open thread – June 9-10, 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 :)

{ 1,247 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Jabes

    How do I best start off a mentoring relationship?

    I recently got a job as a teacher, and I will start in September. I am replacing a retiring teacher (David), and a couple of weeks ago I went into the school and met David to discuss the transition. One of the many things I found out that day is that I will be sharing the room with Morton, another veteran teacher (30 years teaching, 15 sharing this classroom with David) and that Morton will also be my first-year mentor. Does anyone have advice on how to start out that relationship on the right foot? I am a little stressed and intimidated about being the replacement for someone who Morton has had 15 great years sharing a room with.

    By the way, this is a huge step up for me job-wise – I have been working as a teacher’s aide while I attended graduate school, and got my master’s and this teaching job in the same week! Very exciting!

    Reply
    1. katamia

      Congrats on the new job!

      One thing that can help new mentoring relationships is to think about what specifically you want to get out of them, so if you already know what your strengths/weaknesses are or anything you want to work on, have that in the back of your mind. For example, lesson planning was the bane of my existence when I taught, whereas I was pretty decent at establishing rapport with at least most of my students, so going into a mentoring relationship if I were to go back to teaching, I’d say I wanted to focus on ways that made lesson planning less hellish for me.

      Also get a sense of how you and Morton prefer to communicate–email? In person? Phone?–and try to set up some procedures for both regular times to meet and discuss your progress and also some sort of “emergency” way to get in touch (if he wants to, at least) for when you have some sort of teaching crisis, like if something happened on Monday but you usually meet on Thursdays or Fridays to discuss things.

      If there are any official mentoring procedures or standards the school has, try to get a copy of those in writing so you can refer to them later.

      Reply
    2. blackcat

      My situation when I first started teaching was a lot like this. I was replacing a 20 year veteran teacher, and was working very closely with a 25 year veteran. We were the two science teachers teaching the same subject, so we had shared lab space, shared equipment, but separate classrooms.

      During the first year, I basically tried to copy him, and I didn’t change anything about the shared space. After that, I started saying “Hey, can we do X or Y instead? I think that will work better for me because of Z.” That went well. Use the first year to get a lay of the land, do what Morton tells you even if it doesn’t seem best from your perspective (sometimes you’ll be right and things should change! But sometimes you’ll find that there are all sorts of good reasons that you never thought of that mean his way really is best). Listen a lot. Wait until year 2, or at least the second half of the year, to go against Morton’s advice. This will not only build a better relationship–it’ll make your life as a new teacher easier to use Morton’s materials than create your own.

      In my case, my Morton had a lot of issues as a teacher. But he was FANTASTIC at mentoring young people, and I truly learned a tremendous amount from him. And he learned a lot from me, too–when I started trying new things in my second year, he’d pick up the things he saw and liked about my teaching. My boss (who HATED my Morton) was really happy that I had an impact–eventually, I became a good peace-maker between my Morton and the school’s administration. Partly that was because I was able to say, “No, Morton’s reasons for doing X and Y are good. He’s reasons for doing Z are terrible, but you really need to hear him out on X & Y.” (They administrators were basically at the bitch eating crackers point with Morton). Morton and I had a good friendship, and we still keep in touch even though I left the job a few years ago.

      Reply
    3. Gaia

      No advice but a question: how do teachers share a room? Do you not teach all day? Are you teaching two different classes in the same room at the same time?

      Reply
      1. EddieSherbert

        My elementary school back in the day had each grade in one big (really big!) room, and the “classrooms” were created by using bookshelves to divide the room up (into like 3 or 4 classes). Then the back of the room was shared space where we’d have all-grade meetings or activities.

        Reply
      2. anonanonanonymous

        In high schools, teachers often share rooms because they teach during different periods. In many schools, it’s normal for teachers not to have a room that’s “theirs.” Instead, they teach in multiple rooms and move all their stuff between periods. (I’ve done that, and it’s really difficult when you can’t set up the classroom before students arrive. Having my own classroom is much better!)

        Reply
      3. Jabes

        In this case, we have alternating schedules. But the other teacher will often be in the room “off-duty” while the other is teaching.

        Luckily both of us teach exclusively in this one room. The room is in use all day with the two of us each teaching half of the day (essentially).

        Reply
        1. blackcat

          You know what that is great for? Going to the bathroom when you really need to!

          (Sounds silly, but it can be really helpful to be able to dash out of the room while students are working on an assignment)

          Reply
      4. Artemesia

        I taught high school in the 60s. As a new teacher I had 6 classes and taught them in 5 different rooms during other teacher’s off period. This meant in 4 minutes between classes having to race sometimes blocks across the sprawling campus to another room and be out of breath and unable to set anything up before students were in the room. It was a terrible thing to do to a beginner since that first year or two of teaching is difficult anyway.

        Reply
    4. Not So NewReader

      I’m in a different arena, but I showed up with a pad of paper and a pen. My mentor talked about that for months afterward. Don’t underestimate the power of the obvious stuff, it’s not obvious to everyone.

      One thing I wish I had done was copy my notes over into a booklet, or journal type of thing. I would have done the date of conversation at the top, then grouped the discussion under subject headings for each date. That way, I could go back and quickly search for how to do X or how to do Y.

      Reply
    5. Humble Schoolmarm

      While you should always ask if you’re really in need of help, do try to be as independent as possible. Morton will have tons of his own stuff to do while you’re teaching and different teachers have different comfort zones in terms of how much time their wiling to give to mentoring. I also second Blackcat’s suggestions to observe as much as you can for the first little while. There’s so much that you don’t learn in classes (although you have a step up as a former aide), and coming in with all the answers looks presumptuous.

      Reply
    6. Jax

      I’m a teacher finishing her 7th year of teaching, and I’ve been mentored by several different teachers throughout my career, as well as having mentored my own student intern. I would say the most important thing is to be open to criticism and correction. Don’t get defensive if someone suggests to you an alternative way to do something – it can feel personal, but it’s not! One thing that drives me up the wall is when I recommend a solution to someone’s problem and they completely ignore me – and then wonder why they are still having the problem! Ask lots of questions, but be respectful of your mentor’s time. Try to problem solve on your own first, and come to them having thought some things through- it’s not their job to do your job for you, but rather provide expertise and perspective on how you might improve what you are already doing. Have good manners – say please and thank you, even though it’s your mentor’s job to help you. Don’t go in and try to change everything at once, even if you think your way is better than the established way they have done things. Even if you’re not 100% sold, go with Morton’s system for year 1, and then in year 2, you can talk about maybe changing some things around. There might be good reasons for why he does what he does! Good luck – teaching is incredibly rewarding but so challenging!

      Reply
  2. Sandy

    So my company has an opening, and I enthusiastically recommended an acquaintance/former colleague for the job. I really believe it would be a great fit, and I know she has been actively looking since a stint with an abusive boss and a long maternity leave.

    So she came for the interview the other day, which she readily told me afterwards “didn’t go well”. My colleague, the hiring manager, came to see me afterwards to clarify a few things.

    Basically, she did “fine” in the interview, but they have concerns. Put bluntly, she was so self-deprecating and referenced her abusive boss so many times that they began to wonder if SHE was the problem.

    I reassured them (as best I could) that she wasn’t- her confidence is just really REALLY shaken from the experience but now I am wondering g if I should say something to her directly and what that could/should sound like. Or should I just keep my nose out of it in case they do hire her?

    Reply
    1. Lizard

      You should definitely say something to her to make sure she doesn’t make this same mistake in future interviews! It would be doing her a kindness and could help her get a JOB.

      Reply
      1. Sadsack

        This is true. I hadn’t considered that she may have other interviews lined up when I posted my comment below. You probably should tell her now.

        Reply
      2. Anonymoose

        + 1000

        She needs to know how it comes off and that having that past experience is really an opportunity to deal with difficult personalities (though far better that Ex Boss).

        Reply
    2. Sadsack

      I think I might wait and see if she is hired or not, then give her feedback if she wants it. Only because you will probably want to be careful in your wording especially if she does not get the job.

      Reply
      1. MicroManagered

        I still think this is valid advice. Unsolicited feedback runs the risk of being obnoxious. I know I personally would be very sensitive to the fact that my friend was privy to what mistakes I made in an interview, so this could be a very touchy subject for me. So I think your advice to use some discretion still holds. (Though yes, if she has other interviews lined up, it’s worth mentioning!)

        Reply
    3. kkcf

      Please say something to her!

      I’d frame it along the lines of “I heard some feedback about your interview with Fergus that might be useful to you” and then tell her that feedback. If they do bring her back for a second interview she can adjust and change the focus. PLUS it will help her in future interviews.

      You may want to adjust the channel of the message based on how you usually communicate (phone, email, text). I’d also consider asking her if she wants the feedback and not just giving it to her right away.

      Reply
    4. ZSD

      I think you should say something to her, but the question is on timing.
      My gut reaction is that you should wait until they’ve made the hiring decision for this position. Then, if she isn’t offered the job, you can let her know (tactfully) that talking so much about her abusive boss is coming across badly in interviews. Knowing this can help her in her future job search.
      However, part of me thinks you should go ahead and tell her now. If you don’t, then when you wait until later to tell her — during which time she might have done poorly in another interview! — she might ask, “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”

      Reply
    5. Jesmlet

      I think I would give her the feedback either way, but wait until after the decision is made. If there’s a second interview though, I would mention it immediately.

      Reply
    6. Another person

      I’d just mention to her that they noted she talked about her abusive boss a lot, and that’s an unusual thing for a candidate to be so focused on during an interview.

      She may not be cognizant she’s doing it because working in a dysfunctional environment messes with your idea of normal, but it would be kind to point it out so she is mindful and doesn’t do it in future interviews.

      Reply
    7. Anatole

      What about asking your friend for more information about why she thought it “didn’t go well.” If your friend touches on the abusive boss, you have a natural opening.

      Reply
    8. Not So NewReader

      I did not search here, but I bet Alison has some guidelines that you could print out and give your friend.

      Reply
    9. ket

      Instead of giving advice/feedback, you could just ask some questions — say something like, the hiring manager came to ask me about ***. They seemed to indicate you were really self-deprecating and referenced the abusive boss — how did that come up? What did you think about the interview?

      Reply
  3. NonnyNon

    Everyone wish me and my coworker luck. We’ve been saying since the beginning of the year that we need to hire more people in my department and nothing’s been done, and we just found out this morning that coworker R put in his notice. It’s just me and one other person now and next week we have at least two major projects starting next week, on top of everything that’s already on our plate. I’m starting to wonder if I should be job hunting myself, even though I haven’t put in two years here yet (and this is my first post-college job)…

    Reply
    1. Pup Seal

      Aww, I’m sorry for all the stress you’re going through! Now that R has put in his notice, have you tried talking to your boss about replacements?

      Reply
    2. Another person

      Two years is not unreasonable to start looking for a new job in many fields.

      It’s a good idea to talk to your manager about the plan for covering these projects and the timeline for hiring a replacement, but:
      Remember that your management’s failure to adequately staff for upcoming projects is not your problem to solve. I don’t want to see you become the next burned out letter writer.

      Best of luck to you!

      Reply
    3. Paige Turner

      No harm in looking for another job. If you’ve been there over a year already, it might be close to or over two years by the time you find a new job, anyway. Do you generally like your job, or to put it another way, would you be happy to stay if enough new hires were to start tomorrow? Another thing to keep in the back of your mind is why the open positions haven’t been filled- is it because the company is disorganized or bad at hiring? Is it because the company wants to save money? Is the business doing well financially? You shouldn’t automatically worry about this, but if it seems like hiring has stopped despite the need for replacements, that’s potentially a sign of financial trouble. If it were me (and I’ve been in similar positions before), I check in with the boss about what plans are in place for you and your coworker to deal with the workload, keep doing my best at work, and start researching what job I’d like to have next while keeping an eye out for opportunities. Good luck :)

      Reply
      1. Fortitude Jones

        If you’ve been there over a year already, it might be close to or over two years by the time you find a new job, anyway.

        THIS. It is taking me forever after what appeared to be such a promising start at the end of March – I really should have started looking back in December. Nonny, start looking now, especially since you said in the last open thread that you weren’t planning on staying there long anyway due to their shady business practices.

        Reply
        1. NonnyNon

          Hah, I’m a little surprised someone actually remembers my post from last week’s thread!

          I guess I’m worried that I’m not really a good enough candidate to put in the time applying for jobs and that even if I apply I’m not going to get them. I think I’m at least going to redo my resume and look at listings, even just to give myself an idea of what’s out there and what I might need to do to become a more competitive candidate. But applying for jobs *now* seems way more daunting than “well, I’ll apply in a few months once I reach two years here…”

          Thanks for the advice and thoughts everyone!

          Reply
          1. Not So NewReader

            Don’t let Negative Nancy in your brain run your decisions for you. While it is true that some places will not hire you, it is also true that some place WILL hire you. You only need one place to hire you, so only one app has to work out.
            Go for it, you can do this!

            Reply
    4. Penny

      I’d start looking now because my first post-college job, I started my search at a year and a half, and it took another year and a half after that to get out, for a total of three full years. Definitely start looking now!

      Reply
  4. Giles

    So my work is offering standing desks to employees, on the condition that their department head approves it (since they have to buy it out of their budget). I love that they offer this and have one myself, which is doing wonders for my bad posture. But the person behind me quit a month ago and now someone in a different department has camped out at that desk in order to “try out the standing desk.”

    That would be fine, except he’s gotten really pissed off that he can’t just have that desk instead of his department buying one. His stance is that “it’s just sitting here getting unused,” and even though HR explained to him several times that he can’t just have it because my department head bought it, he’s still telling everyone that HR is being ridiculous and the policy is stupid. I’m on my last nerve about it. (It doesn’t help that he’s loud and so tall he can see over the cube wall and read what’s on my screen.) Advice for keeping my ,patience until he eventually goes back to his actual desk?

    Reply
    1. Bend & Snap

      I think you should just tell him he’s being disruptive and if it doesn’t stop, talk to your manager. If he isn’t going to get that desk there’s no reason for him to be bothering you.

      Reply
      1. Giles

        My manager is actually out of town – he went on vacation about two weeks ago and won’t return until next Thursday.

        Reply
      2. Delightful Daisy

        I just have to say I love your screen name. It is hilarious!

        OP, if you can’t talk to your manager since he’s unavailable, can HR talk to his manager? They may be able to get him moved back to his dept. now that’s he’s had enough time to try it out. Or maybe your manager’s manager? Good luck! Your colleague sounds like a major pain in the dupa (Polish word for posterior lol) and the sooner her moves back to where he belongs, the better it will be for everyone… except his department maybe. But, to paraphrase, he’s not your monkey so he doesn’t belong in your circus. :-)

        Reply
    2. Jesmlet

      I’m assuming each department has it’s own budget and any reasonable person would know this. Try explaining that to him and if it doesn’t work, tell him it’s distracting to hear him complain about it all the time. Last resort, try listening to music so you don’t have to hear him?

      Reply
      1. Giles

        Yes, we each have our own budgets. I actually told him twice, and HR told him twice too. I think he just likes to complain at this point. I listen to music most of the day, but sometimes I just want quiet and I used to have that all the time, even with someone behind me.

        Reply
    3. MechanicalPencil

      How long does one need to “try out” a standing desk to decide if it’s for them? It seems to me that this person is going to continue using it indefinitely unless someone puts their collective foot down. I would think a week of using a standing desk would be more than sufficient and anything more than that is a gross imposition and taxes the goodwill of your department manager.

      Reply
      1. Giles

        He’s not trying it out at this point – he knows he wants one, thus the argument about why he thinks he should have my department’s. I asked him today if he talked to his department head about it and he said he hadn’t(!) Unfortunately my manager has been out of town through the entire duration of this and won’t be back until late next week..

        Reply
        1. WellRed

          He’s annoying but honestly, if the desk isn’t being used, why not have his department pay your department and move the stupid desk? I realize this is not your decision, of course, but the company policy is a bit rigid.

          Reply
          1. Giles

            Well, that’s on the table – his department head can ask mine if we’re willing to give them the desk, either by having them pay for it or as a gift. But that can’t be decided until my manager returns – and meanwhile, the squatter hasn’t moved the ball on his end by talking to his manager or pushing HR (HR has their own process for getting them.)

            Reply
        2. kittymommy

          Does he not understand how budgets work?? And isn’t this your desk?? Regardless, He’s being ridiculous and rude and it stinks that your boss is out otherwise he could handle it. If it was me I’d say something but I would frame it on a way that he knows you can’t just take something firm someone else when it us being used (just because I’m not using my stapler every minute doesn’t mean you can take it off my desk and keep it) and that departmental budgets are structured for a reason (my finance dept would have a coniption).

          Reply
          1. Not So NewReader

            Some people do not understand how budgets and basic accounting works.

            OP, you could try saying that the only alternative is for his department to “buy” the desk from your department. But your department wants to keep it.

            OTH, if he is tap-dancing on your last nerve, you could say, “Bob, they’ve explained that to you. I really can’t keep revisiting the question.”

            Reply
        3. Zidy

          This might be a bit of a passive-aggressive suggestion, but if you know somebody else, especially in your department, who might be interested in a standing desk but doesn’t have one (or at least willing to pretend to be interested in them)… have them move into the desk for a bit to also “test it out”. Might get him out of your hair long enough for your boss to get back.

          Reply
      2. Antilles

        It’s not a ‘try-out’. It’s a stealth move-in.
        I was here for a week. Then the manager went on vacation and nobody made a deal of it, so I figured it was fine to be there a little ways more until I could chat with him about it personally. Then he came back and was too busy, so I kept using it. Then at some point, he goes “well, heck, I’ve been using this desk for weeks/months; isn’t it mine now?”
        The real answer of course is “Nope, squatter’s rights aren’t a thing here – my department, my staff budget.” But most people aren’t that blunt, so this sort of thing works depressingly often.

        Reply
    4. CappaCity

      Can you say something like –
      “Hey Mr. Disruptive, I know you mentioned you were just using this desk to get a feel for how the standing desk works, and we were happy to let you do that. It sounds like you now know it’s something you want to pursue. Since this one is owned by ‘Department X’, please go to your manager to get your desk arranged in your department.”

      Mr. Disruptive: “I should just be able to use this one!!!!!”

      You: “This one belongs to Department X,” and we intend to keep it for our department’s use. Please talk to your manager. (ad nauseum until he gets bored)

      If that doesn’t work, and since your manager is out, can you go to his manager and matter-of-factly let her know he’s causing distractions in your department and monopolizing property that belongs to your department?

      Reply
      1. JulieBulie

        Right – “please shut yer yap.”
        Seriously, though, I would call him out on his whining. “I understand your frustration, but at this point it’s devolved into whining.”

        Reply
        1. KR

          I like that. I think one could also say, “Wakeen, I’m really tired about hearing this desk issue. I’m not the one who makes decisions about this stuff and I have to get back to work now.”

          Reply
    5. Giles

      Update: he just complained again at his desk to the office manager about it and she agreed with him completely. I went in her office and asked that she not enable him and said it would be similar to “I see you aren’t using your stapler anymore, so I’m going to take it.” She said that was apples and oranges and that she would not be having the conversation anymore and sealed me to leave. I went to HR and asked if they could expedite him getting his bloody desk, which they will.

      Ugh.

      Reply
      1. Mephyle

        Nice one (sarcastic). She could cut you off with one “I will not be having this conversation any more,” but no one could do that to him. Well, HR agreed to expedite it so all’s well that ends well – if it does end soon.

        Reply
    6. Free Meerkats (formerly Gene)

      Since he’s tried it out, knows he wants one, and is now just camped out in your department so he can use it, I suggest direct, guerilla action. When he’s not there, lower it about 8″ to make it uncomfortable to use, then find the fuse in it and put it in your pocket. He’ll end up getting his own desk from his own budget, your department will keep the desk, and he’ll go away because the desk isn’t comfortable for him.

      Reply
  5. Pup Seal

    How do you interview when your current employer has a bad reputation?

    I have an interview coming up for a grant writer position (yay!) at a shelter. At my current employer, I do a mix of marketing, development, and fundraising, and I have raised decent funds during my time here. However, the organization I work for is really dysfunctional (no budgets, misuse of funds, blowing off projects), and it has high expenses and a lot of debt. The funds I raised went to debt instead of our mission. I feel I didn’t really accomplish much here since the organization has gone downwards, and the number of donors has plummeted since funds weren’t used correctly. I’m worried the interviewer will see the organization’s failures are partly my fault. I also wasn’t allowed to write grants because we’re a research non-profit and I don’t have a science degree. How do I handle this?

    Reply
    1. TL -

      Is your position a grant writing position? Because if not, I don’t think you’ll have to explain why you weren’t writing grants.
      If you were, you can just say, they decided after they hired me that they needed a certain amount of subject matter expertise and so X position wrote grants and I did Y instead. (assuming you’re not interviewing for a grant writing position where you’re marketing yourself as having that kind of subject matter expertise.)

      Also, a research organization that’s that badly mismanaged makes me sad.

      Reply
    2. Malibu Stacey

      I actually went through this because my former employer is known as shady in the industry, especially in my area. Basically as soon interviewers saw the company name they got why I’d want to leave and didn’t hold it against me. Good hiring managers understand that toxic places aren’t the result of one bad apple and understand that people gotta eat and aren’t in a position to quit as soon as they figure out the org is bad.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        Yes, this is an actions speak louder than words thing. Your action of applying at New Company telegraphs that you want out of Old Toxic Company. You might catch the interviewer smiling in a knowing manner or she might say one sentence in passing (suggestion: let the sentence just keep going past you). Then the conversation will turn to your application and interview.

        Reply
  6. KatieKate

    My first intern starts on Monday! I have a ton of projects for her and I’m doing my best to write everything up, but I’m unclear how much time each project will take.

    Does anyone have any general intern advice? Also–is it better to have 2 completed projects at the end of the summer or 4 incomplete projects? I will have to finish everything no matter what. She is around for 8 weeks. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. OhNo

      It’s generally better for the intern if they can point to completed projects at the end of their tenure, especially if they worked on it from start to finish. But you have to balance that against what you and your company need most out of them, too.

      As someone who had three internships, an assistantship, and a practicum while I was in school, my best advice is to sit down with your intern sometime early in the process and find out what they actually want to do in the future, what they want to get out of the internship, and see if you can identify what you think they need out of the internship (which may be different than what they want) to get where they want to go. Then relate the projects and experiences you give them to that information. Even if it’s just, “this is busy work, but there’s a lot of busy work in this field, so you’ll need to get used to it” or “this will never come up in your chosen field, but it’s good project management practice”, it can make a big difference for an intern to get that insight into the field, the working world in general, and help them frame the whole internship in a helpful way when they put it on their resume.

      That could be a lot of work for you, though, so just be aware of how much energy you spend on it.

      Reply
    2. Karen D

      I would definitely say give them something they can finish. One of the big goals of an internship is for them to gain relevant experience that they can talk about in interviews and on resumes, and the experience of seeing a project all the way through is both valuable and satisfying.

      Reply
    3. MechanicalPencil

      On your part, it’s good to have a rolling list of projects that can be intern-geared, bonus points if they’re varied (event planning vs content writing vs design, etc). But sit down and talk with your incoming intern and find out what she wants to do post-graduation. Completed projects are definitely more resume-worthy than incomplete projects, and as an intern there’s a certain sense of fulfillment knowing that you’ve spent your time well as an intern (or maybe that’s just me).

      Reply
    4. Jesmlet

      Completed projects will definitely help her more and it would also probably help you more in terms of how much instruction you have to give her. It’s good for her to be able to see something start to finish and to be able to point to that as an accomplishment when looking for jobs afterwards.

      Reply
    5. FTW

      I would say better to have 2 complete projects. It helps if you can give an intern something to own.

      Some tips:
      – Be explicit in explaining everything, I’m always surprised by what can be misunderstood.
      – Ask to see progress early, so you can course correct quickly. For example if you need research on 10 companies, ask to see results for one as soon as they finish. It allows you to make sure the work product meets expectations and also gives you visibility into how long it is taking them (e.g., took 4 hours to complete what should have been an hour task).
      – Make them make the corrections to their work as you review in person. It is painful, but it’s also how they will start to learn.
      – Set up 30 minutes for feedback at the end of the first and second week​s, and then every two weeks after that. It will help to keep you accountable for their development and makes it easier to address trends in their work.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        Great tip about being explicit. It is amazing how ambiguous words/sentences can be. Where possible do an example.
        If that is not possible, then have built in stops. “Do steps 1-3, let me know when they are done, I will check it and then you can do steps 4-6.” I usually explain why. “If I check at the end of step 3, we can catch anything that needs fixing before step 4. It’s easier to fix things before starting step 4.”

        I learned a lot about teaching by checking people’s work. They did not do what I wanted them to do, they did what I TOLD them to do. There are common misunderstandings, where many people would think to X and they should do Y instead. Sometimes I would say, “Let me check and see how well I explained this to you.” I felt their initial errors could be my fault because of a poor explanation. So we would go over what they had done so far. If I did give a poor explanation, I would just say so and then reframe the explanation.

        Reply
    6. TL -

      I would book 1.5-2x for training – if it takes you an hour, it’ll take you 1.5-2 hrs to do it while talking her through it.

      After that, I would book about 1.5x for her to do stuff, on average, but plan for it to take up to 2 hours, because she’ll get tripped up on things you wouldn’t, she’ll need to ask questions, she won’t know where the printer is or who to ask when it breaks…

      Reply
    7. AnotherLibrarian

      I think that it is always nice if at the end of the internship the student has something they can put on teh their resume as a project they completed. Something you can talk about if/when you give them a reference.

      I also try to have several options and talk to the intern about what they want to learn. I also try to arrange chances for them to speak to other people in the office and what they do all day and how it is different to what I do all day. That way the intern has a chance to “see” several types of work in my field.

      As more general advice, I would be very clear with expecations from the beginning. Interns often don’t know professional rules we take for granted- dress code, attendance, not swearing and other things. I would also encourage them to ask questions. I always try to explain not just what I am asking them to do, but the logic behind why I am asking for it to be done.

      That extra time to explain is helpful for them when they go out into the world and have to plan projects or make decisions about priorities.

      Reply
      1. ModernHypatia

        Also a librarian, seconding this about them having a completed project they can talk about on their resume and interviews (and that is reasonably well fitted to the kind of library work, in our case, that they want to do in the future.) They may also have other projects, and we have two different “this is a project that will take years, they did a chunk of it.” things they work on to fill extra time.

        (I also scheduled time to sit down with our last one for about half an hour and talk through job hunting in the field, which she said she really appreciated.)

        Reply
    8. Anomanom

      -They will probably have to write goals for their internship, so if you can come up with one or two and they can come up with one or two I find that works best.

      – I have a 30 minute check in every monday morning. Here’s whats going on this week, how are your project’s going, what do you need from me to do next steps, etc. I definitely check in other times as well, but I’m super busy and this way I know there are goals at the beginning of the week.

      – Make sure they know who else they can go to on things. Ie, if you have a question on this, Bob is a great resource, this its Mary, etc. They learn to try to ask others, and it also keeps them from getting stuck if you are unavailable and they have a question.

      Reply
    9. bridget

      I’d estimate that everything will take the intern about 2-3x longer than you would expect – that’s generally been true when I work with entry level employees (in my case, law school summer associates at a law firm). You probably have too much experience to be able to reliably estimate how long a project will take someone who is coming in with very little prior experience. The intern will have a ton of questions to first identify, and then figure out the answers to, for information that you know intuitively and may not be able to recognize as something that an intern won’t know yet.

      Reply
    10. AcademiaNut

      Definitely completed projects. It gives them a better item for their resume, and a better idea of how projects work.

      The amount of time it takes will also depend on the capabilities of the intern.

      What I tend to do is have projects with variable end points. So if it’s a really good intern, they end up with a professional level project completed. If they’re average, they get a reasonable complete project. And if they struggle, the project ends up being more of a training project, that I will need to finish.

      Interns also vary wildly in terms of initiative, judgement, and independence, so that’s something to watch for. With some, a weekly meeting and passing them work would be fine, others will need daily meetings. Some will need to be pushed to think beyond doing exactly what you tell them but no more, others reined in when they go ahead without checking to see if what they’re doing makes sense.

      And go in expecting to need to explain things that seem obvious to you – not just in tasks, but also in things like workplace culture and appropriate attire.

      Reply
    11. PseudoMona

      I echo all the advice about being very explicit in your instructions, checking in with your intern often, and focusing on a project that can be completed during the internship. I’d be careful about trying to give an intern too many projects. Depending on their education/experience, starting them off on multiple projects might be over-whelming. I plan on an intern taking 3x as long as I do to complete a task. Here’s a few more things I’ve learned about mentoring an intern:

      -Make yourself explicitly available to your intern, some can be really hesitant about approaching you if they think they are interrupting your work
      -Teach them about professional norms at your workplace and/or in your profession. How do people dress? How formally do people address each other? What kind of behavior is acceptable? Why can more senior people act in certain ways that junior people can not?
      -Can your intern accompany you to the workplace meetings you attend, to see how information is presented, discussed, and how decisions are made?
      -I talk with my intern about their career goals, and offer to critique their cover letter and resume. I also help set up informational interviews for my intern, so they learn about the different career paths in my profession.
      -Introduce your intern to their co-workers! Help them develop a 1-2 sentence project description, so they can talk about their project with co-workers.
      -I find having an intern very rewarding, but the first 1-2 weeks can be very time intensive on your part. My intern just finished her first week, and I barely got anything done on my own projects this week. So be prepared for a decrease in your own productivity next week.

      Reply
  7. starfire13

    I’ve got a bit of an interesting situation. I’m in my late-20’s, but I look even younger. I’m very physically active in two unorthodox sports: paintball and roller-derby. As such, my arms and legs are frequently covered in bruises in varying states of healing. This wasn’t a problem when I first got hired at my job at the start of the year, on account of it being winter, but now that the weather is warming up, I’m running into problems.

    A few weeks ago, I started wearing skirts and short-sleeved blouses to work. One of my managers saw me, and immediately told me to cover up my legs and my arms. He said that my bruises made me look “unprofessional” and that so long as I was in the process of healing, I couldn’t be flashing them around.

    I don’t have a front-facing job. 99% of the people I interact with are members of of the company. Even though we have AC and I’m wearing cotton pants and blouses, I’m still sweating up a storm. Furthermore, other people are starting to notice. I used to roll up my sleeves for typing/eating/using my hands, and whenever colleagues saw my bruises, they’d be like, “Oh wow! What happened??” Because I obviously wasn’t ashamed/trying to hide, they felt comfortable asking and I would then be able to explain my hobbies, which always garnered a lot of interest. Now that I’m always covering up, it makes it seem like I’m ashamed of my bruises or trying to hide something. And because my managers are now aware of the fact that I’m “supposed to be covered up”, they harp on me whenever I instinctively roll up my sleeves to work. So now, whenever I catch myself with my sleeves rolled up, I find myself silently cursing and hastily rolling them back down, looking around in paranoia. I have since found out that some of my coworkers now think I’m in an abusive relationship, and they’re scared to approach me and bring it up.

    Can my managers mandate that I, and only I, have to cover up in the office? I feel like it brings unwanted attention to me and it really hampers my work. I don’t know if I can do this for the next 4 months!

    Reply
    1. AnotherLibrarian

      I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, but my understanding is that as long as they aren’t telling you to cover up because of a protected class (race, gender, religion) than they can tell you to cover up. Just like they could say “no blue t-shirts” or that a large tattoo should be covered.

      Is this reasonable? Well… that’s a whole different question.

      Reply
      1. OhNo

        It’s possible that you could argue that this “policy” has a disparate impact based on a protected class, but that seems like a bit of a stretch in this specific case. Do you have the standing to argue that it sets a bad precedent? I can see a policy like this having a severe impact on people with disabilities, for example, since they would have to cover up any physical feature or injury deemed “unprofessional”.

        Either way, that policy is ridiculous. You shouldn’t have to suffer in the heat just because you have a minor injury. Do they require people to cover up accidental cuts from shaving, or paper cuts, or minor scrapes and burns? Of course not. That would be silly, and this is, too.

        Reply
    2. Not a Real Giraffe

      I bruise very very easily, so I often have very strange bruises on my body from things like bumping into a chair or closing my file cabinet drawer with my hip. I would find having to cover up some of my bruises incredibly cumbersome, so I understand your pain! On top of being uncomfortable in your clothing, the secrecy around your bruises is impacting your reputation among colleagues, when you could otherwise explain the very understandable (and interesting!) reason behind your bruises.

      That said, your manager can mandate what he wants. That doesn’t make him right, but that does make him your manager. I’d try to push back and explain the impact it’s having on you (both clothing and reputation) and try to understand this is a side effect of your physical activity the way say, my boyfriend repeatedly breaks his fingers from playing his sport of choice. No one would dare make him try to cover up his finger splints, which he is almost constantly wearing!

      Reply
      1. TL -

        Paintball bruises tend to be really nasty ones, though. The ones I’ve seen are generally multicolored glorious sunbursts, rather than small discolorations. (you may bruise like the former, but most people I know who bruise easy bruise more on the small discoloration side.)

        FWIW, if you are coming in with sunburst bruises everywhere, I’m more inclined to agree with the manager – it doesn’t look all that great and I’m not sure how comfortable I would be with it.

        Reply
    3. Amadeo

      Agree with AnotherLibrarian, not a lawyer and not legal advice, but probably not illegal.

      Question though: do you have so many that covering them up in the morning with tattoo cover up makeup (or just plain ol’ makeup, if it’ll cover) would take far too much time? I am so hot-natured that I wouldn’t handle being told to wear long sleeves during the summer and may turn to that option.

      Reply
      1. starfire13

        I don’t wear any make-up at all! The weird thing is that my company is pretty relaxed compared to most. You’re allowed to have small tattoos, as long as they’re not distracting/inappropriate, and they even allowed me to keep the purple streak in my hair (but told me that I couldn’t do anything more than a single streak, which is easily hidden depending on how I style my hair). My manager seems to think that “flaunting my bruises” promotes violence, which is obviously against company policy.

        Reply
        1. Amadeo

          Ugh. For what it’s worth, he’s in the legal, but not in the right or the reasonable. I suspect you have just a couple options, push back at him/get HR involved, if you’ve got one or cover them with sleeves or make up. I don’t wear makeup on my face often either, but if it came down to long sleeves or spending 10-15 minutes in the morning covering bruises on my limbs, I’d probably go with the make up.

          Reply
    4. Penny

      I think that’s something they can mandate but it’s so bizarre. How covered in bruises are you? Like wrist to shoulder black-and-blue? I’ve had nasty bruises before from my own hobbies, not frequently but when it did show up someone asked, and it wasn’t a problem. Even more frequently I get scratches from various animals in my life but no one has asked about them. I think your bosses are being weird. Do you have an HR to ask or even an employee handbook to show you’re following the printed dress code and they shouldn’t ask for more?

      Reply
      1. starfire13

        Paintball leaves not just bruises, but sometimes giant welts. They’ll go through the whole rainbow and often take 2 weeks to disappear. I usually have at least two goose-egg shaped welts on me (usually on my calves or biceps), as well as smaller bruises. Roller-derby doesn’t leave significantly huge bruises, but can on occasion

        Reply
        1. TL -

          Yeah, that was what I was thinking. Those kinds of bruises are – ugh, I hate to say it but I’m not sure I’m against your managers here. Though hopefully you can get shorter sleeves that cover the biceps and, depending on how casual your office is, capris to cover your calves?

          Reply
          1. The OG Anonsie

            Yeah I’m feeling conflicted. That is really attention grabbing as far as bruises go, but having 2ish on areas not always uncovered is so minor that I feel like I should unclench and not worry about it. I actually see a totally reasonable balance in wearing a sleeved shirt but rolling them up sometimes. I mean, if my company told me I couldn’t roll my sleeves (which I also do a lot) because I have an eczema patch on my arm, I would be pretty steamed.

            There’s also the layer that attempting to hide bruises does make people MORE curious and concerned than not hiding them. I think it’s worth it to talk to your boss and say, look, people think I’m trying to hide these now and it’s more disruptive than before because people are worried about me. I can roll my sleeves down if any customers are around but otherwise this is actually causing more trouble than it was before.

            Reply
            1. INFJ

              Right. Even if the kinds of bruises/welts ARE particularly eye-catching and awful-looking, it’s still totally unreasonable for management to mandate that they can’t be showing AT ALL, for any small length of time (i.e., if you have rolled up your sleeves for something).

              Reply
    5. paul

      I’ve run into similar issues. Right or wrong I just decided it wasn’t worth the hassle; I make sure sleeves are long enough to cover scars and I quit full contact sparring.

      Pretty sure current job wouldn’t care about the bruises but my old school is out of business so :(

      Reply
    6. Jesmlet

      Can they mandate it? Absolutely. Should they? Absolutely not. This is a really silly thing to require. Maybe you can request they provide you with a fan to compensate for the heat?

      Reply
    7. Temperance

      That’s so weird. I’m covered in bruises like 75% of the time because I’m a klutz and I have low platelets, making me bruise more. I get asked about it, I answer, and I don’t think it’s unprofessional or distracting, especially when compared with someone wearing long sleeves and long pants in July.

      I don’t know what your job is, but that’s super strange that your managers are so strange. I mean, I get the worry about abuse, but … wow.

      Reply
    8. dr_silverware

      I actually don’t think it’s crazy unreasonable. Exposed & unhealed injuries can make other people really, really uncomfortable, and it’s out of the white-collar norm enough that it does stand out in an office.

      That said, I think it’s reasonable to go to your bosses and say, “hey, about covering my bruises, I’m on board and am serious about wearing long sleeves. But it actually makes it more distracting if my coworkers see me trying to cover up and think that I’m concealing domestic abuse–especially when I get really worried about being disciplined if I’ve rolled up my sleeves in a moment of distraction. Can we talk more about how to handle this in the summer?”

      Reply
      1. KR

        I really kind this script. OP could also mention that they’re frequently overheating and it looks out of the ordinary when everyone else is in skirts and short sleeves and she’s dressed for winter.

        Reply
      2. Taylor Swift

        I agree that being bruised is pretty outside professional norms. And OP, don’t your coworkers already know what the bruises are from? If you’ve already told them you do those sports, why would they now think the bruises are from something else? Or do you interact with a lot of new people a lot?

        Reply
    9. Treecat

      Argh, I feel you. My main hobby is martial arts, including full-contact, no-holds-barred sparring, where it’s okay to punch, kick, throw, or grapple your opponent (Sanda, in case anyone is wondering). Anyway, I too am often covered in really hideous bruises all over. So far, in my work place, I’ve just explained that I do martial arts, so sometimes I’ll look like I got beat up (…because I did…) and my supervisors have been okay with it.

      For you, I think this is something worth pushing back on, especially at least about the being able to roll up your sleeves. If you’re hot to the point of discomfort, that’s not okay and will impact your job performance. Also, I would go back to your manager and tell them flat out that your coworkers now think you’re in an abusive relationship because you’re being forced to hide your bruises. If that doesn’t work, you could maybe look into opaque pantyhose as a way to be able to continue to wear skirts and maybe hide the bruises a bit better, or maybe switching to linen clothing (linen tends to be much cooler than cotton, in my experience).

      Ultimately, I think this “policy” is more about your manager’s personal discomfort in seeing bruises than any solid reason why showing bruised skin in a non customer facing position is unprofessional. Sorry you’re going through this.

      Reply
      1. KR

        Pantyhose are a good ide – I’m also thinking some really light, thib cardigans for short sleeve tops and dresses.

        Reply
      2. SarahKay

        Or is a full length skirt an option – one of the flowy ones? I have a couple of those that I wear when it’s hot and I love them; it feels as though they’re wafting air at me. Granted, that doesn’t help with the sleeves :(

        Reply
      3. Girasol

        I had a problem with being black and blue after martial arts practice. I discovered that taking high doses of vitamin C – 2 grams a day – really improved my ability to resist bruising. That’s not what you asked about, I know, but if it comes down to “cover up or else,” it might be an option.

        Reply
    10. Ashie

      I also have large ugly bruises in random but mostly because I’m a klutz and I bruise easily (last week I had matching horizontal bruises across the backs of my calves. I have no idea how they got there).

      I just put large band aids over the most egregious bruises and most people don’t even notice.

      But I do think the secrecy is working against you. Can you put up some photos or awards of you in action, or trophies, or tchotchkes that show you’re into these sports? It might help alleviate the “glorifying violence” narrative as well.

      Reply
    11. Former Retail Manager

      I also don’t believe it’s illegal, I do believe it looks unprofessional based on the types of bruises you describe, BUT your hobbies are AWESOME! If anyone did notice the bruises or that you’re covering up and inquired, I’d just throw in a chipper “hazards of my hobby, paintball/roller derby” with a smile.

      Reply
    12. Amy the Rev

      If your manager is adamant about long-sleeves, maybe depending on office policy, you would be able to put up a photo of your roller derby team in your cubicle, or a paintball trophy (is that a thing?) or something like that, which might do something to help provide context for when co-workers do glimpse your bruises. Or when they ask ‘how was your weekend?’ you could make sure to mention one of those hobbies, like ‘oh it was great! Played paintball for a few hours on Saturday, then spent Sunday making rice sculptures!’

      Reply
    13. Jules the Third

      I think there’s a difference between ‘bruises’ and ‘at least two goose-egg shaped welts’ and associated smaller bruises that linger for a couple of weeks. It’s legal and I don’t think your manager’s request is strange or unreasonable. He’s asking for a certain level of professional appearance. Notice that he *didn’t* ask you to change your behavior outside of work, which would have been somewhat unreasonable.

      You have several choices on how to deal with it and the associated complications:
      Prevention – can you get better paintball gear? I know there’s armored leg pads that should prevent calf welts.
      – can you publicize your activities to your coworkers, to head off the ‘abusive relationship’ gossip? Whoever told you about the gossip could help a lot by explaining ‘oh, no, she rollerderbys’.
      Mitigation – makeup, linen. 3/4 sleeves are your friends. Long loose skirts? I hate wearing skirts to work, but the recent maxi-dress trends have made a few that are livable – light weight and no hose required. Tights would have to be pretty opaque to cover up welts, I usually find that by that point they’re as hot as pants, but ymmv.

      Reply
    14. JennyFair

      Could you invite your co-workers to go paint-balling with you? Maybe if paint-balling bruises become the norm that would counteract the peer-related factors, and if everyone is told to cover up you might get some group push-back :)

      But in all seriousness, for arms at least I’d consider better padding/bruise prevention of some sort. Even in pants or tights, short sleeves would go a long way towards temperature-related comfort.

      Reply
    15. AnonyMouse

      I don’t agree with your manager’s policy, but don’t have great suggestions for how to deal with them since I think they probablc can ask this. As for your coworkers, maybe just make sure they know you have a roller derby and paintball passion, so if they are concerned they know what the bruises are from.

      Some practical suggestions to not overheat, in the meantime — can you wear long light flowy skirts? I have a couple that are very comfortable in hot weather. That may be a more breathable option than pants.
      For tops, can you similarly find a couple of thin cardigans, maybe something that’s got a bit of a weave so it’s actually breathable but would obscure the bruises? That might be more bearable.

      Reply
    16. Camellia

      I would be inclined to say, in a semi-loud, jocular voice, “Aw, these aren’t bruises, they’re BADGES of HONOR!” and smile and laugh and pretend that what the manager said was really a joke they were making, and talk about what fun I had with my roller-derbyin’ paintballin’ fiends – I mean, friends! I can be really dense when called for; I am almost impossible to insult; and I would make the manager have to go to such an extreme to get his point across that he would feel like an idiot. But then, I’m old and grouchy that way.

      Reply
    17. Squirrel

      If nothing else, as a way to distract from the abuse rumors, could you post pictures in your cube/office of yourself participating in your hobbies? Possibly a group shot of you with your paintball team and/or your roller derby team, an action shot of you in full paintball regalia, etc. It would be a quiet but obvious way to show why you have the bruises.

      I agree with both sides here; a minor bruise is one thing, but I’ve seen paintball bruises and they can be very nasty. On that note, is it at all possible for you to wear protective gear on your forearms and lower legs (if you aren’t already)?

      Reply
    18. Lisa

      I think it’s ridiculous. You’re being asked to cover your body because they don’t like the way it looks, specifically because it’s injured. I know a lot of people are saying to just accept it, but I wouldn’t be comfortable working for people who are so judgmental, especially when they know the reason.

      Mind you, I also play roller derby so I might be a bit biased on this.

      Reply
    19. Observer

      Probably, unless guys aren’t being required to cover up bruises.

      Having said that, I wonder if there is some way you could push back. This sounds nuts to me.

      Reply
  8. T3k

    Should I drop this or leave it be? Over a month ago, I talked with a hiring manager about a position I applied for several further months ago (later they explained the delay was due to construction on their end to make room for more people). Understandably, this also meant next round of interviews, if I made it that far, wouldn’t be until near the end of the month. A few weeks later, I emailed her to ask if there’d been an update and they said they were planning interviews and had a spot open at the very end of the month. But, the weekend before the interview, I got an email saying they’d have to reschedule for possibly this coming week. However, I haven’t heard a word since (2 weeks since telling me they had to reschedule). Since that week is coming up, I emailed her yesterday for an update, but still haven’t heard anything from them. I’m mostly concerned as usually she’s on top of her emails in all the other times we corresponded, and I have no other way to contact them other than through a general phone line. Should I just move on from this or what?

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

      I would move on and continue your search. You’ve already reached out a few times, any more than this and you risk coming across as overly aggressive. Move it out of your mind and if they call you, then great.

      Reply
      1. T3k

        Yeah, definitely don’t want to come off as that (doesn’t help I am desperate for any job at this point, so that may have inadvertently rubbed off).

        Reply
    2. JulieBulie

      Don’t “drop” it as such, but don’t push it either. You’ve already followed up and it sounds as though she’s on top of things and didn’t forget you. If you don’t hear from her, it could mean a lot of things, but all of those things boil down to “wait.” She will contact you if she has a reason to, but right now she doesn’t haven any news.

      Meanwhile, AAM usually advises to never stop or suspend your job search just because one of your leads is “hot”. From my own experience, I agree. Definitely move on. Moving on doesn’t mean that you can’t interview with them later, if you’re still available. Moving on DOES mean that you might find something more suitable sooner, though.

      Reply
      1. T3k

        True, I have let my job search slack off (though the last 2 weeks was because of personal issues that came up). Better get myself back to searching now.

        Reply
    3. Merula

      I think you should see this an a red flag; if this is how they’re acting while hiring, how do they treat employees? This sounds like the kind of place where every small thing takes forever to decide, and in the meantime nothing is communicated. Would you want to work in that environment?

      If you do, I wouldn’t follow-up on your email until more time has passed (one day isn’t long for a response), but I’m not sure how long would be appropriate to wait. One week? Two?

      Reply
      1. T3k

        Well, they did have valid reasons that I didn’t go into too much detail here, and they were upfront that it would take awhile with hiring. However, all this is moot now as I just got a reply back a few mins. ago that they decided to hire within, though they’ll keep my file on hand as they might have a position open in a few months (not holding my breath for that).

        Reply
        1. Frustrated Optimist

          Ugh. Story of my life. Sometimes you wonder how *anybody* breaks into these organizations, when every position that comes up gets filled internally. It’s maddening. Please know you’re not alone with this scenario, OK? =)

          Reply
  9. Bend & Snap

    I’ve been ghosted!

    Approached by an executive for an internal move, 0ver dinner she said she’d hire me once her req opened, we should get drinks at X event and when we got back she’d have me into the office to meet the team. This was in mid April.

    I emailed to set up drinks, no response. Saw her at the show, she gave me a quick hug and went back to her thing. No word since.

    Do I ever bother following up, or should I just consider this subject closed?

    Reply
    1. Amy

      I’d probably assume the subject is closed. Which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow up–it’s possible she just forgot and needs a reminder–but I wouldn’t count on it at this point.

      Reply
    2. AnotherLibrarian

      Send 1 polite email. Tell her how nice it was to see her at the conference. Then I think you have to let it go. This stuff happens.

      Reply
  10. DevAssist

    Help Please! I need advice.

    Everything in life is great right now…besides my job. Which I desperately want to get out of. A non-profit development job is going to open up for a company I’ve volunteered for in the past, and I basically know that the job would be mine if I want. The problem is that it is in a city 2 hours away from me, and I can’t afford nor do I want to move to that city right now. I have hobbies, friends, and responsibilities where I am that I can’t easily give up.

    The potential job offer is for a position that is office work (phone calls, emailing, etc.) and I’m sort of considering asking if the position can be remote, except for when there are events and meetings I’d have to attend. While the company likes me, I doubt I’m valuable enough for them to be willing to do that. Should I ask?

    Reply
    1. Dani X

      It doesn’t hurt to ask but I am about to turn down a job for the same reasons. 4 hour commute = 12 hour days. So you are pretty much social life less for the week. And possibly the weekend too if you need to do all your chores and responsibilities then. It is a huge thing to give up.

      Reply
      1. an.on

        that’s the part you forget about. when you work 8-10 hrs a day and you commute 4, all that’s left on mondays and fridays is time to shower, sleep, and maybe scarf a meal and watch a show before bed. the weekends are not fun anymore and there’s no time for relaxing because it’s all errands, laundry, cleaning, lawn mowing, etc. can’t wait to change my situation, it’s making me crazy!

        Reply
          1. Teapot Librarian

            Oh, that’s better! I read your initial “Mondays and Fridays” to mean that one wouldn’t even have time for a shower, meal, and sleep in the middle of the week!

            Reply
    2. Penny

      I say ask. Would you be at all flexible to agreeing to only a couple days a week in the office, plus events, and all else remote? That might sway them a little more than just ‘want to do the entire job remotely’.

      Reply
    3. DevAssist

      Anyone have advice on how to word my request? I don’t want to come off as self-important or flippant. I have a call with the Director of the non-profit this upcoming week.

      Reply
      1. Angelinha

        I’d love to be considered for the job but you should know up front that I’m planning on staying in X city for the foreseeable future. Would you consider someone remote for this position? If so, I’d love to talk. If not, unfortunately it doesn’t make sense to continue.

        Reply
    4. an.on

      I have a 4 hr round trip commute and it is ruining my life. I work remotely 1-2 days a week and it’s not enough. For that to be sustainable, I think you’d need to go into the office 1-2 times a week max. I am working on changing my situation but man it is hard right now. SO HARD.

      Reply
      1. DevAssist

        I think I could do it if I only had to be in-office 1 or 2 times a week and for special events. If I had to commute more than that, I’ll have to turn down the offer :(

        Reply
    5. Audiophile

      I work in development now for a nonprofit. I’ve realized, much like when I did social media work, I could do almost my entire job remotely. My company has offered to get me a cell phone and I know a laptop is in the works, but I wouldn’t want to work remotely 100% of the time.

      My commute is an hour and 45 minutes with the subway, if you count time spent walking from the subway to the office, it probably comes close to 2 hours. Right now, it doesn’t bother me much, because I’m lucky to have pretty reliable public transportation, in 3 months with this job there’s only been about 3 days where there were issues. One when the 7 train stopped running completely and a few weeks back when it was significantly delayed because of issues at 5 Av.

      Anyway, all this is to say that I’m thinking of asking if I can work one to two days a month from home. Definitely ask, this job has impacted my social life but I can often meet up with friends in the city or White Plains for dinner.

      Reply
  11. Audiophile

    Trying this again.

    I’m looking to start attending conferences, and interested in some suggestions on where to look.

    My degree is in communications, but I currently work in development/fundraising. I’m not in any professional organizations, so suggestions for those are also welcome.

    Reply
    1. ali

      AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals) is top for development. You join a local chapter that has local events, but there are national webinars and conference. Also big in the nonprofit world is if you use a particular piece of software, the company that makes it will likely have an annual conference.

      Really depends on the types of things you want to learn and/or present at conferences. What’s your motivation for going to them? That will help you figure out which ones to go to.

      Reply
    2. rageismycaffeine

      In addition to what ali suggests, you can try CASE as well – even if you don’t work in education, despite what the E in their acronym stands for. Beware, CASE is super expensive and so are their conferences, which tend to be in the most expensive hotels in the most expensive areas of the most expensive cities (I have been to one at the Ritz in Marina del Ray and another one at the Hyatt Regency in the Bellevue area of Seattle). But the conferences are usually very much worth it.

      Are you a front-facing fundraiser or do you do some back-office/advancement services stuff as well? There’s also AASP (Association of Advancement Services Professionals) and APRA (Association for Professional Researchers for Advancement), which is primarily for prospect research but has grown to embrace data analytics as well.

      Reply
      1. Audiophile

        My job is willing to either reimburse or cover them outright. The suggestion was really for professional development and skills building as part of my role. Truth be told, I’d like to eventually move back to more traditional development work, possibly within this organization. I’ve been considering joining a few of the communications organizations.

        I looked into AFP, but I’m not sure whether I should join the NYC chapter or the chapter that’s closer to where I live.

        Reply
      2. Audiophile

        I realized I didn’t really answer your questions. I’m largely managing the database – creating records, doing data entry, data pulls, etc. I have a fair amount of contact with donors who aren’t major donors. I’m not involved in prospect research, as we have an outside firm who manages our direct mail campaigns and handles prospect research for us.

        I see AFP has a big conference next year in NOLA, I’m not sue that they’d let me go to that or that I would get much out of it.

        Reply
    3. Jiggs

      IABC (International Association of Business Communicators) is a great one, and has a fab job board. Fund dev professionals are definitely in there, as well as comms/marketing people, journalists, and market researchers.

      Reply
  12. Dani X

    How do you turn down a job without burning bridges? Same job I posted about last time but I took everyone’s advice and realized that while the job is nice, the commute is just going to be too much. But I would like to leave the door open in case things change – more like in case they open an office closer. I was thinking of saying something like “thank you for the opportunity to interview – the job sounds great, but the commute surrounding it is just too much. I wish things could have worked out, because it does sounds a good opportunity”

    Sounds I add anything else?

    Reply
    1. AnotherLibrarian

      I wouldn’t mention the commute, because presumably you knew the commute BEFORE you applied for the job. As someone hiring, I’d be a little annoyed if someone used that reason, especially if the location of the office was upfront and the commute was known before the job was offered.

      That doesn’t mean the commute isn’t a great reason to decline, I just think it reads as you didn’t think it through before applying.

      Instead, I might be more general.

      Something like, “This job sounds like a wonderful opportunity, but due to personal circumstances I don’t think I can accept it at this time. I’d like to thank () and () for speaking with me. Everyone who I interacted with at () was great.

      Best of luck in finding the right candidate.”

      You are allowed to turn down a job. They are allowed to pull an offer. As long as you are prompt and polite, no one rational should hold this against you.

      Reply
    2. Antilles

      I don’t think you should mention the commute, unless it was something you had no real reason to expect (e.g., company has several offices in your city). I’d instead just politely apologize either without giving a specific reason or with a more general reason like “just not the right fit at this time”. After all, if you’re looking again a few years from now, you’ll have more skills and presumably be applying for a slightly different position, so using this sort of excuse doesn’t close any future doors.

      Reply
    3. JulieBulie

      I disagree that you can’t mention the commute. You can say “I didn’t think it would be a problem, but when I tried it for myself I realized that I couldn’t do that five days a week.”

      Reply
      1. DevAssist

        Totally a fair thing to say, I think! After learning the salary of a potential job and that a move (not just a commute) would be required, I took the time to map out me options. Ultimately, it wasn’t going to work and they were very understanding about it.

        Reply
    4. ThatGirl

      I just turned down a contract job that I would have been good at for two reasons: a) it was a very long commute, so I already knew I’d have to keep looking for something closer and b) they suddenly lowered the payrate from 35 to 25/hr. At that new, lower rate I just couldn’t justify it. I am currently unemployed but have several other, better paying/permanent opportunities closer to home. I did let the agency know that the big change plus the commute no longer made it logical for me.

      Reply
  13. MechanicalPencil

    I am in desperate need of new headphones/earbuds/something for work. My current pair only has one working side. Life is awkward. I can’t really go up to the Bose price point, but I am willing to sink some money in to something a little nicer for noise cancelling purposes (Like 100-200ish).

    I have a large head (thanks genetics), so generally the over the ear hurt after a bit, but if you know of a kind that could work for the bigheads of the world, I’m willing to give it a whirl (or try them on in store…somewhere). Other maybe useful bits of info: I listen to music/podcasts from my smartphone 100% of the time, and I don’t really care about wireless headphones since I don’t want to worry about charging and batteries. If that happens to be a cherry on top of what you recommend, then I’ll accept a gift from the universe.

    Please AAM commentariat, help me.

    Reply
    1. Giles

      Mine doesn’t have noise cancelling, but I can’t recommend the Skullcandy Hesh 2s enough. I’ve used them at two different jobs now and they’re incredible for blocking out noise when I have a song/podcast playing. They ARE over the ears, but they’re very comfortable. I got mine on sale, but they usually retail for about 40-60 (non-wireless, since I wear them for about 6 hours a day and figured charging them constantly would get old.)

      Reply
      1. FTW

        I have some in ear skull candy head phones that are also fairly effective at noise blocking. Not sure what model, but they retail for ~$30-$35 at the airport.

        Reply
      2. Sprechen Sie Talk?

        I use cheapy Skullcandy’s for the commute and buy them three pair at a time – the $5-$10 pair that comes in colors you can get at Walmart or Amazon. Those things are fab for a cheap pair – block a ton of noise and I walk along busy roads to work with a decent sound that isnt too tinny or too much bass. Usually a pair will last at least 6 months for me (1 hr roundtrip commute, up to 6 hours a day other use, stuffed in bags/pockets/slept on/what have you) but usually longer. For that price point it works for me and I keep a spare pair at work if a channel goes out during the day.

        For work I either stick to those or I break out the bad boy Shure 315s. I cant tell you how many people have come up to me talking away and not noticing that I am wearing them if I loop the cord over my ear and my hair hides them. However – they can be tricky to fit at first until you get used to them and you may need to try different tips on them. I use these more to listen to music better than the noise isolation.

        Reply
    2. paul

      Shure SE215s are great and a bit under 100. I love ’em. Great for airplanes and car rides; I can’t use them at work–need to be able to hear what’s happening–but if they’re listenable on a 737 during takeoff they’re probably fine for most office environments.

      Reply
    3. Mim

      I got these for my noise canceling needs. They work well enough that I use them for yard work too. I got them for $45 on Amazon: August EP650 Bluetooth Wireless Over Ear Headphones.

      They are Bluetooth and wireless, but you can just plug them in and they work that way too. I usually go the Bluetooth route though since the battery lasts a long time.

      Reply
    4. Clever Name

      I have some $15 Panasonic earbuds that aren’t billed as noise-cancelling, but they do block out plenty of sound. They have different sizes of ear pieces too.

      Reply
    5. Kindling

      Not specifically noise cancelling, but I have Caeden over-the-ear headphones I really like. They get a lot of compliments. I usually find over-the-ear uncomfortable too and was pleasantly surprised by these. They are wireless, though. But I find the charge lasts a pretty long time.

      Reply
    6. SusanPNW

      I also have a huge head (difficult to find hats – even men’s hats, swim caps, headbands, etc). I have ShareMe headphones that work for me. Not at all expensive and I use them when I’m doing noisy hobbies and can hear fine. https://smile.amazon.com/Headphones-Mixcder-ShareMe-Bluetooth-Cancelling/dp/B0151KNFLY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1497032155&sr=8-1&keywords=shareme . Of course no guarantees that they will be comfortable for you (my head is bigger front to back, vs side to side) but at the low price they might be worth a try.

      Reply
    7. Ethan

      AKG has high quality noise cancelling headphones. I think they usually go for around $250, but I managed to snag my wife a $150 pair during Black Friday, so you may have some luck deal hunting in your price range.

      Reply
    8. em2mb

      I love my Sennheiser HD 280 pro headphones. That’s what my radio station buys for reporter kits. They’re comfortable for all day wear and are sized for larger heads. Not noise cancelling, but they block out most sound. If I’m engrossed in my work, I need a tap on the shoulder to get my attention.

      Reply
    9. Free Meerkats (formerly Gene)

      Etymotic mc3, hands down the best noise isolating, sub-$100 in-ear headset around. They are what I wear when I ride on airplanes, mow the lawn, or just want to cut everyone out. IIRC, something like 40db sound reduction – on par with foam earplugs. And they have great sound, too! If one of the three or four different eartips in the box doesn’t work for you, you can get custom-molded eartips for them.

      Reply
  14. Zen Cohen

    Bluuuhhhhhh. It’s annual performance evaluation time, and my procrastination is reaching epic proportions. I have eight staff to review and my company expects a highly structured novel for each of them. OF COURSE I waited until the last minute. I really strive to give solid, constructive feedback to my staff but something about being required to write it all down in an overly-complicated template once a year just rubs me the wrong way.

    I don’t need any tips–I already attended the mandatory 2-hour webinar. But can I have some commiseration?

    Reply
    1. Victoria, Please

      Chuckle. My sister is in the military and regularly groans to me about writing OERs (officer evaluation reports). These are highly stsructured as you might imagein, and also very high stakes since they can make or break someone’s move into a good new position. So, secondhand commiseration.

      Reply
      1. only acting normal

        *Very* high stakes. I know a civilian manager of a military officer who half-arsed that officer’s appraisal (because he half-arse everything management related) and it scuppered that officer’s chance of promotion for years (pretty much ever given his stage of career). They met a few years later at a social occasion and the manager congratulated the officer on his promotion, to be coldly informed that it was his younger brother who’d been promoted above him. Everyone was cringing, but the manager didn’t even register the problem.

        Reply
    2. rageismycaffeine

      Deep in the throes of this here as well. And of course they changed the performance evaluation system again this year, making three different systems I’ve had to learn in the three years I’ve been here. It’s the worst.

      Reply
    3. JLK in the ATX

      With regrets, I can’t commiserate. . . Enjoy the opportunity to help your employees get the feedback, support, and hopefully recognition they deserve. In the military, I had rolling performance reports all year, whether I wrote them or added my comments, board and promotion packages /preparation. It was an awesome responsibility.

      Reply
    4. DevManager

      You have my sympathy. We recently changed to a quarterly review system, and I had 9 reviews to write and have conversations with the reviewee about.

      They’re not supposed to take very long, but I have one staff member who just refuses to do them and I waste a lot of time reminding them to do it.

      Reply
    5. KatiePie

      Well, I can’t commiserate on quite the same level, being that I don’t have any staff, but I just started my self review to turn in to my manager prior to my own performance review, so I appreciate on a certain level. I should be better about making notes for myself throughout the year, and instead am sitting here going, “I know I achieved a lot this year–what was it all? And how do I write about it?”

      Reply
    6. NoCalHR

      Sorry! I feel your pain, as I have to review my department & review the undelivered evals before they’re given to the employees. Reviews – hate’em!

      Reply
    7. afiendishthingy

      “highly structured novel written in an overly-complicated template” describes way too much of my workload right now (treatment plans/progress reports and case notes). They take me way longer than they should because I just can’t get into a rhythm with them, and I also have a lot of other work which is 1) more interesting and 2) always seems more time-sensitive. I feel your pain.

      Reply
    8. ThursdaysGeek

      Would it help if I mentioned that if our bosses don’t get the annual reviews done on time, they personally are not eligible for a raise? Now that’s a strong incentive to get it done early!

      Reply
  15. Karyn

    Anyone have any advice for getting clients to pay up?

    I work for a few attorneys (solo practitioners) as a paralegal while I’m waiting for my bar exam results. I invoice them when I complete the project they’ve given me, and the invoice says “due upon receipt.” But now I’m having attorneys tell me they’ll pay me by X date and then… not. I send gentle reminders like, “Hey, Fergus, just wondering when you might be sending that payment” and then I hear, “Today or tomorrow,” and then nothing again. This makes it hard to budget for my own bills, because if I’m told I’m getting paid by X date, and then don’t, I run the risk of not being able to, you know, live. And we’re not talking $30 here and there, we’re talking $500+ balances.

    Any advice on how to follow up without being a total jerk?

    Reply
    1. AdAgencyChick

      Ugh, you would think lawyers should understand about fulfilling their half of a bargain.

      Do you have a contract with them, or if not a formal contract, at least some kind of agreement in writing about what you will be delivering and what the payment terms are before you start? If not, I’d get that in place with new clients (or even moving forward with existing clients). Don’t be afraid to ask for a deposit before you start the work.

      WritersWeekly.com has good advice for getting paid. Also, last week I asked a similar question (since I’ve been freelancing for a company that was very regular about paying its bills and suddenly was late this month), and somebody on that thread pointed out a couple of other editors’ and writers’ message boards that they said would have good advice too. I’d search for that post.

      Reply
      1. Karyn

        I actually do have a copy of the written contract with one of the attorneys (the biggest offender) somewhere, but I’m pretty sure it just has to do with confidentiality. I’m asking him for a copy, though. And I think I’m going to have to draft something for future clients.

        One of the attorneys is GREAT about paying – within a week of my invoice – and the other two are through my mother’s firm, so she usually pays me and then gets paid from them. But this one guy, I love him to death, but boy is he bad at paying me. I finished a project for him on May 25 and still haven’t been paid, even though I know damn well he has the money!

        I also think that, when I do flat-rate work (which I occasionally do), I’m going to ask for payment up front from him. He knows I always get the work done, and if I can’t, I’d obviously refund it; but this is why attorneys ask for retainers, so I don’t know why I can’t do the same.

        Reply
        1. Pineapple Incident

          I agree with this, including that you should ask for payment up-front since the biggest offender already knows your work history/that you’re good for the work. I would say though, if you start doing that and you’re ever not able to complete the work, your return of the payment should be as prompt as you would appreciate from your clients paying you at the end of a job (like within 5 business days)

          Reply
          1. Karyn

            Oh, yeah, of course. I’m good at sending money back – I’ve had to do it a couple times now, and since I use online billing/payments, it’s super easy for me to go in, click a button, and send it back over. Unlike literally every service I’ve ever used where they can somehow take my money right away but if they have to send it back, it’s “5-7 business days.” ;)

            Reply
    2. not my usual alias

      Are you giving them terms, like a penalty if they’re not paid within 30 days, or a discount if they’re paid within 5 days?

      Be a little less gentle… less “wondering when you’ll pay me” and more “remember, your payment is due” and quite possibly “I’m sorry, I can’t work on this project until your account balance is current.”

      Reply
      1. Karyn

        My new rule for the biggest offender is that I’m not taking on any more work until he pays up. Funny enough, he actually asked me if I could help out with demand letters on his delinquent accounts. I’d be happy to do that if, you know, he weren’t also delinquent.

        I like the idea of the 5% discount if they pay within five days! That sounds like a great way to get paid without stiffing myself.

        Reply
      2. Not So NewReader

        OTH, you could bill by the week. He does not pay this week, then you won’t be into work.

        Some attorneys can be pretty lax. I was waiting for a bill from handling my husband’s estate. It did not come. So finally, I went and sat in the attorney’s office. “I am going to sit here until you print me up a bill. Once you give me the bill I am going to pay it on the spot.” It was probably an hour to an hour and a half before they managed to print out a bill.
        This is on the heals of my calling once a month for several months to inquire about my bill. I almost think they would have never sent me a bill if I had not camped out in their office.

        Reply
    3. Trix

      I think unless you’re, like, grabbing them by the shirt collar and saying “Pay up or you’re dead meat!”, you’re not going to be a jerk.

      This is a business transaction. They owe payment for services rendered. You are not a jerk for wanting them to pay.

      Maybe something like “Hi Fergus, as you know, I turned in the completed project on DATE, and we still need to get the payment settled. Please get that processed to me by end of day Tuesday.”

      Going forward though, I would absolutely add a specific timeline to your invoice, so instead of “due upon receipt,” which is super vague, something like “payment due within 15 days of invoice date” (or whatever you’re comfortable with/is the norm for your kind of work). Or just don’t hand them the completed project until they are also handing you a check.

      Reply
      1. Karyn

        “I think unless you’re, like, grabbing them by the shirt collar and saying “Pay up or you’re dead meat!”, you’re not going to be a jerk.”

        Don’t think I haven’t considered showing up at their offices with a baseball bat. ;)

        I just feel like such a jerk saying, “You need to pay me on X date” because up til now I’ve been like “oh, no problem, it’s fine.” But that was before I was entirely self-employed and still had a regular paycheck. Now that I’m doing this self-employment thing full time I need to get paid!

        Unfortunately in the legal business I can’t not hand them the finished product, because I’m bound by the same ethical rules as they are, which includes not failing to file stuff for clients. But I did just add automatic reminders to my invoices on my accounting software, so now my invoices are due after 5 days, and then he’ll get automatic reminders every 5 days after that. That way I can be like, “Sorry, my reminders are automatic, they’ll stop as soon as the invoice is settled!”

        Reply
        1. Amy

          Any chance you can set up the automated reminders to be daily? Just thinking of my own inbox–I’ll do a lot to make a daily automated reminder go away!

          Reply
          1. Karyn

            I’ve been tempted, but I suspect the daily reminders would just get deleted and ignored. A five-day is more likely to get their attention because it just comes once… until 15 days at which point they get another nastygram.

            Reply
    4. BF50

      I suspect you are being too nice here.

      The gentle reminders are fine for the first reminder, but you need to have a system where you get progressively more firm. This is business, as long as you are firm and polite, most of the time collecting money due should not burn bridges.

      Also, I’d make sure you are sending regular emails. If they say they will pay on Wednesday and they don’t you need to email them on Thursday and set up reminders to bother them progressively more frequently.

      Also, I’d try to keep your language professional and polite, instead of warm. You almost sound apologetic in your statement above, which is inviting them to walk all over you. I would replace “just wondering” with “please advise” and take about the word “might”. Actually, I’d really try to avoid using “just” in professional emails. “Hi Fergus, Please advise when you will be sending payment” is perfectly appropriate. Then the day after tomorrow, I would send another email with “Payment reminder” in the subject. “Hi Fergus, Can you confirm if payment was sent yesterday? I have not received it. Thanks!”

      Reply
      1. Karyn

        I know I’m being too nice. It’s really hard for me to not be too nice (don’t get me started on my feelings on how women are generally conditioned to be nice, particularly in business).

        I think my complication with this particular attorney (the others I work for are good about payment) is that he is a friend of my mother’s who I then started working with, and I feel a little weirder about making payment demands because of that. But you’re right when you say this is business, and I need to stop being so nice.

        I like what you said about changing up the language. As I mentioned above, I just set up payment reminders in my accounting software that will automatically go out, and hopefully will annoy him enough to make him pay up. But if those don’t work, I’ll send emails myself with the language you suggested – “please advise” is a great idea.

        Reply
    5. Gazebo Slayer

      Client: “Blah blah I’ll pay you later.”

      You: “I’m sorry, that won’t be possible. We agreed that you would pay me by X date and I need the money now. I have rent/mortgage payments and they won’t wait.”

      Definitely seconding Trix: you are NOT being a jerk by insisting on getting paid for the work you’ve done. I once worked for a guy who wouldn’t bug his clients to pay up because he was a “nice guy” and “ethical” and “here to make a living, not a killing” and you know what? He wouldn’t pay us on time (or, often, at all) either. Partly because he was owed so much money he never collected because he was such a “nice guy.” (Partly just because he was a sleaze.)

      Reply
      1. Karyn

        Part of my problem is that I am afraid to admit to him that right now, I have like $70 to my name because he agreed to pay me by X, and it is now Y and I am short because I budgeted based on his agreement. (This will be solved in December, at least partially, after my bankruptcy is discharged). It’s embarrassing to be in the state where you absolutely need that money to live on, but this is where I am.

        Reply
        1. Not So NewReader

          He is the one who should be ashamed, not you. He is freeloading off of you.

          What he is doing to you is ticking me off. My suggestion to you is that if you can’t stop being so nice, then ditch this guy. He’s a user. I have seen people like this they are reeeeally nice so we keep going back and keep working. But when payday comes nothing happens. Really nice does not pay the bills.
          But yeah, watch out for people who use their warmth and kindness as a substitute for your paycheck. There’s people like this out there. I sound cynical but my point is if you are going to do freelance then putting your foot down is part of the job.
          You could explain to him that if he misses one more pay date you will no longer keep working for him. Your bills do not stop just because you did not get paid.

          I hate saying this but some of the nicest people I have worked for were the ones who forgot to pay me. That may have been deliberate or they may have been airheads. The net result is the same, I can’t work for people who forget to pay.

          Reply
      2. RD

        I wouldn’t mention your personal finances. You are trying to keep this professional, so I wouldn’t bring personal issues into it. “That won’t be possible. I need the money now.” is fine. He doesn’t need to know why you need the money. The fact that he owes it and hasn’t paid is reason enough.

        Reply
        1. Karyn

          That was my inclination as well. It’s nobody’s business what my expenses are; but if you’re going to pay late, I at least need to know that. You’d think as a fellow small business owner, he’d understand that…

          Reply
          1. RD

            Now, don’t get me wrong, I love attorneys. Both my parents were attorneys and my grandfather and plenty of friends…

            But… Attorneys can be special snowflakes. Some (not all) of them forget that they are actually running a business because they are working fora higher calling, The Law. Frequently they are so great at the law part, but suck at the business part.

            Working with attorneys is not always the same as working with other businesses. I suppose that’s probably true with other professions that people consider a calling, like small practice doctors.

            Reply
            1. Karyn

              I am a future attorney (god willing I pass this exam…) and I can say with no uncertainty that attorneys should NOT be running their own businesses if they are anything other than a solo practitioner – and even then, if it’s the first business they’ve run on their own, they should hire outside help. Lawyers always think that because they’re smart about the law that they’re also smart about business, and when you get fifteen people who think like that all together… BAD mojo.

              Reply
        2. Rusty Shackelford

          I think there’s a difference between “I really need your payment, I’m broke” (which I wouldn’t ever say) and “Yeah, unfortunately my landlord doesn’t accept your promises as rent” (which I might say to someone who tries to brush me off with “what’s your hurry, you know I’m good for it” or “I’ve been really busy this week but I’ll get to it soon” or something ridiculous like that) because it’s not a statement about your personal finances, just a reminder that we all have bills to pay and that’s why you’re working.

          Reply
    6. BigSigh

      I’m honestly surprised you’re able to get that kind of quick turnaround from anyone! Maybe it’s an industry thing? A lot of people in my circle, myself included (though different industry), aim for net 30 and sometimes get net 60.

      If people aren’t paying, I’d tell that that–because they’re frequently late–you need to revise the contract to add in some late fees. Might not be something you want to do if you’re already just making ends meet. You don’t want to lose them as a client, and that could happen. But hey, it shows them real consequences.

      Reply
      1. Karyn

        I’d expect 30/60 days if this were going through a billing department or something, because I know they take time to pay. But these are individuals, and there’s really no reason they can’t pay on time. I asked around in the meantime, and the advice I got was to either add a 1.5% late fee per month after 30 days, or to offer the 5% discount for payment within 5 days. I’m going to have to weigh my options and see what seems better. After all, why waste my time doing stuff for someone who routinely pays late when I could do MORE stuff for the people who pay on time?

        Reply
        1. CM

          5 days is really tight. Even though they are individuals, they may have a system of going through bills every week or every other week. I like the idea of a 5% discount for 5 days, but otherwise net 15 and then a late fee after that, plus you won’t do work for them if their bill is more than 30 days overdue. I would explain this upfront, and for current customers you can say that you’ve updated your payment policy and send it to them in writing.

          Reply
          1. CM

            Never mind, I didn’t see your proposed terms below. I think what you wrote is good, although I’d still suggest net 15 for on-time payment.

            Reply
            1. Karyn

              I adhere to this idea that if I want something done within 15 days, then I’m going to say 10 (I told my ex husband to show up to our wedding at 4 when it didn’t start til 6 because he had a history of being chronically late). So I won’t actually start charging the late fee til 15 days (as a “courtesy”).

              Reply
    7. Lynxa

      You need to set an actual deadline instead of “due upon receipt”. Attorneys understand deadlines, and you’re giving them too much wiggle room. Start putting “Due on X date. No new work will be performed on accounts more than X days delinquent.” Then you can send a follow up letter saying, “This bill is x days past due, please pay ASAP” instead of “Could you pay me please? You’ve had the bill for x days”.

      Reply
    8. The OG Anonsie

      Two things: One is to have payment dates in your original agreements with these people, and the second is to have actual dates on the bills.

      “Due upon receipt” means, in my experience, that they want it now but there’s no issue for me if I take 30 days. Often the real deadline is 90 days. They don’t like it, but they won’t do anything if I wait. I’m not a jerk and wouldn’t do this to a contractor or small business, but a lot of people are jerks and won’t even consider how much of a problem this will be for the person they owe.

      So first off, establish payment timelines in the original contract, then put those dates in there with the bill. I bill individual people or small businesses net 15 since they can usually make that happen, and I resist people trying to get me to do net 30 but could accept it for some companies with silly accounts payable departments and no flexibility.

      Reply
      1. Karyn

        The best part of being in my field is that I’m allowed to alter my payment terms whenever I want and they can either accept it, or decide not to send me any more work. So here’s what I’ve worked up:

        “As of June 15, 2017, I will be altering my billing terms. Going forward, interest will be charged at 1.5% per month on the unpaid balance if payment is not received within 10 days of billing. You will also receive payment reminders on the fifth and fifteenth day after the invoice has been issued. You may pay me via cash, check, or electronically using the following website: (insert my payment website here). This information will be included on all invoices issued after 6/15/17. Alternate payment terms can also be discussed prior to work being performed. Please let me know if you have any questions.”

        Thoughts?

        Reply
        1. BF50

          I think that is fine. I would be hesitant to actually charge interest, unless you are prepared to burn that bridge, but it is a relatively common business practice to say you will charge interest, but not actually charge it.

          Reply
        2. Emmie

          That’s fine. Why not change just your worst offender’s billing structure? I would charge that attorney up front. You can communicate with him / her by saying “Hi Fergallina: I’ve changed my billing structure [optional: because of some challenges receiving payment from you.] I now require payment in full prior to beginning [or commencing] work. [Optional: If there are every any issues with the work, we can discuss alternations or refunds to the payment.] For this project, I charge a flat fee of $x/ or estimate it will take 10 hours at $x per hour. Once you pay at this link, I’ll email you confirmation and then begin working on Waukeen’s Motion to Dismiss. [Optional: Hope you have a good sailing lesson on Friday, or whatever personal thing is happening.]”

          Reply
          1. Karyn

            I said this above, but: I’m saying 10 when I really mean 15. I just won’t charge the fee until 15. I’ve worked with too many lawyers who think 15 days really means 20. *eyeroll*

            Reply
      1. Karyn

        The ones who DO pay on time do, lol. Of course the ones who don’t pay are the ones who work entirely alone.

        Reply
  16. literateliz

    Okay, here’s my burning question of the week: has anyone seen salary estimates pop up when searching for jobs on Glassdoor and if so WHAT IS UP WITH THEM? I almost wonder if they’re some kind of experimental feature since I feel like I see them so randomly – only on the mobile app and then only sometimes. (They appear over the company icon when I do see them.) Where do they even get that info from?

    Reply
    1. Trix

      I’ve submitted my salary to Glassdoor, both for my new job, and the one I left a month ago. Some of the positions I was looking at had ranges posted, and it was helpful to get an idea of what’s normal, so I wanted to pass on the favor to other job seekers.

      Reply
    2. literateliz

      Just to clarify, I’m not talking about regular salaries people have posted on Glassdoor – I’m talking about salary ESTIMATES that Glassdoor generates for posted jobs. I went through posted salaries for one company and there weren’t any for jobs that were similar to the one posted (e.g. the job with estimated salary was Teapot Engineer and the salaries posted for the company page were all for part-time Teapot Instructors), so it doesn’t seem like something they could just extrapolate from existing data.

      Reply
      1. Zathras

        I assume the estimates are based on the data they have about that role/location/company. I imagine the calculation is something like “the median salary for a Teapot Designer in Gotham City is $50,000, but this company’s salaries in general trend around 10% above the median, so we estimate this will pay around $55,000”.

        Reply
  17. ShyBride

    I’m likely going to become engaged very soon (yay!). Any tips for not getting obnoxious about engagement/wedding planning in the workplace? I’m sure I will get asked about it a lot. I’m pretty open about sharing details about stuff like this, and I’m sure it’ll be on my mind, but I realize it can be really tedious to listen to (we have an open-ish office plan). One of my coworkers recently got married and I got really tired of hearing her talk about her wedding for the year+ she was planning it.

    Reply
    1. Lemon Zinger

      Just keep your discussion of the engagement/wedding planning to a minimum. When people ask questions, answer them, but don’t go into detail and change the subject.

      I applaud you for thinking proactively about this. A woman in my office has been engaged for a while and is planning a MASSIVE wedding and it’s all we hear about! I am exhausted, and I’m not even the bride…

      Reply
      1. ShyBride

        Thanks :) I think it will be hard not to go into detail when people ask, just because I can get pretty chatty especially when it’s something I’m excited about, but I will try my hardest to think of others around me!

        Reply
        1. Zathras

          I think you have some more leeway when people proactively ask, but you still want to match the depth of your answer to the depth of the question. You would answer “So did you get a dress yet?” with less detail than “OMG did you go dress shopping? I want to hear all about it!”

          Reply
          1. ShyBride

            That’s a really good point! I think I’ll plan to (try to) just respond to questions as asked and not go into detail unless people probe.

            Reply
        2. Amy

          If people are actively asking, I think it’s fine to chat about it! It’s when they either didn’t ask, or clearly were just making small talk and now want to change the subject (or need to talk about a work thing!), that you want to back off.

          Reply
    2. Andraste

      Probably don’t talk about it unless asked. If someone *asks* you about planning, that’s a sign they are interested. Otherwise, keep it brief. Think of it like anything else. After coming back to work on Monday after the weekend, you might mention that you saw a movie over the weekend, but probably wouldn’t get in a long detailed conversation about the plot. Think of wedding planning the same way. “I looked at venues this weekend!” is fine watercooler talk, long monologues about the pros and cons of each venue is not so much.

      Congratulations!

      Reply
    3. DivineMissL

      I can understand your excitement about the upcoming engagement (your name already shows that), but I suggest that, for most of your casual work acquaintances, don’t bring it up unless someone specifically asks you about it. My experience has been that most work folks are nowhere near as interested in your wedding as you are. If you have close work friends, you can discuss it more openly, as they are probably a little more interested in your personal life; but if you are discussing it in your open office, keep the wedding talk short and sweet, so as not to annoy the other workers who are hearing it. If you’re out of the office area (break room, out to lunch, etc.) with close work friends, feel free to chatter away!

      Reply
    4. Iris Eyes

      Both of my bosses over the past year have been wedding planning. While I would love to hear any detail they would share (I’m a bit of a wedding geek I suppose) they are generally pretty quiet.

      One of them usually says something to the effect “I try not to think about it at work because then I can’t focus on work since my brain is in wedding world.” I think that lots of wedding talk can definitely read as unprofessional and there’s the whole sex difference thing as women are more likely to talk about and be asked about details.

      Also remember that the more you talk about it with someone the more they will expect to get an invitation.

      Reply
    5. The Unkind Raven

      Congratulations! Thanks for being cognizant of this – I find wedding talk EXTREMELY dull. I don’t really talk about my wedding planning unless someone asks, and I keep it brief. Hearing others talk about theirs is fine to a point but people go overboard fast and then it’s just eyeroll inducing.

      Reply
  18. AdAgencyChick

    Update on getting paid for my freelance work:

    I asked the owner on Friday what the deal was with payday and when we would be paid. He claimed that we all should have been paid on Thursday, but due to a glitch, some people were paid on Friday (I was not one of them), and everyone else should receive their money on Monday.

    Earlyish on Monday morning I removed all of my files from the shared server. My plan was to send him an email on Tuesday saying that I would not do any more work unless paid (note: I had already stopped doing work as of the original due date of Thursday the 1st), and that I would turn over the month’s files (nearly all of which had been worked on in the unpaid invoice period) when I received payment.

    Lo and behold, the direct deposit came through a couple of hours after I deleted the files.

    I really do think this guy is just exceptionally disorganized rather than intending to get something for nothing, although his past history of failing to pay my predecessor on time means I will be keeping a sharp eye on payroll. I enjoy the work enough that I’m not going to fire him as a client for being four days late once, but if this happens on a regular basis I will definitely revisit that possibility.

    Reply
    1. OhNo

      Hooray! I’m glad you got paid.

      Any chance you can make a preemptive strike to ensure that getting you paid on time is on the top of his priority list? Something like telling him that you can appreciate that things happen, but in the future if your pay is more than a day late without notice, you can no longer have him as a client? For seriously disorganized people, sometimes all they need is the threat of consequences to get their act together.

      Reply
    2. Luv the pets

      If you really like the work, and need the funds, you could also set up a contract with him that requires payment of $x amount in advance (maybe based on an average expected payment) if he pays late again. Just a thought…

      Reply
    3. Camellia

      I would be inclined to keep the files OFF the shared server until you had been paid. That way, if it happens again you are already ‘covered’, so to speak.

      Reply
      1. Rainbow Hair Chick

        At my place of employment they actually test the direct deposit and deposit $0.01 in to your account before pay day. This way they can ensure nothing goes wrong with your actual pay. I thought this was pretty smart thing to do.

        Reply
  19. Ex-supervisor is being downright nasty to our new employee

    How should I deal with my ex-supervisor being totally rude to our new hire (my replacement)? I recently got promoted from a customer service role, to a sales role. Our new customer service rep, who is a quiet, reserved man in his mid 20’s, is constantly being pushed around and embarrassed by my old supervisor. She’s known to be a brute, harsh woman (who is in her mid 50’s.) For some background, we are in a very small office, so I still oversee everything that goes on in my old position, and still do some work with the new customer service rep, and my old supervisor.

    To cite some examples – we had a solicitor come into the front office where the customer service rep sits during New Guy’s first week of work. New Guy went into my ex-supervisor’s office and asked her who to direct the solicitor to. She said to New Employee ‘Ugh, do NOT bother me with solicitors, I don’t want to deal with them.” She said this not only loud enough for me to hear from across the office, but loud enough for the solicitors to hear loud and clear. Being a new employee, New Guy’s obvious instinct was to ask his supervisor how he should handle the solicitor’s question. Not only did she embarrass him, but everyone else who happened to be in the office, and the solicitors all heard the exchange.

    During New Guy’s second week on work, we had a small meeting with about 5 of us in the office. When New Guy entered the conference room for the meeting, my ex-supervisor said “um, why are you in here without your headset? Obviously you need to wear it to answer calls while we’re in here. Who did you think was going to answer the phone if you’re in this meeting? It’s not going to answer itself.” It was very uncomfortable for the rest of us in the conference room, watching him get embarrassed.

    I just feel bad for New Guy. He’s done pretty good work so far, and I’d hate for my old supervisor to push him out, as she has done to employees in the past. His personality is one in which I can tell he is never going to stand up for himself, which will just drive my old supervisor to walk all over him ever more. Do I have the standing to talk to my old supervisor about her behavior? For context, her and I had a good working relationship when I was in the customer service role. She appreciated the good work I did, but didn’t boss me around like I’ve seen her do to other employees, because she knew I’d stand up for myself.

    Reply
    1. Nea

      If you think she’d listen, you could give it a try. Or you could speak up if you’re in the room when she’s at him and deflect her – “Your point is made; now realize he can’t get the headphones while you keep talking to him.”

      But the one person who’s really going to listen, I think, is New Guy. You’ve got a great opportunity to pull him aside at some point and say “Hey. Everyone knows what she’s like. Here’s how I survived it and got her respect.” Quiet, reserved people are writing here all the time to get scripts to use in awkward situations, and it sounds like you’ve got a lot of experience delivering exactly what she needs to hear to back off.

      Reply
      1. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

        This is really excellent advice. Help New Guy feel comfortable and confident in his position, and when she is rude in public, call her out on it. She is not your boss and New Guy doesn’t have the capital to stand up to her and retain his job, so you are in an excellent position to call her out on her unprofessional behavior.

        Reply
    2. SaviourSelf

      Unfortunately I don’t think this is your problem to solve. You aren’t the supervisor of your old supervisor or of New Guy, right?

      I guess you could pull New Guy aside and give him some pointers or friendly suggestions but ultimately I don’t think you have much standing to change this.

      Reply
    3. The Other Dawn

      This is tough to witness. I’ve been in the same situation. My boss at Old Job was exactly the same way. She treated everyone else in my department like a child and could be very condescending (she liked to roll her eyes, too), but for some reason she never treated me like that. Probably because I would stand up for myself. Whenever she started getting even a little bit out of hand, I just kind of spoke firmly back to her in a no-nonsense way to try and let her know she wasn’t going to pull her crap on me. But it was really awful to see others treated like children. And they just took it. I tried to talk to them a couple times and I guess they just didn’t want to rock the boat. They would just agree with her or stay silent and go do whatever it is she wanted them to do.

      I’d talk to New Guy, not your old boss. People who act like your old boss seem to be in denial that they act this way (my old boss was called on it several times by management and had 150% turnover in her department in one year, yet she couldn’t figure out what the problem was and why no one wanted (and wants) to work for her) and it’s ingrained in them; they’re not likely to change.

      Reply
    4. WellRed

      I am having trouble wrapping my head around someone sitting in a meeting and answering calls while people are trying to … have a meeting. This makes me think she just doesn’t like him.

      Reply
      1. Zathras

        Seriously, either this guy needs to be in the meeting, in which case there should be phone coverage so he can concentrate on the meeting, or he doesn’t need to be there and you are wasting his time.

        If you have the standing to speak up publicly in New Guy’s defense that might be nice, but I like the idea of pulling him aside. Even if all you can say is “That’s what she’s like, try not to take it too personally, and I found it actually helped to push back”, it can be helpful (especially as the new person) to know that the people you’re being publicly shamed in front of don’t necessarily believe you deserve it.

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

      Is old Supervisor still your boss? If not, then I would pull her to the side and tell her to ease up. But also saying something in the moment when she is being incredibly rude is also effective. You can give her a small taste of her own medicine by simply saying something like “Was that really necessary/called for?” Also, let New Guy know that he is doing good work and not everyone is a bully.

      Reply
    6. Thlayli

      I think giving him some pointers about how you stood up to her is the best option. Asking her in private to lay off him is unlikely to help and may even lead to her getting even nastier in some screwed up retaliation. A third possibility is to actually say something to her in front of him and others.

      It seems like in her desire to upset this poor guy she’s going so far she’s not doing her job properly. So you can address that without putting any focus on newguy.

      E.g. If she said something like that in the next meeting you could actually say, as WellRed pointed out “if he needs to be in the meeting, then we should arrange for someone else to answer the phone”. Or something similar. Or you could point out to her that she shouted about solicitors loud enough for the solicitor to hear.

      If she responds well to that then you could potentially say something to her about how she treats newguy. But if she responds badly then definitely don’t mention newguy as it will only anger her more towards him.

      Reply
  20. GOG11

    The question about how to address ring braces for EDS prompted a request for a meet up here in the Friday thread to discuss how to work with EDS. To borrow hEDS Academic’s excellent wording, “Work accommodations. Flex scheduling and OT/ PT. Disclosing in or after interviews (or at all). What do you do on really bad days?” So, how do all you AAMers with EDS (or JHS, joint hypermobility syndrome, or HSD, hypermobility spectrum disorder) survive and thrive in the work place? Share your tips, tricks, and strategies here. I’m sure there’s a lot we can learn from each other.

    Reply
    1. The OG Anonsie

      Man. My unhelpful advice: Only work jobs with supervisors and direct colleagues who don’t care if you’re flexing your schedule around or working from home. Having a job with unsympathetic people who are always scrutinizing you makes your health and your whole life SO MUCH WORSE. I know getting a great job isn’t an easy option but oh my god I don’t know how much anyone can thrive otherwise. The difference in my health and happiness and productivity the first time I got this was insane.

      I eventually was able to move to contracting so I make my own schedule. This is iffy because it means buying insurance on the exchange in a state that has gutted out as much public support for health care as possible, so if I wasn’t being highly paid I couldn’t afford to do this. If you can get good insurance through someone else, that opens up doors and options even if you can’t bill a stupid amount per hour. I thought the instability would stress me more but it doesn’t, I feel freeeeeeeee

      More practical advice: get intermittent FMLA for your appointments and any time away even if you don’t need to miss work that often. Protect yourself.

      Get a good massage therapist. “But I’m worried about how the hypermobility–” no guys, really. If you’re prone to insane dislocations this will be harder to find but folks that know how to deal with hypermobile patients are out there. If you don’t get a lot of weird dislocations than anyone talented with a sport massage is for you. Despite being extra bendy, a lot of us do get stiff and/or misalign or mislearn joint placement. Even if you see a physical therapist, seeing a massage therapist can make a world of difference.

      Salonpas patches!!

      They make USB powered warming mittens and slippers. They are cheap on Amazon and if you work in a cold office, they can save your shit. Also consider wearing undergarments (like undershirts) made for cold weather sports if you get cold. If you get hot, get the opposite kind. You can get plain tshirts with cooling fabrics or that retain extra heat from sporting goods and outdoor gear stores.

      Try reformer pilates to build supportive muscles without hurting yourself. I have yet to get an injury doing this (I am crazy prone to them) for two months now several times a week. The help in core support has been massive.

      See if you can find someone to teach you how to KT tape any joints that need support but maybe don’t need braces. My old PT taught me how to tape my back and knees, super helpful.

      Reply
      1. straws

        Seconding supportive coworkers and kt tape! I love my tape. I also use these glove/wrist support things that are awesome for typing when I need a little support, but I’m not at full brace levels. The ones I have are “Mueller Sports Medicine Compression Wrist Support Gloves” on Amazon.

        I love the usb warming gloves in winter, but I can only wear them for short stints before I start to develop minor burns.

        Reply
      2. Woah

        I have KT tape on my neck right now! Gotta love cervical-cranio instability.

        I left social services and returned to academia because I needed the type of flexibility that academia can afford in terms of scheduling, and I felt bad with how much my former job was doing to accommodate me. I also think I was being viewed as less professional there since I just couldn’t do the schedule reliably without a lot of pain.

        The “to disclose or not to disclose” question is always a burden- I didn’t disclose in my current position until a super mysterious sounding injury sort of necessitated it. Everyone’s been great, but I still fret about being seen as less capable.

        My PT used the Muldowney Protocol and NeuroMuscular Reeducation. She’s changed my life!I think I’m taller…

        Reply
        1. GOG11

          If you don’t mind my asking, what area of academia are you in? I work at a university and there hasn’t been much flexibility as far as scheduling goes, so I’m wondering if there’s a better area I could look into.

          Reply
          1. Woah

            I’m an associate in a lab (so not quite a tech, but not quite an investigator) in a specialized neurology field! I’m also working on a part of an advance degree.
            I think is partially depends on the lab and on not being in a front facing position- if I was the department coordinator (which I think could be a really cool job someday…) I’d have very little flexibility. But my job is happy to let me do computer work from home, if we’re skyping in to a meeting I can skype from home and, as long as I complete the work by the time frame it can be in the lab from 9-5 or at home at two am after an ER visit. I’m really lucky…but it does have some downsides of feeling like my life it too permeable sometimes.

            Reply
        2. The OG Anonsie

          Yeah, I left healthcare for tech because I needed support and flexibility. Hilariously, healthcare is a field where people with disabilities are generally unwelcome even if it doesn’t impact your job much or at all. One of my managers told me she didn’t believe I could have a chronic illness because I was too young… We worked in a pediatric department.

          Reply
    2. AlaskaKT

      So not just for work, but TENS machines are amazing. It basically kept my able to work a 9-5 for a long time (no sick time at old job). Regular stretching and PT helped a lot. Old job was security and required opening 50 h-e-a-v-y doors roughly 6 times a shift, a long with a lot of walking and typing. My shoulders are my worst joints and I’ve dislocated them repeatedly to the point of nerve pain/damage. On days that one or the other was really hurting I’d wear a tight sling to remind me not to use that arm.

      I’ve never had a massage, I’ll have to get one! I was lucky enough to find a chiropractor who worked with hypermobility issues while I was pregnant. Unfortunatly I’ve had allergic reactions to all the tape my orthopedic surgeon has tried taping me with.

      Also, turmeric. It does amazing things for joint inflammation for me!

      Reply
      1. straws

        turmeric is amazing! I eat it in my eggs every morning.
        A Facebook group I’m in praises a barrier spray/cream for tape application, but I’m not sure if it helps for an allergic reaction. Most tape will tear my skin on removal. I was going to look into it until I found spider tape, which works well for me.
        What kind of PT did you do? I haven’t find anywhere that knew EDS, and I always ended up injured. It’s too expensive to just experiment with.

        Reply
        1. AlaskaKT

          I never tried barrier spray, but I don’t think it would work for allergies.

          My orthopedic surgeon set me up with PT that involves strengthening muscles around joints, mainly my shoulders. I do specific resistance band exercises, since my tendons/ligaments aren’t working right the muscles help hold everything together. It might not work for everyone (and it’s not perfect), but it works for me.

          Reply
    3. Owl

      Because of the POTS/MCAS complications in my case I disclose you muy boss early. But I have a mild case.

      Reply
  21. SNS

    I’ve kind of been haunted by this letter last week (http://www.askamanager.org/2017/05/i-found-out-that-two-of-my-employees-have-been-ridiculing-a-coworker-behind-his-back.html). I frequently use our messaging apps to rant about one particular coworker to another. Occasionally what we say can get a little mean, but I’ve never thought of it as bullying, just venting. Since reading the comments, I’m trying to stop, but there are still times when the coworker is jumping up and down on my last nerve and I just need to complain to somebody. Any suggestions on how to work these frustrations out in a less toxic way?

    Reply
    1. SaviourSelf

      I try to not complain about a coworker to another coworker. To me, it is a vicious cycle and tends to lead everyone to being demoralized. It often happens without you noticing.

      I totally get needing to vent about a coworker. Is there someone else to whom you could vent? A friend, significant other, etc?

      Reply
      1. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend

        I agree that a friend or SO is better than venting to a coworker. Also, it’s best to not have a written record of your venting. An acquaintance of mine had all of her archived messenger conversations shared around her office, and she had been saying less than kind things about her coworkers.

        Reply
      2. Doug Judy

        Agree, vent to someone not at work. Complaining about the same coworker continually to other coworkers can start to cloud your assessment of the person and the situation. Are they really that bad or have they just become your BEC.

        Plus it’s disrespectful, and often the coworker knows others are talking about them. Vent to people with no dog in the fight, but also reflect on if you’re been too critical just because they annoy you. Being annoying doesn’t justify mean comments.

        Reply
      3. SNS

        Yeah, I’ve vented to friends before. It’s, of course, always easier with a coworker since they already know the details, versus having to explain the whole situation to a friend, but since most of my friends have a fairly good sympathetic ear, I could probably take advantage of it more

        Reply
    2. OhNo

      Can you try the old trick of writing an email/letter/message but never sending it? That might satisfy your need to vent, but if you don’t save it or send it then no one ever has to know it existed.

      If that doesn’t work for you, and it has to be a back-and-forth, how do you feel about sarcasm? Tone doesn’t stick to a chat transcript, so if you’re communicating with someone who knows you’re being sarcastic, you can leave nice phrases on the transcript but still know that you’re point is getting across.
      (As an example, my coworkers and I sometimes use understatement as a form of venting. When discussing a question that is truly stupid, we might say, “That request is really something” or “Well, that’s interesting”. We all know what we mean, but to anyone overhearing it sounds perfectly polite and professional.)

      Reply
      1. SNS

        I could definitely try that! As long as I remember to use my personal email and not my work one lol.

        And I’ve definitely done the sarcasm approach with coworkers before haha. Will probably have to keep that idea as a backup if I’m not able to completely adjust my habits.

        Reply
        1. zora

          For the ‘message I never send’ I open gmail in a browser, and I type into a draft email with no recipient. That way I can’t accidentally send it anywhere.

          Reply
        2. Girasol

          Journaling works too, as long as you keep it on a USB drive not a company system, and you don’t ever walk away with it visible on screen, and your company doesn’t monitor with screen scrapes or keystroke logging. I’ve found a great deal of comfort in blowing off steam in a journal. You look like you’re typing busily when you’re doing it, too, which is great when you’re so frustrated that you can’t face work but you still need to keep up appearances.

          Reply
    3. Rache

      If possible, take a walk and vent verbally. Limit the walks to shorter and shorter time periods to wean yourself off of the habit. Try texting someone that you don’t work with (significant other?). Every time you catch yourself typing a complaint – try and imagine that coworker reading over your shoulder.

      Honestly I’ve done the same, and some days it just feels SO necessary to get it off your chest.

      Reply
      1. JulieBulie

        This was going to be my suggestion – go for a walk.
        If that’s not an option, another thing I do is start Googling things like “coworker won’t shut up” (that’s probably what brought me to AAM in the first place) or “coworker won’t forking sit down” or “I wish people would go home if they don’t have any work to do.” Reading other people’s rants about this kind of stuff makes me feel a little better.

        Reply
        1. Your Weird Uncle

          Stuff like that is DEFINITELY what brought me to AAM in the first place! (And 18 months later I’m still on AAM, and coworker is still annoying me, but that’s another story….)

          Reply
      2. SaviourSelf

        I love the walk and talk to yourself approach! I’m going to have to start using it myself. My significant other thanks you as he’ll now hear a lot less venting form me about work issues/people.

        Reply
        1. Mechabear

          Yeah, I found I was dumping on my family a lot so now I have a Slack (personal acct) chat with myself. Lets me get it out without perpetuating the negativity :)

          Reply
      3. SNS

        That’s a good idea! Days where coworker really gets on my nerves, I’ve definitely vented to myself in the car on the drive home, so I might do that more

        Reply
    4. Jax

      I type things out on Twitter, which makes me condense my rage into 140 characters. Most of the time it takes to long to succinctly state my anger/outrage/annoyance that my anger/outrage/annoyance has dissipated and then I delete whatever I have written.
      (Obviously if you decide to post to social media don’t use names or anything identifying. My twitter account is fairly anonymous and no one I know in real life follows it. If that doesn’t work for you then drafting an email from your personal account and then deleting it might also help.)

      Reply
    5. The OG Anonsie

      I’m a venter. I have to talk about things to get them OUT of my head and calm down about it. In the comments on that post there were quite a few people who didn’t believe me that for some of us, talking makes us calm down and go back to thinking reasonably. Just doing it with another coworker is potentially problematic– I disagree that it’s bullying, but it’s a bad idea.

      I vent to my boyfriend, honestly. This is possible because he’s also this way and we can let the steam out about work to each other and neither one is bothered. We also know enough to follow the ongoing narratives of problems, haha.

      Reply
    6. Jules the Third

      Is it possible for you to reframe your feelings about the coworker? For example, is there anything about the coworker that is valuable to you and their job? Are the things that drive you crazy an extension of the valuable things?

      For example, a salesperson who talks a lot and schmoozes well can drive me crazy when I’m trying to fulfill her promises. But those promises are what the customer really wants, so that is some valuable information she got for me. In real life, I value my husband for his spontaneity and ability to check out a lot of different angles on something; he gets me out of my blinkered vision. His clutter is part of it, so I now cordon off an area for it. He values me for my planning ability and stability, but has had to learn to give me time to reset when plans change.

      Sometimes, finding value in people is a choice you can make. I mean, yeah, sometimes they just suck, but sometimes the stuff you dislike overwhelms stuff that’s actually valuable, and by choosing to focus on their *value*, you have less of an urge to vent.

      Reply
      1. SNS

        Yeah, the coworker that drives me crazy is a really nice guy, and I’ve been trying to remind myself this past week that his annoying behaviours (asking repetitive questions to me and then other coworkers, reading emails out loud, narrating his actions, etc) are probably stemming from him just trying to do his job as well as he can, but I still find myself doodling ‘shut up’ on my notepad as he talks sometimes

        Reply
        1. AnotherLibrarian

          Have you told him how much his running monologue bothers you? I tend to teak to myself. I confess this openly and sometimes I don’t realize I’m doing it. I certainly hope it doesn’t bother anyone and I always try to apologize when I realize I’ve been doing it, but I do it.

          Reply
          1. SNS

            I know I probably should but I’m awful at confrontation! It also comes off more like an awkward attempt at engaging at conversation than a monologue, so I’m not sure how to phrase it.

            Reply
            1. OtterB

              That might be your in. Tell him that you realize he’s probably just talking to himself but it’s distracting because you’re never sure whether he’s talking to you and you should be listening, so could he try to keep it down?

              Reply
    7. Thlayli

      Messaging apps belonging to company are almost always stored and can be read by it/your boss at any time. Same as company email. It’s not a private communication. So definitely stop putting it in writing. Do it verbally if you have to do it at all.

      I don’t agree with the idea that talking about someone behind their back is bullying. If you are nice to their face then it doesn’t hurt them. (It does make you two-faced, but not a bully).

      However the more you do it the more likely it is they will overhear or see it.

      Reply
    8. Not So NewReader

      I am not a fan of venting because it seems to keep the anger/upset alive. I think that dwelling on the issue and not doing anything about it causes upset to escalate.
      Just my opinion, though.

      Myself, I find it sooo very easy to fall into the habit of rambling on about how annoying this or that is. I don’t like me that much when I get in this rut.

      I made up a few tools for myself.

      1) Remind myself that I don’t like myself when I get dragged down into petty stuff.
      2) I tell myself that I have to say something to the person directly before I can talk with other people. I love this one. It makes me work on word choice. As I went along I got better at this and I find I can say more things to people. Sometimes I can use humor to get my point across.
      3) Own it. I know me, I know what types of things bug me. I need to say something BEFORE I am ticked. If a cohort is dancing on my last nerve then I have waited too long to say something. I should have spoke up while the situation was manageable for me.
      4) Lastly, I beef up what I am doing. If someone’s whistling or whatever is getting to me, then I may have to much brain space available to dwell on it. I try to fill up my time better so that I am more engaged and focused on my work. I also know that lack of rest makes me more vulnerable to being irritated by some things.

      I know as part of stopping myself from venting, I could not let people dump their vents on me. I was picking up their frustration and bringing it in to my own situations. I try to get solution oriented with venters. This works out well because they will start to do the same to me. And we both win, we both end up finding solutions or finding ways to minimize a problem.

      Reply
    9. Close Bracket

      I used to write sarcastic emails to a friend (using my work account) as though I were writing to the offender:

      Dear Offender Code Name,

      For the love of god, stop telling the story about the aardvark to everyone who stops by your desk. I’ve heard it three times now. I don’t need to hear it a fourth.

      Love,
      Me

      I guess I should have used my personal account, so you could try that. I did use a code name, but there was only person who had an aardvark story, so if those emails had been revealed, it would have been obvious who I was talking about.

      In this day and age, you could just text a friend. Or your coworker. Keep it short and snarky.

      Reply
  22. all aboard the anon train

    So, I’m going on vacation for 7 days starting next Friday and my manager is punishing me for it. All my projects are complete through mid-July and everything else is in a holding pattern so the coworkers who are covering won’t have to do anything except maybe answer one or two emails that come in.

    My manager won’t stop hassling me about projects that aren’t due for a few more months because he’s worried my vacation means they won’t get done. And he’s been complaining to one of the coworkers that’s covering for me that I’m being unreasonable for going on such a long vacation because what happens if something blows up?

    There are 6 other people on my team and I’ve been told that any projects they get assigned while I’m out, I’m going to have to handle when I get back. So, essentially, I’ll be getting the work of six other people as punishment for vacation.

    I’ve been annoyed by my manager for awhile, but the two things that bother me are that if he didn’t want me to take this vacation, he should have just denied my request. It’s really childish imo to approve something and then complain about that very thing you approved. And the other two teams on my department have managers who don’t care at all when people go on week long vacations. The upper management in the department are so conflict avoidant and complaining about how my manager is treating me would just result in my manager finding out and treating me. worse.

    I’m honestly at the point where I want to go on vacation and then come back and quit.

    Reply
    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      If your projects don’t get done because you have a scheduled vacation, then something is wrong with the system or the way he delegates. If you going away for ONE WEEK means the world is on fire, then… he has issues. I hate this attitude so much. Week-long vacations are normal and good for everyone’s soul.

      I went on a week-long vacation last year, came back, cried for half a week, and ended up leaving with nothing lined up. It was the worst vacation ever, because all I did was think about how shitty my workplace was. I hope you are not there, but if you are, then yes, quitting is worth some serious consideration if you can swing it. (I didn’t expect to quit with no notice, but my manager thought it would be best, and I got severance. I was lucky.)

      Reply
      1. all aboard the anon train

        Right? He’s like this even when people take one day off. Why approve my vacation time if he doesn’t think I should take it?

        I definitely am at the point of wanting to quit because I’m already so stressed about what he’s going to do that I can’t sleep at night. I just think it’s pretty awful for someone to believe that a week long vacation is unreasonable.

        Reply
    2. Another person

      This sounds like a good candidate for one of those “your boss sucks and isn’t going to change” posts.

      It’s better if you can find a new job before you quit, but yes, this sounds like some weird passive aggressive punishment and if upper management doesn’t care it’s only going to get worse.

      I think you should enjoy your vacation and start your job search as soon as you get back.

      Reply
      1. all aboard the anon train

        I’ve been job searching for over a year now. A lot of second and third round interviews, but no luck.

        And yeah, I realized awhile ago that our personalities clash and I can’t deal with micro-managing and the passive aggressive punishment. It’s one of those “you’re our team rockstar and I trust you, but then I’m going to punish you for that” situations.

        Reply
        1. Another person

          Oh those are the worst; I’ve had the bad luck to have two of those. In my experience, quitting your job is something they tend to take personally too so the notice period is not fun. I’d be cautious about using this kind of boss as a reference unless necessary; I found out mine were highly complimentary about absolutely everything except one little concern that might actually matter to a prospective employer (and that concern was news to me).

          I hope your manager grows up but in my experience if higher level managers don’t step in, things don’t change. Best wishes in your search.

          Reply
          1. all aboard the anon train

            Yeah, I’m definitely not using him as a reference. I have managers from previous jobs and a different manager from this current company who I’ll use instead. I definitely worry that this manager would hold a grudge or say something petty.

            Reply
    3. WellRed

      “Vacation is part of my benefits package. You approved the time off and my projects are all handled. What are you concenred about?”
      Won’t change anything likely, but

      Reply
      1. Taylor Swift

        I might even say “compensation” instead of “benefits package” to make it sound less like just some perk and more like something you are rightfully entitled to use.

        Reply
      2. Not So NewReader

        I like this.

        You have a manager who does not believe in his own ability to manage people. That is why he has decided it is the end of the world because you are going on vacation for one week. A manager with abilities would be delighted that you are taking time off to rest and recharge.

        I have worked for people like this and they seem to enjoy their own drama/suffering. It could be that if you try to fix this, it will get worse because he feels you did not validate his concern. Or you are minimizing his struggles and his eligibility for sainthood for putting up with it all.

        The mind-bending part here is that this has nothing to do with you and everything to do with HIM.

        Under this theory, good responses would be, “I will take care of it when I come back boss.” OR, “It will be okay, Boss. We will get it done.” I don’t want to encourage you to talk to him like he is five years old, but I will say, it might feel like you are consoling a crying child, in order to do this effectively.

        This is a person who lets his emotions lead him through life. I would not be surprised to hear he has impulsive things he does in his personal life that throw his personal life into disarray. Understanding that this is part of his overall approach to live, may help give you a useful overview of what is happening here and how to respond to it.

        You might be able to work into conversation some encouragement for him to take his own vacation. Look for opportunities to encourage him that vacation time is good for everyone, including him.

        I see you have been job hunting. Is it possible for you to change departments within your company?

        Reply
    4. NoNameYet

      Not sure if this helps you at all but I am in a similar position, and it’s kind of getting better? So for the first couple years I was in my job I only took a day off here or there because my manager emphasized that she “can’t” take week-long vacations (therefore, implicitly, I couldn’t). We are a team of two so at first this seemed reasonable… ish. Well, surprise! She did eventually take a week-long vacation… but of course this option was not extended to me.

      Summer is a busy time in our office, and there are a lot of major deadlines to hit. That having been said, there is a space of about a week every summer where it’s slow for me, and so last year I requested that time off with a “good reason” (family obligation). She grumbled but approved the time off… and then, not unlike you, started demanding I finish certain projects early and make progress on things that weren’t going to be due for a whole month after I returned! Um, ridiculous, there was plenty of time to finish them after I returned. To placate her I finished a couple priority projects over two weeks in advance and left.

      My boss handled my return surprisingly well, I think she realized the world didn’t end. I’ve been working on taking more long weekends when possible… and this year I informed her that I planned to take a week off during the same time again and she approved my request without any grumbling or questioning why (!) I wanted to take the time off. So… maybe it just takes doing it once?

      Good luck, I hope your manager gets over it… and don’t let it ruin your vacation!

      Reply
      1. all aboard the anon train

        I’d like to think so, but he’s acted this way with anyone else who has taken a week long vacation, so I’m note hopeful. The thing is, everyone on my team is pretty good about getting work done and not letting their coverage do their work, so it’s a ridiculous worry. He claims that if projects come in, me being out will leave them scrambling, but there are six other people on the team to take them and it’s not like we’re busy enough that we’re going to get slammed with 100 projects in one week.

        Reply
        1. Not So NewReader

          You may have to make him think a little. And you can do this by saying, “Have we failed you yet, Boss? Do we regularly let you down?”

          Reply
    5. Synonymous

      Is he a new manager? Not that it makes what he is doing ok, but it would explain it. I remember being horrified when my dad told me about him being a new manager and wanting to deny people’s vacation because HOW WILL THE WORK BE DONE WITHOUT YOU!?!?!?!? Luckily, he realized he was being crazy and got over it. Maybe you’re just the guinea pig?

      Reply
      1. all aboard the anon train

        Nah. He’s been a manager for a few years now. He just tends to stress out about anything or everything and gets annoyed when everyone else isn’t stressed out about the same thing.

        Reply
  23. Almond Joy

    I just wanted to thank Allison and the commentariat here for all the great advice!

    In the beginning of May I was laid off (job eliminated and department closed). Next week I begin a new job with a small non-profit. While maybe not my dream job, the job sounds great, stable with room for growth, better benefits, met my salary requirements and there were no red flags during the interview process. In fact, they liked me so much they pushed through the interview process as I was about to leave on vacation.

    My one bit of advice to others is to really think about and practice a response to the question why you picked “this” job to apply to. This came up in a few of the interviews I did have. I feel like I knocked it out of the park in the interview for the job I accepted. Practice is really key for the interview process regardless of how experienced you might think you are in interviewing.

    Thanks again Allison for helping all of us job seekers with really practical advice.

    Reply
    1. Close Bracket

      > My one bit of advice to others is to really think about and practice a response to the question why you picked “this” job to apply to.

      I hate that question so much. “Since I was 5 years old and my mother set up my first tea party with my stuffed rabbit and American Girls doll, I knew that teapot design was for me. All through grade school, I drew teapots in the margins of my textbooks, each one more whimsical than the last. I have been in sugar bowl design for the last 5 years, but my passion for teapots never left. I want the position of Senior Staff Teapot Designer so badly I can taste it, and if offered the position, I will devote myself to teapot design with heart and soul.”

      Seriously. Truth is, I like eating regular meals and sleeping indoors, the commute works for me, there’s a bagel place next door, and honestly, it’s not like the jump from sugar bowls to teapots is that big.

      People expect waaay too much from applicants.

      Reply
      1. OtterB

        Eh. I ask that of applicants, usually in the form of what about the job description appealed to them, if they remember. If they don’t remember, that’s okay; I know people apply to lots of things. (These are usually interviewees for “program assistant” type positions.) Mostly I’m looking for some indication of interest in what we do.

        Reply
  24. Anon for this Q

    I worked very slightly with someone at a previous job, we’ll use Wakeen.

    This job was very, very stressful and neither of us was at our best. Wakeen was fired for losing his temper with a member of the public (from what I know he was a great employee otherwise).

    I was frankly irritable with everyone at the time and hadn’t yet learned the importance of building relationships instead of only focusing on processes.

    Fast forward some time and we’re both key members of an important project. We had our first meeting and I could tell we both felt awkward.

    Should I say something to ease it, or let tension defuse on its own? If I say​ something, what and how?

    Reply
    1. Lefty

      Is there something about your old job that you heard Wakeen was particularly good at? Maybe a quick (genuine) compliment could be an easy step to show you’re not focused on why he lost his job and give him a view of you now (instead of your admittedly irritable side from the last job).

      “Hey Wakeen! I’m glad to see that you’re involved in the glazing on this project- you were always so great with glazes at OldJob. I am excited to dig into this spout sizing part- that’ll be new for me!”

      Reply
    2. JulieBulie

      Just greet him in a friendly way and ask what he’s been up to. He may or may not remember you as an irritable person, but it will be easier on both of you if you make the first overture and keep it positive.

      If he brings up some negative incident from the past, that’s your chance to apologize for it if you want to. But if he doesn’t, I don’t think you need to mention it either.

      Reply
      1. Anon for this Q

        Thanks for the advice! I wasn’t sure if it was better to let the awkwardness pass on its own or do something.

        Reply
    3. Not So NewReader

      I had a cohort at one toxic place and we had an awkward relationship because we were pitted against each other. The boss went as far as telling us lies about what the other person said about one of us.

      If the topic of Old Job comes up, shoot for common ground. “Gosh, it’s nice to be working in a less stressful place, eh?’ OR, “I liked everyone I worked with, but I guess it did not show too often because of all the stress.” Something like, “It’s good to have that job in the rear view mirror, right?” might be enough to settle things down.

      I am fine with my ex-cohort now. We actually hug each other in greeting. People do recognize how their circumstance ate them up.

      Reply
  25. Normally A Lurker

    Hi all!
    I have a resume question. I went to two grad schools, but only graduated from one of them. I finished the course work on the other, and wrote a rough draft of my thesis, but never finished it.

    I used to just leave it off, bc I was working while I was doing that degree so there isn’t a gap in my resume without it.

    However, in my last round of job applications, there are some skills I learned/did there that would be very relevant to my application. (Like helping to plan an international academic conference).

    How do I list a non-degree granting grad degree on my resume?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Anony Mouse

      Answers will differ depending on who you talk to, but I would add your unfinished studies at the bottom of your education section. For example, on my resume it says: “Doctoral research in History of Teapot Design, University, 2012-2012.” I’ve heard it’s better to avoid using “ABD,” but I expect that’s a matter of personal preference.

      Reply
  26. Victoria, Please

    Sooooo proud of my team! They were just named the 2017 Outstanding Department at our university! They really are pretty darn awesome. Honestly I don’t know what I would do if I suddenly got put in charge of a dysfunctional team like some of the ones we read about here — since my experience is entirely with this group of dedicated, hard-working, cooperative, NICE superstars!

    Congratulations to them (and a teeny bit to me, for having the presence of mind to put in the award application).

    Reply
    1. GOG11

      Congratulations to you and your team! Having moved from a dysfunctional university area into one that is awesome, I can say that my life is much, much happier now that I work with awesome performers who are also nice, reasonable people.

      Reply
  27. JLK in the ATX

    Taketh – Giveth – Taketh

    TAKETH Tuesday 2pm: Received an email cancelling an interview I had spent a week preparing for an interview because they found their candidate (or they ‘think’ they did :) – humor dulls the pain

    GIVETH: Tuesday 3pm: Received an email for a phone interview the same date/time as the previously cancelled interview. This interview went very well more so since, although I had done local salary research on the position ($35-38K) he asked, “The salary range for this is $50-60K does that fit into your desired pay range?” After choking down a HELL YEAH, I said, “Yes that fits into my desired pay range.” (SQUEEEE) This is a non-profit, but they also received a $20M bump in their funding (from the state), much of which is re-granted to affiliates.

    TAKETH: Husband has the potential for two job offers, in the next month, outside of where we live, so we might be moving again (our collective 26th move).

    It’s Friday – we’re both unemployed – we’re taking the day off!

    Reply
  28. FiredFiance

    Hi folks – looking for some advice here. My fiancé was fired last week. He worked at a small (as in, 6 total people small – three owners, two analysts, and one sales person – and 3 of them are related) company and when one of the owners (who he had been told is not his direct supervisor, but an owner nonetheless) asked him to do something he disagreed with (and fiancé was right on), he pushed back. However, the owner was being disrespectful and fiancé was so fed up with them, he responded in kind. Not the smartest move, but it is what it is and the owner fired him. For a little more backstory, fiance has been miserable working there for a while and was starting to job search. So it wasn’t just this incident that prompted him to respond rudely – this guy has been a jerk for a long time and fiancé has just put up with it. One other analyst quit last year because of the way this guy treated her. I am not trying to excuse how he acted (and neither is he), but how can he best explain this in interviews moving forward? We were thinking something along the lines of “I was asked to do something I didn’t agree with. I let my emotions get the best of me and responded in kind to how I was being treated. I should have let the situation diffuse before I responded, which is how I would normally handle something like this. I am typically very even-keeled so I think I surprised myself as much as anyone.” Thoughts? Advice? TIA!

    Reply
    1. INeedANap

      “I was asked to do something I didn’t agree with. I let my emotions get the best of me and responded in kind to how I was being treated. I should have let the situation diffuse before I responded, which is how I would normally handle something like this. I am typically very even-keeled so I think I surprised myself as much as anyone.”

      Honestly, I would not say it like this. This is just vague enough to be easily misinterpreted and just specific enough to lend itself to a very unforgiving interpretation. It would raise all kinds of red flags for me if I heard someone say it in an interview.

      Is he using this previous job as a reference? If someone called this job, would they say he was fired, or laid off/let go?

      Reply
      1. FiredFiance

        Thank you – I knew I wasn’t crazy about the response, but we are still “workshopping” it so I appreciate the feedback!

        Yes, he will need to use this job as a reference. There are no hard feelings with the other two owners, who he would put as references, but I do think they would say he was fired, since that is actually what happened.

        Reply
        1. INeedANap

          Could he be more specific without getting into unethical territory? I feel like the vagueness really undermines him. Being asked to “do something” (as opposed to something illegal, unethical, against company policy, against state regulation, etc.) makes it sounds like he would push back against a wide range of possibly unpleasant but perfectly legitimate work tasks. I have the same problem with the “didn’t agree” wording – everyone gets asked to do things they don’t really agree with once in awhile, and the assumption is that they understand that’s a normal part of professional life.

          If he can’t be more specific, he might say something like, “I had a contentious dynamic with one of the three owners which, after a long period of tension, led to me being fired. I know that the other two owners will give me great references, and this is very unusual for me, so I’m confident that this was the result of a very specific set of circumstances, and not a reflection on my normal interpersonal relationships.”

          Reply
          1. FiredFiance

            Gotcha. Yes, he was asked to do something that goes against their normal procedures and would have left one of their clients at risk. Neither he nor the owner handled the interaction well. But I see what you mean about someone thinking he was just pushing back against a normal request.

            Thank you!! We appreciate the help!

            Reply
    2. OhNo

      The trick, as far as I’ve seen, is to own it and not excuse it. So there should be no mention of the way he was treated, only acknowledgement of the situation and what he learned from it. If I was going to modify the script you have already, I’d go with something like this:

      “I was asked to do something I didn’t agree with, and I responded in an unprofessional way. It was a mistake, and very unlike me. It taught me that (insert lesson here). If it ever happens again, I will do X.”

      If it was an ethical/moral disagreement, and not just a matter of picking the correct approach, it’s worth adding a word or two to make that clear, but that’s all. The focus should be on the fact that he regrets it, he learned from it, and he has plans in place to stop it from ever happening again.

      Reply
      1. FiredFiance

        Thanks for the feedback! It was something that would have left a client at risk, so we think it’s worth mentioning, but I agree we don’t want it to sound excuse-y.

        What would you think of “I was asked to do something I didn’t agree with because it would have left one of our clients at risk, and I responded unprofessionally… etc”?

        Reply
        1. CappaCity

          I think it’s at least worth mentioning that responding unprofessionally wasn’t the first thing he leaped to – Explain generically that his not-boss got aggressive/rude when fiance tried to discuss this concern and THEN fiance responded unprofessionally. You don’t want it to sound like fiance’s default setting for receiving a concerning request is unprofessionalism instead of discussion.

          Reply
        2. OhNo

          I think that would work, especially if your fiances is in a field where reducing client risk is a significant consideration. Basically you would just want a shorthand way to indicate that it was a legitimate problem, not just a difference of opinion on the color scheme or something.

          Reply
        3. gladfe

          I would say “something I wasn’t comfortable with” rather than “something I didn’t agree with.” The former would make me think of an ethical disagreement, but the latter would make me think it might have been just an argument over business strategy.
          I’m not sure it’s a good idea to mention that the boss got aggressive first. Even phrased really carefully, I think it’s too likely to come off as, “He started it!” At the very most, I might say something like, “The discussion got heated,” but even that would probably be only in response to a follow-up question.
          The thing is, I wouldn’t worry about a colleague who’d gotten heated in response to being ordered to do something unethical because, aside from any lessons he’s learned, I wouldn’t plan to order him do anything unethical. But I would worry about somebody who’d responded badly to rudeness, because almost every job involves dealing with a rude person eventually.

          Reply
          1. FiredFiance

            Nuances! Yes – agreed with the above.

            Thank you!

            And thanks to everyone else who commented too – I knew we could count on great advice here!

            Reply
    3. CappaCity

      I think this might be over-detailed in some places and not detailed enough in others. Maybe just say –

      “It was a fairly toxic work environment, and when one of the owners became rude and aggressive with me, it ended in a personality clash that led to my firing. In a normal work situation, it would never have happened, and I’m embarrassed that I let my frustration with the situation get the better of me at the time. In retrospect, I should have kept my peace until emotions on both sides had the chance to cool off. It’s the only time in my career something like this has happened, and I’m committed to ensuring this was truly an isolated incident going forward.” (And meaning it, of course.)

      In your script it’s not clear if he SHOULD have disagreed with what he was told to do, and a lot of employers are going to read that as him being someone who can’t/won’t follow directions and then argues or gets belligerent about it when he doesn’t get his way. From that perspective, it may be that he’s just arrogant and thinks he always knows the best way to do things.

      I don’t know if they’ll follow up with a request for more details, but if that happens, he needs to be prepared with a response. If he does talk about not agreeing with the owner’s request he needs to be really succinct and dispassionate about the explanation of the request and why he disagreed – without sounding bitter, emotional, or over-sharing/venting, or throwing his ex-employer under the bus. Was it unethical? Illegal? At least that shows integrity on his part, even if he did let his emotions get the better of him.

      If the request would just have taken longer than another method, or was a generally a poorly executed idea, unfortunately, he may still come across as argumentative and a little insubordinate. So make sure he practices a (truthful) response that displays his decision and actions in the best light possible, and shows that it was the emotional nature of the argument itself that led to the firing, not necessarily the disagreement over the instructions. Reasonable disagreement/calm discussion about a request is okay in a normal employment situation, so long as it’s not protracted, the employee keeps emotion out of it, and is still willing to do what is asked even if ultimately they don’t agree (assuming it’s not an unethical or illegal request, of course).

      There’s another question up thread where a person discusses a friend’s interview over-mentioning an abusive boss and raising red flags for the interviewers. Check it out. It sounds like your fiance is going to have to walk a similar line here. Explain without over-explaining, convey “lesson learned”, then put it completely aside and move on to his qualifications. Don’t get mired down in belaboring this one point of the interview, and give a good showing on all the ways he could be an asset to this new employer.

      Good luck!

      Reply
      1. FiredFiance

        Thank you! I missed the other thread about the toxic work environment so I will make sure to check that out. We definitely are trying to find a way for it to not sound like he’s making excuses, but also show that he doesn’t just snap out of the blue. I appreciate the examples you offered! And it was something that was against their normal procedures and would have left a client at risk. This particular owner is more of the “jack of all trades guy” and doesn’t really understand the “technical” side. Again – fiance did not handle it well and he owns that, but there is a little more to the story than just “fiance was a jerk to one of the owners and got fired.”

        Thanks!!

        Reply
    4. Jules the Third

      I don’t think I’d mention ‘contentious relationship with the owners’, that’s too open to Fiance being the problem. A script like, ‘They asked me to do something that would put a client at risk. I refused. One owner was not happy with my refusal, so he fired me.’ This should be discussed without bringing up ‘rude’ or ‘disrespectful’ from either side. An additional statement that might be useful would be, ‘I’ve thought about ways to get to the endpoint the owner wanted without the risk, like x, y, and z, but there wasn’t time to work through that in the old position.’

      Your fiance’s reaction, while human and understandable, would be a yellow, flag for a hiring manager. Justifying it by talking about how bad the last employer was (‘responded in kind’) would be a red flag. Fiance should give the minimum to explain a bad reference, and demonstrate that he’s focused on professional, helpful solutions.

      *IF* the question comes up in a follow-up interview, then the script could be, ‘My reaction was unusual for me, so I’ve put some time into thinking through how to let the situation diffuse before I respond’, but leave out ‘responded in kind’ or *anything* that implies the prior boss was a jerk. Let that baggage go. The statement on his client service will tell them plenty.

      Reply
      1. FiredFiance

        Thank you! I think that’s a really good way to think about it and respond.

        My only question – in this specific situation, would it be misleading to say “the owner was not happy with my refusal”? In reality, the situation turned into the owner wanting to show off his authority. In the initial explanation, do you think my fiance should mention his unprofessional reaction or just leave it at “I refused to do X because it would leave a client at risk and they didn’t like it and I was fired (paraphrasing)”?

        Thanks!

        Reply
        1. FiredFiance

          Argh – sorry. I did read your first few sentence but blew through them. We will focus on the other part and address it if it comes up otherwise, working in what he’s learned from it.

          Thank you!!

          Reply
      2. gladfe

        I just made a longer comment above, but I think Jules’s script in the first paragraph is perfect.

        Reply
    5. PAanon

      Can he just say that he was promptly let go by one of the owners after refusing to do something that he felt would leave a client a client at risk, no other problems with performance brought to his attention beforehand (only include that part if it’s true) and then mention that he gave one of the other owners as a reference since he felt they could give the best unbiased presentation of his work quality etc.?

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        I like this because it is so short.

        He can say what he learned is to have something prepared if someone wants to cross ethical boundaries in the future. “For example, now I plan to say, ‘I do not think it is in the best interest of the company to do this because we could be in violation of [law, ethics/whatever].”

        As an aside, my husband and I had an agreement that if an employer pushed us HARD to do an unethical thing either one of us could walk off the job rather than risk jail time and we would support each other in that spur of the moment decision. This was very helpful to know I had an out and my husband would back me up.

        One time Boss asked me to do Highly Questionable Thing. I knew I would not be doing Thing. So thinking very, very quickly, I offered a substitute ethical thing that I would do. This was a tense moment as Boss was seeing RED because I said no. It took the boss a minute to realize I was still going to help with Problem but my approach was different than what Boss suggested. Boss calmed down and agreed I had a good idea. We literally arranged check in times so I would check in with her as I progressed through my plan. I did everything, the plan, the check-ins and I got good results with what I did. I saved my own job by thinking fast and my husband saved me by planning my escape (way out) if I needed it.

        Reply
    6. Close Bracket

      I had a lot of conflict with my new boss at my old job. I tell people I had a lot of conflict and describe some of the situations without going into what was said. Fiance will get judgement bc some people think everybody should be able to solve every conflict, but a lot of people have had problems with their bosses. There will be sympathetic people out there. Let the focus be the situation, not the response. use the typical work place euphemisms, “My boss wanted me to skip the final design review for the latest teapot design. I set a hard line on what I was willing to do, and he fired me.” He doesn’t need to say, “I told him he was a donkey’s rear-end and I didn’t want anymore of his sh!t.”

      Reply
  29. Tiffany

    How do you remain the bigger person when someone else decides to be petty, spiteful, and to drag your name through the mud?

    I understand, or at least am coming to terms with, that the path to success is going to have a few enemies I guess. I’ve always tried to remain professional and respectful with people, even when I don’t personally like them. But I’m dealing with a situation this week and having to constantly fight the urge to be defensive, but I know it’s best to just stay silent and let it blow over.

    That’s hard though. How do I do that? How do I know if/when there is a time to not be silent and to speak up?

    Reply
    1. Here we go again

      Remind yourself that you cannot let someone else hinder your success. If you come off as unprofessional, it certainly will.

      One of my favorite quotes that I have put up on my cube in the past when dealing with this type of thing is “He who angers you, controls you.”

      Reply
    2. Lefty

      Remember the power you have in this situation- you get to make choices about how/if/when to react.

      I had a mentor tell me to consider what story I will want to tell about this situation later… it could be the time I worked with someone who was difficult and I established some boundaries with them to keep it professional OR it could be the time I got so frustrated working with someone who was difficult that I had to talk to my manager about it OR it could be the time I worked with someone difficult and lost my temper. It helps me to remember that I get a say in this because sometimes it feels like I don’t. Best of luck!

      Reply
    3. Cheese Sticks and Pretzels

      If they are dragging you through the mud, it reflects more poorly on them, not you. Just keep on being professional, folks will see the truth soon enough.

      Reply
    4. OhNo

      I’ve been on the receiving end of this kind of stuff once or twice, though never to a significant extent. But the best advice I’ve gotten is this: If you have to respond, or can’t keep silent, keep your comments positive.

      That sounds counter-intuitive, I know, but it works. Like others have said, badmouthing someone just looks bad on the person saying it. If the person wants to sling mud, let them. If you deflect each missile with your positivity and professionalism, they’re going to be dirtier at the end of it than you are.

      Reply
      1. Kim

        This. Silence, positivity, love, and forgiveness can go extremely far here. Their actions often reflect on something going on with them. If you can acknowledge that, identify any growth/lessons you could gain from it, and honestly wish them well, you’ll gain far more than you stand to lose. That’s possibly the hardest thing ever. Practically, I try to look for one good thing about the person each time their actions hurt me and seek advice from someone who won’t just jump on “my side” but will help me understand the other person. And I get really busy with my family and hobbies as much as I can to help remember that life is so much more than this issue. Good luck!

        Reply
        1. Jules the Third

          You don’t even really have to do the love and forgiveness.

          I’ve found that responding and focusing on the solutions, not blame, impresses the bystanders and frustrates the blamer. This situation makes me very happy.

          Reply
    5. Thlayli

      I had a situation like this in my oldjob. There was a guy who claimed I had made my teapot badly and hadn’t followed orders or policy on teapot construction. I spent over an hour digging through my old correspondence and writing a timeline and pulled together a whole bunch of emails and drafts of teapot reports and sent them all to my boss proving that I had followed all the orders I had been given and my teapot had been constructed according to the specification I was given.

      I then told my boss that I wasn’t going to accuse anyone of bullying but that if anything like that happened again I would be making an accusation of bullying with HR (this was not the first time this guy had tried to fling mud at me).

      If you have documentation to prove you are in the right – gather it and store it even if you decide not to use it now. And make sure to document stuff when dealing with this person going forward. The “just a note to confirm what we agreed” email is a good one to send after verbal agreements. I normally dislike cover your ass emails, but there are times to use them. Dealing with people who try to drag your name through the mud is definitely one of those times.

      Reply
    6. Master Bean Counter

      Just realize their focus is on you and your focus is on your career, So who’s still going to be around in 5 years?

      Reply
    7. Not So NewReader

      It is true and my wise friend used to talk about this. The higher you go the more apt you are to have people throw rocks or arrows at you.

      Sometimes staying silent is not the answer. And we know this with school bullies, silence can indicate vulnerability.

      In thinking about this, think about how much damage is this person actually doing. Let’s say Person is accusing you of an illegal activity. Yes, go in on this, shut down that talk.

      If the person is telling your boss that you are doing crappy work then check in with the boss review your work that is in question. Make sure the boss knows you are on top of your game.

      Let’s say the person is running you down in meetings. You might consider finding a way to talk with this person privately. “Bob, last week you said X. This week you said Y. I am wondering where this is coming from, why are you saying these things?”
      I’d be careful with this one though. If your gut says NOOOO, then do not do this. However, some people will back off their campaign simply because we TRY to start a conversation with them about what might be wrong here. It’s amazing what happens when you drag a behavior into the light of day, sometimes.

      My wise friend used to say, you see a behavior three times you have a pattern. Once you have a pattern you need to do something. You may decide for the moment to do nothing. So your next step would be to watch for escalation. If things seem to get worse, then go ahead develop a plan and carry through on your plan.

      Reply
    8. Close Bracket

      It depends on who it is and what all the various relationships everyone has. A friend of mine had a coworker undermine him and take credit for his work, and their boss had my friend’s back through it all. When it is your boss who is undermining and casting doubt on you, though, you are sort of hosed. It comes down to the relationships you have with people besides the snake-in-the-grass and whether they will be your allies (and whether they have enough pull that having them as allies will impact the situation).

      Reply
  30. Regular, but Anon Now

    I have wanted to ask this, but thought it may be too “brand” specific for AAM to publish my question… I’m worried that I’ve become the office eccentric. I’ve worked here for 4.5 years and in our main office for 6 years prior. In these 10 years, I have been promoted and feel lucky to still enjoy the work I do. I’m concerned that I’ve become the eccentric because of my annual trips to a certain mouse themed park. My family owns a timeshare there and I regularly travel to the parks/resorts each year. I also take cruises with the company and sometimes enjoy their movies. There’s a lot of stuff that gets said about adult fans of “kid” brands anyway, so I haven’t really made this a thing- I don’t wear themed clothes, no souvenirs in my office, etc.

    I’ve only really “brought it up” twice. Once was on Halloween when we were encouraged to dress up for a kid’s parade visiting the facility. I wore a mouse tshirt and novelty ears themed to our industry. Then, last year a coworker was excitedly telling us about her trip there and asked if any of us have ever been. I mentioned that I had a few times if she wanted to know anything specific… we caught up at lunch about it and had fun discussing it.

    Now, it’s like I’m only into that! I’ve had new folks come by for introductions and mention, “Oh, you’re the mouse brand lady!” Once I actually responded, “Nope, I’m the auditor- let me know if you need anything!” Am I stuck with this? Is it that weird? I realize I may be overly-concerned because I’m the youngest (and only female) manager in our office- I don’t really want to be equated as the kid in any sense.

    Reply
    1. TotesMaGoats

      I think you are way overthinking this. You say that you don’t dress or have stuff at your desk that show your fandom, so people know you’ve been to the house of mouse and love it. So do about a bajillion other people. I think your response about “I’m the auditor” is appropriate but I think most people love knowing there is someone who knows a lot about visiting there (or any other place).

      I’m the “Hilton Head Island/Charleston/Savannah” person. Everyone knows it.

      Reply
    2. MsMaryMary

      I don’t know if you’ve become the office eccentric, but I think your mouse-themed interest is unique enough that it’s top of mind when your coworkers think of a fun fact/personal annecdote about you. When I started at my current job, my boss asked me to include something personal in my bio. I said I liked baseball. For the next six months, whenever I was in the elevator or waiting for coffee someone would make baseball small talk with me. I was The Woman Who Likes Baseball.

      Are you fairly private about your non-work interests in general? Maybe if you start mentioning another hobby regularly, or talk about your pet, or home decorating project your coworkers will have a different idea in their head when they think of you. I got a dog last year, and now I am The Woman with the Super-Cute Dog.

      Reply
    3. Dee-Nice

      My perspective is:
      1. What’s wrong with being the office kook? ;)

      2. I think if anyone actually thought you were weird in a bad sense, they wouldn’t be bringing it up at all and instead would be looking for ways to simply avoid talking with you. I think it’s actually a really common phenomenon in offices where people are friendly, but not necessarily friends– you all know only one or two personal tidbits about one another and people use that as shorthand for your personality. I had a baby shortly after starting my current job, and for a while I was definitely Baby Lady, to the point where a new person introduced herself to me with “Oh, are you the one with the baby?”Definitely eye-roll-inducing at first, but it faded away after a while.

      3. That said, you have the option to either shut it down firmly yet politely (and it sounds like you have a pretty good handle on how to do that) or use it to transition to other topics of conversation if you want to get to know your coworkers better. They more they know about you, the more “fun facts” like your love of Rodney RatWorld will fade into the background a bit.

      Reply
      1. New Bee

        I just had to say I am trying not to cry laughing on public transportation because of “Rodney RatWorld.” That plus your username (Aaron is at the top of our baby name list just because of that skit) = winner.

        Reply
    4. Red Reader

      Naw. You’re fine.

      (Disclaimer: I’m an annual pass holder and heading off in a couple weeks for my third mouse visit in the current calendar year, plus honeymooning there later this fall. I may be biased too.)

      Reply
    5. Temperance

      I honestly don’t think being a Disney fanatic is that weird, and I don’t think you’re seen as strange for it. FWIW, though … I am one of the office weirdos and it works for me? Like everyone knows my vacation was to Comic Con, I have Star Trek memorabilia in my office and a bunch of Funkos, it’s common knowledge that I get advanced tickets to every Marvel movie, etc.

      Reply
      1. Red Reader

        Yup. My fiancé and I met co-running a LARP at GenCon, I can’t work late on Thursdays because my gaming group comes over, I have a wall rack full of probably 30 Funkos and a bat’leth in my office, and one of my staffers keeps giving me her WoW contact info “in case I lost it” so we can raid together. (Which is part of the reason I haven’t reactivated my account. :P )

        Reply
      2. KR

        Yeah same. Especially since Disney is such a universally loved thing and for a lot of people it represents their entire childhood and the lessons they learned that shaped them into the person they are today. I wish I was closer to Disney and could go there more! Something about seeing the pixie dust going over the castle at the beginning of a Disney movie makes me tear up with sentamintality (is that a word?) and I cry at the end of almost every movie. My old office had a Disney fanatic. Now you’re making me wish I still had my VCR so I could watch all my old 20+ year old VHS tapes!

        Reply
    6. 541Go

      Lots of people – adults – vacation at the happiest place on earth, have calendars and action figures in their cube, wear the wristwatch, etc. It’s not a big deal.

      It sounds as though you are far more discreet than I am. I have Power Rangers stuff all over my cube, and sometimes I wear a T-shirt. That’s a kids’ brand too, with far less appeal to adults than D***** has. Yet, I am still known as me, the technical writer, even though people are also aware of the Power Rangers stuff.

      It’s possible that the people you work with are unusually uptight, but it doesn’t sound that way. It’s not terrible to be known as the D***** lady unless they start calling you “the mouse brand woman who sucks at auditing.”

      If you are also seen as a resource for people contemplating a visit to D-Place, that’s not so bad either. It might even expose you to coworkers you otherwise wouldn’t meet.

      Reply
    7. Shark Whisperer

      Being a “mouse themed park enthusiast” is not something that would label you the office eccentric, at least in my office. We actually have two of that brand of enthusiast in my department, and while we may tease them (and threaten to make them put dollar in the Disney jar when they bring it up too much), we don’t think they are any weirder than the rest of us. I don’t know if it makes a difference though that they are both male.

      Reply
      1. Shark Whisperer

        I’m also going to clarify what I mean by talking about it too much. None of us care if they talk about their vacations, but there are some areas where my organization and Disney overlap and one of the enthusiasts is particularly fond of bringing up how Disney does things as opposed to how do things, which is what warrants a dollar in the imaginary Disney jar.

        Reply
    8. Jennifer Walters

      I’m also the mouse brand lady at my office! I also have quite a few mouse-themed memorabilia items in my office (and some signed comic books, so I’m really the office child). I take it in stride. As to you’re response of “Nope, I’m the auditor — let me know if you need anything,” I have often used “Actually, mouse brand lady is just my night job. Here, I’m an attorney” when people come in and introduce themselves and inform me they’ve heard of my interests through the grapevine. Usually that lets them know that, while I love to discuss the mouse, sometimes I’ve got to get work done. If you’re worried that people think that your ONLY interest is the mouse, just bring up other hobbies from time to time.

      Reply
    9. Ama

      If people don’t know someone particularly well sometimes they jump at any detail they know to describe them to others. One of the managers here was bringing a new hire around to introduce her, and when he stopped at another coworkers’ desk he introduced her as “the only full-time standing employee in the office” (meaning she’s the only person here who uses her standing desk all the time) which, though true, was such a bizarre way to describe someone that everyone who heard him kind of gave him a side-eye.

      Reply
      1. Rainbow Hair Chick

        There is nothing wrong or eccentric about vacation with The Mouse. I go at least once a year and am 40 years old with no kids. I go for the shows, the world class food and excellent customer service. I’m proud of it and I’m sorry I don’t care what others think (obviously since I have rainbow hair too). Embrace your Mouse vacations. Others are probably just jealous.

        Reply
    10. Academia Escapee

      I go on a music cruise every year for my big vacation. I talk about it when I book, when new artists are announced, and as the cruise gets closer each year. My office is decorated with memorabilia from the cruises. Everyone around knows that I’m the one who goes on the cruises. I enjoy being known that way. It’s an interest of mine, and people are aware of it. I see it as no different than the guys who root for their basketball or hockey teams and have sports items in their work areas. I’m proud that I have something I enjoy, and it’s a way to interact with co-workers. I’m also female, and I don’t think that being open about my interest (as long as I don’t drone on about it) makes me seem less professional.

      Reply
    11. Not So NewReader

      People attach identifiers to other people.
      One office the lady who raised goats became “goat lady”.
      Another place I know of an employee became “motorcycle mama” because she and her SO went all over on the bike.
      In yet another workplace an individual became known for the wise things he would say on so many topics, so he became “the professor”.

      It’s benign, no worries. You handled it all very well.

      Reply
  31. Running gal

    So, my friend started a newsletter after the election with a specific political lean. It’s relatively small but has gathered an impressive following considering the amount of time that has passed. That said, her partner has had to stop working on it because she took a job with a political campaign and ironically, she can’t be associated with this anymore. She’s reached out to me to help out as a writer and editor. I love the work that they do, support the mission, and think that the newsletter is extremely well-done. I’d love to put it on my resume, however, I’m concerned about the optics of putting something like that on my resume and risking alienating people who don’t share my politics. As I’m job-hunting, I’d love to advertise what I think is a thoughtful and careful project. However, will it cause me more trouble that it’s worth?

    Reply
    1. katamia

      How important is it for you to work with people who share your political beliefs? For some people it’s very important, whereas others couldn’t care less. If it’s important to you that your coworkers and boss, on a basic level, share your political beliefs, then it could be a good way to screen employers you don’t want out.

      It probably also depends on your region–are your political beliefs generally in step with, for example, the elected officials who get elected in your district or nearby districts? A generally left-leaning publication would come off differently in a deep blue area than it would in a deep red area, and vice versa for a generally right-leaning publication. (Not going to assume your politics.) Same for your industry/job–if 80% of people in your industry have the opposite political beliefs as you, that’ll make it more difficult than if 80% of them agree with you.

      Reply
    2. Temperance

      Here is my .02: I once hired an intern solely because she had an impressive background in abortion access. It has less than nothing to do with our job, BTW, but I liked that she’s willing to take a stance that can be seen as controversial.

      I would work on the newsletter if it’s relevant to your job, without regrets, and include if relevant. HOWEVER, I am giving you the caveat that I wouldn’t be as cavalier about this if I lived in an area where my pro-choice, liberal leanings might make me an outcast.

      Reply
      1. Thlayli

        If the intern had done similar work for a pro-life group, would you have hired her? Would you still be impressed at her willingness to take a controversial stance? Thats the relevant issue here. I think many employers would NOT be willing to hire someone who has very strong political views that oppose their own.

        OP, if you think most employers you are targeting will have the same political views as you, by all means include it. If you think they won’t, or you aren’t sure, you can probably find a way to word it that doesn’t specify the topic e.g. “Writer, editor, online newsletter (part time), 2017-present.” And give info about the type of work you did not the type of publication (which isn’t really relevant anyway.)

        You can also research the specific employers and take a guess as to whether they are likely to consider your political views a bonus or not, and tailor your resume accordingly.

        Reply
    3. a thought

      Regardless of a prospective employer’s politics, would you really want to work for someone who would judge you for valid work that you did related to your own convictions?

      Reply
    4. Jennifer Walters

      When I was in college, I interned with a State Rep who actually had a party affiliation opposite of mine. He hired me because of the opposing view and I enjoyed working for him on a personal level, but I had some concerns about putting it on my resume after I moved from a state known for views opposite of mine to a state known for views correlating with mine. The State Rep I worked for was well known in both states. I ended up putting it on my resume, but made sure to tailor my description of my position there to showcase the work I did, not the political leanings I had. I’ve only been asked once about it, by someone who was NOT the State Rep’s biggest fan. I just stated, “I worked for him and that position gave me the opportunity to do this and this and this, which makes me a great fit for this position because of this and this and this.” I just took the politics out of it and focused on my abilities. I think you can do the same and, if you feel that the response is friendly, add about how working on something you truly care about has fulfilled you. Hope that helps!

      Reply
    5. WhichSister

      Excellent question. On my linkedin account, I have a reference from someone who worked for a presidential campaign 4 plus years ago . I was a volunteer for the campaign. She references things that I accomplished as a volunteer and skills I had that helped to make our volunteer team successful. Despite our state going the other way (we were in a swing state) our county went our way largely based on our efforts . I would hope someone reading the reference would pull out my transferable skills – organizational skills, project management, multitask, scheduling and not view my political leanings. If they do, would I really want to work for them anyway?

      Reply
  32. Hallway Feline

    I’m sure Alison has a topic for this, but mostly I just want to vent. How do you get your supervisor/direct manager to read your emails? I’m not talking about long paragraphs, I’m taking about shirt and succinct status updates. I respond to every one of my boss’ emails with the information they ask for (and some explanation) in bullet points/short sentences with attachments that further explain.

    For instance, I was asked for the inventory change over the last quarter. My email had bullets noting what changed and when and an attached spreadsheet that detailed how and why that happened.

    Here’s an example of my emails.

    “Good morning BossName,

    Here is the update on the change in inventory you requested.

    -we lost 30% inventory in Valhalla because of Loki last month
    -we increased inventory in Storybrooke by 15% thanks to our new vendor, Prince Philip
    -the inventory at Xavier’s Institute dipped, but be have a shipment coming in from Asteroid M next week to correct this

    For a more detailed analysis, please see Spreadsheet (attached.)

    Thank you,

    Hallway Feline

    My boss replies with, “What was the inventory loss in Valhalla?” It’s very frustrating because it is right there, one of the three bullet points on the email. I always respond to their original email so they can search for it easily.

    I don’t want to flag everything High Importance/Urgent because they are usually not, but I’m not sure what else I could do. And I do understand that the boss gets lots of emails every day and as such doesn’t have time to read long emails.

    Anyone else with similar situations? Any other advice?

    Reply
    1. Nea

      I’ve got similar stories, but only sympathy, no advice. My personal disfavorite was the exchange that went more or less like this (and bear in mind that I do not even work for or in the same department as Lady Catherine dB):

      Lady Catherine: I want you to write a web page for x. And while you’re at it, write one for Y.

      Me: My tasking is to write a web page for x when these conditions are met (list). This department monitors those conditions, which is why Y was written over a month ago (provides link).

      Lady Catherine: The condition list for x has been met (cites only-adequate-if-you-squint list that shows she has stopped to check the entire history of the project, not just what is up to date). (No mention of Y.)

      Reply
    2. Hunger Games Summer

      I think a lot of this depends on how your mgr takes any perceived criticism. I had one mgr who did this and I was able to sometimes kindly “suggest” he read closer. For example in your sample email I would have responded, “as noted below the inventory drop was 30%, was there any additional information needed for this update?’ And by adding that last part it provided an “out” for the fact he hadn’t read it. He was ok with this system and it we both just recognized it as part of his overworked schedule. However, the boss after him would have stormed to my desk and yelled at me for not recognizing how hard her job was and that she should not be expected to read ever detail. For her I would as painful as it seems just copy and paste the results in my response and pretend the first email never happened.

      Reply
      1. Hallway Feline

        Oh my goodness, no, my boss would not take kindly to a suggestion like that. I would be told that it is my responsibility to make my meaning clear.

        Reply
    3. INeedANap

      In my office, this doesn’t read as snarky, but in some offices it might depending on the dynamics between yourself and your boss.

      Our e-mail system has the original message underneath the text of the reply. What I do is just bold/highlight/change the font color to the info in the original e-mail, write “see bolded/highlighted/red text below, thanks” and send it back. That way I don’t have to re-type the information.

      Reply
      1. Lorem ipsum

        I wonder if the type of personality who doesn’t read the text in an email closely is also the kind of person who doesn’t notice or care about reading snark into things. It might be nbd to just highlight and say “see below” in most circumstances.

        Reply
    4. Sunshine on a cloudy day

      No advice just sympathy. I’ve worked with people like this and they drive me BATTY. I guess to the point that it is a personal pet peeve of mine (at least when it is my direct manager/supervisor – like why did you hire me and how will I actually be able to help you if you don’t listen/read/pay attention to a thing that say/write). I’ve just switched to attempting to screen for it in interviews. Now if anyone has any advice on that front it would greatly welcomed! In my last job search – someone who’s preferred communication style is written and claimed to have a high attention to detail themself corresponded to a manager who is very good about this. Not sure if I just got lucky there.

      Reply
    5. DaniCalifornia

      This is my current boss. You can literally type :
      1. Do you like red or green for the invite?
      2. Red invites cost 50 cents green cost 60 cents.

      And he will answer “Yes”

      Infuriating. I usually have to resend the email or ask him the same question via skype. He answers so quickly because he’s so busy but he makes more work for himself (and me!) when I constantly have to re ask him things. I feel your pain. We haven’t found a way to fix it here. If you do let us know!

      Reply
      1. Jan Levinson

        OMG, this.

        Half the people I have to communicate with on a daily basis do this.

        Bob: “please order 1 bottle of Cleaner X”
        Me: “Would you like the gallon, or the quart size of Cleaner X?”
        Bob: “Yes”

        It’s so agonizing!

        Reply
        1. AnonyMouse

          My solution has been to switch most of my emails to “I’m going to do this, tell me if you disagree”

          This morning I sent two emails along the lines of “do you want me to do this report?” Unhelpful response to the first email, no response to the second.

          I followed up with, “Hi, since I didn’t get a response, I presume you don’t want the report. Please let me know if that changes.” Immediately, got a response back. “Actually, we do!”

          SIGH. but it got me my answer.

          Reply
          1. Jan Levinson

            I can so relate to that!

            All the time at work – I’ll have a question about an order that I need to process per an account manager. I’ll email the account manager at 9:00 AM asking my question. Crickets all day. 4:00 PM rolls around, I email and say, “okay, I’m going to go ahead and process the order as is, let me know if anything changes, please.” *5 minutes later* “oh yeah, actually please change x to y.”

            Reply
        2. Dr. Doll

          Sigh. I try really hard not to do this to my team. But what I’d really love is:

          Doll: Do we have more Cleaner X? [as I am doing the procedure which needs X]
          Team member: Yep, ordered more last week [and we didn’t even ask if we could because you’ve given us power to notice what’s needed and go ahead and get it as long as it’s not ridiculously expensive, and we take initiative like that.]

          What I get is:

          Team member: Oh my gosh! We’re out of Cleaner X! Do you think we should order some? How much should we get? Where should we order it from this time? What account should we use? Is this brand still okay?
          Doll: …Oh, don’t worry about it, I’ll order it.

          Reply
      2. Red Reader

        Email sent:
        “Your form revision is completed and can be ordered by calling (number) and requesting form # 1234.”

        Reply received:
        “Great, when will it be done and how do I order it?”

        No jury in the world would convict. ;)

        Reply
      3. Ama

        I had this boss. The best part was he did fieldwork for six weeks a year in a part of the world with very limited internet and so would only check and respond to email once a day. You’d get back a “yes” type answer and you’d know it would be another three days before you could explain clearly enough to get an actual usable opinion.

        The problem with people like this is they skim all their emails, so they just see the phrases they are looking for and assume they know what the message says. (I realized this because above boss was a really great proofreader — when he was actually paying attention to details, he caught everything.)

        Reply
    6. Jules the First

      I used to have this problem until someone pointed out to me that I was making my own life difficult with the way I phrased my bullet points. Based on that, I recommend that you send the same emails you’re already sending, but revamp your bullet points:

      – Valhalla: inventory down 30% because of Loki (vs “we lost 30% inventory in Valhalla because of Loki last month”)
      -Storybrooke: inventory up 15% thanks to Prince Phillip (vs “we increased inventory in Storybrooke by 15% thanks to our new vendor, Prince Philip”)
      -Xavier’s Institute: inventory dipped, shipment expected next week from Asteroid M (vs. the inventory at Xavier’s Institute dipped, but be have a shipment coming in from Asteroid M next week to correct this)

      Same information, just restructured to start with the marker words your boss is looking for.

      Reply
    7. Tabby Baltimore

      If the answer wouldn’t be too long, is there any way you could just put the answer in the subject line on your return volley? W/more detailed information in the email body?

      Reply
  33. Greeneye

    Second job interview what to wear question!

    I’ve been called in for a second interview next week – the HR person described it as “an informal meeting/meet-and-greet”, as I’ll be meeting with several members of the team (from directors to co-workers).

    Do I still wear formal attire (I wore a jacket + skirt suit to the first one)? During the first interview, people were dressed on the more casual end of business casual, so I don’t want to be super overdressed but also want to look professional.

    Any advice would be awesome! Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Hannah

      What you wore to the first interview is probably safe for the second one. I wouldn’t dress down for the second one, because you wouldn’t want that interpreted as you are now less interested in the job after the first interview.

      Reply
      1. JLK in the ATX

        I agree that the HR gave you a heads up and I agree with Totes – a cardigan or blazer would be a nice change up without being too dressed down. Have fun with it even though the coworkers will be interviewing you, although it may not feel like it.

        Reply
    2. Close Bracket

      > During the first interview, people were dressed on the more casual end of business casual,

      Yes, but those people already have a job.

      Reply
  34. Hannah

    My manager seems to be going through some problems with decision making. This has come out in two ways. First, with even the smallest changes or decisions to be made, like things no one could really have a strong opinion over, she will call a meeting to “discuss and get ideas.” I appreciate being asked for my opinion generally, but it is getting ridiculous, like–a meeting to decide what to name file folders, or some such. It feels like she is starting to feel like she can’t make any decisions on her own.

    The other way this is showing itself is that if I ask how something should be done, or make a suggestion about a small change I think would help us, or ask if I should do something X or Y, she will put me off, tell me she has to think about it, call a series of meetings with her superior (who invariably says he doesn’t care either way), and want to discuss with me endlessly the pros and cons of each way. If it were up to me, I could easily make a decision. I know the pros and cons, and so does she. But for some reason, it seems she feels nervous about making any decision or change and just puts it off as long as possible.

    She isn’t a new manager. We’ve all been here a long time. I don’t know what has spurred this new behavior, but it is SO ANNOYING. Also, because it is new, sometimes a procedure will come up that she approved or even suggested a couple of years ago, and she will have forgotten about it, and then get angry that we haven’t had a series of meetings to discuss the decision (decisions that she’s made herself). So, just going ahead and making decisions ourselves is NOT a way to solve this.

    I guess I’m just venting here but if anyone has any advice I’m willing to hear it!

    Reply
    1. Jules the Third

      If you’ve been around for a while, and have a good relationship, could you ask her? “Hey, it seems like you want a lot more input on decisions lately. Did something happen, like a project went in the wrong direction?’ Be cautious and thoughtful about this, as it could also be a new anxiety disorder – though I may well be projecting here, I have OCD and make a lot of lists of pros and cons, and occasionally dither.

      To deal with it, are you senior enough to change your wording / get more proactive about one option? Say, “As you directed last year, we’ll switch to white paper in the printer instead of yellow on Tuesday. Here’s the reasons you wanted to switch” instead of “Should we switch to white paper in the printer as we talked about last year? Here’s the Pros and Cons” Some managers, some programs, I can do that.

      I also find putting in a due date for the decision to be helpful, though if the issue is she’s developed an anxiety disorder, that might be counterproductive, upping the pressure.

      Reply
  35. Fictional Butt

    I’m going back to school in the fall. My program is pretty intense, and most students don’t work off campus during the semester. I have been thinking about making a pretty big investment in some software so that I could freelance as a more flexible source of extra income… although I have no idea where I’d find clients or how interested they would be in hiring me or whether or not I’d really be able to fit freelance projects into my schedule. Am I naively setting myself up for disaster? What are some ways I could figure out whether that software would be a good investment?

    Reply
    1. not my usual alias

      I don’t know, but I do suggest you see if you can get your software at an educational discount.

      Reply
      1. Fictional Butt

        Thanks! That hadn’t even occurred to me. I’ll have to see if the student license allows for commercial use.

        Reply
    2. katamia

      If you’ve never freelanced before, hold off until after at least the first semester. I’ve been freelancing for years (the kind where I can genuinely do it whenever I want, not the kind where I generally need to work normal business hours to be available to clients), but I recently got an additional part-time job and am taking a couple classes at the local community college this summer, and I’m still trying to figure out the best way to fit my freelancing in. Every week it’s like I’m trying a radically different schedule because the schedule I thought would work didn’t turn out how I wanted.

      Reply
    3. Emmie

      I recommend making a decision after your first month in the program – or even better after your first semester. You can spend any free time networking to build your pipeline in case your workload permits. But, wait until you have more info about how this impacts you. Especially if you’re in a program where very high grades matter (law, MBA, etc…). Good luck!

      Reply
    4. Jules the Third

      Check the return on investment for the software, and the local rates for what you’re proposing. If you’re talking Photoshop at $50/mo ($20/mo for students!), that’s different from a $5K cost for professional music mixing or medical billing software. You only need 2 – 4 billable hours / mo to cover Photoshop. Also, check whether that expensive software is the only option; I know there’s some decent DJ software for under $100. Atomix isn’t required…

      Check with your school for sources; even if your dept doesn’t have appropriate projects, there’s often job boards where you can post fliers.

      Reply
    5. Gingerblue

      I’m not sure from your comment whether you’re also debating whether the software fits your needs, or whether you know it does and you’re only asking about how to set yourself up for freelancing. If it’s the first thing, check with your school to see if there are any computers you can use with this software on it. Campuses will often have labs with specialized resources (“maker labs” vel sim. with professional software, 3D printers, etc. have been big at the campuses where I’ve been in the last few years). If it’s available, you might be able to use it for a few projects to dip your toes in and figure out if it’s a thing you want to do. Good luck!

      Reply
  36. Parting Shot

    Is there a recommended course of action when your supervisor clearly prefers you over a coworker with whom you get along? I have no idea if there’s a real performance differential, but other members of our team have noticed that she gets “picked on” in a way that makes the supervisor seem dismissive of her ideas in a way the rest of us don’t experience. Is there anything I can do to help other than to vocally give credit when credit is due?

    Reply
    1. Lefty

      Are you able to support her ideas with your own comments? Are the ideas strong/clear enough to warrant you supporting them? If her ideas are valid and you have the “capital” to spend with your supervisor, you might want to be vocal. Maybe you can even wrap her back into the conversation…

      “That is exactly what I was thinking for the Throne Renovation.” “I agree.” “Cersei’s idea about that was really similar to this- it’s a strong idea.”

      Maybe you can even wrap her back into the conversation… “Cersei’s idea about the Sparrow Project is really intriguing to me. The point about aiming ads at the High Sparrow isn’t something I thought of, so can we visit that again? Cersei- I’d love to hear what you were thinking for that.”

      Reply
      1. Basia, also a Fed

        I did this once. Our supervisor (male) clearly preferred me over a coworker (both female – I mention it only to show I don’t think that discrimination was a factor). Coworker suggested something in a meeting and he shot her down, rather snappily. After the meeting, I went to him and told him that I agree with coworker. At the next meeting, he announced that we were going with coworker’s idea. The only mistake I made was that I told coworker that I had talked to him so after the second meeting she said to me “oh sure, when I suggest it, he thinks it’s stupid; when YOU suggest it, he thinks it’s a great idea.” Sigh.

        Reply
    2. Jules the Third

      Google ‘lean in work place ally’ . It’s geared towards women supporting women in sexist environments, but the tips work when it’s a boss who’s bad for reasons other than sexism.

      Reply
  37. regular reader going anon

    This is an old situation (before I knew about the existence of AAM), but occasionally I wonder what I should have done. It’s related to coworker hygiene.

    I used to work for a company that hired a lot of interns from the middle east who did not have similar opportunities at home. This was great, but their hygiene practices were…not the same as ours. I can’t speak to whether it is culture wide or whether it was just the interns we had. One intern had overwhelming body odor, and another wore a ton of perfume (presumably to cover up body odor). The smell was strong enough to bother me, but I let it go because I didn’t work in close proximity and I didn’t know what to say.

    Apparently the smell of the perfume was so strong it was lingering in a shared facility and prompting complaints. The head of the facility (not my boss) asked if I would talk to her woman to woman, but I said I didn’t feel comfortable. I didn’t feel I had the standing and it was a cultural minefield. On top of that, while her English was pretty good, it would have been difficult to have a nuanced discussion about something so personal. I don’t think he talked to her because nothing changed.

    Should I have said something? If so, what should I have said, taking into account cultural differences and a potential language barrier? It wouldn’t be as simple as not wearing perfume. She would likely have had to overhaul her bathing frequency, her deodorant usage, and how often she washed her clothes.

    Reply
    1. Lemon Zinger

      Yes, I would absolutely have said something. I can’t imagine how bad it was for people working close to the woman! Part of being a working professional is having basic standards of personal hygiene. If it was affecting people, something should have been said.

      Reply
      1. Emi.

        I agree that something should have been said, but it shouldn’t have to be you. If it’s going to be a peer, it should be someone who works with her closely (both because they’d have more standing, and because that reduces the “Oh no everyone’s been talking about my smell” effect), but I think it should really have been her manager. So the ball was definitely dropped, but I don’t think you dropped.

        Reply
    2. Emily

      I think that HR should have handled this. It was obviously a problem that should’ve been dealt with instead of ignored, but it was NOT your problem.

      Reply
      1. Rainbow Hair Chick

        Perhaps the employer needs to add personal hygiene to their employee handbook. It’s directly in ours that you need to be clean and neat in appearance and not have any strong odors. That way if something comes up again HR could reference this with the person. Anyways I agree that it wasn’t your problem to handle.

        Reply
    3. Thlayli

      Did your boss ask you to talk to her just because you were both women, even though you had nothing to do with her?

      If so, I’m glad you refused to say anything.

      Reply
    4. Close Bracket

      Nuance is not called for here. Kind bluntness is called for. “Intern, I have to speak with you about a sensitive topic. I have noticed that you smell kind of strong. You may not notice this yourself. This is will impact your working relationships, so I wanted to bring it to your attention. Please be sure to shower and wear clean clothing daily when coming into work, and use perfumes and scented products sparingly. If you are having trouble with anything, like finding a laundromat, please let me know.”

      You say intern, so I am thinking 20s. You say Middle East, so I am guessing they are Arab. Arab personal hygiene standards are similar to US personal hygiene standards, so I bet they have no idea how to do laundry. A lot of young people don’t know these things, but servants are more common in some Middle Eastern countries than they are here. It’s entirely possible that the servants handled everything and they don’t know how to work a machine or even know to use detergent.

      Reply
  38. Gazebo Slayer

    So I just found the two most ridiculous job listings I have ever seen.

    One is for a “Customer Support/Call Center Zombie” (according to the heading) and starts thus:
    “Do you spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the least painful self-inflicted injuries that can get you out of work?

    Did you wake up this morning in a great mood only to go to work aaaaaannnnnd it’s gone?

    Did you think to yourself that you couldn’t possibly find a job that less effectively utilizes your Master’s degree in Exercise and Movement Sciences?”

    After a bunch more stuff, it says

    “And we’re not talking about a sloth like, soul sucking, sycophantic “career” building fluffer role with meaningless title like you see sugar coated from the big firms. We’re gonna tell it like it is.

    We are seeking completely inexperienced call center zombies to answer some mother F’ing calls.

    We could make up some bullshit job description and responsibilities but we respect you too much to do that shit.”

    A pretty normal list of responsibilities follows, except that it includes

    “Shoot the CEO with nerf guns (optional).

    Sometimes wear a “uniform” that is comprised of a custom bedazzled t-shirt that says “Call Center Zombie” in fuchsia rhinestones (wrinkle free dockers and an air of entitled resentment not supplied).” =

    And a pretty normal list of qualifications, except:

    “You’ve ever described a mullet on an aggressiveness scale

    You’ve done the gesture to “drop the mic” at some point in a conversation”

    The second is a contract job as a proofreader for an ad agency, and it seems pretty normal… until you get to the pay. They ask for 5 years of similar experience and a bachelor’s degree. It’s full-time, on site… and the pay is “$45.00.” The link I followed to get to this page on Indeed made it clear this was actually $45 PER DAY.

    Yes, per DAY. For full-time. Massachusetts minimum wage is $11/hr, national minimum wage is $7.25/hr, and it works out to less than even the latter. In an expensive Boston suburb, to boot.

    Links to follow so moderation doesn’t eat this post, though they’re also at the tumblr linked from my username.

    Reply
      1. Paige Turner

        So much WTF here >:(
        Besides all the other things I could say, who pays PER DAY? I actually ran across a job listing on Indeed once that listed the pay as something around $9/hr, when the minimum wage in the location (DC) is $12. I tweeted at Indeed and the company and Indeed took the listing down. Some nerve…

        Reply
        1. Gazebo Slayer

          Subminimum wage jobs are depressingly common. I’ve seen multiple online listings for less than minimum wage, I’ve gone through online applications that state pay rates below minimum (or ask your salary expectations in a multiple-choice and there are whole brackets under minimum wage), and I’ve been offered jobs for less than minimum wage. Some guy offered me $4 an hour to work in his retail shop, and I did a one-day tryout as an assistant for a woman who told me brightly “If you get really good at it, maybe you’ll eventually make $5 an hour!” (These were about 10-15 years ago, but even then the minimum wage in MA was $6.75.)

          And I won’t even start on how restaurant owners legally required to make up the pay of servers whose tips don’t add to minimum wage don’t actually do it.

          Reply
      2. Observer

        Interesting irony that a firm calling itself Integrity Staffing is offering a below minimum wage job.

        Reply
    1. rageismycaffeine

      I am trying and failing to figure out how you rank a mullet on “an aggressiveness scale”! Good lord.

      And I lovelovelovelovelove your Tumblr. I think I will get no work done now. :)

      Reply
      1. INeedANap

        I have used the phrase, “The guy with the weapons-grade mullet” in the past to point out an acquaintance…

        To be fair, it was a pretty intense mullet.

        Reply
        1. Lefty

          Thanks for the pop culture check… I thought of the fish and their habit of jumping out of the water. My brain went, “It’s alarming at first, but it’s not like they’re jumping at you!”

          This day may require two cups of coffee!

          Reply
    2. Somewhat Wistful Grad

      What the…? What makes them think that advertising a call center job with profanity is a good idea? And at that wage? The levels of not caring are off the charts with them.

      Reply
    3. paul

      the first is aggressively cheerful and painful in it’s attempt to be funny but I actually kind of respect it when job ads don’t blow smoke up your ass about what a great career an entry level job is.

      Reply
      1. Manders

        Yeah, I also have some respect for a hiring manager who’s honest about the fact that call center work is kind of soul-sucking and people don’t want to stick with it forever. It’s pretty weird, but it gets the point across better than all the “We’re such a fun workplace! Look at this Great Place To Work trophy (that we totally paid for from a shady company)!”

        Reply
    4. Nea

      I think the first job is trying to find whatever potential fun might be had in a really soul-sucking job. If I was stuck in a situation looking for work like that, I’d be more interested in the one that pitched itself as having some attempt at humor.

      Reply
    5. Anon Anon

      The proofreader one cracks me up. Most of the contractors that we use for this type of thing (and it looks like this is a contract role) charge between $50-$75 an hour. And we are in the mid-west.

      Reply
    6. Surrogate Tongue Pop

      I’ve seen this on Indeed re: the per day rate. I think it’s an error on the part of the person entering the job that they selected per day and not per hour. I’ve seen these mistakes on super experienced technical contract jobs where the per day was inadvertently chosen.

      Reply
  39. Crylo Ren

    People that were let go from their employer, was there anything that you wish your colleagues (who stayed at the company) would have said or done after the fact?

    I just got a “hey, how’s it going” email from a former colleague who was let go a couple of weeks ago (20% reduction in force; no fault of his own). I feel a little guilty as I meant to reach out to him first, but I just didn’t know what to say. I want to ask how he’s doing, and also tell him that we all miss him (seriously – several weeks after the layoff, we’re still recalling affectionate stories about him – he was such a joyful presence in the office), but would the latter sentiment be like rubbing salt in a wound?

    Reply
    1. Annie Moose

      I got laid off last year and not a single one of my coworkers reached out to me afterward, even though I sent all the people I was close with my personal phone/email if they wanted to contact me. I know they weren’t obligated to do so, and a bunch of other people were being laid off at the same time too, but–none of them even sent me an email with “hey, it was nice to work with you, I wish you luck in the future”? It hurt.

      I say, go for it. He clearly is interested in maintaining contact. (otherwise he wouldn’t have emailed you!)

      Reply
    2. Wanderer

      I’ve been laid off but still have two weeks left. I have kept in touch with a handful of people who have left for various reasons, most because we were friends outside of work and a handful because there was a mentor/mentee relationship. I would like to have a couple of my closer work friends keep in touch with me too when I go, but if they don’t it’d be okay. It gets hard to keep track of everyone you’d like to, and there is a lot of truth to “out of sight, out of mind.”
      That said, I would absolutely love it if the coworkers who stayed let me know I was missed, especially if it has more to do with my presence/personality/insights than the fact that now they have to do the work I would have done. :-)

      Reply
    3. Thlayli

      I stayed friends with my actual friends and gradually lost touch with people who were just “work friends”. That’s fine. If you consider him an actual friend stay in touch, if he’s a “work friend”, then send him a brief message to ask how he’s doing and over time let it fizzle out, if you were just colleagues and nothing more then just let it go.

      I was a little surprised by one or two people – one who stayed in touch and clearly considered me a lot more of a friend than I considered him. And a couple of people who I had thought of as actual friends but clearly it didn’t have the connection I had thought it did. But it’s not something I’d take personally. No big deal.

      Reply
    4. Chaordic One

      I really appreciated it when former coworkers kept in touch with me and said things like, “I’m so sorry” and “I really miss you not being there.” Several people offered to be personal references in my job search, and a couple of former supervisors offered to be professional references for me and that was helpful.

      I’m mildly embarrassed to admit that I did experience a certain amount of “schadenfreude” when I was told by coworkers from other departments that my former department experienced some problems in my absence (things that didn’t get done or done as well as I did them and deadlines that were missed).

      Reply
    5. Piano Girl

      I was laid off a couple of months ago. Today I had lunch with my old department. It’s been nice to keep in touch, as I think it’s hard to go from being so involved in each others’ lives to nothing at all.
      One of the reasons I was let go was because they were transitioning one of my main responsibilities to someone else in another office. I made a point to call him and wish him good luck. I think he was quite relieved that I reached out and broke the awkwardness.
      i would reach out. I think they would appreciate it.

      Reply
  40. Me

    Whoa! I beat the rush!

    I have to go waste two hours testing today for an office position that I don’t really want and suspect I cannot do (executive assisting–schedules, processing expense reports; what was I thinking; I should just withdraw right now). What I WANT to do today is go see Wonder Woman. Now I’m going to have to wait until Sunday. :P

    I’m so tired of seeing these jobs I could totally do but I lack this, and I can’t afford to learn that (f*ck you and your subscription model, Adobe), and I’m out of state and invisible. I found ONE job to apply to here this week. ONE.

    Something has to give soon, or that something is going to be me. Rawwr!

    I found a contract tech writing/editing position with a software company in LA I would like to apply for. The job listing said it could be done remotely or onsite. I looked at their reviews on Glassdoor and they’re mostly good. One person said in Cons, “common cons of being a consultant/contractor,” so I assume they’re all contractors, which might not be so great, but I could get experience here. The reviews also said they’re big on helping employees learn stuff, apprenticeship-style.

    I probably won’t even get a reply, but it raised the question of rates. Would a company have a set amount they pay for a contractor, or would you have to quote them a rate? The listing said nothing about this. I doubt it pays that much, since the software experience is a nice-to-have and not required (and it’s stuff like Google Docs, GitHub, and they would like HTML, which I don’t really know yet). I have no idea what to set, and contractors have to pay higher taxes and I don’t want to end up only making like $10 an hour after all that. I made $18 at Exjob and that was an admin position, so I could get more for a specialized job, and the interwebs says an entry-level tech writer can make around $50K but I’ve seen salaries that are lower than that. Having to buy my own insurance and all is going to be worse. Help?

    Reply
    1. not my usual alias

      We have set rates for contractors, but I know not everybody works the same way.

      Also, $50K sounds really, really high for entry level. Was that for a particular area? The Society for Technical Communication has a salary database, but you have to be a member to access it. It’s an organization you might consider joining, if possible (link to follow).

      Reply
    2. katamia

      If they hire a lot of contractors, there’s a good chance they have a set rate or at least a set range.

      Reply
    3. Dynamic Beige

      (f*ck you and your subscription model, Adobe)

      Oh, don’t get me started. It’s specifically people like you that subscription services hurt. Although I do think they have a 30-day free trial (not sure if you have to provide a credit card in order to download, though, and it’s a massive download)

      What I would suggest you try, if you are interested in learning some specific Adobe software would be to buy an old copy on eBay. Things like Photoshop haven’t changed all that much (not really, unless you are interested in doing the really high-end stuff) so you don’t need the latest-and-greatest-most-up-to-date-awesome version in order to learn how to use it/basic concepts. It may take a while to find the right thing (not an update version, which requires a full version in order to work) at a price you are willing to pay… but IMO for what you probably want to learn, you could get Photoshop 7 and it would be OK, maybe even 4. Most of what I use Photoshop for (and I’ve been using it for over 20 years now, since before it had layers) doesn’t require all the fancy new stuff. Cropping, image size, colour correction, saving as different formats, that hasn’t changed all that much since the beginning.

      Reply
    4. Dynamic Beige

      Yes, I’m all over the place today.

      Would a company have a set amount they pay for a contractor, or would you have to quote them a rate?
      It depends. Sometimes they ask you for your rate, which you set yourself – that would require you to do research on what the going rate is. Someone who lives in LA would charge a high rate because of higher COL, and it would depend on education/experience and skill set as well. I think the guideline would be twice what your hourly salary is. If you made $18/hr at ExJob, $35/hr as a contractor to someone in LA might be a good rate, it might be higher depending on your research. I also don’t think it would do any harm to ask. I cannot comment on how much your insurance would be (get some quotes) but if you have a monthly budget, you should be able to figure out how many hours you would need as a contractor to make enough money to pay your bills and set aside for taxes. Remember, if you are a contractor, you can also write off some percentage of your living expenses – you would need to speak with an accountant about that – which can include the software you need to do your contracting. Sometimes, companies tell you what they are willing to pay and you can either negotiate or not. One friend of mine got a huge salary bump because the person who offered the job said “I assume your current salary would be $Y?” which was almost double what she was currently making. She just nodded and tried not to jump up and down.

      they would like HTML, which I don’t really know yet
      That you can learn for free online through Codecademy https://www.codecademy.com/

      Reply
      1. Me

        I already started learning HTML; I just haven’t done very much of it yet. I might look for a copy, though, thanks for the suggestion.

        Reply
    5. Rache

      I’m sure I could dig and find it – but what sort of work are you looking for? Ideal world speak. :)

      Reply
    6. AliceBD

      Adobe used to have some old versions of their software available for free to download; I got them a couple of years ago while my request for the actual versions was winding its way thru bureaucracy. Not sure if they would work for an actual job but hopefully would be enough to get you started learning? I’m not sure if they are available still but it is worth looking. These were legit copies from Adobe, not a sketchy site.

      And as for the actual learning, my public library has a subscription to Lynda dot com that anyone can access from home, so I would see if something like that is available to you.

      Reply
  41. Fabulous

    The person I’m covering for on maternity leave comes back in 2 weeks. I’m SO looking forward to it!!
    I haven’t gotten a ton of her work, but I did get a handful of daily reports. Nothing too terrible, but I was also changed to be under her manager. He’s a great guy – I really like him, I actually interviewed with him initially – but he’s very hands-off and he kept most of her work as his own instead of having me help out more. As much as I’ve enjoyed getting into Finance a bit, I’ll be glad to transition back to my own manager and actually get into the QA work that I hadn’t learned yet when brought on full-time last October.

    Reply
  42. SIAnon

    I reached out to see about getting my part-time retail job back to help bring in a little extra money. I was encouraged to apply and told to contact the store manager to talk things over with her. I’ve been playing phone-tag with her for 3 weeks at this point (not knowing when she’s in the store, or being told to call at the wrong time, so I never get through to her and for some reason I have to call her- she doesn’t return my calls at all) but finally got through this morning, where she told me she’d send me an email with information about online training to re-complete.

    How long do I wait for that email before reaching out to her again? Do I wait until tomorrow or should I call back this afternoon while she’s still working to follow-up? Also, is it okay to follow up with the ASM instead because I have her number and can text her or would it be obnoxious to have the ASM pass along a message to the SM for me?

    Reply
  43. consultant

    I work as a management consultant and currently for a big client. I’ve been very unhappy with my job and searching for a new position for months.

    I’m curious if applying for a job with the company that’s currently my client would be totally unacceptable.

    Obviously, in consulting, normally clients approach you and offer you a job if they want to have you. However, it’s a new assignment, the client haven’t had an opportunity to get to know me yet. Not to mention, I’m not working with senior managers this time, it’s a more junior role than what I have done before. Also, I would be looking for a position in a bit different field than what I’m working on on my current project.

    My work contract only specifies I can’t work for my current company’s competitors. Still, I have a boss on the project and I’m not sure how he would react if he learnt that I applied, probably very negatively.

    Reply
    1. Project Manager

      That sounds really risky. My employer has been know to let people go for looking. If you have strong relationships with the client team, it might make sense to ask around, and then apply once you’re pretty confident you’re good fitt

      Reply
  44. SaraV

    Applied for a job late last week, went through the whole rig-a-ma-role of applying through their website, attaching resume and cover letter and them already wanting references.

    Haven’t heard back yay or nay from them concerning the position, but gosh! Can you take this survey concerning your experience in applying? :/ Gah.

    Reply
  45. Jessen

    So I was reading through the archives and through some other sites on self-harm scars at work. The ones on my lower arms are almost invisible, but I have ones up closer to my shoulder and on my legs that are a little more visible, although not glaringly obvious. Both are in areas that could reasonably be exposed by work-appropriate clothing (it should be noted my work is quite explicitly ok with sleeveless tops). So I don’t feel like I’m really worried about visible scarring.

    My question is, if someone questions me on them, what’s the best way to respond? I’m not ashamed of what happened, but I feel like it’s not really a work-appropriate discussion. At least some of my scars aren’t obvious self-harm scars – I actually have a matching duo, one on each arm, one of which is self-harm and one of which is an accident at a previous workplace.

    Reply
    1. Lemon Zinger

      If someone asks you about them, just say something like “Oh you know… life is hazardous!” with a laugh, and change the subject. It’s inappropriate to ask anyway, so hopefully nobody will.

      Reply
      1. Trix

        I love this. It works as well for random accidental scars as for self-harm scars, it’s honest without having to get into stuff, and breezy without unnecessarily making light of it.

        Most of mine aren’t going to be shown at work, unless I make a massive career change to be a lifeguard or something, but there’s one on my arm that I always worry someone will ask about. No one ever has, but I’m going to keep this one in my back pocket just in case.

        Reply
    2. paul

      Mine are a mix of self harm and other so I just tell people that notice (though this doesn’t happen at work, guys don’t go sleeveless) that I had some rough experiences in my young adulthood.

      Reply
    3. Nea

      Nobody’s ever asked me about my various scars (all self inflicted if not self harm… the perils of hobbies involving sharp pointy things). Nobody even asked me when I showed up for a job interview with one finger ridiculously bandaged and made a joke about it.

      Reply
    4. DaniCalifornia

      I have two very distinct scars on my left fore arm from this and two smaller ones next to them. They are not often covered up either. At this point in life I don’t mind sharing if a friend asks but I find that in the workplace it’s a bit awkward to explain that and/or makes others uncomfortable. For me what works best is saying “Oh a mean cat got me and I picked at it.” That usually drops the subject. I am comfortable out right lying about it to acquaintances and coworkers and strangers (who ask! seriously I don’t know you dude) Not everyone is. I think you have have to be comfortable with what you say and how you say itwhether it’s the truth, a half truth, a vague line, or a lie. Or if you say it and change the subject, or laugh it off.

      Reply
    5. KR

      “Oh, just an accident when I was younger that didn’t heal well. Now about that TPS report… ” I know it wasn’t an accident and it has a history, but something like that with a nonchalant attitude and a change of subject will hopefully put people off from questioning you further. If they press, you could say “It’s a boring story and it happened so long ago I honestly forget most of the details. Now have you heard from Wakeen about the new budget?”

      Reply
    6. Hellanon

      “I had a medical issue when I was younger” paired with the face your English teacher gave to students who were 30 minutes late for their final exam. Should work a treat.

      Reply
    7. Thlayli

      Here’s what I would do : Make up a random over the top story about your scars that’s obviously untrue – have it start off realistically but get wilder and wilder until they realise it’s made up. Then just laugh and say “you want the truth?” If they say yes say “you cant handle the truth” and laugh again. They would have to be seriously tenacious to ask a third time, but if they do say something like “I’ll tell you when You prove you can handle the truth. I will set you 12 tasks, and you must complete each.” And then List off tasks Jason had to do in Greek mythology. Or tell them they have to find and destroy all the horcruxes first, or something like that.

      Reply
    8. Hazel Asperg

      +1 for ‘cat got me’. I know a friend of mine, when asked, said that she put her hand through a window. That might not be applicable, but some kind of ‘oh, *shrug* I had an accident when I was a kid’ might be dull enough to deflect questions?

      Reply
    9. Red

      I have some extremely obvious self harm scars that I simply do not cover. I have two stories, depending on the situation. One is that they were from a medical issue when I was younger (true but vague option), the other is that I was mailed by a bear (that’s the “I’m *not* discussing this” option). You can say the second one jokingly or with a pointed look, depending on how strong a point you want to make.

      Reply
    10. Her Grace

      Scars, regardless of how they happened, are personal. They do not need to be explained.

      Yet people ask. Some (most) ask innocently, hoping for a spectacular story about the time you fell out of a tree while rescuing a tortoiseshell cat. Others are looking for chinks in armor or flaws to knock you down a notch. (Yes, there are mean people in the world.)

      The true answer really isn’t their business. The best answer is one that makes the situation appear as if it isn’t worth considering as their business. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.

      My favorite answer once for a scar I didn’t really want to explain was, “Can you believe it was a dog and not a cat?”

      Subtle, and true from a certain point of view.

      Reply
  46. Annie Moose

    Just need to vent a bit–I’m a web dev, and the project I’m on is not going well. Our project manager is just… not very good at project management. The product is a year late (it literally was supposed to have been completed before I started working here), and every time we think we’re getting to the end, he suddenly thinks of new issues that MUST be resolved before we can release it. This page needs to work differently. Oh, I totally forgot about an entire feature that I never mentioned before today. Hmm, the current workflow won’t work for [specific edge case that hadn’t been previously discussed] so we’ve got to redo half of it.

    It’s incredibly annoying because most of our problems could’ve been avoided simply by better planning and design up front, and better communication with the users (with whom we lowly devs are allowed no contact). We should not still be changing basic details about how the system works, the month we’re supposed to be releasing it! And the users still haven’t even seen the thing, let alone tested it. (oooh… don’t get me started on the lack of user testing)

    We’re just stuck in this horrible cycle of reaction to whatever new thing the project lead comes up with, and he changes his mind all the time. We’ve managed to push back enough to get him to stop adding new features, but the problem is that a lot of the things he brings up legitimately do need to be addressed before the application is finished–but they’ve never been mentioned before, so there was no way we could’ve predicted we needed to do things that way. I’ve started documenting, documenting, documenting, but unfortunately our team doesn’t use email much, just Slack, so often messages get lost or are hard to find.

    (and to make things even more weird–we technically are subcontracted out to this guy, so my company is limited in how much they can pressure this guy to improve his project management skills because he’s the one paying us. My actual manager isn’t any happier about the situation than we devs are, but there’s not much he can do. I love my company and coworkers, but this project is terribly annoying)

    Siiiiigh… I could go on (and on, and on). We’ll get through it, but I just needed to rant.

    Reply
    1. Kalamet

      Hoo boy, are you my twin? This could be me except we flew past the due date about six months ago. The project is terrible, quality-wise, because my team decided to cleverly use some new fancy technology and didn’t bother to train anyone on it. I learned it, but no one else did, so things are hacked together. And every time we approach a deployment window the stakeholder remembers something they CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT that they never mentioned before. So they cancel the deployment then have a meeting to scold us for not delivering what they asked for.. by seeing the future, I guess? This project is the reason I’m job searching. I can’t take these shenanigans anymore.

      No advice, unfortunately, since it sounds like we’re both stuck working with the crazysauce. But much sympathy.

      Reply
    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?

      Hi, can we start a support group?

      I just went through this (or am still going through it…) with a guy like this who stuffed everything and the kitchen sink into three different, but related, analyses. Its a mess, I stopped paying attention to his emails for deck changes after realizing we were on the second go round of the same “ideas”, and then we had THREE Come To Jesus meetings where he still hasnt figured it out that I am unhappy because he cant manage time, resources, or logic. Now I am just plainly blunt and point blank wont make any more changes on my component because I dont agree with the conclusions hes drawn after I have told him why they are wrong.

      But I hear your pain – YOU CANNOT HAVE EVERYTHING, SEE THE FOREST FOR THE TREES

      I think its a manifestation of insecurity of letting something go. Hes had 3 people walk off this project in a YEAR. Today I was counseling new girl through her frustrations on it (and hes also her line manager). What a disaster.

      Reply
      1. Synonymous

        If you all haven’t watched “The Expert” (on YouTube), I’d recommend it for commiseration.

        Reply
  47. Putting Out Fires, Esq

    The post yesterday made me think: pumping mothers, where is the weirdest place you ever pumped?

    For me, it was the parking lot of a prison. My office has a nice pumping room, but I’m on the road a lot. Master of the parking lot session. The prison was a new one for me though!

    Reply
    1. Hedgehog

      For me, a museum. Spent a lot of time hand expressing into the sink at work, too, when I couldn’t quite work a full pump session into my teaching schedule but couldn’t stand the fullness any longer either. That was a joy!

      Reply
    2. v

      In the car while my husband was driving to a different city so that he could go to an appointment and I could work at a coffee shop. Not in and of itself so weird, but I kept thinking of the drivers next to us and what they must be thinking.

      Reply
    3. Thlayli

      Lots of places. My youngest had to be bottle fed for medical reasons so I had a hands free bra and would pump while minding two toddlers. I did it in public once (at a mother and baby group so not actual public public).

      With my eldest I went away for a week and pumped and dumped to keep my supply up. Weirdest part of that was opening the car door quickly when we stopped at the lights to dump milk so I could start on the other breast, and the driver freaking out coz apparently the area was known for car jackings (this was in Africa).

      Reply
    4. Nerfmobile

      at an empty gate in the Atlanta airport. It was in a wing where all the gates were empty at the time, and the only place I could find a power outlet. I had a big pashmina wrap and draped it over my front. Not something I wanted to repeat, though!

      Reply
    5. Diana

      I’ve been lucky enough that my pumping activity has been relatively mundane. My employer has great lactation rooms (complete with hospital grade pumps) and most of the time I’ve pumped in my house, or a bedroom somewhere.

      But for having to nurse, I think the most exposed circumstance was in the middle of a stadium during a graduation ceremony. I was surprised not one person said anything to me, although there was one who gave me a dirty look when they tried to pass by me to get to their seat while I was doing it.

      Reply
      1. Diana

        Reading these others reminded me of one interesting time…on the airplane. Thankfully the plane noise covered up most of the sound of the pump and I just placed a blanket over myself.

        Reply
  48. Talia

    Well, I was going to come here to ask about the “What if they offer it to me” about a job that’s in line with my career goals but I don’t particularly want… but I got offered a DIFFERENT job that I actually *do* want that’s also in line with my career goals! So now I’m going “Yay, exciting!” (I will now have two jobs for a while, until I find the one full-time job that I will have for the rest of my career because my industry is like that– it’s one of the last places where people just get a job and stay in it forever. Which is some of why I’m having trouble *finding* one.)

    Reply
  49. Turkletina

    I’ve been offered a job! A year ago I graduated with a PhD in a fairly niche (read: useless) field. I moved to a place with a terrible economy and nothing at all in my field. I managed to teach 1 class a semester at a local university, but have been pretty solidly underemployed for that year. Now I have a job! In my field! Here! (Well, kind of here. It’s going to be remote at the beginning because the company doesn’t have a fully functional office here yet.) I’m still waiting on the formal offer, but I really couldn’t be happier or more relieved.

    Reply
    1. Somewhat Wistful Grad

      That’s awesome for you! It’s so satisfying to finally reach the job you’re trained for. I have a friend with very niche skill set who’s been unemployed for a year and a half since graduating (with a degree for which most graduates do not have trouble finding jobs) and I dreaming of reaching that point.

      Reply
    2. overeducated

      I know you don’t want to get too personal but…I’m dying for hints about what your field was, and what the job is! I also have a PhD in a very niche field, and I’m in a very niche term job, so already wondering what’s next.

      Reply
        1. overeducated

          Ok, now I’m REALLY curious about the job you moved into! (“Not the useful kind” of linguistics isn’t my field but I did graduate from a department that offered it….)

          Reply
  50. Lemon Zinger

    My counterpart is taking several personal phone calls per day, missing a lot of work, and left an updated resume on the printer one day. She’s been here less than a year and is clearly unhappy with the nature of our work. She’s not a team player and I am hopeful that someone else will hire her, so she can leave and take her negativity with her!

    Has anyone hoped for a coworker to get a job offer so they would leave?

    Reply
      1. Talia

        My co-workers email me job postings, but that’s because they know I want to be in a different area of the field than I’m in and they’re being helpful. (Everyone knows I’m looking; this is an entry-level job that one isn’t necessarily expected to stay in that long.)

        Reply
    1. Bruce H.

      I heard a story once about a guy who was moving up the company hierarchy at a quick pace. Someone wondered how he did it and he explained that in each new job, as soon as he felt he could do his boss’s job he would shop the boss to the headhunters.

      And yes, I have also put job postings in a colleague’s mail box in hopes that he would move on.

      Reply
    2. Bluebell

      Oh yes! I worked somewhere there were people who would leave job notices on copy machines. I never did that though I was tempted to leave the occasional job opening notice on someone’s chair.

      Reply
  51. Free Meerkats (formerly Gene)

    The new guy started Monday. He seems to be fitting in well, since we’re an odd group of ducks, that’s encouraging. :-) The top two candidates were essentially tied, it was basically a coin flip between them. Grandboss is an engineer and this guy also has an engineering degree; plus he’s local, the other candidate would have had to move from a few states away.

    But the list is good for a year, so if my boss pulls the trigger and retires, we can get the other guy with just a phone call to find out if he still wants to come here.

    Reply
    1. Not So NewReader

      Wow. It has been a while getting this new person. What’s it been, a year? I bet more than that.

      Reply
  52. all good

    I just accepted a job offer, and I’m so excited. I now have to give my notice (after seven years of employment) and I am extremely nervous. I have set a start-date at my new job, and pending a State Police criminal investigation, I am good to go. I’ve honestly never spoken to a police officer before in my life, aside from when I had a car accident or to thank one, so I should be okay? Is there anything that could trip me up? Can you think of any reason why I should hold off on giving my notice? I’ve never quit a job before, so I’m just super anxious about the transition as well. Thank you for reading :)

    Reply
    1. Kyrielle

      I held off on giving my notice until my background check cleared, but purely as a formality. That’s up to you – it’s just that if it takes a while to clear, you may have some downtime before you can start your next job.

      Police officers are fine, and criminal background checks for jobs are pretty boring. They’ll probably fingerprint you; many places now do that with electronic scanning, but depending on their department and the office they’re using (or if they’re coming to you), they may use a fingerprint card and black ink, in which case you’ll have stained fingertips for a while. If they fingerprint you, my biggest tip is listen to them and do what they’re asking you to (which will involve a lot of relaxing and letting them control your fingers). It goes faster that way – and if there’s ink involved, you don’t have to redo as many perfectly-good prints when one goes wrong (because they have to start a whole new card; with the scanners, they just redo the print that didn’t come out clear enough).

      You can expect it to take longer if you have a very common name, because they’ll have to disambiguate you. You may need to provide additional information for that. (Constantina Warbleworth definitely won’t, her name and birth date are going to be sufficient; John Smith almost certainly will; everybody in between, it depends.)

      But mostly, as long as you don’t have a criminal history, it should be an interesting experience and otherwise a bit of nothing.

      Reply
      1. all good

        To that note, if there were a drug test involved would I be aware of that by now? None of the paperwork I signed suggested that employment was contingent on passing a drug test.

        Reply
      2. This Daydreamer

        It might not even be that involved. When I started volunteering where I work now, all I had to do was provide full names and SSN and a small fee. Still haven’t heard anything about it but they didn’t kick me off the volunteer program and later hired me so I guess there were no issues.

        Reply
    2. KR

      I would not put in your notice until your background check clears if you can swing it. Recently started my job and my background check was delayed several times at the state level (they would say it would be available at certain date and then on that date they would push it back a week or two) and over all. They were about to post my job again because they really needed to fill the position. Unlike you, I did not have a perfectly spotless record and had recently had charges cleared from my record so I was sweating bullets it would show up somehow ahahah.

      Reply
  53. Underqualified

    I have an interview coming up for a position that I normally wouldn’t apply for since I lack some of the required skills (they ask for proficiency in X and I have only very basic knowledge of X). I also don’t have a degree in the field they listed (although mine is related). I was contacted by the manager for the position and encouraged to apply. This job would be amazing for me and the manager does know that I lack some of the skills they are looking for. How do I address this in the interview (which is not with the manager). I don’t want to set myself up for failure by accidentally leading them to believe I have skills that I really don’t but I don’t want to undersell myself either.

    Reply
    1. Pup Seal

      Ha, I have the same problem coming up too! Do the skills required overlap/relate the skills you do have? If so, then maybe you can say, “I don’t have experience in X, but I have done Y, which is similar to X because of reasons A, B, C.”

      Reply
      1. Underqualified

        They are skills that I am in the process of acquiring. It is like applying for a job as a bike courier when I’ve only ridden a bike with the training wheels on.

        Reply
        1. Pup Seal

          Hmm, well I guess the best thing is to be truthfully, though that doesn’t mean you have to undersell yourself. After all, there’s a reason the manager encouraged you to apply. He wouldn’t had encouraged you if he didn’t think you were capable. Maybe they’re looking for a particular skill that you have that he didn’t mention. Also, sometimes employers are willing to take on candidates with less experiences so they can mold them to fit their company.

          Reply
    2. it_guy

      One of the biggest components of ‘job fit’ is how do you fit within the dynamics of the group. If you sound like you would fit in well, and are trainable and/or come up to speed quickly you have a pretty fair chance of getting the jobs. A lot of times managers will hire the right ‘tech-fit’ only to find out they poison the team dynamic.

      Reply
  54. Manders

    What do you tell your boss and coworkers when you have a job interview during the day and they don’t know that you’re looking? I’ve had a run of good luck with lots of companies asking for in-person interviews, but I feel like it’s starting to look suspicious that I suddenly need to go to loads of “appointments” in an unusually formal outfit.

    Reply
    1. Lemon Zinger

      Can you keep your outfits less formal while in the office? I.e. throw on a blazer AFTER you leave the office, or change on your way out? I would just tell them you have some medical appointments. You can say something like “It’s nothing serious, but it needs to get taken care of now.”

      Reply
      1. Manders

        I’ve been hiding the suit jacket and throwing on a less formal jacket during the workday, but I’m worried that I’m still sticking out like a sore thumb in this casual office.

        I’ve been saying I have medical appointments, but people in this office are not the greatest at boundaries, and often ask questions about my health that are tough to answer.

        (And I just now got ANOTHER request. That’s four in four weeks. A good problem to have, but still!)

        Reply
    2. Somewhat Wistful Grad

      Some people say they’re having dental work done. Extensive repairs can take several appointments, so somewhat realistic. Others are fond of the lunch date excuse, especially if you work in a busy part of a city and could conceivably be catching up with family/friends.

      Reply
    3. Pup Seal

      Do you have kids or pets or family near by? Maybe make up something that you have to help them with something?

      Reply
    4. the.kat

      I once scheduled an eye appointment for first thing in the morning and then went to an interview in the afternoon. I had to convince the optometrist not to dilate my eyes, but other than that it went well.

      Reply
    5. WhichSister

      Ha I was going to ask the same thing! Fortunately my kids have some minor medical issues so I mostly default to that

      Reply
    6. Chaordic One

      In the past I’ve used “personal business,” “family emergency,” and “sick pet” as excuses.

      I’ve also usually kept my change of clothes in my car. Once I stopped at a public library along the way and changed my clothes in their restroom, but most of the time I find an out-of-the-way place to park along the way to the interview and I change my clothes in the car. (Not great, I know, but I’ve never had anyone even notice me when I was changing clothes.)

      Reply
  55. Blue Anne

    I had a really encouraging thing happen at work yesterday!

    I have three bosses – Niceboss, Grumpyboss and Grumpierboss. All three of them tend to give me projects at the same time without asking what else I’m working on. Usually I can manage this, but sometimes (like right now) everything is 1) urgent and 2) work-intensive.

    Yesterday morning, Grumpierboss came up to me and asked whether I’d gotten his project done, because the deadline is next week. I told him I hadn’t touched it yet because I was working on an urgent project for Grumpyboss, and he was pissed. Told me he expected me to have it done already, that I needed to get on it, that I had to do all the projects at once and “just make it work!” Then he stormed off. Okay. I was going to anyway, somehow, dude. Now I’m just going to make it work and also resent your attitude.

    But here’s the cool thing! A couple hours later, he came to me and apologized! He said he was just worried about it because we have a “drop-dead deadline on this one”, which is true. I assured him I hadn’t forgotten, I was juggling a lot of things, and it would get done. He said he remembered how much shit people gave him when he was my age and he was sorry. That was pretty amazing. (Grumpierboss has a reputation for being a grumpy old git with constant foot-in-mouth. I think he has started trying to be less of a jerk since he yelled at me in my first couple weeks and I had to go cry in the bathroom. Of course now I’ve realized that I’m not terrible at my job, he’s just grumpy, but I’m still glad he’s being nicer.)

    AND THEN! Niceboss came to me and my work bestie and said hey, we know that having the three bosses is a pain because we all give you projects without really talking to each other, and this is stupid. We’re sorry. Please have a think about a good way to make your projects visible to everyone, like a whiteboard or public spreadsheet, whatever you prefer, so we can stop being stupid.

    Totally amazing.

    Of course, I still have to get the three projects done yesterday…

    Reply
    1. Kyrielle

      Technically, four – you also have to design a project display. ;)

      Sorry, that’s not helpful, but….

      I am glad they’re realizing it and working on ways to handle it though!

      Reply
      1. Blue Anne

        Oh yeah, I’ve added that to my “small projects I need to do soon which I will do with food in front of me so Grumpyboss thinks I’m on lunch and doesn’t bug me” list, which now has… twelve or fourteen items on it. :D

        It’s pretty amazing progress though! I think Grumpierboss is making an effort to be nicer, and Niceboss is making an effort to work ON the business rather than IN the business, and between them they’re pulling Grumpyboss along with them. It’s kind of cool to see it happen.

        Reply
        1. CappaCity

          Maybe we can help with the project display?

          What about white board with a grid/table on the wall by your desk-

          Columns could be something like – Project Name, Assigned by, Deadline (or due date), Status

          Each project gets a row, you could maybe get a magnet that you can move to the row that you’re actively working on.
          Statuses could be “On hold” (waiting for assets), “Pending” (in the queue behind higher priority projects), “In Progress”, or even an estimated percent completion or something. Seeing the other due dates/deadlines could help your bosses see why you’re prioritizing other things ahead of their asks.

          You could do the same thing in a shared excel sheet if your bosses are tech savvy; just highlight the row you’re currently working on. Then they wouldn’t have to swing by your area to see what you’re up to. I just figured, the more visible the better.

          Reply
          1. Free Meerkats (formerly Gene)

            About halfway through I was saying, “Whiteoard!” Great to see that Niceboss recommended it. Don’t do the spreadsheet alone; if you do it, combine it with the whiteboard. The spreadsheet takes effort to look at before going to you to assign stuff. The whiteboard (which needs to be readily visible when they walk into your work area) is a visible reminder.

            Reply
            1. Blue Anne

              Yeah, I actually suggested the whiteboard. I strongly prefer it but it’s true that spreadsheets have more information and are accessible from home, so… sounds like we’re going for a spreadsheet.

              I told Niceboss I’m going to put up a whiteboard in my cube “for my own quick-reference list” as well, though. It would be REALLY helpful if we could have a huge office whiteboard during tax season…

              Reply
              1. Free Meerkats (formerly Gene)

                Comment from the new guy his second day here, “I get my own whiteboard?!?” Everyone has one or two in their office, and there are two giant ones in the lunch/conference room.

                This was after the first day, “A window and a door?

                :-)

                Reply
              2. GreyNerdShark

                Many years ago we scheduled with jobs on magnetic tags. Each job had a number and expected duration, the tags were in columns on a whiteboard. Everyone with a job (or their boss) got to stand there next to each other at specific times and argue which jobs went where in the different queues.

                You could put a job on a red tag which meant “next available” but you had to argue with all the others as to why it got a red tag and you only had so many red tags available in total. Red tags had to be agreed to by the site manager.

                This system meant everything was visible to everyone and all queue jumpers had to justify their jumping to everyone else in public. Oh and all actual times taken were listed on the tag when the job was done and the job was in the done column.

                Admittedly these were schedules for computing jobs on specialist minicomputers but the system was also used for the non-computing parts, and worked for them too.

                Reply
  56. Not So Bad Candidate

    I GOT A NEW JOB!!!!!! I accepted it last Friday but it was late in the day so I figured I’d wait until this week’s open thread. I’m so excited! And relieved. I’ve been looking for SO LONG. Thank you to everyone here and Alison for putting up with my whining about my extended job search. I start June 26th.

    Reply
    1. Frustrated Optimist

      So happy for you! If you don’t mind my asking, how long had you been looking? (Asking as someone else who is in the midst of an “extended job search.”

      Reply
        1. Frustrated Optimist

          Thank you for replying. I’m currently at 2 years. Did you ultimately get hired based on just replying to a job posting, or did you know someone? Are you happy with the offer, or did you feel like you had to make some big sacrifices? Any other words of wisdom? Because right now, you’re my hero. =)

          Reply
          1. Bad Candidate

            I knew someone. I’m happy with the offer, it’s more than I make now. And seems like a better company. It’s not what I set out to find four years ago, but I’ve also changed what I want in the last four years. Plus with my current company, even though it’s a Fortune 500, there’s just no advancement opportunities there for me, for various reasons. There may not be at this company either, but it’s a step in the right direction I think. As for advice, just keep swimming. Reach out to friends and contacts. If I was single I would have moved to a different city, so be open to that. It’s not an option to everyone though. Good Luck!

            Reply
            1. Frustrated Optimist

              Thanks so much for the insights. I have a series of networking meetings and phone calls coming up and from each of these people, I hope to get an additional 1-2 names of people to contact.

              But anyway, congratulations again. I mean it – you’re my hero!

              Reply
        2. Not So NewReader

          Omg. I hope you never go through that again. What a horrendous thing. Good luck with your new place, I am sure you will be fantastic.

          Reply
  57. Perpetua

    I’m in a conundrum.

    Short background info: I worked as an HR Manager, quit my job last summer to leave a bad boss and experiment with other areas of psychology. I worked a lot with kids (mostly volunteering), worked on some projects and finally started my own series of workshops. It’s been only two months since I started this last “gig” of my own and I expect it will take me some time until things get really rolling (if it gets to that).

    So I’ve been looking around a bit, hoping mostly for a part-time job (not very common over here). Well, I got one, and I’m not sure what to do with it now. It’s an administrative job for a state institution, so not related to my fields of interest. However, it would offer me some stability over the following year (the contract is for 12 months), and the pay is solid, especially for a part-time job that doesn’t seem very demanding.

    My other current option is doing projects for/with a colleague of mine. We agreed upon an hourly “salary” for me, and if I work half of the month, I’d earn basically exactly the same as with the above-mentioned job. However, it’s not really predictable, so some months I might earn more, some less, and I can’t tell in advance what it’s going to look like. Those projects are related to HR, personal and professional development, so they’re much much closer to my wheelhouse. Also, in addition to me being interested in the actual content of that work, the colleague doesn’t have many other options (her closest coworkers are all pregnant or on maternal leave) so I don’t want to leave her in a bind.

    The third factor in play is my gig I mention, the workshops, which I’ve been planning to formalise and register as a company, and hopefully develop into something bigger. I have the option of applying to a state-funded program that would cover my costs for one year (mostly the obligatory contributions to the pension fund, and allow me to get some equipment that would be nice to have, but isn’t really a requirement for me to do the workshops). BUT, I can’t apply for that if I’m employed, which means that if I accept the first job, I have to either give up on doing the workshops now or pay for the contributions myself and try and do it simultaneously.

    I could possibly try to do all three, which would be the best option financially, but I don’t think I have the bandwidth to do all three without a loss of quality in work (I’m not a workaholic and I need some downtime as well). I have savings to tide me over for another 3-4 months (that I earmarked for that purpose when I quit my job), so the situation is not critical yet, but I’ll need to figure something out in those coming months.

    What would you do?
    a) Accept a safe job and figure out what you can do alongside it, even if its only benefit is the stability and you won’t be developing any new skills or advancing in your field.
    b) Live with uncertainty a bit longer and keep working on projects that interest you more and that have more potential to develop into something you’d like to continue doing.
    c) Something else?

    Whew, this got long, sorry! Thank you for any advice you might have :)

    Reply
    1. katamia

      I’d probably choose b), but then I’ve always struggled a lot in jobs where I didn’t have a lot to do and am generally not great at sticking to routines I haven’t created myself. If I have to put on pants and leave the house for you (speaking as a current freelancer, this is a bigger deal than it might sound, lol), then you better put me to work the whole time. And while I was doing b) I would research what I’d need to do to get my company off the ground and start that process (although that also sounds like something you could do while having the stable job, too).

      I also recognize that I seem to have a higher risk tolerance/craving for newness than a lot of people, though, and maybe I’d be better at handling stability/downtime at work if I’d been more consistently employed–I had the rotten luck of graduating from college right as the recession was getting off the ground and have definitely not recovered even now.

      Reply
      1. Perpetua

        As someone who can’t wait to take off pants as soon as I get home, I totally understand the big deal. :)

        Thank you for sharing, I can see myself in some of the things you describe. I am better at sticking to routines that others create and fulfilling external obligations than fulfilling the deals I make with myself (which makes for an additional challenge when it comes to building a business), but I’ve been more frustrated with having too little to do than having to figure out how to do many things at once, so I’ll take that into account as well.

        Reply
    2. Not So NewReader

      I would consider skipping job 1 and doing job 2 and 3. I’d forego the free money because when someone gives money there are always strings attached. Then I would go like heck for a year and live very frugally. Maybe I would set a random point or two where I would reflect to see how everything is going. At these random points I would ask myself, does it make sense to keep going. If yes, what random tweaks can I do to make this easier for myself.

      Reply
      1. Perpetua

        Thank you for your perspective! I’m usually wary of free money as well, but there are few strings attached to this program and they should all be very doable.

        The thing is, I feel like I’m already in the middle (or even the end) of the scenario you describe. I’m fairly frugal by nature/habit, and I’ve lived even more frugally since I quit my job last year. I could tighten things up a bit more, of course, but I’m already living a simple life with few indulgences and I’m starting to feel a bit too constrained so I would like to avoid intensifying that feeling.

        I’ve been asking myself at various points over the course of the year, how much time do I give myself to explore my options and how will I know for sure if THAT is the point when I need to make a compromise in order to get some stability, so that’s kind of the gist of this dilemma as well.

        Writing all this out helps me realise that accepting the first job would feel more like a failure than a relief, and that I would probably be better off building my trust in myself and my ability to find jobs/earn money when necessary (and building my business alongside other projects that have more relevance to my career) – things have worked out for me so far.

        Thank you once again!

        Reply
  58. Ash (the other one)

    So apparently an organization we work closely with just poached one of my new hires… as in she accepted our offer, we had a start date in place and then up and out of the blue they offered her a position and she accepted. Now I am left in a lurch and will be short staffed until I get another person hired. So not thrilled.

    Reply
    1. paul

      She hadn’t even started? This doesn’t sound like poaching. This sounds like she had applied at both places.

      Reply
      1. Not a Real Giraffe

        Yeah, it’s not really poaching. I wouldn’t aim my unhappiness at the organization, but rather at the candidate who accepted your offered and then reneged. Not cool!

        Reply
      2. MegaMoose, Esq.

        I know there’s been some debate on this in the past, but poaching or not, I feel that leaving after accepting an offer is not a good look.

        Reply
        1. paul

          yeah, but there’s not a reason to be miffed at the other agency/company here. Maybe the candidate, but it isn’t like the other company even knew she had an offer pending

          Reply
          1. Underqualified

            I think that if the company knew she had accepted an offer, it’s poaching. But chances are that they had no idea. It’s the candidate that behaved poorly.

            Reply
            1. Ash (the other one)

              To be clear, she had withdrawn her application and told them she was coming to work for us. They offered her a position 2 weeks later. It was definitely poaching.

              Reply
  59. The ReFa

    Is email getting old?
    I’m hiring for an IT related position. I have three applications here that state a preferred way of communication that is not email. Like: ‘If you want to contact me, please use HIP_COMMUNICATION_SOFTWARE instead of email’. Each for a different chat/message … client. I will definitely not sign up for some hip service just to stay in contact with a single candidate. I have never seen this before. As far as I know, even fresh grads realize that email is the usual way to communicate. Is someone out there giving advice that this is cool and will make you stand out? Is anyone of you experiencing the same trend?

    Reply
    1. Somewhat Wistful Grad

      E-mail for professional communication is definitely not on the way out. Those are odd requests. I went to a very tech-heavy university, and no one ever told employers to reach out via a chat service instead of email. The only substitution I’ve seen is Skype calls in lieu of regular phone calls for international and/or video conferencing.

      Reply
      1. The ReFa

        My initial question was not serious. It’s just seeing three applications in a few days (people from different universities) where I have not seen this before at all. Once Is Chance, Twice is Coincidence, Third Time Is A Pattern :-)

        Reply
    2. Jessesgirl72

      Are you in the US? Because I’m seeing Viber used a lot in parts of Europe right now, instead of or in addition to email. So the answer, regionally, could be “maybe?”

      But yeah, candidates who want a job need to use what the employer wants, not what they want.

      Reply
      1. The ReFa

        I’m in the US. I have seen stuff like Viber/Skype and others before in applications but they were always presented as optional alternative way to communicate not as the preferred/only method. I had one application where a candidate listed handles for 10+ different tools but still listed the E-mail first.

        Reply
    3. Blue Anne

      I haven’t seen it professionally, but I definitely have seen it in my personal life. Everyone always thinks that whatever app they love is the best/only way to communicate. It drives me nuts. No, I do not care about viber, snapchat, kik, whatsapp, or whatever the hell else. Text me. Facebook message me at a push.

      Reply
    4. Hedgehog

      I would be tempted to sign up for the new communication service just to tell the applicants they are idiots. But I’m a crank.

      Reply
    5. Wanderer

      Sounds like a good way for those candidates to make sure no one will bother to contact them for an interview.

      Reply
  60. minhag

    Do large companies usually keep records of who applied to them in the past and why they were accepted or rejected? I applied to a lot of internships this year and got a lot of rejections. I would like to reapply to some of these companies once I’ve graduated from my program and I feel a little sensitive that these companies have a record of my old rejection and will pull it up when I reapply for a full-time job. I don’t think I’m being paranoid because some companies with really formalized application systems do ask if you’ve applied there in the past and I have this depressing image of them receiving my new application and saying, “Her again! And she still hasn’t mastered blockchain technology. Tsk tsk.”

    Reply
    1. MegaMoose, Esq.

      It’s possible, but a past rejection on its own really doesn’t say anything about whether future applications will be accepted or not. If they sent you a rejection letter saying that you aren’t qualified because of X, and X hasn’t changed, then maybe you shouldn’t apply again, but otherwise, I wouldn’t think twice about it.

      Signed – Someone who has interviewed for the same job for the same government agency every year for five years now and been rejected every time.

      Reply
    2. Allypopx

      I *think* the norm is to keep applications for two years but that probably varies by industry.

      But what you’re envisioning is highly unlikely to happen. You’re a very different applicant when you’re post-grad and job hunting than you are when you apply for internships. Don’t overthink it!

      Reply
    3. Salmon Maki

      I’m a hiring manager at a very large company, and yes, I can see everything someone has applied for in the past, whether they interviewed, received an offer, etc. helpful info, but it can be a turn off when I see someone has applied to 50 jobs in the past or every opening currently.

      Reply
      1. Chaordic One

        Back at Dysfunctional Teapots, Ltd. they kept all applications on file for two years, but if you weren’t hired, for all practical purposes, applications fell into a black hole never to be seen again. If you wanted to be considered for a different position you had to apply for it as if you were starting from scratch, and that was what I advised applicants to do. No one ever applied for 50 jobs, but it wasn’t unusual for someone to apply for 5 or 6 over the course of, say, six months.

        Reply
    4. tigerStripes

      Some companies are going to be pleased you re-applied if you were high on their list of people they wanted to hire – sometimes you might be the 2nd or 3rd on the list, and they’re hoping they can hire you for something else.

      Reply
  61. C Average

    This is politics-adjacent–feel free to remove it if it’s too political for this thread.

    I’m finding the Comey testimony fascinating from a workplace dynamics standpoint. It’s like he wrote to Alison and said, “So I work for this who’s really powerful and a bit unpredictable, and he’s been pressuring me to do some things at work that I feel are a little sketchy. How do I handle this situation? I’d like to keep my job, but I’d like to keep my integrity, too.”

    And Alison might have said something like, “Try to avoid situations where you’re alone with your boss. Document everything! And consider confiding in a trusted colleague outside your chain of command so that you have a witness who can bolster your account if it comes down to a he said/he said situation.”

    Reply
    1. Manders

      I have some friends who work in politics, and I find their work stories fascinating because they’re SO far outside the norm for office jobs. Several have told me that the TV show that most accurately represents their workplace isn’t The West Wing or Scandal or House of Cards–it’s Veep.

      Reply
      1. AwkwardKaterpillar

        Yes. I used to work in our state legislature, and it was crazy. The show I think actually most accurately reflected what I experienced is Alpha House.

        Reply
    2. paul

      I’ve actually tried to picture heavyweight political staff writing in to AAM a few times just as idle entertainment.

      Reply
    3. SIGH

      There was a lot of Twitter commentary, and an op-ed piece in the NYT today, about how uncannily Comey’s experience with DJT mirrored sexual harassment. Is anyone shocked?

      Reply
      1. Paloma Pigeon

        I TOTALLY thought this, and then was interested to see several articles saying the same thing. I think a teeny silver lining to all this mess is that the behavior described and this tall, powerful man’s stunned reaction to it can be used as a case study/reference point for the future. I thought his statement about being stunned in the moment and losing his powerful ‘voice’ just rang so true. HR folks, note for the future.

        Reply
      2. Dear Liza dear Liza

        And then the GOP senators kept asking why Comey didn’t go tell someone to tell Trump what he was doing was inappropriate- another harassment parallel.

        Reply
    4. Annie Moose

      Ahhh, I was thinking the same thing, actually! The whole time, I was like, “wow, this sounds a lot like the issues Alison always responds to–just on a much more massive scale.”

      For example, at one point he was asked why he didn’t respond a certain way and he said something along the lines of being caught off guard and not sure what to do in the moment–which is exactly the kind of thing that often is said in AAM letters.

      Reply
      1. paul

        It’s weird; it’s very similar to victim blaming and watching it happen a head honcho of a major law enforcement agency is kind of surreal to me

        Reply
  62. Bad feminist?

    Our maintenance guy at work, “Ben,” is a super nice guy and I get along with him really well. He’s a good deal older than me (I’m about the same age as his daughters–mid 20s). I enjoy working with him (I’m a catering director and he helps me set things up a lot) and I know he respects me professionally.

    Something that I always wonder, though, in this case and in one or two others in the past is this: he calls me “dear” and “sweetheart” and occasionally “babe” (in non-creepy way, I swear). It doesn’t bother me and in fact I find it rather sweet and endearing. But I’m wondering if it should bother me?

    I totally understand why this makes people uncomfortable. And if it was a different person or a different context or said in any way that seemed condescending or gross, it would definitely make me uncomfortable. But is it okay to kind of enjoy this, since it seems I remind him of his daughters and he kind of reminds me of my dad (who lives far away and who I don’t get to see very often) or does that make me a bad feminist for not insisting he stops using pet names?

    I hate to say it’s harmless because I know sexism is insidious and this is how it slips by. Do I have a duty here as a woman to ask him to stop, or maybe just let him know it could be perceived badly? I’m so conflicted because he’s a genuinely nice person and it truly doesn’t bother me–it just bothers me that it doesn’t bother me, if that makes sense. Help?

    Reply
    1. MechanicalPencil

      I’m from the south. I live in the south, so my answer is probably highly based on region.

      If I tried to stop every man from calling me a pet name, I don’t think that I would get anything done. If you’re a bad feminist, I am a horrendous one. I have decided to pick my battles. If you feel your coworker isn’t doing this in a demeaning way, let it go. The fact that you somewhat enjoy it because it reminds you of your dad a little is a little icing on the cake in my opinion. Your feminist card is maybe a little dinged, but I call my SO pet names (in different languages, and one of them is maybe not quite so flattering, actually…).

      Reply
      1. Not a Real Giraffe

        Yeah I fear I’m a bad feminist for my response, but…

        If you’re not offended by something, you’re not offended by it! That’s okay. You certainly could/shuold let him know, “hey this is a thing that doesn’t bother me, but I can see it potentially bothering other people, so you might want to be more aware of it or stop doing it.” But you are not under any obligation to be offended by things that don’t offend you. You’re just obligated to be aware that it can be offensive to others.

        Reply
      2. Bad feminist?

        I am actually living in NC at the moment (but from New York) so I wondered if it was a little bit of that, though “Ben” is actually from the Midwest (Michigan, I believe). But even Baltimore, which I wouldn’t call the south, has “hun” so I would bet some of it is from where he spent most of his life as well. Thanks for the perspective :)

        Reply
    2. AnotherLibrarian

      If it doesn’t bother you, than let it go. I’ve been called “Sweetheart” by men and women. Most of the time, I don’t find it offensive. I’m in the South. It’s a thing older people do here.

      But once, a guy called me “sweetheart” at work and it made me want to smack him. I can’t explain it, but the tone was so patronizing.

      So, I turned around and asked him not to do it.

      Now, if others are coming to you and saying they dislike it than you might want to mention it to him as a friend. It is okay that this doesn’t bother you.

      Reply
    3. Emily

      I’m also a feminist-leaning young woman. Occasionally, I’ve been called “dear” by male coworkers who are nice people, and there’s nothing creepy going on. Like you, it doesn’t bother me.

      I say let it go!

      Reply
      1. MechanicalPencil

        See, when I call someone “dear” it’s because I’m being patronizing and I’m annoyed with them. Context is king.

        Reply
    4. Thlayli

      If it doesn’t bother you that’s fine. You don’t have to be offended by things just because other people are offended by them.

      Reply
    5. Not So NewReader

      There are some people that I let the endearing terms go right by me. For example, in cases where they treat others the same way or if their actions are obviously benign, the terms go nowhere and everything else is above board.

      The fact is that some times people actually like us for who we are. It’s probably a good idea to let them do that. If you are comfortable then say nothing. Relax your overthinking brain and realize that years from now you will think of this person and smile warmly. Every so often we get to work with someone that we kind of know, “I will remember you in a good/warm way for the rest of my life.” Some folks are a privilege to meet and get to know and that is probably where this is at.

      Reply
    6. Mirax

      If it doesn’t bother you, then nothing’s wrong. You’re not a “bad” feminist unless, like, some other woman complained about Ben using pet names with her and you told her that since you’re fine with it she should be too.

      Feminism means you’re a person who gets to set your own boundaries. You’ve decided you’re cool with this. As long as you’re not using that as a justification for why someone else’s boundaries are wrong, you’re doing fine.

      Reply
  63. Cruciatus

    Just some rants today. So, it’s great when you and your coworker both leave your dysfunctional offices for other departments on campus, but what’s annoying is when your coworker takes the position you had (again, just in another department) and then tells you all the problems with your former job and how this is wrong, and this is bad and they are now acting like an expert! (gaah!) It’s been less than 2 weeks. Trying to just be happy I don’t have to deal with any of it anymore. And I’m concerned about his future because he got his May paycheck at the new salary he’s making now (he only worked the new job 4 days in May). I told him to report it just in case but he doesn’t want to (he’s a bit desperate about money). I told him this could come back to bite him on the ass but he said he’ll just return the money then if asked about it. Eeeesh.

    In other news, I’ve trained my replacement for about 6+ hours now and she is. not. getting. it. I was with her yesterday and she “doesn’t know what the eff she’s doing” and had other comments of that nature. It’s a lot. And I get that. I was in the position for 19 months. I still was learning things. But she seems afraid to actually try anything and this is when I learned the most–opening up the systems, looking at the screens. I made (if I say so myself) great notes! I took screenshots so you didn’t have to guess at anything. She “doesn’t have time” to look at them to back anything up that she’s (not) doing. She highlights everything (and I know this probably puts me in BEC mode–but I’m of the opinion highlighting everything makes nothing important and isn’t really an effective learning tool. But I digress…). I do like this woman but she’s not making the right connections and isn’t understanding what system you use for what purpose–but they have very obvious names, not to mention I’ve shown her the procedures but she “forgot everything I showed her before” (less than 2 weeks ago, for things that, again, I have left notes and screenshots on how to do them exactly). I haven’t said anything to my former supervisor because I’m kind of figuring she can see if there’s an issue or not. She can also hear us while we’re training since she doesn’t sit too far away. I just don’t think she’ll make it and I hope they don’t request even more trainings because…I don’t wanna. Ugh, how’s that for whiny? I want to be done thinking of that office.

    I only worked 2 days this week. Who knew this much could build up that quickly! (Meanwhile, back at my new job of 2 months–I’m still loving it. A little bored because it’s summer and things slow down (library), but really enjoying feeling like a human being again in many ways).

    Reply
    1. Jessesgirl72

      You need to “not have the time” to show these things to her all over again, so she’s just going to have to work it out using the notes you left.

      Some people would prefer to let you do the work for them, and hold their hand, than try to figure it out themselves, for as long as the hand holding is available to them.

      Reply
      1. Zathras

        Seriously, it’s amazing what people are able to get done on their own once coming to you is not the easy option.

        Reply
      2. Cruciatus

        Well, my former supervisor goes through my current supervisor about my availability (who then at least will cc me on the message). So if my current supervisor says yes then off I go. She knows I’m not thrilled and made a comment about HR not going to be thrilled if it goes on too long (my HR is different, sort of, because I’m a main campus employee but I work at a “branch” campus). Oh, and it doesn’t help that I’m literally just down the hall 50 steps. Sometimes wish my job was across campus…

        What is considered a long time to train someone? We’ve only covered a couple of topics in those 6 hours. But I feel like 6 hours is a lot for someone not currently still in that office or position.

        Reply
        1. Jessesgirl72

          That’s why I think you tell her you don’t have time to go over things *again*

          You need to move on to new topics to make the most of the time you’re loaned out to train her.

          Reply
  64. katamia

    Was offered more freelance work this week where the starting rate is about the same as what I make now, but I suspect that their rates go higher than the place I currently do most of my work for. Here’s hoping their templates/style manuals aren’t too annoying, lol.

    Reply
  65. BioPharma

    Hi Alison,
    Love the improvements such as collapsing each level – although still doesn’t top when you changed your posts to blue shading! Any thoughts on the following:
    – have the indentations between levels to be a bit more pronounced? In some of these long threads, it’s hard to find the next level 3 post, as an example.
    – allow upvoting? you are so popular there are usually hundreds of responses. I go through the first several, but just don’t have the time to go through all of them, and I bet I’m missing out on some good discussion. I know this could be controversial, so that’s why I proposed just upvoting, not up/downvoting :)
    Thanks for this blog, love it!

    Reply
      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        A danger in making the reply levels more pronounced is that they end up getting really, really thin and hard to read, and making it hard to scroll on mobile devices. Tread carefully!

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Yeah, my thinking isn’t to indent them further but to distinguish them in some other way (I don’t know what yet, but like font, lines in front of them, or so forth).

          Reply
          1. RG

            Maybe zebra-striped shading (gray/white/gray)? I’m not sure you’d need all levels differentiated, just the ability to tell every other.

            Reply
          2. H.C.

            Yeah, I was thinking extra left-side vertical lines to indicate level of reply – which shouldn’t take up that much more space.

            Reply
            1. Not So NewReader

              Ooo, I like this idea and the lines could indicate the level. That would be cool, I feel I have to double check a nested reply because I am not sure I am lined up with the comment I want to reply to.

              Reply
          3. alter_ego

            Maybe the little line in front of them could be different colors? With the same color always representing the same tier in the thread? And then still getting bolder and darker when it’s a new comment since the last time you refreshed, like it does now (this is one of my favorite features, I wish more websites had a “new comment” indicator)

            Reply
          4. This Daydreamer

            On other sites I’ve seen “in response to Wakeen” or something similar. It helps follow conversations when there’s no more indenting.

            I’ve also seen at least one website where comments could be indented to the point where there was one word per line. Thank you for avoiding that.

            Reply
  66. Jessesgirl72

    Does anyone think, for reasons of Parental Leave, when my husband is eligible for it regardless if it’s adoption or birth or foster placement, that it matters that he can’t get his boss to understand the difference between surrogacy and adoption? His boss needs to submit the paperwork 30 days ahead of time (and then he sends an email, and it’s in effect as of the baby’s actual birth date) , and he keep defaulting to it being adoption, and DH is tired of (trying to) using political capital to force the difference. His boss is remote, so all these discussions are through email, so if there’s a question later, he has documentation that he is telling his boss surrogacy, not adoption.

    This is the same boss who doesn’t know why we need to be there 2 weeks before the due date, and that his return date to work has to be somewhat flexible, because babies come in their own time- HIS children were both born right on their due dates, and he thinks that is normal.

    And in other news, Ukraine is on the same list as China for countries that don’t respect IP rights, so he can’t take his normal company issued laptop to work there remotely, but Security will loan him a stripped one to use, or he can remote in from his personal laptop (His preference, especially if Homeland Security decides no laptops in the cabin while we’re there…)

    Reply
    1. MechanicalPencil

      It could be important if the correct box is checked (so to speak) should benefits change down the road. Better to have it straight from the start rather than having to unravel a SNAFU later. Is there someone else your husband could try to speak to? Maybe fill out the form himself and send it to his boss and get the signature (or whatever).

      Reply
      1. Jessesgirl72

        He is without a manager right now (going on 7 months…) so the grandboss and greatgrandboss are handling the management from out of state- with predictably bad results, since it’s not set up for that- and the paid parental leave is brand new to the company as of a month ago. So this is the first time the boss has had to deal with it- and my husband already had to correct him on it needing to be submitted in advance. He kept insisting all DH had to do was send him an email when the baby was born. The boss has to be the one who submits it, and HR is set up so that you can only get to them through your manager or the ombudsman.

        I think I’ll send him to the Ombudsman.

        Reply
    2. Thlayli

      Can he find out from HR if it matters? What could it affect? Are there policies about this? Is parental leave the same for biological children and adopted children? What could it affect down the road? If it makes no difference then just let it go is my advice. If it makes a difference then which is best for you? E.g. If adoptive leave is more then let him put adoptive. If parental leave is more then keep pushing for parental.

      I can’t imagine there is any difference tbh.

      Reply
      1. Jessesgirl72

        Yeah, the leave is the same, regardless if it’s biological or adoptive or even just a new foster placement. 4 weeks paid leave starting at birth or placement, and you can split it up, in no less than 1 week increments. And it’s totally separate from FMLA. It’s brand new a month ago, so I don’t think anyone is solid on it yet (except my husband read the memo about it better than his boss did)

        If it were an adoption, we could get extra monetary assistance, but that *would* be fraud. We just want the 4 weeks he’s entitled to- and grateful that the new benefit came right when we needed it. He’s been hoarding his PTO just in case, but now he’s daring to take 1 whole day off for his family reunion when 35 of his Dad’s relatives are spending 4 days about 2 hours from us. :D (He’d have taken 3, but it’s a big planning week, and on top of that, they wanted him to go to a client’s that week- first time in 4 years they wanted to send him out of town- and then realized he can’t go because of the planning week, so now he has to be “on call” starting at 4 am all that week… )

        Reply
        1. Thlayli

          I think so long as you don’t accept the monetary assistance it’s not fraud. I’m Not a lawyer though.

          If my thought is correct you could just let the paperwork go through with “adoption” on it to expedite it, and then follow up with HR or whoever is responsible to paying the monetary assistance afterwards to say “btw it’s not actually an adoption. I told boss that but he must have gotten crossed wires somewhere”

          Reply
          1. Jessesgirl72

            The adoption assistance is separate from parental leave and luckily he doesn’t apply for that one on our behalf :) My mentioning it was more a commentary on how I almost wish it was adoption so we’d be eligible for the assistance.

            Reply
  67. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

    I’ve been wondering about this situation for a while, and I’m curious to get everyone’s input.

    A couple of years ago, a friend of mine was terminated for a job after she had a serious asthma attack at work and had to be taken by ambulance to the emergency room. Their reasoning, which came via US mail, was that employees often worked alone (this was a small retail store) and their insurance wouldn’t cover her/them because of her illness.

    That seemed hella illegal to me, but am I missing something?

    Reply
      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        I’m not sure, but a lot. It’s a large, national company that has stores in dozens (or hundreds?) of malls and other locations. Large company (not franchised; all stores are operated by the company), small individual store.

        Reply
    1. AnotherLibrarian

      Most states are Right to Work states which means your boss can fire you for pretty much any reason UNLESS it is a legally protected category. Those categories are sex, race, religion, national origin, folks over 40; and people with physical or mental disabilities.

      So, unless her asthma counted as a disability, they were well within their rights.

      (Now, this doesn’t make it okay, just potentially legal.)

      Also I am not a lawyer, nothing I say should be construed as legal advice.

      Reply
      1. Emi.

        That’s not right-to-work–that’s at-will employment. Right-to-work means they can’t make you join a union.

        Reply
      2. Close Bracket

        Even if her asthma counts as a disability, they might not have done anything illegal. To get accommodations for disabilities, you have to request them. Even if you do request an accommodation, if it prevents you from performing essential job duties, you might not get it, and you might be fired.

        She could request a reasonable accommodation for her asthma like being able to wear her inhaler on her belt or something. But if she works alone in a store and has to go to the emergency room for an attack, she can’t perform the essential job function of being in the store to sell things.

        Reply
    2. Not So NewReader

      Insurance companies can make businesses jump through hoops. If the business model was mostly to have employees work by themselves then maybe they felt the employee’s risk of injury was too high and they refused to insure that store or the entire company. Since the point is risk and safety issues, I am not sure she could fight this one and win.

      Keep in mind that insurance companies are vigilant for risks, that is anything that could end up with injury or damage where the insurance company would have to pay out. If the store’s standard practice is to have employees work alone, I wonder if the store could argue that it’s not a reasonable accommodation to have someone work with her. The insurance company could argue that it is up to the policy holder to mitigate all risks. If the policy holder fails to reduce/eliminate risks then that company or person is not insurable.

      Do I agree with this junk? Not always, but there is a lot of it out there. And the stipulations insurance companies are coming up with are getting more and more complex.

      Reply
  68. Dynamic Beige

    Random thing I ran across today, a job seeker said they were asked this question in an interview:

    “Can you decide to be happy in unhappy conditions?”

    Is it just me, or is that a red flag?

    Reply
    1. paul

      what type of job? I mean if you’re working in hospice or, say, a prison, those are going to be pretty unhappy situations in a lot of cases regardless of how good your boss is

      Reply
    2. KatieKate

      Was this a position where the person would be working in really depressing social services? If not, RUN

      Reply
  69. Liz Lemon

    Anyone here have ADD? Any tips or resources for managing ADD in your career?

    I was just diagnosed this week, and I feel like a giant weight has been lifted. So many past failures, so many times I’ve beat myself up for being lazy, all those times imposter syndrome got the better of me–and it turns out that my brain just works really differently. It’s kind of a radical reimagining of my sense of self. And it already feels easier to get that deadly administrative work done, because I don’t feel all the shame about how hard it is for me.

    Reply
    1. katamia

      Yep. I was diagnosed about two years ago. I have medication I take on days when I know my focus needs to be on point, and for me, at least, it works really well. I’ve also tried to focus on things that would be more in my wheelhouse–I’m detail-oriented because both of my parents are and they sort of “trained” me that way growing up, but I really hate a lot of detail-oriented work and have given up on a certain type of work that, were it not for the ADHD, would be really good for me because I just can’t do it consistently enough without it completely exhausting me, even with medication. So I’m going to apply to grad school in another field that I think I’d enjoy and that would be a little more ADHD-friendly than what I originally expected to do.

      I wish I had resources to help you, but I haven’t found a lot of the typical suggestions people have for people with ADHD, like to-do lists, to be very useful. You should still give them a shot, though, to see if they work for you.

      One thing that does help me is setting up deadline reminders to be emailed to me. I’m good at remembering “X is due on the 13th” but horrible at remembering what day it actually is, so I’ll send myself a bunch of reminders on the 10th, 11th, 12th, and morning of the 13th to make sure I get X done and turned in on time.

      Reply
    2. zora

      I don’t have time to write a lot right now, but check out the book “ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life” by Judith Kolberg. It really helped me realize what systems work best for me and why, things like checklists and timers, that work better with the way my brain works. She has lots of examples, but with what I learned from the book, I’ve been able to expand and create my own systems that are really good for me. Plus, in general, it helped me break down how my brain works, what comes easily, what will make a task even harder for me, etc. It was a long process to get to where I am now, but just start with one step at a time, and you will be able to organize your life in a way that works with your brain! You can do this!!

      Also, really spend some time thinking about what ways ADD is an asset, too. It’s not all bad. I am really good at seeing at all angles of a problem, for example. And I am a good stage manager/event planner, because I’m good at keeping lots of various details in mind. Your strengths might be different than mine, but in the long term, try to organize your career to play on the things your ADD makes you really good at, and not just as something to overcome. It has done wonders for my self-esteem.

      Reply
      1. MommaTRex

        Yes! There are some good sides. I work very closely with my grandboss and she is very different than I am in many ways. We work best together when we use each other’s strengths. She is great at making follow up calls. I am great at figuring out a solution in an emergency. When there’s a time stress, she freaks out – – the more stressed she gets, the more calm I become. She’s better at planning something and keeping me from jumping into something too quickly before thinking it through. But I’m better at jumping in quickly when there is no time for planning.

        Reply
    3. MommaTRex

      It does feel so good to realize that our brains work differently! What works for so many other people does not work for me. But what works for me not might work for you. I recommend studying yourself like you would if you were an anthropologist. Watch what behavior works for you and what does not.

      For example, I’m a piler. So having expanding folders (especially differently colored ones) where I can just dump my different piles in works great for me. Having a system where I must hole-punch everything and put it into a notebook as I go is a disaster. (But three-ring binders are good for those things where I only need to add something once a year.)

      My calendar is my friend – I set up appointments for deadlines or for just remembering things I need to do, like calling to make an appointment. I put family and friends’ birthdays in there, too. I also love voicemail. Because I never know when I will spontaneously remember something important (or have an amazing, creative breakthrough on a problem). I immediately call myself at work and leave a message. I cannot tell you how many times I have come into my office in the morning, see the red light blinking, and wonder who called until I listen to the voicemail. “Oh, it’s me calling! That’s right! I have to get that TPS report to Wakeen tomorrow!”

      I also like having items I can work on for the days I forget my meds, or I’m waiting for my prescription to be refilled. (This seems to happen to me maybe less than once a month.) Work that is somewhat automatic, but still interesting enough to keep me engaged. I know there’s lots of people who can manage their lives without meds, but I remember what happened when I went off them during pregnancy. It was awful for me. And yet, it is important to remember that while the meds really help me, they do not completely “cure” me. I still struggle. But I struggle less.

      If I can think of any good advice later today (because it will come to me spontaneously when I’m doing something unrelated), I will try to remember to come back and post it here. :)

      Good Luck! You can do this!!!

      Reply
      1. zora

        Good ones! Re: calling your voicemail.
        I send myself text messages. I use my phone to text those random little things I think of to my personal email address, and then it’s right there when I look at my phone. Like when I think of something on my way to the bus at the end of the day.

        Keep your eyes and ears open for different tips like this and just keep trial and erroring until you figure out the things that work best for you. If it doesn’t come easily, don’t hesitate to throw it out and try something else!! It’s way better than trying to force yourself to ‘get better’ at something that just doesn’t work for you.

        Reply
      2. MommaTRex

        And then it takes me over an hour after typing this to remember that I need to send my prescription refill in. *sigh*
        Some days are better than others. Well, at least I remembered today before the weekend!

        Reply
        1. MommaTRex

          Helpful hint if you DO get a prescription for a controlled substance: although there are no auto-refills allowed, I’ve been able to get 90 days at a time through prescription mail order. (Ironically, it can be a huge hassle to get ADHD meds refilled.) Because I always have to start with a blank form and can never remember my insurance info, I fill out one form as much as possible for a template and then make a bunch of copies to last me a few years. And then I keep them in the one special drawer of files I have that are never messy.

          OOOOH…side hint…allow clutter/messiness in less important areas and keep one pristine place of beautiful order.

          (It’s also nice to have a coworker who always has stamps and will remember to drop my prescription in the mailbox.)

          Another side hint for people with purses: need to remember to take something home or do something on the way home? Write a note on a big piece of paper (no tiny post-its), wrap the note around your purse handle and staple it to itself. You can’t miss it when you leave for the day.

          Reply
    4. This Daydreamer

      Yay, someone else with ADOS (Attention Defic- Oooh Shiny!)!

      I love the book Driven to Distraction. It’s very non-judgmental, has a lot of information, and has a lot of useful advice.

      Reply
  70. Hedy

    The other day on LinkedIn, I noticed they now have a cover photo. Is this s thing, should I update it to a solid color or something so I don’t have the default?

    Reply
    1. H.C.

      that’s been a feature for a while now; unless you work in a visual field (design, graphics, etc.) I don’t think you need to have a LI cover photo

      Reply
      1. Epsilon Delta

        I really had to fight the urge to put a picture of my cat as my cover photo. In the end I just left it blank.

        Reply
  71. Marcy

    I have a jekyl and hyde colleague who makes me really uncomfortable, but I don’t know that I can do anything about it. This person will often present himself as cheerful and friendly (asking about my work, family, etc.) only to turn around and dump work on me. And I truly mean dump. It’s never a request for assistance, always “I talked to Boss and this is your project now.” If I ask questions, he inevitably responds with “Whatever you want to do. It’s yours now.”

    The thing that troubles me is that I know he and his family have been going through a rough patch lately and have a bunch of health problems. The good person in me wants to ask how he’s feeling, offer to help, etc., but I don’t because I want to minimize interactions with him since every conversations we’ve had inevitably results in some work dumping. I feel like it’s gotten noticeable since I get along well with everyone else and will basically chat with everyone but him. I don’t want to engage in ostracizing behavior, but I don’t know what else would be an appropriate reaction. My boss is kind of a non-manager. If I push back hard maybe I could get the work off my plate, but I don’t even want to be on Mr. Hyde’s radar.

    Reply
    1. INeedANap

      First of all, have you tried pushing back when he gives you this work?

      “Fergus, I’d like to be part of the conversation between you and Boss when you’re considering giving these projects to me. I need to have some advance notice so that I can juggle my workload. Will you bring me into the loop before you talk to Boss in the future?”

      Also, have you tried pushing back politely when he gives you a non-response?

      “I understand this is my project now, but in order to do this successfully I need the input of the person who began it. I don’t need a lot of your time, but I do need some help as we transition this project over to my plate.” Then repeat the question again.

      I feel like it would be pretty aggressive of him to both refuse to loop you in, and refuse to help you after a second, explicit request like that. In which case, then it’s really time for you to bring this to your boss and start having your boss intervene on your behalf.

      Reply
    2. fposte

      I feel like this is a workflow question that got a lot of personal stuff caught in it.

      Would you be okay with taking on any of this extra work, or is it all unacceptable even if your colleague asks nicely? What I would do is approach your manager and say “I know Bob’s got some stuff going on. I’m happy to help with A, B, and C (or “about x hours of work” if you wouldn’t know specific tasks), but any more than that and I won’t get to it. Does it make sense for us the three of us to meet to talk about what I can and can’t take on, or should I just let Bob know when I won’t be able to do some of his work?”

      If he says “Just let Bob know,” which I’m guessing is likeliest since it means no meeting for him, I’d let Bob know in advance. “Bob, I’ve talked to Boss and we’ve agreed I can help with A, B, and C but I won’t be able to help beyond that. Also, it’d be really helpful to me if you asked me in advance so I could plan workflow around taking on your work–I’m happy to do A, B, and C for you right now and this would make it easier for me; I’m sure in the future you’ll be able to do the same for me.”

      Reply
      1. Thlayli

        What fposte said. The issue is the undoable amount of work, not his manner of speaking. It’s your own boss you should be pushing back on if you have too much work.

        Reply
      2. Not So NewReader

        Definitely check in with the boss. I have checked in and found out the boss never okayed the work dump. I would also find out if he was told to ask you or to just hand it to you. And add in that he does not answer any questions to get you up to speed on where he left off.

        I have known a lot of people going through a rough patch and certainly I can sympathize. However that does not mean they get to be rude, they get to lie or they get to be unhelpful.
        The boss needs to be looped in here and be sure to describe how much work has been dumped on you.

        Reply
  72. Rusty Shackelford

    I’m having a weird situation where someone keeps claiming he doesn’t know how to do a task, even though he’s done it before. Fergus and I both have completely different jobs in the teapot factory, but we’re also both part of a new project to brew tea. Either of us can plug the kettle in and pour the water, but Fergus is the only one who orders tea, and I’m the one who adds teabags. And yet Fergus keeps telling me (and others) that tea can’t be made because I haven’t poured the water yet, or telling people that he doesn’t know how much water to put in the pot even though he helped me write the instructions for making tea. The truly annoying thing is that in the past, I’ve had problems with Fergus pouring water without telling me, and then it sits around without teabags because I don’t know it’s in the pot, and now he’s claiming he doesn’t know how to pour water at all?

    Not really looking for advice, I guess, just kind of venting. And running that tea analogy into the ground.

    Reply
  73. zora

    Update from a couple of weeks ago, about Summer Hours at my job. Here’s the link:
    http://www.askamanager.org/2017/05/open-thread-may-26-27-2017.html#comment-1504217

    It took some nagging HR on my part, but eventually the HR director had a call with my boss, and my boss approved that I can take half-days on a few Fridays this summer, by working 9 hours Mon-Thurs and she will approve the overtime pay for those extra hours!

    It’s still not as great of a perk as we had with the old company, but it feels a lot better that they are allowing me to take the perk at their own expense instead of just telling me I’m SOL. It makes me feel appreciated as a support person and a lot happier at my job. And I’m kind of blown away that they are willing to pay for a solution out of their own pocket!

    And thanks everyone who encouraged me to ask about it, if I hadn’t brought this up, they probably wouldn’t have noticed, and they have been really nice about finding a solution, so I’m glad I said something!

    Reply
    1. Jessesgirl72

      That really is pretty extraordinary. Most companies would do just about anything to avoid paying overtime!

      Needing to work the extra hour M-Th is pretty common in places that have the perk. My husband starts his first summer Friday in about an hour, in fact, and has had to adjust to working that extra hour all week.

      Reply
      1. zora

        I know, that’s why I figured I was screwed, I thought there was no way they would pay overtime!

        And i know this is a common way to do summer hours, but the company (before we were acquired) always used to do “Summer Fridays” as 4 additional full floating days of PTO. So, people are grumbly because with the merger we all have way less PTO days total, but no one got any raises. It’s just a matter of optics, taking a perk away creates way more negative feelings than never having had it in the first place.

        Reply
  74. my life is anon

    I cannot stop crying at work. My closest friend in the city I am in just moved away. While I have acquaintances nearby, in a lot of ways, I felt like he was my only friend that lived here.

    To make matters worse, he was a former coworker and got fired from my company, so everyone knew him. A lot of people speculated that we were dating (we weren’t, but that is another issue).

    How can I keep it together, especially when I am this upset about something that seems so trivial? If this was someone passing away or something along those lines I wouldn’t care so much, but I feel like an idiot for crying so much over this, especially in the office.

    Reply
    1. Victoria, Please

      Aw. /hug/ This isn’t really trivial; sounds like you are feeling very isolated. That’s not trivial. And your closest friend moving away is worth feeling for.

      Try to make it through; it’s Friday and probably by the time Monday comes around you will not be reacting outwardly so strongly (hopefully your job is one that gives you a weekend). For today, trips to the restroom as needed, cold water, etc., and if anyone asks what’s up, it’s just some personal stuff and you’re kind of stressed but it’s temporary, thanks, whatcha doin’ this weekend?

      Reply
    2. dr_silverware

      It’s really hard!!!! Just because it’s platonic doesn’t mean it’s incredibly tough when a close relationship changes, or ends, or gets stretched by distance. I think you should treat it like a breakup–take care of yourself, eat as much ice cream as you want, listen to sad songs…but also make sure you’re out there being active and doing other social stuff.

      This happened to me, though my friend didn’t work with me, and it just felt like roots getting ripped out. So take yourself seriously and take care of yourself.

      Reply
    3. NoMoreMrFixit

      Social Media, texting and a good long distance phone plan are crucial. This isn’t trivial in the slightest bit. One of the cornerstones of your world is gone and you’re going to feel shaken. I’ve been there myself. My closest friend used to be a short drive away. Now it’s 5 cities between my home and there. Instead of dropping by during the week for dinner with the family now it’s a weekend trip for me to visit.

      Reply
    4. Not So NewReader

      Respectfully disagreeing with you. There are many types of losses we can experience in life and we can grieve as hard as if we were at a funeral. Some people grieve losing a house, a job, a car, a pet and may even cry harder than over a death of a loved one. I remember my husband and I cried harder when one of our dogs got killed than we did at either of our father’s funerals. This is grief, this is how it behaves, it’s not always logical on the surface.

      It makes total sense that you are missing your friend, he left a huge hole in your life. So the solution is to cry. See, tears help the brain stay healthy. And a healthy brain can think things through on a different day and regroup. A good thing to do is to tell yourself “it is okay to cry”. This is called respecting your emotions.

      Disrespect looks like this:” Oh what a baby, I gotta stop crying.” OR “Gosh, I am so foolish I am crying over nothing.”

      Respect looks like this: “Wow. This really hurts. I will let myself cry because…wow.” OR “I am going to allow myself to feel this feeling. I am not going to throw a trash can lid over it. Feelings can’t physically injure me or anyone else, so it is okay to allow me to feel this feeling.”

      Usually with hard grief like this there is more than one story running at the same time.
      I think the first thing to do is establish connection with your friend in his new place. This can be as simple as agreeing to call or email on a certain night each week.

      The next thing to do is decide how you would like to fill the hole in your life. This does not have to be hard. Make Thursday library night. Every Thursday you go to the library. Or perhaps join the Y. With working full time, I never needed a bunch of activities because who has time for that? So making small changes should be of modest help.

      And do good self-care: Rest, hydrate, exercise and eat good foods. The body gets taxed under grief. Eating well will help support a taxed body and a tired mind.

      These simple things can start to fill up your days and probably they will work into something more for you. I did not answer the office part, because it’s late and I assume you made it home by now. Come back and let us know how you are doing, if you want.

      Reply
  75. Viktoria

    This is so timely! We have a cleaning service here doing a deep clean and carpet cleaning of the next door office unit we are planning to expand into. It is 2 people- the woman who owns the company and one other. She sent a quote which we agreed upon- should we tip them? I’m inclined to think no, since she quoted it herself and is not an employee but rather the owner of the company? But I don’t want to be stingy either. Thanks for any thoughts!

    Reply
    1. Lemon Zinger

      I don’t think you are supposed to tip in those situations. She’s the owner and she made the quote, which presumably she made because she thinks it’s a fair price for the services she is providing.

      Reply
      1. Zathras

        Agreed. But, if this will take more than one day and you did want to express some appreciation for the cleaning crew, you could bring in coffee/donuts or pizza or something for their last day.

        (Just to be clear, I’m not implying food is in any way an acceptable substitute for a real tip in an actual tipping situation. Just a nice way to show appreciation in a non-tipping situation.)

        Reply
        1. Viktoria

          I like that idea! This was only about a 2 hour job, but I did make sure they knew where to find coffee/water/etc. If we ever have a longer job I’m going to remember that suggestion.

          Reply
      2. Viktoria

        Thanks! I consulted with my boss, before you responded, and we agreed not to tip in this scenario.

        It took about 2 hours. If we end up hiring her on a regular basis (I think we should – monthly or something) we’ll probably give a holiday “tip”/gift.

        Reply
        1. Zathras

          The holiday tip is a good idea too for someone that you work with regularly. My department does that for our janitor – we are a secure office so it’s always the same lady. She is AMAZING and keeps the place spotless. In December we pass around an envelope to collect $ for a gift card. But it would be super weird and possibly kind of insulting to tip her otherwise.

          Reply
    2. Not So NewReader

      I have had business owners (contractors) work on my house here. I probably tip most of them. The way I do it is I ask if I can buy them a coffee and snack for the ride home. I give them a $20 or so. It’s not a large tip and my intent is clear- to buy their drink and snack food. The twenty is more than enough to cover whatever they would like.

      Reply
  76. Somewhat Wistful Grad

    What do you do when you miss a previous job you can’t go back to? How do you make sure the happy memories don’t have a negative influence on your attitude at work?

    I miss the job I had in college. Only students can work that job, so I had to stop after graduation. My university wasn’t hiring external candidates when I graduated, so even somewhat similar jobs were off the table. My current job pays very well and is in my field, but the environment and tasks are completely different. I focus on the nice things about this job that the old one didn’t have, but it’s hard not to feel twinges of nostalgia when I pass by my old office.

    Reply
    1. Not So NewReader

      I am not sure that nostalgia ever goes away. But as you are showing here, each job has its own set of advantages. It helped me to realize that no two jobs offer the same advantages. And I also thought about losing today because of being so focused yesterday. In other words, at my next job I will get nostalgic over different things about Current Job. This helped me to stay focused in current time. It did not always work, I will admit. And there are some jobs that we will miss for the rest of our lives, so there is that. Take a look around each day and see if you can spot something neat about your new job that you did not notice before.

      Reply
    2. MissGirl

      It helps to remember that place is gone. Even if you got your job back tomorrow, it would be different. Coworkers have moved on, management will change, and the work will shift. Even you aren’t who you used to be.

      What about that job did you love or do you miss who you were at that time? Once you’ve figure out what you want, try to cultivate that in your current situation.

      Reply
  77. Anon for this

    I have a dilemma on my hands and would like some advice.

    My mother has dementia, and we are using in-home care for now. About three months ago, we hired a caregiver for her, “Mercy,” who has been fantastic. I researched competitive pay for this area, and we settled on a rate with a three-month review at which point she’d be eligible for a raise (this was all in her contract). The contract set a 40-hour work week with overtime, of course, for anything more than that.

    Here’s the problem: When we set our budget for the year, we didn’t anticipate that Mom would break her arm. It healed pretty quickly all things considering, but during that time she needed round-the-clock care. Mercy stepped up, BIGTIME, working as much as 15-20 extra hours a week …. but as a result we have way overspent for these first three months and now, it has become clear that round the clock care is going to be needed from here on out, which means adding a second caregiver. In retrospect I should have taken FMLA but … I didn’t. That’s water under the bridge now.

    So here are my three problems:
    1) To me, it seems obvious Mercy has more than earned a raise. That’s a no-brainer. But I’m trying to figure out what might be fair. I had no trouble finding data on initial pay rates in my area, but I’ve been researching raises and the data I’m finding is all over the place.

    That leads me to problem 2) My other siblings do not live in the area. They have been vocally appalled at the amount of overtime we’ve been paying Mercy, without recognizing that the woman has basically saved my life (and most certainly my job) by basically tossing out the contract provisions governing hours and working herself practically to death so that I can keep working fulltime. (We’re both pretty fried at this point.) I am already getting pushback on the idea of a raise, DESPITE what the contract says- a contract we all agreed to three months ago. The feeling seems to be that I’m “too close” to the situation and too inclined to be generous. I’m ready to go to the mat on this one but I need to figure out how to do so effectively.

    3) The second caregiver will be working part time, at least at first – mostly evenings. His/her duties will be lighter than Mercy’s … basically, just keeping Mom from burning the house down, maybe warm up dinner for her. Is it fair to pay that person less than Mercy? And is it fair to ask them to work a flexible schedule? (Basically, I need someone to be there until I get home from work, and I never know, day to day, what time I’m going to be done.)

    Any advice on any of this? I have zero boss experience so I’m really flying blind here.

    Reply
    1. INeedANap

      “The feeling seems to be that I’m “too close” to the situation and too inclined to be generous.”

      When my sister was caring for our grandmother full-time who had dementia, she responded by inviting anyone who had criticism to come spend a full 48 hours caring for our grandmother. After which, she said she was open to considering their point – but if they weren’t willing to step up and understand what that kind of care actually entails, they did not get to voice their opinion, whether or not they were contributing financially.

      For what it’s worth, you should consider that this should not be split equally. The siblings who do not have to actually deal with this on a daily basis should be paying more than you are (assuming it is within their ability). Your time is worth money, just like the caregiver you hired.

      Hard-line, but it was effective.

      ” Is it fair to pay that person less than Mercy? And is it fair to ask them to work a flexible schedule?”

      Those both seem perfectly fair to me.

      Reply
      1. paul

        That’s exactly how our family’s handled this issue in the past.

        I’d also strongly advise looking into residential care sooner rather than later if dementia is an issue.

        Reply
        1. Anon for this

          Mom has adequate resources to cover the care she needs, fortunately. We will be hitting the limits of her annual income far sooner than we’ve projected and will have to dip into savings/investments probably by fall of this year, but nobody’s chipping in money.

          I really appreciate all the thoughtful advice, we just had a bit of a firestorm at work and I couldn’t really respond :D

          Reply
          1. paul

            Its not so much her resources as y’alls well being. Dementia is a cast iron hell to handle when it gets bad. Handling it with some kinfolk of mine was hell on earth for all involved, as much for the emotional damage as the physical security issues.

            Reply
    2. fposte

      Wow, you are in a tough position and you are being really, really thoughtful about this staffing.

      First, I think it’s unfortunately common for distant siblings to feel free to tell the person doing the heavy lifting with family that they’re doing it wrong, and yet be mysteriously unable to take over any of the work themselves. So stuff it, siblings. Mercy is owed her raise.

      I think there are situations where different payscales are appropriate in health care; other people here may have more specific information, but what I’d do is look at home health care services and their different personnel rate categories to see if your differentiation maps onto them.

      I think it’s fine to ask people to *work* a flexible schedule; it’s being *paid* uncertainly that they don’t like. The ideal would be a situation where they might work from 2-4 hours per weekday, say, but they always get paid for 4 hours and if you get home early they get sprung but still get paid for the full hours. I’m willing to hear from somebody in home health care, but even in retail being sent home early unpaid is generally hated; I would find that an uncomfortable combination with a work of such trust and care.

      Reply
      1. Anon for this

        Mercy’s contract has a guaranteed minimum. She joked once that she should have negotiated a guaranteed maximum!

        In truth, I really want to ask for a fixed schedule for the new person, because that could mean getting to steal a few hours for myself if I can get my own work done in time.So say that person is booked from 4-8 p.m.; if I can wrap up my own work by 5:30, that would give me 90 minutes or so to myself before I make the hour commute back to my mom’s house.

        Fortunately, everybody is on board with the concept of a new person. The math is just too undeniable: Mercy @ $15 an hour and time and a half is going to be WAY more expensive than the new person @ $13-14 an hour straight time. The flex would almost certainly kick in on those days when there’s a meltdown at my work and I end up staying very late.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          My impression is that it’s not just your money involved here–that it’s your mom’s or pooled sibling support. And I worry that you’re falling into a trap of stinting yourself because of that. Really don’t do that–the cost of 5 more hours a week from a carer is nothing in the scheme of things but could make a huge difference to you.

          Reply
          1. Anon for this

            You are dead on – it would make a huge difference. Just to be able to sit quietly playing stupid games on my cell phone would be so nice :D The other sibling who lives in the area does pitch in – he’s taken Mom tonight so Mercy can actually leave on time, and he coordinates the home repair (of which there is a dismaying amount) but he has a young family to worry about as well.

            Reply
      2. Book Lover

        I’m sorry you’re dealing with this and with the family not understanding the situation and the value of the caregiver.

        You can definitely pay the new person less, as long as it is market rate – you want someone good and you want to keep them and not have to keep finding a new caregiver which is what happens if you don’t pay enough.

        I don’t think you’ll find someone (unless they are desperate, not a good idea) who will agree to be paid only until you show up. Usually you pay someone to be on call – like my nanny is paid from 3-6 every day whether or not I need her.

        What you might be able to do is to have basic hours – say 3-6 that you always pay for, and request flexibility after that. In other words, sometimes you might be home at 5.55, but rarely you might need them to stay until 6.30 and you would pay for that extra time in 15 minute increments.

        Hopefully that made sense!

        Reply
        1. Anon for this

          That makes perfect sense … and would occasionally give me a bit of a break so I’m ALL FOR IT.

          Reply
    3. MechanicalPencil

      A friend of mine is a now-retired teacher and does some in-home care for a couple because she wants supplemental income. I imagine that so long as she knew she would be paid at least X, she would be fine with a flexible schedule (this couple is her only client). She would also want to know as s