open thread – June 2-3, 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 :)

{ 1,304 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Alter_ego

    I was wondering if people had any advice/words of wisdom about switching jobs when you aren’t actually unhappy at your current job. I have an offer right now for a job making 8k more, with a commute that will go from 3 hours round trip to less than 30 minutes round trip, it will save me 300-400 dollars on commuting expenses. Overall a better situation. But I like my current job, and I’m having such a hard time with the idea of leaving. This is my first job out of college, and I’ve never left a job like this before. All my other jobs have had sort of defined end dates because I was going back to school, graduating school, set internships, etc.

    If anyone has anecdotes or advice on how to calm down, I’d appreciate it.

    Reply
    1. Rowan

      This is a totally normal thing to do. You don’t have to be unhappy in one job to leave for another that offers something better, or even just new. No reasonable person would be upset about you quitting for another opportunity.

      Reply
    2. TotesMaGoats

      From everything you’ve stated you’ve got a pretty good “Pros” list to leave. More more, less commute, less commuting wear and tear costs. I think many people get caught in the idea that you only leave a job when it’s bad. But leaving ok for better is perfectly normal and reasonable and probably the smart thing to do.

      The big question for me is do the role fit within my career path and allow for upward movement or opportunity? If so, don’t settle for just ok.

      Reply
    3. Cruciatus

      If you have an offer, does that mean you interviewed with them? Did you like what they said? Did it seem like a reasonable place? Does it seem as good as or better than current employer (even if you’re not unhappy)? Did you have any questions for them? You could still have some answered now before you take/decline the offer. Benefits good? What sort of work/life balance do they have (do they want you to work 12 hour days)? All of the things you mentioned sound like wonderful changes, as long as the employer seems reasonable!

      Reply
      1. Alter_ego

        I did interview, yeah. I liked the guys who interviewed me, and the corporate environment seems like it would fit with my personality. The benefits are largely good. Health insurance is a different company but also ones my doctor accepts. Cost to me and coverage is pretty similar. I’m loosing some vacation time which I’m working on negotiating at the moment. From what they said, the work/life balance is much better. He talked about people staying until 6:30 like it was a big deal that they were owed something above and beyond for. I haven’t regularly left before 6:30 in years.

        Reply
        1. FiveWheels

          It sounds like unless your current job is an absolute passion or the other job is ethically dubious, you have no reason to stay.

          Reframe it like this: do you want to pay someone $8,000 a year for the privilege an extra 2.5 hours in traffic?

          Reply
          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

            I don’t think that’s fair. There is SO much more that goes into a decision like this. alter_ego likes her current job. That’s huge, and unpredictable at a new job.

            I’m not suggesting that you don’t take the new job, alter, just that I empathize with the challenging choice you have ahead. Why did you apply for and consider the new job in the first place? What does it offer you (in addition to the easier commute and higher check, which are awesome)?

            For example, here are things I’d consider leaving my job for:

            – A few specific organizations that I know well and would love to work within.
            – A few specific people that I admire and want to work with.
            – Taking over management of a project that really excites me (more than my current work does)
            – Part-time work without losing much income

            Reply
            1. FiveWheels

              Nothing in the initial post suggested there were any really special reasons to stay, other than liking it. Unless she Loves LOVES LOVES it, or there’s reason to believe the new job is sketchy, that doesn’t outweigh:

              $8,000 salary
              $4,200 travel expenses
              10 hours a week extra time

              Reply
              1. AdAgencyChick

                Yeah, or if there was a red flag in the interview process, but it doesn’t sound like it.

                As I mentioned upthread, I’d give a different answer if OP were further along in her career and it would be harder to go somewhere else if the new job turns out to be a mistake.

                Reply
        2. RVA Cat

          Knowing now that there’s long hours at your current job in addition to the commute, it sounds like maybe your work/life balance has gotten so out of whack that I don’t see how you have much of a life at all. That isn’t sustainable. I’m also thinking that while you like your job now, you’re on track to burn out there eventually. The burnout may have already started but you may be too new to the workforce to know that.

          Reply
        3. JGRAY

          Don’t ever feel guilty for leaving a job. It sounds like you have looked at everything not just the hourly wage that some people focus on. The other things (commute, benefits) can actually make a job better than another. I actually left a job that I liked everyone and enjoyed the work except for the CEO and I did feel guilty for leaving but the CEO yelled at people, stole from the company, and was overall a jerk so I couldn’t work for him. I left for a job that paid less but my commute was less, the benefits were better so I actually wasn’t losing any money. My boss at my current job actually recognized my talent and now I make way more than I would had I stayed at old job. I also have found that some of the jobs that I had the most loyalty to once I left everything I did was basically diminished. I left a job in 2014 and I still get an e-newsletter from them and the person who does it doesn’t like me so she acts like she came up with the idea to starting doing an e-newsletter. I did it for three years so it’s not the original idea she makes it out to be. It bugs me but I know that I’m in a better place now so I don’t spend too much time thinking about it because it reflects more on her than me.

          Reply
        4. mooocow

          I just left a good job for a better job, and I’m so happy I made that choice! The day before the interview I seriously thought about cancelling because I felt like I wouldn’t want to leave my current employer anyway. The day after the interview, it was absolutely, 100% clear that I would take the new job, because it just fit so well.
          My main factors for decision making were a job description that suits my interestes and capabilities much better, an absolutely awesome company culture, and lots more $$$. I certainly was way pickier about the whole thing, and asked way more critical questions than I normally would have, simply because I knew that if I was to leave my good job, the new job would have to be pretty awesome, but I’m really glad I made the decision!

          Reply
    4. KTMGee

      Know that these feelings are all completely normal. I recommend focusing on the positive benefits of the new role (that commute cut alone is AMAZING!) You’re taking the next professional step, and that’s a good thing! You’ll leave your current employer on good terms, and hopefully your new job is great! Good luck!

      Reply
    5. esemes

      Your quality of life is super important! It sounds like this new job will increase that exponentially. Go for it! :)

      Reply
    6. Maybe We Can

      Commuting is horrible. 3 hours to 30 minutes sounds like a no-brainer to me, if you think the working environment will be a good one. That’s enough reason in and of itself to switch jobs. I always make a chart of my priorities “THese are 10 things that are important to me” then rank them “high 3” “Medium 2” or “Low 1” in importance. Then I rate each one of those things for each job. And apply the weighted scale and see which one turns out to be right. If my gut hates that, then I make the other decision.

      For me commute, boss, working environment, healthcare, time off, pay are the ones I typically end up rating.

      Reply
      1. Eric with a C

        One of the classes I was in taught this exact method for decision making, although I don’t believe it was limited to 10 items.

        I’ve used it for job searching, buying a house, buying a car. (Doesn’t work so well for deciding where to eat dinner, unfortunately)

        Reply
    7. AdAgencyChick

      I have done this a couple of times, with mixed results.

      At the point you are in your career, I say go for it. If you were pretty senior, I would say make damned sure that the new job is going to be at least as good as what you’re leaving; ask lots of questions, including of current and ex-employees who were not part of the interview process, if you can.

      But it’s easier to move around when you are early in your career. A significant raise and a far shorter commute are nothing to sneeze at. As long as you clicked with the interviewers, there’s no reason not to. After all, if it turns out the place is dysfunctional, you can job hunt again (and you’ll be doing so with a higher base salary, so you’ll be in a better position for negotiations if you’re up against a recruiter who insists on knowing what you make now).

      Reply
      1. College Career Counselor

        I agree with others that you don’t have to leave a job only when it’s a crappy situation. You can move for more $$ and better quality of life (the commute thing is huge and will give you ten extra hours a week to do other things. The only other thing I would ask is how long you have been in this current job, and if it’s a short duration (less than a year) or if the usual/customary thing for your industry is to stay for ~five years in the “entry” role, then you may have to stick with the new job for awhile.

        Reply
          1. SanguineAspect

            In that case, my .02 would be to make the move! You have 5 years there already, which is really great for your first job out of school. You’ll be gaining more money and more time to spend on yourself every week–I’d call that a win-win. Make the leap!

            Reply
          2. Koko

            As someone who is also approaching my 5-year anniversary, not at my first job but at the longest job I’ve held post-college, I would also say that if you do want to move on at some point, it’s going to get increasingly harder the longer you stay where you are.

            I’ve been thinking lately how with every passing month the idea of leaving this place and starting all over somewhere new sounds more and more unappealing. But I’m more than a decade into my career, I’ve worked a variety of roles, and I’ve decided I could be happy working here til I retire at this point if it came to that.

            Reply
      2. Fortitude Jones

        All of this. Leave, Alter_ego – don’t feel guilty about it at all. You’re not meant to stay in your first job out of college forever.

        Reply
    8. commuterblues

      Hundreds of dollars of savings? FIFTEEN MINUTE COMMUTE? Giving yourself a raise? There is literally no reason not to take this opportunity. It’s easy to fear the unknown, but you’ve done this before. Each time you changed schools, took a new class, picked up a new hobby, you’ve gone through the process of becoming familiar with a new environment and meeting new people.

      I’ve moved jobs like this before, and it’s a simple process – ask your direct supervisor for a 20 minute meeting. Start off with saying how you’ve enjoyed working there, you appreciate their mentorship/whatever, and that you’re happy to share that you’ve found a new opportunity that will help expand your career. Let them know what your final day will be, and be sure to follow up with an email providing the same details for everybody’s reference. That’s it. Depending on the organization they will either make you leave same day, or allow you to finish out your two week notice. You’ll provide as much documentation as possible to tie up loose ends and then ride off into a blazing sunset of success.

      Reply
      1. Jessesgirl72

        Well, there might be a reason not to take it, but they weren’t mentioned. Like concerns about the stability of the company, culture, etc.

        But unless those exist, it sounds pretty much like the only thing holding alter ego back is fear of change. :)

        Reply
      2. businessfish

        the value of a shorter commute CANNOT be overstated.

        Think of it this way, if you are spending 3 hours per day, 20 days per month, 12 months per year, you are spending 720 hours commuting in a year. Divide that by 24 hours in a day – THIRTY days a year commuting.

        In contrast, a 30 minute commute gets you down to 5 days a year.

        If you got essentially 25 days of your year back, that’s game changing. think of how many shows you could binge in that time!!! (or spend time with family or friends or whatever)

        Reply
        1. Alter_ego

          I really appreciate this breakdown. Especially because it looks like the one biggest downside is going to be a loss of a couple of vacation days. But if I’m getting back even incrementally 20 days, that makes me feel a little better about it.

          Reply
          1. Anonymousaurus Rex

            I changed jobs for a job I like a lot less for a shorter commute and more money and I would do it again in a heartbeat. The short commute is a life-changer!!

            Reply
            1. alter_ego

              I’m working on it at the moment. I’m losing 5, I’m trying to claw back at least three. or at least shorten the 5 year wait until I get another 5.

              Reply
              1. Jerry Vandesic

                If they let you buy extra vacation (some companies do this), one way to handle the negotiation is to simply ask for enough additional pay to buy the extra vacation. I had someone I hired do this. It was easier from a systems POV to give the extra money rather than have the HR systems try to handle one person’s special situation.

                Reply
                1. Wheezy Weasel

                  Or even negotiate unpaid personal days. With the ‘extra’ days back in commuting and the higher salary, taking two unpaid vacation days is probably still a net plus.

        2. Grapey

          If that commute is spent on public transit, OP could also spend it binge watching stuff. My commute is 45 mins each way but on a bus where I don’t need to transfer…I get lost in a book or research my hobby on my phone which is stuff I would be doing at home anyway.

          Reply
        3. Part-time Poet

          So true. I used to commute an hour each way, for a number of years. I did the math and it was an extra 40 hours per month. An entire week of not working that was sucked up by being on the road. And during the New England winters, it was often a white knuckle drive that took 2 – 3 hours one way. Not to mention 1 tank of gas every week. I was so tired on the weekends that I didn’t want to go out much. Then I read about someone who communted some insane amount of hours each way from and stopped feeling sorry for myself. But it was still a huge drag even though I worked at a great job that I loved and had a great boss.

          Reply
    9. A Beth

      I did something similar this spring, although it was an internal move. I liked my job, I loved my coworkers, it was my first real job (but I’d been there for almost 8 years). I stressed a lot but I’m so glad I took the leap. If I had that clearly defined list of pros you have, it would be a no-brainer!

      Reply
    10. MindoverMoneyChick

      If you’ve been at your current job 2 years or more I’d say take it. There are a few reasons.These days it’s good to build your resume early in your career by getting a wider variety of experiences. And a shorter commute will really improve the quality of your life. And the $8K raise now will set a new bar for your salary. I had access to salary data at my last job and they more people make in the short term, the more they make in the long term. It really does make a difference.

      Unless there are some big red flags regarding the people you would be working with, from the outside this one is a no-brainer.

      Reply
    11. AdAgencyChick

      A friend of mine also once suggested making a table — in one column going down, you have all the aspects of a job that are important to you. The more specific you can get, the better. You can include anything — commute, ability to work on a specific type of project, manager’s personality, etc.

      Then you have one column for each job, and you answer as best you can what you think of each job for each aspect. (For example, in your “manager” row you could write “nice to me but doesn’t provide a lot of advice on my career goals” in the Old Job column, and “seems nurturing but of course she’s an unknown quantity” in the New Job column.) And then the rightmost column is “Edge,” and you assign an edge to either Old Job or New Job (or a tie, if you think it is one).

      This is a totally anal-retentive way of doing things, I get it, but it does often cause an answer to jump out at you. At the very least, it will get you to think through the differences between the two jobs systematically, rather than freezing up out of guilt (or jumping ship too quickly, if it becomes apparent that you might be leaving a bad situation for a worse one).

      Reply
    12. Beth Anne

      I’d probably do it. I’m in a similar position where I LOVE my job but the pay is so low I’m not sure what to do. And I have the opposite commute problem….my current commute is like less than 30 minutes a day depending on traffic but all the job opportunities I see are a 3 hour commute.

      Reply
    13. legalchef

      Unless there are any red flags you aren’t mentioning, I would do this in a heartbeat. The commute time alone is worth it, but when you throw the increased salary AND the commute expense savings (is that per MONTH??) on top, that’s amazing.

      The one caveat is that you don’t mention how long you’ve been at your current job. If it’s a really short length of time, like a few months, you might want to think about it some more, but even then I would likely still take the new job (but then you’d need to stay a couple years at least).

      Reply
      1. Alter_ego

        Haha, that is per month. My train pass is 267 a month, plus for one reason or another I have to drive in and park instead about once a week, which is 38 dollars a day.

        There are benefits to working in a city, but all things commute related is not one of them.

        Reply
    14. EA in CA

      I did exactly what you did over a year ago. I wasn’t unhappy at Old Job, but an opportunity came up that would have been an advancement in my career, more money, and better benefits. Leaving is always going to be tough in these situations and it will seem like a gamble when you are leaving a job that you like. This is your first real-world job, so the change will be scary. I actually cried when I handed in my resignation to Old Boss because he was someone that I highly respected and was my mentor. The new job seems to offer you a lot more and you’ve already stated that you liked the people that interviewed you. I’d say jump at this opportunity.

      Reply
      1. birds fly high by the light of the moon

        Are you me? I just did the same thing a few months ago (including the crying). I made myself a list of things I didn’t like about the old job to keep me focused on why I needed to leave, because there was lots of hand-wringing about the fact that I said I wasn’t unhappy when I told everyone I was leaving. One thing that helps is to make sure you don’t burn any bridges on the way out (if at all possible). My boss straight up told me I could come back if I wasn’t happy at the new job, which helped me feel confident going forward.

        Reply
      2. Alter_ego

        Oh I’m 100% going to cry. I already cried to my mom for like, 45 minutes last night (the woman has the patience of a saint). Crying is my default response to any strong emotions, so with this combination of stress, fear, and sadness? Yeah, there will be tears

        Reply
        1. Mananana

          Alter, how much of your hesitation is fear? While fear is natural when facing a new situation, I’d hate to see you lose out on something good because of it.

          Reply
        2. Not So NewReader

          It’s okay to cry. Get it out and deal with whatever it is. This advice fits a lot of situations. Once the tears subside, (and they will tend to, especially if you tell yourself that is it okay to cry) how do things look?

          Think back to other times where big change made you cry. How do your tears now compare with those tears? How did those situations work out?
          Sometimes I cry because I know I am going to MAKE myself do something once the tears are done. If I was not going to do it, there would be no need for tears.
          Other times I cry because I am not listening to my gut which is saying NOOOOOO.
          And other times I cry because I am afraid to move forward AND afraid to stand still. This one is a bit easier than the others to me. I know the importance of moving forward and not allowing myself or my life to stagnate. I can kind of get myself to baby-step through something by making sure I am taking a reasonable risk. Is this new job reasonable? For example, if I am a brain surgeon it would not be reasonable to take a job repairing cars. It’s two arenas that are very different from each other. Is the new job a reasonable step to be taking? It sounds reasonable to us here, but only you know for sure. There could easily be parts we are missing.

          Reply
          1. Her Grace

            Not So New, this reminds me of a joke:
            A gynecologist, sick of the stress of his job, wanted a career change. So he went back to school to become an auto mechanic.

            He did very well in his studies. When it came time for the final exam, he threw himself into it wholeheartedly.

            When he got his final grade, he was amazed to have received 150%. When he asked his instructor about it, the instructor replied, “You got 50% for taking apart a car engine perfectly. You got another 50% for putting it back together perfectly. I awarded an extra 50% because you managed to do it all through the tail pipe.”

            Reply
    15. Ghost Town

      I literally just did this (started New Job on May 8). My old job was comfortable; I liked it and the co-workers and the students. The pay wasn’t great, but we were used to it. (my commute changed b/c of a move that coincided with the job change) I also moved schools within a university. My old job wasn’t my first, first job out of graduate school, but w/in a year of graduating and first to capitalize on my education.

      For me, I had been growing out of my old position for a while and had been at a point where I had stretch and find new things to learn and ways to grow. There was also a realization that the public university structure didn’t really allow for any recognition (financial) of X publication, Y credential, or other awesome thing that I was doing. And recognizing that the transition to a new position is always uncomfortable (to a point), a little scary, and that, no matter the position, there’ll be things I don’t know and fumble through at the beginning.

      One of the biggest scary things for me was the supervisor/coworker piece. I haven’t had a truly awful supervisor or coworker experience. There have been bad ones, but not sustained. But interviewing and talking with prospective supervisors and coworkers from a comfortable position let me relax and really participate in interviewing the new team, assessing if this was a dynamic I felt comfortable jumping into (understanding that I was only seeing a piece).

      Also, I was in my previous position for almost 8 years. I’m a lot older now, and more mature as a working professional. So, I’m more able to identify and frame the feelings that I’m having and comfortable with finding and using my professional support people and talking through concerns. Which I did. They didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know, but saying it out loud and hearing their feedback was helpful.

      And, this was a big one for me, you don’t owe old job anything (beyond the professional courtesy of notice and trying to finish projects). You need to do what is best for you. If that is new job, take it. If it is old job, stay.

      It will be ok. Old job/company will be ok. They may miss you, but that’s not a bad thing.

      Best of luck!

      Reply
    16. GinX

      I think this is actually the best case scenario for leaving a job–you don’t have any negatives about your current job to explain away later; just positives about your new job. I think any future employer will understand that, and chances are, your current one will too. It’s always hard to leave a job that’s not terrible, especially if you like the people you work with. But once you’re past the uncomfortable part of telling them you’re leaving, you’ll probably feel much better.

      Reply
    17. Accidental Analyst

      As others have mentioned those are some pretty compelling reasons to consider moving on. Another thing to think about is that you’ve now been in your first post college job for 5 years. It’s easy to let comfort of knowing your role (and company) and fear of will I succeed somewhere else hold you back from leaving when you should. Maybe consider this an opportunity to prove that you can succeed in a different environment.

      Reply
    18. Sandy Gnome

      I did something very similar just over a year ago. I liked the job I was in, but I was going to cut almost 2 hours a day of commuting time, which was going to save a couple hundred a month in travel costs. I liked the job I was doing, but the extra 10 hours per week I suddenly gained was a big deal to me. I asked a lot of questions at the interview that gave me a good feel for what I would be walking into, and looking back at the last year, I am very glad I made the switch. Others have mentioned this, but I’d like to reiterate that any reasonable boss/person would completely understand the reasons you have for making this kind of switch.

      Reply
    19. knitcrazybooknut

      One of my best tricks in a situation like this is to pretend you’ve made a decision and listen to how you feel once you pretend it’s done and settled. How does it feel to work that new job? How does it feel to go back to your old job if you’ve turned down the new offer?

      Reply
    20. Tableau Wizard

      I literally just did this, except I took a pay cut to do it . I loved my job, even with a boss who was difficult, but the change in my personal life because of the reduction in my commute has been truly life-changing and I wouldn’t give it up for anything in the world.

      What I will say is that I was SO worried that leaving this job, where I had built a unique, somewhat irreplaceable skill set, was going to be a HUGE deal. I was SO worried that it would be received badly. And it wasn’t nearly the drama that I had imagined. Yes, my boss was sad to see me go, but she was also happy for me that I was able to improve my commute and my life. I came away realizing that while the change seemed HUGE for me, it was just a part of doing business for everyone else. It will be okay. Do what is best for you!

      Reply
    21. Quinalla

      I left my first “real job” after college. I didn’t think I was unhappy, but I was getting bored in the role and had no room to advance. After I left the environment which had gotten increasingly toxic, I realized that I had been fairly unhappy. Even though I was getting a big raise and would have so much opportunity to grow (though I did lengthen my commute a bit) and had similar benefits and more vacation time (which I also negotiated for, definitely push for more vacation days to get about the same as you have now if you can), I still had weird feelings about leaving, that maybe I wasn’t really ready to leave. It was honestly ridiculous in my case, I’d outgrown the place probably 5+ years ago (I was there for 13 years), but I still had that feeling. You can never be sure when you change jobs, but it sounds like you have a lot in the positive row and little to nothing in the negative row at least that is known. I’d examine your gut feelings again about the interview and make sure you’ve done your homework on the company, but it sounds like a great move for you!

      Reply
    22. Emmie

      Some wait until their unhappy to leave a job, but improving your quality of life is an even better reason to start something new. The money is nice; however, you’ll get 2 1/2 hours of your life back. It’s okay to go.

      Reply
    23. Not So NewReader

      Leaving any job is hard. Leaving a bad job is hard for a different set of reasons, but still hard.

      A decision making model I tend to favor goes away from the pro/con list . The problem with the pro/con list is that how do you know when you are done making the list? It might be very useful to look for one very strong reason to either stay or go, instead.

      For me I would chose to go because of health. That commute would be killing me slowly.

      I also know that the longer I stay at a job the harder it is to leave. The familiar usually seems better than the unfamiliar. My question to you is if you stay at current job how will you advance there? Envision yourself at this current job for 5 more years, are you happy you stayed?

      Reply
    24. Super B

      Looks like you got a lot of advice here to go for it already, but this hit home to me and I just wanted to share my experience. Last year I quit a job I had been doing for 4 1/2 years and was passionate about, for a job that paid less and wasn’t as interesting. Why? A 20 minute roundtrip commute vs. almost 2 hours I was commuting before. The extra time I get to spend with my family and exercise and do things I couldn’t dream of before because I was either commuting or working or laying down exhausted, decompressing from it all, made a world of difference in my well being. I am healthier, happier, and never looked back. New job turned out to be more interesting than predicted, too, and I made new friends.

      Reply
    25. MissDisplaced

      This is a best case scenario for leaving a job!
      More money, shorter commute, what’s not to like?
      But what you really have to ask yourself is this: does the new job make sense for you and where you want your career to go? Sometimes, the extra money and commute are WORTH a somewhat “lesser” job at certain points, though probably not for you early on in your career.
      But all things aside, if the new company checks out, and the move makes sense for your career aspirations, then do not feel bad about leaving a job you like (but maybe are not in love with).

      Reply
    26. Queen Frostine

      I had a hard time leaving my first job out of college too. Part of that was not having much appreciation for how much else was out there, but mostly it was stockholm syndrome, which I didn’t realize until much further down the road. I wasn’t being treated as well as I thought, and I didn’t have the context to know that until I’d worked a couple of other places.

      I really don’t mean this in a condescending way, but it can be hard to have perspective with your first full-time job. I didn’t realize how big of a deal work/life balance was until later, but you’ll start to value it more as your career progresses. If the new place seems like a good culture fit and you’re getting 2.5 hours of your life back every day with the commute, it sounds like the right move :)

      Reply
    27. LENEL

      Congratulations, Alter_ego!

      I was in a similar position 4 years ago. I liked my job but I had a 3 hour round commute each day (1h – 1h15m driving including toll, then another 20 or so minutes on a bus) and I moved for a small pay bump but a 5 minute commute, which is now a 15 minute commute.
      I interviewed, knew I nailed it but would have less opportunities but it improved my quality of life tenfold!
      I cried a lot contemplating the change – I don’t deal well with change and it seemed like a huge one at the time and it was! Not only did I save a bomb in money and time (and get to have hobbies and gain quality of life!) I have gained whole heap of amazing experience.
      It’s not going to be easy if/when I decide it’s time to leave here and I have to go back to travelling but it will be do-able and I know it will because I’ve done it before.
      I also have found that the trade off which has kept me here is that I can take my dog for a walk in the morning, still start work around 8am, can carpool with my husband and still participate with my community groups and look after my health a bit better.
      No matter what you decide, congratulations on having a solid offer on the table!

      Reply
  2. AdAgencyChick

    TL;DR: Freelancers: How long do you wait before writing a client off as a deadbeat?

    I’ve been working for one of my non-ad-agency clients for about two years. I’ve known the whole time about his potential as a deadbeat: My predecessor in the job quit because he stiffed her, and she warned me about it. I decided to try it out for a month, and since he hired a business manager who took care of payroll, I always got paid in full and on time, which is why I’ve been doing this for two years.

    However, a couple of weeks ago, he abruptly fired his business manager. (I don’t know details, but I know enough to know the problem is more with his general high-strung-ness than with anything the business manager did or didn’t do.) Unfortunately, he did this right after I had sent in my invoice (plus the invoices of all the other writers whose work I edit) for the last month.

    He has said, in an email, that payday would be June 1. I’ve been waiting anxiously to see whether the direct deposit would arrive. It hasn’t — for me or for the writers.

    I’ve decided not to do any more work unless I’m paid for what I’ve already done, and I’ve also decided that if he continues to drag his feet, at some point I will exercise a nuclear option that will consist of a) telling him I won’t do more work unless paid; and b) removing all files that the writers and I have worked on but not been paid for from shared folders, and not giving them back unless paid.

    The question is, how long do I wait on the nuclear option? The longer I wait, the fewer files I have to hold hostage (it’s about a month’s worth of work at this point). I enjoy this work a lot and would like to keep doing it if I can get this guy to pay me. Since, as I mentioned above, he’s pretty high-strung, I’m pretty sure that if I do what I described above, it will be the nuclear option that ends this working relationship. But I also won’t work for free.

    Reply
    1. Cambridge Comma

      Do you belong to any online editing groups? I would think you would get really helpful answers to this question in EAE Backroom or on C-EL.

      Reply
    2. HisGirlFriday

      Part of me says, I would password protect and/or remove them as of today — it’s June 2, and he promised you’d be paid by yesterday.

      But that is the nuclear option, and would probably blow up the relationship, when it could just be an honest mistake on his end.

      I would e-mail him and said, ‘Fergus, as you know, I submitted an invoice for $X,XXX on MM/DD. This invoice represented Y hours of work for me and Z number of freelancers. You indicated that we would be paid on June 1, and we were not. Given that we submitted the work to you, and invoiced you properly, I am concerned that we have not been paid. When can we expect to see payment for work completed?’

      And then if he says it WAS a glitch, and you’ll be paid today (or Monday or whenever), you can count that as a second and final chance. If the second date comes and goes with no payment, then I think you remove the files.

      Reply
      1. JulieBulie

        Because he’s done this before (it’s why AdAgencyChick’s predecessor quit), blowing up the relationship might not be such a bad thing.

        At any rate, I think it’s a good idea to password protect the files now to show that you’re serious.

        Rather than ask him when he’ll get around to paying, I’d use most of HisGirlFriday’s wording but set a deadline, of, say, COB Tuesday. A close deadline is more likely to create a sense of urgency. I would also include the words “payment in full.”

        If the money isn’t there by Wednesday noon, take all of the files away.

        Don’t be surprised if he gives only a partial payment. If that happens, take all of the files away anyhow and ask him which half (or whatever fraction) of the files he would like.

        Reply
        1. Pineapple Incident

          I agree with this/HisGirlFriday. Drawing a hard line is the only way to work with people like the deadbeat client.

          Reply
        2. Artemesia

          I’d assume he would move the files when he got the reminder so I’d password protect them immediately. He may actually not notice, but it does block his use of the work if he stiffs you. This is not a glitch, it is the way he does business. Going forward, I would be asking at least half the pay in advance or else require full payment before the files are unlocked i.e. do the work but never release it until paid.

          Reply
        3. AdAgencyChick

          “Blowing up the relationship might not be such a bad thing.”

          Yes, and I’m prepared to do it. I don’t actually need the money from this work — my day job pays way better — and I do it for love of the work. If I have to break things off, I won’t have to scramble to make up the lost income. I’ll just miss the work I was doing. (Not enough to do it out of charity, though.)

          Reply
          1. Stickler

            Protect the files before you send the email. If he is truly a bad character not intending to pay he will have copied or otherwise protected them when he sees your email asking for the $.

            Reply
        4. Shishimai

          …I’d be SO tempted to give, say, X% of each file, as truncated based on length with a hex editor. >:D

          (Is this a polite or professional response? Heck no. But I can dream.)

          Reply
      2. AdAgencyChick

        Yeah, I think this is what I’m going to do (since I already have emailed him asking when we would be paid, and gotten his “it was a glitch, I swear” response).

        Reply
    3. Apollo Warbucks

      I would take the files back now, but I’ve got very little patience for people who can’t be bothered to pay others what they owe them.

      Reply
    4. JulieBulie

      Since your predecessor quit because of this kind of behavior, this probably won’t be the last time this happens. I think you should invoke the nuclear option as soon as you see fit. If there is a particular date that is meaningful to you, then email him with that as your deadline. Personally, I would set the deadline to COB Tuesday. (A short time window is more likely to create a sense of urgency.) If the money isn’t there by Wednesday noon, cut him loose and move on.

      Make sure your email states that he must Pay In Full. Don’t be surprised if he only pays half. In that case, withdraw all the files and ask him which half he would like.

      Reply
    5. Aphrodite

      Don’t wait. Pull those files now. If he was going to pay you he would have done so already. You might as well fire him as a client now because it will only get worse. (And you are probably not the first person he has done this to.0

      Reply
    6. MuseumChick

      I agree with the others saying password protect/take back the work now. Send him an email explaning that you have not received payment as agreed and once you do the work will be made available again.

      Reply
    7. ArtK

      1) Go “nuclear” *now*. Don’t wait. You’re being far too nice. So what if it blows up the relationship? There’s no relationship here because he’s not keeping up his end of the bargain. What is the upside to having him as a client?
      2) Small claims court.

      Reply
    8. MsChanandlerBong

      Does he typically send direct deposits on the same day? If so, do they hit your account the same day? I get paid on the 2nd and 16th of the month, but my pay doesn’t actually hit my account until the 3rd and 17th. I get the idea from my colleagues that I get my pay faster than they do; one of them said his doesn’t hit his account until the 20th. Is there a chance that he did submit the direct deposit and it didn’t hit your bank yet? If not, then I’d password-protect everything and tell him you’ll release it when you’re paid.

      Reply
      1. AdAgencyChick

        Not same-day, but I submitted the invoices more than a week ago. Two days later, when he told me the business manager was no longer with the company, my immediate response was to ask “when’s payday? I want to know what to tell the writers.” He said that he was processing the invoices that day and that we would receive direct deposit on the 1st.

        He is head-in-clouds enough that this *could* be a problem of his needing to learn how to use the payroll system properly, and he did manage to pay me (because of business manager) for 2 years. But he also stiffed someone in the past, which makes me not want to give him a lot of chances.

        Thanks for the advice, all. I have a plan of action and will provide an update next go-round!

        Reply
    9. Lady Russell's Turban

      Honestly, I would pull the files NOW. You need as much leverage as you can get.

      Visit the website clientsfromhell.net and look at some of their resources/advice. I am not a freelancer but enjoy reading the crazy stories and gleaning tips for a loved one who is a new freelancer in a creative field. If the sum is significant you might want to contact a lawyer.

      Reply
  3. o.b.

    Desperately seeking advice from anyone who works/hires in government!

    I’m one of the top two candidates out of 400 applicants for a step-above-entry-level job with my city. I am thrilled about this and about the position (its mission, its managers, its healthcare…). BUT before the hiring manager can recommend one of the candidates for hire, she intends to speak with BOTH our current supervisors for references—and then recommend ONE of us. I pushed back in the interview and was told speaking with a current supervisor is nonnegotiable, but I didn’t learn until now that they planned on speaking with both candidates’ supervisors.

    I have a good relationship with my boss, but it’s a small private-sector company and I have a pretty central role, so I’m still extremely uncomfortable with this. If it were an offer contingent on a good reference, I’d be willing to have that uncomfortable conversation with my boss and hope things worked out. As it stands, though, I’m upset and unnerved and second-guessing what seemed like an amazing position.

    How do I push back on this without compromising my candidacy? Is there any way to avoid this short of withdrawing from consideration? Any suggested language for talking to my boss? Any success stories or cautionary tales?

    Reply
    1. Anonymous Poster

      Government hiring can often be a bit… dim about these sorts of conventions.

      This pops up in discussions about clearances for government roles while working for another employer too. In those instances, the investigator is willing to forego talking with your current employer if you can provide a few (from what I understand in this particular case, 3) former coworkers who can speak to your ability to do the job, work ethic, and the like. A background investigator is looking for very different things than a smart hiring manager, but could you suggest something along those lines? Former coworkers who have since left and are willing to be good references?

      Otherwise you may have identified your only options… Your employer knows and you may or may not get the job, or forego this particular opportunity. Hope it works out for you.

      Reply
    2. Another person

      My current agency has this written into policy and it really is not negotiable. They are very strict about treating all candidates the same. Don’t be surprised if you really can’t get an exception.

      Reply
        1. Sunflower

          Are you set on a gov’t job for your next position? If you are, this might be something you’ll continue to run into in which case it makes sense to just have a talk with your boss and explain the deal.

          Reply
          1. o.b.

            Good point. I’m set on a job in a specific sector/subsector, and those often happen to be with the government.

            Reply
            1. o.b.

              Like, really good point; this played a big part in my decision to talk to my boss Monday. Thank you!

              Reply
    3. Lindsey

      Will they talk to a previous supervisor?

      Honestly, unless this is 100% your dream job, I wouldn’t talk to your current boss about it given what you’ve said here. Most bosses, if an employee came like that to them, would actively start to manage the employee out of the organization.

      Reply
      1. MsMaryMary

        I think it’s an overstatement to say that most bosses would manage you out of the organization. I’m not saying it’s not risky. Some managers would absolutely react poorly. But when I managed people I was always supportive of my reports’ career plans. Partially because I generally try not to be an asshole, but also because you never know where life will take you and when you’ll run into someone again.

        So, if you feel like if you told your boss you’ve gotten this job, she’d be supportive and say something like, “we hate to lose you but I understand why you’d take this opportunity” then go ahead and list your boss as a reference.

        Reply
        1. Jerry Vandesic

          They might not manage you out, but they would likely adjust things so that you are no longer on critical projects. Once your boss knows you are leaving, they will want to protect the organization when you eventually leave, even if it isn’t right away. Your role will be diminished even if you aren’t managed out.

          Reply
          1. o.b.

            What you described doesn’t really apply to my role, thankfully. They can’t manage me out, but they could outright ask me to leave. But this job is so different than what I’m doing now (like I said below, think helping people without teapots get access to teapots vs. working at a high-end teapot store) that I really hope they’ll understand and support me.

            Reply
      2. Jessica

        “Thrilled” and “amazing” are not typically words I would use in conjunction with government jobs…what makes this one special? ;-)

        Reply
        1. Starbuck

          Government jobs can be great! I worked at an environmental education center at a wildlife refuge (owned and managed by the federal govt) and while there were a few annoying bureaucracy quirks, it’s a place I’d return to in a heartbeat if I could. Same with the friends I have working in wildlife biology.

          Reply
          1. o.b.

            @Jessica, it’s in an area of community development that I’m very passionate about, and while I like my current job, there’s no passion there (think, helping people without teapots get access to teapots vs. working at a high-end teapot store). The hiring manager is sharp and seems like she would inspire me to grow and perform better. I’m dying for a challenge. And they offer healthcare and paid vacation, two things my teapot store does not offer ;)

            There are already some annoying bureaucracy quirks (liiiike having to call my current boss!), but since I have that expectation going in, I’m hoping it will be only manageably frustrating. @Starbuck, that job sounds awesome. What kind of wildlife? Did you get to interact with them?

            Reply
        2. Jane

          There are lots of amazing government jobs out there. Teachers, firefighters, park rangers, scientists of all stripes, doctors, social workers. In my field the most enjoyable jobs are almost always federal or county positions. State jobs pay so abysmally in my field here in California that I am not including them in the awesome category.

          Reply
      3. NJ Anon

        Not true. Maybe I’m unusual but I would not do this. I encourage open communication with staff. People are not always going to stay in one job forever.

        Reply
    4. LNZ

      Honestly i don’t think you can push back, and if you do push back to much it will look like you have something to hide.
      I would talk to your boss as soon as you can, be honest that you like your current job but this is a good opportunity. If they are a decent boss they wont hold it against you.

      Reply
    5. CatCat

      Are you concerned that you will jeopardize your current job if they speak to your current supervisor? Is that something that happens at your organization?

      If so, I would tell the hiring manager that. “Unfortunately, at my organization, my job could be in jeopardy if they know I am job searching. I am certain my supervisor will provide a positive reference and I would be comfortable with this if I had an offer contingent on that positive reference. I am really excited about this opportunity, but without an offer, I cannot risk my livelihood on it as I am sure you can understand. Is there any other option here?”

      My experience in government is that if the hiring manager actually wants to get something done, they can find a way to get it done or be crystal clear what the insurmountable obstacle is. I wouldn’t risk my means of putting food on the table for this.

      Reply
    6. Anon for this one

      I did push back on this. I said that they could speak with current co-workers, but that if they made me an offer, it could be contingent on their discussion with current Supervisors. It worked for me, but not sure it will work for you.

      Reply
    7. H.C.

      Yikes, recently-joined gov’t employee here, but thankfully didn’t get this during my interview/application process (they asked for general references and performance reviews.)

      Did you always have the same supervisor in CurrentJob? If not, can you see if ex-supervisor can provide that reference? You can even make a better case for this if your current supervisor hasn’t been your boss for long, meaning he/she may not be able to fully evaluate your work.

      If that doesn’t pan out – then yeah, ultimately you’ll have to decide if speaking to your current boss really is a nonnegotiable and if it’s not, take the time to have that awkward conversation with your boss about it.

      Reply
    8. not my usual alias

      In my experience, this is not a Government thing. This is a Your Particular Employer thing. (I’m not saying some government agencies don’t do it as well, just that it’s not standard.)

      Reply
    9. JC Denton

      This is one of those damned if you do, damned if you don’t situations with the Fed. If there are two of you still in the running, I assume this agency does not given conditional offers. If they did, you could feel more secure in letting them speak with your current supervisor. Since they probably don’t, I’d be blunt. I’d tell the hiring manager that they can speak with your current supervisor, with the understanding that it’ll likely “tip your hand” and cause problems should you not be appointed. Just say you’re not prepared to have them make that call unless a “positive outcome” can come as a result of a good conversation.

      I know a friend who was going through his background investigation right when the Trump hiring freeze hit earlier this year. The employees knew, the employer knew, and of course, the boss knew. Sour grapes all around until the job offer hit when the role was exempted a couple months ago.

      Reply
    10. Thinking Outside the Boss

      I’m a managing attorney for a state government office in California. There are two things that caught my eye in your post.

      First, we will let candidates give a reason why his or her current employer shouldn’t be called, e.g. potential of a candidate losing their job. However, in return, we would expect 2-3 solid work references from other supervisors and managers, and not coworkers. Is your current job your first job or do you have a work history that the government employer could contact other managers and supervisors? If it’s the former, they may not offer you the job if they can’t verify any work references for you but they can for the other candidate. You will probably have to have them call your current boss if that’s the only work reference you have.

      Second, our office doesn’t make offers contingent upon a positive reference. We always clear the references first before making an offer. My first government employer was the same way. So I think you won’t have a firm offer first before having to talk to your boss.

      Before my first government job, my private sector boss was exceptionally petty and retaliatory. When I interviewed with the government agency, I told them at the interview the way my boss was and that he may not give me a great reference, but I could give them other professional references. I was quite shocked that when the government agency called my boss, he gave me a glowing recommendation. Sometimes, you have to take your chances.

      Good luck!

      Reply
    11. AdAgencyChick

      “How do I push back on this without compromising my candidacy?”

      You might not be able to. For me the bird in the hand would be worth more than the two in the bush.

      Reply
      1. AdAgencyChick

        BTW, this is an obnoxious interview practice of theirs. If you withdraw your candidacy, I might actually tell them, “Have you considered that you might lose good candidates because of this policy?”

        Reply
        1. Starbuck

          They said 400 people had applied, so I can’t imagine their concern would be very great unfortunately.

          Reply
    12. SorryLateResponse

      I had the exact situation pop-up for me in interviewing for a federal role. The fed hiring manager asked for supervisory references and I did not feel comfortable offering up my current supervisor as a reference. I found it to be too risky to let my current supervisor know I was job hunting when there was a possibility that I would not even get the job since there was another person in the running for the fed role. When I pushed back and offered peer references that served as leaders on projects I worked on and my concerns about repercussions at my current job, the fed hiring manager said that wasn’t good enough. After talking with people that worked in different departments of the agency, it turned out that this wasn’t an agency practice but possibly a quirk of the hiring manager because that department saw lots of turnover (foreshadowing red flag here). Do you know anyone else in the agency or department that you could ask, as it might mean a redflag with the supervisor?

      In the end, I coalesced and asked my current my supervisor for a reference and framed the other job as an opportunity that I didn’t want to miss out on. Yet, due to my experiences with the fed hiring manager regarding supervisory references and a subsequent conversation with soon to be future fed coworkers about how their department was hemorrhaging staffers, I decided to decline the offer. I found the fed hiring manager unwillingness to be understanding of my situation to be a major redflag and from what it sounded like from future fed corworkers I potentially avoided a difficult work situation.

      Reply
  4. Cambridge Comma

    Questions for team responsible for implementing change project:
    I will be writing an article for the employee magazine that is an interview with the team responsible for a large change project in our large organization.
    It’s not part of my day to day job and I don’t have any experience of carrying out interviews.
    The project has just finished and was wildly unpopular. I suspect the team has had to deal with a lot of unfair and agressive behaviour from colleagues. For many of them, their contract will soon finsih.
    Ideally the interview questions would elicit a postive answer, and would make the reader realise that the change project they were moaning about for the last five years was staffed by people just like them who were trying to get their assigned tasks done.
    I’d appreciate any suggestions for questions I can ask them, or any insight from people who have worked on a team like this.

    Reply
    1. Cambridge Comma

      My ideas so far:
      What made them the right people for the job, i.e. their background and expertise.
      How it felt to be part of the team during different stages of the project.
      What their biggest achievement during the project was.
      How they supported one another during the project.
      Tips for dealing with stress during an intensive project like this one.

      Reply
    2. JulieBulie

      Ask “what things do you hope people will come to appreciate after they’ve [worked with/experienced] the [thing that changed]?”

      Reply
        1. Cambridge Comma

          I think (obviously with the advantage of knowing the real context) that there’s a slightly different way to ask this question that would work really well, thanks, Julie!

          Reply
    3. Lora

      Have you done similar projects in the past and how did they help? What were the speedbumps in those projects? How did it work out in the end?
      Where do you come from, what got you into doing this type of a thing? Can you tell us about other places specifically where you’ve done this stuff? What led the CEO to make this decision? What were the benefits?
      What concerns/issues have you heard/do you frequently hear and how have they been addressed? (message to employees: we do actually hear your complaints and try to do stuff about them as much as we can)
      What was the most difficult part of this job for you? What part do you like the best, why do you come to work to do this and not just go fishing or whatever?

      Reply
    4. Undine

      What was the major problem(s) they were trying to address
      What overarching principles did they follow in looking for a solution
      What tradeoffs/constraints were inherent in the project (like scope vs. complexity — you can’t be vast and simple)
      What did they learn from working on the project — not just about tools or this project, but about organizations/people/?/
      What would they do differently next time

      Reply
    5. nofelix

      I think you’re maybe aiming too high if you want to change people’s minds about the change project, but humanising the interviewees is always good. If this is a moral-boosting exercise then think from the perspective of the employees reading it: if they think a load of know-it-alls came in and messed things up then they are unlikely to be open to hearing how the same know-it-alls think it went. Also be aware that any ex-employee might show some bitterness so you need to decide whether all responses will be printed and be clear to interviewees if some might be omitted.

      You have a difficult brief. I’d include questions like:

      – What did you enjoy about working here?
      – Who/what will you miss?
      – What did you learn from this project?

      These are admittedly entirely self serving questions and some ex-employees might laugh at them. But this kind of thing is what remaining employees will like hearing about, and it sounds like they are the priority. Hopefully if they feel flattered there might be some halo effect to improve how they see the change project.

      Reply
      1. Cambridge Comma

        I don’t want to change anyone’s mind, I just want to humanize the team and hopefully give them the chance to have their say.
        I like the question about what they learned.

        Reply
    6. Cambridge Comma

      Thanks for these answers, it’s been so helpful to have some different perspectives. I’m really keen to do a good job as these colleagues have really got the unfair end of the wedge these last five years.

      Reply
    7. LQ

      I’d maybe come at this a different way and ask things like what did you learn from the people you worked with (who weren’t a part of the project). If you get them to compliment the people who will be reading this it’s harder to hate someone who says nice things about you. What did you respect most about them? What did you learn from them? What did you like about them? What was your best experience?

      Reply
    8. Dr.Fafa

      Coming from a design background, we were always taught to verbally justify our decisions and work to the audience so that they understand better what they’re seeing- it always, always yields positive results. Perhaps giving the people in the team a platform to talk about their justifications and thought processes behind the project would be a good move. It keeps the article a little less personal to the already scrutinized team members, and gives juicy details about a project so many employees already have strong feelings about. Win, win, win.

      Reply
  5. Dustbunny

    One of my manager’s peers said to me recently that she thinks I don’t advocate for myself or my work enough, and that I should be speaking up more about my skills and achievements. I think she’s probably right, but it’s something that does not come naturally to me.

    Everything I work on involves lots of people from other teams, most of whom are less experienced than me and who are probably more in need of thanks/ kudos. Most of what I do is in the background, facilitative project management. I’m quite happy to say ‘Wakeen did really well on x’, but it’s much harder to say ‘I did really well in briefing and advising Wakeen’, or ‘Wakeen’s work was part of a much wider project that only stayed on track because of me’.

    How do I speak up about my achievements without sounding arrogant and dismissive of the contribution of others?

    Reply
    1. AnonyMouse

      I don’t think it sounds arrogant and dismissive if you say something like, “I helped to keep this project on track by implementing a clear schedule and checking in regularly with Wakeen to make sure he was getting the support he needed.” I don’t think that says anything bad about Wakeen’s work — you just have different roles where he is a project worker and you’re the project manager. You are supposed to advise and help the others on the team, it sounds like, so it’s fair for you to say, “hey, I did my job well, and here’s how it helped the team.”
      You could also say something like, “For someone on the first year of the job, Wakeen’s really impressed me with his skills in X and Y. But I realized he hasn’t gotten much guidance on how to prioritize things and so I worked with him to come up with a framework for this project, so he feels more supported” to emphasize his good work but also be realistic about his lower level of experience.

      Reply
      1. Pineapple Incident

        I like all of these! I struggle with the same thing, but especially in a teamwork-based environment it can be easier to talk about your successes/skills in the context of helping others enhance their own or getting a project done that required leveraging strengths from several individuals.

        Reply
      2. CM

        Yes, “Here’s how my work contributed to the success of this project” is how you do it, rather than “I did x really well.” For example, “This project had an aggressive deadline that we didn’t think we would be able to meet. I worked to coordinate all the teams and to get them to commit to a project plan that kept us on schedule.” It may also help to think about how others see your work. You could even ask them, or notice what people thank/compliment you for.

        Reply
      3. FTW

        I would recommend not using words like ‘helped’, ‘assisted’, or ‘coordinated’. All of these are exactly the type of words that down play your contribution.

        Be bold here. You ‘led’ or ‘managed’ projects. You validated progress of he team, have feedback on priorities, identified and mitigates risks. You coached team members, etc.

        Reply
    2. LNZ

      Honestly fake it til you make it.
      It will feel very artificial at first but after a while it’ll become natural.
      praise sin’t a finite resource, you can take credit for you own success while also lifting up the others you helped.

      Reply
    3. Undine

      “Wakeen came in with very little experience in x, and I was able to help him come up to speed efficiently”
      “This was difficult because so many people hadn’t worked together before, and I worked hard to keep them on track and help them become a real team.”
      “I am an effective mentor and facilitator, and I always look for ways to help people grow when they are working on my projects.”

      Reply
    4. Stop That Goat

      I have a similar problem in that I’m just not very good at ‘selling myself’. I feel really arrogant talking about my successes (particularly during interviews) so I struggle with it. I know you didn’t ask particularly about interviews but when I’m preparing, I remind myself that these people WANT to hear about my successes and skills. It makes it a little easier for me when I frame it as giving them something they want over randomly talking about myself.

      Reply
    5. Trout 'Waver

      Honestly, if the project went smoothly and you’re in charge of the project, then it is totally appropriate to use redirect kudos to individual contributors. I think that’s leadership 101.

      That being said, I’d get used to saying “Yes, and….” with confidence rather than deflecting compliments. For example:

      Fergus: Wow the convention really went well this year. Much better than the squirrel fiasco of 2016.
      You: Yes, the whole team did a great job. Wakeen was particularly helpful with his IT support.

      I think comments like that show someone to be competent at recognizing competence and at managing teams.

      Reply
    6. Michele

      I find that it helps to write things like this out. I am uncomfortable tooting my own horn, but I know that it is necessary. Sometimes I have a hard time pinning down exactly what I have done, so I make a list. “I have been meeting with Wakeen regularly to ensure he stays on track” or “I have been advising Wakeen on the correct course.”

      Reply
      1. BF50

        +1 I keep a running list of my “wins” throughout the year. When I am framing something as a personal win in my own mind, regularly it makes it easier to accept the praise when it comes. It’s also really helpful come review time, job hunting, or asking for a raise.

        Reply
    7. AH

      How often do other people in your organization toot their own horn? If so, challenge yourself to follow their example. It is odd, but eventually gets easier.

      Also, think about it from the perspective that if you are very good at your job and believe in your organization, you would want people like you managing and leading-not unqualified people. Consider it an investment in your organization that they recognize who contributes.

      Finally, for written performance evaluations or preparing for verbal for performance evaluations, I try and imagine that if a nemesis of mine (who thinks VERY highly of himself) were to write a performance evaluation of himself using my accomplishments, what would he say. It makes it much easier for me that way.

      Reply
    8. Quinalla

      I also have this problem, but have improved a lot this year! I basically had a kick in the pants from my COO when I was doing my normal self-deprecating talk and he said “Stop that now, don’t talk down on yourself!” and so on. It made me realize how bad I am about not bragging, but doing the opposite, talking down my achievements and accomplishments!

      So first, I started keeping a log, nothing formal just in a word doc, of my accomplishments. I tried to write down everything from the past 2 years and then try to update it about monthly. Just the act of writing down all the stuff I do made me start appreciating my own work. Maybe it sounds silly, but this by itself was a huge step for me, having that “Yes, I do good work and I should be proud and brag a little.” went a long way.

      Then, I sat down and convinced myself that if I don’t speak up for myself, no one else is likely to do it. Sure, the occasional person will, but mostly I would be hurting my career advancement by not speaking up. And for me, my family is my big motivator and I want to make sure I’m getting the raises and whatnot that I deserve so I can more easily support them.

      Next, I started forcing myself to speak up and take credit for things either in bigger meetings or just with a project manager or boss (I have a lot of bosses :) ). I started with a couple really big things I did that went above and beyond as that was easier.

      Then I read this book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B001J2UVA2
      I HIGHLY recommend it as a way to learn to brag without feeling like you are being that annoying person that is a jerk braggart. It helps you get over all the internalized voices that tell you that bragging is bad and helps train you to brag well and target your brags to your audience.

      Reply
    9. Belle di Vedremo

      I like to think of things like this as being the backstage manager rather than the star performers, or as a teacher bringing the skills and gifts of others into view for themselves and others. It’s easier for me to think about the kinds of things I do as ways to help others shine, which means that the “performers” or “students” are doing a separate job rather than one better/beneath mine. Keeping things in order, keeping track of the (musical) score and timing for lights, cameras, and action, making sure that the props are in order and available, coordinating with the director to make sure her vision is coming into view are all particular and necessary skills, where the better skilled I am the better the show even if I’m not visible/audible on stage.

      It’s easier for me to think about the components of what’s needed and who is doing what, and describe my response to the needs expressed along the way and those and built into the plan (and how some of those expressed needs become part of the next plan) than it is to describe a performance as if in a starring role. It’s helped me move more toward talking about what I bring/brought to something in ways that don’t feel like bragging, which is important for someone who was raised to believe that one’s work speaks for itself.

      So how about something like, “I put together a briefing/advised Wakeen on xyz to highlight abc in ways that supported advancing causes fgh; based on the the goals of the organization I put it together with background info drawn from Jane, the Teapots Dept, and Accounting’s concerns for appropriate financial reporting on the program.” Or “I managed the timeline and offered support to the departments working on Project Y for an on time, on budget production; this included doing blah blah and identifying going concerns in yada yada and built resolutions this that and other into our template for related projects going forward. This allowed the involved depts to have a deeper understanding of the context and interconnections (eg, “backstory”) of the project which resulted in a performance that met/exceeded the requested performance.”

      Reply
  6. WellRed

    My state legislature has bills pending re: no asking for salary history and no asking for criminal history. One small step at a time.

    Reply
    1. I GOTS TO KNOW!

      Both of those things really grind my gears so I hope more states follow suit and prevent questions like this

      Reply
      1. Kinsley M.

        Honestly, as someone who runs the background checks for every single new hire in our organization, the question isn’t even answered truthfully. Our current app asks simply if you’ve have a felony conviction within the last seven years and if yes to explain. I’d say it’s upwards of 95% of applicants who check no. And then low and behold when I run the check after offering employment, they lied and we pull the offer. Even if the conviction isn’t one that’d have been a no go, they lied.

        Reply
    2. Detective Amy Santiago

      I think that people who have criminal backgrounds deserve a 2nd chance, but I also think that there are some positions where it is extremely relevant if someone has a specific type of charge in their background.

      For example: I would not want to hire someone convicted of retail theft to work in a retail environment. Nor would I want to hire someone with a conviction for child pornography to be a janitor in a school.

      Reply
      1. LizB

        Although I don’t know what state WellRed is in, generally this type of legislation is not banning background checks (which would be ridiculous), but “ban the box” – i.e. making it illegal for employers to ask on the initial application if the applicant has a criminal record. For many employers, that question is an easy way to weed people out, so people with past charges never even get to a phone screen/interview. It’s definitely important that applicants’ backgrounds get looked at eventually, but if you intentionally or subconsciously reject anyone who checks the “yes I have a record” box, it really disadvantages those people in an unnecessary way.

        Reply
        1. Hapless Bureaucrat

          Yes exactly. We have ban the box legislation, but can still ask about criminal history later. My employer makes offers of employment contingent on passing a background check. So you decide on the candidate before you see criminal history.
          In fields where certain convictions at automatic exclusions from employment, employers often state that in the posting.

          Reply
        2. fposte

          Though there’s at least one study to suggest that in ban-the-box states, unemployment goes up for young minority men generally–that when the box is banned, a bigger group gets discriminated against.

          Reply
          1. CM

            That’s really interesting. I Googled “Ban the Box” unemployment and found a Mother Jones article citing that study. It said that candidates who are young black men without criminal records are LESS likely to get interviews where they have “ban the box” laws, presumably because employers assume that they are criminals, and the candidates don’t have a chance to say that they are not. :(

            Reply
            1. fposte

              I’m hoping that this is preliminary research and that it actually plays out differently in time–it’s a single study, as CM notes. But geez, what a sucky outcome even there.

              Reply
      2. Screening Co Employee

        Most of the laws that ban you from asking about Criminal History just ban it until later in the process. The idea is that you’re not supposed to screen for things that are irrelevant (e.g. it doesn’t matter if you have issues stealing money if you’re not going to have any access to money), and asking such a broad question about have you ever been committed of a crime can give you irrelevant information that would disqualify an otherwise qualified candidate.

        Reply
      3. BlueWolf

        My guess is that the law about not asking for criminal history just means that they can’t ask about criminal history on an application. That’s how other states’ laws work. It’s just meant to prevent people from screening applicants out for having a criminal history without even giving them the chance to interview. They will still be able to do a background check to screen for convictions that conflict with the position, it just won’t happen until they’ve been given the chance to interview/receive an offer if qualified. Of course, that could potentially waste people’s time if something does end up coming up in the background check, but for the most part it prevents unnecessary discrimination against people who may have convictions unrelated to their ability to do the job.

        Reply
        1. nonegiven

          Maybe it should be in the ad. ABC is an Equal Opportunity Employer, however this position requires someone who has no conviction for x or y. (Just ignore any background check that mentions something not relevant.)

          Also, I don’t want to forget to mention the possibility of a Governor’s Pardon. Even felonies can be removed from a person’s record when they have been good citizens and stayed out of trouble after the conviction. Probably varies from state to state, it could involve three reference letters, an application, consideration by the Pardon and Parole Board and the Governor’s signature. It could take more than one try but people roll their eyes because it sounds too hard.

          Reply
    3. Chaordic One

      When I worked in HR at Dysfunctional Teapots, Ltd., we hired quite a few people who had had brushes with the law in their backgrounds. We ran criminal background checks on everyone and it not uncommon for things to come up that were not reported on the application form. By the time the criminal background check came back the person had already been hired, onboarded and on the job for at least a few days. If something came up they usually got “a talking to” by the head of HR and were asked to explain, but it rarely ever resulted in someone losing their job.

      The only time I’m aware that anyone ever lost their job was if they had been arrested for drunk driving in the past three years, because our auto insurance company had a strict no tolerance policy for that. There were a handful of people who absolutely had to drive as part of their job duties and they ended up losing their jobs.

      All things considered, it was one of the few things that Dysfunctional Teapots handled well.

      Reply
  7. Emma

    My last exam for my postgrad degree is next week. While I won’t be finished with the degree for a while (still have to complete an internship and a dissertation over the summer), I’m feeling this odd sense of sadness which I can’t quite articulate. When I started last September, a year seemed like such a long time, and suddenly it’s almost over – especially the last six months, which just flew by.

    (A lot of it is coming from conflicted feelings. I really love this city where I’ve lived for the last nine months, but at the same time I miss my home city as well (and they’re nowhere near each other so going between the two is no small task). So rather than looking for a way to stay I just…want to re-experience the time already gone by…if that makes any sense?)

    So yeah…even though I’m (so very) relieved exam season is coming to an end, and I want to celebrating with everyone else, I can’t quite shake this sense of melancholy that keeps appearing when I least expect.

    Reply
    1. JulieBulie

      Emma, I personally feel very sad at the end of almost everything… the end of a book or movie, the end of a fun visit with a friend, the end of a great TV series, even the end of a really good ice cream. I actually dread those endings.

      The end of high school and again of college were even worse, because not only was I leaving behind a great experience, but I was about to start a new phase of my life. Everything that had become familiar would soon be out of my life, to be replaced with a whole lot of who knows what.

      It doesn’t happen to everyone, but it’s totally normal. Just try to be present in the moment so that you can fully experience these last days.

      Good luck with your last exam!

      Reply
      1. Natasha

        Wanted to jump in and say I feel sad at the end of most things too- even my 3 day Memorial Day vacation. This hit home because I’m graduating with a Master’s next week, and so I feel sad that’s ending too. It was 2 years of working full time and going to school full time, so it’s gone by in a blur. I’m facing the end by signing up to volunteer for our alumni chapter, and thinking of all the fun hobbies I’ll finally have time for.

        Reply
    2. Not So NewReader

      “We may never pass this way again…” (Seals and Crofts)

      And if we do pass this way again we will not be the same as we are now. We will have grown/changed.

      To me the sense of melancholy, is the passage of time. Time keeps moving. I think we are more aware of it when something short, like your 9 month stint here, comes to an end. It was brief and ironically will have life-long impact.
      I also get a sense of melancholy when I know I will never experience something like X again in my life.
      Time can be kind, though. There are many things that I look back on and still feel the warmth of the moment/time period. Sometimes melancholy is eased in the future because of new experiences that are equally positive and/or warming.

      In an odd twist, I have gone back to places that I thought I would miss those times and found that I was actually very happy to be in current time. So this happens also.

      You might be able to help yourself address that odd feeling by telling yourself, “I will always treasure this time in my life.” Just a little affirmation, a nod toward the melancholy.

      Reply
      1. JulieBulie

        I also get a sense of melancholy when I know I will never experience something like X again in my life. […]

        In an odd twist, I have gone back to places that I thought I would miss those times and found that I was actually very happy to be in current time.

        Oh gosh yes, to both of these. Thanks for sharing these thoughts!

        Reply
  8. Nervous Accountant

    Ok so initially I wrote this when I was very frustrated but I’ve since talked to my manager & coworker so things are resolved (for now) but I’d still like to post.

    So I do have a cw who doesn’t report to me but my manager often defaults to me to help her so I do it to help HIM out.

    A few incidents over the last couple of months:

    1. I gave her an assignment; she said she didn’t know anything about it and isn’t comfortable with it. I explained to her exactly what to do and to stop freaking out. She passes the assignment to a coworker, and emails our manager that she’s not comfortable doing it. He was OUT FOR A FUNERAL.

    2. Right before our major deadline, she was about to leave for 7 work days; she had a task that had to be done before she left. She waited until 10 minutes before she was about to leave the office to let me know that she has to pass it off to me bc she’s leaving and will not be able to do it and that our manager told her to give it to me. I wasn’t available at that time. She had the WHOLE day to either DO the task or reassign it–and I KNOW for a fact that she had ample time to do it.

    3. Most recently–she asked me for help with something. I spent about an hour of my time helping her with it in between my other tasks. The next morning I get an email from our manager asking me to help her out. She wrote to him that “NA told me to do this but I’m about to leave [for 4 days], what do I do?”

    Mind you–these were very simple tasks with very clear instructions. Short of actually doing the actual task for her, I could not have been more clear or helpful. Each time I tell my manager what the situation is and he says it’s not a problem w what I did or said.

    I am getting frustrated. This along with other things throughout the last few months makes it feel like a total waste of time to even help her. I’m not the only one who helps her, and rightly or wrongly, other coworkers aren’t very fond of her. The major issue is that when we help her, she goes right back to our manager for help who then SENDS IT RIGHT BACK TO ME. I joke that it’s a circle or loop but looking at this pattern it seems like shes just trying to weasel her way out of work.

    I know this is partially my fault too–I didn’t say anything the first two times bc she was seasonal and about to leave. This second and third time, she was out of the office for several days so I felt weird blasting her over email and by teh time she came back I let it go.

    Maybe I need to change my mindset; I’m trying not let my emotions make me short sighted about this.I have my own personal feelings about this that I feel like are holding me back from doing the best I can with her.

    Reply
    1. Dee-Nice

      It sounds like this is an ongoing thing, so I’m sorry if I’ve missed past posts about this and am therefore missing context, but– it sounds like you two are peers and your manager is asking you to essentially manage this other person? Trying to get some more clarity here.

      Reply
      1. Nervous Accountant

        Yeah it’s been on going but this is the first tme I’m posting about it here.

        Yes, we’re peers in the sense that we’re both accountants but I have seniority in terms of experience here. My manager sometimes delegates some of these tasks (managing, helping etc) to me because I expressed interest in more leadership (but not team leader/manager level [YET!])

        Reply
        1. Trout 'Waver

          Managing someone or their work without the ability to enact consequences is the toughest kind of leadership. Doubly so with a difficult employee. Your manager is not doing you any favors here and might be abdicating responsibility here because he finds her difficult as well.

          Reply
          1. Nervous Accountant

            Well, it’s not so much that I’m a leader-it’s nothing official. It’s just that we allll help each other. That’s just the culture in this office. My mgr is really good, we just don’t always agree on things but I try to c his perspective and he has my back majority of the time.

            Reply
    2. AdAgencyChick

      Talk to your boss about it, and frame everything in the sense of “I’m having difficulty getting XYZ done because I find myself picking up ABC from Jane on a regular basis. How can we work this out?”

      The key is not to present it as “Jane sucks!” but rather as “I need help figuring out how to get my job done/what my role is.” (Because maybe your role IS to help Jane — but then your boss should be taking things off your plate to compensate.)

      Reply
    3. tigerStripes

      Whatever else you do, don’t blast her over e-mail. If you can push back, saying that you did x and y to help her, and what other help does she need, then if she wants you to do her work for her, she’s going to look bad.

      Reply
      1. Nervous Accountant

        So I actually did email her. I tried to be as nice as possible but direct and firm. I pointed out the pattern and that while her intentions may not be to weasel out of work, it looks like that and eventually others will see it as well. she read it and apologized so I think it should stick.

        Reply
    4. JulieBulie

      You said you talked it over with your manager and your cw. How did that go?

      Whatever was decided, I am very curious (and a little skeptical) if it will stick.

      Reply
    5. Master Bean Counter

      Make her write down instructions and check back in with her often. Once she gets the sense that you aren’t going to let her be a slacker maybe she’ll shape up or quit. It also gives you grounds to burn her up later.

      Reply
      1. Nervous Accountant

        Yeah this is one thing I’ll try to do. I don’t see her as a slacker as much as someone who just needs A LOT of hand holding. I try to put myself in her shoes Bc I was new and inexperienced too but a lot of these things she did I would NEVER have done– so I’m scared of seeming like a hypocrite. I know at some point I need to stop thinking that way.

        Reply
      1. Nervous Accountant

        Sorry!

        here goes–so my manager told me to email her. He knows that I’ve had issues with her and he sympathizes but he reminds me that she has a lot of strengths. I emailed her and CC’d him, and when she came in she read it and apologized for it. I asked her why did she email him and she said because seh wasn’t goign to be able to do it in time. I feel bad but lets’ see what happens

        Reply
          1. Nervous Accountant

            yeah unfortunately this wasn’t a heart to heart. But I’m documenting everything. I know this sounds horrible of me but Maybe there is some bias on my part (of what? I’m honestly not sure). I did do some self reflection and thought “ok if this was someone I otherwise get along well with, how would I approach this w them?” And it would be differently I guess. Maybe I’m overthinking it?

            Reply
        1. Whats In A Name

          If you and her are peers and she is continually pushing work back to you or other co-workers I think that is really up to your boss to work on with her, not you? Unless I am missing something? I know resolving problems among peers is a good thing to do, but this isn’t a disagreement – this is you potentially missing a major deadline because she waited until 10 minutes before she left to tell you she wasn’t going to do it.

          Reply
    6. Artemesia

      I’d approach the boss with a quick summary; she avoids doing work by taking simple tasks she is assigned and coming to you claiming she has no time and then they get shuffled onto me. She always waits till the last minute. for example She had an entire day to do simple task A which had been clearly described to her but 10 minutes before leaving for vacation threw it back to me to do.

      This is someone who needs to be fired. The OP needs to lay out this as a pattern and ask for intervention by management to insist she do the work she is assigned or be terminated.

      Reply
        1. Happy Lurker

          Yes, she needs to be fired!
          But, Nervous Accountant, before you get wrapped up in her being fired… you need to read and internalize what Master Bean Counter and Ad Agency Chick said. Present yourself in the most professional way possible to your boss.
          All the while screaming “fire her” in your mind with a pleasant expression on your face. Save your RBF for the next time slacker asks for help.

          Reply
    7. JD

      This sounds EXACTLY like a situation I had about 2 years ago. I was in such a position that it was possible for me to eventually stop giving this person work and helping this person. Our manager was well aware of the situation as well, and also had no useful feedback except to say “I know, I know it has nothing to do with you”. Ultimately, this person was let go.

      I would suggest documenting it and eventually pushing it back up on your manager, reasoning that you’re not able to get your work done because you’re spending too much time helping her, she doesn’t follow through or request help in a timely manner, etc. The management may very well be building a case to let her go, but they won’t be able to let you know about that. That might explain your manager has been clear with you that it’s not anything to do with you.
      Hang in there. It’s tough when you’re working beside someone like that!

      Reply
    8. Hey Karma, Over here.

      You want to change your mindset about that someone who is playing your manager and using you to do it is really a good, hardworking coworker – when at every turn she has you walk her through as much as possible and then when there is nothing left but to actually put the words/numbers on the paper, it’s time for her to leave?
      Management is key.
      I was really flattered when my boss said that she appreciates the way I step up to help people in my group and in other groups and it’s a big part of each annual review. Even more flattering is her support of my rule: I will teach you how to do something exactly twice. Because she values my time and my work. She trusts that I shared all my knowledge and if you are having that much of a problem, you can work on it with her. Oh? You figured it out? Oh? Well, that’s great!

      Reply
    9. Nervous Accountant

      Thank you everyone for the replies! I’ll be sure to update in the next few weeks if anything happens.

      I think this is the core of my issues w her–

      A HUGE part of our job is communicating with clients. She’s barely able to communicate with any of us coworkers, and speaking to clients is definitely a no go. We’re a pretty relaxed office, so even if you’re not good friends with anyone, there’s a 100 of us here and you can have a conversation with anyone. She speaks in a whisper and repeats a lot of her Qs- 90 % of which can be solved by either contacting the client or research And I told her as much in my email (obv not that I’m annoyed!)

      Her strengths though are that she does do the work as long as you teach her what to do and there’s no drama with her–I’ve had cw in the past that I’ve written abt here who are def like that. She just needs a lot of handholding.

      I know I’m probably being unfair and that’s why I feel so ugh about this.

      Reply
      1. Fortitude Jones

        You’re not being unfair. If she still needs this much handholding to get her job done, consider that she just may not be cut out for this particular job.

        Reply
  9. Merely dysfunctional or totally toxic?

    I work in a small department (6 of us + our manager) in a small company (less than 200 employees). The company is family owned and the owners are very involved in the day to day things. I have been here almost 2 years now.

    When I first started, my manager was receptive, encouraging, and engaging. In the last 6 months or so, she has become very negative, short, cold, and bordering on angry. To the entire department – we have all noticed it and it is having a serious impact on morale.

    Her management style has taken a hit as well and it is so contradictory and is really taking the wind out of the sails of the department. She gets upset when we ask for guidance and tells us she doesn’t want to micromanage but then gets upset when we do things as we think they should without asking for input. Tells us if we think something should be done a certain way to come and make an argument to her for why we did it that way, then when we do she yells at us that we are just making excuses for not doing it “the right way” (read: the way she would have done it) and to just accept that we made a mistake and to do better next time instead of spewing bullshit excuses (yes, she swears at us sometimes). Basically it feels like she expects us to not ask for her input but still magically produce things in exactly the manner she would have.

    The owners have gotten way more involved in the department lately and seem to be micromanaging her, so it feels like this is her not being able to handle not being in control and taking it out on us. That is pure speculation on our part though.

    All I know is we are all pretty miserable and don’t know how to make things better for us, or even if we can. Is it time to jump ship to another company because this is toxic and can’t be fixed, or is it worth riding out with tips on how to work with a flip-floppy manager?

    Any help y’all can provide on not tearing my hair out and getting frustrated to the point of losing motivation would be helpful.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous Poster

      “I’ve noticed over the past few months that you seem more frustrated with my work output, but I can’t identify what I’ve done to fall short. Is something going on you’d like to talk about?”

      I’m trying to figure out a good way to broach the subject that it appears something personal is impacting her professional life. People don’t turn on a dime like this generally, so I suspect something else is going on. You’re also trying to make her aware that you know something’s probably going on and that it’s impacting her work.

      Reply
    2. MegaMoose, Esq.

      Yelling and swearing at employees are big giant toxic flags for me. I know some people manage to live with it, but I certainly couldn’t.

      Reply
      1. Fortitude Jones

        Yup. This sounds like my last manager, and I ended up leaving that division. No ma’am, you will not talk to me the way you talk to your children. Nope.

        Reply
      2. ToxicWaste

        This was my last workplace. I don’t get paid enough to deal with this cr*p and the benefits aren’t that great. Moving on….

        Reply
    3. Kyrielle

      The fact that she started out good and flipped for _everyone_, and the owners are way more involved – hmmm. I might stick it out a bit longer and see what happens.

      The fact that she flipped for everyone and not just you means this is about her, not you – it could be a health crisis, it could be stress (personal or work), who knows. But it’s not targeted, at least, and that’s a mild positive while dealing with this sort of crap.

      The owners…did they start to get way more involved, as far as you know, _before_ she flipped styles, or after?

      If you’re confident it was before, I’d look to jump ship, because the odds that her reaction are being driven by work stress brought on by what they’re doing (or what she knows about why they’re doing it, or something related) is much higher.

      But if it was, or may have been, after she started to be a less-positive manager…I’d be tempted to either wait and see a bit longer, or even approach one of them (or an appropriate chain-of-command person) about your concerns. Because if they got involved after, they may be scrutinizing her behavior after complaints, and may be working with her on improving, with the intent of her leaving if she can’t improve.

      That is, however, a lot of if’s. It would be totally understandable if you just looked to move on, instead.

      If you do decide to stay (or if you decide to leave and are just trying to survive until you find another job), and assuming you haven’t already attempted this, I’d try to navigate her “don’t ask me but get it right” issues by providing her quick updates of your plans. “Hey, I’m working on the ticket about the form-three teapot spouts that often fall off. I’m planning to resolve it by requesting a switch to adhesive 3C instead of 3A which is currently being used; that avoids having to redesign the spout shape or weight. Please let me know if you would prefer I approach it another way.”

      The last sentence may or may not be helpful – it might set her off, but leaving it off might just send her right into the argument mode – so that’s a know-your-audience and feel-this-out.

      Reply
    4. someone101

      It might be time to consider jumping ship. I speak from personal experience. I also worked for a family run business in a small department roughly the same size as yours. Initially it was a great place to work and the manager was lovely then the true colours started to show. Examples include making staff feel guilty for accepting wages ‘when ive had to raid my personal bank account to pay wages and none of you even deserve it’, asking for constructive criticism then shouting at us for daring to suggest his work was anything less than perfect; leaving staff (mostly me) to do most of the work then later taking all credit for it and on more than one occasion telling staff ‘if you don’t f***ing like how i run things feel free to f***ing leave, your not irreplaceable’. Fast forward to 2 weeks ago I informed the boss I wasn’t going to be returning to work (from sick leave- due to the stress of the toxic workplace. My hair fell out, panic attacks, on anti depressants etc) FIVE other members of staff gave notice and 3 have already left. Now he is feeling the pressure of only having 2 remaining members of staff yet still hasn’t learnt his lesson; he believes the problem is with us (we are lazy etc). I feel so much better, it was even interfering with my sleep (what I could get when I wasn’t lying awake worrying about work) sometimes you have to cut your losses.

      Reply
    5. JulieBulie

      It sounds as though there’s something weird going on there that has nothing to do with you. If you can somehow find out what’s going on, it will be easier to decide whether the situation is salvageable or not. (Like if this was an easy family to talk to, you could ask if there’s been some kind of disruption behind the scenes. Could be a divorce pending, or a lawsuit, bankruptcy, etc.)

      But if you can’t find out, or if you’re past the point of caring, then you and your coworkers owe it to yourselves to move on. Not all workplaces are like that.

      Reply
    6. Her Grace

      I second the notion that something has happened in her life. Nobody makes that dramatic a change without a catalyst. Could have been work-related, could have been personal. As far as you’re concerned, it doesn’t matter.

      Sounds like you’re doing a lot of speculating and not enough proactive action. What if you said, “Manager-person, it looks like you’ve had something happen in your life. I don’t need to know what it is, but were you aware you’re taking it out on us?”

      Her reply (contrition or indignation) should help you decide whether or not to jump ship.

      Reply
  10. Jules the First

    So my week started on Tuesday with two offers, for radically different jobs in completely different companies – the only thing in common is that they’re in the same industry. In isolation, I’d have been perfectly happy with either offer, so I ran my pros and cons and picked one on Wednesday – I was over the moon. We signed contracts yesterday and I was super excited, but today I can’t help feeling like I’ve made a giant mistake. Someone please reassure me that it’s just FOMO and paperwork fatigue (I HATE filling in forms for background checks) and that I’d be feeling exactly the same way if I’d made the other choice….

    Reply
    1. Lindsey

      It’s almost certainly FOMO – I get that when I pick the “wrong” cheese at the supermarket.

      Congratulations on a fantastic new job!!

      Reply
    2. LNZ

      FOMO?

      But yeah, wait to see if that feeling persists. Literally every big move i make has a moment right after i made the decision official where i get slammed with panic and think I’ve made a a huge life ruining mistake. But it always fades and so far everything has been for the better.

      Reply
    3. Jadelyn

      I have no idea what FOMO means, but I think it’s entirely natural and very common to start second-guessing yourself as soon as you’ve committed to something big (buying a house, a car, getting married, etc.) – I wouldn’t worry too much about it!

      Reply
    4. The RO-Cat

      Just for the fun of it, go to TED website and search for Ruth Chang: How to make hard choices. I hope it will ease your tension a bit.

      Reply
    5. NoMoreMrFixit

      I’ve found that your first choice is usually the best one. I had a similar situation several years ago. Wondered if I’d made the right choice until the company that I’d turned down ended up downsizing massively and moving to a different city. Ended up staying in the job for 10 years.

      Good luck with your new position. It’s exciting to move on to a new opportunity.

      Reply
    6. Falling Diphthong

      If it were me, I would have this exact feeling after signing on either job. Also with signing a mortgage for a new house, bringing home our new kittens–any big binary decision, I think it’s normal to pull the trigger for solid, well-thought-through reasons and then have a few hours of “Oh no oh no that was probably wrong, things could happen, probably the other path would have been better.”

      Reply
      1. Purple Hair Chick

        I was in your situation in April. Two jobs in two different fields so I to make a tough choice. I’m happy where I am but still wonder about my life if I had taken the other job. Go with your gut is all I can say.

        Reply
  11. Manders

    Has anyone else been asked to take a Pre-Employment Assessment through a company called Plum? It was an IQ test/personality test combination with sections where you have to choose which negative adjectives most represent you, which was super uncomfortable.

    I’ve been making my peace with the fact that jobs in my field are going to want to give some kind of skills test before hiring, but this one just felt really weird and not related to the kind of work they wanted me to do.

    Reply
      1. k

        If you continue the process, at least take this as a big warning and be very observant going forward. It could be a fluke (one person thought it was a good idea, they’re just trying it our, etc) but it could also be a sign that there would be a lot of strange things with this job.

        Reply
    1. Master Bean Counter

      I worked for a company that did that kind of testing. It should have been a huge red flag. One of many I ignored. This is a sign of a company that’s heavy into gimmicks. If that isn’t your style, opt out now.

      Reply
    2. Undine

      Our company gives a similar test, which you have to take BEFORE you can even do a phone interview. (In fact, I think before the hiring manager can see your resume — what?) And then take it AGAIN in front of someone before we can finalize an offer. Every single one of us loathes it, but we are owned by a group that likes it. We’re sure it’s lost us a ton of good candidates. On the other hand, we’re delighted when somebody good is willing to jump through the hoops.

      Reply
    3. Howdy Do

      My husband had to take something like that. It certainly seemed dumb but he works in a pretty niche field and there aren’t just tons of other places to work so he didn’t have the luxury to just bail. It didn’t really seem to indicate any great failing in the company (he’s worked there for 5 years now and he’s happy.) In hindsight, knowing the company it seems pretty weird because they otherwise seem very “by the book” and traditional and wouldn’t rely on weirdo personality tests but some higher up must like them.

      Reply
  12. I got questions!

    This is probably a question that has already been answered… but… Allison, what is your typical turn around time for questions? I’m not assuming you’re answering mine, but I also don’t want to assume you’re not answering mine, if that makes sense.

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      It totally varies — sometimes it’s really fast (within a couple of days) and sometimes it’s been known to take months. Feel feel to email me and ask if I have yours in the “to answer” queue; I can let you know!

      Reply
  13. Anon today

    The program I run for my nonprofit is being dicked around by our funding source (a government agency) and if I don’t hear something today about how they want to move forward I am going to LOSE MY MIND. I was in the middle of hiring when this whole thing blew up and I’m so frustrated at not being able to give anyone any straight answers about anything. They met on Wednesday to make a decision. They should have something to tell us by now. CALL ME BACK, PEOPLE.

    Reply
    1. paul

      HHS/HHSC? I’ve got a buddy going through hell with funding for his program through them right now. He’s actually starting to job hunt because he’s getting so tired of dealing with ’em.

      Reply
      1. Anon today

        It’s a local agency rather than federal, but yep, human services realm. Some individual people are great, but as an organization they’re a nightmare to work with. I thought it was going to be better working on a longer-term contract-funded program instead of something where the grant would be up every two years… nope.

        Reply
        1. paul

          The program I work for now is funded by our state HHSC, and I can sympathize. Their RFP’s and reporting requirements are part of why I have absolutely no interest in management here. So. Much. Compliance. Crap.

          Reply
        2. NJ Anon

          You have my sympathy. Working with our state funders, who are nice but have their hands tied, is is is, I can’t even think of an appropriate word. But, yeah. I hear you!

          Reply
  14. FDCA In Canada

    I’m the only person at my job who does my job, and I struggle a lot with balancing how other people think I should do my job vs. how I should actually do it. My manager included–she’s done the jobs of others in our org but never mine, and I think she thinks I’m slacking when in large part my job involves relationship building, tracking projects, and waiting on outside companies to give us the go-ahead (or chasing them down to get their input). Today is one of those days, when my coworkers are dumping a lot of work on my plate without regard for my calendar (shared, Google calendar, which everyone can see) or just straight-up booking me into things without asking me first or even telling me what those bookings or meetings are about. Today is definitely a cry-at-my-desk worn-out day, and to make things better I have to devote all day tomorrow to a general association meeting which will almost guaranteed have nothing to do with anything we do at our office.

    Reply
      1. FDCA In Canada

        I have a one-on-one meeting with her next week, so I’m going to spend at least a few hours next week figuring out exactly what I want to talk about and how to phrase it without saying “stop telling me how to do my job and telling me wrong.”

        Reply
        1. Unit 1

          Unless I’m reading this wrong, it sounds like your supervisor thinks you’re spending time where you shouldn’t. One way I approached that feedback was to time track for a few days or a week, and then present a breakdown of how I spent my time (i.e. 10 hours communicating with clients, 10 hours a week compiling reports, etc.).

          My supervisor was then able to see where the discrepancy were between her expectations and my reality, and we were able to troubleshoot non-personally (how can we 10 hours down to 5?). During that troubleshooting, it became evident WHY I had to spend that time, which altered my supervisor’s expectations in my favor and allowed me to get the support I was asking for. I was also able to get support I didn’t think I could ask for — “Okay, I see why you have to spend so much time on reporting instead of more time calling clients like I need. But, you could spend more calling clients if you spent less time packing for events; let’s hire an intern to help with that.”

          Sometimes you need to eliminate the possibility of someone being right before they are willing to be wrong and allow you to be the expert. Your supervisor may not think your experience trumps her experience; give her evidence by doing it her way for a while if she’s not willing to budge. If her way doesn’t work (and be prepared to be wrong and learn something new), you now have case studies to support your way.

          I’d also be prepared for the possibility that the company needs something different now than what you were hired for.

          Reply
    1. Whats In A Name

      It sounds like short of directly saying “I really need you to check with me before booking me into meetings” there isn’t a ton you can do. But it still sucks! And I’m sorry about tomorrow too – sounds like you could have used the day to decompress!

      Reply
    2. Kimberlee, Esq.

      Can you just reply “no” to meetings that aren’t relevant to your job/that conflict? Have you been at this gig long enough to determine if that’s a culturally OK thing to do? At some places, there’s a general idea that you look at peoples’ cals and find a good time, but at others, someone has a meeting at a certain time and if it turns out all the stakeholders can’t come, it’s on that same person to re-schedule, or just have the meeting with fewer people. At my org, people just decline invites that are too much for them, but obvs YMMV.

      Reply
  15. jo

    Yay, open thread time! I’m helping my partner with a job search, and I hope y’all can help me help her better. If you know the medical field, specifically medical laboratories, this question is for you.
    Short version: What are your optimal job-hunting strategies when you haven’t worked in your target industry for several years?

    Long version: In my partner’s native Philippines, she first qualified as a medical technologist (i.e. lab tech) and then got her M.D. She decided not to become a doctor and left her internship, then returned to medical technology for a couple of years, since she already had the license for that. Then she moved to the US to go to film school, met and married me, and became a permanent resident. Filmmaking turned into something she does occasionally on the side, but it hasn’t become a career.

    At age 32, she wants to return to medical technology and stick with it. She has the ASCP International license but no state license yet, and that’s required in most places to work as a full-fledged medical technologist. While she goes through the long process of getting a state license, she wants to find some other type of lab role (lab assistant, processing tech, research study assistant, etc) to dust off her skills. It’s been 4.5 years since she did lab work. In the meantime she has done a combination of office jobs, freelance film stuff, and dog walking. Whatever pays the bills!

    What’s a good approach for her when applying for lab jobs? I’ve set up her resume so that the relevant experience, education, and certifications are on the first page, with unrelated (but more recent) work experience on the second page, so that recent years are accounted for (though I left off film school, so there is a gap of several months). I don’t know this industry or how she can present herself as a strong candidate. I’m not sure medical employers give a crap about the “soft skills” she’s gained at unrelated jobs. And I’m not sure what to put in cover letter. For example, should I mention that she’s currently doing online courses to keep her ASCP license current? She’s applied for maybe a dozen positions so far with no response.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Anxa

      Maybe night-shift work would be less competitive and give her a chance to get back into it? They may be used to high turnover so sticking it out a year or so there may help.

      Personally, I’ve been trying to get a lab tech job for years with no success, so maybe I’m not the best to ask.

      (Actually considering getting my MLT A.S., but I’ve already spent so much on education I’m loathe to risk it again).

      Reply
        1. Anxa

          I hadn’t done any undergrad research and had a pretty middling GPA. It was super competitive when I first got my B.S. I’ve seen a lot more openings, but my gap is pretty wide. I took some classes 4-2 years ago that gave me a lot more specific skills and hands on experience and spent 6 months on some gene editing research, but I wasn’t able to find a job fast enough after graduation, then I stopped looking because my partner got his PhD and I knew we’d be moving. I had no real other ties to that area and didn’t want to be stuck there or job hop.

          In my current area there are lots of jobs about an hour away, but also a lot of schools, some very good ones.

          Reply
    2. Anonyme

      I’m an RN and my resume is structured with my license to practice as the very first thing (particularly when changing licensing jurisdictions). When I have have a new license in progress I definitely note that since it is key requirement for any health care job.

      Reply
      1. jo

        What if you were applying for related jobs that weren’t at the level of requiring a license, as my partner is doing now? Would your experience and skills be more important? Thanks for the tip; when she starts applying for MLT jobs down the road, the license will appear first thing.

        Reply
    3. LK

      The two page thing…. resumes should almost never be two pages in my experience (unless you’re in a very senior role with tonnes of tickets/certificates/accolades)….. I would make it one page, hard hitting (“top load” it – mention her relevant experience in the first 25% of the page)…… if you’re having trouble fitting it all on one page, all that stuff you label as “second page worthy” (i.e. not directly relevant) only needs to be one line (position, company…….[tab leader]…….. timeperiod)………..and you can always shrink the font 1 pt or narrow the margins on the page a bit…. but I have never ever met or heard of anyone who wants to read more than one page for any position that isn’t a very highly sought after senior position.

      Resumes don’t get you jobs, they get you interviews. That’s what makes a good resume. Put everything that you think a medical laboratory would want to see in the first third of the page (ideally first quarter) and don’t flatter yourself that anyone cares enough to read the second page of a resume when they’re filtering through dozens if not hundreds of applicants.

      I would also highly recommend trying to find a recruiter if they exist for this field. I’ve had luck just googling “[city] [field] recruiter”….. it’s nice to have someone who knows the industry on your side :)

      Reply
      1. jo

        I appreciate the advice, LK, but for anyone else reading, I want to say my 2 page resumes have always been very well received in my own industry (publishing) and have consistently gotten me interviews. I think this issue is industry-specific to some degree. If someone in my partner’s industry has advice on resume length, that would be great!

        Reply
        1. LK

          My thoughts on the 2page being too long were largely due to this being a resume for a low level stopgap position – but yes totally.

          Reply
          1. Kimberlee, Esq.

            I actually wanted to say the very same thing… two pages is too long if your second page isn’t relevant to the job at hand. You can address the entire gap in a summary at the top that says something like “after pursuing other educational and professional pursuits, I’ve decided to return to the field I’ve enjoyed most and am best qualified for: medical tech work.” Then, for “current” position I would have a little section on continuing certification classes (or just put the cert at the top and have the continuing ed classes as a bullet underneath). Ultimately, I think having a second page of irrelevant information is doing more harm than having a gap that you can wave away in a sentence.

            Finally, if she’s not currently applying at entry-level, have her do that. If she’s extremely well qualified for those jobs and still not getting bites, its a good indication that there’s something else in the materials that employers aren’t responding to (and if she does start getting bites, one of those could be the right job, or she could take those same materials and apply at something slightly-higher-level and see what happens). Good luck!

            Reply
    4. Simone R

      I worked as a lab tech in an academic lab for 2 years and while it sounds like what your talking about is a little different (this was a job that was intended for people with only a bachelors and not intended to last longer than 3 years, no certification needed) so I’m not sure how applicable this is but I did look at lots of resumes for the position. It was always helpful when people listed their specific lab skills at the beginning. Also, if the jobs that she’s applying for aren’t usually taken by people with MDs I would leave that off. We would occasionally get applications from people with doctorates (MD,PhD) and those went straight into the trash because it really wasn’t intended for people with this episode degrees.

      Reply
      1. jo

        Thanks, this is helpful! It sounds like you’re saying a “laboratory skills” section at the top would be a positive change. If her MD and internship get scrapped, does she then have to worry about time gaps? That’s 4 mystery years if it comes off completely. Or would the gap only come up as a question in the interview?

        Reply
        1. Simone R

          Yes, listing lab skills/techniques at the top is important. Not really basic ones like “pipetting” (I’ve seen that), but any sort of higher level skill, particularly those that are necessary for the position. I don’t think I have enough experience to give advice on the question of the gap, but I think AnonAcademic below is right. I think the concern of having someone with a terminal degree doing lower-level work getting bored or trying to do things their own way would be strong. This depends somewhat on the exact jobs that she’s applying to.

          Reply
    5. Bloo

      I’m a Medical Lab Tech. Make sure she is including specific tests and/or instruments she is familiar with on her resume. I got two offers to interview simply because I listed the name of a specific chemistry analyzer that I have worked with. What areas of the lab did she specialize in?

      I had a large gap in my resume too and my employer did not really care. Furthermore, a lot of my peers are immigrants, including many Filipinos, so international degrees and certifications are common.

      Reference labs hire more frequently and more entry level techs than hospitals. Applying for processor or lab assistant jobs is a good route. When she is fully liscened, she may be able to simply move into a tech role at her lab. Phlebotomy is also an option if she knows how to draw blood. Don’t overlook offbeat options like veterinary labs, contract work, etc.

      For the cover letter, it never hurts to mention you have a flexible schedule. If you’re willing to work nights and weekends, you’re going to get more offers.

      Reply
    6. AnonAcademic

      I would look into research scientist roles as well as research assistant – in our lab we commonly hire MA or greater level people as research scientists and BA level people as RAs. For someone with an international medical degree I think the concern would be that they are further along in their training and wouldn’t benefit enough from the RA experience to be satisfied with the position (RAs are generally less autonomous than RS jobs especially in larger labs). That said I currently supervise a resident physician who is doing an MA in our lab’s topic who we were glad to have join us as an intern, because they bring technical skills that can help several of our projects move forward.

      I would advocate an approach that is unusual in other industries which is to reach out directly to research labs or academic departments about open positions, with a general cover letter and CV attached. I see those kinds of posts on my university list servs all the time, although I know it’s a practice that’s really Not Done in industry.

      Reply
    7. Petra

      This isn’t specific to medical labs, but a lot of labs at large research universities will take volunteers.
      I ended up in a different industry, but I volunteered in a lab for several months after I graduated in 2010. Towards the end of my tenure there, my PI was always forwarding me job descriptions from random other labs with openings trying to get me to apply. She was actually really matchmaker-y about getting her volunteers employed, and I feel pretty confident I could have gotten some job somewhere through her recommendation. Everyone I knew of that was actually paid got their job by starting out as a volunteer, intern, or Master’s student somewhere in the school. It was very difficult to get a job there without first being a known quantity.

      Reply
    8. Like A Moss

      I am a former research scientist that runs a biotechnology training and internship program in the San Francisco Bay Area. Although it may have fallen out of favor in other fields/industries, a skills-based resume is crucial.
      You should have a skills section up front and center; then list education and training, then recent job history (assuming non-lab jobs). It is common to see folks coming into Biotech/laboratory positions from other industries, and the important thing is to highlight the transferable skills from other jobs (documentation, data management, record keeping, teamwork and collaboration on projects). Also, 2 page resumes are very common here.

      Reply
  16. MegaMoose, Esq.

    For the first time in over a year and a half, I haven’t been asked to do quality control work on my new project. I’m working with a new project lead (the one I’ve worked primarily with for most of the last year and a half has left, although I’ve done QC for other leads as well) and I want to talk to her about it, but I don’t want to make it about my hurt feelings. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    1. Sadsack

      Can you just ask her about the new process and explain that you want to understand the reason for the new process without bringing your feelings up?

      Reply
      1. MegaMoose, Esq.

        It’s not that there’s a new process, just that I’m not on the new team. Our work is by project, so teams are constantly forming and reforming. Technically it’s not like I’ve been demoted since there aren’t any formal roles, but practically it feels like it.

        Reply
        1. StrikingFalcon

          Maybe “I noticed I wasn’t on the QC team for this project. I know that there are several factors that go into these decisions, but I just wanted to check in with you in case there were any concerns with my previous work.”

          Reply
          1. MegaMoose, Esq.

            Thanks! This was very close to what I’d been thinking about saying, and it turns out that it went way better than expecting and I was stressing out about nothing. Typical!

            Reply
  17. Fortitude Jones

    So inspired by Alison’s recent sponsored post about thredUP, I decided to check them out since I’m still on the hunt for quality work pants that won’t cost an arm and a leg and that actually fit. Well, I didn’t wind up finding any (*sadface*), but I did end up finding some great shirts for work and even some purses.

    First, I got 8 shirts from Covington, Banana Republic (that one’s silk), Apt. 9, Alfani, Calvin Klein, Ann Taylor LOFT, Coldwater Creek, and I.N. Studio for $136.92 after the Memorial Day weekend 40% discount was applied, and I saved $294.08! I only picked shirts that were labeled as excellent condition and appears new, and the Alfani shirt even still had tags on it.

    Then, because I remembered I needed a new pink purse to replace one I’ve been carrying for six years that’s starting to finally fray on the handles, I went back to the app to look for purses. Well, I ended up getting two pink satchels, one by Kate Spade for $108.79 (after applying a 15% discount code – it retails for $328, thereby saving me $219.21) and a no name brand for $12.99, and then a basic structured black satchel also by Kate Spade. I’d been looking for a black bag large enough to carry my apartment in, and from the photos of it on the mannequin arm, this will definitely meet the requirement. Best of all, because there is some (very minor) fading of the leather, I got the bag for $80.99 after applying the 15% discount! The bag retails for $378.00!

    Finally, I lost my mind completely and went back on the app today (I may have to block this soon) and ordered a brown printed Rioni shoulder bag that was heavily marked down to $73.99 due to some (very minor) staining on the lower right corner on the back of the bag – they claimed the bag retails for $357.00. (I looked on the designer’s site though, and the bag actually retails for $185.00, so I’ve emailed them about this to see if they’ll apply the discounts to the actual retail price and credit me the difference.) All told, I spent $416.58, but saved $1,023.11!!! And what’s crazy is, the $416.58 is around what a brand new leather bag would cost, and I just got four of them, and eight tops for work, for the same price.

    Should all go well and my items come in good condition, this may become my new shopping Mecca for work attire. Thanks all for constantly talking this up and Alison for doing that sponsored post. :)

    Reply
    1. motherofdragons

      Some of my favorite work dresses have come from thredUP! I always recommend it enthusiastically to friends and coworkers.

      Reply
      1. Fortitude Jones

        I usually get my dresses from TJMaxx (got three coming today), so I’ll have to check out thredUP’s dress selection then next time I’m ready to shop.

        Reply
        1. motherofdragons

          I’m wary of buying pants and sometimes blouses online, because I’m not great at estimating how something will look on me. But dresses are usually a safe bet as long as they’re in my size and of stretchy material. thredUP has loads for all different occasions, especially office-safe lengths and necklines :) But I have definitely also scored there for going-out dresses!

          Reply
          1. Fortitude Jones

            Yup – dresses are the safest for me to buy online as well. Now you’re making me want to go back and buy some dresses! LOL.

            Reply
        2. Snazzy Hat

          Is it weird that I had no idea TJMaxx had an online store? I simply assumed the website would have redirected to TJX as a company and been more informational and less of a place for monetary transactions. Still looking for a reasonably-priced petites shop, and by reasonably priced I mean I strive to pay less than $25 for a pair of pants, so Talbots is out the window. I have shorter legs & average arms; regular length pants go past my arches down to my toes.

          Reply
          1. Fortitude Jones

            Nope, not weird – that’s exactly what their site was like (and Marshalls is still like this I believe). I have no idea when they started selling through it, but I saw someone mention it on another forum I read, and I decided to give it a shot. Sadly, the dresses I got from them didn’t quite work, so I probably won’t do the online shipping thing with them again since they don’t do exchanges and the return process is cumbersome.

            Reply
    2. Professor Marvel

      I like thredUp! Both as a buyer and seller. I’m trying to have a one in and one out strategy. Having the bag in the closet is helpful. I bought an Ellen Tracy top, NWT, at a steal of $13 (original price was over $100). I’ve worn it to work a few times so I’m already ahead of the ROI.

      It did make me feel good that my clothes were described as “You won’t believe this isn’t brand new” on the site.

      Reply
      1. Fortitude Jones

        I liked that description too. And I try to do the one in and one out thing, too, but I got a little carried away there last weekend (e.g. I only needed one purse to replace one that’s fraying, and now I have four! Yikes!). To make up for it, I’m donating some of my bags to thredUP and throwing out the frayed one. As for the tops, I realized I didn’t have many for the spring/summer, so I actually did need those.

        Reply
        1. Snargulfuss

          One in one out is helpful to keep the reins on the closet, but when you send them clothes it truly is donating. I sent them two bags full of clothes and shoes – some *this close* to brand new – and I still didn’t exceed the $10 fee they take out for processing. Someone told me that donating clothes to ThredUp is a way to clean out your closet, not a way to make money, and I agree. I love buying from them though!

          Reply
          1. Fortitude Jones

            Yup, I’m trying to keep my expectations in check and realize I may not get anything back. If not, at least I’ll have the closet space for my new stuff, so I won’t worry about it too much.

            Reply
    3. JanetM

      I find myself somewhat disinclined to use a site that requires my email address just to browse it. But I could be wrong.

      Reply
      1. Fortitude Jones

        I never understand this complaint – you can always create a dummy email address precisely for browsing online sites that require password protections. I’ve been signed up with them for a while (just didn’t purchase until last weekend), and I haven’t been spammed by them at all. And now that I’ve downloaded the app and chose what kind of notifications I want, I get even less than the few emails I was getting from them.

        Reply
        1. LNZ

          but thats a lot of effort to go through to even just look at what they have to offer. it’s a turn off

          Reply
          1. Fortitude Jones

            It takes five minutes to set up a free email account – I don’t know, I just don’t see the issue, but mileages vary.

            Reply
            1. OhBehave

              This kind of thing doesn’t bug me either. If I don’t want email from them, I unsubscribe. To each their own though!

              Reply
          2. PatPat

            I just give a fake email address when I just want to look. The one I usually is is “noneyabusiness@” just to make my point. I’ve never been denied entry.

            Reply
    4. Fortitude Jones

      Ugh – I’ve already hit a snag with this process. thredUP’s customer service just responded to an email I sent them yesterday afternoon asking why PayPal notified me they refunded me $4.76. Well apparently one of my cute new shirts had a stain they didn’t see until the packaging team boxed it up, so they applied an additional 25% off to the shirt (which I only paid $19.99 on anyway with shipping included). I’m bummed because I really liked the fact that the initial listing stated it was in like new condition – I specifically weeded out all of the picks that said there was minor staining/fading. Depending on where the stain is and the size, I may have to return this, and I loved the color (burnt orange)*cries*. Hopefully, the stain isn’t too bad and is in an inconspicuous spot, hence why they didn’t catch it until it shipped Wednesday morning, so that I can just throw one of my blazers on over it.

      Reply
      1. OhBehave

        Do they accept returns after you’ve washed the item? If yes, you may want to try and remove the stain yourself and see what happens. Just take care not to damage it more.

        Reply
        1. Fortitude Jones

          I got a response from the customer service team this afternoon that says they do, so if the stain won’t budge or is too conspicuous, I’ll send it back and either hope they refund me the cash (because I never would have purchased the shirt, no matter how great the color, if I’d known about the stain) or at least give me a store credit so I can replace it with something else. I saw a couple more 3/4 sleeve blouses in other bold, pretty colors that I’d love to have, so if they end up still being on the site when I return the one I just bought, I’d get one of them.

          Reply
    5. nep

      Love Thredup​. Most of what I’ve gotten there is new with tags, for amazing prices. Other things, while not brand new, excellent quality. I like everything about how the company operates.

      Reply
      1. Fortitude Jones

        I like their customer service response time. I received a response to the email I sent them this morning about the incorrect retail price for the Rioni bag I bought, and the rep said she’d take it back to the team to discuss and will get back to me. I reiterated that it would be great if they could apply the discounts they used to the actual retail price so I can be refunded the difference between what I ended up paying and what I should have paid – we’ll see what they say.

        Reply
  18. Sara

    I had a weird interview experience last Thursday that I wanted to share.

    I’m 30 and have been working steadily since I graduated college in 08. The interviewer started by asking me where I went to high school and what clubs I was in when I attended. She asked me a couple more questions about high school and then moved on. One question about college (study abroad related, where she confused a stint teaching overseas with my study abroad program) and then a steady walk through line by line of my work history, then no more questions about myself.

    I’ve NEVER been asked about high school in an interview before. Perhaps, maybe, at my first out of college one. Just weird. Haven’t heard back, so I’m just writing it off as a weird experience.

    Reply
    1. Ash (the other one)

      What level position was this for? Was it entry level? Were there degree requirements? That seems so odd…

      Reply
      1. Sara

        Executive Assistant for the CEO, so not entry level. It was a for a very large company in downtown Chicago, very odd.

        Reply
        1. Happy Lurker

          They are just checking your background and digging deep. EA for a CEO is a pretty prestigious position in some companies. You are going to have to be trustworthy, ethical, and know how to keep CEO’s confidence.

          Reply
          1. Clever Name

            But high school? For me, high school was 20 years ago, and I actually can’t remember all that clearly what clubs I was in. Does it really mean a whole lot to an employer that I was in National Honor Society and I think French Club??

            Reply
          2. Sara

            I would hope they wouldn’t hold me to the hobbies of 16 year old me. But whatever works for them I guess!

            Reply
    2. Mona Lisa

      How bizarre! I don’t think I’ve been asked about high school either since undergrad. The only way I could potentially see it as relevant is if you were applying for a job at a high school, and they wanted to know what your own experiences were and if there was anything you’d want to replicate or do differently.

      Reply
    3. Catalyst

      The only time I have been asked this is when I have interviewed in a small community and it’s more a “who do I know who knows you” question. The end result is them contacting someone you went to highschool with who they know to ask about you. (I think this is wildly wrong by the way, because highschool was 15 years ago for me and I am a totally different person….. but small town mentality!).

      Reply
    4. Qmatilda

      Were you interviewing in one of the high school obsessed cities like, St. Louis, New Orleans, etc? Because they will nearly always ask about your high school.

      Reply
        1. Elizabeth West

          Thanks for the warning. I don’t really want to answer that question (I think it’s stupid), but now I know if I’m interviewing over there to watch out for it.

          Reply
      1. Clever Name

        That’s so funny. My dad grew up in St. Louis. Maplewood-Richmond Heights High School represent! ;)

        Reply
    5. Anxa

      FWIW, I didn’t realize I didn’t have my high school diploma because I’ve only ever needed it when I was applying for college. It seemed more like a momento than a document.

      I just had to beg my high school to expedite my transcripts because I interviewed for a job where the only requirement was a high school diploma and clean driving record.

      College transcripts and diploma didn’t’ matter.

      Reply
      1. Zathras

        Wow, maybe it’s just their hiring process and the rest of the job is great, but a workplace so inflexible they won’t accept a college diploma in lieu of a high school diploma would be a red flag for me.

        Reply
        1. Anxa

          It’s a state job with literally no other qualifications, so I can kind of understand it. But really, I was totally blindsided. The irony is I had just spend 2 hours a few weeks ago reformatting a bunch of digital copies of my diploma and transcripts and making it really easy to have to upload for jobs. I was so proud of myself!

          Reply
      2. Nye

        I’ve always worried a little about running into a weirdly rigid requirement like this, since I don’t have a HS diploma or a GED. (I do have a PhD, which has sufficed so far.)

        Reply
          1. Nye

            More or less homeschooled from grade 4, and lucky enough to have started college at a time when schools were beginning to be more open to the idea. I also had about 2 years of community college courses (grades 10-11ish) and great SAT scores, so I wasn’t asking them to take my word for it that I could do OK in school. So my graduation record is: Elementary school, BS, MSc, PhD. Luckily it’s all worked out pretty well!

            Reply
    6. LCL

      I have read that this is one way to effectively screen people by race, if the persons involved live in a heavily segregated area. (Knowledge doesn’t mean that I approve.)

      Reply
    7. MsMaryMary

      I’ve had similar interview questions at least twice. The first interviewer seemed like he was just a completist. Not only did he want to know about high school (and a little on elementary school too, if I recall), but he wanted to talk through every single job I’d ever had.

      The second was specifically interested in extracirriculars in high school and college. I think he was trying to figure out how I’d do in a fast paced/busy environment, but it was a strange way to get that information.

      Reply
      1. Clever Name

        I feel like that’s a weird way to find out your work style, though. While I don’t think asking “Do you prefer fast-paced environments” isn’t the best question to ask, I think there are other ways to find out, like asking if you like to be busy or if you get bored easily or if you’ve had jobs in the past where you didn’t have enough to do, etc.

        Reply
    8. Michele

      Years ago, I was interviewing for a position a couple steps above entry-level Ph.D. They asked not only about high school, but about every single job I had ever held, going back to babysitting in junior high. At the time, I thought it was bizzare, but later I realized that they were trying to get a feel for my work ethic.

      Reply
    9. k

      I’m about the same age as you and I’d be really surprised to hear that question. I’d actually have a hard time answering. Between not thinking about high school much, and not being prepared for the question, I’d have to think deep to speak about my high school activities. Unless the person went to the same school, or has kids there now, I’d find it very weird.

      Reply
    10. AliceBD

      I was asked about high school in a recent interview but that is because it was a tiny school and the interviewer’s niece was a few years above me and his SIL worked at the school; he had seen the area I was from (I’m moving back to my home state so it is in my cover letter) and it came up during lunch so it felt natural.

      The odd one was a different company where they asked me a bunch about my college courses. I have an English degree and do marketing; my school did not have communications or PR or marketing as major or any classes about it. No other company has cared about my college classes since I graduated six years ago and have successes while actually working I can point to. It was very odd.

      Reply
  19. EA

    Does anyone have any thoughts on the office manager title?

    I am an EA and looking to either move into an operations role or a administrative manager role. I came across an office manager role that included managing 4 people, as well as being responsible for the budget and special projects. It doesn’t seem like this person is anyone’s assistant. This seems to be what I am looking for. The title is really my only hesitation. I’ve applied and have an interview. When I see office manager I usually see it used to mean receptionist or the only admin for the office. I usually search for like admin manager/supervisor or operations manager/coordinator. Has anyone seen office manager used in this way? I work in a field with rigid title requirements/bureaucracy, so I couldn’t ask to change it upfront.

    Reply
    1. StrikingFalcon

      I’ve seen it used that way. There was actually a letter to AAM about an officer manager who managed several people and was wondering how to write it in their resume so people would stop calling them for secretary jobs.

      Reply
    2. H.C.

      Given the title ambiguity, I would go to the role’s description. From how your query described it – this seems like an administrative manager role overseeing several other admins, but if you are interested you can contact them for further clarification (or ask about it during the interview.)

      Reply
    3. zora

      Yes, I’ve seen it used this way. I feel like it was more common about 15 years ago to be used this way, and more recently people use those titles you mentioned.

      But I have worked in companies where the Office Manager supervised all Admins for the company, including the receptionist, but did not do Assistant or reception duties themselves. They would always have other people to assign for coverage for those positions if needed.

      Reply
    4. Can't Sit Still

      Some places don’t or can’t keep their position titles up-to-date, and that was a typical job description for an office manager 15 – 20 years ago. They are probably quite frustrated with the applicants they are getting because of the job title, so you should definitely go for it.

      Reply
    5. k

      I’ve seen that title used a lot of ways. We have an “office manager” who does all of our HR stuff, manages the front desk staff, and probably more that I don’t even know. Definitely not a reception or admin position.

      With that title, I would really base my opinion off the job description and how much experience and education they’re requesting.

      Reply
    6. Rogue

      I’ve seen office manager used this way. In fact, my last supervisor was the “regional office manager,” meaning she was the head office manager, at a specific division’s office, and over saw all the field office managers for that area.

      Reply
  20. AnnaleighUK

    Creepy ex-colleague update: blocking on ALL social media channels has worked! Obviously he can’t see my posts at all now, which is great, and I feel much happier now knowing he can’t see what I’m up to. Another ex-colleague who I run with did mention that Creepy Fergus had asked her if I’d got a new car (which I have) and that seemed a little odd, unless he saw me loading shopping into it at Tesco or something. Can’t read too much into that because it’s the biggest supermarket around here and everyone and their mother shops there so it’s inevitable you’ll run into someone you know or see them across the car park. Plus Creepy is a massive car nerd so it’s the kind of thing he notices.

    We ran into him at a large local event, actually, and he was with his wife and kids and I have to say the entire family reads as ‘creepy’. I guess some people just vibe that way. It was just a ‘hello, are you enjoying the show?’ interaction and it was friendly enough but yeah, Mrs Creepy and Child Creepys are just as peculiar.

    There’s an industry conference in August that he will be at and you can bet that I will be avoiding him, and it will be interesting to see how he acts around me.

    Oh and, off topic, get one of those doorbells that connects to your phone and allows you to see who’s at the door even if you’re out. I’m convinced they’re the best invention ever.

    Reply
    1. SophieChotek

      Yes that sounds creepy!

      I know that doorbell or cams for when you are not at home both sounds neat!

      (Do you think Creepy Fergus will act differently around you at a conference vs. elsewhere?)

      Reply
    2. Myrin

      I’m so sorry because this is such a serious topic but I just sat here at my desk laughing for two minutes straight because “Child Creepys” is absolutely hilarious. My goodness.

      Apart from that, though, I’m really glad that blocking him everywhere worked. I know that I read your story when you first shared it yet I only remember it vaguely but still, boo to creeping at people and making them uncofmortable!

      Reply
      1. AnnaleighUK

        Yeah the Child Creepys were really, really weird little kids. My housemate said so too so it wasn’t just me! Glad I made you laugh.

        In all seriousness, I think now that he can’t follow me online and my friends from my old job know he’s been creeping, he will leave me alone. He doesn’t strike me as the overly persistent type. I’m still a bit worried about the conference but I don’t think we will see each other that much. I mentioned before we work in building control as building inspectors and my new role is all about inspecting heritage and listed buildings whereas his is more new builds and modifications. Still, I will be keeping an eye on him at conference time!

        Reply
    3. a Gen X manager

      You blocked Creepy specifically? Because it just takes a fake profile to work around that…

      Reply
      1. a Gen X manager

        or a friend’s facebook account or things that you allow “friends of friends” to see…

        Reply
        1. AnnaleighUK

          My profiles on Twitter and Instagram are now set to private so only people who follow me can see them and I have a grand total of six followers who I all know personally and Creepy isn’t one of them. As for Facebook, the way I understand it, if I’ve blocked him then he can’t even see my posts if a mutual friend liked them. My housemate said she changed all my settings so I’m more private than Fort Knox (she’s way more tech savvy than me) so I think we’re okay for now. She did something to my Linkedin too so it’s not so visible.

          As for the car thing, like I said, the entire town shops at the same supermarket pretty much, so he probably did see me and my new car there, and it is a noticeable change in vehicle too (think upgrade from a hatchback to an SUV) so I’m not going to fret myself into a state over something that’s got everyone I know going ‘omg Ana your car!’ including non creepy people. I’m not unaware and I am keeping an eye on things but I reckon now he can’t creep at me online he will give up.

          Also he’s not a runner or a cyclist or a swimmer so he can’t follow me when I’m out and about as my training routes are mostly off-road and I know he doesn’t go to my gym. I’ll let you lot know how the conference goes in August and also if anything else happens. For now, I think it’s okay and he’s backed off. I feel happier, and that’s what matters.

          Reply
  21. thunderbird

    We have recently had a lot of turnover in my division, and while the culture and environment are pretty good on the whole, the biggest complaint is the lack of flexibility and work from home days. Our boss has one big hang up, and it’s a butts in seats thing. Which is really his abdication to manage if there are issues. He recently sent an email to acknowledge all of the change and asked “our management team takes workplace culture seriously and if staff have any input on how to make it an even more attractive place to work our doors are open”.

    Except we have provided this feedback time and time again, and it was made clear in exit interviews. I am not sure if they are just expecting another magical suggestion, of it is all just lip service. But I think at this point it is very clear and the outright refusal to consider more flex work. In some ways it has been entertaining to watch all of this go down.

    Reply
    1. Fortitude Jones

      It sounds like lip service to me. My division does the same thing, and they’re shocked, SHOCKED, when people turn in their notice. One of our new people who just started a couple months ago just put in his last week – he’s the seventh person to leave the company in the last six months or so and the eighth person to leave the division (one guy went to be an AVP in another division of our company with less politics). The newest guy to leave doesn’t even have a job lined up – he’s just done.

      Meanwhile, my own job search seems to have stalled, so I’m sad and kind of jealous of these people who get to escape. Hence, my excessive shopping recently – retail therapy is so soothing to my soul.

      Reply
    2. Queen of the File

      Ugh. We undertook a big employee satisfaction survey awhile ago and it was one of the most disheartening things in my whole career to watch my manager go through the list of suggestions for more meaningful recognition and reward–many of which were very simple and cost 0 dollars–and just cross them out, one after the other, “no… no, no… no”. I guess what they actually wanted was for employees to magically start liking their jobs more without anything having to change.

      Reply
      1. Ramona Flowers

        “I guess what they actually wanted was for employees to magically start liking their jobs more without anything having to change.”

        Nailed it, sadly.

        Reply
    3. MsMaryMary

      Ha. Our CEO has been having breakout sessions with employees to discuss how we could improve the company. Everything that was said in my meeting is feedback that has been given repeatedly, in multiple formats, by multiple people (better communicaton, more consistent processes, hold people accountable, esp those in senior/leadership roles…). I think he’s looking for a magical suggestion. Or an easy button.

      Reply
    4. S-Mart

      It’s unclear to me from just what you’ve written here whether there are a list of feedback items you’ve given your boss, or just the flexibility/work from home options. If there’s a larger list and he’s still asking for more, it sounds like it’s just lip service.

      But if the only things that have been mentioned ‘time and time again’ are the flexibility/work from home, he could legitimately be interested in hearing more/other ideas even while your collective #1 request is off the table for whatever reason.

      Reply
      1. thunderbird

        There are other things like transparency and better understanding of our direction and how our work fits into the bigger picture. I would say there are 3 recurring major themes that keep coming up and aren’t being addressed. But the issue driving people away and why so many people have left in the last 3 months is the work/life balance. We are also in a city that involves major commuting for a lot of people, so it’s a big issue and work from home options are very attractive.

        Reply
    5. DietCokeHead

      Oh, the butts in seat thing. That’s an issue here too. We have a new manager and he is very much an advocate for standing up and going over to someone’s desk to have a conversation. He doesn’t understand why so much is done via email. It is hard to say well, no one wants to get up because if the a manager is in a bad mood and sees someone away from their desk, the possibility exists for a very public reprimand.

      Reply
  22. Lillian Styx

    I have an interview for an assistant to a federal judge! Anyone have experience working for judges? Anything special I should prepare for the interview? It’s not a clerk position and I’m not a lawyer. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. MegaMoose, Esq.

      I’ve worked as a law clerk for a couple of different judges (and an extern in federal court) and am acquainted with several others. In my experience most judges really dislike having to think or worry about administrative stuff (including hiring), so anything you can do to show how you will be making their life easier would be a big plus. Assuming this position would be like the chambers I’ve worked in, the assistant is the one who keeps everything running smoothly and provides continuity, since clerks often turn over frequently. You’ll want to be ready for whatever the judge needs: personal assistant-type stuff, hiring law clerks, planning parties, proof-reading, budget stuff, who knows. The judicial assistants I’ve worked with have been deeply competent, flexible, and low-drama. Plus, chambers are small, so of course getting along with the judge on a personal level is huge. Good luck!

      Reply
    2. LK

      Seconding “they don’t give a *** about admin” – if you can show that not only will you do all the things, but you also won’t bother them with minutiae details about it. Never update them on admin statuses unless they specifically ask for it directly, for example, because they really don’t care when the accounts got sent out so long as they did get sent out and they don’t have the brain space (or related GAF space for that matter) to track these independently. They need someone they can trust to be entirely self sufficient.

      If you’ve worked with lawyers…. all judges had to be lawyers first. Lawyers are a special type of human…. taught to be amazing in specific ways to the extreme detriment of many skills. I know nationally recognized lawyers who cannot operate basic photocopiers. You need to be someone they can trust to do ALL THE THINGS except lawyering (judge-ing) because it’s not that they haven’t had to do admin things in awhile, it’s that they’ve never ever had to do them and legitimately don’t know how in a lot of cases.

      Source: legal assistant

      Reply
      1. Lillian Styx

        Oh man, you put it so much more nicely than I ever have (re: lawyers and detriment of skills). I started life as a paralegal so hopefully that puts me in a good position.

        Quality comment, thank you so much!

        Reply
        1. LK

          <3 no problem!

          I love working in law but it's also made me bizarrely aware of the abilities of lawyers. Amazing at high level stuff but literally not capable of stuff temps learn in their first 2 hours. It's fascinating.

          Reply
  23. Anon for this

    I’m just going to rant for a second… I’m a researcher and I completed my PhD 5 years ago, for context. I’m pretty successful — I run a department at a major research institute, have generated millions in research funding, and generally think I’m doing pretty well for someone still considered “early career” in the research world.

    I went to a conference this week where I saw my PhD advisor. He was really aloof and seemed super critical of me and my work and almost like he feels I don’t deserve the success I’ve received. I have imposter syndrome anyway, but I feel really low right now. He was generally supportive during my graduate tenure, so I’m not sure what’s up.

    Is it worth me reaching out to him or should I let the past be the past?

    Reply
    1. Lora

      Huh. I don’t know. I feel like I should know, but I really don’t. Academics are weird. Whenever I’ve run into my old advisers or professors at conferences and such, they were pretty chill and “oh hey how’s it going, good for you, (university) is still the same, getting ready to retire soon blah blah well see ya later” and that’s it. More often I run into people I went to grad school with who are grumpy that I’ve had more financial / professional success than them, they are in their 14th year of postdoc’ing and I have an industry job sort of thing. There was one lady on my committee who was super snotty to me once, and I just kinda let it roll off and decided it wasn’t my problem: she was particularly snippy that her own research efforts on a particular subject didn’t go anywhere and mine landed me in a pretty good job and continued to be successful through my career.

      Mostly I ignore this sort of thing. Maybe they are having a bad day, they didn’t get the grant they were counting on, their star grad student quit, they had bad reviewer luck on their latest C / N / S manuscript submission, they just got out of a particularly contentious faculty meeting, whatever.

      Reply
    2. PB

      I’m sorry that happened. I would try not to let it get to you. It’s possible that he was upset about something unrelated, and unfortunately it came out when you were talking. Or he could be jealous of the success you’ve had early in your career. (I’ve encountered this, too. A coworker at my old job said that I “hadn’t earned” my office furniture, whatever the heck that means. I was in my sixth year post-degree at the time.)

      Bottom line: I don’t think this is on you at all. You’ve enjoyed good success early in your career, which means you’re good at what you do, and deserving of your success.

      Reply
    3. Triangle Pose

      I wouldn’t reach out to him for just this. What would you hope to get out of that conversation? I would chalk this up as useful information you now have to add to your overall impression of him.

      Reply
    4. Hope

      He should be thrilled you’re doing so awesomely–often PhD advisees’ successes are seen as a reflection upon their PhD advisor, at least in their early years, so I don’t know what’s wrong with this guy. All I can come up with is jealousy, which is just stupidity on his part. Or maybe he just cares way more about something other than the research you’re doing? He could even have just been super distracted with his own stuff. At any rate, this is definitely his problem, not yours. It’s probably hard to do, given that at one point his opinion likely had an outsize effect on your work/education, but when you start feeling bad about how he was at the conference, remind yourself that his opinion isn’t as important anymore because you’ve moved on to bigger and better things.

      I’d leave it alone and keep on keeping on.

      Reply
    5. fposte

      I doubt that this is really about you. I also wouldn’t reach out to him–I don’t see any likely advantage in hashing out a weird conference exchange with somebody you don’t usually see and aren’t going to be working with in the foreseeable future.

      Reply
    6. AnonAcademic

      I’m a postdoc and one thing I’ve learned is that advisors can have widely varying reactions about their trainees achieving independence. My PhD advisor was kind of like the parent bird shoving the babies out of the nest to teach them to fly, whereas my postdoc advisor is more of a sad empty nester who feels a bit abandoned when people leave the lab. Or in one case, he’s now competing for grants with a former trainee whose work he’s seen to be uneven in quality and I think that bothers him also.

      Reply
    7. Sam Foster

      Leave it alone. You are giving this person power and control over your life. You are fine, you are successful, you need to let this go.

      Reply
    8. Optimistic Prime

      Forget him (and other words that begin with F).

      I am also a researcher. I completed my PhD nearly 3 years ago, and I currently work in industry at a major corporation doing a job I love. My role is as a researcher, and I use most of the skills I learned in my PhD program. Still, I have found that it’s not enough for many of the academics who were my professors and advisors in graduate school. Several of them are disappointed or surprised that I didn’t grind it out in academia, and I can tell that at least one or two consider me as having “sold out” (because I have a job that I like that pays me well and allows me to live where I please).

      It’s not worth it. You are probably never going to convince them that your work is just as good as academic work or that you are worthy of the position you got. Why bother? Personally, I’d let it be.

      Reply
    9. Belle di Vedremo

      Sometimes moving from student to peer means that you’ve moved from someone to train and brag about to a colleague now subject to the same scrutiny of any other new colleague. Humans are often bad about reframing relationships from underling to peer (or superior), on both parts. Students can have a hard time moving up to peers, and profs a hard time letting students grow up to peers.

      I recommend giving it some time and then reaching out as if things are normal between you. If this turns out to be a pattern you’ll have some time to think about how to address/deal with it. Giving people I’ve had good relationships with the benefit of the doubt has made it easier to hope that they’ll do the same with me.

      Reply
  24. Anon for this

    I wrote in last week asking for help with structuring, planning, and managing my time for my PhD work. I’m happy to report that some of your suggestions have helped!

    Specifically, I’m tracking my hours on paper (and aiming for ~5 a day, although most days I’ve come in closer to 4) and stopping to write down my thoughts and make short-term plans whenever I feel aimless or stuck. While I’m sure that my work habits still have a lot of room for improvement, I feel like I’m moving in the right direction.

    Reply
    1. SophieChotek

      I think that sounds like a good plan. writing is a lot about habit (so many authors say) and just plugging along is sometimes all one can do!

      Reply
  25. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs

    Third time’s the charm!

    Did we ever get an update for this one?

    http://www.askamanager.org/2017/04/open-thread-april-28-29-2017.html#comment-1465711

    This is the UK based one with a 3-person team. One of them, Sansa, was a constant no-show due to health issues. Tyrion was the manager with a plan “at some point”. The OP was going to leave, and his other coworker (the one that showed up) was putting in notice as well. So, the department would be down to Sansa and the manager.
    Please update if you can! I’m super-curious what happened next!

    Reply
  26. Burnt Out?

    I’m exhausted at my job. I’ve spent the majority of the last year working between 60 and 80 hour weeks. I’m tired, I know they appreciate me, they gave me a 10% raise after 8 months. But I’m increasingly unsure if it’s worth it. I keep telling my boss that I don’t have enough resources to accomplish all that I need to. Eventually more and more things are going to fall through the cracks. I’m young, running my department, and feeling totally out of my depth. When I asked about budgets I was told to “be reasonable.” During an audit report to the Board, I was informing them that the major finding was that our program needed more human resources. Boss undercut that finding, assuring them that this isn’t urgent, and we need to do more comparative analytics with other programs–despite the fact that we’ve already done those things. I feel bad about looking for other jobs when I’ve been there only a year. My program is in drastically better shape than it was when I came on board. But I can’t keep doing this. I finally told boss that this isn’t sustainable for me, and if something didn’t change I wouldn’t be able to stay. On top of all of this, I had multiple immediate family members pass away within 30 days of each other this last years. I’m not even sure what my question is. Is it reasonable to look for other jobs? Are all management jobs going to require this much time? Should I just stick it out?

    Reply
    1. Princess Carolyn

      It’s absolutely reasonable to be looking for jobs. If dropping your workload down to a more manageable level isn’t possible, staying in this job isn’t feasible. It sounds like you’ve been pretty clear with your boss, but you may need to actually let some balls drop to make him realize that the status quo isn’t sustainable.

      Reply
      1. Fortitude Jones

        but you may need to actually let some balls drop to make him realize that the status quo isn’t sustainable.

        THIS. If you keep performing up to the level you have been, they’ll think you’re exaggerating about how unmanageable the workload is. The trick is, you need to be strategic about what balls you allow to drop – you don’t want to put your job at risk before they either decide to adjust your workload or you find something new.

        Reply
      2. Burnt Out?

        Thank you both! Affirmation on this is helpful, and good to know that this isn’t expected to be manageable.

        Reply
    2. Lora

      No all management jobs are not 80 hour workweeks. I do more like 45-50.

      Tell your boss you must prioritize NOW. Give boss a list of what you perceive the priorities to be, and ask if s/he agrees. Once you are in agreement (and don’t let any “it’s all #1” nonsense past you – pick three, that’s it) on the top 3, do only those things.

      Be ruthless about meetings which are not 100% necessary. Don’t do them, don’t let your people do them. People can’t be crapping up your time.

      Companies generally do not do things until they are absolutely forced to, and your boss is a spineless yes-man here. Have had my share of yes-men. They literally don’t believe that you can say No to things, or that you can say “if we do X, Y will not get done, so pick one. These are the resources we have, here is our capacity, deal with it” to another department or a senior manager.

      I am currently the Dragon Lady where I work who said “no, we do not have this capacity to run ourselves ragged, our capacity is X, here is how much time and resources it takes us to do X, if you want X+n then I need n more resources.” One of the yes-men thought for sure I would be fired for this. No, I just got a bigger capex budget and more headcount. You put a number on your capacity as best you can, a realistic sustainable capacity, and present options for how to increase capacity: hire people, get automation, outsource a thing, whatever. And just tell em, this is what it is, pick one. If you don’t want me to hire people, get your own happy ass in here on Saturday. Borrow people from other departments so their managers complain too. Eventually there will be enough voices yelling about headcount that you’ll get it. But also, tell people no in front of the yes-men, so they will eventually come to the realization that this is a thing and nobody dies.

      Reply
      1. Saskia

        This is actually an incredibly simple way of putting it! I’m running into this issue myself as a first time manager/interim department head and I’m going to start taking a page out of your book.

        Reply
      2. Burnt Out?

        Thank you this is very helpful. 45-50 seems super manageable to me! I have a 90 minute commute each way (DC Traffic bites) than can be cut down to more like 30 if I arrive early and leave late–so I frequently do that anyway.

        Reply
    3. J. F.

      I worked 70 hour weeks in grad school for years but it is 100% not sustainable, especially if you are not earning $$$,$$$ enough to pay everyone else to deliver dinner/ do your laundry/ walk the dog/ etc. I’d say first, lay it out one *more* time for your boss, but if they can’t “be reasonable” then it is time to look for the door.

      Reply
    4. Bess

      From the tone of your post it really sounds like you’re past the point of no return.

      I worked in a place with utterly unsustainable demands, and the managers were really just in a strange form of denial about it, and would go into red herring mode if it was ever brought up (they were gunning for promotions and basically making everyone do 3-4 jobs on minimal resources). It was just never ever going to change and it was a relief when I left.

      It might be worth asking yourself whether things that feel overwhelming now will feel better next year–some stuff is about being new to the job and org, and takes up less brain space and time with a year or so under your belt. And you could ask yourself whether you’re putting in 150% when 70% could get the job done (this is always tough for me, but a lot of stuff can be turned in “good enough” instead of “magnum opus”).

      But unless you can start limiting what you’re doing for them, sounds like it’s time to get out.

      Reply
      1. Burnt Out?

        I’ve been telling myself “at least a year” and sometimes it seems like I could stay longer, and sometimes it doesn’t! Some days it’s “Get to the end of the day” sometimes it’s “I can do another week.” and sometimes “I can do another month!” Some of it has gotten easier. The first 6 months were, straight from the boss’s mouth “Hell”

        And I think there are some places I could do 70. Ideally our work-product turnaround would be 30-60 days, and we’re running at closer to 90-120 right now. So even with dropping some balls, there’s only so much I can do. There are a few things they tried to put on my plate that I have absolutely refused. And every time they bring them up again I “resources needed” at them.

        This would be easier in many ways if I didn’t like the people I work for and with. But 8 days out of 10 I do.

        THanks again!

        Reply
    5. Chaordic One

      Of course it is reasonable to look for other jobs under the circumstances, and “No” you should not just stick it out.

      You don’t mention feeling physically ill or exhausted or dreading going to work, but you do sound stressed out. You sound like you might be to the point where you might even consider quitting without having something lined up to move on to. Start applying for other jobs covertly.

      You don’t want to just accept the first thing that comes along, but give yourself a deadline, say 3 months or 6 months or so. Then if you haven’t found a job by then, turn in your resignation so you can devote yourself to looking for another job full time.

      Reply
    6. Voice from the wilderness

      I once was in your situation.

      Looking back, my motivation was cynically used to get free work.

      A friend of mine put it in perspective when they said that on my tombstone they wouldn’t write “he did lots of overtime”.

      I see three options:
      1. Set priorities with your boss regarding things you can get done in a normal day’s work (no more than 10 hours on average).

      2. Ask for a personal meeting with your boss’ boss. In my current company, this is totally acceptable, as long as you pass the request through your boss. I’ve done it successfully. This requires some delicacy. Things have to be presented from a business point of view, stressing long term efficiency and benefit to the company. Personalizing it, by saying “I’m tired” won’t work.
      3. Get another job. Some situations can’t be salvaged.

      Good luck. You sound like someone I’d enjoy working with.

      Reply
  27. Gem

    Signed a contract for a new job (12 month contract covering maternity leave). Handed in my notice (2 months). Last day set for 25th July. Now for the weird letting people know/paranoia that the new job will fall through/excitement at the new challenges.

    I have too many feels right now, guys!

    Reply
    1. Snazzy Hat

      Congratulations! {glitter}

      I purposely didn’t tell many people about my second interview because I didn’t want to make a lot of buzz and then not get the job and have to tell everyone I didn’t get it. Thankfully, I got the job, but it was kinda strange being with certain friends and avoiding saying “oh my goodness you guys i have a second interview!” for several hours straight. O_o

      Reply
  28. Mona Lisa

    Is it ever acceptable to send in an incomplete application?

    My husband is going through his first round of the academic application cycle since finishing his doctorate. One university posted a position last Friday to an industry job board, saying they were looking to fill a faculty position quickly. They’ve already pulled down that advertisement, though he can still find it on the university’s own job board.

    The issue he’s having is that he needs to turn in three letters of recommendation with the application, but since the academic year is over, he’s having difficulty reaching his references. They’re out of town, on vacation, working at summer programs, etc. My husband is finally getting responses from them after a week, saying they could get the letters written in the next week or so.

    Would it be unacceptable for him to submit his CV and cover letter with a short message about how the other two letters he doesn’t have will arrive in the next week? He’s concerned about missing the opportunity to apply for a job at a school at which he’d really like to work because of this, but he also doesn’t want to give off a wrong impression by turning in an incomplete application. (Additionally one of his references wants to send his letter directly to the hiring committee so wouldn’t it be better if the application was already on file so there isn’t a recommendation letter hanging out there?)

    Thank you in advance for your advice!

    Reply
    1. over educated

      I would apply, the worst that can happen is he gets rejected for the incomplete application. But if he has to search again in the near future, he could consider signing up for a service like Interfolio, where his references can upload “general” letters (not tailored to each school, which is ideal) to use for short notice job applications like this.

      Reply
    2. July

      Oh, this is INCREDIBLY common. Like I can’t tell you how common. I see around 150 applications for academic positions a year and maybe 20 of them have all their reference letters in by the deadline. After the application deadline, the hiring process can move kind of slowly–particularly since it’s summer–so I would 100% not worry about this.

      Reply
      1. Mona Lisa

        I am glad to have my suspicions confirmed! I’ve worked at universities and have helped with student applications before so I know that those are frequently reviewed while incomplete on the admissions side. I just don’t have experience hiring faculty so I didn’t know whether it was common there as well.

        Reply
    3. deesse877

      It is probably not bad to send a letter and CV, with reference letters arriving separately.

      In my experience (academia but a very different field) it actually is a very strong norm to have letters of reference forwarded separately, not included in the actual packet with CV and cover letter. Furthermore, ***everyone*** knows about letter-writers lagging. They won’t consider a missing letter to be a real violation of the ad requirements, it’s just…a missing letter. He could very well miss out on consideration if they are on a tight schedule, but it won’t be ***held against him***. Here are some suggestions:
      1) Look into web-based dossier services. They are not expensive, they permit you to archive and re-send materials infinitely, and an older, generic letter can be better than none at all. Also consider, if you don’t already have it, a personal web page with a hyperlinked CV (sending ppl to the faculty pages of your referees).
      2) Add a list of references to the end of the CV, if it’s not already there. An impatient committee that nonetheless thinks he’s awesome could contact referees directly. (That isn’t a standard practice, but it does happen, especially when committee and referees are connected professionally already.)
      3) Give it a shot regardless now, knowing that although he may not be fully considered (especially if it’s a public institution with written procedures, and/or preexisting inside candidates), he won’t be burning any bridges.

      Hope that helps.

      Reply
      1. Mona Lisa

        Thank you! I think a personalized web-site should probably be in his near future anyway (he’s in music performance) so it would be a good place to archive his performance and academic CVs. I will also encourage him to look into some of these on-line dossier services for the future. I’m sure this won’t be the last time a position has a tight timeline!

        Reply
    4. Hope

      Having been on some faculty hiring committees, and knowing that the ad has already been pulled from one place, I’d say it’s definitely better to go ahead and get the application in (before it gets removed from the uni’s job board, too), then send the references as soon as he gets them.

      Especially this time of year, it’s pretty normal for there to be some trouble with references being out/gone.

      Reply
      1. Mona Lisa

        This is good to hear. We are leaving for a week-long vacation tomorrow, too, and won’t have regular computer access, which compounds the timeline stress. (He should still be reachable by e-mail/phone, but since we’ll be at a hotel, he won’t have all of his documents with him. Husband would rather get it done and not have to think about it.)

        Reply
    5. J. F.

      If they pulled the ad are you sure they’re still actually hiring? Especially at public universities, often advertisement requirements apply by law, and at private schools by policy. (Source: my spouse and I both have PhDs and teach at universities – one private, one public.)

      Reply
      1. Mona Lisa

        It was a private university. The ad they pulled was from a trade resource after one week, but they left the job posting on their public-facing HR site.

        Reply
    6. Professor Ronny

      Many faculty teach during the summer as I do. Every other one I have ever known checks their email. Email them and your husband can likely get the letter anyway (written and sent to secretary to print) or at least a recommendation email. If he cannot get them, submit anyway and explain why with an offer to get them as soon as they become available. Also, the Chair and Dean are 12-month appointments so they are in the office (unless on vacation) and might be willing to do this.

      By the way, most academic hiring takes place in November-January. Late hires, like this, are usually for a position that went unfilled and for a one-year “visiting” professor. Teaching jobs are listed in the Chronicle of Higher Education and your husband needs a subscription.

      Reply
      1. Optimistic Prime

        At my PhD university, none of my professors ever taught during the summer and they were nigh impossible to get a hold of between early to mid-June and early to mid-August.

        Also, whether or not teaching jobs are listed in CHE depends on the field. In my field, CHE does not list the vast majority of positions.

        Reply
        1. Mona Lisa

          Yes, my husband’s field (music) tends to post in specific musician-dedicated forums though it would be worth looking into CHE as well. His references work or teach at festivals during the summer, many of which are in remote/international locations, which makes e-mail access spotty.

          Reply
    7. Optimistic Prime

      Yes. Many times academic search committees are understanding that recommendation letters, especially, may come in a bit late.

      Reply
      1. Mona Lisa

        Thank you! My husband submitted everything, and I think they had at least two of the letters by early last week. There was some mix-up where they requested a 1-2 page statement about how his teaching and research would further the university’s mission statement, which he wrote out as a cover letter, but they wanted a separate essay on the topic. He ended up taking an afternoon to write it in the business center at our hotel last week because they said the committee was meeting before the end of the week. Since they’re moving so quickly, hopefully we’ll hear something soon!

        Reply
  29. Librarian Ish

    I have been at my job for ~6 years. I have mild depression/anxiety which I have been managing without any issues at work. However, I had some experiences which made things much worse, and I have recently been diagnosed with PTSD.

    I have therapy appointments scheduled for once a week and my boss has allowed me to adjust my schedule to go to those, without me having to disclose my diagnosis, or anything beyond “I have a doctor’s appointment once a week.” I could probably also take last minute time off work without any concerns.

    However, sometimes the PTSD has caused me to do worse at work. I’ve discovered some errors I’ve made which I can trace back to really high anxiety/panic attack days. I’m also worried that I will have a panic attack while I’m at work. (actually I’ve had many, but for the most part I’m alone in a cubicle so no one has noticed yet.)

    How have you made the decision to disclose an issue like this? Did you just tell your manager, or did you loop in HR?

    Reply
    1. Lady Dedlock

      I’m in a kind of similar situation—no PTSD, but depression/anxiety, and planning on starting therapy soon. My manager knows I’ve been stressed a lot this year due to our crazy workload, and on the verge of burning out. It was causing me to make more errors than usual in my work, and my stress levels definitely came through in my interpersonal interactions from time to time.

      I’ve been trying to keep the communication lines open with my manager without going into too much detail. I presented him with suggestions for reducing my stress levels at work, including working from home from time to time, and he was open to that. He also was open to any suggestions for reinforcing processes to reduce any errors that had slipped through.

      I also disclosed that I’m looking to start therapy soon. I basically said that I’m looking to learn some coping strategies so that I can weather stressful periods a little better. He was totally understanding and nonjudgmental about it, and actually told me about a therapy experience that he had had when he was younger.

      If you feel comfortable doing so, it might make sense to tell your manager at least a little bit about what’s going on so you can brainstorm ways to make your work life a little less stressful.

      Reply
    2. LNZ

      As someone who also has PTSD, and has been massively triggered at work i personally keep it to my self (unless i have a close work friend). I wouldn’t tell HR or your supervisor unless you need specific accommodations or they bring up the issues you’re seeing in your performance.
      Everyone, even nurotypical people, have off days after all. It’s also really important to learn your own mood pasterns and go easy on yourself during bad brain days. You won’t be as productive and you shouldn’t try to make yourself be.

      Reply
    3. Fortitude Jones

      I am dealing with anxiety issues and depression (my new therapist is testing me for OCD), so I just told my manager I need to leave early once a week for 16 weeks for doctors appointments – I didn’t say what kind of doctor because it isn’t her business. I did have to loop HR in though so I could get my FMLA paperwork in order. I took this route because should anyone in upper management in my division start to look sideways at me always leaving, HR will let them know it’s legit and they can’t do anything about it. And yes, my HR benefits coordinator knows exactly why I’m leaving early, and she told me know one in my division should be asking why I’m leaving early now that my FMLA has been approved and my supervisor has been notified. She said if they do, to contact her immediately.

      Reply
    4. AnotherLibrarian

      I have chosen to be completely upfront and honest with my boss. She knows that when I come in 30 minutes late once a week, it is because of Therapy and she knows I have mild depression and serious anxiety. I feel strongly that by speaking up that I am creating a safer work environment for others with mental health issues and normalizing the process of therapy. I have had panic attacks at work. Since I have spoken up, I have discovered one of my coworkers also sees a therapist and we regularly “cover” each other’s therapy time. I never would have had this support if I hadn’t said anything.

      However, I have an excellent rapport with my boss and had no fears of her treating me differently or causing issues because of my health concerns. If you don’t feel that way about your boss, then I would proceed with more caution. Generally though, I believe honesty is the best policy. You boss can’t consider what she doesn’t know about.

      Reply
    5. NoMoreMrFixit

      I also suffer from depression and anxiety. In the past I have discussed my condition with my manager when I realized that it was impacting my work. These days people are generally more aware of mental health issues. However this does depend massively on your relationship with your boss. My last 2 managers were very understanding and went out of their way to help me through some rough times. The trigger for me was that my performance was being directly impacted and others were noticing my increase in mistakes and behavioural changes. If things with your boss are not great then I suggest you go to HR instead.

      Reply
    6. Thinking Outside the Boss

      I’m a managing attorney for a state office in California, and my wife also has Major Depression and Anxiety. So I understand about some of those days you’ve mentioned because my wife has them too, and so does one of my employees.

      If you’re in the U.S. and your employer is subject to FMLA, I would tell HR as well. Our HR department is responsible for working with the employee regarding FMLA issues. Once HR knows, then you won’t have to rely on your boss’s flexibility, especially if your current boss moves on and you get a new one. Also, it will head off any work error related problems before they manifest into bigger performance issues.

      As mentioned, one of my employees is in your situation and she disclosed her medical restrictions to me and HR, and submitted all her FMLA paperwork through HR. Because of her medical restrictions being disclosed, we understand that sometimes she is making errors through no fault of her own, and take this into account.

      Although my employee told me her diagnosis, there is no requirement that your boss know what your condition is, just that you have medical restrictions. That’s why HR is involved because your actual medical condition will be shared between your doctor and HR, and never your boss.

      Best of luck to you!

      Reply
    7. tiny temping teapot

      I’m a temp so I never tell and cover the best I can. At my old Toxicjob, disclosing made my horrible boss more horrible to me. After hearing a coworker here say someone she disliked “chose to be crazy,” and no one correcting her, I would probably never disclose here either.

      But obviously neither depression or anxiety gives me the greatest gut instincts about this. As the Bloggess says, my jerkbrain doesn’t give me good advice.

      Reply
  30. NonnyNon

    I think this falls under the category of “probably unethical” but no one else in my office seems to think so, so I need a reality check here.

    My office has a problem of deliverables never getting produced and sent to clients. We’ll complete the first part of the project (say, reviewing or testing teapots) and bill for that but never write a report for what we did. In some cases we’ll bill for the report with everything else (before writing the report) and sometimes we’ll bill for it separately, which makes it hard when we re-discover these unfinished projects (or are contacted about them by the client) to know what we’ve been paid for.

    Some of these we don’t find out about until 1-2 years after the report should have been delivered. My boss has a policy of charging all clients who contact us about missing reports a “reviewing charge”, under the guise of taking a few days to find the report, review it for accuracy and update as needed, and then send it to the client. In reality, during those few days we’re writing the report from scratch. Again, in some of these cases we’ve already been paid for this work so the new charge is essentially double-charging the clients. My boss argues that because we “never really know if we were paid” that it’s okay to do this.

    I’m relatively new both to the company and this field and have been told that this “just happens to everyone” and it’s not a big deal. But it feels unethical to be handling the situation this way. I also can’t figure out how the reports don’t get written in the first place, except for extreme disorganization or sheer laziness (these are reports that should take you less than a week to write, review, and finalize, unlike some of our other work which can take 3-4 weeks to write). And we’re talking +/- 12 reports in the 1.5 years that I’ve been here.

    So, is it actually kind of shady to be doing this or is it really a normal thing that happens? If it is shady do I have any way to push back when the entire office doesn’t view it as a problem, or do I just have to suck it up?

    Reply
    1. LizB

      This seems very very weird, and like people are just… only doing half of their jobs? And management doesn’t care? I could see it happening very occasionally if there are a LOT of reports to write and high turnover, but if this is a regular thing… I’m confused at how that can possibly be okay.

      Reply
      1. Myrin

        Yeah, I read it the same way and feel like I must be missing something because surely that can’t be it?

        Reply
      2. NonnyNon

        Management knows but for these particular things they’re pretty hands-off (they tend to be projects that are passed to high-level employees who are expected to manage them completely independently- why management doesn’t keep tabs on them anyway I don’t know).

        Management’s solution is what I described above: cover up what happened to the client, get the report written in a few days for a nominal charge (that, again, could be a double-charge… our horrendous record-keeping is obviously a problem here too), and then send the report to the client as if we “found” it rather than just wrote it.

        I don’t know about turnover. We have a lot of people working here 8+ years (who are the ones doing this) and then it’s very hush-hush on people who have left before I joined so I don’t know how many people in my position have quit/been fired.

        Reply
        1. NonnyNon

          Also, as further clarification there are a lot of reports to write with this job just in general and the overwhelming majority of them DO get written. I think management has taken the opinion of, “It’s not great that this is happening but it’s not frequent [in comparison to the volume of reports that do get completed], so here’s how we’ll handle it when it does.” Most of the reports are projects of a former employee that he never completed so there’s no disciplinary action to be taken there. But my senior coworkers have made comments about how “it happens to all of us” and “if the client calls looking for it, you just stall for time until you can get it written” so clearly it’s a company-wide issue and not just one bad ex-employee.

          Reply
      1. Fortitude Jones

        Very fraudulent – yikes! Nonny, are you sure you still want to work for these people, because this method of operation is very concerning.

        Reply
        1. NonnyNon

          I actually don’t want to keep working here, no. I was planning on putting in two years and then looking for a new job, since this is my only experience in this field. But I am glad to hear that I’m right about this not being “normal”.

          Reply
      2. Elizabeth West

        Yeah, I am sitting here with my mouth open. Double-charging them for work the company didn’t do? That’s shady AF. I’m wondering if somebody is making bank off these fees.

        Reply
    2. Lily in NYC

      This is unbelievably shady and fraudulent! I’m also confused as to why these clients pay you before they receive the reports – I work in contract management and we require deliverables for each invoice.

      Reply
      1. OwnedByTheCat

        I’m also trying to imagine if someone tried to charge me a “reviewing charge” for a contractually-obligated deliverable they hadn’t delivered…

        Reply
        1. NonnyNon

          I don’t think many people pay it, to be honest.

          If the report is several years old (which happens way more than you think, and I have no idea why clients don’t realize for YEARS that they’re missing their reports) my boss tries to play it off as, “Oh, you MUST have a copy of it, but if you can’t find it then we’ll be glad to review our files and we can update the report for a small fee as well…” (I think the fee is ~$100, for reports that are closer to $1,000 billable hours to write, which may be why some people agree to it? But I have no idea how my boss tries to “spin” the situation if the missing report is from less than a year ago. I just know we send invoices for these projects when we probably shouldn’t be.)

          Reply
      2. Lora

        Do they even have any repeat customers? Is this a super tiny niche industry?

        I have a couple of things I have to buy for which there are only a few, or even one, vendor on earth. They can be terrible but there’s nothing to be done about it. It sucks, and we try to figure out a way to bring that sort of thing in house even though it’s really not our specialty.

        Sometimes part of the contract is things which are not 100% critical. They agree to provide a very specific documentation which is more of a nice to have than a critical thing I can’t live without. And I just sort of deal with it, realizing that either they won’t do it or they’ll do it badly and late. Yes it sucks, yes it’s unethical, but there’s just not a lot of neodymium or HF suppliers in the world. It gets to a point with some of them that you write them off as completely fictional.
        “Sure, we have (extremely hazardous thing) in the catalog! We can ship you a sample in two days!”
        Um, how are you going to ship it? Isn’t it a percussive explosive?
        “We’ll send it in a padded envelope, then.”
        But some of them, you buy it anyways, knowing it will suck, knowing that they are douchebags, but screw it, they’ll get it to you fast and in one piece or whatever.

        Reply
        1. TL -

          There is an antibody company that is famous for that (well, they’re famous for something else now, actually) – but they had the worst reputation. However, they sold antibodies super cheap and they’d replace them as many times as you wanted until you got a batch that work. And they had them for everything.

          Reply
    3. LNZ

      That seems kind of illegal not just unethical. The fact that you know about it means you could be caught up in any legal action too so honestly i’d get out as soon as you can.

      Reply
    4. JulieBulie

      What jumps out at me is your boss saying “we ‘never really know if we were paid.'”

      How do they not know whether they were paid? This should be a very easy thing to keep track of – whether they were billed together or separately, there should be a record of bills and payments. Right? Never in a million years would I want to do business with people who aren’t sure whether they cashed my checks or not!

      The unfinished work is a whole other issue, but my head is already exploding at the thought of the bad bookkeeping.

      Higher on this page is a post from someone who didn’t get paid for some work. Here we have people who paid for work they didn’t get. Because I love symmetry, I should find this soothing, but I do not. :o(

      Reply
  31. Lindsey

    How do you guys deal with a not-present boss? She has been out on medical leave for 3 out of the last six months (in and out for a month) for a very sad reason, but at the same time, it means that my workload has been reduced from 45 hours a week to about 20. I’m on the younger side and looking aggressively to continue to move up in my career.

    I work from home, and there’s not a ton of direction if my boss is out (my department is only 2 years old, and I’m the longest-serving employee at 1.5 years). It’s hard to “pick up” work when I have to set up a formal call for that request. Adding to that, my department is very unpopular to most of the rest of the organization (we’re very high revenue, but not “core” to the rest of the organization – for example, people in other departments feel OK telling us to stop “being nosy” when we try and interact with the rest of the organization).

    I only have one other colleague on my team that is in my time zone (team of 4 including my boss), so we’re both kind of twiddling our thumbs, since we need someone higher-level than us to advocate. My grandboss (our director) has said that she’s willing to give me more work, but it never materializes because she’s so busy covering my boss’ work, which is only about 10% of what she covers.

    I know I could take EdX courses or something, but the higher-level certificates (like the PMP) require more experience than I have. Any suggestions? I’m not interested in learning to code or anything like that, and am really mostly interested in figuring out how to take advantage of my organization.

    Reply
    1. Optimistic Prime

      My job might be a little different, because even when my boss is out my work is kind of self-directed so there are always lots of things I can take on. But when my manager’s a little unavailable, I turn to the other senior people on my team for guidance and questions. Are there any projects that senior people on your team are working on that they could use some help with?

      Reply
  32. the.kat

    My office is incredibly short staffed (and working on that right now) but I’m finding the current load of work to be unbearable. Things are not getting done that should and I can feel my boss getting frustrated with me. For the next few weeks, I’m going to have to be Super Woman and am having a hard time keeping up. I’m naturally unorganized and work happiest with a slight tinge of panic to everything. That works for me normally but not right now.

    Does anyone else work best with a slight panic looming on the horizon? How can I combat that to stick my nose to the grindstone and be a superhero for the next few weeks? Any coping techniques would be helpful.

    Reply
    1. the.kat

      Also, the things that aren’t getting done aren’t getting done because “priority 1” projects keep getting added to my plate by my boss. It’s like I work in a button factory and I’m starting to push buttons with my left foot and my right foot and my nose.

      Reply
      1. tigerStripes

        If I have something important I’m working on, and the boss says to drop everything and work on something else, I will bring up the thing I’m working on and ask if it can wait or if it should be reassigned, etc. A reasonable boss appreciates this.

        Reply
      2. Detective Amy Santiago

        My very first professional job out of college, I had a boss who would do this. First thing in the morning, he’d say “I need you to focus on X today” and I would start working on X. Then a couple of hours later, he’d say “Y needs done right now. Top priority.” So I’d put X aside and start working on Y. An hour after that he’d say “Drop everything and get Z done”. At the end of the day, he’d wonder why X wasn’t done.

        Being new to the workforce, I had no idea how to navigate this and went to our HR rep. She sat down with both of us and we had a conversation about managing expectations and priorities and suggested that I remind him that I was working on X when he would ask me to do Y so that he could make that judgment call.

        Good luck. I hope you get your staffing situation sorted quickly.

        Reply
        1. Snazzy Hat

          I had a love-hate relationship with the task pile at my first two temp office jobs. At Llamagrams, there was a clear hierarchy where the senior associates’ requests went in order of receipt, but our supervisor could cut in front of someone in line, and everyone knew and accepted this. It helped that the supervisor’s requests were usually very short and had a “how did we miss this?!” feel to them. However, at Alpacacards, my supervisor could present me with several tasks including a longer project, and also the department manager might do the same. Whenever my task pile at Alpacacards got to four tasks, I’d send an email to the supervisor and manager, pointing out how many tasks there were and asking how the tasks should be prioritized.

          I’m glad you were able to get your confusion settled quickly, and by HR no less.

          Reply
      3. Hapless Bureaucrat

        I’ve gone through a few cycles of this with short staffing or with grand bosses who seemed to think my team’s time was infinitely expandable. We learned that a useful approach was to list all our ongoing tasks and upcoming deadlines and rank them. Then, when asked to take on more work, we would use the list to say “right now, we are getting our A and B priorities done, but not C. If we add this, we won’t be able to complete [x number of B priority tasks]. Please let us know which is the higher priority for you.” I can also put a timeline on it. “We can function for the months and get all priorities done, but after that C priorities slow down.”
        If the grandboss just hadn’t noticed how much was on our plate, that sometimes helped them back off. If they wanted to go forward with the project, they often DID give us a go ahead to drop lower priority items. And if nothing else, when priority C did drop and it got messy, well, we’d warned them….
        Structuring the conversation that way also left less room for “just do it all,” because our task list was… long. And once in a while we could even get the grand boss to identify other resources for us.
        All of this was defensive documentation because a) grand boss was horrid and b) we were always short of funding, but it was also a useful planning exercise for us to use in ordering our work and deadlines.

        Reply
      4. Optimistic Prime

        This happens to me a lot. I’ve learned that when it does, I need to tell my manager “I understand that you want me to finish Project X this week. I could potentially do that, but only if it’s okay if I delay Project A and leave Project B unfinished or hand it off to someone else. Is that okay or is there another way you’d like me to prioritize?” The basic message is “it is impossible for me to do all of the things you want me to do in this time frame, so what can I bump?” My manager is pretty good at helping me move things on and off my plate as needed.

        Reply
    2. Witty Nickname

      My biggest coping technique is to make sure everything I need to get done is where I can easily see it and keep track of it. I have a white board on my desk and use it to track everything I need to do. I bought a bunch of small post-it pads in different colors; on one half of my board, across the top, I have a post it for each project I’m working on (I tried to do a different color for each, but I only have 4 colors, and I have 6 projects up there currently). Under each project, in a column, I keep a list of all the things I need to get one – one thing per post-it. Once I do the thing, I move it to my completed section at the bottom of my board.

      The other half of my board is have a small space for notes and things, and then another space where I write “To Do (today): each day I choose a few post-its from my list that I absolutely MUST get done that day, and put them there. Once I finish those, I pick anything else from the list I have time to get done and want to get done that day.

      I use project management software to manage all of the deliverables for my project teams, but I like having all of my to-dos right in front of me, especially when I’m busier than normal. (It’s also nice to see all the things I’ve completed over the course of a project, and it has the added benefit of being a visual representation of everything you have on your plate for the people who tend to keep piling more on there).

      My other coping technique is to allow myself a few minutes of downtime between larger tasks, or every couple hours, to recharge my brain and allow me to switch gears as needed.

      Reply
    3. AdAgencyChick

      Are you telling your boss in real time how her last-minute requests affect the other things you’re working on? “Sure, I’ll take this on. So you know, that means I won’t get Other Urgent Project done until Thursday instead of Tuesday like we originally talked about.”

      If you aren’t doing this, part of her frustration might just be due to not having foreknowledge that balls are going to be dropped.

      Reply
    4. Superorganizer

      I have a notebook that I have on my desk, right beside my computer, and every morning I have/write down a list of things I need to get done. As I get them done, I write an “X” in the box. If I can’t get it done that day, I put a little right-facing arrow in the box, and write it on my list for the next day. Sometimes the “tasks” are recurring, for projects that take a long time or things I need to do daily/weekly, so I plan as soon as I know what I need to do by flipping ahead to that day’s page and writing it in, etc. Since starting to do this, I never drop any balls!

      Reply
    5. Optimistic Prime

      I do! I’m actually working on a really important, fast-moving project right now and my manager has been surprised and delighted about how much I relish it. I love working when I feel like I’m maybe just about to fall off the edge a bit.

      Reply
  33. LNZ

    So question about giving gifts to bosses. I know the general rule is don’t but what if it’s a gift you literally can get for free?
    My step-mom owns a little wine label and for the last few years I have been basically getting a free bottle or two from her and giving them as gifts to coworkers or immediate supervisors around the holidays (and once as a thank you for letting be barrow their car).
    I don’t like wine so it’s not like i ask my step-mom for bottles through out the year, so she doesn’t mind giving me a few to pass on as gifts and free promotion. I also always discreetly check around to make sure the person drinks wine before giving it. I also am one of those people who just likes giving gifts.

    Reply
    1. the.kat

      I think your problem here might be optics. Even though the gift didn’t cost you anything, has a perceived value and might pressure other people on your level to give to the boss the same way, which would cost them something. I would still say no on this.

      Reply
      1. LNZ

        I actually am asking this now because for the first time I’m in a department that isn’t just me and the boss alone in an office and that actually was a concern (more will it be looked down on instead of will i be negatively effecting them)

        Reply
      2. fposte

        Yup. I would do if it you can bring in a bottle for everybody in your department, but not if you have to single the boss out.

        Reply
        1. LNZ

          Before that’s pretty much been the situation, the various bosses and I were the department. But I’ve just started a new job at a bigger place.

          Reply
    2. Myrin

      I think the problem with gifting up is giving gifts at all, not whether you paid for them or they have an actual value or similar.

      Reply
    3. Lora

      No. Do not. I don’t care if it’s free, it’s just weird. If you want to bring something in for everyone to share including boss, that is fine, bring it for everyone.

      Source: I’m a boss and that would weird me right out.

      Best gift for a boss is getting your stuff done well and on time and being generally pleasant to be around most of the time. I will accept a written, heartfelt card or note if you are leaving or something and we are having a going-away party for you, but then I am already giving you a nice lunch, a cake and a card of my own, so that’s cool.

      I promise, we are well-compensated and are the “what to get someone who has everything” types. We don’t want anything other than the occasional chance to put our feet up.

      Reply
      1. LNZ

        Actually up until this new job i just started it was a bringing it for everyone situation because i’ve only worked in very very small departments.

        Reply
  34. Jackie Paper

    I had an interview recently for a job with the county. The job would be doing a certain amount of strategic planning, planning out programs, etc. After the interview they asked me to write out some in-depth answers to a couple of theoretical questions and also to write out a strategic plan for delivering services (that I came up with) for a hypothetical community within the county, including a sustainability plan and timeline for achieving all of this. They asked me to return all of this in one week (on Memorial Day as it turns out).

    I was a bit overwhelmed. It seemed like a lot to ask someone to do in one week by themselves for a job they might not even get. But I did it anyway because the job sounded interesting. I ended up writing about 15 pages (single spaced) and the whole thing took around 21 hours of my time (I also currently work full-time). Turned in the work on Memorial Day as requested (even though I knew they were closed that day). Haven’t heard from them since.

    Now I’m just wondering, well, all kinds of things really. But partly, did they just want someone to do a bunch of free work they could then just take and use? Or are they just slow in responding? Or perhaps my work was so far off from what they wanted that they can’t even respond …

    Any thoughts/advice? I’m wondering if this whole situation was a red flag or if it seems reasonable to other people.

    Reply
    1. Maybe We Can

      Shady. You shouldn’t have to do more than an exercise. They essentially asked you to do this work for free.

      Reply
    2. LizB

      If your county is anything like my county, they will move slooooooowly. Like, snail-stuck-in-rush-hour-traffic slowly. Also, if the community you wrote the plan for is hypothetical, would they really even be able to use your plan? I think it’s pretty unlikely they were just trying to get free work out of you.

      Reply
    3. Lily in NYC

      Hmm, I have mixed feelings. My first thought is that it does not seem like free work because it was a hypothetical scenario. And to be honest, there’s very little chance you would turn in something they could actually use (I don’t mean that as a dig to your skill-level, I just mean you won’t really know their needs until you work there). We always give case studies to candidates and the product is never usable -we really just want to understand someone’s thought process and work style. However, ours only take 30 minutes and are done during a 2nd-round interview. I think they asked you for too much, and I guess there’s always the chance they might be trying to glean some nuggets of wisdom from what you turned in.
      I wouldn’t worry that you haven’t hear back – g

      Reply
      1. Lily in NYC

        Yikes, I hit send too soon. I wouldn’t worry that you haven’t heard back – things tend to be a bit slower after a 3-day weekend…

        Reply
    4. fposte

      It’s not looking shady to me right now; at some levels I would ask for similar stuff (though I’m not sure whether their expectations were right for this level). I think I hear some puzzlement or annoyance that they had such a tight deadline for you but haven’t turned around their response quickly, and I’m afraid that’s par for the course, especially in government.

      Reply
      1. Jackie Paper

        Yeah, it just seemed like a lot to ask a job candidate to do in a short amount of time. A project that, if I were doing it for real, I would expect to take several months and work on with a team. Also I guess, that they haven’t even acknowledged that they received it or that they would be taking some time to absorb it. Though I can understand it might take some time to parse out.

        I just wasn’t sure if it was my expectations that were off or theirs. I appreciate the replies!

        Reply
    5. Bess

      That kind of thing is standard at my institution and I do think it’s a bit much, but it’s the setup so there’s not too much anyone can do about it. Some of it is being able to document/demonstrate that the best candidate was hired, that hires weren’t about nepotism or connections but about work–if it’s the county, might be the same story.

      I do know a videographer who put together a whole ad video for a school system job interview that he didn’t end up getting. They asked him if they could still use it, and he kind of waffled in the moment and said they could talk about some kind of consulting fee. But that’s a little easier because it’s a video asset and he’d have had to give them files.

      Reply
    6. Frustrated Optimist

      I have no particular opinion/insight as to whether they’re just slow, versus getting you to work for free.

      I am extremely curious, though. Will you update us in a future open thread?

      Reply
      1. Jackie Paper

        They could just be moving slowly, but they contacted me initially just a few days after I applied and wanted me to interview basically the next day. Then asking me to complete that huge project in a week, it just seemed like they were trying to move quickly. Not that they would be likely to actually steal my written work, but pretty much all of the programs I came up with could be taken and applied to actual (non-hypothetical) communities. So, it could really be a treasure-trove of ideas if they had a bunch of candidates do the same thing.

        I will try to remember to update when/if I hear anything back.

        Reply
    7. Thlayli

      Sorry I have no advice whatsoever I just wanted to say I LOVE your screen name. puff the magic dragon was one of my favourite songs as a child and as I’ve grown I cry every time I hear it it just so sad and yet so sweet

      Reply
  35. Katie Elderberry

    I accepted a job in Southern Florida and am moving in two weeks (from Maryland). Any tips for dressing professionally in a tropical climate?

    Reply
    1. Lindsey

      Dresses are better than pants, do not underestimate the power of linen, bring a blazer to throw on over things (just keep it draped over the back of your chair).

      Reply
      1. Treecat

        SING THE PRAISES OF LINEN

        Okay maybe that’s over the top but seriously, linen is the best fabric for hot climates. Yeah it wrinkles, but it’s so hot and humid in Florida that it’ll probably unwrinkle as soon as you hang it up, no problem.

        Reply
    2. pmac

      Very cool, congrats! I’ve lived in both Maryland and Florida, so I know humidity is bad for both. I’d wear breezy, light-weight fabrics and high SPF sunscreen. I hope your new job has good A/C!

      Reply
    3. soflo

      I’ve been in Miami a couple years – dress code is pretty loose here! I’ve seen very short skirts with very high heels and hot pink bras under white shirts. I would say get some nice shell sleeveless tops to pair with pants or pencil skirts and a rotating collection of cardigans that fit in your purse for the arctic blast air conditioning. I’m always freezing inside!

      Reply
    4. Bex

      I spend quite a bit of time in my company’s Miami office, and I basically live in linen slacks. I gave up on dresses because it might be 95 outside, but dear god does everyone love their AC. Indoors, it’s downright chilly.

      Reply
    5. Teapot Librarian

      I’d see what “professional” looks like in your new office. It may be more towards business casual, which would give more options. And congratulations!

      Reply
    6. Emily

      Make sure you have something (a sweater or similar) to wear if you get cold inside! Based on my experiences in North Carolina, Florida, and Georgia, a lot of places with hot weather will keep the indoor temperatures pretty cold.

      Reply
      1. Merida Ann

        Yes, that’s what I was going to say. I’m in central Florida, it’s been in the 90s for the past week or so, but I’m always in my warmest sweaters when I’m inside because the AC is so cold in my office. They overcompensate, and it just makes it uncomfortable inside as well as outside.

        Reply
    7. Lily in NYC

      You will be shocked at how much more casual workplaces are in FL – it’s just too hot otherwise. My mom lives in Southern FL and I rarely see people in suits or formal clothing, even in fancier places like law firms. It is very common to see professional women in sleeveless sundresses.

      Reply
    8. Mal

      Try the blog Outfit Posts – she lives in Florida and her style is what I would consider Florida or California professional

      Reply
    9. Ashie

      I worked in Tampa Bay for a dozen years – Florida is super laid back! I remember we interviewed a prospective new ED who had flown in from NYC and she was dressed in a black suit. She asked midway through if it was OK if she took her jacket off and we basically just laughed – duh of course it’s OK! She told us later (after she was hired) that the board member who had picked her up at the airport was wearing ripped jeans and sandals and she didn’t know how to react.

      So to answer your question, sheath dresses and flip flops all year round. You’ll be great.

      Reply
    10. Amy

      I read AAM’s dress recommendations and was particularly struck by the no armpit at work policy. I only own sleeveless blouses. I pair them with a blazer or cardigan. It can often be freezing inside in South Florida and of course, hot and humid outside. And sometimes the air goes out in an office so it becomes too hot inside. You need layers that can come on and off! It is much more casual down here.

      Reply
    11. JulieBulie

      Avoid polyester.

      Some of those blouses look very crisp and nice on the hanger in the store. Do not be deceived. Oh, they will still look crisp and nice when you’re wearing them, but on the inside they will be hot and sweaty and stinky and you will want to burn them when you get home.

      But you won’t burn them, because they’ll look so crisp and nice. It’s a vicious circle.

      Reply
  36. Tau

    I got a job I got a job I got a job!!!

    I’d had two Skype interviews and then the in-person interview on Monday. There were surprisingly few standard-interview-y questions a la “tell me about a time when…”, the biggest part was a technical skills test and then presenting and discussing it afterwards. I guess it makes sense for tech interviews? Anyway, I was really nervous but super enjoyed the discussion about the test, and everything about the job looks and sounds fantastic so far.

    The offer came yesterday and I handed in my notice today. I didn’t negotiate because they gave me the top of the range I’d asked for. I’m now wondering if I should have asked for a higher range, but eh – I’d already upped my range for this position, and if my market research is correct the offer is 20% above the average for my level of experience, which seems pretty good. It’s also a full 70% (!!!) more than what I’m earning now, although the fact that it’s in a different country with a very different tax system and COL means you can’t compare the two salaries as directly as you might otherwise.

    One piece of advice from Alison that I found really helpful was to pretend to myself that I was approaching them as a successful contractor considering taking on another client instead of a job applicant. That really helped me flip my brain away from “aaaah if I say something wrong they will think I am a terrible person and reject me and everything will be woe and despair forever” and into professional Tau mode, where I could really assess whether this was a good fit. I’m pretty sure that’s what gave me the courage to have an honest discussion about work hours – I’m an early bird and work/life balance is very important to me, and that was something I’d been really worried about.

    So, yeah, we still need to hash out the contract and there is SO much work coming at me relocation-wise, but…

    I got a job!!!

    Reply
    1. Nea

      One piece of advice from Alison that I found really helpful was to pretend to myself that I was approaching them as a successful contractor considering taking on another client instead of a job applicant.

      Ooooh, I’d missed that the first time around and it’s brilliant! Will remember it.

      Congratulations on your new job!

      Reply
    2. Myrin

      Yay, huge congrats!
      (And I totally missed that you’d already moved back here, I totally thought a big move was yet to come!)

      Reply
      1. Tau

        Thank you!

        And oh no, the big move IS yet to come. Hence a lot of work coming at me relocation-wise! I have a rather daunting list of things I need to sort out involving bank accounts and health insurance and flats and the like, but I’ve arranged for a month off between the two jobs which will hopefully give me enough time that I’m reasonably settled when the new job starts. For instance, I’d like to have found a flat by then!

        Reply
    3. Snazzy Hat

      Whaaaaaaaa! {flings new job glitter and good luck glitter} Congratulations! I’m glad the “successful contractor” role helped! None of the role-playing suggestions really clicked with me in my most recent application process — I start my new job in less than two weeks! {flings more new job glitter} — but for my second in-person interview I ended up adapting “someone else got the job, whatever, the manager and I are gonna chat about stuff” to “the manager thinks I’m cool and wants to introduce me to a couple of her colleagues [at a panel interview] but this has nothing to do with the position”.

      Best of luck in relocating, too!

      Reply
  37. Luisa

    About three weeks ago, I got an automated email from the admissions office at Local Public University, requesting that I provide a reference for an applicant I’ll call “Kelly Peterson,” who is seeking admission for a professional degree in my field. I don’t know Kelly Peterson (I know a few Kellys, and a few Petersons, but no past or present Kelly Peterson). There is a Kelly Peterson who works for my employer in a similar type of role, but she works at a different site, has never worked at any site I have ever worked at, and has – as far as I can tell – never attended any meetings, professional development seminars, etc. that I have also attended. No one in my professional network has that name, and none of the new graduates of my alma mater, whose alumni network I am active in, has that name. What I’m trying to convey is that there is no chance that I know Applicant Kelly Peterson.

    I emailed the Kelly Peterson who works for my employer to inform her about this reference request and to suggest that, if she is Applicant Kelly Peterson, she might want to contact the university to correct her reference list. I also acknowledged in the email that she might not be Applicant Kelly Peterson, and apologized for bothering her if that was the case. (A Google search for Kelly Peterson + my city brings up a few hits, but none that clearly indicate someone who works in or adjacent to my field.) She never emailed me back, which is fine – except that I just got another email from the university regarding my reference for Applicant Kelly Peterson.

    I am assuming that this is due to a benign error either by the university or Applicant Kelly Peterson, since I can’t imagine anyone thinking that listing a complete stranger on their reference list was a good idea. (My name is not very common and is not spelled similarly to any extremely common names, but typos happen.)

    Here’s my question, for the many readers in higher ed on this board: Should I contact the university admissions office to alert them to this error, given that my attempt to contact the person who seemed most likely to be Applicant Kelly Peterson failed? I would hate for her application to be rejected because it’s incomplete, but I also worry that it would reflect negatively on her if I call admissions to say that I’m a complete stranger who somehow ended up on her reference list. (I feel like that could suggest carelessness at best, or an attempt to be deceitful at worst.) Anyone who works in or adjacent to admissions care to weigh in?

    Reply
    1. Lindsey

      Not in admissions, but from my perspective, just give them a heads up that you do not know Kelly Peterson and that her reference list needs to be corrected. I would frame it as assuming that an email was spelled wrong or something like that.

      But, hey, it’s references. It’s her responsibility to check and be careful on those.

      Reply
      1. Definitely Anon

        It could easily be the people in admissions that made the mistake. You may be listed as a reference for someone else or they may have made a typo. You don’t have enough information to assume it was the applicant’s mistake. Since you don’t know who “Kelly Peterson” is you should definitely let them know. It is on them to figure out who made the mistake.

        Reply
    2. Graciosa

      I’m not really getting the issue here. You’re worried about telling the truth because it might make a stranger look bad?

      If she really was careless or deceitful, why do you imagine you are obligated to help hide the fact?

      Frankly, you’ve done more than I would have in searching for a possible contact and reaching out to her in advance to give her a chance to fix the error (if she made one).

      I would contact whoever was sending the request to say (politely) that I didn’t know this person and (politely) ask them to stop sending me reference requests when I was unable to provide a reference. That would be the end of my involvement.

      Whatever happens or doesn’t happen to Applicant Kelly Peterson is her issue to deal with, but again, I really wouldn’t worry about it. If this is going to stress you out and you need a way to avoid feeling bad because you can’t accept that you’re not responsible (although you’re not) if AKP suffers consequences from her own behavior and ends up not being accepted to the program, another applicant will be in her place. That person should be judged fairly rather than suffering by comparison to a candidate the admissions team did not realize was either careless or deceitful.

      Reply
    3. AvonLady Barksdale

      I think you’ve done some very nice informing, but you don’t need to do too much more. Things like this happen to me ALL THE TIME– I have an uncommon last name but I use first-initial-lastname for my email address, and I’ve received several emails for people who are not me. I think what you should do is write back to the admissions office and say that you received the reference requests in error, full stop.

      I doubt the Kelly Peterson who works at your company put your name down in any way, which is why she hasn’t answered you. It’s more likely to be a typo by whoever enters things into the application system, and what’s more, I’m sure this happens a lot and does not reflect badly on the candidate. Typos happen.

      Reply
    4. Manders

      Is it possible that someone you know named Kelly has recently gotten married and changed her name? It’s more probable that the university just messed up and called the wrong person, but there’s a chance that one of the Kellys you know could actually be Kelly Peterson now.

      Reply
    5. fposte

      Yeah, I think you’re overthinking this and also very kindly overworking it. I would email the admissions office (email should be easily publicly available if it’s not in the email) with a “Sorry, some kind of mixup–I don’t know this applicant” and then let it go.

      Reply
    6. Observer

      I’m not sure why you are worrying about this. Just email them back saying that this was sent to you in error, because you don’t know Kelly Peterson.

      There are a dozen different ways this could have happened, but you need to get the emails to stop.

      Reply
  38. Anon Accountant

    I started reading the book the “No A$$hole rule” and love it. For those in a toxic, bullying environment try reading this book. I’m a few pages in and like it so far.

    One thing I’m struggling with (as are many who are in toxic places too long) is how toxic behaviors rub off on you and you begin to repeat the behaviors you witness. The book is supposed to address this so I’ll let you know.

    This week we had a great employee resign. She worked with a mean, nothing you do is right or enough, brilliant jerk. Another accountant who worked with him quit in October.

    A bookkeeper is throwing a tantrum that she’s quitting if 2 others she doesn’t like aren’t fired. They’re trying to appease her because she refused to take on additional work unless they’re fired or quit.

    Reply
  39. Discordia Angel Jones

    Update on a couple of previous comments of mine:

    I did it! I’ve now handed in my resignation to Toxic Job and accepted an offer of a New Job which pays me nearly double! (For any who read my comment in the overreactions thread, my bosses are the ones who threw kettles and phones around ;) )

    If anyone remembers New Job was the one where in the first interview I split my skirt up the front and had to repair it with safety pins!

    Reply
    1. Discordia Angel Jones

      I 100% credit finding this website to my superior CV drafting and interviewing performance! :D

      Reply
    2. Tau

      Congratulations! And wow, I remember that story – what an epic interview! Here’s hoping your new job goes excellently, and with a minimum of both flying appliances (?!?!) and clothing mishaps. ;)

      Reply
    3. motherofdragons

      This is fantastic news in general, but made even more sweet by how terrible ToxicJob was, and how unexpected and exciting your interview story is! :) Congrats!

      Reply
    4. Snazzy Hat

      BOO-YAH! Congratulations! {flings new job glitter}

      Also I somehow missed the original story about the skirt mishap. I’m glad you retold it so I could join in with laughter! :-D That is to say, I’m extra glad that didn’t cost you the job. Phew!

      Reply
    5. Tedious Cat

      Oh wow, that’s wonderful! I had a good feeling about your interview because of how well both you and your interviewer handled the wardrobe malfunction.

      Reply
  40. Pineapple Incident

    What’s the high and low of your week this week? This short week has been a good balance of things I love and don’t so much about my now not-so-new job (been since January).

    I had to deal with someone who used the old “Well we’ve been doing it this way since way before YOU got here!” This person is continuously difficult with job tasks, but has a nice demeanor most of the time and has since apologized. I get a lot of work from her and though she’s not above me, I end up doing a lot of her work since it takes a lot to get corrections from her.

    Another colleague who sends me things that I review sent a very nice thank you card through inter-campus mail after I helped her out with a project she had to do but hasn’t yet received training required to complete it properly. That just made my day, and then someone else this morning told me I’m “killing it.” I would never have gotten this kind of praise at my previous job, and it’s nice to hear.

    Reply
    1. Teapot Librarian

      Hooray for praise! What a great way to end the week!

      High #1: My new employee started on Tuesday!! I’m so excited about this for more reasons than I can count.
      High #2: I got a phone call from someone who was looking for the person in my position 7 years ago. It turned out he was calling about something that I’ve had on my to-do list since December 2015 (oops) and now that he and I are in contact, we may actually make progress on it!
      Low #1: Short week (plus out two days) means I’m incredibly far behind in everything.
      Low #2: Issues with a supply order I requested last week. Sigh.

      Reply
    2. Lora

      High: the operations yesterday ran very smoothly, it was glorious, everything went even a little better than planned. Slick as can be.
      Low: I had to explain to an a-hole, in little words, that yelling at people to care more when they are working 60 hour workweeks, is not a winning management strategy. I also found out that this same a-hole has been screwing up how we do calculations for the past 8 months and now I have to comb back through the data to figure out all the screw-ups. I only found this out because he tried to argue with me about how *I* was doing the math and a (male, of course) manager told him that no, I was right.

      Reply
    3. AvonLady Barksdale

      High: I took initiative (in the right way!) on a project and balanced some complicated issues for a complicated client.

      Low: My boss spoke to me about my attention to detail, which is definitely something I struggle with, especially when I’m still in the ramping-up period and don’t have a ton of work to do. It sounds counterintuitive, but the more I do, the better I am, and the less I do, the more nerve-wracking every little task becomes, so I pay less attention. It doesn’t help that I’m working hard to manage a ton of anxiety and depression issues, and this week was just baaaad. Our conversation went extremely well, though, much better than I expected… and I’m kicking myself over the whole thing because I read a critical email from my boss while on the way to an event for my birthday (!) and it basically ruined my whole night. It shouldn’t have.

      Bonus high: My co-workers got me my favorite dessert for my birthday, so the day wasn’t a total wash!

      Reply
      1. Teapot Librarian

        Happy birthday! (I’ve totally done the “read an email from the boss at the wrong moment and have it ruin my night” thing. I’m sorry you had that experience.) And good luck with the anxiety and depression. I’ve been there too.

        Reply
    4. Bess

      Low: Project managing a project where the primary contributor doesn’t want to have any meetings or set any deadlines (and won’t adhere to a meeting agenda and will overtalk if I attempt to hold us to it) and basically I think doesn’t want to work on the project for 2 months, until just before it’s due.
      High: A few other stalled project deliverables are finally clearing roadblocks!

      Reply
    5. Becca

      High: I took on the task of finding prospective instructors for the summer program I help run, and I found two awesome candidates, one of whom has a sibling with the condition our program caters to! Huzzah! (Best part is that they both work in the same town the programming director lives, so they’re both getting interviewed next week :) )

      Low: I continue to end up with work that other people are responsible for, by dint of being a fast worker, actually reliable, and not insanely busy. At this point, I’m taking all our meeting minutes (I’m not the secretary), I’m trying to get our processes and in-house positions explained in writing by the people responsible for them (I’m not the project manager), and now I’m meeting with the treasurer to go over programming costs (I’m not the programming director). Ahh!

      Reply
    6. Sibyl de Neufmarché

      Low point – Not for the first time having to tell an 80 + year old volunteer not to use a highly offensive and racist phrase.
      High point – Remembering that I only have three weeks before I’m my own boss, and can wave goodbye to bigoted volunteers I’m not allowed to properly manage.

      Reply
    7. Good Week!

      High: got my annual performance evaluation. Top scores, which means I’ll get the maximum bonus amount.
      Extra high: my workplace does bonuses based on years of service. Last year was the first year I qualified, but I forgot about it and it somehow got overlooked. During my eval meeting, it came up, so I followed up on it. It’s going to be on my next check (and of course I’ll still get this year’s anniversary bonus at the appropriate time).
      Low: the week after a three-day weekend (Memorial Day in the U.S.) is eternally long.

      Reply
    8. Parenthetically

      High: summer vacation has started! Got my grades finalized, finished up a few parent communication things, and now I’m ready to do things like reading for fun! and working on summer projects! And we’re leaving tomorrow on our big road trip/babymoon, which I’m so excited about.

      Low: my freaking hips and lower back are KILLING me. 11 more weeks of this. The kid better be cute! ;) I have a couple massage gift cards but I’m saving them until after the road trip, so in the meantime I just have to get up and walk around a couple times in the night, which is going to be really interesting when we’re camping next week.

      Reply
    9. New Bee

      High: I’ve gotten to put so many AAM learnings into practice this week: I coached my sister on interview questions, helped a friend figure out how to complete an interview task that looks like “do a significant portion of the job for free before we hire you”, and pointed out my job was late (per CA law) on my final check and owes me a penalty, which they agreed to pay.

      Low: Much of the separation process since I gave notice to this job has been annoying, but having to point out that their written material on final paycheck violates labor law was especially disappointing. I think they assumed people wouldn’t notice or question, and while I’m fortunate to not live paycheck to paycheck, I know there are folks that do, and they are ostensibly who our org is designed to serve. Boo, poor labor practices!

      Reply
    10. Nervous Accountant

      High–manager asks me to look over his emails and gave me a small writing project. I now have another small writing project–he told me our bosses loved it. Helped out a coworker w something and he said thanks.

      Low–the thing I wrote above wrt to another cw.

      Reply
  41. Organized Chaos

    How do you refer to candidates during an interview? “You would be responsible for x, y, z.” or “The person in this position would be responsible for “x, y, z.”
    I wouldn’t say anything long winded like “You, should you be hired for this position…”

    Reply
    1. Grits McGee

      What about “This position is responsible for x,y,z” or “Our teapot spout designers are responsible for x,y,z?

      Reply
    2. Definitely Anon

      I think that the first phrasing is the one I have heard most often. The “should you be hired” is implied. Would is a conditional statement.

      Reply
      1. stuff happens

        Yes, I remember an LW who said that they assumed they would get the job because the interviewers kept saying “you would be doing X” and Allison saying that was just a normal and acceptable way to phrase things in an interview.

        Reply
        1. Definitely Anon

          I would just avoid saying “will”. “You will be doing X” sends a different message than “you would be doing X”.

          Reply
    3. fposte

      There are enough people who take “You will” or “You would” to be a statement that they’re getting the job that I try really, really hard not to use either of them. It’s very difficult to avoid completely because you’re talking to a “you.” If you have other people in similar positions, sometimes you can use them as examples (“Jane the teapot artist goes to fourteen meetings a week and makes one teapot a year, which is about average here because we suck”).

      Reply
  42. Ms. Meow

    How do you re-energize yourself after long meetings? We’re in a transition period at my job right now, so we’re having more and longer meetings than usual. When I get back to my desk after, I feel tired and grumpy. Any tips on getting refocused and feeling better?

    Reply
    1. Lindsey

      Take a ten minute walk and drink some water. I also find it helps to have a quick chat with a colleague about non-work related stuff to kind of de-fuzz my brain.

      Reply
    2. k

      I find that stretching helps get me back into focus mode. Just at the desk, stretch out my arms, a couple neck rolls, nothing intense.

      Reply
    3. LibKae

      For the refocused aspect, what I find is helpful is to keep a list of things I need to do (seems ridiculously obvious, I know, but it really helps me come back to center after a meeting). I found with paper lists that I’d spend too much time trying to read around the crossed off things or transcribing old lists into new ones, so I use Trello. It’s been a sanity saver. I keep it permanently open in my browser and when I find myself spinning my wheels after a meeting it’s easy to go to and grab something to do (also keeps me from having to remember all of the zillion things that need to be done each day)

      Reply
  43. Not Karen

    (This is commute-related, so I think it’s work related enough…)

    How far away from the bus stop would you be willing to live? In a place that experiences weather extremes? I have to take the bus to work because my office is downtown and does not have parking. I’m moving house and looking at a place that is 0.6 mi (~15 min walk) to the nearest bus stop. The time spent on the bus is only ~6 min. On the other end it would drop me off only 1/2 block from the building. My current place is 0.4 mi (~10 min) to the bus stop followed by 16 min on the bus and another 0.2 to the office once I get downtown.

    Typing it out, it sounds like not a big deal…

    Reply
    1. SophieChotek

      15 minutes can be a long walk in freezing bitter cold and bitter wind! (And then add that to having to wait for the bus etc.) Ditto for having to walk in torrential rans or blazing heat. I mean it’s one thing if you’re just getting the bus to get groceries but another to go to work. I mean 15 minutes it’s that big huge (half mile?), but I can walk to my local Target from where I live and I don’t bother if its raining or super hot or freezing cold, if that makes any sense. But when its none of those things, I make myself walk instead of drive.

      Reply
    2. stuff happens

      I live in the Twin Cities and work downtown. I walk a total of about 0.7 miles each day in addition to the bus and even in bad winter weather it is not too bad as long as I dress for it. (Of course we have the added benefit that all streets have sidewalks and are required to be cleared, so I’m not usually actually walking in 4ft of snow!) It sounds like your total walking time isn’t actually going up, it’s just going to be all at once and your commute will be shorter overall, which is always nice.

      Reply
    3. Emi.

      I live about 15 minutes away from my train station, and I got through the cold just fine. (I haven’t done summer yet.) I wouldn’t consider that a big deal!

      YMMV but I recommend that you get a coat heavy enough to keep you warm as the only layer over your clothes. I almost always opened my coat on the walk, because walking so fast would make me sweaty otherwise. I didn’t actually have a warm enough coat to do on its own, so I had at least one sweater functioning as a coat liner, and un- and re-zipping multiple layers was a PAIN.

      Reply
    4. LazyGirl

      I live in Minnesota and honestly think this would be OK most of the time assuming you have appropriate clothing. Do you have the ability to drive and park closer to the stop or to take an earlier or later bus if there is a thunderstorm?

      A six minute bus ride would be totally worth the little extra walking for me!

      Reply
      1. Not Karen

        It looks like I might be able to drive most of the way down the street and park on the side of the road; I’ll have to take a look at the parking signs. In a snowstorm I’m not sure it’s worth starting up the car and driving in the snow for that though…

        Reply
        1. S-Mart

          In a snowstorm your street parking options might be limited or nonexistant, too. Many municipalities ban parking on one or sometimes both sides of the street during snow storms.

          Reply
        2. TL -

          Plus if it’s not safe to walk in a snowstorm, it’s probably not safe to drive. (And just because it’s safe to walk doesn’t mean it’s safe to drive.)
          But most places are reasonable about not coming in during a snowstorm. I always do if the T is running, because I love walking in the snow, but my boss always says to take the day if it’s bad and a couple of my coworkers do, especially those that live on bus routes.

          Reply
    5. Teapot Librarian

      Personally, I feel like there isn’t that much difference between 10 and 15 minutes once the weather is extreme enough to make me unhappy being out in it. Obviously YMMV.

      Reply
    6. Hapless Bureaucrat

      It’s a pretty individual question. The thing about walking time is it isn’t just the time. I’m carrying bags, I need my work clothes to stay clean (or I’m exhausted at the end of the day), etc etc. It’s complicated walking. My bus stop is at the end of my block, or I can go a half mile to another route for a more efficient bus schedule. I’ve noticed I never choose the longer route even though it cuts down my transfer time. My biggest no, though, would be relying on a route that comes only every half hour or hour or only at rush hour, but I know a lot of people who use those to commute.

      Reply
      1. Not Karen

        Yeah if it’s just me (no bags) a 2-3 mile walk can be just fine.

        All the bus routes in my small city are every half hour or hour so that’s not really a point of contention.

        Reply
    7. Elizabeth West

      Wow that’s awesome. I can walk to a bus stop in something like three minutes from my house (I go by it on my walk every day) but the rides take upward of an hour and a half. If I didn’t have a car here, I’d be screwed. It sounds like you’re just switching the bus-ride time and the walking time. If you have good outerwear, it shouldn’t be a big issue (I don’t know what the weather is like where you live).

      Reply
    8. NoNameYet

      Only downside to adding walking time is that you will feel extreme weather more. Which is usually bearable, just make sure you have some kind of backup plan for when it isn’t. You might already! Just thought I’d throw that out there. I learned this the hard way one winter a couple years ago. I had a 20 minute walk to work, no bus option. That was great until we had a string of days with -30 to -40 degree wind chill (yeah, Michigan weather!). I ended up relying on my boss to pick me up a couple days… awkward.

      Reply
    9. katamia

      Not far at all. If I lived in a very warm place, I’d be willing to live maybe a 15-minute walk away (how far away I lived from the train station for one of my jobs, and it was annoying but fine), but I have some joint issues that make it very hard for me to walk in snow, and at this point in time I just refuse to do it. The bus stop would have to basically be right in front of my house/apartment for me to be comfortable doing that.

      Reply
    10. Lora

      I’m in MA, not sure if that counts as weather extremes. Does the bus stop have a bike rack? I live about 1.5 miles from public transit, which I take every day, and I bike to the station so it’s about 10 minutes. In horrible terrible weather I carpool with someone who lives near me and goes to work right down the road: I make him a breakfast bagel sandwich, he drops me off. After the train I have 2 blocks of walking to the office. That said, my employers have always been pretty cool about “hey, the weather is garbage out, I’m working from home today” too.

      How much do you want to pay for a fancy jacket and boots? If you’re going to be in, say, Canada, you may wish to spend a good deal more on coat / hat / boots than I do; my generic-brand barn coat, leggings under my pants and galoshes with warm socks are good enough for me, and I change into proper shoes at the office.

      Also, I cannot say enough nice things about Uniqlo Heattech clothes. Those Heattech tights and leggings have saved my butt on days when it was OK in the morning but crummy in the evening. They are reasonably priced. They are warm as toast and dry quickly. They can be easily bundled up and crammed into a tote bag. They come in office-nice designs and neutral colors. I have a couple pairs of slacks, a zillion pairs of tights and leggings, and three undershirt sort of things that I wear under office sweaters and they look fairly professional. I have a down jacket from them that crams up into a little baggie for days when the weather turns, and I love it. The only danger is that I’m always warm, and then I start falling asleep, so I drink more caffeine.

      Reply
    11. WhatTheFoxSays

      If you live in an area that gets snow, do they shovel well? Does the thought of at least 5 extra minutes in weather you don’t like make you cringe? If it checks out ok in all that, go for it, but if it’ll make you unhappy it may be worth looking for an alternative, even if that’s uber on the days you just can’t deal with it.

      Reply
    12. FluffyToodie

      I have an odd job arrangement. Tuesday through Thursday I work in a different city, and I walk about 0.6 miles to and from work in all types of weather. I think your commute would be totally do-able if you have the right gear. In South Dakota, this means a super heavy duty parka for the worst days of winter, and a pair of crampons (studded things you can wear over your shoes) for the days when the sidewalks are very icy.

      Reply
    13. a girl has no name

      When I lived in Chicago, I had a 15 minute walk to the bus every day. I was usually fine as long as I dressed for the weather. In pouring rain it could get annoying at times, but it was bearable.

      Reply
    14. Optimistic Prime

      15 minutes is fine. I suppose it depends on what you mean by weather extremes. I lived in New York and in Pennsylvania, both places it can get cold and snowy, and in the case of PA I lived there the winter of the polar vortex (so it was frequently below freezing). A 15 minute walk was totally fine in the right clothes. Anything longer than 20 minutes started to get painful.

      Reply
  44. Longtime listener, First time caller

    I’ve just moved from an exempt position to a nonexempt position, meaning that if I work over 40 hours in a week, I get overtime. There have been a few occasions so far that I have worked a few hours over 40, but I have a hard time coding my time sheet for overtime pay because the reason why I’ve had to work a few hours over 40 is because of my own slacking during the regular work week.
    My mindset is that if I had just been more productive, I wouldn’t need to work some overtime, so I don’t bill it. Curious if anyone else sees it this way too.

    Reply
    1. Fictional Butt

      If you work over 40 hours in a week, you MUST report it. Otherwise you are creating a liability, because your employer is in violation of the law for not paying you overtime.

      Whether or not you are slacking is not relevant. Everyone slacks occasionally. If your company thinks you are slacking too much, they should address it with you, but failing to pay you overtime is an inappropriate and illegal way to address it and you should not make that choice for them.

      Reply
      1. Fictional Butt

        (And because I feel my answer sounds harsh… I would totally feel the same way you do. I’m glad I have never worked in a professional non-exempt position because I would totally feel guilty billing overtime. But it’s a pretty hard-and-fast rule.)

        Reply
      2. Elizabeth West

        This. Always report it–if you don’t and they find out you’re working without pay, they can get in big trouble. They could fire you over that because it’s a huge liability for them. I imagine they’d probably first warn you strongly not to do it again, but I wouldn’t want to take the chance.

        Reply
      3. Fictional Butt

        And another thing I forgot to mention (sorry I keep replying to myself!)–do you have permission to work overtime? If you work overtime you have to bill it, whether you have permission or not, but if your boss doesn’t expect you to work more than 40 hours a week then you might get in trouble (as Elizabeth mentioned). You should probably ask your boss what her expectations regarding overtime are (with the understanding that if she doesn’t want you to work overtime, that means you don’t work overtime, not that you don’t report it).

        Reply
    2. Hapless Bureaucrat

      You’re still using a salaried employee mindset in what’s now essentially an hourly position. “Work until the job is done” is appropriate for a salaried job, but now your metric should be “work 40 hours unless pre-arranged with the boss.” It’s a hard switch to make mentally, and even harder if the job isn’t really set up with those expectations in mind.
      As commenters below point out, though, you have to bill for hours worked.
      If you haven’t, it may help to talk to your boss about what they expect you to accomplish within a 40 hour week and when they expect overtime, so that you redefine what you’re using to judge your progress (and what’s “slacking” or not).

      Reply
      1. Hapless Bureaucrat

        And by “commenters below” I mean “commenters above.” Friday has stolen my brain.

        Reply
  45. Lyrasoxford

    Hi Alison! when you say “If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue” what does “recently” mean?
    If I sent in a question mid-April, should I hold off on posting here, or is that long enough ago that I should repost? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Mid-April is long enough ago that I don’t expect you to wait for me. It’s still possible I could have it in my to-answer queue but I’d certainly understand at that point if you’d rather post it here instead. (You can also feel free to email me and ask if you want!)

      Reply
  46. Fabulous

    Possibly not work-related but it sort of is… What do people do about their jobs when they’re in a committed relationship wanting to move to the next level, but their SO lives an hour away?

    My situation is that he lives/works about an hour away from my house, and I work 30 minutes in the complete opposite direction. If he moves in with me, he’ll have a 60 minute trek to work, if I move in with him, I’d have a 1.5 hour commute. My job is still semi-new and I’d prefer to stay where I’m at because it’s got great benefits and it’s been a while since I’ve been in a job for over a year. I started as a temp May 2016 but was only hired on full-time in October. He’s been at his job for 3 years, but he’s got another two years to go before vesting.

    So, what have other people done in this type of situation? How do you consolidate lives?

    Reply
    1. Maybe We Can

      Decide whether the other one is worth a 45 minute commute. If you can’t work this out together and accommodate each other’s needs, then it’s probably not right in the long run.

      Reply
      1. Fabulous

        Thankfully it’s not really a matter of whether we want to – we do – it’s just a matter of what to do until we can purchase something together at the halfway point.

        Reply
        1. AnonAcademic

          My husband and I lived an hour apart for 3 years while I finished school. After graduation we moved as close to the halfway point between My City and His City as we could manage. Would it be possible for you to rent something at a midway point for a while while renting out your house and see how that works out? In general the more you can try different things temporarily to see what works the better off you’ll be, I think. It’s hard to say how bad a commute will feel till you’re actually doing it, you know?

          Reply
    2. Amber Rose

      I guess the question I have is, is an hour commute that bad? I don’t even live in a big city, just a moderate one, and my commute is about an hour with traffic, because that’s just how it works in the city. It’d be a friggin miracle to find work in the same part of the city I live in, and I always wonder where people live that it’s a given that they would. I know it would suck compared to what you have now, but how bad would it really be?

      My best friend works in a mine in one place, her fiance in another, and her family is here, the third place. Also mining work keeps her in camps for three or four weeks at a time. She’s OK with only seeing him a couple weeks every now and then (goes back and forth between visits to him and visits here) and maintains three living spaces. Now that… is tough.

      Reply
      1. Ange

        I guess the question I have is, is an hour commute that bad? I don’t even live in a big city, just a moderate one, and my commute is about an hour with traffic, because that’s just how it works in the city. It’d be a friggin miracle to find work in the same part of the city I live in, and I always wonder where people live that it’s a given that they would
        I always wonder this too! I live in London, UK and while I have occasionally managed to live in walking distance of my work, it’s far more common not to. And when I finally bought a home, there was no chance of being anywhere close to where I work. I have a 45 minute commute on the tube, or 1 hr 30 on the bus (my preferred option) and my commute is one of the shorter in my department.

        Reply
        1. Fabulous

          Dang! I’m in a Metro area now, but even when I lived and worked in a big city (Chicago) I was able to have around a 30-45 minute commute most days with traffic. Up to an hour and a half on the worst of days.

          Reply
        2. Elizabeth West

          Haha, I tried taking the tube several times at peak time on purpose last visit, to see if I could handle it if I lived there. Once, from Canary Wharf all the way to Richmond Station.

          The answer is yes, I could, but it gave a whole new meaning to the term “packed like sardines in a tin.” Anybody with a space bubble problem would probably just die.

          Reply
            1. Treecat

              Yup. My best friend commutes from Surrey into central London every day, I don’t know how she does it. She’s out on maternity leave right now and says she has so much more energy now that she’s not commuting, even with a 6 week old baby.

              Reply
          1. Ramona Flowers

            If you went from Canary Wharf you must have been on the Jubilee line. It gets pretty sardines-y in the mornings.

            Reply
      2. krysb

        I live in a rural area about 60 miles from work in Nashville. My 1 hour, 15 minute commute is better than when I lived 38 miles from work, which averaged between 1.5 and 2 hours. I would totally move closer if it wasn’t so much more expensive.

        Reply
    3. MechanicalPencil

      I have a similar conundrum. The SO is looking at purchasing a place that’s close to the kids’ school/life and conveniently near his office. For me, should we move in together, it’s a 40 minute train ride and at least an hour commute (on a really good day). And most of my life is centered a 20-30 minute drive away (ah, metro areas), so I would very much be moving for him. Still haven’t decided how I feel about that.

      Reply
      1. Fabulous

        It’s definitely a huge consideration! From my house, he lives an hour south, my work is 30 minutes east, my parents are 30 minutes north, his parents are 30 minutes west. It’s all Metro but there’s no public transport, and traffic is worse in my area than his by far (he’s in the country.)

        Reply
    4. Emilia Bedelia

      Also take into consideration whether one of you can work from home occasionally or flex hours to accommodate traffic. If you would have a 1.5 hour commute twice a week, versus him having a 60 minute commute 5 days a week, or if his 60 minute commute would stretch to 2 hours with traffic with no option to change his hours, that may change your calculus.

      Or, consider if public transport would be an option- it may increase the time of your commute, but it may be more tolerable if you’re able to work or do other things during that time.

      Reply
      1. Fabulous

        I’m in a Metro area but there is no public transport available. He lives and works out in the country so it wouldn’t be an option for him regardless.

        We’ve been thinking he’s going to move in with me, or at least stay with me for extended periods. Since he works 12 hour shifts, he only goes in 3-4 days a week, whereas I work 8-hour shifts 5 days a week. The only caveat being that with an hour commute for him, he’d then have 14+ hour days, plus any additional meetings he needs to attend on his days off.

        Whenever we do decide to get married we can at least buy a house together at the midway point! Too bad I just closed on my house in October LOL (put in the offer the same day as our first date – talk about serendipity!)

        Reply
    5. Zathras

      I don’t have much experience with this, but since it sounds like you own your place, I guess renting at the midway point is out? Does he own his place?

      If there’s no pressure for either of you to decide anything right away housing wise, why not have an extended trial period for both places? You stay with him for 2 weeks, he stays with you for 2 weeks, and you get some real data on just how much you hate each commute. Maybe one of you discovers that the commute is long but not stressful, and you don’t mind it. The points above about considering who has a more flexible schedule/work from home options is good too.

      I see you updated below about his work schedule – what about if he mostly moved in with you, but rented a small cheap room close to work, so that if he was working a few days in a row he would not have to drive in between? I assume there is some motivation to not pay for 2 full housing situations here.

      Reply
  47. Amber Rose

    Door Wars! Not as exciting as the star kind. We work in an old commercial condo building that used to be 5 units (owners knocked the walls down when they bought the place out), so airflow is always a problem. One bay could freeze while the one next door cooks.

    My cube contains one of many doors to the outside. My neighbor bitches constantly about me not wanting to open it up. I understand the breeze helps it not be a stifling oven, but on the other hand, it knocks all my papers around and all the bees fly in. Also people wander in and out. Also literally every other door is open, does it change THAT much?

    Am I being unreasonable? Or am I being influenced by being at BEC stage, since this is the same coworker we all agreed was acting like a literal 4 year old, and who gave me cause to skip lunch yesterday by detailing how an old girlfriend used to pop all his blackheads.

    Reply
    1. Definitely Anon

      Can you offer to switch cubicles with the coworker that wants the door open? Then they can deal with the inconvenience of having the door open if it is really that important.

      Reply
      1. Amber Rose

        Unfortunately no. My cubicle is twice the size of his and stuffed literally to bursting with the stuff I need to do my job.

        Reply
    2. Pineapple Incident

      Unfortunately I don’t have any advice, but I don’t think you’re being unreasonable. I think the papers and bees alone are enough reason to vote ‘no’ on the door being open. Could your office-mate get a small personal fan to help with the stifling-ness of the bay you work in?

      Reply
      1. LibKae

        Ditto on this — I feel like any situation that is described by the phrase “and all the bees fly in” is not one you’re required to tolerate

        Reply
    3. krysb

      Have you thought about paperweights and one of those attach-to-the-doorway screens to keep out the buggies?

      Reply
    4. curmudgeon

      could you get a screen for the door for the bees issue & then a cube wall or privacy screen set up so the breeze stops ruffling the papers?

      Reply
    5. Ashie

      I’m an all-open-windows-all-the-time kind of person and even I don’t think you’re being unreasonable.

      Reply
  48. Windy City Wendy

    I don’t know if it’s me or the industry I’m in, but when I went on interviews in a large city in the Midwest, the people were very competitive, catty, and clique-y. One company was a position for an admin. assistant role and I would be working with engineers. At first they seemed nice, but then they were pointing and laughing at things on my resume and making sarcastic comments- I’m glad I didn’t get it, but it sucked. Another role was for an Information Assistant at a public library and the supervisor seemed very uptight and frustrated. He would make these grunts and annoyed sighs when I would answer questions. Glad I didn’t get that role.

    In the end, I’m glad that I didn’t get these positions, but I don’t know if it was them or me? Do I need a thicker skin?

    Reply
    1. Pineapple Incident

      That’s them- regardless of what they may think of things on your resume, no interviewer has the right to literally point and laugh at you and your experience (unless you’ve told some kind of joke).

      This is not your problem- just happens that you’ve been invited to interviews with some very untactful bad apples

      Reply
    2. Emily

      No, it’s not just you – those interviewers (especially the people laughing at things on your resume in front of you) sound really rude.

      Reply
    3. fposte

      The resume thing is kind of mind-blowing–can you give an example of what they were laughing at? You didn’t have a line about your experience as a circus clown?

      Reply
      1. Anon in a toxic place

        I was answering a question from another team member, and as I was making eye contact, I saw them point to something on my resume and start laughing. When they noticed me looking at them, they stopped. The head boss was constantly entering/leaving the room and questioned my degrees and basically dismissed me right then and there. I don’t even know why I was called in.

        Reply
    4. JulieBulie

      It was them. And if it makes you feel any better, I’ve never been offered a job in any place where I got a bad vibe, so I never had to worry about whether or not to take a job I didn’t want. Hopefully you’ll never have to weigh an offer from a company where people are disrespectful right out of the gate.

      I don’t know if you need thicker skin or not. Thicker skin won’t actually stop people from acting like jerks. And even if you do get thicker skin, you’d probably rather work for someone who respects you. I mean, you may end up with jerky coworkers regardless, but it’s really important to have a decent supervisor, which is presumably who you’re interviewing with.

      Reply
  49. pmac

    My job offers tuition reimbursement for relevant courses after 9 months and I am now just past that mark (woohoo!). I’m very interested in getting more education about the finance and advancement services sides of nonprofits. How should I research what kind of programs there are? I’m thinking some kind of certificate instead of a full grad degree but am unsure of where to start. Any advice?

    Reply
    1. Lindsey

      Would love to know what people think of this! Does your company have a limit on how much they’ll reimburse for continuing education?

      I’ve seen a couple of PGDip courses, but not sure if those are actually looked on favorably…

      Reply
    2. Tuckerman

      Can you discuss your manager as part of a larger professional development or goal setting conversation?

      Reply
    3. Professor Ronny

      My biased opinion is to get the degree. If you change jobs/fields, the degree will stay with you better than a certificate. If you’re getting a graduate degree in a business-related area, look for AACSB accreditation for the business department/school/college.

      Reply
  50. SaviourSelf

    I posted a month or so ago about looking for a job so I could relocate out West. I’m currently in an East Coast metro area and don’t love the metro area but don’t really strongly dislike it either. It was also motivated by being bored with my current job and seeing no possible movement within the organization. There had been a lot of conversations about my boss and grandboss wanting me to take on more and bigger assignments and a larger role in the organization but it had only been lip-service.

    Well…my boss came to me a couple of weeks ago to tell me she was planning to retire by year end and wanted to discuss me moving into her position. Many conversations later, we agreed upon a job description and pay increase along with a timeline for the transition. I’m excited about the new possibility but also feel like I’ve given up on my dream to move.

    I know staying with my current company but moving up into a C-level position is good for my resume both for longevity and seniority but it is hard to reconcile with staying where I am. In the long term, it will make moving easier, but in the short term I am still where I have been.

    How do you reconcile putting moving plans (that you’ve wanted to do for YEARS) on hold for a better career opportunity?

    Reply
    1. Christy

      So, my wife and I really intended to move out of the DC area. As soon as she found a job in another metro area we wanted to live in (Kansas City, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, etc) we were going to move. (My office allows me to relocate easily, but only when following a partner. It’s harder to spontaneously move.) And long story short, my wife got a job in DC and so we are staying here. We tried, yes, but we didn’t have a strict timeline or a drop-dead date. We’d been talking about it for years.

      On the other hand, my friend and personal trainer moved to Denver after about a year of planning. He busted his butt to get a job there, she quit hers, and now they live in Denver. She’s back in school there.

      I think what I’m saying is, if it’s been years and you still haven’t made the move, you probably weren’t going to end up making the move. Stagnation is real! It’s hard to move across the country. And if it’s been years of planning without much doing or much success at doing, then it probably isn’t going to happen anyway.

      I hope this doesn’t feel too harsh! I got sucked in by stagnation too. It’s nice, though, to know you’re staying put for a while when you hadn’t intended on it. My wife and I just bought a condo (like, yesterday) since we know we’re in the area for a while. We hadn’t even been looking before her new job.

      Reply
      1. SaviourSelf

        Congrats on the condo!

        I totally agree on the stagnation part. My situation isn’t quite the same in that I wasn’t actually able to move before but all the pieces fell into place recently where I actually could make the move and had been actively interviewing, etc. in the desired new location. I agree though, apparently the timing wasn’t as perfect as I’d built it up to be in my time and I am looking forward to what I can learn and do while staying with my current company. This will be the first time I’ve stayed somewhere longer than 4 years. As a commitment-phobe, it is already feeling like a lifetime!

        Reply
        1. Christy

          I empathize! I’ve been with my employer for 9 years this month. It’s my entire adult working life. Luckily, I’ve been in various departments and progressed substantially in that time. But it sure feels like a long time.

          Reply
    2. Tuckerman

      I think it depends on why you want to move. I’m relocating because housing is extremely expensive in my area, and my husband and I want to move somewhere affordable before we have kids. In my case, I see moving as a necessary step to accomplish other goals.
      If we were not planning on having kids, we’d probably still want to move, but we’d be more flexible with a timeline. Also, whether you’re moving to or from an expensive location makes a difference. It’s easier to move from, say, San Francisco to Detroit than from Detroit to San Francisco.

      Reply
    3. Sunflower

      Ouch. Just wanna say I feel your pain. I’ve been wanting to move to new city for a while but was scared to take the plunge. Finally got up the courage to ask my company, thought they would say yes…and I got a big fat no. I had gotten myself totally comfortable with moving and taking the plunge and now I’m like…sooooo my future?

      Just remember you’re in a job, not a marriage. You are not set in this place forever just because you’ve accepted a job! You can plan for the future but you can’t predict it. Who knows- you could start this job and find out you hate it or aren’t good at it. Right now it’s so easy to grasp at the ‘what could have been’ but that could still be. Stay with the new job at least 6 months. If you’re still getting pangs of wanting to move, it’s okay to start exploring that again. Don’t feel like you’ve just dug yourself into a hole.

      Reply
  51. Pup Seal

    All I just have to say is I’m glad my supervisor is a big animal person like me. I came late this morning because my dog attacked a baby (healthy) raccoon and I spent half an hour making sure both dog and baby raccoon were okay. Supervisor was super understanding.

    Reply
      1. Pup Seal

        Luckily it wasn’t too bad. My dog just grabbed it, and he let it go when I yelled at him. He’s also a small dog. I stayed around for the baby raccoon because its mother wasn’t around and I was concerned for it. I googled baby raccoons and learned that babies will sometimes go out and play during the day as mommy sleeps, so I left when I thought it would be okay.

        Reply
    1. hermit crab

      I thought you were going to say that your dog attacked a baby (like, a random human baby out on the sidewalk or something)! I’m glad that is not the case and that both dog and raccoon are OK.

      Reply
    2. Ashie

      Aww! Glad everyone’s OK. Fellow animal person here, and former animal control officer. Keep a very close eye on your dog for the next week or so, and if she breaks anyone’s skin with a bite or a scratch within the next 10 days (the rabies transfer period in dogs & cats) you need to report it to the health department. Rabies is fatal in humans if it’s not treated, don’t take the chance.

      Reply
  52. Catalyst

    Mini rant: I’m working on an 8 week long group project for a course I need for my designation. It is incredibly frustrating working with other people and I am finding it so stressful! I am in charge of collecting everyone’s work and making sure everything looks like one person wrote it, which I am fine with, but some people just can not seem to follow instructions and can’t show up on time which is grating on my last nerve. I probably wouldn’t be so stressed out about it if I didn’t have so much going on at work on top of this. (short staffed and someone with what I consider major performance issues). Ok, that is all, I just really needed to complain.
    Happy weekend everyone!

    Reply
    1. GOG11

      I remember reading on here at some point that group work is so frustrating because you have no real authority over your group members but you still have to suffer the consequences of their bad behavior. It’s always stuck with me because people like to compare academic group projects to team work in the work world and they are not at all the same. I don’t blame you for being frustrated! I hope you have a great weekend despite it.

      Reply
      1. Catalyst

        Thanks! I have never thought about it that way, but having read this, it is a bang on description in all aspects of why we feel the way we do about group work.

        Reply
    2. Tomato Frog

      Ugh, my last assignment in grad school was exactly this — except that I had given myself the job of making the paper sound like one person wrote it because clearly no one else was trying to match anyone else’s voice or tone or had any concept of professional writing. I developed a healthy contempt for everyone involved even though they were all perfectly nice people, just because they were clearly all phoning it in. I remember editing the whole damn thing in the middle of a long Megabus trip when I was exhausted and feeling sick. The only good thing about projects like this is that they end. Every now and then, when I’m stressed out and life seems to be more than I can handle, I will reach deep down inside me to find some still center and the words will come: “At least I’m not in school working on a group project.”

      Reply
      1. periwinkle

        That’s a very helpful mantra! I had done group projects for my first grad degree but had not anticipated being stuck with any for my second – so finding out that my very last course was centered around a group project was a bit of a shock. Naturally, my team mates were a student early in the program who didn’t think he had enough knowledge to contribute, a fellow final-semester student who showed up late and did almost nothing, an early-program student who worked his hindquarters off but was already stretched thin for time, and me. I ended up writing about 50% of the second deliverable and 85% of the final deliverable because I was not about to lose my 4.0 GPA to a damn group project.

        And around the same time, I started working on an employee development program for project managers in our organization. One of their key issues is the problem of having responsibility and accountability for team performance but no authority over the team. Oh, boy, could I ever emphasize with the project managers…

        Reply
      2. Catalyst

        “I developed a healthy contempt for everyone involved even though they were all perfectly nice people, just because they were clearly all phoning it in”. This is totally how I feel. But you are right, there is an end date so at least you know you aren’t stuck in the situation forever. :)

        Reply
  53. Nickel and Dimed by ADP

    Are there any other non-exempts out there who have to clock in and out using ADP? I had an issue pop up that I’ve been pondering for a while.

    Background: I work a standard 40 hour week in the US, I’m non-exempt, and it’s an office job, nothing customer facing. I work from 8 AM to 4:30 PM with a 30 minute unpaid lunch break. We have to clock in, and then out for lunch, back in, and then back out at the end of the day.

    I always arrive about 10 minutes before start time so I can get into the building, boot my computer, grab a cup of tea, and put my lunch in the breakroom fridge, things like that, and be sitting down ready to start. I normally clock in about 5 minutes before my start time. I am vigilant about taking only 30 minutes for my unpaid break, and normally manage to click in and out with maybe a minute +/- leeway, like I might clock out at 12 PM and back in at 12:29 PM or 12:31 PM.

    ADP rounds the numbers back to the nearest quarter hour, but I ran into this situation recently. My supervisor sent me an email stating my time sheet was short by 15 minutes from the week before because I had taken a long lunch. At first I was puzzled, but then remembered one day a coworker stopped me on my way back to my desk with questions about a project we were working on, so I answered his questions, and clocked back in about 10 minutes past my 30 minute time. I didn’t think anything of it because my punches are always about 5 minutes extra in the morning.

    I apologized to my supervisor, and he fixed it, and reminded me to be more careful in the future.

    I’ve been sort of stewing about this all week. I am a good worker, I am on time every day, I don’t take advantage of the company’s time, and it seems like it’s OK not to pay me for 25 minutes each week, but if I stop on my way back to my desk, at someone else’s request for help, no less, I could get docked 1/4 hour. I guess I should tell my coworkers I need to go back to my desk to punch back in, then go back to that part of the building to help them (?) It seems so nickel and diming to me.

    Has anyone else run into this? Is there a way to adjust the program not to do this? My supervisor is very much a “butts in seats” guy, and comes from a factory background where time was very important due to an assembly line type environment, but this just isn’t the case. On the other hand, I realize I need to be paid for my work as an non-exempt worker.

    Thanks for letting me vent!

    Reply
    1. Manders

      I have a time clock that counts by the minute, and I always make sure to clock in as soon as I get into the office and tell people I need to clock back in after lunch if they try to stop me to have a work-related conversation. It does feel like nickel and diming, and I think you’re right to be annoyed, but all you can really do is make it clear when you need to clock in.

      Reply
    2. CoordinatorSuperStar

      I work in a similar atmosphere. I’m extremely impressed with your ability to keep such regular time! I’m always forgetting to clock in or out because of interruptions like the one you described. It is a hassle, and you’re right that it is very nickel and diming. In my opinion, this kind of clock-watching makes little sense in most offices, and makes more sense on factory floors. I regularly tell people to wait one minute for me to go clock in. It’s the true and responsible thing to do in this atmosphere and office where they take the time clock seriously. If they find it inconvenient that you have to do this, they can take it up with management. It’s not your choice. When management requires something tedious or illogical of me, I follow it as best I can and management faces the consequences. Hey, they asked for it. As for your specific instance of clocking in late, I would have explained to the supervisor that I was actually interrupted with work questions and that I was working during those lost minutes. Supervisors have the ability to contact payroll or HR and adjust a time sheet if there was an error.

      Reply
      1. PayrollLady

        Payroll person here, ADP sets up their rounding rules based on the company’s preference, and it can be changed but rarely is. The 7 minute rule is the most common, and I agree, it forces people to be clock watchers. It isn’t illegal however, as some have stated. It sucks, but it’s the cheapest and easiest solution to allow hourly employees a grace period without requiring the manager to constantly monitor timecards. In my experience, this is common for employers who are hyper aware of overtime.

        Reply
    3. CoordinatorSuperStar

      P.S. My advice for the next time this happens, immediately after clocking in go to your supervisor and explain what happened.

      Reply
      1. Catalyst

        I am not familiar with this type of work environment (mine is salary and I give my people leeway as they work really hard for me), it sucks that they are such sticklers about it. I agree with the above. If it happens again, clock in and email your supervisor right away. Especially if it’s a really big office or building, I can see how going back to your desk to clock in and going back to your co-worker might not make sense.

        Reply
    4. CA Admin

      When I worked retail and this would happen, you’d let your manager know immediately, so they could fix the punch right there and then. That said, those time clocks are only supposed to round if it goes both ways–down or up, depending on whichever is closer. They’re not allowed to only round to benefit the employer.

      Reply
    5. Persephone Mulberry

      We use ADP’s online timeclock and it punches to the exact minute, so it would seem to me that this has to be something your company set up with them, not something mandated by the software. Also, what CA Admin said – it shouldn’t only round back.

      Reply
    6. Observer

      If this happens, email him immediately when you get back to your desk to say that you wound up having to do some work before you got back to your desk, so could he please get the correct time in?

      We use a different electronic system. It lets you clock out even if you don’t clock in, which has the advantage of automatically alerting your supervisor that something is up with your time. It also allows you to put notes in, so if there is a reason that the time is incorrect, I’ll put the information in the notes and the the person who checks it can fix it.

      Reply
    7. Observer

      By the way, if the clock always rounds to the lower quarter of an hours, that’s not an ADP thing (although they shouldn’t allow it.) It’s your company and it’s illegal. They can only round it if it’s always to the nearest quarter hour, up or down.

      Reply
    8. SaviourSelf

      Agreed with the others. Payroll law allows for 7 minute rounding. As in, if you clock in at 7:07 it rounds to 7:00am but if you clock in at 7:08 it rounds to 7:15am. It has to round both ways to be legal. With improvements in technology, most companies simply pay by the minute and have done away with rounding.

      The whole system sounds overly rigid.

      Reply
    9. Amy

      It is nickle and diming (and pennying if there is such a thing).

      I work in a library but it is a city job.
      We punch a clock the same way you do, in, out for lunch, in for lunch, out.
      And it rounds up or down to the nearest quarter hour.
      BUT our employer has disciplinary procedures for punching in one minute late or out one minute early. This holds true for all non-exempt employees.

      As the others said, tell co workers “I have to punch in now” (we all know what this is about even though it feels odd) and if you miss a punch or are late, let the supervisor know right away.

      Reply
    10. Anastasia Beaverhausen

      I love the time clock! I’ve been in an industry the last ten years in which nearly everyone is nonexempt and punches the clock and it’s like I woke up and smelled roses the first time I was paid overtime. For twenty years I worked long hours making someone else rich. In my old, exempt, career I was dumped on and dumped on until I was working 12 hour days 6 days a week and felt guilty for taking a vacation despite ultimately being paid less than the receptionist if you broke it down. Or earlier on, when I was hourly – but did not punch a clock – and chided into staying 15-30 minutes a day to “finish up what you’re doing” when given the task just a minute or two before the end of the day. If I mentioned the extra time I was made to feel petty. Now I realize that an employer expecting me to work for free is just plain wrong. I see the time clock as serving me more than serving my employer. However – clocking mistakes do happen now and then and I just immediately email my boss and let her know what happened and to please make an adjustment.

      Reply
  54. Trobii

    I have a call set up next week with a hiring manager about “my background and interests” and possible current or future positions.

    What do I say about my interests if I’m not super passionate about the field/work, just really good at it and looking to move on from my current position which has no opportunities for growth and is frankly a worse environment to be in with every passing day?

    Reply
  55. Newb

    I’m usually a lurker and not a commenter, but I would love to get some advice from this wonderful group of commenters. (I think it’s the only place on the internet where it’s not frightening to read the comments).

    My former employer recently went out of business and I am searching for a new job. I had a phone interview two days ago with a smaller company and they have called me in for an interview on Tuesday. But I just set up two more interviews for later next week with larger companies. The smaller company seems to be very interested and moving very quickly (they have already asked me to fill out an application, and I’m already in their second round), and I know that the company sometimes gives on-the-spot offers.

    My question is: What do I do if the smaller company gives me an offer before I’m even able to interview at the other two places? The job at the smaller company isn’t my ideal role ( although I do like the manager a lot). The roles at the two larger companies are more interesting to me but, being large, are likely to move slower on an offer. I want to at least interview at all the places before accepting any offers to be able to see which of the jobs are the best fit for me, especially culture wise (which I can’t judge from a website and which can be hit or miss in large companies). And, of course,I want to get a feel for how likely an offer is at the other two (at the end of the day, I need a paying job).

    I know you don’t want to make a company feel like they are your back-up plan, but that’s not the case here. Is it okay to explain that I would like to go to all three interviews first before deciding on an offer, or does that make the company feel like it’s second fiddle?

    Reply
    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      Look at it this way – most companies are going to interview several people before choosing the best fit for the position. You wanting to go on several interviews before accepting is perfectly reasonable.

      You can simply tell them that you need a few days to consider the offer and will respond by [insert deadline here].

      Reply
    2. Fabulous

      I’d just say you have a couple more interviews lined up. They should understand the reasons you’d want to keep them. If they want you to drop everything for them that minute, I’d probably take that as a potential red flag of how they treat their employees…

      Reply
    3. Student

      No, you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

      Putting their job offer on hold does inherently have a risk of you getting passed up as they move on. If you think the bigger company is a better choice, then the small company is actually your second choice. There’s a chance they’ll give you time to decide, and a chance they won’t – you can’t get out of taking that risk should you tell them you need some time. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the risk if you think the bigger company is a better fit for you, but you can’t really just talk yourself into believing this risk isn’t there – it is.

      The shorter your requested delay, the more likely they will be to keep the spot open for you. One week is pretty normal. Two weeks is reasonable, but may come off as playing for time. Longer than that sounds like you aren’t into them, which is the truth, no matter how much you’d like them not to realize it.

      Reply
  56. over educated

    Latest dispatch from the “moving on” diaries:

    I did apply for the job I was so excited/nervous about that just reading the listing made me sick to my stomach. I found the listing last Wednesday, finished and sent my application on Monday (spent a couple days procrastinating, then a couple days tweaking my resume and cover letter). Tuesday I was anxious and frustrated that they didn’t call immediately for an interview and help me fulfill my fantasy. It’s now Friday and no word. I know that’s normal, I usually don’t worry about not getting a job until a month has passed, but…I just wanted them to read my application and say “SHE’S PERFECT!” with the same urgency I felt about finding the listing. Also, my spouse is interviewing actively and will be making career decisions very soon that will make it much harder to move for the job than it would be now. Sigh.

    My current organization’s dismal funding situation at least means that I’m starting to have somewhat frank one-on-one conversations with various staff about what to do when my term ends. It’s pretty obvious there won’t be money to hire me on here, but at least I don’t have to keep the fact that I’m looking secret.

    The frustrating thing is that I’m on a non-renewable grant…and my supervisors are talking to another department on how to apply for a person through this grant because there’s no funding to actually hire employees…but I wouldn’t be eligible to move into that position because you can only receive the grant once. I know it’s what they have to do right now but it also just stinks that the staffing model has become so reliant on non-employees with no benefits or job security (not just me, but in general).

    Reply
    1. SophieChotek

      I’m sorry! I’m not in your boat, but I have several friends (and my mom’s husband) whose jobs are all dependent on grant funding, so I know it’s stressful (just from listening to them).

      All the best!

      Reply
      1. over educated

        Thanks. I really do appreciate the good wishes. Best of luck to your friends and mom’s husband too.

        Reply
    2. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

      If it makes you feel any better, I saw the posting for my DreamJob on a Tuesday night in early June and the application closed on Thursday. I didn’t even have an updated resume! And it was the first time I used a cover letter. I hand delivered my package to HR to make the deadline and then… nothing. At the end of August I received a random phone call asking if I was still interested. I had a phone interview in early September. 2.5 weeks later I was contacted for an in person interview. I waited another 2-3 weeks for an offer and FINALLY started the job at the end of October.

      When DreamJob ended up being not so Dreamy, I was approached by another department for an opening they had. Job closed at end of July. After interviews and such, I officially started mid November. Apparently that’s just the typical time frame.

      It can be so excited when such a perfect opportunity lands in your lap, but the patience will be worth it.

      Reply
  57. Anony Mouse

    I’m in a situation a little bit like OP #5 from today’s “Five Answers to Five Questions.” I had an in-person interview this week that I thought went very well. At the end, I asked about next steps, and the interviewer told me that they’ll be scheduling second interviews for next week. I had to tell her that next week is the busiest week of the year in my current position: I have to be at work from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. every day (no lunch breaks). I might be able to get away early on Friday afternoon, but it’s impossible for me to leave the office at any other time.

    I know that if they really want me, it’ll work out. Still, I can’t help feeling guilty that I can’t be more flexible with my schedule. I’m the primary person responsible for running this week-long event at my current job, and if I were to be absent for anything other than near-death illness, I’d be fired.

    Reply
  58. GOG11

    Happy Friday, all! I was approved for intermittent medical leave this week. I’ve been struggling with a few chronic conditions for quite a while now, but I always prioritized work, to the point of delaying treatments. Having FMLA approval makes me feel better about taking time, but I’m still struggling with it. It’s currently our slow season and my bosses and colleagues are wonderful. I’m usually a star employee, and lately I’ve been between pretty good or even great (according to feedback from others around me…I’d say I’m doing a good job, but not great), and I think not performing at my former level (took on extra assignments, got things done very quickly without sacrificing quality…overall just juggled a lot fairly seemlessly) is messing with my head. I also used to work with a couple of coworkers here who were very unreasonable and I think that has skewed my perceptions.

    I’d love to hear others’ experiences with FMLA and tips for finding a good balance (and feeling okay with taking the time you need away). Basically any advice regarding FMLA would be awesome.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      GOG11, I remember that you’ve had health stuff going on for quite a while, so I’m really glad you’ve gone ahead and committed to FMLA.

      I don’t know if you’ve planned any particular schedule; for me, when I took it post-surgically, it was about energy levels, so I left a couple of hours early pretty much every day. You might factor in what your office pattern tends to be in the slow season, too, to maximize your availability to others; if half the office is out Fridays anyway, that’s a way to give your week a haircut without being too much of a pain. Consider whether transport should be figured in–I should have been able to get disabled parking but they blew it, so I had to come in my usual early time to park close enough to walk, and it might similarly be worth factoring in an avoidance of rush hour or a departure time that gives you quick access to a bus.

      Reply
    2. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

      I just took 3 weeks of FMLA for a surgery. I was worried about depleting my sick/vacation leave, but the surgery was so necessary that I was really glad to have FMLA. At my work HR notifies my boss and grandboss of approval for FMLA along with a note that specifically tells them I am on leave and cannot be expected to work. That was helpful – my boss is the type to text or call at the drop of the hat no matter what I’m doing, so being explicitly told not to helped restrict him to emailed notes for when I got back.

      Reply
      1. GOG11

        I can’t imagine being expected to be available all the time. My job doesn’t have a ton of perks, but one is that it has a start time and an end time and outside of that I am not expected to ever be available and I really appreciate that. I’m glad you were able to at least get the time away while you were recovering.

        Reply
        1. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

          Well, it isn’t an expectation of availability but much more casual. “Oh, random thought in my head so I’ll text!” Well, at least when it doesn’t descend into group text meme wars.

          Reply
  59. TL -

    So I talked to my manager about my underperforming coworker and asked him to have a conversation with him. Despite the conversation feeling awkward and uncomfortable, my manager was great about it. He said he was confused about he could do to help the situation and I told him I was out of ideas but he needed to talk to coworker and that honestly, coworker was several months behind where he should be in terms of independence. And please god, do not let him work with potentially risky substance that he had just gotten safety training on; he was nowhere near that level of trust.

    The day I talked to my manager, my manager and I had been discussing a protocol with Coworker and I’d wanted a change made (a small number change.) Coworker did the protocol as written, not as changed to – despite the fact that he was part of the discussion where I pointed to the notes and said, “Let’s do X not Y”, and when I told them, “hey, we had discussed this and I said I wanted X changed to Y. These are the kinds of details you keep on missing; I need you to pay attention.” (There was maybe 30 minutes between asking for the changes and being handed the wrong product) he made a really sour face, semi-rolled his eyes and looked away from me. Didn’t respond at all.

    Which got my butt in my manager’s office a day earlier than planned, so… it’s not my problem anymore.

    Reply
    1. BuildMeUp

      Wow, attitude problems on top of performance issues? Sounds unpleasant! Hopefully your boss will take the reins and it will get better.

      Reply
  60. AnonasaurusRex

    I’m curious how PIPs work in other organizations. Apparently in ours if you reach one of the later stages, where they might be contemplating letting you go or putting you on suspension, if you screw up again any time after that, you are automatically terminated. Coworker who had a screw up when she was in a different job in a different department, and was suspended for a week and then on a PIP for 6 months (and was perfect the rest of the time in her job) was just terminated because she messed up something in our department. It wasn’t huge-huge, but it was definitely something that will get you back on a PIP. The thing I’m stuck on is that her other PIP was over 5 years ago and was a different job and department. People are going to mess up sometimes and if they are otherwise very good at their jobs this seems quite extreme. It’s making me second guess working here knowing I’ve had a couple minor mistakes. I feel like if I ever make a significant mistake I’m going to be fired, and if I’m ever on a PIP I should just start looking for a new job immediately.

    Does this seem extreme to anyone else?

    Reply
    1. AdAgencyChick

      I think it differs not only between organizations, but also between managers at the *same* organization. Some people have a philosophy that a PIP is just a formality to be completed before firing someone. (If you ever see a PIP with a two-week time frame, I think that’s a giant neon sign saying “find a new job!”) Others think a PIP means what it says it means — a serious warning about things that need to be improved, and specific milestones that need to be hit during the PIP period to keep the employee on.

      Reply
      1. NylaW

        Agreed. And to me if you hit those, then the PIP is complete and “goes away.” I mean unless you’re on another one very soon after, like maybe within a year, something you did in another position 5 years ago shouldn’t hurt you now. Otherwise, don’t do PIPs at all. Just fire people.

        Reply
        1. Liane

          At all the jobs I have had–and Family Friend’s longterm (10+ years) job, PIPs and other types of discipline (coachings, suspension, etc.) rolled over after a certain amount of time, usually 1 year.

          Reply
    2. katamia

      That’s really extreme. I’ve never worked in a place that had PIPs, but I don’t blame you for second guessing working there. I would be, too. I understand automatic firing while someone is on a PIP, but this is definitely excessive. I feel bad for her.

      Reply
    3. MsMaryMary

      It seems a little extreme to me, but it can depend on the terms of the individual PIP. I used to work with an individual who was not a strong performer to begin with, and then periodically would have attention to detail problems and make some serious mistakes. She’d been on a PIP a couple times, and each time would improve temporarily (long enough to complete the PIP) and then regress back to her old behavior. Her manager put her on a PIP that not only required short term improvement, but also said she could be terminated if she did not show “sustained” improvement. I left the organization myself shortly after the “sustained” PIP was implemented, so I don’t know how it worked out. But it’s possible that your coworker’s original PIP had some sort of zero tolerance provision for future mistakes.

      Reply
  61. imakethings

    I’m supposed to hear back from a job today. I made it through three rounds of interviews and it’s down to me and one other candidate. I’m trying hard not to refresh my email every 2 minutes, but that’s so far been unsuccessful.

    Reply
  62. AnonAnon

    To my fellow AAM readers: Why and when did you decide to leave your job?

    How long did it take you to decide that you wanted and/or needed to look elsewhere? Whether you left because it was a toxic work environment, or the commute was too long, the pay too little, you wanted to move closer to family, etc. what exactly was the breaking point when you realized you needed to leave your job to look for something better?

    I mostly ask because I work with people who are mostly unhappy with their job, but have been working there for 10+ years. In some of of those cases, I wonder how much of it has to do with the job being good at first, but gradually grew worse over the years because of new management/business practices, etc.

    I actually emailed Alison this question as an Ask the Readers type post, but she suggested I post this in the open thread instead!

    Reply
    1. NylaW

      I’ve been working at my company for 10+ years too (actually 15+) but in 2 different jobs in that time. I’m at the same point you are, wondering if it’s time to move on. Some of it is that I am disillusioned with the organization as a whole, seeing that after years and years it’s not changing or moving forward. Some of it is have I been here too long, and if I don’t leave now will any other company ever hire me??

      But there is a bit of desire for a new challenge, a new environment, and new people.

      Reply
    2. Amber Rose

      First job: I was the only one who knew how to do every department, and I was making a hair above minimum wage. I loved the work, but the bitterness about my pay limiting my activities finally got too much when I could afford to go to a funeral and I decided to leave.

      Second job: My boss died. His daughter was impossible to work with. We had a screaming match where she decided to demote me and I quit on the spot.

      Both jobs lasted roughly two years. My current job (2.5 years) is probably where the people you work with are at: It started great, got slowly worse, now I’m unhappy-ish but not so miserable that it outweighs the fear and inconvenience of leaving. I still have a lot I can learn here too, so I’m sort of selling my happiness in exchange for more pretty bullet points on my resume.

      Also I love my coworkers. They are so awesome. I’m worried that even if I find a better manager/work environment, I’ll never find a group of people I fit in with this well.

      Reply
      1. Amber Rose

        Whoops, first one should be *couldn’t* afford the funeral. If I could there would be no issue. =P

        Reply
    3. imakethings

      Currently searching for new work because I have nothing to do at my job and there are no prospects to move up. I’m working as a receptionist in an industry where I have absolutely no interest. There’s nothing to do all day, so I’ve done things like take online classes, learn Lynda skills, etc to pass the time. I’m ready to learn on the job rather than all this theory, so I’m trying to move on.

      Reply
    4. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

      At OldJob, I was hired at the lowest end of the salary range. OldJob is considered Very Prestigious in our community (it was for a professional sports team) but unfortunately the Team’s General Manager was – HANDS DOWN – the most immoral, unethical individual I have ever encountered. Two months after I was hired, the entire staff (minus athletes) were put on furloughs with a 9% pay cut, but when you took your furlough, they would get upset at you being unavailable. After 18 months of furlough, only “lower level” staff – athletic trainers, grounds, admin assistants, etc. – were put on a 10% salary reduction that would save the team approximately $400k that year. Executives returned to their normal salary (and many received raises). When the Fiscal Year was up, GM came trotting in to the business office. He literally rubbed his hands together, had a big grin, and bounced on his feet asking if his check was in. Gave the jazz hands when I got it out of the safe for him. Turns out he received a $500k bonus for bringing us in under budget the year he gave us a salary reduction. He literally took money away from minimum wage workers for his own pocket. I was super disillusioned and ended up getting hired on to the athletic department of my alma mater. I was there for a few years before moving to a different department in the University, where I am now. The primary reason why I switched departments wasn’t because of any real issues in the Athletics Department; in fact, I really, really loved it. But my son was a few years old and this other department was going to pay me more for less hours and greater flexibility. I went from 40 hours a week to 32 hours making the same salary with better benefits, and I could set my own hours. Now I’m able to drop my son at school in the morning and pick him up at 3:15pm three days a week, plus volunteer in his classroom once a week and attend field trips or what not, but still bring home a check for the same as before. And one of the main benefits is that I now qualify for the CBA so I have mandated raises. It’s been a huge lifestyle improvement!

      Reply
    5. PB

      Oh, so many things. I guess it all boils down to realizing that the toxic work environment was never going to get better, because no one in management had any interest in making it better. In fact, if I had to point to one moment, it was the moment our director was like, “Look, we’ve only lost 300 people in the last 12 years. I guess some people think that’s a retention problem.” This in response to people complaining about the retention problem.

      Reply
    6. Lora

      1. Safety or being asked to do something clearly unethical and when I say “no, that’s unethical” they insist that I do it anyway.
      2. Work being sabotaged or stolen. That’s toxicity driven to a level where management either doesn’t care or is complicit.
      3. Stress (for whatever reason) of the job is so bad I cry during my commute more than once a week for multiple weeks.
      4. It’s not just that the boss is a douche, but HIS boss is also a douche or else thinks the boss is doing a bang-up job. Douche bosses get fired sometimes, or you can transfer or something, but if senior management is also a bunch of hosers, just get out. Run.

      Reply
    7. GOG11

      I had a great job but it was only part time and I eventually got run down working 3 part time jobs with no benefits. I full time, though lower level, job opened up and I decided to go for it since there aren’t openings all that frequently. I don’t know if I had a very specific moment, but I had a lot of good reasons for leaving that the opening brought into focus for me. It wasn’t a bad job, just a bad fit for me by that point.

      Reply
    8. Ghost Town

      Just moved positions w/in the last month.
      I was in OldJob for almost 8 years (three weeks shy of the anniversary date). I really grew the scope of the position and my own professional reach. I really enjoyed my position and had a good supervisor/co-worker/student situation. I recognized, though, the constraints of the university’s and my school’s bureaucracy and the reality that no matter what I did in my position or splashes I made in the profession (small though they may have been), there’d never be a substantial (or even meaningful) raise, title changes were like pulling teeth, and that while my colleagues appreciated me and let me know it, I was worth more and I needed more to live a fulfilling life outside of work.

      At various points in the past 3-4 years, I searched and applied for different positions with different levels of vigor. Got a few nibbles here and there. Kept plugging away at working on my professional self, as well as application materials. Eventually got NewJob. I had actually been talking to this general suite of offices for about a year and a half about other positions they had come up, did a few interviews, and developed a relationship with the main hiring manager. That ended up serving me well this go-round.

      If I hadn’t gotten this position, I would have been happy in my OldJob. I left a good situation for more growth opportunities. I do think the half percent raise last July, while the dean’s suite continued to grow robustly, galvanized me to move on.

      Reply
    9. NoNameTime

      1) Drug addiction in the workplace that was willfully ignored, combined with terrible pay and a “lag the market” approach to hiring, as the head of our division actually stated out loud once in a meeting
      2) Awesome smaller, get-work-done company bought by gargantuan, 1,000 meetings per week company; layoffs ensue; prominent management firm agree to take on our company’s merger and then back out because it’d risk their reputation
      3) Bait-and-switch job duties and impossible expectations combined with higher-ups in it strictly for their own advancement
      4) Meaningful work, but too much of it, and little to no chance of making a living wage or benefits, even long-term

      Reply
    10. 2 Cents

      I think many jobs have an expiration date for one reason or another. I left my last job because of a confluence of factors:
      –No raises (for 80% of the staff) for 4 years, even though the recession had passed
      –The 3-hour roundtrip commute was killing me
      –I didn’t get paid enough (see #1), and I didn’t love the work. Plus, there was nowhere to advance in the company, so it felt very dead end.
      –Everyone I worked with was also miserable. Not with each other, just with the circumstances.
      –My micromanaging boss, though a nice person, was a terrible manager. Actual words uttered when I gave my notice: “I know we couldn’t reward you monetarily, but we gave you more work to do so you got different experiences.” (I was doing the work of 3 people because two were laid off.)

      Reply
  63. WritingItAllDown

    Mini update on documenting a coworker’s inappropriate commentary on the workplace:

    Taking the advice given – thank you, everyone! – I turned in the document at the beginning of this week. I’ve been warned that there have been complaints before *and* that coworker has verbally retaliated/complained up the management chain about people making prior reports. (Coworker is not here this week, so I find out my fate next week.)

    The department manager has said that at least we can move my desk, although there’s no specific timing for that set yet.

    Reply
    1. BuildMeUp

      I’m glad you reported them! That’s concerning about the retaliation issues, though. Do you have an HR department that you’re speaking with, or are you just talking to the person’s manager?

      Reply
  64. Cath in Canada

    Question for people who work in places with insufficient meeting rooms!

    We don’t have enough meeting rooms, so there’s always another group finishing up their meeting when you come in, and another group waiting to come in as you’re trying to wrap up. Meetings always go right up to the last possible minute (sometimes beyond), so there’s no chance to set up properly; those of us who run meetings end up rushing to set up the laptop, projector, and teleconference line as the meeting’s already getting started, so we miss taking some of the minutes, and it’s all quite stressful. When I’m running a meeting I do try to get people to wrap up a couple of minutes before the hour, but it’s not always possible, especially when we’ve had a late start because the group ahead of us ran late.

    I’m thinking of suggesting to management that we introduce some kind of formal “meetings run from 2 minutes past the hour to 2 minutes before the hour, leaving 4 minutes transition time for one group to leave and the next to set up”.

    Does anyone work somewhere that’s tried this? Does it work OK in practice? Any suggestions as to how to (gently) enforce such a rule?

    Any other suggestions?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. NylaW

      We defined 1 hour meetings as actually being 45 minutes. So if you truly need a full hour, book 90 minutes and get done early. Most groups are good about noting that they are close to or at 45 minutes and wrapping up within 5-10 so that they are out of the room in time. Others are not, but it’s been good because people point it out and nag each other and police each other and it’s slowly improving. But the mandate came straight from our CEO who was annoyed by it, so people feel more pressure to adhere.

      Reply
    2. Squeeble

      At my job, we have time added onto the beginning and end of every meeting we book for exactly this purpose. Our room reservation system does it automatically, though, so I’m not sure I can offer much help on enforcing the rule. But yes, it’s a great idea and super helpful for all the reasons you describe.

      The two minutes on each end sounds like it might be extra difficult to enforce, though. Maybe instead you could recommend that all meetings must start right on time and end 5-10 minutes before their stated end time?

      Reply
      1. Cath in Canada

        Ooh, I like this idea. I don’t think our senior people would support cutting meetings short by 10-15 minutes, but “meetings now run X:00 – X:55” would be easier to sell. Thanks! I’m going to suggest this at our next team meeting and see what our department head and team leaders think.

        Reply
    3. Optimistic Prime

      My workplace is similar, but this wouldn’t go over well in my workplace at all. What usually happens is someone from the next meeting pokes their head in the door, cuing the other meeting to leave, and all meetings usually get started at least a few minutes late as we set up. There is installed tech in all of our meeting rooms to try to make the setup as seamless as possible. I’d say that it works 65% of the time, and that’s being generous.

      What’s actually happened, though, is that the culture around here is relatively relaxed about being places on time. There’s a surprising lack of opprobrium when people walk into things late – it’s kind of just assumed you’re running from another building or something, particularly since we have multiple buildings. So nobody’s super stressed if it’s 1:02 and you’re still plugging in your laptop. That’s not really a solution…but it’s the truth.

      Reply
  65. Anon Anon

    A new staff member starts in our department next week. The rest of the staff have mixed feelings, but I thinks hu will be a good fit. The only problem is I hate training new people. I work in a niche industry and we rarely hire anyone with direct experience, this is fine over the long haul, because if they have good transferable skills they can learn the rest. So this weekend I will start working on my I’m trying not to look annoyed face.

    Reply
  66. Anxa

    I have never had employer-based health insurance; it’s never been an option. My parents were self-employed or worked in jobs with no benefits since I was a very small child. I feel like I understand a lot about the exchanges, etc, but this is a whole new world.

    The past few years I’ve been on the ACA market, and this year I’m on Medicaid (moved to an expansion state, don’t make enough to get the subsidies). I know you don’t qualify for subsidies if your job offers you ‘affordable’ insurance (~9% of income).

    But does anyone know if you can keep your Medicaid, even if you are offered affordable insurance? I’m not sure it will be affordable, but maybe. I will be a contractor so I’d have to cover a large part of the premiums. I still don’t anticipate cracking the 133% FPL line, but then again, you never really know what the future holds.

    The FT job I’m looking at pays 2/3 what my PT days per hour and has increased commute costs. Insurance premiums could really affect the bottom line on this job.

    Reply
    1. Undine

      Call the insurance exchange/agency in your state! These are the types of questions they’ve been trained to answer.

      Reply
      1. Anxa

        Unfortunately, I’ve tried that with no success. They didn’t seem to have a script for that one. I’m pretty sure I can keep it, but am still nervous.

        Reply
    2. Liane

      It varies by the state. I don’t know about currently but it was possible in my state, a few years ago. There was a Part A (I think) for kids who had other insurance, usually through a parent’s job, but family income met certain limits. It was a secondary payer. If that insurance was lost, Medicaid became the primary insurer.

      Reply
  67. Bored AA

    Are there any other university administrative assistants totally bored out of their minds right now? Students are gone and I am BORED. Eventually I’ll get around to organizing things for the upcoming academic year and I’ll probably organize my office but otherwise, I have nothing to do. I’ve been reading and watched a few Lynda videos but it’s tough sitting here for 8 hours a day.

    Reply
    1. GOG11

      I am a university AA but we’re doing a bunch of routine stuff and also going through some assessment stuff so, while I’m bored, I’m busy. Could you ask around and see if there are any projects that have always been “someday” that you could get going?

      Reply
    2. Ihmmy

      ahahahahahhahah noooooo. Summer is my busiest time, particularly May into early June and late July plus all of August. We have a small intake of students who start in May plus our regular ones in September and so much of my work is intake related, plus a bunch of important things before each term (our college has mandatory spring/summer classes). We also get a lot of prospective student calls over the summer months. It’s nice that the lines for coffee and lunch places are way shorter with fewer students on campus now though!

      Reply
      1. twig

        right there with you — I admin in a university IT department — we’re heading into busybusy time.

        Reply
      2. I'm Really an Artist

        I’m an academic department admin and I envy boredom! Well, not really because, though I miss the UGs, the grad students are here, lots of research going on and now I can catch up on all the things I pushed back WITHOUT the constant interruptions! Plus, fiscal year end stuff, next fiscal year stuff…Summer is never slow for me.
        It’s very clear that while a lot of us have the same title at my school, we don’t have the same job. It’s very department specific.

        Reply
    3. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

      Yup! I have been using Overdrive or Kindle web browser. My boss (dept chair) thought it was awesome. He also appreciates it when I log in to my DirecTV account to watch sports on my second monitor since we don’t have a tv in here. We are pretty casual.
      Next week will be a bit beastly since we have turnover and grade reports and such, but that just means I have to shuffle papers for a day.

      Reply
    4. Rye-Ann

      Not an administrative assistant or working in academia, but the lab I work in is under construction right now. So my team hasn’t really had much to do for the past 6 weeks because…well…the place where we work is essentially closed down (temporarily). I’ve been finding other odd jobs to do, but it has not filled 8 hours a day, that’s for sure. So yeah, I’ve had to do some reading and Lynda videos myself. So I can relate to your boredom. :\

      Reply
  68. Anonim

    My partner wants to apply for a posting in Europe (we are US). I am 100% on board but am trying to figure out what to do to keep my resume “viable” for the 3-5 years I am there. My profession tends to be in the government, healthcare research or public service sector, but the country we are interested in is a bit too far up the development food chain to need to hire foreign experts, especially those who don’t speak the language (we are studying it independently but I know from experience that even 3 years living in a country will not get my language skills up to the level needed professionally). The is very very little remote contract work.

    Because I am the type whose backup plans have backup plans, I have been looking at options and have come up with the following:

    1. Study the local language and​ also go for one of the degrees offered in English. Pro: totally fun. Con: none of the degrees are related to my field, the language is not something that would be a plus on my resume, cost

    2. Teach English. Pro: money and training experience is relevant. Con: I suck at teaching English and hate it

    3. Do short (3-9 month) assignments in places where my skills are relevant. Pro: money and relevant experience. Con: doing long distance relationship again.

    4. A friend has a consulting company in a different field and offered to have me “on contract” with whatever title and duty statement I want but my real role would be hanging out with him, shooting the shit, and playing wing woman. The company does work that is adjacent to my field. Pro: fun, nominal money, will fill gap. Con: I know that I will barely do any work. I would never claim experience or skills I don’t have, but having it look like a real job feels like lying on my resume

    5. Working in an outsourced industry that is adjacent to mine where English is the only language requirement. Pro: money, keeping skills fresh, learning new industry. Con: I don’t want to switch industries so having 3-5 years from entry level to whatever in the adjacent industry might be a negative when I try to get back into my preferred industry

    So, brilliant minds of AAM, what do you think would look least bad? Oh, and for context and in case you need it to give best advice, I have 20 years experience in my current profession.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Queen of the File

      Fun adventures! I personally would find it really hard not to accept #4 but I agree that (at a minimum) you’re in for an awkward conversation when your next interviewer wants to call your friend for a reference.

      Maybe you could use it in conjunction with one of the options, and if you don’t end up doing any actual work for your friend, don’t put it on your resume.

      Reply
      1. Anonim

        An incredible adventure! I am so bleeping lucky to get this chance!

        My friend would call me a “critical strategic partner” and make the drinking sessions sound like strategic planning. And, to be fair, for him, arguing with me and using me as a sounding board is good strategic planning. It would be my conscience that would be feeling bad about calling work with him a real job.

        Reply
        1. Rocketship

          Perhaps I’m just more cavalier about such things than the average bear… but just because you enjoy it doesn’t make it not-work. Nor does it make it less valuable. You’re getting paid to do something that, frankly, is often expected of folks (particularly lady folks) for free – and shouldn’t be.

          I highly recommend reading “‘Where’s My Cut?’: On Unpaid Emotional Labor” by the brilliant Jess Zimmerman. (http://the-toast.net/2015/07/13/emotional-labor/) Might help you see this option in a different light. :)

          Reply
    2. katamia

      1 and 4 sound like they would go together well and make 4 less awkward to explain to future interviewers. You could also see if your #4 friend would be willing to make it more of an official job–maybe if they’re thinking of a 90/10 fun/work ratio you could negotiate it to something closer to 50/50.

      As an ex-ESL teacher, don’t teach if you already know you hate it. Some jobs you can do without the passion, but IME it’s always been really hard to do something with all the craziness and extra work that teaching entails without that passion.

      Reply
      1. Anonim

        I hadn’t thought of combining 1 and 4. That is such a good idea. I think I can swing it even with 4 involving short trips (1-4 weeks) in three other countries (his NGO isn’t based where I am going, but close enough)

        I tried doing ESL tutor for a refugee family and I was awful. I realized that I can’t explain why English is the way it is in any coherent fashion. I’m so glad the family didn’t end up hating me :(

        Reply
      1. Anonim

        Oh I think I was unclear. I don’t need to work for the money. His job pays for everything except food and entertainment. I need something that will make my resume look good. So hostel won’t cut it. I’d love to volunteer, but the NGOs are all local and you need to speak the language, which I don’t

        Reply
    3. consultant

      It depends on what you do professionally.

      But I’m from Europe, have lived and worked in several European countries. At least at big companies you don’t normally need to speak the local language. In my country and at my company every communication takes place in English, we have people who don’t speak a word of the vernacular.

      (France may be an exception though – it’s more vernacular oriented).

      Reply
      1. Bagpuss

        oops. hit post too soon! Would it be possible for you to keep your current-industry knowledge current through courses or seminars at that same time? Then when you return you can market yourself with any transferable skills the work and degree give you, plus show that you have commitment and recent training as well as your 20 years experience in your current field.
        Do you have a friend or manager in your current role who you could speak to, to ask them what they would see as positives or negatives if they had an application from someone with a 3-5 year gap?
        (As an employer, I would see relocating to be with a partner/spouse overseas was a good reason for a gap in a candidate’s resume, but I would want to see evidence that they were still up to speed with the needs of the job, and that they were still going to be OK with all the normal things such as managing their time and workload etc, so on that front, seeing that they had been studying or working would be positive,m even if the work of study wasn’t directly related to the role. (My view is coloured by having had a couple of experiences with people coming back after gaps, where they seem to have lost the ability to manage their time / workloads so that rustiness in basic workplace skills would be something I’d be very cautious about if I had an application with a big gap on their CV)

        Reply
  69. Grey

    I don’t tell my employers about my ASD when I’m interviewing because, well, I doubt they’d hire me if I did. Plus I don’t want to be viewed or treated differently. But now that they’ve known me for a couple of years, do you think I could get into any trouble if I ever mentioned it in casual conversation?

    Reply
        1. Detective Amy Santiago

          I don’t think there is any way you could get in trouble for not disclosing a medical condition. Especially if it hasn’t impacted your job performance in any way.

          Reply
        1. fposte

          That would be a highly inappropriate response on their part. In general most employers would treat this with the disability model–it’s not their right to know whether you have a “thing,” just that you can do the work, but it’s your right to seek accommodation if you need it.

          Reply
        2. Liane

          Not HR or anything, but as far as I know, disclosing is optional. For example, the application for state jobs here includes a form where you CAN disclose, but it’s clear that it’s not required and that it is kept separate from application proper

          Reply
  70. Accidental Analyst

    I’d like a little perspective on the whole negotiation thing. Old boss had reached out to me saying I should be asking for a raise. His reasoning was it had been two years, I was doing more than I was originally contracted for and that since he’d left I had taken over some of his duties. As we got to talking more about it he stressed that I should be focussing on they lost a resource and as a result I’m doing more. He said that I couldn’t just say that I had been doing more and now wanted more money (crying poor over something I had willing done). Part of that may have to do with the amount he suggested I ask for (large increase but puts me closer to market rate). Using his advice my current boss has agreed to look at my rate (yay) and they’ll raise it with their boss next week.

    So, to the nuts and bolts of my question, is it out of touch for me to expect that if I do more and add more value that that’s sufficient reason to ask for a raise? Or do I have to tie it into resourcing.

    Sorry for any delays in responding – it’s currently 1:45 am

    Reply
    1. Allypopx

      It depends. If that’s the advice your boss is giving you, and it’s working, then that’s probably the correct approach at this company in this context – and some of it will vary in that way.

      But “doing more” and “adding more value” is subjective, and it’s helpful to quantify it, which sounds like what your boss is getting at here. “Doing more” and “picking up slack that was badly needed” are the same thing, but different. Overall it’s always good to go into the ways you’re adding value when asking for more compensation.

      Reply
      1. Accidental Analyst

        Thanks for your response.

        I was hired to do the requirements for changing teapots. This had expanded to include design, testing, support, documentation and, project management. Without some of these things it would have taken longer, cost a lot more and our staff and customers wouldn’t have gotten the same level of support. Eg with testing it would cost three times for our third party provider to do it as it would for me to do it.

        Old boss wasn’t getting at quantifying this. It was very much to only go with as a result of him leaving and they’re being down a resource my role has expanded (ignoring when the expansion for things occurred).

        Reply
  71. DVZ

    I work in what is generally a really nice office – the people are friendly, everyone is decent, etc. However there are a couple of women who are the epitome of ‘mean girls’ – snide looks, laughing, lots of frosty glances, ignoring people, etc. They only do it to some people and it’s the type of snide behaviour that largely goes unnoticed unless you are the victim of it (or are familiar with mean girl bullies).

    These women treated me this way when I first joined the company and the relationships have never really recovered. We are cordial when we need to be, but generally chilly towards each other.

    Anyway – I have a new employee starting soon and today I found out that these women have looked her up online and been making fun of her. One of the women also has mutual friends with this new employee and was sharing unflattering gossip about her from previous days. I am totally horrified about it. It’s so out of sync with our culture and also just with being a decent person. I am totally outraged and I know exactly how it feels to be treated this way (by these particular women, no less).

    What can I do? I don’t want to report it to HR or anything like that because it’s a very political environment and would cause way more drama (obviously I would report it to HR immediately if they actually were bullying this new employee once she joined), but I want to do something. Should I alert my boss to the situation?

    The other issue is that one of the mean girls has a habit of preying on new employees (particularly younger women) and uses them for gossip/information. She comes across as SO sweet and SO nice to new people but she is genuinely a very manipulative person. I don’t want to tell my new employee to avoid her but I know that this woman will ‘befriend’ my employee and then immediately talk about her behind her back, repeat ‘confidential’ information she knows about her (this woman is the admin for our team so knows a lot…), and generally manipulate her.

    Is there an appropriate way to warn my new employee, without sound like a crazy/paranoid person or like I’m full of drama? This woman is genuinely just rotten to the core and I am fearful that she will be really nasty towards my new employee (the other issue is that new employees tend to be eager to make friends, and I have had an issue in the past where another young employee was just soooo eager to please that she would basically walk right into this woman’s trap.)

    Reply
    1. Jadelyn

      I would talk to your manager. They really ought to be able to step in on this stuff, that’s deplorable behavior. And they should also be the one to protect the new hire from the mean girls.

      Reply
    2. Bess

      I’d feel out your new employee a bit and then think whether there’s a good way to indirectly tip her off or signal if it looks like she’s taking this woman’s bait.

      But honestly, I’d also think that kind of googling/gossiping before someone’s even started might be worth mentioning to your boss. You don’t necessarily have to get into detail about your own experiences or get ultra descriptive. You could just neutrally say you’ve observed some of this gossip and ask if there’s anything you could do to ensure this employee’s onboarding is pleasant. You’d want to be careful not to frame it as a “me vs. her” thing, because as you noted that can just feed into the drama.

      Reply
    3. JulieBulie

      You don’t have to warn your new employee about that woman specifically. I am wondering if you can suggest to her that in general it would be a good idea to be reserved at first, be careful what she reveals of her personal life, take her time to absorb the culture of the office and see how people get along. I don’t know the proper script for that. Something about how some people like to test a new employee… uh… I’m sorry, I’m not helping much, am I?

      But now I’m remembering back to 1989 or so and some particular people in my office and thinking maybe you actually should warn her about that woman.

      Or tell your new employee what happened, but don’t tell her who it was – to illustrate that it is important not to rush the friends-making process. (Although I’m afraid she might form her own opinion as to who it was, and guess wrong.)

      I really think you need to warn her in some way, but unfortunately I’m just not sure how. She needs to understand that sometimes people act very friendly, but have hidden motivations. It’s good to get along with your coworkers, but it’s also smart to be discreet. (Oh, maybe that’s exactly what you need to say!)

      Reply
  72. Newby

    I am dealing with a migraine that has lasted for three days now. I was supposed to finish a project by today that I haven’t been able to work on much because looking at the computer for more than a few minutes is unbearable. How do I explain that to my coworkers without sounding like I am making excuses? (Missing the deadline will not affect the larger project. It is an internal deadline to make sure the project is moving forwards).

    Reply
    1. K

      I’ve had a migraine for 3 days so I wasn’t able to complete X. I should have it done by Y. Thanks for understanding.

      Reply
    2. LibKae

      Ugh. Sorry about the migraine. I get them chronically, so that’s frequently an email I need to send out. People have always been really understanding whenever it’s been an issue.

      I hope you feel better soon!

      Reply
      1. jamlady

        Also a chronic migraineur (my hands are legitimately shaking and seizing up as I type this, a part of a wonderful aura that decided to start up). Being honest is all you really can do. Most people understand, and the few who don’t aren’t worth the stress. It’s hard enough dealing with them without having to worry about how other people are dealing with them.

        Reply
    3. Relly

      Btw another migraine sufferer here. If you hit 72 hours where it hasn’t broken for at least four, that is legitimately Go To a Doctor and Get the Good Drugs territory. I always minimize my own health and pain issues and I worried the first time I went to an ER for a migraine that they were going to think I was crazy, like “um, we treat real emergencies here?” Instead it was “hi, um, maybe this is silly but I’m on day four of this migraine, and I –” and they were all “ooh, yeah, right this way.”

      Reply
      1. Optimistic Prime

        Chronic migraineur here chiming in to co-sign. This is definitely on Get Thee To Thy Doctor levels.

        I used to suffer through my migraines without drugs, thinking I could just soldier through. It got to the point that even my husband, who rarely takes any kind of medication, asked “Why do you hate medicine so much?!” Trust me, the meds will make your life so much better and more productive.

        Reply
  73. DecorativeCacti

    Does anyone have advice on how to keep your accomplishments succinct on your resume? I’m really struggling with following Allison’s advice of not using complete sentences but also conveying what I need to.

    For example: “reduced losses by two-thirds” just doesn’t convey what I actually did to achieve that but “Created and implemented new tracking and ordering system for department materials reducing losses by two-thirds” seems too wordy.

    Reply
    1. soflo

      I would do “Reduced losses by XX% by developing new tracking and ordering system for department materials.” Put the numbers first!

      Reply
  74. overcaffeinatedandqueer

    How do you be kind to someone on the spectrum?

    I have a new person in the office, same level, who likely has Asperger’s. He acts awkwardly, has tics, speaks in a halting way, and doesn’t seem to know ho