open thread – May 5-6, 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 :)

{ 1,765 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Simplytea

    Got a weird interview question this past week for a business position (that turned out to be much different than the job description). “What do you want to tell us that is NOT on your resume?”

    Seeing as this was their first question, and they didn’t even ask me to introduce myself, it threw me for a loop. My immediate thought was “Isn’t that what an interview is about??” My answer was to talk about how great I am at events management, which is noticeably absent from my resume. I actually didn’t know it was a key part of the position until they described it, and it’s not my favorite thing (which is why it was out of my resume).

    Reflecting, I think they were looking for personality traits because the position they described ended up being more recruiter-esque than listed. Depending on the position in the future, I may answer with a comment on how I’m outgoing and a team player, who’s extremely flexible in complex situations. Of course, backed up by examples.

    So my question to all you out there:
    1. What weird questions have you gotten in an interview?
    2. Why do you think it was asked?
    3. If you got the question again, how would you answer?

    Sorry if this has been done previously :)

    Reply
    1. Anonymous Educator

      I think it would be a legitimate question if it weren’t the first question they asked you. I’ve had that question maybe five minutes into an interview, and it usually can work its way in there naturally by that point.

      Honestly, I know I’ve been asked weird questions in interviews before, but I think I’ve blocked them from my memory…

      Reply
    2. Blue Anne

      I got a weird memory game where me and the sales director took turns adding a word on to the end of a long sentence we were making together. Like..

      “This…”
      “This is…”
      “This is a…”
      “This is a very….”
      “This is a very important…”
      “This is a very important gimmick…”
      “This is a very important gimmick I…”
      “This is a very important gimmick I use…”
      “This is a very important gimmick I use because….”
      “This is a very important gimmick I use because I….”
      “This is a very important gimmick I use because I am…”
      “This is a very important gimmick I use because I am terrible…”
      “This is a very important gimmick I use because I am terrible at…”
      “This is a very important gimmick I use because I am terrible at interviewing…”

      Apparently he had most of my colleagues draw trees during their interviews. It was a red flag and I should have listened to my gut.

      Reply
      1. Snork Maiden

        Oh, no. Nope to both of those. It was painful to read your comment, I can only imagine how awkward it was for you in person.

        Reply
        1. Blue Anne

          It was very awkward and a little demeaning. The president of the company (also this guy’s wife) had already taken me through a bunch of math problems in the form of billing/invoice questions, which was fun and way, way more applicable.

          Reply
      2. jackson's whole what

        We used to play something like that at girl scouts, so I don’t know if I’d be able to stop my reflexes from adding weird things like “zombies” and seeing where the chain went.

        Reply
        1. MommaTRex

          If you added in “zombies”, I would determine that you would be an excellent fit and I’d want to hire you on the spot.

          Reply
      3. Casuan

        The tree looks pretty…
        That said, there are no words.

        Oh!!
        Actually there are… A picture is worth a thousand words!
        …none of which come to mind

        Reply
    3. Ann O. Nymous

      One time someone asked me how I would describe a tennis ball to an alien.

      I got the job but did not last long there.

      Reply
      1. De Minimis

        That might be okay if it was for marketing. I applied at a place for a marketing position once, and they had me write an ad for a sports related product to be marketed to aliens. It must be a common exercise.

        Reply
          1. motherofdragons

            Was it for training? I had to create and deliver a training plan on how to make a PB&J sandwich at my last training job.

            Reply
          1. shep

            ^All of this. :)

            “Have we already made first contact? If so, is the alien my friend or a business acquaintance?”

            Reply
      2. Blue Anne

        I can kind of understand that one, depending on the type of job. For technical support jobs, for example, I’ve heard of asking you to explain how to make a PB&J sandwich to an alien.

        My boyfriend is interviewing for patent jobs right now and got asked to pick something from his kitchen and explain exactly how it works and why it’s designed that way. Took him a couple weeks to stop staring at objects and describing their use.

        Reply
        1. Discordia Angel Jones

          My dad works in the patent field and his favourite interview question to ask was “Please describe a post-it note”.

          At least it’s relevant to what you’d be doing as a patent attorney, I guess.

          Reply
            1. Discordia Angel Jones

              I don’t even think my dad knows what that is (I don’t either, actually) lol

              Reply
        2. Stranger than fiction

          My bf is a pm and once got asked how he would go about designing a remote control…well if they had read his resume they’d have known one of the product lines he’d managed actually included remote controls!

          Reply
        3. Elizabeth H.

          I love the PB&J sandwich instructions thing. When I was in grade school we went on a field trip to the science museum where they had a presentation/demo of that concept (like how it related to computer programming, robots or something) They had a guy with the bread and jars of peanut butter and jelly and a knife and had a volunteer kid give directions then followed them literally (like when the kid said “take the bread,” picking up the entire bag of bread, spreading the peanut butter onto the top of the loaf of bread, stuff like that). It was so funny and such a great demo, it really drove the message home to me.

          Reply
    4. Cookie

      Rate your interest in this job from 1-10.
      I’m sure they wanted to determine whether I was serious about this job, but I applied, took a day off work to interview and drove 240 miles round trip to meet with you – that’s my way of showing you I’m very interested.
      If I’m ever asked this question again, I’m walking out because it shows me these people have no sense of judgment.

      Reply
      1. Mazzy

        I think it was just a sign that they had had a lot of duds before and felt they needed to screen out those type of candidates better. If you’re a competent interviewee it can be painful to answer dumb questions but from my end you’d be surprised how many people come in not knowing anything or being able to answer simple questions

        Reply
        1. Lily Rowan

          Like the person who added “Are you interested in filing? Yes/No” to her online application for a file clerk job. A lot of people checked No! (An AAM classic, IMO.)

          Reply
          1. The Rat-Catcher

            A fellow student worker of mine quit her job at our university’s textbook rental service (think library) because she “didn’t like shelving books.”

            Reply
        2. Kimberlee, Esq.

          Yes! While it’s not necessarily an excuse for bad questions, I have learned that often the reason that an interviewer asks certain questions is very specific; they had a bad experience with someone or multiple someones, and ask this question now in an attempt to stave off similar experiences.

          Reply
        3. Cookie

          The problem is, my interest wasn’t a 10. Only a “dream job” gets a 10 from me. It’s pretty good, I would’ve given it a 7, but I doubt they wanted to hear that. I’m more comfortable saying I’m very interested as opposed to giving a number because anything other than 10 might’ve screened me out (and probably did because I just said I was very interested and don’t think about these things numerically).

          Reply
      2. Blue Anne

        Just after I was born (so early 1989) my mom, a highly intelligent lady who had a JD and a PhD, got an interview for a tenure position she really wanted. Couple of hours away by train.

        So mom brought her mother in from Ohio, got her mom and her newborn onto the train, parked us in a hotel room for the duration and returned to nurse whenever she could. Interviews, meetings etc went about a day and a half, I think.

        At the end of it she was told “We don’t think you’d be committed enough to this position, because you have a new baby.”

        Screw that, seriously.

        Reply
        1. Traveler

          I got the “We don’t think you’d be committed enough…” once because I didn’t have a baby. They asked if I had children, and when I said no (and likely made a face bc my mind was racing with the inappropriateness of that question) They said oh. We don’t know if you’ll be right for this position because most of the people that tend to succeed here have children keeping them rooted.

          It was a call center position for an insurance company. Um, what?

          Reply
          1. Blue Anne

            “We prefer candidates whose personal responsibilities keep them from quitting for as long as possible no matter how soul-destroying the job is.”

            Reply
          2. MommaTRex

            Or was it: “People stay in this job if they have children, because they have no free time to look for a new job once they discover how bad this one is.”

            Reply
          3. Traveler

            It was a call center position for an insurance company. I took it when it was offered because it was in the middle of the recession. And yes, it was definitely a case of we want candidates who can’t leave because this job will destroy your soul piece by piece everyday. I left as soon as I could, likely reinforcing their beliefs.

            The best part was several months later their recruiters had to come to me for a training. I was so very internally smug.

            Reply
            1. The Rat-Catcher

              So great when that karma you keep hearing about and trusting will come around some day, does so with you watching!

              Reply
          4. JanetM

            I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this here before, but in the 1970s, when my mother was the office manager at a law firm, she said she always preferred to hire single mothers, because they couldn’t afford to quit.

            Reply
          5. Starbuck

            “They asked if I had children,”

            It’s illegal to ask about family status during a job interview, correct? My understanding is that kinds, marriage, pregnancy, etc. are totally taboo, because of situations like what happened to you!

            Reply
            1. Cookie

              They can’t use your family status against you, but they can ask. Smart interviewers wouldn’t though.

              Reply
        2. Emma

          Wow. Sadly, this attitude has not died out even in liberal arts colleges, where I have been on the receiving end (“surprising” them with the news I was x months pregnant after the offer) and part of a search committee where a person brought up childcare as an excuse not to hire someone precisely because they wouldn’t be committed (to a visiting position). I still have PTSD from that job

          Reply
          1. Overeducated

            To a…visiting position? SHE wouldn’t be committed? AAAAAAARGH!

            Most of the time I miss academia but occasionally I get a good reminder why my world is so much saner now.

            Reply
      3. Cube Ninja

        “Would you like my answer based on my feelings before or after you asked that question?”

        This is an inexcusably lazy way to ask a perfectly legitimate question. If I knew the candidate had traveled to interview, though? Totally different and a bit tone deaf to question if the job is high on their list of pursuits. I get wanting to know if the candidate is treating it as ‘best’ option versus ‘this would be ok’, but there are far better ways to determine where they stand.

        Reply
    5. LizB

      Yeah, that seems like a better question for later in the interview. We use “Is there anything you’d like to share with us that you haven’t had a chance to yet?” as one of our last questions, which seems kind of similar.

      In an internal interview, I was asked “If you were an ice cream flavor, what flavor would you be?” – mostly as a joke from a hiring manager I knew very well. I think I said “Aw, I’m terrible at these kinds of questions” and then made up some bs on the spot, which is probably what I’d do if I got it again. I honestly hate those kinds of questions. I don’t know what kind of vegetable or shoe or car I am! I’m a human!

      Reply
      1. College Career Counselor

        My spouse was asked, “if you were part of a pizza, which part would you be?” Spouse said “the crust, because I view my role as providing the support for the rest of the team to present their best selves.” Did not get the job, but that was due to internal politics of the organization rather than the quality of the answer, which I thought was about as good as could be expected given the ridiculous nature of the question.

        Reply
      2. Snazzy Hat

        I have yet to be asked what kind of tree I would be, which is unfortunate. My surname includes a variety of tree, e.g., “Cedarson” or “Larchman” or “Cypress-Hill”, so I already have a canned response that goes, “well, my last name means ____, so I’d have to say a _____”.

        Reply
        1. HannahS

          Hah! I knew someone with the last name “Beer” who used that as an answer to “What drink would you be?”

          Reply
          1. This Daydreamer

            “It depends on the situation. When I get started on a new project, I like having the sharpness of an IPA. For a brainstorming session I find it’s better to be an fast-flowing light lager. For those late night grinds, stout all the way, man.”

            Reply
      3. motherofdragons

        The question is your first paragraph is one I hear a lot at the end of interviews (and think is perfectly legit), and it reminds me of my interview for my current job.

        I was 99% sure I was going to be offered the position, because I’d worked with the managers and team in my previous role a lot, and we had a great relationship. They had also been really excited when I asked them about the opening, and were basically like “PLEASE APPLY!!” The interview was pretty casual, which also added to my confidence, and we wound up just sort of chatting toward the end. To wrap things up they asked if there was anything else I wanted to add, and I told them a joke! This would have never flown in another setting, I know, but it was fun to get to be a little cheeky. Still really happy in my job over a year later!

        Reply
      4. Stranger than fiction

        That’s an awesome question at the end of an interview because it gives you a chance to cover something awesome about yourself that didn’t come up.

        Reply
        1. LizB

          That’s the goal! We’re a well-regarded nonprofit, so a lot of people use the opportunity to talk about a personal connection to our mission or how much they’d love to work for this particular organization; others go back to some point of their experience that they really want us to pay attention to. On the other hand, folks who just say “No, I’m good” are… less impressive. Really, you can’t think of one thing you want to tell us or emphasize? I had one like that this morning and it just confirmed my lack of enthusiasm for that candidate (who didn’t do well on several other questions).

          Reply
    6. PizzaDog

      I’ve gotten that exact question. I was honest and admitted that I left it off because I was there for a short period of time and that I wasn’t looking to explore that line of work again. I think I’d answer the same way if ever I were asked again.

      Reply
    7. Amber Rose

      “Have you ever lied?”

      I have no idea why this was asked, because there’s no answer. Either I say no, and I am either most certainly lying or will assumed to be so, or I say yes and make myself look like a liar even if I’m thinking about all those times I told mom that no, I did not eat those cookies. Either way, you are getting no useful information from me except maybe some babbling qualifiers about “but I’d never lie AT WORK” which, I mean, come on.

      If I was asked again? “Why do you want to know?” Because I legit wanna know what the point was.

      Reply
      1. Cookie

        I’d think that you could say something to the effect of “I’ve lied to spare someone’s feelings, like complimenting a hairstyle that didn’t suit them, but I’ve never lied about my performance.” But I agree, it’s a dumb question and people put you in an impossible situation.

        Reply
        1. Not So NewReader

          If I am having a bad morning and I tell someone “good morning”, I feel like I am lying… or maybe it is wishful thinking?

          Reply
      2. MassMatt

        This is a very common question in the insurance/finance industry where ethical standards as well as temptations are high. I have seen it on several personality questionnaires that also assess how outgoing/sales oriented you are. The question is generally “Have you ever lied”, or in assessments that ask you to strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree it’s a statement such as “I have never lied”.

        It does seem like a trick question but saying you’ve never lied is the alarm bell, almost no one is that honest, and the fact that you’ve fibbed to spare someone’s feelings or lied as a child or something is likely to come up elsewhere in the questionnaire.

        Reply
      3. Camellia

        I am a bad bad person because my first thought was if the person asking that question was male I would say, “Yes, dear, it IS seven inches!”

        Reply
    8. DecorativeCacti

      I can’t think of a weird question, but I did have an interviewer at one point say something along the lines of, “I think one of my employees will be leaving soon and it makes me sad,” before spacing out for a minute. (It was true; the employee in question had a serious long distance relationship and about six months after I started moved to Canada.)

      Reply
    9. Casuan

      Simplytea, I’d take the query as an opportunity to mention your skills from things that aren’t on your resume &or directly related you the job description.
      eg: You can do some accounting because you’re treasurer of a club, you’re empathetic which is a skill you use where you volunteer, you can understand some languages even tho you can speak them yourself, places where you’ve volunteered & what you learned from those…
      Keep the replies short; if the interviewer wants details then she’ll ask.

      Actually I like this question, however not at the beginning of an interview! It gives one the opportunity to list skills left off of the resume.
      The timing was odd.
      Perhaps it was to determine how you respond to odd behaviours [aka thinking on your feet]? And of how well you recovered?
      If true, that’s a bit gimmicky although the rest of the interview would give clues as to the company culture, which is valuable infos for you.

      If the question was asked to me, my first thought would be “It drives me bonkers when people launch into personal questions without at least a quick introduction.”
      Probably I shouldn’t actually say that…

      Reply
      1. Simplytea

        Hahaha! Yes I think what threw me off was that I didn’t have an intro and it was the first question asked. They had also just launched into a description of the job which was not at ALL what was listed online. A shame, really.

        It was a new position, and I think all the questions they asked were kind of weird because they didn’t know exactly what they were looking for.

        Reply
    10. Perpetua

      I can see how that phrasing would throw you off the loop a bit, but I suspect that it was their way of asking you to introduce yourself, and I’d interpret it to mean “tell us something about yourself, without repeating the things we’ve already read about in your resume”.

      A weird question I got? It wasn’t an explicit question, more of a statement that “hopefully I knew how to behave in fancy restaurants and wouldn’t lick the knife like some poor peasant girl”. It was for a “very high level” headhunting position that I didn’t get nor want after that interview. :D

      Reply
    11. Kerry

      I was a teenager, interviewing at an aquarium. First, they asked, “If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?” I stuttered for 5 minutes before giving some half-hearted response, maybe Benjamin Franklin or something. Then they asked what animal I would be. Immediately, without skipping a beat, I said, “a giraffe, so I could see everything going on around me”.

      I got the job, turned it down. It was too weird, and they had me take a weird math test that was basic addition and subtraction. Funnily enough, a friend of mine interviewed as well and answered “dolphin” to the animal question. She did not get the job.

      Reply
    12. AliceBD

      I got “describe an orange without using the word orange” and I thought it was fun! I had fun answering it and they were impressed with my answer (they specifically called out using complete sentences; apparently other candidates just said random words?) I’m in marketing and the position would involve a lot of communication and writing things for the public that could be complicated and intimidating so I thought it was fine to ask. It was also almost the last question in a 2 hour interview.

      Reply
    13. WaitingforMacaroni

      “If possible describe yourself in one word.”

      I said “Open.”

      I would answer the same way but if you are not prepared, you find yourself scrambling!

      Reply
      1. Nacho

        I got a variation of “describe yourself with 3 words” (they couched it as introducing me to the team). I said “Nacho is awesome”, which had them cracking up since apparently they weren’t asking for a complete sentence like that.

        I got the promotion.

        Reply
        1. Nervous Accountant

          A client actually asked me this on the phone, and I was so thrown off by it–it didn’t occur to me to even refuse to answer that but meh. (I was already upset because he’d demanded to speak to me when I was on my lunch break and even said “tell NA her break is fucking over”; had he not pulled that, I would have been nicer about it but oh well)

          Reply
          1. CM

            Wait, what? Your client pulled you off your lunch break because they wanted to ask you to describe yourself in three words? “When is my project going to be done, why haven’t you finished it yet, and also describe yourself in three words!”

            Reply
            1. Nervous Accountant

              It was a new client and our first meeting was the next week; he had a super urgent emergency question (which really wasn’t) that he wanted to ask prior to our meeting and had been given my contact info by another dept (which is normal SOP here) but he was super anxious I guess. To be fair, he was pleasant on the phone and acknowledged he was out of line by pulling me away from my break. Thankfully, 99% of clients are NOT like this, so its now just a “funny story”

              Reply
      2. Labguy

        Good answers to throw someone for a loop.

        “Eldritch”

        “Post-Kantian”

        “Nougaty”

        “Peak”

        I’m going to have fun with this all day

        Reply
    14. Iza

      A friend recently got one that went like this: “What is your superpower?”

      I guess it is the new way of asking your greatest strength? She was definitely a little thrown by that question. After all, I always think of superpowers in terms of what I want to have, i.e. teleportation. :)

      Reply
      1. WaitingforMacaroni

        I thought of Breastfeeding as there was a meme about that at some point: I can make food; what’s your superpower, or similar.

        But i don’t think that would be appropriate of an answer for most work environments…!

        Reply
      2. the gold digger

        My husband’s superpower is that he has to hear only one song of a vintage American Top 40 with Casey Kasem to know what year the episode is from.

        Parents, that’s what you get when you talk about how awful pop music is and play nothing but classical music in your house: Your child will become obsessed with pop music.

        Reply
        1. Collarbone High

          One of the radio stations in my city plays the old Casey Kasem countdowns on Sunday mornings and it always kind of weirds me out to hear his voice.

          I would love to read an article tracking down some of the people whose long distance dedications were played on the air and finding out how they turned out.

          Reply
          1. Jane Gloriana Villanueva

            oh my gosh, that is a great idea about the LDD… this reminds me of a mixtape I made in college where I just kept a blank in the recorder and caught everything I wanted as I could. I had taped Kasem reading one in memory of a beloved teacher who had died in a car crash… and then very unintentionally, it turned out that the next song I recorded was Sheryl Crow’s “Every Day is a Winding Road.” Classy JGV!

            Reply
          2. the gold digger

            We listen every Sunday, too!

            I wonder about the long-distance dedications, too. There was one a few weeks ago from a 15 year old girl to the 35 year old man who had taught her “how to love.” I am guessing they would not run something like that today.

            Reply
          3. Woman of a Certain Age

            I ran into a radio station where for some reason they were replaying old “America’s Top 40” programs with Casey Kasem not too awful long ago. They were playing an episode from around 1971 or 72 or so from when I was a child and I remembered a whole lot of the songs from people like Carole King and the Carpenters. I’d like to find that radio station again and see if they will be playing any more old reruns like that again.

            It was like traveling back in time.

            Reply
        2. Bryce

          My superpower is not needing a radio station/mp3 player. I have a running soundtrack in my head at all times (not just one song on repeat) and can keep pretty much perfect timing while it plays.

          Reply
      3. Jane Gloriana Villanueva

        Hmmm… I recently held multiple interviews, and that’s my last question! I wonder if s/he was referring to me, haha.

        I think the way I wrap up the other questions, and their questions, shows that I am asking this for fun. We’re a small team, and it’s been very difficult to deal with someone with little humor or personality, so the answer to this says a lot. I don’t like the “strengths and weaknesses” stuff, so I try to find other ways to draw those qualities out. It would never be my opening question, and I try not to ask questions that I would find appalling or frustrating, or a darn bit of trickery.

        Reply
      4. Jadelyn

        Well, I have a running joke with my lovers that my superpower is “inspirational nudity”, but I doubt an interviewer needs or wants to hear that, lol.

        (There actually is a story behind it, I swear! It’s not just ego! Had to do with an interesting experience in college with public nudity.)

        Reply
    15. Michele

      One time they asked about my entire work history, going back to babysitting in junior high (and this was for a position that required a Ph.D. and experience). I thought it was bizarre at the time, but then I realized they were trying to get a feel for my work ethic.

      Reply
      1. the gold digger

        I did think it was weird that of the five high school seniors I interviewed as part of their application to the college I attended, not one of them has ever had a job. Where do they get their money? I started babysitting when I was 11.

        Reply
        1. Amy the Rev

          A girl in my grad program has never had a summer job…. I was working full time every summer since I was 16, and had the same question- where did she get her money???

          Reply
          1. Garland not Andews

            Some of us never had the option. When you live miles out of town, don’t have a vehicle, and there is tons of farm work (gardening, watering, canning) to be done, working in town was never an option.

            Reply
            1. the gold digger

              I consider farm work to be work for sure. (There is a reason neither my mom nor her six siblings had any interest in taking over the family farm.) Unfortunately, it does not always come with pay.

              Reply
          2. Rookie Manager

            A school friend of mine is now a Paediatric Consultant. She’s done well for herself but it always baffled me that through school and uni she never once worked. Her first pay cheque was for being a doctor.

            Bank of Mum and Dad gave her all her money, and she always had more than I did from working. They wanted her to focus on her studies. Not that I’m bitter about not being born to rich parents…

            Reply
        2. HannahS

          I wasn’t allowed to work in high school, except for very part-time for my dad. My parents gave me money. They could afford to, and preferred that I spend my time on school plus extracurriculars (of which I think I had nine) instead of a job. In the summer, the rule was “you must do SOMETHING. Work or school.” I took summer school to get ahead on credits. Most people I knew didn’t have jobs during high school. It was a mostly middle-class, mostly immigrant area where the expectation was that you spent every minute on being a student.

          Reply
        3. Chaordic One

          When I was growing up there really weren’t that many jobs out there for high school kids. I would have loved to have been a waitress or to have worked in a grocery store or as a cashier or something like that, and I applied for many things and never even got calls back. It did kind of seem like there was a lot of nepotism and that small businesses only hired their own kids, which is kind of understandable.

          I did end up doing lawn work (which I hated), and the occasional odd job babysitting or doing sewing, but it was never anything that provided a steady income. I could never have bought myself a used car, for example.

          I suspect that things are only worse now.

          Reply
        4. Anxa

          Perhaps the economy?

          My senior year of college I hadn’t reapplied to one of my summer jobs, naively thinking I’d be interviewing for new positions and there were also transit issues.

          By the next summer, still unemployed, post-crash, I wasn’t accepted back. There was a 20+ person waitlist. I never had to work hard at finding a summer job in high school and college, but once I had some gaps in my resume, the same types of jobs I had just sort of walked into were seemingly impossible to get. Plus, more and more retail/service work is done through larger companies and automated job applications are becoming more normal. Also, it’s hard to get a job without experience. I think college it’s easier to start building more meaningful unpaid experience in college.

          Reply
        5. Ask Me About My Knitwear

          “Where do they get their money?”

          Well, that’s easy – speaking for myself, I simply didn’t have any.

          Reply
    16. Lizzle

      Well my boss asked very probey questions about why I didn’t go to college and other topics. Even after I felt I had answered it, that “I was on my own at a young age and had to start working earlier than most”.

      She persisted – “so did you just feel it wasn’t important to go to school?” and I was really thrown… I didn’t know what else to say… so I said “well I lost my mother before I turned 14 and was pretty much on my own at that point so I didn’t feel it was an option”

      She continued on with other questions, “why was I so interested in non-profit work?” and again my first answer had to be probed… This was my second interview with her, it felt like therapy, I felt very exposed and uncomfortable. I don’t know if she sensed my uneasiness at the end or realized she went a little too far, she said something about thanking me for answering difficult questions. I can answer whatever you like but perhaps keeping questions a bit more professional would make sense. Now I know she is a bit of a college snob so…

      I would have a more polished answer should it happen again, I wouldn’t have shared so much, I was caught off guard. I’m a pretty private person as it is. Honestly if it did happen like that I would probably just run! Usually if my not having a degree is an issue I’m not brought in at all, certainly not for multiple interviews for weeks on end like I was here.

      I took the job and should have paid attention to the red flags but was afraid NOT to take it. And now, almost 2 years later, I can’t wait to leave.

      Reply
      1. Ramona Flowers

        What a stupid, horrible snob this woman must be. I’m so sorry – that just reeks of privilege. Glad you’re getting out of there.

        Reply
    17. Guy Incognito

      1. Do you believe in aliens
      2. I’ve no idea
      3. I’d use the same answer which was “I haven’t seen enough evidence to convince me they exist, but I’m not sure they don’t”

      1. Tell me a joke
      2. I think because I said liked stand up comedy
      3. I made a bird box last weekend, next week I make a chicken do karate.
      (The only jokes I could remember were NSFW so I just said I couldn’t think of anything appropriate to tell in an interview)

      Reply
      1. Kimberlee, Esq.

        Ugh, yes, I once got the “tell me a joke” and all I could think about were dead baby jokes, a genre I was very into in high school and are wholly, 100% inappropriate virtually anywhere, especially in a job interview.

        Reply
          1. Snazzy Hat

            I had a friend in high school who told me that joke, and I didn’t get it at first. He explained, “because he has a long face”, gesturing to his own face being elongated. I realized it was a groaner.

            Then *every* time I saw him in the halls between classes, he would mouth “because he has a long face” and do that motion again. We were pretty good friends, so I wasn’t genuinely upset, but my reactions would range from rolling my eyes at him to flipping him off.

            Honestly, though, I love quick jokes like that.
            “Two guys walk into a bar. The next guy walks under it.”
            “Two drums and a cymbal fall down a flight of stairs. Ba-dum PSH!”
            “What do you get when you cross a rhetorical question with a joke?”

            Reply
    18. MarianCSRA

      I once applied for a job that posted a very generic job description (librarian), then at the interview you got a specific job description (children’s librarian) to read over before they started asking questions. Then, at the end of the interview, the last question was: Now that you’ve read the job description, do you still want this job? Talk about being thrown for a loop. I just went through the whole interview. Even if I don’t want the job, I’m not going to say that now.

      I have no idea what the reasoning was for asking that. :/

      Reply
      1. Cookie

        That’s unfair to spring the change on you at the interview. For whatever it’s worth, I’ve been in similar situations and have said, “Thanks for your time” and moved on.

        Reply
        1. MarianCSRA

          I agree. Especially since you usually know if you want to be a children’s librarian or not. It seems a waste of time for everyone involved.

          Reply
      2. LizB

        Yikes. My HR requires me to use a job description that is really vague and doesn’t give a good idea of what the position I’m hiring for actually does, so I always give a much more detailed description and then ask if the applicant still wants to proceed… as the very first question in a phone screen. And if someone says “no, that’s not what I want to do,” I thank them for their interest and we end the call. It’s just a waste of everyone’s time to wait until the very end of an in-person interview.

        Reply
    19. MWKate

      1. Do you think you are a person who sees the forest or the trees?
      2. What is a favorite saying or quote? (I completely flubbed this one, it was really unexpected and my mind completely blanked.)

      Reply
      1. Xarcady

        I got the favorite saying once in an interview and responded, “Do or do not; there is no try.”

        The interviewers were impressed. They had no idea that I couldn’t think of *anything* and the only reason the Star Wars quote floated to the top was that I had been chatting with my nephew the night before and he said it during our conversation.

        However, none of the 5 people interviewing me had a clue where the saying was from.

        Reply
        1. MWKate

          I wish I could have come up with something like that. I stared at them blankly for about 30 seconds, and the only thing that kept coming to mind, it was like an earworm, was this sign my aunt has hanging in her house. “An Irishman is never drunk as long as he can hold onto a blade of grass and not fall off the face of the earth.”

          I wanted to just stand up and silently leave. I think I tried to be like, it’s a funny sign I liked growing up and it reminds me of family holidays etc etc.

          Reply
      2. tink

        I’ve gotten the forest and trees question pretty frequently. As far as I can tell the question is really “Do you focus on the big picture or the details?”

        Reply
        1. Amy the Rev

          my answer would be “the trees are what attract my attention, but then i like to step back and see the forest”

          Reply
      3. gladfe

        Ooh, I’d hate that forest-trees question. I hate all those sorts of false-binary questions in interviews. A lot of human traits have some sort of normal distribution, so a lot of people are honestly in the middle, but you run into interviewers who are just sure everybody’s an X person or a Y person. If you try to say you’re in the middle, they think you’re equivocating. I’m not particularly introverted or extroverted; I can see the forest and the trees just fine, but neither perfectly; and I am neither rigid nor free-spirited on all subjects. All of those things are perfectly normal, but good luck saying any of them to an interviewer with a pet theory about what types of people there are!

        Reply
        1. HannahS

          I feel like they’re so often code for, “There are two types of people: me, and everyone who isn’t exactly like me.”

          Reply
      4. Stellar

        “By Grabthar’s Hammer, by the suns of Warvan, you shall be avenged?”

        I’m terrible with these kinds of put-on-the-spot questions.

        Reply
    20. Cookie

      In a legal interview many years ago, I was asked to describe 10 uses for a stapler (other than the obvious). I thought it was an exercise in creative thinking, but when I shared this question with my career development office they told me the firm was trying to screen out people who may crack under pressure and use a stapler as a weapon – unfortunately, that was one of my 10 responses. So just watch out, you never know what they’re getting at with these questions.

      Reply
      1. tw

        oh man, I was once asked for 10 uses for a pencil besides writing. Maybe they were looking for stabbing?
        My mind blanked and my first answer was “erasing”

        Reply
      2. Lizzle

        Interesting… I would have totally said weapon, but not as the first response. I always have to restrain myself at the airport when they ask ‘are you carrying any weapons with you?’ and I want to say ‘well almost anything can be used as a weapon’…

        You watch enough Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and other such entertainment and this is what you know.

        Reply
      3. paul

        It’s a hefty-ish blunt object; weapon is going to be on that list for most people.

        Weapon, doorstop, paperweight…maybe a hammer in a pinch?

        Reply
        1. Jaydee

          Hammer, definitely. I have used my stapler and tape dispenser as makeshift hammers many times.

          Reply
        2. Cookie

          I definitely remember saying doorstop and paperweight, also backscratcher for some reason. These interviewers make an already stressful experience more challenging.

          Reply
      4. Trillian

        So “Break a window to escape” would probably not work either.

        “Staple two sheets of paper together.”
        “Staple three sheets of paper together.”
        “Staple four sheets of paper …”

        If anyone ever invents a telepathy pill, I am so socially dead.

        Reply
        1. Bryce

          Your answer reminds me of a test I took as a kid where I had to make pictures using a bunch of vertical lines on a page. I got bored and turned them all into the legs of a 3-page long centipede.

          Reply
      5. LizB

        1. doorstop
        2. paperweight
        3. self-defense in case of an active shooter situation (throw it)
        4. toothpick (using one staple)
        5. hold down a helium balloon
        6. pool toy you can dive for?
        7. very light free weight
        8. could maybe be used as a door hinge if you had a lot of other power tools?
        9. percussion instrument if you can staple rhythmically
        10. tongs, kind of?

        Reply
      6. Shark Whisperer

        I was asked that in an interview and one of my answers was definitely using as a weapon and I got the job (although I may have specifically said under what circumstances I would use it as a weapon i.e. a serial killer is attempting to abduct me). But I am not in the legal field, and the position is definitely one that requires creativity and thinking outside the box. Also the question was asked in the second interview which was with direct coworkers as well as the hiring manager, so part of it was also to judge how I would fit in with the rest of the team. (We have a small team that works together in a very small space and often deals with stressful situations, so fit is very very important). We’ve hired a new team member since I was hired and we asked the stapler question in those interviews as well. I honestly don’t remember what the woman who we hired said. It wasn’t a question that would make or break a candidate, it was one of many creative/how-do-you-fit-with-the-team questions, but silly and creative answers definitely got you bonus points.

        Reply
      7. MommaTRex

        Gee. At my work (an office job) we just went through active shooter training, and we were encouraged to think about how we could use readily available items as weapons.

        Reply
      8. Elizabeth West

        This cracks me up. At OldExjob, we had office safety training, and I asked for specific training on handling a situation where someone threatening came in (because front desk). I have this habit when queuing in the post office or wherever for any length of time–I get bored and start imagining what I would do if the apocalypse suddenly happened or somebody went bonkers. And I was already thinking about that from a safety standpoint anyway, so I had lots of alternate uses for the stuff on my desk. The safety trainer told my boss, “I’d be a lot more worried about the perpetrator than about her!”

        Reply
        1. paul

          having been stabbed with unconventional items, they can hurt like a bastard. Hard to get to something really vital in the torso though (neck might work?).

          Reply
    21. Emi.

      Why is there fuzz on a tennis ball?
      It turns out this is a common question, and they don’t actually care whether you’re right as long as you say something sensible. I think the correct answer is that it increases friction against the racket so you can put more spin on it (although it’s hard to sort out the actual tennis ball design information from the 80,000,000 articles about how to answer the tennis ball interview question), so I guess I’d say that.

      Without actually doing it, explain how to tie your shoes.
      Name ten things to do with a pencil besides writing.
      I guess they wanted to see creative problem solving? It was an applied math job. I’d give the same answers, probably.

      If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
      Classic. I am a sea monster. If I had another shot, I would explain that I want to explore the ocean floor because it’s hard, and being hard to acquire makes knowledge more enticing.

      Reply
    22. dappertea

      One of our interviewers will throw in a really oddball question (with a warning that it’s an oddball question to the candidate, and just for fun) if a candidate seems really tense or is just being really stiff. While the candidate thinks of their answer, both interviewers usually share what their answer would be and joke a little. It’s to help lighten the mood and make things a little less intense. Where that works with most candidates, there are some I feel where it definitely makes things worse and more uncomfortable for them.

      Reply
    23. Bryan

      Not a question per se, but I interviewed at a company about five years ago and the interviewer told me “I’m not going to speak for the next three minutes. Entertain me.” If this were a sales or PR related job, I could see how that would make sense but this was for a finance position…I’m not really sure that people would seek out accountants for entertainment on a regular or any sort of basis. The interviewer was passive aggressive for most of the interview and gave off a vibe that he’d be a royal PITA to work for. I knew I wasn’t going to work for this company so I thanked the guy for his time and ended the interview; he turned red and glared at me as I left the room.

      If asked again and it was a company that I really wanted to work for, maybe I’d launch into an acapella version of the Bohemian Rhapsody.

      Reply
      1. Iris Carpenter

        There is an apocryphal story that a Cambridge don said that to a student he was interviewing for admission to the university. The would-be student set light to the don’s newspaper!

        Reply
        1. Jen Erik

          It may not be apocryphal. My daughter’s teacher told her that her son did that at his Cambridge interview, though, as I remember it, the prompt had been “Impress me.” It was only part of the process, and there was a longer story about why he did it. ( It was the end of a long day, he was about to miss his flight home, the professor left him kicking his heels outside the door, then called him in and continued to read the paper, ignoring him…) He was offered a place.
          He’s in finance too, and when I shared the story with a friend who worked in HR, she explained – and I’m afraid I’ve forgotten the explanation – what personal quality they were screening for there, and why it was important in that field.
          (Of course, while the Cambridge educated son exists, it’s possible the mum appropriated the story, but she seemed a straightforward person.)

          Reply
          1. Government Mule

            Sounds like the ADM Rickover interview story.
            Rickover to candidate: Piss me off.
            Candidate sweeps everything off of Rickover’s desk.

            Reply
      2. Snazzy Hat

        For some reason that reminds me of my International Baccalaureate Physics exam. The class was grossly unprepared for an entire section of the exam, and one of my friends wrote for several of her answers, “I don’t know, but here’s a joke” and then proceeded with the joke. When she told me this, I regretted not writing lines of dialogue from The Simpsons.

        Reply
    24. Nanc

      Hand to heaven: What’s your astrological sign? We have to make certain you’ll be compatible with the rest of the department.

      Sigh. I was young (this was 30 or so years ago) so I answered truthfully, “Libra, we’re well balanced! In Chinese astrology I was born the year of the bull!” I didn’t make it to the final round but heard from someone who used to work there that finalists had to provide exact birth date, time and location so a professional astrologer could chart their horoscope to make sure they’d work well with the team. Surprisingly, the company is still in business and doing very well but yeah, if I were asked that today I would have skipped right to being born in the year of the bull and not bothered to stick around for the rest of the interview.

      Reply
      1. Detective Amy Santiago

        Did you write to AAM about this? I feel like I remember seeing this story before and I’m really hoping there aren’t multiple companies out there doing this.

        Reply
        1. Nanc

          This was 1990ish (I think). I have no idea if they still do this but they’re still around and seem to be doing well. If they are still doing it, I have to wonder how one finds a reputable astrologer for the process and if it’s their equivalent of a paid background check.

          Reply
    25. STEMlady

      I’ve gotten “tell me something about yourself that would surprise me…. and I’m not easily surprised.”
      So, I try to wrap in one of my work-applicable hobbies into my answer. “I coach a collegiate competitive public speaking team in my free time.”
      “Well. You’re well spoken, so that doesn’t surprise me.”
      What do you want me to say? Are you trying to find out if I’ve committed murder?

      Reply
      1. paul

        I think I’d just jump right for the juglar there.

        “I know what people’s entrails look like” (surgery, not evisceration!).

        Reply
      2. Blue Anne

        I would be so tempted to just go with the most personal, gross things. I’m so done with interviewers who ask this kind of question.

        “I’ve thrown up with my jaw wired shut before”
        “I’m pretty sure that when moving out of every flat I’ve ever lived in, I accidentally left a dildo behind”
        “When I’m the shower I blow my nose on my hand”

        Reply
      3. DecorativeCacti

        I hate these kinds of questions. I remember even in high school having multiple sessions of “tell this stranger three things no one else knows about you.” There’s a reason no one knows those things!

        Reply
        1. Snazzy Hat

          I would try to keep those as benign as possible.
          “The last time I cut my toenails I barely left anything on my pinky toes, I didn’t drink orange juice this morning, and my wrist hurts.”

          Reply
    26. ZNerd

      We actually have asked that question (or one very similar), as a way to start closing out the interview. It makes no sense as a first, or early, question, so I feel your confusion there! But after we have discussed what is ON the resume, and what the job will be, that question allows a candidate to tell us something that perhaps wasn’t resume-worthy but now seems relevant after our conversation. Some did that; some told us about a hobby or other non-work experience. The latter is also interesting, though rarely particularly relevant. We did find we need to fine-tune the wording in the question, to make it clear we weren’t asking about personal/sensitive info, etc. Something like, “Now that you’ve heard more about the position and our firm/dept, is there something you’d like us to know about your experience that we wouldn’t get from your resume?”

      Reply
    27. Audiophile

      A few interviews back, I had the interviewer ask me what I wanted to be when I grow up. I think I’ve shared this here before, but it definitely threw me. It must have been clear by the expression on my face, because she shared that she didn’t feel like a grown up. I can say I feel like a grown up and this struck me as such an odd question.

      Reply
    28. JustaTech

      For a lab job I was asked “Your phone isn’t working. What do you do?”
      I ran down the troubleshooting I would do (power button, borrow a charger to charge it, check for moisture, Google for faults) and they seemed pretty happy, although one guy wanted to know why I wouldn’t take it apart (“Because that might void the warranty and I don’t know enough about electronics to know what I’m looking at when I get it open.”)

      They were looking for problem solving skills and your problem solving approach. It was a pretty good question.

      Nowadays the question would probably be different if only because smartphones are less user-serviceable.

      Reply
    29. Taylor Swift

      I don’t think that’s a very weird question, although I would have expected it to come at the end of an interview.

      Reply
    30. Kimberlee, Esq.

      I was once asked if I was more like a pirate, or a ninja. In the context of the interview, it was actually a really good question, because while I got it “wrong” it was a good gateway to talk about some ideas that are really important to their culture, as well as being sort of ‘on brand’ for them (this was a place that had pop-art-style pictures of Darth Vader and c3p0 in the break room, for instance). It was weird but I did not begrudge them the question at all.

      Reply
    31. Cute Li'l UFO

      I have gotten the “what’s not on your resume that you’d like to tell us that’s not on your resume” question and that is generally towards the end of the interview. I’m a visual/graphic designer so that’s usually my cue to rap everything up and to talk about something else about me that I might have missed.
      One of my favorite questions (another end of interview one) was “If you had $500 to spend at Target on yourself however you want, what would you buy?”
      It almost sounded like a trick question (or perhaps I overthink things) but it was actually a good way to keep some dialogue going. Another now-employee they interviewed had answered “socks” because nothing beats a fresh pair of socks every day. I answered that I would have bought new paper materials, glue sticks (always dried up when I need them), probably some of whatever crazy art stuff they have, and of course all the other Target incidentals that leap into your cart.

      Reply
      1. nonegiven

        I couldn’t spend $500 at Target if my life depended on it. The most I’ve ever spent at Target at one time was about $35 when they had a deal on the catfood I use.

        Reply
    32. Kowalski! Options!

      “You have just been informed that, in two hours, a group of forty aliens will be arriving in the office for a cooking class, and they want to learn how to make sandwiches. How would you plan the course?”

      This was for CurrentJob, and it was the main interview question for an instructional design position within a level of government. Luckily, one I’d worked in before, so I was able to throw in the names of the appropriate forms and procedures to be used for different things. I don’t think that my answer helped me as much as knowing how procedures around here worked.

      Reply
    33. De Minimis

      Not weird, but more annoying. I’ve mentioned the interview before where the interviewer wouldn’t tell me what the job was.

      She asked, “What if the job was digging a ditch? Would you still want to do it? Because I don’t want people who want to avoid hard work.”

      Reply
    34. Aria

      Weirdest interview question I’ve ever gotten: “Do you believe in magic?” Follow-up question: “Would you rather meet a gnome or a troll?”

      The interview was for an attorney position at a small personal injury law firm.

      Reply
    35. Anon here

      I’ve gotten that question, but at the end of the interview. “What do you want us to know?” “What else should we know that wasn’t mentioned” etc. Weird questions… “You have 5 blocks. How do you arrange them?” (This was for a reference librarian position.) Another one was at the end of the interview, “Quick! You have 45 seconds! Why should I hire you?” (Academic Librarian position)

      Reply
      1. Snazzy Hat

        “Quick! You have 45 seconds! Why should I hire you?”

        Burns: Let’s make this sporting, Leonard. If you can tell me why I shouldn’t fire you without using the letter ‘E’, you can keep your job.
        Lenny: Uh, okay… um…. I’m… a good… work… guy?

        Reply
    36. Elizabeth West

      It was in a group interview for a front desk position at a “cool” manufacturer. (Group interviews really suck for stupid reasons anyway.)

      1. The question was “If you were an ice cream flavor, what would you be?” I said I’d make up my own flavor instead of picking one.
      2. I have no fooking idea why they would ask us such a stupid question.
      3. If anyone asked me that again, I’d say, “Are you asking my favorite because we get free ice cream?” In hindsight, I wish I’d said this that time, because this was the kind of place where they had a ping-pong table and other “fun” employee perks.

      I did get a second interview, but the job didn’t sound all that great once I got in with the hiring managers. They rejected me but I would have turned it down anyway. IMO, their process was too much fol-de-rol for a front desk position.

      Reply
    37. Jennifer Walters

      I had an interviewer who turned around and check his email on his desktop while he interviewed me. He turned back around and said, “I just got an email from a graduate of Chocolate Teapot University, which is a far superior school to Vanilla Teapot University, where you graduated from. He apparently wants this job as well. Why should I hire you and not him?”

      Reply
      1. Cookie

        Those sorts of questions are awful, although rarely are they that specific. I always say that I don’t know enough about the other candidates to compare myself to them, but these are my strong points …

        Reply
      2. Kimberlee, Esq.

        Hmmm, I’m not really a fan of the style, but it seems like he wanted you to talk more about your education and what you thought it meant/what you learned or did that you think makes you a good candidate. It’s a tad precious, but I could see the value of it as a question for a relatively entry-level job.

        Conversely, he could just have been trying to see if you were snobbish about schools, or bought into school snobbery, or wanted to see how you defended your credentials when they were challenged?

        Reply
      3. Jennifer Walters

        Cookie and CM, those are both my usual go-to responses! Great minds think a like.

        I think I found it more appalling than I usually would because it was an interview for an associate position at a three-person law firm. The first question was “Why are you willing to work for basically nothing?” Then he proceeded to talk about himself and his practice, totally normal, but then it segued into his twin sons and what they were doing at their Tier One school, which the interviewer also graduated from. After twenty minutes of not getting a word in, the email incident happened. I should mention that I also went to a Tier One school, it just happened to be five rungs lower than the e-mailer and his twin sons. I responded with something along the lines of “While my school may be ranked a bit lower, I took full advantage of my education, going above and beyond, which my clerkships and credentials showcase.” This was met with, “Well, how great can taking full advantage be with a lower ranking?” So, after that, I was basically out.

        Luckily, my next interview was with my current firm, which was 100% focused on merit and not pedigree. :)

        Reply
    38. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo

      A legitimate question asked at a weird time: I’ve had a couple interviews where the interviewer began with “So, do you have any questions for me?” Ask that towards the end of the interview, fine. But what would be the purpose of asking that before we’ve even started discussing anything?

      Reply
      1. Ramona Flowers

        I’ve had that question once. It was an hour-long interview for a psychotherapy course though, which is like nothing else, and it made total sense – interviewer asked if I had any burning questions at the start, which meant I could then focus on answering.

        Reply
    39. Overeducated

      I have gotten variations on that same question starting off multiple interviews. It threw me at first until I decided to interpret it as “tell me about yourself in a way that isn’t just repeating your resume” and now I basically use it as an opportunity for an elevator pitch with a little more personality.

      The weirdest ones I’ve had were “what are 3 words your friends would use to describe you? Your family?” I had a really hard time thinking of words that would be most accurate and relevant to a job. Also, “how would you improve X program?” as the very first question, with no info given about X program beyond what was on the job description.

      I have also been asked to bring “an object that says something about me” to an interview, but that actually represented a job related competency so it made sense in that specific context.

      Reply
    40. S

      the weirdest and coolest one I ever got: If you were an animal, what would you be and why? Just got this one in an interview the other day :-)

      Reply
    41. Nic

      I had something similar, where the person who interviewed me (second round) came in and said “I’ve read all of this, and that got you here. Tell me the things that aren’t on there that will get you farther.” Basically the same question, but it came across totally differently than in your case. In this case, I actually liked it.

      Reply
  2. Sunflower

    My boss quit and now they are debating where to re-hire for her job. I found out through the grapevine that 2 higher-ups are arguing between slightly above avg cost of living city(where I live and our 3 person team sits) and high cost of living city. 90% of our events take place in HCOL city so I travel here quite often(a few times a month) as we do not have a team member based here. Cities are about 1.5 hours from each other. My boss was in a different office than either of these cities. The job has not been posted yet.

    I’ve wanted to move to HCOL city for a while. My company is very hesitant about hiring there because of paying increased salary and thus the back and forth. However, it would be cheaper for me to be there than a manager.

    I’ve spoken to my boss and she said I will probably need to make a case for my move regardless. She wants me to speak with our director at my review but that’s not for another month so I think it’s best to do it today or sometime early next week.

    Anyway I’m debating between talking to director today with the info I have on hand or waiting til next week and crunching numbers over the weekend. I think we will about break even with $$ but having a team member there will reduce the work we put on other ppl in my dept who are not on my team and I think it just makes sense all around.

    IDK if I’m looking for advice or just reassurance. I’ve been nervous about going forward with this move and this feels like the perfect time to go for it. The answer, regardless of what it is, will bring up a lot of new questions for me and my career. Wish me luck!

    Reply
    1. straws

      Definitely good luck! Having the exact numbers in hand has its benefits, but there’s also value in having a discussion first to drive your analysis. I’d let circumstance, your instinct, and your knowledge of the director drive your call. It sounds like a great suggestion, even if it doesn’t end up being the final decision.

      Reply
    2. Casuan

      My initial thought was to ask for more infos first so you don’t put the effort into planning a case if the opportunity doesn’t even exist.

      After a little more thought, I think you should wait to ask. In the interim, decide if this is really what you want, crunch the numbers & other variables to decide if you really can do do this, & start to prepare your case on the infos you have. After you do talk with the director, you can then adjust your case as warranted.

      my reasoning:
      If you’re anxious [in a good or bad way] about the idea of moving, you’re probably not going to stop thinking about it so you might as well begin to sort them out. This should help you think of logistics you haven’t yet thought of & it might give you some questions to ask your director.

      Also, you don’t want to be ambivalent when you talk with anyone in upper management, especially if they’re not yet convinced of what they want to do. If you’re certain of your commitment then you can phrase your questions accordingly & confidently say that you think you’re a good candidate for the job & ask for a meeting* so you can tell them why. The “why” should answer the benefits to the company & that you want to move to the city in question.

      *”ask for a meeting” as opposed to a quick exchange in the office or in a corridor

      Sunflower, you seem to be pragmatic & thoughtful about this, which is a really good thing!!
      Good luck!!

      Reply
    3. Sunflower

      So this afternoon they just posted my bosses job in the same city as me. Not sure where to go from here. It’s still worth bringing up but I’m slightly bummed since it seems like I may have lost some of my leverage :(

      Reply
      1. Casuan

        One step at a time, Sunflower. You just received more information. Decide if you really do want to move, crunch the numbers & make your case.
        [Imho!!]

        Reply
  3. Lizzle

    I just want to thank everyone here… you have helped me while I was out of work, prepping my resume and cover letters, dealing with interview and application drama and managing this new role and the challenges. All the comments and even the good vibes that may be sent silently, it’s helped me so much! So no questions or venting today – just gratitude! Group hug :)

    Reply
    1. Analysis Paralysis

      I second this! I’ve been waiting for 4 long days to say this:

      I GOT THE JOB!!

      Thanks to the excellent advice from Alison and the commentariat, I definitely improved my cover letters and thank you (follow up) notes, which were 2 areas that intimidated me. While I already felt confident about interviewing/being conversational, I picked up some really valuable tips that added further polish to my interviews.

      I really appreciate the sense of community in this blog & the commentariat. I enjoy the engaging topics and Alison’s thoughtful responses. I get a lot of value from the variety of perspectives that commenters provide, and really appreciate the conscious effort made to retain a welcoming & respectful environment.

      I’ve been unemployed since Jan 1st & avidly reading this blog during the day. Once I start NewJob, it’s going to be hard to discipline myself to wait until *after* work to read each day’s posts!

      To everyone who is looking for a NewJob – even though job searching is time-consuming, frustrating and sometimes painful, keep at it! Alison’s job search advice is spot on and well worth following. Also reading this blog lets you know that you are not alone!

      TL; DR – Thanks Alison & commentariat! ~~~Sending good vibes to everyone reading~~~

      Reply
        1. Analysis Paralysis

          Thanks so much! I am excited but starting to get pre-first-day jitters.

          I just read the company Dress Code, a 12 page document complete with photographs. I knew when I applied that they were “on the business side of business casual” but wow… it’s rigid. I don’t want to create a word wall, so one example, all tattoos must be fully covered/not visible. I don’t have any tattoos but still…wow. I work in IT (although not for technology company), in a non-customer-facing role. Thankfully I don’t crawl around under desks installing equipment because that would quickly wear out my dress slacks. The whole thing is just a bit surprising — OldJob was at a very conservative bank, where even roles that required wearing a suit every day would’ve allowed women to wear peep-toe or sling-back pumps.

          I can deal with the dress code (like I said, I knew it was more-business-than-casual) but I’m concerned that this rigidity will manifest in other areas like work-life balance. During interviews, I asked questions to ascertain their culture and didn’t get any bad vibes or red/yellow flags. I think all this mental clutter is actually a manifestation of my anxiety over the unknowns of new job/new people/new place. So I’m trying to relax and focus on the reason I want this position at this company: they are committed to this role as a distinct profession/practice/skill-set, so much that they have a well-regarded “center of excellence” for my profession that includes internal continuing education etc. I have 10+ years experience, but I want to become more well-rounded. That’s more important than getting to wear a polo/golf shirt to work. OK, self-pep-talk is over. :-)

          Reply
    2. Lizzle

      Oh, there’s another one of me. Hi. *waves.* I think perhaps I stole your screenname? I hadn’t seen you before.

      Reply
      1. Lizzle

        uh oh perhaps i stole yours… you can keep it, I change my name up quite a bit anyway :) but always lovely to meet another me!

        Reply
    3. This Daydreamer

      I GOT A JOB TOO!!!

      This was after years of hell starting way back in middle school that included severe depression and anxiety, along with undiagnosed ADHD, severe insomnia and even PTSD. Nope, never got my degree and probably never will.

      After completely bombing in college, I got a retail job that had its good points and also the first of the series of abusive managers. I always seemed to have a range of great-to-nightmarish managers all at the same time. But I loved customer service. Then company rules stuck me behind the cash register every single day as a head cashier and I was utterly miserable and in constant agony from plantar fasciitis. I had to follow all corporate rules or get in trouble and, if someone was unhappy with corporate rules, my (mandated) decision was undermined and I got in trouble.

      Yeah. Every single emotional ghost came to haunt me. I started oversleeping and arriving late. I knew it was coming but being fired destroyed me.

      So, I started volunteering. It got me out of the house and I felt less useless. First it was politics, and then it was a DV shelter. I was answering the hotline and managing the shelter for four hour shifts. And I got good feedback after every shift.

      So an overnight manager/hotline staffer position opened up. It was much the same thing I was doing, but with a bit more responsibility, a much longer shift, and, finally a paycheck. All I had to do to apply was write my first-ever resume and cover letter. Eek. I had nothing to put on either one of them.

      Alison, you saved me. I was able to scrabble together a resume and cover letter that were good enough to get me an interview. The fact that the more experienced staffers all vouched for me didn’t hurt, but the thought of selling myself on paper terrified me. Now I’ve got a part time job that will give me a little wiggle room to pursue jewelry design and writing and THANK YOU ALL!!!

      Reply
      1. This Daydreamer

        And, yeah, I’m crying right now. I think I’ll blame it on upending my sleep schedule.

        Reply
  4. Doug Judy

    I am looking to make a career shift. I have a BS in Business Admin with a Finance emphasis, and my career for the past 12 years has been in finance. Two years ago I realized how much I hated, and would always hate my work, so I went back to school and am going to graduate next Friday with a Masters in Organizational Leadership and Development. I loved my program and feel HR is my calling. Problem is I have little HR work experience. I did develop training materials for my roles, and was always the one chosen to train new employees, help with interviews/recruitment. That was the only thing in my prior roles I enjoyed.

    I was laid off in February. I have an interview this afternoon for a Staffing Consultant at a recruitment agency. I know it will be sucky hard work, and a step back pay wise. Pretty much any job in HR around here that is not recruiting requires either a PHR or a SHRM certification to even be considered. Is it a wise career move to take a job like this? Or is working as a recruiter in a staffing agency not going to help me land future roles?

    Reply
    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      I think it could be beneficial as a way to get you some recruiting experience. Based on the job title, I am wondering if your interview is with the agency I work for. If so, you will get to source candidates, which most HR positions are looking for experience with, and also get interviewing experience. When you’re switching careers, you sometimes have to take a step back to get some of those basic skills.

      Reply
      1. The Vulture

        Where’s Detective Rosa Diaz? Get her in here for her input!
        Sorry, just really enjoying all the regular commentators from Brooklyn 99 here, so good!

        Reply
      2. Doug Judy

        Yes, I’m realistic that I’m going to have to be entry level for a bit and it’s not forever. Have to start somewhere and it’s slim pickings without certification.

        Thanks Santiago. Us in the Nine-Nine need to help each other out! Haha.

        Reply
        1. Detective Amy Santiago

          If you don’t already, I will recommend polishing your LinkedIn profile and trying to extend your network.

          Good luck! Let me know if you have any questions about working in staffing. I enjoy it.

          Reply
    2. Emily S.

      Given how unhappy you were previously — it makes sense to switch. If you can get any HR/staffing job, go for it. If you do well in that position, you can work towards getting certification. Of course that would take time, but it’d be worth it!

      It seems to me that a recruiter position would be a logical step in the right direction. (Speaking as a non-HR person, that’s my view.)

      Best wishes and good luck today!

      Reply
    3. Jadelyn

      Congrats on your Masters, first of all!

      Secondly, my only caution is that if you’re looking to get into non-recruiting areas of HR, don’t linger too long in a recruiter job for a staffing agency in particular, because in my experience that tends to pigeonhole you as “just a recruiter” – which is great if you’re looking to make a jump into recruiting for a company (vs a staffing agency), but if you wanted to get into benefits administration or employee relations or training/development, being “a recruiter” could wind up being hard to extricate yourself from down the line. Most of the HR pros I know are mildly disparaging about agency recruiters and see it as more of a sales position than an HR role.

      However, that said, it could be a good way to get your foot in the door, especially since you can make a lot of contacts with HR people at non-staffing-agency companies when you’re working with them to provide candidates for their open positions, and that could come in handy when you’re ready to make the jump across. Plus, I believe working as a staffing agency recruiter should count as time toward being eligible for the SHRM-CP since they only require that 50% of your time be spent on HR duties, vs HRCI’s specific job titles requirements for the PHR. So you stay in that role for a year, get your SHRM-CP, and you’re positioned to start looking for non-recruiting HR roles or at least in-house recruiter roles that can help you get exposure to and position yourself to move into other areas of HR.

      Also, you might look at going for your aPHR now rather than waiting til you’re eligible for the SHRM-CP or PHR – Associate Professional in Human Resources, which is the “entry level” version of the PHR that they just launched last year. I got mine as part of the first rollout of the exam, the test wasn’t too bad imo (though to be fair I’m one of those people who tests well pretty much no matter what), and you can use that as a declaration of intent – “Look, I’ve taken the first step since that’s all I’m eligible for, but you can see that I’m interested in continuing in that direction.”

      Reply
      1. Doug Judy

        Thanks for the advice. It would definitely be a short stint if I get this job. My ultimate goal would be more employee relations and development, particularly helping improve mental health support within organizations, which is where my thesis research was based.

        I was looking at the aPHR certificate. I test super well too, but didn’t know if it would be worth it. But I’m glad you said its going to least help look like I’m committed to this career path. I do plan on getting one of the other certifications as soon as I am eligible.

        Reply
        1. Jadelyn

          I asked my manager about the aPHR when it came out and she literally did not let me finish my sentence before saying “Yes. Go sign up. Put it on your corporate card.” The more advanced HR professionals I’ve talked to have agreed that when they see someone who’s gotten that, they see someone who’s in the profession for the long haul and looking at moving up, even if your current title is only (like mine) HR Assistant or something else entry level.

          Reply
    4. Chicago Recruiter

      I started as a recruiter at a staffing agency and then made the move to corporate recruiting/HR. Please keep in mind that agency recruiting is a sales job at the very heart of it and not a true HR job. If you don’t have an aptitude/stomach for sales (I didn’t), I would avoid agency recruiting. HR can be tough to break into, I’ll be totally honest, especially since employers may think you are overqualified for coordinator/admin-type roles since you have a Masters, but you don’t have actual experience for anything higher up than that. With your finance background, have you maybe considered payroll type positions? In many companies, payroll falls under the purview of HR but uses finance skills. Your best bet may be networking. If there is a local SHRM chapter, that would be a good place to start. Sometimes I don’t really understand the appeal working in HR holds lol, it can be a really thankless job and a lot of employees really hate HR since they have to act with the best interest of the company in mind and that can ruffle some feathers. Best of luck!

      Reply
    5. Kimberlee, Esq.

      If you haven’t already, you might look into Office Manager jobs at smaller companies/orgs… they are usually HR by default and it’s a great way to get started in HR and learn widely about everything in the field. In my first professional job, I was an OM and I did benefits administration, payroll, some employment law compliance stuff, and some workplace culture/development stuff, it was a great start.

      (PS love the user name! nickelodeon forever!)

      Reply
    6. Belle

      I actually made the switch from finance to HR myself after completing my MBA. Like you, I realized that the finance/accounting work I was doing wasn’t for me. I worked for a small nonprofit and volunteered to take on some HR work while looking for a new job.

      Some HR jobs are easier to get with little experience. HR Coordinators and Recruiters are two common ones. They can help you start working on your skills to move up. I moved to a larger organization at entry-level and told them of my desire to grow with them. I took on some reach opportunities and eventually moved to and HR Generalist role and after a few years to an HR Consultant role. So sometimes working for a larger organization can allow you to grow internally.

      Reply
  5. KR

    Dear AAM, after 2 weeks of business travel I am trained and ready to actually work. Go me. It’s still fun eating out and exploring fun cities in the evening but I am so happy to be home.

    Reply
  6. LAI

    I interviewed with 2 people yesterday for a job that I was very excited about. The first interview went great. In the second, the job started to sound dramatically different from the job description (imagine a job description for a senior teapot maker, and them saying there is actually very little interaction with teapots). I’m actually pretty sure I’m not interested anymore. I’d only consider it if i could talk to the first interviewer again, and she reassured me that the second person was off base. In this case, should i just withdraw? Should i bother writing thank you emails if i can’t genuinely say I’m excited to hear back from them?

    Reply
    1. k

      Instead of withdrawing, you should ask for clarification. In your thank you email to the first person mention that as the interview process progressed the job description was different than what you expected, and you’d would it be possible to discuss further what the day to day duties of the job are. It may be that the second person was off base, or that the description was wrong. You should at least find out.

      Reply
      1. wearing too many hats

        +1 k is spot-on. Using this approach will also demonstrate your professional acumen and preserve your employer/candidate relationship for future openings (if this one weren’t work out).

        Reply
    2. Jules

      You should totally send the thank you notes – even if you aren’t excited, they took time to talk with you. I think you could use the thank you email to ask for clarification, as in, ‘Thank you so much for the chance to talk about the Senior Teapot Maker job. I really enjoyed our conversation, and love making teapots. I do have a question, though – in the second interview, we discussed Inspecting Teapots and Selling Teapots. How do you see those tasks fitting with the Teapot Maker role?’

      It gives them a chance to clarify, and maybe get both their interviewers on the same page.

      Reply
      1. Casuan

        This.
        Definitely send Thank-you notes.
        As for clarification, this can be tricky. I’m never quite clear if thank-notes should ever be for anything other than “thank you” although I think Alison & the AAM community consider interview thank-you notes to be more about a recap than a thank-you, so I’ll defer to others.
        [Please someone correct me…?]
        At the least, send a simple thank-you to each interviewer.

        If you expect another interview then you can clarify the job then, although you might want to clarify so you can opt out of the process. If & when they make an offer, be certain to obtain details in writing,

        Reply
      2. wearing too many hats

        Totally agree with you, Jules. I probably read too much into it, but when I receive a thank you note / email following an interview I tend to think that the candidate 1) has got their sh#t together 2) understands office / professional life 3) thinks about more than just themselves

        Reply
      3. LAI

        Thanks guys. You’re right, I should definitely write the notes. Even if I end up not accepting, it’s still polite to say thank you.

        Reply
    3. Doug Judy

      This happens to me with my last job. The department I was hired in was expanding and recruiting for several positions simultaneously. I’m not sure if she combined all the roles together or if the department really didn’t know what each person would be doing, but what I was told by the recruiter was not what the hiring manager described. The HR person said it was X, Y , and Z with her making Z seem like a very small part of the job. In my interview with the hiring manager we talked about Z a lot, and I just figured it was because most of my past experience was in that.

      The job was all Z tasks. Had I clarified that the HR recruiter was wrong, I probably would have turned the job down. I’m glad I took it only because it showed me I hated the field entirely, so I can’t completely regret it.

      In your case definitely clarify with the person you’d be reporting to. The last thing you want to do is take a job when your not really sure what you’ll be doing.

      Reply
      1. LAI

        Thanks Doug Judy! Yeah, the first interviewer is the person I would actually be reporting to, but the second interviewer is higher-up in the chain. Even if the first person was right, it still seems like a pretty big red flag that they were on different pages about what the job was supposed to be…

        Reply
  7. salary range question

    If you are being unofficially recruited for something, is it ever OK to ask if the posted salary range is flexible before you apply?

    I heard about a job indirectly via a former manager, whose org is doing the hiring; he sent it to a current coworker and asked her to pass it on to me and another person. It sounds fantastic, like the description was magically written for me. The problem is that my current salary is right at the top of the posted range, and I wouldn’t consider moving unless I got at least a small increase.

    I haven’t talked to Former Manager in a long time but Current Coworker says I’m welcome to email him directly with questions. Is it OK if one of my questions is whether the posted salary range is negotiable, or is that a terrible faux pas? I’ve never applied for a job with a posted range before!

    Reply
    1. Lilo

      My feeling is that, if you are being recruited, this is okay. If you were not being recruited then I would be more hesitant, but they reached out to you and it is fine to express your dealbreakers in this situation. You have to be prepared for it to be a “no”, of course.

      Reply
      1. jackson's whole what

        Yeah, I feel like if they’re the ones reaching out to you, then the standards are different and it’s totally okay to know what they can pay you before progressing further.

        Reply
      2. wearing too many hats

        +1 agree! if you’re being actively recruited and it isn’t a rigid corporate structure, a hiring manager could definitely see you as being WORTH IT to pay a bit more (especially after you seal the deal with an interview). I once heard an experienced HR Generalist say that experienced “superstar” employees are 1 in 10,000. I’d argue it’s more like 1 in 100,000! If they think you’re that “1” and they have the flexibility, then that is so worth it in ways that can be quantified (training costs, learning curve, etc) and ones that are priceless but that don’t show on the balance sheet (being able to work independently and to hit the ground running!).

        Reply
    2. Natalie

      I think it’s fine, for two reasons – firstly, as you mentioned, you’re being recruited.

      Secondly, you have a relationship with the manager the question is a little less fraught. The main reason people advise not to ask about salary to early is that you’re a completely unknown quantity to an employer, so every interaction carries a lot of weight. But that’s not the case here – your former manager knows you and knows your work product, which should prevent her from making wildly inaccurate assumptions about you based on the question.

      That said, it’s not clear to me why you would ask your current co-worker, assuming he doesn’t work at both places. He’s not going to be able to answer questions about someone else’s company.

      Reply
      1. salary range question

        Sorry, I wasn’t being clear on the last point. The “he” in that sentence actually refers to Former Manager. It makes more sense when you are in my head and know that Current Coworker and I are women and Former Manager is a man :)

        Reply
    3. Lily Rowan

      I think salary should always be one of the first things discussed! But I guess I work with money all day, so I’m used to it. Maybe I’d wait to do it in a call rather than an email, but what the heck.

      Reply
  8. Networking Question

    I will finish my master’s degree in August. My advisory committee is strongly encouraging me to attend the national meeting of our professional society later that month to network. I told them networking wasn’t my forte and they assured me that I would be fine and they would introduce me to people (my committee are all highly-regarded in our field). I have a job that is broadly related to our specific field that I am not intending to leave until at least 1 year after I finish my degree; I also don’t have any business cards and will not be there in my current professional capacity anyway. I’ll be there as Dr. X’s recently graduated student who is looking for exciting future opportunities. I haven’t really done any networking since business cards were still de rigueur. Has networking changed significantly in the smart phone era? What networking tips would you offer to me and people in similar situations?
    Also, our profession works in academia, public, and private sectors if that makes any difference about the networking.

    Reply
    1. NotMyRealName

      Make cards. Vista print is cheap and having all of your contact info ready to hand to people is very useful.

      Reply
        1. Roman Holiday

          My grad school strongly encouraged/required us to have cards made while we were in the program. Even though it seems a little dated, I still swap cards with people at conferences, it’s a really easy way to make contacts.

          My cards said something like:
          Name
          Masters Candidate 2017 (year you’ll graduate)
          Bumblebee University School for Rice Sculpture
          contact information

          Reply
          1. Networking Question

            I’ll have had the master’s degree for about 3 weeks when I get to the conference, so I don’t really want to use the university name on the card, that would look a little weird I think.

            Reply
            1. gwal

              I’ve attended a conference with little cards like this, and no one thought it was weird at all! The cards didn’t turn into any new opportunities in the end, but that’s often the case with networking and I ended up in the same workforce development program that a person I met at the conference had enrolled in a year earlier (we actually met again at the interviews for the program, current participants were there to answer interviewee questions, and the person remembered me). The cards said something like….

              Firstname I. Lastname
              Seeking opportunities in teapot painting, design, and/or history of painted teapots.

              (555) 555-5555
              email@site.com
              MTP 2010, Teapot Painting – Educational Institution B
              BS 2006, Art History of Teapots – Educational Institution A

              Reply
            2. siobhan

              That wouldn’t be weird at all! It’s an accurate representation of credentials you’ve put time, money, and effort into earning. It’ll also be important for contacts to remember who you are and why you were at the conference. You’ll have earned the degree, so your degree information – which includes the university name – will be yours to use. Own it!

              Reply
            3. NotMyRealName

              Absolutely put your university name on the card! Here’s what was on the card of a recent PhD. at a conference I was at last summer:
              Name
              Graduate Research Assistant
              University
              Department
              contact info

              Reply
              1. Jerry Vandesic

                You can probably also get your university logo added. I did this when I was in grad school

                Reply
            4. Networking Question

              I think it would be weird to put the university name on the card because I won’t be affiliated with the university anymore. I have a regular job at a completely different institution but I won’t be there in that capacity either. Maybe I should list my subsection affiliations instead?

              Reply
              1. siobhan

                But you will be affiliated; you’ll be an alum of your degree program. University name, degree, and year received = totally legit for you to use on a business card.

                Reply
          2. Not So NewReader

            This and leave the back side blank (white) so people can write on the back or you can write on the back before handing it to the person.

            Reply
            1. hermit crab

              Oh, this is important! My company’s current business card design has a giant version of our logo on the back. It renders the back of the card totally useless (both for networking purposes and for reuse, like when your office phone numbers change and suddenly you have 500 outdated business cards that you can’t even use for your grocery list).

              Reply
            2. Alice

              Definitely! In fact, after you have a short but interesting conversation, write down something distinguishing about you or the conversation on the back of the card before you give it to them — it makes it a lot easier for them to remember what they might want to follow up with you about.
              Do this on their card too — your idea for why/how to follow up with that person. Going to a conference is only worth the money if you are going to really actively build and maintain relationships, which few people do. (Which is why I have a box of cards of people whom I can’t remember, and a much smaller set of relationships developed at conferences that are actually worthwhile.)

              Reply
    2. Blue eagle

      Go to one of the business supply box stores and have some business cards made up. They have choices that are relatively inexpensive. Or get some hard cardstock and make them up yourself. They don’t need to say anything more than (a) your name, (b) contact info and (c) something about yourself that substitutes for business name and job title. It is important to have business cards available to hand to people, and make sure to ask them for one of theirs. Then once you get home, be sure to write on their cards where you picked them up. That way in case it would be helpful to you to get in contact with them, you will remember in what context you became acquainted with them.

      Reply
    3. TL -

      Know your elevator pitch, be friendly, ask questions about other people’s projects/research/jobs. Academia-wise, look for people whose research you’re interested in and see if you can form a loose connection (follow up email, meeting them at future conferences).

      If there’s any area you’re specifically interested in, glance over recent papers/publications/news and you can follow up if you meet them. “Oh, I was very intrigued by your paper on X. Did you think about Y/how did you get results Z?”

      People are generally there to talk about their research and work, and luckily, it’s something you’re very interested in as well!

      Reply
        1. Government Worker

          I wouldn’t call it an elevator pitch, necessarily, but be prepared to answer questions about your work and experience and what you want to do in the future in a clear and succinct way. You don’t have to have a pitch, but also don’t ramble at people or say “I don’t know” when they ask what you want to do in the future.

          For me, it would have been something like, “My research has been working with our local teapot agency on new ways to use data in teapot design. I’m trying to decide whether I want to go into teapot consulting or look for a position with a public coffee agency, since most teapot agencies I’ve looked at don’t seem to have the budget to do their big data projects in house.” Brief, but it gives people enough to respond in a meaningful way.

          Reply
          1. TL -

            Yes, that’s what I mean by elevator pitch – who you are and what you do very succinctly, but with enough information that they can probe if interested.
            For instance,
            Advisor: This is NQ, a master’s student in my lab.
            New Contact: Hi NQ, what do you work on?
            NQ: I’m on Advisor’s structural teapot project. I’ve been primarily focusing on spout curvature in white chocolate – it’s so delicate! – and I mainly do mathematical modeling focusing on tensile strength of different chocolate mixes. .

            Vs
            NQ: Oh, I’ve been really focused on alpha prime lately! You know, the derivatives of shown by Eugene’s lab have been really helpful in refocusing syrup content percentiles. Everything thought that Muller’s work was definitive on the subject, but I found that by redefining the alpha value as a whole integer, you can vastly expand the area under the curve tolerable.
            (…I ran out of mathematical terms)…

            The first is your elevator pitch and it’s so much more effective than the second when you’re trying to make new contacts.

            Reply
            1. Blue eagle

              Elevator pitch just means – what would you tell the person if all the time you had was the time in the elevator going from the first floor to the tenth floor. So, less than one minute.

              All field’s use an elevator pitch, even if they don’t call it that to try to sell their product/idea/self.

              Reply
        2. Kimberlee, Esq.

          It’s helpful to not think of it so rigidly as an “elevator pitch.” You basically just need to have a short response to the question “what are you looking for (at this conference, in your career, etc)”.

          Reply
    4. Government Worker

      I was in a similar position recently, but with a conference that was one of those 10,000+ people convention center deals, where randomly talking to people isn’t actually that useful because they may be in a part of the industry that does wildly different things. At my conference, the most useful things would be a) going to poster sessions, where it’s easy to strike up a conversation with the presenters about their work and you can see from the poster what the person’s interests are, b) finding smaller receptions, like those focused around an alumni, identity, or interest group, and c) scheduling coffee or other one-on-one meetings in advance. Vendor booths also occasionally led to interesting conversations, as did being highly selective about sticking around to talk to people after a talk, if I chose the topic and speaker carefully (had to be something where I had a genuine comment or question afterwards, not a made-up excuse to approach someone).

      Would your advisors consider identifying a couple of key contacts to set up short coffee meetings with, or letting you tag along when they have lunch with old industry friends they’ll see at the meeting?

      And yes, have some business cards made up. In grad school we were able to get them through the school, which looked all schmancy.

      Reply
      1. Networking Question

        This conference is for members of our particular professional association, so I expect a couple thousand people but not that huge. I’ve been a member on and off for over ten years and I joined right after I got my bachelor’s degree. I’m a member of a couple of sub-sections of the larger association, so I figured I’d look into those events. Also there are at least three dedicated evening networking events in the evening. One is specifically for new grads like me and we can sign up to be paired with an older member of the association. I think I will do that. Yes, my committee would probably be ok with me tagging along with them to meet people. They basically ordered me to attend the meeting last time we had a meeting to discuss my defense.

        Reply
    5. OtterB

      Seconding others’ advice about having a business card. If you don’t want to use information about your current employer, then in lieu of a job title have a short phrase about your subspecialty or field of interest, so that when people find your card later they can remember why they have it.

      Also seconding the suggestion of poster sessions. Depending on the conference, if there are roundtable sessions on a topic that interests you, they are also good for being able to talk to people who share your interests. (A roundtable usually has 8-10 people sitting around a table discussing a particular topic or piece of research.)

      See if the conference has a session on the opening day for first-time attendees.

      See if the professional organization has something written up on tips for getting the most out of the conference as a new graduate. (If they don’t, consider volunteering to write one for a newsletter or blog. Seriously.)

      Ask your committee explicitly what tips they recommend for a first-timer to get the most out of the conference.

      If you know any grads a year or two ahead of you, ask them.

      If you find yourself a wallflower at a reception, look for someone else who isn’t talking to anyone and introduce yourself.

      Good luck with it, and have fun.

      Reply
      1. BorderLeicester

        Also a grad student, but the issue here is that for some reason, our university actually prohibits graduate students from having business cards related to our university work. I double checked with my PI but he said we are explicitly not allowed. I graduate in less than a year and will be going to our field’s big conference in July – hoping to try and see what might be open re jobs by the time I graduate. I acknowledge that the dept policy puts me at a bit of a disadvantage here but my plan was instead to make sure I got business cards from people I spoke to and write thank-you emails after the conference. There’s no official networking events at the conference, but I am going to the graduate student seminar. Any tips? I don’t want to go the traditional academia route, but would rather work in cooperative extension or some sort of research+outreach area.

        Reply
        1. nonegiven

          Get a domain and post a web page to put your resume on and put the URL on the card with your other contact info.

          Reply
          1. BorderLeicester

            That seems a bit like obeying the letter of the law but not the spirit. I have a LinkedIn, but given that the rule appears to be ‘grad students cannot have business cards’ I’m not sure if circumventing the rules like that would be a good idea.

            Reply
            1. Networking Question

              Wait, I’m confused: I thought you couldn’t have any with your grad affiliation, but now you are saying none at all?
              If it is the former I think you should get a generic one like folks are advising me to do. I think we may be in tangentially related fields because 2 of my committee are in cooperative extension (as well as holding academic posts). I also would-maybe- like to work in cooperative extension, but not in a public-facing role.

              Reply
    6. Job Hunt Blues

      Yes, business cards are still standard. What you put on them varies depending on your field and workplace. If you have a website you feel comfortable including, even if it’s just a blog or LinkedIn account, I would do that. But if not, I think your name, credentials, and email address are fine.

      Reply
  9. AliceBD

    I interviewed with an organization (community bank) exactly two weeks ago (Friday). I was the 1st of 3 people with second interviews, and they said they would be finished with the second interviews by the following Tuesday and would know by the end of the last interview who they wanted to hire. They heavily implied that they would be letting me know that next week (now last week) what the answer was.

    Can I email them for a check-in this coming Wednesday (2 weeks after they finished the interviews) or should I wait and email them for a check-in the Wednesday afterwards (3 weeks after they finished the interviews)? They did ask me to keep them informed if I got another offer, but no where else I’m in the running for is at this stage yet.

    Reply
    1. Emma

      I wouldn’t check in with them unless you have a need to (like you have another offer). If they haven’t contacted you yet, it’s because they’re either going with someone else, or the process is taking awhile (like maybe the hiring committee has had trouble getting together or maybe they’re doing more interviews, etc). If you do get another offer, then I’d reach out. Otherwise, I’d wait to see if they contact you, and if they don’t, then assume you didn’t get the job.

      If you do decide to check-in, I’d only check-in once. If they say they have no news for you, I’d let it go completely.

      When I’ve been on hiring committees, inevitably it takes a long time. There are always unexpected things that pop up. I know it can be maddening from the interviewee perspective, but it’s just one of those things!

      Reply
      1. Emma

        One final follow up. The main reason I recommend not checking in is that if you’re the candidate they want, they’ll get in touch. If you’re not, you’re not really accomplishing anything other than possibly annoying them. But I totally understand wanting to know something about the job. It’s just that checking in is definitely more for you than for them.

        Reply
      2. AliceBD

        Thanks! Yes, it’s obvious that checking in is for me and not them. And I would only ever do it once. It’s just the timing of when I should do it. Basically I want to go ahead and hear no as I’m pretty sure I didn’t get the job.

        I’d like to know so I can go ahead and renew all my DMV stuff in my current state without hurrying. If I get the job I’m changing states and wouldn’t do my current state’s stuff as I would just have to turn around and pay even more to the new state. I wouldn’t tell the job this is why I’m checking in, of course, but just so the commenters know.

        Reply
    2. Casuan

      I agree with Emma. I can understand your wanting to save money for the DMV et cetera although your choice moment of wanting to renew & “not hurrying” makes me think you’re pushing your schedule on the employer. This isn’t meant as negative; it’s to say you don’t want to make contact decisions that can annoy or otherwise put off an employer based on your own tendencies. “I want to an update on if I’m still in the running because I need to renew things” is not a good reason & the person to whom you say this probably won’t care.

      disclaimer: I’m wording this a bit too harshly because I can’t think of how to better phrase this. Of course you know not to ask for an update like how I worded it. :-)

      Depending on the time-frames involved, I suggest doing the renewals although you might want to wait a little closer than you’re comfortable with. You don’t want to move with expired documents because that can make the process more arduous & expensive.

      Reply
    3. Teapot Librarian

      My boss and I were really excited to move forward on a hiring decision 6 weeks ago, and HR is just calling to issue the offer today. So… even if they said they’d let you know, and they haven’t let you know yet… it may just be an issue of bureaucracy or scheduling or something else holding up the works. I wouldn’t check in with them yet.

      Reply
  10. Annie

    Would love to probe the AAM hive mind! At my organization, we have several different business processes that involve routing paperwork among several people. This is all done with hard copy tracking sheets, which means that sometimes things get lost and if it’s not physically in your hands, it’s virtually impossible to know where it is in the pipeline.

    Does anyone know of any good software that helps with this problem? We’re looking for something to better manage this workflow so items don’t fall through the cracks and so we can better track progression. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      If the paperwork can all be filled out electronically, Sharepoint, despite its many, MANY faults, does a damn good job with document tracking, revision, and management. Set up a Sharepoint site, set up a library, and give each person an account. (Not that easy, but it’s really not too hard IMO, but that’s from a web developer’s perspective.) If you need to hire/charge for a developer, it won’t take long, and after the initial setup you or some other non-technical staff member could probably manage it.

      Reply
      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        Oh yeah, AvonLady Barksdale is right! Google Docs is simpler and free, although not as robust, you should probably check it out first.

        Reply
    2. LQ

      I used SharePoint to do a bunch of this. I’m not saying it is a great tool, but it is the tool we had at hand and it does this. If it’s a tool you already have and have trouble getting new software I’d recommend it. But if you have the ability to get fancy software I’d love to hear what other fancy things people use.

      Reply
    3. Mazzy

      My job uses youtrack dot com. You set up issues and just keep adding files and comments. It’s good for the simplistic tracking of stuff you described but I’m not sure it would work if you also wanted more sophisticated project management and analysis ability. We use it more for a repository and can only pull very simple reports

      Reply
    4. jackson's whole what

      Nth-ing SharePoint! It’s so great for this, especially knowing what’s the most recent version of a file.

      Reply
    5. Phantom

      If things follow a handful of consistent flows, I’d suggest trying a kanban board. I like Jira, which has kanban board options. But, it can be expensive and is probably overkill for what you’re looking to do. So, I’d just search for “online kanban board” and see what you find.

      Reply
    6. CAA

      If you need a free web based system, look at Trello. Each document you’re tracking would be represented by a card on a Trello board (you can even attach the docs if they’re electronic) and each column on the board represents a stop on the route. Then you just drag the cards from column to column as they move through your process. If you don’t have a specific route, but just need a way to make sure that everyone has seen a document, you can put a checklist on the card and have each person check off their name after they’ve done their part of the work.

      Reply
    7. Casuan

      confession:
      “AAM hive mind” made me think of the Borg & of course Alison is our queen. Geek that I am, I did a Google site search for the phrase “hive mind,” which led me to this hysterical post from Jamie.
      Jamie, I love how you described things. Thanks for the laugh!!

      Someone mentioned something about the Borg on another thread here the other day, so I asked my Trekkie husband about it and from what I could gather it’s some kind of mental collective? Different entities, one brain?
      Something like that – I kind of stopped listening because I plainly said if you can’t explain it to me in under two paragraphs I’ll just go to Wikipedia – because I didn’t want to dance all the way down the Enterprise road …but no…that was about 15 minutes of my life I won’t get back. It wasn’t so bad after I dozed off.

      Anyway, my point is I think Alison has some kind of alien code embedded in the site and we’re becoming a Borg.

      Unless I’m using the reference incorrectly, then I have no point. Seriously, my brain stopped working a while ago. Time to go home yet?

      source:
      http://www.askamanager.org/2012/10/i-accidentally-sent-an-email-mentioning-sex-to-my-girlfriends-work-email-account.html#comment-115878

      Reply
  11. AndersonDarling

    I’m happy to say that I pushed back on a “silly” interview question. I was interviewing for a mid-level, professional position and I was asked what kind of nachos would I be. (I’ll wait for you to finish sighing before I continue.)
    …..
    I asked why they were asking the question and what information they were hopping to gain. They didn’t know, it was just a question on a list that they were supposed to ask. The panel was slightly embarrassed and said they would talk to HR about getting better questions. But they had to have an answer since it was on the list, so I said that I would be the kind of nachos that has a job at their company.
    The saddest part was that everything pointed to this company being great to work for, but this goofy question has tainted my opinion. During the interview, I got a feeling that they didn’t have the solid systems that they were claiming, and then asking me about being a nacho made me wonder how the organization is truly being managed. I’m questioning working there if I receive an offer.

    Reply
    1. Sarasaurus

      Nachos?? I’ve heard a variation on that question, but it was ice cream, which there are at least different varieties of and you could make up a BS response. But nachos? How many “kinds” of nachos are there?

      Reply
      1. Tempest

        Yeah… The kind with cheese? What’s the follow up? Why cheese? Then I’d have to go to I got nothing here. I don’t know why cheese.

        I’m the kind of nacho who comes to work reliably and works hard while I’m there. I don’t even know what they’re hoping for. Like if you said with chili would they then want to know WHY chili? Sheesh, that’s bizarre. What answer are they hoping for other than chili because you made me pick a kind of frickin nachos and I couldn’t think of any other kind?!

        Reply
      2. Persephone Mulberry

        I’m ashamed/amused that I’ve been considering this question for the past 10 minutes.

        I mean obviously you’ve got your fully loaded restaurant-style nachos.
        Then there’s the movie theater/ball game nachos that are a bowl of chips with hot cheese sauce on the side (with optional sliced jalapenos for an extra $0.50).
        Lazy homemade nachos where you put the chips on the plate and dump some shredded cheese over the top and stick it in the microwave…

        Reply
        1. AnotherAlison

          Thank you. . .other people were commenting that there are not different types of nachos, but clearly there are. And the restaurant variety has infinite variations.

          Reply
        2. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

          Well, I feel like all of you have been deprived if you can’t think of varieties.

          We’ve made hamburger nachos, sausage nachos, Wonton nachos, ranch nachos, veggie nachos, etc. The possibilities are endless. It’s like those who say that a quesadilla is just cheese in a tortilla. Sacrilegious!

          Reply
        3. Snazzy Hat

          Ooh! I would be lazy nachos! Oh wait, saying “I would be lazy” was probably a bad answer for an interview question. Oops.

          Reply
    2. AnotherAlison

      Well, it’s not related to your point, but now I really want nachos for lunch. (And, wow, that is a stupid question, and I’m glad you pushed back, but sorry it’s caused you to rethink the position.)

      Reply
      1. SophieChotek

        +1 good for pushing back. I might have to try that sometime (if I get asked that question).

        Reply
    3. hermit crab

      Wait, there are different type of nachos? How is that even a question? What possible range of answers could they be expecting? (I think your answer is great.)

      Reply
      1. tink

        I guess you could name different kinds of proteins? But that doesn’t actually tell them anything about you except maybe a meat or vegetable preference.

        Reply
      2. Cyclical

        You could be “Ohio Nachos” which use potato chips instead of tortilla chips.

        Or Dessert Nachos, where the tortillas are coated in cinnamon and sugar and served with sweet toppings and fruit.

        Reply
        1. Blue Anne

          I’m in Ohio and the pub down the street from me has those! But they call them “Irish Nachos”. I forgot about that!

          Reply
          1. hermit crab

            Oh, I’ve actually seen those too (also called Irish Nachos). I’m at a loss to say whether potato nachos or tortilla chip nachos would be better at an office job, though.

            Reply
      3. jackson's whole what

        Oh thank god I’m not the only one who wondered “wait, how many kinds of nachos are there”.

        Reply
      4. jamlady

        Oh, so many kinds. I could really write a good novel right now detailing different kinds of nachos you come across from different parts of SoCal up to the central valley and the desert, through the southwest and along the border through Texas…

        Then there’s that very sad plate of “nachos” my (Texican) friend and I ordered in Cork, Ireland that basically ended up being pita chips with ketchup lol

        Reply
      5. tigerlily

        I personally am a big fan of the tater totcho where we use tater tots instead of tortilla chips.

        Reply
      6. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

        We have a local restaurant that uses wontons instead of tortilla chips. Another basically makes poutine but with wonton, homemade potato chips, or tortilla chips.

        Reply
      7. detached anon

        Nachos are nachos.
        Anything other than beef or chicken as the primary protein is just faking it. Don’t even try to call tortillas topped with lobster & sauce “nachos.”

        Also, burgers are burgers. Anything other than beef is just wrong. I’m not against other foods in the burger form, I’m just against calling them “burgers.”

        It’s a semantics thing. The dictionary might show me wrong although I’m too attached to my opinions to change my stance.

        Reply
    4. Emilia Bedelia

      That’s a fabulous response. Kudos to you for having the presence of mind to push back, and the chutzpah to say the kind of answer that we all wish we could say in that situation

      Reply
      1. AndersonDarling

        I was interviewing with a laid back group and we were laughing a lot about situations that come up in our jobs. Because it was so lighthearted, it made it easy to push back. When I asked about the question, everyone started laughing about how silly it was.

        Reply
    5. Blue Anne

      Good on you for having the cajones to push back on being a nacho.

      That’s such a dumb question. I’m with Sarasaurus here – I’ve heard of “What kind of _____ would you be” questions, but always things where there are lots of kinds, at least. What kind of vegetable, kitchen utensil, or animal would you be? But NACHOS?

      Uh…. I would be the kind with lots of guacamole but no jalapenos, because I have a wussy palate, I guess?

      I wonder if the person who wrote that question is just a nacho connoisseur hoping to find a nacho-tasting buddy at work.

      Reply
    6. Blue eagle

      Fabulous reply. Is it OK if I use your answer anytime I am asked this type of meaningless question in an interview?

      Reply
      1. AndersonDarling

        Sure thing! There have been some open threads about these kinds of questions and I always though that I would respond with “I’d be the ___ that has a job here,” but I never, ever, ever, thought I would actually be asked one of these questions.

        Reply
    7. Amber Rose

      I’m torn between sighing, face-desking and succumbing to fits of giggles. Nachos! Did they pull that one off a Facebook quiz?

      Reply
      1. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms

        Buzzfeed: “Put together a plate of nachos and we’ll tell you what kind of market analyst you should be!”

        Reply
    8. k

      Good for you. It sounds like they really don’t have a good hiring process if they didn’t even know why they were asking that question.

      And I know it’s been said, but seriously? Are there really different kinds of nachos? Yeah, you can put variations of toppings on them, but it’s not there are different names for that. They’re still just nachos. And now I want nachos.

      Reply
      1. hermit crab

        Let’s all eat some nachos later. Virtual AAM nacho party! We can justify it by saying it’s in the name of research.

        Reply
        1. k

          I had some cheese and crackers with my lunch…does this count as a type of nacho? Cause if so, I totally participated :P

          Reply
    9. Beancounter Eric

      I’d have to answer “beats me, I don’t eat nachos”…..don’t really like cheese, unless it tops a round flatbread with tomato sauce, various meats (Pepperoni, Canadian Bacon, Italian Sausage) and mozzarella & Romano cheeses.

      Since my wife and cardiologist would like me to lose a few pounds, the above described dish is off my diet at present. :-(

      And the interviewers not knowing why a question is being asked is not a good sign to me.

      Reply
      1. Cookie

        Same, I’m lactose intolerant so I would by want to be a nacho. And I wouldn’t want to be an inanimate object that’s consumed by people either.

        Reply
      2. Nic

        That’s been my thought while reading thorough all these comments. I can’t deal with melted cheese (texture), so mine would have to be “deconstructed nachos”. Give me the ingredients and I’ll eat them separately, thank you very much.

        Bummer on not being able to eat so many things you enjoy.

        Reply
    10. Lynxa

      Wow. They didn’t even try to tapdance a reason? Just shrugged? The interviewers aren’t allowed to make their own questions?

      Yikes.

      Reply
    11. Casuan

      Congrats on pushing back!!

      For me the red flag is that they acknowledged the question wasn’t relevant, said they’d ask HR for better questions & insisted on an answer just because it was one their list.
      They all stuck to the list…?!!!?

      You gave a good answer. Definitely go with your visceral reactions on whether or not to work for this company.

      Reply
    12. Job Hunt Blues

      I’m baffled by the fact that we live in a society where answers to questions like that are actually job qualifications (or disqualifications). What happened to finding out if you can do the actual work and get along with your co-workers?

      Reply
    13. Chaordic One

      I don’t know how I would answer a question like this. As I’ve stated here several times previously, I have food allergies (specifically dairy allergies) and I don’t eat nachos or ice cream.

      Reply
      1. Clumsy Ninja

        Totally with you, Chaordic One! I have so many food issues that these questions would have made me just start laughing.

        Reply
  12. KatieKate

    Just had a weiiiiiird email exchange with a former board member trying to get involved with a situation that had nothing to do with her. The supervisor that should be dealing with this is out until Monday, but I think I’ve sidelined the issue enough. But the conversational was way more institutionally political than I usually get involved with, so I had to rewrite my email a few times to make sure it was safe enough to send.

    Ugh. Who else has dealt with big donors/important community members trying to gets hands on with something that doesn’t concern them?

    Reply
    1. Volunteer Coordinator in NOVA

      I feel your pain as I deal with this a lot with long term volunteers. It can be exhausting trying to figure out how to nicely say back off to someone who has clout and a loud voice.

      Reply
    2. Clever Name

      Ugh. I hate political stuff. My own personal rule is that if I’m struggling to compose an email or I rewrite it several times because the topic is so fraught, I pick up the phone and give the person a call. But I know that’s not always possible.

      Reply
      1. KatieKate

        See I generally prefer email for something like this because then there’s no she said/she said, and and I don’t accidentally say something I’m not supposed to. But I get why you might like a phone call

        Reply
    3. Possibly Petty

      Sorry you were put in such an uncomfortable position! This happens to me every now and then so I feel your pain. I interact with our board members the most (aside from our Executive Director) and some of them feel compelled to contact me directly about things they shouldn’t involve themselves with. A lot of these things don’t have anything to do with me, either, and correspond with a completely different functional area.

      My ED has instructed me to CC him on any responses I send to them. It was a little awkward at first – I felt almost like I was “tattling” on them by doing so – but they eventually got the hint and have backed off a bit. My ED gave them a heads up he instructed me to do this so it helped that he had my back in this situation.

      Reply
    4. Chaordic One

      When I’ve run into situations like this, I kick them up to my supervisor. She’ll either deal with it herself or give me specific instructions. But, yeah.

      Reply
  13. Nervous Accountant

    This may not be exactly work related and I hope it doesn’t derail into a political discussion, but I read about the repeal of Obamacare and the “preexisting conditions” that can prevent getting health coverage. Does anyone know how this will affect employers? I get my health insurance through my company, I have a preexisting condition, and I am absolutely terrified of what’s going to happen to me and my coworkers :(

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Given the high potential for this to derail and the fact that the bill almost certainly won’t become law in its current form (the Senate needs to pass its own bill and then it needs to go to conference and there is lots of room for big changes or for it to stop moving entirely; it is far, far from law at this point) so any discussion at this point would be speculation, I’m going to ask that we not delve into this here.

      Reply
      1. gwal

        Are there any workplace-health-insurance-issues bloggers? Not a facetious question but do you know of anywhere that might be well-suited to address this question? Maybe once all the Senate stuff has been squared away…

        Reply
    2. chickia

      Employer health plans even before obamacare generally only didn’t cover preexisting conditions for a certain amount of time (6mo-1 yr), and only if there was a lapse of coverage. So please don’t worry! If it goes back to the old system, all it means is that you need to make sure you keep coverage continuously – if you change jobs don’t let there be a gap, pay for COBRA if you need to if the new job’s coverage doesn’t kick in for a certain amount of time. Also employer health plans are group plans and you can’t be denied coverage. Please don’t lose sleep over it until there’s more concrete information!!!

      Reply
  14. Sarasaurus

    At my one-on-one with my boss this week, she made a comment that I’ve seemed unhappy lately and asked if I’m considering leaving. I’m not, and I don’t really know where that came from. It’s true that I’ve voiced frustrations over how certain projects have gone, but I’ve only done that in private meetings and in (I hope) a professional, even manner. It’s not like I’ve gone on long rants about how everything sucks.
    I was pretty taken aback and said something like “I’m not unhappy, and I hope I’m not coming across that way! What makes you bring it up?” and she gave a vague response about how I’ve just seemed “off.” I didn’t really know what to say, so just told her the truth, which is that I have no plans to leave.
    Is there anything I can do about this? Short of keeping a smile plastered on at all times, I’m not sure how I can convince her that I’m relatively happy here. I don’t want her thinking I have a bad attitude.

    Reply
    1. Director of Things

      What type of relationship do you have with your boss?
      Do you have weekly one-on-ones? If so, I would probe into this at the next meeting. Maybe once she’s had time to reflect on your answer, she can give you a better response.

      Reply
    2. k

      That sucks. Your response sounds like it was appropriate. I’d say just make an extra effort to watch your wording when speaking with your boss, so nothing is taken the wrong way.

      Reply
    3. Possibly Petty

      That is odd that she couldn’t give you more specific reasons for thinking you are unhappy. Do you have any trusted co-workers or peers who you can ask about this? It’s also possible that a co-worker mentioned this your boss, too.

      Reply
    4. INFJ

      That would drive me nuts. I hate being misunderstood, and I hate feeling like I have to walk on eggshells in order for my words/actions to not be misinterpreted.

      You should be able to professionally voice concerns about projects/processes without your boss interpreting it as overall unhappiness with the position and intent to flee (!!). The only potential explanation I can come up with is that maybe she was primed to think that way. For example, a personal friend was complaining about a job she hates just yesterday, and you happened to use a similar phrase that she did. But that’s being generous.

      I also think your response in the moment was the best you could do. This may be worth mentioning 1 more time. “I was really taken aback by when you said… and was hoping to get more clarification.” Maybe after that first interaction, your boss has reflected enough to come up with actual specific examples other than “you just seem off”, OR realizes her perception was off.

      Reply
    5. Lucy Richardson

      I’m surprised folks are responding so negatively. Unless she said something else that’s making you think she wants you to leave, I would take it at face value.

      This is a thing good managers do – if they notice an employee seems unhappy, they ask why to see if there’s anything they could do to better support the employee to retain them.

      Reply
      1. INFJ

        This is a bit more than checking in.. I think asking if she’s considering leaving is taking it to another level.

        Reply
      2. Sarasaurus

        It’s not the checking in that’s bugging me. I just don’t want to be perceived as negative or like I’m whining when I bring up concerns. It seems like a huge leap from me saying “abc project was slightly frustrating because of xyz,” and her reading that as me wanting to leave.

        Reply
    6. Not So NewReader

      I’d let it go. Unless you hear other concerning things from her, just assume that you answered her question satisfactorily.

      It’s either that or spend the rest of your days trying to convince her you are staying put.
      We can’t “make” people change their minds. We can only tell them the truth and then go about our day. See, if she is watching you go about your day, she will notice that you are working/acting like someone who has no plans on leaving.

      Reply
      1. Casuan

        Agree to letting it go.
        This has happened to me before & I know my manager meant it to be kind. We were acquainted outside the office through social circles although not enough for her to know me personally.
        I told her I really was okay. What took me aback was that she gave me a long look & said “I don’t believe you.”
        I said I appreciated her concern, reiterated I really was okay then I asked her if she had any concerns about my work.
        She did not.

        If your boss mentions this again, tell her that you really are okay [or skip this assurance if you’re not] & ask if she has any concerns with your work. Also, don’t try to explain or to talk just to fill a silence. Almost always that will be interpreted that one’s initial “off” impression is accurate.
        Show that you’re okay by continuing to do your job well.

        Reply
    7. late to the party

      Ugh, I’ve had this exact conversation with various staff members over many years (as the manager). As a manager I don’t want to ignore the fact that employee just doesn’t seem themselves (over a period of time) and if the employee hasn’t brought up any concerns then I have this conversation to try to open the door to a conversation about why things seem different (because many people won’t initiate this conversation, but will be open if approached). Too often employers don’t recognize or ask about these changes and an employee may leave the organization over frustrations or concerns that could have been rectified if they were identified when they first occurred, so I see your boss asking you these questions as being caring and proactive.

      However, Sarasaurus, the thing is is that two things jumped out to me in your post:
      1) “… about how everything sucks.”
      2) “… I’m relatively happy here.”

      It seems like perhaps things aren’t as okay as you’d like to convince your boss (and yourself?) they are – ? Your post also seems focused on what your boss thinks, rather than how things actually are – is it possible that that is what you’re actually doing/feeling at work and your boss sees this? If so, people around you would almost certainly experience your words and behaviors as being incongruent, resulting in these kinds of concerns / questions.

      Reply
      1. late to the party

        sorry – but I’d reconsider “letting it go” because it sounds like there is a real reason the boss asked these questions and that your answers probably didn’t satisfy their concern(s), so it is likely to come up again.

        Reply
      2. late to the party

        p.p.s. don’t bother with “keeping a smile plastered on at all times” in an effort to make this go away, because it won’t work; people can always sense / recognize insincerity a mile away!

        Best –

        Reply
  15. Folklorist

    It is time for your gray-and-gloomy, stormy-day (in this corner of the world) ANTI-PROCRASTINATION POST!!! If you’re stuck inside like me, you might as well do something you’ve been putting off, then come back here and brag about it!

    I’m currently proofreading the deadliest-dull report on what should be an exciting topic that ever blighted the Earth.

    Reply
    1. Amber Rose

      I’m updating a spreadsheet with all the PO’s for the last couple months, because we have no other way of tracking POs and inevitably that is the only information a customer will have when asking questions about a particular teapot.

      This is as mind numbing as it is tedious.

      I’ll be back when I’ve done a few more entries.

      Reply
      1. JaneB

        I have to grade 163 first year statistics assignments. And it’s a BEAUTIFUL day here, but because of the New Better System I have to work indoors on a computer, can’t even take paper copies outside…

        Reply
    2. Temperance

      I need to clean my office and create a master To Do list, because I’ve been so disgustingly busy that I haven’t done it. Sigh.

      I sent a few files to our filing team, which is progress!

      Reply
      1. Bibliovore

        My favorite! Thank you for posting.
        Deleting old files from my computer.
        Finishing two reports that are weeks overdue.
        Filing.
        Thank you notes to volunteers from last week’s event.
        Reviewing graduate student’s capstone projects.
        Proofreading documentation.
        Travel expenses.

        Good news- finished and submitted to a professional journal and got an email back. No Revisions!

        Reply
      2. Teapot Librarian

        I’ve spent almost all week working on my to-do list instead of actually doing things on my to-do list. So I wish you luck with getting your to do list created.

        Reply
    3. Emily

      I’m working today on 5 hours’ sleep (don’t ask). Currently playing my Dance/Club playlist from YouTube and looking forward to lunch hour.

      The upside? Boss is on vacation, and I have very little to do until 5. Which means a caffeine-fueled dance party at my desk.

      Living my best life right here!

      Reply
      1. Folklorist

        I LOVE caffeine-fueled desk dance parties! Those used to be my favorite ways to wake myself up. Now I share an office with my two supervisors, so it’s slightly too awkward (mostly because they would probably enjoy it too much and post embarrassing cell phone videos to YouTube.)

        Reply
        1. Emily

          Aww! I’m lucky, I have a personal area that makes it easier. (Plus a window. So nice.) It’s crucial for me since I hate sitting all day.

          Have a good weekend! And get down at home. There are some good dance/techno/R&B videos on YouTube.

          Reply
    4. Bethlam

      Gray and gloomy stormy WEEK here – our lunch time walking group has only made it out one day this week – we’ve missed more days this spring due to rain than we did all winter due to cold and snow.

      I’m procrastinating on everything. I’m losing my job in 3 months (my company is closing my facility) and it’s been a looooooong death (we were told 8 months ago). I was doing okay, but it’s getting harder and harder to stay motivated and care about anything. But your post has inspired me and I’ll go find something and do it; will report back.

      Reply
    5. INFJ

      I’ve been putting off all week a task that I detest: Part of my role for a specific project is reaching out to a half dozen people I don’t know in other departments and nudging them to get their deliverable in by a certain deadline/inquiring if it will be done by Deadline. Part of this deliverable includes them uploading their documents to a notoriously difficult and unintuitive system, so I almost always get questions or have delays.

      I got it off my plate this morning, and I’m crossing my fingers that there are no technical difficulties this time around.

      Reply
    6. JeanB in NC

      I’m sorting through boxes and boxes of stuff that were in the business office before I started here. It’s amazing how much of this stuff is going straight to the recycle bin. I’m keeping stuff strictly based on our retention, and I’m boxing up, labeling, and numbering older files and making an excel list of contents of each box.

      Reply
    7. Elizabeth West

      I’m putting off stuff until this weekend–it’s supposed to be nice–because I have a massive headache and I’m supposed to go out later to my nerd group. Hoping to do some purging.

      Reply
  16. Amber Rose

    I just want to say that if several members of your organization go to a thing, and come back with :[ faces, and you ask what happened, and the story starts with, “Wakeen stood up and said ‘I’m Wakeen with [Organization] and…’ ”

    You don’t need to hear the rest of the story. I don’t think any story starting that way has a good ending.

    On the plus side, it sounds like he was only the second most embarrassing person in the room. The first tried to sing a whole song (but was cut off at the beginning of verse 2, I’m told).

    In other news, vacation starts next Saturday, I have got an average of 4 hours of sleep per night for the last two weeks, and I can’t focus to save my life.

    Reply
    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

      Yeah, that’s always a bad sign. Wakeen is always that guy too.

      Reply
      1. Chaordic One

        I don’t know why, but I’m always surprised when it’s Wakeen. I always expect it to be Fergus.

        Reply
    2. Mazzy

      Did he ask a stupid question in front of your competitors that made you look incompetent even though you aren’t?

      Reply
      1. Amber Rose

        Apparently the presenter made a kind of joke/innuendo about something we use, and everyone else kind of laughed but Wakeen stood up and decided to take it on himself to explain in great detail why we use the thing we use, and it’s history, and the materials it’s made out of…

        Which sucks because we were trying to generate some goodwill and have more people sent in our direction and I think he burned it down with that particular person.

        Reply
        1. Mazzy

          Oh lord yeah sometimes people don’t get that meetings are about building relationships and seeing folks face to face and not always about exchanging hard and fast facts

          Reply
      1. Lily in NYC

        OOHHH, I get it now! Duh. I didn’t realize that Wakeen was embarrassing in general. I thought you meant the bad part was that someone said “I am Wakeen from [Org]”.

        Reply
      2. Amber Rose

        Usually it’s followed by someone being embarrassing, and consequently making the whole group look ridiculous. Particularly because in this particular situation, he really didn’t need to introduce himself at all. It was kind of weird that he did.

        Reply
    3. Casuan

      Oh, my!!!!!

      My holiday begins next Monday, so all I need to do is to make it through one more week with as much sleep as I can manage… I’ve just started to get enough sleep to think straight.

      Amber Rose, try to rest when you can & don’t wait until your holiday to do at least one thing for yourself each day.
      Bon voyage!!

      ps: Yes, the rest of the story please! Even better if there’s a video…
      Lol

      Reply
  17. Ern

    Just left my miserable without another lined up and trying to decide the best way to explain why I left. There were layoffs in my dept but I wouldn’t have been laid off and was considering just saying “downsizing” as my answer to why I left, particularly because I was only in the role for 6 months. I left in large part due to abusive clients and unsupportive management who cut our benefits and increased our workloads to rather than replace staff who left or were let go. The stress was affecting my physical and mental health and I wasn’t able to leave work to take care of simple things like doctor visits or therapy. Any thoughts on how best to frame this? I know it’s never the ideal and it wasn’t my ideal but I felt like I needed to choose my health over a thankless job.

    Reply
    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      Hmm. I left my last job– horrible, awful, no-good fit– after they took all of the work I wanted to do and moved it to a different office. This wasn’t the reason I left, but I learned during interviews that NO ONE questioned it. In fact, I got a ton of sympathy. If there’s anything like that (i.e., your increased workload did not allow you to focus on the parts of the job best suited for your skills, or something), then I would hold on to that. I think the trouble here is that downsizing was the reason you left, but you weren’t downsized– the decrease in personnel made your job much more difficult.

      You can always say it wasn’t a good fit, but that only works well if you know exactly what would make it better. As in, 6 months at a start-up and interviewing at a much larger company? Start-up wasn’t a good fit. Too much client work while interviewing for a behind-the-scenes job? Not a good fit.

      Reply
    2. AndersonDarling

      I left a company that was going through layoffs. Even though I wasn’t being laid off, I used that as my reason for leaving and all my interviewers understood. Layoffs create an overall uncertainty, and everyone understands that people will jump from the ship before it sinks.

      Reply
      1. Windchime

        Yeah, my previous company was bought out by a big outfit with a different culture. When I was interviewing as I was getting ready to jump ship, I told prospective employers that we were recently bought out and I was concerned about stability in my department. It was kinda true, and nobody questioned it.

        Reply
    3. TCO

      It sounds like downsizing, even though your job wasn’t eliminated, really did create the miserable culture. Maybe something like, “We are going through a period of layoffs and downsizing. The resulting workloads made the job untenable to the point that it was harming my health. My compensation was also being cut and it was clear that the company’s struggles were just too much for me to have a future there.”

      Reply
      1. Jules

        I think that’s too much detail. “We were going through a period of layoffs and downsizing’ is usually enough. If you really want to add more details, or if they specifically ask, ‘were *you* laid off’, then you can add ‘It was clear that the company’s struggles were too much for me to have a future there’.

        ‘workload harmed my health’ would be a red flag to me if I were interviewing.

        Reply
    4. Not So NewReader

      Depending on the population size of your area, the interviewer may already know why you left.
      I have heard:
      “You worked for Bob for x years and survived? We want you working here.”
      “I have no idea how anyone could last so long at THAT place.”

      At that point I just sort of smile, which kind of acknowledges, “okay we are on the same page” then I redirect to something else.

      Reply
    5. Jerry Vandesic

      A good generic answer is “some family matters that I needed to take care of.” They don’t need to know that the family member was you.

      Reply
    6. Nic

      I’ve been there! Good for you for getting out and picking your health over the job! Good luck on your future hunts.

      I would probably frame it as “The culture wasn’t what I was led to understand pre-hire, and when combined with severely increasing workload due to layoffs I decided to look for something which would be a better fit.”

      Reply
  18. overcaffeinatedandqueer

    I am between things and have literally nothing to do at work- what do you all do when you have downtime? I have completed all of my continuing ed lectures, and didn’t bring a book. So I’ve been writing so as to keep from being glued to my phone.

    Reply
    1. Temperance

      Make appointments? When I have some free time at work, I take a break and deal with all the life stuff that I regularly ignore.

      Reply
    2. hermit crab

      When we have nothing to do, we have to use PTO! No overhead time for us. I’m jealous of big firms that pay for people to be on the beach. :(

      (Sorry, that’s not helpful. I’m just feeling a little sorry for myself.)

      Reply
    3. Annie Moose

      I write, read the news, try to find articles on topics I’m interested in–that’s all I got.

      Reply
      1. INFJ

        Yep. I am also having a slow day and spent most of it catching up on industry-related news. Lucky for me, I find it very interesting!

        Reply
    4. k

      I read up on industry blogs and articles, anything just to keep my mind busy. Usually the articles aren’t relative to me immediately, but I’ll come across ideas to keep in mind later.

      Reply
    5. Emily

      Note: all of my suggestions rely on internet or phone data.

      I often play music on YouTube (I’ve made several playlists – including one called Happy Classical Music, check it out: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkz5t-x6ZuQ5rh1_if78YnQ3-Oef6fCr5 )

      Instagram and Twitter are goldmines. I follow lots of museums on Instagram, because I like learning about art and seeing cool photos generally. There’s a Twitter account called Arch[itecture]Pics that’s super-cool if you’re into that: https://twitter.com/archpics I just try to avoid politics on Twitter.

      Also: Podcasts! Amazingly interesting and enlightening. I recommend NPR’s in particular. Great stuff. StoryCorps is my fave.

      Next, I recommend Pinterest. Into cooking? Create boards of fun recipes from across the web. Like photography? Create boards of amazing photographs that will blow you away. (BBC Earth has some great ones to start you off, also Flickr Explore.) Like graphic or interior design, fine art, etc.? Make a board… You can save lots of ideas easily.

      Do you like reading blogs? I read food blogs and also interiors blogs. Lots of good ones, too many to list.

      Anyway, have a great weekend!

      Reply
    6. Jules

      Look at long-term projects that I *wish* I could do. I spent a year mapping out our Teapot parts procurement process and an parts ordering and inventory database in my spare time. Two years later, I was actually able to pull out my ideal and use it to contribute to the real design, which has been in place for another two years, and does 90% of what I wanted. We couldn’t get one data link, so that still happens manually, but otherwise, it’s pretty sweet.

      Think about what you do and find some piece that’s frustrating, then dream better ways for that piece to happen. Ways that don’t include disposing of recalcitrant co-workers, of course. But maybe ways that bypass them… (I am so looking at you, internal pricing team)

      Reply
    7. Beancounter Eric

      1. Professional reading’
      2. Archive email
      3. Archive the mass of paper on my desk, while wondering why we can’t go paperless.
      4. Interesting business-related, but not directly related to my job reading.
      5. Count-down the time till my vacation (14 days, 5 hours, 3 minutes, 5 seconds – and counting!!!)

      Reply
    8. LizzE

      Work related tasks:
      1.) Organize desk and/or files on computer
      2.) If I know I will be involved in a project later down the road, do planning, researching or outlining ideas (even if this all gets scrapped when project starts)
      3.) My role is part administrative, so evaluate/audit department procedures and look for ways to improve

      Non-work tasks:
      1.) Read – industry blogs & publications, news sites, or AAM
      2.) Use lunch breaks for long walks or power errand running (to alleviate boredom)
      3.) Lunch or coffee meetings with friends, co workers or industry colleagues (not suggesting to take a longer lunch break, but it easier to do these engagements when not bogged down by work demands or deadlines)
      4.) Attend industry events, seminars or workshops (if the boss is okay with it)

      Reply
    9. Nic

      That sounds like most of my days (I mostly monitor systems, so when things aren’t broken there’s downtime)!

      AAM, for sure. I generally go through the news on google (picking several countries; it’s interesting to see how the same story is presented, or what is presented for each), read cracked.com, or fall down wikipedia holes. I also listen to audiobooks, and have been working on my doodling skills with zentangle techniques.

      When I feel like being more productive I will go through process documents and procedural manuals we have and tweak/update as needed, or create new ones where a need shows itself. I sometimes also take e-learning classes that the company provides. You may be able to find something through Khan Academy or something similar.

      I know how painful having nothing to do is. I hope you find something that helps!

      Reply
  19. Anon for this

    I work in a smallish Teapots industry. For many years, I’ve said to my boss that I had zero interest in working with Chocolate Teapots. This is not due to my lack of interest in Chocolate Teapots, but actually due to an intense desire to avoid working with my colleague who specializes in Chocolate Teapots. This person is toxic, to the point where multiple people have quit to avoid working with her. The Chocolate Teapots Department is at war with us because of their interaction with this colleague, and the Director of Chocolate Teapots refuses to talk or meet with her without an intermediary present. As you can guess, the management at this company is not…functional.

    A position in a neighboring company in the exact same industry has opened up, but the work is related to Chocolate Teapots. The company is close to my house, pays more, and has a reputation of being well-run. I have some experience with Chocolate Teapots, and I have years of experience in the industry, so I think I have a decent shot. However, the industry is so small that I think my boss will eventually hear of it. Am I shooting myself in the foot if I apply for a position that I’ve thus far vehemently rejected? FYI, my boss has tried to recruit me into Chocolate Teapots for years to try and reverse my colleague’s toxic influence, but so far I have managed to keep myself out of the fray.

    Reply
    1. jackson's whole what

      ” to try and reverse my colleague’s toxic influence,”

      Yikes.

      I think you can point to the other aspects, such as “it’s a shorter commute”, and hopefully avoid the conversation where you might have to say “when I said I didn’t like chocolate, I meant I didn’t like THIS chocolate, and not all chocolate”.

      Reply
    2. Jessica

      This sounds great for you, and you should totally go for it! Hopefully if people exercise decent discretion, your boss will hear of it when you resign. And she will get one of two benefits from it. It wasn’t wholly clear to me from your letter whether your boss has direct authority over ToxicColleague.
      If your boss is the boss of TC, then she will get the valuable message that she needs to start managing already, or she will continue to lose her best talent to better-run workplaces while her team continues to be a seething hive of dysfunction.
      If your boss is not the boss of TC, then she will get the equally valuable message that the management above her is critically flawed, the dysfunction will never end and if it accidentally did, new dysfunction would soon follow, and that she also might want to start a job search if that isn’t how she wants to live.

      Reply
      1. Anon for this

        He is TC’s boss. His solution for TC’s behavior has been to move TC around, which resulted in multiple department uprisings over the years. Strawberry Teapots despised us for a while, Vanilla Teapot’s Director sent several official letters saying they cannot work with TC. I think his solution/punishment for TC is to make TC work with Chocolate Teapots, and there simply will not be any more moves. Everyone else in the department has also refused to do any Chocolate Teapots work (because the relationship has broken down so much) so I’m sure he knows full well that TC is a problem, but has no intention of solving it.

        Reply
        1. Amy

          If you’re at the point where a director is sending official letters saying they can’t work with TC, I feel pretty comfortable saying that TC needs to be fired. This is really incompetent management.

          Reply
    3. Sadsack

      You only have rejected it because of the person you’d be working with, so I don’t understand how you’d be “shooting yourself in the foot”. Go for it, if you are interested. I wouldn’t be worried about what your current employer thinks, if that is an issue for you. If you are asked why you are leaving for this job you said you aren’t interested in, you can say it was just an opportunity you couldn’t pass up if you don’t want to tell them the truth.

      Reply
      1. Anon for this

        Yeah…I think it’s a situation where we both know it’s a lie but I feel squirmy making these business white lies.

        Reply
    4. Jules

      Your boss is aware of the toxic colleague, I bet your boss understands the real reason you don’t want to work on Chocolate Teapots in your company. You leaving for Chocolate Teapots elsewhere might even give your old company some leverage on getting rid of toxic colleague, as in, ‘In the exit interview, I asked Anon for this why not move to our Chocolate Teapots, and she/he specifically cited toxic colleague. So we are losing talented people because of toxic colleague, can’t we get rid of her/him?’

      Mmm, I wish I could just make myself use ‘them’ as a singular pronoun.

      Reply
    5. CAA

      If you haven’t told your boss that the reason you don’t want the job is because of the toxic colleague and have only said that you have “zero interest in working with Chocolate Teapots”, then yeah, he’s probably going to be a bit confused. I don’t think it’s shooting yourself in the foot to apply, but try to have some answer ready for when your boss comes to you and asks what’s going on. Shorter commute, more money, change of scenery, getting away from toxic person … any of these is fine.

      Reply
      1. Anon for this

        Chocolate Teapots is actually a huge department with a large workload, and my boss has shown through the years that he has no intention of getting rid of TC, so I think if I had just said “I can’t work with TC” he would have told me to suck it up. I’ve basically taken on 4 other Teapot departments specifically to avoid Chocolate Teapots.
        My real worry is that if I don’t get this job, I will be pushed into Chocolate Teapots after all.

        Reply
    6. Lefty

      You’ve rejected THAT job in Chocolate Teapots… not every job in any Chocolate Teapots department anywhere. And from the sound of it, for very good reason.

      Are you worried that your boss will find out if you take the job? Or are you concerned what will happen if your boss finds out about your interest if you stay were you currently are? If your current boss does find out and asks, you can always cite the commute… or you could pretend you didn’t know it was focused on Chocolate Teapots. “I thought the job was more general Spout work, but that’s interesting to hear. I’m glad things worked out so I can stay, focused on Vanilla Spouts!”

      Reply
      1. Anon for this

        I’m worried that if I don’t get the job and he learns of it (sorta likely cause of how small the field is) he will push me into Chocolate Teapots. He’s been desperate to find someone else to do the work. I’m known as someone who can get along with anyone and have rehabilitated several other difficult teapot departments so I feel like it’s only a matter of time.

        Reply
        1. Not So NewReader

          “Rehab work? Oh my bossman, that will cost you extra. If I have to do rehab work on a personality PLUS do my own job I am working like two people and expect to be compensated accordingly.”

          Go one step at a time here. Apply for the job. Ask for reassurance about the confidentiality of your application. Then make a plan for what to do if news leaks out.

          If super pressed about it, I think I would just tell the boss. “You have had ten people quit because of Jane. I will not allow myself to be subjected to her tirades/verbal abuse/other behavior. It is your choice to keep her. But I will not make myself work with another person who feels it is okay to routinely denigrate a fellow human being.”

          Reply
          1. Anon for this

            Hah, the more I’m typing this out and reading these comments, the more I realize I just need to get out of here. Period. If not this job, then another…

            Reply
    7. Amy

      I don’t see how you’d shoot yourself in the foot here. Your manager might not hear about it. If they do, they might not question it. If they do question it, you can give a sidestepping answer (it’s a better commute, they offered you a higher salary, etc.), and dodge the issue entirely. Or, you can tell the truth–when you said you didn’t want to move into Chocolate Teapots here, what you were saying is that you weren’t willing to work with this problem person who comes with that area. Given that your boss obviously knows this person is a problem, and has been directly told that before, that shouldn’t be a surprise to them at all.

      Reply
    8. Troutwaxer

      “Oh, you must have misunderstood. I meant the department.” (And if you do throw me under the bus and make me work with TC, I’ll go home that night and start working on my resume.)

      Reply
  20. CmdrShepard4ever

    Hello I have a friend who is interview for a job. The person that most recently held this job was hired in Feb of this year, so this position has become vacant in three months. My friend has received a initial phone interview for the position. The question is should they ask about the short tenure of the position in the initial phone interview or wait to see if they get an in person interview and ask at that time?

    Reply
    1. jackson's whole what

      If the initial phone interview is with a human resources person, I wouldn’t ask then, they might not even know. If the initial call is with the manager or the team, then, yes, I’d ask then.

      Reply
    2. Lily in NYC

      Absolutely ask. I have been so burned by this before (recruiting agency lied and said the last person left due to a promotion – when in reality she quit after three weeks and I was the 4th person to have the job in a year. I only made it 5 months before I ran screaming).

      Reply
  21. Throwin' it all away

    I have a question about how much is too much information to give your manager. My coworker left work last week to start cancer treatments for advanced breast cancer, and her work is being transitioned to me–quite a few specific, one-person workloads. It’s do-able, temporarily. Complication: I found out yesterday I may also have breast cancer. I should know for sure within two weeks, but if it does turn out to be cancer I think I would need to leave work pretty much immediately. Since we’re already living our contingency scenario for managing an unexpected absence, our team’s deliverables would be in jeopardy if I had to leave too.

    At what point should I disclose this to my manager? I want her to be informed but I don’t want to freak her out unnecessarily. Things are pretty emotional around here.

    Reply
    1. jackson's whole what

      I hope you don’t have cancer and get a clean bill of health and everything goes well. If the worst happens: don’t disclose before you know. And talk to your doctor about treatment options, a lot depends on the kind of cancer. Everyone “might get sick” at some point. The more info you can give your boss about your availability, like “I am going to be out two days a week for a standing medical appointment”, the more things can be done about it.

      Reply
    2. Temperance

      I would honestly wait until you get your results back before saying anything to your boss.

      You also won’t necessarily need to leave work absolutely immediately, either, so don’t let that be the reason you tell her.

      Reply
    3. Jessesgirl72

      I think you wait until you get the biopsy results back.

      If I told everyone about every irregular PAP smear I had, well, I’d be telling them every year, for thankfully no reason. Not every lump is cancer, very luckily!

      Reply
    4. Throwin' it all away

      Thanks all. I am finding it hard to figure out if I am reacting logically or emotionally at the moment so your input (and sympathy) is very helpful. You’re right that a lot depends on what the specifics are and I should wait until I know more. I think there is a tendency to want to try to control everything you can control in a situation like this :)

      Reply
      1. Sibley

        There’s a book that you might be interested in. “Dear Cancer” by Ann Marr. It’s on Amazon I know. She had breast cancer, and journaled through it. Then later revisited her journals and published it. She had the “try to learn everything” feeling too.

        Reply
    5. Judy (since 2010)

      Don’t say anything until you know. Maybe not even until you have an understanding of your treatment choices if it goes that way.

      I’ve had 6 breast biopsies and 4 skin biopsies. No one has known except my husband. I didn’t even tell my mom. (She’s a breast cancer survivor and my aunt is a skin cancer survivor.) I never knew until the diagnosis about either of my parents’ cancer.

      And many, many biopsies are done that turn out to not be cancer.

      There are so many treatment options. You don’t know at this time what yours might be, if you do have cancer.

      Best wishes for you.

      Reply
    6. Marzipan

      In terms of work, I think it makes sense to not say anything until and unless there’s something to say. For yourself, though, I really hope you have a supportive Team Throwin’ in place who you can turn to outside of work; or, if you don’t, that you can access some suitable help or support – this sounds like a lot to be dealing with all at once. Look after yourself and best of luck.

      Reply
      1. Throwin' it all away

        I think you bring up a good point. Team Throwin’ is all very close to me and I am loathe to worry any of them with this, but feel a little crazy keeping it in. I am going to get in touch with EAP I think. Thanks :)

        Reply
    7. Natalie

      Since we’re already living our contingency scenario for managing an unexpected absence, our team’s deliverables would be in jeopardy if I had to leave too.

      Don’t say anything until you have an actual diagnosis and treatment plan and know how it will impact your work. At the end of the day, the company’s deliverables are not your problem. If you have to leave, they will figure something out, whether that’s postponing, hiring temp help, or maybe just failing.

      Reply
  22. Raven

    Not exactly work-related per se, but as I was driving home from Florida (I live in KY) yesterday, I heard a radio host give a ‘top ten things you need to know before a job interview’ list, and I was thinking, “Oh, I wonder what AAM would think of this,’ right before he said “and this is from AskAManager.com, by Alison Green…”

    Reply
  23. Ann O. Nymous

    I was on my office’s shared drive this morning, in the HR folder trying to look up a specific policy and I stumbled across a document titled “severance letter” from this year that was almost CERTAINLY not supposed to be save there. It’s a severance letter dated from 2 weeks ago for my infuriating incompetent coworker. Should I have seen this letter? Hell no. But I’m glad to know there’s a good chance he’s being fired.

    Reply
    1. Lily in NYC

      Crossing my fingers that it happens! But yikes that you were able to see that so easily. Our marketing director was planning to fire his assistant and HR sent the severance info to him in interoffice mail. The idiot HR rep didn’t realize that his admin opened his mail for him every day.

      Reply
      1. Ann O. Nymous

        Woof. Yeah, I feel bad that I saw it and think it’s inappropriate that it’s there, but I don’t really want to explain to my boss why I opened a document with that kind of title, regardless of it being on the shared drive. There’s too great of a chance that my boss could be pissed about that so I’m just gonna pretend I never saw it.

        Reply
    2. Clever Name

      Ha ha! I’ve come across things on our server that I know I shouldn’t have seen, and I’ve kept my damn mouth shut about it. One was a spreadsheet that I think was a review of folk’s pay. I read the hell out of that document and have never spoken about it to anyone.

      Reply
    3. Former Usher

      On our shared drive at OldJob I found an org chart that specifically mentioned cutting my position. Sure enough, a few months later I was given a choice between severance pay or a demotion and 30% pay cut.

      At the job before that, I accepted an internal transfer and the footer of my offer letter had the name of the internal candidate to whom they had initially offered the job. Oops. Later, my manager needed my help with something so she printed out an email with the details. The email chain also happened to contain a side conversation between another manager and a customer explaining that I would be “moving on.” Fortunately in that case it was just moving on from that project.

      Reply
  24. jackson's whole what

    Something I’m wondering about: what do y’all think is the time remaining on the “open plan” fad? I had a job interview recently where they mentioned that they were open plan and were moving to a new building that was entirely open plan. Reader, I declined them. Open plan is the worst possible thing for me, especially since the job would be working with sensitive information (patient health care, fiscal, etc). I know I’m lucky to be able to say no to a job, but I’m really wondering at what point I’ll stop having to turn down cool-sounding jobs just because of their office plan environments. I have no issues with cubicles or shared office spares.

    Reply
    1. Anxa

      I think whatever its lifespan, I can’t imagine having my office. That sounds so luxurious and I think I would feel super strange all of the time. As it is I don’t even have a home-base computer and I have to jump around all of the time.

      I don’t know much about commercial real estate, but I can’t imagine that property costs aren’t going to keep rising (short of a huge economic downturn). I know I’d be more productive in a better space that costs more, but I don’t think my productivity is valuable enough to my employers to be worth the increased costs.

      Reply
      1. jackson's whole what

        well, I’ve never had my own office. By shared offices, I mean it’s an office (room with a door) that’s shared by 3-4 people.

        Reply
      2. Manders

        I’m a little confused by the cost argument because the absolute cheapest option for a company would be allowing remote workers. Very few companies in my area do that, even though there would be huge benefits for them (because they can rent a smaller office), for workers (because commuting from affordable residential areas can be a multi-hour mess), and for the city as a whole (because our transit infrastructure needs billions of dollars of improvements just to keep up with all the commuters).

        Reply
        1. Jerry Vandesic

          A former employer of mine calculated that they could double the number of people assigned to a new building if we went with an open floor plan (not one single office in the entire building, even for execs). Doubling the density was achieved via a combination of work from home, people traveling, and denser packing. At $20M per building, the savings were significant. I liked it, but there were others that definitely didn’t. For my team it really improved collaboration with other groups.

          Reply
      3. KR

        I could not imagine not having a home base computer – you have to touch the keyboards that have gross not – you germs and you can’t arrange things how you want them and have them stay there! Gross. I’m so sorry. I share my large office with 2 co-workers but they’re often out doing their stuff so for most of the day I have the office to myself.

        Reply
        1. Anxa

          Oh, it’s terrible. This is why I think I’m edging into office vigilante in the making. I share all of my resources. So I get really upset when people eat at the computers (not just snacks, but yogurt [gag!], fast food, fried, HOT WINGS), but while I’m technically maybe not officially at work at that moment, I will not just sit in a corner hanging out between work shifts. I will be trying to be productive. I share my space with patrons, though.

          Oh my goodness, I cannot imagine the joy of being able to set your own Word settings and having up-to-date browsers. And being in a reasonably quiet environment.

          Reply
        2. Ann O.

          I’m sure I’m biased by being in documentation, but I cannot imagine not being able to configure my computer programs as I need them. That is a huge productivity killer for me. Also, the ergonomic impact of not having my own configured space!

          I love cubes, though. To me, the cube farm is the perfect balance between privacy and collaboration. I think managers need offices for privacy, but the one time I had an office, it was terribly isolating.

          Reply
          1. Windchime

            I’ve always just been in cubes and I don’t mind it. There is the occasional person who just yaks all day long, but mostly it’s good. You have your cubicle walls for the illusion of privacy, yet not totally isolated in an office. My current setup is in a room with a giant wall of windows and a view of a pretty city street, and the cubicle walls have glass on one side so the light reaches everyone. It’s really nice.

            When I think “open plan”, I think of the secretarial pool of years past, with a bunch of desks crammed into a room with no dividers at all. Combine that with hot-desking and you’ve just described a nightmare to me.

            Reply
      4. Nic

        I’m with you there. I’ve never had an office, and have only had one professional job where I didn’t split a computer with at least one other person. CurrentJob involves monitoring things on a variety of systems, so two people share 10 computers in my “U”. The other two in the room have the same basic person to computer ratio. With the exception of our mugs or water bottles and maybe a phone charger, no one keeps personal items here. There’s nowhere to put them.

        The clorox wipes are a necessity here, as are folders on the network drive so you can access documents regardless of where you are at the moment.

        Reply
    2. Jessesgirl72

      I don’t know, it only seems to be getting more and more popular.

      And whatever the answer, it can’t be soon enough!

      Reply
    3. Temperance

      I seriously hate the open plan office setup. I would decline a job with that setup unless absolutely necessary.

      Reply
      1. Jessesgirl72

        The problem is, even if they don’t have one now, they may decide to go to one later! 4 years later, and for no good reason, since the cubicles are already in place and there is plenty of unused space in the building even if they wanted to expand, which they aren’t!

        Reply
    4. enough

      Unfortunately I don’t think this is going to change any time soon. I believe this is done a lot to save space (money).

      Reply
      1. Director of Things

        We are in the process of moving and there are about half as many office spaces as before. As my colleague working on the space plan put it, “Walls cost money.”

        Reply
    5. Mustache Cat

      Please tell me you told them why you declined them- that’s the dream right there!

      Sincerely,
      A reader trapped in the open plan

      Reply
    6. Manders

      I turned down a job in part because so much of the interview was spent talking about how they were moving from their perfectly adequate building to a new open-plan office in a trendy (but hard to get to) part of town. And yes, they worked with HIPAA-protected data, but they were going to issue employees laptops and let them all wander the building at random.

      I’m in a trendy tech center, and I’ve noticed a strong correlation between “We’re moving to an open-plan office” and “We talk about being disruptors, but we have no idea what we’re doing.”

      I hope this trend dies–but most of the new office buildings going up around here are designed with open-plan layouts in mind, so I think I’ll be stuck with them for a good chunk of my career.

      Reply
      1. jackson's whole what

        Ah, yes, they want to “disrupt” my ability to get anything done and maintain confidentiality at the same time.

        Reply
    7. Lilo

      I feel like I have explicitly read that open office plans decrease productivity. I am pretty distractable and the ability to close my door when I need to concentrate on something difficult is essential.

      Reply
      1. Manders

        There’s an excellent episode from the Planet Money podcast about the history of open offices and how much employees dislike them. My favorite part: the guy who popularized them had no experience with office design, he was a marketing executive who had a mystic vision on a mountain top. His team HATED their new office, but the move coincided with an era where they produced some famous campaigns, so the idea was picked up by other companies.

        http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2016/06/03/480625378/episode-704-open-office

        Reply
        1. Mazzy

          Interesting. I’m getting tired of being a
          B and having to shush folks so I can’t concentrate…..because they should be able to chat

          Reply
    8. NW Mossy

      Lengthy, simply because converting back is hugely expensive, both in the transition costs but also that it will likely require increased square footage for the same staff in closed plan. My office is going about 90% open right now, and I expect no significant changes to our facilities again until after I’m old enough to retire (about 30 years).

      Reply
    9. Lily in NYC

      I think it’s getting MORE popular because it saves money. My entire office has slowly converted to a bullpen environment over the last few years. I thought I’d hate it but it’s not that bad. The main issue for me is that I don’t have enough room for all of my paperwork. But I assumed I wouldn’t be able to handle the noise and lack of privacy – and I was very surprised to realize that it wasn’t nearly as awful as I expected.

      Reply
    10. Clever Name

      My company is moving to a new building, and I’m trying desperately to find out what the new set up will be. I do know for sure that it will NOT be open plan, thank heavens. The owner specifically mentioned that she hates open plan offices. But I’d like to know if it will be cubicles or shared offices (like we have now) and how many people will be in each office. Right now, most people are 3 to an office, which I think is too many if you have people who are always in their office and who also make business phone calls. I’m currently sharing an office with one person who is mostly in the field now that it’s the growing season, and it’s heavenly.

      Reply
      1. Clever Name

        One of our principals, who is a bit of a smartass (and I say that affectionately), walked by when a couple of us were discussing it, and he joked that it was going to be open plan and everyone would have to check out a laptop at the start of each day. And there would be 5 fewer laptops than employees, so you snooze you lose. And also five fewer chairs.

        Reply
      2. copy run start

        I’d actually take open plan over a tiny, claustrophobic cubicle. Some of the ones my company has arranged lately are so small you can’t even push the chair back from the desk to stand up without turning towards the entrance. When they’re that tiny the walls are just a placebo anyway, I think.

        Reply
        1. Nic

          To an extent, the walls totally are placebo. They do provide a *smidge* of privacy in my experience. I haven’t worked in cubes that small, but I’ve worked in a place that had desk rows where there were 5 people on a side with about three feet total per person and about 8 feet between desks, so you had to be careful backing your chair up.

          They later changed to basically the same system, but with a halfwall between each of the 5 people per side, and between sides of the desk. Even though there were technically a few inches less space per person it didn’t feel quite as bad as it had.

          Either way, NOT enough room.

          Reply
    11. Wheezy Weasel

      I’d ask what metrics they are using to determine the success or failure of the open office plan…and ’employee satisfaction surveys’ are not a good enough answer for me. If they can point to things like ‘time to close a sale decreased 10%, and we think it’s due to the ability for people to huddle on a call more easily, and here’s why we think so’ that is better. Even better if they can point to specific employe metrics saying that individual offices actually hurt productivity and their productivity metics are now increased.

      Reply
    12. Bostonian

      My company’s overseas location has taken it one step further and nobody even has assigned desks or offices, so that you can’t “get stuck in a routine.” There are several open, “collaboration” spaces to choose from, and from the picture it looked basically like round restaurant booths that seat about 5. In addition, only a few select meeting rooms can be booked in advance. As far as I’m concerned, that sounds like a logistical nightmare!

      There are a few individual desks in this set up, so I imagine it’s going to turn into whoever gets there earliest will take those first. There’s just… so many good logistical reasons to have assigned work spaces!

      Reply
      1. Starbuck

        What do they have against routines?? That is baffling! Even in a creative job, there are usually lots of recurring tasks to keep track of, and for me (and most humans I think) routines are key for keeping that stuff organized and allowing for more efficient use of brainpower. Ugh!

        Reply
      2. Bea W

        This is exactly what my company is doing with its new space. You get a locker and a rolling caddy. Dreading it.

        Reply
    13. Casuan

      “Open-plan office” is an oxymoron to me.

      I wouldn’t be able to get used to it because at my age my work style is pretty much set. The lack of privacy would drive me bonkers. I wouldn’t be able to focus with all of the activity in my peripheral vision. Even though I know most people would be too busy with their own work to pay attention to me, I don’t want to be that exposed.

      Cubicles & offices with 2 or 3 desks are okay. Open-plans… no. Just no.
      Unless I really needed the job I’d probably opt out & if my current employer were to convert I’d make a hell of a case as to how the long-term lost productivity negates the on-paper cost-savings.

      Reply
    14. JulieBulie

      The good news is, open plan can’t possibly last forever.

      The bad news is, the next fad will be bunk desks.

      Reply
    15. Quinalla

      Open plans are very cost effective, but I hate them too. We have an open plan, but we do have designated desks and really low cubical walls, you can still see everyone while sitting, but you don’t feel quite so exposed. While I don’t think they are going away, I have seen the trend now to include more quiet spaces for private phone calls/conversations, huddle rooms, etc. I still think more needs to be done. As an introvert, I have a hard time in the open plan if there is a lot of noise from people talking to each other or on the phone. When it is quiet (which it is a lot because most of my coworkers lean introvert), I can get in my zone pretty easily, but on loud days it sucks. I also have to really force myself to make phone calls because I know half my office can hear every word. And these are work related calls, but I still feel very in the spotlight.

      I actually work in designing buildings and it is amusing to me sometimes what owners end up installing to make an open plan work. A lot of white/pink noise generating devices, sound absorption, etc.

      And wow, I didn’t realize even HIPPA type jobs were dealing with open offices! We are mostly open office, but we still have a few private spots for sensitive conversations and people like HR have a private office with a door that shuts.

      Reply
    16. Job Hunt Blues

      I have noticed that open floor plan jobs tend to come with higher salaries than ones where you get your own office or cube. At least at some companies, the savings are passed along to the workers.

      I think the downsides of open floor plans will become more well known as time goes on, but returning to cubes or offices won’t be the solution. I think, instead, workers will be given more flexibility to work from home, or from different parts of the office (quiet rooms and social rooms). That’s already happening at a lot of open floor plan companies.

      Reply
    17. Chaordic One

      It really depends on the job. Supposedly open offices help with collaboration and team work.

      At my last job I had a heavy workload and the work required a lot of intense concentration. There was really not that much need or opportunity for collaboration and working there was a nightmare of distractions and interruptions and it evolved into being an atmosphere that was quite stressful.

      I sort of think that cool-sounding jobs that require their employees to work in open-offices aren’t really that cool. The companies are just cheap.

      Reply
      1. Chaordic One

        Also, being a bit introverted, working in an open office just makes things a lot worse. It seemed like I never had time or the space to hear myself think.

        Reply
    18. Pat Benetardis

      I’m in an open plan environment and think it’s fine, I kind of like it. I sit with my cross-functional project team instead of my department and we are able to communicate in real time. The office has a lot of Windows and they use white noise (I had a prior job in open plan where the noise was unbearable). I wish there were more huddle rooms, though. Everyone sits in the same set-up, including top executives. In my last company, I had a private office with a door and I liked that too, of course, but going to this open plan was not a big deal.

      Reply
    19. N Twello

      A lot of offices have long tables that people choose space at every day (they take their laptops home at night). There is no drawer, no private space, no keyboard tray, no ergonomic chair.

      I’m too old and too short to be able to work without a keyboard tray, adjustable chair, separate keyboard, separate monitor, and docking station. I also like to keep a few things at my desk, like a desk fan and some printouts of info I need to refer to frequently that I pin on my cube wall.

      I would not accept a job that didn’t provide those necessities.

      Reply
      1. Jessica

        I have my own office, but I work in a 19th-century building. I’m always amused/amazed by the stories of my much higher-paid friends who have to work in open-plan cube farms.
        I actually think open-plan is inherently discriminatory. I’ve known many people with various sorts of issues–maybe bad back and I need my just-right chair and ergonomic everything not to be in agony, or accessibility adjustments to the computer, or I’m painfully sensitive to certain lighting, or I’m hard of hearing and can’t hear my phone calls with background din, or for a physical reason I’m chronically hotter/colder than other people, or all sorts of other things. There are lots of folks who, if given even a tiny private office that they could configure to meet their needs, could be highly productive, highly successful workers. But in open plan, the physical/logistical issues hold them back. We’re just not identical robo-units.

        Reply
  25. Almond Joy

    Just a little venting and question. I was laid off on Tuesday – my job was eliminated. Not a surprise as my boss quit and they decided to close the department – again not a surprise. I am still a little upset even though I keep trying to think about it logically.

    On the positive side, I have been applying for jobs and already received a few callbacks.

    Question: my now old company said it was okay for me to say I am still employed during my severance period (4 months) in an effort to “help” me find a job. Is this an okay thing to do? I know the thought is that it is easier to find a job when you have a job but this seems a little deceptive. Thoughts??

    Reply
    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      If the company said it’s okay and they are going to verify a reference indicating those dates for your employment, then I think it’s fine to do it.

      Reply
        1. Lily in NYC

          Ha, it took me a minute to get this! And Almond Joy – definitely take advantage of their offer. I hope you find something great very soon.

          Reply
    2. KR

      I thought you worked at my company until I read about your boss quitting – talk about a mini heart attack on my part. I’m so sorry your job was eliminated. I would recommend reaching out to your boss if you think they would give you a good reference and finding out what your reference would be and who would give it from the company ( will they say your performance was good and your job was eliminated? Or just be mysterious and possibly hurt your chances?). Good luck.

      Reply
    3. CAA

      If they’re paying you through their normal payroll, then you are still actually an employee, even though you don’t have to come to the office any more. So yes, you can say you’re employed there. In this case, your actual end date will be the date your severance ends and that’s the date that the employer will give in future employment verification checks, so make sure to use that date on your resume and any credit applications rather than the last day you worked.

      If they gave you a lump sum of four months’ salary in advance, then you should ask them what date to use as your formal end date. If it’s in the past, then it’s up to you whether to say you’re still employed there for 4 months or not. I personally don’t think it makes that much difference for a short period like this.

      Reply
    4. Natalie

      For what it’s worth, I’d also file for unemployment now, even though you’re getting severance payments. You’ll just report the severance to them and they will delay any benefit payments until after the severage. But just in case, you don’t want to be caught out in 4 months with no severance and outside of the filing period.

      Reply
    5. Belle

      Yeah, I don’t think it is deceptive if they company is telling you to say it (and maybe according to your agreement you are still an employee? Such as if you are getting paid on the same schedule and benefits…)

      Reply
    6. Casuan

      I’m against saying you’re still employed there unless you have pay-cheques that back this up.
      Not because it’s deceptive. Rather because you can’t know with certainty to whom in the company a potential employer will talk & what that person will say. Your boss quit, the department was eliminated & you were laid off. Even if there’s a note in your file that says “Say this if asked,” that’s no guarantee someone will read it or unquestionly accept what it says.

      Avoid the question of deception altogether. Even if ProspectiveEmployer learns your company suggested this to you, it will still appear to be deceptive. And if ProspectiveEmployer doesn’t talk with someone who is in the know, it will ruin past & future opportunities with that company.

      Reply
    7. Piano Girl

      Is this company-specific? I was laid off in March with six months severance. Should I therefore say that I was employed through September? Or should I verify that with the corporate HR person? I am currently taking a break from working due to some health problems but plan on updating my resume, LinkedIn, etc soon.

      Reply
      1. HR Pro

        Piano Girl, verify with your HR person. Generally when someone is being paid severance they are not considered an employee. But sometimes companies make deals with employees (ex-employees) about being able to say you’re still an employee.

        Reply
  26. Amy the Rev

    Job search has been such a rollercoaster lately! In early Feb I applied to 2 openings in my area, one (1) scheduled an interview quickly and the other (2) sent an email saying they were enthusiastic abt my profile and would reach out soon to schedule an interview with me.

    I have interview with Church 1 early March, it went fine, and then radio silence for a month. Church 2 never reaches out, a friend of mine who also got the same form response had her interview and had scheduled a second one, and I email them to see if they have any updates to their timeline for scheduling interviews (3 weeks had passed since the date by when they said to expect to hear from them) and also get radio silence from them. I also reach out to Church 1 early April and ask if they have any updates, and they say that they do not, and are still finishing up 1st round interviews and haven’t moved forward with a candidate. Church 2 finally gets in touch mid April and basically says that they’re looking at other candidates (but don’t outright reject me).

    So I’m bummed.

    But then Church 1 emails me late April and says they haven’t moved forward with anyone yet, and am I still available? And then Church 2 emails me late April and asks to schedule an interview, which goes really well, and they schedule a 2nd round interview (which happened yesterday and went really well). And then Church 1 calls this past Weds to say they haven’t found a candidate they like yet and the minister would like to bring me in for another conversation ASAP (scheduled for tomorrow).

    It’s just been such a roller coaster and Church 1 has made it very clear that I wasn’t their first choice, but I’m still glad that they never outright rejected me and are still considering my candidacy. I don’t know how things will proceed because it’s felt so hot and cold, but while I’m excited to be moving forward in the application process with both, I’m also exhausted and feeling a little ‘jerked around’ by them both.

    Reply
    1. Jessesgirl72

      You’re obviously not an Episcopalian. Searches are designed to last 12-18 months, and no Bishop would even allow you to make an offer in less than a year. (And I was at a church where they had 3 top candidates, but the Bishop rejected 1 and the other declined to be a top candidate, so the Bishop made them START OVER) So it could be worse! :)

      Good Luck that you find the place you’re supposed to be!

      Reply
    2. Casuan

      Amy, I’m sorry for the frustrations & it’s understandable that you feel jerked around. Just remember that for many different reasons, many church bureaucracies can be a bit sluggish.
      The timing you describe coincides with Lent & Easter; the Lenten season is often quite busy for Christian churches & things tend to slow down a bit during that time.

      Churches aren’t just looking for someone to fill a job, they’re also looking for someone with certain traits who can relate to their congregation. Most churches aren’t going to settle on a candidate. It’s a good thing that Church 1 wants to talk with you again.

      if this is presumptuous, I apologise… If you’re feeling jerked around or otherwise conflicted, remember to be still & listen. Do you feel called to one church over the other?

      I hope your conversation tomorrow goes well!!
      Please update if you’re up to sharing. :)

      Reply
  27. Giving up

    I need the collective juju of the AAM community today!
    Have my year-end review (okay, 16 month review) this afternoon and right now I’m exhausted, snarky (hell, bitchy), not feeling well, and overly exhausted. Been trying not to stress over it for the past month but terrified I am going to mouth off or walkout during it. Since I can’t afford to leave this job, no matter how crappy it is, I need help to keep my tongue in check. I have no idea what boss will say. We had to do those stupid 6 page self-evaluations prior to the review, complete with our job satisfaction rating & our goals & hopes for the future. I’ve worked in this industry for 35 years; just tell me how you think I’m doing, give me the damn raise I deserve (I asked for a big one but if I’m lucky maybe I’l get a 2% COL (maybe).
    Yes, I need a new job, yes I have been looking, yes this was only supposed to be a temporary thing because I ran out of unemployment (couldn’t get an extension because the state says ‘we are in a period of recovery & you should have already gotten a job by now) and most my savings.
    My self-esteem has been so battered the past 3 years and I really have nothing left.

    Reply
    1. Susan the BA

      It sounds like you’ve survived a lot of crap over the past three years, so you are definitely strong enough to survive an hour (or whatever) of review. Just keep telling yourself that you are a survivor, focus on your breathing, say “hmmm” to everything Boss says to buy yourself time to calm down before responding. You’ve got this!

      Reply
    2. Jules

      Remember to take a deep breath before you say anything in the review. Maybe a slow walk outside during lunch? Remember there’s a certain amount of formula to this (ie, 3 good things and a bad), and that the bosses are as stuck with that as you are. A good manager will do the formula because they think it’s the right thing for you, and demonstrates they care about the job you are doing. Remember if they come back with x% raise, you can still ask a reasonable manager for x+2% and see if they’ll bite.

      Also keep in mind that the economy is improving, unemployment is low, and this is a good time to be job hunting. Trump’s plans suck for individuals, but businesses seem to be eating it right up, and *finally* spending some of that cash they’ve been hoarding the last five years.

      With 35 years of industry experience, you can’t help but be a good employee for someone. *Someone* out there needs your perspective. You might have to learn some new ways to apply it, but perspective and experience do actually matter.

      Good luck!!!

      Reply
    3. Wheezy Weasel

      In that 35 years of working, has anything from a year end review every affected your new job? (Mine haven’t in 15 years). If you are getting something new, this is just another rock in the path for the current job. It might be helpful to write some notes during the review, gather the paper copies and review them several days later to see how you can either avoid any of these rocks in a new job, but not worry too much about what they mean to the current one.

      Reply
    4. Giving up

      well, we only made it about 1/2 way before I could take it no longer. I am not a touchy feely extrovert like boss is and could not take being told how bad I am and negative I am and that I’m not managerial enough (ha! I’ve been the manager of 5019 people in each of my last 3 jobs and never had any complaints) but apparently I don’t step up enough.
      She had me very upset because while apparently the other staff thinks I’m demeaning to them and disrespectful (I’m NOT), it’s perfectly okay that they disrespect me and slight me becasue it’s “unintentional”. I left the review terribly upset – she offered me a break to collect myself, I said let’s just finish this, she insisted so I walked out. While she knows I have returned to the office, we have yet to pick up again.

      In a show of her disrespect for me, despite my having sent her a detailed self evaluation over a week ago that I devoted a LOT of time, effort, and angst on, she had not read it prior to our sitting down together.

      Yep. Need something new. And soon!

      Reply
      1. Analysis Paralysis

        Oh my. I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

        I feel your pain. I once had a boss that had it out for me (no I’m not paranoid!). On my review I was given “does not meet” for Teamwork because ‘other team members had to finish a data verification’ — she failed to mention that 4 hours before the verification was due, SHE offered to give it to another team member so that I could focus on an unrelated software outage (I was the only SME on the software). So, yah, it’s technically true that someone else did a piddling 15 minute task originally assigned to me while I *rockstarred* that software outage (and would’ve had plenty of time to do the verification too). This was just one of four “does not meet” ratings that I received on that review — all similarly bogus. I’m usually a proponent of accepting feedback graciously and with intent to improve myself, but I fought that review tooth-and-nail. In the end, she pulled in HR and I produced supporting documentation — based on my documentation HR made her change the ratings to “meets” but they allowed her remarks and my rebuttals to stay in the review. It was the beginning of the end.

        I hate to hear of anyone else going through something similar to what I went through. My advice: document everything you’re asked to do / told that someone else will do / conflicting instructions, etc. Practice good self care. Keep applying for other jobs. Repeat to yourself “this job is a paycheck that pays my bills; it does not define me nor determine my worth”. ~~sending you virtual hugs, if you want ’em~~

        Reply
        1. giving up

          thanks – can always use hugs.
          we have not yet resumed the rewiew and I have no desire to do so; unfortunately, I dont’ think I can get a raise at all unless we do.
          Interesting that 2 or 3 of the things she bashed me for were on behalf of other staff, staff who had no idea what she was talking about…

          We have no HR that I can take this to.

          Reply
    5. N Twello

      Your story really hits home with me.
      Nearly three years ago my boss was demoted and a new guy was brought in. Right out of the gate he started abusing me. I wrote down everything and compiled quotes, dates, witnesses, supporting emails, etc and went to the CEO. That improved the most egregious behavior but the nastiness continued. The hardest to take were the claims (as you describe in your update) of other people complaining about me – which I don’t believe, and yet they create doubt.
      I developed a painful and debilitating stress-related ailment that took nearly a year to fix. I have always loved my work and have been, if anything, a workaholic, but I started hating my work and slacking off. I didn’t have any luck finding another job, so I realized I had to develop a more zen-like approach to work.
      I no longer have normal expectations about things like performance evaluations; I just try to develop an attitude that will cause me the least stress when the horrible happens. I avoid my boss as much as possible and try to always be cool and professional when I do have to deal with him.
      I’m not perfect; about a year ago I snapped under terrible treatment, but most of the time I’m now able to cope without internalizing the humiliation and doing damage to myself. I learned to survive without managerial support, a decent computer, invitations to meetings I should be at, a budget, training or conferences. I just decided to accept all that and get on with my job. I evaluate my own work and check with my stakeholders to make sure they’re happy with my performance.
      As for writing down dates, quotes, etc of his treatment of me, I had to give that up as it was causing me to become too stressed.

      Reply
      1. giving up

        yes, that is part of my problem too… I had been keeping track of all the extra hours I had been working but found it just spiraled me into depression.
        And I got the “everyone works long hours here” comment from boss so she didn’t care what I was working.
        wondering if my increased pain levels are from the stress too.

        Reply
  28. #ITlife

    Tomorrow will be the sixth Saturday in a row of mandatory, on-site work for my project team. With a likelihood of two more after that. It is what it is, and this job is otherwise amazing (nothing like this has ever happened before), but it sucks a lot. I don’t need any advice, just complaining. :)

    Reply
    1. Blue Anne

      I totally sympathize. Accountant who just finished tax season over here.

      It will feel so good when you get back to full weekends, right? :)

      Reply
  29. AP

    I’ve been applying to the US Foreign Service and will be subject to a background investigation soon. I didn’t realize I’d gotten as far as I did when I accepted my current job in August (received the invitation to the oral assessment in September, and passed the assessment in January with a pretty good score).

    The problem is, I haven’t been with my employer for a year and an investigator will come at some point to verify my employment and do a security interview. I haven’t talked with my employer about this yet, and am not sure how to approach the situation. I had started applying last June and didn’t realize that I was going to do so well as things moved along. I like my current employer, but I would also love to be a part of the Foreign Service because of the work they do.

    I’m looking for advice on how, at some point, to approach this conversation with my employer. I’m leaning to, “I applied last June, and accepted this position before I knew that Foreign Service was really an option. Given the current hiring environment and how long this process is, I can’t provide any timelines but it’s still not a guaranteed thing. But I will give you as much notice as I can and work with you, and have been very happy here. The Foreign Service is an opportunity I really don’t think I can pass up, however.”

    Thoughts? Thanks everyone!

    Reply
    1. TCO

      I think your wording is great, but I might emphasize even more strongly that you might not receive a job offer, and if you don’t, then you’ll be very happy continuing to work at your current employer. I think most people understand the need to take that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I hope they’ll be happy for you, not upset, should your opportunity come.

      Good luck!

      Reply
      1. Lucy Richardson

        Yes – I’d say something like, “It’s still a long shot I’ll make it all the way through the process, but how exciting I’ve made it this far. So, the current step requires them to contact you to verify X.”

        Reply
    2. Lefty

      TCO is right-on about this… maybe even add that federal employment offers can often be very delayed and that IF you receive one, you’ll also do everything you can to assist with the transition.

      Could I pry a bit into your experience with the exams? I’ve taken and passed 3 times without getting past the PNQs… I know folks who were hired after passing once or even failing a few times, then passing. What was your experience, AP? Thanks!

      Reply
      1. AP

        I’d love to chat with you more on this, but I’m not sure of a good way to exchange contact information.

        In general terms though, I passed everything the first time around. I really don’t know what I did different than many other people.

        For the written assessment, I read a variety of news sources and am aware of a variety of current events. I’m not sure how useful talking about that would be though, especially since it sounds like that wasn’t a stumbling block for you.

        For the PNQs, I really made sure to stick to the prompts and answer the questions as succinctly as possible. I have ~8 years of professional to draw on, but I also used a few experiences outside of work on the PNQs. I was trying to show I’m more than a corporate work-bot, and edited them pretty heavily. I approached it like telling a story – show don’t tell, use as few words as possible, make it easy to read. I also put the ‘so here’s why you care’ right up front so it’s easy to see where I’m going, instead of inferring it from later on.

        I had a couple people read over what I wrote to make sure I wasn’t overselling anything, that it was easy to read, and that I was addressing the prompt directly.

        I don’t really have huge insights though, since the PNQ process seems pretty opaque. From what the diplomat in residence has told me, the PNQs are where there is a quota, and you might have just missed the cutoff. It’s hard to say.

        I practiced for the oral assessment a lot in person. Living in DC made it easy because there are always study groups going on. Skype helps for a bunch of it, or mailing around practice case management documents that people can mark up.

        If there’s some way to exchange contact info, I’d be more than happy to email back and forth for any more specific questions you have.

        Reply
    3. AP

      Thanks for the responses everyone–

      Yes, I forgot that I need to stress that everything is still very much in the air. I work in DC for a federal contractor, so they’re aware of the current political environment and how that affects budgets and hiring. I think my boss will take things well, since she’s encouraged others who’ve started their own shops or transitioned to other places in the federal government. The process has been so long, thankfully, that it makes the inevitable conversation easier and easier as things drag out!

      Reply
  30. Jessesgirl72

    Amazing news this week! As I’ve mentioned before, we’re having a baby via surrogate in the Ukraine at the end of July. My husband got permission from his boss to work remotely while we’re kicking our heels waiting for the baby to be born, but it takes about 3 weeks after the birth to get the passport and be able to come home, and he was going to have to use all his vacation hours for that- and if anything got delayed, go to FMLA. And he HAS to be there, since the baby only shares his DNA, and the US State Department requires a DNA test before issuing the passport.

    On Monday, his company sent out a Memo that they now are offering 4 paid weeks of Parental Leave, and specifically have said it’s in addition to the FMLA, not just a paid part of it! He just has to apply for it 30 days in advance, and it doesn’t kick in until the baby is born.

    Then the strange part- I suggested that he apply for FMLA anyway, just in case, so the paperwork is all in and ready. He has no way to directly contact HR! He has to go through his boss or an Ombudsman, even for something this simple. He mentioned this to the head of HR when he was in a meeting with her, and she said something like oh yeah, they really should make a way for people to contact HR directly, and that was at least 2 years ago! That’s not normal, right?

    Reply
      1. Jessesgirl72

        The paid leave good news for everyone planning a family! The timing of it is just particularly fortunate for us! They have above-average benefits and actually believe in work-life balance, instead of just giving lip service to it.

        But this wouldn’t be the first time the internal structure has us scratching our heads!

        Reply
    1. Lily in NYC

      That is a ridiculous rule – and it’s overly protective of managers. How is someone supposed to report a manager if they need to? But congrats on your new baby, how exciting!

      Reply
      1. Jessesgirl72

        I asked him that- you report problems with your boss to the Ombudsman.

        My working experience is with one of the Big Three Automakers, where things are structured differently because of the Union (even for non-union/management, because everyone has to be the treated the same) or tiny little businesses with no HR, but that seemed really strange to me, and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just ignorant and this is how it is all the time. He’s at a Fortune 500!

        Reply
  31. deets

    Boss recently announced that instead of having our spring training/teambuilding trip at a hotel, we are having it at his family’s vacation home. This is a three-day, two-night trip. Apparently we’ll each have our own bedroom but will share bathrooms, and of course the rest of the living space. I feel super awkward about this – I’m on good terms with all my coworkers but that doesn’t mean I want to be with them 24/7, and it being my boss’s property instead of an airbnb or something is an extra level of weird. Does anyone have advice for surviving this? Commiseration is also accepted.

    Note: we all verified the dates worked before being told the venue, so I can’t invent an obligation to get out of it, and my boss is not the type to accept “I feel uncomfortable staying at your home” well. Really the moral of this story is I need to stop working for a small business, I think.

    Reply
    1. k

      Can you come down with a sudden bout of food poisoning? You babysitter/dog sitter/plant sitter cancels on you at the last minute?

      If you truly can’t get out of it, I’m very sorry. That sounds like it’s going to be a long three days.

      Reply
    2. Mazzy

      Are you sure it will be horrible? My childhood friends parents were ridiculously rich they had ten bedrooms and maybe eight bathrooms and a rec room and library going there was awesome and relaxing and an escape from the real world

      Reply
    3. Lefty

      Since it sounds like you may not be able cancel without serious issue, can you mitigate it a little? Maybe bring your own vehicle with the intent of “doing some exploring” in the evenings… since it’s a vacation home, maybe your family has “asked you to do recon” on the area for parks or walking trails. Obviously, this would be a little ruse to get you some time alone/away from the house.

      (Bonus points if there’s some really obscure thing you can go “look for” that most of your coworkers would want to avoid. I was once asked to scout potentially historic gravesites by a family friend during a trip for work… it was such an odd quest that my colleagues did NOT want to join.

      Reply
    4. PatPat

      Awkward! Oooh, I’m sorry! Sharing a bathroom with a coworker is not something most people want to do so I feel your pain. And the thought of being around coworkers 24/7 soinds so horrible

      Do you think you have any recourse to push back? Do you have any legit health issues that you could bring up (without going into detail) that would make those close living quarters unworkable? Something like frequent insomnia or something?

      Reply
    5. Serious Sam

      The obvious tactic here is to make sure it NEVER happens again. Start with coffee stains on the light coloured carpets, crack a window or mirror. Move on to deep scratches in the polished wood floor or table. Loose as much cutlery as you can, break a glass or two.

      Everything should just be on the limit of accidental or normal wear and tear. The owner is probably not your boss but a relative of his from the way you describe it, so the ideal amount of damage will be the level that the owner will notice only after you have all left. The owner will then make sure the boss never has that idea again. Anything toilet related will just annoy the cleaners and the owners will probably never hear about it, so don’t do that.

      Reply
    6. Casuan

      Ugh. I love Serious Sam’s tactic tho I’d probably go with the others mentioned instead.

      You already agreed to the hotel, so you should feel free to use the house as a hotel, by which I mean you shouldn’t be expected or guilted into spending free time with your colleagues. Lefty’s suggestions on mitigating things are good.

      Are your other colleagues into this idea? If not, could the group convey that they’re not comfortable with the idea of going to your boss’ house?

      Insurance-wise your boss isn’t being too wise. And some part of me wonders if Boss is saving money or making a conflict-of-interest by billing the company instead of paying for a hotel.
      I’m going to assume that he isn’t & I’m surprised that I even thought of the possibility.

      If you must go, enjoy it as much as you can & use the experience to learn more about your colleagues. :)

      Reply
    7. ..Kat..

      Since it is only two nights, can you console yourself by reading the posts about sharing hotel rooms and even beds?

      Still sucks, I know.

      Reply
    8. Bluebell

      Many years ago I had to do this but fortunately it was only an overnight. Boss’s cabin had 3 bedrooms one bath. Boss had her own bedroom and fortunately my female colleague and I were friends outside of work. She did encourage us to use the kayak or spend time alone in the morning, which was nice. It wasn’t bad but still ranks in my list of weird work outings.

      Reply
    9. This Daydreamer

      Is there space outside that you can retreat to? Take a book with you for a reading break on the deck or patio or maybe a garden bench. Just getting out of the house and away from everyone else for a little while can make a huge difference.

      Reply
  32. k

    I always hear than when talking about salary for a prospective job you can ask about benefits as well. How specific can you get though? And when does that conversation happen (do you wait until they make an offer? Or the first time salary is mentioned?)

    In my previous job hunts I’ve never asked about benefits because I was either unemployed and would take anything, or getting such a raise in pay that I didn’t think to ask about the details. Now I’m looking for a more lateral move and the positions I’m applying to will likely have similar pay to what I make now. It’s one thing to know that they offer health insurance, but is it normal to ask how much per paycheck the employee pays? Or what it covers? Because without a raise in salary that could make a big difference in take home pay, etc. This is one of those things I’ve never dealt with before, so I’m having a hard time picturing how that conversation would go.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous Poster

      I’ve had companies give me that information in a giant packet when I go for an in-person interview. I’ve also had it outlined when they make an offer.

      If they don’t furnish it on their own, I’d suggest asking once they make an offer. Most places will have a packet of all that information they can send your way.

      Reply
      1. Jessesgirl72

        At his last job, but husband got it as a giant PDF of the packet just ahead of the final “fly out” interview.

        Reply
    2. all aboard the anon train

      I always ask at the offer stage. In previous jobs, when I was told the salary range, I asked to see a copy of the employee benefits, including the healthcare coverage. Just outright ask. If they say no, then that’s a red flag imo.

      My current job’s salary is nice, but lower than I’d like, but my healthcare is pretty great (I get $2500 for dental procedures per year which is almost unheard of, and I rarely have to pay anything out of pocket for medical coverage, even expensive procedures). So it’s about an extra $20K per year. Plus, they paid for most of my MA instead of the $5K yearly stipend most other places gave.

      Reply
    3. CAA

      For that level of detail, either ask an HR person, or ask if you could get a copy of the benefits information that includes the costs. If you get to the offer stage and still don’t have the info, it’s perfectly fine to say you’d like more details on the benefit costs in order to make a decision.

      I am a hiring manager, and I’ve always made a point of outlining the benefits we offer in the first in-person interview, but sometimes people want to go into more detail than I have at my fingertips. I don’t know how much a single person has to pay on PPO plan A because I am paying for a family on HMO plan B. Some people have even asked about reimbursement for specific dental procedures. Candidates do have an opportunity to meet with HR before an offer, and we always send benefit enrollment info as part of the offer packet, so all I can do with those kinds of questions is refer them to a better source.

      Reply
  33. ZSD

    In case people missed it, the Working Families Flexibility Act (the comp time bill that was hotly debated here earlier) did indeed pass the House this week. I’m not sure if the Senate will take it up.

    Reply
  34. Myrin

    I had an interesting experience in an interview last month:

    I had to send a writing sample beforehand; I’m in a “language and literature” field, so the majority of it is about reading and writing. And my interviewer said “Your writing sample was amazing, you have such a good way with words and your style is great – why on earth do you want to do this job??”. “This job” being basically data collection and entry (which I knew beforehand, this didn’t come as a surprise or anything). And my answer was that I really… don’t like writing… all that much? Like, I know that I’m really good at it but it’s just not my thing in a way. I actually much prefer manual labour or at least stuff where I can “do” something. And I’ll honestly admit that I don’t really like thinking all that much? Gosh, that sounds horrible, but basically I can never understand when people say “I’m not intellectually challenged” or similar because I could happily go my whole life without ever having to do mental work, or maybe rather theoretical work.

    Anyway, that’s just for background. The real question I wanted to ask for this open thread is: Do you guys have something like this (work-wise, of course)? Something you’re good at, maybe even extraordinarily good, but just Do. Not. Like?

    Reply
    1. JanetM

      Scheduling. Both meetings (which actually aren’t so bad unless they involve a lot of administrators) and front desk coverage.

      Reply
      1. Lily in NYC

        I don’t mind easy scheduling, but of course most of what I have to do is painfully complicated (like trying to get 6 CEOs with insane schedules to all meet in a few days). But event planning is what I truly hate the most. I’m just not detail-oriented enough.

        Reply
    2. Effie

      I’m amazing at customer support and customer service. At a previous job everyone knew if we got an irate customer after working with me they’d leave happy. At more than one previous job I got more thank-you letters and compliments than anyone else in my department (sadly everything went straight to my managers and I rarely saw any of it). I HATE it now. I’ve done it for over 7 years and I’d be happy working with numbers or at least not needing to soothe customers for the rest of my life. Also in my previous positions my coworkers (same title/level) would just pass awful/angry/irate/etc customers off to me instead of taking care of it themselves. Even my managers did it sometimes, and I’d get in trouble for not taking care of it since they knew I could, even when it was above my job grade, even when I had no actual training. Sadly I’m still good at it and I’m about to be moved to a position where I’ll need to deal with clients again…wish me luck!

      Reply
      1. KR

        Yes this, I am great at customer service as a former front end supervisor at a grocery store that prides itself on service but I hated it after a while. My current job is not customer facing in the least and I am so happy.

        Reply
      2. AliceBD

        I am also great at customer service and hate it. I am the backup for our consumer education person but I’m only supposed to cover for her when she’s out for a significant period — out a couple of days for a cold or taking a long weekend doesn’t count, but having surgery and being out for two weeks (she’s fine) or her annual week-long vacation are fine. One of the people who sends calls to her started sending them to me whenever the main person wasn’t at her desk. The worst was she and I were in a meeting together, and my desk is closer to the conference room we used so I got back to my desk a minute before she did, so a call was sent to me! My boss had to send a stern letter about not bothering me with calls for things like that; it’s actually not at all in my job description but I just have the skills.

        Reply
    3. Hellanon

      When my students ask me for resume/job interview help, I always start off by asking them to do a bit of homework first. And that is to answer these four questions (while thinking about things one might actually be doing, not lottery-winning scenarios): 1) What do you like to do? 2) What are you good at? 3) What do you NOT like to do? 4) What are you NOT good at? I always told them it’s important to be honest with themselves, because it would give them a template for deciding if a job would be a good fit. It’s exactly what you are talking about-if you don’t enjoy or can’t do something, and the job has a lot of it, it won’t be a good fit.

      Reply
    4. Princess Carolyn

      I kind of feel this way about writing, actually. I’m pretty good at it, but I’m not particularly creative and don’t really enjoy tasks that require me to think creatively. That’s why I tend to prefer editing over writing, though my current gig is very writing-heavy.

      Reply
      1. hermit crab

        Me too. Writing is exhausting, and I avoid writing first drafts of things whenever possible! In school, I was always told that I was a good writer, and people assumed that I would be an author or a journalist or something. (I think there was some sexism/gender roles stuff playing in there too — I was also good at math, but of course nobody praised or encouraged that.)

        Reply
    5. Unlucky Bear

      Yes. Similar to you, I’m a good writer when I have to be, but I do not enjoy writing on its own. I’m perfectly happy reworking copy other people have written, but when I have to do it, it’s fairly tortuous. I’ve worked as an editor for a decade now, and interviewers have often assumed that my dream job would be something with more writing, but… no. (My dream job would be one where I get paid to sit on the couch all day at home hanging out with my kid, so apparently my professional yearnings will forever go unfulfilled…)

      Reply
    6. Mary (in PA)

      Meeting minutes, AKA the bane of my existence. I hate doing them so much and everyone tells me, “Your minutes are so great! They’re so detailed and so helpful!”

      Reply
    7. CAA

      I guess I’d have to say data collection and entry. I am organized and have a very good memory. I am great at knowing who still owes me information and following up to get it, and even figuring out how to make it easier for them to give it to me. However, collecting information and updating systems with that information is the most boring thing I could ever think of doing; and I hate to be bored.

      I want to be solving hard problems, brainstorming alternatives with others, and making things work.

      Reply
    8. Terra Firma

      The head of HR recently told our CEO (my manager) that I delivered the best PIP she had seen for a struggling worker (who had health issues in addition to performance issues. ) She talked up my documentation and rigor so much that they just moved another tricky hr situation on to my team. I do NOT want to be the team lead who is really good at fixing problem employees and/or being the only one willing to fire them.

      Reply
    9. Aphrodite

      For me, it’s writing and scheduling. I am often told I am an amazing writer. I used to write for a living. I was an editor for eight years. Now I don’t want to do either. Writing is hard work; it’s not fun though the product can be enjoyable. (In other words, I liked having written, not writing.)

      Scheduling is another for me. I schedule over 100 classes each term and it’s insanely complicated with multiple databases and constant emails and phone calls. Right now, I am actively working on four different terms, each of which is constantly changing. One is due to start this month, the last is one year away.

      It’s insane and I am always looking at other jobs that open up here to get out. The fact that I am great at it is no excuse to keep me in such insanity.

      Reply
    10. Jules the First

      Organising events. It is my superpower. And I hate it. Like, flee to the other end of the galaxy hate it. Because people assume that if you are awesome at organising events, you are awesome at playing host, and I am not. Very not. (If I could organise the snot out of an event and then run it from behind the scenes without ever having to say hello to a guest? Sign me up!)

      Reply
      1. Relly

        You should find someone who likes to host but not organize, and form an unstoppable power duo.

        I was MoH in my friend’s wedding, and her mom and I split the bridal shower like that — she organized, I hosted. We both felt like we got the better end of the deal.

        Reply
    11. TL -

      Building organizational systems that are functional and easy.
      I do it, cause my memory ain’t great and I hate being not about to find things, but I’ll be really happy when I’m at a level to pass that job off to someone else.

      Reply
    12. Lady Dedlock

      Editing. I am an editor. I am great at editing. But it is so mind-numbingly boring for me. I’m trying to get into website work instead.

      Reply
    13. katamia

      LOL. I asked a question on a similar topic below. I’m a great editor, but I hate having to sit and stare at the same thing for so long and make a bunch of dinky (but important) changes. It takes me forever because I need to take so many breaks because I can only go maybe 10-20 minutes without going, “Ugh, I can’t look at this thing for another second!” and have to stand up/walk around/play a game of Solitaire.

      Reply
    14. Elizabeth West

      Customer service. I’m good at it but I HATE it. I don’t want a public-facing job. I’d rather be in a hidey hole somewhere and not ever have to answer a phone again (unless it’s my phone, for me).

      Reply
    15. writelhd

      Alegbra and geometry.

      I work in a field where certain job functions require being able to do accurate surface area calculations of buildings. Often that means figuring out the area of a bunch of different right triangle from knowing the length of two sides and the angle between (or even other more complex shapes), sometimes off of complicated building plans with crazy multiple rooflines and towers and arg it just makes me cringe to think of it. But I majored in physics, so tedious though it is, trigonometry and algebra are a piece of cake for me, partly because I set it all up as a formula with appropriate order of operations in excel and make excel do the actual arithmetic, rather than keeping track of a zillion numbers scrawled out on some scratch paper and added together at various points with a calculator. Then it’s supremely fast to check my own work just by studying the formula I set up and making sure I’ve created it right, rather than trying to do it again and getting a different answer and arg why! let me start over for the fifth time… But yeah, it’s not FUN or anything to do that. However even less fun is now overseeing techs who now do that job and having to check THEIR work…

      Reply
  35. all aboard the anon train

    I had a phone interview for a job I applied to at a company I was really interested in. At the end of the call (it was with someone in HR, a typical screening call), I was told that HR would get back to me with dates for the next phone interview. I asked about the interview process. I was told it’s the HR screen call, a call with the hiring manager, a full day of interviews in the office, potentially a second day, and maybe a project or test.

    That’s a lot of steps for a job interview, in my opinion, so I told the HR rep, “Because this is a lengthy interview process, I’m wondering if you could tell me the salary range for the position. I’m very interested in continuing with the interview process and I’d love to work for X company, but I don’t want to get to the end of the process and find that your salary range isn’t what I’m looking for, and I’m sure you don’t want to deal with that either. That would be disappointing for both of us.”

    The HR person got really cold and awkward and said she couldn’t tell me that information. Research online shows me that current employees in the role I was interviewing for have a large range of salaries, so I wasn’t sure if they paid on the lower or higher end of the scale.

    Regardless, I received an email later that afternoon that said because I was so interested in salary and not the company or the job, they weren’t continuing with my candidacy. So I’m pretty annoyed about that. I don’t think I was in the wrong to ask, but maybe I was?

    Reply
    1. Marzipan

      I genuinely don’t get why they would want to go through a whole process with you if there was any chance of the end result being that you’d be offered the job but walk because salary expectations were mismatched. I think you asked in a completely reasonable way and they’re the ones in the wrong. They’ve come across like you should consider it such an honour to work for them that money is just a fluffy irrelevance, which is just foolishness.

      Reply
      1. all aboard the anon train

        I dug a bit deeper after this happened and there’s some older reviews on Glassdoor and some articles from execs and managers at the company saying that they automatically disqualify anyone who only asks about promotions and raises in interviews because they’re focused on “cultural fit”.

        Which, I can maybe understand that point of view if a candidate does only ask about the salary and nothing else about the job/company, but I don’t think asking about salary in addition to asking about other aspects of the company should rule anyone out. Salary is important and it’s ridiculous that in 2017 companies still get prickly about it. Especially when candidates will have to go through a long interview process!

        Reply
        1. INFJ

          Yeah, sounds like an overly rigid rule they have that candidates can’t ask about salary or promotions at ALL.

          Reply
        2. motherofdragons

          The question is your first paragraph is one I hear a lot at the end of interviews (and think is perfectly legit), and it reminds me of my interview for my current job.

          Except that “cultural fit” doesn’t pay rent. They are ridiculous. You asked a perfectly valid question, in a really polite and professional way to boot.

          Reply
    2. Annie

      Sounds to me like you dodged a bullet! When companies are touchy about such normal questions, they’re probably also flawed in many other ways.

      Reply
    3. Parenthetically

      Wow, that seems totally out of line on their part. You explained it in a way that sounds extremely fair and reasonable. They’re being ridiculous.

      Reply
    4. Detective Amy Santiago

      You definitely dodged a bullet. It is perfectly reasonable to ask for a salary range before you commit to a lengthy application/interview process. My guess is they pay on the low end of the spectrum and count on people being so invested by the time they find out that they’re willing to accept less money/not push back.

      Reply
      1. all aboard the anon train

        Yeah, that’s what I’m guessing as well. It’s a bigger, well-known company in my area that a lot of people want to work for, so I think you’re right that people become so invested that they’re willing to accept whatever they’re offered.

        Reply
    5. KR

      I’m assuming you work for money and not purely for personal enjoyment. This attitude is rediculous. I’m glad you dodged this bullet.

      Reply
    6. Sadsack

      Wow, that stinks. You didn’t say salary was your only concern, but of course it is a major concern. Makes me wonder how they treat employees, and how much employee’s are paid. I think you are lucky to have got out of that interview process so early on.

      Reply
    7. Mephyle

      Were you wrong? Not at all. It’s very blinkered of them to have this outlook. They think they are eliminating candidates who are ‘only interested in money’ but actually they are setting themselves up to waste a lot of time going through the interview process only to find out that the candidate’s possible acceptable range is outside what they are offering. Of course they don’t care about wasting the candidate’s time and effort, but they ought to care about their own.

      Reply
    8. writelhd

      It would be doubly annoying of them if they were also one of the ones who wouldn’t talk to you without knowing your salary history.

      I’m sorry that you had a bad outcome because you did something that a lot of us educated by AAM see as perfectly reasonable and sensible, especially when you phrased it such a sensible way to them.

      Reply
  36. Annie Moose

    Current open office pet peeve… how awkward it is to handle a period when you work in an open office with 90% men. (and, I imagine, any other personal health issue in an environment with so little privacy)

    Every month, I’m like, “I just need to own it, it’s not that big a deal, probably no one notices anyway”, and every month I still just feel so self-conscious about digging around in my purse for pads and wandering off to the bathroom with a bright green wrapper. (on principle, I refuse to do the up-the-sleeve trick!)

    One of these days I’m just gonna anonymously buy a giant box and leave it in the women’s bathroom, solve the problem for everyone right there. One of the only things I miss about OldJob was that it had free pads and tampons in the bathroom!

    Reply
    1. Master Bean Counter

      The box in the bathroom is a great idea. I put a couple of tampons in the bathroom this month because I bought new pants that don’t have pockets. (gr…) Then I noticed one disappeared. Next time I went in, there were 2 more. So I figured I’m not the only one on my cycle, so I took a handful in, just to be sure there would be one there. The supply dwindled for the rest of the day. No problem. I stock it up the next morning. A coworker come into my office to apologize for stealing my tampons.
      We laugh and I tell her it’s fine. I’ll never begrudge somebody a tampon, a kleenex, or a breath mint. If you need it, you need it. Now there’s a whole stock pile in the bathroom and we’ve just gone communal supply with them.

      Reply
        1. Master Bean Counter

          We both use the same very common brand which I buy by the gross at the local warehouse club.

          Reply
    2. Helen

      I’m pretty sure the men are not paying attention to your bathroom habits.

      If you don’t want to carry the pad (even though it isn’t a big deal), can you just bring your purse? That is what a lot of women in my office do. I tend to just stick it in my pocket. The bathroom is at the complete other end of my large office, and I often have to stop and have conversations with people on the way.

      Reply
      1. k

        If I’m wearing a shirt that’s not tucked in, or have a cardigan on, I usually go for the “tucked in the waistband” move. Which is really sad because the bathroom is about 5 feet from my office and typically no one would see me. But it’s still ingrained in my brain to hide it.

        Reply
        1. INFJ

          Yes! I’m not the only one that does this! For those of us who don’t have pockets and don’t want to lug the purse into the bathroom.

          Reply
    3. Judy (since 2010)

      Ask if you can have cubbies or lockers in the bathroom. We had that at a former employer, and just got a set of cubbies here after I asked. I’m beyond the pad/tampon range, but it’s nice that I have my brush and deodorant in the bathroom.

      Reply
    4. FTW

      I am a consultant and sit in a room with other people, mostly men, all day long. I just do what I have to do. I honestly don’t think they notice, and if they do, I’ve stopped caring.

      Reply
    5. Parenthetically

      Giant box in the ladies’ room for sure. But also: 99% of people aren’t paying a lick of attention to your bathroom habits and the ones who might happen to notice give about as much thought to it as you do to theirs — i.e., basically none.

      I haven’t used disposable feminine products in YEARS so I rarely have to swap something out midday, but there are so many cute cases and bags around that you could just pull out of your purse.

      Reply
    6. Shiara

      My purse is usually small enough that I just take into the bathroom with me. And somehow I still feel self-conscious. I actually did (at an previous job) have a (very socially awkward and male) coworker ask me where I was going, and I just deadpanned “The bathroom” and kept going. No one commented when I got back.

      I’m jealous of your OldJob’s free supplies. When I moved to this position I had to raise the issue that the women’s bathroom on this floor didn’t have trash cans in the stalls. They do now.

      Reply
    7. Tau

      I hide mine up my sleeve. I know that in theory it shouldn’t be something I need to hide, but I still feel super-awkward about it.

      Reply
    8. AliceBD

      One thing I LOVE about my current job is how toiletries are handled. Our bathroom has an extra makeup counter, for lack of a better word. There are a couple of big flat baskets on it, and you can bring a small bag (of the type you get for free with makeup purchases) and leave it there. You can keep whatever you want in it, so people have toothbrushes and toothpaste, lotions, pads and tampons, lip balm, etc in them. And then it is more discreet when you bring it home to refill it.

      Reply
    9. tw

      At my old job, someone did bring in a bunch of lotion, dry shampoo, hair bands, and tampons/pads to the women’s bathroom though and it was amazing. She left a note asking to contribute and refill as needed. Everyone did.

      They used to stock Advil, Motrin and other common meds. I asked a girl in the bathroom once for Midol, and she came back with Advil and said I should ask the receptionist about ordering it because all the women in another department wanted it too. I did, the receptionist said the CEO refused to approve it because “they can bring their own”

      Reply
      1. Parenthetically

        I love your first paragraph! We used to have lotion and hairspray and tampons/pads in our ladies’ room but it’s gone now, which is sad!

        Reply
    10. Jillociraptor

      In Alyssa Mastromonaco’s book about working in the Obama White House (“Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?”), she talks about her crusade to install a tampon dispenser in the women’s restrooms. You might both enjoy the humor of the passage, and feel inspired to demand that your office do similarly!

      Reply
    11. Merida Ann

      Why do all the companies insist on bright, neon colors for the wrapping? It would be so much more discrete if they would just use neutral colors – black, brown, white, grey, tan… Far less noticeable when you’re walking down the hall or going through security at the airport or anywhere else that checks purses. Instead, they all are ridiculously bright and call extra attention to themselves. Ugh.

      Reply
      1. Pat Benetardis

        Probably to make it easier for you to find in a purse or backpack quickly. This type of thing is focus grouped extensively. I am surprised there isn’t a company targeting discretion.

        Reply
    12. LCL

      At one barely-above-minimum-wage job I had, there weren’t any dispensers and the place was a warehouse in the middle of nowhere so running to the store wasn’t an option. So one payday I bought the big box of supplies and left it in the women’s restroom. At the end of the day, the supplies and box were gone. Those office b*#$% took the whole box. There were only 3 women in the office. I never bought supplies for that job again. And yes I was furious; I was trying to share not supply someone’s home.

      Reply
    13. Jules the First

      I switched to a mooncup, which can go 12 hours between changes (yes, really…) which means I hardly ever have to change it at work and I never have to carry extra supplies to the bathroom.

      Reply
      1. writelhd

        I second the amazingness of the cup. I didn’t go that direction purely for work reasons, more for some of my recreation things like rock climbing where you’ve got to spend all day strapped to a cliff and there’s not always “cover” around… but I too work in a pretty all male space and have contemplated the various “carry” options, sometimes on all-male remote jobsites, sometimes having to go out to jobsites without a lot of prior warning, and the cup’s pretty great for just not having to worry during those kinds of situations, too.

        Reply
    14. Job Hunt Blues

      Eh. Just remember most of them have a mother or sister or female significant other or female roommate – some woman who they’ve spent enough time around to get used to what a female body is like. It might be weirder for you than it is for them. They probably have male-specific things that they’re embarassed about around you but you don’t notice. But I also get wanting to be discreet about it. Could you wear something with pockets on those days? A blazer or sweater or pants with pockets?

      Reply
    15. Nikki B

      Menstrual cups were the answer for me. A one off purchase for $30, which pays for itself in a few months, and you never have to worry about carrying a spare tampon or pad. Fantastic if you work in the field as well, for the length of time between emptying.

      Reply
  37. DecorativeCacti

    Here’s a resume question for you all: I am currently in the most senior position at my job. I worked my way up through the ranks and part of the reason I was able to move up (and quickly) was the fact that I have a lot of computer skills that no one else did/does. So even as a receptionist, I was being asked to do complex Excel projects. How do I show that the projects I worked on were above and beyond what was expected at a lower level? How do I document something like that which is still part of my current position? For example, I became a member of the proofing committee two positions ago but I am still a member.

    Reply
    1. jackson's whole what

      I don’t know how your resume is being structured, but would putting dates by the responsibilities/projects work? So, you were Entry Level (2010-2013), but for Project X, you could say (2011-present)?

      Reply
      1. DecorativeCacti

        It’s Title (Date – Date). So you think something like the below? I really want to make sure I highlight how unusual it was for me to have some of these extra projects.

        Senior Teapot Specialist (November 2015-present)
        – Served as a highly depended upon member of company’s Proofing Committee, ensuring adherence to company grammatical and stylistic standards (2013 – present)

        Teapot Specialist (May 2013 – November 2015)
        – Accomplishments

        Teapot Associate (March 2010 – May 2013)
        – Accomplishments

        Receptionist (June 2008 – March 2010)
        – Quickly became company-wide resource for Microsoft Excel queries from converting simple numbers to more complex attendance and teapot tracking workbooks

        Reply
  38. Collie

    Continuing on from previous weeks…

    I had the interview on Wednesday. Turns out the second person (Sally) who was to call on my behalf was on the interview panel. The hiring manager I hadn’t met before (Jenna) and then one of the new managers in the system who I’ve worked with (Brent; and the first time I worked with him and told him I was looking for something full time in the field, he said he’d do what he could for me which was surprising since we’d only worked together once, but whatever) were also on the panel, so I knew 2/3.

    As I was leaving, Sally started to ask me something, then hesitated, and did it a few times before she said, “Never mind, I’ll ask you later.” So I said, “Are you sure?” kind of indicating if she wanted to ask me whatever now, I was okay with it. And then she asked if I’d be available in my current position in the system during the summer to work at her location. So…maybe she hesitated because she didn’t want to imply I was out of the running for this job (and I couldn’t do both jobs at once — I’d have to quit my current PT on call gig to take the FT thing of course), but I walked away feeling like that sort of had been implied.

    I walked away feeling like it went okay, but not great. I didn’t hit all the highlights I wanted to because I didn’t feel there were openings for them. The one thing I included at the recommendation of the manager who called on my behalf (Carly) turned out to maybe not be a great thing to include, but what’s done is done. I was able to get some of those highlights in the follow up note, so that’s okay. Brent was the only one to respond to the email (which was weird anyway) and he said, “Thanks Collie! Good luck!”

    And then I worked for Brent last night who, the first thing he said to me was, I did great in the interview. He seemed disproportionately impressed, IMO. Then later he asked if I was applying elsewhere and how that was going, but not in the digging-to-find-information sense, just the interest in how-it’s-going-for-me sense (so, it seemed totally innocent and more like he was invested in my success, not that he was looking for additional info for the interview, which they can’t do anyway per the rules).

    I know I shouldn’t be reading into these things, but I just find them all odd combined. If Sally wants me to continue in my current job this summer knowing that I can’t if I get this job, had she already made a decision that I wasn’t going to get the new job? She doesn’t get final say, but she has a lot of weight. If Brent said “Good luck” in the email and then really emphatically said I did great in the interview, does that mean I’m still in the running? But then if he asked about other prospects and said “It’ll happen when it’s supposed to,” does that mean I’m out?

    I’m not looking for real answers to those questions, just mulling. I know it doesn’t do good to read into this stuff, but these things just feel so strong in both directions. So I don’t know.

    Next steps include bringing a single finalist to a “casual conversation” with Jenna and the system manager to make sure the finalist is okay with the system manager, which I’ll probably hear about by early next week. I want this job probably more than any I’ve applied to the last few years but I have low expectations.

    Sigh.

    Reply
  39. Ama

    So here’s a nice random work environment question for a Friday — I need a desktop plant stand. We moved into new offices recently, and even though we have nice storage cubbies in our cubicles that are perfect for putting my small plant on top of, TPTB have decided that no one is allowed to set things up there. I suspect it’s because they don’t want to have to make distinctions between people who put plants/decorative items up there and people who would just pile stacks of files on top but it’s still annoying as I sit furthest from the windows and now the only place to put my plant that will get sufficient light is on the corner of my desk closest to the walkway where 1)I keep my inbox and 2) there is no way clutzy me isn’t going to knock it over at some point.

    And yes, I have already mentioned my concerns to my boss and the only compromise we have reached is that I think I can get my employer to cover the cost of the stand (as long as it’s reasonable) .

    So… I would really like a stand that sits up high enough that it can sit over my inbox, which means that it needs to be about 8 inches off the desk but also have its support posts configured in such a way that I can slide the files under it. I’ve looked at some clear plastic risers but nothing is quite wide enough.

    Any ideas?

    Reply
    1. That Would Be a Good Band Name

      This is a bit more labor intensive, but my coworker built one by from stuff at a craft store or possibly home improvement store. Just a plain board, and then bought legs that could screw into it. I don’t think hers sits as high though, so the legs might present a challenge.

      Reply
    2. Beachlover

      Not really a solution. Just my experience. but we moved into a new building 3 years ago. We had the same restrictions, nothing on top of the shelves above your cubicle. However, we don’t have much room for files and other things, so at this point, people have plants, files, decorative items etc on the shelves. I keep waiting for the dreaded email from our facilities manager reiterating the “rule”.
      I can suggest looking at a office supply catalog. There are quite a desk top organizers that may work for you.

      Reply
      1. Ama

        Yeah, I keep hoping after a while things will relax but our cubicles are bigger here both in desk surface and storage space so for the time being “I don’t have room” or even “but that’s where I kept it in the old office” isn’t going to fly.

        Thanks everyone for the suggestions!

        Reply
    3. Sadsack

      I have a riser that is a metal mesh shelf that I used to keep plants on. It is 6.5″ high, 7″ wide, and about 2′ long. The legs are at the ends, so I could fit files underneath. I think maybe it was $20. Probably from Staples. You could find them by googling off desk shelf (or metal mesh desk riser).

      Reply
  40. Audiophile

    Happy Friday Everyone!

    My office is having a Staff Appreciation Happy Hour! I’m more excited about the food than anything else. Probably won’t stay long since it starts at 6pm.

    I finally have health insurance, just waiting to get my cards.

    My morning started off with a very expensive cappuccino, but it was good.

    I’m still on the hunt for a remote, flexible, contract/consultant job. I’d like to pull in extra money to help cut down on my debt. The new Idealist site is not the most user friendly. I know they’re still working out the kinks, but the old version worked relatively well.

    Reply
  41. That would be a good band name

    I’m really excited about a job posting that I’m going to apply for and I’m trying to follow all the cover letter advice. Here’s what I’m trying to figure out: how long is too long? The posting has 18 “competencies” that the perfect applicant will have and a short definition for each. It’s things like teamwork, communication, adaptability, etc. And I love it. It really forms a picture of just what sort of person would do well instead of just a list of job duties. Also, I swear it’s like these competencies were pulled from my past annual reviews. I’ve never felt so well matched for a position (I realize I can’t know for sure, but I truly felt like this a perfect match as described). Surely I shouldn’t cover all 18 items, right? But how many should I try to address?

    Reply
    1. Emi.

      Can you address them in bunches? I mean, if you’re good at teamwork, that requires good communication, so whatever you say about teamwork, can you tweak it to cover communication as well?

      Reply
      1. That Would Be a Good Band Name

        That’s a good point. I’m sure several of them will overlap. I soooooo overthink this stuff!

        Reply
    2. New Guy

      For the cover letter, I’d use wording very similar to what you said in your post here. “When reviewing your list of competencies, I felt like that list could have been created just for me. I feel that my experience in … and my time doing … are great examples of how I would fit your companies needs.”
      Ok, worded better than that, but mentioning that the overall list is very reflective of your work ethic and then giving a few specific examples should cover it.

      Reply
  42. Helen

    I’ve been feeling really down about my job lately. Mostly because it feels so useless all the time. Almost my whole day is a waste of time. We spend our time arguing over really small details that don’t matter in the big picture, like where to keep a piece of paper or what to name a file. Everyone puts a lot of effort and bluster into pretending that they care about these little details of the job, even though there’s a lot of eye rolling when the boss isn’t looking. Also, many of the tasks I’m assigned don’t actually need doing–there’s a lot of “going through the motions” of doing a task that is basically busywork. There’s no point to it. I suspect that some of my colleagues don’t even do it and just say they did. Some days I just spend the whole day staring into space, and no one ever notices.

    I also feel like I’m prevented from having any kind of significant accomplishment or impact. Every time I try to come up with an idea to improve something or make some other kind of contribution that will have me stand out, I’m shot down (even if later they implement the change). And the biggest change I’d really like to make is to eliminate my job–it really isn’t needed! Every day I just feel more and more worthless.

    I’m looking for jobs, but I’ve been at this pointless, challenge-less job for so long (seven years) I’m having a really hard time making a case for any skills I could bring to another job. I’ve gotten nothing but 100% perfect performance reviews here, and yet I still feel like I’ve contributed nothing and accomplished nothing, and have nothing to offer another workplace. And it seems the feeling is mutual–I’ve been applying for jobs for two years now, with only one interview, which went terribly.

    Does anyone have any advice as to how to get out of this career rut? I not only hate coming to work every day, but I live in fear that someday they will realize how useless my department is and eliminate us altogether. I need to get out of here, and I feel trapped.

    Reply
    1. Anxa

      I don’t have advice and my situation is a lot different, but I also question the value of my contributions.

      I’m basically treading water and applying bandages. I tutor science classes in an open admissions community college and sometimes I just feel incredibly useless. We can make great progress with one concept at a time, but sometimes the reality is that the amount of time and resources it would take to reach the student’s/school’s/community’s goals just may not be worth it* in the end. But there’s very little I can do about it from my position and I’m not even sure anyone would want to fix the problem because that may mean increased job insecurity for the professional staff. It’s just…

      *I do support education for education’s sake and am not saying that students aren’t capable, but there’s a lot of willful ignorance about reasonable expectations with such little actual support for actual academics.

      Reply
    2. Anonny

      I’ve been in a similar rut and one of the things that was happening to me was that I lost the ability to accurately describe my own skills. When you do things all the time they become rote and seem easy, but it might actually be a skill that other people don’t have and you’ve been in this rut so long that your ability to recognize that is gone. It might help to reach out to someone who knows you well and see if they could give you an external perspective.

      Reply
      1. Helen

        Yeah, this seems like it is a big part of it. I’ve tried my best to describe how my skills are valuable/transferable, but I may be failing at that because I don’t feel valuable.

        I don’t have anyone in my life who knows me well in terms of my work. I tried reaching out to my former college’s career center, but I suspect that they gave me the same kind of bad advice that is often talked about as “bad career advice from college counselors.”

        Reply
    3. Kately

      I have nothing to offer but sympathy, as I could have written this myself, except for I’m at 9 years, and I can’t quite spend the whole day staring into space.

      Reply
  43. Myrin

    Katie the Fed, if you’re here:

    I asked that question in last week’s open thread which I don’t think you were on and which was then overshadowed by the good news (yay, still so happy for you and your spouse!), so I’mma ask again:

    In the week before last, you mentioned a new report you have who is very casual in a lot of little things. If you feel like it, would you speak a bit more about that? I know several people like that and I’d really like to hear what others have to say about that kind of personality/behaviour.

    Reply
    1. Katie the Fed

      Hi there! I’m late, sorry, so not sure if you’ll see this.

      The employee in question, is very intelligent but has really poor critical thinking skills and attention to detail. It’s hard to explain without getting into a lot of details, but here’s an example – if I asked you to prepare something listing the 10 Commandments, but then you randomly picked only three of them because you couldn’t figure out how to fit the rest in the space. Instead of asking how to do it, you just picked Commandment 2, 4 and 9. So you ask her why she did that, and she explains why, but it makes no sense.

      Or things like randomly using a different memo template at the last minute. Why? Who knows. She just felt like switching to a different one.

      Now picture that happening frequently, but slightly differently each time, so it feels like a game of whack-a-mole.

      I think it’s just a really bad culture fit. She’s very smart, but government is very rigid and it’s just not for everyone. I don’t really know if this one’s going to work out.

      Reply
      1. Myrin

        I am still reading, so thanks so much for answering! And wow, that does indeed sound frustrating, nevermind so… random? Keep us updated, if you feel like it!

        Reply
  44. Effie

    I’ve mentioned before that I’m a niche dance instructor on the side and I am so discouraged right now. I haven’t been able to get another dance teaching gig since my awesome studio closed in November. I don’t have a social media presence because I have two stalkers and I don’t have a strong student following because it’s been really hard to break into the industry in this city (I’ve gotten my previous gigs by doing admin first and once the owner got to know me allowed me to teach) so it’s understandable that studios don’t want to take a chance on me. I am so sick of dance studio admin which I still do on the side and I don’t have the energy to pick up another admin side gig in hopes that eventually I’ll be able to teach. My old dance studio across the country is changing management and the new owner promised me that if I move back she’ll be glad to have me back which is kind and encouraging but I’m not hanging my hopes on it because I can’t move back until autumn and by then she might not need/want me anymore. Thanks for reading, I think I just need some love today.

    Reply
    1. Helen

      Have you tried any public community education programs? Sometimes, those programs are open to new class proposals in any number of different subjects, from computer science to cooking to dance. You don’t need to wait for a job listing or anything like that–just approach your local programs and ask if they accept new class proposals. In my experience, they are often willing to post a description, and will hold the class if enough people sign up. At least near me, these classes are usually held in a school gym or similar facility during off times, so it would be a totally different vibe from the “dance studio scene.”

      Reply
      1. Effie

        That is a great idea, it’s just that my niche requires equipment that is expensive and unwieldy. I wouldn’t be able to provide it myself and I doubt the programs would be able to either :/

        Reply
        1. TL -

          It’s worth looking in to! Maybe they have budgets or maybe someone randomly left equipment, or maybe you can work out a deal with a studio to use their stuff.

          Reply
    2. Ann O.

      Are you in circus by any chance? (trying to think of what niche dance requires specialized, expensive equipment)

      I’m sorry that you’re having a hard time. I am also a niche dance instructor on the side (in circus). If you are in circus or something similar, can you do workshops or classes at the studios so they can get to know you? So much of getting gigs in my experience is becoming part of the community of teachers and performers and getting referred. Sometimes you get lucky and a studio puts out a call, too… it sounds like you have a solid CV.

      Reply
      1. Effie

        Something like that! I guess the problem is I’ve only seen workshops run by pros and I am decidedly not. I’m great with beginner students and teaching flow and transitions and studio owners don’t want to run those workshops unless it’s by one of their own instructors that students are already familiar with or pros. It’s a catch-22 :/

        Reply
      2. Effie

        Forgot to say…most of the instructors know me as an admin and a student who takes their classes; they don’t seem to believe that I can actually teach too. I promise I can!

        Reply
  45. Mustache Cat

    Has anyone ever written a really satisfying Glassdoor review? What was the reaction, if any?

    I wrote one months ago, but Glassdoor keeps periodically sending it out in email form (guess it must really want people to read it). From the number of former coworkers asking if I’d written it, I’m guessing everyone there has read it by now. Otherwise there hasn’t been anything happening that I’ve seen.

    Reply
    1. Bad Candidate

      I wrote an interview review, I said everyone was pleasant and the process was fine but ultimately, I had to take time off of work for the interview and they couldn’t be bothered to tell me I didn’t get it. They even replied and apologized and said if I wanted to ask more questions to give them a call. I wanted to stay anonymous though, so I didn’t. It felt good because I’m tired of companies doing that.

      Reply
    2. Nonnonnon

      I am desperate to write one for my former company but don’t know if I will ever be able to. I filed an EEOC complaint against them for sexual harassment and retaliation (I was terminated right after I complained about the harassment). It’s a very recognizable company as well :(

      Reply
  46. Justme

    I really like my job. But a better job (same department, same employer) opened up and I want to apply for it. I’m nervous.

    Reply
      1. Justme

        I wouldn’t say no if it were offered to me, it’s a 30% pay raise. But I know I would be fine if I never got an interview for it since I like where I am.

        Reply
    1. Milton

      I was in the same exact boat, same department different unit. I was nervous, but I got the job (and a nice raise). Good luck!

      Reply
  47. Ramona Flowers

    Your career high/lowlights in AAM-style headlines – or letters you’d go back and send if you had a time machine? People seemed to enjoy this last week and I know some people wanted a rerun.

    Here are some more of mine – happily none are from lovely currentjob…
    -Police mistook my colleague for a burglar and he’s lying about what really happened
    -My manager spends his days pretending to work while looking at motorbikes on the internet
    -Senior manager uses made-up words and shouts at me when I don’t know what they’re supposed to mean
    -Update: Google suggests one of them in fact means male genitalia, which definitely wasn’t what he was trying to say
    -Coworker gets mad if we talk to her friends, saying she wants to keep her work and personal life separate, but her friends all work here too*

    *Jane thought this was a completely reasonable way to separate work and personal matters. She complained that a new hire had tried to push into her social life, after she tried to get to know some colleagues from other teams who Jane was already friendly with. One day I met someone from another department and then forgot his name. I asked Jane to remind me what it was and SHE REFUSED TO TELL ME THE NAME OF MY COLLEAGUE because they were friends and, she said, she didn’t want to mix her work and personal life. After time, experience and much AAM reading I could now write myself a script to use with her. Back then I never felt able to say anything. And she had over a decade’s experience post-college and was in a more senior role than me, in case anyone’s imagining that this was caused by inexperience.

    Reply
      1. PB

        Yikes!

        This inspired another one:

        “Coworker showed us pictures of her puppy, and then told us we were lucky we didn’t have cancer.”

        … my last job was really weird.

        Reply
          1. PB

            It was one of those spectacularly awkward and awful moments. The full speech was basically:

            “I’m so happy with my new puppy! But you guys with kids are the real lucky ones. I couldn’t have kids. I had cancer instead.”

            This was during a meeting. We kind of all just stared around the table, slack-jawed. I mean, obviously I feel very bad for her that that was her experience, but wow.

            Reply
    1. PB

      “My coworker withheld information and sabotaged my project, but our manager insists it was a misunderstanding.”

      “We’re being forced to Thunder Dome for our raises.”

      “My coworker screamed at our director, but kept her job, and still complains about him daily.”

      Finally:
      “Update: I’ve escaped my hellhole employer!”

      Reply
    2. Malibu Stacey

      I got a verbal warning because a visitor complimented my outfit in front of my coworker who had a crush on him.

      Reply
    3. Amber Rose

      Hmm. The lowest moment so far was “I am so afraid of getting yelled at that I snuck back into work at midnight to double check things.”

      Prior to that: “My boss died in a plane crash and I spend all day playing therapist to grieving friends of his.”

      I wish I’d had AAM back then to provide some perspective. That was a bad job on so many levels.

      Reply
    4. Parenthetically

      “A Coworker Quit Because of the Title of A Book on Her Son’s Syllabus” (I was his teacher)

      “A Coworker Screamed at me In Front of My Entire Class for ‘Undermining Another Teacher’s Authority'” (and absolutely did not see the irony)

      Reply
    5. NW Mossy

      “The competition for an internal posting called me to complain that she didn’t get it and rant about upper management – was I wrong to tell her to talk to them about her concerns and backhandedly encourage her to develop a reputation as a crazy person?”

      Reply
    6. Malibu Stacey

      “Our Receptionist Starts Two Hours Before The Office Opens So She Can Leave Early And Spends That Time Doing Her Hair and Texting Her Adult Kids”

      Reply
    7. Kvothe

      “Random people with guitars started playing music next to a meeting room and then asked for donations”

      Details:
      -We have no idea who they were
      -We are not in like a mall or anything but a stand alone building (and we’re an engineering firm)
      -Our receptionist was trying to get them to stop playing as there was a meeting going on with clients
      -After not listening to the receptionist and disturbing an entire department they then asked for donations
      -Just was wild times all around

      Reply
      1. cookie monster

        I was worried this was going to be about me…I work in a financial institution and run a guitar night out of our board room every week. All employees that want to attend come for a group guitar lesson.

        Reply
      2. Beezus

        “My salary comes out of another department’s budget, and their director reminds me of that while trying to countermand my director’s orders.”

        Reply
    8. The RO-Cat

      Neither high nor low, but weird as weird comes: “My boss organized a skinny-dipping party in the hotel pool at midnight” and UPDATE “I found out my boss secretely offered a bonus to the first other-sex coworker who get in bed with me”. Spoiler: I didn’t partake in the first and the bonus wasn’t awarded, in spite of several takers existing, in the second. Boy, was that a weird company!

      Reply
        1. The RO-Cat

          For context, this was about two decades ago. I am male and married (was at the time, too) and I was known as The Family Guy and my boss wanted to see if I somehow could be lured (long story, don’t ask). Other than that, from that particular boss I learned the most and professionally speaking he was awsome; he just had this hangup (related to his own experience? I don’t know). I don’t really have lows (as in going home in tears or something), looking back at those years; just weird moments. Like this one: “I had a run-in with my boss and was forced to quit; later he praised me repeteadly to others for my attitude” but this was at a different company.

          Reply
        2. The RO-Cat

          Oh, and I forgot, from the same boss: “My boss offered me a prostitute and I had to make an Irish exit to avoid her”.

          Reply
    9. Venus Supreme

      – Boss made me come into work day after Mother-in-Law’s funeral to ask how she died
      – Coworker throws up at her desk
      – Coworker keeps flinging nail clippings at me
      – Manager calls my coworker her “second daughter”

      Reply
    10. Sabrina Spellman

      “HELP: My coworker/friend thinks I tattled on her and now hates me, but I only verified what our boss already knew”

      “My manager and asst. manager are making me the pickle in the middle”

      Reply
    11. That Would Be a Good Band Name

      -I received a promotion and GM refuses to allow me to move into an office (even though the position requires confidential conversations and several offices are empty)
      -My boss sends us emails at 2am about made up things that we have done wrong
      -My boss asked me to log her time into the payroll system but she hasn’t been to work in weeks
      -My boss calls out sick but then calls and keeps us on the phone for hours while slurring her speech
      -A woman I trained was promoted to head of my former department and everyone keeps coming to me because she sucks at her job

      Reply
      1. That Would Be a Good Band Name

        Oh and Update: I’ve been moved into a storage room for an office while 3 regular offices sit empty.

        The office thing really got to me. The GM just did not like me. I could never figure out why. I was promoted within a month of her becoming the GM and the only thing I could guess was that she didn’t like that she didn’t have any say in the promotion. I had applied for a corporate position before she came and when I got it they told her to find me private work space. She did everything in her power to be sure that “private” was covered while I was stuck in various spaces that no one else would have been willing to work in.

        Reply
          1. That Would Be a Good Band Name

            This was an old employer. The HR manager and I had a fairly close working relationship and so we discussed it. The GM would tell HR that there were “plans” for those offices and/or that they had to be left empty for client visits. I had worked there for years and I knew that client visitors generally wanted to be in the same office as the person they were visiting – not in their own office. The GM finally gave in and put me in an office because the facility manager said that he needed the rest of the storage room. I was so happy when she left.

            Reply
    12. Hallie

      “My coworker is a meth addict and everyone knows and no one will do anything about it.”

      Good times, that job. Can’t believe I stayed as long as I did.

      Reply
    13. OB

      My company sent me on a business trip (to receive training that could have been accomplished remotely), refused to pay for my meals (and didn’t even mention accommodation—I crashed with a friend!), then capitulated when I pushed back asking for a per diem … but not before haggling me down $15

      Reply
      1. OB

        “Help! My manager wants me to go bra shopping with her” (true story but THANKFULLY not my dilemma)

        Reply
    14. DaBlonde

      – I did not even get an interview for a promotion within my company, the new hire used the phrase baby mama in her case notes, supervisor bribes me with a high-end computer system to proof-read her work in the future.

      Reply
    15. Fishcakes

      – My boss won’t stop asking me strange questions over the phone intercom in front of clients
      – My coworker keeps talking to me about her husband’s genitals
      – My supervisor brought in a 6′ tall wooden ‘snowman’ and I think it’s haunted
      – My recently-fired coworker hid shards of glass in her papers and I cut myself
      – My boss tries to karate kick me when I walk past him