open thread – June 23-24, 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 :)

{ 1,388 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Ask a Manager Post author

    A PSA: If you are getting spammy redirects on your phone when visiting this site, please try clearing your cache and cookies (at least for AAM). That’s fixed it for a lot of people (although not for everyone). I’ve been hit with a wave of these recently, and it’s proved really hard to track down and stamp out although we’re working on it. Thanks.

    Reply
  2. I Am The OP

    I am the letter writer for yesterday’s post about getting a job outside of the normal office setting. Thank you everyone who shared ideas and advice, I read every comment and I really appreciated everyone taking the time to write.

    I’m not in a huge hurry to leave my current office job; I’m just enjoying being out of a truly toxic environment like my last job. But my thoughts have been turning to the future, rather than my desperate search from the last place. And as some guessed, I’m fairly new in my career and have some time to try things. I’m going to get involved with various volunteering and a few evening classes to branch out and see what strikes me. I’m looking forward to all the possibilities and new experiences to come my way.

    Thanks again, everyone! Love this community so much and really appreciate all the feedback!

    Reply
    1. DevAssist

      I didn’t comment, but was thinking that maybe a job in aesthetics would be a good fit? The schooling can be done part-time and isn’t usually too long or too expensive, and then you can be in a job that allows you more interaction with people and more flexibility, especially if you rent a room and work for yourself rather than a company.

      Reply
      1. Swimmergurl

        I was thinking the same thing! For example, you could do hair and makeup for weddings and basically keep all of your tools in a rolling suitcase. Being a masseuse could also provide flexibility, especially if you invest in a massage table and can bring it to people’s homes. Being a doula is also lucrative, flexible and requires little training. Some of them also teach child birthing classes on the side.

        Reply
        1. Anon for Meow

          I don’t want to nit-pick terminology, but the the word “masseuse” is extremely verboten in the spa industry since it has some unsavory connotations. Most professionals insist on massage therapist or LMT. But you are absolutely right about the flexibility! My good friend is an LMT for the Ritz Carlton and since they allow you to transfer between resorts, she has been able to travel to and live in some pretty amazing locations for her work! She’s very passionate about her work and the people she serves–not to mention the opportunities to meet (and massage!) celebrities who stay there. It’s a really neat profession.

          Reply
          1. Rache

            Ahhhh… thank you :) I’m also a LMT and it’s very tough to train people away from the terms masseuse/masseur. A lot of time and money goes into the schooling and certification (and don’t even get me started on renewals and continuing ed!! lol) so anyone licensed is typically very quick to correct that.

            Reply
    2. MuseumChick

      This is how I ended up in my career (working in a museum). I started to volunteer on a whim and just fell in love with it. Volunteering and even internships will give you the best sense of what you like doing. Good luck!

      Reply
    3. anonandonandon

      I started volunteering at a local radio station, quickly moved up to midday host, and a couple of years later was the music director!

      Of course, radio isn’t exactly a growing industry these days….

      Reply
      1. I Am The OP

        I’ve always wanted to get into radio but I’ve been hearing far too often that it will be gone soon. Of course that’s been said for a while and it’s still here but it does make me a bit nervous to get involved with it.

        Reply
        1. OhNo

          It might be worth looking into podcasting – it seems to be a close cousin of radio nowadays. And I know there are several media companies/groups that sponsor or manage multiple podcasts, so there might be opportunities to get into the field through those (rather than just jumping in to making your own right away).

          Reply
    4. New Bee

      I missed the post yesterday, but working at a school site (or for an org that travels to different schools, like a reading partners program) could be a good fit. At a school site every day is different!

      Reply
    5. Anxa

      I didn’t respond because I haven’t really had a lot of time on the computer lately. Because of work. My main job has some time spent in an office, but I have no computer or wifi access (and I don’t have a smart phone).

      I tutor (so, kind of officey in that I drop things off at an office and in the past have filled in for the admins) and am a health inspector (temp).

      Drawback of health inspecting? My office is now the county car that’s available that day, and oh god do I miss having a clean surface to put my things (I keep getting the car the septic inspectors get).

      I’ve worked in a lot of para-office jobs but I’m 31 and never had a proper office job. Sometimes this site mystifies me because I wonder what people are doing in their offices, since I’ve always done the bulk of my work outside the actual office.

      Reply
  3. Sunflower

    Wondering what to do about an intern who isn’t a good fit for the job but we can’t let her go.

    We had an intern start about 9 weeks ago. She is here for another 3 months. She constantly submits work with mistakes, texts on her phone all day and just doesn’t seem to care about the work. She had a disciplinary meeting with HR where she was given a formal warning. My entire team would like to fire her but my director says we can’t since the company does not want to jeopardize it’s relationship with the university. The intern has said since the meeting that she is ready to work hard and will improve. There is no formal plan in place. I was hoping she would just quit after the meeting as there’s no way she would make it past the 90 day probationary period we have for regular employees.

    This meeting was 3 days ago and she is already slipping up- sending incorrect work, saw her on FB, texting all day. I told HR it’s at the point where it’s more time consuming for me to give her work and have to check it 5 times and more thoroughly than if I had done it myself.

    So I’m not sure what to do with her for the next 3 months. The work I really need done involves deleting and adding files onto our database and I REALLY don’t trust her to do that correctly. Do I give her work that I don’t even plan on using? Do I just let her sit there and text all day? Do I give her another shot and hope she keeps screwing up? We’ve already started documenting everything going on since the meeting.

    Reply
    1. TotesMaGoats

      A)Fire her
      B)Call her university. They should be the one’s upset about her performance not your company for wanting to get rid of a poor performer. I bet there were other applicants that got turned down.

      If you can do A, at least do B then at least do some sort of PIP. I bet the university will be supportive.

      Reply
      1. Amber T

        Agreed – firing an intern because of poor work doesn’t reflect poorly on you. Call up the university’s office or department that handles this and say “I wanted to let you know that Lucinda will no longer be working with us. After meeting with her several times, including a formal disciplinary meeting with HR, her performance did not improve and we had to let her go.* We’re still interested in hiring interns from University and would love to discuss this with you in Month when we plan on hiring a new intern.” Or, considering she’s not quite halfway through the internship, you could ask if there are any other students who would be interested?

        * Yes, this is technically being fired and not let go – however, you might want to soften the language here. This might be a case where the confusion between the two terms works out in your favor.

        Reply
    2. Tiffany In Houston

      I would think that the University would want to know at this point that this intern is doing poorly for fear of jeopardizing their relationship with your employer for future intern candidates. Can you or your Director reach out the internship coordinator? I don’t see why you have to be held hostage by this particular intern.

      Reply
      1. Hellanon

        Yes, those intern placements are equally important to the university – they won’t want to jeopardize their relationship with *you* and if it’s an academic internship, the interns get graded, meet outcomes, etc. Call the university – they need to know. (As does the intern – that’s why they do these things, because it’s called “work” for a reason, and the expectation is that her next employer won’t have to deal with these behaviors.)

        Reply
        1. AD

          Strongly agree with both comments here. I’m struggling to understand how this would be interpreted as “we can’t alert the university to their student’s lackluster intern performance because they’ll be angry at us“.

          That’s just not how it works. Any college/university worth their salt would definitely want to know that a student in an internship program such as this has basically become a liability.

          Reply
        2. Trout 'Waver

          Unless it’s a very prestigious university, I’d agree. I’d even say the internship is more important to the university than the company.

          And if it is a very prestigious university, they’d probably be appalled that the intern was behaving in such a manner.

          Reply
    3. EA

      If you really can’t fire her – I would give her busy work.

      I don’t think its exactly right, but I saw this happen with bad interns in my internships. Really, you have given more chances/feedback then a lot of interns get. Most bad interns just don’t get a lot of work and don’t know why.

      Reply
      1. Hazel Nut

        Agreed. Have her answer phones, archive files, re-label files. Something that forces her up from the cube she is texting in. Have her take minutes in a meeting that doesn’t really need them. Stock the kitchen supplies, wipe down conference room tables. Sort and distribute the mail. Stock paper in all the printers.

        But this only if you really can’t just call the University and explain and then fire hire.

        Reply
      2. Trout 'Waver

        I’ve got 4000 totes and 1000 skids of material that could sure use a quality assurance assessment.

        Too bad my intern this summer is awesome and killing it on much more complex projects.

        Reply
        1. Lora

          I know, right? I have a sample refrigerator that needs cleaned out, a -80C freezer that needs defrosted, in process samples that need carried between buildings for analysis, empty chemical drums that need hauled down to the dock for collection by the hazardous waste people, pumps that need calibrated, drawings that need sent for CAD’ing, scripts that need documented for Automation, old equipment to scrap and data loggers to wire up.

          Reply
    4. Cheese Sticks and Pretzels

      Jeopardize the relationship with the university? I would think the university would be concerned they are sending sub-par interns to companies as this reflects poorly on their program. Maybe other readers can weigh in but I think for most internship positions there are more students then there are available internships.

      Reply
      1. Paige Turner

        Without knowing all the details, it might be worth considering if you actually want to maintain a relationship with this university if you’re not getting anything out of it.

        Reply
    5. Sadsack

      How would telling the University that their student is not working out jeopardize your relationship? How is your relationship benefitting anyone if the intern you hired is allowed to continue to be a poor worker? That doesn’t work for you and the student is not learning anything by not having any repercussions for slacking off.

      Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        If anything, the intern’s bad habits are being reinforced by a total lack of consequences for them, which sets her up for a nasty shock at her first real job.

        Reply
        1. Jessesgirl72

          Right?

          What was the point of the PIP if it means nothing? And companies aren’t going to put you on one and then not follow through with the firing if you immediately slip.

          Reply
    6. LQ

      I am with everyone else that the company has this wrong. The university doesn’t want to screw this up. They need to know. You’re not going to come off poorly by saying, “This person did not work out.” Definitely need to talk to the contact there and push back on the idea that this will make your company look bad, that’s totally backward.

      Reply
    7. Liz2

      Is she able to do the work and simply not applying herself? Is she overwhelmed by fear of failure? What training did she get directly? I find a lot of places just throw interns and let them swim instead of actually being the intro session and transition they need.

      If your place is a swim place, then you have to let her go. But maybe even just a day of buddy hand holding can get her on the right track?

      Reply
    8. Jessesgirl72

      Is she the daughter of the University President or something?

      Call the intern coordinator at her university.

      If that doesn’t work and you want her to quit, could you implement, as part of her PIP, that she has to leave her cellphone in her car or locked in your desk drawer or something? I bet she’d quit within a day.

      Reply
      1. Alli525

        This is a GREAT suggestion – restrict web access to certain sites (this is SOP at Wall Street-type jobs, and elsewhere I’m sure) and have her submit her phone at the beginning of the day and again after lunch. I’ll admit to being a FB addict a couple years ago, and a new job at a company that restricted FB really improved my work ethic. Now, at a new job that doesn’t restrict access, I’ve kept my improved habits and rarely log into FB except on breaks.

        Reply
        1. tiny temping teapot

          If you can enforce turning over the phone – though even then, my wall street like job restricts access to a lot of sites and I can still find time to read AAM. :) (Or the archives of ask polly or captain awkward.)

          Reply
          1. Jessesgirl72

            But companies can make any unreasonable thing a condition of employment. So if you say to her “turn over your phone, or you can’t work her” she will very likely reply that she quits. And then she has quit, not been fired. ;)

            Or she’ll turn over her phone and maybe her performance will improve.

            Reply
    9. kb

      If the internship was arranged by the university and/or the intern is receiving class credit for the internship, is there a way you/someone at your company could reach out to the internship coordinator? I think the university is likely just as concerned about maintaining a relationship with your company as y’all are with maintaining one with them. They may be completely understanding if you need to let her go and/or be able to apply some pressure to her on their end (making it known her grade will suffer/ she won’t receive credit/ letting her knoe of she is fired, they won’t help her find awnew placement).

      Reply
    10. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      I agree with everyone else that you should reconsider your unwillingness to fire hire.

      But, a note: It’s very normal that it takes longer to supervise work done by an intern than it would to do it yourself. Of course you’re more skilled/faster/better trained than she is. That’s the point of an internship. So, while it sounds like she’s not good in other ways, you shouldn’t be holding this against her (or other interns).

      (This is why I always say no when my boss asks me if I want an intern. No thanks, I don’t have the capacity; interns make my work harder, not easier.)

      Reply
      1. Sunflower

        I understand it will take longer than it would for me. What I mean is I will send her something with clear instructions and she will send back work wrong or ask me questions that are clearly in the emails. For example,
        ‘Please register this list of people and send me an updated RSVP list once done’
        5 minutes later ‘These people aren’t on the RSVP list’
        ‘…that’s because you have to register them’

        I don’t expect work to be perfect. I make mistakes too and I understand. But when I write back and say ‘there are typos in this’, she needs me to point out the exact typos. I understand detail oriented, independent thinking work isn’t for everyone, which is why I realize this may just be a matter of bad fit for the role and why I was hoping she would have quit once she realized it wasn’t a fit for her.

        Reply
        1. Nosy Nelly

          I think this might be a mismatch in your expectations and hers–she is “trying out” the position by being an intern. She may well know it isn’t a fit, but wouldn’t quit because of the time-limited nature of internships. Now, it would definitely be best if someone knows the fit is bad would still try their best and take away some lessons, but I think quitting due to bad fit is unlikely.

          Reply
          1. The OG Anonsie

            Yeah, I’ve stuck out a bad fit internship (and I truly mean fit and not “wouldn’t let me play on my phone all day,” as these were the days before smartphones anyway) for a full academic year because I just needed to finish it and have the resume piece. Quitting an internship isn’t something most people will do.

            Reply
    11. Rebecca

      I’m puzzled by something. What is wrong with standing in front of her, saying “please put your phone away, and focus on work” and “you can use your phone during your break periods and lunch break, but not while you’re supposed to be working”. She needs to be held accountable!

      I’m firmly in the send her back, with a full explanation to the university as to why she’s being sent back. This might be the wake up call she needs.

      Reply
      1. Trix

        I’m with you. If they can’t actually fire her, they need to be saying something to her each time.

        “Hey Jane, you submitted this with XX errors. We talked about this, what’s going on?”

        “Hey Jane, off your phone please.”

        “Jane, it really sounded like you wanted to improve and make this a great experience, but it hasn’t seemed that you’ve changed anything. Can we figure out what you need to get to the level you agreed to?”

        Reply
        1. MillersSpring

          All of this, yes! Good grief, I would be speaking to that young lady every time.

          You need to ask her to think about what she wants from this internship:
          – Mentoring?
          – Office experience?
          – Industry experience?
          – College course credit?
          – Networking contacts?
          – Job references?
          – A full-time job after she graduates?
          – Technical training?
          – A portfolio of work samples?

          All of that is in jeopardy if she can’t focus on her work and its quality.

          Reply
        2. Not So NewReader

          This.
          You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
          You can start telling her that when you have to write a summary of her work here you are going to write about the high average of amount of mistakes per day and the constant phone use.

          It almost looks like if you made her surrender her phone during work hours and only give it back to her on breaks she might just quit the internship. But, as a “for real” suggestion you can start telling her that her constant phone usage WILL definitely get her fired at most places.

          Ideally, I think call the university and ask them how they handle situations like this.

          If it was my company and I sincerely believed we could not talk to the school about the problem, my next step would to be stop having internships. There is no point to bring in people if they are going to be allowed to mess up the company. No one is learning anything and the company is losing money. This is a lose/lose. You might want to consider telling your boss something like this.

          Reply
      2. MuseumChick

        I agree. Confront her as it happens. And when she submits subpar work send it back with clear instructions, After you find the third typo in a document she submits go to her and say, “This has multiple typos and grammatical errors. Work on it and re-submit it when it’s corrected. Going forward only submit work that is error-free.”

        If you see her on her phone or any non-work related website a clear, “We need you to focus on work. Please do not go on your phone, facebook, or anything else when not on your break.”

        Reply
      3. NEW YEAR, NEW ME

        What did her internship coordinator say? Do you call her out when you catch her texting/being on Facebook?

        Reply
      4. Optimistic Prime

        This was going to be my suggestion as well. If nothing else, an internship is a learning opportunity, and she needs to learn that her behavior is unprofessional and will be called out.

        Reply
    12. EA

      FWIW.

      I interned in state government in college. and we had an intern who was the nephew of a big deal lobbyist. He was a horrible intern, but they couldn’t fire him.

      So they gave his busywork, he was the envelope stuffer. He also struggled with this. He would fold a letter in half, and complain that it “didn’t fit” in the envelope. He also had an inappropriate sense of humor, and never came in time. At the end of it he was basically sitting at his desk doing nothing.

      Reply
    13. Swimmergurl

      Is is possible the intern has ADD or another condition that would make it difficult for her to focus and complete work accurately?

      Reply
      1. Liane

        Posting, “I think Person may have Whatever Condition” is something we don’t do here. It derails threads, most of us aren’t professionals–and worse, can make it harder on people who do have some medical conditions.

        Reply
        1. Liane

          I meant, “Most of us aren’t medical, psychology, or special education specialists” (Although we do have them here)

          Sorry

          Reply
        2. Myrin

          It’s also not constructive or helpful. It’s not like OP can say “Oh, you have a condition that makes it hard for you to spot typos? Well, I guess in this case we’ll just send out all our invoices typo-fied!”
          (And, as I understand the American laws from this site, if she did have such a condition, she would have to be the one to bring it up and ask for accommodation.)

          Reply
          1. Natalie

            Yes, and the accommodation would have to be “reasonable”, which in this case is a particular legal standard. To use an extreme example, you wouldn’t have to somehow accommodate a blind person to be a bus driver.

            Reply
    14. Artemesia

      I have run internships at Universities and was close to people in the program that did full time full semester internships. You don’t jeopardize the relationship with the University by holding students accountable. The next step here should be to sit down with the person who manages internships at the University and lay out for them your disappointment with this intern. The next step is to give the intern one more week to shape up, including depositing her phone with the supervisor when she starts work. Then fire her.

      Reply
    15. Laura

      Does she have structure?

      I work retail and previously did work study. Both had regular processes and tasks (not a set schedule) and that helps me.

      Is there stuff that needs to be done on the regular that she can do?

      Reply
    16. Sibley

      I’m in a similar boat with a young employee who used to be our intern and we hired full time. Except I’m not the manager, I have no control, and this person is a few years out of school and is not doing as well as the actual interns who are still in school.

      Make sure the individual is aware of the problems. Don’t sugarcoat it to be nice – it doesn’t work long term.

      Reply
    17. Rainy, PI

      Talk to the university internship coordinator IMMEDIATELY.

      And yes, you can and should fire her–it will not jeopardize your relationship unless the internship coordinator is very bad at their job.

      Reply
    18. De Minimis

      I can’t imagine a university would hold it against you for firing an intern, they are probably as interested in preserving the relationship as you are.

      Reply
    19. Teapot PR consultant

      I manage interns as part of my role, and I have never known the universities I deal with to be irritated if this happens.

      They recognise that internships are about prepring their students for employment: if those students need a sharp shock when the stakes are low they know the student will benefit later.

      Reply
    20. FelineFine

      Speaking on behalf of a university internship office – fire her. I would much rather you communicate with my office and (hopefully) hire our students again, than suffer for 4 months and never come back.

      Reply
  4. Need a wardrobe reboot

    I need advice about the clothes I wear for work. Particularly around switching from the business end of business casual to the more casual end.

    My old job was towards the business end of business casual – no suits, but no jeans either. I wore black dress trousers and some combination of black/grey/white blouses with cardigans. All stuff from the ‘workwear’ section of shops, not stuff I would wear casually.

    I started my current job about two years ago and kept on wearing the same clothes. It’s a similar job, in university admin. I found I was maybe a bit overdressed as the office tended to be more casual, like some people would wear jeans. But I didn’t bother changing my clothes because, well, I hate clothes shopping.

    However, over the past year or so the office had definitely shifted more casual. Now I am definitely feeling overdressed. The only other person who wears the same sort of ‘workwear’ clothes is my manager. A few people wear dresses but most people wear jeans. It’s not uncommon to see people in leggings and a tunic-type top. I’ve seen turquoise jeans and maroon jeans. Now my work clothes are starting to get a bit worn out and I’m also tired of wearing business clothes when it looks like I could be more casual, and wearing black/grey/white.

    In my personal life, I tend to wear blue jeans and a blue or navy t-shirt with a navy cardigan. Would it be appropriate to start wearing that sort of thing to the office?

    I’m aware I’m essentially switching a black, business uniform to a blue, casual uniform, but that’s sort of how my wardrobe has always been. I’m not good at mixing and matching colours and I’m not interested in fashionable clothes!

    If it sounds like my casual clothes are appropriate for the office, would it be okay to stick to all blue or better to mix in a few other colours? For example, using some of my existing black cardigans and pairing them with a black t-shirt or a coloured t-shirt and my blue jeans? Is sticking to shades of blue okay or weird?

    I am hopeless at clothes so thanks in advance for any help!

    Reply
    1. Rincat

      I think what you described sounds just fine – jeans, t shirt, cardigan. I often wear the same thing. I typically wear “nicer” tees though – like somewhat fitted tees in nice fabrics with different necklines, not just Hanes beefy tees. I also work in a university and this type of outfit fits right in.

      As for colors – same as above! I wear black, navy blue, and gray ALL THE TIME. I wear navy with black. Navy with other blues. I see nothing wrong or weird about this, but that’s also how I tend to dress.

      One thing you could do is throw in some university shirts. I avoid tees with any kind of graphic on them except for the university logo, but I feel like that adds a nice touch.

      I typically take whatever tops I would wear with business casual and just put some jeans under them instead of dress pants. I still like to look slightly more business so that I will look polished.

      I hope this helps! Good luck!

      Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        “I typically take whatever tops I would wear with business casual and just put some jeans under them instead of dress pants.”

        My workplace switched from business casual to casual last summer and this is exactly what I did. Most of my tops are exactly the same, I just wear them with jeans instead of slacks. I do wear some t-shirts, but as Rincat said, it’s the nicer type, usually in a better fabric than plain cotton, with little embellishments to make them look slightly fancier – like today’s shirt, which is one I picked up on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06WW9HT93/

        So you can absolutely do the jeans/tshirt/cardigan thing! I wouldn’t worry too much about colors either – almost all of my wardrobe is black, blue, or grey, with occasional splashes of red and purple. The only comments I’ve ever gotten have been when I totally break from this pattern and wear a dress to work, which happens about 3 times a year if that.

        Reply
        1. K.

          That’s always been my approach to jeans Fridays, which have been common in my workplaces – business casual Monday – Thursday, jeans + business casual top and shoes on Fridays. (In summer I often wear dresses and skirts because they’re cooler than pants, so I might wear dresses and skirts all week long during a heat wave.)

          Reply
          1. Jadelyn

            LOL, I have a cart full of sundresses on Amazon right now for that exact reason. We’ve had multiple days of triple digit heat this past couple weeks! Ugh.

            Reply
    2. TotesMaGoats

      Updating a wardrobe takes time and money. If you’ve already got jeans, then start by mixing in a few tops. You can find nice things at Target, Kohls and the like that don’t require spending a ton of money. Looking well put together and comfortable in your skin doesn’t mean spending a ton of money. Plus, since basically anything goes with jeans, buying some tops with color/pattern is a good way to freshen your look but no go crazy with trends.

      Reply
    3. DVZ

      This might not be the advice you want, but I’d stick with more workwear-style if you can! Just because everyone else is casual doesn’t mean you can’t dress up a little, and if you maintain a good amount of workwear in your closet then you won’t need to do a total overhaul if you switch jobs and your new place is more formal, or even if the culture of your place starts to shift and it gets more formal, or you get promoted and want to look a little sharper, etc. It’s much, much harder to quickly pull together a suitable and affordable workwear wardrobe than the other way around!

      I am all for separating work and play clothes – don’t merge wardrobes!

      Reply
      1. Bertha

        She mentioned that her work clothes are worn out, so it’s possible that they are ready to be retired anyways! But certainly she could keep the ones that are in better condition.

        Reply
      2. memyselfandi

        I agree. I like the work/play distinction in my wardrobe. Plus, I just feel better about myself when I am in a business context if I am dressed for business.

        Reply
      3. Happy Lurker

        I am in a causal business, but still love my chinos. I wear jeans on Fridays and cheap old Navy (or Lands End wrinkle free) chinos all the other days. My button down and semi casual tee shirts are interchangeable. I am totally 75% more dressed up than everyone else, except the banker and the office supply sales guy that comes in.
        I don’t enjoy shopping as much as I used to so most of my clothes come from online retailers.
        Good luck with your wardrobe reboot.

        Reply
    4. tswift

      I would recommend checking out the university bookstore – I just bought a logo’d cardigan from my university’s bookstore which helps make me feel a little bit more professional and that I’m sticking to the dress code while also being comfortable and not too dressy.

      Reply
    5. Lady Dedlock

      I also work in a university setting where many people dress fairly casually, though a few people still dress business casual. Jeans, a t-shirt, and a cardigan would fit in just fine here (and actually is one of my frequently used outfit formulas).

      I suspect you would do just fine mixing some of your workwear in with your casual wear as you transition your style, assuming it doesn’t result in a radical mismatch in formality. You could easily pair nicer sweaters or button-downs with blue jeans, or, conversely, wear t-shirts and cardigans with work trousers.

      Your color palette also sounds fine to me. Most of my wardrobe consists of black, gray, navy, lighter shades of blue, and white. But dressing more casually also means you don’t have to stick with neutral, conservative colors. You could mix it up if you want to.

      Reply
    6. the.kat

      I think one of the things I’m best at is copying what other people are wearing. If you can find your “style icon” in the office you should either ask them where they got something or try to find other things like it. As far as your hatred of shopping, you might try to find a shop where you know what size you wear. Then, you can just pick up what you want online, try it on at home, and return it if you need to.

      Reply
      1. Fluxinsight

        +1 on finding a style icon. There’s always someone in the office who dresses appropriately for all occasions in an effortless way.

        Reply
        1. a Potterhead for life

          What I wouldn’t give to be that kind of person! I feel like I am literally 180 degrees from that.

          Reply
      2. Turquoise Cow

        I occasionally go shopping, and find a particular brand, style, and size that fits really well and looks nice. I wear it for a bit to confirm, and then order more online. Sometimes it’s cheaper and easier that way, and then you don’t have to go to the store, or, if you do, it’s a shorter trip.

        Reply
    7. MechanicalPencil

      I do a more complicated variation on your blue tones since I do what’s called a capsule wardrobe. It makes shopping simple; it makes getting ready simple. I feel like I’m a slightly more advanced adult. I also feel like I get more use out of my closet since everything gets worn more frequently instead of having that one top that I can only wear with that one other item. I’m not sure if this is something that could work for you, but I keep mine simple by having basic color bottoms that I match with solid color tops in a max of 4-5 colors. Even if you kept your slacks and did just basic color tshirts with a cardigan in grey or black, you could look more varied while still keeping it simple to track and rotate.

      Reply
    8. Pup Seal

      I work in a building that is super casual (I’m wearing flipflops right now). Your style is really up to you. In a casual office, people don’t seem to care as along you fit in. Your jeans sound fine, especially since everyone else is wearing them. I sometimes wear tank tops under a cardigan, and the cardigan actually makes it a bit more professional. I really love colors so I mix it up a lot, though most of my stuff are solids with not much going on.

      Is sticking to shades of blue okay? It sure is! I have a lot of blue, so there are days when I’m wearing all blue. I’ve always thought it looked fine, though maybe I’m weird. Really, the key is wearing appropriate clothes, so nothing with cleavage, no holes, no stains, no cut outs, etc. Just imagine what you would wear if you were getting dinner with grandma or parent in laws. Nothing fancy but nothing slobby either.

      Reply
    9. Audiophile

      My current employer is business casual – jeans, T-shirts, sneakers are all fine. As long as the attire is neat and clean, it’s considered work appropriate. I found out we can even wear shorts, as long they are not short shorts. Personally, I wouldn’t wears shorts to work.

      Right now, I have a few pairs of pants and some jeans that I wear during the week, though I prefer not to wear the blue jeans if I can avoid it.

      Reply
    10. FDCA In Canada

      Would you feel free with mixing blue jeans and work tops? Nicely-kept jeans and an office-appropriate blouse with a cardigan can look quite sharp without seeming too dressed-up or formal. There’s nothing wrong with staying on the more-formal side, but if you’d like to start wearing more T-shirts and cardigans, I would stick with “nicer” tees, generally ones made of heavier/more formal fabric, more fitted, maybe with embellishment if you like that, and stay away from graphic or kids’-style tees. It’s jeans Friday so right now I’m wearing jeans with a casual top, but the jeans are in good condition, the top is fitted and not graphic or too revealing, and a black cardigan over top with coloured flats. I’m bang on target in my office, comfortable, but I don’t feel like I should be out in the garden.

      Reply
      1. Emily

        I agree with this tip. In the past, I’ve done the same thing – that is, wear professional-looking tops with nice-looking jeans – and it can look very nice and presentable.

        The important thing is just that the jeans or pants are in good shape, with no holes / cut-off hems, et cetera.

        Reply
    11. Betsy

      I work in a university environment, and generally, we wear whatever we want. Any color, any style. As long as the clothes are in good repair and not inappropriately revealing (like, huge amounts of cleavage or underwear showing, or shorts so short you can see your butt, etc.), it should be fine.

      We have a few colleagues who only wear black, or black shirts and jeans. It doesn’t really matter. No one really pays attention. Some people like to dress it up a bit more with dresses and slacks. Personally, I like to mix it up. Sometimes I dress up and sometimes I dress down. Today I’m wearing light linen pants and a light, casual blouse (it’s HOT). Another day I might wear slacks and a cardigan, or jeans and a blazer, or a dress. In the winter I wear jeans and a pullover sweater every day.

      Reply
    12. AvonLady Barksdale

      If I were you (and I am not a fashionable person by any means), I would switch things up a bit. Yes, you can pair your black cardigans with jeans! You can also wear your black, gray, and white blouses with cardigans and jeans. But you can also try a navy t-shirt with a white cardigan, or a black cardigan with, say, a purple t-shirt. There are dozens of appropriate possibilities.

      I know you hate clothes shopping, but it might be worth a trip to Old Navy. Find a tank top or t-shirt you like and a cardigan you like, and check out their colors. A wardrobe like that, worn with jeans in a casual environment, doesn’t necessarily have to “match”. A yellow t-shirt with a navy cardigan, for instance, would be just fine, but you don’t have to go colorful. You can also get a pair or two of black jeans.

      Reply
      1. Arjay

        I knew if I read far enough, someone would say what I was thinking!
        Blue jeans are a neutral, so you can wear them with any colors you like. There’s nothing wrong with all blue, but branching out as AvonLady suggests can keep you looking fresher and sharper. Even in the blue family, teal and turquoise are almost universally flattering. Otherwise, there are the standby suggestions of a colorful shoe, scarf, or interesting piece of jewelry. Just a little something different can help to elevate the look.

        Reply
    13. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      If you want to ease into the casual end of the pool, you can look for things like:

      1) Well-fitted, darker-colored jeans.
      2) Blouses, tucked or untucked. (Not t-shirts; that’s a VERY casual look.)
      3) Cardigans or casual-fabric blazers (not suit jackets, but ponte knits, or linen, etc.)

      Reply
      1. KL

        I was going to suggest this as well. We can wear jeans on Fridays in my office, and I usually go for dark wash jeans because the feel a little more dressy to me.

        Reply
      2. HR Gal

        +1

        I work at a university as well and my ideal work uniform is nice jeans and a silky top with a cardigan. The silky top keeps it looking professional and put together while the jeans dress it down and give it a casual vibe.

        Reply
    14. EA in CA

      I’ve mix my jeans with dressier t-shirts, blouses, and cardigans. Navy cardigans are a basic staple, so something that could easily work for your office setting. Just buy a few dressier tops and you’d be good to go. Target is good, Macy’s or JC Penny’s when they have sales. Or, like me, find one really nice top that you love and buy it in few different colours or patterns.

      Reply
    15. Kelly

      Have you looked at ThreadUp.com? They are a resale online shop, carry higher end brands etc. I HATE HATE HATE clothes shopping but I LOVE new clothes so I do most of my shopping online in general. Also, Amazon.com has some cute stuff and they have a great return policy.

      Reply
    16. IvyGirl

      Capsule wardrobes are great – http://www.wardrobeoxygen.com has great posts on this for different office environments, body types, and ages.

      There’s good ideas for silhouettes and accessories – changing out metals and scarves can really elevate your basics. Plus, it’s good to dress slightly dressier than most, even in a higher ed office setting. Sets you apart from the students. :-)

      Reply
    17. Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way!

      Here’s the question you need to ask yourself. Do you want to move up in the organization? If so, then you stated that you currently dress in a similar manner that your manager does. If you want to move up in the organization then you have to look the part. So update what you’ve been wearing (maybe add a few splashes of color or accessories for a different look) and you should be fine. Also feel free to give yourself permission to have a relaxed day on Friday and wear something a little less formal. I believe it will give you the best of both worlds! Good luck!

      Reply
    18. Gail Davidson-Durst

      By the way Amazon is planning to roll out Amazon Wardrobe, their answer to Stitch Fix a such. For Prime members, you get clothes shipped to you free, 7 days to try, free shipping back, and they only charge you THEN, after you decide what to keep!

      Reply
      1. Optimistic Prime

        HMMMM! Thanks for the tip! I use Stitch Fix and I really like the concept of it – stuff I would never buy myself but actually really like, and I don’t have to go shopping.

        Reply
    19. Target Shopper

      I have a small selection of cardigans (navy blue and grey are my go to, but I have some other “seasonal” colors to mix in, like white and bright green for spring/summer, orange/purple for fall and red for winter) and a bunch of slightly fitted v neck t shirts in lots of colors. They are all the same cardigans and same t shirts from Target. I wear them with jeans, dress pants, skirts, everything and dress it up/down with accessories. It is so easy. I know everything I own goes together and fits well and when a staple wears out, I know exactly how to replace it!

      Reply
    20. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

      Branded items! That’s my favorite part of working at a University. Almost every event is an acceptable venue for a branded polo or cardigan. I haven’t bought a polo shirt since I started here yet I have over 25. I wear the polo with simple grey slacks, khakis, or jeans (blue, grey, or black). That’s pretty much my work wardrobe. When it’s cold (outside or inside with AC) I wear a branded cardigan or hoodie.

      Reply
    21. Swimmergurl

      I’ve never had a problem with looking nice, even if it means being slightly overdressed. I try to buy pieces that are classic, fairly neutral, and can be worn most of the year. Cardigans, dark wash jeans, and jackets are some of my favorites, and I try to buy a white shirt each season, since I can always pair a white shirt with something.

      I wouldn’t worry about being slightly overdressed, as long as you feel confident and put together. Everyone has days where they are sick or oversleep and don’t look their best, but I feel like showing up at the office, looking the best I can more often than not, only enhances how I’m perceived by my coworkers and how I feel about being at work every day.

      Reply
    22. NaoNao

      I think one key would be to elevate the quality of your items. So that if you’re wearing all one color or a mix of neutrals, each piece is of very high quality and in excellent condition.
      People who go towards the stylish end can sometimes get away with stuff that’s seen better days, is vintage or well worn, or is “rough around the edges” on purpose (frayed edged jeans, scuffed and worn boots, etc).
      But if your look is classic basics, I’d say invest in the highest quality you can afford and buy multiples.
      Merino wool wears well, washes well and looks great. 2-3 merino wool sweaters over button downs, turtlenecks, or henleys, worn with slacks and loafers, or with crisp dark jeans and slip on shoes like simple flats, would look great and be comfortable and casual.
      In summer you could switch that out for cropped skimmer pants and slip on flats or peep toe sandals, a short sleeved sleek and high quality knit tee, and a cardigan.
      As others have mentioned, accessories can really change your game. If you have an art or history museum in your town, often they have a *lovely* jewelry selection in the gift shop by local artists. It’s often an overlooked treasure trove of beautiful, high quality, and unique pieces that wear well and look “academic” and “upscale.”

      Reply
    23. Mary (in PA)

      Colorful accessories could also help. A plain top with cardigan and jeans can be jazzed up with a scarf. Plus you get bonus layering for unpredictable office temperatures.

      Reply
    24. RB

      All my ideas went out the window when I got to the part where you said, “I’m not interested in fashionable clothes.” But maybe part of it would still apply. I was going to say that this could be an opportunity to get more creative with your wardrobe. If that sounds absolutely detestable to you, what about a few more colors of tops or bottoms or a scarf or necklace now and then? Or change up your footwear a bit. I agree with another person who said that it depends on whether you are trying to move up in your job or not. As unfair as it is, women are still judged partly on appearances.

      Reply
    25. Optimistic Prime

      It probably depends on your office but it sounds like jeans and tshirt + cardigan are okay at your office. My office is very casual, so jeans and a t-shirt or button-front or a dressy shirt if I’m feeling fancy are my standard uniform.

      It’s fine to stick to one color scheme. My manager does that – she has a capsule wardrobe that is mostly black, with some shades of grey and white, and it looks fabulous.

      Reply
  5. Your Weird Uncle

    This afternoon I have a meeting with my boss, who is retiring in a few weeks, about adjusting my role to be equal with annoying coworker’s role. For background, when our predecessor left, her role was split into two. Annoying coworker was already at the department and took one role (teapot sales) which came with an informal but nifty ‘manager’ title and somewhat higher pay. I came into the department a few months later and took on the other role (teapot design), but never took on a manager title. This seems to be an informal title, as her official title is pretty generic, and I might have been able to but it felt presumptuous somehow.

    After having been here for nearly two years, it’s become clear to me that our roles are not a 50/50 split from our predecessor’s role. It’s more like 40% (her) and 60% (me). That hasn’t stopped annoying coworker from really embracing her ‘manager’ title, especially because her 40% role allows her the time to stick her nose into my job – she loves to think she’s my manager, even though the designation would really be more of a teapot manager (not manager of people).

    So I’ve had enough and am going to speak to our boss about how this is causing problems for me, and ask that my title also change to reflect that I, too, am responsible for teapot management. I’m not going to ask for more money (our boss has tried to get us more money recently and it’s been denied by upper management) but I would like her to agree that our titles be changed to reflect our roles more accurately. I’d like them to be ‘Teapot Manager – Sales’ and ‘Teapot Manager – Design’, and I think the time to do it is now, before my boss’s replacement comes on and the situation is even muddier.

    Much of this conflict is due to annoying coworker’s personality, as she likes to feel like she’s the one in charge, but I am trying to be as neutral about it as possible….even though I am at BEC stage with her by now! I have a list of ways this has caused problems for me in the past. Any other suggestions or advice?

    Reply
    1. Rowan

      I recently got my title changed to something with “manager” in it (although, like you, not a manager of people). I framed it as adjusting my title to better reflect my actual job duties, so it would be clearer to people both inside and outside of my organization what my role is. I was successful (although I had to keep nudging my manager to nudge HR; it took about six months!).

      But I wasn’t asking for more money, though, which may make it a harder sell. Can you decouple those requests? Make it clear that just the title change would be okay if you can’t get title change + $$$?

      Reply
      1. Your Weird Uncle

        That’s awesome, and congratulations! I think framing it that way is good – I’ll have to work to make it less about annoying coworker, and more about how my role is viewed, but I think that’ll go over better. (My manager knows that I struggle with her, and is aware of her, um, strong personality, but I always try to make sure I’m focusing on collaborating with annoying coworker as a teapot team member, not seen as butting heads with her.)

        As much as I’d love the pay bump, I’m not actually requesting one. It’s pretty unfair that she gets paid more and has much, much less work than I do (in addition to my teapot work, I also wear other hats like teapot purchasing, backup to the financial team, etc.), but I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’m just one step behind her because she’s been at the department longer than I have. Sigh.

        Reply
        1. MillersSpring

          Asking for a title bump when the organization can’t/won’t give you a raise actually is a very common strategy. Good luck!

          Reply
    2. a Potterhead for life

      Ugh, that stinks. I totally agree with your thinking about getting the titles adjusted before the replacement starts.

      It sounds like the disparity in titles started as a fluke or oversight (but do you know this for sure? who defined the two titles?), but I’m wondering if over time it has actually morphed into what is for everyone but OP – ?

      I’m also wondering how the responsibilities of Sales and Design are each weighted by the company. Our company has two Operations Managers (resulting from a merger) and one makes $8,000 more than the other because she supervises the majority of the staff, with their positions otherwise having the same “weight” of responsibilities.

      Reply
    3. Ama

      Good for you for addressing this now and professionally with your manager. I had a similar problem with a coworker at another job (our complication was that she actually was supposed to delegate certain tasks to me, but she thought that gave her permission to micromanage my entire job, even tasks she had nothing to do with) and I failed to bring it up with my manager until I reached my breaking point and we had a blowout over one of those tasks that wasn’t hers — the only time I’ve ever raised my voice at work. I wound up in my boss’s office near tears because the confrontation upset me so much. My boss ended up taking care of it (she was very surprised when she realized how much authority coworker thought she had over me), but I still regret that I didn’t handle it at a point before everyone’s emotions got too involved.

      Reply
    4. Your Weird Uncle

      Update!

      Thanks everyone!

      I just got out of my manager’s office. She not only readily agreed to informally change my title to match my coworker’s, but she is also going to look into moving me up into the next staffing tier. It would be a salaried position, but more pay. She agreed that our two roles are parallel to each other and should be recognized as such.

      Yay!

      Reply
      1. Hrovitnir

        YES. Congrats! It makes me squirm reading things and not knowing if you’re going to get stuck being slightly more resentful because management won’t go along with your request.

        Reply
        1. Your Weird Uncle

          Thanks! Luckily my boss (although a bit flaky) is pretty reasonable. We’re going to miss her when she leaves!

          Reply
  6. Ann O'Nemity

    How does your company celebrate success? I think we don’t do a great job of this (too much focus on what didn’t work instead of what did) and I’m looking to make some changes where I can.

    Reply
    1. Anon Accountant

      Prior conpanies we’ve had a catered lunch or a cake. Or if it’s a small group then we’ve taken that person to lunch. Other departments used to give a small gift such as a nice coffee mug, small fruit arrangement, or other desk item.

      Please excuse bad phone typing and spelling.

      Reply
    2. The Other Dawn

      Same as Anon Accountant. My boss takes my department out to lunch after our regulatory exams and audits (which are always good). The nature of our work is such that we don’t do many projects, and our definition of “success” is a clean exam or audit.

      Reply
    3. Morning Glory

      One thing my org does that I like a lot is a peer award recognition program, with a posted list of nominees who are put in a drawing for a gift card. I think it’s often smaller things that cause large successes or failures, and those tend to be harder for managers to see. It also improves morale for projects that drag on because it doesn’t come at the end, it can be to celebrate a small success.

      This is in addition to larger, top down recognition programs for big wins, which typically happen months after a project is complete.

      Reply
      1. The Other Dawn

        Oh, yes! I forgot that my company does that every year. Employees can nominate anyone and there are five different categories. The winners of each category (there are more than one in each that win) get to go to a fancy shindig with the CEO and the executive team; people love it.

        We also have a smaller-scale peer recognition process. People just on to the intranet, fill out a form, and it goes to the employee, his/her manager…and basically every other employee in the whole company. People tend not to do this much, because the recipient tends to get a lot of, “You rock!” or, “You’re so awesome!” comments as they walk around the building. It’s in good fun, but I can see why the recipient would get a little embarrassed. Plus the jokes gets old when you hear it 50 times in a day because everyone in the building saw it.

        Reply
    4. the.kat

      Handwritten thank you card from higher ups (CEO, VPs, etc.) and bonuses or gift cards if possible. Public recognition if it’s that kind of activity.

      Reply
    5. kavm

      My company does a catered lunch or “ice cream social” type of thing. I’ve been trying to convince them to buy company-branded mugs for everyone to switch it up, but so far that’s a no-go. Personally I think something like a mug is nice because you keep it and have it forever. Lunches are nice sometimes but I personally don’t really like the caterer they choose. Last week we had a grill-out though (during work hours – for lunch), that was fun!

      Reply
      1. Liz2

        Yeah but unless you are starting your first apartment, you already have all the mugs you ever need and most people have their preferred happy mug/water bottle. Rather than a mug, perhaps a very nice insulated lunch bag to everyone.

        Reply
        1. kavm

          I was thinking it would be a mug kept at work since we have a coffee/tea station here. But I like the lunch bag idea as well!

          Reply
          1. Liz2

            Yeah but a few things to consider:
            – People are picky about their beverages and containers
            – Marketing pieces like that are rarely best quality unless you really pay, so again people will use their preferred drinking cup instead
            – Have to make sure all new hires get them as well
            – Where will they go? Are you ready for the inevitable extra dirty cups left in the sinks and counters?

            The idea of having a nice branded USEFUL item is a good reward, I just find too many downsides versus other options.

            Reply
      2. Alli525

        I agree with Liz2 on most swag – my old office had a bunch of logo mugs in the kitchen cabinet, so we could use those or a disposable cup, but I have no use for most branded swag at home. That being said, our office was always FREEZING, so the fleeces they gave us were fantastic and universally adored.

        One year, they announced around the holiday season that they were planning a company-wide softball game, and we got baseball hats and tees (hats were just branded, tees had the logo on the front and our last name and a number – assigned alphabetically by last name – on the back). I loved these too and still wear the tee frequently despite no longer working there.

        Reply
    6. Liz2

      Success in what sense, on what level? What do your people feel valued by? Almost no one turns away a free half day off, but companies rarely want to incentivize like that.

      Reply
    7. Bend & Snap

      We have a formal reward & recognition portal. Awards can be peer or manager nominated, there’s a series of questions to determine the impact of the work and thus the level of award, then they go through management and budget approval. If they’re approved there are levels with corresponding dollar figures. I think it ranges from a couple hundred to a few thousand.

      It’s a really well done program. My last company had “kudos” which meant you got a star stuck to the wall with your name on it (like kindergarten) and then there was a prize drawing once a month for everyone who had been called out, and the prize was nominal.

      Reply
    8. Stop That Goat

      The last company I worked for had something called ‘Applause-O-Grams’. It was a web form where you chose an employee and had room to make a comment on the form. After submission, the recipient, their manager and one of the executive assistants received an email with the information.

      There was more than just this but it was a quick and easy way to shoot a compliment to someone while also notifying their manager and the EA who gathered statistics for other employee awards. I believe the top recipients also received some recognition at a yearly event as well.

      Reply
    9. Shark Whisperer

      Company-wide, the recognition programs tend to be pretty political and ultimately meaningless, but within our department I think we have a number of great programs. First is what we like to call the “shout out board” which is literally a board where you can put up notes thanking people or celebration peers’ accomplishments. About once a month the shout outs are collected and put into the employees personnel file and are often used in performance evaluations. We also have a peer-nominated award that we give out once a year. We read the winning nomination at the christmas party, but everyone who was nominated gets a copy of the nomination form about them so they can read the nice things about them. I believe the winner gets a gift card and a pin.

      Reply
    10. Jesmlet

      We have a yearly progress meeting that usually comes with at least one public announcement of role adjustment and public Employee of the Year award/bonuses which are often split between top performers. It’s not perfect but it does feel nice when it’s you.

      Reply
    11. lemonjelly

      My current job and my last job have similar programs where every quarter there are a handful of awards that managers can nominate people for. The categories vary, like best service, tech innovation, stuff like that, and each one comes with a couple hundred dollars attached. It’s nice, and people definitely like getting money. It seems better received at current job, at my last job the company was known for paying below market rates for several departments, and some people felt like the awards were an insulting attempt to mollify hard feelings about being underpaid. I didn’t necessarily agree, and it is rather indicative of larger morale problems there, but it was a perception I heard from several others.
      A couple jobs ago, the company had an online system that was a bit different, it was a peer recognition system (but managers or whoever could also do it) where you could go in and basically just publicly recognize someone for whatever you wanted. There was no nomination involved, it was much lower stakes and generally used for smaller things, but any time you recognized someone their boss (and maybe boss’s boss too, don’t remember) would automatically get notified. Each recognition was saved and counted as a point, and the points could be used to purchase things from a small catalog. It was just stuff like mugs, company shirts, maybe some smaller techy gadgets, but it was still nice. Typing it all out it sounds a little silly and like it could be easily abused, but it was actually really well received by everyone I ever talked to about it and as far as I know never abused (and this was a Fortune 500 company with 50k+ employees). Having people’s boss automatically notified was really great, and the online portal itself was convenient and easy enough to use that it really encouraged people to recognize each other for even smaller stuff, like someone going out of their way to help you meet a deadline or jumping into a project they didn’t have to or whatever.

      Reply
      1. Swimmergurl

        At the companies where I’ve worked, I’ve found the management struggles with articulating goals and then struggles to identify which behaviors/accomplishments to incentivize or reward. It’s also important to know your audience. For example, factory workers often love the games and prizes that office workers often find tacky.

        Reply
    12. Rat in the Sugar

      We don’t really have celebrations, per se, but if you’ve been busting your butt on something that’s really important, they’ll have a little meeting with you, boss, grandboss, and maybe managers from other departments you’ve helped where they give you a little certificate thanking you for your hard work (with specific wording on what you did, not just “Good Job!”) and a spot bonus–a Visa gift card around $50-$200, depending on what you did. Then all the managers in the meeting go around and say a bit about where they noticed you going above and beyond on a project, and the positive impact it had on the company and other employees. It’s pretty nice and very straightforward.

      Reply
    13. Ribbon

      Working in government, we don’t do bonuses or gifts for recognition. But one of the simple things our agency recently started was to Or it a recognition jar where staff can drop a quick note of thanks or kudos to other staff. Then, management reads them aloud at our monthly staff meetings, and there’s an opportunity to also give verbal thanks/kudos as well. It’s a surprisingly simple thing but everyone in our office feels good and likes a little public attaboy/attagirl.

      Reply
    14. Chaordic One

      Back at Dysfunctional Teapots, Ltd. this was something that they generally handled badly. Whenever I or my department had a noteworthy success there was usually no one there to notice. Sometimes there’d be a gesture, such as a lunch, as a way to thank me or the department, but a fair amount of time has passed and by then we had moved on and pretty much forgotten about what the accomplishment was as we were up to necks with different alligators and worried about taking time away from the current crisis.

      Reply
    15. VioletEMT

      On a team level, it’s the managers who decide when there is thing worth recognizing and there is usually a cake or ice cream.

      Every year, my team’s managers put together an event for us called “Teapot Services Rocks,” where they cater in lunch and celebrate each individual team members accomplishments, both they cater in lunch and celebrate each individual team members accomplishments, both for/with their clients, and the things they do outside of work that are unique and fun. E.g., Jane rescues greyhounds, Mary is training for a triathlon, and Fergus does competitive ballroom dance.

      Additionally, we have various levels of peer to peer recognition. You can nominate someone for a number of team awards, which are approved by a committee and given out at our division meeting. You can also give someone a “Good Work Coupon,” which is peer to peer and does not require approval, though the recipients manager is notified. They get the good work coupon that states what they did which is peer to peer and does not require approval, though the recipients manager is notified. They get the good work coupon that states what they did that was helpful, e.g. Wakeen stepped in to help one of Susan’s clients with rapist assemblymen when Susan was swamped because another of her clients had just had a massive spout upgrade project. Walking gets to redeem that coupon with one of the admins, and pick from a box of snacks (Doritos, Oreos, king-sized candy bars). So you can reward your colleagues with chocolate without ever having to go to the store.

      Reply
  7. Susan

    Quite a few people in my department have their resumes saved to the shared drive. I’ve been looking at them to try to get ideas for my resume, but they are just bad! Most of them start with an objective. Some list names and contact info of references. Many people have a whole section devoted to “skills” or “key words,” where they simply list a bunch of vague skills (such as “Administration”, “Troubleshooting”, “Wide Range of Computer Skills”). One guy with a 3-pager uses most of the first page for a two-paragraph, wall-of-text narrative of his career. Another lists her social security number and date of birth on the header. Very few of them even attempt to list any achievements in addition to the list of job duties.

    It makes me wonder: if bad resumes are the norm at this company, could having a good resume actually be a disadvantage? If someone submitted a good resume (by AAM standards), would these people think, “Wow, this idiot has no idea how to write a resume. She didn’t even include an objective! And she just lists a bunch of accomplishments for each job, so I can’t even tell what her actual duties were.”?

    The people whose bad resumes I found include someone who has the job I want, the hiring manager for the job I want, and people who previously had the job I want until they got promoted again. Apparently, their style of resume worked for them, and I guess that’s what they consider a “good” resume, so if I am applying for a promotion at this company, would I be better off making my resume worse to make it more like the ones they’re used to seeing, and the ones that have worked for others in the past?

    Reply
    1. Lora

      How old are the resumes? I mean, if this was their resume submitted in 1995 and they haven’t bothered to update it much, then yeah, it’s going to suck.

      Also, are these their resumes or did they have to be formatted to the company format? Had a job once where our resumes were sent to HR for re-formatting to fit their database and the results were NOT good. Like, putting the wrong number of years of experience, if they didn’t know what a thing was they left it off, if a thing was on everyone else’s resume who was in my group they would put it on there even though I never did it because they thought I must have forgotten, they added objectives and stuff at the top, just bad all around.

      Reply
      1. Susan

        Some of them are a few years old, but most are pretty recent, and they are in many different formats, so it doesn’t look like there’s a standard company format or they’ve been re-formatted by anyone else.

        Reply
    2. Pearly Girl

      No no no. Don’t dumb down your resume because of what you see on the server.

      You do you, and rise above the rest.

      Reply
    3. overeducated

      I think occasionally specific organizations can have non standard styles, could yours be one? A relative was trying to help me get into a company a year or so ago, and he and his internal contact actually guided me on restructuring it as a functional resume. I was horrified but that’s what the hiring manager wanted!

      Reply
      1. Decima Dewey

        Earlier this week a patron asked me for a second computer session so he could print out his resume. I gave him a second session, explaining that the general rule is one turn per day. After I helped him print, I saw his resume. It was a gmail post (not even an attachment), with patron’s name in large letters, plus a few bullet points.

        Good luck job hunting, kid. You’re going to need it.

        Reply
    4. a Gen X manager

      When I started my HR responsibilities I was SHOCKED by how terrible the majority of resumes are!

      Reply
    5. CAA

      The vast majority of the resumes I get for software dev roles are lousy. If I didn’t hire people who have lousy resumes, I would always have a lot of unfilled positions. So yes, bad resumes do work. But they waste my time and make me read between the lines to figure out what they’re trying to communicate, and it’s entirely possible that I’m missing out on interviewing some great people I’d really want to hire because I just can’t see that from their resumes.

      On the other hand, my own resume doesn’t follow all of Alison’s recommendations. I think it’s pretty good and it’s worked very well for me (my last two job searches took 7 weeks and 2 weeks, and I got over a 50% interview rate last time). I just try to keep in mind that the job of a resume is to communicate necessary information to the hiring manager and I try to think about what I’d need to know if I were on the other side of the desk.

      Reply
    6. Anonymous Educator

      At my old workplace, we were hiring someone for a very high-up position (the kind where you have a whole search committee and not just a hiring manager). The candidate we ended up hiring had several egregious typos in the cover letter. It would be ridiculous for this candidate to think “Oh, I got the job by putting typos in my cover letter” when the candidate actually got the job despite the typos. There was a long discussion among folks about whether to even consider the candidate, since there were such egregious typos.

      The same thing may have happened at your company. Those people who got hired with those horrible résumés may have been hired in spite of the horrible résumés and not because of them: “Ugh. Can you believe she put an objective in there? Well, she still has good work experience. We should probably interview her.”

      Of course, there’s the possibility that your particular company is just odd and likes to hire against common practice and common sense, but I don’t think you should try to make your résumé intentionally bad.

      Reply
      1. Susan

        Well, that is a good point if I don’t know the opinions of the people who are reviewing the resumes, but I am planning to apply for a promotion in my department, and I know who the hiring manager is, and I’ve seen her resume. Presumably, she thinks her own resume is good, right? If her idea of a good resume is one that has an objective and a list of key words like “Wide Range of Computer Skills”, is she going to think mine is bad because I don’t have those?

        Reply
        1. Anonymous Educator

          I mean it’s possible… but sometimes people also judge others differently than they judge themselves. “Do as I say, not as I do.”

          It’s very possible, from a candidate perspective, she thought “Wide Range of Computer Skills” would be a great way to represent herself, but then, as a hiring manager, she might look at someone else’s résumé and think “Why would someone think that’s useful information?”

          Reply
        2. KatiePie

          It’s always possible she’s just never seen a decent resume. Maybe she’ll see yours and think, “Wow, that’s great! Concise, clear, informative. Maybe I should think about redoing mine in a similar vein.”

          Reply
    7. Princess Carolyn

      It’s possible, but I think it’s more likely that people with bad resumes often get hired because their experience is good. Your HR probably got enough information to think these people might be qualified, brought them in for an interview, and determined they were a good fit. Sometimes a poorly marketed product still sells, you know?

      Reply
    8. Trout 'Waver

      Many people get hired for reasons other than their resume.

      Also, as anyone who has had to screen resumes can attest, the overwhelmingly vast majority of resumes are terrible.

      Reply
    9. Caledonia

      I got a c.v this week (in the UK) that mentioned had successfully ran a 5k and married with two children (a male).

      This had nothing to do with what information I needed (university admin) to see if he was suitable for a degree programme

      Reply
    10. Jennifer Walters

      This happened to me! My husband was asked to recruit for his old job through a specific alumni group, so he did and all resumes and cover letters went through him to give to the actual recruiter. A lot of these people are kids fresh out of college, so I was curious to see some of the resume formatting. There was one with an objective and I, a faithful AAM follower, went “Oh no! Someone needs to tell that person that objectives aren’t a thing.” And my husband, to my horror, went “I think objectives are great! I got that job with one!” Granted, I’m a lawyer and he’s a TV writer (formerly production assistant) so maybe it’s an industry thing?

      For you, I think keep your resume the way you like it and know that your experience will carry you through? Especially if all those styles of resumes are similar, you’ll stand out, and hopefully in a good way.

      Reply
    11. Julianne

      I also recently had the opportunity to view some resumes for other employees at my organization (we had to do PD portfolios and give feedback to other participants), and…wowzers. Not one was less than 3 pages, and several began with 2 or more pages of solid text. It definitely also made me feel like my resume is an outlier (although who knows, maybe my cohort just all need AAM…).

      Reply
    12. Indecisive Bookkeeper

      I’ve actually kind of wondered this. Like some of the people reading resumes haven’t taken an updated class on jobs or anything since the 80s or 90s. So what they think should be in a resume and what AAM think could be totally different so is my good aam RESUME going to be trashed b/c in their opinion it’s not formatted correctly?

      Heck I went to a resume workshop at my local state ran job search place and the advice they gave was AWFUL! They told us to use objectives and all sorts of outdated stuff.

      Reply
    13. Anony Mouse

      I can’t really comment much on the rest, but I see putting an objective on your resume is advised against here (and wouldn’t the cover letter cover what an objective would?). But I’ve been told by other people who’ve looked over my resume that I should be including an objective. I’m confused (and maybe some of those people were given similar advice?).

      Reply
  8. Scientist in the making

    Hi everyone! I have a question on PhD degrees on resumes:
    In an industry-targeted (non-academic) resume, do you list a PhD both under „education“ and „work experience“ or do you only mention it under one of these headings? I’m a PhD student in Europe and here we are considered full-time employees and not students, but of course the degree also justifies putting it under „education“. Many people seem to use both sections: under „education“, they list the degree and the thesis title; under „work experience“, they list their accomplishments. I would find it strange to list job accomplishments under „education“, but at the same time it feels weird to omit a PhD from the „education“ section. However, it seems redundant to list it in both places.
    Any advice?

    Reply
    1. TotesMaGoats

      In the US, your PhD should not be listed under your work experience. If you were a teaching or research assistant while getting that degree, then that would go in work experience.

      Reply
      1. Lora

        +1. Also any postdocs / internship type of deals are Work Experience, as are collaborations with industry if they were pretty involved – you would just list the project similar to a job, like this:

        2001 – 2010 Jupiter Monolith Expedition, Floyd Lab collaboration with Leonov flight: HAL9000 troubleshooting, Discovery expedition, Bowman communication assistant. Performed Discovery booster fuel calculations, managed communication channels with Monolith.

        Reply
    2. Simone R

      In academia in the US, you would list your PhD under education as PhD, Teapot University,2017 and then under work experience add Graduate Student, Smith Lab with your project(s) listed. Not sure how much that differs from European industry resumes though!

      Reply
      1. Optimistic Prime

        As a small tweak, I would recommend “Graduate Research Assistant” or “Research Assistant” rather than “Graduate Student.”

        Reply
    3. puncata

      At least in my field (biology) if applying to an industry related to your PhD, it would be appropriate (and expected) to list under both under the education and work experience similar to what you indicated. This is because your “career” is considered to have already started, your graduate work is relevant to potential jobs.

      In some cases if you are applying for a “technical job” then it can be also appropriate to “name drop” your supervisor’s name (e.g. if they are well-known in their field)

      For example (just to give an example of types of things that would be pertinent)
      Work Experience:
      PhD
      -developed new assay leading to 25% increase in yield
      -managed 4 field assistants , coordinating sampling schedules and field maintenance.

      under education
      PhD (thesis title), university, year granted

      Reply
    4. Emilitron

      Agreed with others, the work experience section includes “Graduate Research Assistant” or whatever the job title was associated with your income or fellowship, along with what types of work you did and accomplishments. It’s not redundant to list the degree under education, because you could spend a few years as a research assistant and not in fact get the degree, so of course you need to say you have it. But “Education” is generally a compact bullet list – school, degree, date. Possibly dissertation title and advisor but possibly not, depending on relevance to the job search you’re doing.

      Reply
    5. GermanGirl

      For applying in Europe, I wouldn’t do separate sections for work and education at all. Just lump them together into one (reverse-) chronological section. People will assume that your PhD included a research and/or teaching position unless you tell them otherwise or forget to mention your achievements in that job.

      For applying in the US, where doing a PhD is not automatically associated with a research/teaching job, it might be prudent to follow Simone R’s advice.

      Reply
    6. Epeeist

      I did mine a little differently. I had three sections: Education, Research Projects (or Experience, I forget which), and Work Experience. Education was the very brief degree/university/research topic, Research Projects was where I described my thesis projects and some of the undergraduate research I had done, and Work Experience was (obviously) where I put things like internships and the other jobs I’d had. I did have a lot of work experience coming out of university, though, and I wanted to highlight that, which is why I went with the three sections.

      Reply
    7. Thlayli

      Also EU. When I was fresh out of my PhD I had education at the top of my cv with the PhD first and list of accomplishments under it then degree and info about the degree. Then I didn’t mention it in my work experience section.

      Now that I’m a good few years on I just have key qualifications near the top one line each – PhD is a one-liner in there. Then in the work experience section I have it listed in reverse date order so the PhD appears there too with the relevant accomplishments.

      Reply
    8. Optimistic Prime

      I only list my PhD under education…it’s not really considered work experience here in the States.

      You can list your research assistant position under work experience and describe your duties, but I really only did that for my first out of school job, and at this point I de-emphasize it.

      Reply
      1. Thlayli

        I know the American PhD programme is different from the EU one (I believe you guys attend some sort of classes) but surely you must do some sort of research to get a PhD? It can’t all be classes? Wouldn’t the research be of sufficient standard to count as work experience?

        Not suggesting you should go against norms for writing resumes / cvs in your area, just genuinely wondering why it isn’t considered relevant work experience. In Europe you have to do a research project and it has to be original research i.e. No one else can have published the same research. That’s for STEM subjects.

        For arts subjects you have to write a massive thesis on a topic no one else has considered before, though I dunno if that counts as “research” but I would have thought for a job relevant to the topic it would still count as relevant work experience e.g. For a job as a writer writing a thesis is a relevant piece of work.

        Reply
        1. OES

          In the humanities in the U.S., research is both part of education and part of work; since Ph.D. candidates are students (enrolled in an institution), the research done for the degree comes under education. Anyone who understands what a Ph.D. entails knows the dissertation research must be original, but it’s the categorization of the candidate as a student – doing original work, but still under the mentorship of a faculty member – that determines how the CV is arranged.

          Reply
        2. The New Wanderer

          My PhD is in the social sciences (psych) – I have my degrees earned listed under Education and I have Research/Teaching Assistant under [Work] Experience*. We had the same criteria for earning the master’s and doctorate as Thlayli describes – unique research project written up as a thesis or dissertation and defended before a committee, in addition to passing other required milestones and taking required classes.
          * On my full length CV, I still list out specific accomplishments from my RA/TA role, like teaching, mentoring, and publishing, which are somewhat separate from earning the degree. But on my shortened and updated resume (2 pages max), my RA/TA work is now one entry under “Other relevant experience” because my most recent job (post-PhD) had 12 years of research-related accomplishments that I prioritized. I am specifically looking at research jobs so it’s relevant.

          Reply
  9. Anon Accountant

    I had an interview at a nonprofit that was really strange. The executive director was argumentative and there were red flags. They sent me a rejection this week and I’d found another person who interviewed there also and she said “they want you to print money to make payroll and budget”. Definitely was a relief to be turned down!

    I posted my resume on Monster.com and have gotten recruiter’s calls through the roof. Now I’m actually getting hopeful instead of crying every day because of my job.

    Maybe posting resumes on Monster is a good resource for other job seekers?

    Reply
    1. Me

      I don’t know–I tried that once and only got crappy scam emails. Of course, I had fewer skills and less experience then, so perhaps that made a difference. But I’m not getting recruiter calls from LinkedIn either. Maybe I just suck!

      Good luck, though–it sounds like it’s working for you!

      Reply
      1. Anon Accountant

        Thanks! I’d tried Linked In and got nothing useful. I was clear where I was at and my geographical preferences but places from Several states away were contacting me, plus were clear they wouldn’t have covered a relocation and in the first contacts with a few they stated “before proceeding we aren’t responsible for interview travel costs and candidates pay those themselves”. What a waste of time.

        Reply
    2. a Potterhead for life

      I’ve twice tried Monster and it resulted in endless spam. I’ve done better with Indeed.

      Reply
    3. Dr. Johnny Fever

      Spamcruiting – how often do you get hit and do you find it annoying, amusing, or something else?

      I was hit three times this week by the same recruiter. The third email had the subject, “Yes I am persistent.” By that point, I’m thinking a better subject would be “Yes, I am crazy pants.” Each email had basically the same content. And the job was a step down from what I do now.

      I don’t have a resume out there, just my LinkedIn profile, which tells clearly what I do with a description (not resume like, but more casual).

      Do these spamcruiters find you?

      Reply
  10. Aquafina

    How can I handle a company owner (Fergus) that is always making me feel embarrassed? We have meetings with another owner (my boss) and these 2 do not get along great. I’ve been told Fergus doesn’t like me because I’m an extension of Boss. I could be simply looking at Fergus, acknowledging what he is saying, and he’ll say “OH that face you’re making!” Maybe I’m making expressions of concern from our discussion but it can’t be anything crazy, I’m decently Botoxed! He comments on my face every meeting and it’s embarrassing. Sometimes the office gets hot, so he’ll open up the door and yell “Airing out, Aquafina is farting in here!” Or he’ll walk my office and say “Stinks back here Aquafina!”
    Like wtf? I definitely don’t smell bad or over-contort my face. He’s just a jerk. Should I avoid looking at him at meetings and just look down, taking notes so he can’t claim anything about my face?

    Reply
    1. Jessica

      Wow, he is awful! I would consider looking for a new job as I don’t think any change in your behavior will stop this obnoxious bullying. He will just find something else to criticize you about.

      Reply
    2. Nea

      $5 says that if you do look down, Fergus will loudly complain that you’re sulking. Or hiding a zit. Or whatever, because I can guarantee you, you are not going to win with him.

      Which is why I’d start with your Boss if you have a good relationship – it’s Boss’s job to protect Boss’ reports.

      Reply
    3. Liz2

      If these are meetings with other attendees, you could try the “I don’t know what you mean, can you explain it?” playing dumb thing so he has to be accountable to what he is saying in front of others. Or even “OK now that’s out of your system for another week, let’s move onto business.”

      But being the grandboss means he could retaliate, so you should start job searching yesterday. Anyone who feels it’s ok to bully like that already is not someone to bother with.

      Reply
        1. Aquafina

          They are both owners and peers.
          Nea is probably correct, if I don’t make eye contact he will likely say, “Aquafina is taking notes or writing a novel…”

          We meet so infrequently, I hadn’t considered this a reason to leave. But I do want to nip it in the bud so I’m not dreading our meetings.

          Reply
          1. Artemesia

            The other owner should be able to do something for you here. When my mother (like 75 years ago was a nurse in an office, one of the doctors constantly sexually harassed her finally cracking a rib when he pushed her against a wall. (in those days nurses were treated like dirt by many doctors and women never had firm ground to stand on) One of the other partners in the firm made it clear to this guy that he was not to touch her ever again and did it forcefully enough that this guy didn’t bother her after that. The other owner is in a position to back this twit down. If he won’t then move on when it works for you.

            And in the meantime ‘he who smelt it dealt it’ — everyone knows that.

            Reply
    4. Not So NewReader

      Wow. How grammar schoolish of him.
      Since he does not like your boss, my suggestion to you is to tell your boss that Fergus is taking his contempt for your boss out on you.

      I hope you can find ways to stop letting his behavior embarrass you, it’s his embarrassment to wear not yours.
      Continue looking at him and continue being your normal professional self. It sounds like he feels stuck that he has to work with your boss.

      Depending on your setting, I might be tempted to open the door at the start of the meeting as preemptive strike. I might say, “I don’t know if anyone is passing gas in here but it seems to be an on-going complaint. We seem to need this door open.” That ends the door comments.

      As far as the face comments, I’d find something reassuring to say. “Fergus, I am just concentrating that is all.” Figure out what you want to say. Make it your go-to statement, keep saying the same thing over and over. You want something that calms the situation down. If you try saying this and he has a comeback, then start thinking how you can refine your sentence.
      If you can reach a place where you can shrug and react blandly, that is your best bet. Meanwhile, keep talking to your boss about what is going on here.

      Reply
    5. Chriama

      I’d say you need your boss’s support and permission to push back with him.

      “Oh, that face you’re making!” Look at him and then around the room with a half-bemused, half puzzled expression. “What a weird thing to say. This is my normal face, Fergus.” Or if you have a real concern, bring it up “I’m actually wondering how you plan to keep the teapots from melting if you make them out of chocolate but don’t insulate them with a candy glaze.”

      “Stinks back here!” Look up, confused. “Huh, that’s weird. It was fine before you came in here.”

      “Aquafina is farting in here!” “That’s actually the sweat from 6 people trapped in a room with no circulation. If it bothers you, maybe we should look at getting air conditioning put in.”

      Basically, treat him like a loud and inappropriate child. Bonus points if you manage to look embarrassed *for* him. I’m positive that looking down or trying to ignore him will only egg him on. He’s taking it out on you because he can’t take it out on your boss, which is why you need your boss’s backing to do anything.

      Reply
    6. Swimmergurl

      Fergus’ behavior reflects poorly on him, not on you. Other people in your organization will recognize that too. Unless his complaints are regarding your work performance, I would ignore it and try to rise above the pettiness.

      Reply
    7. FiveWheels

      For fun, how about respond to every single comment with “I don’t understand what you mean. Can you repeat that?”

      Do it on a loop, and return awkward to sender.

      Reply
      1. OhNo

        Also an option: “I’m sorry, did you say something? I was busy.”

        It sounds like he thinks he’s being funny (he’s not, for the record), and nothing kills a joke like having to explain it or repeat it.

        Reply
    8. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

      If you are confident that your boss will have your back and this bully has no ability to fire you, and you can manage to make it sound somewhat genuine, laugh…laugh laugh laugh every time he says something stupid like this. Laugh for an awkwardly loud and long time, like you just can’t stop ’cause he’s sooooooooo funny. He’s trying to irritate you, so take that away from him. It’s embarrassing to be laughed AT. Once the reward is gone, he’ll probably avoid you. What’s he going to say? “That wasn’t meant to be funny” because usually a bully uses “it was just a joke” to try and justify their offensive comments.

      Reply
    9. Nieve

      With the farting comment, you should try saying ‘Hey, I know its you whos farting, its rude to try blame it on other people!’ hahaha

      Reply
  11. bassclefchick

    You guys! This has been a GREAT week! I had 1 in person interview on Tuesday (job A), a phone interview yesterday(job B), and have another interview this afternoon (job C)!!

    I got the call this morning with the offer for job A!!! The hiring manager said it’s not a done deal until I hear from HR, but I got it!!

    Now I can finally put last year (fired twice in 6 months) behind me. Though I want all 3 jobs, I do want to go for the job C interview because that one is my 1st choice.

    Reply
  12. Newbie

    I’m just starting to job search but I’m concerned about what I’ll do at the references stage. I’m 4 years out of college and have had 2 jobs since graduating (currently employed at my 2nd job). I have a reference from my first job and one from a manager at my current company who left, but I don’t have a 3rd one.

    Do most companies require 3? Do you think explaining my newness to the workforce and offering 2 would ever be acceptable? I’ve heard of people offering their current employer as a reference after an offer has been made, is that something I should consider? Or do I suck it up and give a reference from some college summer job in an unrelated field, or try to see if any of my professors remember me?

    I don’t have any other references from my first job as an option (it was a very small company; the CFO is my current reference, and the CEO is too volatile for me to risk using him) and my current job is not the kind of place where I could let them know I’m looking to use them as a reference and not be let go.

    Reply
    1. tswift

      I only had two jobs out of college as well when I applied for a job that asked for references – I used two people from my first job. One was my manager, and the other was a colleague that, while she didn’t manage me, she was responsible for giving me a lot of my work, so it worked because she was able to speak to the quality of my work. Not sure if you have something available like that?

      Reply
    2. KL

      Do you have a coworker you can ask? As long as you have at least one supervisor in the mix, it’s fine to ask coworkers.

      Reply
      1. CAA

        Agree. Coworkers are totally fine when there just aren’t enough managers in your work history. A professor is o.k. if it’s someone you actually worked with (i.e. you were an undergrad assistant in her research lab), but by this point in your career I wouldn’t call a reference who was just a professor that gave you a grade in her class.

        Reply
      1. CAA

        It needs to be somebody she has worked with or for. Personal references are just not done in most professions.

        Reply
      2. Not a Galway Girl

        In addition to work supervisors, I’ve used coordinators from volunteer positions and professors as references when I was new to the workforce. My husband is a prof and is usually very happy to act as a reference for his students. Do you have any contacts like that who could help?

        Reply
    3. SaraV

      Just this week I had to provide 5(!) references before I have a 15 minute phone interview this coming Tuesday. I only had three lined up. Two of the references had to be supervisors/managers of some sort. I’m working two part time jobs right now, and while one knows I’m job searching, I’m trying to keep the other one in the dark the best I can. So, I had to use a coworker I trusted at “dark” part time job as a reference.

      All of this to say! This company asked for relationships in a dropdown menu on-line, and professor was one of those listed. I’d say as long as you’re 5 or less years out of college, a college professor/advisor would be perfectly acceptable as a reference.

      Reply
    4. MillersSpring

      You definitely can list supervisors from jobs you held part-time or during summers, especially for the first few years after graduation. You also can list coworkers if they were senior to you, but very familiar with your work.

      Reply
  13. Antilles

    What are people’s thoughts on wearing those little “I’m Voted Today” stickers at work? Not the partisan ones, but the generic ones. I voted in the recent Georgia special elections (no politics please!) on my way into work and wore the sticker on my polo. We got into a little discussion about “oh you voted today? yeah, went on the way into the office” in our meeting, but nothing major.
    Given how heated people get about politics nowadays and how irritating some people can find the elections, I’m wondering if this is the kind of thing where it might be good to stop doing or if it’s something that most people would see as generally fine.

    Reply
    1. strawberries and raspberries

      You have the right and the civic duty to vote. It is something people do in a democracy, like sitting for jury duty. It would be one thing if you had party affiliations all over, or you were regularly ensnaring coworkers into heated political arguments. But wearing an “I Voted” sticker shouldn’t cause any reasonable person alarm.

      Reply
    2. katamia

      I think it’s fine. The people who want to talk politics when something that’s major or feels major is going on will probably talk politics anyway even without the sticker.

      Reply
      1. Dr. Johnny Fever

        Same here. I wear mine for elections, even local ones. But then I like stickers.

        I’ve never had a political conversation stem from it, just an acknowledgement, and maybe a comment that it reminds the person I’m talking to that she needs to visit the polls herself on the way home.

        Reply
    3. kittymommy

      I wouldn’t think the simple “I voted” sticker would be a big issue, at least it hasn’t been in the offices I’ve worked in (mainly government and some non profit).

      Reply
    4. Karo

      I think a generic “I Voted” sticker, where it’s not clear who or what party you voted for, is fine. My state splits its primaries with about a month between so I didn’t wear my sticker for that one, but I wore it on election day.

      Reply
      1. Arjay

        Yes. I don’t remember the exact situation, but a co-worker asked me one day if I had voted, when there wasn’t any voting that day for my party affiliation. I told him lightheartedly that “my people don’t vote today” and it was fine.
        If it was a situation where my affiliation might seem controversial, I’d – well, I’d wear it anyway – but I’d be aware of the message I was sending.

        Reply
    5. AvonLady Barksdale

      Remember my #1 reason to wear one of those stickers: no one will ask you if you’ve voted yet. I find them to be a great way to stay OUT of political discussions!

      Reply
    6. Manders

      I think it’s fine. Those stickers are designed to be non-partisan; they don’t advertise your political positions, they’re just a convenient reminder to the people around you that it’s election day.

      Reply
    7. Shayland

      I think it’s absolutely fine. I love those sticks and I think wearing them is an important part of encouraging others to vote. I don’t think it’s at all unprofessional. And if someone makes it a problem, then they’re the problem, not the sticker.

      Reply
    8. paul

      I won’t do it, but that’s because I try really hard to avoid politics at work, and it’s a great way to spark a political discussion.

      Reply
    9. kavm

      I wore a generic one back in November. I don’t think it’s a problem and no one in my office turned it into a political discussion.

      Reply
    10. Judy (since 2010)

      At my current company, our site has a tradition of cake at 3 pm on the afternoon of a general election. When they send the announcement out the day before, they say that you need your “I voted” sticker to get some cake. They also mention that you can take time off of work for voting.

      I know last fall, several folks didn’t have their sticker, but they still got cake.

      Reply
      1. Cassie

        I remember hearing a few years ago that giving away food to people who have “I voted” stickers is illegal – I just looked it up and it looks like for federal elections, it’s illegal to do that. (California state law, where I live, also prohibits it – but there are companies that still do it).

        As for your company, I don’t know if it makes a difference that this is a company giving cake to its employees, and not a company giving food to consumers. But what about legal residents who can work in the US but are not citizens?

        Reply
    11. Professor Marvel

      I’ll add my vote to it’s OK to wear. It shows a participation in the process not a political opinion.

      Reply
    12. JJJJShabado

      I agree that as longer as it non-partisan there is no issues. My county stopped giving away “I Voted” stickers. I was disappointed not getting one during the presidential election. I would have enjoyed wearing it.

      Reply
      1. Tris Prior

        My city did away with the stickers some time ago. Apparently people wouldn’t stop sticking them on polling place walls, which someone then had to clean up. Sigh. This is why we can’t have nice things.

        In November for the first time we got wristbands that said, “I voted! Did you?” I wore mine at work all day and so did a lot of people. Totally not a big deal.

        Reply
        1. Charlotte Collins

          I would love that! My stickers often come off and sometimes get stuck in my (long, fine) hair. It doesn’t do much to promote voting…

          I often put the sticker on a hard surface *that belongs to me* – like a notebook or my wallet.

          Reply
    13. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo

      I think it’s just fine. I love those “I Voted” stickers and I wear mine for the rest of the day after I vote. All it says to me is that the person wearing the sticker did his or her civic duty.

      Reply
      1. Parenthetically

        It was a sad, sad day for me when my county stopped giving them out. (I think they’re also a great reminder to folks who forget — oh, right! I need to go vote!)

        Reply
    14. Kris

      I work in a very politically-diverse workplace. People often wear those stickers on election day. To my knowledge it hasn’t caused any political strife or irritation.

      Reply
    15. CAA

      I always wear mine. It stops the “get out the vote” people from asking you to go and vote, and sometimes you get free stuff. Krispy Kreme gave me a donut last year.

      Reply
    16. HisGirlFriday

      I work in politics, and even with all the hotly-contested crap that went on in November, I didn’t see anything negative about wearing the stickers.

      Heck, I took my then-four-month-old into the booth with me and put the sticker on her and then snapped a photo for her baby book!

      Reply
    17. Buffy Summers

      I don’t think it’s a big deal. I wore mine after I voted in the presidential election and it didn’t bring on any heated debates. No one asked me who I voted for – and lots of people were wearing theirs as well, so when it’s time for an election, any election really, I think it’s fine to wear a sticker saying you voted.

      Also – when I voted in the presidential election, instead of those little American flag stickers, I got a big sticker that had the presidential seal on it. I wore it like a kindergartner with a police badge on or something. I felt so cool and so silly for feeling cool. I even daydreamed about being a secret service agent for a bit. :)

      Reply
    18. Buffy

      I can’t see it causing an issue…you didn’t note in your post, so I’m sure this isn’t the case but when you are a journalist you aren’t “supposed” to vote (or so my editor told me) so wearing a sticker would not probably go over well.

      Reply
        1. Buffy

          Journalists are supposed to be neutral, so voting for a candidate would kind of void that. We still voted, but it was made clear we weren’t allowed to be public about it or wear the stickers.

          Reply
          1. OhNo

            I work in libraries, and some of them have a similar unofficial policy for public-facing staff. It’s not very common, but I get the reasoning – there’s a perception component there that doesn’t apply to every profession (or even equally within the profession).

            Reply
        2. KellyK

          Yeah, that’s ridiculous. The people *actually running* in the election vote; journalists should too.

          Reply
          1. Buffy

            It may seem silly, but there is valid reasoning behind it. Very much specific to that industry though, so obviously doesn’t make sense to a lot of people.

            Reply
        3. Buffy

          Also, important to note – I believe this idea of journalists remaining neutral is completely in step with democracy, a bipartisan press is one of the most important facets in fact.

          Reply
          1. Optimistic Prime

            Journalists not being biased in their journalism/news/reporting is in step with democracy, but it’s unrealistic to expect journalists not to be people who have opinions. When I read the news, it’s pretty clear that most journalists have a point of view or agenda – the issue is whether or not they cover the issue from multiple angles and give it a proper treatment. And journalists are still citizens! They should still get to vote.

            I mean, think about it – the same argument could be made for entire swaths of the population (government workers should be neutral because bipartisan government is important; tech workers should be neutral because the technology they build has the potential to sway elections; entertainment artists should be neutral because they can influence lots of people; etc.) Freedom of the press is one of the most important facets of a democracy, I agree, but I don’t think that requires journalists to eschew voting altogether.

            Reply
    19. K.

      I’ve worn them after every vote (so, every election since I turned 18) and never had an issue. People don’t tend to say much about them – if they’re wearing one too, one of us might say “Twins!” or something. I did have someone tell me they don’t vote at all, ever, when I wore my sticker to work, but I changed the subject; it would have been inappropriate and pointless to get into a discussion about it.

      Reply
    20. Sibley

      I don’t see a problem with it. Keep it to the wording you referenced and no one should be bent out of shape.

      Reply
    21. Cassie

      I don’t think it’s a problem – sometimes faculty or staff wear them. But it does remind me of the Superstore episode where assistant store manager Dina insists that all of the employees need to vote so Mateo (who is not a citizen, nor a legal resident) spends the episode trying to get an “I voted” sticker.

      Reply
    22. Optimistic Prime

      Particularly in Georgia (I’m from there) I think it’s just standard practice to wear it on election day, and most people see it as fine.

      Reply
  14. Dawn

    I have a work trip coming up- this will be my second work trip EVER and first at my new job. Fortunately, everyone at my job is super chill and it’s just a trip up to our Philly office to meet everyone on my team (we’re all in different offices) so it’s not a Big Important Client Site Meeting or anything.

    I’ve booked my travel and hotel- leaving DC on a morning Amtrak and the hotel I’m staying at is right across the street from the office (hooray!). Return trip will be by an evening train back to DC

    So, seasoned work travelers, what do I need to do to ensure success on this trip (three days, two nights)? I’m already thinking easily packable dresses, one pair of comfy flats that can go from traveling to office to dinner, and a pared-down makeup routine. Anything else to think about?

    Reply
    1. Rincat

      Make sure your shoes are separate from your clothes! Like in a shoe bag, or a separate compartment on your luggage. Because it’s so hot now, odors from them will seep throughout the suitcase if they’re not contained, and your clothes will stink. I know this from experience. :) Steaming your clothes upon arrival can help but it’s best just to keep them separate in the first place.

      Reply
    2. strawberries and raspberries

      I think it’s also a good idea to have a Tide pen, extra deodorant, and one of those facial toner spritzes so that if you’re overheated or tired you can just spray your face. And disposable wipes for the bathroom.

      Reply
    3. TotesMaGoats

      If you’ve got a lot of hair, take your own hairdryer. This is an issue for me as I’ve got long, thick hair and most hotels, even nice ones, have puny hairdryers. The last thing you want is it taking twice as long to dry your hair when you are getting ready in the morning.

      Chargers for all your devices.
      Water bottle

      Reply
    4. Rowan

      Super triple-check that you’ve packed all the power cords and chargers for the devices your taking. You don’t have to be the one saying, “Hey, anybody got a spare power cord for my laptop?” or unreachable by colleagues because your phone is dead. In fact, I recommend packing one of those external battery chargers for your phone, just in case. Doesn’t sound like this is a long trip, but it can’t hurt!

      Reply
      1. BenAdminGeek

        And don’t pack your spouse’s charger for their laptop…. not that I’ve ever done that by accident of course….

        Reply
    5. paul

      Is it going to be non stop or do you have downtime? I try to make sure I can take at least one evening to do something that’s just…me…when I travel for work. It helps keep me from becoming a crabby cranky mess after day 2.

      Reply
    6. Nea

      Oh, I love to travel! Generic packing advice that I’ve always followed – pack outfits, not items. In other words, dress/underthings/scarf/jewelry/cardigan or jacket all go together, not “here are my dresses, there are my bras.” That way you know that you’ve got everything you need for that outfit and you don’t unexpectedly end up on the last day with a black bra and a light blue dress *cough*notthatIdknow*cough* Turkey-sized ziplock baggies (they exist!) or packing cubes are a great way of corralling everything you need, or you can just lay everything on the inside of the dress and fold the dress into a little bundle.

      Also, have 1 entire extra outfit Just In Case. You never know about sudden spills, downpours, etc.

      Finally, and this might be just me, but I haaaaaate sorting laundry and I’m not really fond of laundry at all. So everything I pack can, as much as possible, be thrown into the same load of washing upon my return.

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth West

        Also, have 1 entire extra outfit Just In Case. You never know about sudden spills, downpours, etc.

        This this this. Also in case you have to stay over for some reason (more likely if you’re flying and a flight gets cancelled, etc.). I also learned the hard way that if you’re even the slightest bit close to your period, make sure you have a little pack of supplies handy. Never think it won’t show up because it will. Or that you can buy some. I got stuck overnight in Atlanta in a hotel near a lone convenience store that did not carry ANY feminine supplies whatsoever. Thank God the hotel had pads.

        Reply
        1. Nea

          Speaking of emergency supplies, it’s never a bad idea to have a couple of period supplies, safety pins, bandaids, headache pills, etc tucked into a bag. Oh, and a couple of ziplock baggies because you never know what you might need them for.

          My personal go-to bag for this is one of the Vera Bradley mini bags. Pricey if you can’t find one at a second hand store, yes, but quilted bags with cardboard bottoms have two HUGE advantages:
          1) They’re washable
          2) That cardboard piece at the bottom is removable (at least it is for Vera). So there’s nothing stopping you from removing it, taping an envelope with emergency cash to it, and shoving it back in… (This also works if you don’t want to carry an emergency credit card on you.)

          I also have a secondhand quilted duffle that I like to pack in my bags for longer trips. While I’m at the hotel it basically acts as a dirty laundry hamper (as it can be washed also), but it’s conveniently at hand if I suddenly need an extra bag going back home.

          Reply
        2. Buffy Summers

          Funny that you mention this because I found myself in this exact predicament last week on a work trip. I wasn’t supposed to start till the end of last week and since I was only going to be gone for 3 days, I thought it would be fine. I was so very wrong.
          Thank God for female colleagues that had some supplies with them! :)

          Reply
        1. Crashsite

          I pack by outfit and by color scheme. I don;t like to bring a lot of shoes so I try to stick to one color scheme and one pair of work shoes.

          Reply
          1. Rookie Manager

            But not just one pair of shoes, just in case, hypothetically, as you step onto the airport link train, hypothetically, one of your shoes falls off onto the track and the only solution, hypothetically, is to buy London underground patterned flip flops at the airport giftshop and wear them all the way home, hypothetically!

            Reply
            1. Rockhopper

              Definitely an extra pair of shoes. And keep one eye on the ground in front of you when you are walking. I visited my son in Philly last weekend and let’s just say that there are things on the sidewalk you want to avoid stepping on/in. I suppose most cities are like that. And bring a small umbrella.

              Reply
          2. Optimistic Prime

            Me too. This helps save a lot of space and can be the difference between a small bag and a big bag.

            Reply
      2. SL #2

        Definitely packing by outfit! I just realized I do this subconsciously anyway, but it’s good to have a reminder.

        Reply
      3. Hillary

        Absolutely yes on the laundry thing. I lay out my outfits, but then I pack in small fabric bags, I think they were from the dollar aisle at Target during going to college season. Underthings go in one bag, shoes go in the shoe bag, and the laundry bag goes in the underthing bag empty. Then dirty laundry goes into that bag as necessary, it stays segregated from the clean clothes, and it goes straight into the hamper when I get home. Plus I know which extra underwear is still clean (I always pack two extra sets of shirts, underwear, and socks in case of delays or spills, depending on what else I’m bringing I may or may not bring an extra pair of trousers).

        It doesn’t sound relevant for your trip, but visiting manufacturing plants I swap fabric bags out for large ziplocks. I didn’t do that one one trip last fall, my entire suitcase smelled like the product they made at that factory even after I got home one day and 1000 miles later.

        Reply
        1. MillersSpring

          Seconding the separate bag for dirty clothes. I always take an extra outfit and underwear, so I like to keep the unworn items clean for the trip home.

          Also keep your jewelry in a separate makeup bag, plastic baggie or jewelry bag. You don’t want extra earrings loose in your bag or purse.

          Also try to use travel-friendly grooming items, for example I use stick deoderant instead of spray antiperspirant and facial wipes instead of liquid cleanser.

          Reply
      4. BenAdminGeek

        Yes! The trip I forgot to pack any socks was less than ideal. That’s when I switched to outfits not items.

        Reply
      5. Parenthetically

        I always bring one entire extra outfit and two extra pairs of underthings in my carryon. Saved my bacon a time or two when my luggage has gotten lost and had to be delivered to me the next day… or the day after that…

        Reply
    7. kb

      I always pack a little bag with a couple bags of ginger tea, ibuprofen, eye drops, band aids, and lotion-y tissues. It’s all stuff you could reasonably find in Philly if you need it, but it always seems like if I’m prepared for something it is less likely to happen, haha.

      Reply
      1. My name is Inigo Montoya

        Something to wear in your downtime in the evening that you wouldn’t be mortified to see your boss/client while wearing. I wear a full suit generally while on travel and generally like to change to something else if I’m just eating dinner by myself. I generally can re-wear my airplane outfit in the evenings, but might bring something extra depending on the length of the trip.

        Reply
    8. IvyGirl

      Flip flops and baby wipes/sanitizing wipes for the hotel room.

      The first thing I do when I get to a hotel room is wipe down the remote, the door handles and the light switches, then I check the mattress. Without fail.

      Also – welcome to Philly! Lots to do here – enjoy your stay.

      Reply
    9. Ashie

      Unpack as soon as you get into the hotel. Hang up your jackets and dresses, put your underwear in the drawer, put your toiletries in the bathroom, then stow your suitcase. It’s so much less stressful when you’re not rummaging around in your bag the whole trip.

      Reply
    10. Lucky

      Make sure you take time to “check out” of work stuff. If it’s a big team to-do, you’ll be working all day and have your lunch and dinner planned with the group. Bring workout clothes, if that’s your thing, and take an hour to hit the hotel gym or go for a walk. Duck out of a dinner early so you can lounge around in the hotel and watch TV or read. Go to a museum, see the Liberty Bell or climb those steps from the Rocky movie.

      Reply
    11. look_a_squirrel!

      I use an app (I think it’s called Stylebook) on my phone to organize my wardrobe. When I need to plan a trip, I pick items in advance that can be mixed/matched easily. For example, a three-day trip would require three pairs of pants and three blouses and then I’d add in a pair of jeans, a sweater or blazer, a pair of comfortable shoes, etc. so that I can easily transition an outfit from day to evening just by putting on jeans and changing jewelry. This also works for transitioning to travel wear right after a day of meetings or vice versa.

      I also do a ‘purse within a purse’ thing where I have a small handbag that serves as my wallet and it goes into my bigger tote purse. Going out to dinner right after getting off a plane? Swap the flats for heels and throw the little purse over your shoulder. Easy peasy.

      Most importantly, I have a detailed checklist that I use to make sure I don’t forget anything when leaving the house. It’s always something like a phone charger or important medication so I force myself to check things off even if I know in my head I’ve packed it.

      Reply
    12. Drew

      I duplicated all my essential toiletries and keep my shaving kit packed so I can just throw it into the suitcase and not worry whether I’ve forgotten something. After a long trip, I make sure to go through it in case I need to replace/refill anything, but then I pack it back up and put it with my suitcases.

      I have to be careful with soaps and shampoos, so for long enough trips that I’m checking a bag, I go ahead and pack my own that I know are fine for me. For a trip of a couple of days, I just use the hotel-supplied soap and shampoo; it won’t kill me for that short a trip and it means I can carry my bag on and not pay for or deal with a checked bag.

      Speaking of the checked bag: I got a travel backpack off Kickstarter and I have used it for trips of up to a week without problems. It’s at the upper end of some airlines’ carry-on sizes, but I’ve found that wearing it as a backpack means it never gets questioned. Here’s a link: https://www.standardluggage.com/products/carry-on-backpack-travel-bag

      Reply
      1. Dawn

        That is SUPER COOL!!!! Not flying this trip but my husband and I are planning several vacations that will involve flying and I might just have to buy us each one of these!!!

        Reply
    13. CAA

      Save all your receipts for everything, even if you think you won’t need it. I have an easy-to-reach pocket in my messenger bag where I stash all receipts. If you take a cab from the Amtrak station to the hotel and they give you one of those little blank cards, write down how much you paid immediately, and then put it in your bag.

      If you have a per diem or max amount per meal, find out what that amount is. Know whether there’s going to be a problem getting reimbursed if you have a glass of wine on your dinner bill because some places won’t pay for alcohol. You can choose to spend over your reimbursable amounts, but you don’t want to get home and be surprised to find out that something isn’t included.

      Join the hotel’s rewards club, even if you think you won’t stay there again. Sometimes just being a member gets you perks (at Kimptons, it’s free wifi and $10 off the mini-bar). If you are getting any kind of discount rate at the hotel, bring the proper ID to substantiate your entitlement to that discount.

      Reply
    14. Ama

      One trick I’ve found useful — if your beauty routine requires hair gel or moisturizer that you apply with your hands and don’t need a huge amount of each day — the contact lens cases with the screw on lids are a great way to carry small amounts of those things without having to cart around a full size bottle. (When you fly you can also fit a bunch of them into a TSA-approved plastic bag, too.)

      Regardless, make sure any liquid products are in some kind of waterproof container — I’ve had all kinds of incidents where a bottle I expected to be leakproof turned out not to be, or got jostled just enough to knock a cap loose.

      Reply
      1. Optimistic Prime

        I put all my liquid or runny cream cosmetics either in a Ziploc baggie or in a cosmetic bag with a wipeable interior. For some reason those things like to magically open and get all over everything else.

        Reply
    15. motherofdragons

      If you’re like me and have trouble adjusting to sleeping away from home, think about how to make your nighttime routine extra comfy. I always pack my sleep mask, favorite pajamas, and a sound machine (or use the app on my phone), and sometimes I’ll bring some sleepytime tea or relaxing aromatherapy lotion.

      Reply
    16. Malibu Stacey

      If you are bringing any credit cards in your wallet, save the phone # on the back to call if it gets lost in your cell phone. That way if your wallet gets lost or stolen you don’t have to look around for the number.

      Reply
    17. Sunflower

      For two nights, don’t bother with shampoo or conditioner. Tough it out with the hotel supplied ones. Get something to eat before you get on the train- Amtrak food sucks. Amtrak is always either freezing or stiffing hot(I have been on a full train in January that had to be 85 degrees and thank god I was a wearing tank top under my blazer). I take it a lot and it’s very rarely a comfortable temp so wear layers on your way there and back. Also Amtrak wifi is THE WORST so don’t count on getting a ton of work done on the train. Also bring your power cords/chargers. Your train may be extremely delayed and you’ll be happy you weren’t trying to run off battery while stuck on a 1.5 turned 5 hour train ride (can you tell I love Amtrak!)

      Agree to pack outfits, not items. I like to bring one pair of jeans and a top that can go with my work outfit and the jeans. Bring your favorite PJ’s to sleep in- it always makes me feel just a little better. I always remember to have at least one or two hair tie, bobby pins and tampons(just in case!). Take pictures of your receipts so if you lose them, you have back up(your company might have an app that works with your expense system). Always have advil just in case.

      Oh and remember to enjoy our city! It sounds like you’re in Center City which is super walkable and you won’t be too far from the Liberty Bell and Old City. The rocky steps are a little further but totally doable.

      Reply
      1. Natalie

        Completely disagree re: shampoo & conditioner, but my hair is finicky (3B curly) and hotel shampoo would require so much more product to look presentable that it would be a completely wash (hyuk hyuk hyuk) between that and bringing my own.

        But, no reason to bring a full bottle. You can often buy trial sizes that are just enough for one or two days. They don’t take up much space on the way there and take up zero space on the way back because you’ve thrown them away!

        Reply
        1. Parenthetically

          I have often dumped out hotel shampoo bottles to save and put my own in. I have a LOT of hair, so a bottle that size is enough for one wash with normal shampoo, but I found a super-concentrated shampoo that I can get three or four washes out of the same size bottle, which is a lifesaver! I hate checking a bag for a short trip (or… at all, really), so anything that can save me from that is great.

          Reply
        2. Optimistic Prime

          I have 4A curly hair and I completely agree. The hotel shampoo and conditioner would totally wreck my hair. I just buy the little travel bottles at Target and make my own travel bottles from my full size.

          Reply
    18. MillersSpring

      Check your bathroom cabinet for items you desperately need occasionally and therefore miiiiight need on the road. Examples: tweezers, nail file, Imodium, Aleve, bandaids.

      Also, be sure to carry one-dollar bills and tip at the hotel and include your tips later in your expense report. Leave $2 or $3 on your nightstand each morning with a note to the housekeeper; just “Thank You!” on the notepad is fine. If a bellhop helps you to your room or down to the lobby, give him/her $1 per bag.

      Reply
    19. Anono-me

      General travel suggestions.

      Take a T-shirt and sweat or yoga pants instead of PJs. That way if you need to deal with something late at night you can deal with it dressed.

      Have a couple of snacks, a water bottle, a spare change of clothing, medications, and any valuables that you cannot do without (including Electronics) in your carry on. (Be sure the any medication is in the original packaging. )

      Also, I always pack a an extra toothbrush, an extra set of skivies, otc medicine to treat tummy trouble, a travel sized roll of duct tape, a couple of extra large Zippy bags and a large garbage bag.

      Have a great business trip.

      Reply
      1. GirlwithaPearl

        I have been on nearly a hundred work trips and I’m baffled as to when I would have ever needed a large garbage bag. I’m on pins and needles waiting hear this story.

        Reply
        1. AcademiaNut

          I sometimes use one to cover my suitcase when it’s pouring rain and I’m in transit. I can then throw it away when I get to the airport or hotel.

          Reply
        2. AfterBurner313

          I pack two large garbage bags.

          Used it for dirty, icky clothes.

          Covered suit case while it rained/down pour.

          BED BUGS! Stayed in a place infested with them. EVERYTHING in my suitcase went into the trash bag, Then the suitcase went into the second trash bag. (For that reason alone, I bring trash bags.) This was a very nice, extremely expensive hotel, not the Hood Rat Super 7 motel.

          Handy barf bag for when that catered buffet poisons everyone, and I didn’t want to turn the room into a crime scene.

          Seat cover on mass transit. Sometimes the seat might look sketchy, and I’m dead bone too tired to stand for 60 minutes. Is it a stain or did someone leak bodily fluids?

          I’m sure I’ve used it more than just the above…

          Reply
        3. Anono-me

          Sorry to be so late to follow up. Afterburner313 and Academia cover most of the reasons a large trash bag is useful. A couple of others:

          Emergency rain poncho.

          Supplemental laundry bag if you get something icky on your clothes or shoes, and can not clean it right away, but don’t want the ick (or the smell) getting on anything else.

          Seat cover on iffy transit (or at an unplanned outdoor event. )

          Split two of the seams and you can lay down on it on top of the weird mats some airports offer to stranded travelers.

          Reply
      2. Optimistic Prime

        Agreed with the yoga pants; this is what I always do. You never know when you’ll accidentally get locked out of your hotel room or want to go get something from the vending machine.

        Reply
    20. Synonymous

      I always bring small bottles of shampoo and conditioner. I know the hotel provides some, and I use theirs whenever I can. I also know the heart-sinking feeling of checking out the bathroom and realizing they provided shampoo/conditioner not shampoo and conditioner. It is not the same in my eyes.

      Reply
    21. snowflake

      so timely! I am going on my first work trip – 3 days/2 nights in atlanta – this coming week for a training. my packing is going to be adventurous because I cannot do laundry today (my building is having issues with the water pressure and they’ve asked us not to use the machines) and I am coming back to go on vacation for a week a few days later (but at least that vacation includes time at my parents’ house, so I can wash clothes there and/or borrow from my mom if needed).

      I might switch out the shorts I was going to bring with yoga pants after reading this thread – I don’t have ac so I sleep in shorts all summer but in the south they might blast it (plus all my coworkers are staying in the hotel – what if there’s a fire alarm?)

      Reply
  15. Murphy

    I just got back from maternity leave. I’m the only person who does what I dos so while I was out, a few co-workers covered my work. For one aspect of my work, I left behind a document with very specific instructions about what needed to be done in various situations and where my files were on the shared drive, etc. I also went over it with the relevant co-workers. Two things on the document were to a) copy a generic email address on everything relating to that topic and b) put every program that is announced in this one spreadsheet. Neither of those things were done. I also once got contacted by my boss while I was out about a situation that could easily have been addressed without me if someone had checked said spreadsheet. I don’t want to throw my co-workers under the bus, because I appreciate them handling my work while I was out, particularly when it’s out of their normal area, but I’m kind of annoyed that this wasn’t done. I can piece together the spreadsheet, but I’m going to have to go through 2 months of listserv emails in order to do so, which isn’t the greatest use of my time. Should I say something?

    Reply
    1. TotesMaGoats

      Absolutely. Being thankful for covering your work only applies if they did a good job at it. You left clear instructions that weren’t followed. Now you have more work. That’s very not cool.

      Reply
    2. Sadsack

      I think it is fair to ask why it wasn’t done. It’s not like they were doing you a personal favor, they were doing what the business needed done (or they were supposed to).

      Reply
    3. Shayland

      Personally I think I would. It would give your manager the chance to remind these co-workers to follow the instructions left for them more carefully the next time they have to cover for someone. It also might be part of a pattern.

      I don’t think there’s any need to make a big deal out of it, but I do think you should mention it.

      Reply
    4. paperfiend

      I think you could say something, but I’d bring it up in a “okay, I’m getting back into the swing of work, and here’s where I’m spending my time” way. Assuming you have (or can schedule one) regular meetings with your manager, that’s where I’d do it. That way it’s not coming across as “I am really irritated with these two co-workers” but instead “I found that this document isn’t up to date, and I need it for work going forward, so I’m spending X hours doing that, and Y amount of time checking for emails related to project. That’s going to mean I don’t get to Z project until next week.” or whatever.

      Reply
      1. BenAdminGeek

        Yes, this approach works well. It makes it clear how it impacted you, without being “complainy”

        Reply
    5. Menacia

      My coworker never uses the documentation that is supplied to everyone, he will ask anyone and everyone instead. If I ask him did he check such and such, he’ll just say no, and continue on the same path of asking everyone….ain’t nothing more useless than a useless coworker….

      Reply
    6. Beezus

      I’d try to keep frustration out of it, and just mention to my boss in a 1:1 that I needed to plan on spending quite a bit of time in the near future reconstructing my spreadsheet by going through emails, and explain that it was because my backups missed following that particular instruction in the handy dandy to-do document that I left.

      If that one thing, and the situation that spurred the phone call, were the only misses from all the work instructions you left, I’d let it go otherwise. If there were more general issues with your instructions not being followed, I might raise it, but it would be more constructive to bring it up as, “I intended to avoid these problems by leaving this document – what could I have done differently to make that work better?…could I have been more clear, is there another format that works better, is there context missing that someone can only gain by helping with my work (and if so, can we cross-train someone)?” Even if the problem is that they completely flubbed or didn’t take your work as seriously as you take it, I think approaching it from a “what could I have done to avoid this?” angle makes people more open to discussing the problem.

      Reply
    7. LurkNoMore

      As a person that just filled in for a person on maternity leave, I’d be miffed if you complained. And you were only contacted ONCE in three months? Please remember that these people were handling your responsibilities on top of their own. I’m sure they are very happy for you to return so that they can get back to their regular jobs, return to normal working hours and catch up on their own work.
      Personally, I’d be grateful for all they did to insure that you were only bothered that one time.

      Reply
      1. HisGirlFriday

        Uhm…but that’s how it works. When you’re on any kind of leave — medical, maternity, FMLA, whatever — people are supposed to cover for you, and that means they Do The Job Correctly.

        When I was on mat leave last year, I had a lot of things that weren’t done, and when I came back, my boss and I had a conversation about, ‘OK, well, Fergus didn’t do X by Y date, so we missed this deadline which means Z result.’ And then Boss took it up with Fergus.

        I’m sure they are happy to have the poster back, but just because they were covering for her doesn’t mean they get a pass on having not done the work they were supposed to have done.

        Reply
        1. Trout 'Waver

          I think in this case, I think it would come off poorly. The generic e-mail cc’ing and the spreadsheet are tools to help get work done. They’re not the end result themselves. As long as the deliverables got met, I wouldn’t pick this hill to die on.

          Reply
        2. Anon Anon

          That’s how it works in an ideal situation, but in many smaller organizations, it’s everyone pitching in and doing the best that they can. I’ve covered for one of my co-workers during her maternity leave, and I was doing two jobs during her entire 10 week leave. I didn’t mind doing both jobs, as she needed time to recover and bond with her new baby, but I would have probably been hurt if she criticized the way I did her job. Because there were more days than not, that just keeping my head above water was a challenge, and I know there were many things that fell through the cracks.

          Reply
    8. Betty

      My boss at the time (HR Manager) covered my stuff while I was out on maternity leave. When I came back… every single thing she touched was screwed up so bad. I spent 5 months trying to fix everything. I found a new job (thankfully) before I was done fixing everything. It sucks working for morons.

      Reply
    9. a Potterhead for life

      I’m wondering if the co-workers understood *why* these two things are important. It shouldn’t matter (!), but people are more likely to do things that seem to have a purpose and both of these tasks -while important to you! – seem pretty trivial to someone who doesn’t have a vested interest in them (and have their own jobs to focus on).

      Reply
  16. office uniform

    I’m considering moving to a work wear uniform a la Steve Jobs, but a more business casual look. Has any one done this with success? I’ve settled on slacks and a blouse in two colors, but I’m worried this is 1. weird 2. that I look like a fancy waiter.

    Reply
    1. Angela's Back

      I had a coworker who did this and it was totally fine–the only difference between what she did and what you’re describing is that she had a rotating group of sweater sets in 5 or 6 or maybe even 7 colors, so a little more variety than what you’re describing. But if your blouses are in basics like grey or white or navy, I don’t think anyone will think twice about it. Honestly, if I didn’t know that I would get bored doing this, I would do it in a heartbeat.

      Reply
      1. sheepla

        Wow, I’m so inspired by this idea. I have a TON of accessories, so I don’t even think it would get boring.

        Reply
      2. office uniform

        I think I’ll add a little more variety in the blouses just to keep it from getting stale. I wear the same five or so outfits in my personal life and want the same easy “getting dressed” time in morning for my work week.

        Reply
      3. Electric Hedgehog

        I do this because I hate shopping. If I find something that works, I buy it in half a dozen colors and wear it a lot.

        Reply
    2. Pearly Girl

      I love the idea of a uniform.

      I wear black knit skinny pants and solid or patterned tunic tops almost every day. Plus, I have 3 or 4 necklaces and a few watches that I wear consistently to add a little sparkle. Done.

      Reply
    3. Nea

      I’ve done the thing where you find something you like and buy it in every color. In my case, that color has to go with black, grey, or denim blue.

      So it’s the same type of bottom and the same type of top, but it’s not necessarily a black turtleneck over blue jeans all the time. And because black, grey, and denim blue coordinate, everything mostly goes with everything else.

      Reply
    4. CherryScary

      I do this! Every day (minus sometimes Fridays because casual day) I wear a pair of dress pants, a nice soild color t and a blazer. I mix and match the colors.

      My coworkers have commented on it, but its always been in a positive way!

      Reply
      1. Amadeo

        Yup, I do more or less the same thing, sometimes with a variation in color. It’s nice jeans, a solid color tee from someplace like Target or Old navy and a cami (because I am well-endowed and v-neck shirts reveal more cleavage than I am comfortable with on their own).

        Every once in a while there’ll be something different, but not terribly often.

        Reply
    5. Bend & Snap

      I think you need more tops.

      i have a uniform of skinny ankle pants and a few tops, but I mix and match both the tops & bottoms + jewelry, shoes and bags.

      Reply
      1. office uniform

        I think you’re right; I don’t want to be known as the person in the office who wears the same exact thing everyday.

        Reply
    6. Elizabeth West

      I like this idea so much. I never know what to wear to work, and I probably will have to go back to business casual with my next job (I wore jeans and t-shirts to Exjob).

      Reply
        1. Optimistic Prime

          Me too! I honestly want to get down to work paring down my wardrobe. I have a lot of clothes in my closet that don’t fit me properly anymore or that I don’t like to wear, and I want to have a smallish wardrobe of high-quality stuff I love.

          Reply
    7. kb

      It may be nice to have 3 colors of pants, 1 a bit more summery than the others. I’m thinking black, grey, and white (or if you don’t like white, a lighter grey). It depends on where you are (I know black is always a go in NYC), but the time of year I may notice if someone is wearing a uniform is if it starts to look wrong for the season.

      Reply
      1. kb

        I also really love black and white, so I think wearing a black top with white pants looks really sharp, a bit unexpected, and slightly more summery.

        Reply
        1. office uniform

          Thank you! I love black and white too, but I didn’t think of how I would adapt my uniform for the seasons.

          Reply
          1. kb

            I don’t know if this moves the uniform concept too far into capsule wardrobe territory, but I’ve found colorful/patterned/metallic/fun belts to be a great way to make white pants with a white shirt wearable for hot summer days. Not a lot of people wear white on white, so even though you’d be wearing the same ole stuff that makes up your uniform, you’d really pop.

            Reply
          2. Rookie Manager

            A former colleague used to wear black trousers and a white shirt 90% of the time. However shechad loads of different styles of both so it was easy to adapt for the seasons. I don’t think she intended a uniform but just liked, and suited, that look.

            Reply
    8. a Potterhead for life

      omg, start tomorrow! I started doing this about a year and a half ago and life is so much easier. It started as a fluke because I was depressed and I just wore the same thing every day (but clean), because I just didn’t care and I didn’t want to have to think about anything let alone what to wear.

      At this point my wardrobe is pretty boring, but is fine and is super easy – all the same color schemes and every piece matches all of the other pieces. I also found a sock that I liked and got rid of all of my other socks and bought two dozen pairs of those socks – no more matching socks! just reach in the drawer and grab two!

      Reply
    9. Cedrus Libani

      I wear a gray polo with black slacks, every work day. It works for me; I’m allergic to mornings and don’t want to make decisions in the AM, the whole business around fashion / clothes / shopping is a chore to me rather than a pleasure, and also my hair is bright purple, so I’ve got my “personal flair” budget mostly spoken for. I’d totally recommend it.

      Reply
  17. overcaffeinatedandqueer

    I am literally unable to keep my eyes open at my desk! Any tips? I am doing all caregiving and 95% of home chores right now so I’m exhausted all the time!

    The story: spouse badly broke her leg, and her dad died, and this is her third serious health problem in a year. She is using a walker and working from home but otherwise basically bedbound. It’s been a few weeks so any help I had from family or church has dried up.

    But I’m so tired from working, gym-ing, then coming home to chores and never being able to actually sit down and relax uninterrupted until about 9:30 pm, that I am falling almost-asleep on a plane in full sunlight (I have never slept on planes before), in a meeting, at my desk, and while driving.

    I am usually managing 7 hours of sleep a night but it takes a while to fall asleep and I am interrupted at times by my wife getting up to use the bathroom (the walker is LOUD), or the cats crying for breakfast so insistently that I have to get up and feed them, then back to sleep for another 30-60 minutes. So I don’t know if it’s lack of sleep or just physical tiredness from going, going, going from work ending until spouse is asleep.

    But either way, I really need help staying awake at work!

    Reply
    1. KL

      I don’t have any advice, but as a person with a stress fracture in her foot relying on her spouse, everything you do it greatly appreciated!

      Is it possible for you to take a power nap during the day?

      Reply
    2. Nosy Nelly

      cut back on chores! no one is testing you or auditing your house cleanliness–as long as there are clothes to wear and whatever food/toiletries/other supplies available for daily life tasks as you need them, I’d say let it get a little messier than usual in service of your other responsibilities/sanity :)

      Reply
      1. SMT

        The only everyday chores that you really need to do are providing dinner and doing dishes (so that dinner can be made the next night). Laundry, dusting, cleaning, etc. can wait until you have a day off and need to do them (and even then, prioritize, and what doesn’t get done can get done later).

        Reply
    3. Jane Mouse

      That all sounds really hard and scary (almost sleeping while driving!!). I think this is serious enough that if you can afford it, you may want to outsource some of your work to get back some sleeping and de-stressing time. Can you hire a home aid through your insurance or via Care.com and hire a housekeeper to come weekly? Some cheaper ideas are to try a meal kit or meal delivery service and get an automatic feeder for the kitties.

      Reply
    4. Shayland

      That sounds really difficult!

      Can you take a sick day, because it sounds like you need one. I would start sleeping with ear plugs in. There are these waxy type ones that just cover the outside of the ear instead of resting in the ear that I recommend, so that your wife and the cats don’t wake you.

      To fall asleep faster / more restfully I recommend following a mindfulness meditation or exercise. You don’t have to listen to a tape or anything, just focusing on, feeling, and hearing the way your breath moves through your body.

      Try to avoid taking caffeine too late in the day as well.

      Good luck!

      Reply
    5. Kristinemc

      Would an automatic cat feeder help, assuming you’re feeding them dry food? That’s the only portion I can think of a solution for!

      I do agree, though – cut back on chores if needed!

      Reply
    6. paperfiend

      This doesn’t speak to the staying awake, but more to mitigating the exhaustion… Let your church folks and other friends know that you still need help! And identify some specific things like mowing the lawn, going to the grocery store with your list and dropping groceries at home with your spouse, etc. If your church is anything like mine, there’s a big push to help people when an Event happens, and then things taper off – but if the person affected by Event still needs help a few weeks later, we still want to help but may not realize there’s an ongoing need.

      And look for things you can drop. You mention the gym – can you cut back from 4 workouts a week to 2 or 3 for a while? Order in dinner, if you’re currently cooking it? Standards may need to change for a little while, but if you think of it as temporary it’s easier.

      Reply
      1. Falling Diphthong

        I was scrolling down to say this–ask the church. They are willing, they just don’t realize that you are still struggling. And asking for specifics is good–for example, they might be willing to bring in food several nights a week, so you just need to reheat.

        As someone who once woke up to a cat batting at the controls of the clock radio, because he knew this was involved in the people getting out of bed and feeding him: leave out dry food before you go to bed.

        Reply
    7. Lora

      Relax your standards. It’s temporary until you have more time / spouse is better and able to help / whatever. Believe me, I know from cat hair, and nobody ever died from not vacuuming more than once a week. Cut back to the bare minimum of what MUST be done.
      -People need food
      -People need clean underpants
      -Clothes need to not stink to high heaven
      -Walkways need to be clear so you’re not tripping over stuff
      -The bathroom needs toilet paper and soap
      -Cats need food
      -Litter boxes need scooped (I am a big fan of Scoop Free)
      -Probably some sort of gas in the car type of thing needs done
      -Sounds like medications need refills maybe

      That’s it. That’s what you NEED. Anything else is a nice-to-have when you’re overwhelmed. You need sleep more than you need the other stuff.

      Reply
    8. NJ Anon

      Reach back out to family and friends! Sometimes they dont know what you need and when you need it! I had back surgery last year and that was a piece of advice I reveived and it worked! Also, cut back on stuff that can wait. It’ll be there later. Self care is important!

      Reply
      1. Hellanon

        Yes, this. Can you get one of your friends to organize a meal rotation, so that supper is delivered 2-3 times a week and you/your wife get to see friends without doing a lot of prep or driving anywhere? I’ve organized & participated in a couple of these, sometimes for months, when the person was really ill, and it makes thing so much easier. Bonus points for a) getting enough for leftovers the next day and b) getting to send the serving dish back dirty… Key thing though is your friends want to help I am sure, but at this point, they need someone to tell them how.

        Reply
    9. Trix

      I don’t see you mention anything about caffeine, but I know that’s a common go-to when you want to “wake up.” For years, I thought that caffeine didn’t really affect me, at least not to any noticeable degree. Then I cut caffeine out, and suddenly I was able to sleep at night. No real difference during the day (good!), and super benefit at night (double good!).

      About a year later I moved from a second shift type of work schedule to a first shift type, and started drinking one cup of coffee a day, and my rule is that it’s always done by noon. If I haven’t actually finished it, too bad, I’m done with it. Having that hard cut off time, even though it’s hours and hours before I actually go to bed, has made a huge impact. I know a lot of people do the afternoon jolt, but it’s totally counterproductive for me.

      Reply
      1. GermanGirl

        Yes this. I used to have a pretty bad case of after lunch sleepiness even with lots of coffee until I figured this out.
        Caffeine takes hours to move through your system but it’s most effective 3-4 hours after you drank it and it still disturbs your sleep up to 8 hours after.
        So when I started drinking coffee at 1pm when I got tired and kept drinking the stuff the rest of the afternoon, that really set me up for a restless night and another low after lunch the next day.

        Now I drink one cup of coffee when I arrive at work and only water the rest of the day and I haven’t been tired after lunch in weeks.

        Also, house cleaning is a pretty good workout by itself, so I’d cut out the gym on days that you do cleaning.

        Reply
    10. Delta Delta

      We’re a big fan of the “leave the cat food bucket open” method if we really need to get some extra sleep. I know you could probably set your watch to your cats’ stomachs, and I know cats love routines, but sometimes they can be tricked into being quiet (thus, letting you sleep) if a) they eat dry food and b) you can leave the container open so they can feed themselves. This isn’t great for them for the long haul, and obviously doesn’t work if they’re wet food only cats. But that little bit of uninterrupted morning sleep could be a huge help!

      Reply
    11. KellyK

      I like the advice everyone else gave about cutting chores to the bare minimum & trying to get friends and family to help and outsource anything you can afford to.

      If you feed your cats wet food & can’t use an automatic feeder, maybe feed them more/later in the evening to give yourself a little better buffer in the morning. Or scatter some kibble in a place they’ll find it before you go to bed.

      As far as stop-gap “gotta keep your eyes open now” suggestions, air conditioning and loud music can help, especially in the car. For meetings or at your desk, fidgeting with something, biting your lip or digging your nails into your hand might help. Or sitting with your legs crossed to make your foot fall asleep.

      It might also be good to have a back-up plan for driving when you’re this tired. Knowing where you can stop for a cup of coffee or pull over for a nap on the side of the road is probably a good thing. The huge downside there is that caffeinating yourself to safely get through the drive home can keep you from falling asleep later, so it can become a vicious cycle. Other safety plans might include asking family or church friends for rides or to run errands, or having a person or two you could call for a rescue if you’re so tired that it’s not safe to drive. (I know I’d much rather pick a friend up from wherever and take them to get their car the next day than hear that they fell asleep at the wheel and had a fatal crash.)

      Reply
      1. Alli525

        Maybe instead of caffeine, a piece of fresh fruit right before leaving the office might boost blood sugar enough to keep OP awake while driving? It’s not perfect, but in combination with music and a/c, it might work.

        Reply
      2. NonnyNon

        Second the A/C and loud music for driving. I’d also recommend forcing yourself to sing along to whatever you’re listening too. If you’re too tired you could end up dozing off or zoning out even with the loud music playing, but singing along forces yourself to pay attention a little bit more and stops that from happening so much. (I always know when I’m getting dangerously tired because I *stop* singing, and that’s my cue to do something to wake myself back up.)

        If you think you’re going to fall asleep completely but can’t stop to take a full nap, pull over and get of your car and walk around to wake yourself up a little bit more. And it really sucks, but slapping yourself on the arms or (lightly) on the face can help wake you up a little too.

        Reply
    12. Brogrammer

      If you don’t already know about it, the caffeine nap. Caffeine usually takes about 30 minutes to hit your system, so drinking coffee and then taking a nap helps you wake up refreshed. Since you typically go back to bed after the cats wake you up, try having your first cup when you feed them, so that when you get back up you’ll feel more energized and less like death warmed over and allowed to congeal.

      Reply
      1. paperfiend

        Ok, that totally explains why an afternoon mountain dew followed immediately by lounging on the sofa results in me taking a nap! I always thought caffeine just didn’t affect me if I was really tired – I didn’t think about the delay in when it hits.

        Reply
      2. Hrovitnir

        I know someone who was so good at that, I am full of envy. (It takes me hours to get to sleep, maybe 30-45 minutes if I’m exhausted.)

        Reply
        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

          Something I’ve found with napping — you don’t necessarily have to fall asleep for it to work! I tried NASA naps for a while (26min exactly) and almost never fell asleep, but I found that spending that time lying down, eyes closed, deliberately letting my mind drift and NOT thinking about what I ought to be doing, all was still incredibly refreshing.

          Reply
    13. Not So NewReader

      When my husband was sick, we slept in different rooms. It made sense because we just disturbed each other too much. Rest was super important to both of us. He needed it because of his illness and I needed it in order to function at 2000% the next day.

      Walker. I am not sure what kind you have. The ones without the wheels and without the seat in them tend to be very noisy. I am talking about the drab, grey old style. If this is the case you may be able to borrow a more modern walker from someone. Maybe someone at church can loan one?

      Definitely start thinking about what things you are willing to let go of for the moment. Everybody picks different things so I won’t get too involved in that discussion. But do look at stuff and say, “How important is this right now?”

      Since it has been a few weeks for her to adjust perhaps she can take on a few more tasks then she has been doing so far. One thing you might consider is asking her to participate in finding new people to come and help the two of you. If I asked my husband this and he came up with ONE person, I would have made sure to act very happy and pleased that he thought of someone. It’s hard and I do understand that.

      In what you describe here, I would try to find ways to increase my sleep hours from 7 to 8 hours. Maybe this would mean one hour of reading in bed so I can empty out my brain and prepare to sleep. Or maybe this time would be my toss and turn time until I got to sleep.

      Speaking of getting to sleep. Sometimes what we tell ourselves is so powerful. I went through a spell where sleep was so very difficult. Then it dawned on me. Bedtime is the best time of the day because whatever I worry about there is absolutely nothing I can do about it at that hour of the day. I had an “excuse” for not working on whatever it is, “it’s too late in the day to do anything”. I would tell myself that I was off the hook for the moment. This thought helped me to shut my brain down so I could drift off to sleep.

      Reply
        1. OhNo

          I’ve also seen people use those soft pads you put under furniture legs, but those aren’t as good at gripping the floor.

          Reply
    14. Government Worker

      It’s not a great long-term solution, but is your home set up so that you and your wife can sleep separately, if she’s waking you up at night? My wife and I have each spent plenty of nights on the (very comfortable) couch trading off baby duty, or when the other is sick and coughing a lot, or just when insomnia strikes and one person’s tossing and turning is keeping the other from getting good sleep. It’s not fantastic for our relationship to do every night, but it can really help when someone’s exhausted.

      Also over-the-counter sleep aids, which aren’t great to use every night but which could help you have a night or two where you fall asleep faster and sleep through disruptions more easily.

      My wife badly broke her leg a few years ago, requiring surgery, and it *sucked*. And it doesn’t sound like that big a deal to other people, but it was a super-hard couple of months for us.

      One minor thing that’s helped us through super-stressful periods: paper plates and plastic utensils. Getting back that few minutes of kitchen cleanup every night for a few weeks helps.

      Reply
      1. AfterBurner313

        ^^^^^^^ This.

        My mother was chronically ill. Not dying, but never getting better. We used disposal paper plates (cheap ones) with the china plate under it. Red Solo cups and plastic utensils.

        On those *I’m too brain dead to function* days, it was a god send.

        We also had people make dinners and put them in our chest freezer. It was so nice to pull out a dinner and microwave it. You can also freeze things like breads, cakes, cookies and alike. It cuts down on shopping.

        See if your pharmacy has a delivery service.

        Ask your church if there is a teen ager who will do light cleaning. My nephew does this. He’s trust worthy, does what the people want and likes this side gig. Vacuuming, sweeping and cleaning up the bathroom is usually what is clients want.

        There is a website (can’t think it of the name), that let’s you coordinate volunteers. I know people use it for things like meal trains and taking people to chemo appointments. This way you let people know exactly what you need, and they can figure out when they can do it.

        Good luck! I have been in your shoes and it sucks.

        Reply
    15. Anon Sleep Apnea sufferer

      Three things: (1) forget about the non-essential chores. No one cares if your toilet is spotless or your rugs are vacuumed. Focus on the essentials. Allow yourself to take the easy way out sometimes (buy a frozen pizza for dinner and don’t stress about it). (2) Call your friends and ask for help when you need it. While the offers have dried up, people are still going to be glad to help you if you ask. They didn’t dry up because people aren’t willing to help, they dried up because people don’t know how to help. (3) Make sure you don’t have a sleep problem. I was literally falling asleep at the office and assumed it was stress. Turns out I had sleep apnea. I’m a 36 year old woman – sleep apnea is not just for old men.

      Reply
    16. JJJJShabado

      I have similar issues (I have 3 small children). What I find helps me is that I go out for lunch every day and I have a specific podcast that I listen to that helps me unwind. It helps to break up the day. I buy lunch, but regardless if you bring your lunch, getting away helps if you can.

      Reply
    17. Leslie Knope

      I am so sorry! This sounds like so much.

      I definitely echo the suggestions above. When I’m really stressed out to the max I start by taking a sick day. Use the day to take a nap, do a few things that make you feel better, and then make a plan. When I’m refreshed and not sleep deprived it’s a lot easier to make choices.

      – Can you hire someone to come deep clean twice a month? That way all you have to do is just the bare minimum of maintenance?
      – Can you maybe try a brisk walk at lunch and cut out the workout after work for that day?
      – In particularly stressful times I’ve tried to work out what I could plan ahead for the week. This has involved doing meal prepping one day (and I’m talking very easy meal prep here) so that all you have to do is reheat food or grab it out of the fridge? Could you try some crockpot stuff so you don’t have to worry about cooking? What about paper plates, etc.?

      As far as staying awake, I find that ice water helps jolt me awake. I also will go for a brisk walk around the block or around the floor to help get me awake. But on days when it’s really bad (or I have a terrible headache) I will nap in my car during lunch. I feel silly doing it but even 20 minutes helps me get through the day.

      Reply
    18. Swimmergurl

      Hire help for cleaning and other chores. I recently started hiring help and was astounded at the improvement in my mental health.

      Reply
    19. Trout 'Waver

      For me, staying hydrated is really important when I’m tired. If I’m worn out and I get dehydrated, I can barely keep my eyes open.

      Reply
    20. LizB

      Lots of good suggestions in this thread. My go-to for combating sleepiness is cold water in little sips.

      Also, I apologize if this is weird, but I seem to remember you’re in the Minneapolis area, which is also where I live. If I’m right about that, and there’s anything I can do to pitch in, please send me an email (linked in my username). I have a car and some spare time to run errands or whatever you need.

      Reply
    21. LCL

      Ask your wife if she would be up for folding the laundry if you brought it to her. That might help her feel like she is contributing.

      As others have said, you might be able to find some help at your church if you told them you still need help.

      Reconsider your gym time. Still use that time for ‘you’ time, but other things than the gym. Like going to bed two hours earlier. Or just sitting down staring into space, it sounds weird but sometimes I have to withdraw from the world to deal with the stress of it all. It sounds like your body is telling you right now that you need more rest. A month vacation from workouts won’t hurt you.

      Maybe part of the cause of your sleeping difficulties isn’t the physical things happening, it’s the stress of being responsible for everything. Be good to yourself.

      Depending on what you are feeding the kitties, could you dish out the food the night before then put the dishes in the fridge? Then when they meow, give them their dishes and go back to bed. Or try staying up after you feed them. for me, going to bed for only 30-60 minutes when I am still tired makes me tired and angry, not rested.

      Reply
    22. hankypanky

      As a wife with chronic illness with a husband who helps me to no end — you rock!

      Okay , so I saw this product called No Doze which goes around your ear and vibrates when you nod off at the wheel. My husband has a real problem with falling asleep whenever he sits still.

      I use ear plugs at night to block out the cat noises, etc.

      Have you considered weekly meal delivery — like Freshly? My husband hates cooking. We also use Kroger Click list for groceries. No more grocery shopping. And Amazon for basically anything else.

      This too shall pass. Hang in there!

      Reply
    23. Colette

      You’ve had an awful year.

      If your spouse broke her leg below the knee, have you considered a knee scooter? They take a lot less energy to use (so there’s more energy for other stuff) and they’re stable, so she would be able to (for example) bend over and pick stuff up. Renting one made a huge difference in what I was able to do last summer.

      Reply
    24. The Nutritionist

      There are lots of excellent ideas here.
      I came here to recommend foods and supplements.
      Foods
      Eat lots of fresh organic fruits and vegetables. Limit night shades (many folks have allergies).
      Make sure you are drinking enough water. If possible, it is best to drink half your body weight in oz.
      Supplements (I recommend Garden of Life mykind organics / I don’t work for this company, I just like their product)
      Vit B complex, 100 mg of each major B vit twice daily
      Vit C, 4000 mg daily (can increase to 10,00 0 mg. if well tolerated)
      CoQ10, 60 mg daily
      Magnesium, start with 1 cap / 400 mg in the evening (The best forms are the ates, including malate, citrate, and aspartate)
      Multivitamin and mineral complex, follow directions on bottle
      Herbs such as astragalus to improve adrenal gland function and aids in stress reduction (use under the care of a health practitioner)
      Milk thistle extract to aid liver and adrenal function
      As a sleep aid
      Melatonin, 1 mg 30 minutes before bed. Use for 3 days only.
      OR
      Hyland’s Calms Forte (follow instructions on bottle)
      Chamomile tea, 4 oz. before bed
      Before starting any herbs or supplements, please check with a medical or holistic health practitioner to make sure you will not have any adverse reactions. Good Luck!

      Reply
  18. EvilQueenRegina

    I feel as if I am being micromanaged by someone who is not my manager.

    We have a shared mailbox for incoming work, and when someone is picking up a piece of work we mark our names against it. My one co-worker Ruby has started going through it and allocating work to us – “Ooh, there’s an email here from Wakeen about teapots, can I put your name to it, Regina?” being the typical comment – even though we all prefer to manage our workload ourselves and put our own names next to things. She has been asked not to do this and did stop for a while but has now started up again.

    We are meant to work through this mailbox in date order. She will also flag things as “urgent” when sometimes there is no clear reason why, and if she has marked something (which anyone can do) as urgent and yet ignored it herself to work in date order, it just confuses us about why she has flagged it. Again, our manager has spoken to her about this but she has continued.

    If she finds, or thinks she finds, that someone has made a mistake, no matter how minor it is she will immediately go running to our manager, usually in the middle of the open plan office so everyone can hear it. Often these are either things so minor as to not really warrant that, or no mistake was made at all i.e. her saying a letter hadn’t been sent but she was looking in the wrong place.

    I know that in her own mind she thinks she is being helpful, but we don’t need or want her to allocate our work, she is not our manager, or been authorised by our manager to do so. The problem with speaking to her directly about this is that she is someone who will take this very personally (she will go all silent and/or start banging things about – someone did say she prefers to put her own name to things today and Ruby banged her mug down) so it’s hard to know how to word it without causing offence, or are we best just raising it with our manager (who has been on holiday this week which has meant an increase in this behaviour) and letting her deal with it?

    Reply
    1. Dawn

      You can’t tell her to knock it off without offending her, which is HER problem and not yours!

      Could you just ignore it? Go all “Grey Rock” with responses to her until she gets bored and gives up? I’m thinking things like “I’m tracking my own work, Regina”, “I’ve got a handle on it Regina”, “I check the mailbox regularly Regina” as generic answers to anything she says to you regarding the mailbox. Just super generic, super boring, doesn’t really answer anything kinda responses.

      As for her running to the manager, seriously don’t worry about that. That is the classic hallmark of an office busybody so unless your manager is being a total stickler about never ever making a tiny minor mistake ever it’s the kind of behavior that’s best met with an eyeroll from you.

      Reply
      1. Trix

        I was wondering about ignoring it too. Like, just literally ignoring her flags, whether it’s “Urgent” or “Regina,” and going about working the inbox like you would (including adding, removing, or changing flags to whatever they actually ought to be).

        If she calls you out on it, just remind her that she’s been asked to knock it off by your manager, and you’re just going about your business as if she had.

        Reply
        1. Trix

          Oh, and if she marks something as Urgent, assume she will follow up with it. If she doesn’t, that’s on her, not you.

          Reply
    2. Sadsack

      I say maybe do both. Definitely tell her you prefer to manage your workload on your own way. If she bangs her mug, so what? But if she becomes more combative and difficult to work with, like not providing something you need, etc., then go back to your manager and tell him about that.

      Reply
    3. Tabby Baltimore

      Ok, my take on this kind of personality is that you will get the same reaction from “Jane” NO MATTER HOW YOU CRAFT YOUR RESPONSE. You could be Ralph Waldo Emerson, Abraham Lincoln, and [your favorite lyricist here] and it wouldn’t make any difference, b/c this personality type is pre-programmed to find offense and react childishly. So, just take that as a given. With that in mind, I’d suggest 2 things: (1) continue documenting as you are doing but quantify what the impact on the workflow is (e.g., spent 10 min talking with her or with other colleagues about why Msg X was flagged as URGENT which delayed responses on 6 other items by 15 min.) and (2) try one more time to be as matter-of-fact as possible about what you want her to do ending with that (should-be-trademarked) AAM question “Can you do that from now on?” and get (hopefully a positive) response from her. Oh, and (3) try really, really hard not to care about “causing her offence,” b/c SHE’S causing offence all over the place, and apparently doesn’t have a care in the world about it, so why should you?

      Reply
      1. Tabby Baltimore

        Sorry, meant to add that the reason why you want to quantify the impact of her busybodiness on the work flow is that, inevitably, you all will probably have to go back to the manager at some point, and if everyone’s been documenting this, you will be ale to say “Jane’s” slowing down the workflow by x hours y times per week. It’s delaying our responses to clients by z minutes/hours b/c we have to take time from handling the inbox to clarify ownership, it’s preventing professional development on A, B, and C topics (“I’m trying to train Fergus on improving his handling of PDQ-type emails, and Jane keeps taking them, then not doing anything with them.”), it’s … you get the picture. Try to put numbers to as much of the problems as you can, so your supervisor has a solid measurement that s/he can understand easily.

        Reply
      2. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

        This is the point I was going to make. No matter what OP does, Regina is going to have tantrums. Might as well get the problem solved and still deal with the tantrum rather than suffer through tantrums AND micromanagement.

        Reply
    4. KellyK

      Putting her heart in a box and *making* her quit assigning you work will probably not fly in a professional environment.

      Unfortunately, she’s going to take it how she’s going to take it. I think since you’ve seen people bring it up with her and get nowhere, it’s time to take it to your manager.

      Reply
    5. Not So NewReader

      Recognize what is going on here. She is using her temper to manipulate you all into doing what SHE wants.
      I would say things like, “There’s no need to slam your mug around. This is a fairly basic request between two professionals. It’s an office norm that coworkers politely ask each other for things. Slamming your mug down (or whatever else) does not fit within a normal office environment.”

      If someone can do blatant misbehaviors, I can do explanations of the obvious. I think they left themselves wide open for it.

      The other thing you can do, is you can say, “I get my instructions from my boss. You are not my boss.” Keep repeating this. And keep the boss looped in, it may take daily intervention to get her to stop. Be prepared for this reality. I have gone to the boss and said things such as, “I know you told Jane not to assign me work. Well today Jane assigned work to me AGAIN. So I told her she was not my boss and I would not be accepting assignments from her.” Just telling the boss that you had to say this can be enough to nudge the boss to upgrade whatever she is doing about the situation.

      Reply
    6. Trout 'Waver

      If someone without the authority to assign you work is trying to assign you work that you don’t want, just tell them to ask your manager. “Wakeen has given us clear instructions on the priority of our assignments, Ruby. If you think I should be working on something else, you need to bring it up with him.”

      Also, go ahead and cause offense. It’s her issue that she can’t handle professional communication. Not yours.

      Reply
    7. LCL

      Controlling annoying coworker going all silent when you call them on their actions is a feature not a bug…

      She is making sure you don’t confront her. If you don’t want to battle with her, bring it directly to manager. It really is manager’s job to deal with her. If you don’t mind the aggravation, continue to call her on her behavior.

      Reply
    8. Hrovitnir

      This is so childish it’s actually impressive. My sympathies – I agree there is no way to approach this that won’t result in sulking. I think you have to choose between asking her politely not to do it (and asking the manager to keep stepping in whenever she backslides), probably indefinitely, or ignoring her and telling her “Ruby, you know we assign our own work, please stop doing it for me” or similar when she puts you on the stop. It’s gonna be awkward but that is so on her, and she has been explicitly told not to do it by management so it’s really not a grey area here.

      Reply
  19. Anony Non

    Finally got up the nerve to be more direct in asking for performance feedback and finally got somewhere!

    I’m very anxious and hate feeling like I’m “nagging” when I have to follow up multiple times on non urgent matters. I hem and haw about how soon is too soon and how long is too long.

    I’m also very nervous about pursuing promotions and raises because right now most of my work tasks are maintenance-tasks. Nothing I have an opportunity to shine at or innovate.

    I definitely need more confidence and assertiveness in the workplace because it does get results! Any advice on getting into that mode more?

    Reply
    1. LQ

      Strangely it really helps me to think of that as my job. Part of my job is being confident about my work. Part of my job is being assertive and asking for those opportunities to shine. Part of my actual job is talking up the work that I and the team I am a part of do. Part of my job every single day is to follow up multiple times and check in with people to see where they are at.

      When I think of it as my job (which it entirely is! and it is yours too) it becomes much easier. I sort of take myself out of the equation. If this was someone else and they were doing this I would expect them to…

      (The only thing this doesn’t help me for is asking for raises and promotions. But it did help me ask for new projects and tasks, which around here has lead to promotions and raises.)

      Reply
    2. Not So NewReader

      If you keep doing this it will become less hard.
      Until then here is what I did. I have told myself that I am responsible for ME. It’s up to me to keep myself employed and keep food on my table. So part of being responsible for ME is making sure I am doing the job well enough to remain employed, firstly and to do the job well enough so the boss thinks I am a valuable employee.

      Shortened version:It’s in my own good interests that I want to be a valued employee, therefore I want the boss’ inputs on what to do to become that valued employee.

      With this in mind, it becomes much easier to find things that I can do. Then I go to the boss and offer to help with X or Y. Or I have figured out what I might do well at and ask the boss to learn that task.
      I have had subordinates do this to me and it was a life saver! I could not see everything at once. When people pointed out they would like to learn X or they thought that they could probably do Y, I would jump at that opportunity. Yes, I did have a blind spot and it was because SO MUCH else was going on. In the end, I would encourage the person asking to always ask me and encourage others to ask me when they wanted.

      Reply
    3. Trout 'Waver

      Maintenance tasks are critical to every organization. Keep a log of uptime. Like, “The databases were on-line for 99.8% of business hours in March,” or “100% of accounts were kept paid on time with net-30 terms for 2016.”

      For a lot of maintenance tasks, having them go unnoticed means those tasks are being take care of well.

      Reply
    4. Director of Things

      You are keeping things running so the higher ups don’t have to worry about forgetting these things. At least that’s how I feel about my support people. Does it get annoying to not get in 5 minutes of work without someone buzzing me or popping in? Yes. I appreciate it when an employee comes to me with all of the pieces I need to make a decision or, when possible, does a once a day check in with several questions prepared, rather than asking me one question every 7 minutes as they pop into her head.
      Artificial deadlines may help you with the non-urgent matters. Can you ask, “I’d like to have the new Teapot vendors selected by next Friday. Does that sound doable?” Since your issues are non-urgent, you don’t have to stick to that date, but you may be able to get better responses. And then you also have a set date you will follow up for an answer.
      Also, I will say that maintenance tasks can still make a difference. We hired a new office manager a couple months ago, and she is fantastic! She took initiative and totally shined in everything, despite most tasks being things like organizing binders, stocking the conference room fridge, and creating new safety documents. You can excel at whatever job you are doing.
      As for confidence, it takes time, knowledge, practice. The more you show yourself being confident, the easier it will be. And the more you feel knowledgable about your role and contributions, the more confident you’ll be in asserting that. In other words, fake it till you make it!

      Reply
  20. KL

    I need some advice on how to gracefully handle a work event. To make a long story short, I have a stress fracture in my foot and about a week ago, my doctor put me in a boot and told me to stay off of it until I go in for my recheck next week. I have been on crutches for about to a week and half. I’m still working my full day, which is thankfully an office job and my coworkers have been helping me with almost everything. However, by the time I hit about 2:30-3:00 pm, even with help, I’m exhausted and it’s noticeable enough that my coworkers have commented about it. On Monday, my grandboss, who is head of our unit, is having a staff appreciation event from 3:00-5:00 pm off-campus. We haven’t been told that it’s mandatory, but our unit will be closing at 2:30 pm that day. My grandboss’s assistant has told me that it should be no problem for me because it’s just eating and sitting, but she seems to be blowing off my mobility issues. Sitting for a couple of hours isn’t too bad, but having to leave my building later in the afternoon, get to my ride, walk into the building (I’m not sure how accessible it is), and then do all that in reverse to meet my husband back on campus so I can go home. Any suggestions? Do I just put a smile on, drink a lot of caffeine before I leave, and try to power through?

    Reply
    1. Dawn

      “Oh thank you so much for the invite! Unfortunately, my mobility issues will prohibit me from attending the event, but I hope everyone has a lovely time!”

      You ABSOLUTELY don’t have to go to something non-mandatory! Also, if you get any pushback, say “My doctor told me to stay off of the foot” over and over and over. Yes, you could theoretically be staying off the foot once you got to the event BUT you’d have to be staying ON the foot to get to and from the event and that’s BAD and AGAINST YOUR DOCTOR’S ADVICE and since this is a MEDICAL ISSUE you’ll have to sit this one out ;)

      Reply
      1. Shayland

        I second this. And if some one brings up that it’s just a lot of sitting down you can point out that you still have to do some walking to get there and that you don’t know how accessible the building is.

        And, yeah, if someone’s sour about it, just keep bringing up that you and your doctor know what’s best for your well being and that what’s best does not include going to this event.

        Reply
    2. Ghost Town

      Is going to the office late the day of the event a possibility? I don’t have experience with a stress fracture, but if you can shift your day “starting” by a couple of hours, would that help delay your exhaustion point for the day?

      Best of luck!

      Reply
    3. Here we go again

      Your grandboss’ assistant shouldn’t have any say in what is and isn’t okay for you to attend. She’s probably thinking she is being helpful by telling you that you can sit without thinking through the full logistics. I would talk to your direct manager and say that it isn’t feasible for you to attend, so ask that you be excused or see if there is a way to make the travel easier. Maybe a colleague can pick you up from your house in the morning and drop you off so that you don’t need a ride from your husband.

      Reply
    4. Soupspoon McGee

      I just went through this, and my stress fracture turned into a break because I didn’t stay off of it. I managed to get through work by renting a knee scooter. I still needed crutches to get in and out of the house and car, but at least at work and at home, I could roll. This may help with overall fatigue throughout the day. Crutches are exhausting! And I echo others that you don’t have to go to this event if you don’t want to.

      Reply
      1. Windchime

        I have to agree about the knee scooter. Not so you can attend the event, but just in general. I was in a boot and non-weight-bearing for 6 weeks and my knee scooter was a god-send. I never got the hang of crutches and yes, they were exhausting.

        Reply
  21. FDCA In Canada

    I had the very exciting experience this week of being called for an interview and the interviewer being so excited to speak with me that she basically told me whatever my schedule was she would happily work around it, just as long as she got to meet with me. Quite the thrill! So Monday after work I’ll be going for an interview, since my current job is a mat leave contract until September and it’s getting into crunch time. It would be a slight pay cut and longer commute (from 4 minutes drive to 15), but it’s an interesting, full-time permanent opportunity. I’m excited!

    We’ve also been having the mega-gross debate in the office about whether or not it’s appropriate to use the single-user washroom for anything besides #1. I cannot believe this came up in a team meeting, but it did. The woman who sits at a desk closest to the washroom (which is ventilated by a real fan and a single-user closed-door room), which is about 3 meters away from the door, complains constantly and ceaselessly that people are “rude” to do so. She believes employees should use the washroom next door in our annex for non-urinary needs, which requires going outside, unlocking the door with a key, disarming the alarm, and potentially disrupting anyone renting the annex for the day (even though the washroom is secluded in the back). This doesn’t do anything about the clients who use the office washroom for everything, though, so we’ve been quietly ignoring her histrionics on the subject. As far as I’m concerned the washroom is a cone of total privacy and there are no circumstances where we should be policing what goes on in there. But it comes up. At every single monthly team meeting and periodically during the month other than that. Thankfully she’s never brought it up before clients in the office, but…still. I cannot believe grown adults are having this debate.

    Reply
    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      What are her reasons? Noises? Smells? If it’s the former, get her a white noise machine. If it’s the latter, invest in a (mild) automatic air freshener. Otherwise… she’s wrong.

      Reply
      1. LizB

        If it’s a smell thing, my best friend swears by Poo-Pourri spray. But really, someone just needs to tell this person to get over herself. If she had just asked to switch desks away from the restroom, I’d have some sympathy, but complaining over and over that people are “rude” to perform normal bodily functions in a normal place for them? Ridiculous.

        Reply
      2. Caro in the UK

        Yeah, I agree.

        I’ve been the person who sat closest to a single occupancy bathroom and it was… not nice. I could hear and smell far more than I (or anyone) wanted to :( It was not pleasant and made even drinking tea at my desk nauseating.

        But I never thought the people using a washroom for its intended purpose were rude! But I was so very happy to move desks when I finally could. If there’s anything you can do to either mitigate any sounds and smells, or move her desk at all, then I’d look into doing that as a kindness to anyone who has to work in that area.

        Reply
      3. Zathras

        Agreed, it’s ridiculous to suggest that people can’t use the bathroom for its intended purpose. But if proximity to the bathroom is making this person’s working environment unpleasant, that also needs to be taken seriously and dealt with.

        Reply
      4. FDCA In Canada

        It’s definitely not noise–the bathroom fan is very loud and powerful, which actually helps to dispel smells very quickly–but we aren’t able to use air freshener in the office due to clients and staff with scent allergies. So instead we have the fan, a bad air sponge in the bathroom, and we just rely on keeping the fan on as much as possible. I am generally able to smell just about anything, and I’ve never noticed anything after about five minutes, but realistically I don’t see any way to stop people from using the bathroom for its intended purpose, regardless!

        Reply
        1. Observer

          It might help to put an open box of baking soda in the bathroom and change it fairly often. Baking soda does a nice job of absorbing nasty smells if you change it often enough and it’s not a scent masking other scents so you don’t have the issue of scent sensitivity.

          Reply
    2. i2c2

      Wow. I’d hate to use that bathroom under this person’s way-too-interested nose, but also, how do you make it through this topic (repeatedly!) at meetings without giggling?

      Reply
    3. Esme Squalor

      As someone with a chronic illness that gives IBS-like symptoms, this kind of bathroom vigilantism at work is the stuff of nightmares. I would be mortified if one of my colleagues started monitoring bathroom habits in this manner.

      Reply
    4. Peanut

      I’m torn, because on the one hand, people should do whatever they need to in a bathroom. On the other hand, I currently work in a small office and there is, um, an office pooper who regularly uses the bathroom for this purpose and does not use the air freshener spray. The smell is so bad from where I sit that I’ve tried opening the door for fresh air but mostly I just suffer.

      Sometimes it’s just as bad when people use the air freshener – maybe I have an amazing sense of smell, but the air fresheners here just seem to replace the stink with a different, sickly sweet kind of stink so either way, I just feel sick for a portion of the day.

      Reply
      1. Zathras

        Can you bring it to management’s attention? Not the pooping, but the fact that you can smell it from your desk. Like, “Is there anything we can do about the bathroom ventilation? I’ve noticed the smells from the bathroom are reaching my desk, and it can get really unpleasant sometimes.”

        There’s nothing wrong with pooping at work, but you shouldn’t have to smell it.

        Reply
        1. Peanut

          I absolutely have. The HR person tried swapping out the spray, I moved my desk further away (but could still smell everything) and in the end, what solved it was that the office pooper’s desk got moved so they now use a different bathroom!! I don’t know what else I could have done if that hadn’t happened, though.

          Reply
    5. tiny temping teapot

      Did you coworker write in to this site recently? I swear there was a question about this exact topic.

      Reply
    6. Not So NewReader

      I find it amazing that she thinks everyone can predict and control when their bowels will move. I doubt anyone can say they have never, ever had a surprise bathroom emergency. Well maybe she can, I don’t know.

      However, my thought is that it is up to the company to provide built in fans and up to the employees to use the fans.

      Maybe she can move her desk away from the bathroom?

      When I read this I thought, “She is telling people not to poop. Good luck with that. Keep doing what you’re doing Jane and let me know how that works out for you.”

      This on-going conversation could get tedious, fast. I think I would tell her if she is having problems with bathroom smells she needs to talk it over with management. I would squelch any further discussion. I would feel like I was enabling her complaining and excusing her lack of action.

      Reply
    7. Alli525

      If it’s a regular issue, I think her point may have some weight to it. She’s not presenting it well, but my office bathroom has a visitor who goes #2 at the same time every day (around 10am). For those who ARE regular, I think it’s their duty (hehe) to go before or after work. Emergencies and chronic conditions notwithstanding, a typical small office – the type that only requires one or two single-user bathrooms – shouldn’t have #2s every day.

      Have y’all considered putting up a sign? It’s juvenile, but apparently people need to be reminded to use air freshener.

      Reply
      1. copy run start

        Yes, there’s someone who frequents our restroom ~8:10 – 8:30 a.m. and unfortunately the sounds are graphic if the office is quiet. I just keep wondering: can this not occur BEFORE you come here? I understand that sometimes you gotta go and sometimes it’s not pleasant… but… yeah. It’s disruptive to my day.

        At a previous job a coworker would disappear for 1/2 hour to the bathroom, then go to his allotted lunch period so he could get paid to poo. He was very open about it, unfortunately.

        Perhaps a small desk fan to point smells away from the person next to the bathroom would work? Target usually sells a USB-powered desk fan when the college gear comes in, should be any day now actually. It would also help mask any background noise.

        Reply
      2. PepperVL

        Okay, but for some people, it’s normal to poop three times a day. If one of those people goes to the bathroom before work and after work, chances are still good that they’ll also need to poop at work. Also, most women poop more on their periods, and again, at least one week a month, they’ll have to use the bathroom for that at work. So even without chronic conditions or emergencies, it’s entirely possible for someone to have to use the restroom for that every day at work.

        Reply
    8. LCL

      3 meters from the washroom? I can see why she is complaining endlessly. But she is complaining about the wrong thing. Her desk needs to be moved. In the meantime, keep the restroom door closed at all times. She may be being histrionic, but she will be unable to take the ‘washroom is a cone of total privacy’ POV as long she can see and smell otherwise.

      Reply
  22. Pup Seal

    This week was just terrible.

    -Had coffee with a friend who is also a board member of where I work. He told me other board members are mad at founder and CEO. Basically, the board members have given fundraiser suggestions to them, but the founder and CEO refuse to do so because they believe donors should fundraise on our behalf and we shouldn’t have to do any work (this has blown my mind from the start). I knew my friend has been angry at the founder and CEO for a year now, but I didn’t know most of the board was upset.
    -Got sick. Missed 1.5 days of work (at least I missed a terrible meeting)
    -Was told that during the meeting Big Boss said he won’t restore salaries.
    -Came back after being sick to discover the suitcase that holds our brochure stand got ruined from being shipped back from conference.
    -Newsletter got put off AGAIN because higher ups didn’t give me proper information.
    -Had two interviews last week, and they both said I would hear back by this week if I got the job. I didn’t hear back.
    -Grant was declined. That didn’t surprise me. I got us that grant last year, and Big Boss used that money for debt instead of using it for actual project. We didn’t deserve the renewal. I just feel sad that the hard work I put it to get that grant last year was a waste.
    -Learned we are behind 8 months of bills of suppliers who haven’t frozen our accounts yet. We have other accounts that have been frozen for 2 years.
    -Coworker called these two women fat hogs because they make more money than he does. I could rant for this for hours. These women don’t work here, but they have helped us in the past. I wished I could’ve said something, but I cowered.

    The only positives of this week:
    -I have an interview Saturday
    -I wrote my resignation letter. During the 2.5 years of working here, my mental health has greatly declined and I have breakdowns every other day. I’ve decided my health deserves better, and in August I’ll be moving to a different city to live with my boyfriend.

    Reply
    1. Not So NewReader

      Yep, a resignation letter is the exact correct response to this deluge of crap here. Good for you.
      I wish you all the best on your new start at life in the New City with your BF.

      Reply
    2. Hrovitnir

      Good luck with the interview! Also that is all kinds of bad, but the using a grant for debts (???) made me gasp out loud. Fingers crossed you can get out quickly and to a supportive working environment. I’m glad you have a move to look forward to.

      Reply
  23. Anon for this doozy

    I’m thinking I need to quit my job without another one lined up and I know that’s generally a mistake but I wanted to throw my reasons out there and see what y’all think. For a while now I’ve felt like I’m being bullied at work by a lot of people, but two in particular. One of which is the manager’s favorite, to the point where other co-workers have pointed it out to me. Well, guess who pulled me into a meeting with HR yesterday? The grandboss that doesn’t like my department, the boss that favors my coworker, and of course the union rep. Oh, and they ambushed me with this, not telling me until half an hour before the meeting and refusing to tell me the topic, which is how discipline issues are usually handled here and I think it’s awful. Apparently she thinks I hate her because I was discussing with her some things about our shared work that we do a specific way for a reason back when she first started, which was over a year ago. Since that time, she has felt uncomfortable eating her lunch in the office with me there (what!!! the actual heck), she has been asking our co-workers why I hate her (yes, she used the word hate), and she has felt like she can’t talk about things with me. Funny, seeing as how she can tell me my face looks weird or my sales numbers are really low. I don’t think there’s any way I can fix this because I obviously can’t confront her about it if I can’t discuss work with her, and my manager does not have my back. So, do you think it’s worth leaving over?

    Reply
    1. kavm

      Did you bring all this up in the meeting? I would at least attempt to push back first, not to the coworker, but definitely in that HR meeting.

      Reply
      1. Anon for this doozy

        I absolutely did, and the response was that I need to be more understanding of how my words can be misinterpreted

        Reply
            1. Alli525

              Because her union rep was there but apparently didn’t have her back or advocate for her in any way that would warrant a mention in OP’s post, I’d guess.

              Reply
    2. Susan

      Yikes! Do you work at my former employer? This is exactly the kind of thing that happened there, and the main reason I left. Based on my experience, I’d recommend you get out as soon as you can, but if at all possible, try to have another job lined up first.

      Just a question about this disciplinary meeting, though: was the union rep there for you, or on behalf of your coworker who made the complaint against you? If you are in a union, you have the right to bring union representation to any disciplinary meeting if you ask for it (the company’s not required to offer).

      Reply
    3. LQ

      Talk to your union rep. They should support you too. (Assuming they represent you and not just coworker.) Hopefully your union rep will be actually helpful for you.

      Can you get a transfer? Move somewhere else within the organization?

      Reply
    4. Anon for this doozy

      The union rep is somewhat of a spineless gossip. Like, she’s super nice usually, but it is what it is. And she was just there. Like, not specifically for either of us, as far as I can tell, but just filling a chair.

      Reply
      1. neverjaunty

        You may also want to talk to a lawyer who specializes in labor law (for employees). Violation of the duty of fair representation of members is a big freaking deal.

        Reply
    5. Not So NewReader

      Yep, leave while you still have some idea of how normal adults behave.

      The grand boss, boss, union rep and HR were in one room with you and no one went to bat for you. It might be surmountable, but the battle would be so hard that you probably would ruin your health before you won. The deck is not stacked in your favor at all.

      Try, try, try to keep in mind that very little of this may be your fault. Don’t blame yourself. It’s really easy to blame ourselves. Instead, if you start finding fault with yourself, hammer out an action plan for the next time X situation occurs and how you will handle it differently. Then move away from the blame game and take good care of you.

      Reply
  24. Manders

    It’s my last day at my old job! I ended up in a position that’s perfect for the direct I want to go in, my boss will allow me to work remotely on occasion so I can spend more time with my parents, and it’s a $13k raise. Not too shabby.

    I’m taking the high road and make sure my boss has all my passwords, I’m revoking my own access to company accounts, etc. But the comments in this week’s article about the employee who wanted to sabotage her files did inspire me to be honest with my soon-to-be former coworkers about how much I was offered, and I told some of them I’d be willing to be their reference if they’re looking to move on.

    Reply
  25. the gold digger

    You work for SmallCompany, Inc. LargeCompany Inc acquires SmallCompany.

    At SmallCompany, all employees have five personal days a year. When you hired Shavonne, you told her that although you could not give her all the vacation she wanted, she would have five personal days so that was like five more vacation days.

    LargeCompany issues a change: No more personal days. Only sick days, seven per year. And you have to be sick to take them. They do not roll over.

    The questions:

    1. What does LargeCompany really think will happen? Do they think that total days taken will decline?
    2. As Shavonne’s boss, how would you prefer she take her sick days? By putting them on the calendar a month or two in advance? Or by calling in the day of?

    Additional information: SmallCompany employees are almost all salaried, no overtime. Many of them travel a lot and can spend weeks, if not months, away from home every year.

    Reply
    1. Rebecca

      I can tell you what will happen. Shavonne (and every other employee) will take all 7 sick days, whether or not they are actually sick.

      I witnessed this and do it myself. Same sort of situation. I’m non-exempt, and when the company I work for was purchased by another company, our sick days were reduced from 7 to 5, no payout for unused sick days, and our vacation time did not roll over any longer. Previously, if we used zero sick days throughout the year, we received a week’s extra pay in December. If we used any sick time, we were paid for half of what was left. We could roll over 5 days of vacation from year to year. It was a great benefit.

      Now, vacation does not roll over and we don’t get paid for unused sick days, so we take them all. Granted, some use them for doctor’s appointments (you have to use 1/2 day increments so people make appointments early on Friday afternoons), or they just call off whenever. So people still end up taking all their time off, the company isn’t really saving any money, and there is less planning involved. It doesn’t make much sense to me.

      Reply
    2. Paige Turner

      By “you have to be sick to take them,” does that mean that you can’t use a sick day for a doctor’s appointment that is scheduled in advance, for example?

      If so, that’s not cool (and I have no separate sick days myself, just PTO) and I can see why Shavonne is unhappy. I’d prefer to have them on the calendar, sure, but if that would cause problems with LargeCo, then I’d say Shavonne should just call in day of, with maybe a verbal heads-up a few days in advance if she feels comfortable doing so, as in, “Hmmm boss, I haven’t been feeling well lately- might need to take a sick day on Friday if I’m not better by then cough cough.”

      Reply
    3. SL #2

      1. SmallCompany’s employees will all have moved on to other jobs by December 31st this year and LargeCompany is going to react in shock and act like those employees are traitors for wanting to leave their amazing jobs.
      2. If I were Shavonne’s boss, I would want the advance notice of which days she wanted to take (verbally) and then the day of, maybe an email saying “not feeling well” just to have that documentation.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        It almost looks like Large Company is a vulture. Large Company wants to empty out Small Company employees and just keep the assets of the company.

        Reply
    4. Trix

      For your second question, I’d say I’d want her call in day before or morning of when needed, but of course encourage her to schedule appointments or “appointments” in advance and put them on the calendar.

      Does Shavonne get any vacation time? What was the difference between vacation and personal days in the old system?

      Reply
      1. the gold digger

        Shavonne gets vacation, which accrues until the max and then stops accruing. The only way to lose vacation is by not taking it once you have hit the max. Vacation varies by years of service.

        Everyone, however, got five personal days that they could use for whatever reason – “I want a day off right now” – and whenever. They were use them or lose them by the end of the calendar year. You didn’t have to be sick or have a medical appointment to take them. With the new sick days, if you are out three days or more, you need a note from a doctor.

        Again – these are all professionals who travel a lot and who work long hours, for which they are not paid OT.

        Reply
    5. LQ

      Honestly? If she was really good? I’d just tell her to let me know she’ll be hard to reach for that day and not put in for them. She’s salaried and I assume she’s doing her job well away from home for months of the year. (It might not be perfect but neither is anything else in that scenario.) I might also make sure that Shavonne knows that I would be an excellent reference for her and really hope for the best for her in her career.

      LargeCompany clearly thinks human beings are like tissues.

      Reply
    6. Lehigh

      I would personally prefer that she call in the day of, so that Shavonne and I never have to discuss our new definition of “sick”–or, at least, aren’t making our new definition obvious to the casual observer.

      Reply
  26. Daria Grace

    I work in an open plan office where managers don’t have their own private offices. My manager talks loudly and at great length which is becoming a distraction from focusing on our huge workloads. Sometimes it’s about work stuff but often she’s discussing unrelated personal interests with her favourite team members. I know a few other people are bothered by it too. Is there a way I can tactfully deal with this issue or do I just have to accept that this is how my manager is? Sometimes she is okay with feedback but sometimes she reacts badly

    Reply
  27. Fabulous

    I haven’t had enough work to fill my days for the past week, so I’m taking a half-day today! Woohoo!

    Reply
  28. SkrinkoBiloba

    What actual words do you say when you fire someone?

    I have to terminate someone on my team soon for attendance/unreliability issues. Trying to find the right way to put it. They will argue a fair amount, despite having had plenty of warnings, flexibility, and opportunities to improve. What do I say and how do I structure the conversation?

    Reply
  29. Ask a Manager Post author

    Now that you can collapse replies to any level comment (not just to top-level comments), it’s a little harder to distinguish top-level comments from replies. So I’m looking at ways to make top-level comments stand out a little more now and I’m torn between three options for dividing them from replies. If you’re interested in giving input, you can see the three options here:

    http://imgur.com/a/Zn2vD

    Input welcome!

    Reply
    1. Giles

      I’ve noticed that too – I sometimes can’t tell which is the original comment and which is the subcomment. I love the dashed lines.

      Reply
    2. Allypopx

      Option 1 – to clarify, the bold lines would just be between top level comments and encompass the whole thread? Like now, just bolder?

      Reply
    3. Emmie

      I like #1 the best because it’s a strong visual divider. Then #3 and then #2. All are fine though! Thanks for asking!

      Reply
    4. The Cosmic Avenger

      I like option #1; the solid line looks a little heavier than it does now, and I think the visual demarcation helps.

      Reply
    5. Myrin

      Now I feel weird because I don’t think it’s any harder at all to distinguish different-level comments!

      But looking at the three provided options, I like the last one the best.

      Reply
    6. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      1, for sure. It’s clean, crisp, easily readable, doesn’t create eye strain in the way that the patterns do. This will be a nice update!

      Reply
    7. Antilles

      Option 1 is the most noticeable without being overly obtrusive, so I like it the best.

      Also, Option 3 seems to have way too much white space so it’d be easy to miss, so I’d specifically vote *against* that one.

      Reply
    8. Ihmmy

      I like 2 the best with 3 a close second. It’s a little softer than just a solid black line (though even if the line were grey instead I think it would look a little nicer, but I seem to be not a fan of solid black lines)

      Reply
      1. JaneB

        they’re all stronger than the current line, and would be fine – I like the solid one best though, it’s easier to see on a phone

        Reply
    9. Agile Phalanges

      Do you have examples with the comments expanded? I assume that’s more the point, as with them collapsed, every visible comment is a top-level comment. I assume the lines would only be between top-level comments and the comments above them, whether top- or sub-level? I definitely prefer the look of #1, just wondering how it looks expanded.

      Reply
    10. Not So NewReader

      Option one, please.

      Even option one appears light on my screen. The dots and dashes are very difficult to see.
      The current line is about as dark as a very light pencil mark. Can you bold option one?

      Thanks for working on this!

      Reply
      1. Peanut

        Yeah, I feel so old, but none of the options looked very different from the current site! They all look faint. I just want a super dark line.

        Reply
    11. Engineering Manager

      I know this wasn’t one of the options listed, but could you have some kind of color indication, maybe alternate colors for the top level comments so it easy to see where the threads start, then maybe have the line that is to the side of all of the replies with that same color.

      Reply
    12. Optimistic Prime

      I liked the dashed line the best – I feel like it draws the eye to it more, making it easy to see the distinguishing line.

      Reply
    13. Fafaflunkie

      I’m wondering if WordPress will allow you to “box” the entire thread to a comment, a la Reddit? If so, that would be the way I’d go. Subthreads to the main thread would find their way in its own box etc. etc. etc.

      Reply
  30. Athena X

    Does your workplace encourage neurodiversity?

    I work with children and teens with autism, and I am curious to know how many workplaces actually encourage or promote understanding of autism or other conditions. Are atypical social behaviors like lack of eye contact, mild hand flapping, or standing too close to someone tolerated if the person can do the job?

    Reply
    1. Librarian of the North

      Mine does and those social behaviours are fine if the person can do the job (or a modified version of the job even). There is someone with autism and two other people with other conditions. We don’t openly discuss it though.

      Reply
    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      My organization has a neurodiversity employee resource group. I’m not a member, so I don’t know what they cover in regular meetings, but they have also hosted several educational events that I’ve attended.

      I haven’t had any experience with someone with atypical social behaviors, but I hope that with increasing awareness at my org that folks would get curious about how to adapt to diverse social presentations rather than provide pushback to individuals.

      Reply
    3. SaviourSelf

      We have a lot of people that wouldn’t fit with societal “norms” but they are an asset to their job and we value what they bring to the company. I cannot think of any that would be deal-breakers for us as long as they can do the job or a modified version of the job.

      Reply
    4. JustaCPA

      Don’t know that we “encourage” it but we have the son of an employee with autism (the son, not the employee) who works here. I also work in a very techy place with lots of engineers and it wouldnt surprise me to find out that quite a few of them have Asperger or some other forms of high functioning autism…

      Reply
    5. AthenaC

      I believe we do, based on some of the new hires I’ve seen.

      The problem is that a legitimate part of our job is polish and professionalism while navigating situations with clients. Certain of our new hires are noticeably more difficult to coach in this regard than others, and so far my experience has been that they don’t improve in this area. Not sure if it’s because of a misguided “this is WHO I AM and I am PERFECT” sentiment or what, but these individuals tend not to work out.

      Reply
    6. Tau

      I’m an autistic adult. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say that my workplace “encourages” neurodiversity, but I feel reasonably well supported. It helps that I’m in tech, in a role that’s often stereotyped as not socially skilled – there’s a bit more tolerance for social weirdness there than there might be otherwise, and it’s enough for me to manage. It’s also very common for my job to never talk to clients or any external people, which again tends to grant you more leeway.

      One thing I’d like to point out that often gets overlooked in these discussions is that there’s more to accommodating autistic employees than being tolerant of social oddities. Ex: I could not work a job that has a fixed start time. It would be a disaster. I have executive dysfunction issues that translate to chronic lateness, but because we have flexible start times and I’m an early bird no one knows that I consistently arrive 5-10 (and on bad days 30) minutes after the time I meant to. Similarly, sensory issues can be debilitating, and a job with too much noise or the wrong sort of lighting could become excruciating. And that’s just the things I can think of off the top of my head.

      Reply
    7. Mimmy

      I haven’t heard officially that my employer (a state-run facility) encourages neurodiversity, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it does, even subconsciously. I’m not diagnosed as being on the spectrum, but I do have some difficulties that are similar, such as sensory issues and some social awkwardness. My supervisor knows about some of this and she has been supportive. There are other staff and one intern who have atypical presentations as well.

      Reply
    8. Optimistic Prime

      Mine does, and we have a special hiring program for adults with autism in an effort to promote that diversity. I’ve worked with several people on different teams who have autism and other development disorders who have physical tics and some of the social awkwardness (lack of eye contact, standing too close). Yes, people are quite forgiving of it here.

      Reply
    9. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      In terms of being able to perform the job functions (which are very difficult), yes.

      It’s really, really common to see folks with various types of stim devices in my office. My manager teases me about mine (I use silly putty) but I’ve made it clear that the teasing is acceptable and welcome. The attitude is pretty much that the job is difficult enough, so as long as whatever you do to help you work better isn’t a massive disruption for anyone else, you’re fine.

      Reply
    10. Athena X

      Thanks for all of these responses! I live in a very liberal area, so it’s nice to hear this from a geographically diverse set of people. It’s very encouraging.

      Reply
  31. Librarian of the North

    I’m interested to hear what others would do in this situation. My Husband was hired a year ago at an established company that wanted to bring their brand North. He used his contacts in the business to get the company running and himself and his team have been smashing their targets. Now that he has used his contacts to get them established in a new town the company has turned around and eliminated his position, offering back a lower title with almost all of the same duties at 65% of his old pay. He was pissed but took the new offer because we have a new baby at home to provide for and I’m on mat leave. He fully believes they intended to use him all along.

    Today he has a very promising second interview at a different company with a wage range of his previous wage to plus 10k. But this position is a 6 month contract with possible permanence following if they have enough work. This is a very large company and they said that of the last 5 people hired for this job all have been offered a permanent position. Would you stay at the shady company for less money but with the stability of a permanent position (I mean realizing they are shady and could fire you on a whim) or take the contract leading to possible permanent for more money?

    Reply
    1. Betsy

      I’d take it. Even if you have to move on in 6 months, it sounds like he has a good network where he can probably find work. Better to move up in the world when you can. Also, the other job doesn’t scream security.

      Reply
    2. Tabby Baltimore

      Totally agree with paul and Betsy. Only good can come from your husband getting his salary level back up to a more-competitive height. Which will put him in a much better position when negotiating for his *next* salary bump, however that happens.

      Reply
    3. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

      Take it. They are shady and you cannot trust them. If a permanent position is not coming, he can find something better.

      Reply
    4. ginger ale for all

      He should take the interview. He proved that he can be a rainmaker at the Brand North Company and they didn’t treat him fairly for it. He can most likely prove his worth to the second company as well.

      Reply
    5. Iris Eyes

      That is a pretty personal decision. Personally even as change and risk averse as I am, I’m leaning toward the new position. Resentment at current company will probably lead to a lack of stability and performance, and there isn’t a guarantee of permanence anywhere. If y’all have been making things work at his current salary then I would personally keep living at that level and banking the rest so that if he doesn’t continue at least you have a really good cushion that will allow you both to figure out where to go from there without worrying about your family’s immediate needs.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        Great advice. As a risk adverse person myself this would be something I would seriously consider.

        When a company shows you who they are, believe them.

        Reply
      2. Librarian of the North

        That’s the hesitation. I’m quite risk averse, he is slightly less risk averse. We can live at his current salary (not a lot of extras but we’re making it) so we could save almost 2 months of expenses in the 6 months. But 2 months isn’t actually that long in the job hunting world. He’s an excellent networker but his field isn’t huge. However the company he left before this (he was there for 10 years) fell apart without him and have asked him to come back so that’s a possibility if this falls through as well. But we’re both a little bit like “Eep! Changes!” Lol.

        Reply
      1. Librarian of the North

        I replied to this but it must have been eaten so ignore if this comes up twice.

        I do not have benefits but living in Canada we just need dental and prescription coverage which is about $120 a month.

        Reply
    6. Ghost Town

      I’d lean towards take the contract position. It is the better move forward. And you may be going back to work before the 6 months are up, which may take the pressure off his salary.

      Reply
      1. Librarian of the North

        I will be going back at exactly 6 months from now which actually makes the choice more difficult. I’m part-time and with the price of childcare I actually make more on EI on mat leave than I would back at work and paying for daycare/a babysitter. But there’s lots of variables, he may not even get an offer so it’s all conjecture at this point.

        Reply
        1. Mobuy

          But if he doesn’t get the job, he will be the stay at home parent until he does get the job, so you won’t actually have to pay for childcare, right?

          Reply
  32. kavm

    I recently got promoted and was involved in the process of hiring my replacement. I was a marketing coordinator, a position in which I almost exclusively used the Adobe Creative Suite – InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop. One candidate we interviewed had literally NO experience with Adobe. Despite my speaking up against hiring her, she is the one who was hired for the position. She has been in it for 3 weeks now. I spent two full days training her in person (she is at a remote location). I do not mind questions, but the questions she brings to me make it clear she took no notes during training. Since it is still early in her time here, I’m not sure if I should speak up. Even if I did speak up I’m not sure what could be done. She was hired with full knowledge that she didn’t have this crucial knowledge, and against my advice. The frustration is that I now have to give her such basic step-by-step instructions that it is detracting from the time I can spend in my new position. Any advice?? Should I let it go and try to remain optimistic? Should I speak to her supervisor? Should I speak to my supervisor about how much of my time this is taking up? I find myself increasingly frustrated with this situation.

    Reply
    1. MechanicalPencil

      I have a couple of questions: Can you create a document to answer her questions? Is she supposed to be creating new documents or editing existing? I taught myself to use Adobe with tutorials, so maybe redirect her to some online tutorials? Keep track of how much time you’re spending on this?

      I’m not particularly good with learned helplessness, so you’re in a peculiar position. If you’re being kept from doing your job because you’re helping with this person, I would definitely ask your supervisor how to juggle the competing priorities at a minimum.

      Reply
      1. DaniCalifornia

        Agree about asking the supervisor (great advice) and directing her to tutorials online. Adobe’s website and youtube would be the best place to start as a beginner, but if she has to be creating new (not standard) materials creating a document would be harder. I use Creative Suite and wouldn’t even know where to start to begin to teach it to other’s who need to be proficient in it for a job. Ugh!

        Reply
      2. kavm

        Thanks for answering! At this point I think it would be a waste to create a document, because so far she has needed help on things like resizing images so that the aspect ratio isn’t warped, which to me is so basic that I wouldn’t even think to include it or other things on that level. I will definitely point her in the direction of tutorials and ask my supervisor for some guidance.

        Reply
      3. Nieve

        This is absolutely ridiculous, I’ve used Photoshop, Illustrator and Lightroom on a pretty regular basis for a hobby (extracurricular volunteer) for the last 7 years, after learning only the basics of Ps and Ai in a two day course in high school. I still wouldnt consider myself knowledgeable enough in any of these (apart from lightroom which is more straightforward) to actually get a job that requires professional skills in these. I mean… even trying to explain each of the steps to do a simple thing would be so time consuming!
        Good luck, hope your manager can actually see how difficult this would be for you

        Reply
    2. Chriama

      Talk to your supervisor to get her opinion, then talk to hers (who I’m assuming is your previous supervisor). Be as unemotional as possible.

      Reply
    3. Princess Carolyn

      Did the other people involved explain why they hired someone who didn’t have the skills you describe as crucial? Is it possible they want to take this position in a different direction that wouldn’t require much Adobe work? (I’m a little surprised that a title like “marketing coordinator” involves so much design work, but you know how titles can be.) Do they expect this new person to just learn on the fly?

      Reply
      1. kavm

        I think they are looking for her to take on some more strictly marketing duties, and the design duties will stay with me. However, she will still be creating brochures and other sales materials which are all created through Adobe. When we met about the candidates everyone else was pretty enthusiastic about her “can-do attitude” and how driven she is. When I brought up this lack of experience the president of the company said something along the lines of, “well she can learn that on the job, how hard can it be?” to which I agree on some level but clearly it’s difficult if I’m having to tell her how to resize an image without jeopardizing its aspect ratio, which I think is intuitive.

        Reply
        1. kavm

          By “I agree on some level” that Adobe isn’t hard to learn, I mean that if someone had just a small amount of experience but wasn’t an expert, that would be acceptable and they’d be able to improve pretty quickly. But having no knowledge of it on any level has been a real hindrance.

          Reply
    4. HisGirlFriday

      The frustration is that I now have to give her such basic step-by-step instructions that it is detracting from the time I can spend in my new position. Any advice??
      I agree with creating a step-by-step document that she can reference. It will take up your time, though so I’d loop your supervisor in on it, and say, “I find I’m spending X hours per day working with Jane on the Adobe Suite, so I’m going to take Y time today and create how-to guides for her to reference. That does mean that I won’t get to Z project until tomorrow, though, mkay?”

      Should I let it go and try to remain optimistic?
      No.
      Should I speak to her supervisor?
      Yes. You should loop her supervisor AND YOURS in on how much time this is taking every day.
      Should I speak to my supervisor about how much of my time this is taking up?
      Yes. See above — you need your new supervisor to know that you are losing X amount of time per day/week/whatever to helping Jane learn how to do what she shouldn’t have been hired without already knowing.

      Actions have consequences — her supervisor chose to hire someone without the requisite skills, and that means that there will be consequences for that choice.

      Reply
    5. Ask a Manager Post author

      Right now you’re operating as if you have to be at her beck and call. Unless your new manager has told you that’s true, you don’t. You can say “I can keep supporting you through Wednesday, but after that I really won’t have time anymore.” And you can say, “Sorry, I’m focused on a deadline right now — can’t help.” And you can talk to her boss and say, “I don’t have time to give Jane the level of support she seems to need.”

      Reply
      1. kavm

        Thanks, Alison. I tend to struggle with overthinking and being afraid that I will come across as rude. I think I needed a re-calibration that you and others here have helped with. Thanks for the scripts!

        Reply
        1. AWall

          Can you suggest at the same time that your company pays to send her on a training course for the software outside of work? Plenty of schools/colleges/private education places offer training in Adobe software and she would hopefully find it beneficial.

          Reply
    6. jason

      Oh man. Adobe is such a standard for creatives. It seems very odd that someone would be hired with such little experience in the area.

      Reply
    7. copy run start

      CS is hard to learn in two days, no matter how good you are. I self-taught primarily by just pressing buttons, following online tutorials, etc. But that took a while, like years, to become comfortable working professionally with it. And even then I was never in an actual marketing position. Maybe I would’ve picked it up faster in the role, but I can still understand being lost lost lost staring at those blank screens and rows of buttons.

      I would point her to some free references/tutorial sites online, recommend a few online training courses (there are literally tons) that she can work through and wash your hands of it.

      Reply
    8. Nieve

      This is absolutely ridiculous, I’ve used Photoshop, Illustrator and Lightroom on a pretty regular basis for a hobby (extracurricular volunteer) for the last 7 years, after learning only the basics of Ps and Ai in a two day course in high school. I still wouldnt consider myself knowledgeable enough in any of these (apart from lightroom which is more straightforward) to actually get a job that requires professional skills in these. I mean… even trying to explain each of the steps to do a simple thing would be so time consuming!
      Good luck, hope your manager can actually see how difficult this would be for you
      (Accidentally posted this on a second level comment above :( woops)

      Reply
  33. Shayland

    I hope this is okay to post here, it’s about productivity?

    Anyway, I struggle with depression, anxiety, all that good stuff and this summer’s been really rough. I was hospitalized for the first time and the hospital said I couldn’t have my service dog with me.

    The past several days something in my morning routine (brush teeth, clean apartment, mile walk with each dog, physical therapy exercises), my evening routine (brush teeth, RSI exercises, meditate on log), or my goals for the day (write 500 words, train each dog for at least 5 minutes, learn 10 new ASL signs) has fallen through.

    I’ve had to do a lot of traveling and socializing which isn’t really something I’m good at.

    But today just rocked. I got up at 7, fed the dogs, started the laundry, walked a dog (including going to the bank to get more quarters but they were closed at that time), shifted laundry, walked the other dog, busted out my exercises (ow), showered and shaved my head. I sat down with my computer to check up on the blogs I love and what not a little before 10 as a reward for getting everything done.

    When I went back to the bank the teller recognized me and my service dog. He slide two dog treats over the counter and said, “Let’s start you off with this.” And then once my doggo was munching on one he said, “What can I help you with?” And we had a nice chat about the weather so Storm could finish vacuuming up his dog treat crumbs.

    I called my mom and wished her happy birthday (and she assured me I didn’t have latent rabies. Anxiety is just lovely.).

    I’m not sure what’s next for me, but I know it’s going to be a great day.

    Reply
    1. ..Kat..

      Please let the bank know how much you appreciate that teller. They took the time to be kind and appreciative of your being a customer.

      Reply
      1. Shayland

        Unfortunately if I want to contact the bank (not the branch, I’ll try that next) I need a user ID which I don’t have because I just go to that bank to get quarters for the laundry.

        Reply
  34. ThursdaysGeek

    Here is an update on last week’s question about asking to stay at a co-worker’s cabin for the upcoming solar eclipse.

    I am here in the same office as him, and the subject came up. I said we were planning on driving south that morning, hopefully getting to an area of totality before the roads get too congested. He said we were welcome to join him at his cabin, and mentioned other friends of his that would be there. I said if he was serious, send me directions on how to get there and what I should bring to share.

    So, if he’s serious, he’ll let us know how to get there, and we’ll probably go. If he was just talking or if he reconsiders and doesn’t want to, all he has to do is not send me directions.

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth West

      Very nice of him. Maybe a little closer to the event, you could casually remind him, like “Hey Wakeen, is your offer to stay at the cabin still open? We’re about to make a choice on options.”

      I’m lucky; my brother lives in a town that’s in the path of totality. I’ll probably drive over there on Saturday morning and crash with my mum, who is nearby. Any employer who wants me working before then is going to probably have to give me that Monday and maybe part of Tuesday off, depending on what people have planned (I’ll take it unpaid). I will mention it if I get an offer.

      Reply
      1. ThursdaysGeek

        I’m old enough that I saw the total eclipse that hit the pacific northwest in 1979. It was so incredible that yes, I would take the time off unpaid if necessary. I wish for you clear skies. And don’t forget to look down, to see the shadow bands: waves of shadows blowing across the landscape are just as incredible as the eclipse. (I don’t know if they happen during every eclipse.)

        Reply
  35. AliceBD

    It’s been two weeks since my last in-person interview. I have managed to move on mentally and am applying for other jobs, and will not be disappointed not to get this one. But I wish they would go ahead and tell me I didn’t get it! I have a trip I’d like to sign up for in August, and I can’t go if I get this job because job is in a new city so I would have to move and can’t go on the trip and move. I know you’re supposed to just make plans like you didn’t get the job but for logistical and monetary reasons I don’t feel comfortable committing to the trip until I hear a firm no. So email me a rejection already!

    Reply
    1. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks

      In JobSeach Land–two weeks is not that long. I remember when I interviewed for my current job, I had the first interview in February and then did not hear anything from it until 1 month later when the asked me to come in for the 2nd interview and then didn’t hear anything from that until another month later when they told me I got the job. My point is, it’s now almost July. When (not if–hee hee) they call you for another interview it could be sometime in July. And by the time they make their decision (to Hire YOU) it could be August. At which time you tell them that you can start AFTER your trip.

      Reply
  36. Coffee

    How do you stay motivated at a job that you’re trying to leave? My workplace has made it clear that I will not progress in the company because I am a woman, so I am looking for a new job. I’m finding it really hard to stay motivated and get my work done while I’m here though. Any tips or advice would be appreciated!

    Reply
    1. Manders

      Weirdly, I’ve found that having an escape plan can make me more productive for short stretches. I tell myself that I’m going to kick butt so they’ll regret losing me.

      Reply
    2. Pup Seal

      My goodness, did they actually say you won’t get promoted because you’re a woman?!?! I don’t think that’s legal.

      Reply
      1. Coffee

        Not exactly. They said it’s emasculating when I correct men, and that if I want my ideas to succeed, I need to give them to male colleagues and have them present the ideas.

        Reply
        1. Sylvia

          Hahahaa what.

          Get out of there as fast as you can.

          I’m pretty sure their suggestion is more emasculating than your corrections could be, by the way. It’s so strange.

          Reply
        2. Mainly lurking

          If they’re prepared to give you this kind of “advice” verbally, there’s a chance they may be stupid enough to put it in an email if you ask them to confirm it … Written evidence!

          Reply
        3. Observer

          Please document this, and then go to the EEOC (and keep looking.)

          What they are saying is terrible management, which is legal, but it’s discrimination, which is not.

          Reply
    3. overeducated

      I think about what concrete stuff I can get done quickly that will make my resume more attractive to potential employers. How can you use what you’re doing now to launch yourself out? (Sorry btw, that sounds awful.)

      Reply
    4. AnonyMeow

      I tell myself that I try to do good work for my own growth and reputation, and the employer just happens to benefit from it. It doesn’t always work, but it helps. Good luck with the job search!

      Reply
    5. Natalie

      This might be the unpopular opinion, but how about not staying super motivated? Particularly given your other post, if they already have a poor opinion of you, performing a little under par won’t do much to change that. And they don’t really *deserve* your motivation.

      Reply
      1. Natalie

        I should clarify, I’m assuming they have a poor opinion of you because they are sexist tools, not for anything you’ve done to deserve it.

        Reply
      2. Optimistic Prime

        Uh, this was my answer too lol. Given what they said to you I’m not sure I would be struggling to stay motivated for these jerks…I think I’d be doing enough to continue collecting my paycheck while I hunt for another job.

        Reply
    6. Electric Hedgehog

      Gather evidence for an EEOC complaint and go through the proper in-company channels for reporting gender discrimination. This is textbook. This is a type of ‘good’ revenge that can be incredibly motivating.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        Hang that laundry out for all to see. It’s their shame to bear.

        I am sorry this happened to you. You deserve better.

        Reply
        1. neverjaunty

          If you are in the US, there is a good chance the noncompete is worthless anyway.

          Get there to a lawyer!

          Reply
    7. Effie

      I’d say just do what you can to get by, no need to kill yourself, bend over backwards, or go out of your way. Tell your conscience to take a break if it starts bothering you. Put your energy into getting out and just look at this as a temporary situation to keep your energy from getting drained by your job. You definitely don’t owe them anything.

      Reply
    8. Southern Ladybug

      I’ve been struggling with this myself. I found reaching out to some other successful women and getting involved with a local group that advocates on women’s issues has helped. I have to deal with it at work in the meantime while I look for a new position. But it helps me feel like I’m fighting back more than I’ve been able to at the office. I’m playing the long game.

      And “wine and whine” happy hours with my good friends. That helps, too.

      Reply
    9. beanie beans

      1 – UGH and ditto what other people said about sexism in the workplace.

      2 – Related to how to stay motivated while you search – I’m in this same boat and have gotten the good advice to try to take on projects that will help develop your skills and experience for your next job. I made a list of things I wanted to learn or projects that I want to take on that will make me more marketable and have even gotten some training in areas that I thought would be a stretch to request. Working towards my PMP which I thought would be a clear “LOOKING FOR A NEW JOB” headline but they are paying for it! It’s really the only thing motivating me right now.

      Reply
      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

        ^ This.

        OldJob made the layoff announcement in April, and I wasn’t scheduled to leave until the end of October. For the six-month interim (which turned out to be 5 months because my department was very efficient at wrapping up our loose ends), I actually started performing very highly at work, because my entire focus turned into “how can I make sure I leave with a rave review from my manager?” I volunteered for everything (including a last-minute international business trip) I could get my hands on, took over for coworkers who were laid off earlier, and worked harder in that six months than I had for probably the year and a half previous. Not for the sake of OldJob, which was kicking me to the curb, but for the sake of my resume.

        If you think about your remaining work until you ollie outtie as being work for you, to burnish your skills and resume, it can make a huge difference. Every task you look at, consider “how do I list this as an accomplishment on my resume?” “How do I talk about this in a job interview?” The business trip earned me major cred because I could talk about enthusiastically volunteering to train the people taking over my job, which most people tend to look at as a heinous punishment.

        You work for you, OP, and you cannot possibly get out of that hellhole too soon.

        Reply
    10. Ann O.

      I wish we lived in a chick flick world where you could sabotage these a-holes and not have it reflect on you. They do not deserve your motivation.

      Reply
    1. JokersandRogues

      I would ask why you want to know; is there someone specific you’e seen him treating differently (including yourself if applicable) and want to know why? A colleague, a subordinate?

      Generally, look for patterns of behavior; does he behave differently with male colleagues than with female colleagues? This can include tone of voice. I once worked in a department head where the VP in charge was bitter and hated women. Everyone knew it, and it was obvious; women always got the worse assignments or the ones that took no brain power at all( I counted lanyards from one box to another for 6 hours once — as a Data Analyst.) He had to cut payroll so all the female contractors were asked to take a pay cut. Only the female.
      This is completely observational and doesn’t have to be obvious.

      Reply
    2. LizB

      I’m not sure there’s a way to know for sure, but regardless of his motivations, you can address whatever behavior is making you ask the question. If he is sexist, you’ll still a better outcome by trying to get his behavior to stop than by trying to convince him to stop being sexist (have the “what you did” conversation, not the “what you are” conversation). This post is a great idea to get ideas for scripts to use, if you describe what’s going on!

      Reply
    3. Jbelly

      We’ve been working together about a year. I came in with a higher title than his and work on very complicated, poorly defined tasks, including taking over a duty that was previously his. His work tends to be more along the lines of fixing things that are clearly defined and setting up meetings. I’m a decade younger than he is. When I came on, he repeatedly tried to treat me as an assistant and would send communications out about my projects. Our boss told him repeatedly to stop. He petitioned for, and received, the same title i have, based on the fact that he used to be responsible for the duty I took over (and overhauled). Now he is at it again. He complains repeatedly if he is excluded from meetings that I get invited to and he doesn’t. He constantly needs to be in the know about everything. He appears to work fine with women older than he is. He doesn’t complain about his wife but he talks about her in ways that come across as either childish or demeaning (example: “I’m the life of my household, like my daughter. My wife and son are the quiet, sullen type.”). If our boss, who likes to give everyone a hard time, says something to me, his eyes light up like he is high. I took over some basic duties while a more junior colleague was out sick, and judging how glassy and happy his eyes looked, I think he thought I had been demoted. 30 minutes later, though, the head of the organization was singing my praises and this colleague was staring at the floor the entire time.

      I’ve experienced obvious sexism and I want to tread carefully because I don’t think accusations like this should be done in a cavalier manner. But I can’t shake the idea that he wouldn’t be treating a man in this way, that greater deference would be given to a man by default.

      Reply
      1. Carla

        I agree with you that sexism probably plays a part in this. But I think you’ll have better luck addressing it without that piece of the puzzle, if only because bringing sexism up only seems to have a positive effect when it’s blatant or outrageous. I think the fact that you’re much younger than him, took over his responsibilities, and initially had a higher title are all playing a big part in his behavior, and those would probably be issues (but possibly less so) if you were a man.

        Reply
      2. Pup Seal

        Yikes, he’s definitely a jerk! It seems to me what’s playing a part of this is down to one of these things (though I think it’s a combination of all of them):

        1. He’s a jerk to you because you came in and overhauled some of his work. That hurt his fragile ego and treats you poorly because of it. It doesn’t matter who it was, a female, male, a puppy. He felt insulted by the overhaul.

        2. He has a problem with your age. There are some people who envy those who are younger (both male and female) than them and have achieved a lot of success. You mentioned you were a decade younger than him. It could be that he thinks people of your age should be a particular level of success and thinks it’s insulting that someone younger than him is higher ranking than him. I had a male friend who had a manager-like position, but people didn’t take him seriously because of how young he was. It was sad because before he quit he saved his company half a million dollars.

        3. Young women sexism. I’ve noticed there are some people who treat older women equally but not younger women. I’m a young woman in mid twenties, work as a marketing coordinator, and the youngest at my job. However, coworkers sometimes treat me like a secretary, asking me to send faxes, make calls, make copies, etc. on their behalf even though it’s not my job. It’s possible this jerk feels you don’t deserve your position because you’re younger and you’re a woman. It’s a fair question to wonder if this guy would’ve treated you differently if you were a male.

        Reply
          1. Yorick

            It’s a combination. Young men get treated like junior colleagues with potential, but young women are treated like secretaries or personal assistants.

            Reply
      3. Observer

        Given how he talks about his son, and daughter, I think you’ve hit on the wrong explanation. I think there are two things going on. One – you took over some of his work and are better at it than he was. That’s not something he will ever forgive you for. And, you are younger than him, which I’m betting would be an issue for in any case, but especially given the first factor.

        Reply
  37. katamia

    I got in to the grad school I applied to in the UK for this coming fall. Just sent in my acceptance of their offer earlier today. What sort of wardrobe do I need? I know here in the US many programs that aren’t MBA programs (which this is not–it’s a library program) don’t have much of a dress code, but is that also true in the UK? Also would welcome any other tips on how to be grad school ready (either in general or UK-specific).

    Reply
    1. Emmie

      Congrats! I have no idea about the wardrobe. If you are uncertain, I’d wait until I got there to make more purchases. To get ready for grad school (and it sounds like perhaps a move), I’d:
      – Get rid of things you don’t need. I find it best when I do 2-3 rounds of this.
      – Spend time with people you love.
      – Do your best to pay down bills. I found it nice to eliminate financial worries.
      – If you’re moving, find a new place as early as possible.
      – Do fun stuff!
      – Maybe thumb through a couple of program relevant articles (Wall Street Journal for business) . . . something that will help you know some of the key events happening. A lot of programs recommend that you read books. I found that useless.
      Good luck!

      Reply
      1. katamia

        Thanks!

        I really want to get started early on the wardrobe because I have a hard time finding clothes (kind of between petite and regular for height, plus I’m different sizes in different parts of my body and my weight fluctuates a LOT so I’m not really a consistent size), and the idea of having to clothes shop (something I loathe at the best of times and have a hard time making myself do) while I’m trying to figure out the best grocery store/way to get to class (not to mention not knowing which stores are more likely to fit me, assuming UK stores are like US stores where women’s sizes are all slightly different at each store) and do any required paperwork just sounds like too much.

        Reply
        1. Ramona Flowers

          They do tend to differ between stores, it’s true. Dress code will depend a bit on what you’re studying and where but in most places pretty much anything goes so just be yourself.

          Congrats on the acceptance!

          Reply
    2. Discordia Angel Jones

      Grad schools here in the UK don’t tend to have dress codes!

      I’ve been to two, and my husband one, and we wore typical undergrad student clothes. It wasn’t an issue.

      Perhaps a couple of the more “fancy” ones might have a dress code, but I honestly doubt it (tho if you tell me the name of the school I can probably confirm).

      Congratulations!

      Reply
      1. Cambridge Comma

        For Oxbridge this would be true during the day, but you’d need formal eveningwear if you live in college and want to eat in formal hall.

        Reply
    3. Hermione

      Is it a one-year or 2+ year program? I would reach out to the department you’ll be studying in and ask if you can have the contact information of one or two grad students from last year’s cohort to get a feel of the program, classes, advisors, and their recommendations on housing/cafes/study spots, etc. We often had accepted Ph.D. students come do a visit either while mulling over or just after accepting our offers, but for international students, talking to older cohorts was totally typical; often the cohorts mingled at events, attended talks together, occasionally roomed, often drank, and sometimes even worked together. Good luck, and don’t stress too much about it!

      Reply
    4. Cb

      Late to this but I can help. If you’re not in a business programme, anything goes.

      I worked in a corporate adjacent job in the US so my first year in UK grad school, I was quite formal (just wore what I had). I lost some weight my first year so replaced my wardrobe with sleeved dresses, tights, and nice boots / booties. I hate wearing trousers so I probably seem a bit more formal than others do – most are wearing jeans with nicer tops. I’m now 8 months pregnant – so wearing whatever still fits (on Friday, I knew I’d be alone in the office and going to yoga at midday) so I wore leggings and a tunic jumper.

      Reply
  38. overeducated

    I’ve been in a mood of despair most of the week from the crashing realization that the reason I can’t seem to make progress in half of my core job description is that 1) I am in an incredibly hierarchical office where upper management wants to be actively involved and make the final decision on every step and 2) upper management doesn’t see the type of work I was hired to do as a priority. Unfortunately the combination means I can’t get the buy in I need to be effective, or do really any of the exciting projects I was told would be the purpose of my job. Other people who are higher up the chain get to do some (because hey even though it’s my actual job title and I was supposedly brought on bc they don’t have time, if they want to be at every meeting, cc’d on every email, and make every decision, it’s easier to just do it themselves), and some just never get off the ground. If I had known this I definitely wouldn’t have taken this job but i don’t think there is a magic questiin I could have asked to reveal this.

    Anyway I am torn between just applying for everything I can because this clearly isn’t going to change, and just warming my desk while holding out for a more perfect fit or my spouse to figure out his job situation.

    Argh. Anyone else feel like you’ve made an objectively wrong career decision? How long did it hold you back?

    Reply
    1. Anonny

      This sounds just like my old job. I had bosses who gave good lip service to new ideas but in practice didn’t actually like them, so it took me a couple of years to realize that things weren’t going to change. Once I realized the extent of my powerlessness and started looking, I found that it was more tolerable to just keep my head down and get done what I could, so I was able to wait a bit longer for the opportunity that was right for me. It was really tempting to just jump ship as soon as possible, though.

      Reply
      1. Overeducated

        Thanks for the response, I’m glad you moved on to something better. It is really tempting to just jump ship, and I think applying for stuff and fantasizing about different possibilities is a major coping strategy for me, but I’m also making myself a little bit crazy.

        Reply
  39. DevAssist

    Wish me luck! After having to turn down an amazing offer earlier this week, I just found and applied for a very appealing job opening on Wednesday.

    The job seems to fit my professional interests well and I believe I have experience and skills that would make me an excellent candidate. Hopefully I hear back!

    Reply
  40. The Other Dawn

    I’m posting this here, since the question is about a work-related trip.

    I have a business trip coming up in October. My brother is terminally ill and it’s very likely he will pass away somewhere around this time (I’ve posted about it in the weekend thread). I haven’t bought my plane ticket yet, mainly because it’s an expensive flight (almost $600.00 for non-refundable, most basic ticket). I’ve been looking at refundable tickets, but they’re about twice the price. Then I realized that I might be able to buy travel insurance for much less. I haven’t done much shopping around yet, but does anyone know if this would cover having to cancel the trip altogether because of my brother’s death? From what I’ve read so far, it seems it would cover the cost of changing my ticket if I had to come back early, but I can’t tell if it would cover for full cancellation. Also, anyone have any good or bad experiences with travel insurance they want to share?

    (And just to be clear, my boss hasn’t told me that I need to save the company money by getting travel insurance rather than a refundable ticket; I’m checking this out on my own, even thought I’m not paying for it, because I think the price of a refundable ticket is ridiculous (more so if I decide to bring my husband, since we’ll have to pay for that ticket out-of-pocket).)

    Reply
    1. Betsy

      Check the fine print of the travel insurance. I know that at least some travel insurance does cover cancellation if a family member dies, even if that person was not included in the trip, but I don’t know what their definition of family member is (sometimes this is defined only as spouse, parent, or child). It should explicitly say everything that is covered.
      Have you shared your concern with your boss? I’d hope a reasonable boss would be sympathetic and willing to work this out with you.

      Reply
    2. Emmie

      I recommend that you talk to your manager about how she’d like you to handle this. It sounds like you’re hesitating, but it’s okay to discuss this. I am so very sorry about your brother.

      Reply
    3. The Other Dawn

      I’ve already mentioned it to him and he didn’t seem to care either way. In his eyes, it’s not a large amount; in my eyes, it is. In other words, it’s whatever I want to do and think is best. To be honest though, just bringing it up was really hard because it’s so hard to voice the words to someone other than friends or family, “My brother has only a few months left due to a terminal illness.” I knew a month ago, but just couldn’t bring myself to tell him.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        You have been able to type things here, so that is good. Can you email your boss and say what you need to tell him and let him know that typing is easier than talking?

        Reply
      2. Hillary

        I’m sorry to hear about your brother.

        If your manager doesn’t care, I’d take him at his word and do what’s easiest for you. It took me a long time to accept the difference between company money and personal money. For most of the places I’ve worked, where the company starts caring is somewhere between two and five places left of where I care personally (i.e. $10,000 for the company versus $100 for me).

        Reply
        1. The Other Dawn

          Thanks.

          Yes, that’s so true. I came from a company that never made money the whole time they were in existence, so, even after three years at a company that MAKES MONEY, my mind is still stuck back in the don’t-spend-a-penny mode.

          Reply
    4. CAA

      In order for travel insurance to cover this, you would need to get a policy that waives the preexisting conditions exclusion for family members not traveling with you. Generally if you purchase a policy within a few days of purchasing the airfare, they will waive the preexisting conditions exclusion for the travelers, but not all of them include non-travelers in that waiver. Also, there are restrictions such as having to include all trip costs in the insured amount, not just the airfare. I would suggest calling the people at tripinsurancestore dot com and speaking to someone about this. They sell a variety of policies and are really knowledgeable about what’s covered and what isn’t.

      I’m sorry about your brother.

      Reply
    5. kavm

      I’m so sorry about your brother. What a truly horrible thing to go through.

      I can’t tell from what you’ve said, but if you’ve only been checking ticket prices online I would suggest calling and actually talking to someone. A lot of the time they can get you better prices, and you can ask them questions about the travel insurance that you may not be able to find online. The caveat with this is to always get the name of the person you spoke to and ask if they can send you a document with the details you discussed so that you have something in writing.

      Is there anyway to be excused from the business trip altogether due to your circumstances? Will your company be covering the cost of the flight? Because if your boss isn’t worried about the expense and having to pay for it even if it’s cancelled then you shouldn’t either. Like Alison is always saying, it’s a cost of doing business. (If they make you cover the cost of your flight and the cancellation that’s a really shitty policy)

      Reply
      1. The Other Dawn

        Yes they will cover it either way. It’s a trip I really want to go on, so I planned on booking it and then playing it by ear. I feel like his time is shorter than October so it probably won’t be an issue, unfortunately.

        Reply
    6. GermanGirl

      One extra point about the travel insurance: They might not cover cancelling a business trip that was paid for by your company.

      Reply
    7. Working Rachel

      Book the refundable ticket. Your boss is fine with it, and you don’t need to spend the brain space right now figuring out the intricacies of travel insurance. This is a case where I think it is both fine and even necessary to make things easier on yourself.

      I am so sorry about your brother! Mine fills such a special place in my life, and I know I would be devastated in your situation.

      Reply
  41. Anon16

    Any advice for breaking into marketing/advertising agencies? I’m fairly young, and recently graduated. I work as a project manager at my current job and was thinking of moving into a junior project manager role at an agency.

    I’m really struggling with confidence, though. I got my first job through an internship connection and stroke of luck. I’m really skeptical of blindly applying to companies. I feel as if no one will hire me and that I have to claw my way in to get considered. I know through LinkedIn most jobs are getting something like 100 applicants per position. I’ve heard so many stories of people applying again and again and not hearing anything from employers and I’m so scared of that situation.

    My current job is equally as demoralizing. There’s no room for growth and basically no room for increased pay. My role is essentially permanently entry-level organization. I have a lot of ambition and would like to move to an organization where I can grow as an employee. I’m struggling a lot with confidence. Any advice? It’s such a demoralizing process and has taken a hit to my self-esteem, which is probably the worst position to be in when job hunting.

    Reply
    1. Simone R

      Ooof, that sounds rough. Hang in there! Applying to companies can definitely be a slog and somewhat demoralizing, but that’s the way most people get a job! I can tell you from reading resumes that at least 50% of those 100 resumes would not be taken into consideration, so as long as you polish up your resume and cover letter based on the site here, you have a better chance. Why not just start sending out resumes slowly and see what happens?

      Reply
    2. Iris Eyes

      There are some good articles on this site about not taking the job searching process personally. Try not to get beyond the “Wow, that would be a cool job” mental stage. Also if this process takes some time that’s not necessarily a bad thing, if you have only been at this job for a bit having a bit more tenure looks good to future employers.

      It is always good to have relevant experience. So maybe you can pick up some freelance marketing/advertising work, maybe for a charity you volunteer at, or a friend who is starting up a small business. You know you but maybe approaching the job search as a marketing exercise would be beneficial and would provide you a degree of distance.

      Reply
    3. Director of Things

      On the negative side, yes, there are tons of applicants for entry-level positions. On the plus side for you, entry-level marketing positions tend to have quite a rate of turnover, either from resigning or promotion. Good for openings and good for your career trajectory. As tough as it is, write a cover letter saying why you want each specific position. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, just explaining your interest in that specific job.
      I would also recommend looking at small-to-mid size companies that aren’t marketing/ad agencies, but have a marketing department. You may have an easier chance getting in the door.

      Reply
    4. MissGirl

      Any type of project manager role may be too high for this field at your current experience. It may be better to look at more assistant type positions. Not admin assistant but assistant copy editor or junior designer. Also look at smaller companies with a marketing department not an agency, which would be less competitive to get into.

      You mention your fear of mass rejection. I hate to say it, but you’ve got to get over that. If you choose to go into a competitive field, you’ll have to embrace applying a lot and getting rejected a lot.

      Also look at the positions you want and their requirements. What holes are in your resume and can you get training or practice to fill them. I used to be a graphic designer in a marketing department so I understand the competitiveness.

      Reply
  42. Bianca Margarita

    I’ve been a reader for years and have never commented, but I wanted to pop in and say that I got a promotion last week! It represents a significant jump in pay and responsibility, only a year and a half into my time with this org. I’m confident it’s due at least in part to my obsessive reading of AAM, which has taught me so much about how to communicate effectively and make myself a valuable resource at work. Even though my imposter syndrome is working overtime in prep for the new role, I can still recognize how far I’ve come in the last couple of years, so, thanks to this amazing community for everything you do.

    Reply
  43. Sublux

    I’ve had 2 really great interviews with HR and team members and next week is a final interview with the CEO! In the first interview, HR said that office hours are 8-5 with an hour lunch, but didn’t say “we need your role in the office during those hours”.

    Ideally I’d like to take a shorter lunch (the job is in an industrial park and there’s not really anywhere to go) and maybe even do an hour of work from home each night after my young son goes to bed.

    From the job tasks and similar jobs I’ve worked in the past, the role would totally allow this, but it’s a smaller company and I don’t think anyone is currently working from home, etc.

    Should I ask the CEO if there’s a possibility of working more flexible hours, or wait until I (hopefully!) get an offer?

    Reply
    1. AliceBD

      Wait until you get an offer. You don’t want to (unconsciously) bias them against you by a request to rock the boat.

      Reply
  44. My name is Inigo Montoya

    I worked for a certifying non-profit body. I’ve had a few parents call in within the last week(!) to follow up their child’s certification application or ask general questions about the process on behalf of their darling child. If this were a job interview / candidacy, I feel like I could appropriately push back and refuse to speak to anyone but the applicant, but it’s tough to refuse to answer general questions since we’re open to having members of the public call us for information about the certification. When did this become acceptable to reach out on behalf of you kids’s certification? Especially when your kid is in their mid-30’s at least? And how can I (politely) explain that that you DON’T DO THIS?

    Reply
    1. Murphy

      I don’t think there’s anything you can do if they’re asking general questions except say, “Your son Fergus is welcome to call me directly if they have questions.” But they may or may not discourage them at all if they’re already on the phone with you. If they’re asking about “my son Fergus Smith’s application” specifically, I think you can refuse to engage on the topic.

      Reply
    2. katamia

      Wooooooooooooooooooow. I was raised by a pretty extreme helicopter parent, but even my parent would never actually call someone work-related on my behalf, just try to nag me to death to get me to do it. :P

      If they specifically say “My child recently applied for this certification,” I’d treat it as though they’re asking a specific question related to the application even if all they’re asking about is the deadline for X and just say that you can only speak to the applicant about their application.

      Reply
    3. paul

      what on god’s great green earth? People are calling about professional certifications for their adult children? Are we talking stuff like CNP certs or something? That’s just blowing my mind.

      Reply
      1. My name is Inigo Montoya

        This is a new phenomenon for me. I never had this challenge before – maybe once in a blue moon I’d get an over zealous parent who worked their way through to my desk. But there’s something in the water this week, because the parents are coming out in full force. And they’re pushy.

        Reply
        1. Liane

          Maybe the places that give horrible advice to job seekers have found a new market in helicopter parents?

          But, ugh, I would not want to deal with them.

          Reply
    4. Lefty

      We have a trend of this each year at about this time of the year, so I can commiserate. Sometimes calls from the parents of adult children are more difficult than the calls from the parents of still-under-18 children. Is there a website you can recommend that has most of the answers to their questions?

      My go-to response has become, “Our typical process takes 6-8 for completion. As I am sure you can understand, we do not provide information on any applicant to anyone else due to privacy concerns. They can call me at this number for that information.” Then I go silent (which took practice for me, I needed to learn to let it be awkward!)… if they say OK/fine/etc., I wish them a good afternoon and hang up. If they protest, I say “We cannot provide any information to someone who is not the applicant.” And repeat if needed… if I get to a third, “We cannot provide that to anyone but the applicant- goodbye!” and I hang up. This might require buy-in from a manager…

      Reply
      1. My name is Inigo Montoya

        I didn’t think about the recent college grads. Maybe graduations / careers are top of parents’s minds and that’s why they’re calling now more than other times. Still not an excuse for bad behavior, but perhaps a explanation for the timing…

        Reply
    5. Not So NewReader

      I am not supposed to give out information to parents of adult children, either. Sometimes it is hard to draw that line with a caller. In those cases I may answer one or two general questions, then I encourage the parent that the adult child can call me but it is an ethics issue for me to be talking about it with another adult. Then I let them know that I just gave them more info than I have to other parents and I really cannot do much more than that.

      Most times when the caller knows they have gotten an extra tidbit of info out of me that is enough. They calm down, apologize and tell me that the adult child will call me. I let them know that is fine.

      I think one thing that is helpful is I chose not to escalate even when they are clearly escalating. I keep the same calm voice through out the call. If I can find things I agree with, I tell the parent that I agree with them. It seems to help to find a few common areas.

      Reply
    6. consultant

      If it’s a general question then I don’t see why you shouldn’t answer it.

      I’ve asked my parents to help my like that several times when for example the line was busy a few times. At my current position I can’t go out several times a day during the working hours to check whether the company/ doctor is available now. Not sure what’s so strange about that.

      Reply
  45. KatieKate

    I’m trying to help a good friend find a job, and I just reached out to an old coworker on LinkedIn about networking with them and haven’t heard back. They are someone I have networked with before (in fact, they helped me find me first job) and I consider us to be friendly. It’s been a week- should I read anything into not hearing back? How often do people check their LinkedIn?

    Reply
    1. NeverNicky

      Never. If I hadn’t had to have a profile for a volunteer commitment (!) I wouldn’t be on there. I’m not hard to find using a well known search engine (if you know my real name).

      Reply
    2. k

      I sign in maybe twice a year, just to update little things. I’m not a fan of linkedin and only keep it because I know some prospective employers would thinks it’s odd if someone doesn’t have one. I might be a-typical though.

      Reply
    3. Lemon Zinger

      I check mine once every week or two weeks. I’d keep waiting for now. Do you have an email address or connection on Facebook with this coworker? That may result in faster contact.

      Reply
    4. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend

      I only ever check my LinkedIn page when I’m seriously job searching, so I would definitely miss a message on there and have no clue. I would try to email your old coworker if you can.

      Reply
  46. Gail Davidson-Durst

    I need ideas on creating an island of sanity in a sea of bad management.

    The situation is that from my great-grandboss up (and out), management seems really checked out, they just want fewer and fewer people to do more work (by working crazy hours if necessary), they’re 100% driven by a stringent savings goal set by the board for the next 3 years, and they actually don’t seem to care about retaining good talent.

    The thing is, everything in my grandboss’s team is pretty good. She protects us from demands for overwork, values our work-life balance, wants us to grow and realize new potential. But her scope of control is limited. She can’t make promotions appear when her manager won’t approve the money, she can’t fix the broken corporate processes that we have to interact with, and she has to cope with more and more people leaving and how to cover that workload.

    For now, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, and I’d like to help my team be a happy place where we work together, we have trust, we produce great output, and we do what we can to let people grow and advance.

    However, the atmosphere has been pretty negative, as people are rightly cynical about upper management, and worried about having to work harder and harder (even if grandboss does her best to protect us from that).

    What can I do as an individual contributor to help create a bubble of protection for the team? I am a trusted adviser for grandboss, so I can influence quite a bit, even though I’m not a manager.

    Thanks!
    (hopefully this will post properly – sorry Alison for the mispost earlier!)

    Reply
    1. Not So NewReader

      It sounds like upper management is interested in destroying the company. oh my.
      One thing I have done is made little tweaks in daily processes that fly under the radar. Fix some small stuff to make the day-to-day easier in some way.

      While the natural train of thought seems to be to make a list of all the stuff that cannot be done, it can be helpful to retrain the brain to think in terms of what CAN be done given the givens.

      Since you have the big boss’ ear watch for bits of news that would be useful to her.
      For example, I saw a competitor suddenly get active in our area. I let my boss know that I saw X driving around doing Y. This was useful to her.
      I also targeted some of the more labor intensive tasks and found ways to streamline them so it took less people and those who did the task spent less energy on the task.

      If this big boss reciprocates and tells you what is going on, then ask her how you can help her leverage her situation. This would be easier than what I did, I had to guess what would be of value to tell the boss.

      Reply
  47. Christy

    How much do y’all tip movers? This is a business transaction, which is why I’m asking here. There are five movers, and it’s a 3-4 hour move of 1 mile. Percentages or dollar amounts, ideally both, since I don’t want to put the actual cost.

    Do y’all provide the movers with beverages? Food?

    Reply
    1. MechanicalPencil

      Definitely chilled water at both the move out and move in location. I typically buy a 24 pack of water and pop it in an ice chest that’s on the kitchen counter or the garage (whatever is out of the sun and logically out of the way) and tell the movers what’s in there and please hydrate as much as needed. Please no dehydrating.

      For tipping, I do anything between 30-50 per mover (a rough estimate of at least 20%, based on my market’s value). It sort of depends on work ethic for me.

      Reply
    2. Betsy

      I think in the past, I’ve given each mover $15-20. All of my moves have been about 3 hours (except with just two or three movers) and nothing terribly out of the ordinary. I did not provide food or beverages.

      Reply
    3. Natalie

      It’s definitely going to vary by the size of the job & how easy of a customer you are. So, you know, have everything packed and labeled clearly and so forth. A couple of years ago when I moved, for my one bedroom apartment the area going rate was $20/mover.

      Reply
    4. AvonLady Barksdale

      I have always provided water and Gatorade or Powerade, especially in summer (most of my moves have been in summer). I have tipped each mover about $75, but when it was only two guys hauling ALL of our stuff from the truck to our house, I tipped $100 each. My last move was a pickup in NYC and a long-distance drop-off, so I might tip less depending on the size of your city. I gave all tips– in cash– to the move foreman and told him it was for the team.

      Reply
        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          Thanks! I love that this comment comes from someone whose username is that of MY favorite TV heroine! I even keep a Leslie Knope candle on my desk at work. :)

          Reply
    5. Ann O'Nemity

      10-20% of the cost of the move, depending on staircases and heavy items. I use the same tipping strategy for both residential and commercial movers.

      Reply
    6. periwinkle

      We had an in-town move and tipped $80 to each of the movers (2) on top of whatever they were getting paid by the company. It was going to be $50 each but they were so awesome that we dug around for more cash! We also offered bottled water.

      Reply
    7. Dealtwiththis

      I provide water and gatorade in a cooler and lots of delivered pizzas for lunch. I then tip $50-$100 per person.

      Reply
  48. JoAnna

    After a month+ interview process – three interviews plus an editing assessment – I received a job offer yesterday.

    For $7,000 LESS than my minimum salary range.

    The offer was extended by a VP, and I told him that I had given my salary range as $Xk – $Yk during the initial phone interview, and the recruiter (an employee of the company, not an outside recruiter) had said, “That’s fine.” His response: “Well, I don’t know why she would have told you that.”

    I’m so ticked. I don’t know if the recruiter lord or if they are engaging in some sort of BS negotiating tactic to lowball me in hopes that I don’t push back, but either way I am not impressed. I may be unemployed but I am not that desperate, nor am I a doormat.

    I sent him an email after receiving the official offer letter saying that I’d been told that my salary range was fine during the initial phone interview, and that I would have declined to continue the interview process had I been told it wasn’t. I reiterated my enthusiasm for the job but said I needed to speak with whoever was in charge with determining compensation so we could get in the same page on salary before I accepted an offer. (He had said on the phone that he wasn’t authorized to negotiate salary.)

    Argh.

    Reply
      1. curmudgeon

        in my interviwew I was told $42500, contract was only $40k. when I asked about the difference i was told the interviewer told me the salary plus other costs that are associated with my salary so it was really only $40k.
        it was at that point I should have walked away…

        Reply
      2. JoAnna

        My absolute minimum was $45,000. They offered me $38,000. To say I was insulted is an understatement. I have 13 years of experience in my field, and at my last position I was making $47,000 per year.

        Reply
        1. Chaordic One

          You’ve handled the situation with tact and grace. It almost sounds like you used an Allison-provided script. (When you reading this website, some of her ideas and tactics rub off on you.) Even if they up their offer to your range, you may still want to decline it.

          Reply
  49. Betsy

    On a scale of 1-10, how bad is it to write a cover letter that is longer than one page? I wrote what I feel is a really great cover letter, but it is a page and a half. When I try to take out parts of the letter, it feels less convincing and genuine. I don’t think it is boring (I did not summarize my resume at all). Will it get thrown out before reading because it is too long?

    Reply
    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      It won’t get thrown out, but it won’t get read closely — hiring managers will skim over it, and you can’t control where they’ll focus their attention.

      Reply
    2. Stranger than fiction

      Not sure about the rating, but as far as how to pare down, ask yourself if there’s anything you can leave out that would be better to expand upon during the interview. In other words, are you telling your whole story rather than just nuggets to get their interest?

      Reply
      1. Betsy

        My goal was to outline why I wanted to take a job that is in a field I previously left. So, I need to demonstrate:

        How I became interested in, found work in, and succeeded in X field in spite of my education being in Y field.

        Why I left X field for Y field.

        My successes in Y field that relate to X field.

        Why I want to return to X field.

        Why the combination of these experiences and successes make me a good fit for this job.

        That’s a lot to fit into one page, but if I leave any of these out, it won’t be clear why I’m applying for this job or would want this job.

        Reply
        1. WS

          If you’ve worked in X field before do you have to explain the education component in the cover letter at all? I also don’t think you need to go into a lot of detail about *why* things happened, as long as you cover what those experiences give you that can translate to the new job.

          I’m thinking something like, “I became interested in X field because [reasons] and at [job in X field] I [achievements/successes/etc.]. My recent experiences in [Y field] have [taught/allowed me to/given me experience in] [things related to X field]. I’m now eager to return to [X field] because [brief explanation] and I’m excited about this position because [reasons].”

          Reply
        2. Optimistic Prime

          I actually don’t think you need to include all of that. You don’t need to explain how you became interested in or found work in X field – just your success in X field, maybe one sentence about why you left X for Y, then your relevant successes and applicability in Y field and why you are interested in the specific job (not just X field) you’re applying for.

          Reply
    3. Uncivil Engineer

      Are there instructions in the job announcement that say the cover letter is to be no longer than 1 page? If so, it would be quite bad to submit something longer because you’re not following instructions. When I hire, I specifically say applicants are to submit cover letters no longer than 2 pages. Anyone who submits something longer is not considered for the job.

      Reply
      1. Betsy

        No, the only instructions say that you need to have your cover letter and resume in one Word document. No other guidelines.

        Reply
    4. Mazzy

      Depends on the formatting and what you’re saying but definitely break it up into bullet points and smaller paragraphs and get rid of subjective such as “i think” or “I feel”

      Reply
    5. Language Lover

      I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “kill your darlings” which is sometimes given to writers which essentially means getting rid of passages they may love for the sake of the overall work. I think that could apply to cover letters and resumes as well.

      It’s hard. It really is. But while no candidate would be tossed for having a cover letter that was more than one page, I’d probably side eye why they think they would need one. If I’m going through a lot of applications, it may not matter how wonderful that page and a half is. I just might not have the time to do more than skim. So I second previous suggestions of bullet points…etc.

      Perhaps this is industry specific and people in your industry are more forgiving of long cover letters. Or your cover letter is extraordinary that even people who hate reading will want to read it. But like a resume, your goal should be making it as digestible as possible while covering why you want this job.

      Without reading your cover letter (and just going by what you wrote about the areas you cover), I don’t think I’d need to know why you originally went into X field even though your education was in Y field or why you went into Y field for a while after X. That’s history that is probably more interesting/important to you and would make for a great interview answer but may be extraneous on a cover letter. If I were hiring, what I’d want to know from you is why you’d like to return to X. (Convince me it’s not because you prefer Y but think getting a job in X field is easier.) And why you think you’d be successful in my open job.

      If you have people you trust to be honest with you, I’d have them read the cover letter. And you can ask them what they’d take out.

      Reply
    6. Director of Things

      Having just been through a period of hiring for several positions, just tell me why you want this job. Highlight a few transferable skills, previous work in the field, and why you want this job at this specific company. I know it’s difficult to edit and delete sections that seem really important to your story and why you’re right for the job. But the more focus you can direct to the key pieces this field or company would want, the better. Victoria Nonprofit made a great point – you can’t control if they skim or skip parts because it’s too long. If you can put yourself in the reader’s shoes that might help; if you read 20 cover letters in one sitting, what would you be drawn to and focus on?

      Reply
  50. Alex

    I feel like I don’t have much of a skills set. My current job doesn’t require any special training or experience. I know it would be beneficial to get more training in something that might potentially lead to a better job in the future. The problem is I don’t have much of an idea what I would like to pursue. I have taken a few classes at the community college level (I already have a liberal arts BA), but they didn’t inspire me. I have the opportunity to do more classes, but I’m not sure what area would be useful. Something tech related maybe? Does anyone have examples of trying something new or random and having it work out (unexpectedly)?

    Reply
    1. k

      It really depends what your field is. In my field it would be helpful to learn web design, PhotoShop or InDesign. Becoming a master of Excel can be a great job skill. It’s one of those programs that can be really powerful if you know what you’re doing, but is underutilized by most. Learning a new language is almost always helpful.

      One thing I would recommend is looking at job postings for the types of jobs you’d like someday, and see what types of things are commonly listed in the qualifications sections.

      Reply
    2. Not So NewReader

      Lacking strong preferences for a career path, I’d suggest go with your natural abilities. What do you do well with? For example you could decide that you are very comfortable with numbers. OTH, you could decide that a creative arena is for you because you like it when something is new every day.

      You can start to figure your natural abilities by looking at the classes you took. I knew if I signed up for history, I would do well. But when I signed up for chemistry, I was almost fighting back tears. These are clues about our natural talents. You can also talk to friends and family. Or think back to comments they may have made, “Oh, you have always been good at reading maps.” More clues.

      If nothing jumps out at you as something you would like to do, then chose something where you think you stand a good chance of being successful.

      Reply
  51. Lady Dedlock

    I’ve been feeling stuck at my job for some time, and have been trying to psych myself up for a job search. My organization is relatively small, with basically no room for advancement from my current position. I’ve been here for 7 years, and it seems like it’s about time to move on.

    But! Now we’re adding a position to my team, and that person will report to me and to my boss—meaning that I would be a supervisor for the first time. That seems worth sticking around for, right? I’m guessing that having some supervisory experience (even in a limited capacity) would give me more options when I do initiate a job search.

    Reply
    1. k

      Supervisory experience is good on a resume, especially if the new position includes it as well. But, and this is a big but, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily worth it. Without knowing the ins and outs of your job I can’t say if you should leave or stay. If you still enjoy the work you do, like the people there, generally don’t dread going to work everyday and there aren’t any weird toxic workplace things going on, then you should probably stick it out another year or so for the experience. If any of those things aren’t true or start to change, then I would consider moving on sooner.

      Reply
    2. Not So NewReader

      Being a supervisor enriched the job for me. I found it easier to stay with a job. I think it’s because it was an added layer.

      Job searches take time. There is nothing wrong with casually searching while you learn to supervise. It’s not an all or nothing thing. Looking around may help you decide if you want to launch a serious job search or if you would prefer just keeping yourself informed of what is out there.

      Reply
  52. Stranger than fiction

    Calling all techies, software peeps, etc.! Question:
    If you had a job candidate that has about 1.5 years’ experience successfully launching product in the mobile app realm (20 yrs experience all together) but has been away from it for 2.5 yrs working for a on-premise software solution company that he was hired to take into the cloud but hasn’t officially launched yet due to one internal roadblock after the next, lack of budget for the product, etc, would that cause you pause??
    Trying to figure out why not getting passed the phone screen and thought maybe the current job is holding him back.
    Any thoughts appreciated.

    Reply
    1. CAA

      I assume he’s applying for mobile app product manager/dev manager roles?

      I doubt that the current job is holding him back, but maybe the way he talks about it is. He needs to be able to talk about something he’s achieved there in a positive way and explain why he’s leaving in a way that makes it seem like he wants the new job, not that he’s just desperate to take anything to get out of the current job. Also, he has to be able to demonstrate that he’s aware of changes in mobile app development, test and launch practices during the time he’s been away from that field.

      It could also be a mismatch in salary expectations. Around here, mobile dev typically pays less than something like the on-premise solution would, so if I were interviewing him I’d want to make sure he was able and willing to take a pay cut if that were likely to happen.

      Or, it could be that they’re overwhelmed with applicants who have very current experience. Mobile app devs are pretty easy to find and hire right now.

      Reply
      1. Stranger than fiction

        Thanks! This helps. He’s being told his salary req is in the right range, so don’t think that’s it (and interesting comment, he’s actually underpaid at current job, the company actually brags about hiring under market rate and that’s part of the problem because they end up w a lot of inexperienced people). Good points on the way he’s explaining things, I’ll delve into that more with him.

        Reply
      2. Stranger than fiction

        And yes, it’s product management ( and project management since they don’t have one).

        Reply
  53. Danae

    Ran into this one this week, and I wonder when the right time is to address it, if I need to address it at all.

    I interviewed for a job that’s an “independent contractor” position that completely fails the IRS’s tests–they want this person in the office at set hours, using their equipment, working as they direct. They basically want a full-time employee that they don’t have to pay taxes on.

    If I move forward with the process, is this something I should address in the interview? I’m considering going at it from the angle of “since this is an independent contractor position, would you consider more flexibility in the hours and work location?” (And only if they balk, pointing out that the IRS has pretty clear rules on independent contractor classification.) Or would that be a complete faux pas?

    I’m not super set on this job, so if I get eliminated it’s not a huge deal.

    Reply
    1. Natalie

      I’d just skip it entirely. In my experience, at least, people that do this just want to evade taxes. They don’t actually want a real independent contractor, so they won’t flex on their schedule, etc.

      Reply
    2. Not So NewReader

      Since you are not set on this job and they seem to be loosy-goosy with the rules, I’d say move on. You can get something better than this.

      Reply
  54. Anon for this

    Asking for a friend (truly!)
    My colleague is planning on leaving to go back to school. She wants to leave on good terms and because she’s not leaving for a competitor, she originally was thinking she’d give 5 weeks notice to help the team transition. But our company isn’t always the most reasonable, and has been known to walk people out the door the minute they give notice (usually when people go to competitors). She would be okay if that happened salary-wise, but not health insurance-wise, she needs to be covered until school starts. Our firm’s policy is that you get health insurance for the month in which you end employment, so if she waited until August to give notice, she would ensure health insurance coverage even if she were fired on the spot. But then she’d be giving 1 week notice, which seems like it’d result in leaving on bad terms. What do you think she should do?

    Reply
    1. Here we go again

      Does she need the health insurance in case of an emergency or does she have an ongoing condition that she needs to manage? If she only wants to keep the health insurance in case of an emergency, you can get about a 3 month grace period. Basically, you say you want COBRA the last day you can (I think it is 30-45 days from the time you lose it), then you have extra time to pay for it (I think another 30-45 days). If you don’t pay for it, it just falls off, but it gives you a cushion in case something catastrophic happens.

      Reply
      1. Natalie

        You have 60 days to elect COBRA coverage and then 45 days to make your first payment. If you end up electing for it, the coverage is retroactive to the day you lost employment.

        Reply
    2. Zathras

      I aged off of my mom’s health insurance during the summer before starting my grad school program. I contacted the school and explained the situation and they were able to start my student health insurance coverage early. I had to pay some pro-rated amount for the extra months. The school’s website probably has a page about student health insurance with some contact information, your colleague could reach out before giving notice and ask if this is a possibility.

      Reply
    3. Not So NewReader

      I go back to she wants to leave on good terms.
      Is she sure that is possible to leave on good terms with people getting escorted out when they give notice?

      I think that is where she needs to start with this. It may not be possible to leave on good terms no matter what she does.

      Does school start the second week in August? I am wondering why the one week notice in August.
      Can she take a summer course and quit the job earlier? (Clearly I am not familiar with how insurance works in the situations.)
      Does her adviser at school have any recommendations from what she has seen other people do?

      But I go back to, if she is almost certain she will be escorted out when she gives notice, then that is her answer.

      Reply
  55. Lilith

    Have any other admin workers here moved out of admin, and how did you decide what to do? Did you gain any qualifications or do any courses before switching?

    I am a PA and Office Manager (as in, looking after the office and covering when the receptionist is off rather than managing people) in a small organisation, but think I have reached the limits of where I can get to with my lack of qualifications. I don’t have a degree and the idea of the debt is scaring me off starting one (especially as a mature student), but am stuck about what to do next.

    Would appreciate any stories from people who have done a switch – which will hopefully motivate me to get going on finding a new path!

    Reply
    1. EA

      I’m in the middle of trying to switch, so not sure how helpful I will be.

      I originally was paralegal after college, and decided I didn’t want to go to law school, so I was stuck with very few transferable skills. I went into admin, because it was the only job I could get, and I did admin duties as a paralegal. The first place I was an admin was toxic and insane. After that I decided to go work as an EA in a large organization. I also have tuition reimbursement for extra classes.

      I’ve been here two years and it has been a mixed bag. On the one had, I am currently applying internally for non-admin (I want to either supervise admins or do project management) jobs, and I think I have a good shot at them. I have a good network/reputation. On the other hand – I felt very misled by my current job. In the interview I tried and specifically screened for an EA job with growth where I could take on projects. They were so enthusiastic about this and said the last EA used the job as a stepping stone and it is a stepping stone. This ended up being an exaggeration (the last EA), and I have gotten some non-admin work but not what I expected. Also all additional work is a big discussion/production to try and get assigned to me. For better or worse, I feel misled. The more people I talk to, the more I see this as sort of common, some bosses in an interview don’t wants to admit the job is dead-end.

      So in summary – I would try and find an organization that is larger so you can transfer, and a job that allows you to gain some skills. You can also look for like “HR Admin Assistant” or “Marketing Admin Assistant” jobs if you know what field you are interested in. It has been a difficult and frustrating road for me. Tuition reimbursement can also help you get a degree gradually ( my org does 5k a year)

      Reply
      1. EA

        Oh and I thought of more, sorry this is such a long reply.

        To figure out what I wanted to do, I thought of my likes and dislikes in my current job. I liked helping others with their bosses, and being organized/detail oriented/having good follow through skills. So I came to managing admins or project management.

        I would also spend some time on why you don’t like being an admin, and if it is an admin thing or a organization thing. For me, I absolutely hate how I am always treated in admin jobs. Just today, a coworker was like, “well if you are an admin then you just need to bear the brunt of everything, and if you don’t like it, you should have made different choices” This wasn’t even me complaining, someone just asked why another girl left and I said she wasn’t treated well by her boss.

        Reply
      2. Morning Glory

        Something similar happened to me – in the hiring process there was a lot of discussion of opportunities for upward growth, and some of the higher level work I could take on. Once I started, I realized admins stay admins for decades here, and they keep you so busy with core admin work (non-exempt, no overtime budget) that you can’t volunteer for other projects. The higher level position we had explicitly talked about me moving into after a few years? Nowhere close to being realistic as the next level up.

        So my sympathies, Lilith, I also think it is really hard to get out, especially without a degree. My advice is actually the opposite of EA’s – don’t go to an org so big that they can comfortably keep you doing solely admin work all day. If you are able to find a midsize place that require “many hats” then you have a better shot of:
        1. their being more flexible on things like educational requirements for you to move up, because there is no H.R. policy requiring a B.A. or M.A. etc. for the next level.
        2. Of being able to take on new responsibilities to qualify you for higher level positions.

        Reply
    2. CA Admin

      Working on doing a switch now. I got accepted into a programming bootcamp that I’ll be starting this fall. It’s a little scary, as getting your first job afterwards is the hardest part, but I have a really good network and references.

      Have you thought about night/weekend/online courses? There are some good programs now that’ll let you start earning your degree without leaving your job and accumulating a ton of debt. The main thing is making sure you know what you want to do first and figuring out if the program/degree/certification actually helps you get a job in that field. In some jobs it will, but in many it won’t.

      Reply
    3. Sally

      Consider certifications that will move you in the right direction. Someone above mentioned a bootcamp. You can find all sorts of opportunities for training that doesn’t necessarily require a degree, depending on what you want to do. Also, informational interviews are great to get a solid sense of the field/position you want to move into and what you need to know/do to get there.

      Another really great option is networking with people in the field you want to join. I’m mid-pivot myself, and attended an event last night for women in the UX Design field and got TONS of helpful answers to my questions as well as offers to connect me to other people who are working in the area I specifically want for my focus. So I’m connecting with people who may know about job openings when I’m ready to step fully into the field AND I’m getting information on what’s relevant and necessary.

      And if it turns out the thing you want to do requires a degree, there are options:
      1) Some schools offer credits for life experience to encourage workers to pursue a degree, which saves you time and money;
      2) Depending on what’s available where you are, you might consider doing community college–MUCH cheaper–to get the basics out of the way and then transfer into a 4-year school to finish up.

      Whatever you choose to do, you don’t need to stay in admin roles for the rest of your life. Good luck!

      Reply
  56. TotesMaGoats

    Can I get good vibes for my work BFF? She had on Wednesday her 3rd interview, this time with direct supervisor, and it went great. They’ve moved super fast and we are hoping that it was down to the last two candidates. Just waiting for the references phones to start ringing. It would be a great fit for her in a lot of ways. Plus, I worked with the direct supervisor and my linked in message to him probably got the ball rolling for her. I never thought I’d be a person with “connections.”

    I’ve passed the 4 month mark at NewJob. I heard this morning that the Provost, who I’ve spoken a whole 3 sentences to, thinks I’m pretty fantastic. Probably because of new curriculum I created and the rationale behind it which could win us some major recruitment opportunities. Plus now I get to go to a meeting with some pretty big wigs about new curriculum and I’m so excited. I did about 80% of the grunt work, so it’s nice to know that I’m included in the conversation. And my boss said this morning that they were talking that they weren’t sure if they’d ever be able to replace the person who’s role I took but they all agreed (and pretty quickly) that they had with me. Being a job where you can be happy makes incredible differences. Not that NewJob doesn’t have dysfunction but I’m happy and it has impacted all aspects of my life.

    If you are questioning applying for jobs or even leaving current job because of how it impacts you, I would say that at the least considering applying and getting out there is a good thing.

    Reply
  57. A Mistake

    How do you handle references when your boss is family? How bad does that look to hiring managers? I work as an admin assistant for a very small nonprofit, only three part-time people. My mother is the executive director. I stepped in to help her out after her last admin left so the position wouldn’t be empty while she tried to find someone else. It was supposed to be very temporary, only a few weeks or months tops, but I’ve now been here over three years. At the time I was going through a very difficult period and was just happy to have a steady paycheck, but now that it’s looking like I may have to move on in the next few years I’m concerned about how this will impact my job search. I don’t have a degree or much other work experience. My work history prior to this role is spotty at best, and I did some things I’m not proud. I like my job now, I believe in what we do, and I want this place grow but I’m starting to feel like all I’ve done in the last years is make a huge mess for myself.

    Reply
    1. LK

      My brother ran into this same thing when he helped the family business for 7 years….. he used references from other employees e.g. site supers or foremen, not the owner of the corp (our family).

      3 part-time people, but one is your mother – what about the other two? Can you get a reference there?

      Also, do you volunteer? Adding references from other parts of your life that are still relevant to your career could help round you out. An example would be, since you’re an admin assistant, volunteering to do data entry or filing for one shift a week somewhere….. just something to get a reference who can speak positively to your admin skills.

      Reply
    2. NaoNao

      Well, unless the company is called “The Mistake Family Foundation, run by A. Mistake’s Mother” (Great novel title, actually) I think you can downplay it on resumes and cover letters. Just list your title and the name of the employer. Unless you’re filling out an online ATS, you won’t be required to list your manager’s name and it won’t come up until the interview or reference time. You can just casually mention it “Actually, my mom is the ED.”

      You can also just tell that same story: at first you were filling in, and then it became a great match and made more sense to stay with the company and help out rather than making her hire someone new and start all over again.
      Many people work for husbands or wives, for themselves, for only one client, or for relatives. You’re not the only one who works for relatives, or who’s made some mistakes or done some stuff they wish they hadn’t.
      It’s not as big of a mess as it might seem, I think!

      Reply
    3. VioletEMT

      I was in that position. I worked for my dad’s small business, which was named Randolph Winglethorpe, Inc. I was named Violet Winglethorpe. Totally obvious. There was one other employee who I also reported to, so I was able to list him as my supervisor.

      Reply
  58. Me

    Grrr, still nothing to apply to and nothing coming back when I do. Aside from that weird automated phone screen I wrote to Alison about. I may go ahead and try it (I’ll report back if I do), but as I posted in comments, judging by the job listing, there don’t seem to be any new skills I could learn. And I’m not interested in pursuing further career options in a law office. It just does not seem worth jumping through all those hoops.

    However, an employer contacted me on Wednesday regarding a marketing proofreader job I applied for back in March; they had initially told me the job was part-time, and I was looking for full-time, and we didn’t proceed. She said they had decided they really needed someone on staff. So we talked a bit and I expressed my interest and she double-checked my contact info and said she would get back to me. So far I have heard nothing. *sigh*

    I have no idea how much it pays, but it would move my resume away from front desk jobs and in the direction I want to go. I hope it’s decent because it’s in the same area as the law office job with the weird phone screen–it’s way across town in a self-contained, upscale community with shops, residences, etc. My insurance agent’s office is down there. I don’t mind driving across town for something I actually want to do.

    I feel like I’m screaming into a tornado and no one will ever hear me.

    Reply
    1. SeptemberGrrl

      I’ve been unemployed (after being laid off) and job-hunting for 9 months. It’s harsh. It is very easy to feel invisible and powerless because is many very real ways, I am (as it relates to job hunting). The battle I have to wage is keeping that feeling contained to my job situation and not let it become how I feel overall. Which can be very tough sometimes.

      I found a dream job listing today: impeccable place to work, benefits so good they would make me weep with joy, great fit for my skills, great location and very decent salary range. And I’ll spend today crafting a fantastic cover letter and I’ll send it off and I’ll never hear from them.

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth West

        I know. Never have I seen this, and I hope it’s not going to become the standard.

        Not long after I posted this, I deleted the email. I just can’t. I mean, I REALLY need a job–I have no money coming in–but I just cannot even. It reminds me too much of this dental office receptionist job I applied for in 2012 where all applicants were invited to a mass interview. They held it at the auditorium in a nearby conference hotel and there were over a hundred people in there. I found a seat, sat there for a minute, and then before they got started, I went out and withdrew myself from the process. I mean, what was that? Were they going to sell us Amway? :P

        Reply
    2. Trixie

      Elizabeth, have you a recent thoughts about selling the house to move to a more promising job market? I remember it would be a big investment up front but it may be worth it if the local area doesn’t have much to offer in terms of employer prospects.

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth West

        I can’t afford to move and live somewhere without a job. There is no way I’m going to get very much out of this house–it’s not in great shape, and the neighborhood is very shabby. I will need to save up more before that can happen.
        It’s not all them; part of it is me. I can’t get the jobs that pay well because of that stupid LD. No matter where I go, I’m still going to have the same problem. :(

        Reply
  59. i2c2

    I’m an admin who does a lot of scheduling, and my #1 trivial pet peeve is people using “standard time” or “EST” when it isn’t actually standard time. Is Dr. X available for a call tomorrow at noon EST? I DON’T KNOW, THAT ISN’T A REAL TIME. It’s a completely silly thing to get annoyed about, and pretty arbitrary too (case in point: I still call it “daylight savings time” even though “daylight saving time” is technically correct).

    Anyone else have a trivial work pet peeve?

    Reply
    1. AllMyExJobsAreInTexas

      Doesn’t EST stand for Eastern Standard Time, as in the time in NY and DC? I see that a lot for calls since I am in Texas and we are CST, i.e. Central Standard Time. That makes sense to me since a call has to be set as 2pm EST / 1pm CST. Or am I missing something?

      Reply
      1. i2c2

        Standard Time is the time it is when clocks aren’t adjusted for Daylight Savings. (“Standard Time” sounds like it should mean “the time we all agree it is,” but it’s actually more specific.) So a call between Texas and the East Coast in December would be at 2pm EST/1PM CST. But in June, it would be 2pm EDT/1pm CDT. (The D is for Daylight.)

        Reply