open thread – September 15-16, 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 :)

{ 1,514 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Generic Administrator

    So today I found in a closed email account an email from our CEO to a manager he drove out after only seven months. Well I say email but it was more of a hate filled rant that insulted the capabilities and hard work of said GM. Apparently he doesn’t know how to do his job or run a department correctly.
    My favourite bit though was his thoughts that you don’t have to give recognition pay raises or promotions as long as people are loyal to you….. yeah, WTF indeed. He also insulted the many people GM managed.
    I’ve been at this place 91 days- 90 too many *sigh*
    HAPPY FRIDAY!!

    Reply
      1. Generic Administrator

        Yep. My head is in a complete spin. I went out for lunch and didn’t want to come back. There’s a lot wrong with this place (family business too, so no scope whatsoever to change).

        Reply
        1. RVA Cat

          JerkBoss CEO, King Baby of the Nepotists, Lord Commander of the Douchecanoes, The Unlearnt, Father of Rage Emails, First and Hopefully Last of His Name.

          Reply
              1. Jareth

                We called ours “Fearless Leader” — because in retail if you lack a healthy dose of concern, you’re not paying nearly enough attention

                Reply
    1. MoinMoin

      “My favourite bit though was his thoughts that you don’t have to give recognition pay raises or promotions as long as people are loyal to you”
      How, pray tell, does one inspire such loyalty then? The only option I see left is cult of personality, and I wouldn’t want to manage a bunch of people like that.

      Reply
      1. RVA Cat

        “I exploit you, still you love me…I tell you one and one makes three! I’m the Cult of Personality, the Cult of Personality, the Cult of Personality….!”
        May Living Color’s scorching guitar riffs get you through your day.

        Reply
  2. KatieKate

    So the job I interviewed for a few weeks ago just got back to me, and it’s a no go. I saw it coming, but now I need to make my current job work for me. I still like my job, but this would have a been a really cool next step.

    Reply
    1. SaraV

      Internet fuzzies to you. Just got the rejection email yesterday myself.

      I REALLY want to have a new job lined up by the new year. Listings right now are slim. Nose back to the grindstone.

      Reply
    2. NaoNao

      Aw, man. I’m in a similar boat. I’m okay with the job I have now, but I’m interviewing for a “cool next step” type job. Good luck and I will be hoisting my ginger ale to you if I have to “make it work” too :)

      Reply
      1. a girl has no name

        I’m with all of you. Ready for the next step, but I’ve been getting a few rejections. Found a project to be excited about at my current job so that helps. You’ll find something, just keep pushing through and working hard. (It gives you more to add to your resume) :)

        Reply
    3. Koko

      A couple years back a competitor expressed interest in poaching me. I’m happy where I am, but it would have been a big pay/title/responsibility bump for me, enough that it’d have been silly not to pursue it. They ultimately hired someone else so I stayed on. While it would have been exciting to move up and it stung a little not to be chosen, I won’t lie – there was a part of me that was extremely relieved that I wouldn’t have to go through the stress of changing jobs. Learning a new workplace culture, developing a new commute/work routine, the steep learning curve associated with a new job. Not that it wouldn’t have been worth it, but it at least helped me feel better about staying to remind myself how nice it is to have a job that you could do in your sleep, that makes you feel confident and doesn’t drain all your energy the way a new job does.

      Reply
    4. DevAssist

      I am NOT happy with my current job, but I’m also incredibly broke (like…no savings. none.) and job postings are slim right now.

      Best of luck to you!

      Reply
      1. nep

        This is my situation exactly.
        I’m going to have to shift my perspective about current job, take on some more hours there (there are opportunities for that) and keep pressing on with the search.
        Good luck, all.

        Reply
    5. Language Lover

      Had a rejection this week too. By phone. Ugh. They said really nice things too but if I felt I desperately needed the job, having a VM message asking me to call back and then not getting it would have devastated me.

      Fortunately, I like my job and the people I work with and I don’t know that they could have offered me the salary I wanted to leave so I wasn’t devastated. But they did have some awesome perks I covet so I’m a bit bummed I didn’t have the opportunity to consider it.

      Reply
        1. JN

          I got a voicemail rejection a few weeks ago (a day after getting an email rejection from another job possibility). I let the call go to voicemail because I wasn’t 100% sure if I really wanted the job (the salary and location, yes, the job itself…) and wanted to have time to think before making contact with the hiring person if it had been a job offer. Plus, I was getting ready to go to work and didn’t really have time to pause and have a phone conversation anyway. But since it wasn’t an offer I didn’t have to do anything. Yes, I also much prefer emails to phone calls for the “thanks but no thanks” types of communication. Have another interview next week, so fingers crossed.

          Reply
    6. The New Wanderer

      I’m on the market too. I was auto-rejected within a few hours for a job I wasn’t sure I’d want, and it was a little painful. I guess it’s better than not hearing back ever (looking at you, other companies I’ve applied to).

      Unfortunately I have pretty niche skills and while there are a lot of jobs I would love and am perfectly qualified for and have strong references at those places, they would all require relocation and I’m not able to move for the time being.

      Good luck to us all!

      Reply
    7. Chalupa Batman

      If it helps, I’m another one in your boat. I got a SECOND rejection from an application I sent out on a whim a while ago. They rejected me personally a few weeks after I applied, and then re-rejected me today via form letter because they filled the position. Ouch. Automated replies are a jerk. Glad to have a good job until that next step swings back around.

      Reply
      1. Trixie

        I work in an HR department and regularly have to send these notices out. Ultimately, our goal is to share an official update with the applicants so each step in the online application process is documented. Some hiring managers do like to notify select candidates personally and soften the rejection.

        Reply
      2. LuvzALaugh

        Yep, rejections here too! Been looking on and off for two years. Back at it hardcore now. It is obvious I am pigeon holed into my current role which sucks because pay at my current company for higher level jobs is top in the industry, but why stay when I won’t be getting one of those well paying jobs. Female boss who is childless can not accept her choice to remain childless if she is surrounded by successful people who did both career and children so she goes after working mothers. Unfortunately, I didn’t escape her career crushing as I was her direct report until she transferred but she still has a direct connection with the person who could promote me and has ensured it wont happen. I wish I was one of the lucky other working moms who was not in her swim lane and made it despite her attempts to crush them. Lesson learned. Job hunting for a job reporting to a man never again a woman.

        Reply
  3. Nervous Accountant

    Has anyone used Monster’s resume critique? They got back to me fairly quickly (24 hours) and actually some of the advice I saw matched up with what I’ve read here (to show accomplishments and not just talk about my job tasks). But they mostly tore it apart and in the end offered a professional service. I’m actually considering it. They also have a 60 day interview guarantee.

    Is it worth it? The writing major in me is dying horribly inside but I’m just tired and have more money than time and energy to spare these days.

    Reply
    1. AndersonDarling

      I twice used resume services. The first time was because resumes were so new to me, the second time was because I hated my job so much that I couldn’t think about quantifying it. My first experience was very good, the service included a thorough interview to talk about my jobs and accomplishments. The second experience technically got me what I needed, but the finished result was all formatting pizzazz and not much substance. I ended up rewriting it, but they gave me the foundation to work off of. The first was a local company and the second was one of the big resume mill companies.
      If you want something truly tailored and thoughtful, then you need to talk to someone and answer questions. I wouldn’t trust Monster.

      Reply
    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Don’t use Monster — or any model that’s based on a free critique and then an offer for paid services. I’m pretty sure they will never say “your resume is fine and doesn’t need work” — they will always tear it up and then tell you that you need their paid services. If you’re going to hire resume help, go for a person (not a large service where you don’t know who is helping you) with a history of doing significant hiring who doesn’t do the “free critique” scammy model.

      Reply
      1. Allison

        Sounds like the resume version of an auto shop that offers a free inspection with an oil change, and they tell you all the services and repairs you simply must have done right away, and then start scheduling you for those repairs.

        Reply
        1. Admin Amber

          I have outside eyes critique my resume. If you have a friend or family member who does a lot of hiring they can be invaluable advice.

          Reply
          1. Paquita

            I had a friend look at mine (and my husbands). She works fulltime, manages and sings in a gospel group. She helps some people with resumes because she enjoys it. Mine and DH’s look WONDERFUL after she worked on them.

            Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Unfortunately, no — sorry! (I also removed one comment here from someone who sells this service, since I generally don’t allow that here — if I did, we’d get flooded with them and I have no way to vet them.)

          Reply
      2. Nervous Accountant

        Alison, do you do them? I could have sworn I saw something in past years but I haven’t seen anythin grecently, but I could be wrong.

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I’ve occasionally offered resume reviews once or twice a year for a very limited time (like a one-day offer), but I haven’t done it since 2015. I’m actually thinking about offering it again very briefly in the next month or so though, although I’m not positive yet.

          Reply
          1. mockingbird2081

            I am so glad I got in on that 2015 offer. I started getting a lot more interviews after adjusting my resume based on your suggestions. I not only got a great job offer but I was just promoted to an even better position.

            Thank you for offering it back then!!!

            Reply
      3. dreams for plans

        I actually used a free resume review service from Glassdoor and they sent me an email RAVING about it. All thanks to you, Alison!

        Reply
      4. Nervous Accountant

        That’s the thing–I don’t have any friends or family who hire. Most of them are in the same field as me, and don’t do any hiring. The ones with years of experience are super busy and will just look at it and say “Yeah its’ fine.”

        Reply
        1. Anna

          Do you know anyone in job development? That’s my area and I’ll take a look at anyone’s resume who wants it. I’m not perfect, but based on what I’ve learned here and talking to employers, I’m not too shabby.

          Reply
      5. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks

        Alison, you are so right. When I was unemployed 5 years ago, I fell for their “Your resume needs to be improved if you want to get a job” line. And it cost me a nice chunk of change for just a re-wording of what I wrote. I just updated my resume. I had my cousin critique it. She’s done some hiring. She told me what she would look for in a resume and we worked from there.

        Reply
    3. AccountingIsFun

      If you went to college or university in the United States, many of them offer free resume services to help you. At one of the universities I have attended, you get free resume service for life. Just contact their career services area and they have professionals that can help you with your resume and job search. They are invested in you being successful because it makes them look good to have an alumni do well. Just a thought, but I think it would be better than a paid service.

      Reply
      1. ThatGirl

        Eh, but some career services are Not Great – I’ve seen the advice my husband’s workplace gives out. It’s mediocre and geared toward college students.

        Reply
      2. Nervous Accountant

        Really? that’s interesting. I’ve been reading it here for a long time that college career services aren’t any good.

        Reply
        1. Jadelyn

          They vary – widely. Some are terrible, some are okay, some are actually pretty good. The issue to watch out for is career centers staffed by people who’ve been in academia most or all of their careers, because they tend to have a weaker sense of how careers work outside of that context so their advice isn’t as good.

          Like, my school’s career center was…okay. I feel like they hadn’t updated their resume guidelines in awhile because they were still insisting that objective statements were absolutely necessary, but they didn’t strike me as actively harmful like some of the ones we’ve heard about around here.

          Reply
        2. Simone R

          It really depends on the college/field. Probably most are bad, but some can actually be good, especially for certain fields. My undergrad career office is on a bunch of ‘best career services’ list and excellent for helping people get jobs in finance, but weaker for other fields. It can’t hurt to check out the office and then take their advice with a few grains of salt.

          Reply
        3. Thank you

          I used to work in academia and one college specifically was great at resume building. The director came from and HR/Recruiting background – not an academic one. I think this was the biggest in their favor.

          Now, the other college I worked for was insanely inept at this. BUT they had departmental staff that would help students, so career services no so good but advisors excellent.

          For this OP I would ask a friend or colleague who works in HR if they know anyone local who does this type of thing on the side – I did it for awhile while I was unemployed to earn extra cash. Started with a headhunter but then word kinda spread around a little.

          Reply
      3. Epsilon Delta

        I would would be really skeptical of a college’s resume critique service. I had my resume critiqued as an undergrad and they nitpicked some formatting choices but didn’t offer any feedback on the actual substance of the resume other than “Great Job!” (it was not a great resume, I had no idea what I was doing). Then when I went back to school at a tech college, they had a lot of outdated advice, like objectives and listing every course you took.

        Reply
      4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Unfortunately, I’ve only had one University career advisor who was a competent resume reviewer/editor. He is amazing, and I will love him forever.

        I know this will sound kind of brown-nose-y, but I feel like you get better bang for your buck from Alison’s books on how to get a job than on massive resume services like Monster.

        Reply
    4. MagicMaker

      The best resume advice I ever received was from my state’s Department of Employment during a time when I was laid off. Attending some workshops was necessary as a condition of collecting unemployment. I had been a hiring supervisor, but had been in my position for so long, I had never had to create a resume. Further, I had chosen to change careers, and that further complicated my resume needs. They did a great job of helping me tailor a resume to the job I wanted referencing the skills and accomplishments that applied from my prior work in a thoughtful way. I have continually updated and refined that resume 3-4 times a year ever since (it’s significantly easier to keep your resume current, and less tasking, if you do it a few times a year). When I created it, and even occasionally now, I have a set of trusted peers give it a look, and I offer to review theirs as well, which also helps refinement. I would think most states or counties offer this type of advice for free (well, as part of the services your taxes pay for, assuming you are in the US), and I think they are well worth taking advantage of.

      Reply
  4. Snarkus Aurelius

    Did anyone catch this week’s letter in the Post’s Work Advice column? Ay yi yi.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/this-employee-accepted-a-new-job-then-a-better-offer-came-along/2017/09/08/f0c9c490-8423-11e7-ab27-1a21a8e006ab_story.html?utm_term=.b043c2767d28

    Even though the current employer’s counter offer came from a different division and VP, the sentiment is the same. This employer didn’t care about the OP until the OP found another job somewhere else. THEN career investment and development and better salary offers began.

    The columnist argued that the different circumstances (new job, new boss, better pay) aren’t the same as taking a counteroffer to stay at the old job. True, but the employer’s approach to retention is still the same.

    The VP and director should have approached the OP about her job satisfaction long ago. It would have come up in that conversation that her salary had stagnated and she wanted something new. The counteroffer came literally hours after the OP gave notice so obviously there was interest there.

    Reply
    1. 2 Cents

      When I left Old Job, it was after 4+ years of no raises (post-economic downturn), reduction in benefits, and a hiring freeze. My manager actually said to me, “We couldn’t give you money, but we gave you experience with all the new job duties and work you took on.” When I gave my notice, guess who finally found money to give me a raise! Best feeling in the world saying, “Nope, it’s more than just the money” because at that point, it was.

      Reply
      1. CatCat

        Yep, pretty much the same thing happened to me early in my working life. I actually had gotten a raise earlier that year (though it ended up being a lot smaller than my manager promised me). Suddenly, when I gave notice 9 months later, “Oh noes, what if we paid you more??” Uh… no… money wasn’t even the issue at that point as there were a host of toxic workplaces issues (and even if it had been about money, why would I stay if getting another offer is the only effective way to get the raise I asked for?)

        Reply
      2. Roza

        Haha, me too. First words out of my manager’s mouth when I gave notice at my previous job was, “Is it about money? I can easily get you more money!” Um…if my work is so valuable to the company and you’d happily and easily pay me more for it, why aren’t you already doing that? As seems to always be the case, the company’s cheapness (no one got promoted or big raises without outside offers) was just one symptom of a larger toxic culture. I also doubt they would have actually matched the 40% raise, doubling of vacation time, and increase in other benefits my new job provided (and new job, though I love it for other reasons, is not even that outstanding in terms of salary/benefits–old job was just REALLY cheap towards junior staff).

        Reply
          1. Zip Zap

            But a lot of people ask for raises that way. They threaten to leave otherwise. Or present an offer for a job they don’t actually want. I hear about this mostly from guys. I think it might be a gender thing. Possibly also related to age and industry.

            Reply
    2. Nervous Accountant

      Oh my co does this all the time–counteroffer. If I hadn’t been reading this website since 2012, I’d think this was totally normal and appropriate and OK.

      Reply
    3. Actuarial Octagon

      It’s bizarre to me that this seems to happen so frequently. Several years ago when I left my dumpster fire of a job my manager threw a whole host of things out to get me to stay. More money, you don’t have to work with the *missing stair of a salesman*, you don’t have to do *process everyone hates*. Obviously, none of this had been offered when I complained about them previously. In the end, I didn’t trust them, left and am so much happier.

      Reply
    4. miyeritari

      Never believe your company when you say, “Sorry, leaving now,” and they say “but wait, we’ll give you the pay and company improvements you wanted.”

      They never do.

      Reply
      1. Specialk9

        “Never believe your company when you say, “Sorry, leaving now,” and they say “but wait, we’ll give you the pay and company improvements you wanted.” They never do.”

        My old job did for me, twice. I happily spent almost 15 years there. But it was open career advice from managers to get an offer letter so they could give you a raise, when they couldn’t get one just by asking. Most people job hopped, but job offer matching was done, without any career implications that I saw.

        I believe the rest of you that my experience isn’t universal, but it’s certainly not never.

        Reply
  5. FDCA In Canada

    Yesterday was my last day at work, and I’m fairly displeased with how my boss chose to handle it–she’s dispersing my duties to the rest of the staff, but not giving them any guidance on what I actually do, and her answer has been “They’ll figure it out.” One of my coworkers waited until I had five minutes left in the day then came into my office to ask “So what about your ongoing duties? What are we all going to do?” Well, for starters, I spoke with the people who would be directly affected, and I wrote up SOPs, and beyond that–I can’t do much for you in four minutes.

    On the plus side, I’ve had five interviews this week and I have another one in an hour, plus I’ve had interest from about three further opportunities, so hopefully I won’t be unemployed for too long.

    Reply
    1. MsT13

      In a VERY similar place, but I’m moving roles in the company, so my managers agreed to “share my time” next week. The director that manages one of my ongoing projects is actually still refusing to name someone to cover it.
      Waiting for the panic to ensue next…Thursday.

      Reply
  6. Jimbo

    Week 3 since I resigned from my job! I’ve had four interviews since that time, turned down two jobs because of bad fit or bad commute, got rejected for a couple. One of the companies I interviewed with has asked for references! I am on pins and needles the past several days waiting to hear back to see if they will make an offer!

    One thing I worry about in this stage are my references. The reason I resigned my last job is partly a relationship with my immediate supervisor which was getting worse and more adversarial over time. I’ve been spending a lot of time calling the EAP service to cope and at a certain point I just could not take any more and gave my two weeks notice with no job lined up.

    I made the most of my final two weeks at my old job and made as graceful an exit as I could. My boss even told me that he appreciated all the documentation, training, and procedures manuals I left with him. I worry because in my exit interview with HR, I wasn’t planning on it but my true feelings about mismanagement, financial difficulties with the project and how chronic under-funding and bad planning led to my departure came out. I was very honest with HR. I am worried if that would filter down to my old boss and if he might say something negative about me in a reference call as a result.

    Reply
    1. DDJ

      I’d like to thank you for giving honest feedback in your exit interview. If HR doesn’t totally suck, hopefully they’ll use the information wisely, and it won’t filter down to your old boss in the near future. Good luck with the job search!

      Reply
    2. Jadelyn

      If your HR is at all competent, they’ll be circumspect in addressing the concerns you mentioned in your exit interview. If I saw an exit survey come through with some really bad stuff in it, it would go up to my VP, up diagonally to the SVP over the departing person’s manager’s department, and be addressed as a coaching issue down from there in a way that kept it disconnected from the departing person as much as possible – more of a “we’ve noticed some issues in XYZ, let’s work on that” rather than “Fergus told us you screwed up XYZ, fix it now”. I mean, they can’t be completely sure the manager won’t work it out, but they should be really trying to keep it from being connected back to you.

      Reply
    3. Jimbo

      Thanks both for the feedback! This is particularly crucial to me because the employer who asked for my references was pretty insistent about getting to talk with the supervisors from my last two jobs. Of course I was on the spot and could not refuse or think of a good reason not to give them my last supervisor as a reference

      Reply
  7. Trout 'Waver

    To all the HR people out there with applicant tracking systems: Either make sure they work with common browsers or openly state which browsers are supported. Going through an entire application in Firefox and finding the submit button does not work is a pain in the ass and makes me think less of your company. Fortunately Chrome worked. But c’mon man.

    Also, cover letters are important. Make sure there’s an opportunity for candidates to submit one.

    Reply
    1. Jadelyn

      My favorite are the ones which only work in freaking IE. Who uses that anymore? The only reason I still have IE on my work computer at all is because Cognos Event Studio only works in IE. I use Chrome for literally everything else.

      Although, in HR’s defense, ATS browser compatibility is not something we generally have a lot of control over. The ATS vendor is the primary one at fault there. Although I’ll grant you, “compatibility with common browsers” should’ve been a must-have when vendor-shopping for the ATS.

      Reply
      1. Sunshine on a cloudy day

        OMG. Thank you! I hate IE and I do sorta judge anyone who uses it (as first choice/preference). It was so weird – at my last job everyone used IE and then sort of judged me for using Chrome. Felt like I was in a bizarro world.

        Reply
        1. Jadelyn

          Every day was opposite day, lol. I do judge people a bit on using IE – IT sets it up as the default, so it actually makes a handy way to tell, when I go to help someone with tech stuff, whether they’re tech-savvy or will need a lot of handholding. If they’ve changed their default browser, I can give them high-level instructions and expect them to run with it; if they’re still using IE, well, step by step with screenshots it is!

          Reply
          1. Lightly-chewed Jimmy

            eh…IE is my personal last choice, but if IT set me up with IE then I’d be using IE because I’d assume that’s the one I’m supposed to use.

            Reply
        2. MLiz

          actually at my current job, IT has made IE the default browser. I hate it. but I’ve arranged myself with it by now, mostly because I have zero control over it. our intranet only works with IE, so there’s nothing I can do.

          Reply
            1. MLiz

              I sort of have Firefox also (not working with intranet but 90% of our systems are only reachable via intranet so eh), but I got a “you know we’re using IE here” gentle admonishment, so there’s that. And of course I have no admin rights. Also there’s so much blacklisted from my emloyer’s side, I mostly use my phone for other stuff, even if it’s inane and totally benign.

              Reply
        1. Jadelyn

          You know, that’s a really good question. Is there a version of IE for Mac? I’ve only ever been a Windows user so I have no idea how someone on a Mac would be able to access Event Studio.

          Reply
          1. Proofin' Amy

            It was discontinued ages ago. Not long after Macs stopped supporting it, I was doing freelance writing for a magazine that used an IE-only invoicing system. I had to use an emulator that allowed me to run IE on my Mac, just so I could get paid. Thankfully, they dropped the system eventually.

            Reply
      2. justsomeone

        “…browser compatibility is not something we generally have a lot of control over.”
        My friend works for a big tech company and they’re having a hell of a time with Chrome killing Flash. Now one of their application processes is broken and there’s literally nothing she can do about it. It’s on the vendor to fix it, and they can only fix it so fast. But applicants still have to go through the process and she’s stuck on repeat “It doesn’t work in Chrome but it works in IE. Tell your applicants to take it in IE. There is nothing I can do to fix this right now.”

        Reply
      3. Becky

        Ugh we have so many clients who have old intranet applications and sites that only work in outdated version if IE. Whenever we update our application (that they can embed in their system) we always get complaints that it doesn’t work anymore–yeah because IE7 (which is what “Compatibility Mode” forces IE to act like) is out of date and insecure and we don’t support it! We’ve slowly (VERY slowly) been forcing them to update to the latest version or evergreen versions of browsers. We had one client which finally got off using XP for the majority of their employees in the last year. (XP which is incapable of upgrading beyond IE8.)

        Reply
      4. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

        My campus requires Chrome since we moved over to G Suite… but the employee portal was designed for Firefox and tech has said they won’t be redoing it for Chrome. Sooooo what are we supposed to do? You require us to use Chrome but don’t make our required site compatible.

        Also, there’s a whole section that is required access in IE. I genuinely, honestly do anything I can to avoid having to go in that section. Won’t do it. IE sucks so bad and my computer always has issues after I use it.

        Reply
        1. Chaordic One

          I didn’t even know that people still used IE. I thought it had been replaced by Microsoft Edge. Fortunately, I’ve never run into a problem with my browsers.

          Reply
    2. Schnapps

      Most of our internal website (forms, etc) only work properly in an old version of Internet Explorer.

      They recently upgraded our application system, but the previous one only worked with Firefox, Chrome, Safari, or Opera.

      Tax dollars at work, I tell you.

      Reply
  8. Squeeble

    I got a weird email from a recruiter last week. The recruiter described the position she was hiring for and said “given your experience in this area, I thought you might be able to point me in the right direction. If you know someone who might be interested in the position, please feel free to pass this along to them!”

    I mean…I’m not interested in that job myself, but it seemed odd that she wasn’t trying to recruit ME.

    Reply
    1. ThatGirl

      I’ve gotten so many bizarro recruiter emails. Some of them are great and others just seem totally clueless. I’m guessing she thought you might know people who were a good fit, but it’s definitely a bit weird.

      Reply
        1. Folklorist

          That sounds like the recruiter version of “negging” or something. Like, you’re supposed to feel slightly insulted but still want to prove yourself that you’re a good candidate? Or something? How strange.

          Reply
    2. Rincat

      I get emails worded like that from recruiters quite often. It’s kind of weirdly insulting to me. Is there some kind of subtext I’m missing that’s like, “If you know of anyone…like yourself…reach out to me!” or are they just bad at emails?

      Reply
    3. Work Wardrobe

      I used to get a ton of those. It’s fishing, really.

      If I knew someone who was really in need of a lead, then yeah. But I’m not turning over my contact to a stranger…

      Reply
    4. Detective Amy Santiago

      I’d say it depends on your relationship with the recruiter. If it’s someone that you’ve worked with who has placed you in a position and knows you’re not looking, then I think it makes perfect sense. “We sent Squeeble to Company X and it worked out well. Company Y is looking for the same type of person. Maybe Squeeble can recommend someone.”

      Reply
        1. Detective Amy Santiago

          Hmm, yeah, that’s a little weird then. I have gotten some of those that are like “we have this great job for you and if you’re not interested feel free to pass it along”.

          Fun fact: they are all jobs I am wildly unqualified for because data mining software doesn’t understand context.

          Reply
          1. Jadelyn

            LMAO at that last. I get those a lot too – either ones I’m wildly unqualified for, or wildly overqualified for. I get HRBPs and HR Manager positions on the one end, and data entry and admin assistant at the other end. Which, to be fair, my resume has some related stuff because I’m working my way up from having started as an admin assistant, but as you say, data mining software doesn’t get context, so it sees “has those skills” and not “has progressed from there and obviously is not interested in going backwards to continue using those skills”.

            Reply
            1. Detective Amy Santiago

              I’ve been offered nursing jobs with exorbitant bonuses if I move to Alaska. I am not a nurse, but I have done administrative support for a nursing program and worked as a nurse recruiter for a while.

              Reply
              1. Database Developer Dude

                Wow, Detective Amy Santiago, that comment resonates with me. I did IT work for a financial organization and I keep getting requests from financial firms for a resume…

                Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        The thinking is that you may appreciate being able to help a contact find a job they’re excited about — that you’ll be helping your contact, not just the recruiter.

        This is actually a pretty common approach!

        Reply
        1. neverjaunty

          Sure, but this is networking backward. If a recruiter I already have some kind of relationship with asked me that question, I’d see it as reaching out. But a recruiter I don’t know at all? Don’t skip the step of building a professional network and then ask me to carry your water.

          Reply
          1. The OG Anonsie

            Agreed. Cold blasting out contacts to people on LinkedIn or wherever with a specific job listed in their history and going “call me, or tell someone else to call me, or give me your contacts!” is many degrees of dumb. Asking someone you have a relationship or have a contact with for some specific reason already is one thing, shotgunning like this is another.

            I used to get these all the time when I was in the sciences, mass copy-pasted “please agree to be a contact for me or give me your contacts” messages. Pass.

            Reply
            1. neverjaunty

              I am glad to help my friends, too. I can help them best by referring them to recruiters I know are good. Someone who cold-favors me like this is telling me they don’t understand networking – a key skill for recruiters.

              Reply
        2. JamieS

          That approach sounds like the recruiter is using a person’s emotions and goodwill towards a contact in order to manipulate that person into doing a big part of the recruiter’s job for free.

          Reply
          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Eh, this is part of a recruiter’s job. Plus, as others have said, it’s a common way of softly seeing if the person themselves might be interested without pitching them directly and seeming like you’re poaching them. (I’ve definitely sent that kind of email to a person I’m hoping will apply herself, but for political reasons I can’t be seen as being trying to poach her.)

            Reply
            1. JamieS

              I still don’t agree with the approach. Strategically reaching out to a contact is one thing, “cold-call” emailing people asking for leads in hopes their emotions will inspire them to hand you leads is another.

              I don’t understand the logic of you sending an email not asking someone to apply for an opening in hopes she’ll apply. If you sent an email to her about the opening and she wound up applying and getting the job wouldn’t it still look like you poached her regardless of the content of the email? I’ll just assume you made the right call but seems unnecessarily convoluted to me.

              Reply
              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                It’s not an attempt to play on emotions; it’s just the idea that you might actually appreciate being able to connect a contact with a job lead because many people do.

                Re: the poaching — there’s a difference between actively recruiting someone and them expressing interest in the opening on their own.

                Reply
                1. JamieS

                  When the reasoning behind an approach is based completely on emotions (I consider feeling appreciation an emotion) I consider that using a person’s emotions as a means to an end AKA playing on their emotions. At this point it seems like we’ve hit a wall with me saying the wall is “purple” and you saying it’s “lilac” so I will not go on.

                  Re poaching: I was referring to the appearance of poaching not the actual activity. Wouldn’t emailing her with a fairly easy to see through ruse still give the appearance of poaching even if that’s not what was technically done? I’m assuming the politics issue was not wanting to upset her employer not an actual law you were trying to not run afoul of so appearance would matter. It still seems a bit illogical to me but again I think we’ve reached an impasse so I’ll move on.

                  Also, I know “ruse” is too strong for what you described but I can’t think of a more accurate word.

              2. Not So NewReader

                Using a third party as the point of the question, can be a form of politeness/courtesy. It gives the message recipient an easy out: “Oh, so sorry. Can’t think of anyone.”

                OTH, if the person was interested they could say, “yeah, ME!”

                There are lots of times when building an easy out into the question just makes everyone more comfortable. I offered a friend “first refusal” on some large items I was selling. The easy out here was “refusal”. Later he said that he liked the way I presumed he would NOT buy the item, it made it so much easier to cut through the awkwardness and get down to thinking about the item itself.

                Reply
    5. HRperson

      They ARE trying to recruit you. I get these multiple times a week. They know you are a passive candidate and they may hope to work with your current company so don’t want to be seen as deliberately poaching…but they want to know if you’ll bite at a dangled opportunity. They are hoping you’ll either say, “I do know somebody! Me!” or that you’ll do their job for them and recommend someone else qualified.

      Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        I was just coming to say that – when we do relationship recruiting (asking employees to send jobs to their networks) we specifically request that they word it as “if you know anyone who may be interested”, because often those emails go out to other nonprofit organizations we’re close partners with and we don’t want to damage that relationship by being seen as explicitly poaching their employees.

        It’s plausible deniability as much as anything else.

        Reply
    6. Master Bean Counter

      That’s pretty normal. You can go back and say I am interested. It’s a low-pressure way of finding out if you’d even be interested. And it’s almost the exact email I got that led me to my current position.

      Reply
    7. De Minimis

      I get these all the time, I think they’re just trying to get more bang for their buck with an e-mail blast to anyone on their contact list [usually anyone who has ever applied to anything with them.] I don’t think that they even look at the backgrounds of most of the people they’re e-mailing.

      Reply
    8. Mazzy

      I got this from an otherwise great well known recruiter once. It was a slap in the face. I had done work above that level actually but my title never reflected it, so maybe they thought I was under qualified

      Reply
    9. The New Wanderer

      I would have said it seems like the recruiter just forgot the clause about “If you are interested or know someone who might be,” but given the other comments about receiving similar wording, I guess it’s just a (lousy) recruiting technique. So much simpler and less potentially offensive to include you the recipient as a potential interested candidate!

      Reply
    10. Iris Carpenter

      This used to be perfectly standard wording in jurisdictions with laws against poaching employees. It is understood that if you think you fit the vacancy described then you recommend yourself. It is certainly not meant to be “negging” or belittling in any way.

      Reply
    11. Koko

      Was it sent to your work email? I get emails worded like that frequently to my work address, and I always kind of assumed it was a polite cover so they don’t appear to be using your company’s resources to poach you out from under them, or so that if a boss or colleague saw the email they wouldn’t wonder if you’ve been passing your resume around.

      If to personal email, I’m not sure.

      Reply
    12. Epsilon Delta

      I was supposed to meet a recruiter for lunch. I emailed him the day before to find out details and he responded back that he had to be out of town but we should reschedule. Then he never called to reschedule… until 3 months later. On my wedding day. I wish I hadn’t missed the phone call! Hearing his reaction would’ve been priceless.

      Reply
    13. Where's the Le-Toose?

      A few months ago I had a recruiter reach out to me and then ghost me. Maybe I was part of a quota for establishing a certain number of calls/emails? I’m really happy at my job but if someone from a large healthcare conglomerate comes calling, I’m always willing to listen to see if they are offering “money bath” kind of money or if it’s “meh” money!

      Reply
    14. Bex

      I get these all the time, I’m assuming it’s from people using LinkedIn for lead generation. The one this morning was for an Assistant Compliance Officer position in Chicago. It requires FINRA Series 7 & Series 24 registrations; Series 63 and Series 65/66 Registration within 90 days in position.

      I’m a nonprofit development/marketing person living in CA. I am none of those things.

      Reply
    15. Fake old Converse shoes

      The weirder (and more infuriating) ones are those who automatically assume that you’re a man… C’mon, do your research! Or at least make it gender neutral!

      Reply
    16. Sam Foster

      Lots of recruiting firms give new hires a “kit” on what to do and then hand them a random list of contacts to reach out to. It’s basically cold calling in email form, I think it is terrible and it just shows that the recruiter is too new to be worth engaging with.

      Reply
  9. Cafe au Lait

    I have two questions I’m hoping that AMA hive-mind can answer. They’re similar, so I’m putting them together.

    1. Is there a good way to ask people I’m training to take notes? I’m going on maternity leave in about six weeks, and I’ve been training my coworkers on my different responsibilities. While my job looks incredibly straightforward on paper, in practice it’s much more complicated. I handle teapot processing for my unit. On average I handle close to a thousand teapots a month. Overall there are thirty different criterias I look at to determine processing.

    While training my coworkers ask good questions during our training sessions, they’re not writing down the answers or even trying to jot down anything to trigger their memories. I’ve explicitly told them “You’ll want to take notes because this is trickier than it looks.” Each of the three people have opted not to do so.

    Yesterday one of my coworkers was working on teapot returns, and she asked so many questions about basic level teapot processing. I happily answered her questions, but couldn’t help think “I went over this with you, and if you’d taken notes you’d have a much better retention of how to handle teapots right now.”

    2. Interviewing while pregnant or post-birth. An internal job popped up that intriques me, and I’m applying as it’s a great match for my skills and interest. If the search committee reviews submissions as they arrive, they could feasibly hold phone interviews mid-October. In person interviews would be two to three weeks after that. I’m due a week into November. There’s a possibility that all interviews could be over before my due date (if baby holds out that long).

    If the interviewing processing takes longer than I think, there’s a very good chance that I’ll be giving birth in the middle of the process. I’m fearful that I’ll need to cancel because I’m either in the middle of giving birth, or just had the baby. I’m not sure what to do if that happens. Waiting until the next “interesting” job comes around isn’t an option; promotional opportunities in my org are becoming scarcer, and I really want to move out of my current role.

    Has anyone been in a similar position. How did you handle it, and what was the outcome?

    Reply
    1. Susan K

      You might want to consider writing down the information yourself rather than asking people to take their own notes. This would help not only for training, but is also a good practice for when you move on so that your successor will have this information. It could also bee good to have this stuff written in the event that you have some kind of emergency that takes you out of the office unexpectedly.

      Reply
      1. AndersonDarling

        Yep. I don’t take notes when I am being trained until there is something specific like a file name or password that I have to remember exactly. But I will sometimes pretend to take notes just to make the trainer feel better, but I never go back to them. I have a solid memory for training situations.
        But writing down all the pertinent information for the trainee could be less stressful.

        Reply
      2. Cafe au Lait

        Already done. When I started and was training, I developed a four page processing grid: how the item looks unprocessed, what I need to do, where it goes, and then what do when it came back. I’ve shared this document with everyone I’m training. I’ve encouraged everyone to print it out, and make notes, or copy it to their own Google drives and update with their own words/phrases to help them later.

        Reply
        1. DDJ

          So if everything they need to know is in the grid, print out copies for them. Then when they ask, you can cheerfully let them know it’s in the guide if they need to reference it. I don’t mind a little bit of hand-holding at the start of training, especially when tasks are particularly complex. And actually, as I was training my newest employee, I realized there were a few gaps in the training notes that needed to be filled, because certain things have never been formally documented.

          For your own peace of mind, you might want to keep a copy of your document with you so that when you’re going through training someone, you can see if there are any little things missing. I find that when I’m actually walking through a process, if I try to ONLY follow the training document, and there’s something missing, then I can make my own notes and update the document later.

          Reply
          1. Cafe au Lait

            I’ve been doing this, and I’ve been grateful for the opportunity to “freshen up” the procedural documents. Overtime things have been tweaked, and while the procedure is still correct on paper, having the updated process on paper is good. It’s also been a great opportunity to clarify with my boss “If coworker A is doing X, should they also proceed with Y, or should coworker B handle that?”

            If anything goofy happens when I’m on leave, I know it won’t be my fault. Right now I feel responsible for getting as many ducks in a row as possible.

            Reply
            1. AnonAndOn

              “If anything goofy happens when I’m on leave, I know it won’t be my fault.”

              I’d say you’ve pretty much done all you can do on your end. If they choose not to take notes it’s their problem. You can’t make them do what they don’t want to do or are unwilling to do. You’re right that anything they’ve overlooked will not be your fault.

              Reply
        2. nonymous

          If you’re especially anxious or concerned about a trainee, ask them to walk you through the particular scenarios as a final check.

          Reply
    2. Combinatorialist

      If the three people are all doing the same thing, might it not be more efficient for you to write down some of the details? I don’t think every criteria is going to come up or be remembered during training, even if they do take notes. It seems like this would help the current situation, make training the new person easier if you do get the new job, and generally have better documentation for the future.

      Reply
    3. zapateria la bailarina

      For your first question – I think when your coworker asks questions that you know you definitely covered with her, you should say something. After you answer the questions you could say something like “this is a really common thing you’ll encounter, I’d suggest writing all this down so that you can reference it next time this comes up”

      Reply
    4. Marcy Marketer

      For question #1, I’d recommend addressing repeat questions in the moment. You could say, “Nancy, I answered these questions on X day. I don’t mind repeating myself once, but please take notes so that I don’t have to go over this again.”

      You can also say, “great questions! I went over these answers on Friday. What do you remember from that conversation? ((Wait)). Well, maybe Perceval can refresh your memory after this session, since he was also here for the Friday training session.”

      Reply
    5. EddieSherbert

      No help with #2 but for #1…

      I had a junior editor at my former job who drove me NUTS because he never took notes and CONSTANTLY needed retraining. I finally was like “you need to take notes.” My most effective tactic to make that actually happen? Awkwardly writing stuff down FOR HIM during meetings like “oh, this is a good reminder!” (in a cheery tone).

      It was amazing who quickly he was like, okay, I can take my own notes…

      (we did have a good relationship after he got into the swing of things an didn’t seem to hold the “notes” thing against me!)

      Reply
    6. not so super-visor

      In training, I’ve used either bluntness (you should really be taking notes on this) or mock surprise (you’re not going to take notes on this?) to get the point across. It always worries me when trainees can’t figure this out on their own. The ones who are openly resistant to note taking (even after suggesting it) are usually the ones who don’t make it.

      Reply
      1. not so super-visor

        I’d like to add that there are written instructions handed to these folks, but when you’re walking someone through a procedure, they should still probably take some of their own notes for reference.

        Reply
    7. katamia

      Not everyone learns the same way. I agree that it sounds like the particular person you talk about here would probably have benefited from taking notes, but some people have trouble focusing on what people are talking about if they’re trying to write at the same time. Others aren’t very good at taking notes. Others might be decent at taking notes but might not realize Very Important Information A is actually important and might focus on Relatively Unimportant in the Grand Scheme of Things Information B instead. I agree that you should write down what you want them to know.

      Reply
      1. TL -

        I agree that there should be a written protocol – and there is in this case – but when training someone, they should also take notes (unless they have a really good memory then I don’t care). The trainer can’t write instructions that reinvent the wheel nor can they magically know what everyone knows and doesn’t know. You write instructions for the level of knowledge that you expect your audience to have and trust them to take notes to fill in the gaps.

        Reply
      2. Sunshine on a cloudy day

        +1 to not everyone learning the same way. If I take notes the first time something is being explained to me I find the notes absolutely useless (aside from specific passwords/file names etc.). I just don’t know what I should be focusing on and I need some sort of idea of what the point of the process is to start to put together coherent notes.

        Reply
      3. Elizabeth H.

        Same, I am not much of a note taker. I do TAKE notes often but I realize that I virtually never ever actually read them and they just turn into messy piles of post-it notes all over my desk. I have an excellent memory for processes and for figuring out how to do things that I’ve seen someone do once.

        Reply
    8. neverjaunty

      TELL them to take notes. Don’t just suggest it.

      If you can make a quick handout or FAQ sort of thing to give them afterward, that might also help.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        Yep. Gloves off here. You are not telling them to play in traffic or walk barefoot across burning coals.

        Tell them that you want to see how far they can get with your printed instructions and their notes. Tell them this practice for when you are not within feet of them and they have to figure out what to do next.

        So tell them note taking is not optional. You see by the questions they are asking that they have not been taking notes, so from today forward, note taking will be part of the job.

        Now. There are some folks who actually do not need notes. IF people are grasping the work and doing it with few or no questions, then I would leave those people alone and not speak to them directly about their lack of note taking.

        I had a boss train me to do a 22 step process. Each step had variables that required different actions. He did not let me take notes because I was wasting his time. He wasted more time going over various points and fixing my work than if he had just waited a few seconds for me to write it down. At the bottom of all this was respect issues. He felt a dog or a horse could do the job, it did not require intelligence. This was his way of thinking.

        Reply
    9. Jill_P

      I don’t have any personal experience with having kids, and I’m in Canada where our mat leave can be (and usually is at my company) a year long.
      So with those caveats, a director I used to work for was once on a panel discussion around this kind of topic, and she said she interviewed for a promotion while pregnant- and when she disclosed this fact, the response was “then one of your first jobs will be hiring someone to cover for you”. She got the job, and encouraged all of us not to let family planning stand in the way of seeking career progression. I hope it works out as well for you!

      Reply
    10. Agile Phalanges

      To get your trainees to take notes, start saying you think you’re going into labor NOW, so they might want to write this down, as you’ll be unavailable for questions. :-) I’m half-joking, but when I started my job here, I was trained (including in payroll, no pressure) by someone who, halfway through the first day of training me, told me “oh by the way, I’m going out of town for the next two weeks, and not just out of town, but on a rafting trip completely out of cell phone range.” My predecessor had been fired, my boss doesn’t even have the computer system installed, the person training me was literally the only one who could have helped me, and was going to be unavailable the second time I did payroll. Good thing I’m a quick study and good note-taker! It actually went fine, but I was sweating bullets, for sure!

      Reply
    11. CMart

      For #2) I had some final round interviews while ~9 months pregnant. I was pretty much just taking things on a day to day basis. I always made sure to follow up with my interviewers about next steps, what they thought the timeline would be, etc… And then if I felt good about things pressed for an accelerated timeline for myself if it was feasible for them.

      For the job I accepted, I knew after the first round of interviews that I definitely wanted to work there and if they gave me an offer I would accept. They were dragging their feet and I essentially told them as much. I let my contact know that I was very, very interested in this job and if they were interested in me if they could please speed up at least my end of the process ASAP due to a time crunch on my part. I got called back for another interview the next day and extended the offer a couple hours after I left.

      The funny part is, despite being ENORMOUSLY pregnant, they were all perplexed when I then requested my start date be pushed back by three months and shocked when the reason was “uh, I’m going to have a baby like, tomorrow.”

      Reply
      1. Oilpress

        I don’t think this is a usual scenario. Most employers will require someone to start as soon as possible if they have posted a job. Anyone with common sense would recognize your advanced pregnancy status during interviews and wonder if they can afford to hire someone to fill a position who can’t start working for a few months.

        Reply
    12. Where's the Le-Toose?

      On #1, I have a different take than some folks above. You’ve already counseled them to take notes and they are refusing. When they ask you a question covered by your training, you’re well within your rights to tell them just that and then don’t help. And if they try to call you while out on leave, don’t answer the phone and let them learn the hard way. They are being really rude with your time. You have a limited time at the office and they’re taking advantage of you willing to be an accommodating coworker. You could also bring this up with your manager and let your manager know that your coworkers failing to take notes in training is interfering with your productivity.

      As for #2, one of my direct reports is in your situation. She came to me to discuss it and I told her to apply, and I’ve lobbied my boss to schedule our interviews in a way to accommodate her pregnancy. It’s not only the right thing to do, but this employee is fantastic and we want to keep her! I’m assuming your pregnancy is known in the office and if so, if you have the ear of a peer to those on the hiring committee, I would start there. If you don’t have that kind of relationship, or if you don’t want to disclose your pregnancy, or if there are other issues at play, you could make it known with HR and ask for an accommodation when you apply for the job. Your comments to HR would be, in California, protected as part of your personnel file, and protected as a request for accommodation under FMLA and our state’s similar laws.

      Best of luck on the interview and as my Irish wife would say, “have fun with the wee one on the way!”

      Reply
      1. Specialk9

        You are awesome for lobbying for a pregnant employee – sadly many wouldn’t, super short sighted – and for being so aware of retention of a stellar employee.

        Reply
    13. RemoteTeapotInspector

      Is it possible to conduct the sessions virtually? If the processes are all on the computer or you can point a webcam at the desk, etc., have everyone call into a video call and record the call. That way every last step is recorded for posterity, and any questions got answered and those got recorded too. Then attach the recording to a central wiki or just email it out. This approach is a very valuable when dealing with co-irkers who think there time is just too valuable to pay attention or do the work themselves.

      Reply
    14. Chaordic One

      Well I would certainly take notes and I think you’re being very reasonable in your request. In some cases you might create notes yourself, but that really is more hand holding than I’d like to get into.

      I would certainly apply for position while pregnant. If your employer is not completely obtuse they would certainly consider your application and candidacy for the position. When I worked in HR, although I didn’t have much influence, I would give qualified candidates such as yourself a special accommodation to get them interviewed ASAP. Your employer may not accommodate you, but you should definitely apply. Maybe everything will work out.

      Reply
    15. AJennifer

      When I train someone on a new task or process I ask them to submit notes/bullet points for me to review so I can fill in any gaps or add any important info they missed and we regroup to review what those are. Some people take notes religiously and still mess things up. On the other hand, one particular person I have been working with to take over more of my work never takes notes during training but an hour after we’re done will send me her write up which is almost always spot on and we can quickly review any nuances that she missed. Having good documentation to start with definitely helps.

      Reply
  10. Non-Trad Bob

    Is there an AAM-like website for PhD programs (STEM) and/or Statements of Purpose?

    What I’ve found so far is garbage. I’ve been out of school for a while and I don’t know what’s “hip” anymore, haha. As far as essays go, mine aren’t that bad! But, I do realize that they lack something…Oomph? I want to write a great SoP, not just an OK one. I also know the “flow” of my writing isn’t that great.

    Reply
    1. Combinatorialist

      FemaleScienceProfessor is an old blog (not currently active) that has a lot of good information about applying to grad school and what not. TheProfessorIsIn has some but is more geared to once you are in PhD programs and then getting a job after. I highly recommend both of them (math PhD student).

      Reply
      1. The New Wanderer

        I found TheProfessorIsIn to be very geared toward the liberal arts and less useful for STEM, myself. But lots of interesting information on academic job applications and interviews, which may someday be helpful to me.

        Reply
    2. Anon One Time

      I applied to several biochem PhD programs and also served as a student assistant in the recruiting process while a PhD student. I don’t think anyone ever cared about statements of purpose. That being said, I imagine if a candidate’s statement of purpose was garbage, they would have been weeded out at some point. The university I was at was top 5 for this particular program, and I think everyone with a good GPA who had done research before was invited to interview. And everyone who could confidently and accurately talk about their research was offered a spot. Really, the professors cared the most about finding people who had worked in a research lab before (usually as an undergrad), knew they liked it, and were willing to work in a research lab for the next 5 years.

      With the statement of purpose, I would focus on communicating that you have worked in a research lab before, and that you enjoy working in a research lab. Because a STEM PhD is many years of working in a research lab.

      Reply
      1. Artemesia

        The main thing they are looking for is passionate curiosity about some research questions that fit the program. They are hiring future researchers. so long as your writing is decent enough, it is the content i.e. the obvious knowledge of the field and what the program faculty are doing in this field and desire to pursue particular types of issues in this field that will stand out. PhD programs in these fields should be for people who can’t bear to not know more about X and do research on X; that is what you need to convey.

        Reply
    3. Simone R

      Yeah there’s nothing really good online. I would avoid gradcafe at all costs which is probably the most common place people go. There’s a lot of advice there that says if you do X it will never work out for you, and most of it I did and was very successful in my PhD applications.

      I think the best thing to do is ask other people who have applied to PhD programs to look it over. Your recommendation letter writers could be helpful, but for me the best people were my peers who had applied to programs recently.

      The best advice I was given was to make sure my statement sounded passionate enough-they’re looking for people who are willing to put their life on hold and spend the majority of their time thinking about a very tiny problem. I had a lot of dumb sounding sentences like “I was proud to X” or “I was excited by Y” and as silly as it was it definitely made it ‘pop’. You’re also ahead if you’re working on it now! I think I started around November for December deadlines.

      Reply
    4. Annalee

      Depending on your field & how competitive it is, there might be some discipline-specific information out there, because I imagine the conventions vary widely. I’m in a clinical psychology phd program and there is a TON of information about applying to those. If there isn’t any info, your recommenders might be the best people to ask.

      Also, definitely avoid GradCafe. It is just a cesspool of anxiety.

      Reply
      1. Non-Trad Bob

        LOL, thanks!

        I was perusing CafePharma earlier this morning based on the comments from the GPA question (I was curious as to which pharma company hires based on GPA since I have a few friends in the field) and yikes!!! Spoiler alert: it’s Purdue; 2.8 GPA.

        Note to self: avoid all websites that start or end with CAFE :)

        Reply
    5. FTW

      See if you can connect with current students (sometimes admissions departments will have ambassadors). Although they can’t review for you, you can ask them how they approached theirs.

      Reply
    6. Student

      Try to put yourself in the mind of the people reading your statement of purpose.

      First off, they have little time – keep it short.

      Second, they may not be native English speakers, varying a lot by field. Keep away from idioms and slang. You can write about complex ideas, but pick vocabulary choices and sentence structures that are common, not recondite.

      Third, if you were a professor, deciding whether to take on an apprentice or let them into your school, what would you want to know? Cover letter tips will work well here. Probably interest in the subject matter, dedication, enthusiasm, personality, relevant prior experience. They want to know that you will cheerily slave away in a lab for hours, that you won’t give up as soon as things get hard and unpleasant (they will), that you care about the work they’re doing – the topics they research, the field they’re in.

      Reply
    7. nonymous

      assuming that you’re not applying to theSnootiestProgramEvah (likely not since you have taken a break in the ed process), the best advice I have is making contact with some professors in the dept. My program had an initial rotation year (some schools compress this experience into a semester), and you will get so much more out of that process if you have done the legwork to find a good match.

      Right now is especially busy with the new school year, but read some publications coming out of the professor’s lab and work on asking a couple questions via email, framed towards exploring whether that lab is a possible good fit. The best recommendation will be if someone on the admission committee advocates for you. Idk how long you’ve been out of school, but if it’s a big gap (3+ years) you will have to demonstrate that you’re not obsolete. Maybe you have direct work experience, but if not a short genuine exchange showing scientific curiosity would do the trick.

      Reply
      1. blackcat

        Even if you are applying to “theSnootiestProgramEvah” this is good advice. It is even good advice if you are unsure you want to go to a particular institution but admire someone’s work.

        -Signed, someone who decided not to go to “theSnootiestProgramEvah” but has benefitted professionally by networking with professors at theSnootiestProgramEvah.

        Reply
    8. AcademiaNut

      For statement of purpose, focussed enthusiasm is good. Make it clear that you’ve researched the department, and have an idea of what sort of research they do and why you’re interested in it. Tie in pre-grad school research or related experience and how it fuelled your interest in a career in that field. If you have a particularly area of research interest, bring it up and highlight any experience you have in it, and why you chose it.

      Reply
  11. ThatGirl

    I’m about two months into a brand-new role at a new-to-me company. It’s customer-facing but I’m more responsible for expanding our digital outreach and managing a number of things including our knowledge base, to make sure we’re all pulling from the same, most up to date sources of information. There are four CS reps and our team lead, who is my manager as well, but I’m sorta-kinda parallel to her (originally there was another manager who was going to be in charge of us both but she was laid off in a reorg).

    This week team lead told me she wanted me to start trying to pry info out of the reps, to make sure nobody is hoarding info that could be useful, or using old info that’s no longer relevant. She also wants to update our policies as needed and I’m in charge of leading that. I have my first meeting this afternoon with one of the likeliest toughest nuts to crack. I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing and a little nervous :) So… offer advice or wish me luck :P

    Reply
    1. Christmas Carol

      I’d take as much advantage as possible of newbie status to ask questions of multiple sources, and compare the responses. Why are you doing this? is taken much differently from a trainee than a supervisor.

      Reply
      1. ThatGirl

        Yeah, I have plans to talk to everyone else on the team, individually, and ask them why they do things the way they do and all that jazz. We’ll see how today goes and adjust from there. But I’m likely to get some pushback on “WHY are we changing things!” … I do have the team lead’s support of course.

        Reply
        1. Rusty Shackelford

          Why are we changing things?

          1. Oh, I don’t know that we’re definitely changing anything. We’re just getting a grip on what everyone’s doing.

          2. Some people might not be up to date. (Implied: Not you, obviously.)

          Reply
          1. ThatGirl

            Unrelated: I actually had a customer contact the other day who went by Rusty Shackelford. They did not respond to my query as to whether their real name was Dale.

            Reply
            1. Rusty Shackelford

              Of course they didn’t. Because now they’re hiding in their basement bunker, and they don’t get internet down there.

              Reply
      2. The Other Dawn

        Yes, I agree. The fact that OP is new is good when having to pry information from people. I’ve done that plenty. I always say that I’m new here and want to understand the process, how it works, what is needed, etc. And if there are any procedures laying around, read those first. Then when you talk to people you’ll be able to see if they’re following them. If not, it’s a chance to ask why something is done differently than the procedure. Maybe they found a better, more efficient way to do something and the procedures didn’t get updated. Or maybe they’ve gone rogue and the deviation from the procedures is costing the department/company money/time, etc.

        Reply
  12. Folklorist

    It’s your sick-day ANTI-PROCRASTINATION POST!!! I’m going to sit here and cough quietly to myself while you go out and do something that you’ve been putting off and then come back and brag about it!

    Reply
    1. Teapot Librarian

      Feel better! I told my HE (see below) that if he’d only come to me when he first found a problem with a particular spreadsheet (which, btw, was nothing more than him not knowing how to change row height), he wouldn’t need now to find all the changes to the original spreadsheet that he’s made over the past year and transfer them to the new spreadsheet. It sounds snotty as I wrote it, but I said it just as one would give a reminder to an entry level employee (which I did on Wednesday–“Remember I reminded you on Friday to submit your timesheet, but you said you would do it on Monday, and then you were sick for two days. Now you might get paid late, so in the future you shouldn’t put off submitting your time”). He mumbled under his breath in response, but I did what I needed to as a manager.

      Reply
    2. Liane

      Sit down and do the art for my latest blog article. I know what I want in the image, I have all the models I need. But I need to just sit down and put everything together. I’m still learning the latest Daz Studio, and–let’s not talk about my learning curve, okay?

      Reply
    3. Lazy Cat

      Not work related (except that work contributes to the problem…), but I finally talked to my doctor about my stress levels and anxiety! And after lunch I’ll reply to the work letter that has been on my desk for a week.

      Reply
    4. Lenora Jane

      I just made a very overdue appointment to go see my car insurance guy about…getting car insurance, so I can switch my out-of-state registration to in-state!

      Reply
    5. Ama

      Heh, I keep forgetting to make a hair appointment and it’s actually going to be a work issue shortly (we have our largest fundraising gala in two weeks and it’s been six months since I had a haircut). So I just did that.

      Reply
    6. Foreign Octopus

      Since I work from home, I tend to procrastinate the home stuff so today I did the washing up that has been accumulating during a busy week. I also cooked a huge chorizo pasta bake that’ll keep me going over the weekend. Feel better soon!

      Reply
    7. Al Lo

      I took a vacation day, so today has been all about dealing with stuff I’ve been procrastinating. Eye appointment, price comparisons on my car insurance before my renewal comes up, some banking phone calls and business that I’ve been putting off, making a dentist appointment for next week… etc, etc, etc.

      Reply
  13. Susan K

    I’m curious to see what people think about my friend’s interview strategy. He applied for a management position in our department. Our company has a very rigid hiring process, in which the hiring manager is required to select interview questions from a pre-approved question list provided by the corporate office. Three interviewers score each answer on a scale of 1-10, and then they average all the scores to give a total interview score for each candidate.

    My friend decided that, instead of answering the interview questions, he would prepare a Powerpoint presentation on why he should get the job. He brought his laptop to the interview and told the interviewers that he was not going to answer their questions, but would instead be giving a 30-minute presentation.

    If you are/were a hiring manager, is there any situation in which you would hire this person? I think I would run away screaming, because this seems like a huge red flag that this is going to be a problem employee. The sad part is that I have reason to believe my friend is actually great at interviewing, because I heard he got an impressive interview score when he interviewed for his current job. He thinks his Powerpoint presentation showed initiative and creativity, but I am pretty sure his refusal to answer the questions automatically eliminated him from consideration. I’m actually surprised that the hiring manager even let him do his presentation instead of just ending the interview. What would you do?

    Reply
    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      Oh hell no.

      I would have cut him off before he even started the presentation and told him that he either answers the questions or he can leave.

      Reply
    2. Rincat

      I’d tell him he can do his presentation at the end of the interview IF there is time. I’m not wild about pre-selected questions (I work in public higher ed so that is common), but I’d still want him to answer questions and not just assume he knows best what kind of information I want to hear.

      Reply
      1. PatPat

        Sooooo arrogant. He’s saying that HE knows better how their hiring process should go and HE knows better what information is relevant to the hiring committee but he really, really doesn’t. It’s such a bad idea for him to do this.

        Reply
    3. Amber Rose

      No. A PowerPoint presentation by itself is not the worst thing, although it’s gimmicky and awful and kind of presumptuous, but “I will not be answering your questions” is a straight up deal breaker. You have no way of knowing if your presentation addressed all their concerns, and honestly, my first instinct on hearing that is,
      “well, then I guess this meeting is over. Take your laptop and leave.”

      Reply
      1. AndersonDarling

        Yep. The point of an interview is to answer questions. The PowerPoint may talk about interesting things, but the interviewers may be asking completely different questions. Some interviews focus on skills, others focus on match to the company, some talk about experience…you can’t guess what the interviewers need.

        Reply
    4. Temperance

      I would absolutely not hire him. I would seriously be put off that my potential employee has already decided that he knows better than I do.

      I’ve had a bad experience with a know-it-all dude type who was my direct report, though, so this would be a hardcore no for me. I wouldn’t have let him continue and waste my time, though.

      Reply
    5. Piglet

      Double Nope. My employer has the same exact interview process and not answering means a zero on those questions and they won’t hire you due to the policy of the scoring requirement. On top of the huuuuuge red flag of not following simple directions and doing whatever he wanted.

      Reply
    6. DivineMissL

      I’d shut it down before he got started. It’s really not a good idea for him to decide that he knows better than the interviewer what skills are needed for the job, or to presume that he has covered everything that they might want to know about him. I’d peg him as someone who is overly controlling and inflexible – a problem employee.

      Reply
    7. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian

      If I had a candidate show up that stated they wanted to take over the interview and do their own thing, I wouldn’t continue at all. That would make me think the candidate wouldn’t follow directive/protocols if he didn’t feel like it, and that he was the type to make everything all about him. Definitely a strongly-negative impression for me.

      Reply
    8. Red Reader

      Oh, god, absolutely not. Like the Detective says, I don’t think he’d even get through opening up the laptop – “I’m not answering your questions” leads directly to “then get out of here and stop wasting my time.”

      Reply
    9. The Other Dawn

      I’d be highly annoyed if someone did this and would likely end the interview as soon as it was apparent they would not answer questions. If I’m the hiring manager, there are certain questions I want to ask in order to determine if someone is right for the job. Telling me they’re going to not answer questions and instead hold me hostage for 30 minutes with a presentation I didn’t ask for tells me it’s all about them and they would likely be A Problem if I were to hire them.

      Reply
      1. The Other Dawn

        Also, in my particular part of the industry, presenting a Power Point as a way to show creativity would be so out of sync to the extreme and unnecessary, as my particular function doesn’t require THAT kind of creativity. Maybe if they could show through Power Point how creative they are at digging for information on customers to detect money laundering…but even then, hard nope.

        Reply
    10. Ask a Manager Post author

      Zero. I’d cut him off and just say, “Actually, I have specific questions that I want to ask you.” The fact that they didn’t do that speaks to what a rigid hiring environment they’re in — it sounds like they’re not allowed to think for themselves at all.

      Reply
      1. dappertea

        Maybe they were curious? I could see a few of our hiring teams being so shocked and/or curious about what could possibly be in that presentation that they might let him go through part of it, but only after we asked our questions. And we would never consider hiring that person after that.

        Reply
        1. Rusty Shackelford

          Right. I’d know, then and there, that we were not going to hire this guy. But I’d let him go through his show just for the entertainment value. (And, okay, to show we gave him a chance if we happen to need it for CYA purposes.)

          Reply
      2. hbc

        I’ve got total leeway in my hiring environment, and I would have let him do it, probably. Somewhat because I tend to cave in-the-moment to assertiveness like this, but mostly because I want the full story to tell later.

        Reply
    11. Snark

      There is absolutely no way in hell that I would hire this person if they pulled this kind of stunt. I wouldn’t even so much as give him the rest of the interview. The moment of the declaration that he wasn’t going to answer my questions, I’d have cracked up and told him to get the hell out.

      And it is a stunt, a gimmicky, agonizingly self-conscious, arrogant stunt that makes me wonder if he’s capable of subordinating his massive ego enough after the interview to, say, follow my instructions or incorporate my feedback into a work product. It doesn’t show initiative and creativity, it shows arrogance and a sense of personal exceptionalism, and I cannot think of anything that reflects worse on the character of the interviewee or which would sink their chances faster.

      Reply
        1. neverjaunty

          this.gif

          Ignoring clear instructions and doing whatever the hell you feel like isn’t initiative and creativity; it’s just arrogance.

          Reply
    12. strawberries and raspberries

      I feel like in the moment I would let them go through with it to see what it is exactly that they think they are proving to me, but ultimately I would not hire them for subverting the rules. Plus, I tend to see this loose Dunning-Krueger kind of relationships between people who think they’re brilliant and doing the most on PowerPoint presentations, like they’re absolutely awful at a key part of their job but they think people will be *impressed* by their *PowerPoint skills.*

      Reply
      1. Gaia

        I will say that a big part of a friend’s job is creating Power Point presentations and hers are actually freaking amazing. They are beautiful, well branded and fluid. But most people’s “skills” include fancy colors and annoying transitions.

        Reply
        1. Jadelyn

          So many people forget that with PP, less is more. If it doesn’t enhance your message in some way, DON’T DO IT. PP has a million flourishes you can add so that you can pick and choose the best ones for a variety of situations…not so that you can use ALL OF THEM AT ONCE.

          Reply
          1. Specialk9

            Thanks for this reminder. I have to do a conference presentation to strangers that I’m nervous about, and I am leaning toward sparse and clean PPT but keep thinking, maybe more?

            Reply
            1. AcademiaNut

              Sparse, clean and easy to read. And make sure that your slides are readable to people in the very back of the room with eyes that are older than 40.

              Reply
    13. dappertea

      There is no way. There’s a reason we ask the questions that we do; for any candidate to come in assuming they know everything we were about to ask is incredibly assumptive and rude. Also, it eliminates the ability to see the candidate actually engage with us in normal conversation.

      Reply
    14. Jadelyn

      Honestly I’d laugh him out of the room. If you’re not willing to answer questions, then you’re not here for an interview, you’re here to do a sales pitch, which isn’t what I want from you or what I asked for, so don’t waste my time. And you’ve just shown me in the most blatant and unmistakable way that you are the type of person who ignores explicit instructions from your superiors in favor of doing things the way you want to do them. No way would I want to saddle myself with that kind of headache.

      Reply
    15. Temperance

      Also, I’d like to maybe suggest that the phrase “show initiative” is meaningless. I mean, it was levied at me when I was a teenager shoveling popcorn at a movie theater, because I wasn’t properly folding paper towels into 4 squares so I could use less.

      Reply
      1. only acting normal

        Oh yes. “Show initiative by following these processes to the letter without question, and don’t ever step outside the lines because we will scream at/fire you if you do”.

        Reply
    16. PB

      I would never hire a person who did this. I don’t know what I’d do if a candidate tried this. I’d probably be completely flabbergasted.

      Reply
    17. Lia

      I have been in the hiring manager’s shoes before (uh, last week, as a matter of fact) and to be honest, I was just stunned into silence. The candidate was internal, so familiar with how we hire, but decided to answer the first question of “tell us about yourself” with a 45 minute spiel that included handouts and visual aids, none of which were asked for.

      Needless to say, as the position requires adhering to strictly regulated protocols (the Feds aren’t too amused with responses that meander from their request), candidate did not advance to stage 2. Shame, because they were our #1 pick prior to the interview.

      Reply
    18. Troutwaxer

      The only way I could imagine hiring this person would be if they were an internal candidate trying to work around the weird interview system.

      Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        Even if they were, though, this isn’t how you go about changing an organizational process you disagree with. If your organization has a bad process, there are acceptable ways to push back and try to change things, but “refuse to do it and insist on doing things your way anyway” isn’t one of them.

        Reply
    19. ArtK

      I wouldn’t hire, but then again, I wouldn’t be working for a company that regulates the hiring process like that. Pick from a list of corporate-defined questions? Unless someone at corporate is brilliant, I doubt that the approved list can cover every possible job and situation.

      Reply
    20. Artemesia

      Nope Nope Nope. Who wants to hire an asshat who wants to micromanage the interview process? ‘I’m not going to do what you ask me to do’ fails the basic entry level element of ‘Job.’

      Reply
    21. SnarkyLibrarian

      Yuck. I would run away screaming from that dude. Also, in my department that would earn him an automatic zero on our hiring score sheet. No one shows “initiative and creativity” by blatantly ignoring a company’s hiring process. I feel sympathy irritation on behalf of anyone who has to interview him!

      Reply
    22. Where's the Le-Toose?

      Your friend’s strategy is great if your friend never wants to promote. This is such a terrible idea.

      They outlined what they wanted. They want to be able to compare applicants on an apples to apples basis. Your friend is walking in and saying, “look, I’m a banana!” And your friend will be known as the Power Point employee who can’t follow direction.

      Reply
    23. Samiratou

      This is the kind of thing that makes people rant about entitled Millenials who need to get offa their lawn.

      I agree with people that the selection of questions & scoring thing is stupid, and almost certainly based on fear of a discrimination lawsuit, but still. Refusing to answer their questions and giving a presentation all about yourself, leaving (possibly) no time for the interviewers to find out what they need to know? That’s just plain rude and thoughtless.

      Reply
    24. Niccola M.

      He did this for a management position? It’s a bad idea for any position, but no company wants a Chaos Muppet in management.

      Reply
    25. nep

      Hell no. I’d stop him. I don’t even think I’d give him the opportunity to answer our questions after that. His approach would be enough of a deal-breaker that going any further would be a waste of time.

      Reply
    26. Sam Foster

      Not even the slightest chance in the world I would hire this person and if they were an internal candidate I’d actually consider contacting their manager as a heads up that the interviewee wasn’t aligned with her the organization operated.

      Reply
    27. Zip Zap

      I wouldn’t let him give the presentation. I would explain the interview format and the rationale behind it. I would then tell him that it’s a requirement for all applicants; if he wants to be considered, he needs to go through the same process as everyone else. If he wasn’t ok with that, I would reject his application and suggest that he take his PowerPoint to a company that would be interested in it.

      I’m an outside the box sort of person. I like to do things differently and find exceptions to rules. But if you want an exception, you have to ask nicely ahead of time and make a good case for it. What he did was disrespectful to other applicants and reaks of entitlement.

      Reply
  14. Ms. Mad Scientist

    I mentioned my friend last week who mentions God on LinkedIn, and I’m wondering if I should say something to her about how she’s coming across pertaining to her resume and her poor attitude in professional online spaces.
    Relevant information: she has worked in engineering for the past 15 years, has been out of work for 1.5 years due to layoff. Her resume is 11 pages long and contains a lot of repetitive, irrelevant, and inappropriate information. On LinkedIn, she writes weekly rants about poor interview experiences and bad recruiter encounters, among other things.
    A couple of (male) recruiters on LinkedIn have recently called her out on her resume and her attitude. She fired back at one saying she “has to” have her resume that way and went on a rant about sexism and H1-B workers. I absolutely agree that sexism is a huge problem in STEM fields, but her behavior isn’t helping her.
    I’m wondering if she might be more receptive to constructive criticism from me, as a woman in a STEM field. I was also out of work for eight months before my current employer, so I know how it feels to be repeatedly rejected. I won’t mention the God thing because she knows I’m an atheist and I expect a 100% chance of being dismissed outright.

    Here is a potential script. Suggestions?
    Dear [Friend], I’m concerned the way you’re coming across in professional communication is giving potential employers the wrong impression of you, and it’s hurting your ability to get a job. I sympathize you’ve been out of work for so long, and I absolutely agree sexism is a problem in engineering. That may be why you’re not being considered. I get that interviewing is repetitive and applying with an ATS is more painful than setting yourself on fire. I get that repeated rejection absolutely, positively, sucks. But I think making some changes will help you get a job.
    It’s fine to dislike resume norms (2 pages or less, concise), but deviating wildly from those expectations as you have comes across as unprofessional, inappropriate, and unable to communicate effectively. And if that is their first impression of you, hiring managers will question how you will perform if hired. They will pass you over in favor of the dozens of advanced degreed, experienced, skilled applicants that are applying for the same job.
    Your conversations on LinkedIn and your website FAQ is part of the impression you’re making. This should be you on your most polished, most professional behavior. Your rants on LinkedIn, angry replies to constructive criticism, and snippy responses in your FAQ indicate an attitude problem, and that puts you as a huge disadvantage. I doubt you want to work with someone with a poor attitude-neither do most people. If you need to rant, do so, but save it for a private blog or journal.
    I’d be happy to give you more specific feedback on your resume and communication. Best of luck to you.

    Sorry this is so long. Thanks for reading!

    Reply
    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      Do you think your friend would be receptive to your feedback? If not, I wouldn’t bother wasting your energy on it.

      Reply
      1. AndersonDarling

        The friend may be in a spot where they would rather wallow than get a job. If that’s the case, then any kind of talk won’t help. The friend will clean things up when they are ready.

        Reply
    2. Temperance

      I think this might be a good conversation to have in person, if you can. The script seems a little preachy, and even though I know you’re right, she doesn’t sound like the kind of person who takes feedback well. She’s presumably a professional adult, and a lot of the advice is very 101 or geared towards high schoolers.

      Not knowing how she mentions God, I will say that it’s completely inappropriate unless she’s looking for a job related to ministry.

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yeah, I would do this in person or over the phone. You could start by email and say something like, “I think I’ve seen things in your LinkedIn posts that might really be hurting your job search. Would you like to talk and I can tell you what has concerned me?” But just launching into it in email isn’t likely to be effective.

        Reply
        1. Fake Eleanor

          Yes. As they mention on the Awesome Etiquette podcast, you want to ask permission to have the discussion before you launch into it. And in this case, if you get pushback to the very idea of having that discussion, you can avoid extended unpleasantness.

          Reply
        2. Elizabeth West

          Yes, and I would also spin the feedback as more positive, like “I think since this is the norm in business presentation, a 2-page resume will get you more responses than an 11-page one.” Give reasons: “Hiring managers are busy and they need something concise.”

          Reply
      2. EddieSherbert

        +1 unfortunately, the feedback is (appropriately) harsh and she doesn’t sound like someone who would take it well… I wouldn’t send her this. In-person conversation if anything.

        Reply
      3. Snark

        “She’s presumably a professional adult, and a lot of the advice is very 101 or geared towards high schoolers.”

        You’re not wrong. But….if her judgment is so poor that she takes LinkedIn, of all platforms, to rant about negative interview experiences and aggressively defends her 11-page resume, she may kind of need that level of coaching.

        Reply
        1. Temperance

          I definitely think she needs a lot of coaching or maybe to talk to someone so she stops showing her ass on Linked In, but I just don’t think this email will do it.

          Reply
    3. zapateria la bailarina

      Do you live near her? I really think this would come across better if you addressed in person, maybe over coffee or lunch?

      Reply
      1. Ms. Mad Scientist

        Yeah, I think you guys are right that it sounds preachy and it won’t go over well. I’m not going to send the letter.
        I’ll look at a real time conversation (we live in different states, so we don’t see each other in person).

        I appreciate everyone’s input on this. Thank you! :)

        Reply
    4. Becka

      I agree with everyone else and say do it in person or over the phone. As someone who works in the engineering field, engineers and firms loved LinkedIn and are very engaged on it. It’s even bigger issue that she is bad mouthing on there, because in my experience firms do connect with candidates. Engineering resumes tend be longer than average, but ten pages seems excessive. Also considering a female middle level engineer is like a unicorn, everyone wants ones (at least in my field.) It’a amazing it has taken that long to find a job and shows how much she is turning companies off.

      Reply
    5. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

      I’ve learned to never put personal criticisms in writing. Never. Don’t do it. Even if you think it’s helpful and think she would be receptive. It WILL come back and bite you on the ass.

      Have a face to face conversation with her.

      Reply
    6. strawberries and raspberries

      She sounds like the kind of person who also likes to throw around the phrase “We’re all adults here so let’s act like adults,” so if you’d like to avoid that on top of everything else, I’d have this conversation in person as her job search comes up organically.

      Reply
    7. Specialk9

      No good deed goes unpunished.

      Someone who rants, for any reason, on LinkedIn, is not a reasonable person. You cannot fix that. You don’t want to get in the vitriol crosshairs.

      Her rants on sexism and immigrants, on a professional networking site, tell potential employers everything they need to know about her. Don’t go down a rabbithole with her.

      Reply
    8. Chaordic One

      I know it will be difficult, but I would certainly approach your friend and have the conversation with her.

      It’s like throwing a life line out to someone who is drowning. Maybe she won’t grab onto it, but I kind of of feel like you need to make the effort.

      Reply
  15. the gold digger

    My summer intern (now a college junior) had her last day two weeks ago. We really, really miss her. She was wonderful – she could see the big picture and connect small engineering tasks to it. She would look for answers on her own before asking me for help. (And she was good at it – I told her to teach herself how to use Sharepoint AND SHE DID IT.) She made a huge contribution while she was here.

    She has a great attitude, worked hard, never complained, and did a great job. When she left, she left me a thank-you note. I miss her.

    Reply
          1. Triplestep

            I was going to say – if she doesn’t already have a Linkedin profile, you could help her set one up. (My daughter is a college senior, and I helped with hers telling her she should trust me that it would be important soon.)

            Reply
    1. Temperance

      I think if you can, it would be awesome if you could offer to write her an LoR or offer a recommendation. My spring semester intern just got an awesome job at a great firm (for next summer), and I am so pumped that I was able to give her an excellent reference.

      Reply
    2. Jerry Vandesic

      Have you made a formal offer for another internship next summer? Getting something to her now would be a very tangible indication of how much you appreciated her contribution.

      Reply
    3. Jillociraptor

      Hats off to wonderful interns! I’m sure you had a great impact on her experience as well.

      We had a student in our (university administration) office this summer who was just…amazing. I rarely see experienced professionals who are good at managing up, but she was a PRO at it, and she instantly won over our prickly EA (this is maybe even more impressive). I’m so eager to see where her career takes her.

      Reply
    4. the gold digger

      Thanks, everyone! I love your ideas and will absolutely do all of them! I feel very lucky that we had such a great experience with WonderfulIntern.

      I would love to have her back with me next summer, but I think she would be better served at another company so she can get another view of her career possibilities. She is an industrial engineering major and wants to go into biomed. My company designs material handling systems, which is not very glamorous or meaningful. :)

      Reply
    5. Chaordic One

      It’s nice to hear about smart and hardworking young people and interns. I’ve been missing a volunteer who worked with me at the library. She’s gone back to college for her senior year.

      A lot of young people get a bad rap.

      Reply
      1. ExceptionToTheRule

        Ever since our parent company lost track of a couple people during Katrina we have annual drills and system tests.

        Reply
      2. PatPat

        I was in Irma’s path so I got to see our emergency policy in action. Management gave us clear directives and kept us updated as the storm hit so it worked great.

        We also ended up with seven days off for Irma to prepare for the hurricane and evacuate if we chose and to deal with the aftermath such as having no electricity or having no gas for our cars, and flooded or otherwise impassable roads.It was very thoughtful of them but now I’m going to be scrambling to get all my work done this month!

        Reply
    1. Friday

      I checked my emergency contacts AND gave my beloved cats some side-eye. Because my dark, twisted brain could not help but think of that story that popped up in an open thread recently about how the people figured out the neighbor died in part because the CAT WAS FATTER.

      Reply
      1. Teapot Librarian

        I read that comment after a therapy appointment yesterday where I literally made a comment about being worried that I would die alone and be eaten by my cats. That comment really freaked me out because of the timing!

        Reply
        1. nonymous

          I made that comment once during therapy years ago and the therapist interrupted me to launch into this whole thing about how I was expecting too much commitment from my acquaintances b/c they weren’t those kind of friends. My godsister (who lives alone) had just gone thru a situation where she fell down some stairs and had to call family to come help her up (broken tailbone), and I didn’t have that kind of support system in my new state yet. bleargh!

          Reply
      2. Jadelyn

        Is it weird of me that that doesn’t freak me out, so much as make me glad that if I were to die unexpectedly, at least my cat wouldn’t starve and die with me?

        Though I’m honestly not sure my baby would do that anyway. I just can’t picture it. My mom’s cat, on the other hand…I wouldn’t put it past him to take a bite out of me just for not feeding him on time when I’m cat-sitting, much less a situation like that.

        Reply
        1. Specialk9

          Lol my thought too. If I’m not using my meat anymore anyway, at least my beloved pets wouldn’t starve.

          (Also, blugh)

          Reply
    2. Mockingjay

      My company was really proactive. The Director sent out an email reminding everyone to update their contact info on the company website. We use a third party system that keeps info confidential except to managers (grandbosses) for notifications (telephone tree).

      I did, with their permission, collect personal cell numbers of all our team members for our supervisor, for quick internal communications. (Hurricanes and floods are annual events here.) He’s newly promoted and hasn’t had a chance to put together a lot of the admin info he needs to run things. He used the list to send a group text about when normal operations would resume. Much appreciated by all. (And all is well after Irma – we weren’t hit nearly as hard as some areas.)

      Reply
    3. Jadelyn

      Didn’t have to, lol – we literally are wrapping up an emergency contacts system update and about to send the data over to our business continuity planning committee. We had all employees fill out emergency contact forms even if they’d done it before (and good thing, too, because there were a not insignificant number who listed different people than before!) and have been entering the new contacts into our HRIS for the past couple weeks.

      Reply
      1. PunkrockPM

        My toxic employer (we are embedded in a teaching medical university) sent out an email that stated all employees MUST come into work or use PTO, despite the fact that the state was under a statewide emergency due to the hurricane.

        We are NOT mission critical.

        Thankfully, the people who handle emergency preparedness monitors communications came down hard and 20 minutes later employees were allowed to work from home.

        Reply
        1. MsChanandlerBong

          My husband’s employer used to do that. He worked at the CVS Caremark distribution center, packing boxes for $11 an hour. When the governor closed our roads due to a snow emergency, CVS gave him a letter saying he’s in the medical industry and needs to come to work. We’re SO glad he’s not there anymore.

          Reply
          1. Not So NewReader

            Wow, that is amazing. Were the higher ups aware of what was going on? I know of a situation where the boss told people they were direct care and had to show up. The problem was that the recipients did NOT show up. This went on for a decade then TPTB got wind of it. But meanwhile people took their life in their hands getting to work in a Closed County because the boss said they had to.

            Reply
  16. Yup yup

    LinkedIn: how important is it in your field and/or geographic location?

    I recently took a position in small-ish town and several of my colleagues don’t even have one! Or they have one they set up in college with only a dozen contacts and an out of date title. Seems like many people in my industry don’t seem to place much emphasis on it unless they are in large cities.

    Just made me curious what other peoples’ experiences are with LinkedIn and if the relative importance is based on the industry or on the location.

    Reply
    1. Snark

      I’m an environmental consultant and former academic, and I can honestly say that I haven’t logged into LinkedIn in a year.

      Reply
    2. Detective Amy Santiago

      I’m a recruiter and it is hugely important.

      If you are job hunting, you should absolutely update your LinkedIn profile and update your settings to indicate you are open to new opportunities.

      Reply
    3. ThatGirl

      I was in marketing (have moved into a slightly different role) as a writer and editor, in the Chicago area. LinkedIn was fairly helpful in terms of visibility to recruiters and lead to some useful networking, one in particular that led to my new job. So yeah, it’s helped. But I am in a major metro area.

      Reply
    4. Enough

      I was just commenting on this topic to my husband. I’ve seen quite a few LinkedIn profiles that are extremely out of date. And I know people who don’t have one at all and wondered if there were certain professions that people were less likely to use the site.

      Reply
    5. KR

      In my company, where a lot of people work remotely and have offices nationwide, it’s pretty important to put a face to a name. I work in renewables and I’ve found it’s important as well because the industry is small but growing rapidly and you want to keep the contacts you make.

      Reply
    6. Footiepjs

      I honestly don’t know how significant it is in either my field or area. I don’t have an account with LinkedIn. I got my current position because I knew the person hiring. Prior to that I worked at a public library and I don’t think it factored at all there. But I am basically entry level and not further along on any career path.

      Reply
    7. Coalea

      I’m interested to hear the responses to this – and particularly interested to see if there are differences between those who are US-based vs those who are not. My company has offices in the US and UK and I have noticed that my American colleagues all have LinkedIn profiles, while most of the Brits do not (1 or 2 of the most senior folks do). Not sure if that is generalizable to the broader population, or just a quirk of my organization.

      Reply
    8. Manager

      I had not logged into LinkedIn for awhile. I logged in just recently and am surprised by how many non profession related posts are up. Now I see tons for political posts, cute cat pictures, etc. Is LinkedIn turning into a Facebook copycat?

      Reply
      1. The New Wanderer

        I think it depends greatly on who you are following (your connections) and what they like, share, or promote. Mine is 90% obviously work-oriented and almost none of the remaining 10% is strictly non-work (cat pics, family news), more like tangents or opinion pieces based on work experiences.

        Reply
    9. Floundering Mander

      Very rarely used in my field (archaeology). Most people I know have a profile, but I have never seen a relevant job posting on it, nor has anyone ever recruited me or anybody I know through it. I suppose it might be a bit more useful if I were still in academia, but even then it’s not the tool of choice.

      Reply
    10. Mockingjay

      For me, probably both. I got Current Job through a recruiter on LinkedIn.

      My industry is finally expanding after the recession, and the geographical area is also growing with diverse businesses. I am in a medium sized southern city on the East Coast. Salaries are still lower than the average from 5 years ago, but are increasing.

      I see weekly postings for jobs in my field in my regular feed. I get direct notices about once a month for jobs from recruiters.

      Reply
    11. ace

      Law firm and I deal with lawyers all over the country and internationally, in-house/nonprofit/firm/solo practice. To me, it’s weird if you *don’t* have one as a lawyer. There’s not really a minimum of activity — some people are prolific article writers and promoters, some aren’t, but I’d expect (1) anyone under 50-60 currently working to have a LinkedIn account; (2) LI listing current position, past positions/companies, and schools.

      Reply
    12. mooocow

      In my field (Data Science / Software Development), LinkedIn and the German equivalent Xing are a frequent subject of self-absorbed lamenting (“Oh, it’s so annoying getting all those recruiter e-mails! Several a week, poor me!”), though I do think people also get jobs that way, not just ego tickles. In fact, one of those recruiter e-mails almost landed me a job once – it would have been an excellent fit content-wise, but not a good culture fit unfortunately.

      Reply
    13. Ledgerman

      I’m in public accountinng at a ‘Big 4’ firm in the US, and I would be shocked if any of my colleagues didn’t have a LinkedIN. It was definitely expected when going through recruiting, and I keep it mostly updated now – I get new requests every week, follow my newsfeed, etc.

      Reply
    14. Super Secret Squirrel

      In my former jobs in and around the Federal government, people either didn’t have LinkedIn accounts, or it was deeply terse. Some of it was due to security clearance issues, some because even if one doesn’t have a clearance one can still be targeted by foreign agents, and some because Feds don’t have to try amy more.

      Reply
    15. Julianne

      It’s not important at all for teachers – at least, not where I live – unless they’re looking specifically for charter school jobs or are aiming to move to more business-oriented positions outside of traditional public schools (education management, tech, consulting, etc.). I have heard multiple principals joke (?) that they don’t even know what LinkedIn is.

      Reply
    16. David Z

      I got my current job (US, SF Bay Area) without having a LinkedIn account, so clearly it’s not essential… but I think my company is a bit unusual in terms of how much they focus on technical skill to the exclusion of other things.

      Before this I used to be in academia, and almost nobody used LinkedIn. Only a minority of my colleagues there had LinkedIn accounts at all.

      Reply
    17. An actuary

      I am an actuary and have worked at large companies (5000 to 50,000 employees) in the insurance industry. LinkedIn is by no means necessary but is common and most people under say, 40 years old have it (as well as many people over 40 too of course, but not sure it’s “most”). In my field, recruiting firms tend to reach out via Linkedin, but it’s easy enough to get in contact with recruiters via email too (but you might have to initiate the conversation, rather than the recruiter). Beyond recruiters, it’s mostly a thing that everybody has but that isn’t used for much. Most people don’t message each other. I sometimes have messaged people and they haven’t answered because they don’t check it – same people are very quick to respond to direct emails.

      It’s commonly used but not considered weird to not have one or for it to be out of date.

      Reply
  17. Emma

    On Wednesday I had an interview with an institution I /really/ want to work for, and they said they’d make a decision some time over the next two weeks. Today I got a call from their HR telling they wanted to make me an offer.

    Should I be worried about this quick decision? (They did say they were only interviewing over two days so I know that parts concluded). I know their reputation and know they do good work, so I don’t know if it’s just my insecurities that’s telling me there’s no way I was the best candidate…

    (There are still reference checks etc. to be done, so I’m also a bundle of nerves waiting for that even though I don’t have any marks on my work history…)

    I don’t know, when I was applying for jobs I thought I’d be happy (and not so anxious!) once I get an offer, but maybe I’m just…preconditioned to be anxious and full of self doubt.

    Is this a form of imposter syndrome or an inferiority complex of some kind? All that wishing I’d be chosen and then when I do get chosen I can’t accept there was something else behind that decision…

    Anyone experience anything similar? I can’t really talk about it to people in RL because the most likely response is “stop worrying”…if only it was that simple!

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      If you were the last interview, or if you were obviously head and shoulders above everyone else, I don’t think this is that strange. I’d just make sure you’ve done your due diligence on making sure this is a place you want to work; if you’ve been looking for red flags and haven’t seen any, I wouldn’t consider this one.

      Reply
    2. EddieSherbert

      For my current job, I had an interview in the morning and got the (verbal) offer at like 4:55PM that same day. And this is the best job I’ve ever had – I love it!

      Interview process: I had a phone interview with HR, phone interview with manager (other ppl had in-person but I was relocating), and then the in-person interview (which was 30 min with the manager, 30 min with grandboss, and 30 min with team).

      Reply
    3. Kathenus

      No red flags for me. When I’m hiring I generally give candidates a longer time range than I anticipate the process taking in case anything slows down the process, so that if anything the quicker pace is a positive change. I was once offered a job as I was driving to the airport after my interview, so it can happen! Congrats.

      Reply
    4. Trout 'Waver

      It’s super common for hiring managers to throw out the ‘decision in the next two weeks’ line when they’re unsure of the timeline. If they said 2 weeks and you got an offer 2 days later, the conclusion I’d draw is that both the director and the HR manager were in the office on Thursday.

      Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        This, 1000% – we pad the timelines to try to keep people from freaking out at delays, but if everyone happens to connect earlier than we expected, hell yeah we’re taking advantage of that to get a decision made and communicated to the candidate.

        Reply
    5. DDJ

      Like Alison said below, as long as you’ve done your homework on this company, take it as a positive! Really great candidates tend to get scooped up pretty quick – I just went through this and 3 of my top candidates for interviews had to turn us down because they’d already taken jobs elsewhere. And I’m talking ten days between application and the contact for the interview, so it’s not like we left them hanging for months. So if the company really liked you, they probably just don’t want to risk you accepting an offer elsewhere.

      Who knows, maybe it was down to you and one other candidate, and the other candidate contacted them to let them know they HAD taken a job elsewhere, so the company decided to take action as quickly as possible to make sure they don’t lose you as well.

      OR maybe the person who makes the hiring decision was going to be on vacation for a week so they didn’t want to give themselves too tight a deadline, but then that person made a quick decision so it condensed their time-frame.

      Maybe the company line is that you always tell candidates that it’s about a 2-week timeframe so that if something DOES come up, they don’t have applicants getting upset about not hearing anything further right away.

      All I’m saying is that there are a lot of non-sketchy reasons that a company might move really quickly on a job offer. I can tell you to TRY to stop worrying, but as a grade-A, bona fide worrier myself, I know that might be tough.

      Reply
      1. KR

        I got an offer call before I even got home from my interview (and it was fifteen minutes away from my house, so that’s really something) so to me, it just signals they really liked you and want to scoop you up before you get another offer!

        Reply
    6. MsT13

      The job I’m going to had a 3 day turn around between meeting/interview/offer. Sometimes they just feel confident in their decision!

      Reply
    7. Ramona Flowers

      My job: interviewed Wednesday, they had more interviews Thursday, said I’d hear Friday but they actually called me Thursday pm.

      Reply
    8. Ama

      We’re currently hiring because the person who we originally hired resigned after nine days (to take a position elsewhere) — and since we had lined up her start date so she’d be on board before a major event my department runs we’re in a hurry to try and get someone else in while there is still time to train them. I interviewed one person on Monday and am interviewing another this afternoon — and we’ll probably make an offer to one of them Monday morning.

      Actually something similar happened when I was hired here — it was early March, and they had a big event in mid-April. I submitted my resume on a Thursday, had a phone interview the next morning, an in person interview that Monday and was offered the job that Wednesday. It is by far the best place I have ever worked despite the rushed start.

      Reply
    9. Where's the Le-Toose?

      At my office, when we hire, we generally know who we want after the last interview and will either make a decision that day or first thing the next morning, and we will start calling references. If the references are readily available, then two days is perfectly normal.

      But please heed Alison’s advice about doing your own due diligence. So many people get too wrapped up in thinking a future employer is their “dream job” that they neglect to do some basic digging around. Hiring is always a two way street, and you need to be comfortable that your new employer is right for you.

      Reply
    10. Jules the First

      My current job had their recruiter contact me on a Thursday. I interviewed on Tuesday before work, had a second interview Wednesday evening, and a job offer in my voicemail by the time I finished my campus tour. I couldn’t be happier here…

      Reply
  18. FormerBurnOut

    It’s a beautiful day!
    ~3 months into my new job after leaving the old one w/major burnout and I finally am starting to feel like I’m getting back to “me”. Any advice from people that’ve been there?

    It was about a year and a half of burnout–not used to things lingering so long, but I think the no vacation thing really shot me in the foot. So many lessons learned….

    Reply
    1. Luv the pets

      Burnout and overwork can take a huge toll on a person mentally and physically. I have had it happen to me a couple of times in the span of my career- once early and once more recently. Continue to take care of yourself. We get tired of hearing “eat well, sleep, exercise” but it’s true that these are all key to feeling good. Practice good mental health hygiene too. You’ll continue to notice feeling better and better.

      Reply
    2. Ramona Flowers

      Lots of small acts of self care and self love: a nice bubble bath, a new book. Making lists of my strengths and successes. And just giving it lots of time.

      Reply
    3. Bye Academia

      I was burnt out for probably the last three years of my old job, and it’s taken me a year to start to feel back to normal again. It hasn’t helped that I’ve had a lot of personal stuff (sick pet, death in the family, planning my wedding) take up my energy. The new job, however, is amazing and I love it.

      My only advice is rest as much as you can and try not to feel guilty if you can’t give 100% to your new job or your life right now. And take a vacation!

      Reply
  19. Is this wrong

    I have an interview coming up but the location is so far away that I have no intention of taking it. I want to go on the interview just for the experience, and I guess for selfish reasons. Is it unethical to take this interview just to get the experience?

    Reply
    1. Anonymous Educator

      I think it depends on whether “I have no intention of taking” means “I’m 100% certain I would never take this position” or something more like “I can’t see any way I’d take this position… there would have to be extraordinary circumstances for it to work out.” If it’s the former, don’t do it. You’d be wasting their time. If it’s the latter, go for it.

      If you need interview experience, just interview somewhere else.

      Reply
    2. Shadow

      If it’s a waste of everyone’s time then yes it’s unethical. would you agree to interview with a company that had no intentions of hiring you?

      Reply
    3. AndersonDarling

      I did this recently. But it was a big company that has hundreds of positions open and I knew that I was just one of dozens coming in to interview for this particular role. I hadn’t done an interview in 7 years and I knew I needed some practice. I wouldn’t do it for a director level position or for a small company that invests a lot in their interviews. I was more or less in a cattle call interview process.

      Reply
      1. AndersonDarling

        I should add that I had convinced myself that there was a possibility that I could take the job, but I think I really knew that I wouldn’t. The company had a terrible reputation and the interview confirmed that perspective.

        Reply
    4. Kathenus

      Another factor to consider is that you may be causing another candidate to not be considered, if they have a certain number of finalists that they are interviewing. I’d suggest not doing it for this reason and those noted in other comments.

      Reply
      1. DDJ

        Agreed. I was only allowed to bring in a maximum of 4 people for interviews for the last position we had open. It gets pretty cutthroat when you have 100+ applicants and 4 interview spots.

        Reply
    5. Anonymous Poster

      I interviewed for a position I was fairly sure I wouldn’t take, but wasn’t yet at a firm ‘no’ on. I think that was okay (and the interview cemented in that I did not want to make a move to them).

      If you’re certain you won’t take it, then bow out. You can ask a friend to do a practice interview to brush up on your skills. Someone else might really want that job and you’re taking their chance from them to practice.

      Reply
    6. Ramona Flowers

      Agree with the above. But also, what if you realise you want it? Then you’re screwed whatever decision you make. Bow out now and make your peace with it (and get practice another way).

      Reply
    7. Jules the First

      I toom an interview for my current job with no intention of taking the job because the commute was sooooo long…and I loved the people and the job so much, I took it. Try not to take the interview if you’re sure you don’t want the commute – it’s amazing what you can talk yourself into when you’re excited about a job…

      Reply
  20. Green Buttons

    I’m recognized as a high performer in my position and have been told since June that there’s a promotion in the works for me. I’ve followed up and my manager says that they’re just waiting on the approval process. I think I’ve been reasonably patient and proactive (i.e. doing courses, taking on additional work), but that’s run out.

    My current job is way below my qualifications (it’s a new role and they didn’t know what they needed) and I’m so bored and unmotivated. I ask for more responsibilities and am getting praised, but people also tell me not to kill myself over this at my current level.

    This has led to a decline in my mental health where I’m noticing symptoms of depression. I saw a therapist for this, but I’m wondering if I should tell my manager about my situation.

    Reply
      1. Green Buttons

        Actively searching for over a year, which is also why it’s starting to feel hopeless. I don’t want to settle for a new job that will put me back into this pattern because my former job was similarly toxic.

        Reply
    1. not so super-visor

      I’m not sure that I would tell your manager that waiting on a promotion is impacting you this much (unless I’m reading more into this). Depending on how your company does budgeting, they may have to wait until the next budget or the beginning of the year (been there!). I don’t think that it would hurt to check in on your boss as long as you weren’t overly pushy. You might say, “I’m really excited about that new opportunity that we talked about. Have their been any updates on the process?”

      Reply
      1. DDJ

        I agree, I think it’s very reasonable to ask about deadlines. I’m currently in the “You know that we’re in a tough position now, but we’ll take care of you, and you are highly valued here” situation. And because I know a lot about what’s going on with our business, I know they’re not just blowing smoke up my bum.

        In your case, I don’t think you’d be out of line to ask how long the approval process for something like this might normally take. Honestly though, 3 months is nothing. An approval like this, especially if a new position is being created, takes a lot of time.

        Reply
        1. Green Buttons

          I’ve followed up on timelines and logically I know that things take time.

          I guess I’m asking about the illogical side of things – how to manage my depression. I’ve been in my role for 3 years and it’s been a long time of more responsibilities (which I like) and under-utilizing my skills. So I think I’m just at a point where I’m spiraling downwards despite logic.

          Reply
          1. DDJ

            I misunderstood! I apologize.

            Managing depression can be so tough. If it’s strictly situational, then it might be a case of “fake it ’til you make it” and hope that the promotion comes quickly. Since you’ve started therapy, hopefully your therapist will have some useful advice/techniques for you to use as well.

            I would advise against talking to your manager about it. I suffer from both anxiety and depression and made the mistake of talking about my anxiety with my boss (gotta love the free wine at the company Christmas party). She was gracious about it, but it definitely changed the dynamic between us. Permanently. And not in horrible ways, but I do wish I hadn’t said anything.

            “but people also tell me not to kill myself over this at my current level.”

            This is what really stood out for me when I went back and read your post again. People are going to have opinions about your work/your job, but…they’re not necessarily valid OR useful. You can care and work hard and go above and beyond and take on extra things if that’s what’s going to help you through the transition. People minimizing your work (or work ethic) is sucky of them.

            Reply
    2. BRR

      I wouldn’t disclose that your job is causing depression. I would ask about a concrete timeline and if you get a response that they’re working on it I would say how you’re concerned about the timeline.

      Reply
  21. KL

    Hi everyone. I’m trying to figure out how to thank a coworker for doing something awesome and I’m not sure what to do.
    One of my coworkers is from Pakistan. A couple of weeks ago, we were talking in one of our office hallways and I noticed that she had beautiful henna pattern on her hands. I asked her if I could see it and she let me. She told me about she wedding she had been to and offered to do my hands one day. Fast forward to yesterday, she surprises me and tells me to go wash my hands really well, because she has the henna and is able to do my hands. I think it took about 30-45 minutes and now I have a gorgeous pattern on both of my hands. I offered to pay her, but she wouldn’t take it. I’m thinking about bringing her some brownies or something like that to thank her. She’s working in a different office today, but will be here on Monday. I should add that neither of us report to each other or have the same direct boss. Would brownies or something like that be ok? I also make an awesome lemon blueberry bread.

    Reply
    1. Nervous Accountant

      Just don’t offer her a ham or bottle of wine :-D

      Jokes aside, if you know she’s strict about her food and eats halal only, desserts are usually OK as long as there’s no alcohol (like in tiramisu I think?) and lard or gelatin since they are pork/animal byproducts. She may very well eat these things and drink alcohol but it’s safe to assume (and not offensive) that most Muslim/Pakistanis refrain from these two items. Otherwise, it really depends on her as an individual. I know many Pakistanis who drink alcohol but don’t eat pork/pork products, so it’s safe to avoid these 2 things.

      Reply
      1. KL

        To my knowledge, she isn’t strict halal – I’ve seen her eat our office get-togethers. I didn’t pay attention to what was on her plate, but we normally try to avoid the more common food restrictions or have options for people who don’t eat certain foods when ordering for our office.

        But yes, I was definitely planning on avoiding pork and alcohol. :)

        Reply
        1. Specialk9

          My social set has started putting all ingredients on a little card, for potlucks. It’s really helpful with food restrictions – it can feel too-too precious to ask, but you kinda need to know.

          Reply
  22. Murphy

    Good work story to share!

    A squeaky wheel at my organization insisted that a meeting be scheduled at a particular time. (Necessary and important meeting with many busy people, but it got scheduled with 2 days notice without actually checking anyone’s schedules.) This put me in 5 straight hours of meetings which, as a nursing mother who needs to pump, put me in a pretty difficult spot. I wasn’t sure what to do, but I went to my boss and let him know. I felt pretty awkward about it, but he just said, “OK, what do you need?” I only needed to be at a portion of one of those meetings, and he worked with the meeting organizers and the invited speaker to make the portion I needed to be at first on the agenda, so I could duck out for part of the meeting and do what I needed to do. It was great! I was grateful for his help, and that it was handled without question or much awkwardness.

    Reply
    1. Rincat

      That’s great! As a (former) fellow nursing mom, I totally feel ya on needing to pump. At my old workplace, I had a long, 4-hour afternoon meeting one day and my manager only begrudgingly “let” me leave to go pump (I mean, I would have just left to pump without his permission – no way in hell I’m putting my milk supply at stake for a meeting). Glad to hear of a manager that is supportive of a nursing mom!

      Reply
      1. Specialk9

        Yeah, I lost my milk supply from trying to stretch my schedule to fit meetings. I ended up taking something liked 10 supplement pills a day trying to get it back up, to no avail.

        Reply
    2. Friday

      When you have to go, you have to go! This’ll be me again in a few months and I never apologize; I just go when I need to. At this job I’m especially going to be beholden to our pumping room schedule as I’m one of three pregs that I know of right now.

      Reply
  23. Howdy

    Is it typical that recruiters speak to references early on in the process? It might be my own apprehension in working with the recruiter or shyness in asking people to be a reference, but I just feel (probably stupidly) resistant to having a recruiter talk to them when I’ve barely started the process talking to the recruiter myself. I also don’t know if I want to give her my “best” references- those with fancy titles that worked with me recently and can glowingly discuss in depth big projects I’ve done- because I don’t want to ask them to be a reference for me too often and I don’t want to waste those chances on this. I guess I don’t know if the recruiter will lead to much as I’m an average employee with a couple years of experience, a degree but not in anything very impressive, in a smaller market in a desirable area. Then again as I say that, I don’t know why I think my own job searching would necessarily yield much better.

    Reply
  24. Junior Dev

    Does anyone have advice for getting a written list of what my boss expects of me? Specifically, what to get approval for and in what ways? Or am I going about this wrong?

    I got a written warning a few weeks ago for a whole grab-bag of things, including supposedly not testing code enough before submitting for review. Now my boss is telling me to make changes to the production database without getting anyone’s approval for them or recording them anywhere. When I asked him to clarify he said “those were code changes. This is a data change. Huge difference.” In a tone that indicated it was a dumb question.

    I do not intend to make any changes to the production database until I have more clarity. I am sure if something goes wrong in our legacy system after I change something I will be blamed for it. I want to ask for a written list of what kind of approval and documentation different kinds of changes need. Because right now it feels like the rule is “read boss’s mind, and also predict the future to see if anything will go wrong as a result of a change.”

    Does anyone have advice for navigating this?

    Reply
    1. Rincat

      Oof, that’s tough. And you are right to be wary about changing anything in a production database! I can’t believe he’s treating that like it’s no big deal. Data changes can have HUGE impacts!

      I think it would be good to come up with a process that you can deliver to your boss and ask him to sign off on. You may not know the exact approval people or other variables, but you can put together a generic process for coding and/or data changes, and then fill in those variables later when you learn who the data owners/consumers are. I think if you present a finished product to him, it will make it easier to sign off on rather than just asking questions. I hope that helps!

      Reply
    2. fposte

      I can’t speak to dev stuff specifically, but in my field “make me a list” would be a big request and I wouldn’t make the request, nor, as a manager, would I make such a list.

      What I think you might be able to do is ask for a meeting with your manager and come armed with your own set of tasks (not exhaustive–no more than ten, I’d say) that you regularly encounter, and then get your manager’s take on the requisite approval level for each. Follow that up with an email with the list and approval levels to confirm.

      More broadly, it sounds to me like you’re trying to find ways to insulate yourself from ever making a mistake. That’s not something you can ever do. You can get some guidance on conventions, but that’s pretty much it.

      Reply
      1. Ramona Flowers

        My manager has made such a list when asked, but it was more conceptual – examples of the kinds of situations she did or didn’t want to be looped in on to help me get a good overview, rather than an exhaustive list.

        Reply
      2. Junior Dev

        I don’t want to insulate myself from everyor making a mistake. I do want to insulate myself from being formally disciplined for the sort of mistakes that are inevitable on my line of work, as I was several weeks ago.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          And that I totally get. It’s just that you’re not likely to be able to insulate yourself against all of them, especially if your manager is capricious.

          Reply
    3. h.cowl

      Is there someone you trust you can ask about what he’s telling you to do? Making undocumented changes to a prod database sounds literally insane to me.

      Reply
      1. h.cowl

        Like, I know this is paranoid, but that kind of request would make me worry he was setting you up to fire you. That’s how crazy that is, especially after the kind of feedback you just got from him.

        Reply
        1. Junior Dev

          I can see how it looks like that. It’s possible. I honestly think, though, that they just haven’t thought a lot of things through, their culture is such that doing more than the bare minimum to solve a given problem (including planning and discussing what to do next time the problem occurs) is seen as a waste of time and money. Even when it’s obviously contributing to further problems in the near future that will take much longer to fix.

          And yes, I need to get a different job. I was hoping I could do some volunteering and work on my personal projects for a while first, and try to make it to a year at this job, but I am not sure if trying to clarify what exactly they want me to do will get me labeled a problem and forced out.

          Reply
        2. Specialk9

          Instead of getting a list (which other people in your field seem to be questioning, and I’m not in your field), how about written documentation of boss’ requests. “Wakeen, from our meeting today I captured that you would like me to do X, Y, and Z. Corrections welcome. Otherwise, I will begin on task X this afternoon.
          -Fergus”

          I print all CYA or important emails to PDF and save in the proper file, and for business/backup purposes keep a copy of key folders on a thumb drive. Useful in the case in case of wrongful termination.

          Reply
    4. PunkrockPM

      DO NOT DO THIS (but you already knew that). I don’t know what the data is or why the change, but this sounds sketchy.

      What do your companies change control processes state? SOPs etc? Who owns the database / data and why are they asking for a change? Asking for clarification and where you can find the written processes so that you can become familiar with how it’s done is perfect. If they aren’t written down, perfect opportunity to implement some.

      Otherwise it sounds like you are working for a boss who just wants you to do what the boss says to do. I’d acknowledge the request, gather more information as to why they are asking for the change, and inform the boss that you’d be reaching out to the owner of the data / database to obtain written permission to make the change so that both your butts are covered.

      Reply
    5. Surrogate Tongue Pop

      You can ask for a documented Change Management process for both code and data changes. For this particular change, you can say something to the effect of “Please provide your request in writing, acknowledging this is a data change of XYZ nature to the production database”. Just to CYA, in case there is no formal Change Management process. If there isn’t a process or Standard Operating Procedures in place for Change Management, you can ask if a small team/task force can be set up to come up with basic protocols and volunteer to be on the team to provide input (or spearhead). Best of luck, it’s not a good feeling to be told to make a production change of any nature without following a process/procedure.

      Reply
      1. Junior Dev

        There’s no change procedure. Every time someone talks about instituting procedures we tend to get shot down with “there’s no time for that.”

        I’ll ask to get the fact that I should make the specific changes in question in writing somehow.

        Reply
    6. Junior Dev

      Thanks for everyone who commented. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks this is weird.

      How do you get clarity on things without coming off as combative/hostile? I wrote up an email asking about review procedures for a bunch of different scenarios, and in going to try and shorten it some to increase the chance I’ll get a real answer, but I’m worried it’ll be a while before I see a response and…there’s a lot of portions of my job I can’t really do until this stuff is clear.

      Also, a lot of people in the company have authority to make production database updates–i’m talking stuff like changing product descriptions or copy on web pages. Most of the input forms have no validation (which is part of why this is a provlem, people put in bad data).

      I don’t know if this is salvagable. If I do the thing they want I could make a mistake and get tin trouble. If I don’t do it I am not doing my job.
      I honestly think they don’t know how to discipline people and just threw in a bunch of random stuff to my written warning, but at this point it’s the most specific thing I have to go on.

      Reply
    7. ArtK

      Urgh. Your boss is being a fool. Make sure that you have this documented. “Just to be clear, boss, you want me to make changes X, Y and Z to the production database. Please confirm.”

      Reply
    8. Ruh Roh, Raggy!

      I’ve worked at a few places where code quality expectations were high, but data changes frequently needed to happen right now, even if, yes, a data change is risky.

      If your boss explicitly tells you to do something and it’s not unethical, I think you need to do it. Feel free to CYA with an email – “As you requested, I made this manual change to the production database.”

      I worked at a place where, when manual changes are necessary, they need to be reviewed by a second developer. I think that’s a reasonable compromise in cases where there is no change management system in place, and something needs to happen Right Now. I did annoy some people by calling them at 3am after I’d been called by Tier 1, but I was a stickler for it. It’s way too easy to forget the where clause, especially at 3am.

      Ultimately, the solution is to create tools that allow you to safely update a single value for certain frequently-trod cases. As a junior developer, I don’t know how much power you have to push for such tools.

      Reply
  25. Pottery Smarm

    Does anyone have advice or just commiseration working for a company whose main business/labor force is made up of lower skilled workers and, as a result, the entire company tends to get stuck in a cycle of underpaying employees who in turn underperform or leave at almost all levels? At The Worst Job I’ve Ever Had, I was part of an operations team in a call center, for which we reported to the corporate office but were expected to direct people at the call center level over whom we had no authority. The whole place was dysfunctional; nearly everyone in a leadership position had never managed before and this was perpetuated by having poor examples that thrived on favoritism and “technically not against the rules” scummy tactics to reach goals (a milder version of Wells Fargo shenanigans).
    Ultimately, it felt like benefits and pay were so poor because the majority of the workforce was the customer service reps that corporate obviously considered beneath them and just lucky to get a job. In turn, attrition was terrible, attendance was worse, and the people that stayed were mostly otherwise unemployable or in such dire situations they were stuck. This didn’t leave a great candidate pool from which people were promoted and most people at higher levels were still people who were either underequipped or uninterested in doing their job well, which led to more frustration and attrition from those that cared and this underperformance and attrition was ultimately corporate’s justification for not paying well.
    I was really glad to get out of there all those years ago, but now I’m a little concerned I’ve stepped into a similar situation. I’m working at a corporate office that oversees, for example, the local warehouse HR offices and there’s just constant frustration here of them doing the same stupid mistakes over and over again which ultimately cause us more work to resolve. We don’t really have authority over these offices and thus far it’s unclear to me whether this stuff is caused by apathy or ineptitude or what. For what it’s worth, training to resolve these issues is pretty robust and consistently available.
    I don’t know. I worry this is going to be a repeat of that previous job- constant frustration and it’s going to slowly eat at me more and more until I’m bitter and angry all the time. Is it possible to not go down that road? Any coping tactics? Is this sort of thing fixable? Should I jump ship?

    Reply
    1. Shadow

      You can’t expect good candidates without good pay/benefits/culture/etc. They’ve obviously made the choice that they will live with low performers in exchange for lower salary costs

      Reply
    2. Bad Candidate

      My husband works at the corporate level for a regional retailer and I would say that yes, this seems to be the case with his company. I don’t have any suggestions, he just goes with the flow I guess.

      Reply
    3. KR

      We ha day similar situation and it really took me telling my boss, ” Listen, we’re paying these people a starting wage that’s less money than they could make working at McDonalds but we’re expecting a lot of technical skills, attention to detail, and nuanced decision making skills. With what we are paying them, it’s just not worth it to them to work here or really try hard to succeed here. We need to pay more for a starting wage. ” I think that type of comparison really worked for him, and it also helped that we did a salary survey with indicated further how much we were all underpaid (for example, I got a 60% raise because my boss didn’t believe me on how much he had been underpaying me until we did the survey -_-).

      Reply
        1. KR

          I went from 14/hr to 22ish/hr and our techs went from starting at 8/hr to 10/hr (with proportional $2/hr raises for those who were already there) I wanted more for the technicians and I wanted to bump up the already awesome technicians based on merit but I lost that battle :/

          Reply
          1. Ann O.

            That’s a great story of results, but what baffles me is why they were paying so low to begin with when they clearly had the ability to pay more. And then they were surprised they were having problems with their workforce!

            Reply
    4. Not So NewReader

      I can’t tell from here what is the best way to suggest.
      You have written mostly about your previous job. This current job has an HR problem. Does it have any other problems that remind you of Old Job?
      How is your boss, do you trust this person? If we can’t trust the boss that is a huge issue.
      What would be a good plan to help you with that anger? Anger is probably justified given what you have been through at the previous job. Have you thought about counseling? If that is out of reach, how is your self-care? The excess energy from anger can be lessened by taking walks on a regular basis. Walks chew up some of the energy and give our minds time to think and sort things out. It sounds too simplistic to work, but the key is to walk regularly because the effect is cumulative. I had a cohort who ran 5 miles every night. yeah, it was a tough job.

      From what you have here, I can’t really tell if you should jump ship. I can say, that if they are making you do things you know to be illegal and/or could cause injury others just get out. Leave. No job is worth going to jail for.

      People are similar to animals. You know the saying, “never corner a wild animal”? People don’t do well when cornered either. They start snarling and clawing, it’s not pretty. To take your self out of the corner you will need to consider options. Now I am really walking in the dark. I have no idea, can you look for work elsewhere? Can you go back to school? Can you move?
      It’s so easy to list off all the things we can’t do. Take the time to figure out what you CAN do. Start out small. Can you take a walk at lunch? Can you take your phone outside and look on the net for jobs over lunch? And keep building bigger things that you CAN do.
      Some of the angriest people I know are the ones who feel they have no options left. That is an illusion most times, we do have options and people are willing to help.

      Reply
  26. Demoted&Deflated

    I just started a new position in a city I relocated to for my partner’s work. I’m now part of a small department similar to the one I used to manage at my previous company. My boss is very hands off and the other guy on the team, “Winston”, has been “managing me”. It’s been difficult because I used to run a similar department but I feel like a complete noob. It’s a lower title than I had before and I’ve been doing this job for about ten years. Winston is constantly telling me he wants me to “own” different tasks, but gets frustrated when I don’t do them the way he would have done them. I was also told that I would be doing a lot of work on X and some work on Y, but it has been all Y and no X. I am pursuing a professional designation in X and working in the field is essential to obtaining the designation. Any advice on how to approach Winston and how to talk to my manager about the job duties?

    Reply
    1. Temperance

      Is Winston actually your manager, or is he doing that thing where he’s trying to usurp you by assigning work and bossing you around? Also, is he getting annoyed that you aren’t doing things his way, or that they’re actually wrong? I think that’s key to determining the approach.

      I would bring it up with your boss during your next one-on-one that you’d like to do more X work.

      Reply
  27. zapateria la bailarina

    My coworker, Anna, has 3 direct-reports: Sarah, Jane, and Beatrice. Sarah and Jane have worked at this company for over 10 years each, and Beatrice was hired at the beginning of this year. Beatrice is also Anna’s cousin. Anna’s boss is my boss’s boss. Full disclosure: Jane and I are pretty close at work; we do not hang out outside of work, but we are friendly on a personal level, not just as coworkers.
    Anna is still pretty new to managing; she has been in her position about a year and a half. Before she became Jane’s manager, the three of us used to take breaks together twice a day. This did not stop once she became Jane’s manager. When Beatrice was hired, she was invited to come to breaks with us as well. Sarah has never come to breaks with us; her breaks are on a different schedule to ensure phone coverage. Throughout the past several months, Anna has continually used our breaks as a venting session, where she complains about Sarah’s mistakes. I find it deeply unprofessional that she is complaining about her report’s professional mistakes to her other two reports. If Jane misses break for whatever reason, Anna will take the opportunity to complain about her as well. Anna also gives Beatrice special treatment. For example, if Sarah or Jane make a mistake, Anna will yell at them at their cubicle, which the entire office can hear. If Beatrice makes a mistake, Anna quietly explains to her what the mistake was and how to fix it in the future. Additionally, we did an office desk reorganization last week, and Beatrice got the largest cubicle available, which also has a window, despite the fact that Jane has over 9 years of seniority over her. When Jane brought this up to Anna, she refused to make a change to the assignments.
    As an outside-the-team observer, all of this bothers me, but I don’t know if I have any standing to address it. The biggest issue I have is that it is incredibly inappropriate to discuss one report’s shortcomings with the other two reports – it is none of their business. Sarah has also commented to me a few times about feeling left out because the rest of her team is able to go on breaks and get lunch together, and she is always the odd one out. The special treatment of Anna’s cousin is also concerning, but I’m not sure how to bring it up without sounding like I’m pettily complaining about my friend not getting a window desk. If you saw this situation in your workplace, what would you do? Would you do anything at all?

    Reply
    1. Snark

      How is your relationship with Anna? Because if you’re at the same hierarchy level and have more management experience, and her relationship with you is good, I think you could take her aside and offer your thoughts on how showing favoritism and shaming employees isn’t likely to be a productive strategy in the long run.

      Reply
      1. zapateria la bailarina

        We have an okay relationship… Though less so in recent weeks as I’ve been distancing myself due to this behavior.
        We’re not actually on the same hierarchy level. I do not manage anyone in my current role, though I do have management training and more experience than she does.

        Reply
        1. Snark

          Hmm. Hard to say what to do. “Your management style is bad and you should feel bad” is something that, even if true, is a hard, bitter pill to swallow, even if delivered as gently as possible. But…she’s an aggressively bad manager and she’s doing things that will alienate everyone working under her if that hasn’t already happened. If you think she’s got terrible instincts but fundamentally wants to be a good manager, it might be worth it, but if you think she’d get defensive and add you to her fecal roster, maybe let that sleeping dog lie and let her learn from natural consequences.

          Reply
          1. zapateria la bailarina

            Unfortunately I think it is the latter… She didn’t want the management position in the first place and has not really been given any training (her boss is extremely hands off)
            Thanks for your input!

            Reply
          2. Future Analyst

            Agreed on all the above- I doubt anyone will be better off if you say something, because Anna will not change, and Jane and Sarah may actually end up getting treated worse. Also, “fecal roster” is an excellent term.

            Reply
        2. Specialk9

          Can you say something to Anna’s boss? I don’t think talking to Anna directly is going to work because you’re a peer, and because she doesn’t sound reasonable. These are not well intentioned but newbie mistakes, they’re systematic mean girl behavior: exclusion, bitter complaining behind backs, favoritism, loud public chewing out.

          Reply
    2. I GOTS TO KNOW!

      I am surprised they let her manage her cousin, honestly. That is a bad idea for the same reasons managing a romantic partner is.

      Reply
      1. zapateria la bailarina

        Me too! I believe the company has a rule about not managing immediate family members, but I think any family members and even friends should probably be included. This manager in particular asked her cousin and her best friend to apply for the job when it came up – bad judgment all around!

        Reply
    3. Kathenus

      Whether or not you choose to address the problems directly, I’d suggest you stop taking breaks with her because this can be seen as agreeing with/validating the venting behavior. You could also say this if she begins discussing a direct report during one of these breaks – “Anna, I’m not comfortable with your discussing employee’s performance with me”, or if you’re not comfortable with that “Anna, let’s make the breaks a work-free zone so we can disconnect for a few minutes”.

      Reply
      1. zapateria la bailarina

        Yes, I’ve recently stopped taking breaks with the group. I just can’t take it anymore, even aside from the other issues involved, it’s too much negativity when all she does is complain during every single break.

        Reply
    4. Samiratou

      My immediate thought is it encourage Sarah & Jane to find new jobs, but maybe start offering to take breaks or get coffee with Sarah, at least? You might have the opportunity to provide a bit of guidance and maybe shore up her confidence a bit. Jane, too, if the opportunity arises, but since she already takes breaks with Anna, that might be trickier, logistically.

      Is Anna’s boss likely to take any feedback to her, despite being “hands off”? If so, that’s a route you might go, but if she would just blow it off and continue the status quo, and Anna is unlikely to change anything, I don’t think there’s much you can say that won’t be received badly and possibly make it worse for Sarah & Jane. As noted above, Anna is an aggressively bad manager and should be demoted, but there you are.

      Reply
      1. zapateria la bailarina

        Great idea to take breaks or get lunch with Sarah. I think I will do that sometimes! I don’t think Sarah will ever look for another job, she’s been working with one of the three companies in this buildings for 25 years. I think she’d be more likely to retire. Jane has looked for other work but hasn’t gotten any bites yet.

        I’ve considered speaking to Anna’s boss but I’m honestly not sure how it will be received or how to broach the subject without seeming like I’m overstepping.

        Reply
    5. Anion

      Speak to your boss about it, maybe? Perhaps she can offer some thoughts, or will mention it to Anna’s boss. This kind of favoritism/nepotism is serious and likely to be noticed by others; it’s something higher-ups should be informed about, IMO (and that’s not even getting into how unprofessional it is to discuss a direct report’s work performance with other reports, which is also a pretty big deal afaik).

      Reply
  28. Wing Commander Floofengarten

    Back at work! My company offered the corporate jet to anyone who wanted to get out of South Florida last week. I couldn’t go, but they let me & my family stay in a company house/mansion (with storm shutters!) during the storm.

    Reply
  29. SaraV

    A qualification I saw listed yesterday for an open Accounts Payable/Receivable position.

    “Daily focus should be on vendor invoices, not personal issues.”

    Reply
      1. Detective Amy Santiago

        Seriously – that is super passive-aggressive. Even if there was a legit issue, putting it out there like that is a huge red flag.

        Reply
        1. Elizabeth West

          In a small company, yes. OldExJob only had one person handing all that after my immediate supervisor left–her assistant moved into that role. She eventually left because they refused to hire her any help; they just put those extra tasks onto me.

          Then we got bought out by a huge multinational company and most of the big stuff went to corporate, but they STILL didn’t hire an assistant for my new supervisor! He had to get a temp in to handle this very big project, because I was still on the front desk. The temp and I became friends and we’re still in touch periodically (she was frigging awesome).

          Reply
  30. The Awkwardest of Turtles

    My boss’s boss and I go to the same gym, and we both happen to go around the same time. She is not shy at all so this means that I see her in her birthday suit on a regular basis (and probably that’s she’s seen plenty of me as well).

    We’ve only met a few times and I’m not sure she’d recognize me out of context, but we’ll both be in a meeting together next week so it will be interesting to see if she recognizes me. I sort of hope not because then I might feel like I need to say hello when I see her in the locker room.

    Advice not needed but welcome. I really just wanted to share with this group as it seems like something y’all would appreciate.

    Reply
      1. Piglet

        I was in the military and this happened all of the time at the gym and other ways that different ranks get thrown together in different situations. *shrug* kinda awkward if you’re not used to it but I guarantee if she had a problem with running into people she knew then she would be more modest.

        Reply
        1. The Awkwardest of Turtles

          At this point I’m used to it. The grandboss definitely does not care – she does her thing at her own pace and is always chatting with one of her friends while they are both nude. Just at first it was like “ahh, that’s grandboss, ahhh that’s her boobs look away look away!” After months of seeing her I’m pretty unphased now.

          Reply
      2. The Awkwardest of Turtles

        We both work at a university so it’s one of the university gyms. Cheapest/closest/most convenient option for me. I’ve always had a hard time getting in a good gym routine so it’s not worth potentially messing with that (I’d been going a few months when I started seeing her).

        Reply
      1. The Awkwardest of Turtles

        I don’t think she knows who I am. She manages a number of departments and I’m just below the level of the people she would feel obligated to acknowledge. I held the door for her once and she smiled and said thank you but I couldn’t tell if it was “I know you” thank you or just a regular polite person thank you.

        Reply
      2. Paul

        There’s a lot of folks that view gym as work time, not social time. When I used to work out at a box gym, I kept my earbuds in throughout. I was there to pick up heavy stuff, and do some HIIT.

        Reply
    1. MechanicalPencil

      I would be prepared to say hi and then have a comment ready if she says something about the gym, like “oh I’m so glad they added more treadmills” or…something. Otherwise, just be polite and don’t mention the gym at all. Let her be your guide in this situation. And do the converse if she says something to you at the gym about the office.

      Reply
      1. Not My Usual Name

        I wanted to post about something similar today, and wasn’t sure if it fell into the Friday or Sunday thread.

        After my termination from a previous job, I have put it all behind me, found a new position with a great company and everything is fine. I went to the gym on a different night from usual and was sure one of the people in my aerobics class was a director from my previous job. Now, I didn’t acknowledge her, and she didn’t acknowledge me, but I wondered if it was her. People do look different when you see them out of context (in lycra as opposed to pinstripes) Hopefully our paths will not cross in the changing room!

        Reply
        1. The Awkwardest of Turtles

          I think I’d definitely go the ultra-ignore route if I ran into someone like that. Actually another person at my gym is a woman who works in a department I temped in when I was just starting out at this university. When I was a temp she yelled at me for doing a task incorrectly (because it was explained VERY poorly to me) and it made me cry during my first week (first FT gig out of college). She gets the ultra-ignore treatment from me. The disadvantages of working out where you work!

          Reply
    2. Ama

      This never happened with a coworker, but when I was taking regular dance classes I ran into classmates in other contexts a couple of times and I apparently look very different when I don’t have my hair back in the severe bun I used for class. I’m also not super great with faces so I usually waited until they either said “hey do you go to X studio?” or actually said “hi,” and then I’d figure that’s where I knew them from (as it was about the only place I would have acquaintances like that).

      The weirdest one was when someone I took dance classes with for quite a while turned out to be one of the bridesmaids in a good friend’s wedding (I was closer friends with the groom). We still see each other at their parties on occasion.

      Reply
    3. Specialk9

      The only approach is to don a careful mental suit of armor that this is all normal, not weird at all. If she chats with friends naked, she likely already has this attitude. If you act all weird and nervous, she may well just think you’re creepy or guilty of something, because naked gym won’t even occur to her. So instead, mental suit of armor that this is all normal.

      On a fitness message board once, someone posted that she is a kindergarten teacher, and just before the school year started, she was naked in the gym locker room when a mom of her new student recognized her and BROUGHT HER 5 YEAR OLD BOY over to meet his NAKED TEACHER!!

      So, you know, your situation could be so much worse.

      Reply
  31. Snark

    Just a little professional happy dance: I got to do a couple days of field work this week (which is such a nice change of pace) doing weed surveys, and it looks like I’ll be able to take a tour of the NORAD complex in Cheyenne Mountain (which makes my ’80s action movie-watching 12 year old self run in circles giggling).

    Reply
    1. Floundering Mander

      Oooh, jealous! When I was a kid they still did public tours (and my Dad worked there, which might have helped) so I’ve been there, but you aren’t allowed to go there anymore as a civilian as far as I know. It’s pretty neat inside.

      Reply
  32. Rat Racer

    My boss’s boss scheduled an off-site for October 31-November 1. Just came here to rant about this. I have two little kids, and while travel is an accepted part of my job, missing Halloween for a 2-day meet/greet/FYI meeting is just awful. Anyone have any graceful language for ducking out of this kind of thing? (and seriously, WTF, who does this? Does this guy hate working parents or something??)

    Reply
    1. Sunflower

      I think it’s pretty rude to schedule something like this without checking with someone first, regardless of the dates or employee situation. I think you’re totally in line to say ‘This was scheduled with my knowledge and I’m not available on those days. Can we reschedule?’

      Reply
      1. Rat Racer

        Ach, if only. This is boss’s boss, the Senior VP of Everything Under the Sun. There are like 200 people who will have to miss Halloween to go to this thing. I doubt they’d reschedule on my behalf.

        Reply
      1. AndersonDarling

        Or else all the lower level employees go and then it’s announced that the SVPs and CEO didn’t come because they had to be with their children for Halloween.

        Reply
    2. Friday

      Check your employee handbook – often times school things are protected things that parents can duck out for, and that totally includes the cheesy costume parade most elementary and preschools put on.

      Reply
    3. Mongoose

      Notify your boss asasp and let them know you have a conflict, no need to mention specifics. I’d also check to make sure you’re essential to this trip. Here’s a line I just recently used:
      I have a conflict and won’t be able to attend as scheduled. If I need to attend, please let me know if [new date range] is possible.
      For what it’s worth, not everyone has Halloween on their radars–even some parents (like me! Whoops). Probably just an oversight, not a specific dig against working parents.

      Reply
      1. Bobbin Ufgood

        Yeah — I’m a working parent of littles who often has to provide night/weekend coverage and I’ve never specifically protected Halloween — if I were a boss scheduling a meeting *even though I have my own small children* this wouldn’t even occur to me — I think taking it as an insult to working parents is a bit of a stretch

        Reply
      2. Paul

        Yeah, I wouldn’t bat an eye at missing Halloween myself, despite enjoying it.

        The bigger issue to me is a two day off site, travel required (I’m assuming, since it means missing Halloween) meeting just for a meet n greet. Ew.

        Reply
    4. XK

      Why not just ask? The timing isn’t rude or hateful, it is just inconvenient for you. Just ask, explain you had plans, and see what they say!

      Reply
      1. Rat Racer

        This is a difficult knot that I stumble upon often as a working mother whose boss is also a working mother. We have both made difficult decisions trying to balance career and family life. We have made sacrifices on both sides.

        I am always concerned that saying “sorry, I can’t do this because family” signals a lack of commitment – ironically, more so than if my boss were a man; even a man with young children. I think this is because my boss has had to make the exact same sacrifices and faced the exact same trade-offs between her career and family, and probably gave up more than I am willing to give to climb as high as she’s climbed. I worry that prioritizing family over career – even in stupid instances like this one where my presence is totally arbitrary – will signal a lack of engagement on my part and also potentially make her feel guilty about her own choices.

        Human beings are weird – we often misplace our emotions: we’re mad about one thing but yell at someone else; we feel guilty about X and that causes us to lash out about Y. I’m not making this up or hypothesizing — I’ve seen it happen to colleagues and it’s happened to me. My current boss is a very kind person; she will probably understand. All the same, I feel like there are only so many times that I can opt out of things because of child commitments before I get painted as someone whose career ambitions are on hold. And they’re not.

        Reply
        1. OtterB

          I think you have to pick your battles. Even a stay-at-home parent can’t make every single kid thing once there’s more than one kid. Which ones really matter to your kids or to you, and which ones are less important and you only feel like you should go because other parents do? Likewise, some work events matter more than others. Do the best you can to run the slalom course and then give yourself permission not to feel guilty for being unable to be multiple places at once. And for having different priorities from your boss.

          Reply
        2. Ann Furthermore

          I know exactly how you feel. I have an 8 year old daughter, and my job does require some travel. But there are some times that are non-negotiable for me, and Halloween is one of them. We are huge Halloween nerds, and have a blast every year decorating our house, inside and out, buy something ridiculous for the yard every year (a couple years ago it was a 13 foot high inflatable StayPuft Marshmallow Man) and we are famous in our neighborhood for handing out full-sized candy bars. We live in a very family-friendly neighborhood, so lots of people from outside the area bring their kids in to trick-or-treat (which I have no problem with — you want your kids to be safe and have fun on Halloween, so I say the more the merrier). If someone tried to spring travel on me that would cause me to miss that, I would put my foot down and refuse.

          I’ve been in my job now for almost a year, after nearly 12 at my last company. One of the things that made me leave was unpredictable travel, and how hard that was on my family. Some people are willing to put their jobs first, and for a long time, I did that to some extent. Then I realized it was very hard on my family, and at one point, it was causing some behavioral issues with my daughter. When I took this job I promised myself I would try to do better at managing the impact that the work travel has on my family — which for me means mostly trying to limit the amount of last minute trips out of town. Everyone handles it better when they know it’s coming.

          A couple days ago my boss asked me if I’d be able to do a quick 2 day trip to visit a customer next week. I told her yes, but that I would really like to be home by Thursday night to take my daughter to a movie night at school that I promised her we’d go to. She’s in the very early stages of puberty, and is a little nervous and freaked out by the way her body is (and will) start changing, and is a little vulnerable right now, and needs to know that her mom isn’t blowing her off for her job. 8 1/2 is pretty early to be dealing with that. I said, “I’m not saying that I can’t travel because my daughter is getting boobs, but I am saying I that in the short term, she needs some extra TLC and to know that I’m there for her, and to know that we’ll do things together that I promised we’d do.” Luckily my boss is pretty supportive and understanding, so she was fine with that. And it turns out that we don’t have to go after all. But 2 years ago I would have bitten my tongue and then been ticked off about it. Not anymore. And I don’t care if it makes me look bad, or makes me seem less dedicated to my career.

          Reply
          1. Specialk9

            You told your boss you have to minimize travel because your daughter is getting boobs?! I mean, good on you for protecting family time and prioritizing your kids, but yeesh that’s TMI at work, and your kid would die of mortification if she knew you told people that.

            Reply
        3. Student

          First, you can duck out of this without making it obviously about your kids. You don’t have to say it’s about your kids, just that you aren’t available, have other plans, whatever. If it’s a big meeting that you aren’t really needed at, probably no one will give it a second thought.

          Second, consider going for part of the time. It always looks better to show up, talk to some folks, and then either leave early or show up late, instead of fully missing the event. As long as you’re discrete and don’t make a big thing of it, people will remember that you were there more than that you left for part of it.

          Third, ask a relative or friend to deal with your kids for Halloween. Put your career ahead of it for this one, because it’s such an easy one to outsource and you’re torn. The kids will enjoy trick-or-treating with friends more than with adult family. It’s often not much extra burden for any given parent to supervise one additional kid for trick-or-treating purposes – it’s a low-key holiday as long as you provide a manageable, seasonally appropriate costume (not too cold or hot for your area, no parts that are difficult for kid to manage alone). Then make a point of reserving the next Halloween to hang out with family, if it’s important to you. You don’t have to always put work first, or always put family first – you can alternate, based on needs and mood and whim and personal preference (just like with in-laws).

          Reply
    5. Dr. Doll

      He didn’t do this AT you, and he can’t read your mind. It was an oversight from someone who’s probably old enough not to have little kids any more. Chill, and politely say sorry I can’t come.

      Also, I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to schedule over a secular, non-mandated holiday (which Halloween is) if business needs called for it. If business needs DIDN’T call for it and someone pointed it out to me, I would be very sorry indeed and make a correction for it next year.

      Reply
      1. Rat Racer

        Not AT me personally, but still a night when people with kids want to be home to see them off in their costumes, and many people without kids probably have plans. Just highly likely to inconvenience lots of people.

        Reply
    6. WellRed

      Halloween is a big deal with kids and, as far as kid ocassions go, it is one that has few opportunities to celebrate. They grow out of those cute costumes and trick or treating very fast. I say this as a nonparent whose industry scheduled its biggest event over Halloween last year. Probably thousands of irritated parents.

      Reply
  33. Sunflower

    Hills to die on at work. We talk all the time about asking if this is really a hill you’re willing to die on so I’m Wondering what instances/scenarios in your work place have made you say ‘Yes this is a hill I’m willing to die on’

    I think I’m approaching my first ‘this is a hill I’m willing to die on at work. This person who is above me is insisting I let them take over certain parts of my job but then blaming me when I don’t properly set her up to take on the work. This is just something I’m absolutely not going to do and I’m talking to my boss about either 1. Not letting her take over the work or 2. Clearly laying out the lines that if she takes on the work, shes responsible for 100% of the process. UGH

    Reply
    1. Lady Dedlock

      My company is increasing in size and running out of office space. We were told the other day that “just because you have your own office now is no guarantee you’ll have one in the future.” I’m giving serious thought to whether being displaced from my office to a cubicle and/or doubled up with a coworker is a hill I’m willing to die on. It might very well be.

      Reply
      1. BRR

        I recently had to temporarily move to an extremely small desk with no privacy. While I ended up getting a cube after a lot of effort, it was a hill I would die on. It was so small that I couldn’t even use my computer and write in a notebook at the same time. It was completely demoralizing.

        Reply
      2. MissDissplaced

        This: I’m quitting a job (partly) over losing my office. I was forced out of my office for a male coworker when office space was tight. I was not happy, but as we were moving in a year, I was promised an office at new location. Well, new location and NO office! Meanwhile, 3 are empty!
        I gave my notice.

        Reply
      3. Specialk9

        My office did that, from all offices to stylish cubicle hell, with no privacy and several loud talkers per hall. Everyone basically just went to 100% telework. It was bad for morale all around.

        Reply
    2. Rat Racer

      This is an interesting question – and makes me think: what do we really mean when we talk about the hills we would die on, and what it means to “die”?

      Is a hill anything we would spend political capital on at work? I do a lot of accruing and spending of political capital – I think everyone does. But I think the “hill” requires expending political capital for something on principle, and not because it gets something done. Is that right?

      And then what do we mean by “die”? Like how much capital do you have to spend until it counts as a death?

      Sunflower, by the definitions above, what you’re describing doesn’t really sound like a hill you’re dying on – it sounds like taking determined measures to avoid getting thrown under a bus. I would totally spend capital on that! (Would not waste my time on Air Conditioner wars, who microwaves what, and someone using too much emphatic punctuation in an email). Maybe that’s a false dichotomy though.

      PS Sorry for waxing philosophical here – this seems to be one of those days…

      Reply
      1. Bow Ties Are Cool

        To me, in a work context, “hill I’m willing to die on” means “I will immediately commence a job search if this goes the wrong way”.

        Reply
        1. Mephyle

          Or to give a flat ‘no’ to the thing you refuse to do, and take the consequences up to and including leaving the job.

          Reply
        1. Sunflower

          Sorry that was a little confusing! I explained below but what I should have said is ‘This person who is above me is insisting I let them take over certain parts of my job that she thinks she understands but doesn’t and although I do my best to set her up, the job isn’t really made to be split up like this but she won’t accept that those two things are the issue and it’s not that I didn’t do my job property’

          Reply
          1. Anion

            Ah! Thanks for the clarification, heh. That does sound really irritating!

            The fact that she’s refusing to take responsibility when it comes to handling issues on-site is definitely the thing I’d emphasize to my boss, if I were in your position. Maybe frame it as, “Boss, Jane seems to have trouble understanding how to manage problems when they arise at the venue, so she calls me to tell me to deal with the vendor, but it’s awkward since I’m not actually there. I worry that it’s affecting our relationships with our vendors, especially since some of the issues she’s asking me to handle are very minor. I think it might be best for me to attend events with her until she’s ready to take the initiative herself,” or something like that? Like, wording that makes it clear she’s passing the buck and making everyone look bad, while not making it seem like you’re tattling or trying specifically to say “She’s passing the buck and shirking her duties while blaming me.”

            I mean, obviously you know your boss & job best, so you might be able to just say, “Jane seems to want to have all the fun and credit without doing any of the actual work, and it’s really starting to irritate me.” Which would probably be the most satisfying way to do it. :-) But hopefully my suggestion helps a little.

            Good luck!

            Reply
      1. Sunflower

        I’m an event planner. This person wants me to plan the entire event while she insists on being onsite to ‘manage’ it. I’ve found out what that means is she essentially expects me to pre-plan the entire event and then remotely manage the event while she is there. For example, a table was missing and instead of telling someone who works at the venue, she called me to tell them and then flipped out that it was missing even though I told them we needed it way ahead of time. Sure I could tell her every little thing she needed to do while managing an event onsite but that isn’t my job and I don’t have the time nor the interest in doing that. And it seems clear she isn’t able to fix a problem on the ground- so she should’t volunteer to do take that job.

        This stuff is part of events- it just happens. If I was onsite, any of her ‘problems’ would not have been problems. Which is why she either needs to relinquish that control to my team or she needs to take responsibility for her role she volunteered for, instead of blaming my team for run of the mill live event issues. (Sorry that kind of turned into a rant but I could rant about ppl thinking they know how to run events and then realizing that it’s not just boozing and schmoozing)

        Reply
    3. Ama

      I know what mine is definitely. I have coworkers whose jobs require a lot more travel than mine (I do about 4-6 trips a year, they are in the double digits, plus a lot of their travel includes weekends, where mine does only about once a year). For a little while I was working closely with one of the departments that does a lot of travel and I was worried I was going to be asked to start helping out with their travel load, and I knew that wasn’t going to work well for me. (Thankfully I was only ever asked to help with places that were local or a short train ride away, and then they hired a new employee.)

      Frequent air travel is really hard on my chronic sinus issues — I much prefer my department’s schedule where we take longer trips but much less frequent ones. I love this job but if I had to start flying to multiple locations in a week like my coworkers sometimes do in their busiest periods I would start looking.

      Reply
    4. another Liz

      Recently died on my hill, and I am not sorry. Doctor I worked under did something shady-not illegal but definitely not best practice. We were verbally promised by a higher-up it was a spur of the moment judgement call and wouldn’t happen again. A few weeks later, Dr. Questionable told me in no uncertain terms they intended to do it again on a regular basis. (Original incident happened on my day off, but HR did ask my opinion to gauge whether affected co-worker was over reacting, so I think Dr. Questionable didn’t know I knew as much as I did). I went to the higher up, was shocked to learn they knew and supported Dr. Q’s position for financial reasons (despite possibly jeopardizing standard of care). I was let go without warning by total coincidence for a non-work related issue (yeah right) two weeks later. But I have a better gig now, and the verbal promises are now written policy, so I consider it a win.

      Reply
  34. Nervous Accountant

    Is it particularly hard to build goodwill and good relationships at other companies? Yall know I’ve written about the problems I’ve had in the beginning and even most recently. Despite the crappy ppl and times, I’m on really good terms with my manager. Plus I like his management style more than our boss’s (she’s the one who sends the nasty emails and says the ridiculous stuff). His “nasty” email is light years away from her “normal” emails.

    I generally like my job and most of the ppl I work with a lot but I started looking mostly bc of salary. He said that if I stay until next year he’ll fight for a higher pay raise for me. I have no reason to distrust him and I know he’ll protect me from her nastiness.

    I mean….I”m still looking but I’m also 100% OK with staying here one more tax season and then bailing afterwards. It’s nice having a good relationship but I”m wondering if I’m putting TOO much emphasis on it?

    Reply
    1. Not So NewReader

      I put a high value on having a good boss. There’s an expression “people quit bosses, not jobs”. So I think it’s safe to assume that a good number of people place a high value on a good boss.
      My uncle managed a department for a fairly well known newspaper. He said he saw it first hand. People are will to work for a little bit lesser pay with a good boss, than risk moving to a job with a bad boss with more pay.

      Reply
  35. I NC You There

    Something went down this week and I’m not sure how to feel about it. I’ve been at my job for 9 months and am really underutilized, which is acknowledged; there is a long training process for my role. I thought I was progressing well, and I keep asking for additional work and higher-level tasks, and I’m told they will come in time.

    This week I learned that because of a business need, my newly hired peer will be taking on responsibilities aside from our regular duties. This includes something that was discussed before he got here as a task I would like to take on, but it was pushed aside in favor of other priorities. So this new guy is basically getting a shift in his work that will include a lot more visibility. He has experience doing this type of work but in a very different industry.

    I wouldn’t care so much except it’s raising my hackles. Add to this that there’s no clear plan for me and my (also female) co-worker except to take on more grunt work. I took this job and was thrilled that it meant getting out of grunt work. Also add a tendency for our industry to be very man-dominant and that I got seriously mansplained yesterday (I am apparently incapable of being right about anything that I’ve worked in for 15 years), and I feel like this new shifting in duties has a lot to do with my peer’s gender.

    Does it sound like I’m totally overreacting?

    Reply
    1. squids

      Doesn’t sound like overreacting to me. I had a similar thing happen years ago, where a co-worker and I were dreadfully underutilized, and had regularly talked with our manager about taking on more challenging tasks. And then she decided to hire an intern to take on the more challenging tasks we’d brought up. Both of us left within 2 months.

      Reply
    2. Rusty Shackelford

      No, it doesn’t sound like you’re overreacting.

      Did the mansplaining incident have anything to do with your peer’s new duties? If not, and you haven’t brought it up yet, I’d test the waters. “We talked about additional higher-level tasks, and you said they’d be coming. This thing Fergus is working on is exactly what I was thinking about, and ever since we talked about it in January, I’ve been looking forward to it. I’d like to be involved in this too, if that’s possible. If not, can we discuss a timeline for when I’ll be able to do more of X and Y?”

      Reply
      1. I NC You There

        The incident was separate, but it was my boss interrupting me while I was explaining something to this guy. Which, in my mind, sets it up so this guy won’t respect my expertise. My boss has done similar things to one other colleague in particular– a man– so it’s very much him and not me, but it just added to the pile of stuff that makes me feel undervalued. I have a ton of skills that haven’t been touched here, and I start to worry that they will assume I don’t have them at all.

        I do need to address my role and goals with my boss soon. Unfortunately, I’m kind of stuck here, as I left my last two jobs after less than two years (left the first for a great opportunity at the second, left the second because it was toxic and dysfunctional) and there’s very little available for me in this city. (I may be moving in two years to a place with better options; I had a very long stint at one company before I moved on from there.) I want to be successful here and I really like the work, so I want to avoid flailing.

        Reply
    3. oranges & lemons

      Ugh, this would drive me crazy too. A somewhat similar thing has happened to me at my current job, which has something of a mix of creative tasks and grunt work. My male colleauge, who is at the same level as me, has gradually gotten away with shifting more and more of the grunt work to me and my female colleagues by putting very little effort into it so that managers have just stopped assigning it to him.

      Reply
  36. anonfriday

    I work for a medium-sized company and our CEO is wanting to embrace a new organizational structure (along the lines of Zappos and holacracy, but that’s not it). One of its key components is valuing diversity in the workplace (which I’m a big fan of). I volunteered to be on a subcommittee to examine this issue … and I’m getting a lot of pushback from employees (95% white, 95% straight, mostly male). They truly don’t understand how diversity affects their ability to do their job in any way (we’re not in finance, but I’m getting feedback like “a banker is a banker is a banker, and how does it matter how many non-white bankers work for our company”). I’ve tried to educate: “statistically, racially diverse companies outperform non-diverse companies” and “statistically, diverse groups make better decisions” complete with links and brochures, but I’m not getting any traction.

    Has anyone successfully implemented any kind of diversity program/education in their workplace? Can you point me in the right direction for good resources, or give me any pointers? How did you get everyone onboard? (My interpretation is that people here feel threatened or devalued.) Were there any ramifications for new hires, such as prejudicial treatment (oh, that’s the “token non-white person”) and how did you handle that? I’m really glad our CEO is emphasizing this issue, and I’m really appalled at some of the attitudes here from people that I’ve worked with/known for years. And I’m embarrassed that I didn’t recognize that earlier.

    Reply
    1. Manders

      My husband’s going through the same thing right now–he works for a school that pays a lot of lip service to diversity, but the older all-white staff have a lot of political power and don’t like change.

      Something he’s been trying to focus on is pointing out parts of the system that create inequality in ways people don’t realize. For instance, this school looks for a very specific type of prestige in its hiring process, and that prestige is not cheap or easy to come by if you’re not from a very specific racial and socioeconomic group. As a result, the school’s been turning down diverse candidates who don’t quite fit the mold in favor of “safe bets” who are all from exactly the same background. He’s trying to encourage people with hiring power to consider taking younger, less established teachers from a variety of backgrounds and training them rather than finding someone who checks every box. Is that something that could work in your industry?

      Reply
      1. anonfriday

        It is (and it’s helpful that this directive is coming from our CEO, who has The Most hiring power) … HOWEVER, we’ve only just begun this new initiative and already I’m hearing comments of “s/he was only hired because they’re not-white”. Our industry has a pretty intensive testing/exam process, and the old (white) school crowd here feels that testing process is “objective” when it is, in fact, not – based on those same reasons you list above. So when the stats come out and they see that they took applicant ranked #14 instead of applicant ranked #3, it becomes this “you were only hired because you’re not-white” thing and it’s very threatening to the old crowd. I’m really struggling on how to change that attitude … this is something I’m not trained in or have ever dealt with before, but I am very passionate about.

        Reply
        1. Anion

          Well…I’m a little confused here (and please hear me out), because if you’re hiring someone who ranked #14 instead of #3, and you’re hiring that #14 because of the need for diversity (which I support)…then isn’t it actually true that they were only hired because they’re non-white?

          Is it really serving your customer base to deliberately hire people who are less capable of doing the work?

          (Especially if the work is rather technical; who’s taking up the slack while new people fill in the gaps of their knowledge, or fixing the problems caused by their lack? And quite frankly, I can’t blame your employees for feeling devalued by this; I’d feel pretty devalued if I’d been required to meet very strict entrance requirements for my work but someone else didn’t have to because of the color of their skin. It would really add insult to injury if it then became my job to fix their mistakes. Of course it may not be their job in your company, but in some companies it would/will be.)

          Would it perhaps be a better idea to, instead of focusing on hiring “diverse” candidates who are less capable or educated, to set up some kind of training program or community outreach in order to help those less-capable candidates become capable? In other words, if you set up a volunteer-taught class, and contact your local unemployment offices/workforce offices (whatever they’re called there) to say you’re looking for people to take the class in hopes of meeting X requirements–and maybe your company isn’t the only one with that requirement?–then you’d have a great opportunity to actually help people AND provide yourself with a pool of candidates who are both racially diverse *and* qualified to do the work. Even if it’s simply a study- or Q&A-type group that meets once a week for a month or something; good candidates will be the ones who take advantage of the opportunity to learn and grow, and then ace their tests.

          If you have a decent number of candidates (it sounds like you might?) who are familiar with your industry but just not quite “there yet,” this could be a way to improve both their situation and yours, as well as showing real commitment to diversity and outreach on your company’s behalf, as your CEO quite reasonably and rightfully wants to do. It could be a serious win-win.

          Hiring people for jobs for which they’re not qualified is a short-term solution that could well fail in the end, as those unqualified employees are less likely to do well and enjoy the work. Helping people become qualified is a little more of a long-term commitment, but (IMO, and from what I’ve read on the subject) is much more likely to succeed for everyone, will improve the lives of more people than just the few you hire, and (IMO again) shows a *real* commitment to helping those who’ve had less opportunities build better lives, as opposed to just handing out a couple of jobs to people because of their skin color or background–which feels and can end up as simply setting them up to fail. I’m genuinely excited just thinking about the possibility/opportunity you could be offering people who haven’t had as many opportunities in the past, and what that could mean for them.

          I can’t imagine such a thing would be *too* difficult to set up, if you already have testing in place.

          Reply
          1. anonfriday

            I don’t agree that the 14th applicant is “less capable of doing the work” than the 3rd ranked applicant. I believe that if our training process was a good as we believe it to be, we can take anyone that passes the test and turn them into a fully-capable employee. It’s not like we hire someone and say “great you’re on your own tomorrow” – our company has different processes than your company does; everyone has to go through training to learn how to do things our way. No one gets hired and is immediately “capable”. I also believe that our ranking system is designed so a typical US-born middle class white male with access to a college education will outscore most anyone.

            I also think that our company would improve with increased diversity, whether that means making our company grow or improving our interactions with the (diverse) public. I also happen to think it’s the public’s right to demand that our company be more racially and ethnically diverse … and that even if that was the ONLY reason we were attempting to become so, it would still be a valid reason.

            (also, for the positions that I’m talking about, we regularly get 300+ applications for each open position; we usually hire from the top 10 but the top 50 or so “meet the minimum qualifications including test scores”)

            Reply
            1. Anion

              Perhaps I should have said “less knowledgeable,” then? Without knowing your specific industry (and I’m not asking, of course), all I can do is go by the information given by you, which is that an exam is given to test candidates on their knowledge of something specific and technical which is a required part of their job–and, according to you, an important part of that job, since you say you should be able to train anyone who can pass the test (but not, apparently, those who cannot). And your job has “minimum qualifications including test scores.” So it seems to me that the candidates who demonstrate the most knowledge–i.e. the highest test score–would be the most qualified on strictly the test-score basis. And it would seem to me that deliberately hiring someone whose “rank,” which would be a rank based on qualifications and scores, was lower than that of others and basing that hiring solely on one thing to the exclusion of all others, would justify the claims that someone was hired based on that one thing. (Especially if you normally hire from the top 10 but have now hired a #14 while not hiring a #3; clearly those scores mean enough in your company to be the baseline of hiring decisions, and clearly your employees are aware of this.)

              I would ask if skin color and sex are things included in the rankings, since you say college-educated white men are automatically advantaged above, say, college-educated white women or college-educated Asian men or women or college-educated African-American men or women. The only way I can see that being explicitly the case would be if, say, a candidate gets 10 “points” for being white but only 9 for being a POC–obviously that needs to change immediately. I simply don’t believe that women or POC are by default less intelligent and/or capable than white men (and find the idea that they might be frankly offensive), so I can’t see any reason why, say, a male African-American Yale graduate would score less highly than a male white community college graduate.

              I certainly agree that your company could likely improve with, and benefit from, a more diverse pool of employees. I certainly agree that the public could rightfully demand that your company be more racially and ethnically diverse (have they done so?), since you serve the public and serve a diverse community. I certainly agree that such would be a valid reason to increase diversity in your company. My suggestion was designed to not only hopefully solve the problem you identified with the approach suggested by Manders but also to benefit more disadvantaged people than simply the few you actually hire. I admit I’m rather confused as to why you’re justifying your reasons for encouraging a more diverse workforce to me, since I thought it was extremely clear from my comment that I support that idea–all of those ideas.

              I’m sorry to have failed in understanding you here, and to have offered so enthusiastically an idea which was apparently so unworkable or unpleasant that you didn’t even acknowledge its existence. I thought someone with the admirable goal of increasing the racial diversity of one’s company’s workforce would like the idea of helping the entire applicant base (rather than just one or two lucky enough to be hired), eliminating a cause of tension between new hires and old, improving the baseline skills of one’s new hires, increasing the company’s visibility, and providing an additional benefit to the diverse community in which said company is located–of potentially changing lives for the better, all while showing the company’s commitment to diversity is more than skin-deep (no pun intended). My apologies for the overstep. Best of luck to you.

              Reply
              1. Specialk9

                “I’m sorry to have failed in understanding you here, and to have offered so enthusiastically an idea which was apparently so unworkable or unpleasant that you didn’t even acknowledge its existence.”

                Ooh, beautifully done. It sounds like an apology, but it’s actually a complaint and a criticism, wrapped in martyrdom. Brava!

                Reply
                1. Anion

                  It wasn’t meant that way. I genuinely feel/believe that I’ve somehow offended or upset the OP with my suggestion–I thought that seemed clear given the tenor of the reply I got, and I honestly wanted to apologize and try to further explain my reasoning. Since other commenters made statements similar to mine about the hiring practice(s) but I was the only one who got a reply in that tone, it (again) seemed clear that there was some other issue at play.

                  I’ve been struggling for a little while with feeling very unwelcome here, and this just seems like further confirmation that my feeling is correct. That’s all.

              2. anonfriday

                I didn’t respond to your suggestion of a community outreach program because I was bristling over your suggestion that these candidates are “less capable, less educated, less knowledgeable, or less qualified” (all things that you said in your statement). I didn’t make any insinuation to that effect and you did – which is what I am battling here in this committee. It SHOULDN’T all come down to just a rank score. True, you don’t know my company’s unique situation but the difference between candidate ranked #3 & candidate ranked #14 is so small. It’s the difference between a 2200 SAT score and a 2250. Does it matter? Sure, maybe. But either way it’s a very high score! Some people are just better test takers. The test also has an interview portion, and I believe there may be unconscious bias that the (white male) test givers rank certain people higher. If we offered (diverse) candidate #14 a “workshop” to attend or a community outreach opportunity because they’re not “there yet”, I hope that person is outright offended – because there is NOTHING “lesser” about them (qualifications, knowledge, capability) except for a dumb test score.

                I may have not made it clear, but to do so: in absolutely no way would I ever advocate hiring someone who is unqualified, incapable or less knowledgeable just to meet some kind of diversity quota.

                Reply
                1. Anion

                  Okay. So in your initial comment you specifically said that you’re having issues with how current employees react to the new “diverse” hires, and that you suspect said employees feel devalued because–in their minds–you’re hiring people whose qualifications are not as high as those of people you’re not hiring. I replied to that explaining why those people might feel that way, as a means to help you understand them (since you specifically said you did not) and, by understanding them, help alleviate the situation; I took your post at face value, as we’re supposed to do here.

                  I don’t know why you GAF what *I* think of the qualifications of your new employees, and to be honest I don’t care about their qualifications (I also said more than once that I don’t even know what industry you’re in so am just going by what you said; given that, it’s a little much to get angry at me for getting things wrong about your process, isn’t it?). YOU said you’re hiring employees of lower “ranks” and that your current employees are both noticing it and being upset by it. I interpreted that the way any other thinking person would–as saying you’re hiring people your employees think are less qualified (in fact, again, you specifically *said* that your current employees think the new hires are less qualified; I asked if there might be a reason for that–like their having to do extra work, etc.–but that question is apparently not worth considering), hires who did not score as well on whatever these important technical tests are, meaning they know less about the subject–and offered a suggestion to alleviate it.

                  In your reply, you didn’t clarify how small the difference between #3 and #14 is, which you could easily have done. Nor did you explain anything about how some of the rank comes from an essay question and an interview, which, again, you could easily have done. Instead you said that you “…believe that if our training process was a good as we believe it to be, we can take anyone that passes the test and turn them into a fully-capable employee.” Which reads to me like, “if our training process is as good as I hope, it can train even people who don’t do well on the test,” which again sounds to me like it’s saying people who don’t do well on the test likely need extra help. It also underscores to me that this is pretty technical work.

                  Regardless of that, though, the fact is that you asked about the resentful employees and I offered some thoughts on it. You asked for help and I offered it, and instead of paying attention to that you immediately decided I wasn’t worth replying to with anything but a lecture about why I should support something I already said I supported–something I was offering suggestions to help expand, and to help the community you claim to want to help beyond the few you hire, out of a genuine desire to support that goal and help people in a community that you seem to fell could use it.

                  I’m stunned that you would actually be offended to be offered help in passing a test you did not pass originally, or help in scoring better on a test in which you scored acceptably but not high enough to be hired. Of course there is nothing “lesser” about any human being, minority or not! Why are you equating someone’s test scores with their quality or worth as a human being? I certainly did not do so, but you certainly seem to be. And you keep insisting that someone’s qualifications are just as good as everyone else’s regardless of test score, when from what you yourself posted, test scores are *part of* their qualification, so forgive me for being confused.

                  Several people made similar comments to mine, about hiring candidates who, however angry it makes you to say, appear less qualified based on the ranks that are apparently the basis of your company’s hiring. I was the only one who offered a suggestion to help, and also the only one who was subjected to a lecture from you that, frankly, made offensively and insultingly clear you assumed a lot of unpleasant things about me.

                  I sincerely hope that you’re not addressing those unhappy employees–of whom you also speak so contemptuously–at your workplace with the same disdainful, accusatory attitude you’ve given me here. I also hope that you learn to assume good intent from other people, and consider that their viewpoints might be valid even if you don’t like them.

                  Once again, I apologize for taking your post at face value and engaging with it as it was given, and for offering a suggestion that you found insulting on others’ behalf. I shall drop the subject now, and will not offer any further justification or explanation that may disturb or anger you.

          2. Lalaroo

            You’re making a lot of unqualified assumptions in this comment.
            1. You’re assuming that this exam has a significant and direct correlation to job performance, which it may very well not (think of SATs, LSATs, etc)
            2. You’re assuming that the difference in score between the 3rd and 14th rank is significant – it may be the difference between missing 3 questions or missing 4, which is not actually very meaningful
            3. You’re assuming that being 14th in the ranking means you are unqualified, rather than just slightly less qualified than number 3 – there may be 600,000 people ranked, and in that case 3 vs 14 is a negligible difference
            4. You’re assuming that the person ranked 14th didn’t meet the entrance requirements – it may be that the requirements are just to be ranked 50 and above
            5. You’re assuming that exam rank is the only factor that affects capability – perhaps this position would benefit from the type of flexible thinking that anonfriday notes diverse groups are more likely to display, and that benefit outweighs any deficit that accompanies a lower exam ranking

            There are probably more, but those are the ones I noticed off the top of my head.

            Reply
            1. Anion

              1. I did not assume that. What I did assume is that someone with knowledge gaps in a technical subject who then has to perform technical work based on that subject may need a bit more time to fill those gaps. That is very specifically what I said. If you feel “Someone lacking knowledge in certain aspects of the job has to learn those aspects at some point in order to do the job” is an “unqualified” assumption (I believe you mean “unfounded” assumption?), please feel free to explain why, and how someone could perform those aspects of their job without knowing how to do so.
              2. No, I am not assuming that at all. The significance of the difference in ranks matters little, except that there *is* a difference. 3 is higher than 14, and the OP’s employees know it; 3 is higher than 14 and that difference is apparently significant enough to them–people who do know what the difference is–that they’re mentioning it and it’s breeding some unpleasantness. I trust the OP’s assessment, and she seems to be saying there is at least more of a difference than one question; if that was all it was, I doubt either she or the other employees would mention it.
              3. I made no such assumption; looking back I see that my last full paragraph, which was intended as a general statement summarizing my reasons for making what I foolishly thought was a helpful suggestion which could benefit anonfriday’s company (and, more importantly, its pool of minority potential hires and their community in general) and supporting its potential implementation, could–if one did not bother to really read the rest of my comment or attempt to understand my point–perhaps be taken as a direct comment on those people anonfriday’s company is hiring. I thought it would be clear, given that my entire comment/suggestion was predicated on the idea of turning the “qualified but not stellar” applicants into “stellar” ones (and that I said that repeatedly), that I was speaking in generalities there, and not of the people I thought my idea could/would help. I apologize for my apparent lack of clarity.
              4. You’re really stretching now. I did not assume the person ranked 14th didn’t meet entrance requirements (another way to say “didn’t meet entrance requirements,” btw, might be something like, “is unqualified.” But why let redundancy spoil the chance to pick another person apart). But from the POV of one of the people whose mindset anonfriday said she wanted to understand and change, they are likely to see it as, “When I was hired you had to be in the top 10 [in other words, it was a “requirement” to be in the Top 10], but X got hired and s/he was only #14, while someone else who was #3 got passed over.” In that person’s mind, #3 met the “Top 10 requirement” that anonfriday herself mentioned as their “usual” “requirement,” but #14 did not meet it. That person doing the thinking in this scenario had to meet that strict requirement, and #14 did not; that is why they’re annoyed, which is exactly what I said: I’d feel devalued if I’d had to meet strict requirements and a new hire hadn’t had to. Would it be more palatable to say “The employees feel devalued because they had to meet a certain very high standard but this new hire did not?” It’s basically the same thing; I thought “strict entrance requirement” sounded a lot less offensive to the new hire(s) in question than “very high standard,” which is why I used that phrase, but then I foolishly assumed the substance of my comment would be discussed, and the minutiae was less important.
              5. I’m not assuming that, either. Perhaps this position would benefit from diverse thinking. Perhaps it would not. We don’t know that. What we do know is that it is a position that requires a body of detailed technical knowledge, and requires it to the extent that complicated tests are given and must be scored well on if one is to be hired to do this job. What we do also know is that anonfriday’s company considers these scores to be extremely important in hiring, but does not test for “flexible thinking.” In a job whose chief requirement is that employees have readily available a large body of technical knowledge, any lack in that knowledge makes said lacking employee less capable than one with no lack; that seems pretty basic to me. There is no indication from anonfriday that these are positions in which other factors like “flexible thinking” matter more than technical knowledge. I’m sure many of these hires are great employees. Some of them probably are not. That’s how it is with people, see, they’re all different. (BTW, anonfriday did not note that diverse groups “are more likely to display…flexible thinking.” Anonfriday noted that statistically, diverse groups tend to make better decisions. Those are not the same thing. It honestly surprises me that someone as obsessed with exact word choices and as dedicated to ferreting out any potential hidden meaning in someone’s quickly tossed-out internet comment as yourself would get that wrong, but you in fact have–just as you have gotten wrong all of your “assumptions” about my comment.) If anonfriday feels that “flexible thinking” would benefit the company more than technical proficiency, then I would certainly encourage her to make that case to those in charge of hiring; unfortunately, that’s not the question she asked at all.

              Did you have any thoughts about the suggestion I naively offered anonfriday in order to potentially improve the scores of the entire hiring pool (and offer genuine help to a larger number of minority people in the community who could really use it), thus eliminating the chance for employees to complain about new hires with lower test scores? Or was typing my suggestion out, along with an answer to anonfriday’s specific question about the thinking of the complaining employees, the reasons behind my suggestion, and its potential benefits, just a stupid waste of my time, not worth your or anyone else’s effort to read, consider, or address when you could instead just dissect, in a patronizing tone, the “assumptions” you think I made?

              Reply
              1. Howdy

                Anion, I think that your suggestions were great and well-thought-out! Setting up a training program or community outreach to help those less knowledgeable candidates become more knowledgeable would be a much better way to help more people. The company would have a much bigger pool to choose from in the future. It’s about looking at things in the long run. I don’t want a company to hire me because my skin is brown or because I’m a woman in order to meet some requirement. Hire me because of my talents, skills, and abilities. If I don’t possess the necessary skills or meet certain requirements based on a test (which is obviously important or it wouldn’t be there) then you can inform me of that. This is the stage where the company could say,” You didn’t meet the requirements, but we do have a class/a program/something that we offer to people(no matter skin color, etc.) in the community if you are interested.” I would definitely sign up for that if I was serious about working in that industry/field. It would be a chance to ask questions and gain information from people who are already working there. That would benefit so many people. Only those who were determined would complete the class/program to its entirety.

                Reply
                1. Anion

                  Thanks so, so much, Howdy! That was my hope–that this would be a way to help many more people than just the few who are hired, and provide the company with a much larger pool of highly qualified potentials. As you said so aptly, yeah, it’s about looking at the long term, planting seeds for the future. (And it would demonstrate to the community that there’s a real commitment, not just hire-a-few-POC-and-we’re-done style lipservice, if you know what I mean, thus hopefully attracting more minority applicants for all positions.) If I was a young person of color in that community, the fact that Company X offered this sort of training–and often hired people from its training classes, even!–might even make me think, “That means a career in Y is actually feasible for me, and this company really cares about me and my community.” The employees currently unhappy about “lower-ranked” employees being hired could possibly be recruited to help with the training classes, so they can see the ways the testing isn’t as objective as they think it is and will have an opportunity to get to know the potential hires, too, so they feel like part of the process. As you said, finishing the class would show a level of real determination, so that means finishing the class would be a bonus even for those applying at other companies (plus it might give those applicants a good reference, in the class’s instructor–a lot of people would probably *love* to be able to put a reference like that on an application or resume).

                  All of my friends who are POC have always felt the way you do–they’ve been really adamant about not wanting to be hired based on their skin color alone, or have it be a major factor in their hiring. And as a woman, I feel the same way–I don’t want to get a job because of my reproductive organs, I want to get it based on merit. It feels really patronizing to me to do that. So I guess I come at the question from that perspective.

                  Thanks again, so much, for your thoughts and feedback. It truly means a lot to me.

          3. Ann O.

            Is there a way to blind the exact stats? I see you say below that you think the top 50 candidates could all do the job. Could you simply present test results in batches (maybe top 10 in one band, top 25 in one band, top 50 in one band)? Do you have, or is there a way to attain, data that shows test results within these batches are all predictive of the same excellence of performance?

            I understand the desire not to cater to privilege, but I think it’s fairly logical and human that people who see #14 is taken over #3 because #14 improves diversity, will indeed feel like someone was hired only because they were not-white. Especially if wrongly or rightly, they don’t buy into the idea of any kind of bias in the testing. The social justice theory that I’m seeing in vogue right now seems very into being abrasive and making people uncomfortable instead of trying to reach people where they’re at. But unless you’re planning on firing large swaths at people, you don’t have an alternative but to take their fears seriously.

            It’s hard to suggest specific remedies without knowing anything about your industry. As a snarky leftist, my instinct is to point out that unless they genuinely believe white men are just that much better than everyone else, obviously a 90%+ white male workforce is not actually getting the best people for the job. But that’s not going to help. Are there ways to bring them on board as part of the change (like maybe a bonus for recruiting [x] people of color? that may be a horrible idea, but I’m trying to think of things that will make them feel like part of the solution, like they benefit, and invested in the success of the more diverse workforce).

            Reply
        2. Panda Bandit

          They’re placing too much importance on the exams and rankings. Someone can test very well and then do badly on the actual job duties, and vice versa.

          Reply
          1. Specialk9

            It sounds like the root of your problems is in the ranking.

            Find a way to rework the tests so they are less racially biased but still testing the key knowledge and abilities.
            You will likely need professional help with this.

            If the algorithm is opaque to the complaining workers, consider adding questions that encourage diversity. So #13 before is actually #5 now.

            Reply
            1. anonfriday

              I agree that this is the problem. Like I said, I’m not sure our test even measures what we want it to – for instance, there’s an essay portion that gets graded on creativity, grammar, logical flow … but there’s no real writing component to our field.

              We’ve discussed changing the test/ranking system, but current employees are complaining that we’re making it somehow “easier,” again setting up that us vs them dichotomy. We’re not trying to make it “easier,” we’re just trying to make it DIFFERENT. These employees are union members and working with the union to make any adjustments to the hiring system is an uphill battle.

              Reply
    2. Lily Rowan

      I wonder if bringing in an outside expert would help, even if they say the exact same things you’ve been saying?
      This stuff is so hard — I am very conscious of the lack of diversity on my team, and still can’t figure out how to crack it, because of the many factors out of my control (from how HR is screening through all the larger societal stuff.)

      Reply
    3. Maya Elena

      Forcing that kind of thing will only make people resentful. Unless the workforce has a history of being hostile, openly or subtly, to women or minorities, pushing diversity come across as an implicit accusation that they are racist and sexist just for being white and male, which some people believe, but is an adversarial position and by no means mainstream. An outside consultant is also unlikely to persuade them, because they see that industry as a racket that companies pay to cover their butts.

      Also, people who say “a banker is a banker is a banker” often actually mean it, and aren’t trying to secretly signal that they hate women and minorities.

      Reply
      1. anonfriday

        Well, I personally believe that my organization should mirror the population that we serve, which is about 40% diverse (and that proportion is growing all the time).

        I agree that these men who say “a banker is a banker is a banker” do TRULY believe that. However, I don’t think that they understand the institutional discrimination that does not allow equal access for all populations to score as high as needed to be hired here (and I’m not even sure that our scoring system is measuring what we want it to measure).

        Basically these guys all took the test 5-15 years ago, and now we’re exploring the possibility of ranking applicants in a different way, and they’re totally against it (because it wouldn’t be “fair”). It’s also setting up the dichotomy of them (who took a “fair” test) vs others (who took an “easier” or “different” test and hence are “lesser”). But if we never change anything, we’re going to keep attracting/keep hiring a bunch of dudes who think and look and act exactly the same, and our company isn’t going to grow.

        Do you have any suggestions for how I can change this attitude? Or are you saying that you don’t think my company should be advocating for diversity if we’re currently “hostile” towards disadvantaged groups because employees will resent it?

        Reply
      2. Future Analyst

        But someone who says “a banker is a banker is a banker” is operating under the luxurious assumption that everyone has the same opportunities available to them. Even if they’re not signaling that they hate women and minorities, they are also not operating with a clear understanding of their privilege, and it’s okay to work to fix that in a company, even if it rubs certain people the wrong way. Change isn’t comfortable, but refusing to do so should not be tolerated. Being resentful of your company changing their mode of hiring to be more inclusive of non-white, non-male individuals is not exactly professional.

        Reply
    4. Student

      One of the biggest things to successfully change a culture from a monoculture to a more diverse one is that you need to reach a “critical mass” of diversity before it will stick. That means hiring a trickle of minorities isn’t going to help. If there’s not enough, they’ll leave as fast as you can hire them. You need to get a bunch of them in at once (not exact same time, but you need a quick increase, not a gradual draw-up – like maybe a specific recruiting drive, or a substantive hiring change that brings in a lot more minorities over a short term). Once there’s “enough” diversity, it becomes self-supporting to a certain extent – the minorities support each other, and the white guys get “used to” the minorities as a fact of life rather than as anomalies. “Enough” is hard to quantify and varies by organization – but it’s more than the one token minority, below the population average.

      You also need to have comments ready to address the obvious pushback points. These kinds of objections should never come as a surprise to the people rolling out these programs, and you need to have responses ready. You also need to make calls between people who are just trolling you – don’t indulge them – and people who genuinely want to understand what minorities bring to the table. You need to engage, but not over-engage – which is very tricky. I can give an example – when they ask what minorities do for the company, you can present data. You can present anecdotes. You can talk to them about the fact that, like it or not, minorities have very different experiences than they do, and those experiences are helpful perspectives to bring to the job.

      You can’t indulge concern-trolling questions and come off as serious, though. We had a “diversity town hall” recently where high-up managers talk to staff about diversity-related concerns. Our managers refused to define diversity in these meetings. They refused to state any concrete objectives, goals, or concerns that they had to change our current make-up – even though our work is very heavily white-male. When a white guy stood up and told them that they ought to hire more local white rural men because they’d be “more comfortable” and “integrate better” to the area than blacks from the city (seriously, can’t make this up!), the managers nodded and said they’d look into whether we needed more local-white-rural representation at the company. When you can’t stand up to that and say, “No, that’s not the problem we need to prioritize” then your team look and sound like they are not the least bit serious about tackling diversity issues.

      Reply
      1. Specialk9

        Not just a critical mass of diverse co-workers, but also people of color in senior management positions.

        I can tell you exactly how many executives, VP and above, are women, and how many are people of color. (Waaaaay too few, given how many brilliant women and POC there are in the lower ranks.) If I were planning on moving to that level, I’d leave if I thought it were an impossible uphill battle.

        Reply
    5. Rule-Follower Without A Rulebook

      I don’t know how nerdy the environment is in your office, so adapt as necessary, but there’s some good literature on the negative effects that racism/white supremacy/white monoculture have on white people. (For example, “Psychosocial Costs of Racism to Whites: Understanding Patterns among University Students” by Spanierman et al. I don’t know if I can link to it without getting my comment stuck in comment purgatory, but the full text is available online and should be reasonably easy to find by googling the title.) For a less academic option, SURJ (Showing Up For Racial Justice), a white anti-racism organizing group, has some good resources on its website, which is the full spelled-out name of the organization followed by dot org.

      Is it kind of gross to have to convince your white coworkers that not being passively or actively horrible to POC is in their best interest? I mean, yeah, kinda (though it can also nip some of the White Savior Complex in the bud). But people tend to buy into things better when they can see what’s in it for them, so it might get you more traction than you’ve had so far.

      Reply
    6. Jinn

      You have a mandate from leadership. You don’t have to convince the folks on your team. You have to figure out how to get it done.

      I do think they are right, though. Gender, race, ethnicity, don’t matter if the person can do the job. My suggestion: find analogues to the qualities of successful hires in order to expand the pool of potential candidates. And think of this as an iterative process.

      Reply
  37. Disenchanted parakeet

    Last week (or the one before) I posted about how the only thing I got from my internship is that I don’t want to be in this line of work.

    I haven’t changed my mind (if anything I feel more strongly about it), yet when I was told they wouldn’t be extending a full-time job offer, I felt…disappointed? Not sad exactly, more like…a blow to self confidence I guess.

    (A full time offer was by no means guaranteed either, so it’s not like I did anything egregiously wrong, just that their needs didn’t extend to hiring me…)

    Is it weird (or hypocritical) to be feeling this way?

    Reply
    1. beanie beans

      I had the exact same experience out of college. I interned for a PR firm after getting a communications degree and realized I didn’t want anything to do with the field. The guy who interned with me got offered a permanent job and I got “thank you for your free work the past 6 months.”

      17 years later I’m in a completely different field and have been pretty pleased with where the path away from PR has taken me. And figure them not offering me a job was the best thing that could have happened. I mean, it might not have changed things, but maybe it was the push I needed to rethink what I thought my career would be.

      Reply
    2. Jake

      Rejection always sucks, even when its rejection for something you don’t want!

      I applied for a job right out of college, got a phone interview, and I knew instantly it was a bad fit. When they called back a week later to let me know I wasn’t moving forward in their process, I was devastated. I have no idea why, I would’ve been miserable at that job.

      Reply
    3. EddieSherbert

      No, I think it’s normal. I mean, you still need a job and this is one you’re comfortable with and felt like you were doing a good job at. And if you’re getting good feedback, it feels natural to assume that means you’re doing good enough to stay!

      (note: I am not at all saying they don’t actually think you did well! It’s just not in the cards right now)

      I had an internship at a nonprofit where I ended doing both my job AND 75% of another intern’s job (who had greatly exaggerated her abilities and wasn’t actually willing to learn how to do the work). My manager talked to me several times about staying on. I was so ready for it. Andddd then the exec director vetoed it and it didn’t happen.

      And it totally still worked out for me; I’m very happy with where I’ve ended up and I literally never think about that whole situation. You’ll be fine :)

      Reply
    4. NaoNao

      No, totally not weird! I sometimes felt that way about men I went on (cringe!) “pity dates” or “maybe this will work?” dates, and then they never called. The nerve! :)

      Reply
    5. Yorick

      That’s a normal way to feel. I had a 1-yr teaching position and I hated the dept so much, there was no way I’d take the tenure-track job. But my mentor told me I was stupid not to apply: “It won’t be the same place in 10 years! Deans die!” So I applied knowing I wouldn’t take the job unless some miracle happened, but I was still pissed when they didn’t interview me.

      Reply
      1. Portia

        Also, that’s so typical of academia. “Just tough it out for 10 years and then you’ll reap your rewards!” But who wants to be miserable for 10 years of their life?

        Reply
    6. Specialk9

      It’s like dating – wait, *I* was going to break up with YOU. And you’re a troll, how can *I* not be good enough for YOU?

      :D

      Reply
  38. Lady Jay

    Anyone listen to the latest Planet Money podcast, “Hard Work Is Irrelevant”? It’s about Netflix’s approach to work: that good results matter more than hard work, that they seem themselves as a team, not a family, and that if you no longer contribute to the company, you are “moved on”.

    On the surface it sounds good but then the podcast also detailed someone who had health issues because she worked too hard for the company and was “moved on”. I’m also troubled by the Orwellian nature of calling “being fired” or even “being let go” being “moved on” – trying to cast something which is decidedly felt as a negative as a positive.

    I’ll put a link in my comment.

    Reply
    1. Manders

      Yeah, that episode really bothered me, especially the part about letting whole divisions go once the task they were working on was done. While it’s normal for a company to act in its own best interest, it really felt like Netflix was making the burden of taking care of workers someone else’s problem by firing and rehiring them at its convenience. It doesn’t have too much of an impact when only one company does it, but if every company acted that way, it would absolutely wreck the economy.

      Reply
      1. Florida

        I don’t think it would wreck the economy. If every company did it, employees would be constantly finding ways to add value to the company. If you think about it, this is what commissioned sales is. The company pays you only when you produce.
        I don’t know if this is the best way to run a company because there are many other factors. I’m just saying I don’t think it would wreck the economy. It would change the economy, for sure, but not necessarily in a good or bad way. It would just be different.

        Reply
        1. Manders

          Well, the issue that the podcast brings up is that the employees were never given a chance to keep adding value to the company–as soon as their project was done and the company’s immediate needs were met, those workers got bounced out the door, not reshuffled to a new project.

          Netflix’s whole business strategy is built around people having spare room in their budgets for entertainment, which is something people who are chronically job insecure don’t have, so if every company did this Netflix would take a huge hit. They’re basically gambling on the fact that no one else will follow their example.

          Reply
          1. Florida

            The podcast mentioned that there were other positions available at the company, but the employees were not qualified for them. If you were working in the DVD department and learning new skills related to streaming on your own, then when the DVD department closed and streaming opened, you’d have a job. On the podcast the people were not reshuffled to new project because they didn’t have those skills.

            And the chronically job insecure do have room in their budget for entertainment. There are a lot of people (definitely not me, and maybe not you) who pay their cable bill before they pay their mortgage/rent. I teach real estate, and when I’m talking about evictions, I ask the class where rent falls on their priority list. At least ten percent of every class says they pay their cable (entertainment) before they pay their rent. (and this is state where it’s pretty easy to evict for non-payment)

            Reply
        2. Elizabeth West

          That sort of thing may work for sales, but it doesn’t apply to everything. What about grunt work, which every company has, that doesn’t show up in measurable metrics but helps keep the company going? To expect everyone to work like that is folly–and people do things in different ways, too. A steady quiet worker can contribute just as much as a flashy one.

          Reply
          1. Chaordic One

            You’re right, Elizabeth. There’s a lot of difficult-to-do grunt work that doesn’t get the appreciation that it deserves. Then, when a certain person quits, the company wonders why the replacement isn’t keeping up and/or they end up having to hire two people to replace the person who left.

            In the past I worked at one company where the oldest employees glommed onto the easiest-to-service accounts that also brought in the most money. Then, they’d diss the other employees who had smaller accounts that didn’t bring in as much money, but required more customer service. The employer wondered why they had such a hard time keeping employees to work on those smaller accounts.

            Reply
          2. Florida

            Grunt work can be measured. And I agree that a steady worker can contribute as much as a flashy one. My point with the sales analogy was that commissioned sales workers are only paid when they add value to the company. If the grunt worker is not adding value to the company, they should go. Value does not have to mean that they themselves are bringing in money (the way a sales employee would), but they have to contribute to adding value to the company. Basically, they can’t be deadwood.
            For example, in my company I work in training. I do not bring any income into the company. In fact, I’m an expense. But I do bring value to the company. Because long-term, our company is better off having trained employees.
            Are you saying that it’s OK for deadwood to be on the payroll?

            Reply
            1. Florida

              I said the grunt work COULD be measured, but I didn’t say how. It depends on what exactly the grunt is, but some examples would be:
              For filing – is the information where it needs to be when Big Shot needs to see it?
              For mail room – are employees getting their mail in a reasonable amount of time, deliver to correct person? Does outgoing mail leave the building the same day or next day?
              For data entry – is date entered 99% correctly by a certain deadline?
              For customer service – how many customers left the interaction happy with their problem solved?

              Usually grunt work employees are not paid for results. They are paid by the number of hours their butt is in the chair. That’s paying for inputs rather than outputs.

              BTW, I’m don’t think every employee should be paid 100% on outputs. Sometimes the mail doesn’t get out on time because the mail truck showed up late (or some other item beyond your control). But I do think most businesses focus on inputs more than outputs, particularly with the lower level employees.

              Reply
    2. Florida

      I listened to it. In general, when someone is fired that is good for the company. So I think it’s fair for the company to call it by a good name. So if Netflix wants to call it moving on, that OK. Shoot, there are times when someone was fired and I wanted to shout “Hallelujah.” (I resisted the urge to do that publicly.)
      From your perspective, it’s bad because you are now unemployed, so it’s fair for you to call it by a bad name (fired, or whatever word you want).
      I think each party can call it by a name that represents their perspective.

      I do like the idea of measuring outputs not inputs. Way too often, we measure the wrong thing. But the things that we measure gets done. If hours matter, you have people sitting around doing very little, but they are putting in the hours. How does that benefit anyone?

      Reply
    3. Not So NewReader

      Look at the new bridge, isn’t it pretty?

      Yeah, but is it strong will it hold the traffic?

      It doesn’t matter, all that matters is that it’s pretty.

      Companies get the loyalty they give.

      Reply
  39. katamia

    Favorite sites for UK-specific resume/CV advice? Looking at a lot of them, and I’m not sure which ones I should be trusting as I revamp my US resume.

    Reply
    1. Ramona Flowers

      Guardian Careers. They have lots of input from real professionals. And if you search for their old ‘CV Clinic’ series you can see field specific advice given to different types of graduates. (Who were always weirdly resistant to taking the advice!)

      Reply
  40. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend

    Would you ever consider going back to a company you quit to work for a boss that you had problems working with?
    Basically, my former boss reached out to me about a position she’s desperate to fill at my old company. It’s pretty low stakes: one day a week, not a ton of money, not related to my 9 to 5 job. It could be fun (working with kids!), but she and I didn’t have the best working relationship (communication issues on both sides). Also, while I like working with kids, dealing with parents is such a headache. Is this something I should pursue? Or should I gracefully decline?

    Reply
    1. EddieSherbert

      What was your gut reaction when she reached out? Interest, excitement… stomach dropping into your bowels?

      If you have the time to do it without it interfering with your work/personal activities… and you don’t ‘need’ the extra money… I’d follow the gut!

      Reply
    2. katamia

      How much of the job is dealing with parents versus dealing with kids? How much do you need the extra money? How well/badly did you and she handle the communication issues (was there swearing and yelling? was it just constant misunderstandings and 10 emails when most people would need 1 or 2? etc.)

      Reply
      1. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend

        Dealing with the parents shouldn’t be a huge part of this particular job. The parents I had to deal with before have probably left by now since their kids have aged out. So maybe that part of it won’t be such a huge problem.
        As far as communication issues, there was no swearing and yelling, thank goodness! It was mostly her giving very vague instructions and me struggling to understand what she needed from me. I think I know how to ask her to clarify her instructions better now. Before I was too scared to ask.

        Reply
    3. CatCat

      Unless I really wanted the money, probably not.

      But since the stakes are so low and if I wanted the money, I’d probably bring the communication issues up front so there is a plan to ensure the problems do not repeat. It sounds like you can afford to be picky here and insist on addressing it before you’ll consider the position. And if it turned out it was more of a pain than it was worth, I’d just quit. “I’m sorry. I thought: X problem would not repeat/I could handle this in addition to my 9-5 job/whatever else, but it isn’t working out.”

      Reply
    4. Rusty Shackelford

      When you left the old company, would you have been more likely to say “thank God I never have to see those people again” or “it’s nice to know I could come back here if I absolutely had to?”

      Reply
      1. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend

        I loved my coworkers and the kids and the community volunteers. My boss was just a mess. Since I left, our relationship has improved. I see her at community events in the area, and she always goes out of her way to come over and chat. I think CatCat is right that I should talk to her about our past communication issues before I accept (if I accept).

        Reply
    5. Drew

      Not just consider, I did it. Admittedly, I was in dire need at the time and did not think of it as a long-term solution…but I’m still there most of a decade later, so it CAN work out. Just go in with eyes wiiiiiiide open.

      Reply
    6. Not So NewReader

      Nope. Many times this does not go well. Old boss hired his friend back to help out because he was desperate. (Red flag: Why is he desperate?) Friend came back and work for a while. It was choppy. At some point, Old boss forgot Friend was doing him a favor and he started treating Friend the way he did he rest of us. (Now we see why Old boss was desperate for help.) Things came to a peak when Old boss accused his friend of stealing. Since I witnessed what happened, I talked to Old boss. For whatever reason, Old boss pushed forward with his accusation and Friend quit. Friend had to quit because his licenses for his day job would be in jeopardy.

      People don’t always change. Assume that your old boss can’t keep help for the same reasons that caused you to leave. Do you still want to do this?

      Reply
  41. Solidus Pilcrow

    Just gotta say, I read the “boss pooped in people’s lunch bags and set off small bombs for fun” link from the ‘you may also like’ section, and this made my day. Don’t know how I missed that one the first time around.

    Talk about a toxic and dysfunctional workplace!

    Reply
    1. Paul

      Holy crap.

      How the hell does a place get that dysfunctional?

      I know Montrose is an….interesting….place but damn. I’m honestly amazed no one clobbered the guy (or stuffed him down an old mine shaft).

      Reply
    2. Specialk9

      Yeah, the part that made my head hurt was him making pipe bombs and wiring them to the company trucks so they’d explode on ignition, and hiding IEDs under leaves where the leaf burning crew would set them off with their blowtorches!!

      Reply
  42. dreams for plans

    How long should you wait to follow up after an interview when there’s a hurricane? I had an interview on 8/30 and was told I’d hear back by 9/8 (however, I tacked on 1-2 weeks because #TheProcess). However, I live in Orlando and Irma began affecting the area starting 9/4, many businesses closed 9/7-11, and recovery is ongoing. I don’t expect to hear anything re: an update this week, but I also am wary of checking in too soon post-Irma for fear of coming across as insensitive. When do you think it’s appropriate to send an email to follow up/check in?

    Reply
    1. Waiting on Godot

      I’d add another week or two from now given the whole hurricane issue. On a related note, how long is “soon”? Short version, roughly 2.5 months after applying for a job that I felt was the perfect fit for my skill set, I finally got an interview. After the interview they said they’d let me know either way in 2-3 weeks. Fast forward 4 weeks with no word. I sent a follow-up email to the hiring manager. He responded he was working with HR and would have a decision on the position “soon”. It’s now been another 4 weeks with no word. I’m thinking of sending a second follow-up\check-in type email, but I don’t want to come across as pushy. I realize the standard is “forget about it until you hear something”, but I don’t think I’m unreasonable wondering if any decisions have been made.

      Reply
      1. breadandbutterfly

        That sounds SO frustrating. I personally don’t think sending an email would be pushy- however, I’m in marketing so I feel like I’m conditioned to be more communicative than people in other fields. However, if it’s been 4 weeks/a month since you last checked in, I really think it would be appropriate to send an email.

        The Manager with whom I interviewed stressed they are desperate for someone to start ASAP, so that has definitely contributed to some “ants in the pants”/”I WANNA KNOOOOW NOOOOW.” I’m thinking of sending an email this upcoming Wednesday.

        Reply
    2. callalemon

      Similar happened to me with Harvey – I had a phone interview and was expecting a response the next week, then the hurricane hit (at the end of the week). I waited about another two weeks, but since the company isn’t directly in the affected area (business is still affected), I wish I didn’t wait as long.

      Since you were originally expecting to hear back by 9/8 + 2 weeks = 9/22, I might wait until the end of the month. You can also say you realize the hiring timeline may be impacted by the hurricane, and you’re looking forward to continuing the process when they are ready.

      Reply
        1. Anion

          Could you send a check-in email that isn’t a check-in, but is a “Wanted to say again how great it was to meet you all, and send my sincere hopes that you all made it safely through the storm without damage?” Then you could use callalemon’s wording about looking forward to continuing the process when they’re ready. That way it seems like their safety and security is your major concern (which of course it is) but as an aside you’d still like to speak to them further about the job.

          Reply
          1. dreams for plans

            Uh, this is AMAZING. I am going to send an email on Monday (or maybe I should still wait for Wednesday) with your and callalemon’s wording. Thank you!

            Reply
  43. Can't Sit Still

    My masters program requires a group project this month, and it’s just as bad as you think it is. The good news is that we decided to accelerate, and we are only graded on our work on the project. But still. I spend all day at work chasing people for conference calls and slide decks, and I have to do it for school, too?

    Reply
    1. Wheezy Weasel

      Oh goodness. I gave similar strong feedback in my master’s program about the ‘value’ of group work when the majority of the class is mid career professionals. We know how to work in groups, this isn’t teaching us anything and is in fact a time-suck to try and organize 3 other busy professionals to get work done.

      Reply
  44. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws

    There is a job in Chicago that I think I’m well qualified for. The responsibilities sound exciting, and the organization is AMAZING. I have some well-respected names in the industry on my resume, so I think there’s a reasonable chance I’ll get an interview, and I’m thinking about what next steps would be if my application gains any traction. Even though the responsibilities are more than my current role, the title looks like a big step down. If I am fortunate enough to get to the offer stage, and am prepared to accept, would it be reasonable to ask for a different title, as long as it’s clear that I have no expectation of different responsibilities/salary?

    That aside, my biggest concern: I’ve never been to Chicago! I hear good things and I’d love to visit, but I’ve never seriously researched living there, and it would be a major move for me. I’m in a mid-Atlantic city, grew up in the NY metro area, and I’ve traveled widely across the States, but somehow have managed to never set foot anywhere in the Midwest. People who live or lived there, any thoughts on it? What’s transit like? What are the good neighborhoods for young professionals, how does COL compare to other major cities, and what’s outside the city worth exploring on weekend excursions and such?

    Reply
    1. KatieKate

      Chicago native here! Public transit is pretty great if you live/work in certain areas. Do you know where the office would be? COL is decent–I split a 2 bedroom in a nice area for 900/person, and you can really go up or down for COL depending on your preferences. For outside the city, there’s always Wisconsin, but the rest of IL is…meh. Nice suburbs, not nice suburbs, and small towns. But there’s enough to do in the city, and we have two major airports if you want to get out of town. Let me know if you have any specific questions!

      Reply
      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws

        Amazing, thank you! I thiiink – but am not sure – that the office is in Jackson Park? I may be mistaken about the exact office location.

        Reply
        1. Mouse

          Jackson Park is on the South Side. I live in Hyde Park, which is the adjacent neighborhood. I really love it! It’s a little expensive because it’s the University of Chicago’s neighborhood, but it’s better than anything you’d find downtown. My 850 sq ft studio (with a giant closet I use as a bedroom, lol) is $920/month. It’s a great neighborhood, with lots of restaurants, four grocery stores, a movie theater, bowling alley, the best independent bookstore ever, and lots of other fun places to explore. Plus, I’m only a few blocks away from the lake and lakeside park! It’s pretty safe, too, because the University employs a huge police force. Jackson Park is also where the Obama Library will be!

          If you have any other questions about that neighborhood in general, let me know. Happy to help!

          Reply
          1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws

            This is so helpful! I have a cozy 1-bedroom with much less square footage than your studio in what sounds like a similar neighborhood, so this gives me an idea of what’s available, thank you.

            Reply
          2. EddieSherbert

            Ohhh, if you can end up near the lake, I’d consider that a definite bonus :) there’s some wonderful lakeshore parks!

            Reply
    2. ThatGirl

      Hello! I live in the Chicago burbs. I’m fairly familiar with the city although we may have actual city-dwellers around who can be even more helpful.

      Our transit is pretty solid. I’d place it second after NYC. Not every line is 24 hours, but otherwise it’s pretty safe, clean and reliable. We have a train system out to many suburbs as well, although it has its issues (and they all sort of fan out like a spoke, so they’re mostly good for connecting suburb with Chicago Loop and not neighborhoods or adjacent suburbs).

      COL is lower than NYC and SF, probably comparable to Philadelphia area. There are many great neighborhoods for young professionals, and a lot to explore both in the city and around it. A lot of cute suburbs, a few great zoos, lots of architecture, art, culture, GREAT food. Any questions, just ask :)

      Reply
      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws

        Fantastic intel, thanks! COL comparable to Philadelphia will make for an easy transition for me. ;) The transit situation sounds great, which is very good to know, thank you!

        Reply
        1. ThatGirl

          The transit is a far cry better than SEPTA, I’ll tell you that (I grew up near Philly). Although Chicago is not as compact as Philly, it’s still pretty walkable.

          Reply
    3. EddieSherbert

      Former north Chicago suburbs resident here… If you can get to work easily from the transit, and don’t mind a longer commute and possibly walking in Northern winters, the trains are great!
      I hate city driving, so it worked great for me. I drove to Skokie (the northern-most point for the transit) and just parked there and let the train do the rest.

      Reply
  45. beanie beans

    All week questions pop up in my head that I think would be great for the Friday thread and then Friday morning comes and I can’t remember what they were. :/

    Reply
  46. Free Meerkats

    The other guy on the list still wants to come here! He’s scheduled to start on the 25th.

    Here’s hoping he doesn’t decide to go back to his old job like the last one did. Much less likely, he’s moving from AZ to WA for this job.

    Reply
  47. Different Handle Because I'm Paranoid :-)

    I work in higher ed, and have an undergraduate student worker who has been with me for a few months. She generally has a good attitude and does what she’s asked, but I’ve been noticing that she isn’t taking responsibility for a particular set of tasks. Her main job is to provide reception support to people who walk in and callers, but almost every time someone calls or comes in she greets them and then defaults to asking me what to do, often without even really finding out what they want. I have other students I work with and they have varying levels of independence with this, but most will at least try before passing someone off to me. A lot of her questions are things she should know by now. She’s told me before that she lacks confidence, and others have commented on it. I try to find ways to build her up and praise when she does things well, but to be honest, she requires a fair amount of managing because she’ll often misunderstand or halfway complete tasks – not on purpose, but out of lack of thoroughness. Some of that can be chalked up to my newness as a manager and a lack of detail on my part, but over time I’ve gotten pretty detailed about my instructions, and, again, they’re generally sufficient for other students (or at least enough that students will ask if not sure, which means I don’t have to ask them to re-do things). I also admit to being reluctant to manage in the past, so I’m working on being unafraid to ask for things to be different when needed.

    So my question is this: how can I build up her confidence in herself and encourage her to ask me fewer questions about things she knows, especially when I still really need to her ask me questions about things like projects where she might be taking a wrong turn?

    Reply
    1. Simone R

      Do you give her the answer, or do you ask her what she thinks? Make her take a guess at least. If she does know and isn’t confident after she’s been correct a number of times you can point to that and encourage her to stop asking.

      Reply
    2. Susan K

      First of all, have you mentioned to her that you would like her to try to figure out what to do before she asks you? If not, start with that. Then, when she asks a question about something she should know, ask her, “What do you think you should do?” If she says she doesn’t know, try to prompt her, e.g., “Do you remember what I said last week when someone called about that same topic?” Or, “Do you remember where to look that up?” If she still doesn’t know, give her a little information and try to get her to come up with the rest herself, e.g., “When that woman called last week asking when the llama-hair blankets would be in stock, do you remember that I showed you how to look up the llama-shaving schedule? Remember how to do that? And what did I tell you to do next?”

      It is really hard to do this because it’s usually a lot faster just to give the answer, but if you keep making her work through it, she should eventually learn to do it on her own. If she knows that every time she asks you what to do, you will say, “What do YOU think you should do?” or “Where do you think you can find that information?” she should learn to start asking herself those questions before coming to you.

      Reply
    3. fposte

      It sounds like this is somebody who’s behaving like a vine in a world that expects a shrub :-). She needs to start looking to herself for structure. I echo other people’s sentiment that you need to stop bailing her out. I would also focus less on building her confidence than on coaching her to develop strategies and guidelines–they’ll provide her with the confidence.

      I might also meet with her before you implement the new approach to tell her that you’re going to do this and maybe coach her through a dry run or two, hauling in another student assistant to ask a few common reception questions. Encourage her to create checklists, flowcharts, etc. for tasks so that she can tell when they’re done; have her show them to you before she starts and then she can confirm that everything on the checklist is done before calling a task complete.

      Reply
      1. Victoria, Please

        What a fantastic simile — vine, shrub. Nothing wrong with vines, grapevines are great; but if you really need a dwarf apple….

        You’ll be doing this student a terrific service if you follow fposte’s advice. There’s nothing like building competence for building confidence.

        Reply
    4. Not So NewReader

      Adding: Have her start a notebook of FAQ. Write the answer down. She should look in the notebook before asking you, to see if you have already gone over the answer with her.

      Reply
  48. seashell

    I had an interview this week that I think went pretty well. Even if I don’t get the job, it was good experience because I haven’t had an interview in 4 years.

    The HR manager did ask me about my current salary at the end of the interview and it really threw me. I’m in Illinois so it’s not illegal to ask (at least not illegal yet?). I did answer her question because I was removed from consideration from a job when I told them my range (turns out they were looking to hire at almost 10k less than my current salary, and I am not a high earner).

    However, I was not prepared for this question because I can’t remember a time when I’ve been asked that during an interview. Should I have answered? Another reason I answered is because I have more experience than the job posting specified, but I work at an association so my pay is below market value. I tried to do research and the range for positions at this large company was very broad, and I’m not willing to take a pay cut.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      If you can discuss salary without them anchoring on what you used to make that’s generally preferable, but it’s not the end of the world. Ideally you said, “50k, but that’s a nonprofit salary below market value and I’d expect to make more in a private sector job” rather than just saying “50k” on its own. However, what matters going forward is that you make that point if you get an offer that seems based on your previous salary rather than on what’s appropriate for the job.

      (Thanks for alerting me to the fact that there’s a bill about this in Illinois!)

      Reply
  49. StartupScrapper

    Would love some help with this one. One of our executives doesn’t believe in raises. Her philosophy is, people should only get a raise if they’re being promoted into a new job. I think there’s room to give raises (merit, retention, market competitiveness) outside of promotions. Any suggestions as to how I can make this argument would be very much appreciated.

    Reply
    1. AndersonDarling

      If you don’t give raises, then your employees will be below market rate in a few years and they will leave for better paying jobs. Unless it is mandatory for people to move up in the company, then people are being punished for keeping their jobs and doing them well.

      Reply
      1. Rusty Shackelford

        This. Your competition *is* giving raises. Why would anyone stay with your employer, knowing they’ll be penalized for liking their job?

        Reply
    2. TCO

      Is your company giving cost-of-living adjustments? If not, then your employees’ compensation is actually decreasing over time once inflation is factored in. There’s nothing like backwards salary progression to demoralize people and push them to look elsewhere.

      Reply
    3. It's all Fun and Dev

      I just started a new job with a huge public university a few months ago, right before the end of their fiscal year (when they announce the next year’s salaries). Overall I like my job and I was SO excited to join the organization, but I have to say I was shocked when it was announced that the department would only be getting a 1.25% (or something thereabouts) raise, regardless of performance. Granted, this is better than nothing, but it’s absolutely demoralizing. It doesn’t affect me this year because I’m too new to qualify for an annual raise, but I now know with certainty that I will need to be promoted to a different department or move on entirely in order to see a salary increase. And as someone else mentioned, a raise that low will actually be a salary decrease because it doesn’t keep up with inflation, rising rents, etc.

      It’s a bummer because originally I’d pictured this being a very long term position, but knowing there is essentially no hope for a raise immediately turned this, in my mind, into a shorter-term role. I know I’m now the only one here who feels that way – not having the opportunity to earn raises absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, prevents people from staying with an organization over the long term.

      Reply
    4. Jaydee

      I guess it depends on the nature of the work. If it is fairly vertical with regular opportunities for people to move up into new roles, it’s less of a problem. Spend 2 years as a Teapot Inspector I at $X salary, then get promoted to Teapot Inspector II at $X + 15%. Then 3 years after that become Lead Teapot Inspector at a salary of $X + 50%. Then become Teapot Inspection Manager at a salary of $2X. It has its problems, but it’s not the worst.

      The bigger problem is with positions that are relatively flat over time. The Teapot Inspections department needs a receptionist. Sure, you can decide that you pay the receptionist $Y and there aren’t raises. But you won’t keep a receptionist for more than a couple of years, and eventually you will need to increase the salary anyway because you won’t be able to hire a decent receptionist for $Y anymore. So then the question is, why hire a new receptionist instead of just giving your current one a raise?

      Reply
    5. The New Wanderer

      “No raises outside of promotions? Then I would like a guaranteed promotion every year.”

      No? If they’re really just offering a fixed salary (no COL increases, etc), then I don’t see how that company would expect to retain employees past a year or two unless the starting salary is way higher than market.

      Reply
      1. Rule-Follower Without A Rulebook

        Or unless it’s standard for the industry not to give raises, or the company has successfully convinced employees that they should stay out of personal loyalty/loyalty to the mission rather than silly things like being able to make rent. (One of my proudest legacies at my old job – a human-services nonprofit – was getting executive leadership to review salaries so that maybe our staff wouldn’t be competing with our clients for the same subsidized housing and food assistance programs. But also, we had people who’d been there for 20+ years, so go figure.)

        Reply
    6. Ramona Flowers

      It’s cheaper to give annual raises than keep replacing and training people when employees leave due to not getting raises.

      Reply
    7. stitchinthyme

      My previous company was very small (fewer than 20 people), and the owner didn’t give regular raises; the policy as stated in the employee handbook was that raises were at the sole discretion of the owner. I got one raise in nearly five years of working there, and at least two of my other coworkers left before I did because they also weren’t getting raises. When I left, I told the owner the reason, and he said he’d been just about to give me another raise. I said that every other company I’d ever worked for gives at least some kind of increase, however small, every year, and that I shouldn’t have to threaten to leave in order to get a raise. (I was not the first one to make this argument to him.)

      The point being, you may not be able to convince them. Sometimes the only option is to leave, and hope for the sake of future employees that they learn the lesson when enough people jump ship and they’re constantly having to hire replacements.

      Reply
    8. Chaordic One

      In addition to the arguments the others have made, when word of these kind of policies gets out, it makes hiring new employees difficult. It can also lead to speculation that the company is having financial difficulties (which can become a self-fulfilling prophesy if customers believe it).

      Reply
    9. Zip Zap

      Cold, hard data. Graphs showing increases in market value for relevant types of jobs. Graphs showing increases in the cost of living for your area. Maybe cover the past ten years and see if you can also find something on projected COL increases. Also find an article or two about how raises correspond with retention and how often they are typically given. Ideally something citing studies with statistics. Good luck!

      Reply
  50. subjunctive mood

    I’m facing the fact that what I thought was an organization dropping me a year ago might actually have been a misunderstanding on my end. I used to volunteer remotely for an online organization, doing tasks that involved a lot of emails to a common mailing list and very little direct communication with my superiors. I enjoyed this part-time volunteer work for a number of years, but last summer I became less reliable due in part to a stressful and draining job situation.

    After moving across the country for a (fortunately much better) job, I saw that I had stopped receiving emails from the organization. I assumed the worst – that they were letting me go as a volunteer without notice – and I was so ashamed that I didn’t follow up with them in any way.

    Now, a full year later, I thought of something. My old college email address stopped working that summer. I had provided the organization with my new email, so it didn’t occur to me at the time that it would be an issue. But I never received actual confirmation that they updated the mailing list. I just checked the date I stopped receiving emails – it’s the exact same date I stopped receiving messages to my college email address.

    So, I probably wasn’t in fact the ghostee, but the ghoster. I feel bad about this – I really appreciated the volunteer staff, and I hate to think about the impression they must have of me. At this point, is there any way I could reach out to apologize without coming across even worse? I’m not trying to use them as a reference or anything like that.

    Reply
    1. Lily Rowan

      Do you still want to volunteer! Of course you can totally do that! Just say what happened — you moved+your old email stopped working, and now you’re interested in re-connecting.

      Reply
      1. Leena Wants Cake

        +1
        As someone who works with volunteers, I would be thrilled if someone who vanished reconnected–particularly someone who had a decent track record from a previous point in time. Anyone who relies on volunteers to get work done understands that life happens and that volunteers often have periods where they need to take a step back or become less communicative. Write to them today, explain about the life changes and the email address and tell them you’d be interested in remaining involved.

        Reply
  51. Adam

    Tips for keeping good posture while sitting at a desk all day at work?

    I developed a bad posture habit and was starting to pay for it. I’ve really made an effort to correct the issues recently, but bad habits die hard. I try to make myself stand up and move around every 30 minutes which I’m pretty good about, but for some reason I constantly default to slumping when I’m in my seat and not being mindful about it.

    Reply
    1. Adam

      *Note: I’ve considered the possibility of a standing desk, but I’m trying to get out of this job and don’t really want to push for things if I’m going to leave at the earliest opportunity anyways.

      Reply
    2. Piglet

      As someone who used to have really bad posture, bad enough my boss mentioned it (nicely) constantly….Make sure your desk is set up ergonomically for starters. If your company is large enough to offer services, definitely sign up, otherwise read up on it. My company recently changed out all of the furniture and I was able to sit in the area with all of the stand-up/customizable desks and it changed my world. We were able to order foot rests, lumbar supports, etc too and it made such a big difference.

      Reply
      1. Piglet

        If you don’t have the stand up desk option…at least read into height of monitors/chair/keyboard options, that should make a big difference.

        Reply
        1. Mari

          Look up “30 Day Posture makeover” . There is a (paid) app or DVD, plus a bunch of free videos on youtube. I have found that it makes a HUGE difference in how my body feels.

          Reply
    3. Lawnonymous

      As someone who also has bad posture (although better than it used to be), lifting weights with a trainer has helped me the most. I tried to correct my posture myself but getting my shoulders back and keeping them there was nearly impossible. It turns out that after years of bad posture some muscles were actually shorter than they should be which makes it easier to have bad posture. (I don’t know much about how it actually works – perhaps someone in the medical or health field could verify/correct me.) I also had an OT once suggest a footstool because it was harder to slouch with your feel elevated – it didn’t work for me but maybe it would for others.

      Reply
      1. Adam

        Yeah. I’ve learned recently that sitting for too long, even if your posture is good, can cause muscles to adapt and shorten resulting in unhealthy tightness pretty much everywhere.

        What I’m reading says that intense mobility exercise work and regular massages can help return them to a natural state, but you’ve really got to be on top of it.

        Reply
    4. It's all Fun and Dev

      Your comment made me realize my monitors were way too low and causing me to slump – so thank you! I just literally took a few reams of old letterhead we don’t use anymore – boom, appropriately tall monitors. (I’ve always worked in nonprofits that like to play the “we’re too poor to pay for ergonomics” so I’ve used everything from loose paper to empty boxes, lol). It’s especially important when you’re taller than average, like I am…it seems like nothing is designed to fit me.

      Reply
      1. SarahKay

        I’ve done exactly the same as you, and just used a ream of paper under each monitor. Despite working for an immensely profitable company we regularly get told to spend every penny as though it were our own and to look for cost savings – which this is, because monitor stands are not that cheap (or maybe I’m a cheapskate…). Also, a ream of paper is just the right height and very stable, so as far as I’m concerned it’s the perfect solution.

        Reply
  52. Lady Dedlock

    My first-ever direct report is starting on Monday. Hooray! Two very different questions:

    1. Any tips for making her first day a success?

    2. Is going from having no direct reports to having one sufficient grounds to ask my boss for a raise? (Was debating this with my boyfriend last night; he thinks definitely yes, I think maybe not.)

    Reply
    1. StartupScrapper

      Congrats!

      1. A few suggestions:
      – Ask one of your teammembers to take her for coffee or a walk. People are happier when they have friends at work.
      – Give her plenty of reading material. There’s probably going to be some downtime, and this will help her not feel bored.
      – Be clear about expectations for the first 30-60-90 days.

      2. Yes! You’re taking on additional responsiblity and should be compensated.

      Reply
    2. beanie beans

      My suggestions might seem like a low bar, but they are informed based on how terrible my company is at treating new employees, so just in case:
      1 – Have a computer already set up for her.
      2 – Be around and available for the first day, ideally the first week. If you can’t be around, make sure someone else is responsible for getting her situated with the basics of the office.
      3 – Introduce her to the other people in your office.
      4 – Have some work for her lined up to help her get familiar with her new job and so she has something to do if you’re busy.

      For your second question – I would wait until you’ve supervised her for a while and have grounds to show that you’ve done a good job.

      Reply
      1. Susan K

        +1 to having her computer set up, and also make sure that her account has been activated. I used to work for a company that seemed to be caught completely by surprise every time a new employee started, and it always took a few days before their computer accounts were ready. Also, it would be nice to make sure her desk is stocked with basic office supplies like paperclips, pens, sticky notes, etc., and any job-specific supplies or equipment she’ll need.

        Also, maybe this seems obvious, but I think it goes a long way to greet her warmly with something like, “Welcome to Teapots, Inc.! I’m so glad to have you aboard!” My boss said this when I started my current job, and it was such a nice change from my last job, where new employees were treated as though they were a burden and/or that the company was doing them a favor by giving them a job.

        Reply
        1. Lady Dedlock

          Thanks! Our front-office staff are pretty on top of things in terms of setting up people’s computers and making sure they have office supplies. The warm greeting, that I can do!

          Reply
    3. Princess Carolyn

      Lots of good suggestions so I’ll just add this: have a plan for lunch. There’s a decent chance she won’t bring her own food (being unfamiliar with the fridge/breakroom situation) and may not be familiar with restaurants in the area. If it turns out she does have lunch plans for the first day, you can cancel or reschedule, but I think the thoughtful thing to do is to plan to take her to lunch. Eating alone on your first day is kind of a rough experience.

      Reply
      1. Ramona Flowers

        Also, have some stationery ready for her, if you provide it. It was really nice when I started this job and got to my desk to find a notebook, post-its, pens and highlighters. Partly because I had stuff I needed and also the fact someone collected it together for me in the first place.

        Reply
      2. Lady Dedlock

        I’m glad you said this. I’ve gotten mixed advice about taking her to lunch (some people here seem to think the first day might be too busy/we don’t want to overwhelm her). But I think I’ll at least offer, in a low-pressure kind of way.

        Reply
        1. hermit crab

          I took my direct report out for a casual lunch one-on-one on her first day (and made it clear that it’d be my treat). It was her first day in a professional office job and my first day as a manager, and I think we both appreciated a chance to get to know each other a bit and not have to Do Important Work Things (or be “on” in front of the whole team) at the same time.

          Reply
        2. Zip Zap

          I think taking a new person to lunch is nice. You could invite another person or two so she gets to know other people in the office.

          Reply
    4. Been There, Done That

      –Please be clear on what she’s supposed to do and realize she’ll have questions and perhaps want extra contact at first to get acclimated. This doesn’t mean she’ll want her hand held. If some areas of her job are still being nailed down, please don’t leave her in limbo.
      –If you ask someone else to help train her, please make sure the trainer understands that being asked to train isn’t being asked to supervise her.

      Reply
  53. em2mb

    Would you notice if a coworker had a reasonably distinctive pair of shoes in several colors? Would it strike you as weird or odd? I’ve (finally!) found a ballet flat I love, but it has scalloped edges and a cutout pattern I’d definitely notice if, say, someone had it in yellow and navy and nude. I think I’m overly observant of these sorts of things, so I don’t have a great sense of other people’s sensitivity to them.

    Reply
    1. Kiki

      I would notice, but fashion is a hobby of mine and I notice details like that. People who aren’t interested in clothing probably wouldn’t. And I wouldn’t judge you for it or think it odd.

      Reply
      1. Squeeble

        Same–I notice this kind of stuff all the time, but I’d just think “Oh, she must really love those shoes” and leave it at that.

        I have a very comfy pair of flats that I would love to wear more often, but they’re bright red with a bow on the top, which feels like too much to wear every day!

        Reply
    2. Allison

      Wouldn’t strike me as weird, I think I’d be jealous that this person found a shoe that a) works for them and b) comes in a variety of colors.

      Reply
    3. Amber Rose

      I notice, but not in a negative way. A prior coworker had literal blue suede shoes and they were so cool.

      My previous work shoes were teal and hot pink because runners don’t come in reasonable colors anymore, and literally nobody noticed, so I think the number of people who do pay attention is small.

      Reply
    4. Manders

      If I noticed at all, I’d think it was cool that they found a versatile shoe. Fair warning, though, all my shoes with cutout patterns seem to break quickly if I wear them frequently, so make sure you’re buying something durable if you’re investing in 3 or 4 pairs.

      Reply
      1. em2mb

        I’m super hard on shoes … I have wide toes and narrow heels and a clumsy gait and even well-made brands my friends swear last for years die premature deaths on my feet. I’ve actually had weirdly good luck with a few of the cheap brands from Amazon. This are only $20-30 a pair, so I feel like if I get a season out of them, I’m happy!

        Reply
        1. Temperance

          I honestly have embraced it! It’s hard to find clothing and shoes that I both like and find flattering, so I’ll buy it in every color if I like the colors. I’m short and curvy with a huge rack, so I’ve had to really just embrace it.

          Reply
    5. Lady Dedlock

      I would probably notice, but wouldn’t feel negatively about it. I do the same thing myself! I have about five pairs of Repetto ballet flats (and have worn and retired many over the years), so probably pe0ple at work think of me as the ballet flat girl. That’s fine by me.

      Reply
    6. Teapot Librarian

      I’m wearing a second color of my new favorite shoes today. The only thing keeping me from buying them in more colors is that they’re pretty expensive.

      Reply
    7. Hunger Games Summer

      I might notice too but would not think it is weird at all – I do the same thing with shoes and even sweaters/shirts. If I find something I like I get a smattering of colors.

      Reply
      1. hermit crab

        Yeah, I do this with distinctive shirts/tops, and I’m pretty sure that my fashionable coworkers notice — but I’m also pretty sure that they don’t judge me or anything. Personally, I’m just so relieved to have something I like to wear! I literally have four of the same blouse in different colors. I’m thinking about adding a fifth so that I have a long-sleeved shirt to wear every day of the week this winter.

        Reply
      2. Parenthetically

        I have the same v-neck fitted tshirt in about 12 colors, and the same H&M camisole (IT’S SO LONG AND PERFECT) in about 10 colors. My wardrobe is basically adult Garanimals, and I’ve literally never gotten a comment on it that wasn’t, “Cute outfit!”

        Reply
    8. Lady Jay

      I have the same pair of shoes in multiple colors, though they’re less distinctive (mine are plain ballet flats). I love them and wear them out regularly (and buy new ones). I say go for it! It is not weird.

      Reply
    9. Future Analyst

      I have several sets of the same shoes in different colors (and pants, and shirts, haha). Go for it! Life is short, wear shoes you like!!

      Reply
    10. Student

      I don’t even know what my own shoes look like unless I’m currently looking at them. I couldn’t recall any shoes owned by any co-worker, even if they were distinct, more than 5-10 minutes after seeing them.

      Unless they are shoes with lights, or shoes that make noise. Shoes with lights are the worst invention by mankind since the hydrogen bomb (mild exaggeration).

      Reply
    11. Jules the First

      I have the same pair of ballet flats in eight different colours. Yes, people notice, but in a kind of “Jules’ signature shoe” way rather than a “weird” way. Go for it!

      Reply
    12. Been There, Done That

      I’d probably notice and I wouldn’t worry about it. It’s definitely not weird. I once found a pair of ballet flats I loved that actually FIT WELL and regret I didn’t buy the same in a couple of other colors.

      Reply
  54. Grateful Mentee

    I’ve been part of an official mentorship program though my workplace that will be ending on 9/30. My mentor has been AWESOME. Between her help identifying my career interests and skills, and the excellent advice on this website, I am now under consideration for two positions within the organization that both fit my long-term career goals, and are significant promotions. I probably won’t hear back from either before the mentorship program ends, but even if I am not offered either, I am really grateful for her help and guidance.

    The mentorship program is voluntary, and mentors don’t receive any sort of extra compensation for their participation. My mentor is in a role that is much more senior than mine (I am mid-level), but she is in a different department and does not manage me or work with my department directly. I know that tradition is that you don’t gift up, but she has taken a lot of her time during regular working hours to meet with me and act as my career coach without any additional compensation. I’m really grateful and would like to get her a little gift to go with the thank you note I was planning on sending. Would this be inappropriate since she is senior to me, even though we don’t work together?

    Reply
    1. Amber Rose

      Don’t do it. She clearly didn’t do it for compensation, and your gratitude is going to mean a lot more than chocolate or gift cards or whatever.

      Reply
    2. Yorick

      You don’t need to, unless you think she’s done more than the typical mentor stuff. If you feel like you should do more than a note, maybe take her for coffee or lunch instead of getting a gift.

      Reply
  55. Amber Rose

    It occurs to me that new-job anxiety is pretty typical, but expresses itself in some pretty weird ways. I think imposter syndrome is the more frequent version, but husband has been driving me nuts with his own brand of it all week: despite the $10K a year raise, which I don’t think I’m wrong in thinking is significant, he is positive he will either not bring home any extra money, or will bring home less. And he will not. Stop. Talking about it. And he spends ages with a calculator trying to estimate how much he’ll be making in take home pay.

    I don’t really want to sit and have a math battle with him because I don’t want to get sucked into this particular pit of quicksand. It’s all irrelevant because it’s done now. The job starts in October. It’ll be good for him and his career, he’s worked his behind off for this, and I’m half mad with jealousy but that’s pretty balanced out with pride and excitement and love and all that nice gooey stuff.

    Anyways. I can only talk about him, because the sum total of my accomplishments this week has been burning out two monitors, burning an image into an LCD screen which shouldn’t be possible, and frying the VGA port on my tower. I am the Anti-AI, I destroy electronics by existing near them. When the robots invade, come hang out, we’ll have a candle-lit bubble of safety.

    Reply
      1. Amber Rose

        Partly taxes (he this weird idea that they figure out taxes across brackets and then like, average them or something), and partly pension plan deductions, which are admittedly a good chunk of his pay, in the hundreds of dollars. But they have been this whole time, and I don’t see them taking that much more than they take now.

        I think it’s just stress, not actual concern. He’s latched onto this idea as a form of catastrophism. Hopefully he gets over it.

        Reply
        1. Jaydee

          Sometimes there’s just nothing you can say to convince them and you have to let them see for themselves. My husband gets on these weird nervous ruminations and there’s just nothing you can say to convince him it will be okay until it is. He also has very weird ideas about taxes, and I have finally set a rule that when I do our taxes he is not allowed in the room with me unless I have asked him to come in or he is bringing me food (or coffee!), letting me know there is food available, or asking me when I will be at a good point to stop and take a food-related break.

          In your situation, I would stick to phrases like “Well, we will just have to see what your first couple of paychecks look like.” If I thought it was a more realistic concern, I might go as far as “If your take-home pay goes down a little that will be okay because we have some wiggle-room in our budget. At least the extra pension contributions will be good to force us to save for retirement.”

          Reply
        2. Natalie

          Someone used a phrase over at Captain Awkward a while back: solid anxiety vs liquid anxiety. Solid anxiety is about an actual thing that can/will eventually resolve, but liquid anxiety just pours into whatever empty container is available and takes the shape of that container.

          Reply
          1. Bryce

            Man, I’ve had liquid anxiety days. I describe it as a thunderstorm of random worry inside of me looking for places to ground itself.

            Reply
    1. It's all Fun and Dev

      I had the exact same anxiety when I started my new job. I think it stemmed from getting a lower salary than I was expecting – though it was still several K more than I was making previously, and entailed a move to an area with a much lower COL.
      It has helped me tremendously to keep a careful budget to see exactly how much extra we have at the end of the month. I think part of my anxiety was fear of the unknown because EVERYTHING was changing, not just my job (that’s what moving across the country will do to ya!) but as I’ve been settling into the work and my new community, I’ve been feeling much better.

      Good luck and congratulations to him on the new role!

      Reply
    2. I'm A Little TeaPot

      Sometimes people just latch on to something, no matter how irrational it is. You, however, don’t have to listen to it. Do something elsewhere, or send him to do something. It’s Friday. A full weekend of strenuous yard work may allow him to break the cycle. And get him out of your hair in the process.

      If you don’t have a yard, send him my way. I’ve got plenty of stuff that could be done.

      Reply
      1. Been There, Done That

        Or hand him the vaccuum cleaner and the iron. The shopping list for the mall. Download him a ticket to the movies. Weekends are full of possibilities!

        Reply
    3. Effie, moving forward without self judgement

      If it makes you feel any better about being an AI-destroyer, I was banned from ever using any hand-held scanners at my previous job. I’d touch them and they’d run out of battery. This happened even when they’d just had fresh batteries put in/scanners had just been fully charged. At a different job any time I went near a training computer they’d freeze and we’d need to restart them. I’ve heard it comes from being an artist, so at least theoretically I have that…

      (all of this info puts my handle in a very different perspective…)

      Reply
    4. Not So NewReader

      You can go into with him, “Okay so if you bring home the same money or less how will you handle that? What is a good plan for this?”

      Or you can stay outside the conversation and say things like “I don’t see how dwelling on this helps you. What is your goal by dwelling on this, what do you hope to gain?”

      Buuut…. you know sometimes with fear the best thing to do is just in a low, sweet voice say, “It will be okay, hon. You will see. It will be okay.” Fears that are not based on logic do not HAVE to be answered logically. Sometimes using a comforting tone does more to help than anything else.

      Reply
    5. Jessi

      maybe you could say ‘babe, you’ve been talking about this non-stop for weeks, I can’t take anymore. I’m going to set a timer for 5m and then once it goes off I don’t want to hear about it any more for today’. download some talking books, or get up and go for a walk around the block if he keeps at it after the timer has gone off

      Reply
  56. Allison

    Scenario: you’re looking for a coworker, you go to their desk, they’re not there, so you ask someone at a nearby desk “do you know where Joe is?” and that person says they have no idea. Do you expect this person to drop what they’re doing to find this person, or at least give you an idea of where they might be, or do you accept that they really have no idea and move along?

    I ask because I encounter it often – people ask me where so and so is, I tell them I don’t know (just because I sit near them doesn’t mean I know their schedule), and rather than say “all right” and walk away, they just stand there and stare at me with this confused expression, so maybe I’m supposed to assist in finding these sought-after colleagues.

    Reply
    1. Kiki

      The same thing happens to me all the time. I share an office with another coworker and sometimes she has to go elsewhere on campus, runs an errand, or is just in the bathroom. If people ask me to pass along a message to her when she gets back then that’s fine, but sometimes they’ll ask if I can call/text her cell, go next door and see if she’s in the other building, etc even when it’s clear that I’m busy. Also, I’m not her keeper, I’m not gonna text her and possibly interrupt a meeting to summon her.

      Reply
      1. The New Wanderer

        In the case where they want to pass along a message, or are otherwise just standing there seemingly waiting for help, I would just say “You could leave a note, here’s a post-it” or similar. I wouldn’t want to take responsibility for passing along a message myself, since I’m likely to forget if it’s not written down.

        Reply
    2. zapateria la bailarina

      I accept that they don’t know and move along. If I’m asking someone at a nearby desk if they know where someone is, it’s because maybe that person hasn’t even been in today and I’m searching in vain. I wouldn’t expect anyone to assist in the search.

      Reply
    3. beanie beans

      Based on the first paragraph I thought you were the one expecting people to drop what they’re doing to help. Was already formulating a polite way of saying “If they don’t know, leave them alone, they aren’t their secretary!” :)

      Reply
      1. Allison

        That’s just it, when people expect me to know where people are, or locate them, it feels like being treated like a secretary. But I was thinking “hold up, maybe this is a normal office function people routinely expect of each other regardless of known or perceived role.”

        My new coworker did this this morning. We were introduced yesterday and someone told him what I did, yet this morning he asked “do you know where ____ is?” and when I said “no idea” he stared at me until I clarified “she and I have different job functions, and I’m a researcher, I’m not an admin” and he went “oh, okay” but I know it sounds bad when I say that to people.

        I need a cube move, I’ve actually heard my area of the office referred to as the HR reception area because most of the people who work here work in administrative roles for the department.

        Reply
        1. Lily Rowan

          I think it probably is helpful to clarify that you don’t actually work together — what you said would only sound bad if you said it in a way that shows clearly that you think your work is more important than an admin’s.

          Reply
    4. Murphy

      If they’re in a position to check the person’s calendar (such as when someone asks me if I happened to know where my boss is) then I might ask them to do that, but otherwise I would just assume they don’t know and move on.

      I had a stranger come in to the office and ask me pretty insistently where someone was, and was incredulous that I didn’t know and couldn’t check his calendar. I didn’t even work with this person at all, I just sat near his office. Of course I don’t have access to his calendar.

      Reply
    5. Amber Rose

      I go find someone else to ask. Or I might have a follow up question like “do you know if they left for the day” but usually I just go hunting.

      Reply
    6. Kelly L.

      I’ve threatened to get a Magic 8 Ball for just this situation. “Where is Joe?” “Signs unclear.”

      Alternately, I need Molly Weasley’s clock. Joe is in Mortal Peril.

      Reply
    7. katamia

      Unless there’s something special about their job and Joe’s job that means there’s a very quick way for them to find out where Joe is, I would never expect them to actually help me look for Joe. That’s weird.

      Reply
    8. Myrin

      Absolutely not! That’s just weird!

      (And for the record, I don’t think what you said to your new coworker sounds bad at all. It’s somewhat “explain-y”, though, like you somehow think it’s reasonable for him to even think about asking you to look for your coworker. I’d suggest just asking “Something else I can help you with?” if you encounter the strange staring again, which gives them an out if they, for example, were just spacing out thinking about how to go about looking for Target Coworker next, or did indeed want to ask something else but felt awkward when they realised the conversation with you was already over. Or they’ll come right out then and want you to look for coworker in which case you can go *blink blink* “Why?”.)

      Reply
    9. fposte

      Depends on the office configuration and if I know the office configuration. IOW, most of our shared space is shared workflow, so yes, I’d think somebody’d know. I therefore might mistakenly expect somebody in a shared space who *doesn’t* share workflow to know. But I’d get over it if told they don’t know.

      Reply
    10. Argh!

      Is it the same people all the time?

      My snarky advice is to start giving crazy answers like “He’s meeting with his meth dealer” or “He had a grand mal seizure and EMS took him away”

      Reply
      1. Ramona Flowers

        I wouldn’t use the second one. I say that because I had a colleague actually go awol for this exact reason.