open thread – September 22-23, 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 :)

{ 1,337 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. That other anon

    I’m two weeks into my new job. Many thanks to this website for all the resume/interviewing tips. My old (great) boss had left my old company earlier this year and the new boss was…challenging. The new company is fantastic, and literally the only other company doing similar work. I was very lucky to land here and I’m so grateful that I found this site and all of you!

    Reply
  2. AnonymousProjectManager

    Question for all you recruiters/job searchers.

    How do I get myself noticed by recruiters on linked in?

    I work in tech, linked in is a really common recruiting tool in my industry, and my colleagues report they get regular outreach. Two people in my company just found great new positions via recruiter linked in outreach. I’d like to start hearing from recruiters. How do I update my settings or profile?

    Reply
    1. Koko

      I don’t have anything definitive to tell you except I’d make your profile as complete as possible. I imagine it’s just a matter of coming up in searches. I am not active on LI like, at all, but I do have a fully complete profile with my complete job and educational history, summary blurbs for each job and for myself, volunteer activities, etc. I didn’t start getting regular contact from recruiters until I was maybe 5 years into my career but since then it’s been pretty steady, and I haven’t done anything special to try to be more visible.

      So assuming you have a comparable career length to people you know who are getting contacted, I’d say that probably putting as much in your profile as you can to come up in searchers probably helps.

      Reply
      1. Koko

        Also, connect with people in your field! Thinking back, the 5-year mark was also around the time I started connecting with a lot of agency employees – these folks tend to move around a lot, to a new gig every couple of years, and have large networks, so connecting with them probably increased my profile’s “reach.”

        Reply
      1. Bea W

        I’ve used this, and got a lot of responses. It brings you up in searches and alerts recruiter types you are looking. You can type in a brief description of what you are looking for. It stays active for either 60 or 90 days (I can’t remember) unless you turn it off before then.

        You can also put something in your headline unless you do not want people at your current employer to see it. There is also the section indicating what kind of contact you want from people. Make sure you have checked new opportunities there as well, although I’ve noticed not having it checked doesn’t necessarily stop people.

        I do accept connection invitations from recruiters and agencies, and most of my colleagues also do this. I do it even when I am not looking, because it’s very helpful to have those connections when you are looking.

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      2. Crylo Ren

        Be cautious with this if you absolutely don’t want your current employer to know that you’re looking. LinkedIn doesn’t guarantee that they won’t see that status change.

        Seconding the advice to make your profile as complete as possible. I got a ton of recruiter outreach after I added bullet points to my profile to list out duties and accomplishments – pretty much a truncated version of my actual resume. If it’s important in your field, I’d also list out the names of any relevant platforms or software you’ve used as recruiters will sometimes search on those names.
        Completing your profile has an added benefit when you are applying to jobs, many of them give you the option to include a link to your profile so if your profile, resume and cover letter are all cohesive that certainly has an impact.

        Somewhat unrelated, but I’ve also noticed an uptick in recruiter outreach soon after I’ve changed jobs (companies or titles).

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    2. Emilia Bedelia

      Ask your coworkers to connect you! If they found a recruiter that they enjoyed working with who found them a great position, ask them to pass your information along.

      Reply
      1. Danger: Gumption Ahead

        ^ Do this. Also ask other people you know who had a good experience with recruiters to refer you to the one’s they worked with

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    3. burnout

      Try doing the free month of premium and getting super active. Make a ton of connections with people in your field, follow all of your dream companies and all related companies. Start connecting with the recruiters yourself – look at your connections’ connections and you can usually tell who the recruiters are by their huge networks and job titles/company names. Make your profile fully complete, clean up your keywords section with all your skills, etc. Plus everything that everyone else suggested… :)

      Reply
    4. Product Person

      Oooh! This is a question where I can help.
      Proven results for me, my husband, and others.
      I get contacted all the time by recruiters offering awesome opportunities in great companies. Practically never I get “spam recruiting messages”, and here’s how I got there:
      – Make sure your resume include as many accomplishments as possible for each of your jobs.
      – See if you can upload some slides you used in a presentation or a case study of a successful project you have.
      – Publish a few articles.

      My husband wanted to change jobs recently, and despite having a stellar resume, never got any contact in LinkedIn. He finally asked me to take a look and improve his profile. I added a couple of accomplishments (accolades he received in past projects), and BINGO! Not only two weeks later, recruiters (including one from LinkedIn — he is in the tech business) got in touch.

      One thing he didn’t do is publish any posts there, and I know this helps because a colleague who was jealous of how much attention I was getting wrote some at my recommendation, and quickly got found by several employers. I believe LinkedIn exposes your profile more (even in searches) when you have content published with them. But make sure they are thoughtful articles, not just “me too” stuff, so they get “likes” and shares.

      Good luck!

      Reply
    5. 2 Cents

      I joined a couple of open groups in my industry / field of interest, and recruiters have contacted me from there. I also have my profile open to search and to be viewed by everyone. One important thing: I turned off ALL update notifications, so that when I made/make changes on my profile, the rest of my network doesn’t get an alert about it, like “2 Cents just updated her title, work history, summary, etc.” that would suggest I’m looking for a new job.

      Reply
      1. Mabel

        These suggestions are all so helpful! Thank you, commenters! I just found out that my contract won’t be renewed after 16 years at this client (due to team reorg.), and my employer is not likely to have another, comparable assignment for me, so I’m about to start searching for a new position. Fortunately, I got feedback on my resume from Alison last year. I had been thinking about updating it and seeing what else is “out there.” I have noticed that LinkedIn seems to have the best job postings for my field, so I’ll try to improve my chances by following everyone’s suggestions.

        Reply
    6. The New Wanderer

      This is helpful to me too! I recently turned on the “open to opportunities” button but that hasn’t changed how often I get recruiter emails. Nor has adding content to my job descriptions so it reads more like a resume.

      I’ve noticed that in looking at jobs, there’s a space at the bottom that indicates how well your profile matches the job description. I’d consider myself qualified for most of the jobs I look at, but the profile indicator shows that I only match 0 or 1 out of 9 skills. So if recruiters are using the LinkedIn algorithms, they’re never going to contact me for those jobs because I probably don’t appear in searches for relevant skills. The solution is probably to jam as many of the right skill keywords into my profile as is reasonable.

      Reply
      1. nep

        Same — For jobs I’m apparently fully qualified for, it consistently shows that I’ve got zero or one of the skills. I was wondering about that myself. I guess I’ve got to really work on those keywords.

        Reply
    7. Erika22

      Usually LinkedIn gives you a free month of Premium – use it! I used to only get fake/spam messages, but recently decided to use the free trial of Premium, which automatically puts you higher in searches by recruiters. In the time I’ve been using Premium, I’ve had dozens of profile views by recruiters and gotten a couple of real messages from recruiters that I don’t think I’d have gotten otherwise. And this was all passive on my part – I’m only casually looking at switching companies right now. If I was truly searching and working for more responses, I’m sure the results would be even better.

      Reply
  3. Redundant Department of Redundancy

    Does anyone have any tips about breaking out of Pink collared admin? What skills should I be looking to build and/or what kind of courses would be useful?

    I’m an excellent admin, but I want to move into a more challenging role so I’m more management and less ‘Can you organise this meeting for me?’

    Reply
      1. Morning Glory

        That would be a great way to transfer into a different kind of admin work – but it’s not a good way to break out of admin work like the OP would like to do.

        Reply
        1. Redundant Department of Redundancy

          Very true, but it would hopefully get me more away from the Calendar requests and filing of forms I do now! A possibility if I can’t find anything else.

          Reply
          1. 2mc1pg

            I had the same problem, pigeonholed in pink collar admin work, which happened to be at a law firm. I took a Paralegal certification course at our regional community college system (associates for those without a BA, but a capstone/post-BA certification for those with a BA) and broke out of the ‘velvet ghetto.’

            Now I will never be promoted to lawyer. Nor do I wish to make the sacrifices of law school! But I had to look for sideways moves or segues that would bring me out of the grind of telephone messages, contact management, and meeting arrangements. I now produce billable work, I’m answerable to attorneys, and I get to do intellectually engaging tasks. My undergrad degree is of use in my daily work life.

            Look at what others in your industry have moved into sideways or made segues into. For instance, another long time legal secretary who had stellar tech skills went for a set of tech certifications and became the New Hire Trainer for all incoming staff, attorneys included. When anyone is hired on, she teaches them the systems. It’s excellent for her. And she’s answering no one’s phones!

            HR is another avenue by which women in business have ‘traditionally’ sidestepped the pink collar pigeonhole. That may feel a little too Mad Men era, but it’s an option. Accounting is also a path along the same lines, but a little less ‘traditionally’ female. Personally, I’ve looked at Accounting for that reason, but have no reason to switch at this point. But it’s an option for the future.

            Within your existing industry, look at IT, look at Sales, look at HR, look at Accounting, and look at Marketing/PR. Then match these to any existing (legit) certification pathways in your region. Talk to recruiters to find out which pathways are preferred (I stepped away from one area Paralegal course and chose another based on recruiter advice). Make sure you’re not moving into a role that pays less than what you currently make (weirdly, Marketing and PR paid equal to or less than Legal Secretary, so while I can write phenomenal press releases, convincing a firm to hire me into a less well paid role was a no-go).

            Good luck!

            Reply
      2. Redundant Department of Redundancy

        In theory my employer could pay for a course for me, but it’s the NHS (UK govt healthcare) and as I’m not Patient facing it’s unlikely I’d get approval.

        However, I might be able to pay for my own – but I don’t know what to do! The medical transcription might work well, as I’m in NHS already I can apply for internal vacancies.

        Reply
        1. OtterB

          It’s a hard question to answer in general since you know what you want to stop doing, but haven’t specified (and perhaps don’t know yet) what you’d like to start doing. If you know you’re interested in changing roles within the system, then I’d say to look at the vacancies, and when you see one that makes you say, “That would be interesting!” look at the requirements for it. Or if you come in contact with other people while doing things like organizing meetings, take a moment to ask about their role and how they got into that line of work.

          Reply
          1. Onlinecb

            That’s pretty much what I did many years ago when I wanted to move out of Call Centre work.

            Every time I went on a training course I thought how I would like to be the Facilitator leading the session. I took a City and Guilds Adult Education course then went on to do my PGCE in Post Secondary. I found a new job as a Training Officer which fell under the combined Learning, Development and HR umbrella at our office so I was lucky enough to pick up HR experience as well. Years later I did a HR designation and now work in HR (Training is still my main love but practicality ruled and here I am.)

            Good luck.

            Reply
        2. MNS

          Hello! Another NHS admin/IT employee here. Have you looked into training opportunities within your trust? Mine offers the ILM leadership level 3 course and I know of a few people who have taken this and then used it to jump up to a supervisory/admin manager/team lead position.

          Reply
    1. Anonarama

      I’d look into getting some sort of project management certification. Like the new hotness at my company is scrum, so a bunch of admins who were great and bored got scrum master certified and are now in project management positions.

      Reply
      1. NPOQueen

        Agreed with everyone here about project management. I was doing admin work too until I started organizing events in my role, and using that to transition into project management. Just take a look at your industry; scrum and agile are good for tech but not necessarily the best for events. If you’re just starting out, a CAPM certification is a good thing to have on your resume, and you can build that up into a PMP. The PMP will open all kinds of doors, I find.

        Reply
        1. Redundant Department of Redundancy

          Alas, I do have a project management qualification, however, I’ve still ended up in admin roles. As I don’t have any specific ‘Projects’ to back up the qualification.

          I’m currently stuck in a loop of ‘You need these qualifications to get the job, but you can’t get the qualifications because you don’t have the experience to back it up’

          Reply
          1. HMM

            At this point, I think your best bet is to develop expertise in something, not just having general skills. This is easier said than done of course, and requires that you know what you want to do (or at least commit to a career path for a little while, even if you end up wanting to change it down the road). But when I decided to go into HR, I spent a lot of time just reading up on HR, getting to know the intricacies of the field, and only applying for HR jobs. Because of all that research, I could not only show that I had transferable skills in the interview, but that I had expertise in the thing that they were hiring me to do. It also showed that I understood the role and had a clear idea of what I could do and how I could help the org.

            I found that when I was applying to anything that seemed like it would suit my transferable skills, I would end up a good match for the role but not the best – it got me about 80% of the way there. But once I got very clear about WHY I wanted to do HR, and what I could offer an HR department, I could more closely draw the line between my project management skills and what that means for an HR team. That means that the hiring manager can more easily envision me in the role – even if I don’t match the job description line for line.

            Reply
          2. Evie

            I’m currently stuck in a loop of ‘You need these qualifications to get the job, but you can’t get the qualifications because you don’t have the experience to back it up’

            any chance you could try freelancing or volunteering in line with that qualification to help you get some of that experience? I have no idea how plausible that idea is for that sort of work, but it might be one way of making new connections.

            Reply
      2. Would manage a project

        Are those actually valuable when looking for a new job? I always assumed they wouldn’t make up for experience, but if they’re worthwhile I’ll get one!

        Reply
    2. HMM

      For me it was more about going to a field that would get me out of admin but where admin skills are highly valued. I went into HR but project management and program development were both things I looked at too. Entry level jobs in the field used my highly transferable admin skills without having to get much additional education or training, which was key because I wanted to spend as little money as possible before being certain that I liked the field I was in.

      Be aware though that entry level jobs in those fields can often still feel like admin, so don’t be discouraged if you can’t completely drop administrative duties as quickly as you’d like. I’ve been an HR coordinator for almost two years now and I’d wager about half of my job is still admin-based – just specialized now, so it isn’t just scheduling and filing work. But it’s getting to the point where those admin based things are getting dropped off my plate in favor of higher-level work.

      In addition, if you can hone skills that allow you to start dabbling in non-admin work, do so. For me, that was getting very familiar with project development and management, working on my analytical skills, and taking the initiative to volunteer for new types of work. Good luck!

      Reply
      1. KMB213

        How did you get HR work without an HR degree or experience? Did you have some sort of HR training? I’m in the same situation as OP, and every HR posting I find requires, at minimum, an HR degree. Is it just a matter of continuing to check until you find that role that doesn’t require it? (FWIW, I have a bachelor’s, but not in HR.)

        Reply
          1. HMM

            Sure! For me, it was part luck – my first job out of school with a non-HR degree was as a general office admin for a start up. In that role, because we were short staffed, I eventually grew to doing a tiny bit of HR (recruiting, onboarding, and very basic payroll). After that job, I did a non-HR gig, then went back into HR because it was the only business path I was interested in without having to get a degree. (In fact, I actually think getting a masters in HR can hurt more than help if you do it too early on – it makes you seem over qualified yet doesn’t really prepare you for the day to day tasks of a junior HR role. IME, I’ve seen it play out as easier to work your way into HR by going the admin or project management route, then getting the masters or certifications if you want to advance. That’s where I am now, and I’m fortunate to be with an org that will pay for me to get my PHR.)

            I don’t know where you are, but in the areas where I’ve looked for an HR job (Austin and SF), HR assistants and coordinators don’t require an HR specific degree. It’s a plus, but with transferable skills, the degree is non-essential. Everything I’ve ever learned about HR, I learned from AAM or my own on the job research.

            My advice to anyone who wants to get into HR is to get experience developing processes to minimize inefficiencies, be extremely detail oriented, have a history of providing excellent customer service, and show a willingness to learn. I didn’t get certified or anything before looking for HR jobs because I didn’t want to spend the money, but having a track record of success with the above got me in the door, then I self-studied compliance and personnel issues before the interview to show that I could think about HR in the way that the org needed. Hope that helps!

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        1. periwinkle

          I wound up as an HR coordinator with no experience in HR, but it was serendipity – I took a temp assignment doing clerical work, they were impressed and asked me to stick around long-term to assist the HR administrator for the division, and *that’s* when I started to get educated about HR.

          I took SHRM’s course on Essentials of HRM (available as self-study, online, SHRM-taught, or through one of their university partners) to get that base knowledge. HRCI, which offers the well-established PHR certifications, now offers the aPRH (Associate Professional in Human Resources) certification for those with zero HR experience. This could be a real help for those trying to make the move into HR without a formal HR background.

          FYI, there is a huge push toward data analysis skills as a key competency for HR professionals. If I were trying to shift over to HR these days, I’d ramp up on analytical skills and maybe learn something about Tableau/data visualization and basic statistics. Coursera and Udemy have lots of courses on data analytics.

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        2. ChrysantheMumsTheWord

          One way to ease into HR is by looking for administrative support roles in companies that provide HR services (PEO, HR, recruiters) that have room for upward growth. Especially the smaller companies may provide a career ladder that would allow you to work yourself up into a role and give you good experience for your resume in the meantime).

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        3. HMM

          No certifications or schooling in HR – I elaborate in the comment below but in the areas where I’ve searched for an HR job, they usually say an HR-related degree is preferred but not required. I was adamant about not spending money on additional schooling or training, partly because I don’t think it’s needed, partly because I didn’t have the money, and partly because I was hoping to find an org to pay for it for me!

          I recommend you start applying for the jobs you see anyway if you have transferable skills, and you’ll likely find that the companies can be flexible on the degree (assuming that to you’re trying to come on as a HR coordinator or assistant; if you want to jump right into a HR generalist role, the degree may become more essential).

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        4. Mad Baggins

          All of these comments have been extremely useful–I’m also trying to make the jump to HR.
          Thank you for asking this and thanks everyone for your invaluable advice!

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      2. SansaStark

        Seconded. I was able to transfer my admin skills pretty easily over to event planning. Yes, I was still at the bottom of the totem pole, but the admin work gave me experience in the field so I was able to move up.

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    3. Neosmom

      My admin work has led to supporting sales executives. Now I have direct contact with customers and prospective customers, and I assist with the development of new marketing materials.

      Reply
    4. Alice

      look at existing openings for positions you’d like (non-admin), and figure out how your skills are transferable (i.e. customer service skills, time management, people management). The first step is figuring out WHAT you want to do, and then adjusting your resume to show how your current skills transfer into that new role. There are also a LOT of online resources for training, if there’s a particular skill you want to learn.

      Reply
    5. Felicia

      A lot of people in my org have easily transferred from admin to event management, and from admin to marketing. But it’s hard to give specific advice without knowing what you would like to do. But in general, there are many basic/small tasks that admins could do that people at your organization might be willing to let you help with. I found asking people with roles i’m interested in “is there anything you need any help with”, or volunteering to do simple things that I found met priorities of my org but used skills I wanted to develop also worked.

      And learning new computer programs/becoming more advanced at ones you already know is always good, but again depends what you’d like to do.

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    6. Hopeful Executive (minus Assistant)

      I was just coming here to ask this question! I feel like my resume is well-curated and focused more on my non-admin accomplishments and projects, but I’m getting passed up for jobs because all of my previous job titles were either Senior Administrative Assistant or Executive Assistant.

      I can clearly offer you no advice, but wanted to let you know you are not alone. Good luck!

      Reply
      1. AssistantNeedingAssistance

        Same here. I inarguably do Director-level work where I’m at now (just wrote a 25-page final addendum report to get a department accredited, in fact…), with a B.A. and an upcoming M.S. in December, but I’m still half-time clerical and part-time reception desk. Everyone tells me what a wonderful job I do and how they’d couldn’t get alone without me, “But, uh, a promotion up? Well… Wait until Coworker retires in a few years, then we’ll talk!” This has happened at every single job. When I job hunt, I apply for Assistant Director and Director level jobs, but never, ever get called for an interview, despite my resume being full of projects and accomplishments – but under “Assistant to the…” titles. When I apply for admin jobs, it’s like ants on honey. So, I guess I have the reverse problem as the OP: I have the projects but not the titles, and no one wants to say they hired the receptionist from Company X to be their new Assistant Director of Assessment. But everyone wants to hire the receptionist from Company X who can do project management and assessment, so long as she can also fix the copier and order lunch. Very interested in this conversation.

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        1. MillersSpring

          Are you applying for coordinator, specialist or manager roles? That’s how I moved up the ladder.

          I did admin work during high school and four years of college, even after college. I was in the field of my degree but still answering phones and making coffee. Then three years after college I finally got a specialist job that didn’t have a secretarial component. And it was another 15 years before I had a director job.

          TL:DR, are you trying to skip from admin to director without building experience?

          Reply
      2. AudreyParker

        Yep. Tough to escape! I thought I had by getting a low-level project management position through a former coworker, but now that I’m searching again that doesn’t seem to have helped much: just had a PM interview where the interviewer said something like, “Oh! Are you interviewing for the EA position?? I just saw ‘Administrative Assistant’ here…” That job was nearly 6 years and multiple other (theoretical) accomplishments ago!!

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    7. KR

      I used to work as an IT Technician/admin for our IT Dept at old job and I liked it. I work now in renewables ordering parts and setting up resources and services for our renewables sites and it’s really enjoyable. It’s admin work but it’s more technical (but I don’t get dirt under my nails or have to put on a 40 Cal suit).

      Reply
    8. LKW

      I went to night school at a local private university. My company reimbursed me for 80% as long as I earned above a C. The company paid for two tracks, Engineering or Business. So I took business – specifically Information Management. That helped me get my foot into a consulting firm where I’ve been ever since.

      If that doesn’t align with what you want to do – look for opportunities to do analysis or meeting preparation work – not just organizing the logistics, but in preparing meeting materials. Ask about helping manage departmental metrics. Consider creating a departmental “playbook” putting together information about the org chart, processes, tools and relationships to other departments. Think of the tools that would help someone if they landed in your department on Monday and had no idea what to do or where to go. If those things exist, then who manages them and are they up to date? If they don’t exist – make it!

      Reply
      1. HMM

        Yes, I found process development key to progressing out of just admin work. Maintain documentation, reduce inefficiencies, save money – those are all things that an great admin excels at but also allows you to *create time in your admin job* to say “because this low-level work is done, what can I help you with?”

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    9. Emmie

      What kind of work do you want to do?

      I can think of some fields, like HR, where you may be able to progress in a coordinator-type role with certain experience.

      Reply
    10. MissDisplaced

      It’s a little hard to answer as you haven’t really told us what you’d like to do or what your interests are.
      I could see an Admin moving into marketing, communications, social media, public relations, event planning, project management or specialized software type skills things such as SAP or purchasing. But those are all very different things!
      In general I think you’d have to pick an area and then master something and possible look at getting a certification if it’s needed.

      Reply
      1. AssistantNeedingAssistance

        I fear what she’s going to run into is what a number of us have said above: it doesn’t matter what else you’ve done, or what certs you have, because all hiring managers see is “admin” or “assistant,” and, boom, you’re pigeonholed. They don’t care that I want to do (and can abso-freaking-lutely do) accreditation and assessment, or if OP wants to be the Assistant Director for Marketing. They really want the copier fixed and some papers filed and some lunch would be great – and if they can tack higher-level stuff in for cheap, even better.

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        1. Emmie

          There still might be things that OP can do.
          – She could volunteer to take on special projects in the other department she’s interested in. (i.e. She’s an HR Admin, and she starts supporting payroll, or benefits launch, etc…)
          – She could become an admin in the type of department she’s looking to work in.
          – She could move to a small business as an admin. These companies tend to be less committed to job responsibilities and, in my experience, it may give OP room to take on those extra responsibilities to help her resume.
          – She could volunteer to gain additional experience.
          – She could focus on coordinator roles – a step above an admin.
          – I believe she mentioned school costs being a concern. Community Colleges are more affordable, and she could earn certificates in an area that she’s interested in.
          – Join professional groups in her area of interest for networking, and offer to help with projects there.
          It’s not a perfect solution, but there might be field specific options available to her.

          Reply
          1. Red Panda

            Agree with your comment about small companies. If possible, I would apply for roles at startups. Once you prove you are a smart and competent admin, you can sit in on meetings that interest you, and start taking on more meaningful work. Eventually new teams need to be hired to handle the increased client base and as a trusted employee, they are more willing to take a chance on you to move into a different department.

            That being said, start-ups are rough and very fast paced so ability to work quickly and with few mistakes is vital to making this work.

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    11. Elizabeth H.

      Do you have (non-helping-people-with-stuff) skills you do in the course of your job that you like more and would like to focus more on?

      I have faced this issue in some aspects/forms and I think I’ve been pretty successful in moving into focusing on different tasks (in my current job)/changing roles internally/interviewing for outside positions that focus more on the type of work I want to do like analysis of numbers, budgets, database stuff, internal research, data coordination because that is what I love and try to do as much of as possible in the scope of my job. I talk this up a lot and have been successful in turning what could be a generic program coordinator type role into one where I have a ton of involvement in data and analysis. That’s because I had an interest in it and taught myself a bunch of stuff to get better at it like Excel, statistics, reading social science books, looking at database theory, etc.

      If you have something you have an interest in and can expand more within the scope of your current job, then you will have projects you can highlight in interviews for different types of roles that do that thing.

      Reply
    12. Zip Zap

      What kind of work would you like to do? Is there anything you can teach yourself and then showcase online? Things like graphic design, writing code, and writing content tend to lend themselves to that. But it could be all kinds of things – foreign language skills, photography, whatever. Try to build some kind of an online portfolio. In addition to this, you could also build your resume by volunteering or taking on a very part time additional job, like some freelance projects.

      Then go apply for something better! Don’t be afraid to reach for things you might be under-qualified for. If employers see that you’re taking the initiative to work your way up from admin work through things like self education and volunteering, many of them will be impressed.

      And get out and talk to people. Let people know you’re job hunting and that you’re looking for something more challenging. As the saying goes, you never know who knows who.

      Good luck!

      Reply
  4. Chupalupe

    My team of four is currently down two team members and my last remaining team member is pretty much useless at getting anything done. AGHH.

    Reply
    1. NPOQueen

      I’ve been there. You can see it as a challenge or an opportunity; I had to pull a lot of weight when my team was halved, but I was open to new projects and learning. By the end of it, I’d received a bonus for my work while my team was tiny, and I had the ear of the more powerful people in my department. It sucks to be in the middle of it though, but if you can, push to see when those positions will be filled.

      Reply
      1. Chupalupe

        I’m already the top performer in the department, but I’m on the hiring committee, so I know it’s not being filled any time soon.

        Reply
        1. medium of ballpoint

          Oof, I’m sorry. It’s tough to limp along when you’re short staffed. We had an open position that went unfilled for a year and it was getting a little Mad Max in there before we finally hired someone. Good luck weathering this one!

          Reply
    2. Bea W

      BTDT. Left my job. My manager refused to address the uselessness of the team member who was actually not even on my team, but was making a ton of work for me by being totally useless. I wasn’t even being consulted over hiring of replacements for the people my manager poached from my team to give to the useless person’s team. I was doing the work of 3 people. It sucked the life out of my for 6 months, and I was done.

      Any chance your manager would be more helpful than mine was?

      Reply
    3. babblemouth

      That really sucks. I’ve been in a team with reduced staff where the remaining members were great, and THAT was hard enough. I thought the extra work we all put in would be recognised, but it wasn’t. While overtime was expected often to make up for the lack of staff, no flexibility was given to us in return.

      It’s been over two years, and I’m in a new job, and I’m STILL bitter about it when I think about it.

      Reply
  5. Generic Administrator

    I need help. I want to tell my boss that I detest my job and the companies hatred of it’s employees. I know nothing can or will change (family business, although my boss is nice the main two owners are awful) but I want to get out in the open. Any advice or thoughts appreciated.

    Reply
      1. Generic Administrator

        Maybe a change of duties or transfer to another site if possible. But at this stage I would be open to negotiating a plan to leave. The way they treat people is making me dizzy at times.

        Reply
        1. Snark

          Well, “I loathe my job and I think you and the rest of the company treats its employees like you hate us” may be intensely cathartic and would certainly kick off “plan to leave” option, but if you’re actually expecting that to start a discussion that ends with a change of duties or transfer to another office I think you may be unpleasantly surprised. Because if this company is as abusive as you say, my feeling is that this particular conversation starter results in you walking out the door half an hour later with your stuff in a banker’s box and a clear calendar. If you’re open to a transfer, I’d pick different and more constructive messaging.

          Reply
          1. Generic Administrator

            I’m in the UK so don’t have to worry about being marched out. I just want to have about my job satisfaction. I’ve worked at places where you could be very open like that but I’m not sure how well my manager would react even though he is reasonable. Other people happily scream and swear and get there own way though!

            Reply
            1. Akcipitrokulo

              If manager is reasonable – ask for a meeting with him and give examples of what’s causing the upset. Say feeling frustrated because X or that you felt as if there was a lack of respect during y rather than “I hate them and they treat me like sh*t!!!!”

              Taking notes is probably a good idea – also approach as “I’d like to fix a problem” than “am I allowed to set them on fire?” would be helpful ;)

              Also – if you’re in a union – talk to them. (If not, join one in case this blows up – you cannot get representation for an existing issue when you join.)

              Reply
            2. Cristina in England

              Get out before that place warps your sense of what’s normal in a workplace. You don’t want to pick up bad habits that were coping skills here but would damage your reputation in a future workplace.

              Reply
            3. Wendy Anne

              Are you positive they won’t walk you out? You’re basically telling them to find you another job or you’ll leave. Why wouldn’t they get rid of you asap with that sort of ultimatum?

              Reply
            4. Naruto

              How about “I would like to talk about a change of duties or transfer to another.” Follow that up with “here’s what I’m interested, and how it would make sense for the company.”

              Do NOT say “I would like to talk about how I hate my job and how the company treats its employees.”

              Reply
            5. Not Australian

              “I’m in the UK so don’t have to worry about being marched out.”

              Sorry, but that just isn’t true – especially if, for any reason, the employer things you might be interested in sabotaging the workplace, or if there’s the potential for you to – say – steal confidential information. They’d have to pay you, certainly, but they jolly well *could* march you out on the spot, and it’s folly to imagine that it couldn’t happen. (And yes, I’m in the UK too.)

              Reply
        2. The Cosmic Avenger

          Yeah, I’d just plan your escape, and once everything is in place, just leave. Your boss knows how horrible the owners are, right? If they’re really a good manager, they probably are hoping you find a better job elsewhere, but won’t say so out of a combination of professionalism and self-preservation.

          If the bosses are that bad, they’d probably veto any plan to improve your lot anyway.

          The only compromise I can think of is that IF you can afford to be job searching for a while, tell your boss that you want to quit, but you will stay if she can promise you whatever concrete change would make things better (like changing duties or transferring), and then make sure to follow through and quit if you don’t get it. It’s not so much an ultimatum as “this is what I need to make this work”.

          Reply
    1. Manders

      I’ve never had any luck trying to change the culture of a family business. I just kept my head down, job searched, and got out.

      Reply
    2. Antilles

      My advice would be “don’t”.
      My general rule about complaining about your work is that you should only do it if (a) it’s something that’s specific and discrete; and (b) there’s a reasonable chance of it actually getting fixed. Detesting your job and a culture that doesn’t respect employees is neither. Complaining may feel cathartic for about 15 seconds, but that’s about all you’re likely to get. Even in the absolute best case scenario where your boss quietly agrees with you, if the problems stem from higher-up, he’s not going to be able to fix anything. More likely, it’ll backfire and those 15 seconds of catharsis are going to be immediately ruined by negative consequences afterwards.

      Reply
    3. AnotherHRPro

      I honestly don’t know what this would do for you other than burn a bridge. If you are that unhappy, you should be looking for a new job. When you have a new job lined up and are resigning you can give them all the feedback you want. But if you want to stay at this organization just in a different role, I do not see how telling your boss that you hate the company and the owners will make that happen. I also don’t understand why you would want to stay there in a different job if it really is that bad.

      Reply
    4. Kathenus

      No guarantees it would be effective, but if you picked one or two specific policies or behaviors that might be more easily changed (low-hanging fruit), and present them along with suggested solutions, maybe small steps could be made to allow a better work environment while you’re still there. This way you’re not focusing on your strong feelings about your job or the company’s behavior towards employees, you’re proposing small changes that could improve the workplace – it might be perceived better that way and could help chip away at the more toxic parts of the environment.

      Reply
  6. Susan

    In quickly bc I’m asking for a friend/coworker.

    Our company just hired a team leader about two months ago. I’m on a different team but from what I’ve heard and seen, he’s “good with ideas” but assigns the work (esp things he doesnt know) to his team.

    One of the people on his team (my cw) is concerned that when the team leader meets w mgmt & upper mgmt, he’ll present all the ideas as his own and not give him credit for it.

    If it matters here—it’s not a super strict where “underlings” aren’t allowed to take credit.

    What can he do to pre-empt this? Should he do anything?
    And if it already happens, what can he do?

    Reply
    1. fposte

      Keep track of her own achievements and make sure they’re included in performance reviews with her actual manager. Otherwise, though, I’d let this go; trying to pre-empt looks weird, and it’s generally assumed that team leaders are talking about their team achievements.

      Reply
      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        Yep. And keep an email trail about the ideas, so that there’s proof you suggested them before they were presented to upper management. Then you have backup when you claim them on your review.

        Reply
    2. Samiratou

      As a team leader, assign working to his team, particularly the areas he’s not as familiar with, is his job.

      He should be acknowledging the contributions of the team when meeting with management–does your CW have particular reason to believe he won’t? Otherwise, yes, he should keep track of his own efforts, but if management has brains in their head they’ll realize that the TL isn’t the only one doing things, and I wouldn’t necessarily jump to the worst-case scenario.

      Reply
  7. Parenthetically

    Non-US folks who have applied for US jobs! My husband is applying for jobs having recently gotten his green card and it’s a pretty different process/experience than he’s used to. Advice and experiences would be much appreciated.

    Reply
    1. ZSD

      It might be useful for us to know what country or countries he’s applied for jobs in before. I would give different advice to someone used to the German job search system than to someone used to the Indian one.

      Reply
    2. atgo

      Totally anecdotal from my side here, but I can share what makes international candidates seem outside of the norm from hiring I’ve done.

      I’ve gotten a number of resumes from international applicants that have included information that’s not conventional for US resumes due to our discrimination laws. For example, including age/DOB is not something required (and comes off as out of touch). Also it seems like CVs (in Europe at least) that I’ve received have leaned on the side of a long list spanning multiple pages, while US resumes tend to have more care put to formatting and concise summaries. The US used to have a strong convention of 1 page with intense detail to formatting (especially for more junior roles), though that seems to be relaxing it’s still important to keep things concise.

      Reply
      1. Justin

        Some countries (though unlikely Aus) also include pics (they did when I worked in S Korea), same lines as age/DOB and such, just no personal info aside from ways to contact you and name.

        Reply
        1. Cam

          G’day, just taking a break from throwing shrimp on the barbie here to say that your suspicion is correct: you shouldn’t include a photo on your CV in Australia.

          Reply
    3. rj

      I’m Canadian and work in the US (in academia which is its own special snowflake) – so our conventions are likely to be more similar than Aus/US. But – in my experience US culture is far more enthusiastic and over-the-top in terms of praise than at home. People are not being dishonest, and people have ways of criticizing here too, it’s just different. In the US the culture varies significantly between regions, and between large cities/mid-sized cities/small-towns and rural areas, so it may be more helpful to think about local culture when tailoring a resume or cover letter.

      Reply
  8. Kim K

    My supervisor is getting fired today and I’m so, so relieved. It’s been a long time coming. She’s unethical, berates her employees, and has performance issues.

    Of course there will be a learning curve once someone new comes in, but I’m certain it’ll be worth it.

    Reply
      1. Kim K

        Her boss (who I frequently report to as well) called me into his office this morning to let me know that I could leave early this afternoon because they were letting her know. I sit right outside of his office where the firing will presumably happen, so he is saving me from potential awkwardness. My supervisor is known for blowing up at small things, and behaving erratically, so it’s likely that she will make a big scene.

        Reply
        1. The Other Dawn

          Your boss’s boss is very kind and smart to think of that. I’ve been there, too, and even though my boss’s boss didn’t tell me to leave early, I did. And I’m really glad because I, too, sat right outside my boss’s office. I’m so glad I got the heads-up so I could scoot out of there fast! It was awkward knowing what was going to happen, though.

          Reply
        2. Bea W

          I now am having fantasies that this is happening to a high level director at an old many employer years back. I know it’s not the same person/company (and she will continue to be there eating people alive), but I will enjoy the fantasies. Congratulations and good riddance!

          Reply
        3. Anon4this

          I am so jealous. My supervisor refers to herself in the third person and uses the royal we in emails. And is also horrid, incompetent and all forms of evil…

          Reply
        4. Lissa

          Something similar happened to me, and I felt guilty about how satisfying it was….but not guilty enough not to get glee from it.

          Reply
          1. Windchime

            Haha, yes, this. The boss who made my life hell and ultimately led me to leave that job (along with several others) was promoted to Director and then, a couple of months later was fired for bullying and lying. She is now sewing little tote bags and trying to sell them at craft fairs. Oh, how the mighty have fallen! Karma’s a bitch, lady. Have fun with your tote bags.

            Reply
          2. babblemouth

            Some horrible person at my job from over two years ago got fired this week – I heard it through the grapevine of former employee. All I could think was “what goes around comes around” and hoped my glee at the news would not impact my karma too much.

            Reply
      2. Emily

        When my boss was fired, I knew ahead of time because his boss’s admin clued me in. She knew I was job searching and was hoping knowing my boss was in the process of getting fired would inspire me to stay (it didn’t).

        Reply
      3. AnnaBanana

        Interesting. I recently had to fire a member of my four person team and I felt it would be disrespectful to tell the other two before the guy who was being fired. I asked them to get offside because ‘I needed to have a difficult HR meeting’ – pretty sure they knew exactly what was going down but I didn’t actually tell them until afterwards (they were both very relieved that the problem had been dealt with)

        Reply
  9. Regretting my new job

    First: apologies for length, I am very frustrated and could really use some help. TL;DR, I started a job six weeks ago after moving to a new state and don’t like it very much but I’m not sure if I should stick it out due to a job-hopper-y resume or if I should just cut and run. Thanks for listening.

    I recently moved states due to my husband’s job (military). I work in, say, blue teapot sales and in my previous position was quite successful. I also enjoyed the work immensely, despite the long hours. One thing that greatly contributed to my enjoyment of the work was the fact that my boss trusted me to get my work done and didn’t track when I was in the office. (I realize this is how most salaried jobs are supposed to work, but he truly didn’t care when I was there as long as I got the work done, which he trusted I would–and I always did.)

    In my new state, I interviewed for a blue teapot sales manager position at a much larger and more formally corporate company than I had worked for previously. They also had a red teapot sales position open, which they offered to me when they hired someone else for the blue teapots position. I find red teapot sales somewhat boring, but the salary was good and I needed a job. Both my direct manager and the general manager explained that they knew this wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but that they loved my resume and wanted me on the team. The general manager in particular was concerned that I would just use this position as a way to get to the city we moved to, but I assured him we were moving here regardless due to my husband’s job and that I wasn’t just trying to get to the city at any cost. But my direct manager also talked at length about how she wants to help her reports grow their careers in the direction they want, and would absolutely help me move over to a blue teapot position once one became available again, so I was convinced to take the job.

    I was surprised to find upon receiving my formal offer that the “salary” they offered wasn’t technically a salary. Not only would I have to clock in and out, I would also have to work 47.5 hours/week in order to make the salary they had offered. Despite hating that idea, I accepted the job due to it being the only one on offer, and the fact that I did really want to work at this particular company.

    I’ve been in the job now for six weeks, and…I kinda hate it. Every morning I wake up and want to quit. My schedule is 7-4:30, M-F. I regularly worked more hours per week in my previous job than I do now, but they were spread out more (I worked a lot of weekends due to the nature of the job) and I could come and go as I pleased. Now, I feel watched, and as if I can’t be trusted to take care of what I need to do in the appropriate amount of time. And while the commute is a dream (15-20 minutes in the morning, a little more in the afternoon with traffic), the 9.5 hour workday EVERY DAY is killing me. If I was doing something I enjoyed, it might be different, but I find the job somewhat boring and the time-tracking oppressive.

    Before I even took the job, I asked if I could work 45 hours during the week and a couple hours on Saturdays and was told no; I asked if I could work only 45 hours total and take a pay cut, and I was told no. I am regretting taking the job now, which I only did because I was afraid of moving without a job to go to.

    There is some very minor flexibility in that we can basically choose our own schedules as long as we arrive by 8:30 every morning. For what it’s worth, I chose the schedule I did because I wanted to be able to go to the gym after work and be home before 9pm, and because I find getting up pretty much anytime before 7:30 horrible so starting an hour or so later wouldn’t make much of a difference in my hatred of the morning, whereas staying until 6pm or later would have a huge impact on my quality of life after work. But I find myself so exhausted after a 9.5-10 hour day that I’ve only made it to the gym once since I’ve started here, and I also feel terrible that my dog is alone all day since my husband works long hours as well. Not to mention that I suffer from migraines and seem to be getting more of them since I started the job. (I actually had to call in sick this morning due to having one of the worst migraines I’ve had in years.)

    I’m afraid this has become a self-fulfilling prophecy because I wasn’t overly excited about the job even when I accepted it, and I’ve tried to give it a good faith effort but I admit I came into it with an attitude of “well they didn’t think I was good enough for the job I wanted so I got the lame leftovers.” It doesn’t help that any concerns I’ve brought up to my boss, whether over the hours or struggles I’ve been having with cold calling or whatever, have been met with a flippant “well if you want to be in sales you’ll need to get used to it,” so I’ve been feeling very invalidated and as if helping me adjust to this new environment isn’t worth my boss’s time. (These concerns have not been brought up in formal meetings, just in passing, but it still makes me feel badly when they’re brushed off.)

    Another complicating factor here is that my longest job at this point has been about 18 months, with only one additional stay of over a year and a smattering of 10-11 month jobs, in addition to about a 10-month gap, all within the six years since I’ve graduated college. This is partially due both to being a military spouse and badly-timed layoffs (i.e. got laid off 10 months into a job when we had less than a year left in that particular city, which resulted in another 10 month stay somewhere else). I was looking forward to being at this company for a longer stay, but right now I don’t see that happening and hate the idea of having another resume gap.

    I guess what I’m asking is this: is six weeks enough to know that a job isn’t for you? I am still ramping up, so to speak, and won’t be given full responsibility (ie full sales goals) until December. Part of me wants to hold out until then to see if it gets better; another part wants to bail before my dislike of the job makes me fail at doing it for real; yet another part wants to do my absolute best and blow everyone out of the water and then, having proved myself, request a schedule adjustment. For what it’s worth, I get along with my coworkers and they’ve all been very helpful and pleasant while I’ve been onboarding, and I enjoy seeing them each day. But if I don’t love the job and hate the hours, are nice coworkers enough to stay? Is it worth trying to ask for a schedule change once I’ve proven myself, or is their initial inflexibility enough to assume they won’t budge even if I’m a high performer? Should I just cut and run (once I find something better, that is)? I’m so conflicted–I’ve never disliked a job so much right out of the gate before. I truly appreciate any advice and again, I apologize for the length of this screed–it’s been building up for several weeks!

    Reply
    1. Murphy

      I’d say that you have enough information to say this job isn’t for you. (It sounds awful.) And if you’re able to find something quickly, you don’t even have to put it on your resume as another short stay.

      Reply
      1. Chupalupe

        I think given that you have a husband in the military, it’s also a lot more understandable. But you have to be aware that you might not be able to get perfect matches all the time every time if you move around a lot. How long are you anticipating staying in the city you’re currently in?

        Reply
        1. Regretting my new job

          We’ll be here a minimum of two years, probably three, could potentially wrangle a fourth if we wanted (but depends on the whims of the military, obviously).

          Reply
    2. J

      Short answer: yep. Six weeks is more than long enough to know it’s not for you. There’s no harm is waiting until December to see if it gets better, but the elements that are unsatisfactory don’t seem like the kind of thing that will go away at that point.

      Is it worth talking to your supervisor about your dissatisfaction? I’m not sure what possibilities there might be for easing up on some of the more uncomfortable elements, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

      FWIW, I took a job last year because we were moving. While I loved that job and enjoyed my co-workers and boss, the commute was terrible. I lasted all of two weeks before I started looking elsewhere.

      Reply
      1. Regretting my new job

        I’ve thought about bringing things up with her, but I’m afraid that 1) I’ll get the “this is how this industry is and if you want to do this kind of job you just have to get used to it” speech (which isn’t true, because my last job was not like this at all) or 2) she’ll accuse me of taking the job under false pretenses or something (like the GM was afraid of) and try to push me out before I’m ready to leave or 3) she’ll just brush off my concerns like she has when I’ve brought them up less formally.

        I’ve thought about going to the doctor about my migraines and seeing if it’s worth requesting some sort of medical accommodation (shorter/more flexible hours, etc). The schedule is really the sticking point for me. If I didn’t have to get up in the dark every day and track my hours instead of being treated like an adult, I think I’d be a lot happier even if the job wasn’t exactly what I wanted.

        Reply
        1. Jadelyn

          It sounds like your job has some pretty serious issues and I absolutely don’t blame you for wanting to get out – especially since your boss doesn’t seem to actually care about your concerns! – but there’s one thing I notice that may be within your control to change and which could make this less worse for you until you can get out, and that’s your attitude toward having to track your time.

          On the one hand, I get it – I’m a very independent person as well, and I tend to work best when I feel like I have the freedom to plan and execute my work the way I think will work best for me. I’m not a huge fan of hourly time-tracking either. But a couple times in this thread I’ve seen you refer to the hourly/exempt divide as “being treated/not treated like an adult”, which 1: is perhaps unnecessarily harsh toward, y’know, actual adults who work in hourly roles, and 2: may be coloring your perception of your schedule even more negatively than it needs to be.

          Being hourly (or being exempt but having to track your time, it’s not quite clear to me which is the case from your OP) isn’t a reflection on you as a person or as an independent adult. It’s just their choice of how to manage employees’ schedules. It may not be the best choice for your role! It may be really dumb of them to do it this way, and it sounds like that’s probably the case tbh. But it’s the choice they’ve made. And it might make things easier for you or lessen some of the resentment you seem to have toward your employer if you were able to mentally reframe the time-tracking thing as just an internal process of this company – one you thoroughly and understandably dislike, of course, but not them treating you like a child/failing to treat you like an adult.

          Reply
          1. Regretting my new job

            I’m technically classified as an “overtime eligible manager,” but I only get paid for the hours I work so I guess I’m hourly.

            I appreciate this perspective and have been battling with it myself. It’s just that every hourly job I’ve had, which is really just this one and another part time one a couple years ago, have been infantalizing in that if you don’t make your hours exactly, or you go one minute over, or your break is too long or too short, you get a nastygram from HR/accounting. Everyone in my office is stressed out about making their hours. It just seems like an unnecessary and invasive thing to worry about on top of an already stressful job. And it’s a relatively new thing, too, put in place before that overtime rule was about to go through and then never changed back when it didn’t. And to add insult to injury, the “salary” they offered me was well above the new threshold anyway, so why do I need to be hourly in the first place?

            Considering the nature of my job, it makes a lot more sense (in my mind) to be able to work as much as I need to in order to get the job done. Not only does this allow me to work more hours when needed (because we’re supposed to work 47.5 hours, no more no less), it also allows me freedom to have a life outside of work during slow periods when I will just be sitting there twiddling my thumbs. I had to work on Labor Day (because we don’t get paid holidays either, so it was either work or take the day unpaid) and I literally sat at my desk and crocheted and listened to Welcome to Night Vale all day.

            Maybe it’s just me but I don’t think a job should be that way. =\

            Reply
            1. Not So NewReader

              Honestly, this sounds like a retail job. Which is why so many retailers have problems keeping help.

              Unless you can find a way to console yourself, you may have to leave the job. Lots of people find a way to make do, not necessarily happy about it but they make do. (Not trying to say there is something wrong if you can’t, I am just saying that it can be done even though it’s not enjoyable.)

              It looks like you leave the house with in one hour of waking? I used to do that and I found I “missed” my house too much. I actually needed to be up a couple hours before going to work or it felt like all I did was work and sleep.
              Another thing you might consider is skipping the gym in favor taking the dog for a walk.

              I think the part that bothers me the most is your boss is not supporting you. She did not want you hired and now she is failing to provide support. It is like she is setting you up to fail. That to me is a deal breaker.
              I don’t think that working your butt off to gain enough favor so that you have better hours is a viable plan here. These are rigid, thankless folks and they probably will not change. If you are going to run at this job with all you have, do it for reasons that are not contingent on the actions of other people. Specifically, do it because it helps you meet your personal goals at this time. Perhaps you need to build a nest egg or pay down some bills, that might be a good reason for making lemonade here.

              Reply
              1. Regretting my new job

                She did want me hired, that’s the thing. It felt like they were begging me to take this job and then when I asked for a couple of things in return, they told me no. I probably should have just walked away at that point, but I was so paranoid about not having a job that I didn’t feel I could do that.

                If I were to spend a couple hours in the house before leaving in the morning, I’d be getting up at 4:30am. That is a big no. Getting up at 6 to leave at 6:30 is hard enough, I’m not gonna wake up at 4:30 or 5 just to sit around in my house before I leave in the morning.

                It’s not a retail job–it’s a sales job in an office with a large, internationally known company. In a position that was normally salaried until that overtime rule was about to pass, so they changed everything, and then the rule didn’t go through but they didn’t change things back.

                I think you (and most of the other commenters) are right that I’m going to have to leave, it’s just so hard for me to give up on something so quickly. I hate feeling like a quitter.

                Reply
    3. Liz2

      I’d say you can definitely know it’s not for you, but you really need to look at your screening processes better.

      “the salary was good and I needed a job” is a fine criteria, and that’s exactly what you have now.

      Moving is always hard even if it’s part of the normal life of a service person. Unless a dream job drops into your lap, I’d say just do what you can to fill your life with awesomeness and after 2 years, go seeking the job that is fulfilling, not just the paycheck.

      Reply
      1. Regretting my new job

        I agree with you about my screening process. I was blinded by wanting so badly to work for this company that I thought I could make the hours work against my better instincts (plus I was really scared of moving without a job). Maybe I shouldn’t have been, but I’ve never done it before and even though we can afford to live on my husband’s salary, we’re much more comfortable with two incomes. The only time I’ve moved without a job was when we were only going to be stationed somewhere about 10 months so it didn’t make much sense for me to try to get a job…and after two months not working I was going CRAZY. I didn’t want that to happen again :(

        Reply
          1. Not So NewReader

            Agreed. And work on your self-talk. You are not helping yourself by forcing yourself into places where you think you will fail. Encourage yourself to take jobs where it looks pretty good that you will succeed.
            I could be off base here but it looks like you gave yourself a good hard scare for no real reason. Granted, staying home for ten months is not fun, but it’s not fatal either. Decide that if you ever get “stuck” at home again you will use your time wisely, you will fill your days by scheduling free online classes, volunteering and so on. Or maybe you could find a work from home position that would travel with you and moving would be less hassle.
            In short, it never goes well when we let our emotions make decisions for us. Decide that instead of panic you will build actual plans of things to try.

            Reply
    4. anna green

      I had this whole answer planned saying it didn’t seem that bad etc. etc. because my brain automatically corrected your hours to 37.5, which seemed reasonable. Then I finally realized you said 47.5 required for a salary and you are clocking in, etc. And yeah that sounds like it sucks. I don’t know what to tell you to do. It never hurts to look around and see what other options there are.

      Reply
    5. Koko

      You sound pretty miserable, and also it sounds like your previous short stays weren’t as much related to just not liking the job – your job either disappeared, or you had to move. Those don’t count so much in terms of alarming an employer as long as you could assure them your husband is assigned to this location for at least a year/2 years/whatever.

      I’d say at minimum, start looking! You have nothing to lose by seeing what’s out there. Maybe you won’t see anything better out there, but maybe you will! Maybe you won’t get the job you apply for, but maybe you will! At least start a search, apply if you see anything good, and see what your options really are. On the chance that you come to not mind your job so much, you can always change your mind and decide to stay later. But you need to have options available to you so you can make that choice and not just be stuck where you are by default.

      Reply
      1. Happy Lurker

        +1 – start looking. Don’t let the boss or GM or anyone “guilt” you into staying. Cite health reasons, if you must, when you finally find another job and/or have had enough that you just quit. Make a plan to get out, it will help you feel better about the situation.

        Reply
    6. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      Frankly, I think you’re better off leaving now. You can leave this job off your resume entirely and not have to contend with an additional blow to your “job-hoppery resume.” Your relocation is explanation enough for being out of work at the moment.

      Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        This is a really great point – no need to have a short stay on the resume if you leave pretty quickly, and relocating because of the military is a pretty easily understandable excuse for a gap in your resume.

        Reply
    7. Alice

      If the job is making you sick (and from the sounds of it, it is), leave and don’t look back. You gave it your best effort, but i’d say the increase in migraines, and being tired all the time is your body’s way of telling you this isn’t a good fit. Why prolong the agony. If asked in an interivew, you can honestly say that the job wasn’t a good fit. No harm, no foul.

      Reply
    8. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

      You know this job isn’t right for you. Start looking for other options.

      As far as your job-hopping, I don’t think that is as much of an issue if you address that you are a military spouse in your cover letter.

      Reply
    9. Michelle

      I knew once on the first day that the job wasn’t for me! The hiring process went well, everyone seemed positive and then on the first day, complete 180. The “training” was 3 inch, 3 ring binder I was supposed to sit in a little room and read. The manager/owner left at lunch and forget to tell me that I was suppose to cover the front, then had a meltdown when she got back. I waited for her to calm down, then went to her office and told her that taking this job was a mistake and I hoped she could find someone else, but I would not be returning. I also told her that she should make a reminder in her calendar to let the new person know that they were supposed to cover her when she left and actually TELL them. She must have been in shock because she just sat threw with her mouth slightly open, did not speak a word or make a sound so I just left.

      Maybe start looking around now because you sound miserable. Good luck!

      Reply
      1. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs

        Not going to lie, I pictured you walking out with all sorts of fireworks and fanfare after that. Polite and to the point way of doing it–thanks for sharing!

        Reply
    10. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs

      Even if some of the other things change, it sounds like the hours won’t. It’s a bad fit. It’s not the job itself, it’s the hours that are killing you. You thought the hours might be tolerable for you, they aren’t. No point dragging it out a few more months. Have you thought about the type of track record you’d need to get the hours you want? I’m not in sales, but it seems like that may be a year or more down the road. Can you see yourself doing this shift that long without significant impact on your health/wellness/relationship?

      The manager (or the GM) is going to believe what they want anyway after you leave–do what’s best for you.

      Right now it’s short enough you could leave it off your resume (as others have mentioned).

      Good luck!

      Reply
      1. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs

        Sorry, that seems a bit pointed–it’s not supposed to be. It’s more of, “with everything considered, will you be happy continuing on?” In a questioning tone. Working on my wording, as always…

        And–yes, I would say six weeks is more than enough. When my last job had an upheaval (reorg and staffing changes, new management), I knew in about a month that it wasn’t going to work for me anymore. I went back and forth on if I was being too harsh because maybe it was just the change in style and I was being stubborn, maybe I should give it more time, etc.

        I stayed another 8 months or so (I did look in the meantime) and it didn’t change for the better. If I could do it over again, I would have ramped up my search and left even earlier.

        Reply
    11. MissDisplaced

      Well… sometimes you can give yourself a PASS. One short-lived job does not qualify as a “job hopper” and it sounds like you got more of a bait and switch with the salary. Any reasonable hiring manager would understand that, especially if you’ve come from out of state too.
      I say if you can afford to quit, quit. Now that you have moved, it will be easier to search in new state/city.

      Reply
    12. Competent Commenter

      Not to disagree with all the other advice here, but as a complementary perspective: when I recently started my job, I was exhausted every day. It was so much work to interface with new people, new space, and you’re also in a new town. So maybe if you do end up sticking it out a bit longer, some of that will die down as you acclimate. This is not to deny your feelings about the job, though.

      Reply
      1. Regretting my new job

        I’ve considered this as well. I just don’t know how long it’s supposed to take for me to get used to this, the hours in particular. I mean, I had to be at the bus stop for high school at 6:15 every morning for FOUR YEARS and I never got used to it. I’m just not an early riser and I never have been. There are literally home videos of me as a kid on Christmas morning where my parents came into my room to wake me up and I was STILL GRUMPY despite the fact that I was a kid and it was Christmas. That is how much of a morning person I’m not.

        Reply
  10. Savannnah

    I gave notice in June to my dysfunctional boss that I would be leaving in February. He asked me to keep quiet to our team of 5 full time plus 20 part time direct reports of mine so they don’t ‘freak out’ and I am wondering how long I should wait to tell my coworkers. He is the director and I’m the unofficial assistant director and the only other salaried person on our team. I’m in the middle of overseeing a 5 year merger which is lifting off in January. I’m also taking off 3 weeks for my honeymoon in December and getting anxious about finding a replacement for my position before then so I have time to train them in our very specialized field. He has made zero moves to recruit someone or even let our grand boss know about the notice, even though our HR dept is inept and it takes months to hire someone once they are identified. How much time do I owe to him before it becomes unfair to my coworkers, who are not trained to do the work I am doing? My position is not easily filled and I don’t want to seem like I’m somehow screwing with my coworkers.

    Reply
    1. Liz2

      None. I’ve never personally seen a case where giving extra notice ends up being a good outcome for the employee.

      Two weeks notice, that’s all.

      Reply
    2. Kim Possible

      You could go back to your boss and ask him if it makes sense to tell your coworkers that you’re leaving at this time (or at X time in the near future). But ultimately, you can’t allow his lack of protectiveness to replace you to worry you. If he doesn’t give you a reasonable amount of time to train your replacement before you leave, that’s his problem.

      Reply
    3. The IT Manager

      Well, it’s not your responsibility to stay on until they hire your replacement and you finish training them. It does sound like your disfunctional boss is throwing away your very generous warning of your departure.

      If you think it won’t result in being pushed out, you should think about telling either your boss’s boss or HR so that one of them might light a fire under your boss to start searching for your replacement. I’d give your boss another push, but then go over his head or around them.

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

      You could use your impending honeymoon as an excuse to start cross-training your coworkers and documenting your job duties. Presumably they already know about that. Even if you weren’t leaving you should have someone who is trained to cover/replace you at any time.

      Reply
    5. Snark

      I think you’ve already given him more notice and time than is reasonable or typical, and if he can’t get out of his own way, that is a problem for him to solve – not you. You are not responsible for filling your own position, and if he screws your coworkers, that’s on him. Not your circus, not your monkeys.

      Reply
    6. Target Shopper

      This happened to me once.

      I gave several months notice and was asked to keep it quiet until closer to my departure date so the company could “handle the message”. It blew up when a not in my department coworker who I barely knew made an off hand comment about my upcoming departure while presenting at an all company meeting. He found out by overhearing my boss talking to another manager and thought it was common knowledge! No one blamed me because I was clearly shocked at the way everyone found out. It was very clear how it all went down to my coworkers.

      But, they didn’t start LOOKING until then and didn’t hire someone until my last week. I did the best I could to train them and left the rest up to my boss.

      In short, your coworkers won’t think you’re screwing them…they know who makes the hiring decisions and holds the screwdriver.

      Reply
    7. neverjaunty

      You already know your boss is dysfunctional. There is no reason to suppose his request or his reasoning for you to keep quiet about leaving is any less dysfunctional.

      Also, seriously, ‘so they don’t freak out’ is a dumb reason. He just doesn’t want to deal with the fact that you’re leaving and if nobody else knows, on some level he can pretend you’re not. (I had a boss like this.) You’ve given him PLENTY of time to give the word to higher-ups. It’s long past time for you to let others know so THEY can plan.

      Reply
    8. Turquoise Cow

      If your grand boss is more competent and reasonable than this one sounds, I’d consider talking to him directly. Someone needs to be able to plan more long-term, and it kind of sounds like your boss is in denial, or is thinking of the situation as really far away and he doesn’t have to deal with it right now.

      Reply
    9. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs

      Do you have it documented that you gave notice? I’d be a bit concerned he hasn’t notified anyone (HR in addition to the GrandBoss).

      Also, doing documentation/cross-training is always sound if you can do it. They may not find a good candidate until after you are gone anyway. You can call it the lottery plan* for your group and start doing that for all the critical tasks (not just yours).

      *lottery plan instead of “hit by a bus plan”. Sounds less morbid. Also, in my head I call it the “see ya suckers!” plan. :D

      Reply
    10. Camellia

      He hasn’t let Grand Boss know yet???? I would definitely “tell” Grand Boss by making some small allusion to your departure in a matter of fact, of-course-you-know-because-boss-told-you, way. Then you can act suitably shocked to find out that he didn’t!
      That may prevent burning bridges at the Grand Boss level and may get you a better reference. If you don’t say anything and Grand Boss is blind-sided, I’m sure Boss will blame you and claim that you screwed them on the notice.

      Reply
  11. FDCA In Canada

    I’ve been dealing with a company that I’m very interested in–it’s an opportunity to work 100% from home at a good wage doing something I’d be good at. I did great on the phone screen, great on the written exercise, and on Tuesday the recruiter asked if I was available for an in-person interview Friday (today). That would involve a little travel for me, but I was, and then….radio silence. I emailed her back saying yes on Wednesday morning, then again yesterday, then finally called yesterday evening–because I needed to know whether or not I had an interview this morning! She got back to me saying that there had been an issue with the hiring team and they needed to push it back to next week, which was fine, so OK. The recruiter works with a number of companies, not just this one, and I’m wondering–is a somewhat unresponsive recruiter at all a signal about what the job itself will be like? I’m thinking no, but I’m going to be able to ask a lot of my questions in-person next week with a fine-tooth comb. I’ve got another job offer in my back pocket, so I’m not as concerned as I was, but this remote job would be much better–work from home, better pay, better hours, etc., so I’m hoping it shakes out for me despite the recruiter’s flakiness. I’ve never worked with one before–I’ve only ever interviewed with the managers who would become my actual managers–so this is all new here.

    Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        Even if she’s an internal recruiter, unless you’re applying for a job in HR or recruiting, it’s not necessarily all that indicative of what a job elsewhere in the organization would be like.

        Reply
    1. Natasha

      I’ve talked to a few flaky recruiters. It can be frustrating, but I guess there’s flaky people in every field (it was hardest dealing with flaky leasing managers when looking for an apartment). If you have another job offer, though, maybe mention that because she might pass that on to the company and they might decide to interview you sooner.

      Reply
  12. LSP

    Does anyone have any advice about switching fields? I’m a project manager with most of my experience in government, and a background in communications. I have wanted to work in the nonprofit for ages, but without much free time to volunteer, I’m not sure how to make that transition. It seems most nonprofits don’t hire project managers per se, but there do seem to be a number of transferable skills.

    Reply
    1. Chupalupe

      I’m a non-profit program manager – we hire a ton of people from government. I’d actually pretty much consider it the same field given that so many organizations work very closely with governments due to funding. If you don’t want to stay within the program operations sphere, I’d look into proposal development – they usually specifically look for people with government experience.

      Reply
        1. Chupalupe

          You can take courses on grant writing; they’re usually pretty short and not very expensive. What kind of non-profit do you want to go into?

          You can also offer to volunteer for a small non-profit that may not be even hiring for a volunteer if that makes sense? I have a friend who approached our local library with an offer to help them get grant funding – they were very grateful and hadn’t even considered that they would be eligible for funds. She was able to leverage that into a part-time paid position, and they brought her on full-time about a year ago. Grant funds can often pay for your time (the first grant she applied for and won pays her salary), so that’s easier to pitch to an organization.

          Reply
          1. LSP

            That’s interesting. I’m getting over an injury from a car accident right now, which is taking up a lot of my free time (physical therapy), so this may be something I could maybe start on in the new year.

            I’m pretty broadly interested in nonprofits that assist people in need, weather it be health-related or food security-based, etc. I have some personal experience with losing more than one very close loved one to cancer (leukemia in particular) and it would mean a lot to me to be able to work for an organization that focuses on that, but right now, I really just want to get experience in the nonprofit field, and eventually find a position in an organization with that focus.

            Reply
    2. Koko

      At larger nonprofits project managers are pretty common. My 600-person org has a lot of them, especially in comms-related areas (membership, web team, digital marketing, marcomm, advocacy).

      Reply
      1. LSP

        My problem is that I am a 2-hour commute from the nearest big city where there would likely be a host of large nonprofits with opportunities. Maybe if I were earlier in my career (younger) and didn’t have a family, that would be something I would consider, but I know my limits, so I’m trying to find something with no more than a 45-minute commute. The area I live in isn’t rural by any means, but most of the nonprofits around here tend to be smaller.

        Are there other titles that I should look for that might mean project manager, but are more commonly used in the nonprofit field?

        Reply
        1. Koko

          Some of them do have Project Manager titles. On our digital team the senior folks in charge of social media and publish web content are known as Digital Project Managers or similar. In membership the people responsible for trafficking work and keeping projects on schedule are known as Production Managers. Advocacy has a Campaign Communications Manager.

          Within the program departments, Program Manager is common, and usually a bit senior to Project Manager roles but it’s not necessarily a career track to go from Proj Manage > Prog Manager. Program Managers do PM-type work but usually are overseeing more projects at a higher level than Project Managers, who tend to focus more narrowly on one project.

          Program Specialists also can often have PM-type work, though that’s such a generic nonprofit title you’d want to really check the job description to verify. (Among other similar titles, Program Associates, Coordinators, and Assistants are typically doing more administrative work, on the other hand.)

          Most but not all jobs here that start with “Manager, [whatever]” indicates some type of project management role rather than a people management role. Those people often supervise a couple of junior employees who do the work of the projects. The people who are really doing mostly people management have “Senior Manager,” “Director,”or “Managing Director,” at the front of their titles.

          Reply
        2. H.C.

          Associates and coordinators are also common titles for people who do project management work – but they’re usually in specific fields (e.g. Communication Associate, Development Coordinator); also, be sure to vet the “coordinator” openings – which is sometimes used for admins.

          Reply
  13. Ms. Meow

    How do I get someone to stop starting questions with “Okay, I have a stupid question…”?

    Background: we’re young women Ph.Ds in a scientific field. I’m 2 years older than her and supervise her work (I assign and review tasks, but don’t actually manager her). She’s a hard working and talented chemist, but I feel like she discredits herself by saying that. I know if any of my older male peers supervised her, they would not see her in a good light if she came to them with self-proclaimed “stupid questions”. I want to break her of that habit. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    1. ZSD

      She might not even realize she’s doing it. I’d sit with her and say, “I’ve noticed you have a verbal tic you might not be aware of. You tend to preface each question you have with, ‘I have a stupid question.’ Your questions aren’t at all stupid, and I’m worried that you’re painting yourself in a bad light by introducing them that way. You might want to work on breaking the habit.”

      Reply
      1. Akcipitrokulo

        Agreed. Just tell her. Point out it affects how she is seen – and also reflects on the team as a whole.

        She probably doesn’t notice or feels awkward asking – some reassurance that it’s OK to ask questions, and a couple of suggested alternate intros “I have a question…” “Can I confirm that…” can help.

        Reply
        1. Turkletina

          I’ve had some success training myself to say “naïve question” instead of “stupid question” when I ask about things that seem really basic. Re-framing it in terms of not having a lot of experience with X lets people know that I’m thinking about the rationale behind X and that I’m aware of what I don’t know.

          Reply
      2. K.

        Yep. I did this with a woman I worked with who prefaced nearly everything she said with “Sorry, but …” She was younger and junior to me but didn’t report to me, and I felt like she was undermining herself right out of the gate. It was a verbal tic – she knew she did it but didn’t realize how often.

        I have a colleague who’s a former lawyer and she said one of the first things she did when she started practicing was to refrain from apologizing unless she was actually apologizing for wrongdoing, because she couldn’t be in court prefacing her statements with “Sorry, but …” and expect to be taken seriously.

        Reply
    2. Snark

      I would be, and have been, pretty blunt with issues like this. She’s not coming off well and she’s devaluing herself and her contributions. I’d tell her you’ve noticed the tic, tell her it’s going to harm her career and reputation if she keeps it up, and strongly advise her to find a different framing.

      Reply
      1. Snark

        What is the deal with this? I’ve known several women, usually younger, usually in technical fields, who do this, and they seemingly have no idea how badly it comes off, and how much that lack of confidence in one’s question also undermines others’ confidence in them.

        Reply
        1. LCL

          Ah, it’s the wishy washy apology phrasing we (women) pick up if we’re not careful. Interestingly, when used by a man or someone in authority, it can come across as very sarcastic, like the questioner is really saying to the questionee ‘explain how this stupid thing you just suggested can ever work.’ Best just to tell her what she is doing and to stop.

          Reply
        2. Ms. Meow

          Personally, I know women in STEM fields who do this because prefacing a question with the fact that it may be stupid is much easier than being called stupid by someone (usually older and male). Women get “trained” to do this in graduate programs where tenured professors who think they’re god’s gift will crap on any idea that they think is unworthy. But that’s just what I’ve experienced.

          Reply
          1. Lenore

            Yep! This is why I do it. If I acknowledge it’s a stupid question (though it’s usually not), then I can often bypass someone else saying it’s a stupid question.

            Reply
            1. Ducky

              Plus, it helps keep insecure men from feeling like you’re “attacking” them when you have a question. If I ask “Why did you make the teapots blue?” they might think I’m attacking their plan and think blue is absolutely the wrong color and oh god, here come the “Ducky shuts people down” complaints again. If I ask “This is probably a stupid question, but why did you make the teapots blue?” they relax because clearly I just need another explanation.

              Happens all the time in IT, unfortunately. I hate that I have to soften my language, but I undeniably have less friction when I do. Without management to back up speaking directly, there’s nothing I can do about it. :(

              Reply
                1. Camellia

                  Also, it’s a command and not a question, which I think projects a stronger image without having to run over people.

          2. Not So NewReader

            I had a male boss who used this expression and it did not look good on him either. When he prefaced his questions this way, we knew it was one of two things: 1) the question was actually stupid or 2) we were in a heap of crap. Either way the urge to strangle him came up at the very start of the phrase.

            A good rule of thumb is that any phrase which is used routinely is probably going to wear on people in some manner and probably never in the speaker’s favor. I would also be careful about using the “help me to understand” phrasing mentioned below for similar reasons. That same boss would use this phrasing also and it always made me wonder why his questions needed these crutches.

            Reply
        3. medium of ballpoint

          A lot of it is trained behavior from a dysfunctional system. Academic hard science/tech programs can be absolutely brutal on women and they learn at the tricks they can to get through in one piece, which are often about protecting/soothing someone else’s ego. Sometimes they still serve a purpose in the work world, depending on the people and environment. Otherwise, it’s just an ingrained behavior.

          Reply
        4. Jadelyn

          It’s a preemptive defense mechanism, possibly with a touch of Imposter Syndrome in there. “If I start by calling my question stupid, you can feel magnanimous about helping me with it, whereas if I present it as a reasonable question and you decide it’s stupid, you’re going to berate or mock me for it.” Learned behavior from a sick system that leaves many women with damned if you do/damned if you don’t behaviors like this. And, since in order to unlearn it you have to be ready to face down jerks who want to tell you you’re asking stupid questions, the Imposter Syndrome part becomes a problem because you struggle to have the confidence to stand up for yourself and your questions and your ideas.

          Reply
    3. Overeducated

      Oh man. I sometimes do that because I’ve switched from my research field to an applied setting where sometimes I don’t KNOW if something is a stupid question – the people I work with have less academic background than I do but significantly more knowledge of relevant law and institutional process, and I get nervous that if I ask “why can’t we X?” or “how do we Y?” they’ll be like “what a moron, everybody knows that.” So I guess I try to head that off by being humble about my level of knowledge, which may be what she’s trying to do. But it probably isn’t helping to start off that way, and pointing it out might be enough to make a difference.

      Reply
      1. Snark

        You can still preface things if you feel you need to – “So, I’m still getting up to speed on the legal context, why do we need to do this X way?”

        But honestly? Prefacing with self-deprecating language is probably more offputting than just asking the question.

        Reply
        1. Overeducated

          Thanks. I will try to be more aware of it. Presenting myself as not an eternal beginner is a weakness I am working on in general – I may have transitioned a bit but I still know stuff!

          Reply
          1. Snark

            I find that those of us who spent a lot of time chasing advanced degrees tend to have that eternal beginner attitude ingrained really, really deeply.

            Reply
            1. raisedeyebrow

              Ugh, I feel this. I tend to preface a lot with, “This may be a silly question, but” and it’s a habit that I’m trying to break myself of. I pick it up in grad school because the men in my program were particularly vicious to the women–I once had a male peer TA for a lower-level graduate class I was taking in an area I was new to, and during a quiz I straight up had a panic attack because he was leaning back in a chair, arms behind his head, staring right at me and smirking. He also ignored us (the women) if we tried to ask questions in that class. And he wasn’t the only problem! I could write a freaking book.

              Anyway… I know it’s a bad habit, but man, I picked it up so I could survive those years of hell without being berated every 10 seconds.

              Reply
            2. raisedeyebrow

              I’m sorry, I completely got off track when I got so hoppin’ mad remembering about my graduate experience. I meant to say, “Yes, I agree with your comment about the eternal beginner attitude.”

              Sigh. Someday remembering my degree won’t sting so intensely…

              Reply
    4. rageismycaffeine

      I’m 100% guilty of doing this, myself. Thanks for posting about this – it’s a good reminder for me to be aware of my own tendencies.

      Reply
    5. Lora

      Ha! I still do this. Although I find it actually helps people to view me as nonthreatening, because usually the question that comes after it usually has implications of “why haven’t you done this yet?” and “do you even know what you are doing?” and “what is this, 1982?” so I tend to frame things as ignorance and genuinely wanting to learn.

      Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        “What is this, 1982?” Oh, I hear you there. My parent company’s attitude toward tech solutions and automating processes tends to be “Why should we?” where my company’s attitude is “Why wouldn’t we?” and so I’m perpetually having to nudge people at the parent company to start getting with the times (I joke, privately with my immediate team, that I’m going to drag this company into the 21st century kicking and screaming if necessary) without actually coming out and saying “You’re still doing things as though it were 30 years ago, can we please start doing things the modern way?”

        Reply
    6. Trout 'Waver

      Chemist here. When I have to ask a question that might step on toes, I use “I’m not sure if I’m asking the right question here, but……” if I’m unsure about my question. If I’m asking something that seems painfully obvious to me, I ask, “Feel free to shoot me down if someone has already suggested this, but have we tried……”

      Maybe giving her alternate language might help?

      Reply
      1. fposte

        The thing is, if I’ve talked to you about prefacing behavior, I’d be unhappy to see those–they’re still prefacing behavior. The goal isn’t alternate language; it’s declarative sentences.

        Reply
        1. Trout 'Waver

          There’s a difference between self-deprecating and prefacing. Prefacing is necessary sometimes. Sometimes you really have to ask if people tried the obvious or you’re feeling out what the right question to ask is. Being blunt and direct can be seen as being difficult, and not just for women.

          Reply
          1. fposte

            But it’s still prefacing, even if you don’t consider it self-deprecating; if you’re being told to do less of it, changing it up isn’t a solution.

            I don’t think it’s a problem to do this sometimes; lots of people do. But if an employee uses prefacing behavior overfrequently in her questions, your suggestions aren’t going to mitigate the problem; she needs to change it up so she doesn’t sound like she’s always focusing on possible responses when she asks a question.

            Reply
    7. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs

      Hm. Seems close to the “Sorry” that’s not needed or “just” whatever. Just tell her–she may not notice (or she may not realize how bad it is)! It’s feedback just like anything else you’d give her.

      Here’s my script:

      “I’ve noticed you tend to preface most of your questions with ‘I have a stupid question’. It’s something that can make people dismiss your question before you even ask it, and you ask good questions! I worry it will impact your career because people will take you less seriously regardless of the good work you are doing. Can you work on not using that, or substituting a different sentence like, ‘I’ve got a question, please let me know when you have a minute?’ “

      Reply
    8. Chaordic One

      The advice offered by the others here is sound. When she gets around to asking her question, answer it thoughtfully, completely and respectfully. If and when she realizes that questions are not (usually) stupid, she’ll get over this annoying bad habit.

      Reply
  14. Danger: Gumption Ahead

    We are hiring again and the resumes are killing me. I want to e-mail a bunch of the candidates this website. We are only on the first set passed through by HR and we have a 7 pager from someone who just finished school, fancy, flashy formatting that attempts to hide the lack of content, use of the first person, and some folks who clearly didn’t read the job description. I don’t know how HR folks do it. I’d go insane and I am only seeing the ones that were good enough to get sent on!

    Reply
    1. rageismycaffeine

      Holy crap yes. I can’t believe how terrible the stuff I’ve gotten with my current vacancy has been. And to your note about the folks who have just finished school – don’t they have career offices in universities? Are people just not making good use of them or are they that bad??

      Reply
      1. JN

        Not all universities do. The one I graduated from had one at that time, then dropped it a few years later, but now I’ve heard has since reestablished it. And the university I work at now has only had a career center for the past year (they may have had one in the past but if so had probably closed it as a cost-saving measure). So it’s possible that these students truly don’t have a place on campus that they can go to for career advice. It’s also possible that they’re getting bad advice from professors, peers, and relatives.

        Reply
    2. Lucille B.

      I went through over 500 resumes looking for an entry-level office assistant last month, and it just about drove me mad. I have to post again for a temporary billing clerk now and I am terrified of the hot garbage I will get. It’s so clear to me that people are just mass-submitting terrible resumes to every job posting, hoping someone will bite at some point. Who is biting?! Don’t they realize that they are screwing the rest of us over?!

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Look at as they’re making it easier for you to be noticed if you have a good resume and cover letter. (It’s one reason why I’m frustrated when people are skeptical that good cover letters really matter. If they could see how easily it would make them stand out from most other applicants, they would get it.)

        Reply
        1. Jadelyn

          I’m helping a manager hire for a trio of high-level specialist positions as we’re working on establishing a new team in our lending group, and when we reviewed the first batch of resumes he asked why so many were lacking cover letters. All I could do was kinda shrug and say “We request them in our instructions for applying, but people often ignore that. Just take it as, the lack of cover letter says something about the candidate, just as a good cover letter would say something about them.” I really don’t get why people seem to be moving away from cover letters – why would you waste an opportunity to contextualize your resume and humanize yourself by speaking directly to the hiring manager??

          Reply
          1. JamieS

            I’ll answer that. No job I apply for is writing intensive, you already know I’m human, nothing in my resume that needs context won’t inevitably be brought up in the interview and I don’t like repeating myself, and cover letters provide zero actual evidence someone is passionate (which I’ve gathered managers care about) or competent. It also gives an unfair advantage to people provided with a better education even when the job doesn’t require such a level of education. However that’s a topic for another day and not relevant to my personal vitriol towards them.

            All that being said it’s ridiculous cover letters aren’t provided when specifically asked for. How can someone expect to be hired if they can’t even apply correctly?! Heck I truly despise them but I’d still write them because I know it’s currently part of job searching. I don’t like it but I acknowledge it.

            Reply
        2. Danger: Gumption Ahead

          Our system doesn’t take cover letters, so we just get resumes. However, I strongly expect that the correlation between bad resume and bad cover letter is strong.

          Reply
          1. Gaia

            I once got a “cover letter” that was this, literally, word for word

            [Job Title @ Company]

            Hi

            You should hire me. I would like this job.

            Thx

            [Candidate Name]

            Reply
        3. Gaia

          One time, I was hiring for a sales support position. I got a cover letter that was completely and totally for a software design engineer. At first I thought “oh no, this person sent me the wrong cover letter! Gosh, I bet if they noticed they are frustrated!”

          And then I read the last line, which said: “I know this is for a software design engineer, but it is my cover letter so I figured I’d send it.”

          Sigh.

          Reply
      2. nep

        This makes me crazy to hear — given how much time and attention I spend with each resume and cover letter. Not that I’m complaining about that time; I wouldn’t have it any other way. What I put out there has to be as good as I can make it. But to hear that such crap is coming in…I wonder when I’ll finally get a bite. (Apparently what I’m sending still needs a lot of work. Back at it…)

        Reply
        1. Floundering Mander

          It’s rather disheartening, isn’t it? I am applying for lower level jobs sometimes, as I’d be happy to be an admin assistant if it meant not being unemployed, and I always spend at least a day tailoring my cover letter and CV to the job. Not a single bite.

          Makes me think I must be utterly delusional and my materials are garbage.

          Reply
    3. That other anon

      I had one with a cover letter this week that included this gem “I’m not really interested in this position, I just want to get my foot in the door.” I can’t even understand the thought process that went into that.

      Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        I literally gasped and put my hand over my mouth. That’s right up there for “why would you say that??” with the diatribe I got from a woman applying for a position that requires Spanish/English bilingual fluency (due to the demographics of our clients and this being a direct client-facing role), demanding to know how we dared call ourselves an equal opportunity employer when we will only hire someone who speaks Spanish, and clearly we mean we only hire Latinos, and she speaks Spanish because she learned it in high school but that probably won’t be good enough for us. I was like “…you know, if you’d just said you speak Spanish, I wouldn’t have cared where you learned it?” But I couldn’t fathom what would make her think that was a good way to get consideration for her application.

        Reply
    4. JustaCPA

      OMG the DISASTERS! We are STILL looking for an admin for my company – a part time to full time position with AMAZING benefits, decent salary etc. Ideal for someone just out of a college or a mom reentering the workforce. We’ve been looking for THREE months and NOTHING. The quality of candidates is… dare I say it? deplorable.

      Reply
      1. Happy Lurker

        I blame it on indeed, monster, etc. It’s so easy for people to click and send with no effort that they don’t even bother to read the job posting. Like AAM said above, it makes it so easy to quickly weed out the junk. It’s just that…it’s all junk and nothing good to notice!

        Reply
      2. Koko

        I don’t have experience with this, but I’m wondering about the PT-to-FT aspect and if that’s putting people off.

        I would think most people are either looking for full-time work or not. If they want FT work, they probably need FT pay so they aren’t eager to take a job that starts off PT if they can get one that is FT (with FT salary) right from the start.

        OTOH, if they can get by on PT salary, they may be ruling out any job that is heading towards FT because they don’t want to work many hours.

        PT-to-FT seems like the kind of job someone who wants FT work would take in a very bad job market like we had 5-10 years ago where they aren’t likely to be able to find a FT job right away, so earning PT salary is better than earning nothing. The job market has improved quite a bit and people may just be passing on this idea to go straight for FT work.

        Again, I’ve not really hired for or even worked for a company that did a PT-to-FT hire so maybe there are other reasons besides a crummy job market that make people apply for those jobs, but if you’re having trouble finding candidates, that might be one thing to look at – if you list it as PT only or FT from the beginning, maybe you’d get more bites.

        Reply
        1. JN

          If the goal is to have it end up as a full-time position, is there a way that it can just be advertised as that? I’m not sure what the rationale or necessity of having it start out as a part-time position is. It also might make a difference to applicants how long the job would stay at part-time before making that shift (is that included in the job listing?) or if benefits will be included from the start or not.

          I’ve been job hunting for months now (I still like my job/coworkers/boss/area/etc–just need a higher salary). If a job listing is part-time, I back out of it. I’m a single person, so I’m my only financial support, and if I’m struggling on my current full-time salary, there’s no way I’d manage on part-time wages. Plus, part-time is usually/always without benefits, and I have to have healthcare.

          Reply
        2. JamieS

          My mind must started the weekend early. I read PT to FT to mean JustaCPA’s company is willing to hire either PT or FT. As in the hours available range from PT to FT.

          Reply
    5. Augusta Sugarbean

      Is there some reason you can’t email them with resume suggestions? I mean besides it not really being your burden to shoulder. But if there are some that seem like they have potential, you’d be doing them a favor if you gave them feedback along with the rejection.

      Reply
      1. Trout 'Waver

        Because there are literally dozens if not hundreds for every well-formatted resume from a somewhat-qualified candidate.

        Reply
      2. Danger: Gumption Ahead

        Honestly, I’d feel like a jerk e-mailing, “Hey, we are not even considering you for this job, but you might want to Google “Ask a Manager” for resume tips” and I am trying to shoehorn the whole hiring thing around an already full plate. The last thing I need is 20+ people e-mailing me back about their resumes or why we should reconsider them.

        Reply
      3. nep

        Nope. That would be waaaaay above and beyond; there is no way I would say a person reading this stuff should take *yet* more time to send feedback or advice. Of course, if the person sees something particular and s/he really wants to give that feedback, sure. But not even a hint of obligation. IMHO.

        Reply
    6. voluptuousfire

      I see a lot of cover letters in my job and 99% of them do not mention why they want to work for the company. Two sentences on why you either want the role or why our company puts you head and shoulders above many candidates.

      Even if the cover letter is a cookie cutter one, we still place more weight on your resume but a good cover letter is always a really great plus.

      Reply
      1. nep

        UGH. This must not be the case for the jobs I’m applying for; they must be getting some pretty decent resumes and cover letters. Mine don’t suck that bad.

        Reply
      1. Falling Diphthong

        Yes, the other stuff all seems ridiculous but what’s wrong with something formulated as “I increased llama satisfaction by these three metrics” vs “increased llama satisfaction by three metrics”?

        Reply
      2. Danger: Gumption Ahead

        Totally not done in our field, ever, in any formal writing. Everything is collaborative so using first person just sounds weird. For example, “I” didn’t design the Llama Pox Surveillance System since that is not something one person could do, but “Led the design and development of the Llama Pox Surveillance System” would work.

        Reply
    7. Stephanie (HR Manager)

      BWAHAHAHAHA this made me laugh so hard. Yes. We see resumes that make our heads spin. One day, I sent all of them to the hiring manager without looking at them (just once!) and she called me ten minutes later and asked why I sent on a physician for a technician-level position. OMG.

      Reply
      1. Danger: Gumption Ahead

        I think I am going to take our HR out for coffee/lunch/drinks/ice cream once this is over. This is the first time I have been hiring for a position that didn’t require (but does prefer) a specialized graduate degree, so the volume of resumes is up and the quality is down. I owe her one for getting through the 286 resumes I did not see

        Reply
    8. Can't Sit Still

      Have you gotten a unicorn yet? I mean, an actual unicorn. On the resume. With or without rainbows. On the one hand, resume paper isn’t a thing anymore. (I’m actually kind of sad that insane resume paper no longer exists. It made sorting resumes so much faster.) On the other hand, the existence of PDFs means that someone, somewhere, is probably still sending out rainbow unicorn resumes.

      Reply
      1. NoCalHr

        Got two – 2! – emailed resumes this last week with unicorn watermarks – in pdf documents. One position is a regulatory compliance specialist (transit compliance like DoT, fuel tank, hazmat), and the other for a senior administrative assistant supporting the CEO and Board of Directors. Shades of blue and ivory (blue outline) for the first, pink and gold for the second, and in both cases no more than 1 of the 5 required minimum KSAs.

        Was so grateful they came in on Friday; the entire department needed that laugh!

        Reply
        1. Can't Sit Still

          Yes! Unicorns still exist! This makes me so happy. I do wonder why it’s always unicorns, and never griffons or dragons or kittens.

          Reply
    9. Margali

      Oh, I feel you! Someone yesterday had an email name of messiahdavid. Guess he thinks well of himself! For a position where the posting states that a cover letter is *required,* someone uploaded this, “Will send cover later later.” And for the love of all that is holy, people, have someone else read over your resume before you submit it! I think I’ve received three so far from people who are eager to work in a “fast-paste” environment. (No, I do not hire for the Super-Glue company.)

      Reply
      1. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs

        I love that typo.

        I am very good at fast-paste. Watch this glue stick fly!

        Alt, I’m very good with MS shortcuts–can Ctrl-V 70 times in 1 min. :D

        Reply
        1. Mananana

          The last batch I reviewed included a cover letter extolling why the applicant wanted to work with Teapots, Ltd. It was a lovely letter; too bad we’re Llamas, Llamas, LLamas, Inc, not Teapots, Ltd.

          Reply
          1. So Very Anonymous

            I had one of those that opened with “I was excited to see the position of X open up at Chocolate Teapots University” and I thought “So were we! But what does that have to do with our opening here at Vanilla Coffeepots College?”

            Aaaaaaaand then I made almost the same mistake in a cover letter later (although at least it was at the end of the letter?). I was really surprised when they called me for an interview since I figured they’d all had a good laugh. Karma, you know.

            Reply
    10. DaniCalifornia

      I feel your pain. Hiring for another admin/front desk and out of 250 resumes about 15 were decent. I am the lucky person to go through all of them from the beginning. Awful formatting, huge spelling mistakes, long lists, 4 pages, it goes on and on. I too wish I could create a form email that says ‘Please visit this site’ to help some of these people.

      Reply
    11. Chaordic One

      I would overlook the use of the first person in resumes. While I’m not crazy about it myself, (cough, cough) there’s this other popular employment advice columnist who advocates it.

      Reply
  15. Monsters of Men

    Work bag suggestions, please! I am soon to start my job as a school speech therapist so I will be taking files, cards, and tools between five schools. I need something sturdy with long handles – a tote or satchel.

    I tried looking on Reddit and the recommendations were veering into the over $500 territory, which is ridiculous.

    Also – I’m nixing a backpack because of the crushing of stuff which occurs within them.

    Reply
    1. NoMoreMrFixit

      I got a used Targus laptop bag with telescoping handle and built in wheels for pulling along. It’s huge and easily got me thru my last year of college with textbooks, laptop and all the other gear students lug around. Even middle aged ones like me. Had a Swiss Army bag before that. Nice, solidly built but got heavy on the shoulder by the end of day. Oh, both bags were nylon. Leather weighs a ton.

      Reply
    2. Admin of Sys

      I’d go for a messenger bag (w/ back up handles if you don’t want to wear it over the shoulder). The heavier canvas ones can run under $30 and still look professional. As to avoiding papers getting crumbled and such, I’d suggest containers for the paperwork – either 3 ring binders or folders, and boxes for index cards. If you want to be professional looking, you can get leatherbound folders; if you want sturdiness and waterproof storage, thin tupperware containers work well.

      Reply
      1. Monsters of Men

        Huh. I never even considered that. I think it’s because at two schools I have literal closets to host my students, so I’m worrying about the size, but maybe a smaller one would work!

        Reply
        1. Floundering Mander

          I see plenty of people in London wheeling tiny little suitcases around during rush hour. I presume they are basically briefcases on wheels.

          Reply
    3. Celeste

      LL Bean makes the sturdiest canvas totes, and they have long handles. You can get a zip top, too.

      But if you’re carrying files and tools, can I suggest a rolling file box with a retractable handle and a lid? I got one from Staples for $20 when I was volunteering with Scouts. I kept office tools inside in a plastic box.

      Reply
      1. Rusty Shackelford

        I have a very, very similar one hanging in front of me right now! I like it a lot, but I’d like it more if it had a top zip instead of a flap. (I love the look of the flap, but it’s less convenient to use.)

        Reply
      2. babblemouth

        Seconding Fossil – I got one as a present five years ago, and I am quite certain it will last me forever.

        Fossil makes crap watches, but very very good bags.

        Reply
    4. Temperance

      What about a rolling litigation bag? I have one from Targus that was around $60 or so. They’re really sturdy and I find them easier to organize than a tote, since they’re more like a box on wheels.

      Reply
    5. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      I have the answer. For real. It’s a little expensive but I promise you it is the solution: the Lo&Son OMG. Link in another comment.

      Reply
    6. LAI

      I recently had to get a backpack because I was experiencing back issues from carrying weight unevenly distributed on one shoulder. I found a great one from Swiss Gear which unzips all the way around like a suitcase, and has several separate sections inside. Things still get squished a little but I can separate them into compartments and put the squishable stuff on the bottom.

      Reply
      1. IvyGirl

        I love love love my Skip Hop bag. It’s not too practical for a diaper bag, but it’s great for commuting.

        Only issue – I find that the strap pills my shirts as I wear it crossbody.

        Reply
    7. bean

      I have the Commute bag from Timbuk2 and I love it. Super sturdy, and it’s nylon so it’s lightweight. Leather is way too heavy for me. The small size (the one I have) holds a small laptop and standard-size files. May want to go bigger if you need to transport more files. Link: http://www.timbuk2.com/commute-messenger-bag/208.html?dwvar_208_color=4730&dwvar_208_size=8

      If you’re going to be transporting a bunch of tools/toys/games in addition to files, though, you might want to look at a rolling file box – you’ll probably want to get one with a lid: https://www.amazon.com/Office-Depot-Mobile-Folding-16in-H/dp/B00DB8O26Q/ref=sr_1_3?rps=1&ie=UTF8&qid=1506099000&sr=8-3&keywords=rolling+file+box&refinements=p_85%3A2470955011

      Reply
      1. Heartlover1717

        This is what I was going to suggest. Folds FLAT when you’re not using and the lid attaches. Mine has been a workhorse!

        Reply
    8. Samata

      My favorite work bag I bought 8 years ago and love it. It’s a Kate Spade messenger-style diaper bag. It’s treated (or was at one point) with stain resister, the inside is easy to wipe out if I have a spill, there are multiple compartments and my tiny umbrella fits where the baby’s mat is supposed to go.

      It has held up so well. I did just have a minor rip near the handles, but it was just the fabric and I am pretty sure it’s because I had about 15 pounds of books in in last week. I stitched it quickly and all is fine again.

      I don’t think they have it on their website anymore but I have seen them on resale sites all the time!

      Reply
    9. Drew

      I’m a big fan of Venque bags – I backed their very first Kickstarter for a “briefpack” and it is still holding up great after several years of nearly daily use. They have a much broader selection now than the last time I looked, including messenger bags and briefcases that are super sturdy, hold way more than you would expect for their size, and are what I would consider very reasonably priced. I’ll link to the messenger bags below.

      (No connection other than being a very satisfied customer!)

      Reply
    10. School Psych

      I work as a school-based clinician and went to 4 schools, the 1st job I had. I essentially had an office in my trunk with a plastic bin to hold my test kits and therapy materials and a “file cabinet” to hold the kids folders. I gave each of my schools a different color folder. I also had a rolling crate that I put the things I would need for the school I was going to that day. My office in all my buildings was whichever room happened to be open when I needed to work with kids, so this was necessary. Thankfully I’m in a district now, where I’m only assigned to 2 schools and I have offices at both where I can leave my things. The following links worked really well for transporting things to schools in my previous job though. I also really like the lands end backpacks and totes. They’re not too expensive and sturdy enough so your stuff doesn’t get crushed.
      https://www.staples.com/Staples-Expanding-Folding-Crate-on-Wheels/product_440122
      https://www.staples.com/Staples-Portable-File-Box-with-Organizer-Top-Black-110970/product_757448
      https://www.staples.com/Staples-Bella-5-5-Quart-Plastic-Locking-Lid-Container-12-Case/product_2070870

      Reply
      1. Anonish

        Itinerant specialist in schools as well…Homegoods had a rolling collapsible crate with a telescoping bangle for under $30 last weekend! I currently use a backpack but I might go back and get the rolly crate.
        I need to start a meme with a photo of a backpack and a travel mug that says “If your office looks like this, you might be an ELL, TAG, SLP…”

        Reply
  16. rageismycaffeine

    Yall I am HOPPING MAD. HR has implemented some new policies that have had them all up in my business with hiring for a vacancy under me right now, which already has me fed up, but today some BS has happened that takes the cake.

    In my field it’s common to ask people who have made it to the interview stage to prepare a screening exercise that will be discussed during the interview – let’s call it teapot research. I had to do this when I was hired – both my first job in the field and for my current job – and everyone I’ve hired has had to go through it. In the couple of years since I last hired someone, HR has decided they need to approve every part of the process. No problem, I send them the outline for the training exercise for their approval.

    The HR person had some questions and concerns about the screening exercise. But rather than contact me about them, she emailed her boss – the VP of HR – and CC’d my boss (also a VP). And did not include me. At all. She had one concern about the exercise that is valid and I would have been happy to discuss, but another issue she had she investigated by “googling how to do teapot research” and deciding that the process I was outlining was inappropriate. If she had bothered to ask the person who does teapot research for a living, I could have explained the entire thing to her really easily, but instead she pulled rank, crying to her boss and my boss, and making me look like I did something bad. The first I heard about it was when my boss forwarded me her email saying we’d talk about it sometime today, which is a conversation I’m still waiting for.

    I’m so pissed about this I’m still mad about it three hours after reading my boss’s email. I’m giving serious thought to contacting the HR person and telling her that I could have answered her questions and I feel that she undermined me by going directly to her boss and my boss. Is this a terrible idea? Any other thoughts on my situation?

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      It’s a bad idea, because this is still in the middle of being worked out by your boss. Talk to your boss first, see how that goes, and if it feels appropriate at that point, tell your boss that you’re frustrated by how this was handled and would like to talk to the HR person about it.

      Reply
      1. rageismycaffeine

        Oh wow, hi Alison! I’m honored to have an answer from you. :)

        I know you’re right. I’m just boiling with irritation and planning to do something about it is the only thing making me feel better, lol. Obviously if it does come to talking to HR about the way this was handled I will be very sane and diplomatic.

        Reply
      2. Stephanie (HR Manager)

        If it makes you feel any better, I work in HR, and people have done this to me more than once. It’s infuriating. Alison’s advise was spot on.

        Reply
    2. Chupalupe

      Talk to your boss about it first. I’ve had occasions like this where other departments tried to pull rank on me, and my director took the other director to task for it. It’s much more impactful being scolded by a boss than a peer (since clearly she thinks you can’t do your job already!).

      Reply
      1. rageismycaffeine

        Yeah that’s a really good point, although my boss is super non-confrontational and puts such a weight on “positivity” as to become completely unrealistic – so I’m not really optimistic that he’s going to be willing to push back to HR on this. But you’re right, I need to wait to talk to him first.

        Reply
    3. Antilles

      Don’t talk to the HR person. Prep for your meeting with the boss by getting together evidence and information to back up your position and justify why your suggestions are appropriate and reasonable.
      If your boss knows anything whatsoever about Teapot Research, he probably already realizes that she’s off-base. Even if he doesn’t know Teapot Research, as long as you can calmly and professionally explain the reasons about why you chose the method you did and why her concerns are not applicable, then you actually come out of this a winner: (a) you show you know your stuff and (b) it reduces the chance of future interference because her rank-pulling backfires.

      Reply
    4. Trout 'Waver

      Talking to an HR person who has already proven to be grossly unprofessional has no conceivable upside. Let your boss handle it.

      Reply
    5. KR

      I’m wondering when you talk to your boss too, if you could discuss the issue with her and tell her you’ll forward an answer to the HR persons question, CC all the higher-ups that she CC’d, and phrase the answer like, “Good morning Helga, This is the first I am hearing of your concern about teapot research. This is a valid concern and a question I am able to answer. Here is the answer. Don’t hesitate to contact me with further questions. Thank you, Rageismycaffeine. ” If your boss is supportive, it kind of subtly highlights the fact that it was a question you could answer all along. I think if the answer comes from your boss and the higher-ups, it will reinforce that she had to go to them to get a response. Maybe you could replace “this is the first I’m hearing about this” with “I’m glad Boss forwarded this to me.”

      Reply
    6. KarenT

      I agree with those saying don’t do it, but if you decide you must do not do it via email. She will forward that to both your bosses as well.

      Reply
  17. What Would You Do?

    I’m a recent grad who would like to leave the job I’ve been in for 1.5 years. For a variety of reasons, the job is a tremendously bad fit for me, but I took it because I was familiar with the company and thought it would lead to a career after I felt like I had no direction when I decided not to pursue law school. (Yes, I am one of those people who had their life planned out in college and completely changed their mind after graduating). I’ve been looking for communications positions for several months but have been had absolutely no luck. I was a comm-related major, but since I spent a lot of college internships focusing on law-related positions, my only communications internship experiences focused mainly on writing and event planning, and not the marketing that companies seem to want. Anyway, I am a finalist for a position that is not communications (though it has some communications duties). It would be a mainly admin position, but I feel it would give me a lot of new skills and experiences I don’t and couldn’t get in my current job. I guess I feel guilty because I had a glowing performance review, my boss loves me, and we’re 8 weeks out for our big event which I have a huge role in planning, so the timing is not ideal. On the other hand, in addition to the new duties, the new job would give me a drastically shorter commute (45-60 min. to less than 10), as well as an in with the large public research University that I really want to work for. I guess I’m just feeling guilty and anxious that this position isn’t exactly what I imagined, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to find anything better at this point. So, what would you do?

    Reply
    1. Manders

      I would take the new job. I was in a similar position to you when I first got out of school, and I stayed in a job that was going nowhere for way too long. Don’t make my mistake, keep moving in the direction you want to go in.

      Also, it sounds like you’re feeling anxious about this job not ticking all the right boxes, but in my experience each move between jobs gets me a little closer to my ideal job. Staying in a job that’s not right for you just delays moving on to the next step.

      Reply
    2. Snark

      “I guess I’m just feeling guilty and anxious that this position isn’t exactly what I imagined, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to find anything better at this point.”

      I realize that your guilt and anxiety are real and genuine, but….why? Sometimes jobs just….don’t work out. I’ve held three positions that I realized a year or two in were just bad fits for me. Deal-breakers are not all evident during the hiring process; some manifest over time, or arise as a result of personnel and policy changes. It’s just how the cookie crumbles sometimes, and you’ve been there for a good long time, will leave with a good recommendation, and have another 18 months of work experience. That’s a success by my book, even if it wasn’t the dream, ideal job. Take the new position, if you’re offered it, with head high.

      Reply
    3. Liz2

      Only if the pay were at least a 10% increase and the commute the same or better.

      Admin isn’t where you want to do to start- this is your second job out, not your first. There IS better and you are worth taking the time. You know your position is secure as it can be. Keep your ears open and in the new year now that you will have a solid 2 year tenure you can really search and sort for the perfect spot.

      Reply
      1. Morning Glory

        Yeah, as an admin, I kind of agree with this – admin jobs tend to over-promise opportunities for higher-level work and then under-deliver; by the time you figure it out, you’ve got the scarlet letter on your resume and it’s hard to break out from there.

        If the job truly does sound great and you are learning toward taking it, then I would at the very least do some research. Look up people on LinkedIn who held the same job title at that company and find out what they are doing, now. That’s a good indicator what kind of jobs this one will prepare you for. Remember, if you take this job and don’t end up liking it, it’s right after you’ve had an 18 month stint on your resume. That will make it harder to find the right job than if you stay where you are for now and keep searching for a really good fit.

        Reply
    4. Shiara

      An in with a large public research university is definitely a plus, and if this new job gives you that, and a chance to explore new skills and experiences, it sounds like it’s a solid next move away from a position that you know is a bad fit.

      You’re only a year and a half out of school, after throwing a life plan out the window. It’s completely normal to not be sure where you want to end up or how to get there or to need to take things that aren’t exactly what you imagined. This job isn’t your ideal, but it doesn’t need to be. What you’re looking for is a solid next step, that will give you skills, experiences and connections to help you refine your understanding of your ideal, and help you take a step after this that will bring you closer to that ideal.

      That said, depending on just how long you’ve been looking, it may be too early to say that you can’t get anything in communications. And it is worth thinking about what kind of admin position this is and whether going into admin is a move you want to make (although if this is an administrative position at a public research University, that’s quite different from a company admin)

      Reply
    5. Airedale

      As a Comm grad 4 years out, now working as a university admin, I’ve been there, and I personally would take the new job. (To be transparent, I didn’t end up transitioning back to the Comm side of things like I’d planned. I found I personally like working for a university, and having my own writing projects on the side.)

      I understand those telling you to hold out for a great fit in communications, but it’s also true that entry-level communications jobs are incredibly competitive even if you already have a stellar portfolio and a few relevant internships. Also, your offer comes from a company you “really want to work for” with a much easier commute. You might considerbuilding your portfolio by freelancing on the side, like with a nonprofit who could use marketing volunteers, or unpaid marketing help for local businesses. Then you’d have marketing clips to show and testimonials of your work. Universities also have many marketing-related positions that you could eventually transition into, and you would have an edge as an employee.

      Of course, this is a very personal decision, but that’s my opinion. Ultimately, I would trust the advice of those in your dream job, whichever role or niche that might be. Good luck!

      Reply
    6. neverjaunty

      Give yourself a pat on the back for knowing that law school wasn’t a good choice for you and deciding not to go after all, instead of doing it anyway. You made a smart decision.

      Reply
    7. Beckie

      Getting a foot in the door of a large public research university is huge — like all companies, they often hire from within. Plus, most universities have multiple communications departments/groups — e.g. one large office for the whole campus, but also people handing communications in the schools of law, engineering, etc.

      Even if this admin position isn’t in communications, you could have the potential to work your way into a role with more communications duties, whether because you’re handling communications for the group that you’re an admin for, or because you move from this to an admin job within a group/dept focused on communications.

      Reply
  18. overcaffeinatedandqueer

    I have a coworker who reads really conservative websites all day. She has some productivity problems, too, so I wish someone would tell her to get off Matt Walsh and the Blaze and Breitbart and get to work. But, since work is really boring, and we need Internet for work, anything online that’s not social media or games is OK if you’re keeping up.

    Plus, it makes me nervous, since I’m always out at work.

    Reply
    1. Liane

      It doesn’t sound like your co-irker is “keeping up,” from what you wrote about her productivity, so there’s an opening to bring it up to the boss, maybe without being more specific about her time-wasters of choice. Although, I would still expect her to complain that “No one would say a word if I was on RandomLiberalSite dot com all the time!”

      Reply
      1. Observer

        Of course she would, if she has any sense. It’s the truth. Which is a reason to not say anything unless CW actually tries to engage OCAQ in conversation about it or expresses hateful views.

        Reply
    2. Safetykats

      Is she just quietly reading these websites, or is she talking to you and others about what she reads? If there isn’t a clear company policy prohibiting her internet usage, I don’t think there’s anything you can do about that. But if she’s trying to engage you in conversations about the things she is reading, and especially if those conversations express prejudice or even hatred in ways that make you uncomfortable, you should clearly tell her you’re offended. If it continues, you should talk to your manager and HR – because if it continues it is potentially harassment and creating a hostile workplace.

      However – if she’s just reading hateful stuff and not trying to disseminate hateful messages, I don’t think there is anything you can do – again, unless she’s reading things (like porn) that company policies clearly prohibit.

      I’m sorry you work with someone like this. I actually work with a conspiracy theorist, and I used to work with a Dave Ramsey acolyte, but at least they are both nice people with good hearts.

      Reply
    3. Iris Eyes

      It sounds like social media and games would be preferable.

      Other than bringing up productivity issues specifically apart from what is causing them, you might bring up occasions when an alternative point of view helped you see something in a different light and how valuable that article or whatever was. Maybe something you read about how the internet conforms itself to you, and tends to only show you things that you already agree with, in the hope that it might make her curious and try to broaden her intellectual diet. Granted that will only appeal to a certain percentage of people, most people are more than happy to stay in their own bubble.

      As for her interactions with you, people are often against something on a conceptual basis but don’t fully apply that to people they actually know. For example I’ve seen people who were against anyone darker than pale, but were perfectly ok with them marrying into the family. The logic seems to be along the lines of “Oh but your not one of those, your ____.” Unfortunately we are often able to make exceptions to stereotypes for those we know without adjusting the underlying assumptions for the rest of the group. A high ranking member of the KKK who had a good friend who is black comes to mind. So that being said, while you should of course be wary of her treating you differently, don’t assume that she will, or that it is always tied to that aspect of yourself. For example if she perceives you as “tattling” on her, she would likely be responding to that, not necessarily because you are queer.

      Reply
      1. Anion

        Alternative points of view, like the ones on those sites? Has the OP read them in order to “broaden her intellectual diet?” Or is it only readers of conservative sites that need to do that?

        I don’t mean to sound rude or accusatory, it just seems ironic to me, the thought of lecturing someone about broadening their intellectual horizons and reading different viewpoints because they’re reading viewpoints that are never seen or discussed in anything but the most disparaging, insulting terms in mainstream media and most other websites. (Like, say, assuming she’s accepting of the OP because she’s a hypocrite, rather than assuming she’s accepting of the OP because she’s a conservative–like many conservatives–with no problem with gay people.)

        Reply
      1. Squeeble

        Sure, but those sites are known for being extremist, and it’s understandable that a queer coworker would be pretty uncomfortable with that.

        Reply
        1. Anion

          Yes, but has the coworker even indicated with a look that she has a problem with people being gay?

          Conservative does not = homophobe (and frankly, people are allowed to privately have issues with people being gay, as long as they don’t actively discriminate). At all. And sometimes people who lean conservative have little choice but to read conservative sites if they want to see anything that even remotely reflects their views or speaks to and about them as normal people and not walking incarnations of everything evil and wrong in the world, even if they disagree with some or most of what they read. I’m pretty conservative, and have always supported gay people and gay marriage; I have more than a few gay friends, quite a few of whom are also conservative. I don’t read Breitbart, but I do read other conservative sites. I don’t always agree with the articles in them or all of the comments to them, but you’d be surprised how many commenters and readers of those sites are pro-gay-rights (and how few of the articles on those sites actually tend to have anything to do with gay people at all; it’s not a major issue for most readers, frankly).

          Reply
  19. MechanicalPencil

    I’ve been experiencing lower back pain caused by essentially poor posture. I already have a lumbar pillow to try to help out the meh chair, but I’m considering getting an ergonomic chair for when I work from home. Does anyone have experience with either one of those yoga balls or the kneeling desk chairs? I’m looking for something that will force me to not slouch.

    Reply
    1. SQL Coder Cat

      I have a kneeling desk chair at home. I find it uncomfortable to use for long periods of time due to the way it puts pressure on my knees, so I swap it out with a desk chair. It is great for posture though!

      Good luck finding a solution that works for you. Lower back pain is the worst. :(

      Reply
    2. fposte

      I really liked kneeling chairs (ironically, I can’t use them now *because* I can’t tolerate a lumbar curve). With those, you need to get used to them by gradually increasing your time, figure out if your knees will tolerate the pressure, and find a chair that fits you. I was lucky in that a fairly cheap one fit me very well–I’m about 5’2″ and saw complaints it was too short for people and knew it was the one :-).

      Reply
    3. Delyssia

      I used to use a yoga ball chair, but I never bothered to move it to the new office when my office moved a couple of years ago. I liked it, but absolutely, 100% you can slouch on a yoga ball. At first, I found that I sat with better posture, but it didn’t take long before I figured out all sorts of ways to slouch, slump, and otherwise curl my spine.

      Reply
    4. The Cosmic Avenger

      I really liked the kneeling chair I had at my home desk. I haven’t used one myself, but I’ve seen these wheeled circular frames you can get for a yoga ball, so it rolls around more like a desk chair. Makes it easier to pull up to and push out from your desk!

      Reply
    5. LAI

      This may be obvious but through an ergonomic review in my office, I found out that I was keeping my computer monitor too far away. It was causing me to lean forward to see it better, which caused me to slouch. I moved it closer (it’s now basically right on the edge of my desk) and it’s helped a lot. I do have to push it back occasionally to make room for papers I’m looking at, so another tip they gave me is to put tape on the desk where the monitor is supposed to go, as a reminder to move it back.

      Reply
    6. zora

      I do really like the yoga ball chair, i used to have one and I miss it. But the one thing that has really stopped my slouching is a good foot rest. It totally makes me sit up straight back into my chair.

      And check on your monitor and keyboard placement, too, that has also caused me problems in the past.

      Reply
    7. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs

      Also–have you considered taking yoga? I found that my posture improved naturally while taking it–the chairs I sat in just gave me more awareness that I wasn’t slouching/leaning/etc.

      Reply
    8. JulieBulie

      I like kneeling desk chairs in principle, but many of them (especially the less expensive ones) are very limited in how much you can adjust them. You could either end up with your eyes at the wrong height, or have too tight a bend at the knees, too much distance between your butt and your knees to sit comfortably, etc. It’s too bad, because it’s a really great concept.

      But who’s to say that you aren’t just the right size and shape for one of these chairs? All I can say is that I’ve had a good one, an okay one, and a really crappy one.

      In the lower price range, you also may see weird things like no wheels (most people want wheels) or they cheap out on the padding for the knees. You need good padding for the knees. The pressure on your knees shouldn’t be too bad if your chair is sized and adjusted properly, but even then you don’t want to feel like you’re kneeling on an iron plate.

      Most of all, I very strongly recommend that you at least try the chair out before you buy it, and see if you can adjust it, and make sure there is a good return policy.

      Reply
    9. sb

      I’ve been using a kneeling chair for the past 5+ years and it’s worked well for me. Though for me it was to counteract shoulder/neck pain, not lower back.

      Reply
  20. Beatrice

    Do you have any formal or informal mentoring and development tools for women where you work (or for the general population, but that tend to be equally advantageous to men and women?) What works about them and what doesn’t?

    Reply
    1. Chupalupe

      I have a couple of ladies at my organization that love Brene Brown’s courses.

      I think it would be great to set up a matching system between senior leaders and lower level folks. Something like getting matched with someone new in the organization to get to know each other for just a 30 minute coffee session?

      Reply
      1. Beatrice

        Oh thanks! We talked about a couple of good authors/books in our discussion, but your comment made me realize that maybe collecting some good articles and a book list would be a good place to start!

        We talked about a mentoring program, but I think the direction we’re going to go is to let those relationships develop more organically, instead of trying to formally match people up. But instead of letting them develop purely by chance, I think we’ll have key senior people in each area who actively look for opportunities to develop and encourage women in their fields, just without any formal structure to it.

        Reply
        1. Iris Eyes

          TBH in the majority of cases people don’t search out mentoring relationships, its even more difficult than developing a dating relationship. Instead of actively matching people up you could encourage them to do so, something like speed dating came to mind. That way both people know they are interested in a mentor/mentee relationship and can get a feel for each other but no pressure to persue it if they don’t feel like they made a good match.

          Reply
    2. Beatrice

      I didn’t have time to type a longer post earlier! :)

      I was invited to a discussion group at my workplace, on launching a development, networking, and advocacy group for women there. Our entry level hiring and early career development programs tend to be a pretty even mix of genders, but women get scarcer as you go up the food chain, especially in fields like engineering and operations. We’re still figuring out how we want to tackle that and where we want to start. Our finance team already has a really informal mentoring/support system in place, that we want to look at mirroring elsewhere. And there are some boys’ club type systems (a golf league and a racquetball league) that are technically open to women, but women are poorly represented, because if it’s offered to them at all, it’s offered as an opportunity to participate in a sport, not an opportunity to network, and new people don’t realize that the roster is like a who’s who of senior leadership and rising stars. We want to either get into those networks and help encourage new women to see them for what they are and join them too, or (even better) try to develop a clear mid/late career networking system that is more inclusive, like our existing early career programs.

      Reply
  21. anna green

    OMG guys. I have started becoming involved in hiring at my company. We have beeen looking for various entry level positions over the past few months. Their resumes are so. bad. It’s like a list of everything Alison says not to do. I just want to send all of them links to this site to help them. AAM has definitely helped me feel sympathy for them instead of annoyance because they must be getting such horrible advice… It doesn’t seem to stop us from interviewing them, many times if they have a degree in our field, we’ll usually bring them in anyway. But still, so. so. bad. I got one today that was 3 pages with everything she did in college. I’ve gotten a bunch that have core competencies listed, etc. A bunch of them have listed on top right under their name “authorized to work in the US for any employer”. (is that a thing now?) Poor kids.

    Reply
    1. Trout 'Waver

      I work in a STEM field and get a ton of resumes from non-US citizens. Work authorization is one of the first things people ask and virtually every applicant tracking software package includes that question. So I can understand why people, especially people with degrees from foreign universities, include that front-and-center.

      Reply
      1. anna green

        Oh I definitely understand that, but these are often people who have a Pennsylvania address and a Pennsylvania college and the one today had a Pennsylvania high school with no indication that they’ve ever been outside the country, so it’s just confusing. I just assume they’re getting bad advice or using a template that doesn’t apply

        Reply
        1. Close Bracket

          Everybody gets asked that question, even when their resume has no indication that they have ever left the country. It makes sense that, since you know you will be asked, to just put it in.

          The only reason more experienced workers don’t include it is that we know that people don’t actually read our resumes. ;-P

          Reply
    2. LizB

      Did the “authorized to work in the US” ones come from Indeed, by any chance? I’ve noticed that lots of candidates who apply for my jobs through Indeed will let the site auto-create a resume for them, and they often have that weird language, plus other weird elements and formatting. I’ve just gotten used to it.

      Reply
    3. Fake old Converse shoes

      Early in my career I was advised to make a local and international versions of my resume. The international version included something like “travel availability”. I’ve never used it so far.

      Reply
    4. zora

      We are hiring for an entry level position now, too, but for a highly specialized field. And my coworkers who are hiring have been showing me some of the worst.

      One was an 8 page resume. For entry level.

      The best/worst is the young woman with a photo on the top of her resume. Wait, it gets better.
      -It’s a selfie.
      -A duckfast selfie.
      -In her car.
      -With major cleavage. A suit jacket with seemingly nothing underneath…. Nothing….. Underneath….

      I feel bad for her, but really, just, wow.

      Reply
      1. Fake old Converse shoes

        Makes me remember of a recruiter whose LinkedIn profile photo was a toilet selfie wearing what it looked like a “sexy French girl” costume. I wonder if they’re related.

        Reply
        1. zora

          WHA!!!??!?! That is much, much worse……………………………. I am dead.

          ALSO: Edit: that is supposed to say “duckFACE selfie” .. duck FACE. I am way too tired today to type anything.

          Reply
  22. NGL

    Q about telling the boss I’m pregnant…

    I’m just shy of 13 weeks pregnant, and it’s already getting tough to hide this! In an ideal world I’d wait at least another two weeks to get the results from my first trimester scan (just had the ultrasound this morning! EXCITING. And terrifying) and tell once I got the best assurance possible at this point that everything is looking good.

    But in addition to having a hard-to-hide bump, in a week and a half I’m expected to be part of the staff at New York Comic Con. I would have to come up with an excuse to not do heavy lifting during booth set up (I work with books…everything is heavy), and make sure that there’s a chair in the booth since standing for 4+ hours on a hot convention floor is miserable in a normal year (our booth setup has changed this year and while in the past there have been chairs, it’s not obvious yet whether they’ll be in the new setup). I’m an otherwise healthy young woman so these would be totally new accommodations.

    I know my boss is going to be cool with the announcement overall, but I’m absolutely terrified of word getting out before I get these test results back…and then have to un-announce. So any advice from others with experience (can you tell this is my first time? lol) would be appreciated!

    Reply
    1. Chupalupe

      Not personal experience, but I had a coworker who sprained her back and said she was on painkillers. That meant she couldn’t lift anything and had an excuse not to drink.

      Reply
    2. Murphy

      Ask your boss to keep it to themselves. Will they be at NYCC? If so, they can help you out a bit with the chair.

      It’s easy to claim tired, dehydrated, under the weather, etc. in the early stages of pregnancy, at least for a bit. When you keep doing it, people will suspect, but for one day you should be fine.

      Reply
      1. Ms. Mad Scientist

        Agree with this. And congratulations!

        I feel you on the early announcements. I didn’t want to tell anybody other than my husband until the 12 week mark because I was convinced I was going to imminently miscarry. I had no history of miscarriage, just anxious and succumbed to the extensive fearmongering about pregnancies of women over age 35. I had to tell our safety officer in order to get an occupational health evaluation, but fortunately was able to continue my duties with only minor modifications.

        Reply
    3. J

      I always had to announce early. I suffer from HG and it came on harder and faster with each successive pregnancy. I also have one living child from four pregnancies, so I had to have several “oops” conversations when those didn’t work out.

      Even the first trimester isn’t a guarantee that all will be well; I lost each baby after the first trimester. Heaven forbid the baby has a condition that can’t be diagnosed until later. Or, that you could lose the baby in delivery as two of my friends have. There’s no moment when it’s “safe”.

      Announce when you’re ready. If you need to unannounce, that won’t be the hardest part of it.

      Reply
      1. Purple snowdrop

        Yeah I had everything fine at my 12 week scan, baby died a few days later, I didn’t find out until 17 weeks, by which time the whole world knew. It actually made it easier; I didn’t have to deal with knowing that people would be speculating about why I was off- they all knew.

        Good luck NGL.

        And I’m so sorry for your losses J. Going through it once was bad enough for me :(

        Reply
    4. Celeste

      I’d just tell. It gives you an iron-clad way of getting your accomodations, which matter. Thirteen weeks is far enough along to faint if you stand too long, and you shouldn’t risk it.

      I know it’s scary to think about having to un-tell, but it’s completely out of your control–a total leap of faith. Take the leap and tell.

      Reply
    5. anna green

      I say tell your boss and mention that you are not really announcing it yet, but she needed to know because of the conference etc. That way she’ll hopefully understand not to spread it around yet to anyone who doesn’t need to know. Congratulations! I’m sure everything will be fine. (on another note – if something horrible did happen, you’d probably be better off telling your boss anyway, because this far along you’d likely need time and space to deal with it. But it won’t because I’m sure everything is fine!!)

      Reply
    6. Friday

      Congratulations! How I’d approach it is I’d tell your boss now, and ask her to go along with a white lie for the conference that you’re dealing with back pain and painkillers for the situation mean that you also can’t drink and need to retire early in the evening. You can tell everyone else the real good news after your scan results come back.

      My current pregnancy, I told my boss at 13 weeks and coworkers I think ~16 or so weeks because we had a weird first tri scan and I wanted to get more data from the second test before telling. My first pregnancy I told my boss at 8 weeks and my team at 12 weeks because I had a solid first tri scan. Everyone’s different in how they approach telling the news and I think the only real wrong answer would be “don’t tell until the baby’s here.” :) Good luck!

      Reply
    7. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

      Congratulations!! I was also “forced” into an early announcement because of similar work conditions. My direct supervisor figured it out when I was only 8 weeks because I puked on him. (To be fair, he saw it coming and thrust a waste bin at me before it landed but he knew instantly what had happened and kept his mouth shut until I was ready to tell everyone.) My grand boss had to be told at 11 weeks because I was put on bed rest for a week with H1N1. I didn’t tell the rest of the office until closer to 15-16 weeks though.

      You may need time to make arrangements for seating at the booth, so I would suggest speaking with the person in charge of that event. If it is your boss, you can have a confidential conversation regarding an unspecified medical issue. Tell her as much or as little as you are comfortable sharing. She doesn’t get to disclose your medical details to others; she can just say there is a medical need for seating for you.

      Reply
    8. Megan

      If you really don’t want to announce to your coworkers in general yet, you could almost certainly just tell your boss and ask her to keep it under wraps until you’re ready, but honestly, I’d just tell people. Even though you don’t have all the results back yet, you’ve had the ultrasound and you know the baby’s heart is still beating and s/he is growing and you’re 13 weeks – statistically pretty safe, though of course nothing is ever guaranteed.

      I know everyone’s different on this, but here’s my experience in case it helps: I’ve had two pregnancies now with severe hyperemesis gravidarum (totally incapacitated for months, had to have PICC lines inserted so I could get IV nutrition), so I announced my first at about 7 weeks and my second at 5 weeks. My first pregnancy ended up totally fine, and I’ve got a lovely, healthy 2 1/2 year old daughter, and I lost my second pregnancy at about 21 weeks. Unannouncing the pregnancy was the least of my worries – I just texted my boss and asked him to spread the word, and my coworkers all signed a card and chipped in for one of those edible arrangements. No one has said anything to me about it without me bringing it up first, and it’s been such a relief for me that everyone already knows, and I didn’t have to pretend like everything was okay when I got back to work.

      Reply
      1. Mamunia

        I would tell your boss and ask her to keep it to herself for now. I wouldn’t lie about something specific like bad back; your coworkers will figure out you lied to them when you can’t hide your pregnancy any longer. I would be vague and say something like you’re having a “temporary medical thing, but nothing to be concerned about!”

        Reply
  23. Long time lurker

    So I got some interviewing advice and I was wondering what y’all’s opinion is on this. When asked for a desired salary, tell them market value. If they ask you what you think your market value is, tell them that they would have a better idea of that. I feel like this is a dangerous way to play it and can make you sound coy. But what do you think?

    Reply
      1. Trout 'Waver

        Because you’re more likely to get less money if you name a number first. A company that pushes the applicant to give the first number is showing what type of company they will be to work for.

        The best way to handle it is do to the research (networking, glassdoor, professional societies) to know what market rate actually is and negotiate from there, rather than outright refusing to name a figure though.

        Reply
    1. Beatrice

      What? No! The “you would have a better idea of market rate than I do” response takes away the ground you need to stand on to negotiate upward once they make an offer. Research the market rate and know where the number should be. If you don’t want to be the first person to name a number, counter by asking them what the pay range for the position is.

      Reply
      1. Long time lurker

        I didn’t even think of the negotiation issue you and Allison brought up! The person who gave me this advice never negotiates unless he has another offer with a higher salary, so it makes sense this hasn’t come up.

        I was getting alarm bells at this advice (and a lot of other advice he’s given), but he’s very successful. So I thought I’d get another opinion.

        Reply
        1. neverjaunty

          The person who gave you this advice is successful DESPITE his bad advice. Imagine how much more successful he’d be if he wasn’t shooting himself in the foot.

          Assuming, of course, he actually follows his own advice. I have heard all kinds of ridiculous gumption-type suggestions from dudes who got all their jobs through networking or who stayed at the same company for 25 years.

          Reply
    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      You’re basically refusing to answer their question. And you’re setting it up so that you have no ground to stand on when they offer you something you think is too low, because you’ve told them that they know better than you do what market value is.

      Reply
    3. PB

      I agree with you. You should do your research in advance, so that you have an idea of what market value is, and go in with a number in mind.

      Reply
    4. Anonymous Pterodactyl

      Oh no, this sounds like a very bad idea. It’s basically saying straight up, “I don’t know how much I’m worth and you can pick a number”. It also limits your ability to come back if they lowball you and say “Actually, I was thinking more like $Y” because you just told them they have a better idea of market value than you do.

      I guess *best* case use of this tactic would be if you a) already know your market value and b) are happy where you are and not desperate to find something and c) are trying to screen out employers who WILL lowball offers. But… still not great.

      Reply
      1. Antilles

        Eh, even in your theoretical *best case*, it’s still bad advice. Good employers won’t lowball you, but they still probably aren’t giving you their absolute best offer. So even though if their offer is completely fair, you still pass up the opportunity to at least try to see if you can get a little more.

        Reply
  24. Not a Real Giraffe

    I had a job interview earlier this week and the hiring manager said I could hear back from her as early as the following day (yesterday) about a decision. I missed a call from her yesterday afternoon while I was in a meeting, but she left no voicemail nor did she follow up with an email, and I’ve sat on the missed call for 12+ hours now without replying so I think my best bet is to just wait and hope she tries calling again – but would love to know if I’ve made the wrong decision!

    (As another data point, I had sent a thank you email to another person on the team who I’d met, and that person responded to it this morning, answering a question I had included.)

    Reply
    1. rageismycaffeine

      She left no voicemail? That’s…. weird. I hate it when people do that.

      I don’t see anything wrong with calling her back with the perfectly valid explanation that you saw that you missed a call from her; I do that with people all the time, but I will say that I haven’t done it in a job hunting situation, so my advice may not be great in this context.

      Reply
      1. Gaia

        I never leave voicemails. Like…ever. Mostly because I hate it when people leave me voicemails. But I do immediately follow up with an email or text to explain my call.

        Reply
    2. Not a Real Giraffe

      Thanks for the encouragement! I sent an email instead of calling back. My fear is that she meant to call someone else and didn’t realize her error until she got to my voicemail message, so figured email would give her a better out than surprising her with a return call.

      Reply
  25. Two-body Problem

    Last week I posted about feeling conflicted about going to an interview for a 2-3 year term job in a location I want to move to. The reason was that I’m not sure moving for a term job is a great idea for my family right now but I’ve already compromised in my career for my spouse and found it hard to find another opportunity in my first choice field. Thank you for your advice and comments.

    I went to the interview, it went so-so, and I came away feeling like the job would be great, but they couldn’t assure me of any path to permanent hire, and I’m getting tired of moving every couple years. The HR person said they would probably let me know by today. I now really hope they reject me because I think if I got an offer and rejected it, there is a really good chance I’d regret it in the future, but if I took it, we’d be taking a huge gamble as a family as far as settling down, and asking my spouse to seriously restrict their own academic job search (they’re currently only applying for a few selected jobs in places we would both want to live, instead of all of them nationwide, but one city is pretty darn restrictive). I’m really, really nervous and I don’t want the decision to be mine. I’ve never felt like I had a starker choice between “career” and “family,” both in terms of my spouse’s job prospects and our joint wish to settle down, and wish the two didn’t seem in conflict. Wish me luck for the rejection I’m hoping for!

    Meanwhile, in about an hour I’m headed out for an informational interview lunch with an alum of my program who’s now on…what would probably be my plan E? I think she’s self-employed, which is not my ideal, but is worth learning about and thinking about as a short- to medium-term option in case Plans A-D don’t work out.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      May the clouds rain upon your job prospect. (And I know what you mean about just wanting the universe to deal with the choices for you sometimes.)

      Reply
      1. Two-Body Problem

        Thank you. That’s it exactly.

        Friday went by with no word, which is probably standard hiring estimates being too optimistic, but I can hope it’s because they’re waiting for someone else to accept an offer. Fingers crossed, haha.

        My info interview at lunch was very positive and calming about plans C and D, fortunately.

        Reply
    1. Lora

      Because it sucks. Last time I sent in a helpdesk ticket about it, I was told that Microsoft knows about the bug and probably won’t be fixing it any time soon.

      Reply
    2. hermit crab

      I can’t help but imagine that our conference rooms have personalities, based on their accept/reject habits for meeting invites.

      The best one, with the excellent windows and where no one outside the room can hear you, is a no-nonsense Mrs. Landingham type. She will shut. you. down. and reject your meeting invite in two seconds. Who do you think you are, that you tried to schedule something the week of the board meeting?!

      Whereas the lonely conference room, tucked in an awkward corner with no video-conference capabilities, overlooking the HVAC equipment, waits a little bit to accept your request because he doesn’t want to seem too desperate. But he always accepts in the end. Sometimes I request that one first, just to feel better — there is a very specific sort of hopelessness that comes from getting your meeting request rejected by an inanimate object.

      Reply
  26. overcaffeinatedandqueer

    Apparently some people at work are negotiating for higher hourly pay rates, since the market is tight- but management asked them not to tell others about it. We’re all lawyers, so they said “we can’t stop you from sharing the information but your coworkers might not like you for it.” Seems strange.

    Reply
  27. not that Michelle

    Yesterday I had to come in to work super early because of a meeting. I had a meeting in the afternoon as well, but in between the two meetings there was a management one so everyone else got to take an extra long lunch. I got a few inches cut off my hair and had it dyed a shade darker. I also had to change my blazer from a gray one to a black one because I had spilled coffee all over the one I was wearing (thankfully I had my clean stuff from the dry cleaner in my car). I felt a bit like that woman from the letter who would always completely change her appearance in the middle of the work day. It’s funny too because my name is actually Michelle, the same name as the one used in the letter. I kept thinking about that letter all day after I had changed. Besides a few compliments on my hair, no one said anything bad or anything so it was fine.

    (Was there ever an update to that one btw?)

    Reply
  28. Dr. Doll

    If we have administrative assistants or former AA’s reading, I would love to get an opinion: What is a reasonable turnaround time for processing minor paperwork? The kind that needs one or two pieces of readily available information and then handed to the boss for a signature, then sent to the appropriate office? I mean *your* parts, not waiting for the boss to sign.

    2 business days? 3? 10? I need to be able to set a specific expectation and I want to be sure it’s reasonable.

    I realize it does depend on how busy you are with other things, so let’s assume that this is your main responsibility and the other workload is not crushing.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous Educator

      Former receptionist, who also handled a lot of admin asst–type things.

      If this is the main responsibility, I would say an hour, two hours? Something like that. If it’s not the main responsibility, 1-2 days.

      Reply
    2. Leah the (former) Admin (now manager of admins)

      For a GOOD admin, 1 – 2 hours *maybe* depending on what else is going on. The best way to handle it, in my opinion, is to give the AA a deadline. So if you give the AA something at noon, say you need it back by COB. And then follow up if it doesn’t happen (again, a good AA would already do that). And if the deadline isn’t realistic the AA will push back and you can discuss *when* it can happen. (Sorry, I’m swamped with supporting the Teapot Project…can this wait until noon tomorrow? Or Yeah, the boss is on travel for the next two days, so I can get it ready for her when she gets back and send it then).

      Reply
      1. Anonymous Educator

        Fully agree with giving a deadline. If you aren’t comfortable with just giving one, how about asking the admin asst directly? “I’d like to have this back by noon. What do you have on your plate right now? Do you think that’d work?” If they push back, you can see what the pushback looks like. For example, the admin asst might say “I have X, Y, and Z to do. Can I get it back to you by 1:30pm instead?” And you might agree that’s reasonable under the circumstances.

        Reply
        1. zora

          To be honest, though, if this is a common task happening with regularity, a discussion about the turnaround time each and every time is a waste of everyone’s time. This should not necessitate a whole conversation for each document. And as the admin, stopping whatever I’m currently working on to discuss the deadline would annoy me, I could have finished it and given it back in the time we just decided the deadline.

          I would go with the overall time limit for this task as a rule: “These kinds of tasks will be emailed or dropped on your desk, and I need them completed within 1 business day. (and then explicitly point out) The exception would be if you have other urgent things on your plate that take precedent. In that case, I need to you explicitly tell me you have something else to prioritize, and give me a timeline when you CAN have the document to me (by the end of the week, etc). “

          Reply
          1. Anonymous Educator

            But I’m assuming the Dr. Doll has never had this conversation. Obviously, you don’t need to ask what the ETA is every time. The first time would help to establish what a reasonable turnaround time is.

            Reply
            1. zora

              Ok, that makes sense. Asking the admin what she thinks is reasonable is fine in that context. But I definitely think it needs to be framed as an overarching, everytime this task comes up discussion. Not opening up a debate on the deadline every single time a single document needs to be signed.

              Reply
              1. Anonymous Educator

                Yes, it should be a data point of “Ah, so if admin is roughly this busy, it can be reasonably done in X amount of time” and not “I’d better ask again every time, because the answer will be wildly different on every occasion.”

                Reply
    3. Bad Candidate

      Well, like you said, it depends on how busy you are. I would say within 1-2 days, unless otherwise specified. I would say though that an AA might not look busy but actually is, so if you didn’t give a definite turn around time, they might have given it a low priority.

      Reply
    4. DivineMissL

      EA here. That sounds easy; if you handed it to me now and I wasn’t swamped, I’d have it ready to go within an hour or so. If you gave it to me and asked, “Is it possible to get this processed by tomorrow at lunchtime?” I’d tell you whether or not that was realistic. That gives the AA the ability to tell you what his/her workload is, and is respectful of their time.

      Reply
      1. Alice

        I think it also depends on what it is and the urgency – you need to tell the AA if it’s urgent enough for them to drop other activities to do now, or if it can wait a bit.

        Reply
    5. jmm

      6+ year admin assistant here –
      I try to organize my workflow so I get all the “quick wins” out of the way first — tasks I can accomplish in 10 minutes or less, so I have big chunks of time for more time-consuming projects. I’d lump your task in with those things and hopefully have the doc on the boss’s desk within 30 minutes.

      Reply
    6. zora

      I agree with 1-2 hours. Unless I am in the middle of something super urgent.

      But if you are dealing with a timeliness/prioritizing problem with a specific person, I would say 1 business day. As in, it needs to be in your boss’s hand ready for signature within 1 business day/24 hours. If you receive it at 10am on Monday, in your boss’s hands by 10am Tuesday. And then once you have it back, should be on the way to the appropriate office by the end of that business day.

      This is the kind of thing that reminds me I am amazing at my job and am way underpaid. Sigh.

      Reply
    7. ScarlettNZ

      The turnaround time might also depend on what the boss’ preference is when it comes to admin-related tasks. When I was working in academia, the head of department and I would meet every morning at 11am. That’s when I gave her any items which required signing, so if something came in after that time, unless it was urgent, it would have to wait until the next morning.

      Reply
    8. Pam

      Also, what about the availability of the signers? If the admin had to track them down or demand attention to get a signature, that’s going to add time. My office can deliver a document in five minutes, but if the department chair chooses to ignore it, there’s nothing we can do.

      Reply
      1. zora

        She said not including waiting for the boss. This is just putting a time limit on the time the admin is taking to do her parts of the task.

        Reply
    9. Mephyle

      Another factor is what “readily available” means in your context. Does the AA know where to find the information or is part of the task to find out where it is? Can it be found from the AA’s own computer, or does it entail physically going to another place? Does the AA have direct access to it, or does access have to be granted by someone else? Will it already be in the format needed for the boss’s signature, or does AA have to do something in that regard, like reformatting, adding a part for the signature, or compiling pieces from more than one source, etc.? Will it have to be printed, and is that straightforward?
      Let’s say AA’s plate is clear and they can get on it right away. The above factors could make a difference between 10 minutes and several hours.

      Reply
  29. i2c2

    I asked for something I wanted at work (to miss a business trip on which I would have had a pretty marginal role), and I got it!

    I credit AAM for giving me the confidence to ask. So relieved not to have to fly across the country for this one.

    Reply
  30. Regretsy

    I have been offered a job. I asked if they could give me a start date 3 months from now (since that would work better for me for various reasons). They said they would look into it, and at this point they have been looking into it for about a week. In the meantime, I have realized that I don’t want this job. What is the best way to write an email to them declining the offer without looking like a complete flip-flopper?

    Reply
      1. Regretsy

        I realized that I am not willing to make the compromises I will need to make if I accept the job. I gathered from my interviews that I would have to put up with bad culture fit, some dysfunctionality, and a long commute, but I had decided that the salary was going to be worth it. In the past week, after having more discussions with my spouse and mentors, I have understood that this job would be too much of a (mental) health risk for me.

        Reply
        1. Anonymous Educator

          I don’t think you have to worry about appearing to be a flip-flopper. Taking any job is a major life decision. You can just say you’ve had a chance to think it over some more and have decided not to take the job, and you wanted to let them know as soon as possible so they may still have a chance to reach out to other finalists in the candidate pool.

          Reply
    1. Anonymous Educator

      You’re declining it because it’s taken them a week to look into it? How about inquiring about the status of the start date inquiry? If they say “Well, we’re still not sure and still looking into it,” you can then respond asking how long the inquiry will take, and if they still don’t give you a clear answer, you can then just say that piece is critical for you, so you’re withdrawing your candidacy. It’s not flip-flopping. It’s saying “This is my part of the negotiation. You can’t meet that? Okay, then.”

      Reply
      1. Regretsy

        Sorry, I should have been clearer. My reason for changing my mind isn’t related to how long they are taking. As I clarified to Alison above, I have realized that the salary will actually not make up for some negative aspects of this job.

        Reply
    2. rageismycaffeine

      I don’t have a response to your question, unfortunately; I just wanted to lavish praise upon your username. I have missed Regretsy so much since it went defunct. Which I just discovered from googling was more than four and a half years ago now. Q_Q

      Reply
      1. Regretsy

        Thank you! It was such an awesome internet place. And now my inner voice exclaims “regretsy!” whenever I regret something – hence the username for this question.

        Reply
  31. the_scientist

    I have been involved in the hiring process for a vacancy on my team and we arranged phone screens for a few candidates. One of them completely lost it and berated the recruiter over how rude and disrespectful it was to ask a candidate to do a 20-minute phone screen (????)

    So…..the screening process was effective, just not in the way we’d imagined it being. And I hope the temper tantrum was worth it because this person is defs not getting a job at this organization ever.

    Reply
    1. Samata

      People who berate recruiters so unprofessionally early in the process baffle me…like what do they think is actually going to be accomplished?

      Reply
    2. Lady Jay

      Ooo boy. I lost my temper during a job search once . . . but that was after I’d spent hours filling out an application, only to have them request that I use a different form, and then once I’d filled THAT one out, have them request yet a third form instead.

      I think it’s especially bad that this person lost their temper over a completely normal part of the hiring process.

      Reply
  32. ThursdaysGeek

    Here’s an interesting work story. The co-worker who sits across me in cubeville, does first aid with his wife at various events, including our local boat races back in July. The people who attend the boat races are often serious fans, and this co-worker has had a family from Seattle sitting next to them for years of boat races (we’re across the state from Seattle). This year, when the now young man went to hug their first-aid friends goodbye, he put down his cooler (holding a frisbee), and forgot to pick it back up.

    My co-worker has been trying to track him down since July, knowing only his name and city. The young man was finally found on Facebook and my co-worker joined FB just so he could send him a message. And when the friend request was accepted, he casually looked through the pictures…and found me. So now, my nephew’s frisbee and cooler is on its way back to him. What a small world!

    Apparently, there had been some discussion between co-workers on this search, including saying my nephew’s name. But since I tune out the sound around me, I hadn’t heard it. I’m really impressed with the tenacity of my co-worker, working to reunite a young man with his frisbee.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      Now I’m hoping that everything I’ve ever lost is in the hands of some kind person who’s feverishly searching for me. If they contact you, let me know.

      Reply
    2. Drew

      Looking at some of the other posters in my HOA’s Facebook group (it’s not stalking, it’s just getting to know my neighbors, right?), I found out that one of them is Facebook friends with the younger brother of a guy I gamed with 20 years ago. Both brothers are my FB friends, which is how the connection came up.

      I’m trying to decide if “Hey, I saw that you’re friends with Fergus, who I’ve known since he was a teenager; mind if I ask how y’all know each other?” is too weird. I think yes.

      Reply
      1. Beckie

        I do get a kick of scanning through the “find your friends” on Facebook and learning that a random person’s two mutual friends with me are, like, my cousin who’s a police officer in New Jersey and a high school acquaintance who lives in Oregon. How did that happen?

        Reply
    3. Not So NewReader

      I love these stories.

      In the 70s I borrowed my aunt’s hat when we went to the beach. An evil wind grabbed the hat and took it out over the water. Making matters worse there was a chain link fence between us and the water in that area. We saw boats waay out on the water, but thought nothing further of it. The hat was gone, period. It was probably a few months that went by and the hat arrived in the mail at my aunt’s house.

      The hat went out far enough for one of the boaters to grab it. Using binoculars they read my aunt’s license plate number. DMV gave them her address and they mailed the hat. We were amazed.

      Reply
    4. Not Australian

      Not quite the same, but … my grandson dropped his favourite ‘floppy dog’ toy into the sea while on a day out, and the whole family watched in horror as it was swept away on the tide. He was inconsolable, so his mother found him a similar one online and bought it – but he was still heartbroken and worried about his friend. Anyway, my daughter in law worked out where the tide would have taken the toy, found relevant Facebook groups for the area and asked people to look out for floppy dog when they were walking on the beach. A couple of weeks later, he turned up in the post – a lady had found him, put him through the washing machine, parcelled him up and sent him on, and now my grandson has *two* floppy dogs!

      Reply
  33. Plotting my escape but until then....

    I started a new job a few months back and unfortunately the place is super dysfunctional (infighting and politics abound), poorly managed in every way (they just announced a round of head-scratching layoffs) and to boot my direct boss is difficult (never around, gives super vague feedback and has unrealistic exception about how long things take to get done). I’m looking to leave ASAP and have been applying to things, networking and doing all that good stuff.

    My question is basically how do I make it work until I leave. Any practical advice from folks who have been there? Some days all I can do is try to keep my sanity in the midst of everything. I keep my head down and try not to be emotionally invested. And that can be SUPER hard in itself. But sometimes I worry I am atrophying as a professional in not trying harder at managing up or going up over and beyond to make projects as successful as they can be. Also, it can feel crappy to phone it in. But I also see what happens to colleagues who speak up more and generally they don’t affect any change and are metaphorically banging their heads against the wall.

    Reply
    1. Database Developer Dude

      Have a plan. Try to get something you want out of it.

      I work for a fairly large management and technology consulting firm in the DC area. My current gig is at a government agency. I’m a data architect. The particular contract my firm has me working at puts the ‘fun’ in dysfunctional. The government lead, however, is a big believer in training. “Your dime, my time” he says.

      So I’m picking up a couple of certifications, and doing the best I can while I’m there, plus scheduling a five week “break”, which is some active duty in the Army Reserve for a required military professional education course.

      Once I get my second cert in March, in April, I’ll start looking within the firm for other places to go. It’s even money on whether I make it in this particular office to the end of September next year.

      When things get bad in the office, I focus on the good, and keep my eyes on the prize.

      Reply
    2. Deloris Van Cartier

      That’s a really tough situation to be in so sending lots of positive thoughts your way! I really struggled with this at my last job as I’m someone who bases a lot of my self-worth/image on my job and how successful I am at it. I am working on this as I know it’s not a great way to go but this can be really challenging when you work somewhere you can’t be successful because of the structure or leadership. One thing I found really helpful was to find something outside of work to make feel accomplished or productive. This could be a craft project, working through a list of books, volunteering or mastering a physical skill. Feeling like I was doing well in something other than work let me go to work and feel like I wasn’t a failure for making the organization amazing and being incredible at my job. I was then able to be ok with doing my job to the best of my ability, even if it wasn’t the way I would have done it or thought it should be done.

      Reply
    3. NoMoreMrFixit

      Having been in that type of mess I found setting myself a goal of some type of personal accomplishment every day really helped. Last part of each day I would work on my to do list for the next day in which I would plan out what I was going to work on and what I hoped to accomplish. Sometimes it was simply to learn a new technology or watch a web presentation. But give yourself something to work on for you every day.

      The other piece of advice comes from a bumper sticker my predecessor left attached to the side of my desk in what was the best place I ever worked. “I used to be disgusted but now I’m just amused”. Learn to laugh inside at the insanity around you and don’t take it personally.

      Reply
    4. MissDisplaced

      Yeah… been there.
      I don’t have much besides keeping your head down, but maybe some of the following.

      1. Try to finish at least ONE good project you can be proud of.
      2. Make at least ONE good contact/reference, preferable someone in management.
      3. Don’t give them anything bad to say about you.

      This will help make it easier when you leave. You can point to it being a poor fit but you did A, B and C while there.

      Reply
    5. Not So NewReader

      When you start worrying about atrophy, tell yourself that is a waste of time there is too much to do and you can’t spend time on that. Then busy yourself working on the steps of your escape plan.

      I believe we have a finite amount of brain space. If we are worrying about stagnation then we have lost valuable brain space that could be used figuring out how to avoid stagnation.

      My suggestion is to take walks, daily if possible. Your mind will feel keener/sharper and it will be a point each day where you can really think through your escape plan. The daily walks will help you disperse that excess energy that comes with stress.

      Reply
  34. Long time lurker

    I wanted to make a separate post for this.

    I’ve been at my first job out of college for under a year, and it’s like… my brain isn’t being used. In college I had to really wrack my brain and think when doing schoolwork (actually this probably applies to most of my education). And God knows that sometimes I would think it’s too much, but I was growing. Bluntly, I was smart. And now I feel like my mind is turning to mush and I’m losing everything I’ve picked up in school from being out of practice as far as learning and critical thinking goes. Yet I’m also working more hours than I did in unit (barring exam season). I hate to sound like the main character of a Disney movie, but I can’t help but feel like I can do so much more.

    Anyone else ever feel like this?

    Reply
    1. Anonymous Educator

      I think that’s fairly common for a first job out of college. For me and my teacher friends, not so much. But most of my friends were not teachers straight out of college. They were receptionists, editorial assistants, production assistants, editorial assistants, administrative assistants, etc. Lots of filing, making photocopies, and fetching coffee.

      So, it’s normal.

      But I don’t think you should let your brain rot, though. Is there stuff you can do outside of work to stimulate your brain? Read books on your commute, take part in some kind of brain-stimulating activity with friends during the evenings?

      Reply
      1. AndersonDarling

        Yep, normal. Entry level positions don’t have a lot of thinking because you need to prove yourself before you can make big time thinking decisions. I’d suggest getting some hobbies, not necessarily “thinking” hobbies, but stimulating, like art or writing or hiking. Think of work like a brain vacation, and you can choose the destination for your fun brain stimulation.

        Reply
    2. Leah the (former) Admin

      Can you find new work to do to stretch in your new role? Something related but not in your core responsibilities?

      Reply
    3. Lora

      *settles into rocking chair, rubs liniment on arthritic joints, sips a cup of chamomile tea, hollers GET OFF MY LAWN at the neighbors*

      You will not be using your brain or challenged for a solid 3-5 years. This is the nature of entry level work: In 1975, even well into the mid-80s, a college degree wasn’t required for half as many jobs. Not because those jobs couldn’t have benefited from more educated staff, but because the educational level actually required to perform the job was and remains, realistically, “high school with varying amounts of job training”. As you have found out.

      As more jobs were automated and the regular sort of day to day jobs that high school graduates usually could make a career out of (not only manufacturing, farming and energy, but also many things which are now considered entry-level for college grads, administrative type of work) vanished, guidance counselors started shoving as many kids into college as they possibly could, and new weird student loan funding started to happen which didn’t previously exist. Colleges, happy to get $tuition$ in whatever form, expanded campuses and class sizes and hired adjuncts to teach and suddenly a job that used to be suitable for a reasonably bright high school graduate with a few years’ of experience, became jobs that required a college degree – ANY college degree.

      I’m sorry. It sucks. I honestly don’t know how to undo it. Would if I could, but now colleges even teach remedial courses for students who don’t have basic language and math skills – in the past those students would have been encouraged to go into a job that didn’t require college, and they’d have found one, and they’d have had a decent quality of life too.

      Reply
    4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      Two reactions:

      First… yeah, first jobs are often less engaging/interesting/intellectual than college. It’s a tough transition if you’re a person who enjoys an academic environment and has gotten validation from your abilities in that arena.

      Second — and I speak from experience here and don’t mean to be harsh — I think this feeling stems from a mistaken belief in the superiority of intellectualism over other kinds of success, interest, or challenge. It’s true that you’re likely not going to be chewing on political theory or debating the meaning of the farmer and his bull in Guernica… but you will be challenged in learning work that is new to you, developing systems to improve how you do that work, navigating complex political relationships, figuring out how to advance a project that isn’t important to anyone else but is essential to you, considering how much you should push an issue and when you should let it go (even when you’re right!), etc. Work can be really, really interesting.

      Reply
      1. Wolfram alpha

        I completely disagree with your second point. It is OK to want intellectually challenging work without meaning you think your better than everyone else.

        Honestly I find comments like this to be anti-intellectual which I see far more often then the reverse.

        Reply
    5. Merida Ann

      I definitely get that feeling! I went into a field in STEM primarily because I love doing math and wanted to use it in my career, but in my actual work, I’m not doing any math! I’m mostly writing contracts and arranging meetings between contractors and not doing anything I actually went to school for and it’s so frustrating! I’ve literally had several dreams (including last night) where I was just doing math problems, because I miss it.

      Reply
    6. Agent Rosenflower

      Normal, and I wish I had known that in my first job after grad school. I thought I was underachieving and failing at my career because I had a job where I wasn’t 110% intellectually stimulated all the time. It was really upsetting for me at the time.

      Reply
    7. Michael Carmichael

      I second (third?) what Lora and Victoria Nonprofit say, above, but I strongly disagree with those who say just get in and out of work and find your intellectual stimulation elsewhere. I think you’d be doing yourself a huge disservice. But by asking this question, I think you have a huge opportunity to not waste those years, workwise.

      The work itself may not be very intellectually challenging for the next few years, so I’d suggest paying close attention instead to how your office is run, and watching things like how management makes decisions, how things are communicated, looking at processes and trying to understand the reasoning behind them. There are tons of opportunities for learning and critical thinking inherent in just working somewhere and observing how things are done! The dynamics of any office are boring only if you have zero understanding of what you are looking at.

      I know for me, this finally happened by osmosis, because I was too self-absorbed – I too thought I was underutilized. I think the reason we as young people are ‘underutilized’ is because despite however many years in school, we don’t actually know anything about how things really work. Also, there is a tendency still to imagine that some ideal state can be achieved if only the company would do X or Y. This led me to some (now super embarrassing) moments in which I opined that our processes were dumb or inefficient, or that leadership didn’t know what it was doing. My other shame is that I didn’t make a huge effort to learn from my older, more experienced co-workers…my hubris made me believe that I, in my early to mid-twenties, was a peer of workers twice my age, simply because we were at more or less the same ‘level’ and I thought we were equally smart. Job title/brains don’t matter, you simply aren’t the peer of someone with 10-20 more years of life experience. I wish I had taken the time to cultivate those relationships and learn from them about both work and life. I try now to be that person for others, if they want the advice/mentoring.

      The more you can learn about your business and field, the sooner you will be able to contribute something of value and do more. This is true no matter what you end up doing – I don’t think anything you learn will not be of value to you later in life.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        Really great answer.
        I took my job boredom and used it to hone in closer on some of the particulars of the job. I became known for doing X, Y and Z very well. I was the go-to for A and B.
        What I did was I told myself that any job will be boring after a bit. The saying, familiarity breeds contempt? Well just before we hit contempt we hit boredom. The challenge of many jobs is what do we do when that boredom strikes. When you are on your 10,000th brain surgery or rocket launch it’s not new anymore, what will you do?
        I hope you chuckle. I used to tell myself that we do not get to pick the ways our jobs challenge us, the challenges just pop right up and there we are facing this unwanted aspect of a job. It’s how we respond to those things that we don’t feel like dealing with that can make us or break us as professionals. Tell yourself that you are sharpening yourself in ways you never expected.

        Reply
    8. Wolfram alpha

      I recommend dedicating some time each day to automating or otherwise improving your processes. Is stimulating and will eliminate a lot of the boring day to day stuff.

      Reply
  35. Be the Change

    This is school-related for someone else: I have a little internet friend in the India/Pakistan region who wants to study in London and is wondering how to find universities that have scholarships. (Honestly I think she wants me to say “Oh, my friend Dr. Brown at Oxford has lots of scholarships and is just looking for an emo poet! Here’s her number!” Oh well…).

    Anyone who has studied in London, any ideas at all? I know zilch.

    Reply
    1. Grits McGee

      This isn’t London specific, but when I was looking at grad schools in the UK (from the US), I had pretty good luck just emailing the contact person for the department I was interested in and asking what kind of funding opportunities were available for international students.

      Reply
    2. Anony McAnonface

      Not to be dismissive of this, but the best way to find schools with scholarships is our old friend Ms Google.

      Depending on what your friend wants to study she can look up Unis/colleges that have that program, then look and see what scholarships they offer. Most schools have ones specifically for international students.

      Reply
    3. Ramona Flowers

      Tell her to email the universities she wants to study at and ask if they provide logins to the Alternative Guide to University Funding. I think you can buy access too but some unis will give you access for free. And to look on each institution’s website as they should list some info.

      Reply
  36. Unhappy Intern

    So the weirdest thing happened. I posted on the open thread and asked for advice because my internship was boring me to tears, my supervisor was terrible, and I couldn’t imagine making it to the end of my contract.

    All that has improved overnight. Yay! I’m less unhappy with my internship, but I still don’t see myself sticking around. Even though I’ve been given new responsibilities, I’ve noticed my supervisor doesn’t think things through and more often than not, the work I do and the projects I’ve worked on are made irrelevant because she changed her mind after I spent weeks on it. And I don’t see her changing in the near future.

    So I found a new, exciting opening at a great company, but I need to write a cover letter for it, and I’ve never written one. I did read the AMA archives, but as I’m on a different country, I’m asking my professors for advice.

    Reply
    1. Samata

      I’ve noticed my supervisor doesn’t think things through and more often than not, the work I do and the projects I’ve worked on are made irrelevant because she changed her mind after I spent weeks on it.

      Welcome to the working world! It gets better, but I’ve seen (and heard about) lots of this!

      Reply
  37. Bend & Snap

    I was put up for promotion and found out this week I didn’t get it. It wasn’t a case of competing with someone else, but part of a broader HR decision. I had an amazing 360 review, am doing work 1 and in some cases 2 levels above my current role, always meet or exceed goals and get nothing but praise for my work.

    I am so flipping demotivated. It doesn’t really help to know that this is how life is in a big corporate machine. I feel completely devalued, disappointed and disillusioned.

    Reply
    1. medium of ballpoint

      I’m sorry! When this happened to me I gave myself a few days to wallow and be angry and then tried to focus a lot on self-care and putting together a plan for whatever came next. I don’t know if that helps you at all, but I’m sending good vibes your way!

      Reply
    2. Lora

      *raises glass* Me too. I am extra-mad because boss made it sound like a really sure thing and then kind of announced out of the blue that he was unhappy I hadn’t done a thing which he had SPECIFICALLY TOLD ME NOT TO DO.

      Sorry for shouty all caps. I am really mad about this.

      Please accept this virtual margarita from an internet stranger.

      Reply
  38. Triplestep

    I posted here last week that I’d accepted a job offer, and that I’d been told by the in-house recuriter that I’d hear from the hiring manager in the next couple of days. In the meantime, I would need to clear the offer contingencies: A background check and a pre-employment health screening performed onsite. (Healthcare facility)

    Early yesterday, I reached out to the recuriter to ask that she notify me by e-mail when I had cleared the contingencies. I added that I had not yet heard from the hiring manager, but it might be that she was waiting until the last to hurdles were cleared. The recruiter wrote back and said A.) I’ll nudge the hiring manager, she’s been really busy B.) You would have been told at your pre-emplyment health screening if anything was amiss, and C.) The results of your background check won’t be available until after you start.

    I don’t expect to fail my background check, but it’s clear they expect people to give notice and leave a current job, then recind a job offer after the start date if their check turns up anything. That’s kind of nervy! Also, after two weeks, I would have liked to hear “Welcome aboard!” from the hiring manager. (Still nothing.) Both of these things are giving me pause about giving notice on Monday. I am really just not feeling the love here.

    Am I overreacting? Should I just reach out to the hiring manager myself to say I cleared the health screening and am excitied about starting?

    Reply
    1. Master Bean Counter

      I read that as the results of your background check won’t be available to you, until day 1. They should have already vetted it before that point.

      Reply
      1. Triplestep

        Her words were “Background check more than likely will not be back before you start.” That tells me they expect you to leave your current job and start with them before the full vetting.

        Reply
    2. CAA

      How deep is the background check and what does it include? An initial check of credit report plus state and federal criminal records should be completed within a couple of weeks. If they’re doing college graduation and transcripts or residency, then those can take longer.

      For positions that require low level government security clearances it’s pretty normal that you start the job after a provisional approval and then it can take several months for the full clearance to come through. If you fail the clearance process, you do indeed get fired. I had to fire one guy who had been with us as a temp and then couldn’t get a clearance once he was perm because he had lied about having graduated from college.

      I don’t think not hearing from the hiring manager is that big a deal. I don’t contact candidates between making the offer and the start date. I am on the phone with HR when we make the offer, and then HR sends an overnight package that includes a printed offer letter, benefits info, pre-employment screening info, etc. Any communication that happens after the offer is generally between HR and the candidate (we have already discussed salary expectations during the interview phase, so we don’t get a lot of negotiation attempts.) If you do want to reach out to the hiring manager, then it’s ok to send a short email.

      Reply
      1. Triplestep

        Thanks for coming in.

        The offer is contingent upon satisfactory completion of a criminal background check and relevant Department of Public Health Requirements. (Verification of ability to be employed in an organization that participates in Medicare, Medicaid, and other Federal Health Care Programs.)

        When I signed the release, I noticed that they would also be checking credit. (My credit is excellent, although I am having an excise tax dispute with my city which is technically in city collections. Who knows if that would turn up?)

        I just don’t like the expectation that you leave your job before they are done vetting you. The last time I had to have a background check it was complete – and my manager contacted me – before I gave notice. I’m just uneasy about this.

        Reply
        1. Triplestep

          Um, that was supposed to be “thanks for *chiming* in”.

          I also think it’s worth mentioning that had it not been mentioned twice by the recruiter that the hiring manager would be contacting me, I might not be expecting it.

          Reply
          1. CAA

            I understand that the recruiter set your expectations regarding the hiring manager contacting you, but I guess that you probably shouldn’t take the recruiter at her word when it comes to the actions of another person she doesn’t even manage. She can’t really force the hiring manager to call or email you and give warm fuzzies. Honestly, if I were the hiring manager, I’d feel pretty weird doing it, so I could see myself just letting it slide.

            Since you feel strongly about the background check, I do think you should tell them that you’re just not comfortable submitting your resignation for your current position and starting a new one until that part is complete and ask for more details about when they expect to have everything they need.

            You can find out about the excise tax thing by asking for your credit report from freecreditreport dot com.

            Reply
            1. Triplestep

              Thanks again. It helps to have your perspective about the hiring manager.

              I know from Credit Karma that I have excellent credit and nothing in collections. The city’s private collections division may not report to the credit reporting agencies.

              But I did sign off on a pretty deep dive background check, and the employer’s paperwork indicated they retained the right to recheck as long as I work there. It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. So I’m torn between doing things their way, or delaying the start date (three weeks from now) and potentially looking like I have something to hide by insisting on doing this the way I think should be their SOP. (Background check first, start date once cleared.)

              Reply
      1. Triplestep

        I should have mentioned that I do have a start date and am scheduled for an orientation. If I give notice on Monday, that would be three weeks. I wanted to give three weeks due to team meetings scheduled the following week.

        Reply
        1. ..Kat..

          Do you have a written offer yet? I mean, if you haven’t heard from the hiring manager, do you really have a start date? And thus, would this allow you to slow things down as far as having time for all the background checks to be completed? I’m with you on wanting the background check to be completed. There are so many errors in credit reports. And people digging into your background could misinterpret something as bad. I bet even Mother Theresa could have blips on her background check that could give someone pause. (Did you know she hangs out with shifty characters? They are poor, diseased, drug addicted, etc. Better not hire her!)

          Reply
          1. Triplestep

            Thanks, yes – I have a written offer, and part of what’s in writing is my start date.

            Over the weekend, I decided to go ahead and play by their rules, and I’ll be giving notice tomorrow. Then this morning (Monday) the hiring manager reached out to me by e-mail, and wanted to set up a time to chat before I start. So I feel much better about that part.

            My rationale for starting before the background check is as follows:
            1. I read some of the archives here and note that it’s not uncommon.
            2. They can get rid of me any time for any reason anyway. They can give me a 90 day trial and fire me on day 89. They can also fire me on day 91.
            3. This is their SOP, so why not go along with it. Hopefully on the very slim chance my report turns anything up, they’ll hear me out or let me correct it.

            Reply
  39. heynonnynonny

    Has anyone successfully negotiated a raise when working at a state university system where top yearly merit raises are determined by the governing board? Any tips on how to ask?

    Some background: I was offered this job at a lower salary than what was listed on the job ad, and told that there was no room to move up when I tried to negotiate. I’ve now been here a little over a year and received my first merit raise (which happens for all employees at the start of the new school year). I checked our publicly posted salaries and I am the lowest paid person with my job title–and my new raise still puts me below what the next-lowest-paid people with my title were hired in at.

    This is my first full-time job out of college, but I bring a specialized degree and work history, have extensive experience in our area (far greater than what was asked for in the job posting) and I’ve taken increasing responsibilities over my time here.

    I would like to talk about raising my salary but I’m not sure how to do that in an environment where raises are so structured. My immediate boss has no ability to give raises by herself, and tends not to like to rock the boat, and I’ve never spoken to my unit’s director (the only person who could unilaterally okay a raise).

    Reply
    1. fposte

      I have, but it wasn’t in anything like your situation. You’re in a tricky spot, because you accepted the salary you got, there was no deal or promise for an individual raise, and it doesn’t sound like anything has massively changed with the job that would require its reclassification; mostly this seems to be regret about your starting salary.

      In a situation like that your best spur is if they’re hiring again for your position and the pay is higher than yours. But there’s always gotta be somebody who’s the lowest-paid one in the position, and you’re the most recent so it makes sense that it’s you; it’s also not uncommon, in broke-ass universities, for starting pay to be lower than in previous years. I think it wouldn’t hurt you to ask your manager about parity, but I wouldn’t spend the personal capital after only a year of employment of going to the unit director over this unless you’d achieved something super-impressive.

      Reply
      1. heynonnynonny

        Thanks, that’s what I was thinking. Unfortunately while I enjoy working here it’s seeming more and more like I’ll have to leave to make a decent wage.

        To be clear though, several of the other people with my title were hired the same time as me and started at higher pay. Different units, though, and my unit does have a known reputation for not paying the non-academic staff on par with the rest of the university.

        Reply
        1. medium of ballpoint

          This happened at one of my previous workplaces and unfortunately, none of the lower-paid staff were able to negotiate for livable salaries. They ended up leaving and were clear in their exit interviews that salary disparity was part of the reason. (I don’t think that’s made much difference in the grander scheme of things yet, but they were hopeful that repeated feedback to that effect might help someone later along the line.) Good luck to you!

          Reply
    2. Michael Carmichael

      At my state university, you do this in your situation by getting a market value increase. If you can show that you are paid under market and have excellent reviews, you can get some movement here. There can be a challenge though if the state determines what market value is – they are notorious for having very outdated, unrealistic market numbers. If there is a potential parity issue – like you and the other women in the department/position are being paid less than any men, that is usually something you can use since HR doesn’t want to go there.

      Also at my U – it really helps to have someone to advocate for you. If your immediate boss isn’t the raise-asking-for type, this may be an issue. Where I work, the supervisor has to push for action. If you do some kind of service work for a higher-up in another department (but same HR), you might be able to leverage that. It really depends on what kind of position you are in.

      I sympathize though! We are losing lots of folks to private universities, and a lot of the issue is pay.

      Reply
    3. Ezzl

      I work at a state university. From personal experience, a year isn’t very long as far as salary goes. In looking at the publicly posted salaries, I’d also consider how long the people have been in their positions– if they’ve been there a few years, they’ve probably had a few raises under their belts, and also if they have other qualifications (more experiences, degrees, do they supervise people, work more hours than you, etc), then it makes sense that they’re paid more.

      The way I got a significant raise was eventually getting another job offer. This was after I’d been there a few years, and they didn’t want to lose me, so they matched it. An obvious risk is if they don’t want to give you a raise, they’ll just tell you to take the job/maybe kick you out of your current job.

      But in the years before my raise, it did suck to be not paid well. I combated it by taking on more responsibilities, and doing a kickass job, and making myself pretty indispensable. At my university you kind of have to have a reason (more responsibility, more hours, more duties, outside offer) to get any significant raise. Looking back, I can see that the reason I wasn’t paid well initially was because I was in an entry level position, and it just took time to get raises and move up. Hang in there. I know a year seems like a long time, but in the grand scheme of things you’re just starting. Consider taking on additional responsibilities, which will give you bargaining power if you ask for raises, or will at least beef up your resume so that you can eventually leave for a better paid job.

      Reply
      1. Lemon Zinger

        Can I ask how you got your raises, and whether you got them in your first position? I have been working at a state university in an entry-level role for close to two years. I have taken on several significant duties that are not part of the normal job, and I am widely respected and valued in my department. I would like a raise (preferably one that comes with a better job!) and want to know when and how to ask.

        Reply
        1. Ezzl

          I have a super supportive boss, but I’ve been in the same department in a job that has morphed and changed through the years. I’ve been here 8ish years, and have had maybe 3 or 4 different titles? But it’s never been a re-apply situation, it’s always been, hey, your job duties have changed significantly, why don’t we change your title to match.

          If you have evaluations, that’s generally a good time to point out that your duties have expanded, and to ask for a raise and/or title change. I think with all of the title changes I got a small raise. The big one was when I had an outside job offer, since that was justification my boss could use with HR.

          Our university also has different types of position, so my boss also advocated (for years!) with HR, and finally got me moved to the better position type. That involved a lot of both me and my boss writing justifications about how my job now involved more independent decision-making.

          If there are people in your department who have successfully advocated for raises/title changes, sometimes they can be good allies, since they can give you more insight into the department and department-specific strategies. Like I didn’t realize that the position type change was even a possibility until it happened to my colleague.

          Reply
    4. Ghost Town

      Are you me? I wouldn’t say I had far more experience than what was requested, but I certainly fulfilled the requirement.

      At my university (large state institution) this sort of off-cycle raise was hard to get and usually needed an outside reason (like taking on person in a higher classification’s job duties for a time and even then, it usually only worked for support staff. professional staff were just expected to do it.). The only way I was able to get a meaningful raise (where I actually take home more money each month) was to move positions and schools within the university.

      If you are within the publicly posted range, I think it is going to be a hard fight. If you are below the median, you probably have a shot with the market value approach. In my old position, we tried to have my job re-coded (university job-function/responsibility coding) to try to get me a raise, but that just succeeded in changing my title. And in reality, wages everywhere in the school were so depressed and margins between Associate and Assistant Directors, Program Managers/Coordinators, etc were thin at best. Moving schools, I am the same overall classification code, but make more than my old boss does.

      Where I work, the university is a large employer in a small pond. A small pond filled with highly educated people who want to stay here b/c they love the location or they are attached to faculty/students here.

      Reply
  40. Kowalski! Options!

    Interested in hearing the AAM gang’s opinion on this:
    You’re in a position that you like enough, but your division is continually kneecapping itself because no one on staff has Skills A, B, and C. You mostly do X, Y, and Z. You see an internal job posting in your organization that is at the same level as yours, same job title, and has a very strong focus on Skills A, B, and C – skills which you’re interested in developing, but don’t currently have (so applying for the job is not an option). In your organization(s), would it be OK to drop the HR rep or the manager hiring an e-mail, saying, “Look, I don’t have those skills, but I would like to take my job in that direction; could I take you out for a quick coffee to learn more about that job, so I could make my job more like that one?”

    Reply
      1. Kowalski! Options!

        Sorry, just to clarify: I’d say that to the person who’s hiring for the position while making it clear that I’m not applying for the job – I just want my current job to be more like the job that they’re advertising for.

        Reply
        1. Anonymous Educator

          I’m talking about in terms of selling yourself. You don’t want to start with what you lack. You can acknowledge you lack that, but start with what you have to offer.

          Reply
    1. miyeritari

      I think that would be fine, but I wouldn’t start with “I don’t know this.” Maybe you could start with “Hi, I’m looking to expand my knowledge in terms of skills A, B and C” instead.

      Reply
  41. Yorick

    My former PhD student, Jane, has transferred to a new program at another university, which means she is basically starting over. She has a question about how to interact with another first-year student, Petunia. They had barely spoken until after class one day when Petunia walked out with Jane and confided in her that she had considered suicide recently. Jane was so startled that all she could manage to say was “I’m sorry.” (I gave her the advice of referring people to the university’s counseling services in the future). Since then, Petunia has overshared about her life, including her romantic and sex life. This all makes Jane pretty uncomfortable. Petunia also calls Jane several times per day. Jane usually doesn’t answer and reminds Petunia that she’s very busy, but nothing has changed.

    Does anyone have ideas on how Jane can set up and enforce some boundaries with Petunia while still being kind and mindful of any problems she might be dealing with? Some scripts would be useful.

    Reply
    1. CMDRBNA

      Hi Yorick,

      That’s so sad. I feel bad for Jane and for Petunia.

      I think Jane should memorize some scripts that are gentle but firm to redirect Petunia towards people who can actually help her. This might help:

      1. Jane should stop answering Petunia’s phone calls entirely.
      2. When Petunia overshares, Jane can say something like “That really isn’t any of my business. You should talk to someone else about that.”
      3. If Petunia brings up suicide again, Jane can say something like “I’m sorry you’re struggling with this. Please call (student resources/actual people who are trained to deal with this sort of thing).” or “This is really out of my depth, please talk to a mental health professional about this.”

      I’m not minimizing what Petunia’s going through, I have a sibling who has called me in the grips of a psychotic episode, but Jane can’t help Petunia and there are people who can.

      Reply
      1. Snark

        And I think there needs to be a really awkward, awful conversation where Jane basically says, “Look, Petunia, you seem like a great person and I genuinely want the best for you and am concerned that you’re going through a difficult time. But we don’t really know each other, we aren’t best friends, and I don’t have the time or bandwidth right now to do emotional labor for you and be your sounding board for all your problems. Right now, all I want to do is get through grad school with a degree and intact sanity, and I can’t be what you want me to be right now. Please stop calling me, please stop oversharing at me, and please don’t consider me your first person to call when you’re feeling distressed, because I’m not going to be here for you like this moving forward.”

        Reply
    2. Manders

      Oof, that’s rough. You might want to send Jane over to Captain Awkward to read some of the scripts there about boundary setting.

      In my personal experience, when someone is this pushy and this far away from understanding what’s normal in interactions with near-strangers, you can say all the right things and be direct but it won’t work unless you also follow it up by making yourself physically unavailable. Don’t take the calls, don’t take them up on offers to hang out, literally turn around and walk out of the room if they try to corner you. It feels awful to do this, because it goes against all our instincts to be kind and helpful to people who are in distress, but it’s what you have to do to make the behavior stop.

      (If this were a normal work environment I would suggest going to a manager or HR, but my experience with grad schools has not made me optimistic about anyone in the administration stepping in to help Petunia.)

      Reply
    3. Emily

      My university has a program that is within its health services department that is specifically designed for people who are worried about the health of others (pretty much designed specifically for situations like this, where someone is talking to a peer about suicide). Maybe Jane’s university has something similar?

      Reply
      1. medium of ballpoint

        Seconding! Jane can call the counseling center and any of their staff will be happy to help her think through how she wants to handle this. This is a really common situation and a service most centers offer.

        Reply
          1. Snark

            I mean….I don’t disagree, under normal circumstances. But Jane’s in grad school, which means she’s broke, ungodly busy, sleep-deprived, emotionally raw, and using all of her emotional strength to get through every day. At some point, she’s got to look out for number one, and she doesn’t have a day off to devote to meeting with professionals to figure out how best to do emotional labor for Petunia. That’s just not in the bandwidth. Jane can strongly encourage Petunia to go get her own professional help, but beyond that…Petunia kind of shanghaied Jane onto her crew, and it’s not really in Jane’s job description to keep that boat afloat.

            Reply
              1. Manders

                I don’t think it’s too mercenary. Grad school is most definitely a “put your own oxygen mask first” situation. I would not want a grad student trying to get involved in caring for a near-stranger in crisis (and I say that as someone who dated a grad student for years–he was still a loving and supportive partner, but he was not capable of being sole emotional support for a suicidal person during those years, and he could have dropped the ball in a dangerous way if he’d tried to do that).

                Reply
              2. Emi.

                I don’t think it’s too mercenary, but I also think the counseling center might be able to offer Jane something better than just helping her “figure out how best to do emotional labor for Petunia.” Like, they could help her with boundary-setting skills, or they could give her the right fliers/pamphlets so that when Petunia starts up Jane can say “This is out of my depth, but here’s a flier from the counseling center with their number on it,” which might be more effective than “This is out of my depth, please stahp.”

                I had a vampiric friend like this in undergrad (she was actually my friend before she went full vampire), who would always meet my “I can’t provide X for you” with “But I’m going through a lot and I need X.” I think if I had said “I can’t provide X for you but here’s who can,” it would have been easier to escape.

                Reply
                1. Snark

                  But on the flipside, when I – a week after we’d drunkenly hooked up and six days after I’d told her in the kindest possible way I could that we were not in a relationship – told my vampire to go to the campus health center if she was having a depressive episode, she told me that nobody but I could help her because “nobody understands my soul like you.” Not saying it’s necessarily going to happen, but.

                  That said, your point is good.

              3. Panda Bandit

                It’s not mercenary. Even if Jane wasn’t a grad student, she still isn’t equipped to handle Petunia’s issues. Suicidal thoughts and everything like that are for trained professionals to handle.

                Reply
            1. Emily

              It actually is my impression that the university service I was referring to is for alerting health services that someone might be in trouble. As in, Jane alerts them, and they reach out to Petunia. I’m not 100% sure, as I’ve never actually used it, but that is my impression from the marketing I’ve seen.

              Reply
            2. blackcat

              Eh, my university has definitely said to me in *both* of my capacities (PhD student and instructor), that I can literally make a 5 minute call and say “I am worried about the mental health of so and so,” give basic info, and be done with it. That ends up saving time in the long run.

              Reply
            3. Lily Rowan

              I know it’s probably too late for anyone to see this, but I was thinking of one phone call to a suicide hotline or something on campus for advice on how NOT to do emotional labor for Petunia.

              Reply
    4. Snark

      Grad school can breed this kind of insta-besties overfamiliarity, and it’s tough to deal with. I had something almost exactly like this happen with a new PhD student right when I was about to defend my thesis, with the added complication of her being female, me being male, and us having drunkenly hooked up.

      Reply
      1. Yorick

        Grad school really does foster this. I had a weird insta-bestie situation with a girl in my cohort who dropped out after one year. Coincidentally, she is now in Jane’s cohort! (not Petunia)

        Reply
        1. bean

          Seconding (thirding? fourth-ing?) the comments above that Jane can contact the university counseling services and let them know she’s worried about Petunia and also feels ill-equipped to help her, and uncomfortable being the person Petunia is seeking out for help. I don’t think Jane needs to spend endless hours meeting with counselors on Petunia’s behalf and don’t think it’s Jane’s job to make sure Petunia gets services, etc., but I would imagine Jane would rest easier setting a firm boundary if she knows she’s alerted someone else (someone who is qualified to help) to her worry about Petunia (effectively doing a “hand off” of her concern, so someone else can do the worrying) and hopefully letting Petunia know there are resources available to her and how to avail herself of them, as she lets Petunia know she’s not in a position to be able to help her with this, wishes her the best, and recuses herself from the situation.

          Reply
    5. Not So NewReader

      Tell Jane to match what is coming at her.
      Petunia insists upon calling, Jane should match that insistence with, “I lack the quals to be of help to you. Now . Shall I call the university hotline or will you call on your own?” If Petunia refuses to make that call then Jane should call herself and report what she is hearing. The fact that Jane has heard about her romantic/sex life kind of says to me that Jane is not nipping this one. She can say:

      “Oh, look at the time, gotta run.”
      “Petunia, my answer has not changed. You need to talk with people more qualified than me.”
      “Petunia, I cannot help you.”
      “Petunia, I really don’t know you and I don’t want to know what position you had sex in last night. That is personal and private, you need to keep that to yourself.”
      “Petunia, stop calling me, I cannot help you.”

      In ordinary relationships we would not say these things, in part because we wouldn’t need to say these things. However, when a person starts talking candidly they have open the door for a candid response in kind.

      Think of it this way, if you are being noisy and the person next to you wants you to be quiet what would your response be if they said, “STFU?” Conversely, what would your response be if they say, “Gee, I am really having a tough time getting through this material, can you dial it down a little?” We tend to respond on the same level as the person we are dealing with right?
      The Petunias of the world are not going to hear, “oh I am busy”, and automatically know that they are oversharing. Because the connection is not there. Jane will have to use a different set of words to get her point across. The current set is not working and probably won’t ever.

      Reply
    6. Ramona Flowers

      I think the really key message is: I’m so sorry you’re having a hard time right now – I hope you get some support, you could try [crisis line – find a list of these at befrienders.org].

      Rather than try to justify or explain why she’s setting boundaries (chances are it won’t be understood or well received) she should just… have them. Don’t answer the phone. You say she reminds Petunia she’s busy. How? Is she texting in response to the call? Don’t. Just don’t answer. She needs to just BE busy, not keep saying it.

      It is okay to give someone appropriate resources and then kindly but firmly set boundaries. It is okay not to compassionately redirect them and to not be the only person out of however many billion who helps them.

      Reply
      1. Ramona Flowers

        Oh and when someone behaves like this, it is simply not possible to give them what they need. She literally couldn’t even if she tried – it’s a bit like trying to fill a black hole. The absolute kindest thing to do is redirect her to trained professionals.

        Reply
  42. Fabulous

    I am tasked today with converting a 60 slide PowerPoint into a Word document for handouts. Mentioned this to the office manager and she commented that it was a ridiculous thing to do, that the slides can just be printed out in handout form. She basically criticized my department and invalidated my work. Obviously yes slides can be printed, but you won’t be able to read everything on the slide or see any detail in the pictures because they’re so small. The presentation is basically a “how-to” on brand new software, so you kinda need to see the details. *Sigh*

    Reply
    1. Anonymous Educator

      Maybe your slides are peculiar, but I would say in general (maybe not in your specific situation), the office manager is correct. You can usually (again, maybe you have a weird situation) print slides from PowerPoint, and they should print just fine (not tiny). That said, her telling you it’s a ridiculous thing to do doesn’t really help, because you were tasked with it (wasn’t your choice). She should talk to whomever tasked you with it.

      Reply
      1. Fabulous

        When we print PowerPoints we usually do two slides per page front/back because they can get incredibly lengthy (like this one is 60 slides). But the text isn’t always readable and pictures would definitely not show up well because they’re screenshots of computer programs, with lots of little details. Some of the pics you can barely see on the computer screen as it is; they’d be completely useless printed as slides. As a Word doc, I can at least zoom in and highlight the areas that are talked about.

        Yes, it’s tedious work, but it really needs to be done – or give me the PowerPoints in the first place to put together! LOL

        Reply
        1. Observer

          Why can’t you print one per page? Yes, it’s lengthy, but that’s the nature of the situation.

          Also, if you ARE pulling it into word, there shouldn’t be a need to redo the slides – you can import it and then do what you need to do. Still a fair amount of work, but much less than redoing.

          Reply
    2. Leah the (former) Admin

      Right, you can dictate how many slides you want on a page, too – so the pictures wouldn’t be too small. And as a (former) admin, we hate seeing people waste time on stuff that we could do so much faster or easier.

      Reply
    3. Construction Safety

      Can you print them out from the View -> Notes Page of PowerPoint? You get a clear slide and can format it anyway you desire.

      Reply
      1. Fabulous

        The Note Pages are still too small to read on most of the slides. Plus you’re still only getting one slide per page, and when there’s 60+ slides, it’s just too much paper…

        Reply
  43. CMDRBNA

    Hey all,

    Any advice about how to deal with something I keep running into at work? I’m a small person and I’m tired of getting comments about my body type/perceived weight from coworkers. It’s not sexual harassment and it’s always female coworkers.

    I just started a new job where the other people in my department are both larger than I am and they seem to work comments about my size into conversation weirdly frequently. I purposefully don’t participate in any diet/exercise/weight talk at work, because I don’t like it and don’t want to talk about it, but it seems like even innocuous comments – like mentioning I was out of breath after going up the stairs – seems to trigger this weird need for them to comment on my size.

    Has anyone else dealt with this? This has happened at literally every place I’ve ever worked and I just want it to stop.

    Reply
    1. Dennawe

      Tell them, politely and firmly, that you don’t appreciate their comments and they’re making you uncomfortable. If they continue to make those comments, talk to your boss or HR.

      Reply
      1. CMDRBNA

        Dennawe, that’s good advice, but I don’t think I can really do that in this situation. They’re on my team and people I work with every day and I need to be on good terms with them. I have worked in offices where I was outright bullied by coworkers for my size, but they’re really nice people. I think this is just them projecting their own body issues onto me, but I just don’t want to constantly feel like I need to apologize for being the size that I happen to be.

        Usually just ignoring the comments and not engaging in any diet or food-related talk at work kind of squelches it, but I don’t want to spend the rest of my career dealing with this. I imagine it’s kind of like really tall people having to field comments about their height all the time.

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          “Could we stop the constant commentary on my size? It’s getting weird.” You can say this kindly, but it really is a reasonable thing to say, even in a context where you need to be on good terms with people.

          Reply
        2. Snark

          You can soften it up as necessary, but anybody who’s inappropriate enough to repeatedly bring up a coworker’s body type at work is probably going to need a bit of frankness. It’s probably going to be awkward for a few days after you put your foot down. That’s okay. Sometimes, awkwardness needs to happen. If you make the request politely and directly, and follow it up with similarly polite reminders, and then treat them with exactly the same warmth and friendliness you always do, it’ll pass.

          Reply
          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Yes — and there are no magic words here that will eliminate all possibilities of slight awkwardness. The choice is to take that on and get it addressed or to say nothing at all.

            Reply
        3. LCL

          It’s exactly like really tall people hearing comments about their height. You can take the professional, earnest approach. Like Snark suggested, those are all good suggestions.
          Or you can go more flippant, know your audience before you get carried away with this. ‘Oh, thanks for pointing out I’m not 6 feet tall, I’d forgotten.’ ‘You guessed my weight wrong, I really weigh 900 pounds.’

          Reply
        4. Gaia

          “I’m sorry, I really don’t like talking about this. Can we stop bringing it up?” And, if they try to continue or bring it up again “Like I said, this really makes me uncomfortable. Please stop.”

          Neither is rude and any sane person would get the hint after the first request. People are really weird about discussing things like size and height at work. I’m not sure where anyone got the idea it was acceptable.

          Reply
    2. Snark

      “I don’t appreciate comments about my body type, and I’d really appreciate if you stopped making comments of any kind about that.”

      “Please don’t talk about my body type anymore. I really don’t like it and it comes up weirdly often.”

      “Please stop making comments about my body type. This is really important to me and I feel like you’re ignoring my requests to stop.”

      “I need you to stop talking about my body. This is not okay.”

      Reply
      1. Snark

        My wife, who has a somewhat unusual body type, has another approach: batting it back at them. “Wow, Ms. Snark, you’re so tall!” “Mmm, and you have brown hair.” “Yes, and you are Caucasian.” “I am! And you have blue eyes!” She delivers it in an earnest, slightly impressed tone of voice, and it’s just friendly enough to take the edge off the sarcasm.

        Reply
        1. CMDRBNA

          It’s more like coworkers finding a way to work a comment into how small I am into conversations. I think their thinking is that it’s not an “insult” therefore it’s ok? I’m not really sure what their thinking is, I would never comment on someone’s body type.

          For example, if I’m eating a salad – “Oh, THAT’s why you’re so skinny!” If I’m eating a donut – “Well, you don’t have to worry about gaining weight!” (which isn’t true) If I’m out of breath – “Well, you don’t have to worry about going to the gym!”

          Stuff like that.

          Reply
          1. Holly Flax

            I get those same “compliments” and they make me so uncomfortable. For some of the more obnoxious ones like, “why are you eating a salad” or “DID YOU JUST EAT A WHOLE AVOCADO?? THAT’S SO MUCH FAT HOW ARE YOU SO SKINNY?” (this actually happened) I usually reply with “it makes me uncomfortable that you are so focused on what I am eating.” For the “that dress looks great on you, because you are so skinny” I kind of just take the “compliment” and internally roll my eyes.

            Reply
          2. zora

            You can even point that out, it might make you feel better about saying it.
            “I know you are being nice and you don’t mean anything by it, but it makes me uncomfortable when you say stuff about my size and my body. Can we please avoid that talk? Thank you!”

            You can say it with a friendly tone, not acting like your mad, but also as Snark says above, you have to accept that it will be a little awkward. But if they are really nice people, and it sounds like they are, they will get over it in a week or so and everyone will move on!

            Reply
    3. Elisabeth

      I wonder if this is a good place for Allison’s advice about pretending this a weird quirk of YOURS. (Even though in reality they’re being rude and intrusive – it’s just as obnoxious to harp on someone’s small size as someone’s large size).

      For instance, if the body talk comes up, can you say, “Hey guys, do you mind if we hold off on the body/food talk? It kind of stresses me out.”

      Reply
    4. nep

      You do not have to live with this. This is unacceptable. You would not be the least bit out of line politely telling people you’d like this to stop. You say you need to remain on good terms with these colleagues — but at what cost? And do you think they would no longer be on good terms with you if you said something?
      I worked with a young man who is just under 7 feet tall. I used to cringe when colleagues or people coming to our establishment would start right in about his height, thinking nothing of it.

      Reply
  44. Dennawe

    A friend of mine has been ordered to pay some of her unemployment back because during a phone interview, she was asked if she could accept work in a city that’s a bit of a commute even by car from where she lives with a start time of 7:00 am, and she says that she wasn’t sure if she could get there on time since she relies on the bus, and they cited her not having “reliable transportation” as the reason. This wouldn’t be an issue for her with jobs that were closer to her. Is there anything she can do to fight it? I understand them making her pay it back if she just didn’t want to wake up early, but it seems so atrociously terrible that being unable to afford a car is seen as her fault.

    Reply
    1. Kowalski! Options!

      Where are you located? I can’t speak for other jurisdictions, but if you’re in Canada, get the friend to call her Member of Parliament, explain the situation, and see what can be done about it. I had to do that once with an issue regarding UI. They docked me three days because I’d gone to another city for three days to look for work, and it got sorted really fast once my MP became involved.

      Reply
        1. Liane

          Your friend should call their district’s state legislator’s local office. They will have staffers who help constituents with problems like this. I have had success with UI and other agencies in a couple different states after calling a state legislator. (A supervisor at one state’s UI agency called me on a Saturday (!) to tell me she was mailing my back benefits check that day)
          In this case, if there’s an appeals process, she should probably try that first.

          Reply
        2. Agile Phalanges

          I am in Oregon, and have only dealt with UE from the employer side, but there is an appeals process. Your friend should follow their process, but it’s my understanding that they LOVE to deny claims on the front end, and often they are solved in the employee’s favor through the appeals process. I believe they also can’t ask for that repayment to happen once she requests an appeal, and it will stop any interest from accruing, etc., but don’t hold me to that. IANAL or an employment office employee.

          Reply
    2. persimmon

      Your friend should take a close look at the notice she received. There will be information there about how to appeal the decision, and your friend should do that (ASAP, because deadlines are short). Then there will be a hearing scheduled in front of an administrative law judge. It’s very typical for people to represent themselves at UI hearings and the ALJs know how to guide you through the process which is relatively easy as these things go. ALJs are often more sympathetic than the front-line unemployment staff, so it’s definitely worth the appeal especially if the money is significant.

      Reply
      1. persimmon

        Also I did a quick search and this looks helpful (provided by the state govt): http://www.oregon.gov/oah/docs/ui_hearing_info_uipub91_0106.pdf
        Also some videos here: http://www.oregon.gov/oah/Pages/UI_Publications2.aspx
        I should say that I worked in a legal aid office where we sometimes took unemployment cases (so it may be worth a call your local legal aid office, findable at oregonlawhelp.org), but unless it was within grant priorities we mostly would give some quick advice including handouts like the above.

        Reply
    3. ughhhh

      I received 2 weeks of unemployment in 2013. I was laid off on 8/31 and I had a new job by 9/14 – the new job was twice as good as my old job, paid practically double, and was contractor to permanent (so for a while, I had to buy my benefits through my company’s temp employment agency and didn’t get paid days off, but I did get buckets of overtime pay.)

      I signed up for unemployment (obviously not knowing I’d land a great job so quickly) and hit the ground running job searching. I reported all of the job search attempts to the unemployment dept like I was supposed to.

      6 weeks after I started at my new job, 6 weeks after I cancelled my unemployment and confirmed with them that I’d found a new job very quickly, 6 weeks after i stopped receiving payments from them, I got a letter that to fulfill my unemployment requirements from 8/31-9/14, I needed to attend a certain amount of job search classes through some 3rd party adult education thing that the unemployment office partnered with.

      I called to say, “Hi, I was only unemployed for 2 weeks, so I can’t take these classes. I have a new job and can’t take time off.” They said, “You have to go to them or you can’t get unemployment anymore.” I said, “I haven’t gotten unemployment for 6 weeks. I only got it for 2. I already have a job.” They said, “it doesn’t matter. You have to pay it back in full if you don’t take these classes.” I said, “so I have to take 3 days off of work, 3 days where I will not be paid, to take classes in how to job search, when i already have a job and am NOT CURRENTLY ON UNEMPLOYMENT?” and they said, “yes, you will have to pay it back if you don’t take unpaid days off of work to come to the job center.” And I said, “you hear yourself right now, right? You hear how crazy that is that I have to take 3 unpaid days off of work and RISK LOSING MY NEW JOB FOR BEING OUT OF OFFICE WITHOUT BEING ELIGIBLE FOR TIME OFF YET to take classes in how to get a job, so I’m eligible for the unemployment you paid me in the past but no longer receive?” and they said “yes and we will ensure you pay back the entire amount of your unemployment from 8/31-9/14 if you don’t take these classes.”

      Three months later after probably 12 threatening letters later, approximately 97 total hours on the phone with about 43 increasingly less helpful people later, and I don’t even know how it happened, but they dropped it. I wanted to send them a bill for $9,000 (10x the amt I made from unemployment in the first place) for wasting my time. This was in the great state of Massachusetts.

      Reply
      1. Bea W

        That’s stupid awful. You probably have spoken to everyone imaginable about this, but if you haven’t yet, complain in detail about this to your local MA gov reps. That is the stupidest poop ever!

        Reply
    4. Kinsley M.

      I’m curious as to how the UI office even knows she told a phone interview about the bus? Was a UI examiner conducting the interview?

      I don’t know the exact verbiage of Oregon’s UI laws, but all states I’ve ever worked with say you have to be “ready, willing, and able” to accept work. Not having transportation to the job would not satisfy the “able” qualification. I’d still appeal the ruling, but I’m definitely not surprised by it.

      Reply
  45. CatCat

    Legal professionals (and anyone else with an interest in courts), have you heard of Judge Posner’s new book, “Reforming the Federal Judiciary: My Former Court Needs to Overhaul Its Staff Attorney Program and Begin Televising Its Oral Arguments”? Apparently the chief judge of the 7th Circuit reported Posner for an ethics violation for some content in the book.

    I’m intrigued, I admit, in part because one reviewer described it as “batshit crazy.” The whole thing sounds like a soap opera and like material for an especially dramatic workplace tale that could end up on AAM. From the review on CA3blog:

    “At its heart, this book is a baffling, disjointed blow-by-blow of Posner’s many recent battles with Seventh Circuit Chief Judge Diane Wood, the quite-unintentional hero of the tale.

    The primary battle arose from Posner’s demand that he be allowed to re-write all his circuit’s staff attorneys’ memos and draft opinions before they went to his fellow judges. This is a ludicrous idea. Posner thought it ‘uncontroversial’ and he was ‘surprised’ when it was met with first silence, then uniform rejection. When Wood told him so, Posner ‘angrily’ threatened to reveal staff counsel work product he deemed not good enough. When he was told that doing so would violate the judicial code of conduct, he resigned, and now he has self-published everything — memos and drafts by staff counsel peppered with his acid edits, emails between the judges, the whole trainwreck.”

    O_O

    Reply
    1. Naruto

      Do you have a link?

      I’ve heard of it but haven’t read it. It sounds interesting.

      If they’re his law clerks or his opinions that he’s responsible for, then frankly he isn’t wrong that he should get to rewrite them however he wants before circulating to the other judges.

      Reply
      1. CatCat

        Here’s article to the ABA Journal article about it: “Is Posner’s ‘baffling’ book an ethics breach? Chief judge objects to release of internal memos”
        http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/is_posners_book_an_ethics_violation_chief_judge_objects_to_re

        Here’s a link to CA3blog’s review: “Posner’s new book is bananas, but you might want it anyway” http://ca3blog.com/judges/posners-new-book-is-bananas-but-you-might-want-it-anyway/

        And here’s a link to where you can buy the book on Amazon:
        https://www.amazon.com/Reforming-Federal-Judiciary-Televising-Arguments/dp/1976014794/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1505672571&sr=8-1&keywords=posner+reforming

        Reply
      2. CatCat

        Yeah, I’m not sure how it’s structured. From other articles, I think they may be a central staff pool of attorneys for the court (not staff to his chambers in particular) and the attorneys’ draft opinions are voted on by a panel of judges.

        Reply
  46. esra (also a Canadian)

    Ugh I need to ask for a raise and ask when bonuses are. I have a one-one with my boss coming up and am trying to think of a better way to put it than:
    “Hi, Boss, I’m hoping we could talk about the compensation increase you’d mentioned when I got promoted to Current More Impressive Title earlier this year. (Insert many achievements here).”

    I can’t think of how to also ask about the bonus. No one on sales and marketing has been here for a full year to even know when they happen -_-

    Reply
    1. Reba

      Maybe there’s more context that’s making this conversation more fraught for you, but … I don’t see what’s wrong with what you have written.

      As for how to ask about the bonus, same thing: “What about bonuses, can we talk about that?”

      Reply
  47. Rookie Manager

    Met my new director this week for the first time, part of the reason was to discuss budgets. I asked to talk about salaries and we upped a couple of ny team members then I said; “Don’t want to be greedy but can we talk about mine?” She said; “Hmmm that doesn’t look right, increase it to x.”

    Not confirmed till the board approve it next week but I wish getting a pay rise was always so easy!! Also can’t wait to pass the payrise news onto my team.

    Reply
  48. Velvet Goldberg

    I’ve got a doozy for you all. I have recently learned that the director of my division was a colleague of a former in-law. I don’t report to her directly, but I definitely fall solidly under her purview. It would appear my former in law did not make a great impression on my new boss. (I am not surprised). It is beyond crazy and I know eventually I will put my foot in my mouth.

    Reply
    1. CAA

      I’m not following why this is beyond crazy and/or likely to lead to you putting your foot in your mouth. Do you and your former in-law share the same unusual last name so that the director might ask about it? If not, then it seems pretty unlikely she’d even know you used to be related to this person she didn’t work well with.

      Reply
    2. Not So NewReader

      She should be professional about it, if she figures out the connection.

      I have handled mention of former family members by simply nodding and saying, “ohhh…” then appearing to absent-mindly drift into Unrelated Topic. Mine went the opposite direction though “Bob is so great to work with and such a good egg.” Yeah, okay, whatevs.

      Reply
  49. Naruto

    Any tips on powering through when you hate your job and really, really hate a big long-term project that you’re working on that takes up most of your time? Assume that said project very much stresses you out to the point that you want to crawl under your desk and hide (and maybe cry), and you’re already actively job searching. And you can’t get more resources to help out with said project.

    I’m finding it really hard to get stuff done under these circumstances — which, of course, just makes everything worse.

    Reply
      1. Naruto

        Can you explain? Like, mechanically or emotionally or whatever, how do I actually use that to get stuff done when I really don’t want to?

        Reply
        1. Anonymous Educator

          Well, I have a hard time feeling motivation to do something I hate. If I know that powering through will eventually get me to something I can look forward to, that helps me. I guess it doesn’t help you? If you hate the task you have to do and your job in general, you should certainly be looking for a different job in the near future.

          Reply
    1. medium of ballpoint

      I’ve always liked the Pomodoro technique. On good days I could work for a couple of hours on Most Hated Project and on really bad days I could only give it five minutes at a stretch. But the timers kept me working and it was helpful to know when a break was coming up. And it made the project much less overwhelming, which helped a lot. Good luck!

      Reply
    2. Not So NewReader

      To me self-care is critical. We can’t help the trash that gets dumped in our laps. But we can chose to eat good foods, hydrate and take walks. And we can chose to follow a sleep schedule. This carried me through so much.

      Reply
  50. Justin

    A month or so ago, I mentioned that I was up for an internal promotion. People said, take it seriously. I did.

    I got it.

    7ish percent raise (I’ve only been here 8 months), more responsibilities (but more interesting ones), starting in the next pay period (first week of Oct).

    So thanks for the help, and I’m very excited.

    Reply
  51. Queen of Cans & Jars

    I have an employee who’s in an entry level leadership position who is currently out on medical leave due to uncontrolled bi polar disorder. She is posting rude comments about the company and coworkers to Facebook, and has sent a couple of texts directly to staff. What, if anything, can I do about this?

    Reply
    1. it doesn't give me a rosy world view it actually is green

      If she gets medical leave, are there any procedures in place for how she behaves on it or how you should treat her while she’s on it? Your HR or Accommodation people might be able to give you a plan since it seems like they’re already aware of her issues.

      Reply
      1. Queen of cans & jars

        I am HR. :). We actually don’t have a written policy because the attitude of the rest of the team is that what someone does/says outside of work is not our business (which is obviously not the most effective way to deal with it). Since she’s on leave, do I contact her to tell her she needs to stop, or wait until she comes back? She’s supposed to be back Monday, but I think that’s pretty unlikely.

        Reply
        1. CMDRBNA

          Hmm. I mean, I think in this case this is a pretty strong argument that your organization actually does need a social media policy.

          I actually just got done reading an article about people who had job offers yanked after posting something on social media – stuff like “ugh dreading my new job” or the like.

          Screenshot whatever you found, and when she returns, maybe you could just sit down with her, show her the screenshots or printouts, and just ask her what’s going on. I wouldn’t want to go down the rabbit hole of monitoring employees’ social media, but SHE is the one crossing a line by posting about the company.

          Reply
          1. Not So NewReader

            Echoing, definitely get screenshots or printouts. We had a person do similar stuff. We did not get the screenshots. sigh.

            Reply
    2. CMDRBNA

      Her bipolar disorder and her posting of rude comments about the company and coworkers on Facebook/sending texts are two separate things, so I would treat them as two separate things. Does your company have a social media use policy or guidelines in the employee handbook?

      I mean, I would say to treat them like you would the same behavior from any other member of staff. It’s not like she’s said she needs medical accommodation that includes being allowed to post derogatory stuff online about the company.

      Reply
      1. medium of ballpoint

        It’s quite possible they’re related. Some hypo/manic episodes include poor judgement and poor emotional regulation and could result in behavior like this. I agree that handling it like you would with any other employee is a good idea, though.

        Reply
        1. CMDRBNA

          I’m not saying the behavior and her disorder aren’t related (I have a sibling and several family members with bi-polar who have done similar things during manic episodes, so I’m familiar), I’m saying that as far as her workplace is concerned her having bipolar disorder and her posting is unrelated and as her manager I wouldn’t assume that her bipolar disorder is causing her to do this. That’s doing the employee a disservice as well.

          There are reasonable accommodations you can ask for for bipolar disorder. I have a mental illness and I need accommodations for it too, like being able to take time off for therapy or work from home on bad days. But this isn’t one of those.

          Reply
    3. Alice

      If you’re in the US, there’s not much you can do about what she’s posting if its realated to working conditions, or the company. that’s protected speech by the National Labor relations board. That said, you can still work with HR to communicate to her that the rants are likely damaging her professoinal reputation.
      While she’s out on leave, you can also request that she not communicate with employees (unless they’re also her friends, of course). Many companies will cut off access to internal networks/emails while employees are out on LOA. I’d discuss the situation with your HR group.

      Reply
      1. Queen of Cans & Jars

        This is all happening entirely on social media, not on any internal systems. We’re a production facility, and this particular person does not have any company issued technology.

        Reply
  52. AndersonDarling

    I have to work with a manager that…lies. Big things, little things, every conversation I have with her has a lie in it. It’s like working with a 5 year old that just learned about what lying is and wants try it out all the time.
    She lied to cover up a regulatory issue. She lied about what report she was reading. She lied about being in a meeting that I was in and she wasn’t. It’s beyond confusion or misinterpretation, her pants are always on fire.
    I’ve been sitting back and hoping she will get herself into enough trouble to be fired, but I’m wondering if I should say something to my boss or to the Pants on Fire Manager’s boss. It’s annoying, but I generally work around the manager, so it really isn’t interfering with my work.

    Reply
    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      If she’s not your manager, I’d definitely say something to my own manager! Especially when it’s about regulatory issues, or whatever affects what work you’re doing, or could affect the company in a major way. Just remember to stick to the most verifiable, objective lies, and leave out ones like what she was reading, because that’s more of a she-said-she-said kind of thing. Best thing to bring to your boss’s attention would be if this manager lies in an email.

      If nothing else, you want your boss to know to watch how much she relies on the information she gets from Miss Pantalones en Fuego.

      Reply
    2. it doesn't give me a rosy world view it actually is green

      Write down the stuff you can prove, or that affects you. Not as an obsession, just to keep track of the truth for your own sake. Those little lies can add up over time and give everyone else a false view of how things are going.

      Reply
      1. Charlotte Collins

        As a friend who works at a law firm says, “Document, document, document.”

        If somebody lies this much, you want to have a record for if it ever comes back to you. My personal experience is that liars are more likely to be quickly identified by those who are at or below their level, and it can take longer for those above them to notice. (If ever.)

        I worked for a woman who if she told me the sky was blue, I would be inclined to go to the window just to check it out.

        Reply
  53. Master Bean Counter

    Okay y’all is this as weird as I think it is?

    I got contacted by a recruiter about a position that advertised “HIGHLY competitive” compensation. Had a interesting phone interview with them. This interview asked for a desired hourly rate for a job that should be exempt and salaried. So I gave them a very high annual figure. I was really hoping to scare them away or make it really worth my time.
    The owner of the company schedules a follow up phone interview. I’m shocked, but figure he wasn’t sacred away with my price tag, this might be worth it after all. Now this owner does most of the function I am supposed to take over, so he should know this job and what he wants to see from the person taking the position.
    The interview went like this:
    Question 1: Tell me what you are good at
    Question 2: Tell me what you are good at
    Question 3: Tell me what you are good at
    Question 4: Tell me what you are good at
    Question 5: Tell me what you are good at
    Question 6: Tell me what you are good at
    Question 7: Tell me a weakness
    Question 8: Tell me a weakness
    Question 9: Tell me a weakness
    Question 10: Tell me a weakness
    Question 11: Tell me a weakness
    Question 12: Tell me a weakness
    Question 13: What are the full names of your past four supervisors and how would they rate you on scale of 1-10 and why.
    I’m emailing the recruiter this morning and telling them that I’m not interested at all.

    Reply
    1. Samata

      Sounds like a bad version of a rolling why type interview….I’d sometimes interview folks and ask about a project they did well on and continue to ask “anything else?” in a way to get more information and concrete examples…but not the exact same question over and over. That’s just so…weird.

      And Q13? What the serious F is that?

      Reply
    2. nep

      Are you serious? Do you mean that after you told what you’re good at once, the person asked again — and that repeated itself five times? Crazy.

      Reply
      1. Master Bean Counter

        My only regret is not stopping the phone interview. At some point I’m going to realize it’s not worth my time just to see how it plays out.

        Reply
  54. Confused and Underpaid

    I started at my new job a couple of months ago and so far I am really liking it. However, I believe I am being paid incorrectly.

    I am a salaried, non-exempt employee at a small non-profit but I am not getting overtime. I recently sat down with the ED who handles payroll and my status and she, as expected, told me I was wrong about the law. I did my research prior to this with the assumption that she would do that and gave the line that Allison had suggested a few years back (similar to “We’re actually required by federal law to pay overtime to people in my job category. I can work the overtime if you want me to, but the company is required to pay for it.”) However, she is still arguing that because I am not hourly, I do not get overtime. Because flex time is so unclear and not counted by hours but by how the office “feels” about it, I don’t feel like its fair for me to not be paid for the hours that I work overtime when I don’t get to take them off.

    I countered and said that, while rare, there are salaried non-exempt employees and just because they are not hourly
    does not mean they are not entitled to overtime. She ended by saying she was going to check with the payroll company, a pro bono law group that our organizations works with and the human resources professionals on our board of directors but I’m still unsure on how this will play out.

    Overall, it was a light-hearted conversation and there wasn’t any animosity or bad feelings. However, I still feel like this wrong and needs to be fixed.

    As stated, I have just been in this position for a few months so I’m not sure if she will actually go to those she said she will.

    How can I advocate for myself more in this situation? Should I provide more details, like print-outs? I really don’t want to file a complaint as I need this job.

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Salaried non-exempt isn’t even rare; it’s common! If she really consults with the sources she says she’ll consult with, they should straighten her out. I’d give it three to four weeks, and then if she hasn’t brought it up again, check back in. You can say something like, “I know you were looking into this and I wanted to check where we stand, because I do think we can get into a lot of trouble over this.”

      Reply
        1. Confused and Underpaid

          They think non-exempt means I’m entitled to flex time, but I barely get flex time. If I work three hours at an event or meeting at night, I can come in an hour or so late the next day but I can’t count my overtime by hours since I’m salaried

          It doesn’t make sense and they recognize that, but they are resistant to clarifying the “policy”

          Reply
    2. Alice

      I’d bring her the research you’ve done on, or go to DOL.GOV and print out the definitions of exempt, non-exempt and salaried non-exempt (i beleive they’re out there). Give it until the next pay period, not more than 2, before you address it with her, and if you don’t get anywhere, go to her boss, and then an attorney.

      Reply
  55. MuseumMusings

    I’m having trouble figuring out if one of my friends (who I also work with) is just super busy and can’t hang out or if she’s trying to slow fade our friendship into work-only acquaintanceship. I’ve been having anxiety problems all year and have cried in a few interactions, so I’m sure it’s been awkward for her. She’s also said she’s the type of person who would eat broken glass rather than critique someone to their face and doesn’t like to eat lunch, so I have no idea if a lack of lunch invitations are her trying to fade out or just not being hungry.

    So I just sent her a message explaining what was going on, apologizing, and then setting the ball firmly in her court for reaching out (saying I know she has a busy schedule, so I hope that gives her an out). If the case is that she wants a slow fade, I’ll let her do that because she’s a wonderful person and I’d feel awkward if I was trying to slow fade someone out who worked with me every day.

    I should have done this like two months ago, but at least I’m doing it now.

    On the other hand, how do you tell if someone is naturally an introvert vs. someone trying to change the boundaries on your relationship? I know there’s been some questions on how to reset boundaries, but how can you tell if you’re breaking them? I’d hate to be that person :/

    Reply
    1. CMDRBNA

      Hey MuseumMusings, that’s a tough position to be in. As an introvert with some mental health issues, I feel you!
      I also just went through a similar situation with a now ex-friend who suddenly became too busy to ever do anything together, and I chose to let that relationship end.

      The thing is, you often can’t tell, especially when it’s someone who can’t/won’t Use Their Words when something is bothering them (and given your friend saying she can’t ‘critique someone to their face,’ that’s a distinct possibility). The best advice I can give you is to pay attention to what people do, versus what they say.

      People who want to spend time with you or maintain a relationship with you will find a way to do that. It’s quite possible this person needs you to be a small-dose friend, for whatever reason, or they don’t like eating lunch, or they’re doing something else on their lunch hour, or a million other explanations.

      I think if you are reaching out to someone over and over and getting rebuffed over and over, you should give yourself permission to stop putting effort towards them. I think you’re handling it great both by putting the ball in her court and giving her a graceful out.

      Reply
    2. Reba

      I agree, I think you’re doing it right.

      I’ve been in a similar situation. It’s hard but I think it’s important to *truly* let the ball be in her court. Let it go. Try to redirect your thoughts when you worry about or are rethinking/analyzing your interactions.

      In my case, the friendship did end. My feelings were hurt and I was just straight up sad. But I let the person’s actions be my answer–they weren’t into it.

      Reply
    3. Not So NewReader

      You can’t always tell if a person is introverted, setting boundaries and so on.

      The best thing you can do is take people at their word. If they say “maybe” then that means maybe. Let it go at that, up to them to come back and firm things up.

      Expect people to mean what they say and say what they mean.

      I have a relative who is fond of speaking in an ambiguous manner. So in a practical, no nonsense voice, I will ask, “Well do you mean A or B, I could not tell from what you just said.” Relative knows they have to say what they mean and mean what they say.

      Most people are less of a problem than Relative though. If your coworker does not want to go to lunch with you, reassure yourself that other nice things will happen in your day/week and look for those nice things. Focus on other things. Many times in life we never hear the rest of the story and we just don’t know. It’s okay not to know.

      Reply
    4. Snarl Furillo

      My rule is that I ask people to spend time with me 3 times, then stop. I usually know after 2 invites and let it go, but the rule is 3 to account for people who keep insisting we’ll get together or ask me to do something that I miss or whatever.

      It sounds like she maybe wants less interaction right now for whatever reason, but I don’t think you should worry about figuring out what you did or if you cried too much or if you are a boundary-stalker or whatever. Sometimes friendships end and it’s awkward for a few weeks before being over. That’s all.

      Reply
    5. Ramona Flowers

      Why would being an introvert change anything? I ask because it sounds slightly like that would mean you should make all the effort which isn’t the case.

      Reply
      1. So Very Anonymous

        I know a few people who will explain not wanting to socialize by identifying themselves as introverts. It’s meant to signal that I shouldn’t take it personally (that is, they’re trying to signal that it isn’t that they don’t like me, it’s that they don’t want to socialize with anyone). In my case, when someone tells me that, I generally quit asking. It does feel personal, and having to convince myself that it isn’t tends to feel like more emotional work than I want to do.

        Reply
  56. Adjunct Gal

    I had taken a leap of faith in my strong desire to change careers, and I was really enjoying my new full-time job learning and doing new tasks. Unfortunately, for financial reasons, I was let go….after 3 months.

    I don’t want to go back to my old career as I really hated it. I want to keep on in the same path I started on, but 3 months on a resume? How would I address it in my cover letter? I will be getting good recs from my employers as they felt really bad about it, but I am unsure how to proceed.

    Reply
    1. JN

      I know there’s advice against listing short-term jobs, but since you want to stay in this field, I’d say you should include this job on your resume, especially since you’ve been promised good references from this employer and the end of the job wasn’t something you could control.

      Reply
    2. Lemon Zinger

      Definitely keep this one on your resume since you plan to stay in the field, especially since they will be good references for you! I’m sorry that happened, but hopefully you can find something else soon!

      Reply
    3. Ramona Flowers

      Aw no, I’m sorry. I think it’s fine to put this on because it was due to circumstance not performance and they are going to be references.

      Reply
  57. it doesn't give me a rosy world view it actually is green

    I have to wear colored glasses for prescription reasons. They’re even pink- that just happens to be the most effective color for the amount of light I need blocked. The only comments I hear about them are positive- but those same people tend to assume I’m wearing them as a fashion-statement. So now I’m self conscious that the people who don’t say anything are assuming the same thing, that I’m wearing them for fun, but they don’t see that as a positive or professional. Any advice on how to talk about this or bring it up?

    Reply
    1. LCL

      Don’t bring it up. You don’t have to explain your medical needs to anyone, unless you are asking for something specific to accommodate some condition.

      Reply
    2. PB

      I personally wouldn’t worry about it too much. Even if they assume you’re wearing it as a fashion statement, that doesn’t necessarily make it unprofessional. Lots of style choices can still be professional. That said, if you’re worried about it, next time someone comments on it, you can let them know it’s for a medical reason (if you’re comfortable doing so). Word will likely get around after you’ve mentioned it a few times.

      Reply
    3. Rusty Shackelford

      It’s nobody’s business, and yet I can’t help remembering someone I worked with who wore yellow-tinted glasses and was called “old yella eyes” by some of his grumpier staff. I knew they were for dyslexia because I knew his family, but I guess he never told anyone at work. So, sadly, it might become a “thing” behind your back. If that would bother you, I’d mention it to a few people when they comment on them (“Oh, thanks. I actually need colored lenses because of my Condition, but I guess they’re kind of fun too!”) and let the word make its way around, as it does.

      Reply
    4. Elizabeth West

      I…would literally not care. If I saw pink lenses, I might say they’re pretty (they are!), but you don’t have to say anything except “Thanks!”

      Unless you’re wearing the pink lenses in 1970s-era Elton John glasses with huge glittery curlicue frames, I doubt they are in any way unprofessional. (And even then that would be mega-cool.)

      Reply
  58. special snowflake

    My boss has his heart set on a postcard that has pictures of kids and diversity and happy faces….all at once
    He does not understand that a) we have less than 500 pictures from the entire year, and that b) most of those photos are lousy. So he keeps telling me we have more photos why aren’t I pulling those… and not liking the rather blunt – because they suck and the designer won’t use them anyways.
    Why I am pulling these instead of our marketing team is a disaster of another rant….
    Any suggestions for explaining in other phrasing why the limited stock of photos we have is going to have to be enough?

    Reply
    1. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

      Demonstrate. Pull several and demonstrate the lousy quality along with the comments from the designer on how they cannot be used.

      Reply
    2. zora

      Send him literally all of the 500 pictures and let him see them for himself.

      Seriously.

      He is not going to hear it. I have worked with those people. Give him access to a folder with all of the pictures, and tell him he can pick the photos if he wants to. Then whatever he picks, send them to the designer and let the designer say that she won’t use them.

      Or just print the postcard with the bad pictures. … If you are in a nonprofit (and I’m guessing you are), don’t take all of this on. You need to give yourself a break sometimes and not try to fix every problem. Maybe I’m projecting based on my experiences, but that’s my advice. ;o)

      Reply
      1. Ghost Town

        This. All day. He needs to see it for himself. I’m also willing to bet that there will be a (singular) picture that has the kids, diversity, and happy faces, but is absolute crap quality that he’ll want to use. Despite the blurriness or half-closed eyes or weird lighting. He needs to see the limited options or the printed proof with bad picture as poor representation of the organization.

        Reply
        1. zora

          Exactly. There comes a point sometimes where you just have to let people make their own mistakes before they will learn. They won’t listen to ANYONE who tells them, they have to see it for themselves and experience the consequences. (Like the board meeting after the 100,000 piece mailing goes out when the board members all freak out because the mailing looks like crap.)

          Some people you just can’t save from themselves.

          Reply
          1. Ghost Town

            This can be so hard to put into action, esp. when you do have a horse in the race (at least tangentially). But still true.

            Reply
            1. zora

              Ugh, you are so right. I am a high achiever type so it was really hard the first several times I had to let something be bad because of people above my paygrade. But it is an important muscle to exercise, because if you take everything on yourself and need to make everything awesome all the time, you will burn yourself out in short order and be useless.

              Reply
      2. Special Snowflake

        Thank you all! You’re right on the nonprofit part – I’ll give this a shot. He’s generally easy going and believes me when I say we can’t make something happen so I’m not sure what the insistence is here!

        Reply
  59. Free Meerkats

    Realistically, I’m currently 5 years out from retirement. I’m looking at a promotion to management early next year when the current Program Manager retires. Between Social Security, Deferred Comp, and my pension, money shouldn’t be a problem, but I don’t want to sit around and molder. But I also don’t want to be a Wal*Mart greeter. Because I truly enjoy long-distance driving, the open road really is my happy place, I’m considering getting a CDL and freelancing for a couple of Drive Away companies. Delivering trucks, buses, RVs and the like around the country.

    Have you looked at this? Do you have plans for retirement?

    Reply
    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      I haven’t looked at a CDL, but I might consider it. I’ll probably volunteer more when I retire, but I also don’t have a lot of trouble with leisure time. I plan on traveling a lot, and when I have down time I work on crosswords or websites or things like that, that I can do anywhere. I could go back to teaching part time or as a substitute, or volunteering with the local volunteer fire department. But that’s at least 10 years off for me, maybe more like 15, depending.

      Pensions are harder and harder to come by now. I’m looking at the retirement planners as if Social Security won’t be there for us, and if it is, great.

      Reply
    2. wcgreen

      Workamping–horrible name for jobs done while living in a RV. Warehouse work for the holidays, farm work, campground hosts for both park and commercial campgrounds. Husband and I build churches and schools for our synod (minimum wage, but it covers expenses, and we get free utilities and campsite).

      Searching on that term might find more options.

      Reply
    3. katamia

      I don’t expect Social Security to be there by the time I’m old enough for it and I’ll probably never have a job that offers me a pension, so I’ll probably want to move into self-employment/some sort of consulting (assuming my fiction writing career hasn’t taken off, lol of course it won’t). Maybe tutoring or editing. The biggest thing for me would be that I would get to control my time/wardrobe, not someone else.

      Reply
    4. Master Bean Counter

      My retirement is 20 years away. So I often dream about finding ways to travel. And possibly getting our place up to mini-farm status again. With a mini-farm I can sell things at the local farmers market and make a little bingo money.

      Reply
    5. jmm

      I read somewhere that during certain periods of the year, rental car companies hire drivers to drive rental cars to different parts of the country (I’m guessing like maybe moving more cars to Florida during summer months for vacationers, etc.). With your love of the open road, that might be a neat short-term job.
      Similar scenarios —
      https://www.carsdirect.com/car-buying/how-to-become-a-car-transport-driver
      https://skift.com/2013/12/03/car-rental-and-motorhome-companies-offer-free-one-way-driveaways/

      Reply
      1. Chaordic One

        I met someone who is now 82 and she works for an auto dealer that is part of a chain of auto dealers. She works part-time, but steadily, driving different cars (new and used) between the dealerships. I guess they do a lot of trading. The distance between dealerships is about 150 miles and it takes about 2 and a half hours to drive between towns. Sometimes she’ll drive a large SUV or pickup truck and pull a trailer with a car on the trailer.

        Reply
    6. Girasol

      I retired a year ago. The company had gradually reduced my responsibilities until I was in effect already moldering. I thought perhaps my experience was unique but have since met a number of very savvy early retirees who were similarly pushed out of other companies and put it down to their company’s attitude on aging. We are all active in pretty physical volunteer work: trail maintenance, city landscaping, habitat restoration. Most of us hike, bike, and backpack in free time. There are so many exciting volunteer opportunities here that it’s hard to choose: Habitat for Humanity, the non-profit that gets kids on bicycles, the police auxiliary helping out on the city greenbelt, and at least five more wildland maintenance organizations (and those are just the choices that interest me). They don’t need just manual labor; they need crew leads, organizers, data analysts, program leads, IT staff… If you can afford it, you can trade money for meaning and be more relevant outside work than in. Or if you do want to get paid, there’s always entrepreneurship. Not that staying on your job isn’t a great choice too, but you should know your options.

      Reply
    7. Not So NewReader

      Really look at this carefully. In my state drivers get ticketed for a problem with the vehicle’s condition, meaning on their personal licenses. Some times the company pays the ticket and repairs the vehicle and sometimes not.
      The driver ends up paying on a ticket for a problem that he cannot fix himself. If the problem does not get fixed he gets ticketed again.

      I have often wondered about escort vehicles for big loads. I see they are fairly well paid. That might be a bit better than a big rig.

      Reply
  60. anony-mouse for this one

    It the time of year where I have to deal with incompetent co-worker and I need some advice. It’s going to be long, but hang in there and help me with some co-worker management techniques. I’ve tried meditating before our meetings to help me calm down and not replying immediately to emails but I need to figure out a better way to look at things more objectively….so here goes.

    Over about a 6 week period each fall I have to work with a co-worker to line up schedules for the next year. We both conduct training and need to coordinate our calendar and make a company wide announcements. She often “forgets” to do mundane tasks or does things she isn’t supposed to do saying “oh, I forgot we decided I wasn’t going to do that”. In addition to just personality conflicts – she is a work diverter and very ego-driven. She’s the type who if you say “ugh, I”m having difficulty with X” she will reply with “I have never had a problem doing X…or Y or Z for that matter, sorry I can’t help”

    It often ends up in duplicate work or in work not being done. The only pattern I can pin down is that she does or doesn’t do the things she doesn’t like. So if she wanted to do something, but our boss says I should do it – she does it. If she is assigned something she doesn’t think of she “forgets”.

    I am trying to not lose my cool with her, as I have tended to do in the past. Because at this point everything she does annoys me. I ask her for a clean version of her calendar because my job is to merge our schedules – and she sends me a handmade calendar in word with ALL HER LIFE EVENTS on it for me to sort through. Then after hours send me another email saying “I just realized I doubled up a date and there are 2 February 16th” so every single date from then until July is OFF. I said it was no big deal, because I don’t think it is. But on top of everything else it makes me want to bang my head off a wall.

    I’ve talked to our boss, who also happens to be my mentor, for ways to get over my struggles and how to manager her better and my boss keeps telling me I need to understand she’s young. But she’s 32 and been here 3 years. And that’s the age I was when I started and I feel like much more competence was expected from me.

    Any helpful hints on how to manage? This is also important because barring so unforeseen circumstance the succession plan has me taking over as her supervisor in about 13 months.

    Thanks for reading and HELP!

    Reply
    1. it doesn't give me a rosy world view it actually is green

      When you take over as a supervisor, sounds like time for a Performance Improvement Plan. Your manager… I don’ even know. That’s not young, that’s just “never facing consequences”. Does she get any discipline as the issues come up, that you know of?

      Reply
      1. anony-mouse for this one

        I keep thinking this too. And she is only 6 years younger than me…I am always like “whaaaaa????????????”

        She had never had discipline that I am aware of. Our boss doesn’t really have much direct contact with her on a project level. She manages our projects through me because she wants me to take on more of a leadership role. She has had a few conversations about pushing a lot of her work off to interns and not creating her own work product, which is one of our core functions.

        And I don’t tell boss every instance, because once she told me I was coming across petty and nit-picky and that I needed to understand she was still learning professional norms.

        This is quite literally the only negative of my job. I got fed up last week at the calendar thing and told my boss I just have to accept that this 6 week window is always going to be stressful for me. My boss said I needed to be more empathetic & not everyone is me. Which I think was some weird backhanded compliment about my work ethic.

        Reply
        1. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend

          In this case, I think you have a boss problem, not so much a coworker problem (as annoying as she sounds). Your manager is, as Alison often says, refusing to manage this woman, and seems to be okay with you being miserable in order to tip-toe around someone who is running roughshod over you. Not cool. How did she end up as your mentor?

          Reply
          1. anony-mouse for this one

            I only thought about this for a few minutes, but she became my mentor because she is in the Director level position that I want to be in and she worked her way up from a stenographer get there (she has been with the company quite awhile). And she knows how to get people to listen to her when it comes to the business side of things – how to get to the point by being very firm and matter of fact.

            Outside of that I don’t know that there is a reason…..I wonder if I am being jaded by not wanting to see her in a bad light. You have definitely given me something to think about. Because when it comes to the day-to-day management I find myself saying “wtf?” more often than I should.

            Reply
    2. WellRed

      Why are you not sending stuff back to her and asking for it the way you need it? “Jane, please send me your calendar with work relevant information only please.”

      Reply
      1. anony-mouse for this one

        I included you in a reply below, but I think you are right. I didn’t do it because I was worried I was becoming too nit-picky but I also think at this point I am probably contributing to the bad behavior by doing this.

        Reply
    3. Master Bean Counter

      First thing I see is that you need to do is to list out the assignments between you and put names on them, include due dates. Store it on a shared drive where she can see and update it. Keep a copy in a place she can’t access it, so if she does any creative editing you can call her out on it.
      Second follow up with her regularly on things that are due that she hasn’t done. If she does your work ask her why she did that instead of tasks X, Y, & Z, that are assigned to her. Even throw out the phrase, “I don’t see the efficiency in duplicating efforts.”
      Also on the calendar, if it comes covered in crap, send it back, repeatedly if necessary, until you get a clean version.

      Reply
      1. anony-mouse for this one

        Well, we do have a shared drive with a matrix of duties on it and some other shared documents outlining our duties and where we are supposed to update these when they are done.

        The last time she told me about an update in person, I told her I could just pull the info from the shared drive….her reply? “Oh yea, I forgot how to access that folder so I haven’t done anything”

        I showed her again where it was. I let our boss know about this instance and boss’ reply (again) was that I just needed to be more patient and she was young.

        The idea on just sending the calendar or other work back that you and WellRed recommended are good. The reason I didn’t send it back was because I am afraid of being nitpicky but maybe I just have to be annoying until I train the behavior into her. At this point I am probably also enabling this behavior and causing myself more heartache than necessary.

        Reply
        1. Master Bean Counter

          Be nit picky, own it. Once she realizes that crap won’t fly, you should get better results. Also put the instructions on how to access the shared drive in a word file and email it to her every single time she say’s she can’t remember how to access it.
          If she picks up the hints she will probably get better. If she doesn’t she’ll probably start looking for another job as this one will have gotten “too hard.”

          Reply
        2. Work Wardrobe

          Young? 32 is not young (in the sense of what you’ve described) regarding developing good work habits.

          I’m pretty shocked that your manager is passing off that bad behavior as “she’s just young.”

          Reply
        3. Not So NewReader

          Your boss needs to grow a spine.

          Can you divide the work somehow so that you have control over your half and you can hand yours in when you have done it? Probably not, just a shot in the dark there.

          Your boss is mentoring you, so why doesn’t she mentor this other person also?

          You may need to say something to your boss like, “I have gone as far as I can go with this person and I need you to intervene. It’s been three years of this and she is only 6 years younger than me.”
          As far as the “everyone is not you” smoke screen, just say that really has no bearing here because this person cannot do the basics of the job. And add you are wondering how many more years of this will be adequate time for her to learn the job. Try to nail down a time frame.

          Reply
  61. Wendy Darling

    I have a phone interview today with a nonprofit with a very admirable mission. I foolishly did not look at their Glassdoor until I’d scheduled the phone interview.

    Multiple reviews mention that the CEO is paranoid and controlling, and several cited the CEO calling people into meetings and demanding they swear loyalty to the CEO. I’m looking for work because I left a job with an unreasonable jerk boss, so that would be a hard no.

    How bad is it if I just ask about it straight out in the phone interview? Because unless they’re actively engaged in fixing that issue by, say, transitioning that CEO out, I don’t want to work there and we shouldn’t waste anyone’s time.

    Reply
    1. PB

      I wouldn’t ask about it directly. I’d focus more on general questions about culture and interactions with administration, maybe ask about current challenges and what role the successful candidate might play. I’ve worked in organizations with serious administrative issues. Everyone who worked there was aware of the problems. However, if a phone interview candidate asked how soon we would be replacing our administrators, or if it’s true that the CEO was awful, I would have been extremely put off.

      Reply
    2. Friday

      Glassdoor is pretty public knowledge – personally I would bring it up. My current company has some bad glassdoor reviews and when I interviewed with the CFO, she surprised me by bringing it up before I could. She did a great job in telling me what HER approach is to workplace culture (she’s newer here and the bad reviews predate her) and we had a nice conversation about it, which was one of the reasons I ended up choosing to leave a strong company to come here and so far it’s been a really good choice for me.

      Reply
      1. Wendy Darling

        I have actually asked a company about negative glassdoor reviews once in the past — they had a stunning 1.8 stars and the complaints about upper management were very consistent. The hiring manager told me he was aware there were problems and that he tried to insulate his team from the nonsense as best he could, and that they were in the final stages of a major leadership change and that the new leadership was very promising.

        That was about the best answer he could have given but I ended up declining to continue because it turned out the job would have been a $35k (!!!!!) pay cut.

        Reply
  62. Mouse

    Hi Snark! Popping in to ask you about your work on behalf of my FH. He currently does naturalist stuff for the government and conservation stuff for a huge nonprofit. Those work environments are starting to wear on him a bit, so he’s starting to look outside of the government/nonprofit worlds to somewhere where funding might not be such an issue, but he’s not sure what options are out there!

    Reply
    1. Snark

      Oh hi! Glad you asked.

      So, I work in Federal contracting for environmental compliance support, which is still basically governmental….but the advantage is, my work is tied to legal and regulatory requirements that are basically eternal and unavoidable. You can’t really get around the requirements and provisions of, say, the Clean Water Act, or NEPA, or Endangered Species Act, or whatever. An Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement needs done if the Army needs to build a new facility, or if the Colorado Department of Transportation wants to widen a road, or if a new wind farm gets built on BLM land, or whatever. And those agencies do have environmental compliance people, but most often, they contract our things like EAs/EISs, Integrated Natural Resources Management Plans, Wildfire Management Plans, and so on et absurdum.

      My team and I are scattered throughout the Intermountain West and Midwest at the installations of a DoD branch, providing onsite support for whatever. I’ve done RCRA site closure forms, I’ve written three EAs myself, I’ve revised solid waste plans – my job is just sort of “be onsite and help with whatever.” Others at my firm serve as SMEs for specific program areas, especially those of us with certifications – I’m a certified wildlife biologist, for example. One can also work for the big firms – like AECOM, CH2M Hill, Cardno TEC, Weston – who do big contract projects like complicated EISs and permitting, but not the kind of embedded onsite support we do. My kind of stuff tends to be smaller firms like Aleut, AGEISS, IDEALS, and Portage.

      I’ve been doing this for five years now and it’s pretty great. Lots of variety, obviously, and it plays to my appetite for McGuyvering stuff and hacking my way through unfamiliar weirdness. I’m also a good technical writer, which is pretty critical. I will say that sometimes contracts end, get protested, or don’t get awarded, so it’s not perfect job security, but I also don’t lay awake at night.

      Reply
  63. Junior Dev

    I lost my job. I got fired not for any particular misconduct, but for not fitting into their work environment in the way they wanted.

    Does anyone have any advice on the best possible story I can tell to interviewers about this, and how to present it before even getting an interview (on resumes/in cover letters/when asked in some online form why I left my last position)?

    Here is some more detail:

    * The job posting I applied to listed a different set of technologies than the ones I worked with on a daily basis
    * The culture was very snarky and sarcastic but was not open to specific suggestions about how to improve the code base everyone loved to complain about. I had a hard time navigating that. It often seemed that others would be complaining and joking about how awful stuff was, I would try to participate in the conversation in a relatively constructive way, and people would respond as though I’d said something terribly offensive even though I didn’t mean to.
    * I got written up about a month ago but it was not clear how to avoid the problems that led to the write up. When I asked detailed questions about what I should and shouldn’t do, that was portrayed as me “not having the required skills” to do my job
    * The culture in general was very much about not planning or taking the time to do stuff in a sustainable way, which led to bugs and code being unnecessarily complicated. I got blamed for the bugs and for taking too long to understand the complicated code.

    So I am wondering 1) how to avoid such work environments in the future 2) how to present myself to future employers in such a way that doesn’t come off as bitter but also makes clear I didn’t engage in any sort of misconduct and I also do have the technical and social skills to succeed in a less toxic environment.

    Reply
    1. Michaela

      Honestly, saying a job wasn’t a good culture fit for you is legit. Adding that the position you applied for used a different tech stack than the one you ended up using is also going to help.

      Reply
      1. Junior Dev

        Thanks.

        Do you have any suggestions for wording? Would something like “unfortunately, it was not a good fit culturally and I was let go” be good?

        Reply
    2. Queen of Cans & Jars

      I would focus more on the fact that the position advertised wasn’t really what it turned out to be, specifically mentioning the technology issue. That makes it more objective and less about something personal.

      As far as avoiding a toxic employer in the future, I’m in the same situation. I ask a lot of questions about the culture, what’s the company goals are, and what the upper level leadership is like, as I’m trying to avoid another rudderless employer. I also look up the company on Glassdoor to see what I can glean from there. There’s probably no guarantee, but I feel like I’m doing what I can.

      Reply
        1. Chaordic One

          I’ve been through something similar myself. Dealing with the bro culture among other things. Did you know there were female bros? Who knew?

          Yes, really make the effort at good self care. Eat right, exercise, get enough sleep and then get your resume in order, wash your car, clean your house, and do some decluttering.

          Interviews get easier over time and the more you do them, so keep applying for things.

          Reply
    3. Mimmy

      I’ve been reading your posts and I’m really sorry to hear about you losing your job. I think framing it as not being a culture fit is reasonable–just be careful about how you describe it. Be truthful but professional. You could also describe how you were using different technologies than what was cited in the job ad and that you were having difficulty getting specific feedback.

      As for avoiding these type of work environments – that’s one I have difficulty with too. I’m never sure about the type of questions to ask. Even if you do ask the right questions, you probably also have to look for more subtle clues, which isn’t easy.

      Good luck!

      Reply
  64. Death Rides a Pale Volvo

    It’s the continuing saga of the job search for Mr. Death Rides a Pale Volvo! So everything went great on a phone interview for a job at my workplace–and then my college had to push back the next steps for interviewing until December. (Budget reasons.)

    He’s applied to a ton of jobs and not getting ANYWHERE. Any IT folks here based in the Portland, OR area? Our savings are running out & I’m feeling a wee bit desperate. Aaaaah!

    Reply
    1. Portland Anon

      I am also an out of work IT person in Portland. He should check out the sites Calagator (specific to Portland tech) and Meetup and look for events related to his field–I’ve gotten all my tech jobs through networking in some way or another. Also, use Twitter, follow people he meets at events, and put the word out about what specifically he us looking for. I got my most recent job because a person on Twitter suggested I apply. He can also volunteer–check out Free Geek for more hardware and tech support type opportunities, and for anh given software framework or discipline there’s at least one group out there he could contribute something to.

      Reply
  65. Amber Rose

    I saw a job posting for something that I have zero experience in, but a lot of sort of related skills. They need someone who’s good at investigating claims and writing reports, and that’s basically my whole job except for a different subject matter. I don’t know a ton about the particular subject the job posting is about, but I do think it would be interesting work.

    Further complicating matters, it’s a municipal government posting, and I have no idea if there’s any way to get a job there if you don’t know someone who is already there.

    Would I be wasting my time to apply?

    Reply
    1. Hellanon

      Not a waste of time, not at all. But shape your cover letter to make the point about transferable skills & see if you can tweak the language a bit in your resume to make that point as well. And good luck!

      Reply
    2. Charlotte Collins

      My first job was a municipal government job, and the most “pull” I had was an older sister who had worked at the same place. (Almost everyone I’ve known who hires teenagers is more likely to hire a younger sibling of someone who had been a good employee. Due to nepotism laws, though, I would not have gotten the job if my sister had still worked there.) Unless the local government is notably corrupt, having clout isn’t something you probably need to worry about. I wouldn’t assume that knowing somebody in local government would help you anymore than knowing somebody at a company you apply to.

      I would apply, focus on the similarities of the skills, and also talk about being excited for the opportunity to expand your knowledge.

      Reply
  66. Bathroom Bothers

    Warning: Gross bathroom issue ahead. Someone is… missing the toilet in my office. It’s a single stall bathroom, regularly used by about a dozen people. I keep noticing a mess on the rim (where the seat doesn’t cover, so it could be a man or a woman – although there are a lot more men in our office than women) and spots on the floor in front of the toilet.

    I mentioned it once to our office manager, and housekeeping came and cleaned it up that day, but it keeps happening, at least a couple times a week. Do we put up a sign? What would it even say? Or… is there something else that can be done? I have no idea how to even begin to approach this. I’m fairly mid-level in the office, but I’m not a manager and don’t have any actual authority over the workspace or others in the office, I just have to share the bathroom with them.

    It took a while for me to realize it wasn’t water on the ground because of the color of our floor tiles (I checked by splashing some water nearby and waiting for it to dry – the water spots went away and left no mark when they dried, the other spots were still visible). It’s so gross, and I’m tired of having to wipe off the toilet every time I use it, but it’s not just a topic that you can easily bring up, and it’s not like the person would admit to it anyway. Do they even notice that it’s happening? I don’t know, but it’s so gross. I just want to know if there’s anything that I can do to make it stop.

    Reply
    1. Amber Rose

      There may not be. You can try a sign that says something like “Please leave the bathroom as spotless as you found it” but I know from experience that signs are usually ignored.

      If you could organize a staff meeting, you could do what I do and shame people approximately once a year (it is effective to varying degrees), but it doesn’t sound like you have an opportunity to do that.

      Reply
    2. fposte

      Probably not. You can put up a note asking people to check and wipe the seat after use, but I think everybody thinks that applies to somebody else; such notes don’t seem to have much effect.

      Reply
      1. Bathroom Bothers

        There are Clorox wipes in there, and I’ve been using them to clean up every time I go in and see the spots. I just wish the person actually *making* the mess would do that. I might ask about seat covers, but that wouldn’t help with the spots on the floor. :/

        Reply
        1. Master Bean Counter

          Well you could just keep cleaning, and ask for a swifter? Then you’ll be the bathroom hero. And we all appreciate those kind of heros.

          Reply
          1. Bathroom Bothers

            I don’t know how many other people in the office have even noticed – like I said, it took me a while to realize what it was because of the floor color. But even if everyone did know about it, I definitely want to be known and appreciated for my actual work, not for bathroom-cleaning.

            Reply
  67. ScarlettSiren

    Does anyone have advice on what to wear to an academic conference when you’re plus sized? It’s the first time I’m going, and I’ve started fixating on my outfits because I’m a little nervous. For additional clarification- it’s more for academic staff and not presentation of academic material or research.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      Are you staffing a booth or anything front-line, and how formal is the conference/field?

      In my field, I’d suggest thoughtfully chosen knits; knit dresses with a nice cardigan for exhibit-hall layering are super common, and knits are especially forgiving if you have to move stuff around booths or sit on the floor (not uncommon, in my conference experience).

      Reply
      1. ScarlettSiren

        I’m just attending, and thankfully not actively working it. It’s a conference for higher education staff, and seems to consists of presentations and breakout sessions. I think that it’s business casual- I’ve tried googling previous conferences, but I’m having a hard time seeing what women are wearing.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          I think you’d be fine with knits, then (if you don’t like them, they’re not requisite, but they’re a popular go-to so I’m sticking with that theory). Definitely plan layers, because this time of year in much of the country it’s a crapshoot whether you’ll be freezing or boiling. Nametags are almost always on lanyards so they shouldn’t need to be a factor.

          Reply
          1. PB

            I agree with all of this. IME, for non-presenters, business casual attire usually fits in perfectly well at these sorts of conferences.

            Reply
        2. Ghost Town

          Higher ed academic conference where you are an attendee and not presenting or working the exhibit hall? Business casual that is comfortable for you. Previous commenters are spot on about layers b/c it could be hot or freezing in any given room at any given time (especially if you go to receptions where there are a lot of people eating and talking in a small space).

          There will be more walking than you think, so keep that in mind when choosing your shoes! Have fun!

          Reply
          1. Snark

            Best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten on this site: do not impulse buy your work kilt.

            Wrap it up, Alison, we’re all done here.

            Reply
        1. Windchime

          Hey, kilts absolutely happen at professional conferences! I used to go to one called “PASS” and it is for people who use SQL Server. The first time I went, I was very surprised when a ton of men showed up in kilts on a particular day. Turns out it was “Kilt Day”. It’s a thing.

          Reply
    2. Edumacator

      Based on my experience, attendees’ outfits are going to vary A LOT. Jeans are probably too casual, and a suit is probably too much, so you want to aim for the middle. fposte’s suggestion of knits is a good idea, especially with a very lightweight cardigan. A dress/cardigan or tunic/pants will be comfy and appropriate.

      Reply
    3. Junior Dev

      When I want to look dressed up I’ll often wear a dress with a blazer or cardigan. It sounds like that might be about the level of formality you’re going for.

      I tend towards butch in my preferred style but wearing men’s business casual makes me look like a 12 year old boy in his dad’s suit.

      Reply
    4. OtterB

      I like the matte jersey separates from Ulla Popken. They are comfortable, travel incredibly well without wrinkling, and are good for mix and match (black pants with several different color/style tops).

      Reply
    5. deesse877

      Academic staff may be different from faculty, and my own field may be especially conservative, but I’ve found that even slightly girly-looking or attention-pulling clothing can attract negative attention on a plus-sized woman. Real life examples that have gotten me vocal reproofs and Edith Whartonesque performative public snubbings from near- or total strangers at academic conferences: patterned tights worn with an otherwise all-black outfit, red suede shoes worn with an otherwise black and grey outfit, a white, high-necked and fairly loose angora-blend sweater worn with an otherwise neutral outfit. In fairness, all three of these sample garments *also* garnered compliments, but the latter didn’t outweigh the unpleasantness.

      Sorry, depressing comment. I agree that knit things that are business casual or slightly above will be optimal.

      Reply
  68. Lalaroo

    What do you say to start a sentence instead of “I wanted to…” or “I just wanted…”? I always seem to start my email introductions with “I wanted to remind you…” or “I just wanted to send you this email to…”, but I feel like it’s the kind of softening language that makes me come off as less self-assured. I can’t think of any other way to start though! Writing “I’m sending you a list of my ongoing projects” seems too blunt?

    Reply
    1. Amber Rose

      Hi Fergus,
      I’m sending you a list of my ongoing projects. Project A is coming along nicely. Let me know if you have any questions.

      Something like that? The first bit is sorta blunt alone, but you can add other statements to it that soften the overall message without coming across as hesitant.

      Reply
      1. Rincat

        I think this example is good. I typically just launch into “I’m sending you this…” or whatever. Adding a “thanks!” at the end and “please” where applicable are good ways to be polite without being too soft.

        Reply
    2. Anonymous Educator

      I just go with it, and I haven’t gotten any complaints, and I don’t think people perceive me as not self-assured. It’s very weird and awkward to say “I am reminding you to do blah” instead of “I wanted to remind you to do blah.”

      Reply
    3. Rusty Shackelford

      I was told in a business writing class never to say “I want to tell you.” Just tell them. So, “Remember that…” or “Here are my ongoing projects…”

      Reply
    4. Fabulous

      I always dislike ‘saying what I’m doing’ outright, like how the “I’m sending you and email” does. Of course you’re sending an email. I’d start it instead as, “Here’s a list of my ongoing projects.”

      Reply
    5. Blue Eagle

      Here’s something you might want to consider. Would you rather read an e-mail where the sender started off talking about themselves (“I” want to remind you) or about you (just a quick reminder for “you”)?

      Just asking because a business writing class recommended starting memos {just tells you how long ago I was in school – way before e-mail} mentioning the recipient (i.e. “you”) before the sender (i.e. “I”) and if possible to avoid the word “I”. This approach is one that I’ve attempted to use in both my business writing and my personal writing ever since.

      Reply
  69. Blood_Donor

    So a couple months ago I had a comically bad job interview, and now that I didn’t get the job and we’re all presumably moved on, my question is – should I reach out to the people I interviewed with to explain why things happened the way they did, and assure them it wasn’t a lack of respect?

    The details: The position was one similar to the position I currently hold, just at a different institution in town, and this was a first-round interview – a video call over Google with me and three people from the department, including the director. The only time slots they offered were all during the normal work day, and my current job definitely does NOT know I’m looking elsewhere and would be very unhappy (nothing’s terrible or anything, I’m just ready for something new), so I had to be sneaky. I decided to do the call from the car – I live a half hour away from work, so I couldn’t make it home and back without making up an excuse and taking half a vacation day, and my car would be quiet and private. There was a work blood drive at a nearby community center on one of the few days they offered, so I selected the time slot a half hour after I’d finish giving blood – that way, I’d already have an excuse to be away from my desk, and I could do the call from the center’s parking lot rather than work’s tiny parking lot. I selected the perfect parking lot, tested the service there, tried a video call with my roommate to make sure it worked, cleaned my car, and figured out exactly how to set up my phone on the dashboard to get my whole face in there.

    In retrospect, I just should have skipped giving blood that day, or added more of a cushion – but giving blood is important! I made an appointment for that, but the Red Cross was all backed up. I was literally lying on the table, watching the clock, willing myself to bleed as quickly as possible. Afterwards, I SPRINTED a few hundred yards to my car, without drinking water or having a snack. I slid into the passenger seat, propped my phone on the dash, and called them – five minutes after our scheduled time, already feeling woozy. They were all there, I apologized for being late and explained that I was at a blood drive that got backed up, they said it was cool, and we started the interview.

    It was like eighty-five degrees that day though, and my car was parked in the sun, so within a couple minutes I was covered in sweat and feeling like I definitely might pass out. I said, “I’m just going to start my car and roll down the windows, carry on,” and leaned over to turn the car key a notch. As soon as I did, the radio came on FULL BLAST. I immediately turned it off, apologized, and rolled down the windows. Thirty seconds later, my phone TURNED ITSELF OFF because it was too hot.

    So I jumped out, ran around the car, jumped in the drivers’ seat, started the car, turned the a/c on full-blast, and held my phone in front of the vents while chugging water and cramming Cheezits into my mouth because the loss of blood was getting to me. About three minutes later, I was able to turn my phone back on, and called them back, apologizing like a crazy person.

    The rest of the interview went fine, but obviously that was a bit disastrous, and I didn’t get a second-round interview, unsurprisingly. I’m not sure it would have been a great fit for me anyway, but I feel terrible that I’m sure it came across to them as, “I didn’t prepare or plan for this at all and you are not important to me.” This is important because they’re an institution doing similar work to mine in the same metro area, and since I still work in this field, I’d love to collaborate with them in the future, plus I’m sure we’ll be at the same meetings, events, conferences, etc.

    So – should I reach out to them over email? If I see them in person, should I mention it? What are your opinions?

    Reply
    1. CMDRBNA

      I wouldn’t. You already didn’t get the job, giving them an explanation isn’t going to change that. If it’s a company that you still want to work for, I’d say maybe, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case. I’d just take it as a lesson learned and not schedule something right before an interview, especially something that could leave you feeling faint.

      Reply
      1. Blood_Donor

        That is definitely a lesson learned. : )

        I definitely am not trying to change their mind about their hiring decision – I’d just want to leave them with a better impression of me, and apologize for the chaotic interview, knowing we might need or want to work together in the future with our two institutions (I work for a very well-known institution in town.)

        Reply
    2. Reba

      I think it would have made sense to do shortly after the interview, in the form of a regular follow up email that could briefly apologize for the chaotic environment. Not sure if it makes sense to raise the issue again now, which might change their impression of you, but might also just remind them how weird it was. If you are friendly with the interviewers, a casual mention in person might work for you.

      Reply
    3. Em Too

      I think if you see them in person you could mention it. If you know them to speak to and the situation’s right I’d absolutely tell them the whole story. It’s one way to raise a profile.

      Reply
  70. seashell

    Feeling disappointed this week… I had what I thought was a good interview last week and was told I’d hear back this Monday (the 18th) “either way.” I know from life experience and this blog that the Monday date would probably not be met. I sent a follow up email yesterday to check in/ask for updated timeline, but nada. Just feel like I’m waiting on my rejection email. Also know from reading here to put it out of my mind and go on like I didn’t get it. Just ruin my weekend already!!

    Reply
    1. Bea W

      I feel your pain. I have an active job search, and this is what happens. Like dating, these companies are probably just not that into me. The putting it out of your mind is easier said than done. I think it does get easier the more you have to do it. Still sucks, but I’m finding that with a very active search where I am juggling multiple interviews with multiple companies, I’ve just adopted that mindset and move on without thinking about it as much.

      Reply