open thread – June 30-July 1, 2017

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue :)

{ 1,648 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Sunflower

    Anyone have any good resources(books, websites) for trying to plot out your next career move? Or any experiences from folks who have transitioned into a different field with transferable skills?

    I’m going to be job searching(and hopefully moving cities) in the next 5 months and I’m not sure I want to stay in event planning. It’s high stress- which I don’t necessarily mind- but the pay isn’t great and I think I could make more money doing something I like just as much. I’m really good at talking to people- my favorite part of my job is schmoozing with clients at events. I’m looking mostly into sales or project/logistics management jobs but I’m unsure what level I would start at among other questions. Or maybe I’m missing other jobs that would be a good fit for this?

    Reply
    1. the possibilities are endless with event planning

      A good friend of mine transitioned from a career in event planning to public librarianship. She spent two years getting her MLS, and now she is the branch manager at a local public library. It was a good fit for her, because public libraries are prime venues for all kinds of events, and hers are the best attended in the county.

      Reply
      1. Bibliovore

        I did What Color is Your Parachute. Did all of the exercises. It really helped me focus on what I was good at, what I really liked to do, and what kind of environment and colleagues that I liked to work in and with.

        Reply
        1. Fluffer Nutter

          Ditto- I liked the exercises, although I’d dubious about the advice to cold call companies in search of the “hidden” jobs. Otherwise, good read.

          Reply
    2. Jesca

      I would just start looking at open jobs in a general sense. Read the job descriptions and see if a of them appeal to you. Then just do the resume and cover letter tailoring and see how it goes! I do not think it is a stretch to move into any of those types of careers you mention.

      Reply
    3. super anon

      I’ve been working through the book Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. It’s been super useful for me to identify the things that I like, don’t like, what I may be good at, etc to help start plotting out what I should be looking at for future career moves. I’d definitely recommend it, it’s super interesting!

      Reply
    4. Natasha

      Have you considered executive recruiting ? That’s another great job for people with good social skills.

      Reply
    5. 1st time poster

      The New Rules of Work: The Modern Playbook for Navigating Your Career by Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew. These are the women who started TheMuse.com. I cannot say enough good things about this book! I’m in the “figuring out what you want” portion, and the method laid out in the book has been perfect for me. If you buy the ebook version, be sure to download and print the exercise pages from the website. It’s super confusing otherwise.

      Reply
    6. SansaStark

      In DC, development (fundraising) often pairs with event planning so that might be something worth exploring.

      Reply
    7. Kate

      I went from alumni relations and development (which was 50% event planning) to corporate recruiting. It has the same combination of managing many complex projects (but searches instead of events) and building relationships, both with managers and candidates. It’s about the same stress level as event planning, but the stress is more evenly distributed over the year, instead of the stress rollercoaster of event planning. There are more jobs in recruiting than in event planning. And sometimes I get to scratch the event planning itch by planning a job fair, and everybody is impressed by my ability to put on a really simple event.

      Reply
    8. Anony Mouse

      If you want to work on your resume, I recommend the Blue Sky Guide to Resume Writing (e-book). Several years ago, a friend gave me a copy, and it was immensely helpful.

      Reply
    9. bleh

      I’m seconding the advice to look at nonprofit fundraising/development if you haven’t already. There are lots of roles there that do some event planning mixed with other things where you could be really valuable, and it’s definitely a field where you need to schmooze!!

      Reply
    10. Huntington

      Wow, if it got out that you did that, soooo many candidates absolutely wouldn’t risk ever applying to your company. It’s such a huge NO and risk to their current employment.

      Reply
      1. Not a Morning Person

        Did what? I haven’t seen anything that sounds risky mentioned, so I’m curious what you mean?

        Reply
      2. Not a Morning Person

        Now that I’ve read farther down, I can see you probably were talking about contacting the manager of an applicant. You’re right, that would be such a violation!

        Reply
    11. Always with a book recomendation

      A while ago when I was doing some searching hoping to find a new area to work in I read Quitter and Start by Jon Acuff.

      Reply
    12. Didi

      Hi Sunflower,
      I made a career change a couple of years ago, from managing a group in an editorial field to doing research at a financial services firm. I spun my wheels for a while when trying to planning out my next career move. Finally I hit on this process, which got me something I love.

      1. I made a list of all my “hard” skills. Not a list of what I do or what I’ve accomplished, but just verifiable skills, such as “writing, researching, managing projects” etc.
      2. I made a list of all my “soft” skills, such as “perseverance, patience, resourcefulness.”
      3. I made a list of things I do not like doing/don’t want to do anymore, such as “running meetings” and “managing a large team.”
      4. I made note of times I was “in flow” at my job. That is, the times when I enjoyed my job the most. I wrote down what I was doing at that moment, what the outcomes were and why I enjoyed it. For example, I really enjoyed a project where I was designing new processes.
      5. I made note of times when the clock seemed to stand still at my job and I felt I couldn’t stand it anymore. For example, I really hated working with the IT department on a project.

      I looked for jobs that would give me opportunities to use #1 and #2 as much as possible and #3 as little as possible, also times when I could do #4 as much as possible.

      Reply
  2. Laura

    I recently interviewed someone who currently works at another company that’s in the same industry (so transferable skills/background knowledge etc.) but has very different functions and objectives. When asked why she wanted to change jobs, she explained what we do here is more in line with her long term career goals.

    The thing is, unbeknownst to her, I know her manager on a personal basis (which is not why she was interviewed, I didn’t realise until afterwards). Would it be breaking any sort of codes to alert her manager to the fact their employee is looking to leave (assuming they don’t already know)? Especially since she doesn’t view them as being a ‘career’ sort of place so even if we didn’t hire her (still too early to decide at this point) she’s obviously thinking of leaving?

    Reply
    1. Christy

      Yes, it would be a HUGE violation! That’s a really crappy thing to do to that employee. There’s an expectation of privacy.

      Reply
    2. ZSD

      Yes, I think it would be inappropriate to notify her current manager that she’s looking to leave. As an interviewer, you’re supposed to keep that confidential.

      Reply
    3. Discordia Angel Jones

      I wouldn’t do that.

      It may have unintended consequences up to and including the employee being fired.

      It does depend on how you think your friend would react, but in case those higher up than your friend then decide to let the interviewee go, I would still not risk it, personally, because I wouldn’t want to put someone out of a job (which, if they view it as career or not, presumably they need it to pay bills).

      Reply
    4. Another person

      I don’t understand why you would even want to do that. What do you get out of causing drama for other people?

      Reply
      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        This is my question. Why would you want to disclose this information? Because the person’s manager is your friend? I’m struggling to see why this is any of her business, let alone why it’s Laura’s specific business to try to blow up the candidate’s current job.

        Reply
        1. Jessesgirl72

          But Laura isn’t asking “Can I ask her boss about her?” Laura is asking “Can I tell her boss that she is about to quit and doesn’t consider the job her career?” That is a really petty and underhanded thing to do, and for absolutely no reason!

          And I was thinking the same thing “Why in the heck would you even consider such a terrible thing?”

          Reply
        2. RR

          If the LW was friends with a PREVIOUS manager, sure. The expectation of privacy and confidentiality with respect to a CURRENT position is more important.

          Reply
          1. designbot

            Even with a previous manager, ask the candidate if it’s okay to talk to them! My current job did this with me, and I was really grateful for the heads up, because the previous manager’s partner was one of the principals responsible for the group I was in at the time. Thankfully he was fine not mentioning to his partner that I was interviewing but if he hadn’t been and they called without asking, that could have gone very badly.

            Reply
        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          Laura is pretty clear that she has no intention of asking her friend for a candid reference. She talks exclusively about ways in which she can damage the candidate’s job security and relationship with her manager (“alerting” her that the employee is interviewing/thinking of leaving, noting that she doesn’t see her current employer as where she wants to build her “career” and so even if Laura’s company doesn’t hire the candidate, the manager will be told the candidate doesn’t intend to stay, etc.). That’s pretty awful, and not even remotely related to obtaining a reference.

          Reply
      2. memyselfandi

        I thought he point was to let the other manager know that her employees don’t think of her company as a place to build a career. That being said, if I did that it would have to be in a general conversation about the topic, “Is your company a good place to work.,” to encourage reflection and not about any specific knowledge of an employees career plans.

        Reply
        1. writelhd

          yeah but that’s really not the other manager’s business. If people did that when job candidates came interviewing, then nobody would ever feel safe enough to interview somewhere.

          Reply
    5. JokeyJules

      Personally I wouldn’t tell the manager. You don’t know their relationship or the workplace policies, and if you don’t hire and she is terminated from the job she has no, regardless of whether it’s a ‘career’ job or not, it might really devastate her financially.

      Reply
    6. Lookingforanswers

      Do not tell your friend one of her employees is job looking. You could put that employee in danger of being terminated. If the employee is hired at your company and that employees former manager (your friend) asks why they left, then you can say they didn’t feel they had a career here. If they are not hired still do not tell your friend that the employee is job searching. Think of it if you were the candidate looking for a new job. Would you want the person interviewing you telling their buddy (your current boss) that you are looking for a job?

      Reply
      1. NacSacJack

        I would have to disagree. Once they are your employee, I would not discuss their career aspirations or any comments made with their former manager. They may need to go back to that employer at some point. At most, I would tell former manager that they are settling into their job.

        Reply
        1. Lance

          Agreed; it’s not a previous manager’s business to ask the new manager why an employee left for their place of work, nor the new manager’s business to say anything about it, whether they know any of the reasons or not.

          Reply
          1. Paula, with Two Kids

            Yes, that’s what the Exit Interviews are about anyways. Employee gives as much information as they feel comfortable giving. Not the place of their next employer to give a fuller picture.

            Reply
    7. Cleopatra Jones

      Why on Earth would you do that?!?! She’s just stating that the company is not in line with her long term career goal, and she’s looking to move to a company that aligns with the vision she has for herself. Her personal long term career goals are not a slight against her employer or manager. It’s her wanting to pursue her own happiness.

      Reply
      1. LizzE

        Exactly! Plus, many people have worked jobs or at organizations’s that did not align with our long-term career goals – sometimes, people just need to pay the bills to get by or until something better comes along. This candidate’s motivations are of no concern to Laura and not worth putting her in a compromising situation just because she happens to be friends with this woman’s current boss.

        Reply
        1. Midge

          The candidate saying that the current company isn’t in line with her long-term goals might not even be the whole/real reason that she is leaving. It’s possible that your friend is a bad manager and her department is a toxic environment, for example. Or maybe something more benign, but still related to your friend. I don’t see an upside for sharing this information that outweighs the many potential negatives.

          Reply
    8. Sibley

      Laura, assuming you’ve been reading AMA for a while, I’m sure you’ve seen various posts about the crappy things that managers have done. Or could do. You’re contemplating one of them. Think about that.

      And don’t tell this person’s manager that they’re looking.

      Reply
    9. AdAgencyChick

      PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS.

      This happened to me. I will never forget the name of the employee (who was not the hiring manager) who ratted me out to my manager. I will never work for that person, should she be in a position to hire me.

      You may think of this as helping your friend out, but you’ll be putting this candidate’s job in jeopardy, and making a serious breach of professional trust.

      Reply
    10. AnonMarketer

      I get you might feel you owe your friend loyalty in this area, but please don’t do this! It’s not illegal or unethical to look for a new job or otherwise take a job you currently have to pay the bills (and most people do!). Please don’t do that; that’s INCREDIBLY unfair to the interviewee who hasn’t done anything wrong. Personally, I think it’s kudos to the interviewee for knowing how she’d like to proceed in her career and making the steps to get them accomplished!

      Reply
      1. Stranger than fiction

        Not to mention, I doubt the Op knows the ins and outs of working for her friends company as intimately as this candidate does. There’s clearly some nuanced specific differences that the Op doesn’t like and probably have nothing to do with her manager/ Ops friend. And since when do people stay at one company their entire career anymore and need to have that sense of loyalty for their employer above themselves??

        Reply
    11. Muriel Heslop

      Please don’t do that! That could really torpedo her at her current job, whether or not she plans to stay there forever.

      Plus, no matter how much I cared about someone personally, I would really think less of them for doing something so unprofessional. And that would be extremely unprofessional of you.

      Reply
    12. Sabrina Spellman

      I’m sure you’d feel awful if you told your friend and this individual was fired over it. Your friend isn’t entitled to know the ins and outs of your job search, so don’t involve her in it by outing her employee.

      Reply
    13. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

      You are asking if it’s OK to rat her out to her current boss?

      DON’T.

      Well YEAH. It is breaking a series of professional codes. One, when someone comes in for an interview, he/she has expectations that you won’t pick up the phone and do a rat-out. Even if the manager at her current situation is a pal of yours.

      Also, I am not a lawyer but do know that there have been charges of “restraint of trade” – through collusion. Whether you intend to do so or not – if you make such a call, you’re messing with the interviewee’s career and putting it in jeopardy.

      If you don’t want to hire her , even if she’s the best candidate, because you value your personal relationship with your pal over what’s best for your company, that’s one thing.

      But going out of your way to take an action, that would irreparably hurt your interviewee’s current situation – immoral, unethical, and perhaps – PERHAPS = illegal.

      Sorry for using the harsh terms “rat out”, “collusion”, etc. – but that’s what it is, even if it’s not your intention.

      Reply
      1. Observer

        Oh, come on. Let’s not jump into scare territory. Giving the other manager a heads up doesn’t come close to restraint of trade or anything like it.

        This actually comes up a lot here, because sometimes employers have a good reason to reach out to the current employer and sometimes they reach out even when they shouldn’t and then person who has been outed writes in her and asks “the hiring manager told my current manager and I’m in trouble. Is this legal” and the answer is always “Yes, it’s legal.”

        That’s not to say that Laura should reach out. But none of the reasons against it are about legality.

        Reply
          1. Jessie the First (or second)

            It’s not illegal. (I am a lawyer, and I am not making that up). You don’t have a right to privacy in this context in a legal sense.

            You DO have a right to privacy in the moral sense, in the professional norms sense, and it would be an incredibly crappy thing to do to a job seeker. But there is no legal issue. (Not everything that is wrong is illegal.)

            Reply
              1. Claire from London

                Yeah, it would be illegal in Germany too. You’d be using personal data you became aware as part of your work for a purpose for which was not collected in the first place and outside of your job in the second. Both would be seriously illegal.

                Reply
              2. Jessesgirl72

                That’s why I specified the US. ;) I know that much of Europe has privacy laws. The ones in the US cover much less.

                But as has been pointed out, just because something is legal doesn’t make it right.

                Reply
              1. Jessesgirl72

                She certainly has a moral right, but at least in the United States, she has no legal right, whether or not she “should”

                Reply
      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Dude, this isn’t illegal, and it’s not remotely close to “restraint of trade,” collusion, or any similar economic tort. But good people should not go out of their way to destroy a stranger’s job, and that moral/ethical imperative should be valid enough for Laura to refrain from taking her suggested course of action.

        Reply
      3. Newby

        Just because something is the wrong thing to do does not make it illegal. Please don’t jump to “illegal” just because you think it’s a terrible thing to do and you think they shouldn’t be able to do it. In this case, she can legally tell her friend whatever she wants. It’s a shitty thing to do, but it is legal.

        Reply
    14. PB

      Yes, it breaks all of the codes. Why would you want to tell her manager? It would be unkind to the applicant, and it wouldn’t benefit you at all.

      Reply
    15. Artemesia

      In other words you want to sandbag the job of someone who has interviewed at your company. Why would you want to punish someone for applying for a job with you? This is just nasty nasty stuff.

      Reply
      1. AdAgencyChick

        “Why would you want to punish someone for applying for a job with you?”

        I was trying to find a way to say exactly this. BINGO.

        Reply
      2. KT

        This is my thought. Do not do that. What is your end goal?

        Not only could you severely damage the candidate’s standing at her current job, and possibly future jobs, but you could potentially limit your own candidate pool.

        If I was the candidate and you told my current boss that I’m thinking about leaving, you can bet your bottom dollar that I will tell ALL of my friends and anyone who ever considered applying to your company. Candidates worth their salt aren’t going to risk privacy and good standing. The gamble of ‘I may get this job vs. I may be fired for applying/interviewing’ are not at all equal in outcome.

        Do not do this. Period.

        Reply
        1. Bea W

          A smart candidate would probably also not want to work with someone who did this even if they were offered the job. The end result may be sabotaging your own employer.

          Reply
    16. Friday

      Nooooo no no no no please don’t! I’m in a small industry where everyone knows everyone, and my last two job searches/job changes were done covertly with people who totally knew and interacted with the people I worked with at the time. We keep things quiet no matter what, and nobody has any hard feelings. Especially since in such an industry, we usually end up working with the same people down the road!

      Reply
    17. NEW YEAR, NEW ME

      Please don’t do that. You would be putting this interviewee in an uncomfortable situation with her manager. You don’t know what this person’s work station is like – etc., bad management, low pay, no growth. Put yourself in her shoes: would you want your boss to know you’re job hunting and how would you feel if he/she found out.

      Reply
    18. The Other Dawn

      Do not do that! If I were the candidate and an interviewer outed me as job searching to my current boss, I’d be seriously pissed off and would flat-out turn down any offer (assuming I got one). And pissed enough that I would make sure all my friends, family, and past and present coworkers knew, so they could avoid applying there. Huge breach of trust.

      Reply
        1. Jadelyn

          It would get you labeled as a drama llama if you were my friend and pulled this kind of stunt, for sure. Since I can’t think of any other reason to do it than for the friction it would cause between me and my employee.

          Reply
    19. alter_ego

      NOOOOOOOO. This just happened to me. A company that my recruiter sent my resume to told my boss, and then didn’t even invite me for an interview. Now, I got really really lucky, in that I work for great people, my boss didn’t hold it against me, and didn’t mention it to anyone else. But it would have really really damaged my job here if the circumstances were different.

      Reply
      1. Hedgehog

        This actually happened to me, too! I came in to give my notice and found out everyone already knew because my grandboss-to-be had alerted my grandboss “as a courtesy” (I was never clear on if she had called her before or after I accepted the offer). And the weirdest part was that there was another employee who was switching companies in the opposite direction but hadn’t given her notice yet, so it ended up super awkward for my original grandboss because she knew she was poaching from them, too, but couldn’t say anything.

        Reply
    20. Caro in the UK

      No, please don’t! It’d be horribly unprofessional at best. At worst it could result in her getting fired.

      People leave employment all the time, for many, many reasons. Your employees moving on to new opportunities is a totally normal part of being a manager. Although you might feel that you owe your friend a heads up, there is absolutely no need for him to know, it’s part of his/her job to deal with this if and when the employee hands in her notice.

      Just don’t do it.

      Reply
    21. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

      I might also add – if you want to keep your CURRENT job – also, don’t do this. I’ve seen people fired for breaking such confidences. When someone comes in to interview for a job at your firm, it’s not just personally confidential, it’s COMPANY confidential.

      Reply
      1. MicroManagered

        Yes this. Even if OP doesn’t connect to the personal obligation not to break this confidence, it’s likely that doing so could put them in hot water. I know if a prospective employer ratted me out to my current employer for an interview, I’d be on the horn with their HR making sure it was dealt with.

        Reply
      2. Jessie the First (or second)

        Yes – the company would not be happy to know its interviewers were doing this to job candidates – because if word got out that the interviewers would try to torpedo interviewees’ current jobs, job candidates would be a lot less willing to ever apply there!

        Reply
      3. CityMouse

        I would also consider firing someone for doing this. It prioritizes the friend’s company over the interests of her company.

        Reply
    22. Ramona Flowers

      Why on earth would you do this? When someone applies for a job with you, they do so in confidence.

      In my country you would actually be breaking the law by divulging this information without consent.

      Reply
    23. MMDD

      Good God, what would you possess you to do this?? Good luck finding candidates for any other job you post if you did that and it got out. And I can assure you, if you did that to me, everyone in our industry (including your boss) would know about it.

      Reply
    24. RR

      As many folks have already noted, yes, this is DEFINITELY violating the normal expectation that there should be a general expectation of privacy and discretion. Something else to consider — YOUR good name and reputation, along with that of your company’s, could also be harmed if you did this and word got out. Don’t do it!

      Reply
    25. kiwidg1

      While I would caution against it, I can see another point of view I haven’t seen any one else raise.

      What if Laura is trying to help both her friend and the employee. The commenters mostly assume that Laura would do this to rat out the employee.

      But what if Laura wants to tell her friend: “Hey, I just interviewed someone from your company that doesn’t see job progression in their current position. While that may be true for this individual, whom I can’t name, you may want to know that perception in your company exists. It might be time to think about your directs and ask if you’re doing what you need to to retain them and show them the forward progression open to them.”

      Just a thought I had.

      Reply
      1. RR

        Even if you don’t name them, chances are high that it would be very easy to determine who the applicant is. And, you’re still violating the basic principle of keeping job searches confidential.

        Reply
      2. JulieBulie

        That’s the kind of information that can come out during the applicant’s exit interview, if it really is an issue.

        And that might not even be the real reason the applicant wants to leave her current employer – there could be any number of reasons that she might not wish to share.

        Reply
        1. kiwidg1

          The point is, as an employer, you don’t want to hear that when the person is leaving, if it was something you could have done something about had you known earlier.

          Reply
          1. Not a Morning Person

            I understand that the manager might want an opportunity to counter offer for a valued employee, but in that case, the manager should ask earlier than by the time the employee has reached a point of applying and getting interviews elsewhere. If a manager thinks an employee is of value to the organization and wants to keep that employee, then the manager needs to communicate that. Even so, if an employee is more interested in other opportunities or other work, then that’s the way the job world works; people are allowed to seek other opportunities for any reason whatsoever, just like most employers can let an employee go, for most any reason (other than illegal reasons). And it would be crappy to sabotage someone’s job search or their relationship with their manager by outing their job search.

            Reply
      3. Jadelyn

        Okay, but then have that as a *separate conversation* well AFTER you’ve interviewed their current employee and either hired or not hired them.

        Reply
          1. Specialk9

            Nope, not even then. It’s like giving your friend’s *spouse* advice about their marriage based on something hugely sensitive your friend told you in confidence. “Hey, I’ve heard that this pill is great for erectile dysfunction”… “Hey, why isn’t friend talking to me anymore?”

            You don’t narc a interviewee out to their current/previous employer. Especially when the interviewee gave such a positive, non-complaining reason that didn’t mention any of the things they actually hate about the current/previous manager/job, because THEY understand professionalism.

            Reply
      4. Jessie the First (or second)

        I don’t think that would accomplish what you want it to accomplish.

        There is no indication that there isn’t forward job progression- the job candidate did not say she was “stuck” at her job. The job candidate performs different functions and objectives at her current job and is looking for something different. That’s not a question of not being promoted, it’s a question of wanting a different job. You can’t fix that by calling the other manager and telling her someone is looking for a job.

        Also,there is just no way you can know from the outside, as an interviewer, what the actual culture/job/management/environment is like at this person’s current job. So you actually have NO IDEA about, really, anything. You have one exchange with a person about her career goals – that does not give you enough information to say anything.

        And also, you have no idea if it is a healthy workplace or a toxic one – if toxic, then that suggested script will bring trouble (suspicious manager starts interrogating her employees and watching them super closely).

        I get that these people know each other outside of work, but they have different employers. There is no friendship duty that extends to “making sure my friend’s employees at another company do not change jobs.”

        Interfering, even while attempting to keep it anonymous for the employee, has the real risk of doing harm but very little chance of doing good.

        Reply
        1. Lance

          And all the more so… it’s just one person. Sure, if it was multiple people from the same company, maybe there would be something to it; but even then, that would be an issue for their current employer to discover and deal with, not for someone on the outside to bring up and potentially stir the pot in bad ways.

          Reply
      5. nonegiven

        She didn’t say she didn’t see progression, she said she saw the new job better progressing her in the direction she wants to go.

        Reply
    26. Tuna maki

      Sorry to sort of derail , but I’ve been on the other side of this. Someone told me my employee was interviewing with someone I know. How would all of you have handled that?

      Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        First and foremost, don’t hold it against your employee. That’s just a fast way to ensure that nobody ever tells you anything until the day they’re ready to walk out.

        Secondly, if you know who it is and they’re someone you want to retain, you could have a brief conversation with them about if there’s anything in particular that’s made them want to leave. But you’d have to handle the conversation very delicately to make sure they don’t feel pressured or anything, and assure them that you’re not going to hold anything they say against them.

        To be honest, I would probably just sit on the information, maybe use it as a cue to review our progression opportunities, pay structure, work environment, etc. but never mention it to anyone.

        Reply
      2. Rat in the Sugar

        I’m not a manager, but I would guess that the first step is to make sure that you’ve got all your plans in place so that if the employee did come to you tomorrow and put in their two weeks, you would be prepared for a smooth transition. Not everybody gets this kind of warning so I would take advantage of this to make sure that all your documentation is in place and you have plans for what to do when somebody leaves.

        As for whether you should talk to the employee about it and try to start making actual transition plans, I’m not as sure and I will leave that advice to somebody who knows better.

        Reply
      3. Ramona Flowers

        I would have told them I wasn’t interested in hearsay about confidential matters that concerned other people and to please stop talking.

        Reply
        1. PB

          This. Something like, “I appreciate your concern, but I value the privacy of my employees. In the future, please do not share this information with me.”

          Reply
      4. Jessie the First (or second)

        I would have let the employee in question know that I knew, I would have assured them that there would be no fallout on my side – and I would make sure there absolutely was not – and then I would ask them (assuming I preferred the employee to stay) if there was something that we could alter about their job/responsibility/schedule/whatever to encourage them to stay.

        Reply
      5. Marillenbaum

        In general, I would default to not saying anything, simply because I want to exhibit the behavior I’d hope to receive. That said, I would also advise you to prepare discreetly in case they depart–not in a way that involves running things up the chain of command, but a check that you already have the necessary documentation and access in case that person got hit by a bus tomorrow. It’s wise to have anyway, but in general I wouldn’t punish the person who’s looking (but the person who blabbed would get some serious side-eye: some stuff should be confidential).

        Reply
      6. CityMouse

        This happened to my friend. He was thinking about joining an org we worked with and interviewed there. They called his boss. He still works here and everything is okay. One, I Would take goal stuff said in an interview with a grain of salt: someone is trying to sell themselves. Two, it is perfectly normal to leave jobs. If they made a complaint about conditions I would see if that was legitimate and try to rectify problems. But ultimately in any job you should be prepared for anyone to leave, that is just reality.

        Reply
      7. AdAgencyChick

        There’s “what it would be a kindness to do,” and “what you are morally obliged to do.”

        As upsetting as it was when this happened to me, I *don’t* think my boss at the time should have been under any moral obligation not to act on the information he had. After all, he didn’t ask for it. He could very easily have not said a word to me, while quietly starting to look around for my replacement.

        What he did was probably not the wisest solution from his point of view: He sat me down in his office a couple of weeks after he must have been told, and asked me, “Why are you unhappy here?” He didn’t say out loud that he knew I had been interviewing, and he didn’t tell me how he knew. I knew that he knew, but didn’t know how he had figured it out. (That information came to me later, after I had resigned.) I managed the conversation as best I could and gave some reasons while trying like hell to make it seem like the situation was fixable, when I knew deep down I would be out in a hot second if I could be.

        I went deep undercover for all job searching at that point (which is why I say it wasn’t the wisest move on his part — if he had said nothing, I might not have been so careful). I explained my situation to potential recruiters and asked for off-site interviews (because my industry is small and a lot of people know each other, so I didn’t want to be sitting in the lobby of an agency and have someone who knew my boss see me). I asked recruiters to send me emails with cryptic subject lines, just in case anyone was looking over my shoulder at my Gmail screen. Et cetera.

        It would have been a kindness if he had said instead, “Why are you unhappy here? Someone at XYZ Agency told me you were interviewing.” Then I would have at least known where the leak was, and he might have earned a bit of my trust by showing that he understood the breach of confidentiality and didn’t agree with it. But I totally get why he didn’t do that.

        Reply
      8. Jessesgirl72

        I’d say “Huh, interesting” and then be prepared for when/if the person actually resigned, and go on business as usual until then.

        I might want to ask if there was a way to retain them, if I wanted to retain them, but there’s no real way to guarantee someone will believe you when you say “It’s totally okay and normal” and won’t go into total paranoid mode. So I’d just keep quiet.

        Reply
    27. Alli525

      There are industries where leaking info like this is a CRIMINAL matter. Doesn’t sound like that’s the case here, but there is NO benefit to telling your friend, and HUGE risk for the employee. We’ve all had jobs that don’t fit our career goals, but rent is due every month no matter what. Don’t put this woman’s livelihood at risk – it’s unprofessional and mean, at best.

      Reply
    28. CityMouse

      Adding my voice to the chorus of Nooooooos. It is massively unprofessional and would potentially screw over your applicant. If I was interviewing or was a recruiter and heard this story, I would avoid your company because it shows a lack of reasonable privacy, respect for norms, and respect for the well-being of applicants. Do not do it.

      Reply
    29. nonegiven

      Do you want her to put your company on Glassdoor as outing her to her current employer and causing her problems with her boss for other job seekers to see?

      Reply
    30. Thinking Outside the Boss

      I’ve tried my best to bite my tongue, but I can’t.

      Laura, I’m a manager and if you worked for me, and I found out that you were calling your friends to let them know their employees were looking for work with our company before we had made a decision to make the candidate an offer and check references, I would fire you that day. No questions ask. This is such a serious breech of professionalism that I’m gobsmacked.

      And if had advice for the candidate, I would say run far far away from your company. If this is how you envision treating candidates you should be trying to impress as an employer, aka hiring is a two-way street, I can only imagine what you all do to your employees.

      Reply
      1. Anon Accountant

        Your post is awesome and sums it up perfectly. Excellent way you would handle it if your employee did that.

        Reply
    31. Peanut

      Wow, why would you even think of doing this? I don’t get it. That’s just mean. You don’t know when this person will actually leave her company, so it’s not like you’re saving her company from being left high and dry. Telling her manager is just going to get her treated differently or fired.

      And so what if she doesn’t see her company as fitting her long term career goals? I’ve had over 20 employers. Do you know how many of them I saw as meeting my long term career goals when I started? Two. Spoiler alert: I don’t still work at either place.

      Reply
    32. It's-a-me

      While for the most part I agree with the overwhelming response of ‘NO’ that has happened in reply here, I have read and re-read Laura’s post and want to ask… Laura, if the manager is your friend, was your intention to help the applicant, by encouraging your friend to work on retaining her?

      Perhaps there’s context here we don’t have – maybe Laura’s friend in management is a great person with a focus on employee happiness, and Laura thinks she would be interested in knowing so that said manager could help the applicant, address her concerns about the lack of career, etc.

      IF that’s the case, and I have no clue if it is or is just my natural tendency to play devil’s/angel’s advocate, then I would suggest Laura:
      Think very hard about if you want to do this or not.
      Think very hard about how much you trust your friend.
      Think again about if you want to do this.
      Make sure you’re legally allowed to do this.
      Make sure your company policies allow you to do this.
      *Strongly* consider discussing it with the applicant first. (In fact I’m tempted to SHOUT ‘discuss it with the applicant first!’)
      THEN:
      Talk to your friend using a totally anonymous hypothetical FIRST: “If I happened to know one of your employees was planning on leaving due to dissatisfaction with their job, how would you react? Would you help them, or would you be obligated to report/take action against them?’
      Proceed from there, using best judgement.

      But I would definitely lean more towards doing nothing at all. I don’t think it’s really your place.

      Reply
      1. neverjaunty

        Regardless of whether Laura thinks this would be helping, what it actually does is put the employee’s job in jeopardy. The hypothetical doesn’t matter because the friend is going to immediately wonder who it is.

        If Laura is feeling like she is backstabbing her friend, the correct way to handle it is this: AFTER hiring the person, and with that person’s full knowledge, Laura tells the friend “We have offered to bring Wakeen on board and he has accepted. I am letting you know as a courtesy so you have the opportunity to make him a counteroffer and retain him.”

        Reply
        1. It's-a-me

          Oh absolutely, I mainly wanted to bring up that there might have been good intentions towards the applicant behind this question, not malice as many people seemed to think. And hopefully if Laura already had her mind set on talking to the manager (that everyone’s responses have not dissuaded), make her think about HOW she does that.

          Reply
    33. Susan

      I don’t want to add to the pile-on here because I think the point has been made that this would be a terrible thing to do, but I just want to say, I’m really glad that Laura came here to ask before going through with this. I hope the responses have convinced her not to do it.

      Reply
    34. Ari

      You’ve gotten a lot of feedback. Another possibility is that the applicant has already discussed this with their boss. It’s unlikely, sure.
      I was searching and when I got a verbal offer let my supervisor know I would take an offer, if made. They said that they would keep it confidential (and did) and were supprortive of my desire to pursue educational opportunities not possible in my current situation. I disclosed knowing it could result in being walked out same day. But my desire to give them information to plan with (off season for hiring in this industry) was weighted higher. I also knew a transition would be kinder if four weeks+ long but I wanted to give two weeks notice. I didn’t want to leave a mess; I have too much affection for my team for that.
      Going from a good job to a good job is nice. The things that led to my decision to look were out of my supervisor’s control.

      Reply
  3. Katie the Fed

    The thread earlier this week (and my growing baby bump) reminded me to ask this:

    Where is a good place to get not-too-expensive maternity clothes for work? I can get away with the more casual end of business-casual for this purpose. I will need stuff to take me into fall and winter.

    Also, I’m plus size which makes this even tougher. :/

    Reply
    1. TotesMaGoats

      Katie, I loved Milk Nursing Wear and wished I’d found it while pregnant. They have a maternity line. I found the prices to be on pair with normal work clothes. Lots of variety. Plus you get points for buying to redeem later. If you need one or two pieces that are dressier then I’d try Ann Taylor or Loft as they do online maternity. I had one dress from Motherhood Maternity that was my “dressy” work dress. I rolled through my 3 pairs of maternity pants and one skirt for my pregnancy and I was due in December.

      And if you are going to nurse/pump, their selection is great. You don’t have to strip down to nurse or pump.

      Reply
    2. Ash (the other one)

      Look on Poshmark. Seriously… great quality clothes (Seraphina, Isabella Olivier, Pea in a Pod), gently used, good prices and you can barter.

      Reply
    3. Murphy

      I got most of my maternity clothes on eBay. Since they don’t get worn for very long, most used maternity clothes are still in pretty good condition.

      My local Motherhood Maternity store is technically an outlet, so they had a lot of good sales that I occasionally took advantage of. But I can’t speak to their plus size collection.

      Reply
      1. Chameleon

        This. There is tons of great, cheap used stuff out there. Try baby consignment stores, as they pretty often have a maternity wear section as well. I got most of my clothes this way. Also, Old Navy has cheap but comfy casual wear (especially jeans).

        Reply
    4. Justme

      My first recommendation is to layer. My sprog made me SO DARNED HOT while I was pregnant. I’m a size 18 and Target and Old Navy stuff fit me while I was pregnant, but their top size in maternity wear is a 18/xxl (which is ridiculous). I will second the suggestions for Ebay or secondhand stores.

      Reply
      1. Nisie

        Target, Ebay, Old Navy, kids consignment stores, consignment sales. I got my heavy coat from Modern Maternity and still wear it. Bras- I went up 2 cups and 2 sizes and then invested in breastfeeding bras when I got in the 8th month.

        Reply
    5. EP

      Pink Blush – I’m not pregnant but I have bought dresses from their “regular” lines – their regular sizes go to 16 usually and then the Plus sizes start at 14W – sign up for their emails and you get a 20% off code at least twice a week

      Reply
    6. businessfish

      Motherhood maternity definitely has plus sizes. I made it through my whole pregnancy with one pair of black pants and like 6 empire waist shirts from there.

      Reply
      1. Muriel Heslop

        I spent the money for a good pair of black pants from Motherhood Maternity and it was totally worth it. Wore them all the time and felt relatively comfortable.

        Reply
      2. AMD

        Ditto! Week 34, currently rocking my MM black pants. Them + 2pairs jeans and shorts have got me through the whole way.

        Reply
    7. MJH

      My coworker orders rental maternity wear from Le Tote. It’s not cheap, but it’s cheaper than buying an entire maternity wardrobe and offers more variety, too.

      Reply
    8. NLMC

      First, congrats on the new addition. How exciting!
      Second, maternity shopping is honestly the worst. So many stores no longer sell in house and everything is done online which is a pain since you really have no idea what size you are.
      Motherhood Maternity has some really good basics, but I feel so much of it (at least two years ago, I’m about to have to go back again myself!) was too casual for work. Pea in a Pod has nicer items, but I refused to pay $100+ for maternity dresses. I guess some people’s definition of affordable is much different than mine.
      I’ve heard great things about Poshmark, but again, online!!??
      You can find some great cloths on buy, sell, trade sites or online garage sales. Yes, these are online, but if they are local you might be able to at least see them or maybe even try them on before buying. You can also sometimes luck out at kids consignment shops but those are hit or miss. Same at thrift shops.
      I was honestly surprised when someone suggested Sears to me, but they had a decent section and I was able to find some nicer items.
      Additional aggravation about maternity clothes — sizing: When I research online several sites said sizes should match what you normally wear (if you wear a 10 in jeans you’ll wear 10 maternity, the manufacturer makes allowances) That is a lie. Most of what I found was S, M, L, XL. Seriously?? And so so so many skinny jeans and pants. I’m huge and miserable, I do not want skinny jeans. Sorry, rant over.
      I guess all that to say, good luck. Try not to get discouraged. And if you find something you like, but it in ALL the colors available. If you only get a few pieces to save money (I made this mistake) by the end of my pregnancy (and even after the baby was born because you will probably still wear maternity for bit) the pieces will start looking worn out and raggedy.

      Reply
      1. HisGirlFriday

        I swore by ThredUp when I was pregnant. I could buy gently used (in some cases new-with-tags-on) clothes for huge discounts, and since you wear maternity clothes only for such a short period of time, it’s a great way to not drop a ton of cash on them.

        Congrats on the baby!

        Reply
    9. OwnedByTheCat

      My clothes no longer fit me as of a few weeks ago (i’m 21 weeks) so I’m right there with you! I got a few nicer t-shirts and a dress or two off of ebay. The rest I got at Target and Old Navy. I’ve been wearing a lot of leggings and layered dresses or tunic style t-shirts which may be a little too casual for mots days. I also got a pair of jeans which I can dress up with heels and a blazer, etc.

      My wardrobe has gotten MUCH smaller and thus it’s a lot easier to dress myself!

      Reply
      1. motherofdragons

        “My wardrobe has gotten MUCH smaller and thus it’s a lot easier to dress myself!”

        Yes!! An unexpected upside of not being able to fit into most things :)

        Reply
    10. Fact & Fiction

      Unfortunately, Motherhood Mayetnity plus sizes were a joke for me when I was pregnant 11 years ago. They were nowhere near big enough for me even though I was in the 2X to 3X range st the time. Maybe they’ve improved since then? I had a lot more luck buying things online from Woman Within – some of the stretchy pants for early/mid pregnancy but mostly their long tunic/trapeze tops were perfect for the whole pregnancy. For bottoms during mid to late pregnancy I managed to find enough plus size maternity pants with the panels that worked well with the tops I bought. I focused on finding tips with empire waists that flowed away from the hips/were stretchy enough in general to work with an expanding belly.

      Reply
      1. Jessesgirl72

        Woman Within leans toward tent anyway, so I can see how this would work.

        There used to be a lot more sources from the regular Plus Size stores and online/catalog retailers, but they have almost all eliminated that category.

        Reply
        1. Fact & Fiction

          Yeah, I was an emotional mess when I literally had nothing to fit me despite trying “plus size” maternity clothes. I was near despair when I stumbled across Woman Wighin’s website because they carried much larger plus sizes I prayed would work even though not all were officially maternity clothes. At that point I didn’t care how they looked: I just needed ANYthing that fit over my stomach so I could go to work! I cried tears of joy when the tops I bought from the website worked. Bonus was that some even made me feel cute. ;)

          Reply
    11. Lefty

      My sister (also wore plus sizes and worked in a business casual environment) had good luck with Target’s maternity line. She swore by their layering tanks. We also found her some fun things through Kohl’s online. Their coupon codes stack, so she got some great deals.

      Reply
    12. plus size mama

      Plus size mama here :) I bought a lot of clothes from the facebook buy/sell/trade site called “Maternity Clothes Swap Site”. At least when i was looking, there were lots of business casual clothes. I wore a lot of solid color maternity tshirts/tanks with non maternity cardigans and jackets. I hate leggings as pants generally, but i also wore a lot of thick black maternity leggings with the tshirt/tank combo and knee high boots. The nice thing about maternity tshirts is that many are tunic length! Also, the belly band worked really well to extend the time i could wear my nonmaternity pants.

      Reply
      1. kbeers0su

        I’m week 24ish, second pregnancy. Thanks for the hint on facebook groups! I got some stuff on ebay last time around, but it was a winter pregnancy so I need all new stuff this time. Super bummed that a lot of stores have moved all their maternity stuff online!

        Reply
    13. Gloucesterina

      Not a suggestion for a retailer, but for an outfit idea that can outlast the pregnancy–I sized up on a couple sundresses from a “regular” store and was able to wear them as dresses during the summer and then into November as tunics with open cardigan, leggings and tall boots. I still wear them 2 years out! Not sure if this would work for everyone’s workplace, though.

      Reply
      1. Gloucesterina

        Oh, and I also experienced maternity leggings as a total scam: $40 for leggings that stretched out after 1 wash. I had much better luck with normal leggings and wearing them “under the bump.” Your mileage may vary!

        Reply
    14. Sled Dog Mama

      The thing that worked well for me was to buy trousers a size (or, gasp, right at the end two) larger and use one of those belly bands and a safety pin to block the zipper from going down

      Reply
    15. motherofdragons

      Following! I can get away with pretty casual clothes at work, so I’ve been living in non-maternity empire waist dresses from Old Navy and the like, and one maternity dress from Target. I also have those Betabrand yoga dress pants and some maternity tops I scored from Zulily on the cheap. Zulily often has maternity wear, and plus size shops you may want to check out.

      Reply
    16. IvyGirl

      All of the above is good information. Target and Old Navy are good for basics/layering; Gap has some some decent stuff too (online). H&M has a maternity line as well; Motherhood Outlets are great.

      But also? You’ll be wearing this stuff for a bit of time after the baby comes too. So leggings and ponte pants are good, as are the tank tops and things. But also think about other flowy-type things that can be crossovers – trapeeze dresses, even cute bathing suit coverups (with a tank top and leggings/jeans underneath) works – I still wear those.

      I was a size ten pre-pregnancy and am now a 14 2.75 years post pregnancy. I’m still using pregnancy stuff. :-)

      Reply
    17. Moonpie

      I was in the same boat. I snagged pants in basic colors (black, gray, tan) at a good sale at Motherhood Maternity, a few tops there and at Old Navy, mostly in solid colors (especially tanks I could layer under cardigans I already had), an awesomely comfortable basic black wrap dress from GAP maternity that I wore different regular colored consoles under for variety and neckline coverage. Then I rotated and mixed and matched repeatedly. It wasn’t a bunch of variety, but I changed up my jewelry quote a bit and didn’t care how many times my coworkers saw me in the same things. I did have 2 or 3 empire-waist tops that did in a pinch up to about 6 months, and I had black, white, and neutral belly bands (also from Motherhood) that were like the top of pantyhose – opaque and very stretchy. They went over the pants and under the tops to cover me when it wasn’t really a maternity top and to help when say a sheerer pink top went over black pants – a white band under the top covered the black stretchy panel of the pants and made it look better and less distracting through the top.

      Reply
    18. Parenthetically

      BeBand or a similar belly band to keep you in your current trousers longer. Plenty of maternity layering basics from Target/Walmart/Old Navy — tanks and nice bright tees and plain stretchy skirts and leggings/tights. Consignment, ThredUp, mama-swap-type pages in your area for pants, coats, jackets, etc., or put out an APB in your friend circle. Like Murphy said, most maternity is pretty gently used, so I ended up buying most of mine secondhand. Also, I have several non-maternity stretch jersey dresses (mostly Old Navy and Target) I can STILL get into easily at 32 weeks, and with a belt worn high and a structured jacket or cardigan those babies are 100% work-appropriate. That’s been most helpful for me, to figure out what non-maternity basics I can use to stretch my small maternity wardrobe!

      Reply
    19. plus size mama

      One thing that i found is that i really preferred maternity tops to trying to make plus sized non maternity tops that fit work for me. I felt like going up a size in plus sized non maternity tops made me look like i just gained weight. I wanted to look pregnant. It was a weird change to make, as i’ve spent essentially my entire adult life trying to minimize my size. I felt better, and more put together, wearing more fitted items while i was pregnant, and items that actually emphasized my belly (such as tops that tied under my bust).

      Reply
    20. Kaz

      Motherhood Maternity sometimes has sales, but their plus size selection is limited. I have been wearing maternity yoga pants from Walmart with regular tops up until about week 26, and Old Navy has some good stuff (though I end up returning a lot of it.) If you want something specific that’s not overly expensive, Yours Clothing has reasonably priced basics in their Bump It Up line.

      Reply
    21. cookie monster

      I used Ebay and bought in lots from people who were the same size as me. I didn’t want to spend a ton of $$ because I was only planning on having 1 child and the clothes were only going to get 4-5 months of wear. I got really nice stuff-slacks, button downs, dresses all white colar appropriate. I probably spent about $150-$200 total

      Reply
    22. New Bee

      Some Ross stores have maternity sections, and the quality isn’t bad for clothes you’ll wear a few months.

      Reply
    23. sara

      Just chiming in to say thanks for this question! I’m 13 weeks and just starting to notice my pants getting a little tight. Bookmaking this for later reference!

      Reply
    24. Fellow Plus Size Mama-to-Be

      I JUST went through this shopping hell. Luckily, I’m fully stocked up now, so I don’t have to deal with it anymore.

      Anyway, I found this blog article very helpful: http://www.fatgirlflow.com/plus-size-maternity-clothes/

      I’ve been able to get away with buying clothes from a combination of the places listed in there. While they’re not that cheap, my favorite maternity clothes have been from Motherhood Maternity and, since your dress code is business casual, you can definitely wear a lot of their items to work. Also, Old Navy plus size maternity pants only go up to an 18, which doesn’t work for me, but their shirts go up to XXL, which is the equivalent of a 20, so I’ve been able to supplement my wardrobe with less expensive shirts from there.

      Finally, while not technically maternity, I’ve found that the leggings and dresses from LulaRoe have still worked well for me even during pregnancy.

      Reply
      1. PLORP

        I would like to add my vote to buying layering options. With my 2 working pregnancies, I had 2 black and one brown pairs of slacks (i found nipples at my local resale store and they are amazing), some thickish tanks and tshirtish and a couple cardigans, and that is what I wore to work. It doesn’t get too cold where I live, so the layers were fine. With my third pregnancy, I was staying home and wore very few actual maternity clothes and it was hot. I did maxi skirts worn over the bump and leggings worn under with various tops with the tanks I had from previous pregnancies. I probably felt cuter through my first two pregnancies – if I ever go at it again, I will invest in maternity clothes again to alleviate that frumpy feeling.

        Reply
    25. GoodnesSmee

      Seconding Pink Blush for cute plus size maternity stuff! I got an adorable dress from there for my baby shower and they have lots of cute things that would work for an office as well. The struggles of dressing as a plus size lady are even more perilous when shopping for maternity wear, but I think the options out there are getting better overall!

      Reply
      1. Specialk9

        And Gap – which I can’t wear regularly – has amazing business black pants (trousers) in extended sizes (tall, plus, etc), with a discreet black belly band* that is so comfy.

        I still wear them – I like the modesty of not having my belly show if I reach up, and I used to wear belly bands and layered tanks, pre-baby, so this is more convenient. I also still have belly soreness, 2 years out, from a rough C-section, so the soft belly band doesn’t cut into my belly but still keeps the pants up.

        *I hate the creepy “flesh” colored bands, they look medical not to mention flesh comes in lotsa shades.

        Reply
  4. Doubting Thomas

    I just started a new job last week, and I have some serious regrets — not just me missing my old job, but there’s some big differences between the job description and what the offer letter said, and the actual benefits and job duties now that I’m here.

    First is the vacation policy: during the offer stage I was told that you get 3 weeks of paid vacation time, but on my first day I found out that there’s no vacation time at all my first year.

    Second big thing is there’s unpaid travel and overtime. I’m coming from a startup so I made sure to ask about work life balance at this company. The interviewers swore up and down that it’s a very evenly paced 9-5 environment. But on day 2 my boss told me he’d be getting me a company cell phone, for use on on-sites where I’m supposed to supervise field service technicians troubleshoot and install hardware. The on-sites are at night and we don’t get paid overtime for them. This is totally outside my skill set (I am a front end web developer) and no one ever mentioned it to me before now. Not in the job description either.

    There’s a few other small things that point to a larger trend (HR forgot to schedule me for orientation, gave my department the wrong start date, and told me to report to the wrong manager on day 1). At this point I’m half expecting my first pay stub to have a different salary than the one I accepted.

    I feel like my trust has been taken advantage of here already and I’m less than a month in. So what do I do? I see three options:

    – Call up my old company and see if I can rejoin. They probably would say yes, but I left for a reason and leaving again shortly would destroy my reputation with everyone there. Obviously I’d rather avoid that. And I’m not sure how long to wait or how to phrase it.
    – Quit and job search full time. I stayed for a decent time at each of my previous jobs, so I think I can avoid the job hopper stigma if I give a level-headed explanation of what happened. Adapting Alison’s advice from here sounds good: http://www.askamanager.org/2015/11/my-new-company-wont-honor-the-extra-week-of-vacation-i-negotiated.html
    – Stay here but phone it in and keep looking until I find something/get let go. This keeps money coming in but it seems like a really bad idea.

    I’m split between the first two. I’m also fairly young (~5 years work experience), so I would really appreciate any advice. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. CAA

      Can you go back to the interviewers you met with and discuss some of the disconnect with them (not the vacation, but the hours and content of the job)? If you were told to report to a different manager, is this even the person you interviewed with? It almost sounds like the job they hired you to fill evaporated in some kind of restructuring and they put you into the opening they had.

      If you can, stay there and do the best job you possibly can (i.e. don’t “phone it in”) while continuing to look for something else. Don’t go back to your previous company if you’re just going to leave again, and only quit without a job if you really have to.

      Reply
      1. k.k

        All of this yes yes. See if they can make things right before giving up. If they can’t, then let them keep paying you while you look for something else. The exception would be if they are asking really unreasonable things from you and it’s a really toxic workplace, or if you have a huge amount of savings.

        Reply
        1. Doubting Thomas

          I have a decent amount of savings, and I’m in a big city with a lot of tech jobs.

          Re: vacation, I talked to HR. They said they’d forward me some documents that explained the PTO policy, and then sent me the list of holidays and haven’t responded again. They’re definitely not on the up and up, but my gut says to take the high road.

          Reply
            1. Cinnamonroll

              Vacation is part of your compensation. You have every right to have it addressed, same as you would if they didn’t pay you the salary you agreeded on.

              Reply
          1. Seattle Web Dev

            I’m also a web dev in a big city with a lot of tech jobs. I got super burned by my last company (also a start-up, also my first full-time job as a web dev), and ended up in a job with nearly double the pay that I LOVE and look forward to every day within a week and a half. If you have the savings and think you’ll have job options, I’d say quit and leave this job off your resume (easy to explain this situation – nobody would blame you for it!) or stay and job search as possible on your own time/via “doctor’s appts” until you get a new offer or two. If you’re in tech and have options then you definitely have better options than this.

            Reply
            1. Doubting Thomas

              They don’t give paid sick time for the first few months. But I’ll still do that — Google, Facebook, and a couple of the big banks have, so. I also have connections at those companies: they have high employee satisfaction because they don’t pull stuff like this. And there’s always smaller or medium sized companies which treat their employees well.

              I’ve had probationary periods before, but usually you accrued PTO and sick days during them, you just couldn’t use them during the first 60/90 days. I’m still against that, but it’s a far better and far more reasonable policy than no vacation first year. We’re not exactly in a 2,000 person town here.

              Unfortunately, with “HR is a black box,” I don’t think I have too much leverage here. It’s possible I would, but I doubt it. I’m not good at hardball negotiation either, so I’d end up saying something like “if we can’t fix this by tomorrow, I can walk down the street and get my old job back, or I can walk up the street and interview at Google”, and look really bad.

              Reply
          2. neverjaunty

            What do you mean by “take the high road”? Standing up for yourself politely is not the “low road”.

            These people are at best incompetent – that the rest of the company says HR is a ‘black box’ is completely not normal in any way.

            Reply
            1. Doubting Thomas

              I can be kind of avoidant, like a typical computer guy. I don’t want to make enemies.

              But here if it’s between getting someone mad at me, or getting exploited because I was lied to, I’ll be fine with having them as enemies.

              Reply
              1. Specialk9

                That’s NOT OK. They don’t get to change terms of employment from what they offered and you agreed to. I’d politely email your managers and HR together. “Hi, there seems to be a problem with my contractually agreed-upon benefits, how do I get this fixed so my benefits match the offer I accepted?”

                I’d also research your local laws, and consider getting an official letter from a lawyer.

                Reply
    2. Paige Turner

      They did whaaaaaaat? Number three. Do your best while you can, but it sounds like this company is shady and flat-out lied to you. You shouldn’t have to lose your income immediately on account of their sketchy practices. Leave the new job off your resume and start applying for other jobs. Any reason why you feel like option number three is a bad idea?

      Reply
      1. Doubting Thomas

        It’s just a gut feeling. I’d also like to be able to honestly say that I’ve never been fired. Since I’m not going to stand up and shout “THEY LIED TO ME!!!” in the middle of the office, I feel like it’d look way worse to sit in the office applying for jobs for 40 hours a week.

        I have plenty of savings and then some brokerage (not retirement!!!) accounts I can use to keep myself afloat while hunting full-time.

        Reply
        1. Natalie

          This might be a long shot, but in my state you can get unemployment if you quit an “unsuitable” new job within 30 days. If you’re leaning towards #2, that might be worth looking into.

          Reply
        2. CAA

          You cannot sit in the office applying for jobs for 40 hours a week. If you stay there, then give them the decent effort that they are paying you for and apply for jobs when you’re not working. It’s just the moral and ethical thing to do. If you aren’t able to make yourself at least try to do the work they want from you, then yes, you should probably quit.

          Reply
          1. Doubting Thomas

            I am legitimately split on this.

            HR hasn’t picked up the phone to confirm. My boss’ response was basically “HR is in charge of all of this, and they’re kind of a black box to us.”

            I believe that I should take the high road, but I feel really burned by this.

            Reply
            1. LaLaLand

              Why why why do companies do this?
              Yes, I would definitely go back and schedule a meeting with both HR and the hiring manager to go over what’s changed and is different from what you expected.

              Reply
            2. Jadelyn

              HR should never be a “black box”, that’s a huge red flag of a dysfunctional company and culture. Good lord.

              I vote for job searching immediately, stay until you get something better, then hightail it on out of there and make it clear that you’re leaving because they pulled a complete bait-and-switch on you. Also go spill your story on Glassdoor once you’ve left.

              Reply
        3. Triceratops

          I mean, doing #3 doesn’t mean you’re going to get fired? Hopefully the turnout would be that you get a new job, resign this one, and leave it off your resume going forward. Still no firings.

          You can’t use your work time to job search. THAT might get you fired. Since you don’t get any vacation the first year, I guess you’ll have to have “doctor’s appointments” for interviews, but other than that…do it on your own time only.

          Reply
          1. Doubting Thomas

            No sick time for the first 90 days.

            From what I understand, this is one of those old, long-running companies that’s begun cutting down on employee benefits since the last recession. So you have a few “lifers” who are basically immune to firing because of their seniority, but for new people it’s nowhere near as good of a place to work. Not saying that everyone who’s stayed at a company for a long time does this, but I’ve seen people like that at every company I’ve worked at.

            I would say more but that’d probably open me/them up to internet detectiving.

            Reply
      2. Artemesia

        The field service outside your skill set at night? Wow! I’d do #3 and find something new unless you can commit to the old place for a couple of years which it looks like you don’t want to. ‘The job was supposed to be front end development and ended up requiring unpaid night technical service support in the field which is really outside my skill set.’ seems like a pretty good ‘excuse’ for job hunting so soon.

        Reply
        1. Natasha

          I was most surprised by this part, too. Even if you do coincidentally know a lot about hardware, there’s no overlap with web dev, so it’s a weird combination of duties.

          Reply
        2. Nancie

          It sounds to me like she’ll be supervising the techs who will be doing the actual hardware work. Which just sounds odd to me — what sort of hardware people need constant supervision? On-site supervision for anyone past the trainee/intern stage is something that their real manager or supervisor should literally be able to phone in.

          Reply
    3. Another person

      Oof that is rotten luck but it does happen. I wouldn’t go back to your old job if you’re just going to leave again but I don’t think you need to quit right away either. I’d stay and job search and work on industry certifications and try to either get out quickly or see if the job becomes more like what you were expecting after another month. But it does sound like you got bait and switched and if you’re not into working for free with no vacation (I know I’m not), any reasonable employer would understand if you bailed, especially since you have longer stays before this.

      Reply
    4. Courtney W

      I’m also pretty young, but I once did the first thing on your list here and ended up really regretting it. As you said, there’s a reason you left your old job. I didn’t want to tank my reputation there, so I ended up staying for some time and it just felt like such a waste. So I would discourage you from doing that.

      Is it feasible to stay at the new job NOT just phoning it in while you job search? And I do agree with CAA that it’s worth discussing with the interviewer.

      Reply
      1. Doubting Thomas

        There was a reason, but even despite the hours, they were understanding. I was respected by my team, they were genuinely sad to see me go, and if I needed a mental health day or to help my parents (they’re elderly and I help take care of them) the response was “health and family are more important. Take the time, you don’t have to even put in for PTO.”

        Impression here so far is “here’s policy, we don’t write it all down. Take it or leave it.”

        I’m genuinely torn here.

        Reply
        1. RT

          Could you potentially do some contract work for your old company? A month of contracted dev work should float you until you find a new job.

          Reply
          1. Doubting Thomas

            It’s a possibility. I left on very good terms so there’s an open door there for me.

            The worst-case scenario would be if I can’t find something in a few months, I would call them up.

            Reply
    5. mugsy83

      Oof. I had a similar situation a few years ago. Left a toxic job and landed in another not good situation, which took me a couple of months to really uncover that the new place was dysfunctional and financially circling the drain. I ended up just continuing my job search. My profiles were still active on job searching sites and I was honest when I was contacted by prospective new employers. I said something along the lines of old company was laying people off, so I took this new “temp” position to keep a steady salary, which was true. I really did look at the new job as a temp job – meaning, I did what needed to be done, I gave a real effort while I was there to do the best I could with what was asked of me, and at night and on lunch breaks, I was sending out resumes and taking phone interviews. I don’t think you have to choose between quitting and “phoning it in,” you can do both.

      Reply
    6. skunklet

      I’m still stuck on the ‘unpaid’ portion (in addition to everything else). How is this even LEGAL?

      Reply
      1. Jesca

        I think this is the most telling of the whole situation. They are taking advantage (it sounds like of exempt employment. I believe a lot of places that would require this extra work would offer flex scheduling or would flat out have an overtime policy. They are clearly unwilling to do this. That is why I think it was a complete bait and switch. Get someone in with some skills, and then force them to do this awful job. I actually HAD a manager do this before to a new hire! It was horrible.

        Reply
      2. Doubting Thomas

        I’m considered an exempt employee at this job. So they don’t pay OT. I think that fits the definition because I’m doing skilled work and also supervising someone else (the field techs).

        And what’s right, decent, or ethical to do is separate from what’s legal. Sad but true. Though this is still dumb because it’s not like software developers don’t have options. Facebook and a couple of big banks have offices in my city and I’ve talked to them in the past.

        IANAL but I think I’m right. Famous last words.

        Reply
        1. Rocketship

          Speaking from close to 20 years in the workforce, if you’re already getting this bad a vibe from the company this early on….. well, it’s not going to get better. Straight up. They have already shown you that they are willing to lie to you, stonewall you, misdirect and take advantage of you. You can pretty much expect that none of this is going to change.

          Personally, if you can afford it, I strongly recommend option #2 – quit now and job search full time. Leave this off your resume – especially if you’ve only been there a week or two, it’s basically like it never happened. If you are for some reason asked about the gap (not likely), you can say something along the lines of “I worked briefly for Evil Bees, Inc., but the job duties turned out to be very different from the description I was given, and it wasn’t as good a fit for me as I had hoped.” I think most people have had a similar experience and will be empathetic.

          You’re right that it’s not exactly the high road to phone it in to collect the paycheck while you job search (much as they seem to richly deserve it and as tempting as that would be). Beyond that, however, is the fact that the longer you stay in this clearly dysfunctional and abusive environment, the more likely it is to warp your view of a normal working environment. Check out this thread for examples: http://www.askamanager.org/2014/11/are-you-haunted-by-your-last-bad-job.html

          Do yourself a favor and drop them like a selfish lover. They don’t deserve any more of your time, and you don’t deserve to get jerked around by them any more than you already have.

          Reply
          1. Specialk9

            I don’t agree that’s it’s dishonest of them to phone it in and job search. Assuming they have savings, or that they should have to deplete emergency savings because an employer actively deceived them isn’t on.

            The company knowingly lied to you. Feel free to stay and job search and leave as soon as you can. You owe them nothing, though as a decent person you should not do anything outright wrong (eg deleting their files). Once you have a new job, post on Glassdoor to give a heads up.

            Reply
      3. Jadelyn

        If they’re exempt, it’s perfectly legal. That’s the whole point of having some employees classified as exempt.

        Mind you, that’s assuming they have in fact classified DT as exempt, and that it’s legit. And we don’t know either of those things.

        Reply
        1. nonegiven

          My son is a back end developer and his jobs after college have all been exempt. One job did include an on call week every few weeks but it involved ssh into the server and never had to leave his house for it. If someone needed to physically go to the data center and physically flip a switch, they had other people for that.

          DT doesn’t sound like he even has the skills for the field work. I keep wondering, if he was sent to the wrong manager, did they hire someone else who has his original job and there was a mix up as to who was hired for what? I’d call a meeting with HR and the hiring manager and if the job doesn’t make at least a 90° turn, I’d walk right then and tell them you expect your last check to be deposited by the eob tomorrow.

          Reply
          1. Doubting Thomas

            Yeah, that’s right. I’m exempt, and this is out of my skill set. I think I’m very good at what I do, but I make sure to specifically outline what it is that I do, so I end up in places where I’m doing it and I’m happy doing it.

            And I have worked outside regular office hours before … by using ssh or one of those special tokens to log into a server from home, or from a coffee shop or something.

            Regarding being sent to the wrong job: No, it’s the right one. HR just set up the reporting lines wrong. When they reached out for an interview they called me while I was in the office, I said “I’m in work right now, a little busy, can you email me?”, and they said “we don’t do this by email.” They also said they don’t share the PTO accural docs. So this is a company where HR is the supreme authority.

            Regarding remote work: It was sprung on me by surprise. I made sure to ask about work-life balance, and this did not come up. They literally said “no, no, no! This is a 9-5 office job.” Meanwhile, the guy who sits next to me got a call on Thursday telling him he needed to be at an on-site 8:30 P.M. Friday.

            Reply
    7. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs

      Ok, I’m not Alison, but I wonder if you can do the following:

      1) Talk to your boss about the disconnect. Something along the lines of, “Boss, I know we talked about this previously, but now that I’ve had a bit to process I wanted to talk to you. When I was hired for this job I was told X, Y, and Z (duty tasks, not vacation and pay stuff). In talking to you you mentioned H and L, which is really outside of my skillset. I am and want to be a team player, but this isn’t something I can cover (I had “feel comfortable covering” here, but that may prompt a discussion about how amazing you are and how you’ve got it). How do we resolve this and make sure the site technicians have the proper contact information?”

      2) Email HR on the payroll stuff “There are some discrepancies between what I was told and what I am hearing and seeing in my paperwork. <> Obviously, I negotiated in good faith with these benefits in mind. What is the procedure for fixing these issues?” If you have the stuff in writing, even more fantastic. You said you let the boss know about the issues so I wouldn’t loop them in on the newest email yet.

      Speaking as someone who has had some pretty extensive “free” overtime–get your money now. You’ll end up putting the hours in anyway and definitely resent it more.

      If none of that works I vote for option 4–only work your 40 hour week and search the rest of the time. I would try my damnedest to get out of that phone on-call thing because it really seems like it doesn’t fit your current job description and wasn’t part of the discussion. If you have a conflict, I might state that, too, and worst-case get a day that works best for you (the “unavoidable personal conflict”, not actual task–no need to bring up points of discussion). Work the 8 hours a day and get out.

      Reply
      1. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs

        ah, caused some problems with my greater than and less than symbols. That part should say “examples here”.

        Reply
      2. Doubting Thomas

        It wasn’t. I came from a startup where I was working 10-11 hours a day. I’m fine with that grind, if I’m being paid accordingly. So I asked everyone who interviewed me and they all said “no, this is 9-5.”

        They seemed on the level with the pay (though I wouldn’t be surprised if that changed soon though), so I accepted.

        HR does not do email. This is strange to me, because the first job I had was at a financial institution with a very long operational history, and there everything was very clearly documented, and available to anyone on company intranet. Same at the startup.

        I will talk to my boss on Wednesday when he gets back. I help take care of my elderly parents, so there are times where I will be completely unavailable — and I have enough savings to stay afloat for a year or so, so if it’s either “work overnight or lose your job,” I’m walking. All my previous jobs respected that, but this place springing the overnight shifts on me makes me think it will be “do this or you’re fired.”

        Reply
        1. Artemesia

          I’d have a lot more obligation to help elderly parents and be a lot less available especially since you are willing to quit if necessary. I cannot do this is stronger than I don’t want to do this.

          Reply
          1. Doubting Thomas

            Indeed. The dishonesty about this is what really grinds my gears. The startup I worked at was honest about how much they wanted us to work. And if I said I couldn’t do something because I had family obligations, the response was “that’s fine, family is more important, you can forget I asked.”

            Only time will tell but I get the feeling that this place will be less compassionate since they waited until after I started to drop it on me.

            Reply
    8. CityMouse

      I can’t tell you whether to quit because that depends on your financial situation but I would keep job searching. I just think the huge discrepancies and lack of addressing them is red flags all around. I am so very sorry.

      Reply
    9. Beezus

      Did they spell out the PTO in your offer letter? As others have mentioned, it’s part of your compensation, so don’t let HR ice you out with ignoring you. IDK what state you’re in, but many ALSO consider it legally accrued wages that must be paid out when you leave. Can you go talk to HR in person? It’s hard to ignore someone standing in front of you.

      Reply
    10. Blueberry

      I’m wondering about the not getting paid overtime. That’s not legal except in a very small set of circumstances and jobs. I would seek advice from the employment commission for that.

      Reply
      1. Doubting Thomas

        As a programmer, I’ve always been exempt from OT pay, except for my very first job. There I’m pretty sure everyone who was below director level got overtime; the logic was “we don’t want to make you work late, so if you do, we want you to be compensated for it.”

        That is the one part of this which seems totally above board. Legal but not ethical, you know?

        Reply
  5. want to be respectful

    Hi All
    20+ years ago when I was in college, I interned for a local, but very large financial company. I worked on a small team of 6 including my manager Jim. The company only allowed me to work a strict 20 hours a week. During college after my first year they made the internship a part time job for me working 31 flexable hours a week – awesome for a college kid.

    While I was the youngest by many years on the team, I became everyone’s little sister. We had a cordial- professional- friendly- acquaintance relationship but because of the late nights and working off hours, sometimes conversation became more friendly – have you seen that movie? catch the game last night? did you have a good time on your date? While it was a juggle to balance work and school I tried to do whatever I could to help the team. I grabbed coffees on my way into work, made cookies on the weekend. They really appreciated it. Jim loved my cookies.

    To this day I consider that team of 6 to have positively molded my outlook on my professional life. I am originally from and still live within commuting distance to NYC. Jim was fascinated as to why I would leave a big city for a small out of state college. He and the team constantly wanted to hear stories about life in NYC. I explained that I wanted to try something different during college. I had the same fascination about the smaller town where my college was.

    Anyway time moved on, I graduated, some of the team is still there. I sadly have lost touch, however I recently came across Jim and team’s profiles on Facebook. Apparently some of the team still works the company. I would like to reach out with a note letting them know how much I appreciated their insight and mentoring.

    Is it inappropriate when I write to Jim and team to include a batch of cookies and a recent photo of my family in NYC near a tourist attraction they always asked about? I want to keep the professional lines, hence not using Facebook. I think sending a handwritten note would be appropriate (Jim hated email). I really just want to acknowledge how they influenced me.

    I can justify the cookies as it was something they always mentioned in Christmas cards. I wonder if sending a photo near too much? In the few years that we did keep in touch they always asked if I met someone. In addition whenever they heard about something in NYC they always asked if I saw/ attended the event. However I’m sure after 20+ years and about 17 years of no contact, in their minds I’m just another long forgotten intern. I was hoping a photo would jog their memory. This sounds so silly after typing it all out. Any opinions or managers in this position that could offer insight?

    Reply
    1. ZSD

      I think what you’re suggesting sounds lovely. In the note, remind them of when it was that you worked together, and then say what you have planned about what a positive influence they’ve been. I think they’ll be moved.

      Reply
    2. TotesMaGoats

      I think that’s lovely! We too often lose touch with people that impacted us. I don’t think you’d be crossing any lines at all.

      Reply
    3. Jen RO

      I would find that very touching if I were in Jim’s shoes. I’ve only been out of college for 10 years, so I don’t know how much I’ll remember in another 10, but it sounds like you had a close relationship and (especially with the photo) you would be fondly remembered. I say go for it!

      Reply
    4. Havel

      That’s not weird at all. That sounds really nice!

      One of my big regrets is not keeping in touch with people from my old job — because they were friends, not (well not just) because they might be useful. I know a couple of them who were a few years older saw me as a younger brother and mentee type figure. Don’t repeat mistakes like that!

      Reply
    5. Paige Turner

      I agree that this would be really nice! I’m not a manager but I think anyone would appreciate this.

      Reply
    6. Emmie

      This sounds lovely and thoughtful! I second the reminder about your timeframe. It sounds like you were a memorable intern.

      Reply
    7. KT

      I think this is a lovely idea. Not inappropriate at all! I’d love to hear about their response once they receive the package.

      Super thoughtful.

      Reply
    8. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian

      From someone who has worked at a company a long time and has seen some younger interns/personnel move on from us: We really like getting the occasional note/photo about where they’re at in life and if they mention something about how we helped them grow, it triples the warm fuzzies. It’s really nice to hear that you were a positive influence in someone’s life, however large or small.

      Reply
    9. KatiePie

      A year ago I decided email my boss from my office job in college. I didn’t know her email address, but I knew the domain, so I sent it to various iterations of her name, and one got through!
      I told her how impactful working there had been for me, that I had aspirations of reaching the position she’d been in when I worked for her and that she was a large reason why, and that I had my own interns now that I’m trying to impart wisdom and knowledge to. She was thrilled to hear from me and we emailed back and forth a few times. We also discussed meeting up if I’m ever in her city, but we haven’t managed that yet.
      I definitely recommend it! Cookies and photo are a nice added touch.

      Reply
    10. Samata

      Just echoing what everyone else has said! I think this is great – I used to work in college admissions and every once in awhile I still hear from a student I recruited back in the early 2000s and I always enjoy seeing where they ended up, even if that’s the first I have thought of them in 15 years.

      Reply
  6. ZSD

    How do I know how picky to be when job-searching in my mid-30s? My two-year contract position is about to end, and of course I’m looking for new jobs. I’d thought that this contract would really start my career in my current field, but…I’m not having much luck getting that next job in this field. Do I need to broaden my search to include any jobs I think I can do, the way I did in my twenties? How long should I hold out?
    Relevant information: I think but am not certain that I’ll be approved for unemployment, and my spouse has a job that pays enough to cover our rent and groceries, though not much else. We do have some savings.
    When does it become better to take kind of any interesting job rather than holding out for a job in the field I want to stay in?

    Reply
    1. Anonymous Educator

      You say your contract is about to end. How soon is it about to end? If it ends in three months, I’d probably still apply for jobs in that particular field only. If it ends in three weeks, I’d probably be applying for anything I think I can do.

      Reply
        1. want to be respectful

          Hi ZSD

          First thanks for the encouragement with my inquiry above!

          As for your own question… Since you are short on time (2 weks!), I would take whatever comes along…. for now Since you are doing contract work, can you set an end date for your next assignment? 6 months? 1 year? Use that time frame to get set up for your following assignment whatever that may be. Use the time to research different fields, network some more. Assuming your next assignment (where you can negociate an end date) will be in an area you already work in based on your experience, you will already know the ropes/ ins and outs. That should free up some personal time for planning the next step in your career. Good luck! Keep us posted

          Reply
    2. Christy

      Depends on the field. But why not take an interesting job in another field? That sounds like a great opportunity!

      Reply
      1. ZSD

        Thanks. My current field is public policy advocacy. And to be clear, I’m talking about hypothetical interesting jobs in other fields, not a specific one I actually have received an offer for!

        Reply
    3. over educated

      Are you me…? (Except I’m probably not eligible for unemployment.)

      Like Christy, I think it depends on how much time is left on your contract and how specialized you are. Hiring timelines are long (3-6+ months) and openings are few and far between in my area, so with 14 months to go on mine, I’m focusing more on exploring options in other fields and informational interviewing; at 12 months out I’ll be more active in applying for jobs in the field; and at 6 months out I’ll be just trying for anything I can get.

      Reply
    4. Lizard

      2 weeks is not much time to find a new job–frankly you should have been looking months ago. I think its dangerous to take unemployment when you could have prevented this–don’t some states have lifetime limits on unemployment? Save it for when you really need it (not to mention the ethics around taking unemployment just because you haven’t found a dream job to apply to). I think that in your mid-30s, you should start focusing in on career opportunities BUT I would also avoid gaps in employment that can make it tougher to get a job in the future.

      Reply
      1. ZSD

        Well, obviously I did start looking months ago. I’ve had four phone interviews since last October, but that’s it, and I don’t appreciate you saying “I could have prevented this.” I’ve been applying for jobs for over six months now. How else would I have been able to say that I haven’t been having much luck? If I’d just started looking now, I wouldn’t know that yet.
        But I didn’t know there were lifetime limits on unemployment. That’s helpful to know.

        Reply
        1. nonegiven

          I’d get the unemployment and keep looking. Take the best situation you can find within a defined amount of time you are comfortable with.

          Reply
        2. sumthing

          ZSD, coming to this very late, but I have never heard of a “lifetime” cap on the number of times you can apply for unemployment benefits or the lifetime amount. It’s certainly not the case in California. There are limits as to how long you can collect benefits after losing employment and finding the next job. Many college lecturers here in California qualify for unemployment during the summer because even with a signed appointment letter, future employment can still be canceled at any time before classes start. That can add up to a lot of unemployment. It’s similar for people in the entertainment industry.

          There’s nothing unethical in collecting unemployment when you qualify. You’d have to contact your state unemployment division to see whether your current job qualifies

          Reply
        1. Specialk9

          It would have made me prickly too. The “it’s your own fault you irresponsible person” thing was pretty rude, especially paired with the assumption you haven’t been job searching.

          Reply
  7. Christy

    My manager is struggling. He’s been a manager for a while, but he’s seen as a micromanager. (He is, but he doesn’t want to be? He knows he needs to work on it but still struggles.) Is there anything I can do to help and support him? I’m his subordinate, so I’m not in a position to coach him, I think, but I’d like to help him develop. I’d appreciate any thoughts y’all have.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous Educator

      Does he ever confide his struggles as a manager to you? Or is this all stuff you’re observing from afar? If it’s the former, I don’t think it’s out of line to give some advice. If it’s the latter, maybe there are ways you can coach his subordinates to manage up?

      Reply
      1. Christy

        I am his subordinate, so I would love advice on how to manage up in this situation! He’s been open with all of us about the perception of micromanaging but nothing specific to me personally.

        Reply
          1. Christy

            For what it’s worth, I don’t hate the micromanagement. But my coworkers do, and it’s causing my manager to struggle at being their manager, if that makes sense. Is there anything I can do to help him in this situation, rather than myself? I’m pretty ok. Mildly frustrated at best/worst.

            Reply
        1. Courtney W

          When you say he’s been open about the perception of micromanaging, the word perception gives me pause. Does he believe that he’s not actually micromanaging and is wrongly being perceived that way? If so, that’s going to make things a lot more difficult.

          Reply
        2. Specialk9

          Managing up is such an important skill!

          I’d work on negotiation and verbally creating boundaries, while making sure that you speak with warmth and (ideally) admiration to and about this person. (People pick up on feelings so quickly.) There are a lot of people skills and empathy in managing up – see them as a person and imagine their feelings and worries, and approach them with consideration.

          So for negotiation, make agreements with the manager about what they need to be comfortable, and what area you can take leadership/ ownership of. Ask for advice that’s actually negotiation: “I’m trying to transition from working on tasks by direction to self managing my workload, so that I could take on more responsibility. I see that’s a skill you are good at, and I’m wondering how to go about that, and if you’d be willing to work with me on this.”

          If it doesn’t exist, create a status board (Excel file in a shared folder, or shared business Google Doc, or whatever your company uses) and keep it up to date. Offer a weekly status check -in to review what you’re working on, and prep for those. Make a status report or update the tracker. Basically be so on the ball that this manager may twitch and quiver as a habit, but will be able to relax a bit about you in particular.

          Then if they keep asking for reviews or status updates or such, bring their attention back to the agreed upon structure. “We’ve been doing a weekly check-in, is this something that I can address then or is it urgent now?” Or “Name, would you be comfortable letting me take this part on, and have you do the final edit? You know I’m trying to grow my ability to work with less supervision, and I generally do good work.”

          Reply
    2. Fabulous

      I think how you’re able to help him depends on the way(s) in which he micromanages.

      For an old micromanager boss I worked for, we had daily meetings to give updates on every outstanding item on his master to-to list, among a host of other things. Meeting daily helped him to cross things off in his head and stop hounding people about the little things because he knew they were being worked on.

      Reply
      1. Dead Quote Olympics

        I think this is really good advice. Is he concerned about how things are getting done? Or THAT they are getting done? We have a series of linked project management spreadsheets for major projects (Microsoft Project is really overkill for the size of our org) that anyone in the org can look at to see what tasks are complete, what’s active, etc. and we can add tasks, decisions, and meetings ourselves and assign them, add notes, etc. Something like that might satisfy a “I worry that this is getting done’ micromanager.

        An “I worry that you are doing it in the exact way I want it done” micromanager is much tougher to wean off the micromanaging. That seems more like a coaching/managing up situation where repeated “I’ve got this, thanks” with a follow up of “see, it turned out fine” seems necessary (but probably not sufficient).

        Reply
    3. Another person

      I generally try letting micromanagers know “I’ve got this, thanks for checking in and I’ll be sure to let you know if I need something” and “I’ll give you a status update on X at (Y time)”. Well meaning micromanagers tend to just like reassurance all things are being covered. The bad kind, nothing is ever good enough and I try to get away from those when it becomes clear they will never trust me to do my job without them standing over me every step of the way.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous Educator

        Yeah, I’ve seen this as well. It doesn’t actually stop the micromanaging completely, but at least well-intentioned but misguided micromanagement does subside slightly if people are proactive about progress reports.

        Reply
    4. London Engineer

      You could send him a link to Ask a manager…

      Seriously though I think there have been some posts on avoiding micromanaging, they might be worth digging out.

      Reply
    5. Cap Hiller

      The only question I’ll raise is do you feel confident that others on your team don’t need the micromanaging? With the team I’m managing now, I realize I’m a different manager with each person. My fabulous report, she keeps me updated AND I trust her judgment most of the time, so it works well. Another report thinks she’s a great employee but isn’t but then doesn’t understand why she needs to be managed. In fairness, I don’t think I’m micro-managing, but she does. For example, there was a change in schedules and I used an email to remind when a weekly project update was due. Her submissions are late every single week but she replied snarkily to my reminder

      All to say that other employees often don’t know the full story of an employee’s work relationship with a shared manager and you jut want to be mindful of that

      Reply
      1. Specialk9

        It’s a good point! Sometimes our self perceptions are way off the mark! Your employee doesn’t see that she’s actually not doing what she should, and likely thinks you’re a jerk manager.

        Reply
    6. Nic

      There’s a really good book my management team is reading right now that focuses a lot on going from leader-follower to leader-leader, and talks about what is needed to not feel like you have to micromanage. It’s called Turm This Ship Around and is by L. David Marquet. ISBN -10: 1591846404 ISBN-13: 978-1591846406

      It’s fantastic. Maybe if you’re seen reading it you can suggest it?

      Reply
  8. FDCA In Canada

    I had an interview Monday, which went fantastic. I had a second-round phone interview on Tuesday, which also went very well. My interviewer assured me she wanted to make a decision by Thursday, but yesterday came and went with no phone call, and now I’m on vacation, so I have no idea what to expect. I’m not too terribly worried because I know this all takes longer than people want it to, but…the interview went SO well! Now I’ll be nervous for a while.

    Reply
    1. Artemesia

      Hope it goes well but it is always prudent to assume it is a ‘no’ and carry on. Soooo many great interviews come to nothing — sometimes they found someone better even though you are great and sometimes they promoted their worst employee and sometimes they hired their boss’s son in law.

      Reply
    2. Chinook

      From your user name, I am going to assume you are in Canada. Let’s face it – everyone is on long weekend mode for the big holiday tomorrow and I would be surprised if she called you today. My advice is to forget about it until Tuesday. Some places are giving Friday as the stat and others the Monday and I any reasonable person would know that a no answer to a all could easily mean you are out camping or celebrating.

      So, sit back, pop a cold one, enjoy the fireworks and concerts and forget about it until next week. 150 years of Confederation only happens once.

      Reply
      1. Chinook

        Also, depending on the industry or location, remember that they may also be starting “summer time,” which means approvals take longer as various people go on vacation over the next two months. AAM’s advice still stands – forget about it until they contact you as there is nothing else you can do.

        Reply
    3. Stranger than fiction

      I think this is like many things in life like when a friend says “I’ll call you next week” and they may have every intention to do so right in the moment, but then life happens.
      Only difference here is business happens.
      There’s also people that just give an arbitrary time or day in the moment, but really have no idea when or even if they’ll call you, and just say these things not realizing the other party is taking you at your word.

      Reply
  9. Nutella Jar

    My question is similar to this letter (http://www.askamanager.org/2013/08/is-it-okay-to-leave-my-parents-dysfunctional-business-and-never-look-back.html), but I’m not sure if Alison’s advice would apply in my situation.

    I currently work at my father’s company that is really dysfunctional. It’s my first job post college. Salaries are really low, and I’m not getting paid the market value of my position. I get no benefits and have to beg for my paid-vacation time. I’ve even gotten in trouble for using sick time when I was really sick. Money is often misused and used unethically. There’s a lot of debt. It’s so bad that the IRS would probably have a hay day if they saw our financials.

    Even before working at this company, my relationship with my father has been strained. When I was a kid, he criticized me and my interests, made jokes about taking my bed and room away from me when I disagreed with him on a subject, got mad when I tried to set boundaries for myself, and put me down whenever I was upset. It’s gotten more strained since I started working for him and since I started dating my current boyfriend a year ago (which is another story. Basically he told me that if I become sexual with my boyfriend that no other guy will want to date me if we break up).

    Yesterday, I put in my two-weeks notice to the person ranked higher than me (and he’s technically my supervisor). I haven’t told my father yet. I know my dad will try to convince me to stay because last year I tried to quit, but I didn’t because I felt so guilty when he kept saying that “he needed me” even though I told him I was unhappy here and started to cry (sorry, I know it’s not professional). I read Alison’s advice and the comments in the letter I mentioned, but I feel the OP had it than I did, and I’m not sure if the same advice would apply to me. I really want to pursue my own dreams and get out of here because it’s taking an emotional toll on me, but I feel I’m a terrible daughter for leaving the family business. Is it okay to leave?

    Reply
    1. Emily

      It’s absolutely okay to leave. In fact, I think it’s better for your career for you to work somewhere else rather than the family business.

      Also, you are NOT a bad daughter for wanting this. Your father sounds like a real bully.

      Try to be as objective as you can here. You need to do what’s best for YOU.

      Reply
      1. Lance

        That’s just the thing: you’re not a terrible daughter, he’s a terrible father, and you owe him nothing as a result.

        Reply
      1. Nutella Jar

        Not yet. I’ve been applying. Part of my reason of quitting to is to move where my boyfriend lives, which is an hour away. It’s been hard having to go to interviews during the weekdays when I live an hour away, and staffing agencies have told me they can’t help me until I live in their city.

        Reply
        1. MMDD

          I think putting some distance between you and your father would benefit you immensely. He sounds toxic as a parent and employer (just based on what you said here; obviously I don’t have the details). Parents are supposed to do what’s best for their children, no matter how much it hurts the parent. How is the job market in your boyfriend’s city? Would it be worth it to go without something lined up?

          Reply
          1. Nutella Jar

            Job market is pretty good, and there are more vacant jobs than here. I’ve gotten more interviews there than my city. Strangely, they don’t seem to care if you’re currently employed or not. Interviewers keep asking me if I’m still going to work for my current employer, and some of them are a bit thrown off that I’m still employed.

            There’s also a writing organization that I really want to volunteer for, and I know the director who told me to come help whenever I’m in the area. I’m hoping that even with nothing lined up job wise that volunteering will help get me some additional experience and maybe a lead.

            Reply
        2. MissGirl

          Off subject but I wouldn’t recommend moving in with your boyfriend yet. Totally move but keep your own place. Sounds like you have a family a little like mine and it would be good for you to figure out who you are on your own. This situation has warped your idea of normal and there’s always the concern you’ll be drawn to a relationship that re-creates your home life.

          Live a full and independent life and don’t feel guilty for second.

          Reply
          1. Nutella Jar

            My boyfriend and I have talked about this. I told him that as long the next job pays well enough that I’ll be getting my own place because I want to be independent for a while. I will only move in with him if it takes a long time to find a new job or the job I get also has low pay.

            Reply
    2. Amber Rose

      A good parent wants what is best for their kid. Leaving is best for you. Therefore, the good parent in your dad who is buried under the person who is kind of a jerk, wants you to leave. In the short term, he will be upset. But in the long term, the good parent in him who wants you to succeed, will be happy to see you succeed.

      Therefore, leaving is not only what’s best for you, but ALSO makes you a good daughter.

      Focus on that, ignore the words that come out of his mouth for now, and get OUT. You can do it. I’m waving some sparkly pom-poms and cheering you on.

      Reply
    3. Sibley

      Quit, find something better.

      Also, go read Captain Awkward’s blog to get some help with how to handle your father.

      Reply
      1. Lefty

        I stopped to say something very similar.

        Nutella Jar, you might want to check out Captain Awkward’s articles, especially any about parents and boundaries. Just know that it might be hard to set up boundaries initially, but it gets easier! Best of luck!

        Reply
        1. Rocketship

          Thirding that advice! The Captain has been immensely helpful in helping me recover from my similarly-jerky parents. (The “no one else will date you thing” about your boyfriend… same thing was said to me. I am here to tell you nothing could be further from the truth. Lots of people will like you! Turns out, most people don’t give a shit if you’ve had sex before – and the ones who do are pretty big jerks themselves!)

          Dear LW, you deserve to be paid fairly and live freely. Get out of there and go be your awesome self somewhere where your dad can’t be a jerk to you about it.

          Reply
          1. VioletEMT

            I got the variation on “no one will ever date you”- he will never marry you if he knows he can get it that easy. Mom actually said “why buy the cow?”

            Reply
            1. Rocketship

              Uuuuggghhh that is the grossest and I’ve always hated it. “Why buy the cow” – ok, 1, women are not cows, we are not sex dispensers, and marriage is not a PURCHASE – “when you get can the milk for free?” BECAUSE IT’S NOT A TRANSACTION, IT’S A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HUMANS
              AND THERE’S MORE TO IT THAN THAT UUUGH.

              I have Feelings on this subject. :)

              Reply
      2. Specialk9

        My longer comment is in moderation, but please read Lundy Bancroft’s book “Why Does He Do That”. It changed my life, so much for the better.

        I third the decision to live on your own. People who grow up with an abusive parent often seek out the familiar subconsciously — especially if the same gender as partners (eg father when you date guys, or mother if you date women). Gets lots of therapy on how to recognize the signs, and learn how healthy people negotiate conflict and talk about hard feelings.

        Reply
    4. Turquoise Cow

      It’s definitely okay to leave. I highly advise it, even!

      Being your own person and going on your own path doesn’t make you a bad daughter. It’s something you need to do to take care of yourself.

      Reply
    5. Not in US

      Fair or not, many employers will discount employment in a family business a little so it will be really good for your career to work somewhere else for a while (even if it’s not forever – although this sounds horrible). So I think this is a really good move.

      Reply
    6. JustaCPA

      leave as quickly and as completely as you possibly can. I give you permission. Alison gives you permission. WE ALL GIVE YOU PERMISSION to leave a dysfunctional familial workplace!!

      Reply
    7. Artemesia

      If he paid you well and was a decent human being, it is still dicey to try to launch a career in a family business unless you really want to make that your life. If all was well, it would be fine to move on. All is not well. It is imperative for your career growth and mental health that you find a career path not under his thumb. Lots of people have abusive bosses but don’t choose an abusive gather as your boss.

      Reply
      1. Somebody that I used to know

        In fact, I work for a family-owned company and they require all their relatives to work somewhere else for a couple of years after finishing their education, because it helps to get new ideas on how things could be done into the company.

        Reply
    8. Sunflower

      Please leave. You will be doing yourself the greatest service. Good luck dealing with this- please don’t beat yourself up. You are 100% making the right decision for everyone involved.

      Reply
    9. Emmie

      It’s okay to leave. I actually recommend leaving. It sounds like it’s the healthiest for you. It’s also okay to feel conflicted and doubt your decision. It’s okay to cut off contact for however long you need, if that’s what you want to do. It’s okay to not give notice in this environment if that’s what you need / want to do. It’s okay to leave without a job. And even if / when you are intimate with your bf, other men will want you. Your father is wildly out of line and very unhealthy. Go. Don’t look back. You deserve peace and happiness.

      Reply
    10. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      You’re not a terrible daughter, and it’s in your best interest to leave. Most functional/healthy parents just want their children to be happy. They support their children’s growth and efforts to develop as independent humans. They do not guilt-trip them into continuing to work for unfair wages at a failing company or chastise them for taking necessary sick leave.

      OP, what you’re describing is indicative of emotional abuse (controlling, placing you in financial jeopardy, making you feel insecure about your home/stability, trying to isolate you from your boyfriend by invoking the virgin/whore dichotomy, guilt-tripping you into staying at a sinking ship, criticizing your interests and undermining your self-worth, berating you for doing things like using sick leave because you were sick, etc.).

      I’m not saying that your dad is abusive. It’s just that the behavior you’ve described suggests that your dad is not capable of drawing healthy/reasonable boundaries, and he’s not willing to respect boundaries when you draw them for yourself. I can’t imagine that the debt, low-pay, guilt-tripping, failure to provide basic benefits, interference/frostiness about your boyfriend, etc., are ever going to change. And it sounds like he’s willing to drag you down with him instead of supporting your personal and professional growth and development. Because you can’t change your dad’s behavior, the only way to make this stop is for you to make peace with yourself about leaving.

      I know it’s really hard to leave and feel ok about it. If you grew up in a family like mine, you may have also been hit with a heavy dose of cultural judginess about the “duty” that children (especially girls) owe their parents. Your dad might accuse you of not loving him, of not being grateful, or of not being supportive. Remember that someone who loves you and prioritizes your happiness would not say any of those things to you.

      It’s ok to leave, and it doesn’t make you terrible. It makes you bad-ass, courageous and brave. I’m sending warm thoughts, encouragement, and support.

      Reply
      1. OhNo

        I was just going to leave a similar comment. Several of the behaviors you describe are commonly cited markers of emotional abuse. Whether or not your father is abusive is something only you can know, but it’s worth recognizing that either way those specific behaviors are not okay and not normal.

        It is 10000% okay to leave, and it is also okay to decline to discuss your decision to leave with your father. If it helps, think of it like the advice they give in airplane safety demonstrations: you have to help yourself before you can help others. Make sure your oxygen mask is firmly in place by finding another job, moving out, and working on your own dreams for a while.

        Reply
        1. Specialk9

          I understand the hedging (“only you can know” if your father is abusive… but as someone who was in an abusive relationship, I was in no way able to recognize what was happening then. Abusers deliberately create a web of confusion, guilt, and misdirection. It’s very hard to realize that no, it’s really NOT you who is in the wrong, who is a bad stupid person who does everything wrong.

          So OP, please talk to a therapist and read books on how abusers operate. I posted above the book that opened my eyes to what was happening.

          And it’s not your fault. Abusers often choose loving, empathetic people because the things that make them kind can also be manipulated. There’s nothing wrong with you. You are not the problem.

          Reply
    11. Jessesgirl72

      Leave, and I hope your next employer has an EAP you can use for some counseling.

      Just be careful that you’re not leaving one abusive situation (and that is absolutely what this is) for something with your boyfriend that will be just as precarious, if not more so.

      Reply
      1. Nutella Jar

        A year ago I started noticing how my family’s behavior affected me and my behavior, and I think that has helped me not get into another bad situation. My boyfriend is really supportive and has been helping me establish boundaries, understand my emotions and thoughts are normal, and how to stand up for myself. He’s a really great guy.

        Reply
    12. Carla

      Leave. Leave, leave, leave, and comfort yourself with the knowledge that once the guilt passes, you’ll feel better about it. Take this from another person who has a very… difficult… relationship with her father.

      Reply
    13. Nutella Jar

      Thank you everyone for your encouraging words. My eyes got watery reading all the support, and I cried during the drive to get lunch. Thank you for helping me feel better about my decision.

      Reply
    14. LKW

      My dad owned a business and I spent a summer working for him. My step brother worked for him for years as a lead sales person and it strained their relationship pretty much to the breaking point. My dad always thought he was paying my sb more than he was worth and basically felt that the paycheck given meant a lot was owed back. Eventually my sb got a new job. I don’t think my dad ever forgave him for leaving because he now had to hire other sales members and didn’t have nearly the level of control he had over my sb.

      Get out.

      Reply
    15. Cinnamonroll

      Does your work situation allow you to be finically independent or does your work situation foster the sense that you are dependent on the family/dad for money?

      If your work situation makes you independent, then you should have no qualms about leaving for better opportunities, better living situation, better choice.

      If your work situation makes you dependent on the family businesss/ dad, then you should feel proud about choosing to go, and go without 2nd guessing yourself.

      Reply
    16. want to be respectful

      You have to look out for yourself. Tell your father that family and business do not mesh well. Use the excuse that you want to make it on your own. Your family’s business downfalls are not your concern, that is for the owner to deal with, regardless of your relationship. Your father “needs you” – while I don’t know if this is deliberate, you are paid a lower than average wage and benefits. My bet is your father thinks that because your are family you won’t complain and you “owe” the family. Honestly no one in the normal course of business would put up with these conditions. Your father needs you because he is getting a great educated person for next to nothhing. Tell your father you want to keep family and work separate, then go and spread your wings. You can do it. You are an amazing person, not a terrible daughter. Yes it is more than ok to leave even under the best of circumstances

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        OP, your father will always need you and you will always owe the family. Picture yourself twenty years from now, and you now know this to be true. What do you wish you had done differently 20 years earlier (now)?

        It sounds like you have a good chance to build a new life for yourself, I think you should go for it.

        Reply
    17. Rocketship

      One more thought:

      None of this makes you a terrible daughter. But even if it did – SO WHAT. You’d still be doing what feels right to you, right? You’d still be making the choices that make you feel good about yourself, yes?

      You don’t owe anyone a “perfect daughter” performance. If anyone tries to tell you you’re being a terrible daughter (you’re not), wear it like armor. “I AM TERRIBLE DAUGHTER THE HUN AND I HAVE COME TO RUIN YOUR BUSINESS BY BEING HAPPY. RAAARRR.” Nothing takes the wind out of an accusation like sarcastically agreeing with it.

      Reply
    18. Dzhymm

      You don’t need anyone’s permission to leave any position that you don’t like. The problem with family business, though, is that people often blur the lines between “family” relationships and “business” relationships. I lived this, having grown up in a family business myself. One time my parents lost an account, and they forbade me from ever doing business with that particular company. When I complained they fired back with “Well, what would you think if we made nice to the kids who are bullying you?” Clearly they had a big problem distinguishing business relationshps from personal relationships.

      Don’t let him suck you back in. You *need* some time away from the nest to get your own bearings.

      Reply
    19. Specialk9

      I’m so sorry that your father is so unkind, and has some traits that sounds like he may be psychologically abusive.

      Taking away a *bed* from a child over, well, any reason is not ok, and indicates a very troubling controlling punitive mindset. The fact that his business is run unethically and full of illegal practices is not normal or ok, and points to character in your father. The fact that you are an adult and he’s trying to dictate your sexual choices is deeply off, and that the method for controlling your sex life is slut- shaming and tearing down your self – worth? These are the marks of an abuser.

      Please do not work for this man. Please get therapy, lots and lots of glorious therapy. It is impossible to see how wrong all of this is from inside, but you can get out and learn a healthier way. (I’m saying this from personal experience.)

      If nothing else, please read this book (in Kindle so your dad can’t see, or while you’re physically at the library):
      Why Does He Do That, by Lundy Bancroft. It lays out the structure and logic of abusers in a way that cuts through the deliberate chaos and confusion they create.

      Reply
  10. TJ

    Last week I made probably the worst mistake I’ve ever made at work, and I’m curious if there’s a way I could have handled it better.

    I was at a conference with some coworkers, and saw my boss’s boss walking with some people I didn’t recognize. There was an event we were all supposed to be going to at the time, but I’d been there earlier in the day and ended up leaving because the event wasn’t at all what I’d expected — it was the type of thing where everyone else there was looking for a career in what I do, and I got swarmed by people wanting to talk to me and was pretty overwhelmed.

    Boss’s boss started talking about how they were heading to the event, and I mentioned that I was there earlier but it was weird. That’s when I found out that the people she was with were running the event. They were important connections for our company that I knew by name but not by face, and the first thing I did upon meeting them was criticize this big project.

    We exchanged some awkward introductions and they went to the event, but I knew immediately that I’d messed up really badly. So I followed them to the event, because there was supposed to be “mingling” time later on, and I wanted to find some way to repair the damage. I was trying to remember everything I’d ever learned from AAM about fixing mistakes…

    As soon as the speeches were done and the mingling started, I went over to the most important outside contact to re-introduce myself. I apologized for saying what I’d said earlier with no context, and explained what I thought of the event in a lot more detail — basically that I felt out of place at the very beginning, but that the last part was great and I was really glad they put on the event. I was telling the truth, so hopefully he could tell that I was sincere. His response was that he totally understood what I was saying, and that the first part was meant for people at a much earlier stage of their careers.

    After I finished talking to him, I went to my boss’s boss and said, “I screwed up and I’m sorry.” (Except that I didn’t say “screw” — swearing is a normal part of conversation at my office and the situation warranted it.) I told her that I’d spoken to the outside contact to explain what I meant, and that I didn’t want to overcompensate and make things worse, but to let me know if she thought I should do anything else. She said it was fine, that everyone makes mistakes sometimes, and that talking to the contact afterward helped.

    Then I went to my boss (who was also at the event) and told him what happened so he’d hear it from me first. He said the same thing — that it was okay and I’d done what I could.

    The next day my boss’s boss came over to me at a different event to say that as soon as I made the mistake she knew I’d realize what I’d done and find a way to fix it however I could. She also repeated that it turned out okay, and told me not to beat myself up over it.

    I really appreciated her saying that, but I still feel awful about it. Repairing the damage doesn’t change the fact that I’m an idiot for saying what I said in the first place. Lesson learned: never say anything bad in front of someone you don’t recognize, and assume they’re the most important person in the room until you find out who they are.

    But I’m sure this won’t be the last time I say something stupid. So, is there anything else I could have done to repair the damage?

    Reply
    1. Fabulous

      I think you handled it very well! Probably better than I would have at least. What may seem like a huge deal to you probably was just a blip on their day. Heck, they may have taken some of the things you gave as feedback to heart and implement changes based on it. I don’t see any lasting damage you did, and honestly, even the first interaction was more just awkward rather than damaging.

      Reply
      1. Anatole

        Totally agree with Fabulous. You handled this all very professionally. I think most everyone has had an instance of open mouth, insert foot. (I once was at a funeral home for a coworker that passed away and said to the deceased’s son, who I knew from another context, it’s so good to see you. I could have smacked myself for that one.) You addressed it with the contact and then immediately looped in your boss’s boss and your boss. Honestly, even if they weren’t so understanding, I don’t think there’s anything else that you could/should have done differently.

        Reply
        1. LucyUK

          My great aunt (who we don’t see often) cheerily said “we must do this again some time!” as she left the reception after my grandad’s funeral; it happens.

          Reply
      2. Turquoise Cow

        Yeah, I agree. And the fact that you got a response of “it’s ok, nbd,” from three people, two within your company and a third who could have been directly affected and insulted by the comments, means that it’s definitely ok.

        Reply
    2. Mr. Demeanor

      You did a great job apologizing and sorting things out. You’ve been forgiven by everybody involved, except yourself. I think that’s the last step to move on, not trying to find more ways to iron things out. Have a great weekend.

      Reply
    3. Amber Rose

      You already did plenty. And honestly, “weird” isn’t that big of an insult. If you’d set it was awful, or stupid, or a complete mess, then that would be ugly, but weird is pretty ambiguous. They probably didn’t even really notice it.

      The damage in this case was barely a scratch, so take your boss at face value and accept that everyone has slipped up with their words before, and that you did a good job fixing it, and that you shouldn’t beat yourself up over this.

      Reply
    4. em2mb

      It sounds to me like you handled your mistake with grace and dignity! If your boss’ boss is telling you not to beat yourself up over it, then you should try not to (though of course, that’s much easier said than done). You’ve learned an important lesson about networking and conferences that most of us will learn at some point in our careers.

      Reply
    5. Jessie the First (or second)

      You handled this gracefully and professionally, and please don’t spend even one more second worrying about it!

      There is not a person in the history of ever who hasn’t managed to put her foot in her mouth at one point or another. You did, but then you recovered quickly enough to repair any damage. Really, I cannot imagine there is any harm done at this point.

      Reply
    6. Rosamond

      This is so much better than the worst things like this that I’ve done, and you handled it a lot better, too.

      Reply
    7. Jaydee

      Everything you did sounds perfectly reasonable and it sounds like whatever damage was done to the relationship with the event organizers has been repaired.

      You can’t prevent yourself from ever making a mistake, saying the wrong thing, putting your foot in your mouth, etc. Everyone does that. The important things are 1) not doing it so often that you start to get a reputation for being careless or boorish or insensitive and 2) recovering gracefully. It sounds like #1 isn’t a problem for you since your boss’s boss said she knew you’d realize what you’d done and try to fix it. It sounds like she has a good opinion of you. And clearly you did fine with #2.

      Your brain will fixate on what you did wrong as long as you’ll let it (trust me – I’m 36 and can still *vividly* remember really insignificant stupid stuff I said and did as a small child). Don’t let it. Whenever it tries to remind you that you screwed up, turn right around and remind yourself that you also fixed that and both your boss and boss’s boss said it was fine and you had a pleasant interaction with the event organizer.

      Reply
      1. Your Weird Uncle

        I have a thing I call the ‘3 day rule’. Basically, whenever something like this happens that I obsess about (like getting chewed out at work for something someone else screwed up – which just happened the other week, as a matter of fact), I tell myself that after 3 days it won’t seem so big or important. Day 1, it’s all I can think about. Day 2, I’m still annoyed and keep winding myself up, but I’m starting to get over it. Day 3, I’m on the home stretch; sure, it’s on my mind, but I’m moving on to other things. And then by Day 4, I’m golden.

        I’ve found that the more I put things into this perspective, the easier it is to handle Days 1-2. Like, if something happens that annoys me, I’ll just remind myself that by Day 3 I won’t be nearly as upset, and somehow that really helps me deal with everything.

        The theory also works with papercuts, mosquito bites, and most stomach flus.

        Reply
        1. writelhd

          This is a really great concept for the mistake or conflict overobsessers among us–and OP, I think you’re overobsessing over a mistake that you handled just fine. I know because it takes one to know one. :)

          Reply
    8. The Queen of Cans & Jars

      I think you handled it perfectly. But as someone who regularly puts her foot in her mouth, I totally understand reliving it a million times in your head!

      Reply
    9. Elizabeth West

      Nah, you handled it very well. We all make mistakes–the key is that you owned it and you did what you could to make it right. Take your boss’s advice to heart; keep the lesson and let the shame go.

      Reply
    10. SansaStark

      As a former event planner, I’d have taken your comment as some honest feedback of how the event was being perceived by its attendees…..which, is actually really useful even if it might sting a bit. I tend to go over and over these kinds of flubs in my head, too, but I really think that you did an exceptional job of addressing this but not making a huge deal of it with them. I think it would be good to take them at their word that you handled it well.

      Reply
    11. Renee

      I don’t think “weird” is that bad. It can easily mean a feeling of subjective discomfort rather than the event itself and it sounds like you explained that. If I put myself in the place of the organizers, I would totally understand what you meant with the explanation. So I think it was a slip but that’s all it was. I don’t think it played as badly as you seem to think it did.

      Reply
  11. WellRed

    I was quite annoyed the other day by the many comments suggesting the cam couple hang out a shingle as freelance writers or editors as if it’s a no-skilled job. Who else has job that everyone thinks, “Oh, anyone can do that!”

    Reply
    1. Mouse

      The NYT copyeditors were recently in the news for writing an open letter about the value of their jobs. I thought it was a great read.

      Reply
    2. AnonyMeow

      Marketing is one of those fields, I think. It’s difficult to check myself sometimes, when non-marketing people come up with brilliant ideas, like “I know, we should start an Instagram account!” or “I know, we should advertise in Singapore, there’s a lot of rich people there!”

      I haven’t found a quick way to shut this down while not spending too much time explaining why it wouldn’t be worth the $$$ and not offending the good-hearted staff who just want to promote the organization.

      Reply
      1. Grits McGee

        I work in government and we have an employee who has just so.many.bad.ideas. about “promoting the agency.” Not only are the actual ideas costly/IT-intensive and don’t really represent the mission of our agency,* we barely have enough resources to serve the customers we do have.

        *Or sometimes he just pitches things that already exist.

        Reply
      2. writelhd

        Marketing is definitely one of those fields. I’m not it it myself, but our marketing manager is a Rock Star and I’m so impressed with her. She has noted out loud in business development sessions we’ve had together that lots of ideas for company improvement come up that are “market more, market more like THIS etc” and she handles with grace quite a few ideas sent her way that she, being a super Rock Star who is very capable, has already researched and assessed as not worth it or is in fact already doing. There’s tons of more financial acumen and business strategy stuff going on in a great marketing department, it’s not just about printing up fliers.

        Reply
      3. esra (also a Canadian)

        It is extremely tough to (quickly and politely) be like, thanks for your 101 bad idea. It is real bad, please just trust me and don’t make me explain the (super basic) reasons why.

        Reply
    3. Jen RO

      I’m a technical writer, but weirdly I haven’t heard this too much! Most people in my company seem to understand that what we do requires specific skills… but they also expect us to read minds. Maybe we should add that to our job ads?

      As a sidenote: it’s sometimes depressing to think that in my department of ~20 people only about 5 have strong editing skills. Because we hire juniors and corporate policy doesn’t allow us to give an extensive test, we sometimes end up with people who need serious training until they can do a decent job… The few people with strong editing skills are gold!

      Reply
      1. May

        The tech writing job ads I see are often looking for a combination of technical writer and another job-that-seems-like-its-own-job (software developer, social media manager, etc.).

        (Is there a way to take conversations off-board here? Jen RO, I’m interested in talking with you if so.)

        Reply
        1. Jen RO

          You can email me at jennee at gmail com if you want. I am not in the US though, so if you’re looking for job advice, I don’t know how helpful I can be!

          Reply
      2. Elizabeth West

        What May said. I have mad editing skills, but I don’t have a lot of technical skills. It seems like everyone wants those–and then of course they end up putting out really crappy documentation. Too many cooks and all that. You make the cake–I’ll put the icing on it. I don’t have to have six STEM degrees to edit your reports, dude. I overhauled an entire department’s documentation without knowing jack about software or banking.

        That’s why my old job (before it changed) was a good fit. It absolutely made use of those skills. Looking back, however, I do wish I’d had the opportunity to learn more; because I was an admin, there wasn’t much chance unless I moved to another department entirely. At the time, I didn’t really want to, until my job changed.

        Reply
    4. Pet sitter

      *waves*

      To be fair, a lot of people *can* do my job! They just get turned off by the cleaning and billing and endless driving, so they don’t make a full-time thing of it. :)

      Reply
    5. Anonymous Educator

      I’m not a full-time teacher any more, but damn if I don’t hear people still saying “Those who can’t do, teach” or “Teaching must be nice—you get the summers off.” If people think teaching is so easy or that teachers are overpaid (yes, I’ve heard that one, too!), they should just quit their “real” jobs and become a teacher and see just how “easy” it is.

      Reply
      1. Muriel Heslop

        As a teacher, just reading this made smoke come out of my ears. It’s such a disrespected career path, which only makes our day-to-day job exponentially more challenging. Over the years, I have found that the people who are the most critical are the people who would make the worst teachers!

        Reply
        1. Artemesia

          I taught high school for 4 years in the 60s. I had great students in an easy district and didn’t face most of the challenges teachers today are facing. Even so it was the toughest job I had in my 45 years in the workforce. I had 160 students and that meant at least 160 essays to grade a week. I had to prepare lessons for several different subjects/classes. These things occurred every evening and every weekend. During the summer I went to school for my masters. (the masters or advanced work is required most places to be licensed) I worked easily 80 hours a week consistently. Yes having summer off is a nice perk but most teachers are either working a second job or going to school then.

          It is even tougher today where teachers have to manage behaviorally disordered students often with no support from administration or adequate resources.

          Reply
        2. Cleopatra Jones

          And the ones who want to be teachers so that they can prove how much smarter they are than everyone else. Ugh, they are the worst.

          Reply
        3. Student

          I think teaching is a hard job to do very well at, where you make a meaningful difference in kids’ education and lives.

          I think teaching is easy to do just well enough at to not get fired for many years.

          I had a couple of teachers who did a great job and imparted really important things to me. I remember them well and fondly.

          I had a lot of teachers who were basically blah – the class textbook was a better source of information. They were, in truth, glorified babysitters – they kept the mean kids in line or distracted, and added nothing to my life. I don’t remember their names or faces, truth be told, and I doubt they ever knew mine.

          I had a couple of teachers who either made one big memorable mistake towards me or were overall low-grade destructive, dehumanizing forces in my life. I will remember them for the rest of my life, and if I saw them on the street as an adult I’d probably do something inappropriately retaliatory and immature that I’d regret later.

          I don’t know how it breaks down among those categories for most people, but for my experience – most teachers were mediocre people who didn’t do the 80-hour week stuff, they coasted and didn’t care much and survived by doing the minimum. A couple were amazing, and it stood out that they were working long hours. A few were menaces who should’ve been fired, and it was a shame on the whole profession that they were protected by their mediocre colleagues.

          Then there was college. The people I knew who went off to study to be teachers were not the smartest people in the class. They were below-average students. Most wanted to “work with kids” rather than to pass knowledge on to the next generation. They had daffy ideas that kids were “cute” and they as teachers could do silly glitter crafts and music exercises all day and play dress-up and pretend. They didn’t want to be grown-ups, or they wanted some fantasy idea of fun interactions with kids that bears no resemblance to any real kid I’ve met but looks a lot like a Disney Sing-Along Special character.

          So, no, I’m not impressed by the average teacher, but I’ve seen great ones and know the profession is capable of being amazing and deep. As a profession, it doesn’t attract top talent; it attracts a handful of true-believer semi-volunteers who do something amazing, and a bunch of coasters who didn’t know what else to do with themselves once they grew up, but thought teaching would be fun and safe and easy.

          Reply
      2. Courtney W

        Yep, I came here to say this. Those two phrases plus the people who like to refer to teachers as glorified babysitters and bash our country’s education compared to other countries. And of course, those doing the bashing want to blame the teachers, saying that our generally small salaries are too big, instead of looking at the bigger picture. I’m very new to the field (okay, I’m not technically in the field yet – one more year! But I’ve passed my certification tests if that counts for anything), but for years I’ve watched my mom be given very specific programs she HAS to use because some higher up with no actual teaching experience decided on it, only to have them throw it out and switch to something new halfway through the year. It’s ridiculous. Sometimes it feels like the more accurate phrase would be “those who can’t teach pass laws about teaching.” Not all lawmakers, of course, but…well, I’m from Michigan, so DeVos has been using her money to control things here for quite some time.

        Sorry, that turned into a major rant! I’m usually pretty optimistic about wanting to make a difference for my future students and becoming the best teacher possible. But I’ve heard people make these comments to my mom about her profession for ages and it’s always annoyed me so much.

        Reply
      3. A Person

        I could go on for hours about the problems I have at my teaching job. Blessedly my students are 90% cooperative and well behaved but bugger me if it isn’t an uphill battle against some of the sloppier practices of my co-workers. Just today I had co-workers talking over me when I was already in conversation with parents/students and other co-workers not properly checking to see if their students had arrived.

        Reply
      4. JustaTech

        Many years ago I saw a T-shirt in a catalog that said “Those who can, do. Those who can do better, teach”. It seemed like a nice sentiment, but I didn’t understand why someone would bother putting it on a shirt until I heard the “those who can’t, teach” thing, which is so inane and rude.

        Reply
      5. Amy Cakes

        My spouse quit teaching after several decades in an extremely impoverished district. The BS he had to put up with for lousy money is enough to make people’s heads spin. I have so many little anecdotes that I almost enjoy hearing criticism about teachers, because I can fire back on all cylinders at a moment’s notice.

        “Yeah, it was great when Mr. Cakes got infested with lice three times in one year. he also got stabbed trying to break up a fight. That’s definitely worth earning less than $40,000 a year with a master’s degree.”

        Reply
      6. The Queen of Cans & Jars

        I was just coming here to say pretty much this identical thing. (I’m a former teacher, too.)

        Reply
      7. JulieBulie

        That kind of nonsense and lack of respect is why I decided not to become a teacher. :-(

        I mean, I’m happy with what I do now, and there are other reasons I might not have been a good teacher anyway – but those critics should be more respectful to the professionals who spend so much time with other people’s children.

        Reply
      8. Anonymous Pterodactyl

        I can’t get a direct link because YouTube is blocked at work, but look up Taylor Mali’s spoken word poem, “What Teachers Make”. It responds to exactly this kind of terrible attitude, and it’s incredibly powerful.

        Reply
      9. Dead Quote Olympics

        Ugh. Not a teacher, but both my parents and my MIL, FIL, and SIL were/are teachers, as well as many friends and it’s astounding to me how dismissive people are about teachers in general and how little people understand about the work itself and the work conditions. If it’s any consolation, my BIL got so angry with that attitude during the Chicago teachers strike, he got on talk radio with a very spirited defense of the profession and became temporarily rather famous. We try and remember that whenever he’s taxing our patience with some other rantings about Chicago.

        Reply
    6. Poppy Bossyboots

      Funny, I have the opposite problem. I keep telling my friends that they can make real money as freelance writers/editors, and while many have initially expressed interest, asked for advice, created online profiles, etc., only one ever made an actual effort (and she’s been quite successful!).

      The difference may be that all my friends are English teachers, so their writing skills are already above average, which is why I’m sure they can do the work.

      Reply
      1. Nun Ya

        How does one go about becoming a freelance writer or editor? (Sorry if this has been covered elsewhere before.)

        Reply
        1. Poppy Bossyboots

          There’s probably a thousand different answers, depending on your skill-set and what kind of work you’re interested in. I started by making a profile on Upwork and bidding on jobs there. First I took any job I could get; as I got more experience, I started specializing in a few specific areas, like game narrative design and scriptwriting. Now I’ve got some great long-term clients so money is reasonably steady. That’s how my husband and I did it. :)

          I’d be curious to hear how others got started.

          Reply
          1. nep

            I’ve been thinking about using Upwork. Sounds like you would recommend it? I’m late here — would be interested to hear of others’ experiences with it.

            Reply
            1. Poppy Bossyboots

              It depends on what your field is. Upwork does take a hefty percentage of the freelancer’s fee, which is annoying, but it’s a good source of leads. I’ve found a lot more quality clients that are willing to pay an appropriate rate on Upwork than on, say, Fiverr.

              Reply
    7. Michelle

      I’ve been an administrative professional for 15 years. EVERYONE thinks it’s so easy to do what I do. They think all I do is answer phones and order office supplies! However, I have never, not once in 15 years, gone on vacation without getting at least 3 phone calls asking for help with something.

      Reply
      1. Liberty4All

        My best friend is an administrative professional and she sent me a photo once of something on her desk. The moment I noticed she had two monitors, I was like, “Nope, no way I could do that job!”

        Reply
        1. nonegiven

          My husband has 3 monitors because there isn’t room for 4. He isn’t an admin and doesn’t spend all his time at a desk.

          Reply
        2. Jadelyn

          I love my two monitors! I got everyone on my team hooked on it too, once they saw how I could use it to make things so much faster for myself. I’d have a third if I.T. would let me.

          Reply
          1. Electron Wisperer

            Most of my office runs at least two screens, and several people have no less then four.

            Tip, get ones with stands that let you turn the screen thru 90 degrees, a widescreen set so it is tall rather then wide is **so much** better for document work.

            Screens are cheap, and two (or three) make a big difference to anyone who works with more then one complicated document at a time, I mean an extra screen is what? Less then 2 days pay? It does not take much time saving over three years to cover that!

            Reply
      2. zora

        Yup, same here, fellow Admin! There are so many things I take care of that my boss has no idea are even coming up. Thankfully my current boss is very pleasant to work for and appreciative, but trying to get a decent raise out of the company is like pulling teeth.

        Also, event and meeting planning, which I want to do more of. But the number of times people think they can just ‘throw together’ a meeting with no agenda and then later complain about how much time they have to spend in meetings, GAH! So many people underestimate the work that goes into planning an effective and useful meeting.

        Reply
        1. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks

          And today’s admin doesn’t just support 1 or 2 people. I cover 30 people and have to keep meetings, travel and other events organized. Plus keep up to date with company policies. And that’s not even half the job.

          Reply
            1. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks

              @Michelle. Oh Yes!! the different personalities. That’s a job in and of itself. LOL

              Reply
              1. Jadelyn

                My team did a retreat last year and one of our activities was “draw a self-portrait of you at work”. I drew myself herding cats into a corral. You have to know how to approach each different person, who needs the gentle touch, who’s going to need their hand held, who can be trusted to just do what you need and get it back to you, who will need their boss cc’d on something before they actually do it, who will have a billion questions…

                Reply
      3. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks

        @Michelle. Yes. I’m an admin, too and yes, a lot of people think it’s a mindless job. I always say “if they only knew.” and like you, whenever I’m on vacation, I get emails asking about this, that and the third thing.

        Reply
        1. Not a Morning Person

          Have you considered responding…: “Oh that’s easy! I’m sure you can figure it out. And how would you like me to code my time for this work that I’m doing on this call with you?”

          Reply
      4. Jadelyn

        This sort of attitude led my team to hire a TERRIBLE admin for our team – I’ve been our admin for several years but I’m developing away from that area so we needed additional admin support, and got authorization to hire a temp to see how it would go if I had more time to work on my non-admin stuff I’ve started doing.

        Well, the first time, I wasn’t involved in the hiring. They hired a complete idjit who knew nothing about computers – for example, one time the man came to me and said he’d started a new folder on our shared drive because the folder he’d been saving things to was “full”, meaning the files reached the bottom of the window. He didn’t realize that you could keep adding things and it would automatically let you scroll up and down.

        This time, I begged them to let me do the hiring. It was a panel interview (me and 3 teammates, interviewing each candidate together), and we interviewed several that I said no on, and then one who I knew right away was going to be great. I told them flat out, if they’d have let me, I’d have offered it to her on the spot.

        She’s now been here for 3 weeks and has been a godsend. Everyone loves her. I’m trying *so hard* not to get smug about this, lol.

        Anywho. People have no idea what all happens behind the scenes with admin professionals. I’ve joked with people that if I’m doing my job right, you shouldn’t even know what I do, because I take care of problems before you notice them. But it is a skilled job with a lot of challenges, not something anyone who can answer a phone and file papers can do.

        Reply
        1. zora

          “if I’m doing my job right, you shouldn’t even know what I do, because I take care of problems before you notice them.”

          Stealing this!!! That is totally what people don’t get.

          Reply
    8. Dankar

      I agree! Freelance writing is incredibly difficult to do. I guess, given all the resources available to connect people with that kind of work, that yes, anyone could technically do it. BUT it is nearly impossible to make a living at it if you don’t know what you’re doing in terms of the copy-editing, self-promotion, invoicing, etc.

      People say weird stuff like that all the time when it comes to writing. I’ve been shopping a collection of short stories (the culmination of my thesis and nearly 7 years of work), and to this day I get people who come up and say, “Oh, I’ve always wanted to write a book. I think I’ll try that when I’ve got some free time.”

      Noooo, buddy.

      Reply
      1. Poppy Bossyboots

        Ooh, or when someone essentially says, “I want to be an author, and I’ve got a great idea for a story, I just need you to do all the technical writing stuff.” As if the *execution* of said story idea and the *craft* of writing are just a question of banging the right keys…

        Anyway, good luck with your collection!

        Reply
        1. Dankar

          So true! I mean, ghostwriting is an art form that is just far beyond me, so I really respect anyone who can do that kind of work, but we’ve all got great ideas–the follow-through is what creates the art.

          Reply
          1. Poppy Bossyboots

            You just phrased that so much more elegantly than I did…which I think makes the point about the importance of good writing. :p

            Reply
      2. Elizabeth West

        HAHAHAHA
        I love when people ask what it’s like to write a book. I tell them the truth–that it’s like doing a long homework assignment. For six months. If you add up first draft, revision, edits, new edits, edits after beta readings, more revision, etc. I just finished a post-rejection revision and edit number 13 on Tunerville and somebody better buy it because I am so f*cking sick of it I want to cry.

        And even if I get an agent, they will probably have a ton of editing suggestions too. Oy. >_<

        Somebody said to me just last week, "You know, just the fact that you wrote a book[s] makes you an incredible badass." THAT was good to hear.

        Reply
        1. Dankar

          Ugh, sounds so familiar! Honestly, though, I do my best edits and am most proud of my work after I’ve redone a piece to the point where I’m so sick of it I can’t even look at my latest draft. Something about that angry emotional disconnect let’s me be ruthless about cutting what doesn’t work.

          Best of luck shopping your manuscript! Lucky number 13, right?

          Reply
    9. NoMoreMrFixit

      IT support. It amazes me how many people I’ve dealt with over the years who think that because they can install Office they’re suddenly just as skilled as a techie with a formal IT background.

      The other field I’ve encountered this is music. Specifically singing. As a choir director it was sad how many people thought they were great singers but couldn’t carry a tune in a wheelbarrow, never mind a bucket! Trying to find a delicate way to tell them they couldn’t join the choir was an ordeal.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous Educator

        I do IT stuff now, and I think it kind of goes both ways. On the one hand, there are self-identified “tech illiterates” who insist that basic computer use is some kind of rocket science. On the other hand, there are the “power users” who know just enough to be dangerous and mess up their machines (but not enough to fix their own problems).

        I make no secret of the fact I do a large percentage of my job by Googling solutions and doing trial and error. But it certainly also isn’t something anyone can do well.

        Reply
    10. Caro in the UK

      Ha :) I work in media and I’m often out filming. I get a lot of “I’ve got a camera, I could do your job”.

      Reply
    11. Pup Seal

      Last week I helped a guy write his letter of intent for grad school. He was so appreciated of my help and understood writing and editing are skills you have to develop.

      Reply
    12. MuseumChick

      Working in a museum as a curator/collections manager/registrar is often like that. We tend to get the two extremes “This must be a really fun, awesome job and since I happen to passionate about X I can do it with no experience!” Or the, “Wow, I bet you have to be able to read, speak, and write in multiple languages and know absolutely everything about (extremely obscure subjects) to work in a museum.”

      Neither is true.

      Reply
      1. AMT

        My friend is a curator at the Met. In order to hang out, I tend to have to schedule time at weeks in advance. He’s that busy. There are plenty of “oh shit I’ll be in Rome then” moments.

        Reply
      2. Museum Worker

        And you have to deal with all those people who think they have found the rarest, most valuable item in the world. (Science museum- everyone has found a meteorite and wants to know how much we will give them for it. Nothing because it’s usually iron slag and we have to have a lot of verifiable information that they never have)

        Reply
        1. nonegiven

          My cousin actually got something he had in a box for decades put into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was in middle school band with Dusty Hill. I think it was a program, he said they took it wearing gloves.

          Reply
    13. fposte

      Lots of people. It’s just that every field thinks that it’s the only field this happens to :-). (And I speak as a writer/editor.)

      Reply
    14. Red Reader

      I’m a medical coder on a fully remote team.

      “Isn’t that just data entry? I’d love to just punch numbers all day in my pyjamas.”

      Pardon me while I bludgeon you to death with 30 pounds of code books that I have practically memorized, anatomy references, medical dictionaries, and the framed certification that I’ve been taking continuing education for TWELVE YEARS to maintain.

      Reply
        1. Red Reader

          we’ve had some issues lately where if you DO code correctly, it STILL causes all kinds of problems, because what the coding guidelines require and what the payers will accept occasionally are diametrically opposed. :P

          Reply
      1. nonegiven

        I heard they just changed all the codes, too. My doctor fired her previous company for not getting things done.

        Reply
      2. Toph

        Why do so many people hear “remote” and follow up with “pyjamas”? This happens to me all the time. Sure, I don’t wear business casual when I work remotely, but PJs are not the default here either. So frustrating.

        Reply
      3. Anonymity

        I am effectively in actual data entry and while I by no means have to deal with code books and certifications, it’s still not a job that just anyone can do. Some people are just terrible with computers, or with certain programs, or with following directions or multi-tasking or even retaining information. Those are people who could possibly muddle through the smaller parts of my job (…we have employees who do exactly that… muddle through), but could not begin to do the full scope of it.

        Reply
        1. Red Reader

          Yeah, there’s that too. I’ve done data entry, and while I didn’t find it terribly difficult myself, I’ve known a bunch of people who couldn’t hack it.

          Reply
    15. Your Weird Uncle

      I had the opposite thing with my former career: I used to be a field archaeologist. You need a certain amount of schooling to get there, yes, but frankly I always thought a trained monkey could have done the bulk of my job. (At that point, it was mostly very unglamorous walking-digging-sifting-walking-digging-sifting, etc.)

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth West

        We went to the Illinois River Valley to visit the Center for American Archaeology and the Koster site on a field trip when I took an archaeology class at uni. They were digging test pits in a field opposite the site (it’s a pasture now, with cows and everything). We learned how to sift and to dress down the sides of a pit. It was fun, because I found a piece of worked stone (in the plow zone, but still), but I could see how tedious it could be to do that all day. I only did it for twenty minutes!

        Off topic: It was a fun trip, though; we also made some pottery the way Paleo-Indian people would have and learned a little bit about flint knapping. I had no money and was in the throes of major depression after a serious relationship ended, and my instructor bought me a knapping kit at Cahokia that I still have. He was one of my favorite teachers and we’re still in touch. <3 This is also the trip where I got to bottle feed a baby bear. I have a picture of me doing that somewhere.

        Reply
        1. Your Weird Uncle

          One of my favorite classes was called Experimental Archaeology – we did flint knapping, ceramics, faience, and a tiny bit of metalwork. At the end we had to do a special project and one woman decided she wanted to smelt her own iron, so we all stayed up in the woods drinking and working the furnace. It was awesome. :)

          Also, super jealous about bottle feeding a baby bear! I didn’t know until now that is my lifelong dream! I wouldn’t have wanted to give it back.

          Reply
          1. Elizabeth West

            Oh my God the smelting thing sounds amazing!

            I didn’t hold him; he was in a cage at a petting zoo. He climbed up on the barrier and I stuck the bottle in between the bars. He grabbed my arm and held on while I was feeding him. Those little buggers are strong–I could not get away until he was done! So I stuck my other hand through and rubbed his little back while he was drinking. His name was Boomer. :) When he was finished, he dropped off without so much as a thank you, haha.

            A bear cub crying sounds like a cross between a goat and a human baby screaming. If you’re in the deep woods and you hear that, probably good to go the other way, LOL.

            Reply
    16. AMT

      When I say I’m a therapist, everyone has a variation on the theme of “I’ve never needed therapy/I have a neurotic friend in therapy and it hasn’t helped/I don’t understand why anyone needs therapy/it’s just talking about your problems, right?” It’s also a job that a lot of people do as a second career or retirement career, so the perception that it’s something anyone can do is out there (not to mention that the second career folks have the advantaged of looking more experienced, even if they’re just out of grad school!).

      It’s maddening because it’s *not* something everyone can or should do, nor is it a hocus-pocus field with no standardized practices. It’s possible to be terrible at it, even if you’ve been in the field for years. It’s not “just talking” and it takes an enormous amount of skill and practice.

      Reply
    17. Lemon Zinger

      I work in admissions at a university. It’s an entry-level role, but many aspects of my job were added on after I proved myself to be capable, competent, and professional. I am pursuing a graduate degree (paid for by my employer) that relates to my field and I want to work in admissions long-term.

      Sure, some of my coworkers are fresh college grads with no career outlooks or aspirations, just killing time. But I’m taking this seriously and I am recognized for that on a daily basis. I feel good about where I’m at.

      Reply
    18. Kat

      Yeah, that annoys me. And proofreading! People are always proofreading here and there but it takes time to become good at doing that. Not everyone can just do it and do it well. It irritates me no end.

      Reply
      1. nep

        At one of my jobs (news/editorial), I had to convince a couple of higher-ups that, uh, no, editing and proofreading are not the same and yes, we need to regard proofreading as a critical step in and of itself.

        Reply
    19. LadyKelvin

      I’m a marine biologist so people assume all I do is play with marine animals all day and a lot of people tell me that’s what they wanted to be when they were a kid. Then they ask if I spend all day diving or swimming with dolphins. I think it breaks their heart when I tell them I sit in front of a computer all day and debug code. Then I mention that I use calculus every day of my life (seriously!) and then they look shock and say they were bad at math.

      Reply
      1. nep

        Using that calculus every day — how cool.
        (Upon reading the title ‘marine biologist ‘ does anyone else think of the Seinfeld episode?)

        Reply
      2. Close Bracket

        Wow. I’m an engineer. I haven’t used calculus since my school days. I should have been a marine biologist. :-(

        Reply
    20. The New Wanderer

      I have a PhD and over a decade of experience in my field, which is definitely necessary to do the work well. We definitely get poseurs who think that because they got a certificate from a short program or took a course once, they have senior-level skills.
      Worse than the people who think they can do my job? Managers who don’t know the difference. I was just laid off while my managers retained someone with a certificate as “higher value” to the team. Sadly the higher value calculation is that her salary is much lower than mine and, as I mentioned, they can’t tell the difference in quality (aka *why* I was worth the higher salary!).

      Reply
    21. LesleyC

      Social media management. It kills me when managers just want to hire a college student for such a crucial public-facing job function–as if knowing how to schedule a tweet is equivalent to being a good social marketer. Blerg.

      Reply
    22. Lady Jay

      I teach. While I don’t hear a lot of people saying, “Anyone can do that!” a lot of people do *try* . . . and do it poorly. I sit in training sessions for work, or education sessions with my faith community, and the education provided is just not good. At all. Lower-order thinking skills, heavy lecture, all input and no application. I keep wanting to jump in and redesign the lesson for them!

      Reply
    23. Susan

      Maybe not so much that anyone can do it, but not recognizing when it is needed. I am a project manager. I work at a company that has been working on a major project for the last three years, involving over 60 people across about a dozen teams – without PM involvement. I got involved with the project about a year ago and helped bring PMing into it. It’s an extremely large project so things are not “all better now” but there are definite improvements.

      Reply
      1. JulieBulie

        No, there’s also (apparently) a belief that anyone can do it, because when our project managers retired, they just threw two warm bodies at that role. These existing employees were interested in project management, but had no experience. But you know what? It would be nice to have project managers who had some experience managing projects!

        Reply
    24. OhNo

      Librarian here, and HOO BOY do I get this a lot. Usually paired with, “It must be nice to read all day!” or people being shocked that you need a master’s degree.

      Reply
      1. mugsy83

        I work in occupational safety and I get the same sentiments — “Isn’t safety just common sense? You went to school for that?”

        Reply
    25. Stranger than fiction

      Admin Assistant! My mom said recently how my sister should be able to get a job “doing what you do” and I was like “Nope. She could not. She barely knows how to turn on a computer let alone do all the Excel reports and other programs I run all day long, all involving said computer”. (I realize there’s a broad range or what admins do depending on company, but I’m pretty sure they all involve PC proficiency)

      Reply
      1. Anonymity

        Our part-time people (how I started out at my current company, too) are classified as admin assistants, though it’s primarily data entry, and I feel your pain, so very much.

        Reply
    26. a girl has no name

      Media Relations. People I work with want to call the station about the most boring, humdrum info. “Of course they will be interested!” No they won’t, because it’s not news!

      Reply
    27. Susan

      Haha, I have a friend who lost her job, and she posted on Facebook, “Now that I have a lot of time on my hands, I’m going to try my hand at freelance writing. If you have anything you need written, let me know!” Apparently, all you have to do to make a living at freelance writing is post it on Facebook, and people will be knocking down your door to pay you to write stuff for them.

      Reply
    28. LS

      Me. I’m in UX / usability and people refer to it as common sense / drawing pictures / my opinion. Or they think it’s something visual designers and business analysts can do once they’ve been on a 2 day course. It’s frustrating to try and educate people all the time on what we actually do and why “it takes so long”.

      Reply
    29. Close Bracket

      Funny, I’m an engineer. Pretty anyone *could* do most of the jobs I’ve held.

      Also, I just hung out a shingle to be a freelance editor.

      Reply
  12. Anon for this one

    So grateful for the open thread today. Management issue here!

    My organization does promotions by committee on a semi-annual basis. The last round was just completed — managers put their staff up but the committee decides who is promoted based on the materials we submit and feedback the solicit from those who work with the staff. Several folks on my team (I’m the overall team manager) went up this round. Everyone got promoted… except one. I have two “Teapot Assistants” on my team one (“A”) who is really strong in one aspect of teapot development (at more of a mid-level than junior level) but not as strong in the other aspects and one (“B”) who is generally really strong on all aspects but struggled a bit with a health issue earlier this year. A was promoted. B was not. A & B started at about the same time and have been working in parallel from the beginning.

    The question is, how do we communicate to B that she was not promoted? I think this would have been okay had both A & B not been promoted, but that fact that A was and B was not was a surprise to all of us.

    Help!

    Reply
    1. Anonymous Educator

      I think a good way to contextualize this for B would not be to focus the promotion not gotten (though obviously still communicate that to B) but on when B can next expect to get a promotion and what B would need to do to get it.

      Reply
        1. fposte

          That’s not necessarily shady, though. Unless the absences are protected by FMLA, it’s legal to consider B’s lesser accomplishments due to absence as preventing her from meeting the standard; it’s also possible that B’s illness impaired her initiative or other aspects of her performance while she was there.

          If you merely meant “sucky” and “kind of stupid given the context given” that’s a different matter; I’d agree with that.

          Reply
          1. Jadelyn

            Depending on what the health issue was, that can still run afoul of ADA protections if the company is in the U.S.

            Reply
      1. Ash (the other one)

        The committee claimed she didn’t show enough leadership on tasks (rather than playing a support role)… but she’s an assistant moving to a senior assistant role. It makes no sense to me. We’re going to appeal…but it’s still the communication of all this I’m worried about.

        Reply
        1. Courtney W

          Are you allowed to tell her you’re appealing it? If I were B I would appreciate knowing that you realize the situation doesn’t seem right.

          Reply
          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            I agree. Even if the lack of promotion were “not shady” for the reasons fposte describes, above, if I were B I would feel pretty demoralized. If you’re allowed to, I would:

            1. Tell her you’re appealing the promotion decision;
            2. Strategize with her to set a path/plan for how to get her the leadership experience she needs to qualify for promotion;
            3. Provide a realistic timeline of when she can expect to be promoted going forward.

            The hard part is that she’s probably going to feel like she was penalized for being sick and now has to wait longer to achieve the same professional milestones as A. That’s kind of a crappy feeling if you know you would have otherwise met standards.

            Reply
        2. Observer

          If there is ANY chance that she is covered by either the FMLA or the ADA, you want to point out to the committee that unless they have very, very solid documentation of the issue AND of the fact that A does NOT have this issue, any competent lawyer will have a field day if B decides to sue. The words at play here would be retaliation and pretext. ie You are retaliating against her for taking off, and using an excuse to cover it up.

          Reply
        3. BRR

          Did she deserve to be promoted? If no, I would explain what she needs to do to be promoted like others have suggested (and as a longtime reader I know you would do).

          If yes, things sounds trickier. I can see how one could do well in their position but not deserve a promotion if they aren’t showing enough leadership on their tasks, but by the job titles I can also see how one can’t show leadership. Would a statement like “the committee wanted to see more of X when you’re doing Y” work? I don’t know if this is one of the situations where you need to be supporting a decision you don’t agree with.

          Reply
    2. Somebody that I used to know

      I’ve been A in this situation and I don’t exactly know who B was, but it went like this. My manager called me into her office, explained how the promotion committee works and that some people she’d put in didn’t get a promotion due to budget constraints. Some of those people knew they were in the running because they’d asked to get a promotion and my manager had agreed to put them in. Then she handed me my promotion letter and asked me not to run around and tell everyone because people can be really miffed when you get a promotion you didn’t even ask for and they asked and didn’t get one.
      As far as I know, it worked and nobody talked to anybody about promotions that season, so I presume she told all the other people who got promoted or who asked and didn’t get promoted the same thing. If you haven’t spilled the beans yet and if your promotions aren’t very visible outside the paychecks, this might be a way to go.

      Reply
  13. More anonymous than usual

    Have you ever had your boss praise your work effusively, give you an unsolicited raise, and then ask you where you see yourself in five years (in a workplace where there isn’t a lot of room for promotion, apart from taking your boss’s job)?

    I honestly don’t know where I see myself in five years, but it just seemed an odd thing to have to answer. I mean, if I did see myself working elsewhere in five years, is that what my boss wants me to say?

    Reply
    1. Jen RO

      It depends on your boss. If you worked for me, yes, I’d like to hear that! I’ve already supported a couple of people in internal transfers and I even helped a high performer leave the company, despite the fact that it really hurt the team. She did not enjoy the subject matter and she was underpaid (and the raises I could give her were tiny), so when she told me she interviewed at Company X I reached out to a contact and gave her a glowing recommendation. She is still there, two years later.

      But yeah. It depends on your boss, but it does sound like s/he really is asking the question to be supportive. Maybe you could turn it around by asking if s/he has any suggestions for your development?

      Reply
    2. Emily

      1. No, but it happened to my brother once.

      2. Gosh, I don’t know – this might be one of those times when it’s ok to fib. A recruiter told me that in interviews, it’s good to say something like “In a position where I can learn and grow” and leave it at that. But that’s a different situation.

      Reply
    3. Admin of Sys

      My feeling is they want you to stay and are aware that you’re good enough that you’re likely going to want to leave if there’s not a chance at advancement – and so are hoping for something along the lines of : “I like working here and could see myself happily staying if x and y happened.”
      Of course, if there /isn’t/ anything that would make you stay, I’m not sure how to diplomatically and honestly mention that. Possibly something like ” I eventually want to become a Senior Teapot Glazer, but it will depend on what opportunities present themselves. For now, I am happy here, because of .”

      Reply
      1. Emi.

        It doesn’t even have to be advancement–are there new glazing techniques you want to develop? Glazing conferences you want to present at? Glazing training you want to take?

        Reply
    4. More anonymous than usual

      I appreciate all your perspectives. Thanks!

      Yeah, I have a feeling it’s really about hoping that I’m happy and knowing I could find something somewhere else (hence the unsolicited raise). I do have a lot of autonomy to grow and learn in my position without an actual “promotion,” but I just found the question odd. I’m not planning to leave, but if I were… I wouldn’t feel comfortable saying so.

      Reply
      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        As others have noted, this is a super normal (and good!) question for a boss to ask. He’s not asking, “Are you loyal / planning to stay?” He’s asking you to talk about the professional experiences you want in order to support your growth.

        For example, I have a consultant friend whose clients are mostly in the U.S. Her boss asked her about her career/professional goals, and she mentioned her desire to take on international clients because she’s interested in moving into global development. So he put her on international projects, which she’s loved. She holds a leadership position in a professional association and was recommended as a delegate to the national board, but she was worried about balancing it because it’s not billable. So her boss lets her off-set that time from her billable hour requirement.

        He knows she’ll probably leave some day, but he asks about her plans because she’s a great employee and he wants to retain her by supporting her growth. I suspect your boss is asking for the same reasons.

        Reply
    5. fposte

      I think this seems a pretty reasonable question that’s a good sign about your employer’s interest in you. It’s not “Where do you want your desk to be?” It’s “Where would you like your professional growth to take you?” It’s often an employer-agnostic question–if you want to rise to the level of Teapot Master, start presenting at professional conferences, and consider publishing, you might be able to do that at any number of employers including your current one.

      Reply
      1. zora

        Yes, this. If you think your boss is genuine, and not just fishing for validation that you love them (which is totally a thing, so really think about what you know about your boss) then think about an answer that’s more about qualitatively what you want to be doing in 5 years. In the past I talked about how I wanted to develop our training program more, and be presenting regular trainings both internally and externally and have an expanded base in X, Y, Z states. Which was in contrast to another direction I could have taken my job at the time, being more of an analyst and writing and publishing.

        It’s a good thing to think about even if you like your current job and duties. Which would you like to do more of if you could choose what you did all day?

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

      It really depends on your organization environment. In mine, saying that I see myself as outgrowing my current position and wanting to move up to a director level within 5 years, even if it meant leaving, wouldn’t count against me in the present. But in some jobs, saying that you were thinking of leaving within 5 years might inspire them to make that happen sooner rather than later.

      That is a standard question on my annual review forms. My department is also one where there isn’t currently any room for vertical promotion unless my director leaves. I usually answer that I’m happy in the role that I’m in, but would like to improve/implement XYZ Goal… BUT, my university is also very “life-long learning” oriented, so if I make a compelling enough case for how it would benefit the university, they might consider creating a new position at manager or assistant director level that doesn’t currently exist.

      Reply
    7. Rosamond

      I’ve had this conversation with a report, minus the unsolicited raise which I can’t give. I asked this because I recognize I’m really lucky to have such a higher performer, and that she’s ambitious and there isn’t an obvious position to promote her into at our organization. So what I wanted to know was: how I can give her the support she needs (interesting new assignments? professional development?) to be happy here as long as she can, and help her get set up to move into the next stage of her career.

      Reply
    8. Red Reader

      Depends on the boss. My boss knows full well that I want to be farther up the org chain than she is five years down the road, and she’s fully supportive of that and throwing every opportunity for further advancement, special project work, and extra training at me that she can possibly find to further that goal.

      Reply
    9. Stranger than fiction

      Given your description of the situation, I’m wondering if he’s planning on moving on or moving up but can’t say that and he’s thinking of promoting you?

      Reply
  14. Katie the Fed

    OK, interview story from last week. We were interviewing recent grads, so our questions were pretty broad understanding they wouldn’t have a ton of experience. One of the question was about a goal they had set in the last year and how they set about achieving it. This was one answer:

    “I set a goal to be less of a perfectionist. I’ve been a perfectionist pretty much my whole life but I’ve been trying to be less of one, so I started working on that. I’m doing better on it now.”

    It was everything I could do to not actually facepalm. To be clear – I MIGHT have been ok with it if she’d gone into details about what that meant, how perfectionism was holding her back, what concrete steps she took, etc. But it was clearly just trying to plug some interview prep on strengths and weaknesses into that question.

    Reply
    1. Hey Karma, Over here.

      Ask me anything because I have an answer. Not necessarily the answer to the question you asked, but it is an answer.

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

        I have strengths and weaknesses, but my strengths are stronger than my weaknesses. My goal is to strengthen my strengths, and I’m working on that everyday. My strengths are so strong now that I no longer have weaknesses. I have the best strengths. Everyone says my strengths are the strongest. My goal is to be the strongest, and I’ve achieved that goal.

        Reply
    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      This sounds like the bad career advice colleges dole out :( I’m sorry you had to endure it, though!

      Reply
    3. Jaydee

      I set a goal to set more goals this year than I set last year. Last year I set 11 goals and so far this year I have set 8 goals, which means I only need to set 4 more goals before the end of the year. That is how I will achieve my goal to set more goals.

      Reply
    4. Elizabeth H.

      And you actually could go into some interesting detail on that. One of the most salient differences between school and work is that there is more of an emphasis on done/functional/on time than perfect (I’m speaking generally, obviously there are exceptions). In my case, I sometimes struggle with feeling like there is a “right way” to do things and spending too much time on it, when it would be more efficient to just do the task quickly and call it good, and that actually IS something I try to work on and have as an informal goal. You could talk about the time management aspects of this, difference in level of detail demanded in business writing vs academic papers etc. Missed opportunity!

      Reply
      1. JulieBulie

        Yeah – real perfectionism can be a legitimate weakness, and anyone who has worked with a true perfectionist knows that. Nothing gets done on time, or the perfectionist continually focuses on perfecting a particular aspect of the project that is not very important, at the expense of something that is crucial. (E.g., for documents, the perfectionist may become obsessed with formatting instead of double-checking the new part numbers.)

        If candidates can give concrete details about their perfectionism’s consequences and their attempts at remediation, then you can tell that it’s a real weakness that they are trying to address in a thoughtful way.

        But if not, they just sound foolish.

        Reply
        1. Katie the Fed

          Even then though – it’s so hackneyed that I would say “I tend to get bogged down in double-checking details to the detriment of timeliness” and never utter the word “perfectionism”

          Reply
          1. JulieBulie

            OK – you’re right about that. The behavior is more important than the vague and overused label.

            Reply
          2. Elizabeth H.

            100% agree! The word is so meaningless now and you can really only use it in a positive way. There are some jobs where it’d be a big asset (being a cake decorator is the first one that sprung to my mind) but a lot where it’s not.

            Reply
    5. Amanda2

      I hate that answer because every time I team about it, it reminds me of the interview in which I used the “perfectionist” answer early in my career. I cringe to think about it now, but at the time I didn’t know better and I had been researching ways to improve performance during interviews.

      Reply
  15. bridget (better screen name TBD)

    I’m in bitch eating crackers mode with a coworker and don’t know what to do about it.

    She’s a senior associate and I’m a mid level at a law firm. She was here first and is clearly a superstar. I find her impossible to work with. On the cases we work on together, I find her impossible to please, very controlling, and I get the strong feeling she is judging everything I do and say very harshly. She creates a stringent wall between me and the partners. My work for her, frustratingly, gets worse under this scrutiny. She is also very involved in almost all aspects of the firm in terms of non-project stuff (social committees, meetings, etc.) and she acts like my difficult boss/mother in more social situations as well. She is not technically my boss or mentor at all, she just is the associate managing some of my cases. Other senior associates in her role act much more like a team lead, and I do much better work in those instances.

    It has gotten to the point where dealing with her is so stressful and makes me so unhappy that I’m considering looking for a new job, saying something to my actual boss/mentor, or both.

    I have a lunch with boss/mentor today. I think I’ll tell him that I do not want to work in practice group X anymore (the silent reason is because then I would not work on cases with the senior associate). I need to “declare a major” anyway, and I’ve been dabbling in multiple practice groups. I think it would be a bad idea to talk about my relationship with the senior associate at all, because she highly valued and I would sound petty or like a diva or like I just don’t like doing good work. The most professional version I can think of is “not a good fit to work together,” but I don’t want to be known as a person who can’t work well with others.

    Thoughts?

    Reply
    1. Christy

      If I were struggling with a superstar higher-ranking employee, I would find my closest non-manager mentor and say something like “I’ve found it really challenging to work with _____. I know _____ is basically a superstar around here so I would love any advice you have on working with her. If you have any thoughts on what I could do differently or even what might be causing those clashes, I’d really appreciate your insight.”

      But I would do it with a non-manager, someone trusted, and someone in a specifically mentoring capacity.

      Reply
      1. Natasha

        I had a similar situation (less so BEC, but also stressful). I think your plan to focus on another group makes sense, but you also could try saying to your boss another version of Christy’s comment above, “I feel like there’s a communication gap between me and ____. Can you give me advice on how to approach projects with her?” I did the latter, and it turned out that I was going into far too much detail with a person more focused on the higher level approach.

        Reply
        1. bridget (better screen name to follow)

          Part of the problem is I think this is just How She Is, and the appropriate way to work for her is to Suck It Up and Deal. I’m really not sure I can get actionable advice to make the relationship better. And if there is, I think it would be really difficult and unhappy-making. I’d really much rather just get the &*$^ out of her practice group than get better at handling her. It’s been 8 months of my really trying to get along with her and it’s just not working.

          Reply
          1. bridget (better screen name to follow)

            That said, I do recognize that the approach you and Christy suggested is much more professional and mature than “I just can’t deal anymore, get me away from her.” So I think at lunch I’m going to approach it as 1) after the cases I’m already staffed on wrap up, I would like to focus exclusively on Different Practice Group; 2) in the meantime, I find it challenging to work for ______ and am wondering if you have any advice for how to make the working relationship more smooth.

            Reply
          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            I think the purpose of mentioning it / asking for advice isn’t actually about getting along with her or developing strategies. It’s a subtle signal to the powers that be that this superstar is maybe not so super, and they may want to start paying closer attention. When combined with Natasha’s comment re: practice groups, it might make it smoother for you to move outside of projects involving that associate.

            (Would you stay in the practice group if you didn’t have to interact with her?)

            Reply
            1. bridget (better screen name to follow)

              Her practice group is really great in terms of awesome exit opportunities and it’s really easy to hit billable hours targets (my preferred practice area is a little more sporadic and prone to stressful slow periods). But no, I don’t find it particularly scintillating. I’d rather be working in other practice groups anyway when it comes to substance. I have just been giving her practice area a fair try because it’s really busy and if I liked it, it would be good for my career trajectory to specialize in it.

              Reply
    2. Mr. Demeanor

      I do sympathize with you – I worked in a similar situation years ago and if I allowed myself I could still get upset over that person’s behavior and work style. I think it’s better to keep it positive – rather than saying you don’t want to work in group X, say you’d like to work in Group Y or Z because because you feel more supported, have similar styles of working, like the specialty, or perform better in those circumstances (or whatever your reasons). Happy Friday!

      Reply
    3. Busytrap

      Oof, no real advice, just commiseration. I had a similar situation, and honestly, I decided to leave the firm and go in-house when the opportunity arose rather than stick it out somewhere where the firm superstar (who was a horrendous see-you-next-Tuesday to work with) had the power to decide not only whether I got to work on the projects I wanted to work on, but also eventually whether I’d make partner in that group. She basically blocked out from her part of our group (she did a subset within a larger practice group) anyone she thought might one day want to have kids. Not sure how I ended up in that group, but there you have it. Therefore, she went out of her way to make my life miserable and to block me from good projects, no matter what I did.

      When I started talking with a partner of another practice group about leaving, he did offer to take me over to his team, and that went really well as a conversation — by that point, though, I had one foot out the door and could see a world where I didn’t have to work with her. But I feel you – this is a tough one. :(

      Reply
      1. bridget (better screen name to follow)

        “power to decide not only whether I got to work on the projects I wanted to work on”

        UGH. YES. Technically, she has no authority to rearrange my workload. Earlier this week, she gave me a whole slew of not-urgent housekeeping requests (updating trackers, downloading and cataloging documents, stuff like that). I said “ok, but I have urgent deadline for Matter Y and so will get to this on Friday; if for some reason that doesn’t work let me know and I will reshuffle.” I am in charge of managing my own workload, and if I have an issue, there is a designated partner who is tasked with helping me broker negotiations between competing projects. Instead of explaining to me whether or why her request was particularly urgent (really don’t think it was), she just went to my supervisor for Matter Y directly and renegotiated my time. I got a call from the supervisor in Matter Y that I should de-prioritize that work (which I’m much more interested in) in favor of Difficult Associate’s projects.

        Fair or not, I was pretty furious that she took it upon herself to manage my workload for me, instead of telling me directly that her stuff did indeed need to be done today for Reasons, and yes I should reshuffle (which I would have done).

        Reply
        1. Beezus

          I work with someone like that. Avoid giving her specifics on your priorities. “Based on the workload and deadlines I’m dealing with now, I think it’ll be Friday before I get to this – does that work for you, or do I need to prioritize it differently?” If you don’t want her taking it out of your hands, don’t give her enough information to do so. If she can, she will.

          Reply
      2. Anon Lawyer

        I also had almost this same situation when I was at a large law firm. She was the associate rep (our pipeline to issues at the ExCom level), head of the summer program, etc. I can’t count the number of times she made me break down in tears in the office. I did not really have the option of switching practice groups, and we worked cross-practice groups on various projects, so I would have been stuck with her anyway. I left to go to a small boutique and never looked back.

        You will always find people in law firms (partners and associates) who think THEIR work is the most important and should be prioritized above all else, no matter what other items you’re working on. The only effective solution I have found is to make sure you only have one project with those folks at any different time and to make sure you have sufficient support (up or down or both, seniority-wise) to cover urgent matters if they deem theirs more important. My other suggestion is to know that there are a lot of lawyers out there who think their way is the only way to do something. That’s just not true, and I was able to gain a lot of confidence and serenity in my own practice once I found a firm that lets its attorneys practice law how they see fit (without letting malpractice occur, of course). Things can get better at the right firm; I’m out almost 20 years and am a partner at a great firm today.

        Reply
        1. bridget (better screen name to follow)

          At the very least, it’s good to hear this is a relatively common experience.

          Almost everyone else at my firm is GREAT about letting me do my work as I see fit, and it’s great to work autonomously. So I really harbor hope that I can make that happen at my current firm by switching practice groups. She’s currently out on vacation, and my life is night and day better.

          Reply
    4. Decima Dewey

      More commiseration, I’m afraid. I’m at that stage with my boss, and she’s being transferred. I’ll be taking over for her in a couple of weeks. Right now she’s “tying up loose ends”, which has consisted of such things as getting things just the way she wants. She’s insisted on giving me books to keep at my desk for story time, which are going to be reshelved when I take over. Boss doesn’t seem to realize that I could call Lucinda at her branch and ask how to contact her performer for Drag Queen Story Hour (the kids love it), or for her notes on an Aleister Crowley story hour. So I just agree and put in my two cents on such vital issues as whether or not to rehang two posters that fell down.

      Reply
  16. Language manners

    People in multilingual workplaces, what’s the etiquette when the language of a conversation switches to one you don’t speak? I work in an English office in an English city in Canada, with a 50/50 mix of Canadians (who speak French to some degree) and immigrants (who don’t). It’s a small office where we all eat together, but lately the lunch conversation has switched to French frequently, meaning the non-Canadians are left out. What’s the polite thing to do in this situation? (Most of us are trying to learn French, but it’s slow going).

    Reply
    1. Anonymous Educator

      I would probably just smile and listen without understanding. That’s what I’ve done in the past (at least in social settings). It’s not really a bad thing unless they’re having work-related discussions and leaving you out.

      Reply
    2. katamia

      Try to sit near other non-French-speaking colleagues so you can still talk to someone when the conversation turns? :P

      Depending on the culture/your relationship with these people, a friendly “Hey, not all of us speak French here!” might work, although you’ll probably have to keep reminding them for awhile if not forever.

      Reply
    3. Not Karen

      Do the Canadians know not everyone in the office is bilingual? When I was in grad school in Canada, I had people tell me multiple times “I keep forgetting you’re not Canadian.”

      If they know and are speaking in “French” anyway, then that’s just rude…

      Reply
    4. Amber Rose

      We have two fluent speakers of Spanish and two workers from Nigeria, who speak a language that I’m not sure what it is. We also have two brothers that speak Chinese.

      It’s not that they’re trying to leave anyone out, it’s just how it goes. If you’re trying to learn, you could probably ask about certain words from time to time, or if you want to converse then you could just speak to them in English. Otherwise I’d just ignore it.

      Reply
    5. Not in US

      I would find it really rude – but I’m not sure if I would say anything. If I did, I might try a gentle reminder that not everyone at the table is fluent in French so it would be appreciated if they would keep it in English. The other option might be to ask them to speak slower – the rational here is if you’re trying to learn French, exposure is really helpful but the speed people speak can really impact how well others follow.

      Reply
    6. Shiara

      If you’ve got a relatively close relationship with one or more of the Canadians, approaching them individually and asking if they’d mind helping you nudge the friendly conversation back into English when it strays to French might work better than trying to tackle the group dynamic head on.

      Using the conversation to try to improve your French could also be useful as you’ll either get practice in, or make it easier for them to go back to English. But it would also be fine to just start up a side conversation in English and ignore the conversation you can’t join.

      Unless you have a particular reason to think otherwise, I would encourage you to try not to take it personally. It’s pretty inconsiderate, but when you’re relaxing and unwinding it can be pretty easy to language shift, particularly if you’re talking about something that your brain contextualises in another language.

      Reply
    7. Jen RO

      Smile and nod and learn French.

      It’s difficult to speak a foreign language, even when you are fluent, and people probably feel the need to relax at lunch. I live in a non-English speaking country, but I speak English very well… and it’s still so, so much easier to speak my native language. I’ve had to speak English non-stop during work travel and it was exhausting (and I repeat, I am very confortable in English and I speak it at a near-native level).

      It would be polite of them to speak the common language all the time, but considering it’s only happening at lunch, I would drop it.

      Reply
      1. Lora

        I feel your pain. I can speak a couple of languages fluently, and a few more well enough to get by conversationally, but not when it’s been a long day or I’m upset about something. And Spanish and Italian are close enough that I mix them up routinely – questo and esta, and I almost never remember to say tener instead of avere. On my last vacation the bed and breakfast owner and I had three languages in common but what we spoke over morning coffee depended on who was the most tired. Plus, there’s some things that are just easier to say in a particular language, or you associate them with one language more. There’s a great French word in my field which technically just means “piping” but it’s used to mean “all the plumbing, but not the tanks or pumps, associated with one particular piece of equipment” and it’s just easier to say Tuyauterie than a whole sentence.

        Re: the OP’s question, best to just ignore it and talk to the English speakers.

        Reply
        1. Jen RO

          I know what you mean about French and Italian – in my case, it’s French and Spanish. I can never remember the correct word for “to speak”! I’ve been known to say “Je veux hablar avec toi”…

          Reply
      2. Hrovitnir

        Yes. I am sadly monolingual, but you can tell it’s *tiring* speaking in your non-native tongue all the time! I’m currently in Sweden where most people’s English is amazing, and as I’m in a lab the common language is English. But people still speak Swedish for some topics at fika because it’s easier and more comfortable. (And the speeches at the department dinner were in Swedish. My understanding was far inadequate. :P) I have a German friend back home who was having a hard time when she first moved, and she was almost crying saying she just doesn’t feel like *herself* in English, even though to me it’s perfect!

        Reply
        1. Jen RO

          That last part is so true! I really do feel different when I speak a foreign language and I sometimes wonder how this influences my relationships…

          Reply
    8. Admin of Sys

      If you’re trying to learn French, I feel like it’s certainly appropriate to interrupt and ask them to speak more slowly, since you’re trying to learn. Maybe “If you’re going to speak french, could you please speak more slowly so those of us that are still learning can keep up?” Then, if it’s just casual conversation, they can switch back to English, and if they stay in French, they’ll hopefully try to loop you in and help with the language acquisition.
      (It’s entirely possible it’s not intentional. I worked in Montreal for a month and had to constinly remind coworkers that I wasn’t fluent, because they were so used to being able to switch languages whenever. )

      Reply
      1. Une Quebecoise

        As a Montreal native, just wanted to second the comment that it might not be intentional. Given that so many people speak both French and English, it is pretty common to switch back and forth without giving it a lot of thought. For English-only speaking colleagues, sometimes the first clue that I picked the wrong language is their confused look as a response my questions.
        Unless there is vital work information that you’re missing, try to look at it as an advantage. Being surrounded by conversations in French is a great way to accelerate the learning process.

        Reply
    9. Language Lover

      If you’re trying to learn French–listen. listen. listen. Maybe ask a co-worker who speaks French to help give you bullet points so you’ll get the context but immersion is a great learning tool.

      You say they speak French “to some degree.” I can see why people having lunch would prefer to speak a more native language. So if they’re from Quebec City, French might be a way for them to “shut off their brains” during a break. But if they’re not from an area of Canada where French is spoken predominantly, then it is a little bit rude because it seems deliberate. I speak French “to some degree” and could hold a conversation in it but it wouldn’t be the first language I’d turn to on a break.

      Reply
    10. skunklet

      If you weren’t in Canada, I wouldn’t respond, b/c the norms would apply – but remember, this is Canada, where 22 yrs ago, the province of Quebec almost voted to secede from the country, in part, over language issues…. so I’d tread very carefully, b/c the entire language issue in Canada can be a significant sore spot (on both sides). And ftr, French speakers in Canada are Canadians as well, just considered French Canadians…

      Reply
      1. Aealias

        I second the tread-carefully. Language is so frought partly because it’s only been 50 years or so since you couldn’t speak French in a white-collar workplace in Quebec. The spectre of language-suppression is still really strong for some people.
        Which isn’t to say they’re language-switching on purpose! It’s so relaxing to just settle into your own language on your downtime, it’s usually unconscious. And most people are perfectly happy to switch back politely when they realize some people are being excluded. Just… be tactful when you redirect francophones to English.

        Reply
    11. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      I think it depends on whether or not you were part of the lunch conversation to begin with.

      If people were already talking and you walked into a conversation, I would recommend pleasantly smiling hello and ignoring the French. If you’re in the process of learning French and think they’d normally be ok with you jumping into their conversation, you could ask them to slow down so that you can improve your French listening comprehension. If you’re part of the group and they start switching to French mid-way, it’s ok to gently (and without a whiff of indignation/affront!) ask if they could switch back so you can continue to participate.

      But generally, I would not complain or make an issue of the fact that others are speaking French. First, because it’s one of Canada’s two official languages, and there’s no requirement/expectation that people should only speak English when they’re in an “English office in an English city” when the entire country is technically fair game for French. Second, because it’s ok for people to speak in their native language to one another, and it’s not necessary/required for everyone to be able to participate in everyone else’s non-business-related conversations.

      It would be different if this were having a significant effect on the ability to work together or to access and develop professional networks/opportunities. You can also, of course, gently ask folks to consider inclusion/exclusion in light of your office’s 50/50 composition. But if there’s any indication of entitlement or frustration, folks are more likely to roll their eyes at your request.

      Reply
    12. BRR

      I work in a multilingual office and think there are times when you can ask if they can switch to English. Depending on how close you are I can see the situation being “I forgot sorry, no problem” but for me I’m not super close to a lot of my coworkers and switching languages while not working seems like a big ask. Something I have done in situations like this is to be near someone who is very considerate and knows that I only speak English and translates for me.

      Reply
    13. Elizabeth West

      I agree with folks who say use it as a learning experience. It’s okay to ask them to slow down a little if they want to include you.

      I learned the hard way not to use ANY of my limited French when speaking to clients in Montreal at OldExjob; the second I said “Bonjour,” they assumed I spoke the language and away they went. I had to interrupt and tell them I don’t actually know that much French! Same thing with Spanish and our client in Puerto Rico, haha. I would have loved to improve my skills in both languages, but I just didn’t talk to them enough.

      Reply
    14. nonegiven

      If I was involved in a conversation in English and it suddenly switched languages, I’d say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that.” If they kept it up, I’d leave.

      I’d look for a table speaking English or maybe a table of people who are trying to learn French and converse in both so everyone can practice a little and still know what the heck is being said.

      Reply
    15. Candy

      Considering French is one of Canada’s official languages, you can’t really tell someone in Canada not to speak it, especially not on their own time (lunch break). If it’s a primarily English-speaking office and they’re speaking English while they’re working (when they aren’t on their lunch break) I’d leave it alone.

      Reply
      1. Candy

        Actually, now that I think about it, I’d leave it alone regardless of which language they were speaking — English, French, Russian, Tagalog, whatever. People should be free to spend their lunch breaks speaking whatever language they’re comfortable with. This may break the lunch group off into splinters, but that’s fine. It’s their time to do what they want with it.

        Reply
  17. Your Weird Uncle

    So, I posted last week about going in to see my manager about changing my title to be equal to annoying coworker, and updated that she’d readily agreed and also said she’d look into changing my pay grade to also be equivalent. Unfortunately, due to the tier I was hired on, we can’t upgrade my pay grade (sadly).

    However, the next day she called me into her office and said that she thinks I should apply for her job, as she’s retiring (tomorrow!). It was a surprise, and I had to think about it….but heck yes, I’ve decided to go for it! Since then, one other colleague has come in on the sly and hinted that she thought I’d be really good at it and should apply, too!

    Reply
      1. Your Weird Uncle

        Thanks everyone! I’m taking a quiet weekend and working on my cover letter and resume (and of course going quite thoroughly through the archives here).

        If I get the interview, it will be an interesting one: annoying coworker is on the interview panel, and I doubt is going to be very pleased about the opportunity to have me supervise her.

        Reply
    1. Anono-me

      Please ask your manager to change your title anyway. You never know what is going to happen and you don’t want the title inequality to continue after your manager leaves and have to worry about convincing the new manager to fix it.

      Good luck.

      Reply
      1. Your Weird Uncle

        Yep, we did that! I smile every time I look at my new email signature. Thanks for the advice!

        Reply
    2. Not So NewReader

      Wow, what a turn around on that story. Best wishes. It’s nice to have the boss’ support.

      Reply
  18. AdAgencyChick

    My team is in hiring mode right now, so I’m interviewing a lot of candidates and am running into something I’ve never seen before:

    Younger/very junior candidates will come in and tell me that they’ve Googled me and OMG they know X, Y, and Z about me and that’s so cool!!!! I’m not talking “I looked at your LinkedIn profile and I see you worked on ABC client, that’s really interesting” — I’m talking “I found your Twitter feed/this non-work-related news article about you/etc. and wow it’s so cool that [spiel about my hobbies]!”

    I mean, I guess I can’t expect that people are *not* going to Google their interviewers. But it weirds me out that the first thing I hear from a candidate is all the non-work information they now know about me!

    I don’t think it’s an age thing — I think it’s entirely a lack of experience/knowledge of office norms thing. But this is weird, right? Colleges, please start telling your soon-to-be-grads not to do this. :/

    Reply
    1. Mouse

      Interesting! I thought it was good to do this- personal connection and all that. Would you find it less off-putting if it wasn’t the first thing they talked about? Maybe if it came up in conversation?

      Reply
      1. Allison

        My co-op advisor told us to do something similar, he said we should have a list of hobbies on our resume, so if an interviewer happens to share one of them, it’ll help me connect with them and maybe give me a boost over my equally qualified fellow candidates.

        In hindsight, it’s not a good idea. It takes up space on your resume and makes you look out of touch with professional norms. Besides, it could only work with hobbies that are interesting but not potentially off-putting.

        Reply
      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        This is so creepy! You can of course Google someone, but isn’t the first rule of “social media research” that you don’t tell the person you’re researching that you Googled them?? Just write that you’re interested in AdAgencyChick’s work with Client A (and connect it to why you’re applying for the job), don’t tell her you Google-stalked her to figure out her client list! And if the goal is simply to say “I have this hobby, too!” then it should not be in your cover letter.

        Reply
      3. Jaydee

        You Google them, sure. But you don’t *tell them* you Googled them! You tuck the information away in your brain and use it when it makes sense in a totally non-creepy way.

        Example: Google reveals that your interviewer plays soccer. You coach your daughter’s soccer team. In addition to workplace examples, toss in a soccer coaching example when asked about a conflict you recently resolved or how you manage a team with varying skills and abilities or whatever. You’ve opened the door for your interviewer to say “Oh, you coach youth soccer? I play in the city rec league!” You don’t then say “Yeah, I know, I totally Googled you over the weekend and found out all sorts of stuff, by the way how’s it going housebreaking your new puppy?” You say, “Awesome, what position do you play?” And if she says nothing about soccer and just moves on to her next question for you, then that’s the end of the soccer talk.

        Reply
        1. Mouse

          Okay, see, this is what I was thinking. I spent a lot of time as a ballet dancer, and I was the Artistic Director of a group in college. As I recently graduated, I use that a lot in interviews for the “tell me about a time when…” question. But I’m more likely to go into more detail about it if I know the interview is/was a dancer at some point (which is more common than you’d think!).

          I wasn’t thinking of saying “I saw that you’re a dancer! Me too!” I just meant that if you can make it come up in conversation, it might make you more memorable/personable.

          Reply
    2. Temperance

      Oh that’s so strange. I don’t like it at all. I wouldn’t want a candidate to be all “hey temperance, let’s talk about STAR TREK” or soccer. Please ask me about my work / membership on professional associations, but it’s such an overstep on a personal level.

      Reply
    3. Alex

      I can see doing “research” on a potential manager, but that’s not something I would bring up. More something you would use to determine if it’s someone you would want to work with.

      Reply
    4. Here we go again

      I think it is totally fine to Google your interviewer, but you have to bring up any information you find ORGANICALLY so that you can build rapport. What they are saying and doing is just creepy.

      Reply
      1. GeorgiaB

        I had a candidate do this the right way this week. He is about to finish a degree at my alma mater and in the normal course of the conversation asked how long it had been since I had been back to visit college town. It let me know he had done some background without feeling at all creepy or out of place.

        Reply
    5. Hrovitnir

      Man, I find a lot of these stories about people new to the workforce so bizarre. I understand it’s lack of experience, I’m just surprised so many people can’t extrapolate from their experience with other human beings? I guess a million contradictory messages don’t help.

      Anyway I agree with the people saying Googling is fine, knowing shared hobbies for relationship building can even work, but you’ve gotta work that in naturally. And almost certainly not in the interview, since it’s unlikely to come up organically.

      Also I appreciate you don’t Google candidates beyond professionally relevant things. It’s something I accept as the new reality, but I find it so intrusive and so easily problematic.

      Reply
    6. Tomato Frog

      It’s maybe tiresome and tactless and certainly not an awesome way to start a professional conversation, but the fact that they’re being transparent about heads off any creepiness, as far as I’m concerned. Creepy is if they find out you skydive from your fourth page of Google results and then casually work skydiving into the discussion and act surprised when you mention you skydive.

      Reply
      1. Jaydee

        I don’t think the transparency heads off the creepiness. I think the transparency is what makes it creepy. It shows a lack of awareness of social and professional norms.

        Reply
        1. Tomato Frog

          I think of creepy as meaning in some way threatening or insidious, rather than just socially awkward.

          Reply
    7. CheeryO

      Yeah, it’s weird. I once found and watched my interviewer’s wedding video on the internet, but I definitely did not bring it up in conversation. (And yes, I felt creepy about it, but it was right there on the first page of Google results. It was a really lovely video!)

      Reply
    8. Jesca

      I have actually SEEN this advice on other career advice forums (I’m calling out Forbes here!). I could never imagine how I would ever bring up that I researched my hiring manager unless it was something that would come up connected to a professional search. I mean yeah I have googled hiring managers, but I would not be likely to just outright admit that!

      It is weird, but that advice is out there. And when young naïve new college grads land on it, this is the outcome!

      Reply
  19. TotesMaGoats

    Update on job situation for my work BFF from OldJob.

    She got the offer!!! So good vibes for everyone else hoping to hear back.

    Reply
  20. BadPlanning

    Fun times from converting to an open workspace
    I was on the committee that met with the architects designing our new space (at least we paid for a design and didn’t just toss something together). They were very keen on having all these nooks and crannies where we could be all mobile and creative and work everywhere. We kept telling them that we need a good desk area where we could have multiple monitors, a laptop docking station, full mouse, full keyboard. All adjustable.
    We were a bit mutually frustrated. The designers thought we were rejecting the nice things they were trying to give us. We want good ergonomics because we’re on the computer nearly all day.
    After moving in to the workspace, work had a company come in a do a health/safety type review. One of the review comments was that everyone in the workspace should get a docking station and work primary on a full keyboard/mouse/monitor and not doing their daily work on a laptop.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      Heh. I know this is eternal in librarianship–architects love to do pretty things that make work much, much harder.

      Reply
      1. Hillary

        Oh my yes. The neighborhood library has these horrible hollow floors that echo when you walk on them, much less when a kid runs on them. My BFF won’t have her girl scout meetings there because kids are kids and they’re absurdly loud.

        Reply
        1. WellRed

          My Local library branch underwent a huge renovation. Unfortunately, they knocked out a few walls so now the noise from the children’s section can be heard all around. And, there are a lot fewer books. Grrr.

          Reply
          1. Hrovitnir

            Noooo. :( We had a renovation at our city hospital that resulted in less beds for an already overtaxed hospital. But it looks pretty! -_-

            To be fair, the new buildings are better for earthquakes and they’re slowly fixing up the others, and I think they got some new equipment. But. Less beds.

            Reply
      2. Elizabeth West

        Hah, that reminds me of the time we got a brand new Coke machine in a cafeteria where I worked and the Coke folks came along to orient us (it was a test machine). It had two tiers of cans; they were so chuffed about this–“You can stock twice as much product!” When I politely pointed out that in order to fill the slots behind, I would have to first empty the slots in front and it would take me twice as long, they got really mad at me.

        Reply
      3. PlainJane

        At my last job, in a small-ish research library, the architect wanted to put staff offices in a glassed-in pod in the center of the building. His reasoning? He wanted library users to be able to see what goes on behind the scenes. We the staff would have been literally on display. Thank goodness that project never got funded.

        Reply
      4. Electron Wisperer

        Oh, architects/gods (The difference is that God only thinks he is an architect..).

        The trick, particularly with arts buildings is to make sure you have one of the operations minions sign off on **ANY** drawing before it goes to the contractor.

        They are very good at drawing pretty buildings with absolutely no thought to things like access from the loading dock to the stage for big things (Just slightly important), or making sure that there is an easy route from stage left to stage right, or (Special favourite) that there are sufficient toilets for the interval rush, and that the number of cubicles in the female side equals the number of cubicles PLUS urinals on the male side..

        The fact that the Board (Who typically do not work in the space) loves the pretty building is nice and all, but you really need someone signing off (or refusing to sign off) who spends their days doing build and break, cleaning and servicing the plant, it is an utterly different perspective.

        I have been that minion, and there is a firm of architects who will not talk to me (The feeling is mutual).

        Reply
    2. zora

      Oy.
      We have had similar issues at our workplace, but I wasn’t part of the build of the new open office space in the other city, I wonder if they had the same experience.

      This seems like it should be a lesson to bring the health/safety people into the process BEFORE the build is done, right?? I mean, why does it make sense to do that after the fact and spend even more money retrofitting things?? Sigh.

      In our office, we have the desks and as the admin I make sure everyone has monitors, keyboards, etc to have really useful setups. But the thing we are struggling with is everyone being on multiple phone calls all day. Our desks are too tight to have everyone on the phone at the same time, and there are only 4 phone booths per 100+ people on each floor. If I was involved in developing a new space, I would increase that proportion dramatically.

      Reply
  21. Fabulous

    Those of you who live in the country and have a longer commute to work… how do you like it? Do you have kids and how does it affect them?

    I travel about 25-30 minutes (20 miles) right now, and rarely have had more than an hour on the road in past jobs (excluding extraneous circumstances such as weather, accidents, etc.) Thinking of moving to a place in the country where I’d have to drive 60-90 minutes (60-70 miles) to work in a metro area. Have any of you made that transition?

    Reply
    1. Discordia Angel Jones

      Honestly… my commute is currently 75-90 minutes and I HATE it.

      I do currently, however, have to use public transport, and that makes it much worse. I’ve driven that sort of commute in the past, however, and would warn you not to underestimate how tiring a 3 hour round trip is on a daily basis (particularly if you work long hours).

      You’ve really got to be in a place where the pros of living there make it worthwhile. 60-90 minutes is a long commute (even for me, living in the city of long commutes).

      Reply
    2. Temperance

      For a while, Booth was driving from our suburb out to the country for work. A 3-hr/day commute is really, really exhausting … and that’s not even including the inevitable traffic accidents that will slow you down, weather-related issues, etc. We’re in Pennsylvania, so he missed a lot of work that first winter due to heavy snows, rainstorms, etc.

      I wouldn’t recommend it. We don’t have kids, and it was difficult.

      Reply
    3. anna green

      I’ve done both and I think a lot of it depends on your work hours and the area you live in. I’ve had the 15 minute commute when I could pick up my kids from daycare at 4:15 and now I do over an hour commute where I pick them up at 5:30. They really don’t know the difference, so thats not too bad. If the extra commute time means you won’t be getting home until way later or leaving extremely early and you are sacrificing significant time with the kids, I don’t know if I would want that. It also depends on other pros for moving farther away, are schools better, quality of life, etc. I am actually currently looking for a new job that’s closer because the commute is wearing on me. 3 hours a day in the car is a lot! I also don’t like being that far away from them during the day if they get sick at school, etc. That’s probably the biggest worry I have. Is there someone else nearby that could help in that case? But if your job is flexible then it might not be so bad. Could you telecommute sometimes? Sorry, I am no help :). It’s a tough decision.

      Reply
      1. Fabulous

        Thankfully I don’t currently have kids that would need to deal with the situation right now – but I like to think ahead. I appreciate all the things you mentioned.It’s definitely a lot to think about!

        Reply
    4. Nisie

      Yes. I married a man who owned a house out in bfe. The 180 minutes you drive you never get back. I worked 9 hours, have 2 kids who I feel get the dregs of my energy.

      We are moving to the city next month- where we walk or ride bikes to nearly everything. I’m so looking forward to it.

      Reply
      1. Fabulous

        That’s the situation I’ll be in within the next year, except we both have houses. He doesn’t want to move in with me because he works 12-hour shifts and it’d be nearly an hour commute for him. I work 8 hours, but it’d be a longer commute for me. Thankfully, either way we do it, it’ll only be a temporary situation before we can buy a new house of our own!

        Reply
    5. ZSD

      My dad’s commute was about an hour each way (50 miles) for the whole time I was growing up. I feel like I missed out on spending time with him, and all that time driving was hard on his body. Also, it kept him from being able to get enough sleep. He had to get up really early in the morning, and for much of the year, he wasn’t getting home until it was dark again.
      I guess you should ask yourself, “How much time to enjoy the country living would I have?”
      I’m not saying you shouldn’t do this; I just want to present some possible struggles.
      Are there any jobs in your field closer to this country area you want to live in?

      Reply
    6. Temperance

      Also, chiming in from the perspective as a kid who grew up in a rural area: the city and the suburbs have so much more to offer kids.

      Reply
      1. Fabulous

        Oh I know, I grew up in a small town with nothing around it. They finally got a stoplight and a McDonald’s when I was in high school!

        Reply
    7. Alex

      I didn’t live in the country, but I used to commute from one city to another. It was not fun, even when I took naps on the bus. It just adds time to your day that you can’t really do anything. I especially hated it during winter when the days were short and I felt like I was always tired from sitting/being in the dark. Also knowing that if there’s an emergency or something comes up and you have to leave suddenly, it’s a real inconvenience to be far away.

      Reply
    8. KR

      My father in law works in a major city and lives in a rural area. He has an hour+ commute. One thing my husband and his family has noticed is that his father is noticeably a lot less stressed on days he can work from home and a lot more stressed on days he hits a lot of traffic, so you may want to look for employers that allow some working from home especially in bad weather, when you’re feeling under the weather, and heavy traffic days. He also puts a lot of miles on their vehicles so you will need a good, reliable vehicle that you actively enjoy being in and driving. Finally, he invests in pod casts and audio books. For him, he listens to sermons since he used to be a pastor and is very religious. When I used to drive a lot I would listen to NPR a lot. Good luck!

      Reply
      1. Rainbow Hair Chick

        DO NOT DO IT!! You’ll hate it!! I did it for three years and that was enough for me. I took a pay cut and job closer to home. Im much happier now with a 20 minute commute

        Reply
    9. Turquoise Cow

      My current commute ranges from 45 minutes to just over an hour, with the commute home being much more likely to be lengthened.

      On the one hand, it sucks. But it is nice to be able to decompress a little after work and have some alone time. If you’re easily frustrated by traffic (and that’s an issue for your commute, as opposed to just distance causing the time), maybe it’s not a great idea. But I’ve started listening to podcasts while on my commute, and having that to distract me a little from the fact that I haven’t gone more than 5 miles an hour for the last 20 minutes help.

      I don’t have kids, so I can’t say anything about that, but it is kind of exhausting to come home and have that much less free time to be productive or relax or whatever. The job is temporary though. If it was offered to me as a long-term thing, I might have said no, but I figured I could deal with it for ~6 months.

      Also, I’ve never had a mass transit commute. I sort of wish I did, but sort of wish I didn’t.

      Reply
    10. Beancounter Eric

      Sorry if I ramble a bit…

      No kids, and have been driving an hour each way to work/school for most of 30 years. For the past 17 or so years – 20 to 25 miles and 45 min to one hour each way.

      A few thoughts –
      a) if you are driving in any sort of traffic, think 2 hours for 60-70 miles…my average speed in ATL suburbs is 25 MPH, BUT we have 8th worst traffic on the planet. Your location may have smoother flowing traffic.
      b) Finite number of hours in a day – X hours in a day, and you are spending Y commuting….this reduces time available for activities A, B & C. YOU have to make the choice re. value.
      c) Vehicle cost – Cost for fuel, maintenance will add up – again, value judgment you have to make.

      Reply
    11. Busytrap

      I’ve actually been doing this for almost five years now. I took a position with a great company in a rural spot, and my husband still works in the city. We live in a rural spot as the halfway point, and we LOVE where we live. Honestly, that makes all the difference, because I’m not going to lie – the commute stinks (65mi each way, takes me about 1 hr 20min). But ohmygoodness, I never want to live anywhere other than where we are now because we have great friends here, and while it’s rural, it’s on the water and beautiful and 20 min from a medium sized city (just not the major city my husband works in).

      If you decide to go this route, podcasts are your friend. I’m now pretty much on autopilot when I’m driving in; I barely realize I’m in the car for as long as I am.

      As for how to handle with kids, I don’t currently have any good feedback, as I’m expecting the arrival of kiddo number 1. It’s been weighing pretty heavily on my mind though, and I literally broke down in tears yesterday (so not professional, but she teared up with me?) when my boss told that she would completely understand if I wanted a more flexible schedule because it’s tough to have both parents be that far away from the kiddos, and she wanted me to be happy at the company long term so she wanted me to think on a good plan that would work for me. I plan to propose 1-2 days/week remote (I have a team to manage and need some facetime at the office with the PTB, so there’s no way I would want to go full-time remote anytime soon). Do you have that option at all, or do you have to go in every day?

      Reply
    12. Mischa

      I was going to commute 38 miles (45 minutes – 1 hour, depending on traffic) from my large midwestern city to my grad program, but I tested out the commute for a couple of days…and I’m so glad I did. It was murder. It’s not the boredom, but I hate having so much of my day wasted, sitting in a car. A bus or train would be slightly more tolerable, but that’s not available in my area. My solution was to get an apartment out in the city where my grad program is located. Obviously, not everyone can do this, but for me the time wasted far outweighed the financial burden of moving and renting an apartment. (I live in a low cost of living area, so rent is absurdly cheap. Plus, I get to move out of my parents’ house.)

      Now, to contrast that — I know plenty of people who live in my grad school city and commute to large midwestern city. They don’t mind it at all.

      Reply
      1. Jaydee

        I am your opposite. (Like, seriously, based on the specificity of the numbers you cited, I think I might live in the town where you go to school and work in your large midwestern city.) I have been commuting for over 10 years now. In my experience it’s not that people don’t mind the commute at all. It’s just that the trade-offs are worth it. My job is in the big city and I don’t want to leave it for just anything. My husband could work anywhere but has no desire to live or work in the larger city or its suburbs. We both love where we live. And so I drive.

        Honestly, there are zero days where I like my commute. There are days I hate it (ice storms, traffic accidents that invariably happen when I’m in a hurry to pick my son up from daycare) and days I don’t hate it (nice weather, good traffic flow, an interesting podcast to listen to, and a nice cup of coffee). But if I didn’t have to commute my life would improve measurably.

        Reply
        1. Mischa

          I don’t want to out you but now I’m so curious!

          I totally agree about the trade offs. The highways are currently a disaster, and the bus would double the commute. Nope.

          Reply
    13. Red

      I’ve done that. I don’t have kids, I lived with my grandparents at the time. For the first year, I loved the alone time at the beginning and end of the day, but then it started to wear on me.

      Reply
    14. Ghost Town

      I’m in favor of reducing a commute and would not recommend a 60-70 mile commute. It sounds like a good amount of your commute would be on a highway or interstate, so will move at a decent clip. But… for the portions that aren’t or for the times when there is a back up due to accidents, weather, or a high volume of cars, it can be infuriating.

      You are talking about 2-3 hours a day (or 10-15 hours a week) on the road, in your car. Your work day balloons from 8/9 hours to 10/12 hours. For me, this wouldn’t be something I could do w/o an end-date set (at least a goal of moving houses or jobs w/in a specified time frame).

      My husband and I both work for a university in a small town in the US. We just sold our house the next county over (house was in the county seat of that county, and the town had a whopping population of 2,217) and are buying a house in the university town. Our commute was about 30-45 minutes, to go 20 miles. Not bad when compared to my in-laws in Atlanta, who can take 90 minutes to 2 hours to go that far. But it was a long commute for us and there was essentially one direct route from home to work. If that state road was backed up for any reason, you were essentially stuck (unless you knew about it at one of a handful of places where you could go way out of the way to get around it). And, to be honest, a state road that is heavily traveled by people who go between the two towns regularly meant that people were often going way over the speed limit and accidents were frequent.

      Think about how much of your life will be in the metro area versus your home area. For us, the advantages of living there were diminishing as the disadvantages were growing (working + going to school + daycare + appointments in university town).

      Reply
    15. Myrin

      I had a two-hours-in-total commute (by train) for the past six-ish years and honestly, while I sometimes think it would be more practical to live closer to the city, I ultimately don’t mind it. That’s a big part of my personality, though, there’s a lot of stuff I just don’t care about.

      I enjoy riding the train and not needing to pay attention the way I’d have to if I drove myself and how I can do all kinds of other stuff (sleep, read, some work stuff that I always kind of push around and never really get to is suddenly weirdly easy to do once I’m on the train, etc.).

      Also, which is probably a big factor, I could never live in a city. I’m a country person through-and-through, I don’t need any kind of “excitement” that you can find in the city, and I’m very nature-y, so the commute is just a think I have/had to do to get to live where I want.

      I don’t have kids, so I can’t really speak to that. I’d assume I’d feel a bit different then but honestly, that’s a bridge I (even mentally) cross when I get to it.

      Reply
    16. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      There’s some scientific/psychological research that suggests that once you have to commute more than 45 minutes, your mood crashes and your frustration/stress starts rising.

      I don’t think a 60-90 minute commute is worth it, if you’re doing it every day and are driving (I feel differently if you’re on a train and don’t get motion sickness). I used to commute 75-90 minutes to work, in addition to daytime driving to see clients. I started to develop low-back problems, my non-driving leg developed “movie theater knee,” the rattling from the steering wheel began to cause nerve damage in my forearms, and I would be exhausted/grouchy by the time I got home. I had to spend a lot more time in the gym and doing yoga/stretching just to counteract the negative effect of driving. There’s also a lot of wear and tear on your car (i.e. $), and oftentimes parking, etc., is more expensive and harder to find in the city ($$$).

      Losing all that time and money was not worth it to me. For the last 5 years, I’ve only worked at places where my commute was under 35 minutes (by public transit or car), and it has made a tremendous (positive) difference. I still have to travel far to see clients, but I don’t have to do it every day, and it’s not on top of a hellacious 3-hour roundtrip commute.

      Reply
    17. The Queen of Cans & Jars

      I’m actually getting ready to post a related question, but I live about 30 minutes from the nearest interstate, and at least 10 more minutes to anywhere from there, and have commuted that distance to work. It was awful. Like other commenters have said, you never get that time back.

      Reply
    18. Carin

      I commute from corn fields to the edge of a minor city, and I love it. I choose to take the longer rural route rather than the direct highway route because city driving makes me anxious. My commute is long, but it’s full of beautiful postcard views, and I love it. It’s a great way to decompress in the evenings so I don’t barf work anxiety all over my spouse. No kids, so I can’t help there.

      Reply
    19. PieInTheBlueSky

      I live in a suburban area and commute to rural area about 70 miles away. It takes about 75-90 minutes of driving each way.

      I am fortunate in that my employer is flexible with schedules. I can work from home when bad weather is expected, I can leave work early for errands/kids’ school functions/bad weather, it’s ok if I get in the office a little late, etc. Without this flexibility, it would be a lot more difficult.

      My commute has very little traffic. The drive is usually easy. I have about 30 or so podcasts that I listen to (they have off seasons). I used to listen to the local NPR station, but they have the same news updates every 15 minutes and it got tiresome to listen to the same headlines again and again. It’s also easy for me to go on “autopilot” and not remember the last 10 minutes of driving. The worst part of the commute is winter. After daylight savings time ends, I drive on a rural highway in darkness for about 45 minutes each way.

      Sleep is a problem. I don’t get enough sleep and sometimes have to pull over at a gas station to rest or even take a short nap. I’ve come close to falling asleep at the the wheel more times than I’d like to admit.

      I have kids in elementary school. My spouse is very involved with the kids. My time is more limited than I would like. The kids’ school does have an after school program where kids can be watched until a parent comes to pick them up. Sometimes these programs have waiting lists and it can be hard to get into them, especially for summer programs where I live. And these programs cost money, of course.

      It’s also hard to get a lot of household chores done during weekdays. Sometimes I don’t have the energy after coming home and there’s a limited amount of time before we have to start the bedtime routine with the kids. Plus, sometimes I just want to spend time with the family. Also, it’s harder to mow the grass. There is not enough daylight or time when I get home from work, and if it rains on the weekend then suddenly two weeks have gone by without mowing and the grass is way too tall.

      Reply
    20. it_guy

      I live in the country and my commute is between 40-60 minutes depending on traffic. I am tottally in the country living on 20 acres with lots of wildlife and a 1/4 mile from the nearest neighbor.

      The biggest problem that I have is totally crappy internet! We have Dish Network for our TV and a similar satellite connection for internet because we are too far from a switching substation to have fast internet via landline.

      The totally bad thing is when it rains, I can’t work from home….

      Reply
      1. Girasol

        This! Also thick snowflakes and with one provider, the microwave running. See if you can find out from neighbors what internet service they use and how dependable it is.

        Reply
    21. Elizabeth West

      I used to have an hour commute. I didn’t mind because the bf drove and I would just sleep (we both had to be at work at 7 am and we got up at 4:30). For Exjob, I had a 20-minute commute and I hated it; the highway was annoying and nobody here knows how to drive. No kids, so I can’t speak to that, but I fed my cat at roughly the same time every day and when I was late, I would worry it was stressing her out.

      I wouldn’t mind a long-ish commute if I didn’t have to drive, but I think an hour is my limit.

      Reply
    22. Lora

      Driving I hate, but I commute about 80 minutes on the train, no problem. On the train I get caught up on my email, read, knit, listen to music etc and it’s a nice time to steel my nerves / decompress. If I had to sit in traffic that long I would be a huge ball of stress.

      My last job I could ride my bike to work, and I thought the longer commute would be a pain in comparison (although I’ve taken the train before) but it wasn’t bad at all.

      Reply
    23. NJ Anon

      I wouldn’t do it. I have a 2.25 hour round trip and thats under normal circumstances. It sucks and would never had done it when my kids were young.

      Reply
    24. PlainJane

      I live in the country. My commute is 12 mi/about 30 min. The commute is fine. What’s much more aggravating is having to drive almost that distance to get to a grocery store or any other kind of service besides our local gas station/convenience store. I still love country living, but it’s really frustrating when I forget something or run out of something and have to either go without or haul myself back to town. It’s also a pain when something happens to one of us. My husband had surgery recently and couldn’t drive for a week. So every time my son needed a ride to an appointment, I had to take at least an hour off work.

      Reply
  22. Amber Rose

    So my newest task is to build an RMA procedure from scratch because frankly, we don’t have much of one and what we have sucks, and I guess I’m doing them all now. I have zero experience in this, so some resources for learning how RMA processes usually work, or even some tips for tracking and accounting for returns (that ideally isn’t a giant spreadsheet of doom, I have so many of those already), would be really helpful.

    As a side note, every customer who has been getting on my case lately is from New York. I’m starting to feel like it’s personal or something. What the heck?

    Reply
    1. Hillary

      If your order system has a place to create returns, that’s the way to go. Barring that, could you issue a PO for each return? That way the customer doesn’t get credited/paid until the product is assessed and received, and it goes either back into inventory or written off if it’s defective.

      If you don’t do a lot and it’s only a couple paper, honestly paper might be the way to go. We have a form that gets filled out, all correspondence and paperwork gets attached, and it’s filed when the return comes back.

      Reply
      1. Amber Rose

        So far I have an excel spreadsheet form that auto-generates a number for me, which gets PDF’d and emailed out to people doing returns with the request they include a copy with their shipment. Then I give a copy to our shipper so she can match them, and I can assign people to deal with the returned item.

        I’m getting pushback on even that though, the sales guys are constantly complaining that they don’t want to inconvenience their customers by making them print anything. But if they don’t, stuff tends to sit in a corner gathering dust because nobody in shipping knows what to do with it.

        And I don’t wanna step on QA/QC’s toes either, since I don’t know what should have non-conforming product reports instead of an RMA.

        Reply
        1. Jesca

          I le a long comment below. But this is right on par. Unfortunately you are going to have to likely go toe to toe with sales as you will absolutely need the product marked upon return. I’m not sure, and maybe it is an industry with diva customers, but this is a must almost everywhere.

          What I would recommend is understand the broader processes (like QCs) that flow into this one. Sit down and have a meeting with QC and understand their needs. Then sit down with sales and try to understand their mentality on this.

          Then have a broader meeting with those who operate around this process along with sales and present your proposed process flow. Include detailed explanations. This will likely get sales to step down on their stance while allowing other departments to have input and understanding on how this is going to work.

          Reply
        2. Natalie

          I just want to mention, in case you are second guessing yourself, that sales people routinely exaggerate how much this or that normal procedure with inconvenience a customer. I’ve argued with sales people about cutting of clients who don’t pay their bills!

          Having to print out an RMA or write an RMA number on something and include it in the package is so, so normal that I sincerely doubt any customers are throwing a hissy fit over it. And frankly, it’s important enough that you shouldn’t cave to one or two clients who are behaving unreasonably (unless they’re literally your only client or something, in which case you collaborate on a procedure).

          Reply
          1. Beezus

            This! I have had sales people moan about how inconvenient something is to their customers, only to have the customer not bat an eye when they were actually asked. In my case, it helps that, in a past job, I was a buyer of the very product my company sells, so I can cite my experience in our customers’ shoes to assure sales peeps that what we’re asking for is very, very standard.

            Printing a specific RMA form might be a minor annoyance to a customer in my industry, but having them clearly print or write the RMA number on whatever paperwork they use, for our reference, is totally reasonable.

            Reply
        3. nonegiven

          There are a few places that put a return form and label, already printed as part of the invoice. All the customer has to do is fill out the form with reason for return, put it in the box, tape it shut, slap on the label and pay for shipping. You can always refund the return shipping if the return is because the item is defective and they are returning for replacement.

          Reply
    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      It’s not personal. Their mass transit system is shutting down and screwing up their days on a way too regular basis.

      Reply
    3. Jesca

      What Hillary has sated is pretty par for the course, but honestly there are so many nuances depending on the product and industry. There are no hard fast rules here. Bare in mind that when you are creating it that you are not violating any contact laws or previous civil case precidents set with whatever you develop.
      I actually have functioned numerous times over in process/procedure development mostly because process engineering comes pretty naturally to me. Most of these major processes I knew nothing about either, so I feel your pain.
      But I would literally start as follows:
      Understand contracts and warranties
      Understand what your company is doing now
      Understand what system capabilities you currently have
      Understand management expectation of the final outcome.
      This last one of course is key since there really are no hard fast rules to RMA. I mean most places want the stuff back before issuing credit. But sometimes it literally cost more to have stuff shipped back than it would be just to offer them a credit for it. This is something management will typically need to be involved in to make a decision. Its best to look at the costs now and not after you developed the new process.
      Also, bare in mind to leave yourself enough leeway for special circumstances while you are developing this. You don’t want to back yourself into a procedural corner with inflexible rules regarding RMA. This is still a customer interfacing process and it there are nuances there in regards to customer size, importance, and potential law suits.
      I would include though that if the product is reported to have caused or contributed to or POTENTIALLY has caused of contributed to anything resulting in a loss or injury to a customer, that it is set policy to have that product returned ASAP (sometimes customers will bluster at this, so you will need to keep that in mind in regards to nuance). You will want a process to flow on how to handle these situations in regards to the returned product as well.
      Also, if you have no ERP type system in place, you can either try to use a spreadsheet or do the old paper system. This is cumbersome to keep in mind it will probably double the time it takes to handle any RMA. I would though in this sense make a spread sheet (ahg I know) with set numbering for RMA. This is the best way to track them ERP or not. You give the special number to the customer and include it in any return shipping labels (or have them write it on the return shipping label). This is the best way really.
      -tack time this. It will let the company track cost vs paying for better system software
      AND, most importantly, determine your KPIs for this process. Might as well as businesses tend to want to know later how a new process is performing.
      If you have written processes before, ignore my general process development advice. I just like to over inform and under!
      And some parts of New York? Yeah they are like. Don’t take it personal. They even treat their own customers this way.
      Hope this helps!

      Reply
      1. Jesca

        ARG I apologize. I wrote that in word since I have been having a tough time with this site. It took all my spacing away! Sorry for the tough read!

        Reply
        1. Amber Rose

          No worries, I read it just fine. And I appreciate your advice. I’m trying to get some cross-training in QA/QC, which will help. But since that department right now is just one dude and we’re currently in the middle of a flurry trying to get certification to sell in Europe, there hasn’t been much time.

          For now, I’ve asked the sales guys to at least have their customers mark the RMA number down somewhere on the package. Hopefully by August I can have a proposal for a better system. At least I have a rough idea of where to start.

          Reply
          1. Hillary

            The controller or finance manager can be your biggest ally on this – you might want to loop them in if you haven’t already. Without the RMA numbers and receipts they can’t reconcile inventory and credit, it can create a nightmare on the books. Plus they’re usually used to going toe to toe with sales and are generally part of senior management.

            What Natalie said about sales is 100% accurate. Customers generally understand that there are processes they have to go through to get their money back, even on a return to Amazon you have to print their pack slip. It’s completely normal.

            Reply
  23. Jess

    I might be looking for a new job soon because I’m planning to apply for graduate programs to start Spring 2018. My current job has indicated that they won’t be on board for small amounts of flexibility, like leaving an hour early once or maybe twice a week so I can get to classes (would be going part time). Any tips for screening companies who would be more open to the flexibility? Or even those who have better hours–my current job is 9-6 but a 9-5 would work with no flexibility needed. I’m afraid that indicating I’m applying for school would worry them I won’t be focused on the job or that I would be leaving shortly after starting. Thoughts?

    Reply
    1. CorporateLady

      Honestly, it’s all about your skill set. I would totally give that flexibility to a new employee – if they were amazing. I want them to flex their time, be responsive, and have attention to detail. If they possess those qualities, I’ll give them freedom right off the bat.

      However, if they make that ask and I’m not seeing all the good stuff, well – then I’m not as interested.

      Good managers give their good employees what they need to be successful in work and in life.

      Reply
    2. Lemon Zinger

      Ask about work-life balance! Questions like that wouldn’t have to get specific about your graduate studies but will give you a good sense of whether the companies are flexible. You can also ask about hours, and whether they allow you to flex your schedule.

      Reply
  24. HR Gal

    Short version: Former manager is a HUGE jerk and I don’t want to use him as a reference. How do I explain that to prospective employers?

    Long version:
    I always had a good relationship with my former manager. And when I got an offer from my current employer that was contingent on him providing a reference for me, I told him about it and he said he was happy to provide a glowing reference (and he did). However, in the two weeks after that, he was very chilly towards me – I think he took my leaving the company personally.

    I always assumed that when I next began a job search, I would reach out to him with a warm message to mend the relationship we had and to remind him of all I accomplished while at the company. However, I recently learned from former coworkers of some awful, terrible things he’s said/done, including sexually harassing many women within the company. (He even manipulated coworkers so that I would never find out while there!)

    I have NO desire to ever interact within him again, let alone send a warm and friendly message to mend our relationship. But he’s also the only one in the company who can speak to my accomplishments while I was there. There’s no HR department at the company that I can talk to.

    So, what should I do if future employers require a reference from him? Since I’m rather early in my career, I don’t have a whole lot of other managers who can provide references, and I’m stressing at the thought of needing to either explain why I don’t want to use him as a a reference, or having to use him as a reference. HELP!

    Reply
    1. Havel

      Absolute last resort is to just give HR as your reference. Make sure to confirm with them that they’ll give the details (start/end date, title, possibly pay and eligibility for rehire).

      Better options include long-time/senior coworkers, or people up the reporting chain from him (even better). Again go ahead and make sure that these people are cool with it before you put their names forward.

      I have someone like this in my past and these strategies have worked for me. Anecdote, yeah, but the plural of anecdote is data.

      Reply
      1. HR Gal

        What was the reason you told prospective employers for why you were listing a coworker rather than your manager? I worry that by not providing my manager, it’ll look like I’m trying to hide something.

        Reply
        1. Toph

          If the former manager is still an employee at current place of employ (but just not currently your manager) I can’t see anyone blinking at why the reference from that company would not be a manager. If it’s a reference from more than one job back, there are dozens of valid reasons why you might use someone who was a colleague rather than a supervisor as a reference, potentially just due to how long it’s been since you worked there. FWIW I’ve also never been asked why I used a particular person as a reference when prospective employers are checking references. As long as it’s not someone super super junior I doubt it’d raise a red flag or seem like you’re hiding something.

          Reply
    2. Sunflower

      Is there anyone else who worked in a capacity above you that you would be okay listing? I’d try to find someone who, even if they weren’t your manager, you did work for (as opposed to a coworker you just worked with)

      Also a lot of companies will just call to verify employment- dates and positions- and won’t ask any questions beyond that.

      Reply
      1. HR Gal

        He’s fairly high up there as it is – his manager is the CEO of the company, who wan’t in the office much. I have high level coworkers that I can ask, but I wouldn’t say they were people I worked for… just with.

        Reply
    3. Seal

      I had the same problem with a previous manager. For most of the time I worked for him was had a good relationship, mostly because he knew I was the one covering his ass and made him look good. Then he got promoted and reneged on a promise to move me into his former job, but wrote glowing letters of recommendation for me during my subsequent job search. Once I actually got a new job he refused to speak to me during my notice period; in fact, he didn’t even bother to say goodbye to me on my last day. Within a few years of my leaving he was demoted and ultimately fired; I’m told that what I said in my exit interview was one of the reasons his boss started keeping closer tabs on him. Needless to say, I can never use him as a reference, nor do I want to!

      Even better – my manager at my next job, who I had always considered to be a mentor and who helped me get my current job, recently refused my request to use her as a reference. She recently retired and just didn’t want to be bothered, which is considered a bit sacrilegious in my profession. My original manager at my current job also retired and fell completely off the radar, so I have no way of contacting him. And I don’t want to use my current manager for obvious reasons.

      Ultimately, I’ve been using long-time, well-established colleagues who are fellow department heads or higher as references and who can speak to my accomplishments. I’ve had several interviews this year and no one has asked if I can provide a manager as an additional reference or why I haven’t listed one. If I absolutely had to give a manager as a reference and felt that the job itself was too good an opportunity to pass up, I’d bite the bullet and use my current manager. Fortunately, I’ve not had to do that.

      Reply
  25. Yalla

    I’m a manager of an office that requires a lot of travel- sometimes 20 weeks a year.  The thing is, the employees hate it, and for good reason.
    Most of the travel is to tiny towns.  So tiny they are fly-in and fly-out only, and with extremely limited accommodations.  Some of these locations have no hotels or restaurants, and the employees need to stay at a bed and breakfast, eating three meals a day there for a week at a time.  Sometimes the bed and breakfast won’t even guarantee a private room, and double-bunk someone on another cot in the same room!  There’s no cell phone signal either.  Changing the amount and the timing of the travel is not an option.
    Of course no one likes it.  We pay our employees a lot because of this, and I try my best to give candidates a realistic job preview.  Still, I know people do not realize all of what they are getting into when they are hired, and I know it wears on our present employees.
    If you had any suggestions on what might make this more pleasant or bearable, I would love to hear it. 

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Christy

      Do they get rental cars? (I’m not sure what kind of town you can’t drive out of that isn’t in the Arctic.) Perhaps that would help them feel less trapped if they could drive an hour for food. It’s far, but it’s freedom at least.

      Reply
      1. Yalla

        So small there are no roads connecting these towns to anywhere. Everyone who is there, got there via plane.

        Reply
    2. FDCA In Canada

      Good pay is a big help, but can you afford to give them more time off? If you’re staying at a town so small there’s nowhere to go and nothing to do there, then you get home and you have to pack all your living and hobbies into the few hours you get off after work, additional vacation time would probably be a huge boon to them. Apart from that, can you ensure they’re not taking on additional costs due to so much travel, and maybe see if you can pay for house-sitting or pet-sitting, pay for additional data costs they incur from traveling, that kind of thing?

      Reply
    3. katamia

      Woooooooow. Those are some really tiny towns. One thing that could help is to ask the people who have been there for awhile and seem to tolerate it what their best tips are (e.g., loading up the Kindle, bringing a DVD player, etc.) and dropping some of those concrete tips into the interview to see how they react.

      If people go to the same town often, maybe you could also work out an agreement with the B&B for a more interesting menu or some other perks.

      Reply
      1. Yalla

        Some good advice. People really can’t grok when I describe how small these places when they are attending job interviews. Maybe concrete tips highlighting just how boring it is will let them believe me when I say how isolated these posts are.

        Reply
        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          You could recommend that they watch “Flying Wild Alaska” to get a sense of how isolated these towns are ;)

          Reply
        2. Rat in the Sugar

          Yeah, I would be really clear in interviews that these are towns that do not have roads leading to them. (I am burning with curiosity about where this could be). Personally, when you were describing it, I was thinking of the kind of tiny town my grandparents used to live in out in the middle of the desert–one gas station, one grocery store, one bar, and two churches–one Catholic, one Methodist. However, if I ever got stir-crazy visiting them there I could hop in my car and drive an hour and a half to the nearby city, which was still pretty small but had restaurants and movie theaters and a mall. I’ve never seen a town you couldn’t drive in and out of that wasn’t on an island, and I think that might be why some of the people you interview aren’t really comprehending just how tiny and rural these places are.

          Reply
    4. London Engineer

      Would you be willing to pay for two beds or more if that would guarantee a private room? As much as I don’t mind staying in hostels on holiday I don’t think I’d want to be in a room with anyone else on business travel.

      Reply
      1. Yalla

        Would I like to! But the B&B s have said no, customers pay per person not per room. They won’t turn people away if they have spare beds (because if you don’t stay there, there’s no where else to go).

        Reply
        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          Do you frequently have to travel to the same towns, and/or is the schedule fairly predictable? Would it make sense for the company to rent an apartment or time-share-style property so that at least employees have greater privacy?

          Reply
      2. KR

        Are they the same towns? Can you rent out a room in a boarding house or a small studio apartment for employees and then pay a local to clean it once a week/before someone comes?

        Reply
        1. Yalla

          I described it as a bed and breakfast, but boarding house would probably be a better description. The only game in town. Several of these locales do not have any apartments.

          Could we buy a house in town and use that? Maybe in some of the towns… worth looking into. Thanks!

          Reply
          1. Wheezy Weasel

            I think the double-bunking is the biggest leap from inconvenient to intolerable (my own words, to be sure). For someone really eager to take on the job, they can convince themselves that they are the right candidate. ‘I love library books for entertainment, I have no food allergies and love just about anything so this isn’t a problem’. Throwing a random bunkmate in there is next-level inconvenient, and if it doesn’t come up until several months into someone’s tenure at the company, that would make me a little steamed.

            Reply
            1. WellRed

              No, it’s intolerable. Not sure why the bed breakfast can’t let the company pay for beds even if there’s no one in them.

              Reply
              1. Turtledove

                From the sounds of it, it’s because the B&B is the only hostel in the area and even some of the locals live out of it rather than having their own houses. Which means that if the B&B turns away someone when they’ve got an empty bed, that person is going to have to hope they can find someone willing to open the door to a potential stranger and let them stay the night, or they’re going to have to hope the local church (if there *is* one – some communities are too small to sustain one) is going to be habitable enough for an overnight stay – and depending on the area, that’s not a guarantee.

                I agree that it’s not a situation the employees should be expected to tolerate. But I can see the B&B’s perspective: if they’re the only source of transitory housing in the town, they’re risking someone being left out to the elements if they remove access to any of the beds. And in very rural communities, especially ones that are very far north, this would be culturally taboo – you *don’t* leave someone out in the cold to die if you’ve got room for them to stay. It’s just Not Done.

                Reply
          2. Dead Quote Olympics

            Tiny houses, or tiny pre-fabs, or those little TAB trailers? If these towns are so small and isolated, it might be hard to find existing housing stock. It sounds like the perfect use case for tiny houses or something similar. I’d take a Quonset hut over the housing situation you are currently describing. Possibly a tent.

            Reply
          3. Turtledove

            I’d say that if there aren’t any houses for sale in the towns where the bed and breakfast / boarding house cannot offer a guarantee of privacy for your employees (meaning absolutely no double-bunking ever), it’d be worth the money and time to invest in *making* some better living accommodations for your employees in that area. Even a tiny house, or some trailers, would be better than having to double-bunk without any warning. And paying the locals for upkeep and maintenance on the residence would probably help make it more palatable to them.

            Reply
    5. Temperance

      I’m wondering if you might be able to give your employees satellite phones or hotspots to use? I grew up in a small town, but it wasn’t quite as small as you’re describing, and it sucked. I have stayed in places with no cell signal, and if you’re used to it, it’s fine, but if you’re not, it can be really difficult.

      Are these towns so small that there aren’t grocery stores or a restaurant? Maybe a library?

      Reply
      1. Yalla

        One general store. No restaurant or library.

        But I will look into satellite phones, which I know people would love if that could be done. Thanks!

        Reply
        1. OhBehave

          Love the satellite phone idea. If these are towns you frequently fly into, then I would seriously consider a company trailer/tiny home. Outfit it with the best of everything to make the trip tolerable. If this would cause hard feelings with those you rent from, then it may not be a good idea to build your own accommodations.

          Reply
          1. Turtledove

            It’s possible that it could be made more palatable to the locals if it’s pitched as “well, our employees come in and out so often that we want to make sure that they’re not taking up space that could be used by someone who lives here. We will, of course, be hiring someone local to ensure that the accommodations are maintained and kept presentable, and [list of ways the company is still going to be putting money into the town].”

            The main issue is likely to be concern that the company building its own accommodations would result in less money coming into the town – which, considering that tiny rural towns often live on a knife’s edge economically, is going to be a serious worry.

            Reply
    6. self published

      Can you provide some sort of Internet connection — you probably can’t do a hotspot but maybe there is some rural equivalent someone knows about. That way, they can stay connected / watch movies, etc.?

      Reply
    7. paul

      are y’all sending people out to Alaska or rural Canada? Fly in and fly out only sounds extremely remote.

      I really don’t know how to make that type of travel not suck, and I *like* small rural towns…but not if I’m stuck hot bunking or room sharing with strangers.

      Reply
    8. Beancounter Eric

      1. Satellite phones w. data – haven’t priced recently, but I expect expensive. May be worth it for sanity/turnover sake.
      2. Do you have experienced team members chat with candidates during the interview process? You probably should – your candidates need full disclosure re. conditions on site.
      3. No way to get portable lodging, i.e. travel trailer to the location?
      4. I almost want to say find someone ex-military who has been through some field deployments, since they may have some ideas on how to make this bearable to your people.

      Reply
    9. Natasha

      This sounds cool for outdoor lovers or people with quiet, solitary hobbies like knitting.
      Is there a chance they could bring their spouses sometimes?

      Reply
      1. Yalla

        Afraid when they aren’t guaranteed a private room, I don’t think bringing a spouse will work out…

        Reply
    10. Nelle Jefe

      Are the locations scenic, at least? Are there opportunities to do outdoorsy kind of things, like hiking, skiing, birding, or fishing? Because I could see myself really enjoying a no-traffic, isolated town with some hiking right out the back door.

      How regular is the travel schedule? Do the same people end up back at the same places frequently, for years on end? I agree with some others that the double-bunking sounds like the worst part of the deal.

      Reply
    11. Student

      Screen significantly harder for people who can entertain themselves in such situations when you hire. Put more of your time and effort into training up the skills you need in people who are already predisposed to tolerate this kind of work environment, instead of trying to entertain people who are not suited to this kind of work.

      Also, very seriously, make some local contacts in these towns and try to train them to do the thing you need on an occasional contract basis. If you do that, invest more of your money into idiot-proofing your thing, and easy-to-understand training material so the contractor has a good chance of doing your thing, and less money on travel to middle-of-nowhere.

      And: satellite phones for better communications, no matter what, because really, even when there is no normal phone coverage there are still technical options.

      Reply
    12. Boötes

      I love tiny towns. I live in an area none too far from one-store towns and some fly-in or boat-in communities. IIRC in my worldly travels the smallest (self-proclaimed?) town I’ve been to had a sign that read Population: 4.

      Disclaimer: perhaps your company’s conflict of interest policies & nature of work precludes any of the options below that may even hint at friendly contact with residents. That said, notions that spring to mind:

      For towns your company regularly flies to:

      – can you secure a sort of host or fixer at various towns? Someone who lives or lived there, knows everyone really well, and is happy to play local guide a couple of evenings a week, maybe host a meal one night or at least make their kitchen available.

      – similarly, can you somehow contact residents to see if any are regularly away, or, heck, if they’d be game to hole up at the Town B&B and rent their house to you for the week.

      Stuff to do:

      – I find there’s usually a history worth learning about or people willing to give the fun, unofficial versions of it once I start talking to them :). How the town came to be, significant moments, when/why it shrank, how nearby creeks and hills got their names — there’s often loads to learn from long-term residents.

      – I love me some nights away from home. Seriously, last time I was on a business trip (& yes, I got all my work done daily), each night was a spa night. I read and ran more than usual and explored the rural & wilderness areas with another coworker.

      – If I knew I was travelling to remote places regularly, I’d have audiobooks, podcasts, language and other courses loaded up on my devices, plus an extremely portable Why Not? project per trip like learning to draw, possibly paired with a daily challenge like a portrait a day (which can be based on a photo in my library) or a silly song a day.

      Food:

      – Building on Bibliovore”s suggestion of having food ordered via Mouth, what about contacting the general store and advising them of your company’s schedule and whether they can order a supply list on your behalf, timed for your employees’ arrival, with the guarantee you’ll buy it? Or buy non-perishable food from the general store in advance and have them put it aside?

      – Companies specialize in chilled air freight packaging, aka perishable logistics. Can you plan out menus in advance and check boxes of delicate food for multi-hour flights? Perhaps a second round to arrive midway through the trip? I don’t know your budgets but perhaps you could meal-plan with a clever chef who knows how to work within these constraints to make meals your workers will even look forward to!

      – Or hire a chef to join the trips.

      I’ve worked as an outdoor guide in remote places, which involved splitting all the food between us for multi-day trips and cooking 2-3 hot meals for everyone using a single 2-burner Coleman stove. It can be done with delicious results.

      Reply
      1. Turtledove

        It sounds like these places aren’t just rural, they’re up far enough north that it’s a choice between winter ice-roads or flying in. Which would mean that the general store would 1) be pretty limited in its selections to begin with, and 2) be a lot more expensive compared to a more urban store. So setting things aside for the company’s employees might not work (it’d take things off the table for the locals), but arranging a supply list with the guarantee that the company will buy it might be feasible.

        Reply
    13. Lissajous

      Even though your remoteness sounds like a different flavour, this is a lot like the FIFO issues for minesites in Australia. Once a mine is built it’s fine, but when you’re the ones doing the building it’s a different story. (It’s not that you can’t drive out, except in the north in wet season, as much as the nearest town might be a couple of days drive and even then there may not be more than a servo to get fuel.)

      Googling for stuff that makes work in outback Australia bearable might give you some good leads.

      The sharing-a-room thing is almost definitely the final straw in all of this.

      If you have towns where you regularly return to:
      – Absolutely look into renting a house, or buying a house, for your company employees to use.
      – Alternatives to a house: portable building, nice caravan.
      – Work with the locals to help keep the house maintained
      – Work with the locals for food, cooking, cleaning etc while you have staff staying there.*
      – In general, work with the locals as much as possible. It brings extra income into the town – often much needed – and if you have an emergency they make all the difference. Someone else mentioned training up local people in the basics of what you need done – brilliant idea!
      – Along with the house, set up a satellite dish for internet. It makes a world of difference for people working away from home, and it give you a much better office set up (if that’s what you need). You can get ones that come with a phone to go with them, or given internet people can use the wifi to call using various apps.

      For situations where it’s a one-off, or too infrequent to make the above viable:
      – If a room has to be shared, it’s going to suck. Be open with your employees about the reasons, that you’ve tried to make sure it doesn’t happen but sometimes it does anyway.
      – Give newbies a detailed rundown of what it’s like on site, and suggestions of they might like to take with them to keep themselves happier! I always load up spare a hard drive with tv shows I’m watching, and the kindle with books. Lots of personal entertainment that lets me tune out, doesn’t require internet access (just a power point), and doesn’t take up much space when packing.
      – Daily bonuses for on-site work
      – Get them noise-cancelling headphones if sharing a room is unavoidable?
      – Advance notice of travel as much as possible.
      – For luggage allowances, be aware of how much of that is going to get taken up by work kit. Small planes have strict limits, but if you can send work gear up in advance it means they can pack a bit more of their personal stuff. (My laptop bag with all my work stuff will easily hit 10-11 kg, and the plane limit is usually 15 kg total. And I don’t have to pack tools.)
      – If there’s no internet or other comms, definitely get a sat phone. At the very least it should be a health and safety thing: your employees are going out to remote locations, you need to know that they got there safely and are still ok at least once a day. It also gives them office support. And then let them use the phone to call home for a little while – put generous guidelines in place (no threee-hour calls, pricey! Half an hour might be reasonable?), but don’t be super rigid about enforcing it (e.g. don’t penalise someone for going a minute over.)
      – If they do a lot of computer work and are used to multiple screens in the office: a tablet can be used as a second screen and it makes thing much easier. Even a small one; I only have an ipad mini – so, tiny – and just being able to put emails on a side screen helps so much.
      – Work with the hostel/boarding house as much as you can; explain what you need well ahead of time to give everyone a chance of working out how to make it happen for what price. Ask if the other bed in your person’s room can be the last to go, if possible. Also with food; once a place knows that our guys need packed lunches, including morning and afternoon smoko (they’re swinging hammers all day, they eat a lot!), they can make it happen. But they need time to work it out, and get the enough food in on the next truck, and work out how they want to charge for it.
      – Turns out almost everyone has some daily thing – usually food – that makes a world of difference to them. For me it’s really good tea (fortunately light and compact – very packable, I always take a stash on site). For one of our site managers it’s custard (seriously – fortunately this a standard accompaniment to pudding on site at dinner), for the other it’s toasted sandwiches – he always puts a sandwich press in the tools container – and vanilla icecream. For a lot of our tradies it’s their preferred beer after work. For a couple of people it’s coke zero. If you can find out what that thing is for someone and make sure they can get it, it really helps. Of course, often people don’t realise what their thing is until after the first time they’ve been on site.
      – Most people are pretty set about what they like for breakfast. Does the hostel offer their go-to cereal, or can they get it in, or can room be made for your staff to take it with them?
      – Food in general just makes a huge difference. If the food is good, people are so much happier. If it’s bad, mine sites go on strike. Again, work with the locals as much as you possibly can, give them advance notice as much as you can.
      – If they have a day they can’t get anything done because they’re waiting on xyz, or they’ve been up long enough to be due a break day, try and give them the means to go explore if they want to – take a hike for the day, or helicopter ride, or whatever it is in that town. I can usually take one of the site vehicles on my day off and go for a drive, and just having autonomy for a day is great. If you have to be in a middle of nowhere you’d never go by choice, at least get to see it a little.
      – You probably already do this, but make sure your staff are provided suitable clothing for the conditions, and that it fits! My hi-vis site jacket only comes in guy’s sizing. I have the smallest size and it’s way too big; cold draft blows up through the bottom, brrr. (Desert mornings before sunrise are cold.)

      And time off after they finish a remote stint is always good.

      *I don’t know what your staff hours when remote are, but for us on mines it’s 12 hr days, 6-6, every 14th day is a rest day, usually 3 weeks on 1 week off (construction swing). But literally the only thing you have to do outside of work is wash your clothes. You don’t have to cook, you don’t have to clean your room except keeping clutter out of the way, you don’t have to garden, you don’t wash your sheets or towels. It’s an interesting microcosm in that all work has value, and someone is paid to do it.

      Reply
  26. Callalily

    My senior coworker wants to make a pact that if either of us start looking for a new job that we’ll tell each other. The main reason is that this is a 3 person workplace (boss plus us) and she’s had many issues in the past where she comes back from a vacation to find out that the other put in their notice.

    I’ve only been here for 15 months and I am actively looking for jobs… I’m not jumping ship for just anything but I send out a resume every month or two for something I’d like. The workplace is pretty toxic (due to a mentally handicapped boss) and we share the same grievances about the workplace. She has shared with me that she really wants me to stick around for the long term.

    I was caught off guard and told her that I’d of course let her know if I was looking and left it at that. Now I feel an awful guilty feeling that I was trying to jump ship and she really wants me to stay. I considered telling her that I was already looking but it is doubtful anyone will even hire me with how short my stay has been here… so it would just make it an awkward situation.

    I was thinking it might be more appropriate to tell her when I get past the first interview stage, at least then it is serious and possible that I’ll be giving my notice in the near future. I am even optimistic that I’d be able to get a reference out of her if I needed one; which takes a lot of pressure off considering this is only my second job and my last employer won’t give a glowing reference.

    Does anyone else have a pact like this? Is it a good idea?

    Reply
    1. I aim to misbehave

      I guess it depends on your relationship. I have had some coworkers I would tell I was job hunting and some I wouldn’t, but I can’t imagine making a pact like that. I would resent it if someone tried to make it an obligation. It sounds inappropriate and maybe a little manipulative to me.

      Reply
    2. Sadsack

      Seems like a bad idea to me. This person has been there longer and has the same grievances as you, and hasn’t been looking? Even after watching others come and go? She’s only going yo leave if you tell her you are? I’m not sure what to make of that. I would worry about myself if I were you. Maybe you could at least tell her that if she’s unhappy, she should start looking regardless if what anyone else is doing.

      Reply
      1. Artemesia

        This. This is an occasion to lie by omission. When you get an offer it is ‘I wasn’t really looking but this thing just fell into my lap and I couldn’t pass it up.’ There is no upside in telling her you are looking and many downsides. If she is so disgruntled she should have been looking long ago.

        Reply
      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Yup. I can’t see this going well for you—at best, the effect would be neutral. I also don’t think you owe her anything, and I think it’s weird she wants you to be part of a “pact” (it honestly made me think of Jodi Picoult’s The Pact, which made me think of suicide pacts, which made me think that your coworker’s suggestion is a little weird. It sounds like her toxic workplace is messing with her head. That’s on her, not you. I would decline to engage.

        Reply
    3. Natalie

      I wouldn’t at all. Since you mention it’s a toxic work environment and it seems like she’s stuck around for a while, frankly I wouldn’t trust her not to have absorbed toxic thinking. There is a non-zero risk that she would sandbag you if she found out you were job searching. What benefit are you gaining in exchange for taking that risk?

      Reply
    4. Another person

      No, every bad place I’ve worked has an office martyr who feels helpless to change her bad situation. Yours wants you to feel trapped too; it’s a bad idea to agree to a pact. I’d tell her you can’t make any promises but if you do go, you’ll give her as much notice as possible. And if that turns out to be only two weeks, so be it. You can only do what’s best for you.

      Reply
      1. OhBehave

        I would be very wary of this coworker’s intentions. My gut tells me she would run to the boss and tell him that you’re looking for another job. If she does this, it’s possible you will be fired. Tell her the day you plan to hand in your notice so she doesn’t have an opportunity to spill the beans to the boss.

        Reply
    5. LCL

      If your senior coworker’s duties are similar to yours she may want to know where you apply so she can apply to the same opportunities.

      Reply
    6. Ramona Flowers

      I don’t think it’s a reasonable thing to ask of you. And you don’t know yet, from experience, how she’ll behave if you do tell her…

      Reply
    7. MicroManagered

      I had a similar situation: ToxicBoss, coworker who was a friend/mutual support system for ToxicBoss. I felt ok being honest with her when I was in the end stages of interviewing for my new role, but I didn’t necessarily tell her about every single job I applied or even interviewed for. We’ve acted as references for each other (particularly useful since ToxicBoss isn’t a good one.

      Some people handle toxic jobs better than others in the long term–whether they just aren’t as affected by it, or they’re too inert to actually get out and find another job, or they need the job enough to deal with the BS, who knows? I don’t think the fact that this person is a long-timer means you automatically can’t trust them. You know her better than we do, so if you feel comfortable sharing your job search with her (at whatever status–just looking, interviewing, final stages) then I think that’s not completely outside the realm of normal. If you’re not comfortable, that’s also fine.

      Reply
  27. Pet sitter

    I’m filling in for another pet sitter, Jane, for a while for her client, Fergette. Jane planned this trip far in advance. Fergette agreed to the arrangement far in advance.

    Jane told Fergette that Fergette would have to pay me my rate, not Jane’s. Fergette now doesn’t want to do that. Fergette also doesn’t want to pay either of us until she comes back, which is over a month after I will have finished working for her.

    If I’m paid Jane’s rate, I’ll be shorted about $60. If I wait until Fergette returns from her trip to be paid, well… My bills don’t wait.

    I’m going to email Fergette later today (time zone differences make a phone call unlikely). I’m super nervous. How do I word this? I don’t want to be accusatory or adversarial. I tend to be blunt to begin with, which can come across as rudely brusque if someone’s already put off by the subject of the conversation, so I want to make sure this is written kindly.

    Reply
    1. JustaCPA

      If you had an agreement in advance that she was going to pay you your rate, simply copy/paste/photocopy it and resend to her via email

      “as agreed upon on such and such date, I will receive $20 per hour bla bla blah”

      As for WHEN she paid you, that should have also been part of the agreement so same copy/paste.

      Reply
      1. Pet sitter

        Jane and Fergette arranged this all verbally, so I don’t have a paper trail to point to. (This is a learning experience! This is my first time filling in for Jane and my first time dealing with a client who has even the tiniest issue with payment.) The other part of my email to Fergette will be getting everything I’ve been told down in writing and getting an acknowledgment from her.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          This sounds like it didn’t get handled well; it should have been arranged between *you* and Fergette, not Jane and Fergette. Right now it looks like you’re effectively Jane’s subcontractor, so I don’t think Fergette is totally crazy for considering whatever your arrangement is with Jane to be not her problem and to stick to her arrangement with Jane.

          In future, I’d have Jane do a handoff to you–“I can’t cover that time, but my friend Pet is great and often fills in with my clients; here’s her contact info.” It doesn’t make any sense for Jane to handle your terms, and I might just suck up the difference here as a lesson learned.

          Reply
          1. RR

            Agreed. As a pet owner who travels a lot for work, I have a standing arrangement with my regular pet sitting service. They’ve handled absences/coverage in two different ways. One, they find someone else, and as fposte notes, that someone is in essence their subcontractor. Regular service bills me at their regular rates, with normal billing due dates. Alternatively, service alerts me that they aren’t available, but they can recommend Soandso, and here’s her contact info. Soandso and I come to agreement on terms, including rates and billing schedule.

            Reply
            1. Pet sitter

              However, I do want to be paid my rate. The way this works out, with two visits per day, I’m being paid my normal rate for the first visit and $5 for the second. Not cool.

              If I were to do this again, I would communicate with the client in writing and make sure that we were clear about my price.

              Reply
              1. fposte

                I can understand that you want to be paid your rate; the problem is you have no agreement with this person, so you don’t have any leverage aside from skipping out on the pets, which you don’t want to do. Therefore I’d go for a tone of cheerful and clarifying and give her a discount if she pays now.

                Reply
                1. Pet sitter

                  Yep. Skipping out is seriously not an option. I’ll go with that tone. I didn’t want to give a discount, but after reading the responses here, I think I’ll do it.

                  Thinking about it from her point of view, if I had convinced myself I was paying X and there wasn’t any paperwork proving otherwise, I would not react well to hearing that I actually owed $X+60.

                2. OhBehave

                  Yeah. I think this will have to be a learning experience.
                  Nothing was in writing = no leg to stand on here. What does Jane have to say about this discrepancy in the agreement? Would she possibly make up the difference since it’s her customer who is reneging on the deal?

    2. Grits McGee

      Are you in a position where you can just decline to take on this job? I mean, unreasonable people are going to be unreasonable, but it’s not rude to say, “I’m sorry, [Jane’s rate] won’t work for me, so I won’t be able to take care of FergettePet. ” If you have recommendations for other pet sitters, that might smooth it over, but it sounds like 1) you’re already doing Jane a favor and 2) Fergette is not going to be worth the trouble.

      Reply
      1. Pet sitter

        I’m not really in a position to decline right now. Also, I really like the client’s pets and the client herself seems great – there’s just been some sort of disconnect, or perhaps she thinks my rate is flexible because that’s emerging as the standard for pet sitters in my area. (That’s a very bad thing for customers, which is why I charge a flat rate, but I’ll save the tl;dr.)

        Reply
        1. nonegiven

          As I told Jane when I agreed to take this job for you, my rate is $x/y, and I expect(ed) you to pay by $date for work from $date to $date. I have done $job on $days from $date to $date. I expect your payment of $xxx, mailed to me at $address by $date.

          Reply
    3. Paige Turner

      So…did Fergette leave for her trip and then not leave her payment as promised? What was the communication (if any) that you’ve gotten from her? Do you have a Plan B if you don’t get a response to your email in a certain amount of time?

      If you want to phrase the email in a way that allows Fergette to save face, maybe something like this would work- “Hi there, hope your trip is going well! I wanted to contact you about a possible mix-up with payment. Based on our previous discussion, we agreed that I would receive $X by (date). I got a conflicting message from Jane, and I want to make sure that our previous agreement is still in place, especially since I’ve budgeted for this payment to go toward bills due on the first of the month. Could you confirm that I’ll be receiving that amount by then? Thanks!”

      Reply
    4. Artemesia

      Given the dispute I wouldn’t want to do this job without the money up front at the rate agreed. Not paying until a month after your gig — ridiculous. People who weasle like this are the people who end up stiffing you.

      Reply
      1. Pet sitter

        It’s normal for a client to pay at the end of their trip, when the pet sitter’s work is finished. The trouble with that in this situation is only that my work ends over a month before the trip ends.

        Reply
        1. meg

          Really ? I’ve always had to pay for my petsitter up front, or at least leave a check on the counter when I leave.

          Reply
        2. Not So NewReader

          Ask her if she will mail you a check, perhaps consider lowing your price if possible in order to get paid quicker.

          Reply
  28. peachie

    I’m newly ‘managing’ someone for the first time this week (she’s a temp who will only be here for the summer, and I’m not her boss, but I do have oversight over everything she does and am responsible for training her/figuring out what she’s doing, sooo….). I’m glad to have the help, but I’m so surprised at how tiring managing someone is. It’s an entirely new kind of draining.

    Reply
    1. Michael Scarn

      It really is. So many interruptions, their mistakes are your mistakes, it’s easier to do the work than to adequately review it sometimes, and then you still have to get your own work done on top of that!

      Reply
  29. consultant

    I have 3 job interviews next week. It’s always like that. First I get rejections for weeks and then 4 invitations within 2 weeks time.

    Arranging the interviews was super difficult. And now I have 2 days – actually one day, since I have to fly to my first interview on Sunday – to prepare for the interviews: 3 companies with different foci, histories. It’s crazy.

    Add to that that my boss hates any deviance from the norm, so I will have to lie to get to one of the interviews. (Of course it’s no issue for me to stay longer on the next day, but he will be crazy that I have to leave early anyways).

    Reply
    1. bleh

      Good luck! And sorry about the crappiness with your boss. I may have a similar situation converging here shortly. I had two rejections, including one just last weekend from a place I interviewed twice and felt good about (huge bummer). Cut to today, and I’ve got an interview lined up next Friday and an invitation to interview for another role where we’re working out scheduling. On top of that, I reached out to a contact at the second place who I’d been in touch with a while back about a job that got put on hold, and he’s going to try and arrange to meet me when I’m there for the other interview.

      I’m a little nervous that the jobs I really want will go slowly and the one I’m less sure about will give me an offer quickly and I’ll have to make a tough call, but I can’t worry about that at this stage. Just gotta roll with it if it happens!

      Reply
  30. WorkingMomToBe

    Hi fellow AAM readers! First-time commenter here. My question is this: I am expecting my first child towards the end of this year, and am struggling with how and when to ask my boss about going part-time.

    Some background: I am an individual contributor on a two-person marketing team at a smallish professional services firm. I joined the company a year ago because my colleague in marketing was overworked and they needed help. They had an assistant, but that person worked ~15 hours per week with the days and hours always changing. When my colleague needed a day off they often had no coverage in the department. This happened often enough that it became problematic. In addition, the assistant had a different skill set than me and could not help with all of the work. They supposedly would have kept the assistant, but the person was afraid they were going to cut the position upon hiring an FTE so preemptively left.

    I say the firm supposedly would have kept them because the company is not doing well. There have been layoffs and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more. While that is not good, I think it may work in my favor re: requesting to go part-time.

    Another thing that may work in my favor is that, while theoretically you can always be doing more in marketing, currently I do not have a workload that keeps me busy 40 hours a week, even when we are “slammed.” Part of the problem is that my marketing colleague is our informal team lead and work often gets bottlenecked with them unless I can subtly wrangle things over to my plate. The other part of the problem is the firm does not have a large marketing budget, so we are limited in the tactics we can implement.

    I am looking to go to 3 days per week with the understanding that, when needed, I will either work remotely or come in to the office for additional hours depending on the type of work. I had a coworker at a previous company who had this kind of schedule and it worked out great. (Some of the marketing responsibilities in this industry have a wildly fluctuating workload.) In addition, with advance notice I will try to make arrangements to cover when my coworker needs time off, though there still will be times when we are both out (but that happens now, too, just infrequently). The many childcare options available to my family are such that this kind of arrangement is feasible.

    So…how/when do I broach this with my manager, and how do I explain that the work will still get done without giving away that I am not currently busy 40 hours per week? I will of course suggest that we trial this for 3 months but am at a loss otherwise. And should I type up a formal proposal or just have a discussion?

    Reply
    1. Emi.

      First off, congrats on the baby! :)

      I would talk about this in person, but have a semi-concrete proposal worked out (and probably bring notes?), so your boss has a clear idea of what you’re proposing. I think it would be better to discuss this before you go on leave.

      That said, I don’t see how you can propose this without giving away that you’re not currently busy 40 hours a week. If you want to downplay that, though, try focusing on how this arrangement will make it easier to flex with the fluctuating workload. I guess you could say “I won’t be at loose ends when I’m waiting on approval from Jane” or something like that, but your manager is going to figure it out at some point. That should work in your favor, though, along with the company’s struggles, right? Are you concerned they’ll ask you to go part-time before you want to, or eliminate your position entirely?

      Reply
      1. WorkingMomToBe

        Thanks for the reply and advice! Yes, I am a bit concerned that they may want me to go PT before I’m ready, but I don’t think they’ll eliminate the position. The nature of the workload is such that it is too much for one person, but unless they want to do more with the budget, it’s not enough for a second FTE. I think you’re right to play up the fluctuating workload and it benefitting the company for me to go PT. I’m guess I’m just nervous that they’ll think badly of me for not keeping busy all week, but it’s not for lack of trying! Thanks again!

        Reply
    2. MsMaryMary

      I’d lean towards having something on the formal side prepared for your manager. Nothing too intense, but enough that she knows you’ve put in a lot of thought. I’d also emphaisze why this arrangement would be beneficial to the company, not just why it would be good for you.

      If you haven’t already, I’d also suggest thinking through how this would impact your benefits. If you go down to 24 hours a week, you may not be eligible for health insurance, retirement benefits, etc. Your vacation and sick time may acctue differently. Benefit changes would have a financial impact on both you and the company, so definitely include it in your planning.

      Good luck!

      Reply
      1. WorkingMomToBe

        Thank you for the input! Good point about benefit changes. We’re on my partner’s insurance but I’ll definitely ask to make sure benefit hours are accrued proportionally. Thanks again!

        Reply
  31. Nervous Accountant

    I’m feeling a little crappy; I’m not sure if this is more personal than work related but I’ll try–

    How do you let things go?????

    I’ve a friend who used to work here after I referred her for an open position. She left 18 months ago and ever since then, every time the topic of work comes up in a group chat or gathering, she talks about how this place was so bad. I mean…..she’s not wrong in her criticisms and has every right to feel how she does. I don’t blame her or anyone else for leaving. People move on, that’s how it is. I GET THAT.

    But for some reason every time she brings it up, its just..im just…argh!? I have been trying REALLY hard to not take it personally. I keep quiet because I don’t want to cause any bad feelings or anything.

    I mean…does that say something bad about me that I’m OK here and dont’ want to move on (yet)?
    Does SHE blame me for contributing to her misery?
    I used to talk so openly about work with my friends but I never do anymore, just because she’s told them that it’s a shitty place to work, and….I don’t know, maybe they respect me less for being here?
    Maybe my coworkers respect me less for being here for so long? What does it say about me that I’m not unhappy here?

    I just want to stop taking things so personally and feeling so bad.

    Reply
    1. Here we go again

      It sounds like you haven’t said anything yet. Chances are, she may not even realize that she is talking about this incessantly. I am very guilty of this sometimes until someone brings it to my attention. I would just say “Hey, I don’t know if you realize this, but you talk about OldJob all the time. I’m sorry that it wasn’t a good experience for you and I understand your frustration, but I am not ready to leave yet. I would appreciate it if we could move on from this topic and focus on other things.”

      Reply
      1. Nervous Accountant

        I really haven’t. As much as I’d like her to stop saying it, I know she’s entitled to how she feels, and the only thing in my control is my reaction and feelings.

        Reply
        1. Parenthetically

          Sure she’s entitled to how she feels, but if you don’t say anything to her, she’s not operating with all the facts of the situation. I would be so sad and embarrassed if I knew I had been inadvertently hurting or upsetting a friend!

          Also, my guess is she feels and is expressing a huge sense of relief at being out of a job she hated, and that has absolutely nothing to do with you or her assessment of your value or intelligence as a human being. She’s not hating her old job AT you, just processing her feelings near you.

          Reply
          1. Nervous Accountant

            Yeah your last paragraph is spot on. She’s a good person and I m glad she feels free to say how she feels. If I remind myself this enough I’ll get over it eventually.

            Reply
        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          I mean, that’s true, but it doesn’t mean you should stay silent.

          Part of being a friend is hearing when your friend is having a hard time with what you’re saying and then avoiding making that worse for them. If my friend gently told me to please stop complaining because I still work there, I would be mortified that I had caused them any anxiety/stress (also, it would be helpful for me to stop complaining so much, because that stuff can creep up inadvertently).

          But the other aspect of being a friend is that you expect your friends to communicate clearly with you. If this has been bugging you and you’re not saying anything, then you’re also not upholding the underlying friend-agreement. Say something!

          Reply
    2. Passing Through

      I don’t know why you should feel bad unless you are in a position to correct the things that are so bad at your company and are choosing not to do so. People stay at companies that are not great places to work for lots of reasons like the boss is terrible , but the pay is decent, or there are good benefits, flexibility, or a close commute that makes it easy to manage the rest of their life activities. I once worked at a place that became intolerable for me. A co-worker who shared many of the same concerns is still there six years later. She still has some complaints, but I guess for her the pros outweigh the cons. I don’t know how she stands it, but I don’t think badly of her.

      Reply
      1. Nervous Accountant

        I’ve thought about this a lot, why I’m not looking to leave….right now, it’s the stability and routine keeping me here. It doesn’t hurt that my coworkers are decent people, I enjoy my work, and I get paid alright. I’ve worked in far more toxic places. I’m lucky to not have to worry that much about money, but I do plan on asking for a raise. I don’t begrudge anyone leaving…..I guess its just my own insecurities.

        Reply
    3. over educated

      Honestly I think you’d be justified in politely shutting that down. “I’m glad you’ve moved on to somewhere that’s a better fit for you, but I still work there and all the negative talk is bringing me down and making me feel awkward in front of our other friends. Can you tone it down please?”

      Reply
      1. Nervous Accountant

        Honestly, I don’t know if that would even go over well, I’m not comfortable bringing anything up. I know there’s a bunch of other issues there that are more my own rpoblem than anyone elses, and that I wont’ get in to in this thread but I just want to stop cringing every time I read/hear her saying this.

        Reply
        1. zora

          I think you’re being way too ‘bending over backwards’ worrying about your friend here. You are allowed to ask friends to avoid one particular subject in conversation, it’s really not that big of a deal, there are a million other things you all can talk about.

          I would really encourage you to push through feeling bad about asking, and just, with a gentle, friendly tone, say something like mentioned above “Hey, I know it has it’s issues, but I’m still working at XYZ, and I don’t feel like talking about work tonight, can we talk about something else?” It makes less of a big deal about it if you just bring it up in the moment, but after doing this a few times, I bet it will become less and less of an issue.

          If you are that uncomfortable even saying that, then this person is not a very good friend, to be honest.

          Reply
          1. Parenthetically

            Totally agreed. A friend you have to walk on eggshells around to avoid upsetting (and even take the blame for something that is 100% their decision!) is not a real friend.

            Reply
          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            1000% this.

            It’s also not realistic to simply go from “cringing” to “not cringing.” Your friend’s comments are hurting you! You can and should say something. There are a lot of situations where it’s better for people to let things go, but this doesn’t sound like one of them. I think shutting it down would be the preferred outcome for both of you and for your friend dynamic.

            Reply
        2. Overeducated

          The thing is it doesn’t matter if she’s doing anything objectively wrong, friends care about each other’s feelings. There was a time a few years ago when my work life was upsetting me so much that I asked my best friends whose work was going well if we could just avoid ALL work talk for a while because I was so emotional about it. They weren’t doing anything wrong, I literally was being irrational and comparing myself to people in different jobs and admitted it, but they were my friends so they humored me for a bit to be kind until things got better. You’d be asking for something even smaller and more directly related to you.

          Reply
        3. OhBehave

          Talk to your friend! You will never get over this until you do.
          She’s been gone 18 MONTHS and is still bad-mouthing this place? Are you sure she’s not doing this intentionally? Because you brought her to the company? That’s a long time to hold on to that kind of animosity towards a former workplace.
          You could counter her comments by saying, “I’ve worked there x years and I don’t find it quite as toxic.” You most definitely should not feel bad about any of this. But you really do need to stand up for yourself. The other friends know you still work there. Don’t you think they wonder why you stayed if it’s as bad as she says it was?

          Reply
    4. Not So NewReader

      It could be that seeing people from Old Place reminds her of her upset and she needs to revisit the upset.

      Honestly, I think you are over thinking this. She is the one who can’t let go. If she keeps bringing up the problems then you are going to have to keep closing some wounds.

      Can you just say that you prefer to focus on the good things that came from Old Place such as your friendship? “Yeah that place has its downsides, but we got to be friends because of Old Place so that is a good thing.”
      Or you could say, “Every time you mention these stories, I feel bad. How can I make this better for you?”

      Reply
    1. offonaLARK

      Awww, that’s terrible! (Our Outlook has been absolutely stupid for two months, so I feel some of your pain.) Good luck!

      Reply
    2. MsMaryMary

      I used to work in the teamshop of a Major League Baseball team, and our POS system crashed during the World Series. Even once it came back up, our scanners didn’t work for a few hours and we had to key everything in by hand.

      Good luck, godspeed, and try to stay sane!

      Reply
  32. office uniform

    Thank you to the community members that answered by question last week! I bought a few new pieces and started cycling them in my work uniform of a plain black or navy skirt paired with a simple patterned blouse. I also started setting out a week’s worth of work outfits on Sunday – life changing. If anyone is thinking of simplifying their work wardrobe in this way, I definitely encourage it.

    Reply
    1. Emi.

      Yay! I don’t have the clothes for a proper uniform (yet), but I’ve found that using a wardrobe app (I use SmartCloset but there are lots of options) is good for outfit planning. It’s kind of time-intensive to take pictures of all your clothes in the beginning, but it does make it a lot easier for me in the long run.

      Reply
    2. tiny temping teapot

      I love doing that, I’m glad it works so well for you as well. (Though I sometimes indulge in the urge to have theme weeks. This week all my work pants will be purple! (I could actually do that for 3, or maybe 4 days))

      Reply
    3. Parenthetically

      I get through winter by doing all my work outfits on the weekend. That extra 15 minutes in bed is priceless, as is saving all that mental energy!

      Reply
  33. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend

    Have you ever been asked by your supervisor to lie to a client in order to cover a mistake you made that she didn’t catch? How did you handle it?

    Reply
      1. Effie

        Yes, I’ve done this. I’ll say (in more professional terms) “the turnaround from the other department is xxx which we can’t control…I can ask them to expedite it all they want but I don’t know what their workload is, and of course I’ll let you know as soon as it’s done!” when the other department is my supervisor.

        Reply
    1. Hrovitnir

      Poorly. By talking around the topic and focusing on other aspects of the issue (apologising but trying not to go into detail), using “we” language etc. Avoiding actively lying which has the result of coming across kind of incompetent sometimes but I really struggle to lie. OK, this is 0% helpful but I don’t want to be more specific. Basically this involved oversights that are horribly unethical, but all attempts to invoke consequences for the person involved had failed and retaliation was 100% a given.

      Reply
    2. Not So NewReader

      Depending on the situation. Generally, Boss and I would figure out what I would say. The times I have done this, I made sure to answer the customer’s overarching concern. Many times they do not care about the mistake, they just wanted larger picture concern addressed.

      Reply
    3. Gaia

      Yes and I wouldn’t do it. If client discovers the lie they are bound to be far more upset than with the original mistake.

      Reply