open thread – July 21-22, 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 :)

{ 1,665 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. hermit crab

    Does anyone have recommendations for highly percussive music to listen to at work, to help drown out the sound of typing?

    I have an annoying misophonia-type response to the noise of typing – especially extended periods of fast, continuous typing. The noise makes me intensely irritable and anxious, my heart races, I feel like I can’t think or breathe, etc. etc. I know it’s all irrational/psychosomatic, but the symptoms are hard to ignore. I’ve had this issue for 10+ years, but it kind of comes in waves, and it’s particularly inconvenient at the moment because I’m sitting in an open office environment across from someone who types at full force pretty much all day long and her keyboard is about 18 inches from my ear. I am truly in awe of her typing abilities but they make me crazy!

    I’d prefer to avoid noise-cancelling headphones because I need to retain some awareness of what’s going on around me and look reasonably approachable. But my usual solution (playing white noise and pop music on my earbuds, at the same time) isn’t cutting it. I think a different kind of music might help, though. Sometimes a really percussion-heavy song comes on my radio stream and it’s pretty effective.

    Any suggestions (either for music or other strategies)?

    Reply
    1. LucyUK

      I find fast electronic stuff good for this – Venetian Snares are great, and I really like Tiasu as a producer at the moment. Techno/ambient techno might be good search terms if you’re using a streaming site like Spotify.

      Reply
      1. Janine Willcall

        I use getworkdonemusic.com– it’s just a stream of fast techno that blocks noise really well.

        Reply
        1. NewBoss2016

          Janine, you are my new favorite person today. I’ve been listening to the getworkdone website all day and it is working really well to drown out the loud office chats.

          Reply
      2. hermit crab

        Whoops, I should have specified that both Pandora and Spotify are blocked on our work network, for bandwidth reasons. (I usually listen to the livestream of a particular radio station.) But I like the idea of using Pandora or Spotify at home to identify things that might work!

        Reply
        1. H.C.

          How about personal mobile phone? A few carriers have data exemptions on streaming music (i.e. it won’t eat up your data usage, if you don’t have an unlimited plan), so it may be worthwhile to check with your plan.

          Reply
          1. hermit crab

            I actually still have an old-school cell that only does calls and texts. That’s a great suggestion for when I eventually get a smartphone, though, thanks!

            Reply
          2. MashaKasha

            Adding to H.C.’s comment – though it won’t work on an old-school cellphone, but thought I’d throw this out – I have setup playlists on Spotify that I can access when using Spotify in offline mode. Mostly I play them in my car, both on my work commute and road trips. They do not use up any data when accessed offline. Sadly, I cannot concentrate on my work with music in my headphones, so that’s not an option for drowning out undesired office noises for me personally.

            Reply
      3. Anonomnomnom

        Of all the blogs I read, this was the LAST one I expected to see someone mention Venetian Snares. +1 for VS being great work music if you need to block stuff out! Also Squarepusher is pretty all right as well.

        Reply
      4. gingerblue

        Digitally Imported is my go-to streaming service for work music. They have a large lineup of electronica styles, some of which are perfect for exactly this. (I can’t stand typing noise, either.) They’re niche-y enough that they might not be blocked?

        Reply
    2. Alice Ulf

      I’m not sure what sort of music you generally enjoy, but there’s a Scottish band called Albannach that relies pretty heavily on drums (er, warning for obligatory bagpipes, as well). You can find them on youtube.

      Reply
    3. KellyK

      I’m a big fan of gothic and symphonic metal, bands like Nightwish, Epica, and Delain. (Epica has a really awesome cover of the Imperial March that’s extremely percussion-heavy.) And Pandora is good for finding new music. (Blind Guardian just came up on my Pandora Nightwish station. I haven’t heard a ton of their stuff, but the song I heard seems to fit the bill.)

      As far as other strategies, could you talk to your boss about moving somewhere else, or whether you could snag a conference room or some other kind of space for an hour or two when you need a break?

      Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        Hey, fellow goth/symphonic metal fan here – I’d also recommend Within Temptation for that kind of thing, they’re my favorite of the genre.

        Reply
      2. voluptuousfire

        + 1

        @KellyK, As an aside, check out Tarot, Marco Hietala’s (Nightwish bassist) other band. More of a classic heavy metal sound. I’m a huge fan of Finnish metal–just went to my first Tuska open air metal festival a few weeks back in Helsinki.

        Reply
    4. Stephanie

      If lyrics don’t bother you, I’d say any mixes geared as a workout mix. Those are usually pretty beat/percussive heavy.

      Reply
    5. Foreign Octopus

      I’m not a fan of percussion heavy music but Spotify seems to have playlists for everything so it might be worth checking there.

      Reply
    6. Falling Diphthong

      Have you test-driven any noise cancelling headphones? I ask because I borrowed my husband’s on a plane trip and was really impressed–and the one thing they didn’t drown out was voices. I could hear words said nearby, not only on the loudspeaker, but the dull roar of the plane was gone.

      Reply
      1. JustaTech

        Agreed! On a flight I can still hear the flight attendant and some of the announcements, but the roar of the engines just goes away. Noise-canceling doesn’t really impact the range of human voices (so you’ll still need music or something to negate talking or crying babies).
        I don’t know if it would eliminate the tap-tap-tap of a keyboard. Since good noise-canceling headphones are expensive, maybe try to borrow a pair from a friend for a day before investing, to make sure they’d work for you?

        Reply
    7. FDCA In Canada

      There are a few websites that specialize in white noise that you can mix yourself to create the sound blend or background noise you are most interested in. I’m pretty sure you could find one that would be highly percussive! I will link a few in comments. Also, searching Youtube has a huge number of white noise loops in up to 10 or 12-hour videos, and a little digging might find you one that works.

      Reply
        1. hermit crab

          Oh, these look great, thank you! I have been using Simply Noise but that doesn’t have a lot of features.

          Reply
        2. JulieBulie

          mynoise.net is especially great because you can mix something you really like, customize it, and then buy like a one-hour mp3 of it.

          Reply
    8. Jadelyn

      If you like any kind of rock or metal, that would probably do it. Disturbed, The Birthday Massacre (which is more electronica-rock hybrid? I guess I’d call it?), Linkin Park, Nightwish, The Rasmus, Rise Against, Within Temptation. Just from a quick run through my faves playlist sorted by artist. You could also try dubstep, or you might like Lindsey Stirling, who does instrumental/techno with some really great beats to them.

      Reply
      1. Lady Bug

        Yep, if you like it metal is a great source of drumming. Search for thrash metal bands, Korn, Slipknot, Dream Theater in addition to the above suggestions.

        Reply
    9. Admin of Sys

      taiko drumming? Though that may be too similar to the typing sounds. Symphonic metal is nice, KellyK mentioned Epica, and there’s also symphonic covers of Metalica and such.

      Reply
    10. Volunteer Coordinator in NOVA

      With my misophonia, I’ve found that if I’m engaged in the music it’s more helpful than the type/volume of music. My own typing can drive me nuts and it would be hard to block that out so if my brain is following along with the music, I do better. Right now, I’m listening to the Harry Potter soundtrack which is one of my favorites for work but it takes time to find a few that work for you. Good luck!

      Reply
      1. Anon today...and tomorrow

        Agreed! I listen to a lot of Broadway cast albums and I find myself focusing on that rather than the person typing behind me. I’ve become so incredibly focused on the music that I completely tune out everything else. One of the women who works in the office here passed out due to the heat. I missed it all: the passing out, the call to 911, the arrival of the EMT’s and her removal from the building. It happened about 3 hours into my shift and I never heard a thing! I didn’t even know she was gone until the end of the day. (I sit in a far corner of the office so wouldn’t have been able to see any of the goings on, but despite the cubical farm we can hear everything!!!)

        Reply
    11. Ryan Porter

      For people who don’t know electronic music, they think “techno” to be a catch-all term. In actuality, techno is genre of electronic music that very percussive in nature with hardly any melody. That being said, there are tons of sub-genres and variations.

      I’d recommend going to Soundcloud where you’ll find infinite hours of techno tracks and dj mixes, where you can just click play and keep it in the background. Also look into the genre called “drum ‘n bass.”

      Reply
    12. Purplesaurus

      Lots of 80s music works surprisingly well for me (especially 80s punk like Joy Division, The Ramones, Talking Heads, etc.).

      Reply
    13. Mike C.

      Big name trance/house DJs often have 1-2 hour weekly podcasts. Above & Beyond, Paul van Dyk, Tiesto have them, as do several labels. You can easily have more music to listen to than you have time. That way you can fill up at home and have a constantly rotating set of music.

      If any of these sound good to you, I can direct you to others depending on your tastes.

      Reply
    14. Cube Ninja

      To add one I didn’t see in the comments, Digitally Imported (di.fm) is fantastic if you like electronic music in general. Agree that it’s super easy to drown out other unwanted sounds with a good beat, but I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. :)

      Reply
    15. Lurker who knits

      OP, you might have already tried these suggestions, so please ignore if this is nothing new.

      I don’t have first-hand experience with misophonia but do have pretty bad tinnitus. I recently went to an speech and hearing clinic, and they found a good treatment option. While I was there, I noticed that they also treat misophonia and auditory processing disorders. So, maybe a clinic could help you find some long-term options.

      If you go this route, ask in advance if they take your health insurance. This one didn’t, but since I’d already exhausted all my other options, I was willing to pay out of pocket for relief.

      There are also biofeedback options using breathing techniques to slow the heart rate, which, in turn, eases the anxiety (these are done as daily exercises and as situations arise). Biofeedback might not be the solution for you, but there are plenty of free and low-cost apps.

      Reply
    16. Audiology Help

      Go to see an audiologist! Try to find one with experience with noise plugs. If you explain what the bothersome noises are, they should be able to design a noise plug that de-emphasises the sounds that are bothering you. Some can even help you tackle the root cause of the misophonia-type reaction. Normally, we don’t like removing bothersome noises entirely since it can result in the annoying sounds becoming unbearable if you don’t wear the plugs, which is not great. However, this situation is pretty specific so the plugs should be fine as long as you only wear them at work. Cheers!

      Reply
      1. Mike C.

        Yeah, I know there are plugs out there that orchestra musicians wear to block out loud brass/percussion while being able to hear the rest of the group.

        Reply
        1. Lurker who knits

          I just got some! They are awesome. They drop all frequencies across the spectrum so balance is still accurate. I’m using the highest reduction (25 db), and it would be hard to hear soft speaking voices in an office environment. Smaller reduction amounts are available (9, 15) though.

          Reply
      2. Marisol

        how do you find an audiologist? Just a google search? and would these earplugs also help with annoying upstairs neighbors who stomp around?

        Reply
        1. MillersSpring

          Yes, you can find an audiologist through a Google search, or a referral from your doctor, or from an ear-nose-throat doctor (otolaryngologist). Audiologists fit and adjust hearing aids, so most communities have one.

          Reply
        2. LabTech

          and would these earplugs also help with annoying upstairs neighbors who stomp around?

          This was the bane of my existence until I moved to a top-level floor. (Why do people have to be so … clompy?) I didn’t know an audiologist recommended/custom ear plugs were even an option, so I’m glad you pointed out this potential application.

          Reply
    17. Queen of the File

      In case you want a break from heavier stuff, I love listening to classic samba and batucada. I’ve never tried to block out typing sounds with it but it’s normally very rhythmic and percussion-heavy. “Batucada: The Sound of the Favelas” is available on Spotify as a decent taster if you’re curious. Partyyyyy!

      Reply
      1. N.J.

        To Peggy back on those recommendations, reggaeton is a fairly repetitive percussive type of music experience and one of my favorites. If you don’t like repetitive OP I wouldn’t recommend it but I like it for darkening out work noise.

        Reply
    18. NonProfit Anon

      I didn’t know this was a thing! It can send me into pure rage when I hear someone loudly chewing. Usually I need to leave the room.

      Reply
    19. hermit crab

      Thank you all so much for these suggestions! I will check them out when I get home. My tastes in music tend to run to quiet acoustic stuff so I didn’t even know where to start with this.

      Reply
    20. Vandergaard

      I’d recommend Noisli- it’s an app and a website (plus a chrome extension) and you can mix and match a variety of noises to get the affect you need. I use it religiously (my current fave is a mix of train sounds and rain) and it helps to drowns out noise (I suffer the annoyance of a coworker who is LOUD on the phone) but the best part is it also helps me focus my attention.

      Reply
    21. Lauren

      I’ve been listening to the Acts I-V albums by The Dear Hunter (II, IV, and V are my favorites) and they’ve been effective at helping me ignore all the jackhammering that is going on at the building site next door :p.

      Reply
    22. afiendishthingy

      I’m going to type every word I know! Rectangle! America! Megaphone! Monday! Butthole.

      All I have is that Ron Swanson quote and sympathy. I have inattentive ADD, anxiety, and apparently very good hearing. Typing noises don’t bother me too much luckily, but ticking clocks, this weird intermittent rattling noise the light fixture makes when the ac kicks on, and if people have the keypad sounds turned on while they’re texting (ahhhh!) make me want to scream.

      Reply
    23. frog

      I was a percussionist in middle school and high school, so unfortunately most of my percussion heavy music knowledge dates from the 90’s, and I’m not sure how easy it will be to track down some of these, but:

      Bakra Bata – Seattle-based steel drum group

      Oladum – Brazillian-based group, their 1993 album Movimento is fantastic, though your coworkers may be confused when you are spontaneously moved to get up and dance. It’s a risk worth taking.

      Mickey Hart – Planet Drum, featuring, among other artists, legendary Nigerian drummer Baba Olatunji. Any of his solo stuff is excellent too.

      Paul Simon – Rhythm of the Saints

      Moby – Play – an oldy but a goody, as well as many of his other albums.

      Reply
    24. GreyNerdShark

      Something completely different… Wauking songs. In Gaelic so the words don’t take over your head, with a strong repetitive beat. No idea if it will beat the typing, but this is my usual “clean the house” music. The songs are Gaelic women’s working songs for beating tweed. Call and response, apparently some very scurrilous verses about the local blokes. https://youtu.be/veMfxEEJ9VM

      Reply
    25. OlympiasEpiriot

      Well. I don’t know what it is like to have misophoonia, but I’ll offer some music ideas.

      In my spare time (yeah, right, like I have that) I am a drummer and I have a long list of music I like and my tastes are somewhat eclectic. So, here is a list of songs/pieces that come to my mind, take a listen to bits of them and see if you can make up a playslist for yourself. If there is a media player on your work computer (no internet needed for this), you can just have all of this on a thumb drive. Or burnt onto a cd/dvd if you have that. Or an ipod? Those are still floating around and I know people who put their own mp3s on them and didn’t buy from Apple.

      Gene Krupa (if he had been born 40 years later, he’d have been John Bonham,which of course leads to Led Zepplin) — w/ the Benny Goodman Band — “Sing, Sing, Sing” is a good example with clips on the web but it was a long song, like 8 minutes, but he was playing for decades and there’s a lot of work out there with him. He had his own band for a while in the 40’s.

      Glenn Branca’s “Ascension”. He is a composer (this is his first, you might check out 13th Symphony Hallucination City) who focuses on huge numbers of electric guitars, but there is always a percussionist and it is a focus. Be warned, the live stuff on YouTube is not a good format to listen, sounds get distorted beyond his planned distortion.

      Drum ‘battles’ between Buddy Rich and Max Roach, or Rich and Krupa, there’s whole albums, very rhythmic and musical.

      KMFDM, pretty much anything by them, but apropos of your question, see their album “Adios”.

      Runrig, a scottish band that can be a little cheesy, but when they are good, they are (to me) transcendent. Listen to “Alba” (pronounced aal-a-ba, gaelic for Scotland). They often sing in scottish gaelic, btw. (In fact, lots of Scottish bands might fit your needs, even Franz Ferdinand.)

      Delhi2Dublin, a canadian electronica band of Desi and Irish Diaspora musicians. So, Celtic and Bhangra…which means LOTS of drums. They are definitely high energy.

      Gente De Zona, from Cuba, reggaeton (“cubaton”, in their case), they were the collaborators on Enrique Iglesia’s huge hit “Bailando” with a fantastic video — worth watching even if not your usual music. Reggaeton as a genre might be good for you, lyrics in Spanish and Spanglish as a rule.

      Cumbia, as a genre. There’s an electronica cumbia artist called The Colombian Drum Cartel being a good example. It has a long history as a kind of music, might lead you to other things you like.

      Cosmic Baby, a German “Grandpa of Trance” artist from the mid 90’s.

      Olodum, an amazing Brazilian batucada band. You actually have probably heard them as they’ve collaborated internationally over the years. There’s also Timbalada, another fantastic group. Both of those would lead you to other performers.

      Best of luck.

      Reply
  2. Amber T

    I talked to both my boss and grandboss regarding adjusting my salary this week, and I’m sort of nervous about what the next step should be. I’m hoping you awesome people might give some advice!

    Basically, there are 15 layers of people to get through before I get to the people who actually make the decision about my salary (boss and grandboss can and will of course give input, but they don’t get the final say).
    – Boss is 100% on board (he also isn’t privy to my salary information – he just believes me when I say I feel underpaid).
    – I’m pretty sure grandboss is on board as well, but he holds his cards closer to his chest than boss does. Either way, he’s fair and reasonable, and I made a strong case to him. I came out of that meeting feeling really good.
    – Next is great-grand boss, who is also reasonable and fair, but I’m a bit more nervous about him. Grandboss gave me a lot of good insight on how to approach him, what to say, what to bring up, etc.
    – Once I talk to great-grand boss, and if he approves, he has to bring it to all of the partners, which will be tricky. One, I’m not sure if I’d even be a part of that meeting, and two, trying to get them all together is pretty much impossible. They set aside time every year in early December to talk about everyone’s salaries, raises, and bonuses. Grandboss also said he’s never seen anyone get a salary adjustment mid year. It’s not out of the question, and if I feel super strongly about it I should try, but it might not happen until December anyway. In any case, he said I should definitely try to have a meeting with great-grandboss end of October/beginning of November to make my case if I don’t want to do it now.

    So, I’m kind of torn. On the one hand, we just finished a huuuuge project that I played an important part in and I got a lot of positive feedback from internal and external sources, which is awesome, so I feel like I have strong momentum. On the other hand, it’s never been done before mid year, and while no one is saying it *can’t* happen, most of our upper members are pretty set in their ways with their routine. Regardless, I’m definitely bringing up the conversation at some point. The question is just, when?

    I should also say that my company is very generous and I’ve been mostly happy with it. My job title changed last year, along with a crazy amount of responsibilities (and I became ineligible for overtime), but my salary really didn’t change. After talking with grandboss, it seems it may have been an oversight sort of? Also, other than Glassdoor, where should I look for comparable salaries? I’ve checked out numerous job postings of the same or similar job titles at similar institutions, and literally none of them are posting salaries.

    Reply
    1. EleonoraUK

      Just something that stood out to me – it seems kind of unusual that you’re having to make your case all the way up the chain. In the companies I’ve worked at, it was normal to make the case with your manager and maybe your manager’s manager, who would then take it up the chain for sign off (or not) if they agreed with you. It also strikes me as unusual that your boss and his/her boss don’t know what your salary is. Your company seems to have a very different process to what I’ve seen. (For what it’s worth, my experience is in the UK, so perhaps this is perfectly normal in the US, but thought it worth mentioning.)

      Reply
      1. Amber T

        Don’t I know it. For the most part, my division is pretty lateral – everyone reports directly to my grandboss. While I refer to him as my boss (and he’s the one who delegates my work to me, who I check in with regarding vacation/sick days, etc.), he doesn’t hold all of the boss functions. The partners decide the compensation for everyone, from the admins to the higher levels (including, I’m guessing, themselves?). Going to my boss and grandboss was “unnecessary” in the sense that they don’t get a say and presumably I could have gone straight to great-grandboss (who is one of the partners), but this is only my second job out of college and my first corporate job (and the first time I wanted to bring up/discuss a raise), so I wanted their perspective as to what should be done.

        But yes, I’ve come to realize my company is kind of bizarre in its hierarchy.

        Reply
    2. Emily S.

      For salary comparison research, Payscale.com seems very good. I’ve used it in the past and it seemed like the information was good.

      Re: your larger question about when to approach the higher-ups — sorry I can’t help much here. I’m super-non-confrontational, so I would probably wait until October. But I don’t know, it may be worth trying before that, since it does seem like an oversight.

      Reply
      1. Amber T

        Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll definitely check it out.

        I’m super non-confrontational too… it took a lot of work for me to even broach the topic with boss/grandboss. I need to do more research, but because of the oversight and the fact that I seem to be making FAR below the standard compensation, that’s why I’m contemplating doing it now. There’s a part of me that says just wait for October/November, but I can’t tell if that’s my logical voice or my anxiety voice talking.

        Reply
      2. Natasha

        I like pay scale. Their estimate was 20% more than glassdoor. But maybe I just have one of those titles with more variation than usual.

        Reply
    3. Zinnia

      For some fields there are salary surveys put out by recruiters. Take it with a grain of salt and all, but I’ve found the Robert Half accounting/finance one to be in the ball park in my region. They also do one for IT fields.

      Reply
    4. Thinking Outside the Boss

      Your office sounds like a typical law firm structure, and for the partner meeting, I would be shocked if you were part of the discussion. At most they would have you make a quick presentation and then leave. Once you talk to your great grand boss, your raise is no longer your water to carry.

      For meeting with the great grand boss, if you can get access to salary information to see where you are in the market, and if you’re at the low end of the market, then you’ll have a lot stronger argument then it you don’t. If you can’t find any useful salary information, all is not lost.

      You mentioned that after the title change, your salary “really didn’t change” but you took on a “crazy amount of responsibilities.” I take this to mean that you did get a raise but the raise was nominal in comparison to all the other duties they required you to do. For your meeting, you need to be very specific in making your pitch, such as “you increased my salary by $2,000 a year but you gave me 7 new duties that now take up 24% of my workweek [or cause me to work an extra 15 hours per week].” Something to that effect. And if they really didn’t give you a raise, you need to be that specific too.

      I’m assuming that your old job title came with pay that was at mid-market rates or below market. Because if your old job’s salary was above market, then getting new duties wouldn’t really justify a raise, it would justify the amount they’re currently paying you. It would be helpful to know how your old job compared to the market.

      Also, your request may fall victim to office politics. From what you posted, you definitely have earned a raise now instead of in 6 months or so when annual salaries are discussed. But the other partners may be thinking that if they do it for you, everyone else will want a raise too so they will deny it for that reason. Or if the partner earnings operate on a percentage of profits, I’ve seen partners reject a raise for an employee just to get an extra $400 from the profit pool, regardless of the fact that $400 is pocket change to the partner. Not all people in charge do what’s best for their employees.

      Best of luck to you and definitely keep us posted on the results!

      Reply
      1. Amber T

        Thank you so much for your response!

        From what I understand, raises are pretty much always given every year (even during the recession, which was before my time here, everyone still got something). The raise I received right before my promotion (I was promoted in Feb, raise hit in Jan right before) was the same amount that I had been raised the year before. I had (very timidly) asked if my promotion also included a raise in salary, and was told my raise had already been given in January. Because I was still relatively new to the work force (4 years in) and this was my first promotion ever, I didn’t push back and just accepted it.

        To be honest, I was in a weird limbo between job responsibilities for a few months before and after my official promotion, and I think that’s why I sort of just accepted it. But now I’ve fully embraced my new role and have been good at it. So I feel like I should have pushed back a bit more last December/January regarding my raise, but I’ll chalk it up to inexperience. I was also pretty well paid in my previous position, so I think that was part of the “oversight.”

        I also just briefly spoke to my boss and mentioned that I had spoken to grandboss and was considering setting up a time for great-grandboss and all of us to speak. While he fully agreed, he mentioned waiting until September at least to bring it up. So… I guess I’ll be waiting.

        Reply
      2. Amber T

        Also to clarify – the role changed drastically. I started off as reception/admin, and I was promoted into a specialized field. I had been working with my now-boss in an unofficial capacity (my job duties were phone, filing, general admin, then the footnote “other duties as required” – sort of fell under there). So I used to do maybe 75% reception/admin and 25% this field under my old title, but once I was promoted, it changed to 90% this field/10% reception, and now at 0% reception (they had been telling me they’d promote me for quite a while once they hired someone into my old position, which took months). Looking back it all seems very complicated.

        Reply
        1. MillersSpring

          To me, one of your main arguments should be that when they made you ineligible for overtime but kept your salary at roughly the same level, that means they decreased your overall compensation and quality of life.

          Reply
          1. Thinking Outside the Boss

            Great point! I missed that on the first read.

            My sister just had this same experience. She converted from hourly employee to salaried at a higher pay level. However, once she calculated her prior overtime into the mix, she’s making about the same. And now that the company doesn’t have to pay her for additional hours worked, she works an extra 10-15 hours a week.

            Reply
    5. Coming Up Milhouse

      If it cannot be decided until December, you may have better luck asking for an increase retro to the day you started the process of asking for an increase.

      It provides a nice little bonus check too!

      Reply
    6. designbot

      I’m in a similar situation–I got a promotion last year (actually two, because we have two different axis for titles here, think Director of Teapot Handles plus Associate), but only a cost of living raise, explained as being a result of low profits last year. My strategy is to wait until the next cycle and pitch it as hey, I was understanding last year, but I cannot go two years of being uncompensated for this increase in responsibility so it’s time to do what you couldn’t do last year. I can only cross my fingers that I’m going about it the right way, but my company seems to have a culture of promoting after you show you can do the work, so I’m trying to acknowledge and roll with that.

      Reply
    7. Chaordic One

      I’ve previously used a website called “Compensation Cafe.” It seemed accurate when I used it, but I can’t say if it is still any good.

      Reply
  3. not so super-visor

    Looking for some input to help me put thins in perspective: a direct report recently came to vent to me. Her daughter (works for a totally different company) was recently let go from her job. The reason: she had filed for FMLA due to severe complications with her pregnancy, but she learned (while being fired) that her OB/GYN office had never completed the forms. I’m not in HR or work with FMLA in any way, but I think that she was just looking for a sympathetic ear. Oddly enough, I had a similar issue with our HR over another employee’s (DR2) FMLA request. That story is that HR notified me that I would need to let go DR2 on Monday due to her FMLA forms not being completed. Upon probing with our FMLA admin, I discovered that the Dr’s office had sent in incomplete forms. The admin was somewhat evasive when I asked if she had followed up with the employee, so I assumed that she hadn’t. (Maybe overstepping here but I hated to lose this employee) I reached out to DR2, and she said that no one had notified her that the forms were incomplete. She reached out to her Dr’s office, and we had the completed forms in 1 hour. The HR decision was over-turned, and she kept her job.

    My question: is this normal? Do HR or FMLA admins normally not reach out to employees who are filig for FMLA to let them know that they don’t have complete documentation? At my employer at least, they have to fill out a form with the FMLA admin prior to asking the Dr’s office to send in paperwork. That way the FMLA manager can approve or deny whether the claim is even valid and HR is aware that someone is filing. I just don’t understand the lack of follow-up, especially when people’s jobs are on the line. Am I misunderstanding the employee’s responsibility in this? Am I way off base?

    Reply
    1. BadPlanning

      Yeah, that either sounds fishy (backdoor to getting rid of someone) or a misinterpretation of don’t ask employees invasive medical question.

      Reply
    2. The Queen of Cans & Jars

      I would think it’s ultimately the employee’s responsibility to confirm with HR that everything is in order, but it’s a jerk move for HR not to give them a heads-up if they’re missing something.

      Reply
      1. Artemesia

        She didn’t know until she was fired that it was incomplete. I know in any job I have every done I don’t want people nagging me to ‘confirm’ something was complete when it had been filed. If it wasn’t, it was up to me to indicate I couldn’t proceed without form Z being completed.

        Really a jerk move and with a pregnant woman where the obvious conclusion would be they are trying to fire her for being pregnant. What other conclusion would a rational person draw?

        Reply
        1. Pineapple Incident

          Yeah, I feel like daughter would have a nice case against the doctor or the company for a law suit, considering she lost wages here with their negligence (both parties). Someone should have told her that there was an issue, and the company should have mentioned that her FLMA paperwork was never received

          Reply
        2. Katie the Fed

          And when you’re dealing with FMLA you’re usually overwhelmed with dealing with dozens of insurance companies and all that fun too. It’s easy to lose track of things.

          Reply
      2. Anony

        It seems like denying FMLA due to incomplete forms might be reasonable (jerk move but I can see it happening) but firing them because the doctor filled out the paperwork wrong? That’s terrible!

        Reply
        1. L Dub

          But she should have at least received a denial of FMLA due to incomplete forms. (I’m certainly not saying she did receive them, but that the employer or TPA should have issued them.)

          Reply
    3. Murphy

      My HR office kept me appraised of the situation along the way. I received notification that I was approved PENDING completed forms from my doctor (there was a deadline for this). Then I received notification that the doctor’s forms were received. Then I received notification that they doctor’s forms were processed and that I was officially approved. I can only assume that I would have been notified had the forms not been received on time or if they’d been incomplete.

      Reply
      1. One of the Annes

        This was my experience too. The HR departments you (OP) describe sound totally incompetent.

        Reply
    4. Eppie

      My office let me know when the forms were not completed in time. Let me know, as in “We are denying your claim” and told me why when I probed. So not exactly forthcoming, but not hiding it when questioned.

      Reply
    5. neverjaunty

      No, that is not normal, and at best the HR people involved are lazy. Obviously the employee doesn’t know what the doctor’s office is sending over; how hard is it to say “Hi, we need you to get us X and Y by Friday because your doctor’s office did not send the complete information”?

      Reply
      1. RVA Cat

        Yes, but that doesn’t make sense if it’s more work to fire somebody than to follow up on the paperwork….

        Reply
        1. neverjaunty

          We all know people who will make more work for themselves later rather than do work now….

          But my money would be on wanting to push the employee out and using paperwork as an excuse. I wonder if the doctor’s submission was even incomplete.

          Reply
          1. paul

            but why would HR want to push this person out? it sounds like they’re not-so-super’s direct report, and not-so-super says they’re good. Do office politics get that cutthroat?

            Reply
              1. blackcat

                +1
                Almost the exact same thing happened to a friend. She successfully proved she did everything right, got FLMA for maternity leave approved. Then projects were reassigned/not given to her upon her return. Then she was fired for not doing enough billable hours. This happened in 2014, in Seattle.

                I also have a friend who worked in state government for a liberal female politician who was fired “for losing paperwork” as soon as she started appearing pregnant (she is tiny, had a history of loss, and showed early, so was waiting to tell.) This happened last year.

                Reply
            1. Mike C.

              Yeah, lots of neanderthals see pregnant women as little more than a burden and a flight risk in the work place.

              If I were that young woman, I would consider a legal consultation. This is incredibly sketchy.

              Reply
            2. Paul

              well, those are depressing answers. TGIF, and TG for whiskey.

              Man :/ maybe my wife and I have been luckier than I realize in the working world

              Reply
    6. LCL

      Wow, the two examples you gave are displays of either incompetence or evil. Here, if you don’t get all of your FMLA paperwork in, the person at HR in charge of it keeps hounding you until you do. They keep management out of it as much as possible, only contacting management when they can’t reach the employee. Our HR is very skilled at these types of leave compliance issues.

      Reply
          1. KellyK

            To make a Dungeons & Dragons analogy (because everything can be explained in terms of geeky RPGs), your alignment has no impact on your skill modifiers, and vice versa.

            Reply
            1. RVA Cat

              This. But is it their INT or their WIS that’s the dump stat?
              Pretty sure morale reflects their low CHA though….

              Reply
    7. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

      I cannot imagine how HR didn’t notify the employee that the forms were incomplete. It seems like such a typical part of the process. Sure, the employee should confirm as well, but if the employee asks if the document was received and HR says yes, how is the employee to know that the form was insufficient? I never saw the documents my doctor sent to my HR when I used FMLA. It was an electronic transfer and I simply confirmed that they had been received.

      Reply
      1. Stranger than fiction

        Yes, it’s like if one employee complained about another employee and then they fired him or her without even asking their side of it. Only here, I would think there’s some possible legal issue the employer is at risk for? Like wouldn’t it be wrongful termination if it was investigated? Or discrimination?

        Reply
        1. Jessie the First (or second)

          It violates the law to NOT notify an employee that the medical certification is not complete and to NOT give them a chance to fix it (they need to have 7 calendar days to fix).

          So, yeah, just firing them without ever telling them there is a problem? Major issue there.And the employer would absolutely have pretty significant legal risk.

          Reply
          1. Kinsley M.

            This was what I was coming to say. As the HR person who does the FMLA administration at my company, this makes no sense to me. It’s not even like it’s hard. The Federal Government literally supplies the forms that you have to send.

            Reply
    8. Malibu Stacey

      My company outsources the FMLA & disability and that company sent me *triplicate* notices by mail when my claim was received, accepted pending dr. paperwork, accepted, & when I returned to work.

      Reply
      1. Nicole T.

        +1 to this. Our company uses Unum, and you can do it all online or over the phone. They keep calling you and the dr. to get info as needed. I have used them twice (for two related surgeries) and it was easy peasy.

        Reply
    9. Jadelyn

      No, this is not normal – maybe more common than it should be, but not *normal* and definitely shouldn’t be normalized. The HR people in these cases were being lazy jerks and just not bothering to do their damn jobs. Our HR manager handles LOAs and I’ve seen her hound the hell out of people who haven’t gotten completed paperwork back in.

      Ideally, the employee should also be following up with both HR and doctor’s offices to make sure stuff is all settled, but if they don’t, HR staff absolutely should be stepping in to follow up on it.

      Reply
    10. Nan

      We have a due date, but if the doctor is being slow, they employee can ask for an extension. It’s up to the employee. HR is not going to chase paperwork to help you. If the paperwork is incorrect/incomplete, HR will let the employee know, and there is a time limit to fix it. Usually 3 days.

      I think HR should let the employee know if something is missing/incorrect/incomplete. Employees generally don’t fill out the forms on a regular basis and won’t know if something is wrong.

      Reply
      1. Benefit...AND MORE!

        This. And after those 3 days ( I’ve administered FMLA in companies that allowed up to 7 days), if the paperwork is still missing or incomplete, the absences can be classified as unexcused and then the termination process begins.

        FMLA is 100% employee burden of proof.

        Reply
        1. Duncan

          The law allows 7 days for the employee to have incomplete forms corrected. The key is the employee has to be notified that they are incomplete.

          Reply
    11. Observer

      I can’t speak to how normal this is, but it sounds to me that in your org, it’s normal to reach out. I say this because if no one ever is expected to reach out the admin would have been far less likely to be evasive as she has nothing to hide, from her perspective.

      Reply
    12. Anna

      This might be worth your DR daughter following up with the labor board. It sounds fishy AF and it’s worth getting absolute clarification on it just to be sure.

      Reply
    13. paul

      My wife’s HR reached out to her when she did FMLA stuff for pregnancy both times because her OBGYN messed up the forms.

      Is there someone you can talk to about your HR doing that? It isn’t like the person screwed up their own form even. It’s been a few years since we filed for FMLA (thank goodness) but I don’t think I ever saw those forms after giving themt o the doctor; the doctor filled them out then faxed them to our office when I had to take FMLA for surgery and I think my wife’s went the same way. It seems amazingly crappy to fire someone because their doctor didn’t cross the t’s and dot the i’s.

      Reply
    14. Jessie the First (or second)

      So, that is sketchy and best and actually not legal at worst. There are regulations about how employers have to handle incomplete paperwork, and other regulations about what notices employers have to give employees who apply for FMLA leave. And just… firing someone without first telling that that the person’s FMLA is incomplete or denied (because that’s what they are doing, basically – denying the leave because of incomplete forms and then firing because the person isn’t at work) is a problem.

      The employer HAS to tell the employee the paperwork is incomplete. (Link to follow)

      So no, that is not normal and not okay. And you should talk to your FMLA admin to make sure she gets a Whole Lot Better about communicating problems with FMLA paperwork!!

      Reply
      1. Jessie the First (or second)

        Okay, well, the link didn’t make it out of moderation. But – search for the Dept of Labor fact sheet on this. The DOL states explicitly that employers *have to* notify an employee in writing if the FMLA paperwork is incomplete. There is real exposure to liability for not following the regulations here. (I mean, sure, they may never get investigated by DOL, and they may never get sued by an angry fired employee – but it is a real risk, and the legal requirements for FMLA are pretty specific here.)

        Reply
    15. Really

      Not normal or abnormal. But becoming very common place. Everyone involved failed. Too often it’s I’ve done my part (made the request) and it’s forgotten till there’s a problem. You can not assume everyone/anyone has done what they should have.

      Reply
      1. Springsteen is My Favorite Boss

        I’m now on FMLA while recovering from a major surgery two weeks ago. When I gave my surgeon my company’s FMLA and short-term disability leave forms last month, I asked his office to send me a copy. Sure enough, the forms were incomplete. I quickly called both my company’s disability administrator and doctors office to make sure the forms were completed. On Monday the company disability administrator sent me another form for my doctor to complete and send to them. I need to call the surgeon about that one soon. I understand doctors may not always have complete information for FMLA forms — for instance, my doctors and I were waiting for biopsy results which finally came through yesterday.

        But to make an incomplete FMLA form a fireable offense? SMH.

        Reply
    16. Managing to get by

      It’s very common for doctor’s to not fill out the paperwork, or to take forever to get it done. It is the employee’s responsibility to ensure the proper documentation is submitted. Our FMLA administrator will send out a notice when the claim is filed and state a due date for documentation, and will send out a notice a few days ahead of the due date stating if the documentation had been received. I also remind my employees it is their responsibility to be sure the doctor completes the forms. Employees usually have to call their doctor a few times. If a claim gets denied due to lack of documentation, it can also get reopened once the documentation is received.

      I’d never fire someone for a doctor not completing the forms on time. I can see my company possibly firing someone if the documentation received from the doctor indicated the employee was not being honest about their condition however (I have heard of people lying about having a surgery to get time off work for instance), but not for a paperwork delay.

      Reply
    17. The Rat-Catcher

      I work for state government and this would be really crappy. I don’t think HR would get in trouble per se, but word would get around and probably some kind of official follow-up policy would be instituted for the HR folks. Especially if your doctor’s office is insisting on communicating directly with HR as some of them do – then it really would be on them to communicate with you if something were missing.

      Reply
  4. BRR

    I wanted to get a feel for how common this is. I work in a development department of around 14. We’re hiring for what will basically be a second in command and are using a search firm. The search firm and our VP of development conducted first round interviews at the firm’s office and I found out recently that the firm recommended second/final round interviews happen at their office as well and candidates would only meet the department if they ask. This is only a recommendation and there is no plan in place yet.

    This would mean that the candidates will not meet anybody in the department they’re working with, the people they would be managing, or see our office. I told our VP that I would prefer to meet the candidates and think that the candidates should get to meet us so they know if this job is a good match. I’m not sure exactly the reasoning behind us not interviewing the candidates and was told that they know what we’re looking for because we have all met with the VP about what our department needs and that we all provided input for the job description (which is true).

    Is this common? I’ve never heard of this before and feel like it could be a potential disaster (my organization is toxic and this position is going to have a huge impact on my work life).

    Reply
    1. Attractive Nuisance

      It does sound off to me for a FTE hire — would you really want to hire an director of development who didn’t insist on meeting some of the people this person would be managing?

      Reply
    2. Lora

      It’s common at organizations that have crappy senior management. ExJob used to do this and ended up hiring and promoting a couple of guys who, if they had bothered to ask the worker bees who were to be managed by these ding-dongs, could have told them a laundry list of Why This Is A Terrible Idea. Good senior management generally wants people to know what they are getting into and wants to make sure most people will be happy-ish.

      Reply
    3. k.k

      I can’t speak to how common it is, but I can tell you that I would never accept a job where I hadn’t met anyone I’d be working with. There is no way to tell if it’s going to be a good fit for you that way. There are likely so great candidates you’re missing out on because they see this as a red flag.

      Reply
    4. NPOQueen

      It seems like you have a pretty small shop, but I wouldn’t be too worried. When we replaced our head of Advancement, we didn’t get to meet the candidates either, we only met the final candidate. I do want to say that I think we met the candidates for Provost before they were hired, but that’s a much bigger role at a university.

      Now, if your organization is toxic, that’s another story. I wouldn’t worry about not meeting the candidate, but I would worry about the VP’s choices (if they have proved unreliable in the past). Is the new person going to be your direct supervisor? I’ve interviewed those types before, but my experience is that the higher up they are, the less visible they are. In my area, it was because they didn’t want it to get back that the candidate was interviewing, but I can’t speak to your specific situation. All you can do now is welcome the new person with an open mind, and see how it goes.

      Reply
    5. bleh

      I work for a fairly large institution in development and when we have done searches for very high level positions (unit directors and now we are in the middle of searching for the equivalent of a VP of Advancement) they’ve all been held very close to the chest with direct staff not knowing much before the entire organization reveal. One group I work with recently hired a director this way and my colleague there told me all the upper managers got to do a group session where they asked questions, but I think this may have been after he was selected (before the announcement), not during the interview process. It is weird as you say and I don’t think it’s great practice but I think it’s common at a high level.

      Reply
    6. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs

      My last job let it be pretty-much manager/department dependent. My first boss made sure to walk the candidates around or group-interview, the second didn’t do it nearly as much.

      Reply
    7. Annabelle Lee

      My current company does this. We hire senior (director level) managers who never meet their potential staff unless they ask to. My current manager was hired like this. While it’s turned out fine, we’ve all lost alot of respect for his manager and the Human Resources director who also though this was a good idea.

      Reply
    8. sarakg

      We are also in the process of hiring a developer manager, who would be the direct boss of all the developers, and direct report of our current boss (CTO). Once they were pretty close to being decided, we all got to meet the candidate, ask lots of questions, have a good chat about process etc.

      It wasn’t so much an officially open position, but through some various circumstances, a good candidate came up and they were open to creating the position. The position’s needed (my current boss wears way to many hats around here, he needed someone to take at least 1 hat away), and the candidate is a good fit for a bunch of reasons.

      However, we all found out that they made an offer before hearing all of our feedback. Which is a bit frustrating, but not surprising… Offer hasn’t been accepted yet, but we’ll see.

      Reply
    9. Optimistic Prime

      I wouldn’t even want that as a junior FTE; meeting some of my future coworkers was one of the major factors in my decision to work here. I can’t imagine a good, competent VP signing on to manage an organization whose people they haven’t met or space they haven’t seen AT ALL.

      Reply
  5. Sunflower

    I received mixed reviews during my performance review. Everything from ‘I don’t trust Sunflower to do my events’ to ‘Sunflower is an amazing worker and is very knowledgeable’.

    My director then acknowledged that she thinks a lot of the reviews were based on my former boss who, while being a nice person, was not good at her job and it caused me to suffer. This has now left me in a state of feeling like I need to relearn everything I’ve been taught in the past 2 years that I’ve been here. A manager in the same role, who manages a different region and actually does the job right, is going to go through my questions with me but it feels impossible to query about everything.

    I also am feeling anger at both my old boss and grandboss. Grandboss told boss to give me more high-level work as early as 4 months into my job and my boss for over a year until grandboss told her to do it or else. Angry with grandboss for letting me spend 2 years here doing my job incorrect and not having the chance to be corrected. I’m a people pleaser and have a fear ppl dislike working with me so this review is tough to deal with.

    Overall, grandboss thinks I have a ton of potential and that this year could be a great year for me. She barely spent any time discussing the negative comments and the company is going to pay for additional training and certs for me. Many of the comments also instructed me to take more of a leadership role (my boss made me believe I was more so assisting her as opposed to leading)

    I should feel confident going forward but I can’t shake the feeling that everyone dislikes working with me. I’m still not even sure how to interpret the review. Any advice on anything I touched on in this post?

    Reply
    1. not so super-visor

      That stinks. You have every right to be ticked at old boss. I think that the best thing that you can do is to just focus on what you can do going forward since you can’t change the past. Did the director give you any suggestions on what they’d like you to improve on or what you can focus on?

      Reply
    2. AdAgencyChick

      The best bosses, when presenting peer review feedback, will tell you things like:
      * “Several of your peers mentioned X. I don’t see this as an issue with your work at all, but there’s an easy fix of Y that will help how you’re perceived with regard to X.”
      * “Several of your peers mentioned X. This is clearly a problem that was caused by the way OldBoss managed you. We won’t worry about that moving forward.”

      Or they’ll tell you “this is a real issue that you need to work on.”

      And at the end of the review, they should have an overall conclusion, like “We’ll work on X, Y, and Z in the coming year, but you’re doing a great job overall and you’re on track for a promotion by next August,” or “you’re doing a satisfactory job overall, but these things need to be worked on in order for you to advance any further in the organization.”

      Reply
    3. Jadelyn

      That is so awful, I’m sorry you got sabotaged like that. The good news is, your grandboss is helping you to move forward from it!

      And honestly, at worst, people might be frustrated and a bit wary about working with you, not disliking you personally. The best way to help assuage that wariness is with a ton of communication. It’ll take some time to fix your reputation, which sadly was damaged by your crappy old boss, but it can be done! Be scrupulously conscientious with things going forward, communicate frequently with the people you’re working with so they know and can see for themselves that you’re on top of things, and just give it time. And, people aren’t entirely ignorant – if they see a big difference between Sunflower-with-old-boss, versus Sunflower-on-their-own, they’ll probably reach the conclusion that the boss was the problem.

      Reply
    4. NPOQueen

      On the one hand, this review has obviously shaken you and left you without much direction. On the other hand, they are offering valuable training and certifications, so your company is saying they like you enough to invest in you.

      Who is your boss now, the director? What will help know is clarity and consistency, because mixed reviews are indicating that you did very well on some events and not so well on others. Can your boss give you any advice on what you did right over the last year? If you’re heading you should take more leadership and you’re in event planning, that might mean that people want you to come more fully prepared to their meetings. It’s hard for me to say more without knowing more of what you do, but when I was in event planning, every event had a form to fill out to determine the overall goals and direction. If your coworkers see you working hard, their opinions will change, but someone likes what you’re doing. Concentrate on that.

      Reply
    5. Not So NewReader

      For a bad situation, you are in a pretty good spot. You have the support of your new boss and your grandboss is paying closer attention.

      I have told people, “We are going to fix this and it will be okay.” Getting the person to stay with me is HARDER than the actual fix. And that is because it requires the person to have some blind faith in my words. Once the person buys into fixing things, life gets much simpler.

      My vote is give them a chance. I don’t know, maybe 6 months? Let’s say give it six months and see if it still appears as bad as it does right now.
      To your advantage, you sound like a sincere person who is trustworthy and wants to do a good job. If I can pick up on that from a post then probably your bosses are picking up on this also.
      So yes, it will be a bit rocky at first. With each week that goes by it should get a little better. Maybe you can psych yourself up to doing one week at a time, “Well, let me see how this week goes and what I think on Friday.”

      As far as what the problems are and to what degree, decide to remain calm. People with a bigger picture view have decided that you will probably get through this. This is not much different than a doc telling you that your broken arm will indeed heal, but, dang! that arm sure hurts right now.

      Where to start. Start with known problems. Fix the stuff you know about. Typically what happens is on the way to fixing Known Problem A, you will realize, “Oh I need to fix this and this also.” So fix those two additional things then move to Known Problem B. And then, “Oh crap, I also need to fix that and that over here.” Okay this is getting annoying. The answer is to ride it out. Go fix those two other things then move to Known Problem C. Keep going. Consider getting extra rest at night because this does get tiring, but you can win this one.

      As far as other people’s complaints. You may have opportunities to apologize, if you feel an apology would be appropriate/helpful. But sometimes just changing what you are doing is enough to satisfy some folks. They are so happy that you changed that in their minds the issue is over, it’s in the past.
      Annnd sometimes I tend to believe that if X was such a problem why didn’t Bob just come over and tell me X is a problem. I don’t buy into helplessness very well. You may find that you will have opportunities to say, “Is this everything you need on this?”, or similar question as an effort to open up conversation.

      I am optimistic for you. I hope you can kick Negative Nancy out of your brain and give this a shot.

      Reply
    6. Anon for This

      I’m in a somewhat similar situation, although I haven’t actually gotten any negative feedback (yet?). I was promoted last year to report to an incompetent VP. She left, and our CEO is serving as interim VP for our area. We keep discovering things I was supposed to be doing but was never told about, or goals that were set for me that were never communicated, and so on. Fortunately, I think it’s clear to our CEO that the problems lie with the former VP but ugh. Every meeting ends up being all about how I (and the VP’s other direct reports) aren’t doing what we are supposed to be doing.

      Reply
    7. Mme Marie

      I recently went through a (mostly anonymous) 360 style review with my coworkers on my team, in my business line, managers, and 2 up managers – people on my own team scored me 1 (bad) and 5 (great) regarding the same topic. It was really tough to figure out how to deal with those 1 scores.
      For me it’s impossible to completely dismiss negative feedback, but with a lot of positive feedback on the same topics as the negative – I’ve just had to realize that there are people who’ve had different experiences with me & my work. They might be wrong about my abilities, or we had a bad interaction at some point, but the only thing you can really do is take it with a grain of salt, figure out if there’s anything that could be improved there & do it, remind yourself that work is work and the outside world is way more meaningful, and continue to do your job to the best of your abilities.

      Reply
      1. Jesca

        Uhg I hate 360 reviews. They are just the worst. We would all like to believe that most people are objective, free thinking individuals capable of providing feedback sand personal feelings in regards to your work, but I have not personally meant many who are willing. You don’t have to like someone to respect their roles, abilities, and contributions, but a lot of the time people cannot see past themselves far enough to be objective on this front. “Oh Sally likes to laugh and joke, and that is just sooooo not professional to me!” thought process is definitely going to come out in a review if the person is not objective in their thinking. I would never put much credence on these things as its call contextually based interactions with people who can be pretty flippant about how they feel about you, your work, and your contributions on any given day. Not everyone is cut out to manage and provide constructive feedback, and should not even be given the opportunity to have a *vote* in someone’s review. I mean a manager can ask employees how they feel, but it is up to the manager to give context and determine how much credence to put on the peer assessment. That’s my rant. And honestly I would move forward on this and keep this in mind.

        Reply
  6. all aboard the anon train

    I’ve only ever worked in big, corporate companies. A small digital firm, Teapots Digital, has been trying to recruit me recently. Teapots Digital has about 20 people in the company. I’m used to 20 people in a a department.

    The pros are that Teapot Digital is a new industry, which is one I’ve been trying to get into. It’d be a $30K pay raise and I think I can negotiate for either another $5-10K or extra vacation time based on the benefits they don’t offer that I’d be losing if I went to work for them. Everyone seems nice and the office is in a good location that’s close to my apartment.

    The cons are that I worry a small firm means less opportunity for promotion. I know big companies don’t mean promotions either since I always get stuck in departments that have hiring/promotion/transfer freezes. But the job asked for 2+ years experience and I have 7, so it’s a lateral move, but just to a new industry. Teapots Inc is also very into company celebrations and outings, which I can deal with as long as they’re not every week, which they don’t seem to be (more like every month). The majority of the Teapot Digital office is also much older than me. I’m 31 and most people are at least 10 to 20 years older than me. Interns and assistants are all 10 years younger than me so I feel like I’m in a solo age group.

    The money is the biggest motivating factor right now. I currently make a decent amount of money for my area, but I also have amazing flexibility (I work 10-6) and can WFH two days a week. I’d give all that up for a $30K increase, though, since that would help me pay off my outstanding debt in a few months. And if I stayed for even two years, I’d finally have enough to consider buying in my HCOL.

    My biggest issue is that I don’t actually know if I’d like a small office. I’m so used to large, corporate offices that I worry that I’ll take a job in a small environment and then hate it. Has anyone made this switch before? What did/didn’t you like?

    Reply
    1. The Other Dawn

      In my experience, I’ve found small offices to have MORE opportunity. I started my career in a very small office–a startup bank–and I found it easy to gain a ton of experience and move around and up quickly. Mainly because there are less people to Do All The Things, so you end up taking on more. Lots of task diversity in a small office typically because of that.

      I made the move to a much bigger office a few years ago and found it very difficult. It was so hard to figure out who handled what because everyone handled only a specific portion of one larger task. Having people spread out made it hard to get a handle on that. Plus, I felt like a number for a long time.

      I then moved to a larger company and it wasn’t nearly as difficult. Probably because I’d already gone through the initial shock of becoming a small fish in a large pond; at my first company I was a pretty big fish in a very small pond.

      Reply
      1. Kim Possible

        I’ve also found astronomically more opportunity with the smaller company I’m at now, as opposed to the huge corporation I used to work for, for many reasons:

        -There are less people, so my superiors have seen my good work firsthand. At the corporation, I felt like I got lost in the shuffle. There was little feedback, period, and I didn’t feel like anyone cared about my success or noticed what I did or didn’t do.
        -I’ve gotten two significant raises and one promotion in my almost two year tenure at my small company. Again, less people, so the people who I approached for a raise (supervisor & boss) could speak firsthand to the higher ups about my quality of work. The promotion – my boss approached me about because he had noticed and been impressed by my work.

        I know for a fact I wouldn’t have had these opportunities at the corporation at worked with. You had to shmooze with the right people and work with the company for 10-15 years to even be CONSIDERED for any type of promotion (or raise, even – raises were rarely given).

        Reply
        1. Kim Possible

          Benefits are important to consider, too of course, but in my experience, I’ve had great benefits at both companies.

          Reply
        2. Jesca

          The caveat here is that advancement and perks are heavily based on your experience level when you start. If you have the opportunity there to learn and gain new skills to put you in a position for advancement, then yes it is a good move. The downside is though that the company does not experience any growth and you are stuck where you are. I mean maybe that could even be the determing factor? Taking a pay bump of $30,000 being no worse off than where you are now?

          One specific point though, many times in small companies you are expected to pick up work your role normally would not do as there aren’t full departments to do them. I would heavily keep that in mind as it has happened over and over in my experience (the upside is that you get to hone these new skills as well which can make you more rounded as a prospective employee elsewhere).

          Damn, I think I just talked myself into taking your small business job!
          (for context, I just left a small company to work for a massive global company. I like the global company better!)

          Reply
        3. all aboard the anon train

          Oh, your second bullet is a good point. One of my biggest frustrations with corporate is that I’ve always been told I’m one of the top performers, but promotions have always been by seniority and raises have always been standard rate for everyone, regardless of performance.

          Reply
      2. My name is Inigo Montoya

        I jumped from big to small and I really struggled with it. I moved back to big in under a year.

        YMMV – but all the “office housekeeping” really got under my skin. I liked that in larger offices there was an office manager for ordering paper, keeping the kitchen clean, greeting visitors, etc. The kitchen cleaning schedules, not having onsite database support, troubleshooting my own phone past the point of reason, etc all really got under my skin for whatever reason. While I understand that’s necessary for people to wear more hats in smaller organizations, I learned I need to look for roles where I wear the “hat” I’m good at more the majority of the time for my job satisfaction.

        Reply
      3. Natalie

        I think it’s really true that one can gain more experience, but, in my experience with smaller orgs that additional experience & duties doesn’t necessarily come with more money or a different title. Which isn’t automatically a bad thing, just something to be aware of.

        Reply
    2. Coming Up Milhouse

      In the same boat as you. I left corporate america for a small, local company. Same salary and I wanted the closest commute but I really wish I didnt leave. There’s zero room for advancement, salaries are known to stay stagnant and the benefits I had under prior employer were 100 times better than the “competitive package” they offer here.

      The culture is different-it’s warm and welcoming until it is your third week and you’ve noticed all of the cliques.

      I would really weigh the pros and cons of both companies before moving.

      Reply
      1. all aboard the anon train

        I’m looking to leave my current company for a lot of reasons, but the advancement and stagnant salary is what I’m most worried about. I worry that such a small company means there’s no advancement unless someone leaves, and I don’t want to get stuck in a dead-end position where I’m bored after two years.

        Reply
        1. Natalie

          Given that you say below that you really need to leave your current position, I wouldn’t worry too much about this now. I’m not saying jump at the first opportunity, but it sounds like there are a lot of compelling reasons to take this job that outweigh the risk that it will stagnate. If you find yourself bored in a few years, you can move on.

          Reply
    3. AndersonDarling

      I went from large (20,000+) companies to one that has less than 100 employees. I liked the change because I had more involvement in the organization. I wear many hats, as they say.
      After being here for 6 years, I interviewed at a few large organizations and I was amazed at how little those roles accomplished. In my current role, I do x, y, z everyday and sometimes a,b, and c if it is necessary. But the roles I interviewed for only did y and they were so structured that the position shouldn’t even think of doing b or c! When I reflected on it, I was a cog in a machine when I was at a big corporation, but I have much more independence and room to grow at my small company. All my contributions are big contributions.
      I don’t get title changes and literal promotions, but my job has grown exponentially since I have been here. I have learned so much, and I can drive the organization in new directions because we are small, adaptable, and flexible.
      It’s not for everyone, but working for a small company fit my personality much better than a large organization.

      Reply
    4. neverjaunty

      Look at your benefits, too. Sometimes smaller companies have a hard time providing the same benefits (like health insurance) that a big company can offer.

      Reply
      1. all aboard the anon train

        The health insurance is on par to what I currently have. The dental is a little less coverage, but not a large enough amount to make me reconsider (the salary would be enough to cover anything).

        The benefits I’d be losing out on are commuter expenses, tuition reimbursement, gym membership, and I’d be going down to a 3% 401K match instead of 6%. There are other small benefits I have at my current company that I’d be losing out on, but I think I have a good chance of negotiating more vacation time or another $5K-10K in salary.

        Reply
          1. all aboard the anon train

            Oh, yeah, that’s there. I just sort of lump them under health insurance in my mind.

            Reply
        1. Kimberlee, Esq.

          FYI! As someone who used to administer transit benefits, it’s typically pretty easy to get them set up for companies of any size, even if it’s only pre-tax instead of employer paid. It sounds like you’d also have a shorter commute, which I imagine helps!

          Reply
        2. Yzma, Put Your Hands In The Air!

          Would you be losing that much on the 401K if your salary goes up by $30k?

          I’ve worked for small businesses, and currently work for a government agency with thousands of employees. I’ve enjoyed lots of things about both.

          What I would consider is: At the large company, how long would it take you to get your salary raised the $30k that the small company is offering now? If you think it’s more than a couple of years (which it sounds like), then you could work for the small company for a year, or two, or three, and then move back to a large company, and still be on par, or ahead of where you’d be, salary-wise, if you stayed put.

          Reply
      2. CrazyEngineerGirl

        It’s also possible that the ‘benefits’ can be more flexible at a small company. I work for a ~20 employee company and the owners can be really flexible when they want to be. For example, we only get 2 weeks of PTO a year. That’s it. Not a lot and that kind of sucks. But, and it’s a big but… when my mother was in the hospital and then passed away last month my bosses were amazing. I was gone for over 3 weeks, no questions asked, and the owner decided to just pay me my regular salary anyway without taking any of the PTO I had. So with limited PTO and no official bereavement leave, I still had 3+ weeks of paid time to deal with everything. The owner just wanted to do it and is in the position to make that decision and follow through. I think what a lot of it comes down to in a small company, is the owners/people in charge and how they run the company. That can make for a bad experience or an amazing one.

        Reply
    5. JustaCPA

      Ive just done a similar transition from working for a Fortune 5 company to an international company with locations worldwide and thousands of employees. I’m now at a small company with 50 or less and I’m loving it. There are definitely some cultural differences to adjust to but I’m managing. I think there’s more opportunity for sure in the smaller offices.

      Reply
    6. Emily S.

      I don’t have much to add here, other than this:

      Sometimes it can be beneficial to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond. More opportunities sometimes, depending on the situation. Of course there’s always a flip side to that, which you’ll have to consider seriously.

      Reply
    7. anna green

      I’ve only ever worked for small companies, so I can’t really compare. But I agree small companies do usually have less opportunities for promotions and possibly worse benefits like someone else said. However, you usually can also get a lot more varied experience because in a smaller company everyone tends to do a little bit of everything. You also can have more flexibility in salaries/hours/tasks, etc, because they don’t have to fit you into the same box as everyone else. I would think about what you like about the big corporate culture and see if it’ll fit in any way into your day to day at the new place. A lot can depend on the specific culture at the small company. But for more money and getting experience in a new industry, those are important. And as long as you go in understanding there’ll be differences and think of it as a learning experience, that’ll help.

      Reply
    8. Objects don't argue back

      I’ve pretty much only worked in small offices and on small teams; I suspect I’d do very poorly dealing with a larger place.

      I wouldn’t worry too much about age stuff — you may be surprised at how much you have in common with people both much older and much younger than you are! You will find plenty to chat about.

      I agree that I’ve found it easier to move up/around in small offices; because of the lack of personnel, it’s very easy to learn more duties, and the smallness of the office means it can be rather more agile. This could also be a downside; you can wind up doing a lot of varied stuff that isn’t in the job description! I love that, but ymmv.

      The bottom line, I’d say, is that smaller employers have mostly meant that the culture of the workplace is strongly defined. A lot will depend on how well you get on with the ‘personality’ of wherever you’re working.

      Reply
    9. edj3

      I’ve worked at both large and small companies. If you end up with a loon at a small company, the crazy doesn’t get diluted. Something to consider.

      Reply
      1. good luck

        ^ Oh yes, this! I work in a 30 person office and you can get mighty tired of the same people all the time – and the weird small office situations. Such as the AC wars that go on between the floors, the all-staff kitchen cleanliness meetings, etc. PLUS if you are losing two days of WFH, you will be with this group of people in this environment every.single.day.

        I would go to a larger company in a heartbeat.

        Reply
    10. Paige Turner

      I’ve worked for small and big companies and the main issue I had with the really small (like less then ten people) companies was with taking time off, because there was no coverage. I’d ask (either in a final interview or once you have an offer) about coverage for time off, as well as all the details of benefits (health insurance has been more expensive, when they offer it at all, with small companies, IME). But in your case, I’d take the job for the extra money and the opportunity to move into the new industry. You don’t have to stay there forever and the experience and pay increase would likely help when you look for your next position after that.

      Reply
    11. TheAssistant

      I made the switch from a 50-person department in a 4k+ person non-profit to a tiny nonprofit startup of 10 people, total. Everything, everything was different.

      I was not dealing with an awesome raise (small bump) but I found that I really do thrive in a small setting. There’s no bureaucracy within the company, you know? For instance, I wanted to move cities, just because I wanted to change. The process was: asking my boss, thinking through issues, telling our Ops Manager, and now moving. I’ve gotten to set up policies and implement change and take the lead on the vision for the company’s data systems.

      Now, big caveat, mine just isn’t a small company but a small, new (read: opportunity to put a stamp on it) company with no concern about where people live. It’s also a company that genuinely cares about its employees’ well-being. Significant others are encouraged on business travel and invited to group dinners. Work from home is liberally given. Clothing just needs to exist on your body and cover the normal things that need to be covered, and that’s the extent of the dress code. The Executive Director really set the tone for how he wanted this company to be run, and that’s probably what I’m attracted to most (instead of just “small”).

      I’m also impressed by the opportunity for advancement – basically from day 1 my boss and Executive Director were focused on making sure I enjoyed what I did and had opportunities to grow professionally. There aren’t obvious positions advertised for promotions, but the Executive Director intentionally groomed our Admin into a role she helped design (it wasn’t ever advertised – always intended for her). And though I’ve only been here a year, my boss is thinking about next steps for me to take more ownership and eventually move me into a higher-level position. So, in my small company, growth is strategic in terms of scaling expansion and leveraging talent. I’m thrilled.

      So I would encourage you to ask a lot of questions about culture and assess the vibe to see how well you’ll do. Honestly, even without a good vibe, I would absolutely jump at the chance to increase my salary by 30k. But the vibe can really make a difference of whether you’re thinking about just the paycheck or enjoying your work, especially when the company is very small. No hiding, no seeking other allies or departments if things go south.

      Reply
      1. Oryx

        The bureaucracy is what is the biggest difference for me. In the past, I’ve worked at what were basically branch libraries of much larger organizations and there was so much red tape. Where I am now, it’s just us and I find they are far more flexible because there isn’t so much hierarchy oversight and there’s lots of room for growth and advancement and they really encourage new ideas (because, again, there’s no team higher up that has to approve everything. We can just do it and trying and failing and trying again are always supported).

        Reply
    12. Not So NewReader

      I am leaning toward taking the job.
      But if it were me, I would make extra sure that I stayed on target with my financial goals. There is no point to giving up some things that you really like and then abandoning your goals at the same time. Not only is it self-defeating but it becomes a morale breaker over time.

      I had an okay paying job, it was the first one that paid me something decent. I made a list of goals. It took time but I hit all my major goals. Here’s the kicker, the job was awful. It was because I kept hitting my long term goals that I rode out the awfulness. I was willing to hold a laser focus on my goals and that focus carried me through the bad days.

      The two things I would say about a smaller place:
      1) I agree you get more opportunities to learn things and try things than you would in a larger place.
      2) Every time you speak pretend that everyone in the place can hear everything you say. This will carry you through so much and help you out a lot of times.

      Reply
      1. all aboard the anon train

        I’m in a pretty awful situation now (I’ve written before about my boss punishing me for going on vacation and management is so averse to hearing concerns that some serious issues have occurred – think sexual harassment that’s swept under the rug).

        My financial goals are pretty on track with my current salary, but the new one would get the most pressing ones (medical debt) out of the way quickly, which would be nice. It’s a difference of paying off debt in another year to two years and paying it off in two to three months.

        Reply
        1. JulieBulie

          Just based on the fact that you’re in an awful situation now, I think you should take the chance. I’ve gotten a lot more resume material out of smaller companies than I have at bigger ones, so even if this turns out not to be such a great experience, odds are it will still be better than where you are now AND it will beef up your resume big time.

          Reply
    13. Epsilon Delta

      The thing I really liked about working at a small company was that you could actually accomplish things. You tell the boss your idea, boss likes the idea and says “go for it,” and then you do it. At the big company I’m at now, there’s like 20 layers of approvals you need to go through so you don’t get anything done except things that fit in the narrowly defined window that you’re assigned.

      Reply
    14. MissDisplaced

      You might have certain opportunities to grow with the smaller company, true. However be prepared to give up other things. In my experience the smaller companies will work you much, much harder without regard for work/life balance. Also be prepared to give up things like pension plans and cushy 3 or 4 week vacation time and health benefits that are not quite as good.

      I say this as someone whose company was a small division of a giant company. When we divested, we lost the pension and the healthcare is not as good as it was because they don’t have the purchasing power being a small entity. So, it just depends on what you’re looking for.

      Reply
  7. ZSD

    Tips on being university staff reporting to a faculty member?

    I’ve just accepted a staff position at a university. I’ve had staff positions before, but they’ve always reported to other staff members – people who work regular office hours and so forth. This time, I’m reporting to a faculty member, and I’m a little anxious about how I’ll know when it’s okay to call her with a question, coordinating work, etc. Have any of you been in this position? Any tips?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Anonygoose

      I’m an assistant to about 12 different faculty members (probably a bit lower down the totem pole than you, but it’s the same idea!). The one thing I’ve learned in the last year is there is no hard-and-fast rules for what faculty will expect. Some want me to figure everything out myself and won’t respond, or will respond incredibly slowly, to questions. Others like to be kept in the loop at all times. It all depends on your specific faculty member, and what your role is, and that’s something you’ll figure out in time just like you would with any other boss.

      That said, the one bit of advice: Don’t be intimidated by them! They are just people and, although they might be smart in one (or several) academic areas, they don’t know everything. That’s why they need you and your expertise! So don’t be afraid to point out that something doesn’t make sense or might be better a different way, because sometimes faculty can be so absorbed in their research and teaching that they can be very narrow minded.

      Reply
    2. Another bureaucrat

      I made that transition myself a couple years ago. I think those are valid questions and appropriate to ask! If she doesn’t tell you , for example, whether she’s teaching a semester, or whether she’ll be actually in her office on campus x days a week, you can ask how she’d like to handle communication. Does she prefer to meet in person on a regular basis to review work? How does she prefer to handle email? If you need to reach her urgently, or get a response within 24 hours, how would she prefer you contact her? It took me a bit to figure that out with my boss, but after some things were missed because she hadn’t responded to my emails or follow up emails, she told me to text her if I needed a response that day.

      Reply
    3. Murphy

      Just ask them how they’d like you to handle it! My boss is currently staff, but former faculty, and is the type of person who works all hours and will often send me emails at weird times, so we had a conversation about how he wanted me to handle that. (I was coming at it more from a “do you want me to be responding at all these weird times” more than a “when is it ok to contact you” perspective, but still.)

      Reply
    4. Amadeo

      I used email a lot when I reported to faculty in my previous university job. They were able to answer in their own time or poke their head in my office as they were passing.

      Reply
    5. Hannah

      I used to work with a lot of faculty, and really, it depends on the faculty member! Personalities in academia are varied.

      One important thing can be getting your questions answered from other faculty assistants. If you have a question about how something works administratively, or who the correct person to send X form is, or how to do Y, seasoned, experienced assistants can be a much better resource than the person you’re assisting. Just make sure you seek out someone who really knows their stuff.

      Of course, direct questions about what your faculty person wants to meant should be directed to them, but often they want you to do some footwork to figure out how things work at your university…because often they don’t care or know themselves.

      Reply
    6. over educated

      Congrats! I think I remember you posting that you were close to the end of a contract, so it’s great that you’ve found something.

      No advice though. I’ve done contract and RA/TA work for faculty, and in that context I figured contacting them during normal businesses hours was fair game. The tricky part that I didn’t experience, where you might need to have more explicit guidelines, would be over breaks in the academic year where staff still report to work but the faculty member could be…anywhere, really.

      Reply
      1. Bibliovore

        As a faculty member with staff reporting to me, direct questions by email are best. My time is not consistent except for class schedule. Second the “I might know the answer but could probably point you to the person who can” Understand that just because I am not 9-5, I am probably working most waking hours because of service, publication, and leadership responsibilities. I do however to expect my staff to be present during scheduled work hours and give reasonable notice if they are unable to meet those expectations. Ask if I need to be ccd on emails going out of the department. I am learning not to be a micromanager and have discovered that makes me a bit of an absent minded professor- oh I have a class today at 3:00? Yes, and second the do a little legwork on things like “how do I FedX a package?” “the computer isn’t connecting to the internet”

        Reply
      2. ZSD

        Thanks for remembering! Yes, I just finished my last job. This new one is in my fallback field, not my first choice, but it’s much better than unemployment!

        Reply
    7. Blue

      Email is usually best since their schedules are usually pretty unpredictable, but you really just need to figure out what works with this particular faculty member. I’ve reported to faculty a couple of times, and I’ve generally had a LOT of autonomy and independence. Like, I could go weeks without seeing them in person, and I only emailed them with a question when I had exhausted all options for answering it myself. This worked because I’m good at problem solving and tend to work well on my own, and also because the professors in question were very predictable in their decision making, respect of policy, etc. Once I figured out where they stood, I could operate within their expectations pretty smoothly. Good luck!

      Reply
  8. eager

    happy friday!

    I made it through the final round of interviews for a higher ed admin job, and then was contacted for my references. the new job spoke to all my references this monday and mentioned to two that I’m their choice and they hope I accept their offer. it is now friday and I haven’t heard anything. is it worth following up or should I just sit tight?

    I was warned that HR can take a long time at this particular university and that there are rules that the new job can’t notify me themselves, that they must wait for HR… but of course I’m so anxious to know that I’m running through worst-case scenarios in my head.

    Reply
    1. Bigglesworth

      My previous job was in higher ed and they take forever! They’ve been trying to hire a new HR Director since January and even lower level position like mine could take anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months (I was an admin). I wouldn’t worry about it. A few days or even a week doesn’t seem like that long to me. If you don’t hear back in a week or two from the time your references were checked, I would send a brief email asking about the status of your application. Other than that, this could be a glimpse into how long it takes to get something done at this particular university.

      Reply
    2. Not Penny

      I had a similar experience when applying for my current role in Higher Ed admin. It was really frustrating at the time but just how it goes here! I try to always let candidates know now that even after they have contacted references they can still be slow to confirm. Hang in there – I hope you get good news.

      Reply
    3. Murphy

      They can definitely be slow with paperwork. I got a verbal “you’re our first choice” probably about 2 weeks before I got an actual written offer at my university. They had me fill out the background check paperwork in the meantime though.

      Reply
    4. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

      They do take forever. At my current position, I transferred from another department. It was not a lateral move; I went from entry level to mid-level with a change in hours. There was a tremendous amount of internal politics and 3 weeks after the dept chair told me I was his choice and would be receiving a formal offer, I had to follow up with HR. My start date was 4 months after I submitted my application. That was a month faster than my initial hire!

      Reply
    5. Lia

      For my current position, it took two weeks from the verbal offer to the offer letter. There are a lot of moving parts that must align at a university, so it can take a while for them to happen!

      Our most recent searches were 4 months, 5 months, and 5 months from posting to start date. We’re getting faster, although the 4 month one was an internal hire.

      Reply
    6. eager

      thanks everyone! I think I’d feel better if I had a verbal offer, but only my references were told that I was the top choice. fingers crossed!

      p.s. I’m new to this community and I don’t know what took me so long to engage!

      Reply
      1. Beckie

        My experience is slightly different from others in this thread: in my experience universities are slow at hiring (especially in the summer), but I have always gotten a verbal offer and the offer letter on the same business day. I think even the time I negotiated a little bit on salary I got the offer letter by the end of the same business day on which I’d gotten the verbal offer.

        I think I actually prefer that set-up; I think I’d go nuts if I had to wait weeks (!!!) between the verbal offer and the offer letter.

        Reply
    7. IvyGirl

      Depending on the role and the department, this is a suuuuuuper slow time for a lot of higher ed.

      Lots of big financial-impact cycles have most likely just completed (fiscal year end, budgets, fall term bills just sent, etc.) so now is a prime time for vacations to be taken.

      They also might have summer staff hours, which can mean on Mondays & Fridays there is skeleton staff present.

      You should hear something really soon, and the feedback from your references is a good sign. Good luck – be sure to get everything in writing!

      Reply
    8. Lemon Zinger

      I work in higher ed and it will take time! Be patient. My hiring process took three months from start to finish!

      Reply
    9. Ghost Town

      There’s a whole slew of bureaucratic hurdles that they have to go through to even get the offer letter out the door. At the very least, there’s probably a school level and a university level of HR to approve the offer and letter. If you are already or have ever been an employee of the university, that adds in another layer of stuff they have to do.

      Congrats!

      Reply
    10. Marillenbaum

      They definitely take a while. When I worked in higher ed, we were hiring for a position around the end of the fall semester, which means HR moves slooooow. They had interviewed a friend of mine, and my boss asked me to tell the friend that not hearing anything just meant the HR was being HR, and he was still very much their top candidate.

      Reply
    11. Ama

      If this is a university whose academic year starts in late August/early September, I can guarantee at least one person who needs to sign off on something in HR will be on vacation right now. It was a perennial source of frustration when I was working in academic admin in a department that was doing a lot of hiring that you needed to get new people onboarded before the school year started — but because of the way our vacation policy worked everyone in HR, IT, and all the other offices we needed help from went on vacation in late July and August.

      Reply
    12. Meg

      I know it’s fruitless to tell you not to worry, but try not to worry. :) I work in higher ed, and basically everyone is on vacation right now…late July/early August is the sweet spot, between the end of the fiscal year and the ramp up to the fall semester. Hiring takes a while and a lot of people in HR will need to sign off on it.

      Good luck!!

      Reply
    13. NonProfit Anon

      So nice to see a few higher ed folks here. It can take forever in HE. I now work at a non profit but still in higher ed and have recently started a new job search. I had one I thought I had a good chance at but its either higher ed “doing its thing” or they’ve gone another direction and haven’t told me (and I work closely with them already).

      Reply
  9. Nervous Accountant

    Training advice!

    Part of my job includes training new hires on different things like our tax software, the company’s products etc. Lately my mgr has asked me to train on soft skills as well bc he likes how I write and communicate. He’s praised my emails in the past and I think i’m pretty good at this when I’ve had time to flesh things out and not caught off guard.

    I’m kind of at a loss though bc aside from saying.. be warm, professional, concise, I’m not sure what else to say to new people? A lot of what I learned was common sense (i.e, being very nice, professional etc), practice (concise but not rude tone), talent (I’m pretty good with writing) and through specific situations.

    As a manager/leader, what would you emphasize? As a new person, whether new to a company or new to working world, what would you like to hear?

    Reply
    1. hermit crab

      What kind of training is this — an informal one-on-one session, or a more formal session where a group of people are together? If it’s more formal, it might be useful to go through some exercises, e.g., to practice responding to a common situation, and then discuss the results. Either way, you might consider providing some examples of good communication pieces and going over why they are good — it’s easy to say “be professional and concise” but what does that really mean, in practice, at your company?

      Also, don’t forget about company-specific culture/practices/unspoken rules — for example, where I work, pretty much every email begins with “Hi RecipientFirstName,” and ends with “Thanks, SenderFirstName.” It’s a simple thing but might not be something new hires will figure out for themselves right away.

      Reply
    2. Neosmom

      I had a boss tell me my emails were “too harsh” but gave no examples or guidance to fix. So I developed my own strategy. First, I draft the “harsh” email that communicates the point(s) I need to make. Then, I reread it and add the words that will adjust the tone desired for that particular message (conversation, facts delivery, urgency, etc.).

      Reply
    3. SansaStark

      In the past, I’ve created email templates for the most commonly asked questions so that the new hires/temps can get a sense of the style of email that we send. It seems like common sense to you but if someone’s never held a particularly public-facing job, it probably wouldn’t occur to them to start an email with something like “Thank you for your interest in our chocolate tea pot program” or whatever introductory sentence makes sense for you. I’ve also encouraged the new hire to read old archives of sent email, again to get a sense of the types of questions asked and how we respond.

      Reply
    4. De Minimis

      I’d just give examples, and maybe point out how the e-mails are constructed. Talk about what the goal was for a particular e-mail and how that is carried out. If there’s a difference between internal and external audiences maybe show the differences in how the communications work.

      We had a whole workshop on writing at one of my previous jobs.

      Reply
    5. EleonoraUK

      I’ve only done this in the past where I’ve been looking to improve certain aspects of their communication that they’d received feedback about. This included pointing out when they’d implemented the feedback really well, to show them an example of their own working hitting the target. It would also be things like feedback when emails were too curt/long/what have you, with an example of how I might have gone about phrasing it instead; or the feedback that this particular email was a good example of when their communication was too curt/long and a “if you want to have another go I’d be happy to take a look at it”, with feedback on the new draft.

      Reply
    6. Observer

      Go through specific scenarios. What does it mean “be professional” when X happens? Does “be nice” mean x or is Y ok? Share the things that went well AND the things that did not go so well. Just make sure you don’t share sensitive information that’s not yours to share.

      Reply
    7. Ramona Flowers

      Okay so I think it would help to stop viewing this stuff as common sense. It should be but sometimes it’s not.

      Use examples of good AND bad and practical exercises – don’t just tell people, they need to try it out.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        I think some where in the archives is a post on email communication, what to do and what not to do.

        I do agree that you are taking for granted what you are doing right.
        Some of it you will have to catch the problem in action, there is no way to anticipate that a person will do weird X or strange Y. So this leaves just general rules.
        You may find it easier to write guidelines for emails and guidelines for phone calls and use your guidelines as a starting point.
        You can encourage people to tell you when they have hit a unique situation or a complex situation to talk to you first before responding.
        Never underestimate the power of role-modeling. Some people can catch on faster if they can watch you talk to a client or answer an email.
        With the job I have now there is a list of Do Not Do’s EVER. If you can write that up so the person can see it before they start interacting that would be very good. This is a list of foreseeable conversations that are known traps/pitfalls and should be avoided. For example, if someone calls me and says, “My son has X problem will you help me?” I look and see the son is of adult age, I have to tell the person “No, I have to talk to your son because he is considered an adult.”

        Reply
      2. Parenthetically

        Yes yes yes to using good and bad examples! And then talk through why the bad examples are bad, what can be done to fix them, why those “soft” communication skills matter.

        Reply
    8. Turkletina

      One thing that I’m working on as a new hire is knowing the audience for my emails. This week, for example, we were supposed to launch a project on Thursday, but a technical problem pushed the launch back a day. I don’t work on Fridays, and the email I sent to my project manager basically said “I won’t be able to do this because I don’t work on Friday.” My manager took me aside and said “PM doesn’t care when you work; he cares about delivering to the client on time. So my advice is to frame your message in terms of impact on the project timeline.” I ended up writing back to the PM with “Sorry, I should have provided more context. We think we can still meet the delivery deadline because of X Y and Z even if we delay the launch until Monday.”

      The point is, it didn’t immediately occur to me to think about the addressee’s job and priorities when writing an email.

      Reply
    9. Toph

      This is what I’ve found when asked to “train” colleagues on things that to me are common sense. To some people, it’s still not intuitive. They can probably tell, for example, looking at you emails, or how you approach certain situations that you’re Good At That (regardless of whether they recognize they might be Bad at That or even Medium at That). So modeling behaviour is great. Especially if the employees are new, you can literally set the tone. If someone seems to need more explicit instruction, with some things it might mean needing to figure out what The Voice is. You don’t want to get to the point where you’re nitpicking everyone’s turns of phrase, but sometimes if there is a particular piece of information someone seems to omit, you’re letting them know they have to always include that. If it’s more of a tone issue, it can be helpful to provide a few “this not that” type examples, but with communication styles, I’ve learned the hard way not to over-example, because some people will get stuck in the template and be unable to adapt into their own words. Or they’ll think they’re not allowed to say anything off-template. So being clear about what examples are intended for them to learn from and maybe mimic but not cling to is important. Or if there is something where you the company has an official statement or official format or standards, and you need them to not deviate from that, also make sure that’s clear. Anything that is official should be documented too, like always hyphenate this Department’s Name or always address clients by Prefix.Surname, or always by FirstName or always have X salutation in official communications, or don’t use this abbreviation, etc.

      Reply
    10. Thlayli

      Is he just asking you to train people how to write emails? Or is he asking you to teach people soft skills in general? If it’s the latter That’s really vague, and I think hunk you need to ask for clarification. Soft skills covers such a wide range of stuff.

      For me, the things I’ve found hardest to deal with in jobs are figuring out the unwritten rules. Explain a bit about the culture. What sort of behaviour is really bad (will get you a warning) what is not against the rules but will make you look bad, what is ok, what is actually desired. This is from a cultural perspective too not just manners. Make it clear what is specific to your office and what’s standard in your industry.
      Eg is it ok to ask someone how their work is going or will they think you are spying on them/checking up on them. Is this a culture where asking anything g about anyone’s home life is considered weird or is it ok to ask about people’s kids etc. Imagine how you would explain desired behaviour to someone from a totally different planet. Make a list of possible topics and then go to your boss and say this is just some of the stuff that falls under soft skills. What sort of thing were you thinking of?

      Reply
  10. Cass

    I’ve accepted a new job! Thanks in large part to Alison’s wonderful advice. I’m so excited/scared. I’ll be moving from Texas to Seattle. My wife and I are looking at renting a house in the Ballard area. I’d appreciate so much if anyone who lives in or is familiar with the Seattle area would be open to given me their opinion of the neighborhood. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. not so super-visor

      Congrats! No advise in living in Seattle, but it’s a great city. I have a lot relatives who live outside the city. All I know is that the COL is pretty high. My cousin was just telling me about their house-hunting escpades: $450,00 for an 860 square foot house that was 45 minutes outside of the city.

      Reply
      1. Bigglesworth

        That just made me twitchy. I just moved to the D.C./Northern Virginia area and I’ve seen better prices than that for homes here. Nothing like Oklahoma (where I’m from), but still. Wow.

        Reply
        1. An Inspector of Gadgets

          You have seen better prices than that in the DMV? Where?? I live 45 min drive/1.5 hr commute away from my DC office and cannot for the life of me find such prices on detached single family houses for sale.

          uh, sorry Alison. End derail.

          Reply
          1. KellyK

            Charles County, maybe? Waldorf is supposedly 45 minutes from DC, and the $400,000 homes are huge (3000+ square feet). I didn’t see normal-sized houses on Zillow, but they must exist.

            St. Mary’s might be an option too, although it’s even further south. I know people commute to DC from Mechanicsville, since there’s a commuter bus from Charlotte Hall. It’s also pretty rural. Which is awful if you don’t like rural, but housing prices aren’t as crazy as the more suburban and urban areas.

            Reply
          2. Ell the Bell

            I live in the DMV (on the northern part) a 45 minute metro ride from my office (it’s about 7 mi as the crow flies). There are detached single family houses in my neighborhood that are ~1100 sq ft for $500k or less. It’s possible depending on where you look.

            Reply
              1. An Inspector of Gadgets

                Oh no I was just generally curious about DMV. I’m on the northern part as well. Must be more granular than I had thought! I assumed distance-from-downtown was directly proportional to cost, and I’m 20 crow-flying miles from my office so clearly that assumption was incorrect. Thanks for the info!

                Reply
                1. Peggy-O

                  MoCo resident. Last weekend I wanted to get out of the house, but didn’t want to sweat (so no pool) and didn’t want to spend money so I went to open houses in Germantown. I only looked at townhomes and they were all in $375K-$400K range. Depending on time of day it would be a 20-30 minute drive/bus ride to the nearest metro (Shady Grove) and then however long into the city (~35 minutes to Metro Center).

                2. An Inspector of Gadgets

                  Yep, that’s the stuff I’m familiar with. Detached homes (like I assumed not-so-super visor meant by saying “houses”) are generally higher than $450k from what I’ve seen of northern MoCo. Seems I need to keep my eyes more peeled!

                3. An Inspector of Gadgets

                  (also my commute is more complicated due to office location, most coworkers live in VA but we have a 2-body situation that makes crossing the state line less ideal)

                4. Bigglesworth

                  It looks like others beat me to the punch. :) I’ve also been looking a REO/Hud homes as well as normal homes and townhouses, which are even less depending on where you’re looking.

    2. Umvue

      A friend grew up there and recently told me that (1) it’s currently one of the hottest neighborhoods in the city; I think he said median house prices are something like $750K, and (2) when he was a kid, it was a working-class neighborhood full of Scandinavian seamen. So it sounds like it’s possibly awesome, but maybe don’t expect to find a cheap rental?

      Reply
      1. Managing to get by

        I lived in Ballard 20 years ago and loved it. Don’t like it now so much that it’s become gentrified. The Seattle neighborhoods are losing their individuality. Ballard is pretty convenient to downtown, but it can take a long time to get to the freeways if you need to get out of the city on a regular basis.
        Housing prices within the city limits are high, and so are rents, even in outlying areas.
        I have heard great things about using the Sounder train to commute, especially if your office is walking distance from the train station. If I were newer to the area and looking to buy a house, I’d pick one of the towns along the train routes and buy something close to the station.

        Reply
        1. Chameleon

          Be aware Sounder has very limited hours. Good for standard 9-5s, but if you have to stay late you may get stuck taking a bus.

          Reply
    3. Die Forelle

      I live in Seattle! Ballard is a nice neighborhood, I used to work there and still visit pretty regularly. Lots of restaurant and nightlife options, but also some quiet neighborhood areas too. They have an awesome year-round farmer’s market on Sundays. I don’t live there because it’s a little tech bro-ish and expensive for my taste, but there are plenty of quieter areas, too, I think. Neighborhood recommendations in Seattle are tough without details on where you work and how you’re commuting, because traffic can be a nightmare. Ballard is a bit cut off from the interstate highways, but pretty good if you’re working in downtown Seattle or a neighborhood near Ballard. There are some other Seattle commenters around who might have feedback, and I’ll check back later to answer questions if you have any!

      Reply
      1. My Two Cents

        I’ve lived in Seattle for about 20 years and agree. Where you work in Seattle really can determine where you live. If you work in the north end, Ballard can be great. I work downtown and live in the north end (Green Lake) and never drive to work. It’s just traffic hell. So I always make sure I live near an express bus route. Ballard has three – the 28X, 26X and D Line – plus you can ride your bike to work on the bike path to downtown. Regardless, expect about a 30-45 minute commute from Ballard to downtown – longer if you’re going to South Lake Union. You can also look for neighborhoods north and south on the light rail lines, which are easy and get you to downtown quickly. Another poster mentioned locations much farther north and south (Montlake Terrace, Burien). If you’re buying, that could make sense, because Ballard is super expensive, but personally, I choose to pay for the convenience of location.

        Reply
        1. Windchime

          Yeah, this sounds about right. My boss lives in Ballard and our office is downtown. It takes her at least 30 minutes to get to work on the bus.

          Ballard is a cool place. Lots of the residential areas have tiny, narrow little streets so that’s something you might have to deal with. I would love, love, love to live in Ballard.

          Reply
    4. LCL

      Don’t look in Ballard, it’s pricey as h—. Don’t look in downtown or Capitol Hill or South Lake Union, either.
      Go either north-Lake City to Shoreline to Lake Forest Park and Mountlake Terrace and Kenmore and Lynnwood, or south-Burien, Des Moines, Tukwila. There’s a Seattle reddit that is really good with these questions, I’m not going to link to reddit on a work computer…

      Try and figure out how close the light rail will be to where you want to live, and when it will actually built. Light rail is more a future reality than a present reality, unless you are going to the U District or Capitol Hill.

      Reply
        1. periwinkle

          I never understood The Oatmeal’s obsession with teriyaki… until I moved here, where no strip mall is complete without a teriyaki place, drive-through espresso kiosk, and recreational pot store with a pun-y name. My preference is teriyaki pork with a side of yakisoba, and later a double-shot latte with two Splenda. I’m not allowed to indulge in the third option.

          Cass, post in the weekend thread and we’ll discuss the Seattle quirks!

          Reply
          1. Mike C.

            It’s weird to me how everyone else associates the Seattle area with salmon when there are more teriyaki joints than hamburger places.

            Reply
            1. Retro

              I never noticed that when I lived there, but then again, I hate teriyaki so perhaps I had my blinders on. Ha!

              Reply
      1. Nerfmobile

        Oh heavens. I grew up in Federal Way (just south of Tukwila/Burien/Des Moines) and all of that area is suburban hell. If living in Ballard interests you, don’t go south of Seattle proper by any means.

        Reply
      2. Optimistic Prime

        I wouldn’t live in Cap Hill or SLU either, but I would totally look in Ballard.

        Those other places you suggested are great for someone who wants a cheaper rental/home and doesn’t mind driving, but they’re not urban and if you want the conveniences of city life you’ll be disappointed.

        Reply
    5. Emily S.

      Good luck! Seattle seems like an amazing place to live. I have an acquaintance who lives there and loves it (and actually is based in Ballard and likes it). Washington State is naturally beautiful also, lots to do for outdoorsy types if you’re interested.

      Reply
    6. Franzia Spritzer

      I’m a natural born Seattlite, I went to Ballard High School, my grandparents lived in Ballard my whole life, (my g-pops was the funeral director at Bonny-Watson… you’ll see it), and I consider Ballard to be the Land of My People. Most of the cute older houses are turn of the century or post war, smallish and very expensive. Housing in Seattle is bonkers. Full disclosure, I do not presently live in Seattle, but I lived there for 42 years until I split for grad school. I’m desperately trying to get back and I can’t quite wrap my head around skyrocketing housing costs. It’s disconcerting.

      What part of town you are working in matters a lot. South Lake Union and downtown are accessible by transit, and there are north-south express busses depending on how deep into Ballard you are, 15th has a bus, 8th has a bus, but 3rd does not. If you’re going to SLU or downtown, you CAN go over the Ballard Bridge, down 15th to 1st, to Denny, but holy cats that’ll take forever! Sure you can go through Fremont to Westlake (Dexter is better) because on paper it looks more direct and it is, if you’re on a bicycle. Getting to Aurora from Ballard is a nightmare, legitimately horrible, you can go up and over Phinney Ridge and skirt around south Green Lake to take 50th (faster than 45th) but it’s slow, you might as well try 80th, 85th, hell 145th would be quicker! If you’re on the Hill or First Hill and trying to get home during the day or on a weekend, planning your route is a little like folding space.

      If you’re going to the Eastside from Ballard, plan on spending an ungodly amount of time commuting. You might be traveling a total of 8 miles, but it’ll take actual ages. If your company has their own commuter buses, you’re golden.

      Ballard is cute, but it’s removed from the city center in the same ways Magnolia and West Seattle are. I think access to all points are better from West Seattle. If you’re working Downtown, living in Bremerton is a seriously good option, it’s slightly less expensive and they’re starting a super fast (30 min) passenger only ferry this summer.

      As someone said upthread, consider looking around the margins of Seattle to find slightly better rentals. Skyway (las time I checked) was lovely, Tukwilla, South Park, Burien seem removed, but they’re pretty accessible to the city and the Eastside (if you must).

      If you’re working Downtown, living in Bremerton is a seriously good option, it’s slightly less expensive and they’re starting a super fast (30 min) passenger only ferry this summer.

      Another very real option, depending on where you work, one could COMFORTABLY live in Tacoma and take the Sounder up, it actually take less time to take the train to King St. Station from Tacoma, than it does to drive across town in and out f Ballard. Another full disclosure, I have lived in Tacoma as well, and I loved it. The city is investing in arts and culture, the history is rich and interesting and there’s plenty of cute neighborhoods and hip things to do around town, you wouldn’t be missing out on anything by living in Tacoma.

      Congratulations and good luck!

      Reply
      1. Windchime

        I have a couple of coworkers who ride the Sounder (train) up from Tacoma and they love it. I live about 30 miles north of Seattle and have the option of taking either the Sounder or an express bus, both of which take about an hour. Lots of people drive back and forth to Seattle, but it would take at least twice as long for me to drive, and then I’d have to pay $17 to park.

        Reply
    7. LCL

      …one last thing. Seattle has just ‘passed’ a city income tax. The state doesn’t have income tax. Everyone expects the income tax to be thrown out in court. But it might be a very costly economic decision to buy a house within the city limits instead of just outside them. Ballard is within the city limits.

      Reply
      1. Mike C.

        It’s only 2.25% on single income over $250,000 or married income over $500,000 so I have a hard time seeing it as a very costly economic decision.

        Reply
    8. JustaTech

      Welcome! I have friends who live in Ballard who complain they never see me because I live on the other side of the city (east of Capitol hill) and it can take a surprisingly long time to get there. Also, very pricey (everything in Seattle is wicked expensive right now, sadly). Ballard is a nice liveable neighborhood (more than one level of grocery store, restaurants, shops, coffee shops, a movie theater) with a smidge of light industrial left over from days of yore.
      If you’re ever stuck on the Ballard Bridge when it goes up (Seattle is full of drawbridges) you can occupy yourself by checking to see if any of the Deadliest Catch boats are in the docks.

      A weird thing about homes and apartments in Seattle; there’s a lot of turn-of-the-last-century stuff around that isn’t fancy, so be sure to check for things like up-to-date electrical and if the walls are drywall or plaster. (You can’t hang anything on a plaster wall.)
      Oh, and don’t expect AC in anything but the very newest buildings. It’s just not something we do up here.

      Reply
      1. Retro

        So much YES about the A/C. Decide how much you appreciate it before you pick a place. I didn’t even think about it, and once I realized everyone told me “No worries, it’s Seattle, it never get’s hot!” right before a summer where it was week after week of upper 80s/lower 90s and at least one day where it reached almost 100. A/C was a priority when I shopped for my next place. If a few weeks of hot weather won’t bother you though, you’re good!

        Reply
        1. Saturnalia

          Similar experience, in Boston. Didn’t even realize the place lacked air conditioning until the first heat wave, at which point it became quite obvious and also quite urgent to fix :-)

          Reply
      2. Cass

        Oh gawd, yes. I finally started noticing apartments and some houses advertising AC, and I’m thinking to myself, “Why are you telling me this? Of course you have AC.” Nope. Fine with me, it’s currently just over 100 here in Texas. I’ll happily trade AC for Seattle weather.

        Reply
      3. Optimistic Prime

        No AC, but I wouldn’t worry about it too much because it only gets hot enough to need it maybe 1-3 weeks out of the summer. Depends on the kind of summer we have :D

        Reply
    9. Chameleon

      Ballard is a great neighborhood! A bit hipster, and it has changed pretty drastically over the last decade or so, so you may run in to some resentment. Depending on where you work, commute may be tricky. I was in South Lake Union, and my friend from Ballard often had to wait for 2- 3 buses to pass before there was room to get on.

      But be aware that Seattle is *expensive*, and Ballard particularly so. The further from downtown the cheaper, but the worse the commute. I would actually recommend checking out places like Georgetown or Columbia city – – much of the ambiance of Ballard with a lower rent.

      Reply
    10. Green

      Congratulations on the new job! My husband and I moved here to Seattle about a year ago, and we love it! Ballard is an awesome neighborhood, and, as many have mentioned, very expensive — but pretty much everywhere is expensive, so take that with a grain of salt. Living farther north/south and taking the train will be a very different experience. Ballard is also huge, so while there are a ton of restaurants and bars closer to the water, along Market, etc., there are lots and lots of streets with sweet older houses that are also considered Ballard, but probably wouldn’t be what people would consider walking-distance to that bustling “downtown” Ballard area. Fremont and Wallingford are also cool areas nearby with their own distinctive business districts.

      Reply
    11. Optimistic Prime

      Woooooot! Welcome to the PNW! I live in the greater Seattle area, although I live in the ‘burbs (known here as the Eastside).

      Ballard is great! A bit pricy, but if it’s in your price range it’s really nice. Lots of cute restaurants and bars.

      Reply
    12. mreasy

      Ballard is my favorite Seattle neighborhood! I don’t live there but have visited and have a lot of friends out there. It’s lovely.

      Reply
  11. Hectora

    Does anyone have any experience with doing business travel with aviophobia? I have medium level aviophobia so I can fly but it’s also completely noticeable to those I fly with. I had a surprise business trip coming up in the next few weeks with a few supervisor level folks and we’ll be taking the same flights. I don’t want to explain it, I’m younger than everyone else by a lot so I feel like it could infantalize me (I had to explain an allergy recently when ordering food and now it comes up all the time…) nor do I want to get excluded from future business trips, but I also don’t want to seem randomly cranky, twitchy and nauseous. Any tips? Should I get some sort of anti-anxiety medication? Has anyone had any experience with using an anti-anxiety medication and then having to do business later that day?

    Reply
    1. paul

      How much later? and are you currently taking/on anti anxiety meds? This is really a doctor discussion, but keep in mind meds impact people differently, so you probably don’t want to try a new medication out right before business stuff. The one time I did that I wound up having to call a friend for a ride home….

      Reply
      1. Hectora

        I’m not currently on medication. I’ve tried Xanax before, not for flights, and it didn’t really seem to affect me much. I mostly was wondering if anyone knew from experience if medication is the only fast option for dealing with flight anxiety? I’d love to avoid medication or even asking for medication (my insurance is garbage) if possible but with it being such short notice I don’t exactly have time to do exposure therapy like most websites I’ve read so far suggest.

        Reply
        1. ThatGirl

          My husband has some travel anxiety (I wouldn’t say it’s full blown aviophobia) and has taken Ativan. Same idea as Xanax but a little stronger. He said he felt a little dazed during the flight but it wore off enough for him to be functional the rest of the day.

          Honestly, it probably is your best/fastest option, although I also don’t think “I’m a nervous flyer, bear with me” would infantilize you, many people are.

          Reply
          1. Hectora

            Thanks! Do you know if your husband saw a regular doctor for discussing the travel anxiety or did he see a psychiatrist/therapist? I’ve honestly never had to discuss my travel anxiety with any sort of doctor before so I don’t even know who you speak to!

            Normally I’d agree about the infantilizing thing but my coworkers are older woman who tend to unintentionally (I think) go into mom mode with me since I’m a younger woman with no kids. I think if they knew I had aviophobia they’d ask why I even agreed to go this time and then avoid offering me business travel going forward…

            Reply
            1. ThatGirl

              While he does have a therapist, he got that prescription from his regular doctor – this is a totally normal thing to mention, honestly. Just say “I have a business trip coming up and I am feeling really anxious/worried about my aviphobia/[fill in the blank] and was hoping you could prescribe something.” The doc may ask a few questions or just offer you something. You may want to try taking one on a random evening to see how you feel if possible?

              I hear you, obviously you know your whole coworker dynamic better than I do. :) Good luck!

              Reply
              1. Hectora

                Thank you! I appreciate the advice it’s really helpful. I was really clueless before on what normal procedure for this was!

                Reply
                1. Parenthetically

                  Yes, same — my doctor was happy to prescribe just a pill or two for flights.

          2. Amy

            I’ve taken both Ativan and Xanax and Ativan did have way more of an effect on me as far as the spacey out of it aspect goes. Antihistamines will amplify the effect of Ativan so you have to be careful with that.

            Reply
    2. allergies

      I have food allergies, too, and can sympathize with how you feel about them.

      I’d like to ditto the tip on asking your doctor about ativan. in my experience, it really takes the edge off while flying but doesn’t incapacitate me. in other words, I think you’d be fine a few hours later. I’d also say (though I am NOT A DOCTOR) that it’s mild enough you might be able to try one (with your doctor’s permission) one night, while home, before flying to see how it affects you.

      Reply
        1. blackcat

          If you get any meds, definitely try them out beforehand!

          I had a terrible valium experience. I asked for it before a medical procedure where I knew I couldn’t get the usual anesthesia. Valium came as 2 pills, which I thought was odd. I only took the one right before the procedure and HOLY SHIT IT DID NOT DO WHAT IT WAS SUPPOSED TO!!! Not only did that suck, it was super embarrassing. And I was surrounded by medical professionals, not coworkers!

          On the off chance you have odd biochemistry and do not respond to a drug in a standard way, you want to know that before you are relying on the drug to work.

          Reply
      1. Hectora

        I wanted to add about the food allergies thing that I’m glad someone else knows what I mean. I mentioned my allergy a a few months ago and since then I get well meaning! but unnecessary comments asking about food I’m eating like “Oh does that have X in it?” I’m glad y’all are concerned but I’ve had food allergies my entire life! I of course check ingredients in my food and don’t eat food I’m not sure about especially when eating at work where it would be a hassle to have a reaction.

        Reply
      2. AcademiaNut

        I would absolutely try it out *before* getting on the plane – plane trips are not the time to discover that you’re one of the rare people who gets weird side effects from a drug.

        Reply
    3. CatCat

      I used to have it pretty badly though it’s gotten a lot better over the years. I hear you on not wanting to be excluded on future business trips. I told a high level person I was traveling with about it when it was more severe for me (to explain why I was acting so nervous) and ended up being excluded after that. Is it possible not to sit with your supervisors?

      Things that helped me deal with my phobia about flying:
      – Anti-anxiety medication. Definitely helped me relax, but made me “spacey” for much of the day so I didn’t like it for business travel. Worth discussing with a doctor for sure though.
      – Alcohol. Maybe controversial to suggest this and may not be possible given your business context, but I find a drink at the airport bar or on board helps calm me down without the spacey-ness I get from the anti-anxiety pills (I do NOT do both the medication and alcohol. One or the other. Not safe to mix!!)
      – Educating myself about flight. I took an online course and read a book about overcoming fear of flying. I learned coping mechanisms and also about why certain things happen during the flight (especially about turbulence, how to think about it (I learned to think of it like when a car goes on an unpaved country road: not unsafe, but bumpy), and when it is more likely to occur (going through clouds! Now I just always expect it and it’s normal).
      – Deep breathing. Check out “One Moment Meditation” to quickly calm your mind. I was a skeptic, but it actually works.
      – Talking to my neighbors. I *LOVE* getting a chatty seat neighbor (and I’m not normally a very chatty person with strangers) because having a conversation is a fantastic distraction.
      – Just observe the people around you, especially the flight crew. Are other people seeming just fine on the airplane. Well, you’re all on the same plane so you are fine too.

      It took a long time, but I would now describe myself as a “nervous flyer” rather than being phobic. The education on flight and non-chemical coping mechanisms (especially deep breathing) were the most effective to get me to that place.

      Reply
      1. Hectora

        Thank you! My fear is usually controllable enough I white knuckle it when I do occasionally fly but it’s very noticeable. I’ll will check out the One Moment Meditation; anything would help over grinding my teeth and moving my legs all over while I try not to get naseaous!

        Reply
      2. Hectora

        Thank you! My phobia is controllable enough normally I white knuckle it but people I’m flying with or random seat/aisle neighbors almost always make a comment on my obvious anxiety. I’ll definitely try some of your suggestions; anything is better than grinding my teeth and wiggling in my seat with my eyes closed the entire flight!

        I’m hoping if I get to book the flight I can get my seat in a different aisle but I’m not sure if I’ll be booking the seats or not that would be the easiest solution!

        Reply
      3. CatCat

        Oh, also, I did try therapy and it was completely ineffective for the phobia. Not saying it isn’t worth trying since maybe you can find a therapist with expertise in this area. (The therapist was actually really helpful with other stuff, but not the phobia, which was my primary reason for going to see her.)

        Reply
        1. Hectora

          Thanks! I haven’t tried therapy because I fly at most once a year but often more like once every two years because it’s cheaper to drive and I’m on the East Coast so a lot of stuff I need to get to is fairly accessible by car or train so when I do fly I just white knuckle it but it’s very noticeable. My travel partner or even seat mate/aisle mates a lot of times make comments on it. I’ll definitely try and check out some of your suggestions! Anything it better than grinding my teeth, breathing heavy and wiggling in my seat with my eyes closed the entire flight!

          I do hope I can book the tickets and put myself in a different aisle then my supervisors but I don’t know who is going to buy the plane tickets yet.

          Reply
          1. Mephyle

            If you can arrange things so that you’re consulted about seat selection, you ask for a preferred seat without even bringing up the subject of anxiety. For example, you can express a preference for a window seat, or for an aisle seat (doesn’t everybody?) As a consequence you might get a different row, instead of being in a middle seat between two colleagues.

            Reply
            1. Hectora

              Oh that’s a great idea! I have very very long legs so requesting I’d like to receive an aisle seat would be completely normal thing to do I wouldn’t normally think of.

              Reply
              1. Natalie

                You could also look at the extra-legroom seats if the airplane has them. You’d probably have to eat the extra cost, but it’s often a small fee if you’re flying domestic and your colleagues probably wouldn’t do the same thing, so you’d be sitting in different rows.

                Reply
    4. Admin of Sys

      Definitely talk to a doctor, but if you can’t get a short-term dose of anti-anxiety medicine, I have a friend who swears by Dramamine as a stop-gap. She gets nauseous from anxiety and the dramamine stops that, which keeps the upset stomach from intensifying the anxiety and stops the feedback loop where the physiological reactions cause stress which causes physiological reactions, etc. (mind you, I’d test if you react well to dramamine first, since some people have weird side effects)

      Reply
      1. Hectora

        That’s a great idea! I hadn’t thought of it but stopping the anxiety induced nauseous would definitely help with the ramping up of anxiety through out the flight. And I don’t know a lot about dramamine, so this could be totally off, but I wonder if it would help the way the nauseous/anxiety combo sometimes makes my head swim like I’m sea sick. I’ll absolutely be looking into it and try it out ahead of time!

        Reply
        1. SM

          With dramamine and any other antihistamine you might try, I’d suggest giving them a try beforehand as well, like you want to for the anti-anxiety meds :). I have very different reactions to different antihistamines, so it always helps to check. I fortunately don’t get a phobia, but I do get motion sick including nausea and dizziness on flights. Two things that have helped me greatly with those symptoms are ginger pills, and somewhat counter-intuitively, making sure I eat well – low blood sugar makes the symptoms worse for me. I hope you find something that makes flying tolerable for you!

          Reply
          1. Hectora

            Thank you that’s great advice! I’ll admit sometimes with the anxiety I’ll forgo meals before flights which is definitely like your saying only generally going to make things worse for most people!

            Reply
        2. Jess R.

          The other possible advantage of Dramamine is that it might make you sleepy! I’ve taken Benadryl specifically to make myself sleepy before a flight I’m nervous about, and then I just conk out 15 minutes in and sleep the whole flight.

          Reply
          1. Hectora

            I’ll definitely have to try it out at home before I go. Benadryl and some meds like benadryl actually make me very hyper active like I’ve had 11 shots of espresso (something my parents found out the hard way when I was really little)! Less horrible than nauseous for sure but definitely a reaction that would be good to know to expect ahead of time!

            Reply
      1. Hectora

        Thanks! It’s in a few weeks so hopefully I can try one or two options before I leave if I go to a doctor this weekend. I tried Xanax once before for something else and it didn’t seem to do much of anything besides make me slightly tired but it’s been a while and I haven’t been on anxiety medication since I tried it so I’d definitely want to try it again before dealing with an airport and my coworkers!

        Reply
    5. Sunshine on a cloudy day

      I don’t have experience with aviophobia, but I do have experience mixing business and anti-anxiety meds. First – everyone reacts differently, so this is just my experience. Second if you go this route, absolutely try to test the medication before your flight so you can see how you react. If that’s not possible – maybe try a very small dosage and adjust as needed throughout the flight so you can see how you react.

      For me, anti-anxiety meds do not effect my cognitive abilities at all. I’ve tried Ativan, Xanax and Klonopin. They all feel slightly different, but to me it feels like sort of like a blanket being wrapped around my brain and core – which then slows down/calms my physical reactions (heart rate, nausea, breathing), but I remain completely mentally alert. Klonopin seemed to maybe blunt my emotions a bit, but I remained alert and capable of work functions. I actually find that anti-axiety meds help me perform much better (or at the very least does not effect my ability to conduct business).

      Again – everyone reacts differently, but just wanted you to know that there are some people that do not experience the groggy/sleepy/confused side effect that others do.

      Reply
      1. ThatGirl

        Yeah, my husband told me that for him taking ativan, “I was still kind of anxious, but I didn’t care”.

        Reply
      2. Hectora

        Thank you for the advice! That seems logical to me, I know a lot of people who take anti-anxiety medicine regularly and function during normal work and life things but at the same time my mind was already anxious thinking about the flight and convinced that despite it being logical to find something that works for me personally that it meds would different somehow for one time/occasional use.

        Reply
        1. Ms. Frizzle

          If you do try meds, remember that you don’t have to take the whole thing! My mother is a really nervous flyer and has Xanax for trips. She’s on the smaller side (5′, size small or medium in clothes) and will usually only take 1/4 or 1/3 of a pill, make it through, and be fine to drive even after a very short flight. I’ve also had Ativan prescribed before medical procedures and felt okay to work later in the day but pretty calm during the procedure so anecdotally at least, it can work.

          Good luck!

          Reply
    6. Zip Silver

      I usually pound back a few beers before flying for work. 100% acceptable with my boss and company. I’m a nervous wreck otherwise.

      Reply
      1. Hectora

        I think if we weren’t meeting with clients later that day my supervisors would be open to the idea of a beer or two over lunch before we left since we’re from a pretty laid back industry when it comes to that sort of thing! Too bad it’s such a short meetings packed trip!

        Reply
    7. V of Taco Trucks

      One thing that helped me was assiduously avoiding caffeine the night before or day of a flight. I never thought about it before, since I have coffee every morning, but it really affected my ability to stay calm during a flight. Long-term, your GP can prescribe an anti-anxiety med like Celexa, which will take some time to build up in your system.

      The other thing that really helped me was learning that it is really, really hard to stop a plane from flying once it gets started. You are in no danger.

      Reply
  12. snowflake

    Quick question for those who track time for work – do you have any favorite systems for keeping track of what you are working on? I need to track which external client, the type of task, and for how long – think accounting or legal work. I’ve been doing it for 2 months and definitely need help in implementing a better system.

    Reply
    1. Admin of Sys

      I’m tremendously fond of Trello for project tracking, and there are a few time tracking add-ons for it (I use the Plus for Trello chrome add-on). I’ve also used TimeCatcher on my phone, when I needed to log hours for clients.

      Reply
    2. Purplesaurus

      I’ve been using Podio for years and would recommend it. Though, you might have to look into the security since you’re dealing with more sensitive things than I am.

      Reply
    3. OtterB

      I like Toggl. I’m using the free version which has tasks associated with projects. I think you can also have clients in the paid version, but for your purposes you might be able to have the task and then each client as a “project.”

      Reply
    4. Actuarial Octagon

      We use Harvest at work. I really enjoy it. I believe you’d have to pay for it, but if you’re doing this kind of work a lot it may be worth the investment.

      Reply
    5. LDP

      Every job I’ve ever had requires time tracking, and for me the easiest thing is to literally write it down manually. At my current job, I have a section of my work notebook where I track how long I worked on different projects. You can also find planners, such as the Simplified Planner that break your day down hour by hour. I would chop those hours up into 15 minute increments (since that was the base number of time spent at a past job) and would track it that way.

      I know some people would think this would take up way too much time, but it’s the best way I’ve found for myself, personally. Hope this helped!

      Reply
      1. hermit crab

        I also write things down on paper, but I’m the kind of person who uses a paper calendar and doesn’t have a smartphone. That said, my direct report does it too, despite being a tech-savvy 23-year-old! :)

        Recently I have been working on tasks where I tend to send an email when I’m done with something (like, “here is the draft” or whatever) so I’ve actually just been using my sent-mail box instead of writing things down. I take a few minutes at the end of each day to sort my incoming and outgoing email into folders, and fill out my timesheet at the same time. However, I usually bill in half-hour increments, so there is less pressure to time things to the minute.

        Reply
    6. Epsilon Delta

      I like using digital notebooks (OneNote, Evernote, etc). I have also been experimenting with using a bullet journal, but so far I’ve gotten mixed feelings on it. Works really well for converting my emails into a to-do list, not so well for tracking ongoing projects.

      Reply
    7. SMT

      I have a Google spreadsheet that I use to track my time/activities throughout the day, along with the business it was for and the category of work it was.

      Reply
    8. Thlayli

      I’ve always just done it in excel. I had it set up so I had a start time at the top, a row for each job (and a row for lunch/breaks) and an end time at the bottom. Then at the very bottom is a calculation (end time – start time – sum of all jobs). As I went through the day I put the current time in the “end time” box each time I finish a task and the calculation spits out how long I spent on that task. I type that in to the relevant job and the calculation goes back to zero. Repeat each time I finish a task. A column for each day, and sum it all over the week (or however you report it).

      Simples.

      Reply
    9. Julia Gulia

      We use Liquid Planner, which is exhaustively detailed. It’s been a steep learning curve, since it’s basically about teaching every staff member to think like a lawyer (accounting for your time in small increments and billing it to a project), but hopefully it will be worthwhile in the long term.

      Reply
    10. snowflake

      thanks! I should have been more clear that we have a program to enter the time, it’s just coming up with a personal system to keep track of what I am working on before I enter in my time at the end of the day. Sometimes there’s a 4-hour block of time that I lost – my system right now is to write what I worked on down with the time it took. This doesn’t work if you forget to write things down. I am going through sent emails for a record but sometimes I do one thing and promptly forget that I completed it.

      It doesn’t help that the nature of my position means that I could work on a lot of clients doing a number of different things in the course of a day – I get excited when I realize I have an entry that accounts for more than one hour!

      Reply
  13. The Other Dawn

    Is anyone out there a personal trainer? Or has a friend, relative, etc. who is a trainer?

    It’s something I’ve been thinking about doing. Not now, but maybe in a couple years. I use a personal trainer and I’ve been helping my friend and niece to get started working out, and I find it to be rewarding. If I were to be a trainer someday, I think I’d like to focus on people that have had weight loss surgery or are looking to lose a lot of weight, rather than athletes or people already in good shape. I’ve gone the weight loss surgery route and had to lose more than 100 lbs, so I feel like that could be useful.

    I’m curious to know what it’s really like, education and training involved, salary, etc.

    Like I said, it’s not something I’d do now, but I’m kicking it around a bit for the future. Maybe as a side job or something.

    Reply
    1. Shamy

      I have two sisters that work in fitness, one is a personal trainer and one is a fitness instructor at a gym. The personal trainer has her own business. She had to study and take an exam for her certification. The other had to certify for her specific fitness classes she was teaching. I am not sure how much the personal training exam was, but the fitness class certifications may have been a hundred dollars or so and I believe she has to do them every year. I have kicked around the idea of teaching myself, but haven’t gotten too far with it. I am not sure what my personal training sister makes, but it is likely more than those at a gym since she goes to her clients’ homes. The fitness instructor teaches 2-3 classes a week and if I recall correctly, it adds up to about $400 extra a month for her.

      Also, congrats on your weight loss. I think that would be such a great niche because I know sometimes people feel like they can’t relate to people like my sisters who while they have worked hard to be in the shape they are have never truly had to struggle the way many obese people do. So please do consider something like that if you would enjoy it! Fun sidenote, my personal trainer sister says some of her physically strongest clients were the ones that had a large weight loss because they were so strong from carrying all the extra weight!

      Reply
      1. The Other Dawn

        “…they were so strong from carrying all the extra weight”

        Definitely! I carried around an extra 130 lbs. I still have about 20 to go, but it’s just to lose a little flab I gained after the excess skin removal/tummy tuck earlier this year. I’m getting back into shape, though.

        I won’t say I eat, sleep and breathe working out, but I do enjoy and find I look forward to it now. But, yeah, it’s rewarding to be able to help someone else who has no idea where to start. And I think overweight people are generally scared of the gym, of being “on display”, so to speak. I was, for sure. I spent my whole life being made fun of by all types of people for my weight AND height, so why would i want to go somewhere that has a ton of in-shape, beautiful bodies? And what would THEY say about me? Also, it’s so hard to know where to start and what one should be doing to start on the path to fitness.

        Reply
        1. Shamy

          Maybe just teaching classes would be a good foot in the door. The other posters are right about the exam. There is a lot more anatomy and physiology than one would expect. You aren’t even relegated to a gym for classes, my mom took classes at a senior center with a woman who arranged her own spaces. Her people loved her so much, they pretty much followed her everywhere. Maybe looking into fitness certifications and seeing whats out there and what you might like. Don’t forget more unusual fitness classes too. I would kill for some kangoo classes in my area. Just a few things to give thought to.

          I do want to throw out there too for people struggling with their weight that there are those of us that don’t struggle that have a great deal of compassion. I am actually a dietitian and would tell clients and friends regularly they have one of the most difficult addictions to cope with. I don’t mean to minimize other addictions at all, but the unique aspect is that with many other addictions, you have the option to not partake at all. With food, you have to confront that every single day. You don’t have the option to just not eat. So I hope others in that situation right now reading this will feel empowered to know that there are those of us rooting for you. I don’t want to derail your thread, just wanted to throw out some happy vibes to those battling what is often a difficult and not supported enough issue.

          Reply
          1. The Other Dawn

            Oh, yes! I didn’t mean that people who aren’t or weren’t overweight aren’t compassionate and don’t understand. I just meant that it’s not always the case. Plus, we can get all up in our heads about it and really self-conscious, which can make people–overweight or not–just not want to even attempt the gym or any workout in general. That was me for my whole life.

            Reply
          2. Anon For This

            Can I just say thank you so much for this? I have struggled my entire life and am surrounded by people who are fit, thin and have never had to think twice about what they eat (my family) and coworkers and friends who are all thin and active. Many of these people care for me but none of them understand. Their advice is always “eat healthier” or “exercise more” which … I know they are trying to help but it is not helpful. Why don’t you just tell a heroin addict to use less heroin.

            Reply
    2. Redundant Department of Redundancy

      I had two friends who were PTs and both left it as a career. One became a HCA, another went into teaching.
      If you’re good, and get a good position somewhere with set hours/clients then it can be good, but competition for them is high. They worked at various gyms, and I’m not sure of the specifics, but they had to provide their own clients and pay a fee to the gym.

      The loved it, and found it rewarding, but they couldn’t get by on the salary and couldn’t find a more stable place to work at. As a side job it’d work quite well I think, but again it’d depend on the location. ie if you had your own gym or if you’d be renting (some gyms charge a flat fee to be a PT, others by session)

      Reply
    3. Zzz

      I was a personal trainer for several years and am still certified.

      Education: Ideally, you’d have a background in exercise science or physiology. At the very least, you should take a class before going for your certification. The certification tests (at least the ones that are legit, like ACSM), are shockingly difficult. It’s not just about knowing different types of exercises, there is a lot of anatomy and physiology involved, as well as psychology (knowing what motivates people, how to get people to change habits). As a trainer, you are not allowed to give nutrition advice, unless you are also a nutritionist. This means a lot of your clients will not lose weight, since most weight loss is dependent upon diet, not exercise.

      Salary: Depends on where you work. Most trainers work out of gym but are not employed by the gym. Some gyms have a set fee you can charge, others you can set your own price. You will need to purchase insurance as well. Salaries are not very high, and you may struggle to find full-time work as a personal trainer. Many people train part-time to supplement their income. You have to pay for continuing education classes as well, in order to maintain your certification.

      Day-to-day: It’s a pretty exhausting job. You have to keep your enthusiasm up all day, and if you’re not with a client then you’re not getting paid. You also typically have to recruit your own clients, so there is advertising and sales involved as well. Even though you’re not exercising with the client, you are constantly picking up heavy weights, demonstrating exercises, and on your feet all day. I lost all my motivation to work out when I was a trainer, because I was so exhausted from the job.

      Overall, would not recommend unless you are looking for a side hustle. Even then, you have to be pretty dedicated to sales and advertising and willing to learn a lot more about the science behind exercise. You also have to love being around people and be able to keep up your enthusiasm all day, every day.

      Reply
      1. NW Mossy

        My trainer is a former family counselor, and I think it makes her a lot more effective – she’s got that warm, patient, understanding vibe that people really respond to. She got started doing training for big corporate clients that run on-site gyms, and has since opened her own studio.

        Reply
    4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      Not helpful, but I would LOVE this kind of service. I was just thinking that I’d like to start using a trainer, but I specifically would want someone experienced in working with bodies like mine.

      Reply
      1. The Other Dawn

        Aside from the weight loss surgery, it’s really the best thing I ever did for myself. It’s awesome for learning the right way to workout, what you need specifically for what you want to accomplish, and definitely (and the biggest for me!) accountability. And it was really (happily) surprising to find out that I don’t need to (and really shouldn’t) spend an hour on the treadmill to get a good workout; it’s not all about cardio. You need to develop muscle to burn more calories and make the body more efficient. Just need my body weight and some solid correctly-performed moves, really.

        I say go for it, but shop around to see who’s right for you. I found mine through a Groupon for the studio I go to. I got five sessions for 100.00 total (astronomically low price!). I learned enough to realize I really need a trainer and was able to determine he was right for me: he’s not a screamer, he’s encouraging, asks me about my nutrition but doesn’t hound me, and listens. Plus, he works with others like me.

        Good luck!

        Reply
    5. JLo

      I was a personal trainer for over a decade. I have a degree in Exercise Science, and was certified (cost $600, but is now closer to $1,200). I left because I was burnt out. You work off-cycle hours since most people will want to work out when they are not working, which means 5:30am-9am busy, maybe 10, or 11 am (if you have a retired person, or stay at home spouse as a client); and then it picks back up at 4:30 pm-9:00 pm. You also work on Saturday and/or Sundays. It is similar to consulting as you never know how much money you will have coming in every month, and there are ebbs and flows with the work load. January is obviously really busy, but summer and Christmas are so slow.

      Reply
    6. Former Retail Manager

      My husband’s best friend became a personal trainer, and after several years, quit and has now gone back to a regular 9-5. Zzz’s post pretty much hits the nail on the head and my husband’s friend had the same experience as Zzz.

      Salary is crap (friend never made more than $20k in his best year. He would have paychecks as low as $75 sometimes), hours are not great unless you like working really early/late, and people are fickle. When times are tight, you are one of the first “bills” to go. The position depends solely upon the discretionary income of clients not to mention relationships with said clients. Upset one client and you risk losing not only that client, but also any others they may have referred to you. As Zzz said, it’s not bad as a side hustle, but as your only source of income, it isn’t advisable.

      Reply
  14. Redundant Department of Redundancy

    I work for a UK based Gov Org, a large division split into various teams and sub teams. I’m on a young team My boss and co-workers are under all under 21. I’m 29 and my boss boss is 35. We’re all enthusiastic about doing a good job, positive and willing to learn and change to make stuff better. We are unusual as most other teams are negative and stuck in the ‘but this is how we’ve always done it’ rut ie ‘Lifers’. Anyway, our team was given a big Process. This Process was done by Betty, (and her boss Wilma) but it was taken off her (and Wilma) and given to our team. Aside from a few hiccups, we’ve had excellent feedback on us handling the process, and we’ve changed and improved the process. The Problem? Betty and Wilma (who still do the tail end of the Process and are both lifers) keep finding ‘errors’ and ‘problems’ with our handling of the Process. Except they aren’t, it’s just that we have changed the Process and do it differently. We’re told them the Process change, but they keep going by the old Process.
    After an incident this week, Wilma has invited me, Betty and my boss (Dino) to a meeting for a ‘Catch Up’ next week. Dino is off today so I set the meeting up, (even though don’t think it’s a good idea). Dino had my back 100% during the incident, but she’s also a new manager. So I am concerned we’re going to get side swiped with a list of major issues that we haven’t been told about/ it’s going to become a Tit for Tat ‘You did this wrong’ ‘Well you did this wrong’. Wilma even said after the incident that I would have been avoided if we had printed out the Document (old way), but we don’t need to print the Document as we have it filed electronically (new way).
    TL:DR
    How do I handle an antagonistic team who think we’re doing their Process wrong?
    I’ve been asked by Dino to track future issues with Betty (there were small things before the Incident, but hadn’t crossed the line) I 100% don’t want to tone police her, but I’m not sure where the line between ‘Brusque email – I’m busy’ and ‘Caustic email – I think a poop emoji could do a better job than you’ lies? How to a distinguish them??

    Reply
    1. Silver Radicand

      That’s rough. Honestly, this something you need to get clear with your boss on. I assume she is wanting to track those and potentially bring them to her boss since her boss is the manager of Wilma and Betty. Regardless, if things do go downhill, it sound like Dino is probably going to need to get with her boss about what processes the team(s) need to use to interact with each other.

      Reply
    2. LKW

      My advice is to prepare for this meeting internally. Compile a list of all of the potential arguments or known “issues” and have a clear response to each with a short reason of why that element was changed.

      For example, the printing of a document – well, storing it electronically makes it more easily accessible to a larger audience and saves on printing/paper costs. Thus the decision to not print crap.

      Reply
    3. IvyGirl

      Do not attend or hold any meetings with these staff without your own staff (or preferably your boss present).

      This is ripe for things being “misheard” i.e. heard how they want to hear them/how it benefits them.

      Use some of the verbiage that Alison has used before – “I need you to do X, as Y is no longer part of the process. Can you do that?”

      Reply
      1. ZenJen

        In my dept, when we have important mtgs that someone might miss, we RECORD them (through WebEx)! Redundant, if your boss can’t come, RECORD this meeting–if not, I fear that your bad scenario will happen.
        Also, if it’s your meeting, YOU run it. YOU let people speak, but you do NOT let them derail the meeting’s activity.

        Reply
    4. Lora

      Ugh. Been there.

      -Listen to them vent. It will be annoying. Thank them for their feedback if you can do so with a straight face.
      -Explain why the new process was done the way it was and ask how they would have approached these issues (in other words, there WERE issues that needed addressed, the old way was not fit for purpose). Like, “the old method of printing the document meant that revisions to the document got passed around to various people and some revisions were lost in different copies of the drafts, we couldn’t tell who wanted to make what changes, and our paper purchasing bill was $$$$/month. How would you have ensured that everyone was able to see everyone else’s changes and reduced the cost?”
      -Ask if the implementation of the new process needed more training, more help learning it, how are they struggling with adopting it? Why can’t they use the new way? What do they need to start using the new way consistently?
      -Acknowledge that change is hard for everyone. Say something like hopefully once everyone has adjusted we will all be a lot more efficient, everyone’s work will be a little bit easier, something like that.

      At least, that’s my sort of standard method for the I Don’t Wanna people. It seems to work. There’s always some grumbling but people mostly get over it after a while. I give any new thing about 90 days of adjustment period, longer if it’s for something you don’t do often (like only once a month), it takes a while for people to change their habits.

      Reply
    1. Alastair

      I am mostly a huge fan!

      For every jerk posting racist crap who may now get through there are at least 10 diff religion or political or sexual orientation or gender identity who won’t have to worry that their social media is keeping them from getting a job.

      Reply
  15. Faith

    So, this week I’ve learned that apparently the state of Texas has introduced pay equity bill earlier this year, which puts restrictions on the employer’s ability to ask about applicant’s compensation history.

    “The proposed bill would make it illegal for an employer to include a question regarding an applicant’s wage history information on an employment application, inquire into or consider an applicant’s wage history information, or obtain an applicant’s wage history information from his or her previous employer. However, the bill does provide that an applicant may provide written authorization to a prospective employer to confirm his or her wage history, but only after the prospective employer has made a written offer of employment to the applicant that includes the applicant’s wage and benefit information for the position.”

    The company I worked for has already revised their employment application template to remove any questions about compensation history. Even if the bill doesn’t ultimately go anywhere, it’s good to know that my employer has made a decision to move in the right direction regardless.

    Reply
    1. k.k

      I love that more and more states are introducing legislation like this. It’s an issue that I’ve come to feel very strongly about, and has become a bit of a hill to die on now that I’m job hunting. Even if my state doesn’t it, the fact that it’s becoming more well known can influence how individual employers hire.

      Reply
      1. hermit crab

        But companies are still making changes, regardless! I think that part is really interesting. The company where I work did something similar with that DOL overtime rule, which may or may not ever go into effect — our entry-level consulting staff have all been classified as non-exempt and receiving overtime since last fall.

        Reply
  16. Nervous Accountant

    Developments:

    I met with a recruiter.

    He reached out to me a few months ago but I turned him down because I wasn’t ready to leave, and I referred a coworker. So coworker and I have talked at length about career and work and stuff. and I’ve generally talked with other (close) cws about career goals. The CW I referred has more experience at other firms so has a better idea of what’s normal and not normal. Those conversations, along with the client review I talked about last week planted the seed so to speak.

    I guess I”m having something of an internal crisis about this. I’m scared to leave because 1) I do like working here (aside from the low pay and heavy social media emphasis), and 2) I don’t know if this is more of a work or nonwork thread topic but I feel like if I leave, I’m “abandoning” the baby plans now . I’ve been working so hard for months/years to be healthy and now i just feeling like giving up.

    Even worse, I came to the realization that I never really developed long term career goals.
    -I never thought I’d be good at anything or achieve anything so when I went to college, I just really wanted to get married and have kids and be a housewife.
    -I got married, graduated college, and one month of housewife life later I decided that hated that life.
    -The goal then became “to get a FT job in an office” w whatever credentials I had. I was OK with starting at 30s or 40s, I just really wanted something in an office. Going back to school wasn’t an option so I did whatever I could to achieve that goal within those limits. At that time, I had a lot of other personal issues and I thought getting a job would help with that.
    -I got this job. And slowly, life got better and things fell in to place. I’m definitely better off now than I was 5 years ago so i can’t say I’ve any regrets.

    Honestly, the thought of starting over anywhere freaks me out. New commute, new gym, new coworkers, new systems, new bosses, waiting for benefits etc. New coworkers esp is the most daunting part. I just finally started feeling comfortable with the people around me.

    My CWs talk about ultimately wanting to start their own firm, or work at a certain type of company. When I think about it, I have no idea what I want. I always knew I’d stay home for the first few years with kids and then go back to work but aside from that, I don’t know. I was never interested in having my own business and side stuff I never considered bc I either had no experience so wasn’t comfortable or I was already putting all my time and energy during tax season at work.

    I like my career & job but the environment/fit is SO imp. I’ve worked w toxic people in small companies and I truly don’t want that again. I don’t want to work for a small office ever again, and big 4 isn’t for me.

    I know I’m all over the place here. For a while I was so very firm in my plans and now….not so much.

    Reply
    1. Hibiscus

      Not to sound harsh, but the place you work has done a number on you for YEARS. You’ve complained about people not liking you, your boss writing you up, the inconsistent and mixed messages regarding your work, personality, skills, the low pay…honestly, it sounds like you should leave simply because it’s a poorly managed and maddening firm with people who play games.

      I think it sounds like you are uncomfortable with change. But that’s no reason to stay in a bad place. Overall, it sounds like talking to a therapist would be good for you,to devise some ways to increase your resilience and learn about yourself and firm up your view of your life. Because maybe you won’t like staying home with little kids. Maybe your husband will die. Maybe an amazing opportunity will fall into your lap. You can’t plan for everything. As for the overwhelming new–yeah, it’s different and it might be harder. But you also might feel it’s easier to deal with when you don’t constantly feel like you are standing on eroding sand.

      Reply
      1. Nervous Accountant

        oh wow, I guess when it’s put that way it does sound pretty bad. I mean….didn’t mean to paint a rosy picture or romanticize it. I’ve had rough days/weeks but it got better I guess? I’d say aside from the few work things that happened this year, for hte most part it’s been pretty good, socially and work wise.

        Reply
    2. Emily S.

      This is tough.

      One thing I would suggest doing first: Set aside some time when you can really focus, and not be distracted. Take a notepad, and start to write down things that you want in a career. Then keep writing, and keep thinking about the different various things you want in a job, etc. This will help your process of starting to write out a list of goals (best to start with 3 – 5 year goals, nothing too big), and figure out what is most important to you.

      (It may also be helpful to write on a separate sheet about your personal / life goals in parallel. Such as taking a break to have a child after X number of years, etc.)

      It’ll probably be good to also have some serious talks with your partner, about both lists, AFTER you personally are able to write out substantial lists.

      Next, I’d recommend assigning each item with a priority. (You may want to rewrite things out at this point, in order to line things up more clearly, and also, write out more details, where appropriate.)

      I think that once you’re able to really sketch out your goals, you will have a much better idea of where you want to go from here.

      Other questions to consider:

      -How willing are you to take the risks and deal with stresses (etc.) of a new job?

      -How important is money / salary to you, when the chips are down?

      -If you don’t already have a mentor, how could you begin the process of finding one?
      (Perhaps look at LeanIn.org for this, or your local LinkedIn groups for your industry.)

      I think these processes should help you figure out what your priorities are, because it seems like you really need to clarify those, before making a big decision like a job change.

      And by the way, PLEASE do not give up (on the taking care of yourself/ goal of having a child, or anything else). You have a lot going for you and you CAN be strong, and take control of your career. Believe in yourself!

      Reply
    3. anna green

      It’s okay not to know! Really. Most people go through this. I can’t quite tell if you have kids or not? or if you are planning to have a baby? Basically, if it makes sense to stay in a job you don’t particularly love because it makes sense for the rest of your life (kids, family, etc.) that’s okay!
      I am going through the same thing where I don’t like my job anymore, but at the same time I am so comfortable here, so its scary to think of moving. But I am looking for something new anyway, and I am waiting to find the right thing. Take your time and think things through and do what feels right, but don’t be so afraid to make a change that you get stagnant. You would get comfortable in a new place soon enough.

      Reply
      1. amy l

        I am mid-40’s. I have two college degrees and three kids. I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. For now, I’m happy to be a “worker-bee” in an accounting dept.

        Reply
    4. Master Bean Counter

      It’s okay to be a lifer, if you like where you work. If you plan on having a family soon, staying put is probably a good idea from a benefits standpoint. Also from a post-baby back to work standpoint having a long stable work history before taking a few years off is a good thing.

      Reply
      1. Nervous Accountant

        That’s exactly why I’ve considered staying, plus I feel like 3 years isn’t enough to build a stable history esp since all I have prior to this are temp jobs.

        Reply
      2. Former Retail Manager

        Seconding Master Bean Counter’s suggestion. And as I’ve heard said more than once, if you don’t know what to do, do nothing. If you’ve ironed out the wrinkles where you are, believe that your job is secure, and things are going well, just stay put for a while longer. If children are in the future, you definitely don’t want to leave, start a new job, and then say “surprise, I’m pregnant” six months later. That would be a lot of change all at once and may not set you up for success in the long term.

        And as for the “no career plan” issue…..if you like what you do and are good at it and really don’t have the drive to do anything else, that’s fine. Everyone doesn’t need to become a partner, venture out and start their own firm, or accomplish whatever else would be considered to be “successful” in your industry. If you’re happy where you are, there’s nothing wrong with continuing on as is. Plenty of people do.

        Reply
    5. Not So NewReader

      Lots of stuff here.
      1) Being scared to move is not a reason to stay in place. Conversely, talking to a recruiter is not a reason to change jobs. What is missing here are facts. It’s fine to look around and see what is out there, it’s fine to collect up more facts so you can better decide. Which ever way you decide find a good strong reason for that choice.

      2) I agree with the poster who said your job and work place sound horrid, I don’t think I would have stayed. But you have made it and you sound like things might be falling in place. How’s the nervousness? Has it gone down or are you just better able to cope with the same level of nervousness? I ask this because the first few jobs I had made me nervous. I blamed myself, if I had confidence or if I had whatever then I would not be nervous. Looking back on it the truth is if I had a decent workplace I would have calmed down and settled in.

      3) Nervous about moving on. The learning curve will not be so steep. You will know some things and you will be better able to recognize situations for what they actually are. It will not be the same nerve-wracking thing it was years ago. You can also borrow questions from AAM and ask Qs about the culture of the place when you interview.

      4) New job vs. Baby. I think if you look at this carefully and think it through logically you will realize it is not an either/or situation. It’s about building a map through the process of both additions to your life. I think that plenty of readers here can tell you how they mapped out their processes. If you have a general idea of where you are going that can relieve some concerns. Not the same, but my husband and I both had bad jobs and yet we wanted a house. We realized that we could leverage our longevity at the jobs to assist with our mortgage process. This made sense because the next job would probably pay better so we could look forward to being in a better after we got the house. We found a modest home and bought it. His job was a lot more toxic to him than mine was to me. His job was killing him but mine was just making me sick. So he changed jobs first. Then a while later I went back to school. It was a plan that we roughed out and we guessed at the sequence. It worked, well, we found ways to make it work. It’s good to realize that nothing is certain and we all are just making our best guess as to where to go next.

      Reply
      1. Nervous Accountant

        Thank you for weighing in, I always appreciate your comments and I know you’ve been following since the beginning :-)

        Re #2–I’m really not nervous anymore at work. :) I’m more confident in my work and what I do. I would say, yes, things are falling in to place here. I’m on good terms with my manager, boss is….meh.

        I guess my “block” so to speak is knowing how difficult it was being un/underemployed and just not wanting to go through that again, the uncertainty and all that. I know logically it may not be bc I’m more experienced and mature but I guess this is my thing to get over.

        Reply
    6. Thlayli

      Are you actively trying for a baby or planning to start trying in next year or two? If so I think benefits are your number 1 priority. And it can be very hard to find out what those are before you actually start working somewhere.

      However this is coming from an EU perspective where work maternity benefit could he up to 6 months paid leave. If you are US and you are only potentially losing 6 weeks of paid leave that’s a much smaller thing to lose out on.

      If you’re an accountant I’m sure you can quickly calculate the cost benefit analysis of staying and getting whatever maternity benefits you have now versus leaving and getting no maternity benefit at all. Include both maternity pay and health insurance etc. Work it out sum total over the months till the earliest you expect to give birth and see what salary you need to chase to break even.

      That doesn’t help with the emotional side but it might make it easier to see in black and white what the financial implication of leaving might be.

      Reply
      1. Nervous Accountant

        I’m actively trying. Unfortunately I have more complications in regards to getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy, so it’s hard to even estimate when I could give birth (right before tax season begins is a dream but that window is closed lol).

        Reply
        1. Thlayli

          It sounds like health insurance is a key factor for you then – I know in America that’s often linked to jobs so if that’s the case for you you need to make sure any new job has equal or better health insurance, and also you need to make sure maternity will be covered for you.

          If you could take ages to have a baby then I think you should “hope for the best, plan for the worst”. Ie keep trying and make sure you have health insurance etc as I said above in case you get lucky, but also keep moving forward in your life as if you won’t have a baby for a Long time – in this case by not delaying your job search until you have a baby.

          That’s my 2c anyway good luck whatever u decide. As they say on ttc fora: sticky baby dust!

          Reply
    7. Thlayli

      Are you actively trying for a baby or planning to start trying in next year or two? If so I think benefits are your number 1 priority. And it can be very hard to find out what those are before you actually start working somewhere.

      However this is coming from an EU perspective where work maternity benefit could he up to 6 months paid leave. If you are US and you are only potentially losing 6 weeks of paid leave that’s a much smaller thing to lose out on.

      If you’re an accountant I’m sure you can quickly calculate the cost benefit analysis of staying and getting whatever maternity benefits you have now versus leaving and getting no maternity benefit at all. Include both maternity pay and health insurance etc. Work it out sum total over the months till the earliest you expect to give birth and see what salary you need to chase to break even.

      That doesn’t help with the emotional side but it might make it easier to see in black and white what the financial implication of leaving might be.

      Also – this seems really obvious to me but just in case – you don’t have to choose between a new job and a baby. You can have both.

      Reply
  17. Maswaki

    Help! Please help anyone and everyone. I will be 35 this August, there’s a constant and nagging feeling of dissatisfaction with my entire life.

    When I finished school in 2008, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I knew I needed to work to make a living and pay my bills. That pretty much set the tone/path of my work life, but I’m tired of this pattern – the pattern of just doing honest work so the bills can be paid (there’s nothing wrong with that I know)

    However, I feel unfulfilled, stuck in a rut and stagnant. I feel like I haven’t grown or developed much professionally or personally, since leaving school.

    Most days I’m not even sure what I am doing with my life/time here on earth. I wake up demoralize with a zero sense of motivation. I drag myself off to work though because the bills need to be paid.

    Presently, I work as a personal assistant to a senior executive, I don’t like or enjoy it very much, I am looking to get out of my current role, change career paths and basically just start over in my life.

    I think I’m having a mid-life crisis as a single woman trying to figure out what I really want to do with my life. Making a fresh start in life appeals to me but I’m not sure where to begin from or how best to navigate this.

    Has anyone been in a similar situation? What did you do? How did you turn things around to create the life you want? Are there any helpful resources you can point me to?

    Reply
    1. ZSD

      I think this is common enough. Maybe you could start by doing some informational interviews with people in fields that you think might interest you.
      I’m sorry you’re feeling that you’re stagnating. I really do think it’s pretty common.
      Oh, in addition to looking for a new career field, try volunteering with a group that works on an issue you care about!

      Reply
    2. silvertech

      I have been in a somewhat similar situation. The one thing that helped me out the most was therapy: getting to the roots of my problems was the thing I needed the most. I got much needed clarity and also a diagnosis for an illness that was contributing to my poor quality of life (this might or might not be the case with you).
      I started reading Captain Awkward, she has a lot of posts dealing with the issues you describes. She has plenty of good advice and resources you could find useful.
      I know how it feels to be in your shoes, so I wish you the best of luck. Things can get better!

      Reply
    3. LL

      Seconding therapy and informational interviews, but I also had good experiences working with a job coach (after doing a few free phone consultations to find one that was a good fit). There are coaches who specialize in helping with career changes and unearthing your interests and strengths.

      On the strengths note (and much cheaper than getting a coach!), I recommend the StrengthsFinder test from Gallup. If you buy the e-book on amazon, you also get a link to take the test. It made me look at my work style and potential jobs much differently than I had. This is actually a test that has real research backing it up.

      Reply
    4. La Revancha del Tango

      If you want to make a fresh start I say do it! I used to feel the same way as you but then I realized I don’t really care about growing professionally. I’m an assistant and am overpaid for a job that maybe has an hour of work to do per day. I don’t like to work and have never had a job where I’ve been passionate about. I only do it so I can save money to retire early and move to Central America (and by early I mean REALLY early… I’m turning 30 soon and would like to do it within the next 7 years).

      I also realized that work is work and you shouldn’t be defined by what you do in your job. Do you have fun hobbies outside of work? Do you have goals in other areas of your life? This is what usually helps me and realizing that I could have a crappy paying job or a crappy boss or a job that I work 12 hours a day – all of which sound way worse than my boring 8-5.

      Reply
      1. Kim Possible

        I really like your take! I’m a 24 year old woman, working for a good company, and am very well paid. I’m not super passionate about my job my any means, but I do a good job while I’m there. Similarly to you, I only have about an hour of work to do every day, in an 8-5 job.

        I completely agree with you that you shouldn’t be defined by your job.When I graduated college a few years ago, I tried to put on a “career driven woman” facade for a while. I wanted to move up in my company, and make good money because that’s what I felt like I was expected to do as a woman in today’s society. Eventually, I realized that’s just not who I am. I’m content with my boring 8-5 job for the time being.

        My husband will be done with graduate school in less than a year, and will be making very good money once he lands a job. At that point, I’d like to work part-time doing something I’m passionate about (perhaps working for an animal shelter, or even just volunteering.) I’d love to have the flexibility to travel, and spend more time with family. I’m happy that my husband supports this decision, and doesn’t want me to do something I hate just because it “looks good” to everyone else.

        Reply
        1. La Revancha del Tango

          That sounds awesome!! I would love to work part time or volunteer one day. My husband makes about double what I make and is a pro investor. We are lucky!

          Reply
      2. The Queen of Cans & Jars

        I’m working on developing a similar attitude. I’m also in a job with very little work to do, but it’s been hard for me to appreciate that. However, I’m definitely a work-to-live person, not a career woman at all.

        Reply
    5. Fawn

      First off, not a doctor but I recognize what you’re describing as the symptoms I experience when I’m in an episode of depression. If you haven’t, you might want to get screened. I found CBT had a huge positive impact on my thought process. We focussed a lot in my program on setting small goals on the way to larger ones and identifying spiralling thought processes – both tools that help me get on track when things start to feel bleak.

      In terms of career development, could you find a (good) career counsellor to help you complete a skills and strengths inventory?

      Reply
      1. Manders

        Yes, this is definitely something to consider. Depression isn’t just extreme sadness, it can also show up as numbness or constant dissatisfaction and irritation.

        That said, working as a personal assistant can be a very difficult career path, and it’s worth it to try to change things up to see if that fixes the problem. Also, if you don’t have a hobby you’re really passionate about or a strong circle of friends, now’s the time to start thinking about what you can do outside of your job so you’re not just living to work.

        Reply
    6. Coming Up Milhouse

      Same. I’ll be 35 next month and I realize that I hate the industry that I’m in. I’m married but no kids and I just feel so deeply unsatisfied with my professional life that it’s why I’ve left jobs at the first opportunity presented to me.

      Reply
    7. Channel Z

      What did I do? I’m still doing it! I do change-ups/shake-ups, moving country, changing jobs, going back to school. BUT… the change works for a while, then the newness wears off and its same old, same old. The problem is me! So, I am soon to interview at a company in the industry I started out in. I have more realistic expectations this time around, and don’t expect it to bring me lifetime fulfilment. Since I still crave newness, I think I will try to channel that desire to trying new hobbies instead. Not sure what yet, but I’m fantasizing about water sports. I do wish I had an adventurous partner to share that with, but my husband resists change. Opposites attract, maybe?

      Reply
      1. Marillenbaum

        Sounds excellent! You do the watersports, and he can chill on the beach with a cocktail with a little umbrella in it.

        Reply
      2. Emily S.

        Trying new hobbies can be really fun.

        I recommend things like cycling and other sports (definitely go for the watersports, and try it out!), but also give baking a try. It can be really therapeutic, and you get delightful results with (often) not that much effort. It can be really fun to share with friends/family etc.

        These days, even if you have __x__ issue with diet (e.g. gluten-sensitive, diabetic etc.), there are cookbooks and reputable food blogs out there with lots of great recipes to try out.

        I also recommend gardening. Nurturing plants (even just a container garden indoors) can be therapeutic also, and fun.

        Reply
      3. Product person

        “I do change-ups/shake-ups, moving country, changing jobs, going back to school. BUT… the change works for a while, then the newness wears off and its same old, same old. The problem is me! So, I am soon to interview at a company in the industry I started out in. I have more realistic expectations this time around, and don’t expect it to bring me lifetime fulfilment.”

        Here’s a book that can help: So Good They Can’t Ignore You. It shows how jumping around may actually preven you from falling in love with the work you do, because it takes time to develop “career capital” and become valuable enough to start doing more interesting work. In the beginning, most jobs will be boring / lose their appeal after some time. But if you stick to it, you start to get better, and earn the right to do less repetitive work (which goes to the more junior people). And because you’re getting better and better at it and taking more challenging projects, you start to like your job more and more.

        Of course, this requires first being in a job that allows for expanding your horizons, which may not be the case for Maswaki. I was in this situation at some point, and ended up becoming a business analyst in the software space. Not for everyone, but I know tons of BAs who love what they do because of the variety of projects they tackle. If anyone here wants to check it out, this page: http://contentpicker.com/BA/ has some useful (and realistic) information about the field.

        Reply
    8. Seal

      Been there, done that. I got stuck for almost 13 years in a deadend job I took while finishing school. For years it supported my outside activities, but once I gave those up I realized I was in a very bad place. Worst, because I was very good at my job with little effort, I was the constant target of bullies. Needless to say, I was absolutely miserable all the time.

      Finally, at age 37 I’d had enough and started formulating an exit plan. I was able to come up with enough money to quit my job and take the summer off. It was alternatively terrifying and very freeing. I had a few vague ideas of what I was going to do next, but nothing concrete. So I spend the first few months doing very little, then by the end of the year needed to take a temporary job. That job and industry turned out to be far, FAR worse than the one I’d left. But the combination of that job and my time off gave me some much-needed clarity. After a few months of temping I managed to get a far better job in the industry I’d left, which I’d come to realize wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. A few years later I went to graduate school while working full-time, which ultimately lead to my current position.

      Reckless though it may have been, quitting my job with no prospects and taking the summer off was a turning point for me. I don’t know that I’d be able to do the same thing at this point in my life, but 15 years ago it was the best thing I could have done for myself. Right now I’m a middle manager who is on track to move into administration. Had I not jumped without a net 15 years ago, who knows where I’d be?

      My advice is if you can’t just walk away from your job and start over, you can still take steps to change your career path. If your employer has a tuition reimbursement program, take advantage of it. There are plenty of people – myself included – that have gotten additional degrees while working full time. Or just take classes for fun. Start volunteering. Start talking to the people you work with or even your boss about career alternatives. It really doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you do SOMETHING. You never know when you’ll find the one thing that will change your career path.

      Reply
    9. Iris Eyes

      I went through some similar issues a few years ago. I jumped hard and far and landed in a place I definitely didn’t want to be, personally or financially. A new hobby, taking a vacation to somewhere you have always dreamed about,
      The most helpful book that I read as far as attitude toward work and thinking about work was Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller (he’s a pastor just FYI)

      Reply
    10. ZenJen

      My experience: I’m 44, divorced, and LOVE my life! I figured out what I wanted after the divorce was final, and I’m living it: I have a career-ish job, amazing friends and family, fun hobbies (writing, traveling, kayaking), and I am happy no matter what time of day it is.
      1–your job does NOT need to define your life or success. I’m successful, but I’d feel fulfilled if I sucked at work.
      2–figure out what you dreams are and how to achieve them. I do :-)

      Reply
    11. Foreign Octopus

      This is definitely a normal feeling. Everyone feels this.

      I felt this two years (although about ten years younger than you then) and what I did might not be helpful because I quit my job, moved to Spain, and began teaching English. It’s been the best decision I’ve ever made because I realise how much I love languages (not so much the teaching of it though) and that’s put me on a path towards a career in languages in the future. Before moving to Spain, I only spoke English but now I’m making strides in Spanish and the plan is eventually Chile in the next couple of years after Brexit becomes official (if it ever does).

      One resource I did find interesting and inspiration was Career Shifters (http://www.careershifters.org/). They’re based in the UK and offer careers counselling but proper counselling for people who want to change careers. There are also a large number of interviews with people who have done just that. You might be able to find other resources from there as well.

      For now though, do something that relaxes you and remember that life is a marathon and you don’t have to have everything sorted straight away.

      (Bit sickly sweet at the end but the point stands).

      Good luck.

      Reply
      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?

        I’ve actually been on a Careershifters course here in the UK and found it very helpful to discover I really DO like what I am doing and I am in the right area for my skills and capabilities, the problem is that I am just not applying it in a way that I find satisfying. They do have some really good resources on the website, that’s for sure.

        I am also in a current career limbo but I know the ultimate goal and we are now trying to fill in the backwards path. It was one of my goals this year to sit back and explore new things (within a certain grouping I had already determined) and see what sticks. As part of that I was able to take a role that pays well but is a bit too “small” for me, so it gives me a lot of free time to think of things with little outside pressure. Finding a “bridge job” like that can be helpful as well, if you can’t outright quit.

        Reply
    12. Not So NewReader

      Just my opinion but I believe we are supposed to have that naggy little voice that says, “Some thing needs to change here.” But the naggy little voice is annoying because it never identifies WHAT needs to change.

      From what I read here your top concern in life is paying the bills. It’s such a concern that you forego having developed a career because of it.
      I have a stupid question: What are you doing to help ease your concern with paying the bills? Do you write a budget? Do you stick to your budget? Does your budget allow you fun money? Do you routinely look for ways to reduce costs so that you worry less about paying the bills? In short when we have any concern of any type we need to develop an action plan to meet that concern.

      Next. What do you do to recharge you? Starting with the basics there is rest, exercise, healthy diet and water. On any given day are you hitting at least two of these things? Jobs will drain us without mercy. It’s important to realize that jobs can be very draining and it’s important to put good things into ourselves. No one tells us this when we start out. It would have been helpful to me to know that jobs can be an endurance contest. You wouldn’t run a 5k without prepping right? Same deal here, we gotta prep so we can endure.

      I’d recommend life coaching, this is someone who will sit down with you and help you set up goals. We need goals the way we need food and water. It’s absolutely necessary for life. The people that I see struggling the most are the folks who have no goals. Life coaching should help you look around you with fresh eyes for opportunities that you have been ignoring or blocked from seeing.

      Reply
    13. sarakg

      I was definitely in the same situation, except my old career was one that lots of people think of as their ‘dream job’. I hated it, and was so bored and just generally frustrated with my life. I started doing some casual web development work on the side, mostly for fun. I taught myself how to use WordPress, and then did some online code learning (Code Academy, Treehouse, etc.). I liked it so much that I started trying to figure out how to make that my career.

      I found a local short course that I could take in web development. The one I took was a really good fit for me (there’s others in town that weren’t, so definitely do your research!). I quit my job in April 2016, finished my 12 week course at the end of June and had a great full-time job in September (I did some freelancing/temping/vacationing last summer). I’m still in that job, and it’s going great.

      Nothing’s perfect, but I don’t hate going to work everyday, I’m making nearly 2x what I was making at my last job), and there’s a lot of room for growth and development in my new job (both at this company and if I decide to change jobs).

      Everyone says I was so brave, but really, I hated so much about my life back then, that it just sort of stopped feeling optional at a certain point. I still struggle with depression and anxiety, changing jobs wasn’t a magic fix for that, but I can at least focus on dealing with that more actively.

      Good luck!

      Reply
    14. ..Kat..

      Well, the fact that you don’t have a lot to do is in your favor. You can pay for your current lifestyle while exploring alternatives. Many people have suggested therapy, and that can be very helpful.

      When you say you finished school, do you mean college? If so, and if you still live near your college, their career center can give you an aptitude test that may be able to point you to general career areas that would suit you. I did this and it helped me.

      What also helped me was to just get out there and volunteer and take junior college night classes.

      I was a computer programmer, but didn’t feel really engaged with my work. So, I lived in a very tiny apartment and kept my expenses low. I had taken American Red Cross first aid courses as a child (about 8 hours of instruction), but always wanted to know more. Flipping through the adult classes brochure from my local community college, I saw an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) class. Took the class, volunteered with my local volunteer fire department, decided I preferred healthcare to computer programming, went to nursing school. Now I have a career I love (except for my current, temporary manager- see post below).

      So my advice is to cut your expenses, save money, and take community college night classes that catch your fancy. Or perhaps volunteer in fields that interest you.

      Good luck.

      Reply
    15. Ramona Flowers

      I burned out in my old career and realised I felt like I was stuck in it – but that’s how my dad had felt about his career. He never switched fields even when he had a long period of unemployment as he thought he had to use his degree and couldn’t do anything else, he believed he had no practical skills and he wasn’t willing to try retraining.

      I wrote out all the beliefs about work that were making me feel stuck and was absolutely shocked to discover they were all my dad’s beliefs. Under those, I found my own real beliefs. I discovered that I wanted to switch fields, and that I was desperate to retrain but had been thinking ‘one day’. I told myself: okay, time to pick a day.

      I was already in therapy at this point which helped me do this figuring out of stuff.

      From there, I thought about what I liked to do and what I never wanted to do again – must haves and must not haves for my next profession. Went back to grad school as I managed to get a funding award. Worked a part-time job and volunteered to get relevant experience and references. Lived with a much reduced budget. Read a lot of careers articles on sites like The Muse. Nosed in a lot of people’s LinkedIn profiles. Found AAM and read the hell out of it.

      Therapy would be a wise place to start as it can help you get to know what you want and what’s driving your feelings. I went into therapy thinking I was there because I felt crappy for no reason. Turned out I was there because my family were abusive and I hated my job.

      Reply
      1. Maswaki

        Sorry this is coming late I have been off the grid, but better late than never.
        Thanks everyone for weighing in on this. I really appreciate the feedback and I am taking it to heart.
        Cheers

        Reply
  18. The Queen of Cans & Jars

    Has anyone had experience managing out a “bad fit”? We hired a plant manager who seemed to be exactly what we were looking for, and he’s turned out to…not. He has no inclination (ability?) to manage people, and is absolutely not the strong leader he made himself out to be (which his references confirmed). In addition, he is not proactive at all in identifying problems, but waits for them to blow up. The relevant managers are meeting with him today to go over a PIP plan, but we all view it as a bit of a formality before the inevitable firing. Do you see that as a reasonable way to approach it? This is the first time we’ve been in this situation.

    Reply
    1. The Queen of Cans & Jars

      ETA: The PIP plan does identify specific things that he needs to improve, but we really don’t feel like it’s going to happen.

      Reply
    2. neverjaunty

      That is reasonable. You are making the expectations clear and giving him the information he needs to improve, if he chooses to.

      Do you mean that his references confirmed he’s not a good manager?

      Reply
        1. Jadelyn

          …which makes me wonder if they were full of it, or if he’s just checked out on this job for whatever reason. If it’s the latter, maybe the PIP will snap him out of it.

          Reply
          1. Really

            Could be a case of great guy, does his work well but had little to no experience at this level of management so no way for any reference to be able to tell you how he would do.

            Reply
    3. AndersonDarling

      We had a situation where the manager wasn’t good at managing, he knew it and his superiors knew it. So they offered him a staff position and he accepted it. You have to have a really unique individual to handle this kind of transition, but he was OK explaining to his co-workers that he just wasn’t a good manager and wanted to contribute on the staff level.

      Reply
    4. The Resource for all Things Human

      I think that’s the best approach. We had a similar situation where we hired a guy that did some embellishing on his resume and he was a total nightmare. Luckily for us he quit two weeks into his PIP which saved us a few months of headache. Hope your bad fit sees the writing on the wall and saves you the trouble.

      Reply
    5. The Queen of Cans & Jars

      Well, we met with him a few minutes ago, and his supervisor was very direct that this was make-or-break for him. He took it very well, and asked to think it over over the weekend before he signed. I’ll be curious if he’s going to come in and tender his resignation on Monday or sign off to postpone the inevitable a couple of weeks.

      Reply
  19. Sydney Bristow

    I’m in the beginning stages of job searching and I’m wondering how to find people to ask for references. I’ve been in the same job for over nine years since college. I don’t want my superiors or co-workers to know that I’m looking. I have great relationships with a few current clients, but they would be upset to know I’m leaving my job, and would likely need to tell my bosses, since this will affect them and our projects. Even former clients that I can think of are still tight with my company and bosses, so I’m having trouble thinking of who to turn to. I’m not close with any college professors. I have a former boss who likes me and could be an option, but I owe her a favor, and she may also may not be thrilled to be a reference because if I leave my current job, I’m less likely to be able to repay the favor any time soon.

    Any thoughts or advice from those of you who have been in a similar situation?

    Reply
    1. LL

      Do you have people you worked closely with who left the organization during your time there? Are there people working at your level on the same projects who you might let in on you job-searching?

      Since you need three and their a former boss, you should definitely use them if you can. Just write a very nice request and say you’re searching again. You may owe them a favor but it’s not like you should make it feel like you’re “pay someone back” for a reference.

      Reply
      1. Sydney Bristow

        To be clear — this former boss left my company to go somewhere else — I’ve been only at this company in my professional life. I will definitely give more consideration to reaching out to her.

        Reply
    2. The New Wanderer

      I second asking the former boss you mentioned and any other former supervisor or mentor you’ve had. Usually if they have a good opinion of you, they’d be happy to do it even if you hadn’t been in touch in a few years because they want you to do well. I just asked someone from 12 years ago if he could provide a reference if needed (for a particular case where the value of his reference > the recency of the information) and he was happy to.

      I’m not sure about reaching out to former clients – I would think a quick explanation that you’d love a reference from them but need to keep it private would be enough for them to agree and not spill the beans – but I don’t know enough about that kind of work culture.

      Reply
    3. EnviroEducator

      Yeah, I’ve had some times in my life where finding appropriate references stressed me out. Some ideas, in addition to the good idea of former coworkers and supervisors at your current company who now work elsewhere:
      – Do you volunteer anywhere? Could you ask some leaders at those places to act as references?
      – Are there any people at your current company who aren’t in your chain of supervision, but still familiar with your work, who you could trust to be discreet about your job search?

      Sorry, this isn’t very helpful, is it…

      Reply
  20. ElCamino

    It’s been a really stressful few weeks at work – we got word that our whole organization is going to have to restructure, and today a pretty significant amount of people were let go. The company did what they could to offer a pretty considerate severance package but I still feel so awful for everyone involved. I’m lucky in that I’m keeping my job but my department’s essentially cut in half and obviously my role will be changing moving forward.

    How do you deal with layoff survivor guilt/anxiety?

    Reply
    1. LL

      I don’t have any big solutions, but it helped me a lot to be in touch with my coworkers and not isolate myself. We would take short walks to chat or go to lunch together. It was good to be open about feeling and questions among the “survivors” and we came up with good questions for management. We tried not to get stuck in the negativity of it and drag each other down, but it was good to recognize a painful situation together.

      It’s also important to keep in touch with the people leaving even if it’s just to say “this sucks!”

      Reply
      1. Redundant Department of Redundancy

        At my last job they did a a bunch of layoffs, then a few more and then a few more…
        It was a pretty toxic place to work, so we dealt with the stress/tension by joking about it. ie ‘I haven’t seen Max for a while, has he been let go?’. I personally dealt with it by sharpening up my CV and cover letter. Even though everyone agreed I was ‘Safe’ ie there were two of us in my role, I was the competent one. I was not safe, so as soon as I was told they were planning to boot me I started searching fully (I’d been half searching before). They actually ended up keeping me as I went part time instead, but I kept job hunting as I knew I wasn’t safe.

        I actually ended up getting the first job I applied for after finding out the news (Which has turned out to be amazing).

        Reply
    2. ThatGirl

      I worked at my last company for 9 years. Seemed like there were at least five rounds of layoffs in that time. Often we knew it was coming, but back in March, half my department was outsourced without warning – including me.

      Try not to feel too guilty. I am not upset at anyone who kept their jobs, because it had been me previously. Do keep in touch with people you were close to, if possible, and offer to help/be a reference if applicable.

      Reply
      1. The New Wanderer

        This. I’ve been on both sides of layoffs. Sometimes it’s a one-off and sometimes it’s part of a wave of RIFs, but people who stay don’t usually feel very safe and people who leave might be better off than you, or they, expected.

        What helped was having people who were staying make a point of talking to me about it. I’m a little miffed that a few people I thought would say something just … seemed to avoid me, which made me feel like they didn’t care whether I was there or not. Two minutes of “sorry to see you go, what do you think you might do next?” means a lot. Sincere and relatively brief, letting the laid off person kind of guide the conversation (if they’re excited about new opportunities, be happy for them; if they’re bitter and unhappy, commiserate in a low key way). Big puppy eyes and lots of sympathy was not particularly helpful to me because it made me feel like I had to go overboard explaining how this was really a good thing for me (it was).

        Reply
    3. JustaTech

      The first time my work had big layoffs (which they handled pretty poorly) we:
      1) went way far away for lunch (so we didn’t have to watch the people leaving in tears)
      2) en-mass left early and went to the first open bar we found (with our boss’s blessing) (it was a Friday, and no one got wasted)
      3) Waited a week or two to get in touch with the people who’d been laid off to offer to be references and tell them specifically why we’d enjoyed working with them
      4) brushed up our resumes
      5) were pretty pissed about the whole thing
      6) worked our collective butts off

      So, survivor guilt: make genuine offers to help the people who got laid off and don’t complain about work if you see them socially.
      Anxiety: polish your resume and try to make sure the people making the cuts know you’re a “value add” (don’t actually know how to do that).

      Reply
    4. Chaordic One

      In my case, the survivor guilt didn’t last very long.

      Following the layoffs I had way too much work dumped on me and I was so stressed out myself that I didn’t have a second to think about anything else. My supervisors were no help in establishing priorities and bluntly refused to take anything off of my plate.

      If I had been thinking more clearly I would have spent more time dusting off my resume and making more of an effort to apply for a new job, rather than wasting my effort at job that had devolved into a soul-crushing toxic cess pool.

      Reply
  21. Mouse

    Question about applying to multiple jobs at the same company! I’m looking for entry-level jobs, and a company I’d really like to work for just posted a bunch. They’re really, really similar- essentially the same function in different departments (think: Teapot Assistant: Chocolate, Teapot Assistant: Vanilla, Teapot Assistant: Mint, etc). I know the general advice is to refrain from applying to a bunch of jobs at one company, but the descriptions are almost exactly the same! I already applied to the “teapot type” I’d like to work with most, but I’m wondering if I should apply to others, too. The apps all go to a general “recruiting” email address.

    To make things slightly more complicated, I have a contact who works for this company now, and he said he passed my materials directly on to the hiring manager as well. Does that change things? I don’t want to affect his reputation too!

    Reply
    1. SansaStark

      I did this at the company where I currently work, but it was just for 2 different jobs. I had one year experience in vanilla and chocolate teapot making, so I applied to both the advertised vanilla teapot and chocolate teapot assistant jobs. Turns out that by the time I was called in for the vanilla job, they had already filled the chocolate job…but the boss wanted to swap me for the chocolate person. The company didn’t allow that, but when that employee moved on, I was able to shift to the chocolate assistant position, which is a better fit for me long-term. Anyway, long story short, I think if you have a little background in that type of work, it would make sense for you to apply to a couple of jobs in the same department. I think having a contact would probably help in this case because it gives you some credibility that you’re not just sending a ton of resumes to every company or something.

      Reply
    2. NotThatGardner

      I don’t have a ton of experience in this but my take — if you didn’t have a contact who had already directly passed your materials onto the hiring manager, I might say go for it re: submitting multiple applications – though I’d still err on the cautious side of that, since the general recruiting address is probably combed through by the same person.

      Since you do have a contact who directly handed over and vouched for you, I think that is enough of extra “oomph” to show you’d be good for the company. I’ve definitely applied places with multiple similar openings, and after an interview been contacted with some sort of “we found a better fit for this particular TA:Chocolate department but liked you, would you be interested in talking to TA:Mint as well?” kind of thing.

      Reply
    3. EA

      I think a big company with multiple similar openings is sort of the exception to the rule.

      The point was don’t apply to anything and everything so you look unfocused. This doesn’t really apply if it is the same job.

      Reply
    4. Detective Right-All-The-Time

      If these are applications that you are emailing in to a generic email address, I would say apply to one and leave it be. You can mention your interest in the other areas in the initial interview/phone screen. This is what I lean toward since you say your resume has been passed to the hiring manager as well. Multiple emails to the same address, plus your resume in the hands of the hiring manager will be more off-putting than helpful to whoever reviews applications

      However, if these are applications in an online system/HRIS where you have a profile and you can see your applications/progress, I would say apply to a COUPLE but definitely not every single one. Whoever is reviewing applications will be able to see that you’ve applied and are interested in multiple areas.

      Reply
  22. silvertech

    Reasons why it’s important to do well while temping: I have opened my own business, and to earn some extra money I also work temp jobs on the side. I got a temp job at *very important local event* and a very easy one, they liked me so much that they asked me to work some extra weeks! And they had told me they had no budget for that, so clearly I must have done a good job, yay! I also got a bunch of contacts that are very interesting for my own business, so I’m very happy.

    The not so good note is that I can’t believe how rude some people can be: I had two clients ghost me this week, it’s the first time it happens. I have no idea why, and I stopped trying to get in touch since they are not answering anymore. There were no contracts, my job is not one where they are needed in most cases; if there were, I wouldn’t stop trying to contact them. It’s so annoying though, but I guess I have to accept it as a part of having a business…

    Reply
    1. Jadelyn

      My last temp job turned into full-time regular, which grandboss had to fight for since my current position literally didn’t exist, but they did fight for me because I contributed so much to the team, and I’m still here 3.5 years later, so I can second the importance of making a good impression while temping, lol.

      Reply
    2. Gaia

      Also: my company regularly hires temps into perm positions. We often don’t have a perm position open when we bring in a temp but at some point during their tenure one may open up. If they have done a great job, we’ll bring them on. If not, bypass and keep looking. Several of our top performers started as temps and are now happily perm.

      Reply
  23. Anonymous fatty

    Earlier this week, I was minding my own business, walking down the hall, when a guy I barely know (I’ve been in some meetings with him but never spoken with him one-on-one) walked up beside me and started telling me about his gastric bypass surgery, which he considers the best thing he’s ever done. Then he told me I should get the surgery, because our insurance pays for it and it’s only about $500 out of pocket.

    Thanks, dude. What woman doesn’t want random coworkers walking up to her and basically saying, “Hi! You’re so fat you should get weight loss surgery!”?

    Reply
    1. Casper Lives

      What a *rude words*! I can’t believe he thought it was acceptable to comment about your body to a random, non-friend coworker. I’m also fat, and I don’t know if I could avoid sharp words if a coworker did this to me. You’ve got my sympathy.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous fatty

        I wish I could say I had a snappy comeback, but I was so embarrassed that all I could say was, “Um, ok, good to know.”

        Reply
        1. Surrogate Tongue Pop

          What an a**. My PO’ed self would have probably said “have you checked if our insurance covers lobotomies, because you probably need one.”.

          Reply
    2. Drew

      If he brings it up again, give him a blank look and say, “But why would I be interested?” Return the awkward to sender!

      Reply
      1. The Queen of Cans & Jars

        Oh, I love this! This would work as a great response to all kinds of rude “advice.”

        Reply
    3. motherofdragons

      Wooooow. Wow. Don’t even know what else to say. Like, congrats dude? But also, you’re an a**hole??

      Reply
    4. Channel Z

      You could quote yourself there, “So you are saying I’m so fat I need weight loss surgery?!”
      How about, “I think I will bypass your medical advice, thanks.”

      Reply
    5. Jadelyn

      Wow. I think an icy “Excuse me?” and hard stare might be something to level on him if he does it again, that’s absolutely unacceptable.

      Reply
    6. LKW

      Consider where it’s coming from though. This is someone who has been in your shoes. It’s still rude and unwelcome but it does come from a good place.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous fatty

        Oh yeah, I know he thought he was being helpful. I actually have looked into weight loss surgery, and I am interested in other people’s first-hand experiences with it… BUT, it is a very personal thing, and not something I wish to discuss with coworkers, especially ones I barely know. I also consider it pretty rude for people to give unsolicited medical advice, particularly when it is based on an observation about my body, and for something that has a great deal of social stigma.

        Reply
        1. Sassy Sally

          Would just like to add my two cents here, as I’m going through the insurance approval process for WLS right now (psych eval, supervised diet, nutrition appointments, endoscopy). There is a HUGE community of WLS folks on instagram that are very supportive and you can learn a lot through their journeys, if that’s a route you’re considering! Wishing you the best of luck and health in whatever choice you make! <3

          Reply
      2. Jadelyn

        To be blunt, I don’t care where it’s coming from (and I disagree that “you should have this surgery to make your body conform to a social standard” is a “good place” for something to come from in the first place, but that’s my opinion and you may not share it). Why try to drum up sympathy for someone who is utterly and completely out of line in having said what he said?

        Also, someone saying this to me has NOT “been in my shoes”, because my shoes are fat-positive/body-positive and taking a HAES approach to managing my body and my health, not struggling with my weight or wanting to lose weight.

        This could, additionally, be a really triggering comment if it’s made to someone who’s got a history of eating disorders. I could see this causing a fast, ugly spiral of shame and relapse, to have someone basically walk up and say “Hey, I noticed you’re fat. You should try not being fat!”

        Like, there’s literally no part of this that is okay, and I don’t see why it matters that the comment may, possibly, maybe, if you squint at it in the right light, have come from a good place.

        Reply
        1. Jadelyn

          (To clarify, the “in my shoes” bit was not about my having experienced this scenario, but an example that just because someone is fat, doesn’t mean we’ve all got the same experience or feelings about it.)

          Reply
        2. Floundering Mander

          Thanks for this. A very good friend of mine has recently had WLS, and though we are of similar body types I know that our paths to fatness have been quite different and while surgery was what she felt was best for her I’d never consider it myself. It was a bit tricky to navigate congratulating her without inadvertently bringing my own feelings into it, but she understands my views are quite different and she’d never try to convince me to do it because I’m also fat.

          Reply
      3. KellyK

        He hasn’t necessarily been in her shoes, though. They share a body type, not necessarily a health history or similarities in anything else about their lives. Assuming that he knows enough about her by looking at the shape of her body that she should go have major surgery isn’t just rude, but wrong. Besides which, everybody has heard of gastric bypass surgery. If he talks about his own experience, then any coworkers who are interested can ask him for recommendations *if they want.*

        Fat people are expected to just suck up a lot of abuse because it’s supposedly well-intentioned, and I don’t think that’s really our obligation.

        Reply
        1. Jadelyn

          That last line in particular is so, so critical. It’s demanding that we take on emotional labor for the people around us by taking cruel comments “in the spirit they were intended”, and that’s not okay.

          Reply
      4. Anon for this

        I’m not sure why his presumed good intent excuses his unacceptable behavior. Would there be the same minimization of this if he had told her about the great deal his wife got on breast augmentation surgery? And how it helped her self-esteem so much? I think not. It is rude to comment on other people’s bodies. Period.

        Reply
      5. N.J.

        I would like to voice a strongly dissenting opinion. How is paying enough attention to a coworker’s body, female or not, to have formed an opinion on their weight, the appropriateness of their weight, the poorhealth effects of their weight and the success they would have with less drastic and dangerous methods of weight reduction (exercise, nutrition etc), as well as forming some sort of opinion on their medical fitness to undergo a major procedure….come from a good place? It comes from a disgusting, judgmental, proprietary (your body is in the public space so I have a right to judge it acceptable or not) and deeply inappropriate place. Not a place of solidarity or comradery. That’s how I would interpret an overture like that.

        Reply
      6. Observer

        No, it does NOT!

        If he’s been in her place he should know very well how horrible it is to have someone just come up to you and say something like that.

        At best, he’s concern trolling which does not come from a place of kindness.

        Reply
    7. Mischa

      What a dick! I can’t even imagine what compels you to say something like that to someone you barely know. Or someone you do know. Mind your own business, people!

      Reply
    8. Not So NewReader

      “So, you are telling me that you think I am too fat and I should have weight loss surgery?”

      I think the surgeon accidently removed this guy’s common sense.

      Reply
    9. Former Retail Manager

      So sorry….big girl here as well. I’ve been asked by a co-worker I barely know if I was pregnant (don’t even carry a disproportionate amount of weight in my stomach) and have also had co-workers extoll the virtues of various types of gastric surgery to me. I think they come from a place of trying to be helpful while also assuming that because they hated being fat/had awful health issues to the extent that they were willing to undergo life changing surgery for it, that you must feel the same/have similar health issues. I just say thanks but that I have no plans to go that route, but I’m glad they seem happy/healthy/whatever. Not much else you can do. I find it similar to people who have gotten Botox/lip fillers/etc. and love the results so much they suggest it to everyone they know for a period of time because if they had wrinkles and got Botox then if you have wrinkles you must want Botox too!

      As a side note, if you’re happy with your weight, then shrug off this guy and rock what you’re working with!

      Reply
    10. ..Kat..

      Well, I have two responses here. My first thought is to ask Elizabeth West to kick him with her skates on. But my second thought is that he is trying to be empathetic and helpful. Weight loss surgery made a positive difference in his life, so he wants other people to reap the benefits of it as well. He just didn’t think about how inappropriate it was to say this to you. He made huge assumptions. But he meant well.

      Stay true and strong on the path that works for you.

      Reply
      1. Observer

        I disagree that he meant well. Concern trolling is more like it.

        Anyone who was heavy enough to warrant weight loss surgery covered by insurance should know just how bad unsolicited comments like this are.

        Reply
  24. Tara

    My office is going paperless, and wants to call the digital folder where we store all incoming receipts and documentation the “Repository.” I hate that term, but Inbox and Waiting were not popular. Does anyone have suggestions for a better term than “Repository”?

    Reply
    1. LL

      Vault
      Company Inbox
      Archive
      Just “the server” or “the cloud”?

      …. we had a local server for a long time at my current job, and unfortunately named it after a recently-deceased celebrity, so I feel your pain.

      Reply
      1. hermit crab

        Oh no!

        Before we moved to Sharepoint, our share drives all had Greek mythology names. People would walk around grumbling about how Zeus wasn’t letting them save.

        Reply
    2. Redundant Department of Redundancy

      I have a ‘Processing’ folder, You could also use ‘In Progress’ maybe?

      Also agreed, Repository is too close to Suppository for me.

      Reply
    3. AndersonDarling

      We like using “Mall.” Report Mall, Receipt Mall, Deposit Mall…and we have pictures of malls on the folders.

      Reply
      1. Ramona Flowers

        Ooh! Call it Records and have a picture of a gramophone on it. Yes. Or just lean on the keyboard and use whatever your forehead produces.

        Reply
    4. Ashie

      I have to say, I sort of love “Repository.” It conjures images of a 19th century banker with a bushy moustache and a green visor in a dark wood office with iron bars.

      Reply
      1. BadChildhoodMemory

        Or Depository.
        But not Suppository, which unfortunately is the word I think of when I hear “Repository.”

        Reply
    5. Ron McDon

      It’s called a cabinet where I work, which I like because it makes me think of nicely ordered filing cabinets.

      Reply
      1. hermit crab

        Count me as another vote for “cabinet”! Alternatively, you could go really old-school and use “depot” or even “magazine.” Or maybe you could pretend the folders are airport terminals and call them “arrivals” and (if you have a similar one for outgoing items) “departures.”

        I manage a little reporting system where we have spaces called (approximately) “Applicant Area” (for incoming stuff, because we process permit applications), “Reviewer Area” (for our internal working files), “Record Area” (for the final stuff), and “Resource Library” (for reference materials). Please be more creative than this! :)

        Reply
        1. BadChildhoodMemory

          Even without an airport (or bus/train depot) metaphor, “Arrivals” is actually a really good name, I think. Or “New Arrivals.”

          If people would like a cheekier name, I like “The Trap.” “Does anyone have that receipt we were waiting for?” “Not yet, but I’ll see what’s in The Trap.”

          Reply
    6. Mephyle

      I like Repository. It’s a good description. Also, I didn’t think of ‘suppository’ until others mentioned it, but why would this be a problem? It could be a joke that keeps on giving for years and years.

      Reply
    7. Toph

      I don’t have an alternate suggestion, and your certainly welcome to your word-preferences, but just wanted to throw out there that it is very common to call a shared drive/folder/place-for-files that are intended as a sort of “everyone start here” as the repository. If the folder you’re discussing here is more like an “incoming to be filed elsewhere once done with” then I agree with you, respository isn’t right, not because of anything inherently wrong with the term but because it carries other connotations.

      Reply
    8. Boötes

      Staging Folder, Marshalling Folder, Hot Potatoes, The Well, Purgatory, The Last Place You Look (as in, “where’s the thing?” “It should be in the last place you look”), or, more optimistically, The First Place You Look.

      Reply
    9. Boötes

      Siberia, The Moon, My Car, The Queen’s Purse, The Mind of Elon Musk (or whoever), Disarray, Hibernation, Torpor.

      Or something that goes well with the prefix in-, eg Conceivable, Advisable.

      I doubt any of those are helpful. Just daydreaming :) — and besides, I rather like Repository for reasons listed by others above.

      Reply
  25. LL

    Does anyone have any recommendations (or links to articles here!) about handling my notice period the best I can? I just let my boss know that I will be returning to school in the fall, which gives us seven weeks. It’s possible I’ll stay working part-time after this period, but that would look very different, so early September is really the end of my work as it is now.

    I’m lucky that I have a manager who wasn’t upset about the news and has already talked to me about some priorities. He even has realistic expectations about what projects can be finished! Still, I’ve been in this company, at this role, for almost five years, and any tips are helpful … from documenting things to telling co-workers and keeping goodbyes from being too awkward.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous Educator

      It doesn’t have to be awkward if you don’t make it awkward. I’ve given notice months in advance before (one time it was seven months in advance). As long as you keep doing a good job and don’t slack off, and you document as much as you can, it should be fine.

      In terms of telling co-workers, I think that’s something you should figure out together with your manager. When I’ve worked at schools, we tend to keep it fairly quiet until closer to the end so as not to make it too disruptive to the students I was working with. Sounds as if you’re at more of an adults-only company, though, so I would probably just tell everyone right away.

      Reply
    2. Bigglesworth

      I wrapped up my six weeks notice in June due to the fact that I was moving across country to attend law school. One of the things I did was completely update my training binder with all of the current and upcoming processes that my desk would have to handle. I separated it out with tabs and each section had the steps written out in such a way to make the process easy to understand. I did have one of my supervisors looks through before I left in case she had any questions or needed any clarification.

      My department had a farewell party for me and that’s where I said goodbye to most of the people in my department. I’ve made a few close friends, though, and I said goodbye to them individually during my last week.

      Other than that, work just as hard as you normally would and don’t slack off. Keep an open line of communication going with your boss so that they’re updated with your priorities and projects.

      Good luck in school!

      Reply
      1. LDP

        I was coming here to suggest writing down all the steps to anything you’re responsible for! Since I’m interviewing, I’ve been in the process of doing that at my current job. I try to take screenshots when possible and explain everything to the point where even someone who had no experience with any of the programs I’m talking about could figure it out.

        I’ve also gotten the advice from my uncle that you should work at least as hard as you normally would, and make sure you leave everything in as good of a position as possible. (Apparently he’s had some employees who put in their notice and basically stopped working, and let things pile up that should have been taken care of long before they left.)

        Congrats on going back to school!

        Reply
  26. KR

    Really worried I won’t get something done and my manager will hate me and fire me. Partially anxiety and partially justified.

    Reply
    1. KR

      Also my work credit card got compromised and I’m pretty much at my credit limit. I have legitimate work expenses to pay for so it’s a waiting game until they resolve my claim.

      Reply
    2. On Fire

      Virtual internet hugs if you want them. If this is a pattern problem, it might help to develop a time budget (if time is the reason you might not get it done). Having a plan/time budget will both help keep you on track, and may help with your anxiety *because you have a plan.*

      If it’s a one-time flub, it’s less likely that you’ll be fired if your manager is reasonable. Either way, if you’re able to say, “I wasn’t able to finish because of XYZ, but here’s my plan (to correct, to make sure it doesn’t happen again, whatever)” that should go a long way toward fixing this.

      Reply
      1. KR

        I agree about the plan. I’ve just been doing what I can to make it happen. Part of it is that we need x service done before VIP visits in early September, but everyone in the area is booked and cannot do x service for us. Everyone in the close major city that does x service says they don’t travel to us to do the job (required). I just found a service provider that is willing to help us but because everyone else is busy he’s pretty much my only hope to get this done on time which leaves me at his mercy if he isn’t timely or overcharged or doesn’t pass our health and safety standards or doesn’t do a good job, ect.

        Reply
      2. KR

        Thank you for your comment too. It’s helping me feel better. My husband doesn’t really understand my work so he’s been no help what so ever.

        Reply
    3. EnviroEducator

      Be open with your boss! Explain what’s going on! Life is unpredictable and if you can realize early on that something isn’t going to happen on time, it’s much better to be up front about that immediately and work together to plan a realistic new timeline. You got this!

      Reply
      1. KR

        Thank you so much. You’re right that I just need to let him know. You’ve all helped me feel so much better.

        Reply
  27. Lumen

    I need to know if I should bring this to my supervisor (Jane) or not:

    When I came in this morning my laptop had been removed from its dock and placed in a different corner of my cubicle. I have a feeling this is someone trying to make a ‘point’ to me about leaving it on the dock when I am not in the office.

    When I first started I asked our group manager (Sally, Jane’s superior) about what I should do with my computer in the evening, and she said logging off should be fine, but didn’t say that it needed to be taken with me or locked up every night. I also have seen other people leaving their laptops docked while not in the office.

    A while ago (I’m not sure when, but several months) my coworker Alice expressed concern about this and told me that I had to lock it up or take it with me every day, and I didn’t think it was worth pushing back on at the time. However, since then I have started leaving it docked again, because it cuts off the time that I am sitting at my desk waiting for it to boot up every morning. Since I’m hourly, that’s also time that I’m at work but can’t get paid for work because I can’t clock in.

    So that’s why I think one of my coworkers came into my cube and moved my laptop, which is really frustrating. I don’t mess with my coworker’s desks and I don’t want them messing with mine. No one has talked to me about it or taken responsibility, but I’m thinking I should reach out to my supervisor and a) ask her to clarify the policy and b) maybe bring it up to the team to leave each other’s desks alone.

    What do you guys think?

    Reply
    1. Allison

      I think it’s good to clarify the policy, but it’s really crappy that someone messed with your stuff. If it was really a problem, either your boss or someone from IT should say something. Your coworker should mind her own business.

      It also could have been that someone used your cubicle when you were out, and moved your laptop so they could dock theirs. Which is also not cool, but does happen.

      Reply
      1. Lumen

        Thanks Allison. In this case I don’t think someone was using my desk. We have several nearby with docks and monitors. Also, the battery was not drained and it had not gone to sleep, so I’m fairly sure it was moved this morning.

        Sadly, the coworkers I think are responsible for this are more than a little on the passive-aggressive side. Which is why I’m not going to go around the office asking about it (which is the reward they’re looking for). Either they will eventually out themselves because they need to know if it upset me/if I “learned my lesson” or they’ll just do it again/escalate. That’s why I don’t want to ignore it, either.

        I totally agree: if this was an issue my boss or IT should have said something. It wasn’t my coworker’s business to begin with, and it’s seriously not okay to go moving stuff around on my desk.

        Reply
      1. Caro in the UK

        Yep. I was going to say to let it go, until you mentioned the clocking in.

        I’d reach out to your supervisor, mainly to clarify the policy, but you can also mention in passing that your laptop was moved and ask how you should handle that if it happens again. (Providing supervisor confirms that leaving it docked is fine.)

        Reply
        1. motherofdragons

          This is exactly what I was going to suggest. Clarify the policy with your supervisor, and if you confirm that it’s OK to leave your laptop on the dock, you can mention it was moved. That will also give you ammo if coworkers like Alice get on your case again in the future: “Actually, Boss said it’s totally fine to leave it docked, so that’s what I’m going to do!”

          I really hate people moving/using my things without asking me, so this would frustrate me so much.

          Reply
          1. Lumen

            Yeah, I’m… struggling a bit this morning. I’m even more territorial and protective of my space than most, so this has me so angry when I think about it I’m shaking a little. Not going to let this ruin my day, but I’m… yeah. I’m livid.

            Reply
            1. kittymommy

              I sympathize. This is a huge pet peeve of mine and I used to have a co worker who would rearrange my entire desk when I went on vacation because she thought it was better that way.
              I would speak with your boss, first to clarify policy and then to see what can be done about someone moving your computer, especially since it’s affecting your ability to start the day on time.

              Reply
              1. Not So NewReader

                Agreed. This is especially important because you are angry. It’s fine to have emotions, it’s what we do with the emotions that matters. Take that excess energy and build yourself a plan, OP.

                Reply
                1. Lumen

                  Thank you guys for your validating comments. It really does help to know that my anger about this is justified.

    2. Drew

      You could certainly ask her if someone was working at your desk because things were moved around and your computer was undocked. Any decent manager would take a dim view of an employee randomly disordering someone else’s work space, so if this wasn’t authorized, hopefully she would handle it from there.

      Reply
      1. Lumen

        Sadly, no. I’ll keep ‘laptop dock lock’ in the back of my mind if this doesn’t get handled though. I just wrote an email to my supervisor explaining the background, what happened, and asking her to clarify the policy for me. I mentioned briefly that I don’t think moving things around on my desk was the right way for this to be addressed by anyone, but that I want to know if I’m doing something wrong.

        And if I’m not, then I’m going to ask her how I should handle it if this happens again. I really like working for Jane, but she sometimes doesn’t push back enough on her own staff when they act out, and I need to know that she’s going to take care of this if it escalates.

        :(

        Reply
    3. Lumen

      Quick update: my boss just used our office IM to tell me she is following up with a few people to find out if there is an actual policy and what it is, and will let me know. She also said “I don’t like that at all… no one should be touching your stuff”.

      Reply
      1. knitcrazybooknut

        I’m glad you’re getting support from your boss! A student employee readjusted my chair all to hell once, and it took me 20 minutes to get it back in line. ARGH. I know how you feel, and I hate passive agressive behavior. Say it or leave it alone forever.

        Great job coping. Good luck!

        Reply
    4. Anonymous Educator

      I don’t think it’s crappy for someone to move it if it’s genuinely a security issue, but to not say anything afterwards about it, that’s weird. I work in IT at a school, and if I see an unsecured laptop, you bet I will move it to a more secure location… but then I will email the person who owns the laptop to let her know that I’ve moved it and why.

      However, since then I have started leaving it docked again, because it cuts off the time that I am sitting at my desk waiting for it to boot up every morning.

      Is it possible to just put the laptop to sleep instead of shutting it down completely? Even older laptops will wake up fairly quickly (either instantly or within a few seconds), as opposed to a cold boot-up that can take several minutes, depending on the machine.

      Reply
      1. Lumen

        Well, if they had moved it somewhere secure because they saw it out and thought it was a risk, that would make a little more sense. But this was going from 1 corner of the cube, where it was covered, to another corner of the cube 2 feet away, uncovered. And you’re right: if someone had done this for this reason, I would have had an email or note about it. This is why I’m fairly certain someone got a bee in their bonnet and wanted to ‘make a point’.

        I think the issue this coworker takes is that it is not locked in a drawer. And if I just put it to sleep and lock it up every night, then it will be sitting there losing battery power every night.

        Reply
        1. Anonymous Educator

          Yeah, moving it without securing it is definitely weird. And not letting you know afterwards is extra weird.

          I know this doesn’t really help your situation, but your laptops need updating. Modern laptops boot up quickly (within seconds) and also do not lose their charge when put to sleep overnight.

          Can you ask IT about possibly creating ways for you to keep your laptop charged while laso being in a secure space?

          Reply
          1. Lumen

            If it turns out that I need to lock up every night, I will definitely grab someone from IT and ask if there’s a way to do this during the week that doesn’t involve a complete shut-down every day, because I hate losing that time every single morning. Thank you for noting that!

            Reply
    5. LKW

      I haven’t been in any office where people are allowed to leave their laptops out overnight unless locked in the docking station. That yours was de-docked and left means you’re not locking it up. I know it’s not your office’s policy, and it’s totally not cool to mess with your stuff, but I am curious what penalty would be handed out if someone came through the office and took your laptop?

      Reply
      1. Lumen

        I may be missing something about the ‘lock’. There is a lock on the side of the dock, but it’s just a slide-bar. It’s not keyed or protected in any way.

        For further context: we have the whole floor. To get into the office you need a magnetic security badge. The laptops also all have security tracking devices installed. But if there is a penalty for leaving it out and it being stolen, I don’t know what it is.

        Honestly, I’m open to learning that there is a different policy than what I was initially told and changing my habits accordingly. I am not okay with my coworkers messing with my stuff to passive-aggressively teach me a lesson.

        Reply
        1. It's Business Time

          Just go on amazon and go docking station locks – it is a cable lock that loops around and secures your laptop. I worked at a place that had the IT group supply these, as everyone knew it was too big a pain to lock away the laptops, and this way, no one had to think about it, it was always locked, unless you needed to go somewhere with the laptop

          Reply
      2. CD Rep by Day, Writer by Night

        It’s not a problem where I work. We have a department of 40 and is say 90% of us leave our laptops docked overnight. We don’t have any kind of locking mechanism, and we’re encouraged not to take our laptops home because we’re not supposed to work from home without prior approval.

        Reply
    6. Lucy

      Not cool! I used to confiscate unlocked laptops as I was generally one of the last people to leave in the evening, but that’s because we had a clear policy that everyone had to acknowledge and sign when they were onboarded. We were working on a US gov’t contract and all of the equipment was technically US gov’t property and we had to provide an annual inventory report to the gov’t. We provided laptop locks and desks with properly drilled holes. But people were always moving around the office space in order to collaborate (which I fully supported) and found it inconvenient. So I said lock them in your desk drawer at night. But that was still too much for them to handle. So I would take them in the evening and lock them in my desk drawer!

      Reply
    7. Saviour Self

      I know this isn’t what you asked, but you should be getting paid for the time it takes your computer to boot up. It is considered a “compensable pre-shift activity” so your employer would need to allow for you to adjust your time clock to account for that time.

      Reply
    8. KellyK

      I like the idea of asking your supervisor about it. It’s a huge overstep to mess with someone else’s work computer, especially when that messing around affects their ability to clock in and start work.

      Reply
    9. periwinkle

      Cable lock. It is, as the name implies, a steel cable designed specifically to secure laptops. On one end is a lock (key or combination), and the other end is a loop. Loop the cable around something secure, pop the lock bit into the slot on your laptop, lock it, and you’re good. At my org we’ll use laptops during meetings without bringing the lock but otherwise it’s standard practice to always have our laptops secured. It doesn’t matter that our building is secure and the laptops are heavily secured – we use our locks even when the laptop is docked at our desk.

      I use the company’s keyed cable lock at my docking station but bought a Kensington combination lock version ($20 at Amazon) to use when I’m elsewhere. Definitely recommend the combination version, that’s one less key to be paranoid about losing…

      Reply
      1. The New Wanderer

        This is what we had at work. We were actually required to have our laptops locked with the cable lock while docked during work hours, and then locked in a drawer or taken home every night. Security would confiscate any laptops left unsecured, regardless of time of day (signs were posted to this effect).

        A cable lock should prevent any PA “point-makers” from removing your laptop as well as satisfy potential security requirements.

        And I’d be extremely put out by someone undocking my laptop from its power source to “make a point.”

        Reply
    10. Lumen

      Final and Happy Update!

      My boss spoke to the senior director of information security (we have one of those) and, without naming any names, explained the situation and expressed to him as well that she didn’t love that someone else was messing with my computer.

      His response was: there is no set policy on where to store a computer when it is in the office. He suggested (as many readers did!) a laptop cradle lock, and I’ve reached out to IT to request that one be installed.

      The best part? This senior director also said that he does not like that someone was tampering with another person’s computer, either.

      So I’m going to get a laptop cradle lock and continue to work as befits my convenience and on-the-clock time. And if someone brings this up to me directly, I now have the knowledge to explain the real policy to them. And if someone tries to tamper with my equipment again, they won’t be able to without risking damaging company property.

      High fives all around! Thank you all for being so supportive and making so many helpful comments.

      Reply
  28. stanleycupcakes

    I have a second interview in about an hour and a half, any tips/words of advice/encouragement?
    First phone interview went really well, I worked with this nonprofit before on a huge, huge event at my last job, and I know a handful of people there as a result. So I’m pretty confident, but still… a little pre-interview jitters.

    Reply
    1. Amber Rose

      Breath. In through the nose, out through the mouth.

      Keep doing that, and remember that you’re awesome, and you’ll be just fine. :)

      Reply
    2. Lumen

      Try the Wonder Woman pose for a few minutes right before you head into the interview. There’s science behind it, but apparently standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, fists on hips, back straight/shoulders back, looking valiantly into the distance… it helps. I’ve done it before asking for a raise. Google it!

      And best of luck!!

      Reply
      1. NotThatGardner

        I used to think that this was total bull until my mom pushed me to try before an interview and it weirdly works! I find it helps to do in front of a mirror and look at myself doing it too!

        good luck! let us know :)

        Reply
  29. Casper Lives

    Thoughts on leaving soon after starting a job when you’re underpaid? I love my job, but I’m underpaid. I’m a lower-paid public defender without benefits (firm contract with the county; county too poor to hire enough public defenders). There’s been a ton of turnover at my job, where people get experience & leave for a better job in less than a year.

    My issue is that I want to be a public defender proper for the pay, benefits, and more complicated cases. I’m trying to decide whether to start applying despite only being here 2 months. I do have significantly more experience than when I started (trials & all), it usually takes a long time to get a PD job in the locations I want, and lots of people have left. I told them my goal is to be a PD in the interview. Still I feel a little guilty…

    Reply
    1. Here we go again

      You have to do what is right for you. Don’t feel guilty.

      BTW, I just found out how little public defenders make a few days ago and it made me so sad. It’s such a needed position and it’s horrible that the salary is so low.

      Reply
    2. neverjaunty

      Why feel guilty? Full-time ‘proper’ PD jobs have enormous turnover because of the low pay and burnout.

      Reply
  30. the.kat

    Just a small vent:

    We are nine days away from our 500-person, ticketed 35th-anniversary event at work. The local newspaper came out to do a feature on us, talked to the founder and then advertised the event starting a half-hour earlier than its supposed to start and open to the public. I’ve done some damage control but this is not what I had on my plate for today!

    Reply
    1. Simone R

      Oh no! When I used to sell tickets it was so common that organizers would tell us one thing and advertise the event differently so we would get people showing up thinking they could have things they couldn’t. I know your pain!

      Reply
    2. DC

      As an events person, I totally understand your frustrations today! I’m sorry this happened, and hope everything works out. Fingers crossed they’ll print a retraction for you!

      Reply
    3. This Daydreamer

      Wow, that sounds like a *great* way to start the weekend! I’ve got my fingers crossed that things go well for you.

      Reply
  31. Librarian of the North

    A few weeks ago I asked if people would leave a permanent position that had cut your pay by 30% and demoted your title (but not your job duties) after using you for your contacts, for a position that was a 6 month contract possibly leading permanent. The new company liked my Husband so much they offered him a different position than he had originally applied for with a one year contract possibly (everyone has said probably) leading permanent. Same pay as his original position, benefits that are much much better. It got stressful when the new company wanted a reference from a current manager :/ but he was able to navigate through that and starts in a few weeks!

    Reply
  32. ThatGirl

    I start a new job on Monday! I’m excited. I actually ended up with two offers within two business days, which was sort of astonishing but really just a quirk of timing. Job A I was actually a near-perfect fit for in terms of my experience and the company was a customer of my old company – but it was a big company still being run like a small one (the CEO interviewed me both on the phone and in person and gave me the offer), the pay was good but not great, and when I asked for specifics on benefits I got a one-paragraph letter that basically said “we have health insurance”.

    Job B was for a bigger, well-run nationally known company that I was really interested in working for; the job itself wasn’t a perfect fit but sounds really interesting. The offer was strong and included a sign-on bonus, extra vacation, summer hours and full info about the benefits. Plus the office itself is closer to home. So I took that one. :)

    (If I’m repeating myself from previous weeks forgive me; I wanted to flesh it out a little and I’m just so excited!)

    Reply
    1. Snark

      I feel like there’s a lot of employers who, like, haven’t gotten the memo that “good but not great” pay and “we have health insurance” isn’t how you act in an employment market with generally very low unemployment rates. This is not 2009! When unemployment is around 4.4% nationally – and between 2 and 3.5% in most hot employment markets – you actually have to make a competitive offer and get generous with the benefits and salary, not wait for the desperate to take whatever cheapjack offer you toss at them.

      Reply
      1. ThatGirl

        I mean, I would have pressed more and potentially negotiated if I didn’t have the other offer, but as it was it was just not impressive and like I said, it seemed like a big company that was still being run like a small, very informal one.

        Reply
  33. Allison

    My manager resigned earlier this week, gave his two-week notice but may not be around for all of next week. I’m really bummed, he was the one who hired me, he was a big part of why I liked this job, and while they’re keeping me around, I have no idea what’s ahead. I don’t know who I’m reporting to next, but if if their management style isn’t a fit for my work style, I could be in for a rough few months. The first time I was assigned to a new manager was in my first job, and I was so miserable I ended up getting fired for an attitude problem. Second time was in my third job, but it all worked out and I stayed for a while after.

    I’ve only been here since February and it seems like it would be bad form to leave now, and I was really hoping I’d be here long-term, get that raise next year, that vested 401k match and vacation bump and whatnot, but at this point if someone contacts me about a decent-sounding opportunity, I may chat with them and see what they have to offer.

    Reply
    1. Rusty Shackelford

      But if you’re leaving because you’re going to have a new manager… aren’t you going to end up with a new manager either way?

      Reply
    2. ThatGirl

      I feel like you should give the new person a chance. Is there truly nothing else you like about the job? You’re bound to have managers you don’t 100% click with down the road; learning to work with them is really valuable.

      Reply
      1. Allison

        All I said was that I’m open to talking to recruiters, not that I’m planning to pack up and leave tomorrow. The pay and location here are great, but I also know the benefits aren’t awesome and the team has had a lot of turnover recently. In the past 6 months I’ve seen quite a few people leave, the would-be coworker who interviewed me before the hiring manager did left before I even started. I’ll give the new manager a chance, I’m sorry if it sounded like I already hated them or something, but if a really great opportunity comes along that really interests me, I might take it. Might. Not definitely. Might.

        Reply
        1. ThatGirl

          It’s always fair to take a new great opportunity if one presents itself, of course. And I understand being bummed about losing a great manager. But I do feel like, all else aside, it’s worth sticking with this job for awhile and being patient.

          Reply
    3. Tuckerman

      Something I’ve learned: Managers can be equally awesome and totally different. I was really bummed out that my old manager (of 6 years) was leaving, but I’m actually quite happy with my new one. It’s a slightly different dynamic, but the change allowed me to recognize certain strengths I have that I didn’t use before.

      Reply
    4. Not So NewReader

      Have you talked to your exiting boss? You can wish him the best in his new activities and work into asking his opinion on where he thinks you end up. He might have some clues. If you want you could ask him if he has any advice that he feels free to share.

      Reply
  34. Emi.

    New-to-me business lingo: “inreach” (um, okay) and “fractionated” (this seems unnecessary). Anyone else?

    Reply
    1. Sled Dog Mama

      never heard inreach but I use fractionated nearly everyday in my world it refers to the combination of how often a patient is scheduled for a treatment and the dose they receive per treatment (fraction) (As in “Dr what fractionation scheme do you what for patient X”)

      What does it mean in your industry?

      Reply
      1. Emi.

        Oh, interesting! I heard it as “fractionated support,” where one person is supporting multiple projects so each project only gets a fraction of their time.

        Reply
        1. Natalie

          I feel like “fractional support” would cover that just fine, while also being already a phrase and 1 whole syllable shorter.

          Reply
    2. Snark

      Inreach is not a word. Fractionated is a scientific term that would be appropriate in some technical fields, but I suspect it’s being tortured in this case.

      Reply
    3. Teapot Librarian

      Line of sight. As in, “I want to give you line of sight to the process for X.” (Was in the text of an email written by someone else to be sent over my name. I edited it out.)

      Reply
      1. Sled Dog Mama

        Is English the first language for that person? That sounds almost like one of those odd phrases that some ESL speakers (even those who are otherwise very fluent) use. It makes sense in their native tongue but looses something in translation.
        And I had that reaction too

        Reply
  35. DeutschAnon

    So, I got a great-paying job using my German skills for work. Problem? The open office uses long tables for desks…and I am SO cramped because I have to share with a certain lady who could easily be on “My 600 pound life.” She is so heavy she literally can’t walk, and pushes her wheeled desk chair the few feet to her powered wheelchair when she needs to get up. Being short, she’s roughly a sphere, and takes up about 3/4 of the workspace with her body and stuff…I barely have room for my coffee and two pieces of paper side by side! She can’t bend down, so all snacks/lotion/tissues etc must be crammed onto the shared space. This morning she came in after me; I had coffee, a notebook open, and one piece of paperwork next to it. She made me move stuff to make room, leaving me only about two feet or less of workspace.

    She also needs to use a lot of fans because her weight makes her hot; but I’m next to her and freezing, plus the fans take up precious desk space! And after lunch or errands, she’s sweaty; I don’t know how well she can physically clean, but either way, come afternoon, it smells like something died next to me.

    It’s a full workspace and management wants to keep me next to the rest of the foreign language team- but I can’t stand the smell or working with my shoulders almost on my ears! It’s only my second day and so I don’t know what to do. It’s so uncomfortable, but for $50+ an hour, I can put up with a lot.

    Sorry for the rant. I’m no little fairy myself, so I don’t hate large people, but this is untenable.

    Reply
    1. Emi.

      That sounds pretty untenable. How did she “make” you move your things? Did you try saying “Actually, I need this space to work; can you put your things somewhere else?”
      This is definitely something you can go to your manager about—ideally, maybe the two of you could go to the them together and say “This table just ain’t big enough for the both of us” so it doesn’t just sound like you complaining about her. I also recommend phrasing it as “This table situation is untenable,” not “This tablemate is untenable.”

      Reply
        1. Emi.

          Right! I just meant you should be extra careful that that’s clear to her and your manager. It would probably help if you start by claiming/keeping space more assertively. You do need the space too, and it’s more obvious that it’s a “the table is too small for us” problem if you’re *both* crowded.

          Reply
      1. Drew

        I would also suggest talking to coworker first, if only so you can then say you tried to resolve the situation directly. “I don’t know if you realize this, but your things have been encroaching into my work space. Since I obviously need that space to be able to do my job, how would you like me to address this if it happens again?” Assume friendly cooperation until proven otherwise.

        I’m wondering how new this work arrangement is. If they just recently moved everyone to the long tables, she may be resenting losing a larger space and it doesn’t have anything specifically to do with you.

        Reply
        1. Snark

          Hm. I disagree somewhat – I think this should be handled when the ask to move comes. “Sorry, no, I really need at least this much space to work, and I’ve been feeling really crowded lately, so I’ll be leaving my things where they are.” And I don’t think DeutchAnon necessarily needs to be the one coming up with a solution, either – this is the coworker’s need and the coworker’s issue to resolve without unreasonably encroaching.

          Reply
          1. Emi.

            I agree, except that the need for “enough space” is both of theirs (and really, the manager’s issue to resolve).

            Reply
            1. Snark

              Yes, but the need for *extra* space is the coworker’s issue, and so she should – ideally – be the one going to the manager for assistance resolving it in a way that doesn’t impose.

              Reply
              1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

                I really disagree. This isn’t a coworker problem; it’s a space problem.

                Two coworkers do not need *equal* space (and so the idea of “extra” space isn’t relevant); they each need *enough* space. That’s the problem. The coworker’s size is irrelevant. What they both need to work effectively is what matters.

                Reply
                1. Snark

                  And DeutschAnon *has* enough space until the coworker imposes on her to take some, so I maintain my point. And I think equal space is a reasonable expectation.

                  The coworker’s size is relevant in that it is the reason she can’t store some things elsewhere or on the floor.

                2. Emi.

                  Well, I think the default assumption with a shared table is that each person gets half of it, so the person who needs more that half of it should ideally kick off the process of getting a different setup, instead of just trying to take someone else’s space (!!). But I think they should approach their manager together.

          2. Drew

            I completely agree that handling it in the moment would be better. And it sounds like there won’t be a long wait for another moment to handle it in.

            Reply
    2. CityMouse

      I feel you, it sounds like they really aren’t providing an adequate workspace for either of you. I would focus solely on the amount of workspace issue when raising it with your boss just because, though I believe your complaints on body odor and temperature are legitimate, someone might view it as.you just hating coworker.

      Reply
    3. Snark

      I think it’s pretty ludicrous that you’re expected to move your work into a space the size of an airplane snack tray to accomodate her. If she needs additional storage space, I think she needs to make arrangements for some shelves or an additional table, not chivvy your items to the side.

      Reply
    4. LisaLee

      This sounds like a really difficult situation for both of you. I’m sure you’re coworker is really self-conscious about these issues too.

      Can you go to your manager and present it as just an issue of work habits? Something like “Both Patricia and I need a number of things on the desktop to do our work, and there’s not enough space for us to both do our jobs comfortably. Is there another workspace I could move to?” It also sounds like you do some kind of language or translation work, so you could point out you need a quiet space to concentrate on that, and it’s difficult to do so at a table with others.

      Reply
    5. Rusty Shackelford

      You need to make this about the space, not the person. As soon as you mention her weight, or anything you’re blaming on it, you sound like “I don’t want to work next to the fat lady” instead of “I have legitimate issues regarding workspace.”

      What I would do is, try to get there before her tomorrow, and take up exactly half the table. When she comes in and tells you to move, politely say “I’m sorry, that didn’t work for me yesterday. I really need half of our shared workspace.” Either she accepts that, she moves your stuff herself, or she goes to management. If #2 or #3 happen, then it’s time to have a calm, rational discussion that DOES NOT INVOKE THE WORDS ‘FAT’ OR ‘SMELLY’ and explain that you need half the space, so how can we work this out?

      Reply
      1. DeutschAnon

        Thanks! It’s just frustrating. Plus, the other foreign teapot workers are making fun of her- in German. They’re four thin Europeans and/or dual citizens. Being as I have to be next to her, I find my jerkbrain wanting to join in, especially as the only management who can understand us is in…Düsseldorf.

        I know Alison advises against using foreign language to gossip, though, so I keep reminding myself. It’s a really bad habit my family has always had and I’m trying to break.

        Reply
        1. Emi.

          Oh gosh, that’s awful. Good for you for resisting the temptation!

          I also think someone in management ought to be clued into their gross behavior, but I don’t know if you can bring it up without it sounding like concern-trolling. “Jane and I need more desk space because neither of us has enough room to work … also, other people think she’s fat and smelly.” That’s just not going to go well, which I think is an argument in favor of you calling them out, although I realize that’s tough when you’re new.

          Reply
        2. Observer

          I do sympathize with you. But DO DO DO resist the temptation to join the mockery. There are SO many ways it can come back to bite you.

          Reply
    6. Emmie

      I think it’s okay to have a frank and confidential conversation with your boss. It’s okay to say that she physically takes up a lot of space, the fans have you freezing, and the smell from sweating. I would ask if I could move. That’s really tough.

      Reply
    7. AlexandrinaVictoria

      How do you know she can’t walk or bend down because she’s fat? How do you know she’s hot because of her weight? You’re making an awful lot of assumptions here. She could be disabled in addition to being fat. As to your problem with space – I would talk to a supervisor, without making judgmental statements about your desk mate. Thin people can spread out their stuff, too.

      Reply
      1. Snark

        Alison has really started requesting that we not aggressively call each other out on inoccuous and justifiable assumptions and minor turns of word choice. Can we not?

        Reply
        1. Hrovitnir

          I do think it is important to note things like “just because a wheelchair user is fat doesn’t mean they’re a wheelchair user because they’re fat”, however.

          Not to attack DeutschAnon, but to bear in mind how easy it is to make harmful assumptions.

          My sympathies, DeutschAnon! I hope something better can be worked out for both of you. :/

          Reply
          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

            Yes.

            I’m overweight; I also spent 3 years needing assistive devices. While the weight probably played a factor in my recovery (you need to exercise! Oh, but not in weight bearing ways. But exercise more. On zero budget. Without putting weight on your feet. AUGH!) it was demonstrably not a factor in the reason I needed the devices in the first place. But HOO BOY did I hear it from everyone and their dog that “oh if you lose weight, you won’t need the cane/wheelchair/scooter anymore!”

            Reply
    8. gladfe

      Do you know whether she had the table to herself before you started? I ask because her asking you to move makes me wonder if she’s simultaneously thinking, “This new guy is encroaching on my work space. I don’t hate the new guy, but this is untenable.” If that’s the case, it might make it easier to ask her about approaching management together.

      Reply
      1. hermit crab

        Oh, that’s a good point. I am a small person but I have a lot of paperwork, and I used to take up more than half of the counterspace when I shared a cube with my work-BFF (she had less paperwork to deal with and I knew she didn’t care, since it was easy for us to talk about everything). Then she transferred to a different office, and it was a bit of a transition to go back to using ≤50% of the space when a new hire was assigned to her desk.

        I agree that approaching management together with a “this space isn’t sufficient for our mutual work needs” argument is the way to go. In my experience, bosses (at least, reasonable and/or conflict averse ones) take this sort of thing very well.

        Also, I’ve found that being friends/friendly with someone who has habits that get your goat can help a LOT. Especially if you can’t move right away, I recommend trying to find some common ground with your table-mate, like maybe you have some shared hobbies, or you both hate a popular TV show or something (never ever underestimate the bonding potential of shared hatred of a popular TV show). I have my own shared-space issues (cf: misphonia post above) and I’ve found that it’s way easier to reach BEC stage with someone when you don’t have any relationship outside of “they do something that annoys me.” In any case, I think the key here is to be on the same side as your coworker so you can get to a mutually acceptable solution.

        Reply
  36. T3k

    So I have another phone interview next week. After reading the glassdoor review though, I’m a little iffy if I could make this place work long term, and I really need my next job to be so as my first two jobs were a year or less (first one not my fault as I was laid off). I’m also concerned that a few reviews mentioned sexual harassment and nothing was done for them and not sure if/how any concerns could be addressed about that during the interview.

    On the upside, I’ve gotten more interviews this past month alone than the past year, so either my cover letter writing has gotten better or they’re just desperate <.<

    Reply
    1. Natasha

      It seems like sexual harassment and lack of oversight into it are symptoms of greater company dysfunction. One famous recent case is Uber, who also had an unhealthy party culture, lawsuit with Google, and competitive environment to boot. In my personal experience, a place I worked at closed down after I left because certain leaders were sexually harassing their reports, embezzling merchandise, and lying about performance to the greater corporation. I didn’t know about any of these issues while I was there, but I knew that I had been asked to work 7am – 6pm M-F and 7-12 S for months with no end in sight because these same leaders were unwilling to hire additional people. Also, the pay was low and the work stressful. For anyone, even people who don’t have the workplace disadvantage of being female, I advise treating sexual harassment rumours as a red flag.

      Reply
  37. Spidersinmyattic

    I left my last job about nine months ago – it was the most insane, unprofessional work environment I’ve ever encountered (the kind of stuff you might read on here and think…surely that can’t be real?!) and I am SO glad to be out of it. It felt like a mom and pop company but it wasn’t – it was just small and very dysfunctional. I haven’t worked since for other reasons and every job I apply to *insists* that one of your references *must* be your current or most recent employer. I wouldn’t ask these people the time let alone for a reference – I don’t trust them to be truthful and I am near sure they would either decline to give one if contacted or give a purposefully evasive and vague one to make it look, indirectly, like I’m the kinda person you don’t want to hire.

    Naturally I’m awesome and left this job because it was crazy – I wasn’t fired, didn’t steal anything or assault anyone and during my time there had no marks against me. But I know these people and what they’re capable of. So what can I do? If job applications insist on using my most recent employer and I tell them not to it looks sketchy and like I have something to hide – but I know if I use them it would be a mistake. There are no ex-colleagues there I could use either. Help!

    Reply
    1. Lumen

      I would give them your most recent appropriate reference. They probably won’t ask why, and if they do, you can explain. I’m sorry I don’t have a script to suggest for that.

      I think that some of their ‘insistence’ might be the ‘wish list’ variety. But if they really aren’t going to hire you because your last workplace was toxic, then maybe THEY are a toxic employer.

      Reply
  38. Evil Balloons

    GAH. Who is advising job applicants to arrive 20+ minutes early? WHO?

    (I’m interviewing for entry-level positions all week and this has been making me NUTS.)

    Reply
    1. Snark

      This happened to me just last week – not a new hire for my team, but I’m on the search committee. Guy arrived 30 minutes early and just sat there awkwardly.

      Reply
    2. Drew

      In my case, it was my mother. “You can never be too early!” For airports, this may be true. For job interviews and parties, not so much.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous Educator

        Well, I would still recommend getting the to the general area early but just not actually walking in the door that early. Usually what I’ll do is take the bus or drive to the general area and try to arrive 3o to 45 minutes earlier. But then I’ll just hang out under a tree or at a coffee shop or some other place until about 5-10 minutes before I’m supposed to arrive—then I’ll show up.

        Reply
      2. katamia

        Ugh, my dad is like that, too. Yes, dad, you can be too early for most things. You definitely can. I’m usually no more than 5-10 minutes early, though, which is about all the earliness I can tolerate after growing up with my early bird dad. His standards of time did NOT rub off on me.

        Reply
    3. k.k

      It’s the college job centers, often the parents, and lots of terrible articles. I remember hearing a lot of “If you’re on time you’re late!”, and heard to arrive no less than 15 minutes early.

      Not that you’re obligated to, but it would be a great kindness if you could gently let them know this is not normal or expected, especially for entry level positions where they are likely new to the workforce. Like if they’re invited in for a second interview, a quick “Oh and no need to arrive so early next time”.

      Reply
      1. Evil Balloons

        I did think about that in the moment, but couldn’t come up with the right way to say it that didn’t sound like “you’re in trouble!” That’s a good point, re: the 2nd interview.

        Reply
        1. Paige Turner

          Since you’re interviewing entry-level candidates who may not have a lot of experience and have possibly been getting bad advice, it might be worthwhile to give them this info when you schedule the interview. Something like, “We have limited space in our reception area, so if you arrive more than 15 minutes early, we suggest waiting in the main lobby/the Starbucks next door/etc.” That said, if it’s not really a problem, just weird, and there isn’t a good place for people to wait if they take public transportation, then it might be easier to do nothing. I meet people in my office a lot for appointments, and whenever someone messages me really early to say that they’ve arrived, I just say, “Thanks- I’m wrapping something up right now but I’ll meet you there soon.”

          Reply
    4. JLK in the ATX

      Interstingly this could backfire on the candidate. While we applaud them showing up early, too early
      1) makes everyone feel uncomfortable
      2) wonders about overall time management (do they block/tackle everything with a 20-min buffer?)
      3) does their worry about being late indicate overcompensation in other areas, too?

      Or they just could be very anxious :)

      If I arrive early, I sit in my car until 10-min. Then I get out nice and easy, put on my jack, look at myself in the car window and stroll in at 5-before. I caveat – in the military we’re taught, “5-minutes early is 10-minutes too late”

      Reply
    5. HisGirlFriday

      The same people who are advising job applicants to:

      * Call for more information
      * Call to follow-up
      * Call to express interest
      * Send LinkedIn and Facebook friend requests to other people at the company
      * Start leaving comments on the company’s FB page about how ‘I would love to work there!’

      (All things that have happened this week. All things for a part-time, 22 hr/week, entry-level job.)

      Reply
      1. Evil Balloons

        Oh my gosh, does that Linkedin and Facebook thing happen?! (I’ve had everything else on the list though …)

        The thing is, there’s nothing wrong with being super-early. But walk around the block. Chill out in Starbucks. Anything!

        Reply
        1. HisGirlFriday

          It’s happened to me twice this week. I have a work-only FB page, where I post pictures of Teapot Events and remind people of upcoming Teapot Activities and share interesting news articles about Teapot News and…y’all, if you don’t gild chocolate teapots, it’s as boring as beige paint drying.

          Reply
    6. Anonymous Educator

      Side note: this isn’t annoying only for job interviews. I’ve held various events and had people show up an hour early, and I have to tell them we’re still finishing setup, and they should come back at the actual start time.

      Reply
    7. Objects don't argue back

      OH MY GOD YES. The place I’m temping held interviews last week for the position I’m doing in the interim (very very entry-level), and the first interviewee almost beat the interviewer in!

      Not helped by the fact that we don’t really have a waiting area, so they’re kind of crammed into a corner until they can get into the conference room. I just…why???

      Reply
    8. Girasol

      I’ll cop to that. I’ve been delayed by bad weather, accidents, car problems, and poor directions, so I start for the appointment early. If everything goes well, I just ask front desk to allow me to wait in the lobby until the correct time and not alert the person I’m meeting with until then.

      Reply
  39. JLK in the ATX

    How much, if any, do employee and candidate reviews of a company influence your decision to apply?

    A recruiter notified me of a job (and there are very few recruiters for mid-level position in my industry) so I researched further. The Glassdoor reviews are 29% positive while Indeed reviews report a 4.1/5-stars. I found the person to whom the position would work for and she posted about the job, on LinkedIn, adding some personal perspective to it (helpful).

    I don’t know anyone in the organization (not that that has sseemed to matter as of late, recently being turned down for a position despite having 2 advocates in the organization – they opted to hire a volunteer instead) to reference directly and I don’t have solid 2nd LinkedIn connections.

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Spidersinmyattic

      Not a whole lot unless there’s a common theme running through them. I would usually disregard the ones claiming it’s heaven/hell on wheels to work at and read through the middle of the road ones. If I really liked the position I’d apply irrespective of any reviews and then worry about it once I’d met the interview panel and had a look around.

      Reply
    2. T3k

      I’d say it depends on how many on glassdoor (having a handful of reviews vs. having 20+ means the latter has more weight, likely to be unbiased). I also read through the reviews to find if there’s any common problems. For instance, I’m lined up for an interview with one company and its reviews are making me second guess it because many for the local branch are complaining about the sub-par pay and benefits and unrealistic expectations in the sales dept. But since the job I’m applying for isn’t in sales, it might not be as bad, but it’s definitely given me some questions to ask during the interview.

      Reply
      1. JLK in the ATX

        @T3K good point on generating interview questions from the comments. Thank you.
        @Spidersinmyattic – good angle – go for the median and look for trends. Thanks

        Reply
    3. Librarian of the North

      My Husband’s old company has absolutely horrendous glassdoor reviews and we really wish he had read them. I think it depends on what the reviews say specifically. Usually with online reviews you assume that many people only write reviews when angry so I take them with a grain of salt. If the reviews all point to similar problems I would really think hard about the move.

      Reply
      1. Bostonian

        I agree about looking for patterns.

        Also make note of the date of the reviews: There may be 30 reviews, but if they’re all from 2015 or earlier, they’re probably not relevant.

        Reply
        1. Not So NewReader

          Adding: Read the review, does it make sense, could things be happening the way it’s explained there given what you know about the company. One thing I consider a big tip off is the uniqueness or specificity of what the review thinks of to say. “Don’t work at the East Port Office, just focus on working at the West Port Office. East Port is going through some change overs due to mismanagement.” Or “TPTB are totally disconnected from the needs of middle management.”
          I tend to favor overviews like these rather than, “Bob at the East Port Office is a jerk.” Maybe other people are fine with Bob. Maybe the writer is a jerk. Maybe the writer did not understand the context for what Bob was doing and saying. Who knows.

          Reply
    4. AndersonDarling

      I give weight to reviews that give specific information. “The boss is a jerk” isn’t helpful, but it is helpful to read, “They have been docking our timecards since July and I get paid late once a month.”

      Reply
    5. JulieBulie

      It’s helpful to consider the size of the company. If it’s small and there’s a common thread through most of the reviews, that tells you something. But if it’s a huge company, you will need to read between the lines and take into account that different locations will probably have different issues.

      Reply
  40. Anonfornow

    I have been searching for a new position and while my numbers are pretty good (about 20 apps, 8 people contacted me, six phone interviews, and four in-person interviews) I am getting incredibly discouraged by the process. The main issue is that I am a manager, and I hate being a manager, and I’m looking to switch industries (although, the current industry I’m in is very niche, so I haven’t even really SEEN other jobs in my current industry). I have almost a decade of experience, and for example, I just lost out on a position that to someone who only has four months of full-time work experience and an internship. The position only required a year of experience, so it’s not like it’s crazy to go with someone else, but this is the first job I lost to someone who didn’t have much more specific related experience than I did.. so it still feels bummer-y! Then there is the issue that they all want to know how much I am paid.. I am willing to take at least a (10%) and my benefits aren’t that great, so the paycut could easily be made up for with different benefits. I feel like even though I have followed the advice for going to an individual contributor position after a manager position (explaining I am happier doing the nuts-and-bolts of the work without managing), that interviewers still seek skeptical. When I was forced to take a manager position (not asked, told) I never realized that it would be detrimental to my job search!

    Reply
    1. JLK in the ATX

      I’m feeling your pain. I’ve done the management thing and I rather be the nuts/bolts person, too. They are somewhat skeptical that I want to decrease my progress but I’ve done everything in my industry (to include the Ex Director role) and I feel free to do what I want now (boxes checked)

      I’ve moved to this phrasing and supporting statements: “After a fast paced and progressive career, I’m seeking opportunities where I can build team, service and organizational capacity.” Which seems to soften the ‘I don’t want all that responsibility and pain anymore” :)

      I lose my opportunities to volunteers as internal hires. I’ve been able to progress through my career (despite living a military life) in this way, so I’m not too hard on that practice.

      Good luck

      Reply
      1. Anonfornow

        Hmm, this is interesting — even though I’m in management, my position is actually kind of painfully slow paced. After interview #1, I learned to leave that out — don’t want anyone to think I can’t cut it — but now that you say that, I can see how it might look contradictory that I’m saying I want to move to a fast-paced position, but don’t want to be a manager. My framing has been that I’m looking to focus on Teapots Research, rather than my current all-things-Teapots role, as an individual contributor. When I’ve seen jobs noted as “fast-paced,” I usually say that I thrive in a fast-paced environment, which is true. I feel absolutely stagnant where I’m at! (Note, I don’t say THAT in interviews, either!) It’s just tough. Thank you for commiserating!

        Reply
        1. Not So NewReader

          Stealing your own words:
          “I have done the management thing and found I am a nuts and bolts person. In terms of pacing, I do however enjoy a fast-paced environment.”

          Here you just break the two apart, you do not have to be a manager to work at a fast pace. You might run into question about, “Well how do you separate nuts from bolts at a fast pace and still remain accurate?” Or you could be asked how you will handle the fact that you can no longer order the nuts and bolts and you must stand aside while someone else does?

          Reply
  41. paul

    Does anyone have any experience with temp agencies? How to tell good ones from bad ones?

    We’ll be moving probably next year for my wife’s work (this is terrifying, and it’s to a city I wouldn’t choose–I hate big cities, they scare the hell out of me). I was debating just going for a temp to hire position or tempign for a bit since I haven’t job hunted in so long and I frankly want out of social services–I’m hitting empathy burnout and have been for a year or so. So it’ll be an industry switch regardless.

    Reply
    1. Beth

      If there are really large companies you are interested in, do some research to see what temp agencies they work with — many of them have exclusive contracts. It can be hard to tell the “good” ones from the “bad” ones. I had a temp assignment a decade or so ago with Manpower.. they weren’t great, but they got me a job when I couldn’t find one otherwise, and in the end.. that’s what mattered the most. I think if you go with a larger agency with more resources, that is likely to be your best bet.

      Reply
    2. Not a Real Giraffe

      I temped when I first moved to NYC and I only looked into agencies that came recommended to me by friends or other trusted individuals. The one I wound up using had a full-on interview with me to learn about my skills/experiences, as well as what kinds of jobs I wanted to be considered for. They never contacted me with anything outside of what we discussed. (So, nothing part-time when I wanted full-time, nothing that was just receptionist-type work when I wanted comprehensive administrative roles, etc.).

      Reply
      1. Lore

        If that was within the past few years, would you mind sharing what agency it is? I’ve got a friend looking for temp work who’s having a terrible time even making it onto the rosters of agencies–he’s getting the same “send resume into black hole” kinds of responses as when applying to full-time jobs.

        Reply
    3. Malibu Stacey

      I had a good experience with Adecco in that they found a decently-paid assignment within a couple of months for me and were responsive.

      The downside was no benefits or holiday pay which I was used to with my previous full-time job.

      Reply
    4. NotThatGardner

      Depends on the city (happy to share experiences on Boston-based ones if that’s where you’re headed!) but I have actually found Yelp to have good indicators on temp agencies in my experience.

      Reply
    5. Aphrodite

      I am not sure but I think Kelly might be a franchise. If so, then my (long ago) experience wouldn’t help but I’ll add it anyway. I was sent out to a one-week job where it was puzzling. I didn’t get much assistance from others nor was it a friendly office. I didn’t expect to be included in lunch groups or such but really the atmosphere was rather icy. The second-to-last day they sent me home early and the agency called me and said that I had refused to do something. I most definitely had not; it was a flat-out lie though why I still have no idea. The agency then said “they fired us so don’t bother to call us ever again.” They refused to believe me so I moved on–but not without telling a lot of others over the years.

      Reply
      1. Aphrodite

        To add, before I got my current job I went into an Apple One office and applied. I like the fact that you could now take their skills testing (MS Office) at home using your own computer so the results were more accurate. They also had contracts with the city and the large University of California campus in my city so if you wanted to get in there you could and that’s what I originally asked for. (Fortunately, I never used them as I was hired shortly thereafter. But it might be worth finding out which agency has government or education contracts in your city if you are interested in that.)

        Reply
    6. Iris Eyes

      I’d look for somewhere that does skill tests/inventories and a full in person interview. If you get weird vibes or if they try to make you sign something that makes you essentially their property in the employment market drop them. DFW and surrounding areas have plenty of options (also there are a lot of people who live in the outer suburbs that you might find a lot less frightening) a one+ hour commute isn’t uncommon but you are probably traveling 30+ miles. So you may be able to work not in the actual big cities but around them.

      Reply
      1. paul

        We’re not sure what her exact location will be, and it seems like that matters a lot in Dallas with the traffic being as bad as it is. I’m hoping we can manage something on the western edge or the northern edge of the metroplex.

        We were *really* hoping for NM but c’est la vie :(

        Reply
    7. AnonAndOn

      Temp agencies have been hit or miss for me. I felt that I had success with the ones I used in my hometown than I do where I live now. I also have to factor in that my better luck with them was over a decade ago. Times have surely changed.

      In my hometown, AppleOne was a great one. The agent gave me lots of choices for assignments and if I felt one wasn’t a good fit she’d immediately give me another option. I tried AppleOne where I am now a few years ago and it was a different experience. One sent me on an assignment that was canceled before I set foot in the assignment’s door, and another agent was nasty and never gave me any assignments. I’ve been using Robert Half’s OfficeTeam recently and was sent on an assignment at the most unprofessional organization. I won’t get into specifics about that place since I reviewed that place on Glassdoor.

      The OfficeTeam agent assigned to me was condescending and there are so many things I can complain about here but it’d become novel length at that point. Here’s one: I was applying for food benefits and I sent her a form to fill out to submit to the services agency. I forwarded it to her and she hesitated to fill it out because she didn’t think the form “looked professional.” I told her that it was what they sent me. Days later I get an e-mail from her but the body of the e-mail was clearly meant for someone else (in the lines of “AnonAndOn needs this form filled out and submitted to social services by a certain time. Thank you for your help!”) and the incomplete form was attached. I let her know and she apologized. It was as if she was stalling. They never filled the form out and my benefits were denied at that time. I’ve since received them, but no thanks to OfficeTeam.

      Some temp agencies lie their behinds off or pull mess like I mentioned above. They’ll say that an organization is “a great place to work!” because they want their placement fee or to fill a quota and they aren’t going to tell the truth about how a place really is. There’s Glassdoor, but not all of these places have Glassdoor reviews. I’m the first and only Glassdoor review for that awful place I was sent to. But because I’m on unemployment I can’t refuse jobs or I’ll lose my benefits. If I say I need a job that’s FT, pays such and such amount per hour or per year, and that’s on public transportation because I don’t have a car, they’ll give me an assignment that’s PT, less than what I make on unemployment, that has horrible online reviews, and is only accessible with a car. But since I’m between a rock and a hard place I have to accept whatever’s thrown my way or unemployment will consider that a refusal and discontinue my benefits. That’s why I’m hoping to find something on my own merit and not be reliant on a temp agency. Temp agencies don’t really know what I need from a job. Only I know what’s best for me in a job. Temp agencies also work for the client who pays them, not the employee, regardless of if they say “if there’s a problem with an assignment give us a call!”.

      I’ve had ones that are local to where I am at the moment that were more professional and communicative with me, but they don’t have branches in Dallas/Fort Worth. I think you’d have better luck with smaller local agencies that would give more hands on service. Best of luck to you in your search!

      Reply
    8. Raine

      Most of my long-term jobs started out as or were temp assignments. One of the key lessons I learned was: if you’re not calling the agency every week to check in and say you’re available, it’s likely you won’t hear from them unless one or more of the following conditions is true: they need a warm body to fill the position (which is not always an awful thing, depending on what they ask you to do, the pay rate, and how long you’re doing the thing), they like your resume/you/your skills, they really need you because their preferred temp isn’t available, and/or they completely misread your resume and think you can do something you don’t know how to do. The big agencies are all independently operated (Kelly Services, AppleOne, Robert Half, Manpower, etc.) so every office is different, and sometimes the person answering the front desk phone or even acting as a junior recruiter is also a temp. You are likely to have better luck with a position that’s temp to hire rather than temp because usually that means the agency or the actual firm is interested in interviewing candidates, screening resumes, and basically following the standard hiring process. Temp could mean stuffing envelopes or sitting alone in an office waiting for the phone to ring/UPS to show up while the regular staff are on a retreat (both of which I’ve done) or completely not using your transferable skills in any meaningful way; set your expectations accordingly, read the description of the job, and ask questions of the recruiter. If you choose to temp long-term for one agency, you’re more likely to get the better positions, but it takes a lot of effort to get there and it can really depend on the recruiter with whom you’re working.

      Reply
    9. Julia Gulia

      I got my current job through a temp agency as a temp-to-hire, and the temp agency played games and outright lied to me about pay. They were getting a set amount, and all my negotiations on my own behalf cut into their profit. They pressured me to be secretive about the process, and after I was hired my boss was disgusted to learn about everything that had gone on. Find out exactly how your pay would work, how the temp agency gets its cut, and all the details of your contract and the in-betweens.

      Reply
  42. Anonymous Pterodactyl

    In last week’s open thread, I asked about what recourse a friend of mine had in pushing back on utterly unreasonable overtime requirements from his employer (for anyone who didn’t see it, another department was told to start working 16 hour days, 7 days a week, indefinitely, and he was worried his would be next).

    Well, his department ended up being told they’d have to work 12 hour days, also over weekends. They were initially told it would “just” be for 2 weeks, but given how far the owners let two major projects get behind, he’s pretty sure it will end up being way longer than that. That’s not something he was willing to do (for one thing, he has out of town plans over the weekend), and he decided he was going to quit the following day. I channeled my little inner Alison and suggested he resign, with 2 weeks notice, citing the new overtime requirement, and inform them that during his last 2 weeks he would be able to work his regular hours but not the requested 12-hour days. If they accepted that, cool. If they gave him any pushback, he could calmly state that he understood if that wouldn’t work for them and that it sounded like that should be his last day. He grumbled a little about having to work there any longer than absolutely necessary, but liked being able to say he wasn’t fired and didn’t quit without notice.

    And it worked! He’s working there for 2 more weeks, on his regular schedule – unsurprisingly, given how much work they have to complete, they were willing to take whatever he was willing to agree to. He already feels so much happier knowing he’s going to be done soon, plus he gets 2 more weeks of pay he was willing to walk away from, a little time to job search, and feeling good that he’s not totally screwing his one other coworker by just walking away.

    He had a *ton* of leverage in that situation, and I do think that if he’d wanted to stay at the job but not do the overtime (or do less of it, or negotiate some major benefit in exchange for some overtime, or whatnot), he would have been able to. I think he did consider it, but he already disliked the job for various reasons (terrible hours, incompetent owners/management, actual job wasn’t what he was told he’d be doing, etc) and had been sort of job searching already. He was ready to move on, and there really wouldn’t have been much point in negotiating expectations in that context.

    Reply
    1. Gandalf the Nude

      I love this story. Congrats to your friend! And congrats to you for helping him! That’s always a good feeling. :)

      Reply
  43. Foreign Octopus

    Not really looking for advice (although I’ll take it if anyone has some) but I have an adult student (36) who constantly, and I mean constantly, bites her nails throughout our daily 90 minute class. I’m not sure she’s aware that she’s doing it but she constantly has a hand up to her mouth chewing away. I’ll ask her a question and she’ll drop her hand long enough to answer and then it’s back up.

    It reminds me of the letter not too long ago about someone in the office who would pick their nose in public.

    It turns my stomach to see her doing it every time and because it’s a small class (2-4 students), I can’t not look at her. Thankfully, the course ends next Wednesday and I don’t have to teach her again after that but it’s really off-putting and has actually coloured my opinion of her.

    So it made me wonder, what are some office/work habits that drive you crazy? Or that you do that is a little weird?

    Reply
    1. Lumen

      As for bizarre habits: my coworkers often bang their keyboards on the desk to get random particles out from them. It’s so bizarre, since you don’t need to use any force to tidy up your equipment. But occasionally just this sudden banging from behind me or to my side. Also I have a coworker whose ‘thoughtful’ noises at random sound… well, like something you’d hear in a bedroom. She’s quiet, but it always startles me.

      For what it’s worth: I feel your student’s pain. I’ve been a nail-biter for 30 years and even though I do a lot better than I used to, it still comes out when I’m very stressed or intensely focused. I hate it, it’s embarrassing, and the last thing I want anyone to think about me is that I’m gross. Yay for compulsive behaviors, right?

      She probably does not realize she is doing it when she’s doing it, feels deeply embarrassed when she does realize she was doing it, and might just be really, really focused while she’s in class with you.

      If you have a similar problem in the future, maybe take the student aside privately to address it as a distraction (not “ew, you’re disgusting”) and ask if they’re okay (they might not be) and if there’s any accommodations you can make in class (such as having them bring in a *silent* fidget toy to keep their hands busy). May or may not be appropriate in your situation to have this conversation, but also might help keep your very small classroom happier and healthier (since nail-biting is very unhygienic, too).

      Reply
      1. Foreign Octopus

        Oh lord, I’d never tell her it was disgusting. I’m far too British to even think of saying that. It’s just a difficult conversation to even think about having and I know that Alison tells us to have the conversation in the most polite way as possible but framing it is difficult.

        Also, we only have three lessons left so it’s not really worth the trouble.

        As for your workmates’ habit – weird. The keyboard banging would scare the hell out of me (I startle very easily) and I would probably start laughing if I heard those sounds, at least the first couple of times. It’s very peculiar!

        Reply
    2. Jessica

      I’m a college professor. Every winter, I have at least one student who straight up picks their nose during lecture. After a few years, I’m pretty sure that they don’t realize what they’re doing (along with the spectator feeling that some students have in a lecture class, where they feel like the professor can’t really see them). But it was truly shocking the first time it happened. The guy was paying attention to the lecture, so he was basically staring at me, nodding when I asked questions, making eye contact with me, all with his finger buried inside his nostril. It felt incredibly aggressive (although of course it wasn’t meant to be). I mean, we live in a society, sir.

      Reply
      1. Foreign Octopus

        I was just drinking some wine and nearly spat it on the cat at “we live in a society, sir.”

        I now desperately want to use that when talking to someone.

        Reply
    3. Not So NewReader

      I don’t know if this helps or not, but a while ago I read of a study that found a correlation between nail biting and issues with the mother of the nail biter.
      I have also seen in my own life that people with calcium issues can be nail biters.
      So there are things in the background contributing the nail biting habit.

      I wondered why she did not run out nail to bite, it sounded like she is non-stop biting them. I did know a girl in grammar school who sucked her thumb up to 7th grade. She did it in a manner that looked like nail biting, it was weird.

      Reply
    4. JulieBulie

      I sometimes twirl my hair until I realize that I”m doing it, and then I stop… until I start again.

      Reply
  44. Drew

    I am sad because a long-time colleague gave her notice and yesterday was her last day. We’ll miss her around the office and I’m pretty sure most people weren’t aware of how many different things she was doing, so there will be balls dropped in the next few months until we settle into a new routine.

    But – our mutual boss has agreed that I can move into her space, meaning I am out of the bullpen and into an office! Woo! It’s a shared office, but I’ll be sharing with someone I work closely with anyway and we get along great and our hours aren’t totally in sync, so I’ll have the office to myself a lot of the time.

    The timing for this move is good (although the reason sucks) because it looks like my slack time is over; I’m about to start on a major new project and I’ve been asked to consult on a couple more. Time to close the door (I HAVE A DOOR) and get to work!

    Reply
  45. Stephanie

    Questions for the engineers out here. I’m about to start my last year of my MS. Plan is to graduate next May. However, I could graduate in December with some shuffling of classes–it would require dropping the research project and picking up an extra class this upcoming semester. Cost difference would be an extra semester of living expenses (my tuition is funded through a fellowship); I live in a cheap-ish city. I originally thought I wanted to do a more research-oriented job, but I don’t see myself doing that anymore nor do I see myself doing a PhD. Degree is the same (both are MSes).

    (1) Is it worth sticking around to do the thesis? Upside is I could get a writing sample, maybe a publication (if I really busted my ass this year), and probably have the reference from my advisors (again, if I really busted my ass this year), and I’d graduate more in-line with a lot of big company recruiting.

    (2) Do companies view non-thesis and thesis masters equivalently? Or is there a difference?

    Reply
    1. AnotherAlison

      Cost difference is really living expenses + a half-year of salary at whatever new job you get.

      I don’t know enough about hiring masters candidates to speak intelligently on the other questions. The only thing I could see in my industry is if the thesis really helps you develop a very specific subject matter expertise, then I would say do it. For example, we have a water quality engineer with a Ph.D. who started at a higher level than other post-BS process engineers in the water department.

      Reply
    2. CityMouse

      I hate to equivocate it but it really depends on field and what you want to do. If you are going into a more research oriented field, I think the thesis wouod help. If you are going into business where you are doing things like design or review, it probably wouldn’t matter but could depend on your boss.

      Reply
    3. J.B.

      I am an engineer with a MS, and I don’t think anyone I’ve ever worked for has cared about the thesis. It would depend on your specific field of course, but if you want to work in engineering consulting I don’t think it would matter either way.

      Reply
      1. Stephanie

        Yeah, the research project has mostly come up as just a talking point in interviews. What I’m researching happens to relate to where I’m interning, but I think they would have hired me without the research component.

        Reply
    4. Jubilance

      So not engineering, but I had a similar experience in a physical science (chemistry). I started a PhD but decided to go MS after I passed my candidacy. I originally wanted to go the thesis route, but then I found a job and also was ready to just be done, so I went coursework only. It hasn’t been a hinderance in my career.

      In my experience, coursework-only MS in engineering is very common. Most of my friends who have an engineering MS did coursework-only; thesis was really for the ones who were thinking about doing a PhD.

      Reply
    5. Liz

      What matter the most I think is doing an internship. If you have not done one and can between now and May, do that. Otherwise, start job hunting about now and get the degree done early.

      Reply
    6. Uncivil Engineer

      I agree with CityMouse in that it depends on the field and what you want to do. A Master’s is not required for regular, civil engineering design work. When I hire, I just make note of whether an applicant has a semi-relevant MS or not. Applicants with an MS are given a little boost in the process of screening to see who gets invited to interview but, after that, it’s all about actual work experience and what design skills you bring to the team.

      Reply
    7. Kvothe

      Really depends on what industry you’re in but where I’m at an employer wouldn’t even care that you had a masters. Myself and a guy I work with were hired at the same time, he had his masters and I didn’t and we do the exact same job and my salary is actually a bit higher than his.

      Reply
    8. katamia

      How’s the flow of the hiring season for what you want to do? Will one more semester instead of two be enough time to find a job before you graduate?

      Reply
      1. Stephanie

        Yeah, honestly that’s some of the pause. There’s a huge career fair on campus in September. The majority of the recruiting is done then and I think employers try to get offers in the late fall. A lot of MegaCorp new hire stuff tends to be in the summer. There are a lot of three-semester masters programs at my university (and PhD students finish mid-year or in the summer all the time), but anecdotally speaking (yeah yeah), people who graduated in December usually do have an awkward lag between graduation and starting (as in, they have two to three months before starting) or just plan to travel or work a temp job until the summer new hire class.

        Reply
    9. Saviour Self

      To start – I am not an engineer but I hire civil engineers, specifically in the geotechnical, structural, and mechanical disciplines.

      To actually answer your question – it depends on the role and company to which you’re applying. For one of my positions, I would not care about you being published, I would not ask for a writing sample, and I would not ask whether you were a thesis or non-thesis master.

      I would care about your real-world work experience. I would ask for your transcript (company policy). and I would want to know that you understood, or were familiar with (depending on level of hire), the necessary codes and guidelines for our area of civil engineering.

      Reply
      1. Stephanie

        Ok, thanks! I actually worked for a few years before going back (a lot of my experience wasn’t the most recruiter friendly and I had a lot of trouble finding work, which was part of the impetus for going back).

        Reply
    10. PX

      I think you’re doing mechanical right? I studied and had my first job in mainland Europe so my perspective is completely different, but there you cannot graduate without a thesis at all, and most companies would absolutely want to know what your thesis was about and how you did it. Perhaps its a difference in how they are structured, but in my university (engineering only), you could do either a more research oriented thesis or a practical oriented one. I did the latter, and I worked with a company.

      It usually allows you the opportunity to showcase real world skills (think of it as a 2nd internship) where you analyse a problem, try to identify a solution, deal with real engineering problems, communicate it to various audiences (company vs academic, presentations and final written report) and are (usually) all by yourself (they are often fairly independent pieces of work) so you can demonstrate time management, self-driven type skills.

      All of which to say is that my vote is do a (useful!) thesis.

      Reply
  46. SueInIT

    I have an awkward situation that I don’t know how to deal with, if at all. I work in IT, naturally in a group of mostly men, and some of them have “colorful” language to describe IT situations. As an example, one phrase used when a system has crashed is “tits up” – you know, like it fell on its back… (. )(. ) Now this is pretty vulgar but is typical of the language used. The guy who says this is 60 years old and apparently has used this phrase since his days in the navy. I don’t think it qualifies as sexual harassment since it’s not directed at anyone, but it seems to be language that is more derogatory toward women, and just frankly, I don’t like it. What would you do about this if anything??

    Reply
    1. LCL

      When ever someone uses a colorful phrase, ask them ‘oh, do mean it’s non-functional, broken, etc?’ Substitute the correct technical phrase for the slang. People will get the idea. That particular phrase is used to mean dead, because dead things lie on their back.

      Reply
    2. Anonymous Educator

      I think you should say something, but how you say something and how often you say it will depend on what your culture is like and how ingrained the sexism is in your co-workers. Sometimes you want to do a “Wow! I can’t believe you just said that” or more of a “Why did you say that?” Other times, you may want to have a separate meta conversation (in private—not in front of the whole group) about “Hey, it’s not cool to say blah-blah-blah.”

      You will likely get pushback. You will likely get a lot of “Oh, that’s just how I talk” or “Don’t be sensitive/PC” or “Just relax.” You may not be able to change them, but you may be able to plant a seed at least.

      Reply
    3. Lumen

      How nice of you to understand that they are men and have been manly men and it was okay to use vulgar language in the workplace when they were in more manly macho man places.

      You are in a professional environment, and so are they. It doesn’t sound like it qualifies as harassment or a hostile environment, but it clearly makes you uncomfortable, it’s clearly gendered, and it will not harm them or impact their work in any shape, form, or fashion to cut this nonsense out.

      I like LCL’s suggestion to just parrot back to them appropriate language when you’re ‘in the moment’. You might also try talking to the 60 year old and simply explaining that while you understand what he’s saying isn’t meant to be offensive and isn’t personal, it makes you uncomfortable at work and you’d like the ‘colorful’ language to stop. And if he’s confused, use ‘tits up’ as an example. Maybe get him on your side; the rest of the team might fall in if they see an older man doing it.

      Reply
    4. AwkwardKaterpillar

      Sexual harassment doesn’t necessarily have to be directed at anyone. He’s making sexual comments, in general, that are making you uncomfortable and feel derogatory to your gender.. I think you are well within your rights to be upset. Do you feel you could say anything if you wanted? Or would that not be well received?

      If not, I would consider mentioning something to your manager. If it’s bothering you, it could very well be bothering others that are not speaking up either.

      Reply
    5. Admin of Sys

      huh – I’ve never considered that a gendered term actually, I just considered it a more rough way of saying belly up. (and have heard it referred to many non-gendered machines, though I guess if you push it, you could consider tractors and servers as female?) That said, maybe try to correct him to ‘belly up’ ?

      Reply
      1. N.J.

        I’m confused. The use with a machine isn’t the gendered thing. The phrase itself is gendered…tits is slang for breasts…the male biological gender doesn’t typically have breasts so it’s a gendered term because it refers to a typically biologically female body part. It has nothing to do with assigning gender to a machine

        Reply
        1. hankypanky?

          actually, yes, men have breasts
          maybe I’m too old to bother to be offended by trivial things like this.
          And yes, I’m female

          Reply
          1. Anonymous Educator

            maybe I’m too old to bother to be offended by trivial things like this.

            I’m not sure what the point of this line here is. Are you trying to say no concerns are valid unless they’re valid to you directly?

            Reply
          2. N.J.

            Yes, men have breasts. Biological and male presenting. All people have nipples too. The reason I didn’t go into a long screed about the difference between biologically male breasts and biologically female breasts is because I didn’t feel like it. As it seems that may have somehow caused you to devalue what I said in my comment, I can go into more details.

            Biologically male breasts are ones that are treated as socially acceptable to walk around without their shirts on, for instance. Since “female” breasts are typically more visually developed and are heavily sexualized, “tits” is used to refer mostly to female presenting breasts, at least very generally speaking. Please tell me how many male presenting individuals have gotten the compliment of “nice tits,” for instance? On my personal offense meter, tits doesn’t bother me all that much, but it is a term widely perceived to be gendered and it does (1) sexualize a work environment to use that type of terminology and (2) does offend enough people, gendered or not, to categorize as something appropriate to ask someone to stop doing at work. Microagressions, casual sexism and gendered language may or may not bother you particularly, but why would we devalue that the OP is feeling about this phrase just because you don’t care??? I said I was confused that the commenter above didn’t know it was gendered and I was, so I explained why, at least in my view, it was gendered.

            Please don’t triviliaze how gendered language can make people feel, it exists whether you are bothered by it or not.

            Is there something else in my comment that upset you that I can try to address?

            Reply
      1. Anonymous Educator

        Are you trying to say that this was an acronym that just came about randomly and happens to be the same as an existing idiom? Sounds more like they liked the expression and decided to make an acronym out of the it.

        Reply
    6. RainyKeyboard

      Personally, when this kind of comment floats by me, I usually raise my brows and respond with something like, “Dude, we’re not in an episode of Mad Men. You totally can’t say that anymore.” Then I might smile/laugh and say, “No…Just Please No. Not cool” while shaking my head.

      It works for me, in that I don’t create a hugely awkward moment (yup, I’m conflict averse) and the person can laugh it off without losing face, but they totally get the message that I am not OK with it and it’s not socially acceptable in this day and age. I might have to repeat this kind of reaction once or twice more…but any more than that and I would probably raise the issue with my boss. It’s 2017 for pete’s sake.

      Reply
      1. Starbuck

        My preference is a simple “yikes,” a slight pause, and then moving on. I feel like it nicely balances my desire to correct such situations, with my total lack of desire for putting in the effort of explaining basic standards of decency to adults who ought to know better. I admire those who have the patience to explain further; if only I’d held on to mine longer!

        Reply
    7. Not So NewReader

      You may not want to die on this hill, it’s an individual’s call.
      Does he use these terms in front of non-coworkers? This could be customers or people in other departments. If he doesn’t then you have proof that he knows it’s not okay because he does monitor his language in front of outsiders.
      You could ask him to dial back on the body part references. Or you could say that you noticed other people aren’t using expressions like that. Your solution might be as simple as saying “How come you don’t use those expressions in front of [insert outsiders names here]?”

      If it is your hill to die on, then you can to ask him to stop. He’s not in the navy any more and the salty language does not fit the workplace. You can say that you noticed a lot of his expressions are derogatory toward women and there is no need. Or maybe you could talk to HR or your boss.

      In the 80s and early 90s I would target one or two expressions and just ask the person not to use them around me, such as the c word. It was less common then for women to speak up so I would just pick the worst of the bad and speak up about that part. Generally, people would dial it back.
      More recently a woman I was working with was using a certain term. The setting was such that I did not feel comfortable saying something (many factors were at play here) so I went to the boss. “Do we really have to say X every day? Is everyone aware of what that word actually means?” The boss squelched that problem.

      My thinking is that some people will never “get it”. You have to go instance by instance or word by word and explain why that is not cool or even why it could cause legal problems. With other people you can point out one or two things and they will figure the rest out on their own. Try to gauge what type of a person he is and that will probably help you figure out how to proceed.

      I had a coworker who cussed like very few people I know. I asked him to reduce the vulgar expressions by 50%. I said that he cussed so much I was losing the point of what he was saying, he cussed to the point of distraction. I didn’t know you could fit the f word into a sentence that many times. I said, “It bothers me when I don’t get what a person is telling me.”

      I am not there and I do not see what you see. It could be that it would be best just to go to HR or the boss.

      Reply