time-saver and well worth the money for me. (My circumstances wound up changing and I wound up in a traditional office environment, but the listings there were all legit.)

          Reply
    1. Pwyll

      I imagine this will get stuck in moderation, so I’ll list in another comment. But We Work Remotely and Working Nomads have been pretty awesome IMO.

      Reply
    2. esra

      Jobspresso! I mean, it depends on your specialty, but for programming/design/pming/marketing, jobspresso has some great leads.

      Reply
    3. Effie

      I like Amylynn/Annika

      They list legit sites for free and have a blacklist of scams. I still do some of the paid survey sites that I found through her site on the side.

      Reply
    4. Audiophile

      I’m so glad you asked this question, I’ve been looking for remote work and had very little luck. I’ve looked on Idealist and Indeed and haven’t had much luck.

      Reply
  6. De Minimis

    So happy the federal hiring freeze has ended!

    A decent job has opened up at my former employer. The people there would likely know my references, so I’m hoping the odds are good. I have mixed feelings about returning to my home state, but the stress of living and working where I do is just taking too much of a toll. I also have a significant number of years in the federal retirement system so it would be a better move long term to return to it.

    I’m also really de-motivated at my current job…I only do really low level work here and though I’m well paid, I think I’m damaging my career the longer I remain here.

    Reply
  7. Jan Levinson

    Background: I wrote last week in the open thread about my supervisor being very cold towards me since being told that I was being promoted to a new role, in which she will no longer be my manager. If you all recall, she flipped out on me last week after I worked over my lunch hour, and asked her if I could leave an hour early.

    Today, an even more frustrating situation has arisen. For my new position, I am required to take a test at a physical therapy building 20 minutes from our office. My appointment is from 2:00-3:30 PM today (HR scheduled it for me), and I am supposed to be there 15 minutes early to fill out paperwork. My supervisor told me yesterday that I wouldn’t have to come back to the office after my appointment (we close at 4:00 on Fridays, and I wouldn’t be able to make it back to the office until 3:50, so it makes sense that I wouldn’t come back). Every day, I take my lunch break from 12:30-1:30. Since I would have to leave at 1:25 to make it to the physical therapy building in time, I planned on leaving at 12:30, grabbing lunch, and heading over to the test. I emailed by supervisor just as an ‘FYI’ that I was leaving for my lunch break and heading straight to my appointment (I usually eat lunch in our office break room). She comes to my desk after reading my email and says “no, I’m not going to let you do that. I’m already not making you come back to the office after your test (as if she’s doing me a favor – what manager would make someone return for 10 minutes?), so you can leave no earlier than 1:00.” Now I’m going to have to rush to get something to eat on my way to my test, and probably eat in the car on the way. I also have to stop by home to change into workout clothes first (I didn’t anticipate this being an issue since I didn’t except any pushback for taking my normal lunch break, otherwise I would have brought clothes!) I’m just extremely frustrated that I’m being forced to cut my lunch break in half because this test that I’m REQUIRED to take by my company, will end 30 minutes before the end of the workday (and would put my back in the office not more than 10 minutes before the end of the workday).

    As I mentioned last time I wrote in – I am consistently in the office 40 hours a week (ironically, my supervisor never is, which wouldn’t bother me in the slightest if she’d extend the same courtesy to me – which she always did until she was notified of my promotion.) I think this is just another way for her to use her “power” over me, while I am still under her management for another couple of weeks. I’m mostly just ranting, but it’s still deeply irritating to deal with.

    Reply
    1. AshK434

      I would definitely push back on this if I were you. Heck, I would probably still take my hour-long lunch as originally planned, but I’ve been known to be insubordinate in the face of lunacy.

      Reply
      1. Stella's Mom

        +1 me too. I would take a regular lunch break, and go to the HR-mandated test, and leave early. I would also ask her what the problem is ( you stated it was power games, yes, but ask her.)

        Reply
    2. NPO Queen

      If she’s not going to be your manager much longer, I would just deal with it. This is an extremely frustrating situation, but it only has to happen for a couple more weeks. Besides, it’s better to leave with a good rapport if you can, just in case you need her as a reference later. She is being nitpicky with your time and it’s annoying, but once you start your new job, you won’t even remember it.

      Reply
      1. EddieSherbert

        +1 I agree with NPO Queen… she’s being a jerk, but you’re almost free of her. You can power through it!

        Reply
    3. I am not Kimmy Gibler

      Honestly, I would let this go. She’s no longer going to be your manager. What she’s doing is petty and unnecessarily aggressive, but it’s possible that she’s feeling overwhelmed by the fact that she’s no longer going to have you around to help with things and is now taking it out on you. I understand that it’s inconvenient and frustrating, but you’ve been promoted and this is a short-term obstacle that you’ll soon have in your rear window.

      Reply
      1. Artemesia

        And store this up for the day you have a chance to pay back. Suck it up now; but don’t forget her. Your chance may come.

        Reply
    4. SanguineAspect

      Uuuuugh, this sounds so frustrating. I guess the bright side is, you won’t have to deal with it much longer. Hang in there!

      Reply
    5. Jessesgirl72

      I’d inform her that you were taking your usual lunch break, and would simply return to work for the 10 minutes after your test. It would be more convenient to you that way, even assuming you could make it, but naturally appointments often run 10+ minutes late…

      Reply
    6. LKW

      What would happen if you just stuck to your original plan? Would that be a fire-able offense in your organization?

      She’s already cold and unreasonable. Can she do anything that would jeopardize your new job?

      I have no experience with this – I work for a company where you just tell someone: I’ll be out and unavailable.

      Reply
      1. Jan Levinson

        No, it definitely wouldn’t be a fireable offense. Big Boss is perfectly reasonable, and would have no problem with me leaving at 12:30. In fact, he’s pretty well aware that my supervisor tends to be unreasonable. If I walked out at 12:30 after already being told no by my supervisor, though, she’d probably force me to use vacation time (she does the payroll), and then pout around for a week because I left earlier than she wanted me to.

        I actually do wish I wouldn’t have emailed her, though, and just left at 12:30. I really did it as a courtesy just to let her know, since she knows I’m usually in the office during my lunch hour in case something time sensitive comes up (it usually doesn’t). Most people in my office wouldn’t have bothered emailing her. I’m young in my career, and tend to be a bit “too nice” sometimes, I think!

        Reply
        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          I know she’s being a major PITA, but I wouldn’t dig out early because at this point, it would be straight up insubordination. And I think emailing her was the right thing to do, even if her reaction is ridiculous. So the good news is that she looks objectively unreasonable and you look objectively professional.

          Whatever you decide to do, I’d opt for keeping up the “objectively professional” positioning. The situation sucks, and so does she, but of all the lame things she’s doing, this is not the hill I recommend dying on (especially because you’re going to have to deal with her as a quasi-peer when you make the promotion shift).

          Reply
          1. tigerStripes

            Agreed. And maybe bring some stuff to snack on so it’s easier to have a later lunch. Sunflower seeds, peanuts, etc.

            Reply
        2. Observer

          I agree with Princess Consuela Banana Hammock. You weren’t being “too nice”. You were being professional, and your boss was being a jerk.

          You’re not going to be in her power for too much longer, so power though it. And take a lesson for your own future career. Your boss is developing a reputation for being unreasonable. It’s NOT going to help her career. Developing a reputation for keeping your cool, being professional and treating people well will help your career, though.

          Reply
  8. Folklorist

    Here is your ANTI-PROCRASTINATION POST!!! Go and do something you’ve been putting off, then come back here and brag about it! Get that monkey off your back and relieve that little aching pit of guilt and despair that’s nestled in your stomach right now (you know exactly what I’m talking about!)

    Reply
    1. LostCause

      Cleaning my house for a showing tonight. I’ve put it off for a few weeks and it’s not bad, but 3 bathrooms and mopping the whole house stresses me out.
      And where do I put my 4 cats?
      Please send good vibes, prayers, whatever floats your boat my way today. I could really use them.

      Reply
      1. JustaTech

        Cats: someplace several doors away from the outside, so they don’t bolt? Can you put them in one of the bedrooms where they can hide in a closet or under the bed and put a sign on the door
        “Please come in.
        Cats inside.
        Please keep the door closed.”?
        Good Luck!

        Reply
        1. INFJ

          My parents put that sign on their door when they were showing their house (also 4 cats!). They also had a basement to hide in, though.

          Reply
    2. Ramona Flowers

      I went through my notebook where I write everything I need to do, did all the tasks that would take under five minutes, and ceremoniously crossed them out in Sharpie. It felt good.

      Reply
    3. Elizabeth West

      Neighbor kitty got out when I went to check on him and is now outside in the rain. I can’t find him. He’s probably hiding somewhere; I’ll go back out later. He’ll probably show up when he’s hungry. I’m sure he’ll be fine. Dumb kitty.

      Reply
      1. INFJ

        Aaaaw poor kitty! Yeah, they will hunker down in hiding while the weather is bad. Once the weather lets up, and/or he gets hungry, he’ll come back!

        Reply
        1. Elizabeth West

          He did–and was definitely hungry. He went right up to the door and I put him back inside and made sure his dish was full. Oh well; I guess he really was sick of being in the house by himself. Sorry kitty, but I can’t sit in Neighbor’s house with you all day. He is supposed to come home tomorrow, or so he told me on the phone.

          Reply
    4. Fenchurch

      I was holding off on sending an email because someone on my team messed up. They lost some client-signed documents and I get the supreme privilege of telling our easily-excitable workforce that this happened and they need to bother the client again for more signatures. I was hoping they might pop up somewhere, but it’s been two weeks and no dice. Guess it’s time to put on my grownup pants and get the ball rolling on this.

      Wish me luck!

      Reply
    5. Lalaith

      Well, yesterday I did the big one I’d been hiding from – applying for a job I think I’d really like – but today I made an eye appointment, which I had been putting off for no reason whatsoever. Yay for new glasses :)

      Reply
    6. Dankar

      Gah–thank you! This prompted me to put together the final PDF of our accepted fiction pieces the 2017 issue of “my” literary journal. Now for the poetry. :)

      Reply
  9. anon for this

    So, this time of the year means I get awful seasonal allergies and sometimes it leads to a reemergence of impetigo (which, for those who don’t know is a staph infection). I got impetigo when I was a kid and because my body hates me, it just stayed in my system and reappears when my body is sick or I’m super stressed.

    Of course, it’s appeared again and in addition to coworkers getting angry with me for not staying home for my allergies (because some of them think allergies are contagious wtf), I have to deal with those few jerks who make a point of asking about the impetigo or, worse, asking if I have a STD.

    It’s unbearable and probably the only time I’m ever self-conscious about my appearance. It’s not like I can hide it because it’s at the corner of my chin and pretty noticeable, either. It makes coming into work miserable since I can’t work from home either.

    Reply
    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      People ask you if you have an STD??? Those people are jerks. I’m so, so sorry– I once had impetigo on my chin, and covering it up with makeup made it look worse (thankfully it didn’t worsen the impetigo). I don’t have much advice, just some sympathy, and anyone who calls attention to it really stinks.

      But wtf with the getting angry at you for not staying home with allergies? I would talk to your manager about that. That’s straight up silly.

      Reply
    2. Tuckerman

      Ugh. Sorry you’re dealing with this. Are they concerned about the allergies or the impetigo? I know impetigo is very contagious for kids, so maybe they are worried about getting it?
      But asking if you have an STD? So inappropriate.

      Reply
      1. anon for this

        The allergies. Even when I don’t have the impetigo (and even when I do, it really is a very small outbreak in one area), I have certain coworkers who get upset about allergies.

        When I say, “I have allergies, that’s why I’m sneezing and blowing my nose constantly”, they make a fuss about me being at work because they don’t want to catch my allergies. And I understand that some people might lie about allergies when they’re sick, but YOU CAN’T CATCH ALLERGIES.

        Reply
        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          I am flummoxed by the idea that allergies are contagious. Do they really mean that, or are they implying that people come in sick and pass it off like “allergies,” which results in others getting sick? I’m desperately hoping it’s the latter.

          On the comments suggesting you have an STD, do you have a functional HR department? Because honestly, those kinds of comments get really close to harassment, both in the non-legal sense but also in the ADA-discrimination sense (i.e., it’s unlawful to harass or discriminate against someone on the basis of a perceived disability; here, a socially stigmatized illness like an STD). Are they trying to imply you have herpes or Kaposi’s sarcoma (HIV/AIDS)?

          Reply
    3. I am not Kimmy Gibler

      I feel your pain, I had impetigo as a kid. (Nice big bald spot on the top of my head… you can imagine my mother created some interesting hairstyles for me that spring). Tell them it’s an allergic reaction you sometimes get in the spring due to the increase in allergens, that you hate allergy season and that you’re uncomfortable with it… tell enough people and word will eventually spread. And people stink.

      Reply
    4. SanguineAspect

      I am SO SORRY that you work with some serious jerks (asking if you have an STD?!). I had impetigo when I was a kid (on/behind my ear) and it SUCKED. I haven’t had reoccurrence since my childhood, but I can imagine the frustration. I have several inflammatory conditions (eczema, ulcerative colitis, iritis, rosacea) that like to flare up when I’m sick, but fortunately, most of those aren’t super noticeable most of the time. If things like this keep happening, can you say something to HR about the harassment?

      Reply
    5. sniffles

      ummm while I sympathize with the allergies (pass the tissues please), impetigo is contagious and easily spread.

      Reply
      1. Artemesia

        This. I am sure the OP knows how contagious impetigo is and takes appropriate precautions about not touching the lesions and touching anything else. This is some nasty stuff.

        Reply
      2. anon for this

        It’s contagious through direct contact only. They can’t catch it if they’re not touching it or using something like a brush or clothing I’ve used. My doctor says it’s okay for me to go to work as long as I take proper precautions, and it’s more of a risk for kids who aren’t aware of what not to share.

        Reply
        1. anon for this

          My other comment didn’t seem to post, so I’ll reiterate and say that I do only come into work after it’s non-contagious. But the scabs are still there even when it’s no longer contagious.

          Reply
      3. anon for this

        In addition to my comment above, I’m just adding that I’m only going into work after it’s no longer contagious. I’m not an idiot.

        The scabs are still there even when it’s not contagious.

        Reply
    6. Foxtrot

      Sorry if I derail this…
      Are they asking specifically if you have an STD and framing the question in an accusatory way? Or are they asking if you have herpes sores?
      Some members of my family in older generations have oral herpes. It IS very contagious when they have sores, so they need to be cognizant of that. But it’s just a fact of life in many ways and shouldn’t be stigmatized as much as it is. It’s a virus spread through human contact just like any other.

      Reply
      1. TL -

        If these older members were parents, then all of their descendants most likely have herpes as well (just that most cases don’t have sores or only have the one outbreak.) An estimated 90% of Americans have oral herpes or have been exposed to it. Just a large percentage never have an outbreak.

        Reply
      2. anon for this

        Both ways. Like, “oh, looks like you got punished for a good time” and “STDs suck, don’t they?”

        I work with some great people. /sarcasm

        Reply
    7. Caro in the UK

      You have my full sympathy, I had impetigo three years ago and it was horrific. I had it all over my face (and in my ears!) and I looked (and felt) like half the skin on my face was falling off :(

      I was so unbelievably self conscious, but fortunately no one said anything mean to me, I would probably started crying if they had. I don’t really have any advice other than these people are jerks and try not to take it personally. I’m sending you big hugs though, I hope it clears up soon.

      Reply
    8. Shamy

      Oh I’m so sorry you are dealing with this! I had cellulitis from staph in my breast and it was difficult to deal with. I can’t imagine having it on your face and dealing with such rude people. Sending you well wishes for good health.

      Reply
    9. Camellia

      Am I the only person who grew up hearing this pronounced as “infant-tigo”? I can’t remember the first time I saw it in writing but I do remember the holy cow moment when I realized what it was.

      My relatives also shopped at “Van Ludens” and were known to appreciate the occasional piece of “arch-it-tex-shur”.

      Reply
  10. Audiophile

    So glad it’s Friday. It feels like it’s been a particularly difficult week. I’m not sure why. I’ve spent a lot of late nights at work, which I’m definitely going to try to start limiting. I don’t want to burn out, especially not this early. My workload isn’t outrageous and my manager has been great about checking in and asking if I’m overwhelmed. I can’t say I feel completely comfortable answering that question honestly though. There are definitely times where it feels overwhelming.

    Reply
    1. k

      Hang in there! You say you don’t want to burn out this early, does that mean you’re relatively new to your current job? I know when I first started I was so worried about proving myself and impressing my boss that I ended up doing a lot more late nights than necessary. It took my a while to take a hard look at my tasks and prioritize what things actually needed to be done *right now* and what could wait until the morning.

      My best advice would be to cut yourself some slack, and remember that sometimes it’s okay to put something off to do later. And when things really are up against a deadline, you can still find time to take a 5 minute breather. People are more efficient when they’re clear headed, so you can make up the break by being able to do your job well. :)

      Reply
    2. Effie

      *waves* this week sucked for me too! Plus today I feel like I’m about to pass out from lightheadedness (I’ve been sipping water and nibbling food so pretty sure it’s not from starvation). Should I say at least it’s Friday knowing that not everyone has Saturday & Sunday off?

      Reply
    3. Fenchurch

      I totally understand where you are coming from. It does help to let your manager know what’s going on/what you’re struggling with. They will be so very relieved if they are able to make work easier for you and also ensure something gets the attention it needs. Do not pressure yourself to be perfect and totally able to handle everything yourself. It is a sign of strength to be able to know your limits and ask for help.

      I hope things get better soon!

      Reply
  11. I love updates

    Has there been an update from the letter writer where one employee pushed another into a car because he had a bird phobia and was trying to get away from one? Or did the letter writer ever post anywhere to give an update? I am so curious to know what happened.

    What other letters do AAM readers want updates on?

    Reply
    1. Temperance

      I would love an update from the person whose employee wanted a ton of time off around the holidays due to grief.

      Reply
    2. Nic

      I’d be interested to hear from the person whose horse died possibly/partially due to a manager not passing along a message. My heart goes out to her, and I’m thrilled the company (grandboss) was so understanding. I’m curious if she stayed, and if so what happened with the manager.

      Reply
    3. Susie

      +1 to the bird update.

      I know it’s still recent but I would like to hear from the reader who accidentally called her boss’s daughter a whore. I was mortified on her behalf.

      Reply
    4. Ask a Manager Post author

      I actually just got an update on the bird phobia one, and am trying to figure out how to run it without repeating the comment section debacle of the first letter (may just not open comments on it, who knows).

      Reply
        1. Caro in the UK

          To be honest, I probably wouldn’t read the comments on the update for that one (although I am DESPERATE for the update itself!) last time was just too upsetting.

          Reply
          1. hermit crab

            I agree on both counts! Maybe post it (with comments closed) on a weekend while the Friday open thread is still active? Commenters with constructive discussion points will know to go there instead.

            Reply
        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          I’m strongly in favor of the closing the comments, as DAS suggests. I just ran through five potential outcomes in my head, and each of them would easily trigger the onslaught/badness of the comments to the original letter.

          Reply
      1. INFJ

        Hmmmmm Depends on how contentious the actual update is. If there’s some sort of resolution both sides would be generally satisfied with, then perhaps one of your stern warning to readers about keeping comments tactful and on track will do the trick.

        Reply
      2. esra

        I agree Detective Amy Santiago. I’m definitely interested in an update, but not so much on a repeat of that comments section.

        Reply
      3. Rebecca in Dallas

        Ooh, I can’t wait to see the update!

        I must have missed a comment debacle. I remember reading through some of the comments, but didn’t think they were particularly ugly. Then again, sometimes once the conversation gets derailed I stop reading the comments.

        Reply
        1. paul

          I think she modded out most of the nasty stuff. It was still pretty het up on who was at fault and what should be done and all that jazz.

          Reply
      4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        I was just about to comment that I’d be surprised to get an update on the bird letter; I know I would have been scared off had I been the LW!

        Reply
          1. Thlayli

            Jane got a fair bit of flak in the comments too. In fact I think one of the reasons the comment section got so nasty is because the very very first comment was insulting to Jane.

            Reply
      5. BRR

        I’d be ok with keeping the comments closed after last time. Or could you moderate for certain words like the intern dress code letter? I’m not sure what you might use though.

        Reply
      6. Elizabeth West

        I’d either do that or limit them to a certain amount. If you do decide to leave comments open, maybe put a really serious warning in bold type that if people start to get crazy, you will shut it down IMMEDIATELY.

        Reply
      7. Lily Evans

        Maybe post it at a time when comments are normally slower (Friday after the open thread is going, Saturday or a holiday Monday)? Or turn moderation on for all of the comments? Although that would probably be a lot of work, unless announcing that all comments will go through moderation makes people less likely to post.

        Reply
      8. Lissa

        I’d close the comments. Somebody said about that letter it was like a Rorschach test and I think that was exactly it — people read into it what they wanted to see, since so many details were missing, and then you had people replying as though *their* scenario was absolute fact, so when you had several opposing scenarios people weren’t even debating the same thing at that point. No matter what the update is I really don’t see that not happening again, and/or people whose interpretation was closer to “right” or “wrong” getting smug/frustrated etc.

        Reply
        1. Jessesgirl72

          I’m too lazy to go look, but didn’t airport boss try to claim the higher ups were on board with his actions too?

          Reply
          1. Imaginary Number

            He didn’t claim the higher ups were on board but he did try to make it sound like the other people he was traveling with were also mad about her casual outfit.

            Reply
              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                I don’t think that’s quite right. It seemed pretty clear that OP’s boss disciplined her without any approval from higher ups, particularly because of what happened in the update. Here’s part of the original letter:

                When I got to work on Friday morning, I was called into my boss’s office. He said I was being written up for my lack of following the dress code. . . . in addition to being formally written up he suspended me for a day without pay (so tomorrow I am serving my suspension).

                And here’s an excerpt from the update:

                When I returned to work on Tuesday, I was planning on speaking to HR about what happened. I didn’t even need to. When I got in to work, the assistant to someone who is higher than my boss brought me in to talk to that person because she (the assistant) heard about what happened. I explained what happened and he said he would talk to my boss.

                The next day my boss was dismissed. . . . My boss’s boss held a meeting where he addressed what happened because of the talk about it. . . . He also apologized to me before the meeting. To reimburse for the mileage and the suspension, I was given two extra paid vacation days for 2017, and the write-up was removed from my file. . . . I accepted the apology because my boss’s boss didn’t cause this and made it right as soon as he knew.

                Reply
                1. Jessesgirl72

                  I know that he didn’t actually have approval. But that he did it, and the implication- from him!- was that he had their approval. A normal person would think so, since generally a day’s suspension is a more serious level of discipline.

                2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                  Oh, I misunderstood! I agree that he made it look (to OP) like others agreed with him and that the other managers in the car had made the complaint. What a scumbag.

    5. KiteFlier

      I would love an update to the open thread commenter a few weeks ago who was being forced to take a drug test later the same day and was going to resign due to regular marijuana use. That was such an interesting discussion!

      Reply
        1. Jessesgirl72

          There really wasn’t going to be any other outcome for that one. He had seen the system in place before.

          Reply
        2. NACSACJACK

          He did and they told him they would tell any prospective employers that he resigned rather than take a drug test, so he did not save himself any grief. I watched comments carefully cause I was one of the ones that suggested he resign. :( Felt horrible about it. Was hoping it would work out.

          Reply
          1. Jessesgirl72

            I don’t think it was just as bad, still. Failing a drug test IS bad. Refusing to take one, you can do for philosophical reasons.

            And he did have philosophical reasons against it, so it wouldn’t even be a lie to say so. It limits him, sure, but not as much as if he’d failed that test.

            Reply
      1. esra

        I’ve been digging through for the update on the person who was going to resign their awful job and giving regular updates about it.

        Reply
      2. Detective Amy Santiago

        What ever happened to the commenter who ran into his boss at a strip club or something and the boss was being a real jerk afterwards? I remember a couple of weeks of updates of things getting progressively worse, but I don’t recall ever seeing a resolution.

        Reply
    6. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo

      I would love an update from the OP who was the only one not allowed on the office’s weight loss reward cruise.

      Reply
    7. KSMama

      Wanting an update on the employee who accepted a promotion requiring travel but was banned from traveling by her husband and is now claiming she is exempt for religious reasons.

      Reply
    8. PollyQ

      Was there an update from the OP who was outraged that her employee paid for lunch with cash? I am just DYING to know the basis for her belief. OP’s by no means the worst boss we’ve heard of on AAM, but for money, she’s maybe the weirdest.

      Reply
  12. NPO Queen

    AAM just wrote up how you shouldn’t make a video to answer possible interview questions, but what if you’re asked to make a PowerPoint presentation? Has anyone done something like this? I’ve never given a 30 minute presentation that basically answers everything I would normally be asked in an interview. To be clear, I’d be making this presentation to the hiring manager.

    Reply
    1. ZSD

      How narrowly have they defined the content of the .ppt? I once had to give one in a job interview, but it was specifically about how I thought the university should help students in situation X. Is this something like that, or are they actually asking you to put your own work experience into .ppt form?

      Reply
      1. NPO Queen

        It’s more general questions like, “Why do you want this job?” and “tell me about a time when…” kinda stuff. I’ve given presentations on a single topic before, just never one on something so broad.

        Reply
        1. ZSD

          Interesting. I think Nic’s advice below is good. Otherwise, I guess I’d say that your bullets could basically be laid out in the STAR method when you do the, “Tell me about a time when…”, maybe.

          Reply
    2. TotesMaGoats

      I had to give a 15 min presentation for CurrentJob. I was given a very specific topic for my role/field. I also did a presentation 2 jobs ago, now that I think of it. Did they actually give you a topic that is “normal interview questions” or did they get specific?

      Reply
      1. NPO Queen

        Totally asked for normal interview questions. I have no problem giving a presentation, I don’t really have stage fright or anything, but I’ve always used my interviews as a two way street, not just me talking about myself. If this was a sales position I’d understand, but it’s a data analyst!

        Reply
        1. Artemesia

          I’d think about an interesting analysis you have done and include a bit about ‘why data analysis is both interesting and important to the organization’ illustrating it with this particular example — or make up an example similar (if there are issues of confidentiality) (of course let them know it is ‘based on’ the analysis but altered for confidentiality reasons) This is a chance to sell yourself as technically competent and an interesting person.

          Reply
    3. AshK434

      Think it’s worth clarifying that the difference is that you’re specifically being asked to make this presentation whereas the letter writer from earlier this week was making the video to show initiative I guess.

      I’ve never had to do this, but I don’t think it’s that strange (I believe consulting firms make candidates do presentations at some point).

      Reply
    4. Nic

      I haven’t had to do that specifically, but I have been asked teach a class which involved a PowerPoint for a training position, and I’ve given MANY of them.

      I’d suggest picking a handful of common interview questions (not just easy ones…REALLY GOOD ones, like those Alison suggests) and answer them. Use that to build an outline that you’ll use for the presentation. Perhaps one question per slide, with bullet points that you expand on (but don’t directly read). Picking good questions will show good things…I suspect many people may try to go for easy ones when they get to pick their own.

      As for PowerPoint suggestions in general….
      – Bullets are good!
      – Stay away from fancy transitions or noises. A quick fade is my favorite transition. Use media with caution.
      – When you change slides, read the slide silently to yourself two or three times to give your audience time to read it.
      – Make the last slide entirely blank.
      – Practice it with timing a few times, and keep in mind most people speed up when nervous.
      – Present it to a friend if possible to get feedback.

      Good luck! Let us know how it goes, please!

      Reply
      1. NPO Queen

        Thanks for this! It’s really interesting because they’ve provided questions, but I think I will try to rephrase them as ones Alison uses. That will allow me to expand the way I’d like, while still staying on topic. My friends will definitely be suckered into listening to me talk about myself for half an hour. I guess I should give them beer and pizza afterward?

        Reply
        1. Nic

          I think that could actually turn into a fun get-together!

          I like the idea of using their provided questions, but tweaked.

          Reply
    5. AvonLady Barksdale

      I had to give a presentation for my current job. I was asked to talk about something completely non-work-related, so I made it fun and engaging (I talked about a hobby of mine that many people think is really hard, but it’s actually pretty easy to take up). I would be weirded out doing an “interview-esque” presentation, but I might try to make it just as engaging, fun graphics, etc.– IF you get the vibe that would be acceptable here.

      A former co-worker once sent a Thank You ppt with animation and cartoons, with things like, “M was so happy to meet with S and J!” and characters that acted things out. It sounds terrible, I know, and ridiculous, but for that team and that company, it was perfect and very clever. Not recommending you should necessarily go that route, though.

      Reply
      1. NPO Queen

        I’m asking my contacts to see about the general vibe at the place, though I haven’t heard back yet. I once had a dream of being a teacher, and I remember “teaching” my interviewers about the alphabet, but that allowed me to be wildly creative. I’m hoping this job interview allows me to show a bit of personality in the presentation!

        Reply
    6. Allie

      If you’re asked to make the Power Point, that’s 100% fine and pretty normal. It was the unsolicited nature of the video that was problematic.

      Reply
    7. Thlayli

      I had to give a PowerPoint presentation for an interview once but they gave me guidelines on what it was about. Honestly I don’t remember what it was but it was about work-specific stuff not just “tell us about yourself”

      Reply
  13. Ann Furthermore

    I posted last week because I was a little concerned about the turnover at my company (where I’ve been for about 6 months), and my co-worker who had ended up travelling way more than the 25% he and I were both told when we accepted our positions. He resigned, citing the excessive travel as the reason. He’d been working on a project with another firm, and a couple of the people there had been a real handful to work with, which contributed to his frustration. This same firm has an engagement lined up with another client that will be Oracle focused, which is my area of responsibility.

    I’d planned to talk with my boss in person on Monday, but she ended up working from home that day. I emailed her and asked if she’d have some time to talk next time we were both in the office, and said that I was wondering if the partner firm was going to want me to be there onsite each week. She sent a reply that was a little bit terse, and I could tell she was thinking, “Oh, great…what now?” So, I replied (after carefully choosing my words, since things can be so easily misconstrued in emails), and said that I was asking because if there were any travel-heavy times on the horizon, I’d like to give my family some advance warning because everyone seems to handle it better when they know that it’s coming. At my last company, I’d spent 2 years on an implementation project that was extremely difficult, in part because the users were quite indecisive and could never make up their minds about when they wanted to do things. Travel decisions were always made at the last minute with no warning. Or, things got rescheduled because they’d ignored their deadlines and weren’t prepared for testing or training events that had been on the calendar weeks or months in advance. It was very disruptive and caused a lot of upheaval for everyone. Then I closed by saying that some unpredictability is inevitable in our line of work, which was baked into my expectations of any IT related job, and I’d promised myself I’d try to do a better job of managing the impact of that on my family than I had in the past.

    She responded by telling me what she’d said in my interview – that there is typically not too much travel. Then she told me that all the travel that my co-worker had done (after the first 2 weeks) was of his own choosing, and she had urged him to reconsider because she was concerned that it would be too much. So that’s why she was quite surprised that he resigned because of the excessive travel. The fact that it was largely self-inflicted on his part did put a different spin on things.

    She called me later and we had a very good talk, and she told me flat out that she would never commit me to travelling for weeks on end without my consent, and that I will usually know when travel is coming, because she’ll ask for my help when writing SOW’s that are for work in my area of expertise (which is true – I’ve helped her do a few of those so far). And she reassured me that she understands the importance of work-life balance, and that family comes first. And then told me again how happy she was that she hired me, and that I am the exact person that she needed in this role. And, she thanked me for being open with her so we could talk through our concerns and not have any misunderstandings.

    I’m so glad I brought it up. I’m normally a very outspoken person, but my dad drilled into my head when I was young that when it comes to work, you do what you need to do to get the job done without complaining, no one is indispensable, and the words “that’s not my job” or “that’s not what I signed up for” should not be in your vocabulary. Sometimes there’s a perfect storm of crap that you have to deal with, and everyone needs to pitch in and do their part to get through it. By and large, I agree with him. There are times when it is appropriate and/or necessary to speak up, but it’s something I struggle with because I can always hear my dad’s words in my head telling me not to be the slacker who doesn’t want to do their part.

    Reply
    1. LCL

      Glad that it worked out for you.
      I had the same problem as you re speaking up about job issues. Your dad sounds like my dad. He always told me that you should do whatever task your employer asked you to do, as long as it wasn’t evil/illegal/unethical.

      Reply
    2. Future Analyst

      I’m really glad the conversation went so well! Yes, it can be daunting to assess how much of changed expectations one should just roll with. I think most of us have had it drilled into our heads that we should go along to get along, and it can be tricky to fight that instinct.

      Reply
    3. Jessesgirl72

      I think one way to reprogram yourself out of being reluctant to speak up is to think that yes, he is right, sometimes things hit the fan and everyone has to dig in to get something done, without complaint. However- and this is a big however- if you see the shizz heading for the fan, it’s in everyone’s best interest to speak up about it and see if you can mitigate the fall out before it happens, even if you can’t stop it entirely. And as in this case, it was definitely best to seek clarification while your boss had the leisure to do that, instead of in the middle of an all hands on deck moment.

      I’m so glad you got a reassuring answer from your manager.

      And it occurs to me that your former coworker wasn’t hooked up to a lie detector when he gave his notice, and that voluntary work travel would be a potential easy way to cover up interviewing at other companies…

      Reply
      1. Ann Furthermore

        That thought occurred to me as well. He may have been using this company as a placeholder while he worked out something with another one. I know people do that, but personally it’s not something I’d ever be comfortable with. It’s disingenuous. When I got this job, I’d been talking with another company too. They had not made any final decisions. They told me they were in the midst of some company-wide reorgs, and it would take awhile for anything to be finalized. I’d gotten on very well with everyone there though, and I’m not the only person in town with my particular skillset, but it is rather specialized. If I’d waited long enough, I probably would have gotten an offer. But when I decided to take this job, I emailed the person I’d been working with and withdrew my name from consideration.

        My boss told me that she’d been doing some soul searching, since this is the second person in a pretty short period of time to quit after a couple months. She asked one of the VP’s and the CEO to do exit interviews with my co-worker, to try to get more insight as to why he resigned, because she wanted to know if it was something she was doing or not doing. And she said she talked with some friends who are also managers in the IT world. She was somewhat reassured when they told her that they are also having trouble retaining people, and that this is something that’s becoming more common.

        Reply
  14. De Minimis

    Does anyone here use the “Getting Things Done” methodology or something similar?

    I’m trying to enact aspects of it at my job, but the entire thing is a bit overwhelming.

    Reply
    1. EddieSherbert

      A couple months ago, I got about halfway through the book… then work got busy, and now (irony) I’ve been putting off finishing it…

      But I love the idea of it! When I was reading it, I did get a LOT done that had been sitting on my mental to-do list (that I was putting of for no real reason), and I have gotten better with both my calendar and to-do lists. I even put “call X family member” in my calendar so it’s not sitting on my brain that I should call Grandma this week!

      Reply
      1. De Minimis

        About the only thing I’ve been able to sort-of do is an “inbox” folder [an actual folder] for anything I have in process as it comes in or that needs to be done. This has helped me be a little less scattered. I’d like to do more, though.

        Reply
        1. EddieSherbert

          The digital options have been easier for me to implement. Partly because I had programs and such already available for calendars/to-do lists/reminders – I just wasn’t using them very well before.

          Though I recently bought a filing cabinet (my bills/important docs/to-do docs folder is a horrifying pile in a basket). My game plan this Sunday is to go through it all!

          It’s funny, because when you’re summarizing the book, it seems like everything is somewhat obvious – but then it’s hard to actually do a lot of it!

          Reply
          1. De Minimis

            My main need for it is due to my job being so paper-based! Until now I’ve worked in a lot of paperless or paper-light environments, but this job is a little backward in that regard. I need to come up with something that will help me adapt to it.

            I took a basic organizational course a few months ago and that has helped a lot, but I’m looking to improve further, and had heard a lot about GTD.

            Reply
            1. NotoriousMCG

              Dude, ME TOO. I just started a job where I’m dealing with thousands of paper files for the first time in my life. It’s baffling to me

              Reply
        2. Anonymous Educator

          I do the same thing, but mine’s my actual digital inbox. That’s my to-do list.

          When I was using Outlook at previous jobs, I would have an archive folder to put things that were done, and the things that were not done would just stay in my inbox. After finishing an item, I’d move it to the archive folder.

          Now that I use Gmail at work, it’s a fairly similar process. If I can do something right away, I just leave it as is. If I need to get back to it later, I star the message. Then periodically I go back to my starred messages and address what I can.

          Sometimes if an item doesn’t even come to me as an email, I’ll email myself or email the person who’s asking me to do that, and then I’ll star that email to earmark it to myself for later.

          Reply
          1. Hermione

            This is now how I operate ( ~3-4 years now) and it SERIOUSLY changed my workflow. My personal e-mail is set up like this too – actionable in the inbox, special folders for specific topics, “archive” folder for everything else.

            I also do brain-dumps – less so in this job than in my last, as there are less informal meetings and more e-mails e-mails e-mails – but I would just launch everything I could think of onto paper, then re-write them into categories on a colorful piece of paper. Then I could batch similar to-do’s on various projects, and I felt less stressed because I knew I wasn’t forgetting anything – that it was written down somewhere.

            Reply
    2. Professional Cat Lady

      When I get really busy I use a hybrid of that and a bullet journal – I keep a task list ranked by importance on one page, and a weekly calendar for appointments and strict deadlines on the other. (I know I should be doing this every week, not just when things get super busy.) It really helps me sort priorities and get things done, no matter how small the task feels, though.

      Reply
      1. De Minimis

        I send an e-mail to myself at the end of each day listing the things I want to get done the following workday. Sometimes that has helped. I try to use the outlook calendar too, but having the list there in an e-mail format seems to make things more concrete for whatever reason.

        Reply
      2. TL -

        I’m only a dedicated lister when I’m busy or stressed – most of the time I’m fine but high stress levels severely impact my memory and thankfully, I’ve gotten better at predicting when I’m going to need to write everything down!
        But the rest of the time, my life is fine without extreme listing; only complicated projects get lists and only far-off commitments get put on my calendar.

        Reply
    3. OtterB

      I’ve been using it somewhat off and on. I do find it’s helpful to have a single list of future tasks and subtasks and potential tasks and not require my brain or little pieces of paper to hold them. I’ve been using it in conjunction with Workflowy, which I like as list management software. Workflowy lets you tag items and then display only things meeting a search criteria, so I can tag things #today or #thisweek and then view just the list of those. What that doesn’t let me do, unfortunately, is display a prioritized list of today’s tasks, which would be really helpful.

      Reply
    4. Victoria, Please

      The best part for me is the Next Actions concept. If I’m procrastinating something, I can be assured it’s because I haven’t thought about *what I actually need to do* next.

      I don’t worry too much about the flowchart, although it’s a brilliant idea.

      Reply
  15. Anon for This

    My boss and I are having a terrible time communicating right now.

    Our organization is going through a major shake up right now and we’re all feeling unsteady. He’s feeling in particular very insecure. He’s accused (in sort of a non-angry matter-of-fact “this is what I see happening” way) me of making power plays by handling things myself that he’s told me he doesn’t want to deal with and I should handle myself. He wants to be the one seen as speaking for me and wants me to all of a sudden be very careful about what I share with others. We’re butting heads really badly right now, and I don’t know what to do besides yes him to death, which tbh I’m bad at and he responds poorly to anyway because he finds it insincere.

    Anyway. Mostly venting.

    Reply
    1. IrishEm

      So, he’s told you to handle things yourself that he doesn’t want to deal with – and now he’s calling your actual handling of the things he asked you to handle a power play? Did I read that right? Is he for real? You’re doing your job – that he told you to do – and suddenly it’s a power play? Sounds like he’s in fear for his job to me.

      Reply
      1. Anon for This

        Yes you read that right. I’m not sure he remembers telling me that, though he hasn’t said as much. He has some memory issues…or changing his mind issues….and doesn’t like me to put things in writing so I can point them out later.

        He’s a very agreeable boss most of the time, but yeah I think you’re right. He’s freaked out and I’m having a hard time navigating it.

        Reply
        1. AMPG

          This might be a case where being really honest would help defuse this situation – “I get that there’s a lot going on right now and we’re all feeling unsteady as a result, but I want you to know that I’m on your team and am genuinely trying to make your job easier when I make decisions like that. I’d like to talk about the best way to support you that doesn’t leave you feeling like I’m taking on things that are above my pay grade.”

          But you know better than anyone how something like that might go over.

          Reply
    2. esra

      I went through that with a (terrible) art director. We had two big projects ongoing and he said while he was tackling one, he wanted me to tackle the other completely by myself, don’t even cc him. I did just that.

      The project went well, but I guess in an upper level meeting, neither he nor his boss could answer nitty gritty specifics and it came out that I handled everything. So he came to my desk and asked for every key email, and then, one by one, asked if I cc’ed him on it.

      Reply
    3. Not So NewReader

      The only thing I can get to help some what is to take the position, “I want to do whatever is helpful.”

      How I step through this is:
      I repeat back the larger instructions or details such as dates that will bite me later. “So you are saying you want me to handle X (the due date is Y), correct?’
      Of course Boss says yes, because I am repeating what Boss said two seconds ago.

      Next day/week/month, predictably it bit me. So I would say, “I was concerned this would happen. That is why when you told me I repeated it back to you because I wanted to make sure I get it right. And you indicated yes, I had it correct.”

      Boss: blah, blah, blah.
      Me: “Look, I don’t care which way this one goes, I just want to do work that is meaningful to you and the company. I have no personal agenda of choosing A over B or anything like that. I need my job. I like my work. I want to do a good job and I am dependent on you to tell me how I can best help here.”

      This is sort of a nice way of saying “cut the crap, we will get through this just like everything else.”

      Reply
  16. Red Reader

    Can you tell me about a time when you were involved in developing a new team from the ground up? Bonus points if you yourself were developing it as a manager?

    A multi-division group in my org is starting to flesh out the process of building a new team to consolidate some cross-division tasks, and I have had promising discussions with the process manager regarding my own background, skillsets, and interest in a leadership role on that team. I’d like to do some mental preparation over the next couple months for a best-case scenario (and luckily, staying in my current role is a second-best-case scenario, so win-win for me), but I’ve never been involved in developing a new team from complete scratch before.

    Reply
    1. kbeers0su

      Yes, and it was an interesting process. The key things up front are to know who all the players are (who wants input), who carries the most weight in those decisions, what the priorities are for the new team versus things that they could do, and the skill sets you need on the team. It’s also good to know if you will have the opportunity to pull other internal folks, or if you’ll be hiring only from the outside. And you should also find out how much decision making power you would have as the team lead, as opposed to what you’ll be told you have to do.

      Reply
    2. Emmie

      I’ve done it from two parts:
      1. As an employee: recruit people who have a track record for adapting well to change and being flexible. The work will evolve, jobs change, and standards do too. It helps having a manager who keeps you informed.
      2. As a manager: I consolidated people across the company to align with their function. As we evolved, I had to manage duties off of their to-do list…. responsibilities that people were holding on to that belonged elsewhere. There were even a few long-tenured employees that I needed to have multiple rounds of this process. I needed buy-in from others to do that (you can start w/ that now.) I trained them on how to do this, got involved when necessary, and rewarded them with something they liked doing – growth, training, new responsibilities, more manageable workloads. I like to manage people to be promoted or towards their professional goals whenever possible. There are parts that were more stressful such as working under changing bounds, educating myself, and figuring out how to manage people in changing bounds (and those who are reluctant to change their duties.)
      There are plenty of other things too, but those were the biggest. Good luck! It’s going to be rewarding and fun at times too!

      Reply
    3. Not So NewReader

      Since the team is new to all of you that kind of levels the playing field, in that no one knows everything.
      While I retained the authority to make the final decisions, I encouraged people to look at what we were doing and find ways to streamline, increase accuracy and just generally not let the workload run US into the ground.

      I had some sense of what ideas were good and what ideas would not work out. I had to teach the constraints we had to use when adjusting our work flows and our methods. For example, if they offered idea ABC, which I knew would not work out, I would say something like, “Okay take ABC and figure out a way to include D in that process. The reason here is when we are done, we need to have ABCD. So keep thinking on this. I would like to see this made more manageable and I am glad you are thinking along the same lines.”

      It took less than a year. They started coming up with ideas that were reeeally sharp because they knew what we were looking for in a working ideas that we would actually use. They took one process that originally needed 8 people and reduced it to a 2 person job. it was absolutely brilliant they way they rearranged that.

      It was more collaboration that you’d see in many places. For my part, I made sure they had what they needed to do the job. I developed some ideas myself, since they were the ones doing the actual work I asked them to try my idea and let me know if it was better/easier/whatever. In time they realized that I did not care if they made little tweaks to my ideas and they realized that anyone could contribute an idea at any point. It was really important for me to make sure I did not come across as shutting down ideas and that is when I latched on to the concept of teaching the constraints involved in our work.
      They basically saved my butt. Our workload was staggering and they just kept pushing though it all. They were amazing.

      Reply
    1. Professional Cat Lady

      Good luck! I’ve got a skills assessment today (third time trying it, technology’s been difficult on my end) and a phone interview on monday, so I’m with you.

      Reply
  17. Fortitude Jones

    This one is part question/part vent.

    Where in the world do people go to find entry-ish level project management or business analyst position? Ultimately, I want to become a risk manager, preferably at a financial institution, but every risk manager job posting I come across wants 5-10 years of experience in either risk analysis, project management, or business analysis. I have zero years experience in any of those roles, so I figure I need to get one to start building towards that goal.

    So far, I’ve been job searching since the end of March, and it’s starting to look bleak. I passed on interviewing with one company because the role wasn’t quite what I was looking for and the company culture wouldn’t have been the right fit, but now I’m kicking myself – I’ve gotten zero bites since. And the one recruitment call I’ve gotten was for a temp-to-hire role in the industry I’m currently trying to leave. Why in the hell would I leave a full-time permanent position for a temp-to-hire role? What are these recruiters smoking?

    My plan to be out of my job by the end of the summer is looking bleak *sigh*. I don’t know how much longer I can take this mess. I really hate my job.

    Reply
    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      I’m not in any of those roles, but from what I’ve seen in various organizations where I’ve worked and from knowing people who do that kind of work, people seldom start out in those areas. Your best bet is probably to get your foot in the door with a financial institution in a more generalized role and then seek out opportunities to learn about or work on projects that involve risk analysis. I feel like a lot of those positions are filled with internal hires moving up within the organization because you have to know the business and how it operates to be able to determine risk.

      Reply
      1. Fortitude Jones

        Yeah, I’ve been applying to generalized roles within financial institutions, but I don’t seem to be getting much traction there either, and I think it may be because I have more work experience than what they’re looking for (I’ve been working professionally since 2010). But I agree – I think a lot of financial institutions prefer to hire internally first. I know my current company does just because it’s easier and requires less training.

        Reply
    2. LSP

      I sympathize with the trouble with entry-level jobs that require years of experience.

      I am a project manager, and my company has brought in assistant PMs straight out of school before, provided they have internship experience, and I think at least one of them has a Masters degree.

      If you’re changing industries as well as changing roles, you will likelt need to take a step down the ladder to make that switch, so look for assistant PM roles, and really make the case in you resume and cover letter for the transferable skills you have.

      Reply
      1. Dawn

        Senior BA here- this is the best way to get started. I got started as a Research Analyst, then promoted to Senior (both at company 1), then landed a BA role (at company 2 based on how I re-wrote my resume), and now I am about to start as a Senior BA (at company 3).

        Also look into consulting if you can swing the hours/ work lifestyle- a TON of consulting firms like to hire BA’s straight outta college so they can mold them to their liking and don’t really care about what degree they have- soft skills are way more important than hard skills when you’re getting started as a BA.

        Reply
        1. Fortitude Jones

          Also look into consulting if you can swing the hours/ work lifestyle- a TON of consulting firms like to hire BA’s straight outta college so they can mold them to their liking and don’t really care about what degree they have

          I’ve been out of college since 2009, so I don’t know if this is still applicable or not.

          Reply
          1. Dawn

            Totally applicable. It’s mainly that they want people they can train/mold- age isn’t really a huge factor, but attitude totally is!

            Reply
            1. Fortitude Jones

              Cool, I’ll look into consulting then. I don’t mind having to grind for a few years to get the experience I need under my belt, and I learn quickly, so (I hope) it wouldn’t be a problem.

              Reply
    3. NW Mossy

      I work for a medium-sized financial services firm, and we typically hire internally for our beginning PM/BA roles. Our thinking is that picking up people who have strong knowledge of the business line they’ll be supporting can more easily develop the generalized project/analysis experience when they aren’t also trying to learn what the heck it is we do here. For more senior people, it’s the other way around – the generalized experience is more important than the deep knowledge of our business line, so we do more external hiring. I don’t know if we’re representative of the industry at large, but something to consider.

      Reply
    4. NPO Queen

      I got started in project management as an assistant actually. I was the dept. assistant for a team at a university, and as the lowest person on the totem pole, I had to do a lot of planning and organizing. I was able to parlay that experience into something with a bit more of a project management angle, but it was still dealing with administrative work.

      Look at the experience you have now and figure out how you can sell it for what you want. I was in fundraising, none of that sounds like project management, and yet I was able to relate my experience to that line of work. See what jobs are available in the institutions where you’d like to work, and don’t worry if they don’t have the exact title you want. If you don’t want to spend time getting extra training or certificates, its easier to look at the job you want and see what’s a step or two below it. Or see what job has a lot of the skills you want to learn but might not have the exact title.

      Reply
      1. Fortitude Jones

        I have no problem getting extra training/certs – in the three years I’ve been with my current company, I’ve gotten eight designations, and I’m working on securing my ninth. I’ve also been trying to play up transferable skills in my cover letters (especially since I’m currently working in a financial institution, just in an insurance capacity, and I worked at a law firm for nearly three years whose clients were all banks/credit unions), but I don’t think I’m doing a bang up job there. My cover letters are probably the weakest thing I have going for me right now and no matter how many times I read the stuff on this site, I just don’t seem to be able to make it work for me. And I’m a writer! LOL.

        Reply
    5. Pwyll

      At my massive financial services company, our categories of PMO hires are as follows: 1) subject matter experts not in PM (that’s how I got in) ; 2) people with external PMO experience in any industry; 3) internal hires who worked in the business and have good organizational skills.

      If you’re at the earliest stages of your career and want to join one of the larger firms, your better bet is to apply for entry level jobs in the business (as in, in funds administration or NAV calculation or whatever), to really soak things up for promotion to the senior associate level, and then apply internally for transfer to risk or PMO. After a year in the business, you should be able to work with your boss to do ancillary projects with the PMO, as we are always working with folks in the business to implement our new risk initiatives. The great majority of our early career projects folks came from directly this experience.

      Of course, the other way is just straight up networking. Some folks on my team found the jobs exactly that way as well. Meet with everyone and anyone in the industry for coffee and get your name out there. I find this the most difficult, but it works.

      Reply
    6. LQ

      I did project management and I’m now in a management analyst job (though nonprofit and government, not financial). One I started as an office manager. One I started as someone helping people in an actual entry level job, a lot of people here end up BAs because they come in through a call center. Others I’ve talked to have gone through similar paths. Sort of completely unrelated job and ends up in a BA role or Project role.

      Reply
    7. N.J.

      As someone who fell into project management from a totally different field I can offer some general insights from my own experience. My first job post grad school was as a project coordinator within a specific filed I studied for. A lot of it was administrative and scut work, but I did get some experience related to managing or assisting in the management of project aspects. A lot of positions you see posted in a project environment can be a coordinator or assistant position, which is low on the ladder but can provide base experience. I then somehow parlayed that into a full on project manager position at an educational institution in my area. Two things helped me: the project coordinator experience, my specific graduate degree and the fact that the group was building their project management function from the ground up, so they were willing to pick up a newbie. A lot of full fledged project managers are experts in their actual field and fall into the PM end of things. Do you have a work background in anything particular industry or topical area wise that would get your foot in the door somewhere? For risk manangembt in finance do you have an accounting or banking background that you could use? Or a business focused degree such as an MBA?

      What has also helped me and a few other acquaintances is that I have specifically sought out PM training. I did this during my first PM position and it was useful from a functional and an educational perspective. I recommend finding a PMI certified educational provider as a shop without some sort of ties to PMI don’t be particularly useful.

      Speaking of the PMI (Ptoject Managrmgnt Institute), I suggest becoming more familiar with them, as they are the main professional organization in the US to provide education and professional certification. The full PMP credential is time consuming and expensive, but the CAPM certification might be something you can pursue as a first step currently. One of the ways to qualify to sit for the cert test is “23 hours of project management education completed by the time you sit for the exam” (excerpt straight from their website). This could get your foot into the door with a lower level project position.

      Sorry for the brain dump! I’m not much help on the risk management end but the above held true for my experiences getting into project heft management itself.

      Reply
      1. Fortitude Jones

        Do you have a work background in anything particular industry or topical area wise that would get your foot in the door somewhere? For risk manangembt in finance do you have an accounting or banking background that you could use?

        I have a banking/mortgage lending background (four years), so that’s why I’m interested in risk management in a financial institution. I was originally planning to stay at my current company for a few more years to let them pay for my masters in risk management, but my financial situation is precarious, I’m not making enough money here (and probably won’t for awhile), so now I need to move on. But things aren’t looking good if I have to step backwards as well to move forward, though I am willing to do so if I have to. It’s just going to be extremely difficult on my own.

        Reply
    8. Jessesgirl72

      I think this is one of those universal questions. The answer seems to be, it’s really hard. Ideally, you start getting that kind of experience in a role you already hold, before you need to look for a job doing it in another company.

      It’s really the age old question about companies wanting experience, and how do you get experience if no one will hire you to do it.

      Reply
      1. Fortitude Jones

        Ideally, you start getting that kind of experience in a role you already hold, before you need to look for a job doing it in another company.

        I keep missing out on all of the business analyst positions they post here at my company. It’s almost like a comedy of errors at this point, lol. Every time I reach out to the HR reps to ask where they are in the process, they’ve already offered the job to someone else. I’m like, “But I just saw this!” LOL. I would think the universe was trying to tell me something, but I’m not ready yet to accept defeat.

        Reply
          1. Fortitude Jones

            The funny thing is I do, but my company posts sooo many listings each day all over the country (and in other countries) that I guess my eyes keep skipping right over the stuff in my home office *headdesk*. Clearly, I need to do a better job of sorting. And I think they’re hiring people who already work in these particular departments like someone mentioned above.

            Reply
    9. MsMaryMary

      Try looking at positions at an insurance carrier, insurance agency, or brokerage. You want to be on the property and casualty side, not life and health. If you eventually want to be a risk manager, trying to focus on an area like management liability might be a good entry point.

      Good luck!

      Reply
      1. Fortitude Jones

        I’m currently working for a P&C insurer, so I’ve been looking for jobs in this field on the business analyst/project management side. However, the companies in my area don’t pay much of anything. Sadly, the one I work for seems to be the best paying one, which is mindboggling to me given how crappy our compensation structure is. Surely the rest of the industry can’t be doing worse than us…

        That said, what is management liability? Is that like professional liability? Because my company has a division specifically devoted to that, though they don’t do much hiring (the people who have those jobs tend to stay put).

        Reply
        1. MsMaryMary

          I’m on the life and health side, so I only know enough about P&C to be dangerous. But I believe management liability is broader than professional liabiliy. It includes things like cyber, crime, and fiduciary liability as well.

          Reply
          1. Fortitude Jones

            Got it – my company does all of those things, just as separate divisions. And some of our property divisions handle cyber products as well now.

            Reply
  18. LSP

    A little background: My husband has more than 10 years experience as a teapot developer. He has been at his current job for six (nearly 7) years, and recently was referred to a new company by a former co-worker.

    I have never seen such a close match between a job description and a set of skills, plus it’s a full-remote position, which would relieve him of a nightmare of a commute he’s been doing for 6 years.

    He interviewed with a couple of other teapot specialists, then again with the manager. The manager made him a verbal offer on the spot, and my husband asked for time to think about it. He was sent a formal offer letter, and given three days to sign and send back. He took one day to think about it and replied with a request for a bump in the salary, to bring it more in line with the average for the area. (He has been seriously underpaid at his current company.)

    Yesterday was the deadline to accept the job, and even after following up again, he has not heard back from this company that had seemed so eager to hire him. He’s worried he messed up, but I told him if they write him off for wanting to do something as normal as negotiate salary, it’s a red flag anyway, and he should be glad to have avoided them.

    Thoughts? Advice?

    Reply
    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      They may be frantically arguing over it, or trying to see if they could get a little more, or they may be playing passive-aggressive games. But I’d prepare to move on, mentally. I’d just make sure he’s tried to contact more than one person, since it’s possible the hiring manager could be on travel or ill or something.

      Of course, he should have determined in his mind if the salary was a dealbreaker or not before he replied. You don’t mention whether he would have accepted the original offer, which you need to settle on in your head before you ask.

      Reply
      1. I am not Kimmy Gibler

        I agree with this. I think it’s more likely they’re trying to figure out if they can pay him what he’s asked or negotiating amongst themselves what their counteroffer should be. If they need sign off from a few people this could take a little time. The reason they haven’t responded,… I gather is because they don’t know what the answer will be and even though it would kind to respond with we’re looking into this, they may not want to even divulge that.

        But, if he followed up yesterday or today, I would give them the weekend, send one more note and then call it a day.

        Reply
        1. AndersonDarling

          I agree. If they weren’t going to offer any more, then they probably would have responded right away.

          Reply
          1. Jessesgirl72

            Yep. In my husband’s company, HR sets the offer amount, and only HR can give the counteroffer, and it would take more than 3 days to send the justification to HR and get an answer back from them.

            Ideally, the hiring manager would let the candidate know this was the hold up, but the ideal rarely shows up in real life.

            Reply
    2. Cass

      I’m with you. Salary negotiations are so normal, so if a company balks at his attempt to negotiate and pulls the offer I’d consider it a bullet dodged. Maybe wait a few more days and then he can send one more follow up email? It could be that they need approval for the adjusted salary.

      Reply
  19. SanguineAspect

    My final interview with potential-new-job-company went really, really well. I received positive feedback across the board and was told I should expect to hear from them either today or Monday about an offer. I’m trying not to obsessively refresh my inbox every 5 minutes today. And because I can’t shout it from the rooftops in my office, I’m shouting it to the AAM community. :D

    Reply
  20. Katie ElderBerry

    Any advice on how to keep employees engaged when your company is clearly in serious financial trouble? I have employees coming in late, taking long lunches, disappearing for 45 minutes at a time, and just plain not doing their work. I don’t want to fire anyone because I don’t think I will be allowed to replace them. I’m in accounting so we still have a lot of hard work ahead.

    Reply
    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      Are they interviewing for other positions because they’re afraid the company will go under?

      Reply
      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        That was my first thought too. Or lots of medical appointments if they think they’re at risk of losing their insurance. I would address the “not doing their work” part, but try to get a handle on why the rest of it is happening.

        Reply
        1. NPO Queen

          You can also have a frank conversation with your team, in one-on-one meetings. I had one job where my boss told me straight up about our financial problems, and told me what she was doing to shelter us from the fallout. Having seen other workers get laid off, it was nice to know that she was doing her best to help us.

          You can make it clear that you need your team to follow instructions and ask if they need flexibility in their schedules, but it’s not unreasonable to make sure they still follow the rules of the job while you’re paying them to do said job.

          Reply
    2. k

      It really sounds like people are job hunting. I know if my company seemed to be falling apart I would do the same thing. At the end of the day, people have to look out for themselves so I don’t think there’s a way you’ll get them to all be 100% committed if they’re afraid for their livelihoods. I would be honest with them. Tell them you know things look bad, but for now there is no reason to fear for their jobs (if that’s true), and you need them to still be getting their work done. If you do think they should fear for their jobs, tell them you understand they might be looking elsewhere, but to please schedule their time off the correct way, because you still need to know where they are. If things are a bit more out in the open, it could mitigate some of their fears and stress that are impeding there work.

      Reply
    3. Jessesgirl72

      I kind of take issue with your reasoning for not firing anyone.

      If they aren’t doing their work anyway, why good does it do to have them? And not paying them for not working may make it possible to pay the ones who are working a little longer.

      A firing (well, a warning first, but with the intention of following through!) of the most egregious offender will likely bring at least some of the others back in line. Allowing it to continue unchecked just makes it spread.

      Reply
    4. LaterKate

      That’s a hard one. If they’re honestly not doing their work, I’d say there’s no loss in firing them (after a really clear warning). If they’re taking long lunches to interview at other places, I’d be inclined to allow that, although they really should be clearing that with you to the extent that that is expected in your workplace.

      Reply
    5. JustaTech

      Having been in this situation repeatedly (at the same job) be honest about the financial situation, tell them the limits of what you know (so they don’t think you’re hold back when you honestly just don’t know), and stay engaged yourself.
      When this happened to me we also had nothing to do so it was hard to argue against long lunches, but if you have work that has to get done, then it has to get done and they need to remember that. If you know for certain that the end is near you could mention the quality of your reference depends on the quality of their work even now, but if you’re in the “no one knows” stage that’s just going to drive them away faster.

      It sucks a lot, and it’s extra hard as the boss. It did help me when all our managers up to the VP acknowledged how hard it was, and our VP regularly gave us Friday afternoons off that summer.

      Reply
    6. Dzhymm, BfD

      Trust me, even if you haven’t said anything to the worker bees they can almost certainly tell if the company is in dire straits. If they’re coming in late and slacking off then either they’re job-hunting or at the very least they’re phoning it in because they see little future with the company.

      I suggest being frank and leveling with your staff about the state of the company. If the signs are there and you say nothing, the employees are bound to assume the worst. At my last job I knew we were in trouble when one year the annual holiday party was dinner at a restaurant, and the following year it was pizza in the break room. Sure enough, a month later they very nearly missed payroll.

      Reply
    7. Taylor Swift

      If the company is seriously in financial trouble, then let them do what they need to do find new jobs.

      Reply
  21. Mimi

    My manager has handed in her notice and is leaving just before our year end reviews. She is our 4th manager since I set my start of year goals this year and has only been with our team for 2 months.

    I work for one of those not government but does government work places that has a strict HR will only verify data and nobody gives proper references type place.

    I am looking for a new role and was hoping that if I had a positive written review to go with my past references would offset the lack of a better proper reference. But now we have found out the someday manager to replace manager #4 will do our yearly reviews in may. This person hasnt even been interviewed yet!

    How do I get a good review from someone who has no idea of my accomplishments in the last year? Current manager has said she wont have time for it and doesnt really care since she leaves before the official review dates. Her manager has gone on maternity leave and wont be back in time. Is there a way to write my own review and just ask her to sign off on it? Or how do I convince the new manager I deserve top ranks when they havent seen my work yet??

    Reply
    1. Robin B

      You can thoroughly document your accomplishments, keep logs of deadlines met, goals met. etc., and present it to the person who will do the review. If you get any written compliments/thank yous from clients or others, include them too.

      Reply
    2. Ann Furthermore

      Start making a list of your accomplishments for your new boss to review. If you have any emails from people thanking you for your work on something, or telling you that you did a great job, that they enjoy working with you, etc, put those into a separate folder in your email so you can show them if asked. And, when the new boss starts, give him or her a list of people you’ve worked with over the year who can be solicited for feedback on your performance.

      Reply
    3. TJ

      Oof, this sucks. Could you prepare some kind of summary of your accomplishments in the past year to show to the new manager? It’s hard to imagine how she could write the performance review at all without any idea of what you’ve done or how you’ve done it.

      Reply
    4. Zara

      A few years ago my supervisor died suddenly in an accident. Performance reviews were about 3 months later. His supervisor did them and the person who had been “acting” sat in. They had everyone prepare a list of what they had done, and we talked over that list.

      That year I didn’t get much feedback on my performance, but I was able to show that I did enough good stuff to get a raise.

      Honestly, I think it’s best to come to a performance review with your own list anyway, so that nothing gets forgotten or overlooked. Especially if you set goals at the beginning of the year, you can very easily write how you met/exceeded those goals (or if not, what progress you made).

      Reply
    5. CAA

      All your previous managers who have left are no longer bound by the “not allowed to give references” rule. This is actually much better for you than just relying on the document she would have written. Ask her before she leaves if she’ll be a reference for you in the future. Don’t give a specific time frame, stick to “in the future”. She doesn’t need to know that you’re looking now, just in case she feels obligated to inform her manager.

      Reply
    6. Cromely

      Along the same lines, I’d say if you know the review form, go ahead and actually write the review yourself so the new manager can copy and paste it and edit it if they feel it’s appropriate. It saves them time and energy when they need it most.

      Reply
  22. Anon Mouse

    I have a few people telling me that when I leave my job, I need to get a letter of recommendation from my boss/supervisor as well as a reference. I thought those kinds of letter were mainly for college related things and internships, not actual full time employment. Are recommendation letters still a thing that need to happen in addition to references?

    Reply
    1. MegaMoose, Esq

      I have never heard of this outside of college and internship type things. And even then, I wouldn’t get a letter just to HAVE it, I’d ask for one when I needed it.

      Reply
    2. TotesMaGoats

      I’ve never seen one of those and don’t really think most people do that. Securing a reference is vital but not a letter.

      Reply
    3. SMT

      I did get one when I was laid off from my teaching job several years ago. I basically just used it as part of an application to be a substitute teacher (they required two letters of recommendation from current/recent employers in the last year), and nothing else.

      Reply
    4. Pwyll

      The main time I’ve found this useful is if your current boss is going away: retiring, moving out of country, the company is closing/merging, etc. It’s really only helpful if they will be unreachable, and even then it’s a poor substitute for finding another reference.

      I agree with SMT, though, that in a layoff of firing situation, it’s helpful to have some confirmation as to what the company would say if asked how you left. But that’s not really a recommendation so much as knowledge for you to use to tailor your own response to “why did you leave”.

      Reply
      1. Natalie

        Even if the boss is retiring or moving, I wouldn’t get a reference letter. Just ask them for a personal email address and keep using them as a reference as you were before. Unless they’re literally dying, then maybe get a letter?

        Reply
    5. Anonymous Educator

      Hiring managers generally want to talk to references (so they can ask specific questions and follow-up questions) and not just receive a pre-written generic letter, so, no, they aren’t still a thing.

      Reply
    6. CrazyEngineerGirl

      I did have one employee ask me, his direct supervisor, for a letter of reference when he left. It made sense for him because he was here for a short time (less than a year) on a visa. He came to us from South Africa, originally from the UK, and was heading to Germany next. I was happy to write something up for him as I could easily see there being issues using me as a reference in other countries, even with all of my contact info. For a standard employee, it might actually annoy me a bit since it would take my time to do this thing that I don’t feel would be particularly useful or necessary. I would probably decline and offer my contact info if I was willing to be a reference in the future.

      Reply
  23. Lalaith

    How do you handle a name change while job searching? I got married a while ago, but only recently started the legal process of changing my last name. I haven’t changed it at work (except for legal things like payroll and taxes) and probably won’t. I haven’t changed my personal email address, which includes my former last name (*ahem* I might be a bit lazy…). But I do go by my new name socially and I do want to use it once I get a new job. Should I put the new name on my resume? And just let anyone doing reference checks know that everyone knows me by my old name? Should I change it on LinkedIn? Or should I leave everything as-is, and let them know about the change when I get hired and need a company email address and such?

    Reply
    1. Catbird

      If you know you want to go by the new name at the new job, I’d recommend putting that name on your resume, changing your linked in profile, and changing your email address right away, even if you have it set up to forward to your current/main email address. If you do get going on the hiring process, just mention it to the person who will be checking references. People do it all the time and it’s not a big deal, but you should set up all your accounts and such to match the name you intend to go by.

      I changed my name a few years ago and moved my maiden name to my middle name, so I include that on my resume and it’s probably a good clue for continuity, but it has never come up.

      Reply
      1. Confused Teapot Maker

        +1 to this. Slightly different circumstances – I use my maiden name professionally but my married name personally and, although it causes a bit of extra admin, it’s not a huge deal, provided I’m upfront with people like HR etc. that that’s why the split exists.

        Reply
      2. Judy (since 2010)

        As far as references, my reference list has a description of how they know me, so that would be a good place for it.

        Wakeen Smith, Director of Teapot Analysis, TeapotsRUs
        direct manager 2008-2012 while he was manager of handle design at Teapot City
        phone, email or however they want to be contacted

        Reply
      3. Cap Hiller

        I don’t think it’s necessary to change your email address. As long as it’s professional, for a woman I think it’s understood why a last name might be different. And they’re just going to type it into their email box and maybe not notice again. I did the same thing as poster above wrt maiden name, so on my resume my name is First Maiden Last; my personal email is first.maiden@domain; and my work email is first.last@workdomain

        Reply
    2. Anonymous Educator

      I think you can do whatever you want, as long as you pick an approach and stick with it. I didn’t legally change my name, but I, at one point, wanted to take my spouse’s surname. For a particular job search, I used my birth surname, and then when I was hired, I asked HR and my hiring manager if I could fill out paperwork with my birth surname and use my spouse’s surname in the workplace (including my email address), and it worked out fine.

      Reply
      1. Chaordic One

        I agree. Pick one name and stick with it. No one likes to work with an airhead who signs stuff as Mary Smith-Jones one day, Mary Jones the next day, and then Mary Smith the day after that.

        Reply
    3. Ashley

      Just make sure your references know you by your new name. If you change your resume you may want your maiden name in parentheses. The entire process of changing your name sucks. Good luck!

      Reply
    4. N.J.

      When I got married right before a job search and/or was concerned if people used my new name when calling references (assuming they wouldn’t know who I was with the new last name) I ended up putting my name on my resume as something like “Jane (Martin) Smith” with the parenthetical being my maiden name or previous last name (I’ve been married twice, so many different names! This stemmed to work alright).

      Reply
    5. CatCat (was LawCat)

      I’d put the new name on your materials if that’s how you want to be known. I think LinkedIn has a way to show maiden name/former last name. (My old last name appears in parentheses.)

      I changed last names during a hiring process (I got married between the time that I applied and the time I got interviews). No big deal. I just let them know I had a new last name.

      Reply
    6. Student

      Step one: Figure out what you want to be called. Check!

      Step two: Use the name you picked in Step 1.

      Step 3: If anyone cares about your “legal name” (Hint: almost nobody actually cares about his, as it is distinct from the name you want to be called), then you tell them your legal name, followed by what you want to be called.

      Resumes, job interviews, online applications – use the name you want to be called.
      Tax paperwork after you’ve been hired – use your legal name.
      Job interview involves a background check – give the name you want to be called, and give your legal name, on the background check paperwork and any related interviews. Explain which is which.

      Reply
    7. NotoriousMCG

      I’m lazy like you, but in the opposite direction! Got married almost 2 years ago and socially/professionally started going by M— C— G— but still haven’t gone through the legal rigamarole of changing it. Generally it doesn’t even come up until the background check/offer phase when I lightly say, ‘Oh also my name is legally still M— C— so all legal documents are going to say that, but I go by MCG.’ So far hasn’t been an issue

      Reply
  24. Althea

    I used to work in another related field at my previous job, say teapot design instead of spout budgeting. My current org hired me for spout budgeting, and I joined a good team. At my last performance review, I said I was happy to stay but wanted to branch out a bit, having been used to doing more broad work. He mentioned some potential opportunities.

    However, I’ve still been wanting to go back to teapot design, or at least teapot budgeting, because I really like it better as a subject. Then my coworker that I work with the most is now leaving for a new job.

    My organization has a teapot design department that sometimes has teapot budgeting openings. They would definitely strongly consider me for the work. But the positions and hiring manager are usually in another city, to which I will not consider moving.

    I’d like to somehow show my interest in shifting departments, but at this point I don’t necessarily want to let my spout boss know about it… unless there really is a chance for me to move to the other department without me moving cities. I’m not really sure how to proceed.

    Reply
    1. N.J.

      I have no advice but have been considering a similar move where I work, though probably out a year or more on the horizon. I’ll be watching for responses to your post eagerly! No advice, just commiseration!

      Reply
  25. Whichsister

    I heard back from one of the countless jobs I have applied to. And it’s a digital interview. (also know as the dating site video.) I hate these. I have never made it to the next round after a video interview.
    This job is a great fit for me and combines my experiences and education (not to mention will get me out of this dysfunctional pit I work in now. ) It was the ONE I wanted to hear back from after the last round of applications

    Does anyone have any tips or resources on how to do well on the digital interview? The last time I set my desk at home up in front of a nice but undistracting piece of art. I set up lighting. Did my make up. Wore a suit jacket. And still nada.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous Educator

      When you say “video interview,” you mean it’s live, right? It’s something like Skype or Google Hangouts? It’s not a pre-recorded video, right?

      If so, I’ve done a few of those. For one job I was interviewing for two hours straight with various people. I just sat there and different people would come and go. It was tough. The problem with video interviews like that is you can’t really behave naturally—you constantly have to be looking at the camera. In an in-person interview, you look at the person, sometimes you two look at something else together, sometimes you can stand up if they stand up. In a video interview, you just sit there.

      I would say just try to act as naturally as you can in this awkward situation and also look at the camera and not the monitor, if possible.

      Reply
        1. Anonymous Educator

          Oh, no… that is awful. Yeah, there’s not much to do except just watch it, see how awkward you were, and then try to re-record (assuming you have the option to re-record).

          Reply
    2. fposte

      The “dating site video” makes me think this is static, but if you’re just talking a Skype interview, those are pretty common; if you search this site, Alison has a post from a few years ago with some good tips.

      Keep in mind that most people don’t make it to the next round in hiring no matter how the interview is done, so that it might be the law of probability rather than the format that has been in play for you before.

      Reply
        1. Camellia

          A friend had to make a recorded Q&A video for the company’s first round “interview” and she had her husband sit across from her, behind her laptop, so she was looking at him and addressing the answers to him. I don’t know if that helped or not but she did eventually get the job.

          Reply
    3. JustaTech

      I’ve heard that putting a picture of a face right next to your camera will help you keep your eyes up there (instead of looking at yourself on the screen), even just a post-it of a smiley.
      Maybe do some practice runs so you can see if you are doing something unconscious that doesn’t look or sound good?
      Good luck!

      Reply
  26. Confused Teapot Maker

    I have a new job (yay!) but it will be my first time in a role which is management. I’ve had responsibilities for managing people before but they were more coincidental parts of my work rather than strictly my job. I’m excited but nervous – especially since I feel a lot of lessons on management in my recent past have basically been ‘how not to manage 101’. Does anybody have any advice for managing newbies?

    Reply
    1. Robin B

      Years ago I was “suddenly” a manager and took a college course on “Principles of Supervision.” The class and the textbook were really helpful– Google textbooks on supervising and managing.

      Reply
    2. Collie

      I’m currently taking a GALE Course through my public library’s subscription on the fundamentals of supervision and management. I’m not yet in a supervision position, but I’m hoping this will get me a leg up. It’s not the most comprehensive thing in the world, but it’s been interesting and relatively helpful thus far.

      Reply
      1. Confused Teapot Maker

        Thanks Collie and Robin – hope you both see this – thought I would do one reply because it’s similar advice so hope that’s ok. I have done some management MOOCs in the past so that makes me feel better. I do find they have covered the basics well but are too general for my industry so might see if there’s something more specific out there. Thanks!

        Reply
    3. JustaTech

      I read part of “Managing Humans” (for managers in the tech sector) and thought it was one of the best management books I’ve read. Not that I’m a manager, but my dad was a management consultant and had tons of books around the house that were generally awful.
      Good luck!

      Reply
  27. At Wit's End

    (Quick recap: I have been dealing with a terrible job that uses me as the office scapegoat, has piled the work of three people on me, holds me accountable for things that are not my responsibility, and generally makes my life miserable to the point of panic attacks and mental breakdowns. My last post is linked in my name if you want to read it, where my bosses decided not to hire replacements for our missing staff and asked me to take on even more work but I’d already decided I was giving my notice.)

    For those who wondered, I did indeed give my two weeks notice last week! I was able to corner Supervisor and Head Boss together and gave them my resignation letters. This came as a complete shock to them. They asked why and was I certain in my decision and was there anything bothering me that they could fix to get me to stay. I stayed calm and assured them I was certain of my choice.

    Of course the question of if this was because of the tasks they were trying to give me and I told them it wasn’t, that I’d been giving this thought for a while. They didn’t seem convinced, even said that if I was that bothered by the work, they wouldn’t make me do it if it would get me to stay. Funny since I pushed back against the work when they first asked me about it and they waved off my concerns and told me to just do it. The other funny thing was that they said they were disappointed that I wasn’t staying longer. But you know those two or three empty spots on our team that they weren’t planning to fill? All people hired around the same time as me who left months ago. I am the last person standing from that crowd of new recruits so go me and my endurance. Obviously didn’t point that out but the thought tumbled around my head much to my amusement.

    It felt so good to give over my resignation letter that I went out to my car afterwards to have some privacy to cry with relief and happiness. Just nothing that two weeks from now, none of this will be my problem anymore was such a weight off my shoulders. I’ll probably do more happy crying the day I walk out for good but this felt amazing.

    Now halfway through my notice period and things are business as usual. I’m trying to get done as much as possible for them to leave them on good grounds when I leave. I think they’re trying to get things moving with HR to hire people in a hurry but I know it won’t happen for weeks after I leave. Everyone aside from my bosses and supervisors seem very happy for me that I’m moving on (bosses and supervisors keep grumbling and half-jokingly ask if I’m sure I want to leave). Just a few more days and I can bow out for good! Thank you all again for all the support and cheer, it means so much to me! Love you all in the AaM community!

    Reply
    1. Nic

      Congrats! That feels so good. I bet you’re on cloud nine!

      If you have the opportunity to give an exit interview to HR, I suggest being as candid as you feel comfortable.

      I recently got out of a situation like that, and found out through the grapevine a few months later that the manager who had made my life hell was fired, and that several of the reasons given lined up with things I had brought up. I don’t think I was the sole reason, but it may have started them looking into things.

      It feels really nice (and vindicating!) that my candor may have helped make life better for others on my team.

      Reply
  28. BigSigh

    I’ve got a question about how to PROFESSIONALLY deal with a difficult coworker.

    Small work place. Less than 20 people in an open floor plan. There’s a lot of reasons various people don’t like this coworker, but for the most part, that’s easily handed—for me, at least. If he asks me a question, but interrupts my answer to mainsplain something to me, I stop him and firmly tell him he needs to let me finish. If he’s shouting into the phone on a sales call, I wait for the call to end and ask him to lower his voice on his next calls so that I can also use the phone. And so on.

    But I’m unsure if one thing is being handled appropriately. He’s got a terrible habit of interjecting himself into the conversations of others, both personal and work-related, usually from 10 feet away. A few of my coworkers will turn and shout back, “I’m sorry, are you a part of this conversation?” Some will mutter, “Mind your own business.” I, personally, ignore him. It’s impossible to continue speaking, as he’s almost always shouting, but as soon as he stops, I continue whatever else I was going to say to the person I was speaking to, without acknowledging the problematic coworker or his comments.

    This all feels less than ideal. I know he probably feels shunned. No one in the office likes him, which must feel horribly isolating. But none of his bad habits have ever been addressed by his boss. She received so many complaints when he first began work here that she ultimately threw up her hands and began telling people, “You don’t have to like everyone.” But at the same time, it doesn’t really feel right for me, as a colleague, to publically say, “Can you please stop interjecting yourself into the conversations of others? I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but most of the office finds it to be off-putting.”

    What’s the best avenue to take?

    Reply
    1. Sadsack

      You certainly sounds like the kindest of your department! I think you can only keep doing what you are doing if his manager won’t do anything.

      Reply
    2. Kowalski! Options!

      OMG, were you looking over my shoulder when I was typing *my* question, by any chance?

      We have someone similar in our office (let’s call her the Aging Ingenue, for argument’s sake) who, rather than mansplaining, flirts like hell with anyone and everyone who seems to be receptive to making conversation. That, in itself, isn’t as annoying as the way in which she’ll veer the conversation back onto herself and talk about herself, her animal rights activism… she says she’s been diagnosed with ADD and bipolar disorder, but it’s still really annoying because she doesn’t seem to have any gauge about what kind of behaviour might seem out of order (her habit of putting a leg up on peoples’ desks when she leans in to talk to them, for example, is one that I have problems getting over). We got the same line from our boss, too, FWIW. The only way I’ve been able to deal with it is to keep interaction to very simple, banal topics that are only work-related, and to have my noise-cancelling headphones on my head (not necessarily turned on!) when she has a bad day or is in…full flight, let’s say. That might not work in a lot of other work environments, but it seems to head off the most annoying parts of the behavior.

      Reply
      1. BigSigh

        Awkwarddddd. That doesn’t sound fun at all. My noise cancelling headphone are my life saving and I, too, put them on my head even when they’re off just to warn people away some times!

        Reply
        1. Kowalski! Options!

          Yeah, some days the only thing that stops me hollering “I’m trying to WORK, HERE!” in an Al Pacino voice is my iPod. About an hour ago, she just had a binge of popping bubble wrap while participating in a very loud voice with about four other people, and all I could do was turn on Ministry and keep thinking, “Four hours until quittin’ time.”

          The thing is, I really love my job, I mostly like my co-workers, and I get along well with my manager – but I really feel my manager is dropping the ball on this one, probably because she doesn’t want to tangle with HR issues about it. And being the newest one in the department, I don’t know how much say I get in dealing with it – or if I have to suck it up and expand my playlists.

          Reply
          1. BigSigh

            I’m also finding my situation to be a management fail. He consistently under preforms and has needed to be retrained repeatedly on basically every task. He’s universally disliked and routinely talks to clients as if they’re stupid. Why is he still here?

            Reply
              1. NL

                Just fyi, Alison has said she doesn’t read everything in the open threads anymore so the best way to ask her something is to email it.

                Reply
    3. Artemesia

      I wouldn’t say this publicly — but I would say it privately. There is nothing unprofessional about asking someone to stop interjecting himself into your conversations. Adding that it is offputting to most people would be a kindness but not necessary. Protect yourself here. Do it privately and kindly, but do it firmly.

      Reply
      1. BigSigh

        That’s the trouble with our office layout–there’s nothing but public, except for with his boss who has an office with a door. It’s an open floor plan and we’re all on top of each other. I considered pulling him into a separate conference room, but that’s almost more of an announcement in this office because the two of us have no overlap. Also, he has issues not respecting personal space, so I don’t like to put myself in situations where he can get too close.

        Ugh to open floor plans!

        Reply
        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          But remember that it’s normal and common for people to have private conversations in public places. If it weren’t, all the buildings in NYC would collapse from the silence.

          But if you’re worried about embarrassing him, could you talk to him on a coffee run, or on the way into work in the hallway, or almost anywhere that’s public but less public than the office?

          Reply
          1. BigSigh

            I just … don’t like him enough to put that kind of effort into correcting something that seems so obvious. I guess I’d rather default to what I’m doing now with ignoring him instead of that route, if both are ok responses.

            Reply
    4. Anonymous Educator

      While I do think his boss is handling this badly, I also think there may be ways to have it be more likely she’ll address the situation. Is there a way to bring up your concerns (and for your co-workers to bring up their concerns) in such a way that it can’t possibly be dismissed as a matter of personality? In other words, it isn’t about whether you like the guy or not—it’s about him making it more difficult for you all to get your jobs done effectively or it’s about the work environment he’s creating.

      Reply
      1. BigSigh

        No, sadly, even then those issues have been dismissed as “not necessary to like all your coworkers.” His boss has completely disengaged about his professional issues. He cuts her out of client meetings, insists he hasn’t been trained on something he’ll have been trained on 3 times, and has the most unprofessional tone and word choice when speaking to clients.

        At this point, I’ve accepted that nothing I say will impact his behavior, so at most I have to make sure I stay professional as possible.

        Reply
      2. Kowalski! Options!

        There’s also the issue, too, of whether the person is open enough to receiving the feedback, and if they’ll realize how they’re coming across — or if being told how they come across only serves to raise their hackles more. In our case, Aging Ingenue has been coached, spoken to gently, yelled at, and given side-eye in the year I’ve been here, but nothing seems to have registered. Instead, people who try to coach her are given a litany of all her personal troubles, starting from a dysfunctional childhood right up to senior management being jealous of her.

        Reply
        1. BigSigh

          Wow, that’s a lot of handle. I’m continuously surprised at people’s ability to refuse to understand body language/social signals.

          Reply
        2. Not So NewReader

          I think the best you can hope for is a dial-back. One thing I have said is, “I am very sorry to hear that. But right now we are focused on task A and I was wondering if you had that prep work done because I am ready to run A.”

          You might be able to work into conversation, “I have always considered work time to be a time out, a moment’s rest, from “life stuff”. Maybe that would be helpful for you, too.”

          If pushed you can go with, “I am so under-qualified to talk about this stuff with you. I just don’t think that it’s fair to you for us to be discussing it.”

          Reply
      3. Mephyle

        Is there any point in bringing up the concern “It isn’t about liking or not liking my coworkers [even perhaps fibbing and saying ‘I like him just fine’], it’s that my ability to do my work properly is being interfered with and if [he acted differently] that would stop.”?

        Reply
    5. Jessesgirl72

      You can’t ask him to not interject into “the conversations of others” but you can absolutely ask him to not interject into *your* conversations.

      And when he does it again, that gives you the ammo to say “Fergus, we talked about this. Please stop interjecting into my conversations”

      Reply
    6. Celeste

      It’s a management fail. This person probably needs to be put on a PIP so they can get him out of there. I wonder why your manager won’t undertake that so as to get someone in there who does better for the org and isn’t a thorn in everyone’s side? It would be interesting to know how many people are looking for a new job just to get away from him and your hands-off supervisor. It all affects the bottom line.

      I see nothing wrong with publicly asking your colleague to behave according to normal standards. I don’t know if he never learned them, or if he has a condition that’s the root of it, or if he will listen to you. But none of that is on you.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous Educator

        Yeah, there’s not much you can do if his boss won’t put him on a PIP and then fire him. Good people will certainly end up leaving…

        Reply
    7. HannahS

      I think for the shouting, you can turn around and look really taken aback, and say, “John, please don’t shout at me.” in a shocked “oh my goodness” tone. Or, turn and say in a level tone, “Oh, John, I’m talking to Blagatha right now. I’ll be with you in minute.” As if you thought that what he wanted was to have a NEW conversation. Then, finish your convo, turn to him and ask if there’s something he wanted to talk to you about. It might feel more comfortable for you, because then you’re not just ignoring him, but you’re not letting him interrupt you and giving him the kind of attention he wants. But you’re still showing yourself to be blandly polite.

      Reply
    8. Not So NewReader

      Depending on many factors, I might seriously consider just saying out loud, “why are you yelling?” or “you are yelling again”.

      Your boss sucks. At some point you may get it across to her that this has nothing to do with liking him. And if he does not rope in the behaviors somehow, employees are going to start saying more and more to him. It’s creating an angry work environment that is counter-productive to getting work done.

      You may have to explain that you like people well enough for work purposes, you don’t expect to take coworkers home to live with you as extended family. Right now I think you best angle of what you have written here is that you have to put off phone calls until he is done with his rants. If you can come up with more examples of how he is impacting your work, that would strengthen your argument.

      Reply
  29. Venus Supreme

    I just learned that a coworker of mine was on a very popular reality TV show (think TLC/HGTV) back in the early 2000’s and that bit of information made my whole week because it was a favorite show of mine. We got to talking because I was on a kid’s game show in the ’90s and that was a Big Deal for my elementary school friends. Does anyone else have any coworkers who had a brush of fame?

    Reply
    1. Manders

      My grandboss regularly gets to hang out with the Seahawks because she’s involved in a lot of charitable programs. I’m super jealous (but also proud of her for being so generous).

      I know someone who accidentally held Jeff Bezos’s hand once during a fire drill. It was a very awkward moment for both of them.

      Reply
      1. hermit crab

        I know someone who accidentally held Jeff Bezos’s hand once during a fire drill. It was a very awkward moment for both of them.

        Is there more to this story? Why were people holding hands during a fire drill? Why does Jeff Bezos participate in fire drills when all the managers at my (much, much smaller than Amazon) company ignore them? I have so many questions!

        Reply
      2. Windchime

        My coworker has the guy who is the Center for the Seahawks as his next-door neighbor. I just think that’s so cool.

        Reply
      1. Venus Supreme

        JERSEY SHORE STILL IS MY FAVORITE TV SHOW EVER. I actually live in that area and I bumped into the cast on a couple occasions, but without the cameras around. What season were you on?!

        Reply
        1. Temperance

          I was on an ep in 2010. I’m just in the background because I was drinking at a bar with the cast, lol. I can’t remember the name of the bar now, but they made it look like a club on the show. We had to pay $20 to get in, and the entry fee bought us like 5 drinks. I was so impressed that I was like the same size as all the men on the show, because I am not a tall lady.

          I love the shore and am so jealous of you for getting to live in the area!

          Reply
      2. fposte

        If I had to put together an AAM regular and a reality show, I would definitely not put together you and Jersey Shore :-).

        Reply
    2. Nic

      When I was a kid I was on a science show that was intended to replace traditional science class. It was space based, and had an experiment a few times a week. I was on the “crew” that introduced the experiments and did random other demonstrations.

      It was sold around the world, and I was recognized a few times as a kid, and once or twice as a young adult. Apparently it appeared on Public Broadcasting around midnight in my home town. I found it hilarious when people recognized me.

      Reply
    3. AvonLady Barksdale

      I used to work for a large entertainment company (in a really corporate capacity), so I’ve brushed WITH fame. In my hobby, I’ve done the same. I get asked a lot of really strange questions sometimes, but I do have some interesting stories. (T.I. touched me once. Not in any kind of rude or lascivious way, and it was pretty funny, but I do like telling that one.) I no longer live in NYC, so these stories are much more exciting than they used to be.

      Reply
    4. Kowalski! Options!

      Years ago (mid 1990s), one of my co-workers was on a 1980s Canadian Broadcasting Corporation show called Street Cents (IIRC) – money smarts for kids. She was only about 24-26 when she came to work at that company, and there was no mistaking who she was – she didn’t seem to have aged a bit from her time on air. The funnier part of that story is that she co-hosted the show with a guy who has had a recurring role on “Trailer Park Boys”.

      Reply
      1. Al Lo

        I loved that show! (Geeky Canadian kid in the early ’90s who didn’t watch a ton of other TV here…)

        They would look at different items, kind of like a kids’ consumer report, and then determine whether something was worth buying or a waste of money. If it was a waste, they would drop it into a steaming manhole in their set with the catchphrase, “This [insert object here] is fit….. for the pit!” I specifically remember an episode comparing a couple of brands of curling irons.

        Reply
    5. ArtK

      One of my co-workers is a celebrity chef. He’s been on Top Chef, Cutthroat Kitchen and Man v. Child: Chef Showdown. He was also very involved in the short film Well Done. He catered a couple of our company parties and boy were they good!

      Reply
      1. Venus Supreme

        Haha, my 7th grade teacher kept trying to be on the show! Unfortunately she’s never gotten on. That’s so funny. Did you win the Food Network competition?

        Reply
        1. NYSee

          I did not. There were three of us, and I tied for second place with one of the other people. But the prize was a year’s supply of a particular junk food, so it’s probably for the best that I did not win.

          Reply
      2. Dr. KMnO4

        I also had a coworker on Jeopardy! I don’t think he won, but his episode aired before I knew him so I’m not sure.

        Reply
      3. A la peanut butter sandwiches

        That reminds me that I also had a coworker that was on Jeopardy. I worked someplace with an IMAX theatre and when the episodes aired we watched them on the IMAX screen.

        Reply
    6. Viola Dace

      I’ve had two colleagues who were formerly Playboy Bunnies. One of them once tried to teach all the women in our office how to do the “Bunny Dip”. AWKWARD.

      Reply
      1. Rebecca in Dallas

        As a big fan of the Girls Next Door, I have to say I’m pretty jealous!

        And no, the “bunny dip” is not anything like the bend & snap, it’s how the bunnies were supposed to set down a drink at the Playboy Club. You don’t bend over from the waist, you just kind of bend your knees and set it down from the side. I kind of hate that I know that.

        Reply
    7. AndersonDarling

      I had a boss whose sister was on Jerry Springer. Boss said that they were coached beforehand- told what to say to get the crowd mad. She told me so I wouldn’t think her relatives actually behaved that way, it was just a show.

      Reply
    8. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo

      I worked for Tribune Company when they also owned the Cubs, does that count? ; ) The players and coaches were all listed in the company’s online employee directory, and for the first year that I was there, several players had their personal cell phone numbers listed in the directory for any other Tribune employee to see! I never called any of them, but maybe some others did: at the beginning of the next season, the cell numbers were gone. (The only contact number was that of the main Cubs switchboard.)

      Reply
    9. cookie monster

      I worked with someone whose sister was on the biggest loser, and she flew out to be on one episode while we worked together…and was then recognized when she went to get lunch the next week.
      I was on a episode of “Wild On Boston” in my younger, crazier (embarrassing) days. A co worked when to high school with the producer and got us all VIP passes to the club it was being filmed in.

      Reply
      1. Lily Rowan

        On the young/crazy/embarrassing front, a woman who works at my dentist’s office was on Bad Girls Club! (She seems lovely.)

        Reply
      2. Ann O.

        I am told that I was on a Wild On… show, but I’ve never managed to see the episode. I was not doing anything embarrassing or crazy, though. I was doing a run-of-the-mill touristy thing in a non-English speaking country whie standing in a group that apparently looked very American. The crew approached us with the line “Do you speak Engli–of course you do.” They also didn’t identify themselves honestly, although we all knew who they were once they pulled out the branded interview mike.

        Reply
    10. MsMaryMary

      I used to work with a guy who had been on one of those cheesy blind date reality shows in the early 00s. Someone found a youtube clip of it and pretty much the entire office got to watch his blind date.

      I also worked for a professional sports team when I was a teenager. One of our managers went to a game on his night off, and he was shown on TV and the jumbotron doing a very silly dance with his girlfriend. We all saw it since we had TVs with the game on in our store.

      Personally, I appeared on a local high school quiz show back in the day. To my knowledge, the footage of that appearance does not survive. THANK GOD.

      Reply
    11. Jillociraptor

      I have a Jeopardy coworker here too. He did great!

      And a handful of college classmates who have had various levels of brushes with fame: one of the winners of a recent season of Amazing Race, a TV modeling competition participant (can’t remember which one…), two of the founders of the organization Indivisible, and an expert on despotism and authoritarianism who’s now in the news a bunch. I have to say, it’s super weird to be listening to a podcast and suddenly hear a friend’s voice, or scroll through Twitter and suddenly see a friend being retweeted by all kinds of political luminaries…

      Reply
    12. fposte

      We’ve had a few Jeopardy contestants (that’s academics for you) and currently have one of the leading wheelchair racers in the world.

      Reply
    13. JustaTech

      My husband’s coworker’s fiancee was on What Not To Wear. That was fun because my husband knew all the bits of the show because I watched it. We didn’t end up going to the reveal party because it was really late at a bar with no A/C on a super hot summer day.
      Her episode ended up being one of the kind of awkward ones and I felt bad for her.

      Reply
      1. Venus Supreme

        My sister was on Ambush Makeover in 2003 (similar to What Not to Wear, but they… ambush you out of nowhere). They confronted my sister while she was on vacation and the makeover took half a day. She hated her reveal so much & she cried when she got home. I would too! We’re both natural redheads and they dyed her hair blonde.

        Reply
    14. Menacia

      I learned recently a coworker of mine was on the Gong Show. Wish I could find a YouTube of her on the show!

      Reply
    15. Elizabeth West

      A coworker had a local friend who was on Fear Factor. She told me about it and when the episode would air and asked me to watch it in support of her friend. It was the first and last time I’ve ever seen that show. The friend had to eat live snails, shells and all. I got up and went in the kitchen to do the dishes during that segment because it made me want to gag.

      She ended up winning, by the way!

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth West

        Oh, and this is Brad Pitt’s hometown; I’ve met his brother a couple of times, once when he had a computer store and I bought a machine there and another time when he came into OldExjob to see my boss. The brother is very nice. Haven’t run into Brad. I’m sure I probably know someone who went to high school with him here, though no one has mentioned it.

        Reply
        1. Venus Supreme

          What a small world!! A coworker here has family friends who live in Brad Pitt’s hometown. They’re best friends with his parents. My coworker and I got to hear Brad’s POV regarding the whole Angelina divorce.

          Also unrelated, but have you ever seen Killer Karaoke? It reminds me of Fear Factor a little bit (without the whole eating-snails-alive thing) but the contestants have to belt out their favorite tune while completing tasks. I think it’s the funniest thing ever.

          Reply
          1. Elizabeth West

            No, I don’t watch reality TV except for Judge Judy.

            Ha, that’s funny. I don’t know the rest of the family; I didn’t grow up here. I’ve only met his brother. Whenever Brad and Angelina and the kids came to visit, it always made the paper. See how lame this place is? :P

            Reply
    16. Hey Anonny, nonny

      I was in the film Lolita when they made it with Jeremy Irons (such a nice person) and Melanie Griffith (no comment).
      Also I’ve performed in Carnegie Hall, don’t know if that counts.

      Reply
    17. Jen in Oregon

      I was on an episode of Food Paradise several years ago. Seeing myself on television was the wake-up call that inspired me to make lifestyle changes that led to a not insignificant weight loss, so while it was embarrassing in the short run, it was good in the long run.

      Reply
    18. HannahS

      Not a coworker, but I knew a couple who were on Property Brothers. Seeing as they were an Orthodox Jewish couple, the producers made them dance a hora around the dining room table with the two guys. It was cringey-funny. The house is great though!

      Reply
        1. HannahS

          lol I felt SO betrayed when I learned that they were actors and not actually a contractor and a realtor.

          Reply
          1. Fact & Fiction

            What?!?!?!

            My brushes with “fame”:

            Meeting the new generation of Osmonds in the 80s when we were super young and they performed st the St. Louis VP Fair, then eating them again as a college freshman at a dance because my friend went to their temple in Branson where they performed st the Odmond’s theater there. I got to dance with one (of course my 18-year-old self thought he was adorable) and we all went out to Denny’s afterward.

            I worked with anon-law of Captain Kangaroo (may he Rest In Peace).

            A friend of my sister’s was on My 600-pound Life.

            That’s all I can think of unless you are a book and/or Science fiction/fantasy geek and count rubbing elbows with some of my fave authors at writing/Reader/SF conventions. Both Nora Roberts and Jayne Ann Krentz/AManda Quick congratulated me on making my first sale when I popped by a party put pub three at RWA National, which made my trip! I’ve met several others of my writing idols (like Jim Butcher, Kelley Armstrong, and Richelle Mead) but those ladies are probably the most “famous” for general audiences.

            Reply
            1. Fact & Fiction

              Um I’m typing on my phone – obviously I didn’t “eat” them… that was supposed to say “meeting”.

              Reply
    19. JanetM

      I work in academia, so I know many people who have, for example, published books or been on impressive advisory councils. I worked for someone who’d been asked by one of his professional associations to write a book summarizing his life’s research (I typed up all his handwritten notes, tables, and figures into camera-ready copy). I have been on television or in the newspaper several times in my role as a union activist, as have many of my coworkers.

      And I have a friend who recently won two games of _Jeopardy!_.

      Reply
    20. SaraV

      I went to school with Paula Faris, who’s on The View and on weekend GMA. She was a year ahead of me. Really nice person.

      Reply
    21. Woman of a Certain Age

      About twenty years ago I lived in the L.A. area and registered as for a clerical temp position. A few days later I was surprised to get a call from the agency to be an extra on the old TV show, “Unsolved Mysteries,” so of course I said, “yes.” I, and a bunch of other people, showed up at a tv/film studio production office. On the TV show, after running a film clip of a reenactment of the crime or situation surrounding the mystery, Robert Stack (who was narrating the program) would ask for help from the general public and a phone number would flash on the TV screen. Robert Stack would appear standing in front of the “call center.” There really was a call center someplace, but it was not the one that was shown on TV with Robert Stack standing in front of it.

      The call center on TV was used as an office 4 days a week, and then as a TV set for the call center on Friday. Also, Robert Stack was only filmed from his knees up and below the trench coat he was wearing running shoes. (They looked like New Balance.) We were told not to speak to Robert Stack, so we didn’t and it was all pretty professional. As an extra I sat behind him on the set and pretended to be answering the phone and typing information into a turned-off computer terminal. I had dressed up for the show, in a suit with a jacket (with big puffy power sleeves) , so I was chosen to be a “supervisor” which meant that in some scenes I was shown walking around the call center carrying a clipboard and “advising” other people who were sitting at the computer terminals pretending to answer phones.

      We had a lunch break, but as extras we didn’t get a catered lunch and had to leave the studio and most of us went to fast food restaurants a few blocks away, then came back. It wasn’t too demanding and kind of fun. We made a little bit more than minimum wage. I saw myself on TV a couple of months later. Also, Robert Stack had his son there with him who was very handsome and who looked like a younger version of Robert.

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth West

        Ha, fun! I actually met one of the criminals who was on that show, before they caught him. He came into the restaurant where I worked and I waited on him. Didn’t realize it until about a week later, when they re-aired the segment. Boy, you should have seen me fly to a phone!

        Reply
        1. Woman of a Certain Age

          All I really remember about the show was that in the episode I appeared in there was a segment about a mystery called “The Lady of the Lake,” which recounted a tale of a woman who supposedly drowned under mysterious circumstances in a lake near her summer home and that her ghost haunted the house, the lake and the land around the lake. I believe this happened in the 1920s or in about that time period.

          Reply
    22. Oscar Madisoy

      I’m one of the “faces in the crowd” on the back cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Live In New York City” album.

      Reply
  30. Anon for this

    How long after starting a new job do you wait before suggesting changes? As a rule of thumb, I usually don’t until 3 weeks or so in, mainly just to make sure that there isn’t a reason things are done that way that I would feel stupid for not knowing.

    We recently had someone start who is switching industries from teapot production to rice sculpture design. Very shortly after starting (think hours) she told supervisors in my department that we would no longer use rice for our sculptures as wheat was way better, and the rice suppliers would of course source the wheat for us. The supervisors are uneasy as this would result in no more job for them. I’m delicately trying to explain that perhaps it would make sense to continue with rice and maybe don’t scare my people into looking for new jobs. Aarrgh.

    Reply
    1. Allypopx

      That’s super obnoxious. Can you address just the last part of that? Is there any kind of dynamic where you can point out she shouldn’t be talking to your department directly and that kind of news should come through you? Either way that sounds like a rough adjustment.

      Reply
    2. Anonymous Educator

      For me, it depends on how drastic the suggestion is. If it’s a minor tweak, I will usually start suggesting changes two months in. If it’s a major overhaul, I’ll wait a year before making the suggestion. Even though I always think my suggestions are great and will make things more efficient, there are sometimes I don’t have the full story on why the organization has always done things a certain way.

      Reply
    3. Lemon Zinger

      Hours after starting and she made suggestions?! Totally inappropriate and out of line. You wouldn’t be amiss to say something like “Jane, I appreciate that you’re trying to help, but we use rice in our sculptures. This is our job. Let’s focus on getting you up to speed.”

      Personally, I waited six months before I began making suggestions about processes at my current job. Still, I am very cautious to be confident in my idea, have supporting information to back myself up, etc.

      Your new employee is showing a big red flag. Be careful!

      Reply
    4. Natalie

      What level is this new person at? Since the supervisors are uneasy and you are trying to be delicate it sounds like they might be upper management?

      Reply
      1. Tuckerman

        If the person is an upper management role, she may have brought in TO make changes that are best for the organization but not necessarily popular for the group (i.e. because it would lead to lay-offs).

        Reply
      2. Anon for this

        She’s the head of her department, but not part of the leadership team. I’m certain she was brought in to make some changes, but I think some of the initial things she was mandating for us have nothing to do with the changes she’s been told to work on…and she’s not part of our department and definitely should not be ordering changes for us. My boss is new also and I’ve already pushed back on several things and I think irritated her in the process, so I don’t want to waste a lot of capital on someone who seems like she might be set to annoy people even above my boss.

        I do think leadership may have already stepped in to tone her down. I hope it sticks.

        Reply
        1. Natalie

          Yeah, so if she’s above you there isn’t anything here for you to do. It sounds like she might be a bit artless, but this isn’t your problem to solve.

          Reply
            1. Natalie

              Ah. Well in that case I’m not sure you need to be super delicate. Are these supervisors who are getting uneasy your employees? Because that’s a fantastic reason to address it directly with her.

              Reply
    5. Ramona Flowers

      Whaaat? That’s not what she was hired for!

      In answer to your question, I think 3 weeks is still too early. A couple of months maybe. But it depends on the job.

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth West

        Yep, I’d wait a bit. At Exjob, one of my first responsibilities was to redesign the department template. I got a lot of pushback in that first meeting, but my boss backed me up; that’s why she hired me. Anything more than that waited until I’d been there a while, since I needed to understand more about my department before I could suggest anything.

        Reply
    6. Newsie

      New Boss just did that. Said that all rice sculptors would have to change their in time drastically, about 3 weeks after she started. Of the 10 or so sculptors on staff, 5 are now looking for new jobs. I tried to do the same by explaining our concerns, but New Boss’s response essentially just sounded like “I hear you, those are valid concerns, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.”

      Good luck! I hope your supervisor listens better than mine does…

      Reply
  31. Manders

    I’m so, SO thankful for the thread on gut feelings this week. I was offered a job that looked great on paper, but I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that something was off. HR had a weird hiring process and didn’t seem respectful of my time, the very old company in a conservative industry was in the middle of a messy transition to a startup-y office environment for no clear reason, and I just couldn’t click with the person who would be my boss. Plus, the role seemed poorly defined and every single person on my 8-person, 4-hour panel interview had their own idea of where it should go.

    It looked SO great on paper! But I listened to my gut and turned it down.

    Reply
    1. Venus Supreme

      I’m glad you listened to your gut! Based on your description I would’ve told you to run too. They sound way too chaotic.

      Reply
  32. Fronzel Neekburm

    I have a question for the commenters..

    So, I have had a rough go the past couple of years. I had a full time job that was wildly out of my future plans and I was there for about 7 years. I found a job that matched up with what I wanted to do for the future (not perfectly, but stepping stone.) but the person who claimed to be my supervisor ended up being wildly abusive – texting me at home on the weekends abusive. (And note i said “claimed to be”. I found out later that she was the supervisor of the previous person in my position, drove her out for being wildly abusive, then put my position under someone else and let her stay because she was otherwise good at her job.) I left after a year, and actually ended up back at my long-term job, contracted out for a year of work while i finished up school.

    I finished school, but it took me another few years. After that year, I ended up working a series of part time jobs. (some of which aligned with my goals.) After three years, i got a full time job, again – stepping stone (ish) to what I want to do. I’ve been at this job for about 9 months now.

    Well, after all this time, a job that is 100% what I want to do has opened up.

    My dilemma: If you look at my history, it appears I’m a job hopper – I’m not, I’m intensely loyal. I hit a good run of bad luck. I’m wondering if I should stick this one out (it’s still stepping stoneish) or if I should apply, and risk having another new job.

    Thoughts?

    Reply
    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

      I would apply and see where it goes. Yes, it looks job-hopperish, slightly, but I personally view that very differently when it’s someone who obviously finished school and went through the usual struggle to get their career on track than when it’s someone who’s been in the professional world for a decade and hops around for no reason. And if you emphasize that they were part-time jobs, that picture gets even clearer. You could even mention that in your cover letter – “I’m thrilled to be applying for this position, as I’ve been striving for a career in [field] ever since I graduated in [year], through a series of positions that gave me experience but didn’t fully align with my goals.”

      Worst case scenario is, you stay at a stepping stone job, best case, you get to yank the golden ring!

      Reply
    2. fposte

      I don’t think it’s quite as hoppy as you think, especially if you present it appropriately. You have work history before school, which is mostly at the 7 year place, and then you have part-time work, which is work that comes and goes by nature. Now you’ve been tempted by a really perfect opportunity.

      School really is a big reset, so when hiring I wouldn’t care much about your year with the hated job; I would worry more about whether you were fired from/voluntarily walking away from the part time jobs for reasons that matter to me now. If you left because you were Christmas help, the grant money ran out, the office moved too far to commute to, etc., I wouldn’t care.

      Reply
    3. Celeste

      If you aren’t happy where you are and know you won’t stay, I think it makes sense to apply where you think you’ll be happier and finally want to stay. At least check it out.

      Reply
    4. Chaordic One

      Definitely apply! Please!

      You don’t think you’re a job hopper. I (and most of the other commenters) don’t think you are a job hopper. It’s very likely that the people at 100% job will NOT think you are a job hopper. You don’t have anything to lose and an awful lot to gain by applying.

      Do some research about the employer and review the cover letter, resume and interview tips Allison has here at AAM. Have some good questions to ask when you a get an interview. Look at the interview as a “learning experience” to find out more about the employer and the position. Even if you don’t get an offer, it is still excellent experience. Good luck!

      Reply
    5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      I think you should apply. You never know what will happen, and you have nothing to lose.

      It’s also ok to exclude some of the shorter-term gigs if you don’t feel like they advance your resume (it sounds like they’re broadly in your field and help explain what would otherwise be gaps, so this advice may not be helpful). Your pre-school work experience, and the fact that it’s super normal for a person to jump around a lot while in school, means that your resume is less job hopper-ish than I think you think it is.

      Reply
    6. msmorlowe

      If these part-time jobs were fixed contract, you’re not going to look like a job-hopper if you make that clear on your resume/CV. Something like “November 2016 – February 2017, TopClothes, Sales Assistant (seasonal position)” or “Feb 2016 – Aug 2016, Smith & Smith, Receptionist (temp position)” will look absolutely fine. Good luck!

      Reply
    7. theletter

      Apply!!!!

      Early in my career, I had an opportunity to apply to a dream job. I didn’t take it because I was 5 months into an OK job and I didn’t want to seem like a job hopper. Six months later I was desperately searching for a new job – the OK job had turned into a torture factory, and that dream job opportunity was all all filled up.

      Reply
  33. yarr pirate

    So, our head boss sent an email to our department stating that our assistants should “Manage Up” and that the morale and financial standing of the entire company was depending on them (and the teapot makers they report to). Does this strike anyone else as really terrible? One of the head teapot makers was quietly demoted recently but there’s been a long history of the assistants having to pick up way more slack than usual in our industry.

    Reply
    1. Manders

      That’s gross. Good assistants do often have to manage up, but there’s a difference between someone finding an efficient way to do things on their own and being blamed for a morale problem and company-wide problems.

      Reply
      1. Artemesia

        Perhaps management should be managing i.e. ‘managing down’ so that minions would not have to be ‘managing up’ a bunch of difficult incompetent supervisors. Just an idea.

        Reply
    2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

      That strikes me as unbelievably noxious, irritating, and demeaning.

      Reply
    3. Ann Furthermore

      It is gross. In my experience “managing up” is code for “ass-kissing.” The CFO at my old company would do this with the higher-ups at the parent company. We were all buried under work, unable to keep up, and he refused to hire any more people, or even backfill positions when people left. He wanted to be seen as the guy with the awesome team of 20 rock stars who could do the work of 50 people and never make a mistake. Guess what? It didn’t work out that way. Ugh. It was so frustrating.

      Reply
      1. Manders

        For me, “manage up” means something more along the lines of “figure out why your boss is letting stuff fall through the cracks and find a way to make that not happen.” I think it *can* happen in a healthy workplace, but being ordered to do it is a sign that something is wrong with the organization.

        Reply
        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

          Yeah, in this case, I suspect it’s code for “So, unfortunately, the men we pay six figures to run things here are incompetent goofballs who let more slip through the cracks than actually gets done, so all you competent women who we only pay $60k a year need to scurry around in the background to make them look good enough that their failures are only visible internally. Hop to it.”

          Reply
      2. Chaordic One

        Yes, I was going to say, “kiss up,” as in “kiss up, kick down.” (It only works for middle management, not assistants, and not for very long at that.)

        Reply
    4. Actuarial Octagon

      During my recent job search, I was at an interview where they spent a good portion of the time talking about how a person in the position would be required to “manage up” and “read the minds” of their managers. I gracefully declined.

      Reply
    5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      This is a bullshit thing for your head boss to send, and it’s really demeaning and somewhat cruel. It’s also just flat out ludicrous to suggest that “the morale and financial standing of the entire company” depends on assistants’ ability to “manage up.” I don’t think he knows what any of those words mean.

      Reply
  34. Lucy

    I have a diagnosed mental health issue I am working really hard to treat. That could be considered a disability under the equality act (am in UK). When I first started here it was great but it has gone downhill and is really effecting my mental health (plus the state of the world). Our team of 8 has been 4 people since december. Our manager went on maternity leave and the temp replacement ended up being an alcoholic who made racist and sexist remarks and was manipulative and borderline verbally abusive at times. In the last year I have had 20 days of sickness absence, 5 for a preplanned surgery that I had to list as sick time so it would get paid. I have missed 3 days for a bad cold. 7 of the other 11 days were related to my mental health. I am trying to get a new stable role because they have announced plans to move the office 3 hours away. My boss has mentioned that HR will disclose my sickness to any new role. I have interviews for 2 places next week. Do you think I should bring it up first? Should I request to HR that they not disclose my disability related days? My past roles before that will show a much better attendance level than this. What if anything should I do?

    Reply
    1. Junior Dev

      What does she mean by “disclose my sickness?” The fact that you have a mental illness? That you took sick days?

      Reply
      1. Lucy

        The sick days. She means she will have to tell them as she thinks its too many days (15 in a year doesnt seem terrible to me after you remove the surgery). She said she was just trying to make me aware so I am mindful of not being out. Which made it sound like she doesnt believe I actually needed to be out which is a total different issue. But it sounded like a threat that about losing future jobs with the pretense of helping.

        Reply
        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          The fact that she would threaten you in this way makes me really angry. She’s not obligated to tell them anything, let alone spew her her ableist biases about whether it’s ok for you to use sick days to which you are entitled because they’re part of your compensation. Is this the abusive temp, or is this your boss who was out on parental leave?

          Do you have a functional HR department? I don’t know anything about UK disability law (which may apply), but her threats sound like she’s retaliating against you on the basis of your disability. And assuming your sick days were within the days you receive as part of your job, she really shouldn’t have any say whatsoever in whether you used “too many” of them, regardless whether you have a disability or not. It’s not like you were malingering.

          She sounds horrid, and I’m sorry you’re going through this. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a transfer, stability, and some reprieve.

          Reply
    2. Caro in the UK

      I wasn’t sure if this is legal or not in the UK so I did a bit of Google-fu.

      It seems that The Equality Act 2010 prevents employers from asking job applicants about disabilities, health or sickness absence prior to being offered a job. BUT, they can ask your references about it.

      However, you could be protected if your mental health issue can be classed as a disability, because if the reason for his sickness absence is caused by or is related to a disability, employers cannot discriminate (and the Equality Act 2010 applies to job applicants as well as employees).

      So your boss /HR could tell and potential employer about your sickness absence, but if a job offer were pulled because of it, you could be protected under the Act. In light of this I’d ask prospective employers not to contact your current employer for references until you have an offer, that should hopefully protect you.

      Reply
      1. Ramona Flowers

        Your Google-fu isn’t quite correct.

        They can ask you about disability as an applicant – because they can ask whether you require any reasonable adjustments (akin to ADA adjustments) to attend the interview. It’s good practice for this to be kept separate from the information the hiring panel sees.

        Reply
    3. Ramona Flowers

      I just want to suggest you maybe contact the Remploy/Access to Work scheme for mental health. They can support you for six months in a new job (help advise on accommodations, regular contact for support) and it can be kept confidential from your employer if you do choose.

      Also, you can get free advice from Mind, ACAS and the Equality Advisory Service.

      Reply
        1. Lucy

          Thanks I will contact them. I have a feeling the next job shod be okay since my previous jobs were okay and this one was until it became toxic.

          I just dont want to lose a potential job over this.

          Reply
    4. Chaordic One

      It does not sound you’ve used your sick days excessively. If asked about such things (and you probably won’t be) I might say something along the lines of:

      “In the recent past I have had some health issues, which I have taken care of, which are now in the past and which I do not expect to recur in the foreseeable future.”

      Reply
  35. Ennigaldi

    I work in a cubicle complex and am getting a new neighbor today. Problem is, she and my current neighbor bicker constantly – when they assigned these desks two years ago, they specifically moved them far apart. But now there’s new management and they want everyone in close quarters…so what are some scripts I can use for “please knock off the passive-aggressive jabs, I do need to concentrate today”? (I’ve been here three months, they have both been here multiple years through multiple department upheavals, they are not leaving)

    Reply
    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      How about asking them to please take their conversation out in the hall, as it’s breaking your concentration/audible to clients on the phone? They won’t, of course, because that would take all the passiveness out of their little passive-aggressive war, but it’s an eminently reasonable request that they will have trouble pushing back on.

      Reply
      1. Mephyle

        They will deny, deny. “What do you mean, passive-agressive, not me, no sir.”
        But they can’t deny that they’re having a conversation.

        Reply
  36. Confused

    So at work, we’re spinning off a shelter we used to run into its own agency–it’ll be it’s own 501c(3), own CEO, own board of directors, etc. It used to be part of my departments functions but it’s just grown too much to not be it’s own thing. I haven’t been involved in the daily functions of it for some time but I used to be, and I’m not as swamped as the employees that are currently running it (since they’re ass deep in alligators working with clients and the move to being their own thing).

    So I’ve been going through and going through old client records and trying to determine who gets which records and what data (and they’re migrating to a whole different software to better work with HMIS too). Going through all the old records of clients that have died is getting me into a really deep funk. My normal self care isn’t really helping either. I’d lost track of the sheer number over the years. I can’t take any PTO right now–it’ll probably be a month before the situation’s calmed down enough for me to take a couple days. Not sure how I’m going to get through this. I’ve got another 2-3 years of records left to go through, then I’ve got to start working with IT to look at disentangling all our computer equipment and we’ll have to figure out who gets what (shard printers, network drives, etc) and how we’ll have to move them/replace them, all the little details. Maybe I won’t go crazy?

    Reply
    1. TJ

      Is there someone you can split the work with so you don’t have to look through all the records yourself? Even if you have to take on some of their tasks instead, at least you won’t have to be doing this incredibly emotionally draining thing all day. If not, do you have an EAP? Definitely worth using in this kind of situation.

      Either way, this sounds really hard.

      Reply
      1. TCO

        Really good suggestions. Also, if you have a good relationship with your boss, bring this to her. Many organizations would want to know when an employee is struggling emotionally with their work and at risk of burnout. Maybe she could find a way to get you even a partial day off or otherwise lighten the emotional load. And if you have some trusted colleagues, debrief with them, too. I’ve worked the housing/homelessness field and I know that some days it’s just really heavy, hard stuff. There’s no way to avoid that. Is your data work also showing you any hopeful stories of clients who have been successful in improving their health or housing situation? Is there a way to post a few reminders of those at your desk–maybe even a story or photo from an recent newsletter or something like that?

        Reply
        1. Confused

          My boss is on medical leave, which is kind of compounding things. I don’t know when they’ll be back. We found out from our CEO one morning last week, and they’ve been out since then. I know they’ve had some health problems because I can hear them throw up in their office sometimes and they’ve been looking like hell for at least a month.

          We don’t have an EAP at all, unfortunately. I’ll try to find happy stories in client records though. Maybe that’ll help. Remind myself that sometimes we win.

          Reply
          1. Celeste

            Reframing is smart. So is finding someone to talk to so you aren’t psychically “carrying” this around all the time.

            My only other rec is to divide the tasks up and work on one thing at a time so you can see the list getting shorter. The hardest thing for me is to doing a little bit of everything all the time, and never feel like I’m seeing progress toward the finish line. Getting to 50% and 75% works magic for me.

            Finally, if you can work yourself any kind of little reward, that’s helpful too. I don’t know what your currency is, but you do, and if ever a stick needed a carrot, this is the time! Wishing you all the luck with this hard time.

            Reply
    2. Not So NewReader

      Is there any way that you can read less of the records? Can you scan for certain information? Can you make yourself stop reading once you have enough inputs to know your decision on the file?
      Can you pace out the work so that you turn and look at other things during the day? I know for me, at Old Job, I did the hard stuff in the morning and the more mundane tasks in the afternoon when I was more apt to be tired.

      What do you do at night to empty out your brain? At one point I was sorting records that were horrible, absolutely awful. I bought brain candy books to read at night, feel good stuff like Chicken Soup books.
      You may like to consider a drink with electrolytes in it. This type of heavy stuff pulls vitamins and minerals out of us thought our upset/concern , so replenishing some may help.

      Reply
  37. SMT

    Has anyone set up ‘corporate sponsorships’ with charities before? My boss decided that he wants to have a couple of campaigns in the next year where we donate a portion of our profits to charities (and he let us choose the charities, which is cool), but in trying to start setting this up, I’m realizing that we need to submit applications to be able to say that we are donating to them. Any advice?

    Reply
    1. Temperance

      It’s a large part of what I do!

      Honestly, the easiest way to get the ball rolling is to reach out to someone in Development at the charity to ask for help. It’s their job to help you, and I’m a huge believer in passing the buck whenever possible.

      Reply
    2. Manders

      My advice:

      1) Try to find contact information for the person who handles charitable giving so you can work with them directly. Smaller charities may have one person handling this. Larger ones may have someone handling a branch or a region.

      2) Make sure your marketing team is in the loop. They will be the ones promoting your connection to the charity. They may also have some requests you aren’t aware of (for instance: this kind of sponsorship is a really great SEO opportunity, but the charity’s site has to link to your site in a particular way). They’ll need to know details like whether they’re allowed to use the charity’s logo in a blog post, whether they can talk about donations to the charity on social media, whether the charity would also like help promoting some of their programs, etc.

      3) Do some research into prospective charities and make sure you’re not stepping on any political landmines (unless your boss is ok with making a political statement with this program). For instance: the Boy Scouts seem like a pretty tame organization, but some people believe their leadership is distasteful. Some (but not all!) of the big awareness-type organizations also have a complicated reputation.

      Reply
    3. Grits McGee

      If visibility is a component of this, you might want to focus on smaller organizations with a local mission area. $10,000 is chump change to a huge organization like the United Way, but that amount could have a huge impact for a small local organization.

      Reply
    4. Professional Cat Lady

      I work at a small non-profit (not directly in the development office, but I have enough contact with them). I agree with everyone else in the thread – talk to Development. We have a standard third party fundraiser agreement that we ask anyone throwing a benefit on our behalf to sign – it helps us manage who is doing it (we want to make sure the orgs and people we’re working with align with our mission and our donors). If the benefit is expected to raise over a certain dollar amount, we’ll open up to using our own social media/advertising time to help promote it. (reasoning being, we don’t want to crowd people’s timeline with things, we’re a popular local org.)

      The development offices will be thrilled to help you out with something like this, and they likely have procedures set up to help you with branded materials and anything else you might need.

      Reply
    5. Volunteer Coordinator in NOVA

      Like everyone else, I would recommend just going to the Development Department and letting them know your plans and they’ll help walk you through the process as we each have our procedure. Something that is helpful for me when corporate groups approach us is when they know if there are certain things that they are looking for with their donation. That might be being able to use our logo on your site, attendance at events, volunteer events for your employees, any social media or marketing recognition. Your CEO may not have even thought of this or care but it’s something that is really helpful to be aware of so that everyone on your team feels like they’re getting what they want from the donation.

      Reply
    6. Not So NewReader

      Look at the goals of the organization in relationship to your company. There are some sponsorships that just do not make sense, in the best case scenario, and in worst case scenario would not be beneficial to your company nor the org. Be prepared that some organizations may say that right out loud.

      It’s a good idea to review your company mission statement and company goals and consider how your company impacts the community that houses it. This does not have to be a belabored thing but a review would put this info at the forefront of your thinking which will be handy as you go along.

      Reply
  38. Am I overreacting?

    A friend/coworker has been having some attendance/performance problems. The weird thing is that our supervisor is complaining to everyone about their problems. He complained to me that someone missed a deadline (and then told me which project it was, which tells me it was my friend). He’s loudly made sarcastic comments about friend’s attendance in the middle of the cubefarm (she was getting a cup of coffee from the breakroom 5 minutes before a meeting, and he assumed that she skipped work that day and missed the meeting).

    It just seems really unprofessional to me. When he complained directly to me I went back to him a day or two later and told him that he shouldn’t complain to me about stuff like that so that I can tell who it is, and he apologized, but he’s still pretty vocal about his frustration with her performance.

    Reply
    1. Ann Furthermore

      That is uncool and unprofessional. He should be addressing his concerns directly with your co-worker, and not broadcasting his problems with her to everyone else.

      Reply
    2. Jan Levinson

      Yes, that is definitely inappropriate.

      Do you know if he’s approached the issues with your friend/coworker? Either way, he should not be discussing this with you! I think you did the right thing by pushing back and telling him not to complain about your coworker to you.

      Reply
      1. Am I overreacting?

        He has addressed the issue with her (she’s working on it, but it’s health related so taking a long time to sort out).

        Reply
    3. KL

      Nope, that’s pretty unprofessional. He needs to either speak directly with your friend or your friend’s supervisor (depending on how your company does that).

      Reply
    4. EddieSherbert

      I’d just keep restating stuff along that line…

      “I’m not sure that I’m the one you should be talking to about this.”
      “I don’t really know anything about X, maybe you should ask Friend.”
      “Sorry, but I’m not sure why you’re telling me this. Do you want me to cover X?” (I’m not sure of a polite way to ask if he wants you to do something about it, but I feel like if you force him into a couple “no, I’m just venting…” responses, that might be enough to make him stop).

      Or even just “I actually I need to get back to work/back to this email/whatever.”

      Reply
    5. Lemon Zinger

      Totally unprofessional. When my coworker’s absences negatively impact me, I speak with her about them, or go to our boss. I DO NOT discuss the problems openly.

      Reply
    6. Camellia

      My supervisor tells everything to everyone. And complains all the time. But if you directly ask her something, she will lie.

      Reply
    7. Not So NewReader

      There’s lots of bosses out there like this.

      Each and every time, I think I would say something like, “Did you talk with her?”

      He is basically saying. “I don’t know how to manage people.” A good and skilled boss does not handle problems this way.

      Reply
    8. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      There are bosses who do this—one of my favorite bosses did this—and I still think it’s inappropriate and unprofessional. I would actually be even more stark with him. It’s not a problem that he complained to you about stuff in a way that allowed you to identify who he was complaining about. The problem is he’s complaining to you, his direct report, about his frustrations with your friend, another of his direct reports (and I assume your peer).

      He needs to rein it in. He doesn’t get to be frustrated and to complain to the employees he supervises, particularly not if your friend’s performance is tied to a health issue (which I presume might qualify for legal protection, depending on what’s going on with her).

      So I would draw a line/boundary with him, saying something like, “I don’t know how to respond when you complain about my peers, and it makes me uncomfortable, puts all of us in a difficult position and brings down morale.” etc., etc. And if it continues and you have a decent HR department, I would consider escalating to HR. Not as a formal “complaint,” but more as a “I’m having this problem, can you help me figure out how to fix it?” thing.

      Reply
  39. Junior Dev

    I’m one of three people in my team designing a particular feature for the new website (we are software developers). My two co-workers, A and B, have been working on related but different logic and data models for it. I took co-worker A’s ideas, adapted them somewhat, and created a sample user interface. Our boss and co-worker B seemed to like what I did.

    Now I’m concerned because B said some stuff about “A and I should work on combining our data models” but 1) I have changed them 2) I want to be included in those conversations. The three of us sit in the same corner of the cubicle, but I wear headphones because otherwise I can’t concentrate. I’m pretty sure A and B are having a lot of verbal conversations about it. They are fairly good friends it seems like (I’ve only been here a few months).

    I’m also concerned there’s this weird fallacy going on that data models are somehow pure and separate from user interface (A even got annoyed when I first announced I wanted to build an interface) when in my view, the interface should be what drives the data model.

    Any advice to make sure I don’t get left out (but also can get other work done)? It feels like a lot of design decisions are being made informally and I’d really like to have better conversations about them, but it’s hard because those conversations tend to devolve into people adamantly defending very vague ideas.

    Reply
    1. Judy (since 2010)

      Well, at least in my world, the data models should make sense with expected interfaces, but they shouldn’t drive them.

      For example, we track temperature. We’ve standardized on a certain scaling of temperature. It doesn’t matter if a particular project wants degrees F, degrees C, ranges (hot, OK, cold), etc. That’s just the interface. The data is the same for all of the projects.

      I’ve always worked on embedded systems, so the user interfaces were just informational, while the system algorithms were what needed consistent data modeling.

      Reply
    2. RG

      Have you said anything to them? Like hey guys, when you have discussions about site architecture, can you let me know so I can at least listen? Maybe it’s worth seeing if you can grab a conference room to discuss these things.

      Also, as far as making changes to the data models based on the interfaces, that’s normal. Code is like a plan, it always changes after the first contact.

      Reply
    3. LS

      I’ve had similar experiences. What worked for me was to raise this in a non-confrontational, information-seeking way in a status meeting, standup, or whatever your regular catch up sessions are. So for example you can mention that you are not sure that you are in the loop about xyz, and can someone please update you. Or that you need to update the UI to reflect the latest version of the data model.

      As to whether the data model drives the UI or the other way around, that depends. A new product which doesn’t reflect an existing reality (e.g. a game) vs providing an interface to an existing system (e.g. banking or travel) vs creating something that reflects an aspect of The Real World TM such as a recipe site or a book cataloging tool – these would all require different approaches – but you are correct that the interface should always have some influence over the data model.

      Reply
  40. MuseumChick

    What would you do in this situation. You are new to a company (less than one year in), your boss generally let’s you do your own thing but every now and then pops up with a somewhat unreasonable demanded that you usually find a way to make work. There has been an ongoing project (since before you started with the company) that has been continuously held up for various reason. The CFO of your company is the point person on this project. You boss has been tasked with organizing/clearing out an area of the building and is getting pressure to make that happening very quickly. The CFO’s project is hindering that. You boss comes to you and tells you to basically find a way to circumvent the CFO and get the project done. What do you do?

    Reply
    1. Anonymous Educator

      This is a bit tricky, and a lot of how you should handle this depends on the relationships you have. What’s your relationship like with the CFO? I would probably try to get my boss to communicate with the CFO about things. If I didn’t think that would happen, I’d communicate with the CFO directly and say “My boss has asked me to do this.” If your boss then yells at you for telling the CFO you’re circumventing her and getting the project done, then your boss is a jerk, and there isn’t a real solution apart from looking for another job.

      Reply
    2. Celeste

      Sounds like the powers that be want this thing done. Is it something you can handle, or is the CFO the main part of the problem? Do you think you can get the CFO on your side to help you get it done?

      Reply
      1. MuseumChick

        I don’t think there is anyway to get it done that won’t offend the CFO. Luckily I spoke with him today and casually brought up the project. I got a completely different story from him than what my boss implied. So now I really don’t know what to do.

        Reply
        1. Celeste

          I am so sorry you have been put in the middle of this, MuseumChick. It sounds like the project isn’t the half of it.

          Reply
          1. MuseumChick

            Well, it’s finally kind of worked out. I will be taking over the project but I got my boss to actually talk to the CFO (without me in the room) instead of just doing it behind his back. I’m coming off two 6 months jobs (an internship and part-time job that I had while looking for full time work) so I want to try and stay here at least 2 -3 years. But this whole thing has made me really nervous.

            Reply
  41. gwal

    I used the wrong approach to informational interviewing as a job-seeker a few years ago when I was on the job market, and this site has particularly helped me to understand where I went wrong. Now that I am more settled, and in a position that would still be well-suited to network with a particular individual I met in those days, is there any way I can (in a big city where taking time to do a coffee-chat can be inconvenient) atone for my mistake or otherwise patch up the connection with that individual?

    Reply
    1. gwal

      (wrong as in, requested and got some time with a person at an org where I was applying for a job. didn’t get that job, did get one that’s relevant, and am not looking to leave my org at present–just want to try maintaining an OK relationship with this person!)

      Reply
      1. Natalie

        This doesn’t sound terribly egregious, actually, so it’s not clear to me that there’s any patching up that needs doing. Do you have some specific reason to think that the relationship was damaged?

        Reply
        1. gwal

          I was brand new to the city, to post-grad school work, and to the field. I’ve never crossed paths with her again and just want to make it clear that I’d like to be in touch with her, no job-hunting strings attached! There’s not a clear “in” to the conversation and I’m worried I made a bad impression :(

          Reply
          1. Natalie

            I’m not 100% sure I’m understanding the situation here, so I might be missing some detail. But it sounds like you believe you must have done something wrong because there was no further contact after the informational interview. But that’s really, really normal. There’s no reason to think you made a bad impression simply because you didn’t hear further from this person.

            If you have some plausible work reason to reach out to her again, do so. If you don’t, just wait and see if you run across each other at industry functions. Either way, you don’t need to think about this slightly awkward informational interview you did at the beginning of your career. Just set those bags down.

            Reply
            1. gwal

              Thanks! I am a constitutional worrier and one great thing about these open threads is the ability to get input from someone outside the situation. I’ll hope I run into her again, and not make the same mistake in the future!

              Reply
              1. Lily Rowan

                If you want to maintain light contact, the classic advice is to email a relevant article with a quick note like, “Saw this and thought of your work!” You could add something like, “Thanks again for speaking with me before — I’m now working at X, and it’s great.”

                Reply
  42. Going Anon For This Jewel

    I did something pretty awesome this week, and I’m going anon so I don’t accidentally out where I work.

    Part of my job is working with new graduate programs, like new majors, extending programs to other campuses, etc. Recently, we got a request and proposal to start offering an master’s in Financial Planning on another campus. My boss came by, sat down in my office, and asked for an update on new programs for us and the committee to review. Lord have mercy, why did I say that we had a proposal for a new program in Family Planning?

    We all had a good laugh about it. But my face was as red a a tomato for a little bit there.

    Reply
    1. hermit crab

      I love this! As the child of an OB/GYN with an I’m-so-excited-you-should-be-excited-too kind of personality, I know perhaps a little too much about family planning — but definitely not enough about financial planning. So, please do let me know if you ever offer a combination program, I can both learn and contribute. :)

      Reply
  43. Nervous Accountant

    No question or advice needed but TAX SEASON IS OVER YAYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I left work at midnight on Tuesday; this is the first season where I feel like I got all my stuff together–all my clients were taken care of. My boss praised me a lot and that felt super nice.

    Our tax season party was at a karaoke bar last night. Fun stuff!

    Reply
    1. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

      My husband spent the last 10 years in an accounting firm. Tax season is THE WORST. This was the first year he didn’t have to work tax season and it was such a huge difference. I’m so glad you survived both tax season and the party. I was always the designated driver for that event and spent allllllllll night chauffeuring.

      Reply
  44. Office Mercenary

    How much does a company’s reputation stick with you throughout your career? I have a second interview next week with the consulting division of a security contractor whose other divisions have done some seriously unethical and illegal things. If you Google the company’s name, the first few hits are news articles about past wrongdoing. However, this sort of behavior is pretty typical for that industry and they’re far from the worst offenders. If I get and accept the job, I wouldn’t be in the same country as the shady folks, and I wouldn’t be in a position that would compromise me ethically or legally. I’m still a little uneasy, though. I don’t know if it would hurt my professional reputation in the future, for example if people associate me with that sort of conduct.

    Reply
    1. MuseumChick

      I think this would really depend on your position within the company. If you were of a level where you knew (or should have known) what was going on and didn’t do anything to try and stop it, yeah, that’s going to stick with your through your career I would think.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous Educator

        Seconding this. Were you responsible for the wrong that happened? For example, if the executives were embezzling money, but you were the receptionist or salesperson there, I wouldn’t think you’re necessarily implicated.

        Reply
      2. Lemon Zinger

        Definitely this!

        I work in higher ed and sometimes we have staff hired from for-profit universities. If they’re faculty, well… their credentials speak for themselves. But I am extremely wary of admissions staff from for-profits, because their jobs were extremely predatory.

        Reply
      3. Office Mercenary

        I don’t think I’d be responsible for anything directly related to the shady folks, but I’d be the research analyst responsible for studying the country in which they’re stationed. More of an outside observer than a participant, really. I’d share information with them and occasionally visit in person, though.

        Reply
    2. Wheezy Weasel

      It may well depend on the level of professionalism of the resume screener. In my own experience, for every scandal there’s what is reported and what’s actually true. You also mentioned things that are ‘par for the course’ and common yet damaging, which is a bit of a mitigating factor. Admissions staff in for-profit schools and sales managers in banks with ongoing fake account scandals…I’d steer if that was quite opposite from what I’d ask them to do in my company, but those people might also bring enough experience that I’d be better off hiring them vs. training someone fresh.

      Reply
    3. Not So NewReader

      Having worked for a corrupt company, I would not consider this job. Granted there could be other factors that you can’t mention here. But I learned the hard way that corruption does not just occur “over there somewhere”.

      It’s not your reputation that is the real issue. The real issue is when we hang out with turkeys we become a turkey. In other words, corruption does not happen in a vacuum. It takes many other people to either cooperate or to turn a blind eye. I know first hand how easy it is to get caught up in helping to cover for people, learning to ignore red flags and so on. I thought I could stay out of it, but I got dragged into some of it.

      This happens for the same reason we read news stories of one person falling into the lake, three others jumping into save the first person and finally rescue people need to come and rescue all four people. Only with corruption, they don’t send EMTs.

      Sorry, that’s a hard stance on my part. But I cannot give you a tamer bit of advice and feel that it’s fair to you.

      Reply
  45. Fabulous

    I guess I don’t really have a question, but just looking for some advice on how to handle my situation in general. If I could be doing anything different, or whatnot.

    I’m currently working under 3 different departments and technically two companies (that are owned by the same parent company – the one dept provides shared services). My manager used to be the person in the Shared Services dept, but I’ve been moved over to the finance team temporarily because I am covering for a maternity leave. Meanwhile I’m still doing the shared services work, as well as am acting admin for another department whose assistant was dismissed last fall (I originally came on board as her fill-in she was out for maternity, moved to shared services when she returned, and then had her duties transitioned back to me when she left for good).

    If this sounds confusing, it’s because it is. My old (real?) manager (who is remote, which further complicates matters) is being told now to not include me in team meetings, and I’m guessing she’s been told to stop giving me assignments. But they’re all things that need done, and now I’m probably going to hear about everything now second-hand. My current (temporary) manager has only given me part of the work I probably should be doing for him, but the part I’m doing is the only portion I was trained on for this girl’s leave. Additionally, it’s annual review time and I need to do that soon – with the new manager instead of my old one, who knows my work. The new guy, while he’s been around, I’ve only been working under for the last month.

    It’s just getting really frustrating. Because on top of that management fiasco, I also have these other (3-4) managers coming at me to give me things for that third dept. On a good note, my days are full most of the time, but it’s hard to prioritize and keep everything straight. On another good note, at least everyone recognizes that I’m stretched between the different departments/managers/companies so they compliment me weekly on my ability to handle it all. And I’m directing a play on top of that right now too. I think I just need a break, LOL!!

    Reply
  46. mehkitty84

    Looking for advice from any HR pros that have transitioned from HR to employment law. I am toying with getting a law degree or paralegal. I have been an HR Generalist for about 4 years and really love the employment law side. Thanks and TGIF!

    Reply
    1. Pwyll

      I kinda sorta did that. I still love employment law, but I absolutely hated law firm life. My best recommendation is to go meet with lawyers in this type of practice to pick their brains, perhaps attempt some kind of internship or shadowing experience if possible, etc. Law school is extremely difficult because of the way it is set up (insanely stressful, crazy expensive). I don’t regret going, though I know people who do. What’s most important is that you’re going for the right reasons: you like the work (not the subject-matter of the work) and need the license to do the work.

      If what you really enjoyed is the policy, procedure or human aspect of HR, you may be better off getting a Master’s or joining an HR consulting firm that is more about counseling the business as to HR best practices. One of the more difficult things I experienced at my very, very conservative law firm was that there were “best practices” that my firm simply would not communicate because it wasn’t legal advice. My partners were very concerned about mixing business and legal advice for liability reasons, and so even if we saw a bad business practice we generally did not opine on it if it was legal. I found this incredibly frustrating.

      Reply
      1. Pwyll

        That ended up way more negative than I intended. My main point is: make sure you’re interested in the WORK and not the SUBJECT, because I think a lot of people confuse the two when it comes to law school.

        Reply
        1. mehkitty84

          Thanks! I think that is just it. I have my master’s degree and am finding that the generalist route has me dealing with every day stuff ie temp staffing and employee relations where people are immature. I think a consulting route would be better. I probably just need to be a generalist awhile to get more experience for consulting. Thanks again!

          Reply
          1. Pwyll

            In that vein, you may want to consider larger corporations’ HR departments after you have a few years as a generalist. If you’re interested in broader scope, HR Business Partner positions in bigger companies might be a next step (advising mid-to-senior managers as to HR practices), or joining a “center of excellence” within a massive company that works on higher-end policy development.

            Reply
    2. ThatGirl

      Anecdata from a friend – she went to law school specifically for employment law, because she wanted to work in a higher-up HR capacity.

      She did not need to go to law school. She could have avoided quite a lot of debt that way. She did practice employment law for about 6 years but the whole time wished she was working in an HR role instead and found it difficult to break in.

      That said, if you are interested in actually practicing employment law, that’s a different story. Her general advice to people is not to go to law school unless you truly want to practice law.

      Reply
      1. FiveWheels

        I don’t really understand why anyone would go to law school unless they want to practice law. Why become professionally trained in something you don’t want to actually do?

        Reply
        1. ThatGirl

          She wanted to become well-trained in employment law. She thought/was told that it would be useful.

          While I understand and generally agree with what you’re saying, a surprising number of people are encouraged to go to law school in order to help them get some unrelated job. People think it’s like getting your MBA.

          Reply
  47. Yas Queen

    Any advice on compartmentalizing so personal life doesn’t interfere with your work? For once, I have some very positive and exciting things going on in my personal life, and I’m finding it hard to be productive at my job.

    Reply
    1. TJ

      You might not be able to! Happy, exciting things can affect your productivity just like difficult things can, and if you have a good relationship with your manager it might help to explain what’s going on. But one way to stay productive might be to have really firm boundaries between personal and work life. Like, as soon as you get to work, you’re in work mode. No texting or facebook or anything that might get you even more distracted by the exciting things.

      And congrats on whatever those positive things are!

      Reply
    2. Anonymous Educator

      I don’t think you have to have a completely impenetrable dividing line between your personal and work life. Even when I’ve felt most competent in compartmentalizing, people will still ask how my weekend was or whatnot. When my cat died, believe me that everyone in the office knew about or saw me crying. Just try your best to stay professional. You can still be beaming about the exciting things in your life while staying professional.

      Reply
    3. Pwyll

      In some ways, I feel like positive personal issues can be more difficult to ignore than negative ones (because in some sense you WANT to focus on them). One thing I’ve done is to set specific goals for myself for each day, and mentally work to ensure that if I’m not doing those goals that it’s because they’ve been replaced by something else that came up. So, for example, I will tell myself in the morning: You will do the TPS report, and call Joe, and pull together the spreadsheet today. Near the end of the day, I will evaluate: I didn’t call Joe because Martha asked me to do x instead, which I did and was more important. And I’m not allowed to leave until I put the spreadsheet together.

      Now, this is obviously more difficult if you don’t have a job with those types of tasks, or if you’re non-exempt and have a set schedule (such that you can’t stay until the spreadsheet is done because you were distracted earlier). But so long as the “today” list is reasonable, setting the goals can make it easier to ensure you do what needs to be done (so you can leave on time and go enjoy what’s otherwise distracting you!)

      Reply
    4. Casuan

      Do you want to compartmentalise only because these changes interfere with your work? In general, are you social with your colleagues [eg: do you chat about that new restaurant or hobbies]?
      If either answer is yes, then you don’t really want to compartmentalise, which isn’t a bad thing. You just need help in focussing.

      If you’re just concerned about needing to focus & avoiding distractions at work, here are a few suggestions.
      -Before doing a task, think about the reason why you’re doing it & what resources you’ll need.
      -Divide the work into segments & focus on each segment. Between segments, take a small break & think about your exciting personal life.
      -Think of the personal accomplishments as incentives or a type of superpower.
      eg: “I just won the gold medal for my sport! Certainly I can slay this boring work thing I must do!”

      If you really want do compartmentalise your work from personal life- that takes a different approach. There’s a difference between applied focus & true compartmentalisation. Both skills take practise, so be patient with the learning curve.

      Congrats on the positive & exciting things!!

      Reply
  48. Collie

    A supervisor at one of my jobs said if I got an interview for a full-time job there, tell her and she’d fight to get on the panel and then fight to get me hired because it’s “ridiculous” that I haven’t been able to get something full time there already. I’m so, so grateful and really hoping this will be the one. The job closed yesterday, so now it’s just a wait-and-check-every-hour (exaggeration, but…) game. They expect to respond within 4-6 weeks according to the auto we-received-your-application response, but I suspect it’ll be faster given the circumstances around the job.

    I dreamed last night I got the job, but I’ve had similar dreams about other jobs before. Despite being a believer in “signs,” I’m inclined to believe this one means nothing. Or so I tell myself, for the sake of my own sanity.

    Cross your fingers for me.

    Reply
  49. Alice

    Front-line staff interacting with customers and chewing gum – what’s your take?
    I came across a DMV clerk chewing gum this week and thought they looked like a cow chewing cud.
    But to be fair, I was quite grumpy because of the wait (btw, don’t say on your website that the current wait time is 3 minutes when it’s actually two hours), which is not the fault of this clerk and also wasn’t connected to the chewing!
    Do you think it’s ok for staff to chew gum while interacting with clients?

    Reply
    1. Collie

      I can understand why others would be bothered by it (especially in food service). I’m not especially bothered by it and I wish others weren’t either (because I’m in a customer-interaction role and sometimes worry about my breath during those interactions and just like to chew on things throughout the day), but I do get it.

      Reply
        1. Collie

          Maybe, though I’d say for not as long, depending on the type of gum or mint. Plus gum has the added benefit of possibly removing things stuck in your teeth. I still wouldn’t chew gum in these circumstances because I know it bothers other people, but I’ve always had problems with bad breath, so it’s also been something I wish could be different.

          Reply
        2. FiveWheels

          I’m in a tiny minority but as I’m allergic to mint, chewing gum is a great way to make me back off!

          Reply
          1. Another one?

            My goodness, you’re the only other person I’ve ever found who was allergic to mint. I thought I was the only one!

            Reply
    2. KR

      Nope, no gum. It’s rude of her. When I needed to freshen my breath in a customer facing role I had sugar free mints. I don’t think it’s very polite to say she looked like a cow chewing cud though.

      Reply
      1. N.J.

        It’s not like she said it to her face though. It sounds like a very accurate description of someone who, literally, chews like an animal. I had someone behind me at an ice cream shop yesterday who smacked so much she sounded like a dog licking its b**lls. It’s not typically rude to accurately describe someone’s noxious manners, as long as you don’t call them out on it with that imagery.

        Reply
    3. Master Bean Counter

      Slightly better than the the time I had to wait for a DMV clerk to literally scratch his butt before he’d let me up to the counter to be helped.
      I do miss the clerks in the small town I used to live in. They were friendly, nice, and very efficient. If they could be cloned and put in every office across the country we’d all be happier people.

      Reply
      1. Alice

        Now I am counting my blessings! And I bet he didn’t wash his hands before handing back your paperwork either….

        Reply
    4. Rebecca in Dallas

      Gum is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. I personally don’t think gum should be allowed for people working directly with customers, but that may be my own bias. I cannot stand the sound of chewing and if someone is talking to me with gum in their mouth, all I can hear is their gum. SO GROSS!

      Reply
      1. WellRed

        Me too, but it’s my boss who chews (snaps, cracks and pops it). She’s so professional otherwise. If she accidentally cracks a big one, she apologizes cause she knows I hate it, but I want her to stop!!!

        Reply
    5. Ihmmy

      Meh, non issue. Often gendered I find. I mean, a piece or two is reasonable, if they’ve opted to have so much that they have to chew open-mouthed that’s unpleasant.

      But also it’s the DMV. From what I’ve seen it sounds like one of those things that customers are just at the mercy of (non US resident here)

      Reply
  50. ThatGirl

    Job searching is sloooooooow. But I do have a few leads. Including a part-time work-at-home thing that I’m trying to negotiate a higher rate on but could start next week. That would make me feel a little better about the career-track stuff taking longer.

    Meanwhile I’ve decided that Right Management (and probably similar outplacement-style firms) is like 40% decent advice, 15% gimmicks and 45% pep talks so career software engineers and the like don’t go jumping off bridges when they get laid off. (There are a lot of project managers and software developers/engineers in my group there.)

    Reply
  51. MMMMMmmmmK

    Funny story!

    So our office air conditioner was turned off Monday for the holiday. More expensive to run on a holiday and we’re cheap.

    By 10am, the temperature had risen QUITE quickly, so I turned on a fan at my desk. The office manager, who sits behind me, hates my fan because it’s loud. Honestly, it is loud, and I’ve used it for noise cancelling once or twice in the past. He’s always threatened to rip it out of the wall and hide it in one of the closets I don’t have a key for, so I usually only have it on when he’s in a meeting somewhere else and turn it off as soon as he speaks up.

    Well, Monday, he asked for it to be turned off, I explained that I was too hot to turn it off, but it’s was on its lowest, quietest setting. He didn’t say anything more.

    Fast forward a couple hours and the temp reached 86 degrees inside. We realize none of the windows can be opened, so we check a few corners for extra fans. We find 2, but one is the same loud model as mine, so he puts it back in the corner, still off, and turns on the other so that it oscillates in a high-traffic area.

    Few more hours later. I can leave earlier than some others in the office, as I get in much earlier. I’ve reached my tolerance and needed to gtfo. I start packing up and turn off my fan. Office manager behind me figuratively hits the roof. Throws himself out of his chair and begins berating me for being inconsiderate enough to turn off the fan. He goes in my area and starts pulling at cords to adjust the fan and turn it back on.

    Ok, my own mistake here, but as I watch him, I make a side comment to someone watching him. “It’s funny how he goes from threatening to rip it out of the wall because it’s on to saying I’m terrible for turning it off.”

    OMG, tantrum the likes I’ve never seen in a 50 year old man. He started hollering that I was selfish and didn’t have any care for my coworkers. Then literally rips the fan out of the wall, as he threatened, in order to move it next to the other fan he’s set up earlier in the day. All the while shouting that I was selfish and how dare I turn if off when it’s so hot inside.

    I look at the fan, of the same model, that he’s ignored all day, and carry it over to my desk. I think I said something like, “If one desk fan makes that big of a difference, why didn’t you turn this on all day?”

    He just kept hollering that I was selfish and didn’t make sense, so eventually I just shook my head and left.

    Wow.

    Reply
    1. EddieSherbert

      Oh my gosh. He sounds… difficult. I hope he’s not that difficult about everything (or anything!!) else.

      Reply
      1. MMMMMmmmmK

        He is! But I mostly know how to handle him. If you avoid him or express any kind of upset at his behavior, he’ll rotate through the office telling everyone what a child you are. SOO I came in the next morning sunny and cheery and acted like nothing had happened and spoke to him as usual.

        He sulked and didn’t really talk for 3 days, but now he’s back to his “usual” chatty, mildly complaining self.

        Reply
    2. Manders

      Wowwwwwww. I wonder sometimes how people like this get and keep jobs when they’re this blatantly unprofessional. It seems obvious to me that there are people out there who can manage an office without having a screaming meltdown about a fan?

      Reply
      1. MMMMMmmmmK

        The CEO of the company, his boss, made the excuse that he was “just hot” and lost his head for a second. Wellll, there’s a dozen other people in the office just as hot who didn’t act like that, so what point is the CEO trying to make? lol.

        In his eyes, it’s always someone else acting like a child, not him. Always. I once asked him to stop calling me names (including the b-word!). When he tried the “oh, I’m just kidding,” but I wouldn’t back down and held firm that I didn’t want to be called names, he had a temper tantrum that I was acting like a child. He didn’t speak to me for a year, which was honestly a relief. Of course, I was also a lot lower in the organization at the time, so that didn’t impact me at all. Now though, now that would seriously effect my job….

        Reply
      2. paul

        I would be written up so fast for that…I cant’ believe that the employer’s not dealing with the guy if crap like this is semi-regular

        Reply