open thread – February 23-24, 2018

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.

{ 2,112 comments… read them below }

  1. Meeeeee

    What’s the (unprofessional) thing you are tempted to do at work?

    Mine: Part of my job involves sending applications to the government, including a CD-ROM of files. I desperately want to rickroll one of the submissions with a video file of “Never Gonna Give You Up”.

    1. Murphy

      I get a lot of people asking me for extensions to deadlines and I refuse politely, but sometimes I just want to go “lol no”.

      1. Batshua

        When I first started working phone, I *really* wanted to answer the phone like “Yo dawg, ‘sup?”

        I’m really proud of myself for never ever ever doing that.

        1. LQ

          One of my directors apparently thinks my pleasant phone voice sounds so different from my normal voice (it does) she’d get flustered and confused when she called me that she said when she calls she wants me to answer “What’dayawant?” Which I do now and it makes her laugh every single time. (She once called laughed and said, “no that’s all I needed” and hung up.)

      2. Someone else

        Mine is similar. So frequently people will ask questions and I’m really tempted to say “that is not a thing”. But I don’t.

        1. PM Punk

          I get this irrational urge to just slam the phone down at really inappropriate times when people call me. This urge was particularly strong back when I worked as a reporter, but it still pops up every now and then in my PM role.

          1. Specialk9

            When I was a kid in church, I was SO worried that I was going to put my foot out and trip people as they went up for communion. I had never done it, never did do it, but I was always convinced that my mental tricks were all that prevented me from turning the communion line into living dominos. So weird.

        2. Cordelia Vorkosigan

          I often get questions by email that I am so, so tempted to answer in the form of a “Let Me Google That For You” link.

      3. designbot

        I get the opposite, a lot of people asking for things on ridiculous timelines, and then they want everything to be perfectly researched, cross-referenced, and ready to go, and I just want to be like, “oh, because I had So. Much. Time. to check all the issues, riiiiiight.”

      4. Yami Bakura

        In response to an article asking “how can we make ourselves lean?” (in the business sense), I was seriously tempted to comment “Lose weight.” I still hate business speak, but man, some of the buzzwords we had this decade were really off the wall.

        1. Antilles

          In order to make ourselves lean, I recommend we optimize the use of the company exercise facilities. Studies show that personnel which properly utilize these facilities are often more lean, leading to more desirable outcomes.

          1. Yami Bakura

            In order to achieve our strategic objectives, we will improve and empower our core competencies by exercising our physical cores.

            1. Djuna

              “Working our core” gets said a lot in my workplace. It always makes me do that rapid-blink, slight headshake thing.
              We are not a gym, though we have started offering yoga classes to employees so I guess people can work their actual cores alongside their jargony ones now?

        2. Working Hypothesis

          My immediate reaction would be, “Stand approximately a foot from the wall, with your back to it. Incline your upper body until it rests against the wall. Allow your weight to rest in your shoulders.”

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      I spend a lot of my day replying to client emails. There are SO MANY things I want to say but don’t.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

        To expand, the emails I bite my tongue over the most have to do with market losses.

        “I thought this was supposed to be a good fund!! Why did it lose money??” Um. Because. That’s what happens in the stock market sometimes?
        “I’m not sure I want you managing my account after all.” Well, it’s a self-managed account, so maybe look in a mirror.
        “I am a Certified Tax Professional and I can tell you that wash sales are supposed to work like [insert flagrantly wrong information here].” A) is that a real title because I’m not sure, and B) I am a licensed investment advisor and I’m gonna bet on my license over yours any day when it comes to investment stuff. There are plenty of CPAs I’ve dealt with who are really not familiar with the ins and outs of how investment income is determined.

        (Nothing against CPAs on that last one; the ones I’ve dealt with are generally awesome at the stuff that’s more firmly in their wheelhouse.)

        1. King Friday XIII

          Certified Tax Professional is totally a real thing. I was one in college because I took an evening class from H&R Block and working for them paid better than food service. It’s not the most competitive certification ever, more like a driver’s license for taxes.

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

            Hah, all the more reason for me to feel justified, then. My broker/advisor licenses were brutal to get, and our pass rating on those exams is abysmal. I think out of the 25-30 people I started with, 4 managed to pass both required exams.

          2. TardyTardis

            Try getting a certification in Oregon–80 hours of instruction, a test that less than half the people pass, and lots and lots of fees. (why, yes, I did pass my test at 89%, but mainly because I read *really really fast* and was able to check my answers fairly quickly, it was an open book test).

        2. Guitar Lady

          Yeah, that’s not a thing. There is no national or governmental body that certifies Tax Preparers. In fact, the IRS tried to implement a certification program and was stopped by lawsuits claiming it was overstepping it’s authority. H&R Block may claim it’s preparers are “certified” but they are certified by…H&R Block, and as someone who worked for them, that’s totally meaningless.

        3. Anonymous for this...

          I am a “Certified Tax Volunteer” in my state, and I have to say that it means very little. I can fill out a 1040 with a little more confidence than your average joe, but if I have to fill out too many schedules, I’m screwed. Go to a CPA people.

      2. AnotherAlison

        Ah, yes. I have one particular client person who is very inexperienced, yet he’s been tasked with handling “managing” us for one piece of scope. It’s been particularly difficult to get across the difference between what we could do and what we are contracted to do. I’ve been nothing but professional and nice, but it’s so hard.

        1. Arjay

          I’m someone who works for “that guy” and I apologize oh behalf of all those guys out there. As his support staff, we know he’s ridiculous and we try to advocate for sanity, but it’s hard to get through to him internally too.

        2. PM turned Director

          I’ve actually said, in this scenario, “As much as I want it to, your business need does not create a contractual obligation for me. The Statement of Work in the contract creates a contractual obligation for me.”

      3. Annie Moose

        I’m a web developer, and part of our job is to wrangle the clients who are supposed to be testing stuff. And sometimes… sometimes I just wonder what happened to the client’s brain when they were looking at a ticket.

        Case in point: On Valentine’s day, I sent over a spreadsheet of sample data for the client to review. (results from running a particular process) About half of the results were from, say, January 30, and the other half were from January 2. In my comments when sending the spreadsheet to them, I even pointed out a couple that were over 30 days old, because that was a key part of testing this ticket.

        Nevertheless, it got kicked back to me because I supposedly hadn’t included data that was older than 30 days. How you can subtract January 2 from February 14 and get less than 30 days, I do not understand. (no, unfortunately I do understand. Instead of actually looking at the days, they just saw all of the data was from January and assumed it was wrong)

        I had to take a very long tea break before I could trust myself to respond politely. If this was one time, I’d be willing to chalk it up to a simple misunderstanding, which is fine! Misunderstandings happen. But these “simple misunderstandings” happen on almost every single ticket, and it just makes it really obvious the clients aren’t reading what we’re sending them. We are pouring our hearts into making this application work FOR YOU and you can’t even read two sentences explaining it before blaming us??

        (bonus additional story: the ticket later got kicked back for a 100% completely unrelated bug on a search screen [note: the original ticket was for a backend process with zero connection to any form of search] which somehow?? prevented them from testing??? even though I tested just fine in the exact same environment despite this apparent world-ending bug??????)

        1. Lucky

          I am a lawyer, not a software or web developer, but I’ve fallen into a hybrid product owner/implementation manager role for our contract management system, and am the person many users go to when they don’t know/refuse to learn how to use the system. I’ve had people insist that they tried to do X and ‘the stupid system just won’t work,’ not knowing that I can peek under the hood and see every step they’ve taken in trying to do X. So, I’ve had the satisfaction of responding “Becky, I can see that you haven’t logged on for over a month. Go back and log in and actually try X this time.”

          1. Antilles

            That’s a stunningly common issue in IT. Goes something like this:
            Caller: (Describes issue)
            Me: Did you do this common fix that works like 95% of the time?
            Caller: Oh yeah, I tried that first.
            Me: Really? Well, how about trying it again?
            Caller: I’m telling you, I already did that.
            Me: Just humor me and do it again please. Right now, just as a favor.
            Caller: Whoa! (awkward tone of voice) Uh, not sure why it didn’t work the first time.
            Me: (silently thinking) That’s because you didn’t do it the first time, you liar.

            1. Millennial Lawyer

              I always do it the first time and there is just some magic IT people have. Magic to make me look stupid.

              1. Specialk9

                Oh yeah me too. I really did do it the first time! And then I get mad instead of grateful because I look like a liar, but I’m also actually grateful, and arggh.

            2. Jake

              Yeah, your assumption is wrong. I’ve had this happen to me on the caller end twice. Both times I had tried resetting the router or computer, and it didn’t help. Then IT asks me to do it, and it works. I’m not a liar.

              1. Someone else

                A lot of times when I encounter this (as the support person) the issue is the person *thinks* they did it, but actually what they did was slightly different or in the wrong order. So they’re not lying, but they’re also wrong that what they before that didn’t work is *exactly* what Support then had them do that worked. But it’s often not productive and/or impossible to figure out what the difference was in how they tried it the first time because when we walk them through the exact steps and they do it and it works, the person still feels that they had done the same thing to begin with.

            3. AJ Pre K

              That used to happen to my fellow cashiers when I used to train them. As soon as I would walk over to fix it, the register would magically start working. And I mean magically. Nobody would do anything except me glaring at it and it would work. I would tell my cashiers that the registers were used to me threatening to throw them out the window if they didn’t behave!

              1. Easily Amused

                When I was in grad school learning a very technical/computer related field, this phenomenon became so common that, when I had an issue in the lab, I started asking any nearby fellow student “can you please come over here and watch me do this so it will start working”. I swear it worked 98% of the time… damn computers.

          2. Jennifer Thneed

            tip: when they really have tried to do something, and they SHOULD know how: make them sit down and do the thing while you point at the screen and say “now push the Enter key”. Make them do the actual typing. It really will help: it will help them finally learn, and it will help you get more time without being bugged by them.

      1. Foreign Octopus

        I actually did this once.

        I didn’t teach at a school but at a language academy. I was horribly sick with the flu (think muscle aches, blinding headaches, lethargy etc.) and I had to go in for a one hour lesson at the end of term to “babysit” the children who turned up. I put my Netflix on (in English), told them not to talk, and I fell asleep.

        One of them very kindly woke me up at the end of the lesson and wished me a merry Christmas.

        I then spent two hours walking home when it normally took me 20 minutes.

        Not the finest day I’ve ever had.

        1. A tester, not a developer

          Last week my son’s 6th grade French class was a viewing of Spiderman 2. In English.

          Apparently the poor teacher had a migraine and there were no subs available.

          1. JessaB

            Damn, Marvel movies nearly always have a French track, at least put the French track ON and pretend yes?

            1. LavaLamp

              Eh, we used to watch movies in my 10th grade French class and the teacher would just hold up some large attendance cards when the racy scenes would come on and joke with us that they were doing naked yoga.

              That teacher was actually awesome.

              1. copy run start

                Tangental: I had a teacher show us some movie in high school that had a brief glimpse of full frontal male nudity. Obviously he needed to cover it up.

                Before the movie started, he explained that he’d failed the previous class by thinking he could use a piece of paper to cover it up, but he was using the projector so he ended up having the genitals projected onto the paper. For our class he wisely decided to just use the TV screen…

                …and promptly forgot all about the scene!

                1. Specialk9

                  “And here is a piece of paper perfectly outlining the genitals, just in case you wouldn’t have noticed it if I hadn’t tried to cover it up.”

    3. overcaffeinatedandqueer

      I work with huge spreadsheets and business records to be produced in court.

      I just want to edit something to put “f***” or “s***” in one of the blank Xcel cells.

      1. Higher Ed Database Dork

        I did something similar with a spreadsheet once as a joke on a coworker, luckily the joke was well-received. And luckily that spreadsheet was never sent to anyone else!

        1. anon scientist

          I made a joke about a foreign leader (a scary one) in a tracked changes comment in a draft of a report…and then one of the people that was supposed to be editing the report shared the document to a whole other meeting, that included representatives of that government! I had him retract the document pretty quickly, and I made sure to tell everyone else that the report draft was confidential!!! Ugh, no one ever said anything, but holy moly.

          I don’t make jokes in writing anymore.

        2. Bea W

          My dad did a similar thing with a set of plans (mechanical engineer). Before he sent them off for QC he wrote something like “Wakeen is a weenie” and shrunk it down into this tiny speck so that it wasn’t obvious to the naked eye but knowing as a normal part of the QC process someone would discover this abberant speck and zoom in to investigate.

          He thought it was hilarious. Luckily, his co-workers shared his sense of humor. I don’t think he got in trouble for it, at least not in any major way.

          1. Decima Dewey

            When the pressmen at my father’s newspaper weren’t happy with management but not unhappy enough to strike, they attached the publisher’s name in a headline on the obituary page. Also they inserted into the inside pages of a news story: “{Publisher’s Name] wears elevator shows.” Publisher was seven feet tall.

            As far as my own job is concerned, there are days when I’m tempted “embrace the teachable moment.” Lesson to be taught: don’t piss off the librarian who can end your computer session in a handful of mouse clicks.

        3. Aardvark

          There is a record in our CRM that exists for Reasons, is hidden from most users, and only three users in the organization besides myself know about it. I once attached a humorous (work-appropriate) comment to it to the effect that it was really really lonely and wanted some company…and timed how long it took for anyone to notice. (419 days.)

          1. Live and Learn

            I had to test out a custom application submissions tool before we ingested large amounts of data. To do this I had to create a bunch of dummy records to test the ingest and reporting functions. I got tired of making up names off the top of my head so I input records for all the characters names I could think of played by Johnny Depp in movies. I didn’t know they weren’t going to delete them later. My boss figured it out one day when she pulled a report that included Ed Wood, Edward Scissorhands, John Dillinger and Jack Sparrow among others.

            1. Jennifer Thneed

              I used to routinely use characters from the comic “Love and Rockets” for test data in classes I was teaching. I thought someone, sometime, might get a chuckle. But now that comic is ancient history and nobody will ever notice that Esperanza Glass and Perla Chascarillo are in my spreadsheets.

              1. Comics Nerd

                They’re still making it! (At least as recently as September 2016 – and it was a free comic on Free Comic Book Day last year, so not too ancient). There’s still hope!

      2. Snow

        We once got a spread sheet at work where all changes to Wolverhampton (UK town) had been changed to Wolverine – we still have no idea who did it as the spread sheet was one that went back and forth between internal and external departments or even when it had happened as we then checked a few older versions of the it in the archive where it was the same. We found it way more amusing than it technically was.

        1. Free Meerkats

          Several of our Standard Drawings for Construction Standards, freely distributed internally and externally, had “{City} Pubic Works” in the title blocks. Looking back, they had been that way for close to a decade.

          1. Triplestep

            AutoCAD user here. I have done something like this, although not quite as egregious. It’s never been great at handling text, but earlier versions of the program were much worse.

            1. copy run start

              I found an upside-down pentagram in an AutoCAD drawing a few weeks ago. I have no idea if someone had the drawing rotated and drew a star for Reasons or if that particular property is the actual home of the Anti-Christ and Satan gets his internet from us….

      3. bee

        Oh, I’ve done this! I just type in the blank cell using white font. There aren’t a lot of people looking at my spreadsheets though – so there isn’t much risk.

      4. circus peanuts

        I work in a library and I used to be the weekend night supervisor in an academic library in the early 90’s. They had told us that they were getting rid of the card catalogs soon and everything would be computerized “real soon”. I had a typewriter and blank cards for the catalog and I made up fake titles and books and filed them in there and waited for the card catalogs to go away. The card catalogs have been whittled down, but they are still there. With my fake entries . . . I don’t even remember which ones they were anymore, the only one I remember was putting an author name in of John Jingleheimer Schmidt and the card also says to see John Jingleheimer Schmidt as well.

      5. CarrotCake

        I once did this on a school paper. But about my teacher. I literally felt ill when I got it back with ‘See me after class’ written on the front. 1000/10 do not recommend. I still feel ill about it over a decade later.

        I’ve since done other stupid things, but that will hopefully remain the worst.

      6. Alli525

        A former boss was a totally laid-back jokester, and once hid an easter egg of some kind in one of his spreadsheets, mostly just to see how thoroughly any of his clients used them. One day we got an email out of the blue from a client – for the first and only time in THREE YEARS, someone had found the easter egg. So we mailed him a signed headshot of my boss with a silly note and some sort of company swag as a reward. That was one of my most fun days at that job.

    4. Higher Ed Database Dork

      Every time someone complains that their “data isn’t right,” and I know 100% that it’s not because of an error on my part (and 95% of the time, it’s because they have bad data management practices), I just really want to respond with, “Well, it’s your shit data, you do something about it.”

      But I don’t. Oh the day.

      1. Redundant Department of Redundancy

        Well once I got so fed up of someone who kept asking me the same thing over and over (I was on reception). I said ‘Good Day Sir’ then turned away. He asked me again I turning and shouted ‘I said Good Day Sir’ (ala Gene Wilder from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).

        It felt sooooo good.

        1. Higher Ed Database Dork

          That is amazing! Oh how I would love to do that.

          My ultimate career goal is to retreat further into the depths of IT so no client can ask me these things again. I can’t fix your bad data entry, people!!!!

        2. Elizabeth West

          AHAHAHAHAA

          I love it when you can use movie quotes IRL in context. I got to do it one time at OldExjob, right around the time The Dark Knight came out. I’d seen that film eight times in the cinema and everyone at work knew I was obsessed with it. I even had a quote contest going with the FedEx guy, which I won. :)

          I was in the back office filing stuff in the client files. I usually did this by scooting my chair around from cabinet to cabinet, instead of bending down to reach the lower files and killing my back. There was a rug over the carpet with a tendency to wrinkle, and it kept catching my wheels. I complained about it to my supervisor. She said yeah, it was annoying but BossWife didn’t want to spend the money on a better rug or to replace the carpet.

          I said, “It’s not about money…..it’s about sending a MESSAGE!” in my best imitation of Joker’s voice. Then my supervisor and I cracked up, LOL.

        1. Triplestep

          Me, too, but with higher-ups. EVERYONE thinks they are a designer. No one wants to hear that their ideas wont work due to unsexy things like, you know, building code. ADA compliance. Just plain lack of space. I have learned to say “oh, great idea … I will try that!” And then wait an appropriate amount of time to say “aw, it did not work due to (fill in the blank with something I already knew.)

          This is not to say we can’t factor in other people’s ideas. Just that people tend to bristle at being told immediately that their design ideas won’t work due to some mundane reason even if I can see it from a mile away.

      2. Wendy Darling

        I used to be a data analyst for a crap company with crap data practices all down the line. Their data was just not appropriate for the kind of analyses they wanted me to do — they weren’t collecting the right stuff, they were collecting it super poorly, their demographic data was out of date, they had data smeared across multiple formats but none of them were really appropriate, their versioning system was “user_data_2017_realone_final2.xlsx”… you name it, if a thing could go wrong with data it was wrong with this data.

        Every time I got yelled at for not being able to draw firm/any conclusions from the hot mess they called data I had the urge to be like, “Garbage in, garbage out, assholes.”

        1. Higher Ed Database Dork

          That is 75% of the departments I worked with at my university. Constantly changing degree plan codes, reusing codes for various things, no timely or accurate data entry of any kind, and would not inform everyone of changes that were made, so it was a constant battle of “well MY numbers don’t match THEIR numbers.” No shit, Sherlock. You all have different definitions for the same thing and no one will agree on anything, even after YEARS of meetings about the same stuff!

          I’m in a more behind the scenes role now (ETL development instead of reporting) and I’m sooooooo much happier. There’s a nice layer of report writers/analysts between me and the end users.

        2. analytica

          [insert gif of child laughing and then suddenly starts sobbing]

          But yes, this. I have felt this before.

        3. Bea W

          When people insist on arguing with me about database and electronic data collection design and proper training and usage of those things, I get ornery and issue a blunt warning about “Garbage in, garbage out”.

          If they’ve failed to heed the 1st warning and later complain about the quality of their data I get to say it again but with an “I told you so!” tone.

          Seriously, do not make this hard. Collecting usable data does not have to be this hard! Garbage in, garbage out. Simple rule. Follow it!

    5. Amber Rose

      Abuse my label maker for great evil.

      Sarcastically ask people if they’d like to buy a dictionary along with the part name that they’ve horribly mangled, or the complete system they asked for right after saying they were just looking for parts.

      Blast “Die Motherf***er Die” over the speakers. It’s my favorite angry song.

      1. Ann

        The other engineers in my office sometimes steal my label maker to make silly labels (eg labeling the microwave “microwave”). I don’t mind as long as they’re not using the expensive label maker, since the rolls for that one are $8 per foot!

        1. Liane

          I don’t remember the company, but a laboratory supplier I sometimes ordered from years ago, would send free calendars with a comic featuring a “cast” of oddball lab scientists. The lab counters in these comics had tons of drawers and cupboards, all labeled (not unusual in labs). BUT, the labels ranged from typical lab stuff (“Magnetic Stir Bars,” “Thermometers”) to WTH (like the one with a drawer each for various holidays from well known like Christmas to lesser to “probably imagined by someone who didn’t use the hood and inhaled chemical fumes”).

      2. Trout 'Waver

        First thing I did with our label maker was print of a “label maker” label and stick it right below the display.

    6. Chameleon

      I just had a couple students cheat on an exam and I kind of want to write them an email with the subject line “say goodbye to your A, idiots”

      1. Artemesia

        If one cheated off another or they collaborated on the cheating, grade the papers then give them half what they earned – half each since it was one effort.

    7. ThatGirl

      I’m in a customer facing role and sometimes I just want to tell people they’re idiots. Because honestly. But no, I am always professional and polite.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        God, I don’t miss those days. I was on the verge of saying the same thing at least twice a day.

    8. Leah

      Sleep on the couches in the reception after lunch, blanket and pillow and all. I pray that my next job offers some sort of break room…

    9. Lore

      I do a lot of proofreading and manuscript editing, and constantly fight the temptation to add a sentence to a particularly egregiously awful piece of prose–either a totally random non sequitur to see if anyone is reading this garbage, or an acknowledgment that it’s awful and I tried my best to make it better.

      I figure if I’m ever ready to go down in flames, I’ll try it with a high-profile or notoriously difficult author and see how long it takes to be busted.

      1. shep

        I did a brief stint as a contract editor for a small but reputable (at the time) publisher, and the founder herself set up a phone call with me to explain how passionate the author was about the book I was about to edit, and how she just needs a little help with grammar.

        I thought it was weird. Then I got the manuscript.

        It was an ABSOLUTE train wreck. I can only assume said author was a family friend, or the founder owed her money and couldn’t pay, or SOMETHING. Oh my goodness. No amount of editing, short of scrapping the entire thing and getting a completely different person to write it, was going to save that manuscript.

        I had to ask for an extension and then ended up white-knuckling my way through it and immediately submitting my resignation along with the “edited” manuscript.

        Coincidentally, a year or two later, several authors and contract editors came forward about not having been paid yet for their work, which yielded even more horror stories about the workings of this press, and the borderline abusive behavior of the founder.

        Whew. I am SO glad I got out of there when I did!

        1. shep

          (Also out of morbid curiosity, I dug out the old edit letter I also sent the author, and OH MY GOODNESS did I ever put so much time and kindness into that thing. I don’t even know if it made it to the author, and if it did, I imagine it fell on deaf ears.)

        2. Fact & Fiction

          There is a reason I had to start declining requests to review manuscripts after I got published. If it’s a fellow pro or a friend I know can write, that’s one thing. But too often in the past I was getting things that were so far past my ability to help with a little feedback that it was stressing me out. I love to help but man…There’s just no good way to give helpful feedback when something really is that atrocious. Either I just can’t help, or they’re someone who doesn’t REALLY want actual criticism. I remember I donated a critique in a charity auction once and the winner flat-out raged on me and I was like NEWP!!!

          1. shep

            Yeah, I made the [recent] mistake of agreeing to trade work with a friendly acquaintance at work, who would often wax ranty about other people’s inability to string written words together. I thought, “Oh, X knows at least a little about what they’re doing.” NOPE. Their work was…not good. They seem totally oblivious to this fact, AND seem to think their own critique of my work was pretty valuable. (It was VERY MUCH not, at least stylistically.)

            I like this person, but I don’t want to trade work ever again and as basically the most conflict-averse person ever, I’m struggling to come up with a way to tell them without hurting their feelings. Totally simple in theory; in practice, I’m horrible.

            Anyway. I totally commiserate.

            1. Fact & Fiction

              I feel you! You mayhave to pull the “Oh my gosh I’m too busy to exchange work for the next (EVER!) I’m so sorry!” line.

              Also WTF autocorrect – no I don’t mean busybody and Nextel! I didn’t even typo!

        3. Former Border's Refugee

          Was this perhaps a once respected publisher that took it’s name from a geological formation?

      2. Alex

        I manage copyeditors/proofreaders, and we have one who totally does this (the snarky comments about the quality of the work, not a random non sequitur).

        It doesn’t get back to the person who wrote it, so we just think it is funny.

        1. Fact & Fiction

          Haha I used to do the same basic job. Without putting the snark in print. Super tempting sometimes.

        2. Lore

          Oh, I do it all the time in the manuscript. The temptation is to write in something in, like, second pass, when no one but me sees it later and it will end up in the book!

      3. Another editor

        Some things I find myself wanting to say in my comments:

        “WTF does this even mean?”
        “I don’t even know where to start with this”
        “Why do you hate the Oxford comma so much?”

      4. valc2323

        oh, man, I reviewed a report that a grantee had submitted that actually did have the words “I don’t think anyone at actually reads this so la la la asdfasdfasdfasdfasdf”

        Yep, we read ’em, and evaluate the merits of your program based on what you send in. Say goodbye to your funding.

    10. Mananana

      Because I believe our employee evals aren’t useful (or even read that closely) I listed one of my accomplishments as “Mananana is Queen of All She Surveys”. It went through my rater (immediate boss) and senior rater (grand-boss). Neither noticed it, so my official, federal gov’t evaluation lists QASS as an accomplishment. And it’s signed by a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army.

    11. Sheila's Assistant

      My boss is the exec assistant and office manager, and people bug her all day long with stuff they make seem like an emergency, but end up being something that could easily be emailed like ordering a calculator. If they can’t find her, they come running to me, “Where’s Sheila, where, where where is she?????” One exec wanted to know exactly where she was and I finally said she was in the ladies room. He barked, “well how long will she be???” Boy, you have no idea how much I wanted to say, “it depends if it’s #1 or #2, how long does it take you?”

      1. Higher Ed Database Dork

        Gaaah I hate it when people do that. I used to work in instructional design, and there was this professor who would call at 7am and demand to speak with my coworker, who always started at 9am. She knew she started at 9am, and her meetings were never scheduled before 9am. But Prof. Impatience would bark at me, “But where is she??? Why isn’t she here?? We have a meeting!!!” This professor also would email us on the weekends to say, “I will meet you at 730am” and not bother to verify that with us, and then get angry when we didn’t show up for these “meetings.”

        1. Argh!

          One of my reports has an earlier schedule than the rest of the staff. My boss’s admin never fails to call with a question that only that one person can answer about 10 minutes after COB for them.

      2. Batshua

        I had a person who thought he was my boss bang on the door while I was in the single person bathroom and demand to know if I was in there.

        What was the emergency? Paperwork. Paperwork that wasn’t even time sensitive. I reported him to my supervisor.

    12. Ten

      Today is my last day at a job I’m very happy to be leaving, and I so badly want to tell certain people exactly what I think about them. But I will refrain. I’m not usually too tempted to be unprofessional, except in that way.

      1. Trillion

        Who hasn’t fantasized about that!? “Screw you, screw you, you’re cool, screw you, screw you to hell.”

        It kills me how, when someone quits, suddenly their opinions about the company and its practices don’t matter any longer. Exit interviews are, at best, a waste of time. But worker who leave are just “quitters” who are disloyal and deserved to be shunned. Just dismiss their revelation that the manager is abusive and the internal politics are harmful and Jerry isn’t following procedure for sensitive data.

      2. Middle School Teacher

        One of my colleagues likes to say that if she wins the lottery and quits her job, everyone at school will get an identical envelope. The people she likes will get a ticket for a cruise, and the people she can’t stand will get a note saying “bite me”.

      3. Bleeborp

        OOh this is a fantasy I’ve definitely had. I had 2 part time jobs for a long time and I was hoping to (and eventually did) go full time at one place but I had all kinds of ideas of who I would tell off at each job. At the job I left, of course, I didn’t tell of the person (I do still fantasize if I ran into her in public what I’d say…she’s one of these people who seems very sweet and motherly but is actually a manipulative, hateful person; it’d feel so good to tell her that I see through her facade!) At the job I did get, I didn’t want to tell off a coworker but I work at a college and there are various student groups that table to promote themselves and there is one that I disagree with vehemently and I fantasized about just upending their table and yelling at them that they are spreading harmful lies. I still think about it every time I see them on campus! Not very professional so unless I quit because I win the lottery and can burn all professional bridges, I probably won’t be doing that.

    13. Recently Diagnosed

      My job involves describing the details of my company’s onsite security to potential clients in agonizing detail. I want so badly to write about how we have a fully functional moat and drawbridge, water fully stocked with both crocodiles AND piranha. In order to be allowed in, you must first have your father and mother insulted by a man with a clearly fake French accent.

    14. Spooky

      I don’t know if this counts because I actually did do it, but I’ll share anyway:

      When I was a freshman in college working in a psych lab on campus, I made a list of my top ten favorite test subjects who had ever come in and hung it on the wall by my desk (not in a public area, only employees could see it.) To give you some idea, my top favorites were “Cheeseburger Pants Man” (the guy who showed up to the test with 9, count ’em, 9 cheeseburgers stuffed in the pockets of his cargo pants. Polished off all of them by the time the test was over) and “Melon Guy” (the guy who showed up with a massive watermelon twice the size of his head, asked for a plastic spoon, broke the melon open on his knee, ate the whole thing during the test, and handed me a pile of dripping rinds on his way out. Psych labs are wild, y’all.)

      Looking back, I can see why this was a horrible idea, but at the time I literally could not understand how it was problematic at all.

        1. Ghost Town

          Totally agree – learning all about office management, strategic relationships, professional etiquette, and so on.

      1. Jillociraptor

        Okay but have you ever clicked over to AAM while forgetting that you were projecting your screen on a very boring video call? #guilty

        1. Falling Diphthong

          Fortunately the screen projection is always from the Art Department, which isn’t me. I do check settings carefully if the cat is trying to help, of course.

    15. Bea W

      Nap in my cube.

      Like everyone else, what I say in my head and what comes out of my mouth or my keyboard are two entirely different things. I quite frequently have wanted to reply “Oh hell no.” to unreasonable requests and “Are you effing insane?!”, “WTF”, “Whatever.”, “Sorry, I’m all out of f*cks today”, etc. and a variety of memes expressing similar sentiments.

      Insert random unrelated things into documents to see if anyone is actually reviewing them.

      1. Polaris

        My cube is situated such that if I did this no one would be able to see me, and there’s actually quite a lot of space underneath. It’s very tempting sometimes. I have a colleague who did do this, but it was less “napping” and more “curling up in the dark because migraine”.

      2. Ten

        Once I had to loop in my boss on a particularly aggravating series of miscommunications between my office and our sister site in a different state. After they changed their story for about the tenth time I privately emailed my boss the Steven Colbert *headdesk* meme. I think it helped both of us.

    16. Cube Ninja

      In my role managing wage garnishments, I regularly get to say things to external contacts that aren’t necessarily unprofessional, but are entirely too satisfying when talking with ornery people.

      “Whether the check is written for $2 or $200,000, it doesn’t change the cost of the check.”

      “That’s fine, I’ll indicate that you’re refusing to implement this garnishment and my legal department will follow up with you.”

      From external contact, “How do I know this is legitimate?”
      Response usually indicates our agreement w/ Federal gov’t, court precedents and our orders include the relevant legal statutes.
      “Well I just want to make sure you’re legitimate.”
      Response: See above re: legal. :)

      My personal favorite was the lady whose employment we verified and she called about six different people before landing on me. Her issue was that the person we spoke with was apparently authorized to verify employment, just not HER employment. I told her directly that was an internal issue for her company because we have to rely on employers, you know, not lying to us. :) Our complaints department told her the same thing after she took it to director level.

      1. Marthooh

        Re: people who want to know if you’re legitimate – you DO keep a copy of your parents’ marriage license on hand, right?

    17. Addison

      I kind of want to reenact the end of the Devil Wears Prada book when Andi just goes F** YOU, MIRANDA!! F** YOU!! and leaves, but to my entire workplace. I suppose I could be pragmatic and just serve a few select individuals with this treatment before I execute a grand stormout, but honestly just bleating it through a megaphone would be fine too.

      Alternatively, sometimes I want to do that “I quit” music video that one person put on youtube, where they filmed themselves dancing and partying at their empty workplace and uploaded it the next morning. That would be so nice. But I’d probably accidentally violate hipaa in there somewhere, so maybe I’ll just stick with the profanity. It’s safer.

    18. Cute Li'l UFO

      -Feeding condiment packets into the industrial shredder
      -Sending the entirety of the “You lose, good day sir!” speech from Willy Wonka to the team responsible for continually throwing me under the bus and blaming me for assets done wrong before I started that contract

      My art director was absolutely fed up with how that team was treating me (look at me! I’m the contractor! I’m expendable!) and really really wanted me to go through with the second one.

      I drove home on my last day whoopin’ and hollerin’ like Howard Dean in 2004.

      1. Argh!

        “-Feeding condiment packets into the industrial shredder”

        I’m so glad I wasn’t drinking soda while I read that! *LOL*

    19. Fake old Converse shoes (not in the US)

      Being snarky with the team next to us. I’m tempted to give them bibs, since they behave like 10 year olds (tantrums included).

    20. Elemeno P.

      I give a lot of presentations in person and online via screen sharing, and I always want to drag a cute picture or video onto the screen when I’m done.

      When I know my audience well, I give in to this temptation. My last presentation ended with a video of a dog licking the screen.

    21. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis

      I have lost count of the number of times, when someone has come to me complaining that their expected figures don’t add up, that I want to scream in their face “THERE ARE 31 DAYS IN MARCH, NOT 30! And the reason your forecast is wrong is down to DAILY RATES! Which you should know because you have worked here and submitted this forecast to me every month for FOUR YEARS!”

      *sigh* it’s been a very long week

      1. Umvue

        “THERE ARE 31 DAYS IN MARCH, NOT 30! “

        Wasn’t there a Parks and Rec episode where this was a major plot point?

    22. Odyssea

      When people tell me that the computer/printer/copier is broken or not working, and really it’s something they’re doing/not doing, I just want to yell,

      “It’s not the computer, it’s you!”

      But I don’t, even if I’m think it inside.

      1. Not So NewReader

        My husband used to repair copiers. He always said, “You don’t fix the copier, you fix the person running the copier. He said that he did not really do true repairs anyway, most parts you unplugged the bad and then plugged in the good. He called them “plug and pray” parts.

        1. MissLibby

          Our repair person doesn’t repair ours either….he tells me it is the humidity (summer) or lack of humidity (winter) and that I just need to fan the paper. We go through several weeks of jamming, calling for service, him showing up so he can tell me whether the air is too humid or too dry before he will change out a part or pretend to. Last fall we did this for several weeks and one day another technician responded and removed the paper clip stuck inside that had been causing the machine to jam for weeks.

      2. nonymous

        A former coworker used the acronym PICNIC “Problem in chair not in computer”. He gleefully trotted this out when describing the issue in front of the person, often with the unsuspecting soul nodding along in a “Gosh! K is so smart to solve that problem, and he thinks it’s fun like a picnic! what a gem!” manner

        1. curly sue

          My father used to use ‘PEBCAK’ – Problem Exists Between Chair and Keyboard – for the same thing.

    23. NJ Anon

      We had a dick coworker come in and shut the door of the office he shares with someone else. I put a “DANGER – QUARATINE!” sign on the door.

    24. Grandma Mazur

      Take my cats into work. Especially when they were at their cutest and most inquisitive, between kittenhood and fullgrown cathood.

    25. Shark Lady

      The team that sits next to mine always complains that my team is too loud, yet they often have group huddles that involve clapping and cheering. I really want to bring in an air horn and blast it at them the next time they do that.
      Also, there are several people to whom I’d really like to say, “Sorry (not sorry), but if you can’t get your work right we will no longer be processing your transactions.” Because nothing makes my day like hounding the same team over and over to fix their mistakes.

    26. Teal Green

      Every time I’m fed up with my job, I picture quitting by throwing a pile of paperwork in the air and shouting “Peace out, bitches!”

      1. LimeRoos

        +1 to Ed Debevic’s. So sad it’s gone :-(
        And agreed it would be amazing to snark away at people sometimes.

    27. paul

      Any time I have to work with the state government I get an overwhelming urge to torch all the bridges after a few days.

      1. CarolynM

        This morning I had a mutual admiration society meeting with one one of my good payers – I was sending her an updated statement after I had chased down an elusive credit she was legitimately owed and we went back and forth 5 or 6 times about how much we appreciate working with each other.

        Meanwhile, in another e-mail I was battling a pants-on-head-stupid douchecanoe who was 48pt bold ALLCAPS red text yelling at me about how dare I place his account on credit hold for an invoice I had specifically warned him had to be paid by {date} else he be placed on credit hold … first warning (if you don’t want to count the invoice we originally sent them as some sort of notice we expect payment by a certain date …) was sent a month before {date} when the invoice was already 30+ days past due, second warning 2 weeks before {date} … but I am The Worst (TM) for putting him on hold for no reason and giving him no warning of the reasons I am accused of not having in the first place.

        I have freakishly thick skin, but there are some days when I could weep with sweet relief just talking to a decent customer who remembers that I am human, or at least close enough to human not to treat like utter garbage. All in a day’s work … I didn’t choose the AR life, the AR life chose me! :)

        1. Paquita

          Fellow A/R person here. We receive both checks and electronic payment. Most customers send emails letting us know what the payments are for. Occasionally we need to contact one and ask for remittance information. All we have is a date, name, and amount. Customer will say please give me one of the invoice numbers, or the check/ACH number, or whatever else. Argh! ALL WE HAVE IS DATE NAME AND AMOUNT! You need to provide the other information TO US! And NO we cannot just apply the money to any open invoices, this creates a bookkeeping nightmare when you come back and try to say that’s not what I really meant to pay.
          And no we can’t tell you everything you paid for the last five years and send all the supporting documents.

    28. Thing1

      I once came *this close* to making a “that’s what she said” joke in front of an entire class of students (college freshman mostly). I probably could actually have gotten away with it, but I’m glad I didn’t. The weird part about it is that I don’t make that kind of joke–that was probably the only time I’ve ever really wanted to, so I’m still not sure where it came from.

      1. Wendy Darling

        Every once in a while someone just tees it up for you so perfectly that it is difficult to resist.

        I actually usually don’t hold it against people if they make the joke after I have unknowingly laid all the ingredients before them, even if it’s a joke I would normally object to, because I am too familiar with the urge to make the perfect (but inappropriate) joke.

        1. Thing1

          In this case I was actually the one who set it up–I was talking mostly to myself while trying to figure out how to get one of the student-supplied USB sticks to emerge from its protective casing, and, well. . . (that lab was terrible, students would bring in their own USB and then be standing there lined up waiting while I tried to figure out how the cap or sliding thing or whatever worked on every weird USB they’d bought.)

    29. Wendy Darling

      I work on chatbots for large corporations — the little helper boxes that pop up in the corner on a website all “What can I help you with today?”

      I have so many urges to be brutally, inappropriately honest.

      “Why is it so hard to change this thing about my account?”
      “We make it hard on purpose because we make more money if you don’t change it.”

      “I got a late fee because you didn’t get my payment before the due date!”
      “No shit Sherlock, that is HOW THAT WORKS.”

      “I liked the old version better!”/”I’m going to boycott you because you advertised on a show I disapprove of!”/”You’re a bunch of crooks!”
      “Thank you for submitting your feedback into this black hole where no one will ever read it except maybe the person our company contracts to to keep this soulless chatbot running, rather than wasting one of our customer service reps’ time with it, because we totally do not care.”

      1. Trillion

        Oh man, brutal honesty is like my #1 unprofessional fantasy.

        “Why did the system [do that]?”
        “Did the click the box that said [make that happen]?”
        “Yes.”
        “Did you think the box was a lie? Can you read words?”

        1. Wendy Darling

          My mom is not computer-literate and I have had this conversation with her almost verbatim.

          “I updated Windows and now all my stuff is gone.”
          “Did you click the box that said it would remove all your stuff?”
          “Uhh, probably?”
          “Soooooo why do YOU think all your stuff is gone then?”

        2. Alli525

          I once had an anonymous tumblr to post screenshots of the dumbest emails we got. (I of course blocked out any identifying details.) It was incredibly cathartic.

      2. Elizabeth West

        I always wanted to insert something like this into reports I edited:

        “I know this setting will generate more fee income but for f*ck’s sake don’t do this to your customers I don’t even know why we engineered it run away run away. “

    30. Wannabe Disney Princess

      Tell people to read their f’ing email.

      Honest to God. 90% of my day is answering emails that require me to forward and/or attach an email string that they were too lazy to dig for. (If I’m feeling particularly catty, I may forward each one separately…)

      1. Detective Amy Santiago

        I have definitely replied to emails asking me questions that were already answered by highlighting the answer and saying “see below”.

        1. Wendy Darling

          I’ve had people email me being salty about me having not answered some question of theirs and I’ll send them the email I sent them two weeks ago with the answer in it, with the answer highlighted, and be super concerned about whether their email is working correctly since they apparently did not receive my email.

          Spoiler: Their email always works fine, they’re just blaming me for their inability to keep up with their own inbox.

          1. Rusty Shackelford

            There are few things I love more than getting to send the concerned “Oh, did this not make it into your inbox, here’s another copy” response.

          2. Jules the Third

            I am way behind on my inbox, but I make it a point to search for the relevant topic and check whether I’ve gotten an answer before I go back again.

          1. Ree

            At OldJob, if I didn’t get to write, “Per my last email” at least once a day, my life felt kind of…incomplete.
            Unsatisfying.
            Like, why did I even bother?

            This feeling rarely happened because….NO ONE READS THEIR EMAILS so I got to say B&^%$ DO YOU READ??!!?? multiple times a day and that made me soooooo happy. LOL

      2. cathammock

        So much this. The worst are the angry emails, with the entire team plus my boss and grandboss copied, demanding to know why I failed to send the thing I was supposed to send and that I definitely sent preemptively to avoid things like, you know, very public attempts to announce that I’m not doing my job.

        I’ve offered to escalate their “not receiving emails” problem to IT a few times, and somehow the original document just sort of magically shows up after that.

      3. Fact & Fiction

        God bless him or her, but I had a client where I used to work who I had to re-send emails to him or her ALL the time. This person could never keep track of the projects that’s we’re like, their job to track. Drive me batty.

      4. zora

        The departments in our corporate headquarters apparently never retain anything, because we have literally the same conversations every month.

        I REALLY want to say: “We had this exact conversation last month, why do you keep asking me the same question?!? Have you ever heard of the concept of WRITING THINGS DOWN?!??”

        1. Jules the Third

          gah, having that problem with someone right now, except that I also handed them written documentation. So frustrating!

    31. Kathenus

      Years ago there was an all day strategic planning meeting at one of our two locations. Most of our managers went to that location for the meeting, but three of us needed to stay on site in case of problems, so we were video conferencing in. The sound was terrible, so we could hear maybe a third of what was being discussed. And the video quality wasn’t great either. We began amusing ourselves with a bunch of items, and ended up putting an inflatable dinosaur with a glow necklace and hat on it in front of our camera to see if anyone even noticed on the other end. It was there for over an hour. Nope, not a word. We were on mute because we were getting pretty punchy and laughing quite a bit by that point.

        1. Kathenus

          Done! A match made in heaven. I was lucky that the two coworkers I were with that day were fun and wacky too.

      1. Lipsy Magoo

        I like the fact you just happen to have an inflatable dinosaur with a glow necklace in the office………….

        1. Kathenus

          Well, we had an inflatable dinosaur, and a glow necklace. We just decided to play dress up. We also had a toy that was kind of like a flying saucer with a flashing light in it that we were having fun throwing around the room. Pretty sure it ended up with the dinosaur in front of the camera at some point too. Like I said, it was an all day meeting.

    32. Trillion

      I make training material for HR Technology, and have to use fake pictures and names to replace real pictures and names. I like to pick a theme for the document (like superheros: Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne; or US presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson).

      Lately I’ve been using mammals and have been tempted to use a skunk, donkey, or warthog for people I don’t like. Even though no one will ever know, I’m afraid I could slip up and someone would find out (“Why is did you pick a buzzard for the Payroll manager?”). So I stick to neutral animals like horses and lions.

      1. KR

        One of my favorite things in my IT job was to include my desktop picture on screenshots for tutorials/instructions. My desktop picture was my beautiful cat.

        1. Trillion

          Or leave really fun “tabs” open in your screenshots of your browser!

          [Company Software Icon] Log in Page
          [Google icon]super cute kittens
          [Bing icon] best batman villains

          1. Jennifer Thneed

            OOH!

            I’m going in to about a year of making presentations to people before I work on their documents. Many documents, many presentations. I suspect I’ll be seeing some of them every single time. I hope I get easy-going enough with them to be able to do this kind of thing. (Or the dog licking the screen video. Stuff like that.)

      2. hermit crab

        I helped design a reporting system for a government permitting program, and all my test users are U.S. first ladies. The documentation has screenshots of, like, Eleanor Roosevelt’s semi-annual report and the error message that Abigail Adams received when she didn’t complete all the required fields.

    33. Anonymous, thanks

      We’re allowed to have a drink at work on Fridays at the end of the day, which makes me tempted to drink at work at other times, but I don’t! Don’t want to abuse the nice perk they’re giving us.

    34. Anon for this one

      My deputy and I are about to close on a really big deal for higher ed/state government, and I so, so badly want to announce it to a super loud soundtrack of Cardi B/Bruno Mars “Finesse.”

      Yeah, we got it goin’ on, got it goin’ on
      Don’t it feel so good to be us, ay?

      1. TaterB

        I am fully in support of this one. I know the choreography, so I would like to offer my services as your backup dancer.

      2. Fact & Fiction

        Bruno makes fun dance music! I do a couple Zumba routines to his stuff. And Jason Derulo. Can I be backup dancer number two?

    35. Jadelyn

      When Excel is being fussy about letting me save files I have been known to append “fuck excel” to the end of the filename to distinguish it from the older version, then go delete the old version and rename the current version to not include the profanity. I only do it because I immediately go in and fix it, so I highly doubt anyone will happen to click into that specific folder during the approximately 10 seconds it has that filename.

      Other than that, just telling off managers who are being dense about something.

    36. Lora

      Throw something very heavy and/or sharp at my sexist colleagues.

      Failing that, throw my copy of Perry’s Handbook at people who ask me questions they could easily look up the answers to themselves, but they felt compelled to interrupt my flow.

    37. MRK

      I’m a manager in a retail business and the 3 big ones I must resist are:

      1. Laugh in the face of ridiculous hagglers and tell them to get the hell out of my store.
      2. Give my actual response to the painfully, painfully obvious questions we get from customers, instead of the polite answer
      3. Ask people if I “look like a fucking tour guide?!” when I get asked extremely generic “what should we do/eat/see” questions simply because I work in X city

      1. Pieforbreakfast

        I was a picture framer for many years and the hagglers were the worst “is this the best price you can do?” Oh, you only needed to ask! I will totally give you the super-secret cheaper price.
        I clearly remember telling a guy who used the “so and so place quoted me a ridiculously low amount for the project” gambit, “That’s awesome! You should totally go with them! Deals like that don’t come around very often!” and handed him his stuff. He just stared, and asked how quickly I could get the project done.

      1. PoetRocker

        I did use “halp” once in an email where that *should* have been fine/funny…and someone corrected it for me! :D

        1. Elizabeth West

          I know I’ve said this here before, but during a very protracted and frustrating go-round with the accounting team at Exjob over a stupid edict they put on us, AwesomeBoss sent me an email that was just a picture of a book cover–“The Little Engine That Said ‘F*ck It.'”

          Best boss evaaaaaahh.

    38. The Senior Wrangler

      I set the till to print a smiley face just before I left my job at a petrol station. I haven’t been back to check whether it’s still there.

    39. Kate

      My job could be done 100% remotely, but my company doesn’t allow telework. My boss works in a different building. I’m tempted to see how long I could get away with just not coming in. I’d still do my job and adhere to my normal hours, just not at the office. Everybody who works near my cube has plenty of meetings and travel, so it’d be at least a few days before they noticed anything.

    40. Lipsy Magoo

      I mean I sometimes sit in meetings and wonder… if I got on the table right now and started beating my chest like Tarzan, and screaming, would they even notice? would they stop droning on……….

      But I mean I don’t want to actually do it, it just crosses my mind :)

    41. Banana

      I work in a field where people get REALLY stuck on minute details. It is kind of our job to do so, but the emotional attachment people get to getting Their Way greatly outdoes the actual importance of the detail, in the long run. When the crap starts hitting the fan about something so minuscule that only we will notice it, I just want to stand up, wave my arms and say “NONE OF THIS MATTERS!!!! NONE OF THIS MATTERS AT ALL! THERE IS FAMINE, DISEASE, POVERTY, AND WAR IN THIS WORLD! OUR TINY LITTLE LIVES DON’T MAKE A LICK OF DIFFERENCE!!!!”

      1. Polaris

        “Our little lives don’t count at all!” and then someone would have to tackle me before I started doing the rest of Les Mis.

      2. paul

        I’ve done a less extreme version of that when we were trying to work on cross compatibility between other agencies for how we collected client demographics. I said something something like “We’ve now spent X man hours in this meeting deciding if we should save it First, Last or Last, First. Why is this so painful?” There were two people dead set on F,L and one dead set on L,F and I just did not give a damn.

    42. Oxford Coma

      I regularly have to restrain myself from reciting all or part of the Billy Madison decathlon speech.

      What you have just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

      1. Lipsy Magoo

        I work for someone who taught me this ditty, as she has wanted to say that to people a few times here :)

      2. Jiya

        I have crafted so many polite ways of saying this at work. And I’m happy to be polite! But…yeah, the sentiments above would not be inaccurate.

    43. Ms Mad Scientist

      I had someone from another lab use our space as her personal conversation area. Lengthy conversations. Every day. Despite speaking to her and putting up signs asking people not to have their personal conversations in our lab.

      She’s moved on, but I was sorely tempted to go to her bench and have a loud conversation. About something gross.

    44. Cruciatus

      So, this is not on a grand scale, but my replacement kinda did the thing I wanted to do when I worked in that department. I saw K (replacement) earlier in the week and commented about her being able to escape the desk (since it’s a front desk job). She said yes and then started chatting about the office and how miserable she is. It’s the supervisor there, she is a micromanager and she can be cool one day and then awful the next 10 and you just never know which one you’re going to get. When I worked there I even posted here about the letter she wrote me about all the ways I was sucking (as an attempt to help me). It wasn’t work stuff, it was things like “chatting too long with faculty” (you know, the people we WORK FOR IN THAT DEPARTMENT). Gah! So my replacement also got her letter recently–like my supervisor saw her text something, and this and that and nit nit nit nit pick pick pick pick. So my replacement wrote back to this email from (allegedly) the director and (definitely) my supervisor (mine was an actual letter, but K got an email) and nitpicked all the shit the supervisor does that she doesn’t get called out for! She was in IDGAF mode! It wasn’t professional but I LOVE THAT SHE DID IT. She’s still coming in to work as I saw her today! I don’t know what ramifications there will be. The supervisor really does make that place suck. It could be a totally nice place to work (though stressful) but she just adds to the stress constantly. K told me when she was venting to me that she’s in her 50s and doesn’t need to get paid so little to put up with so much shit from supervisor. Amen. A-freaking-men.

      1. Ten

        I would love to read that exchange! Witnessing mean people being put in their place is universally satisfying.

    45. Delphine

      Nap in my office. Every Ramadan I lament that I can’t just close my office shutters, duck under my desk, and have a 30 minute snooze.

    46. lnelson1218

      At a previous job tell a SVP (where the s stood for spoiled, stupid and screaming) to stick it where the sun didn’t shine and walk out saying on the way that since he knows everything, he should have no problem doing my job too.

      Ah, one could dream, I got laid-off before I got the chance. Alas (and it probably would have happened)

    47. Caledonia

      I work in higher ed so mine would be something to do with either people thinking they are qualified and aren’t OR people who are qualified but who apply after the deadline.

      THE DEADLINE IS ALWAYS, ALWAYS IN JANUARY, PEOPLE. Also, you can’t class yourself as international if you are y’know British or from Europe.

    48. Sparkly Librarian

      Break into song. I am a children’s librarian, so I can usually get away with that, but this past week I was confronted with a circumstance where it would have been unprofessional.

      A patron comes to the desk and asks about entry-level positions at the library. My boss is out, so I’m temporarily in charge. I explain the basic hiring process (coordinated in City headquarters, not at my small neighborhood branch) and print some forms for her. She also asks me if there’s an exam guide to help her practice, and while I’m looking that up, she asks if I know any memory tricks for “the sections of the alphabet”. I ask for a little clarification (maybe she’s talking about how books are shelved in various genre locations? Dewey?) and her response is sonething like, “What order the alphabet goes in. Like, a song or something?”

      I am pretty sure I stared at her and muttered, “the, um… the song” before my customer service face kicked in and I was able to say, smiling, “Oh, my favorite alphabet song is good for that! Sometimes I find myself humming it while I’m shelving.” (Not true.)

      But I REALLY wanted to put on my storytime face and belt out, “A B C D E F G….”

      1. PoetRocker

        I’ma librarian, too… and I always sing the alphabet song while shelving! Usually not at the same spot I’m shelving – just on repeat :)

        1. Rainy

          I used to file and I just couldn’t stop myself from singing the alphabet song on repeat, although sometimes I could manage to shift it sideways into Twinkle Twinkle.

    49. Anon For Obvious...

      As part of my work I do the occasional piece of equipment maintenance for McDonald’s. Some of their restaurants have a self-inking stamp which reads, “McVoid!” which is presumably used for stamping documents. The “M” in “McVoid!” is the McDonald’s logo. I’m sooooo tempted to steal one of those stamps!

    50. Lynca

      Roll around the building in my office chair so I don’t have to walk. Sadly it will stay confined to my office.

    51. Librarian Ish

      We have a couple of long hallways between the cubicles. I have an almost irresistible desire to do cartwheels down them.

      Please note: I cannot do a cartwheel.

      1. Bea W

        I can do cartwheels and it is so hard resisting this temptation or the temptation to do handstands in my office. I HATE being chained to a desk all day.

      2. Jiya

        Same, in my old building. I’m talking long and wide hallways, so I could full-on fall sideways and not hit a wall. Never worked up the guts to try it, though, even when I was one of maybe three people in the building.

    52. JanetM

      I want to post passive-aggressive signs, with the top two being “This is a picture of the CIO making coffee. If he can do it, so can you” and “Flush the d*mn toilet.”

      1. Michael Carmichael

        We recently acquired a non-flusher. I just posted a sign in our restroom that said PLEASE FLUSH THE TOILET AFTER USE with a picture of a smiling toilet giving a thumbs up. My assistant came to me alarmed because he had found the file on the server labeled Things You Should Not Have To Ask.docx and he thought it was a directive for him.

    53. Archivista

      I… actually did this one. While working on a database for a private library that’s extremely specialized, rarely patronized, and full of very old books and documents (and, therefore, anyone was unlikely to ever see this), one of the records/summaries included the words “who lives, who dies” and I added about five empty lines and then “who tells your story?”

    54. Butch Cassidy

      My job involves weekly conference calls for coaching customer service supervisors to make sure their standards for their associates are in line with ours. Each of the groups I work with has at least one supervisor whom I absolutely adore because they care deeply about the work, are whip-smart, kind, resourceful, etc. I wish I could tell them how much I appreciate them.

        1. Butch Cassidy

          I guess I worry about playing favorites? Like if there’s one supervisor out of 20 with whom I work and I obviously love, what does that say to all the others?

          1. Jules the Third

            Send an email to them / their managers stating, ‘I really enjoyed [specific thing] about our training – thank you for being so engaged.’ or something like that. If you can point to specific, business-oriented things, it is totally professional. And if you’re concerned about appearances, sending it in the email bypasses that.

            In the training, you could say ‘yes, that answer really gets to the core of what this training is trying to do’ or similar positive feedback.

    55. Alice Ulf

      In my old position, applicants used to call me all the time to ask their number on the waiting list. After about two years, I had to constantly fight the urge to tell them, “Every time you ask, we send you back to the bottom of the list.”

        1. StrikingFalcon

          I’ve done this! I was working somewhere where we had a standard estimated completion time of 2 weeks. Someone got REALLY pissy about how it “wasn’t two weeks worth of work” and wouldn’t accept that there were other customers in front of her. The thing was, we weren’t that busy and it was easily the shortest item in the docket. We could have had it done within the hour, and might have if she was nice about it. But she wasn’t, so it was put on the bottom of the pile.

          But then, there was also the time where I literally had to tell someone “every time you call me, I have to stop working on your order to answer the phone. I WILL CALL YOU WHEN I’M DONE.” She showed up in the store 15 minutes later and hovered at the doorway until I finished -_-

          1. Someone else

            I once was doing a project for a client on the weekend, they were paying extra for this, and they’d been told the work would take all day. 45 minutes after I was supposed to start they emailed and asked for a status report. I didn’t respond because I wasn’t looking at my email, I was doing the work. They kept asking for updates pretty much every hour, until four hours later I finally looked at my email, not because I expected anything on the weekend but more out of habit since I hit a sort of normal stopping point. I had to rope the PM into it (even though he wasn’t expecting to have to “help” on the weekend day) because I was worried they’d be furious, but we also reallllllllllly didn’t want to set the precedent that we’d give them hourly updates throughout the course of a 7 hour process because doing so would turn it into a 10 hour process, and I was too irritated to be sure I wouldn’t say something to the effect of “I can do the work as fast as possible and tell you when I’m done like we told you would happen, or I can waste both our weekends by stopping constantly to tell you that I’m still doing the work. Which would you prefer?”

    56. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend

      There are sooooo many snarky emails I have drafted and deleted. One of them was, “I can see you calling me an idiot further down in this email thread. Who’s genius idea was it to loop me in?”

      1. Rainy

        In my last role, I had two direct reports (let’s call them Mary-Kate and Ashley) who ended up having a screaming fight in the hallway a week before the grant they were employed by moved to another department (I took a lateral move to stay in my current department, so they were also leaving my reportage, thank god), because Mary-Kate had sycophantically agreed with someone over email that Ashley was an idiot piece of shit (for doing her job!) and then six or so emails later looped Ashley into the email chain without removing any history from the email, so Ashley read down, saw what Mary-Kate had said, and went and literally screamed at her in the hall.

      2. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend

        Oh jeez, wrong “whose!” Ha! Listen, I may be an idiot, but don’t copy me in an email about it! :)

    57. only acting normal

      Not me, but when my brother worked in retail a rather vague and distracted customer exchanged an item of clothing they’d bought the day before for *exactly* the same thing, same size everything. He did point it out and ask if they were sure (and checked there was no fault with the return), they just looked at him blankly. So he processed the exchange and as they left he said “See you tomorrow!” :-D

      For me. I’m fairly convinced no-one much ever reads more than the abstract/summary of our reports. I’m tempted to put an Easter egg deep in the text somewhere: something whimsical or funny, a movie quote maybe, nothing profane. :)

      1. Ten

        Once or twice I included movie references in college essays just to amuse myself. I don’t think my professors ever noticed – they never commented, at least.

    58. Sled dog mama

      Delete all the old crappy forms and replace them with the updated ones I’ve been trying to get approved

    59. Booknerd

      I want to add bogus check-outs of “50 Shades” plus monster overdue fines to the accounts of the judgemental library patrons who think we should only have religious fiction and Nancy Drew books in the library.

      “Why, Mrs. Whatsis, it looks like your account has been stopped until you pay the $27.50 you owe in overdue fines for “50 Shades of Grey” and that Lorelei paperback where women have graphic sex with animal shape shifters. Will that be cash or do you want to use your debit card?”

      1. Lissa

        I did something like this when I was a “library helper” in grade 6 to the girls who were bullying me, with toilet training books…

    60. Polaris

      Sometimes I want to send a thank you card or chocolate to the lawyers who actually send out the documents I draft in a timely manner, as opposed to the ones who let them sit for months while I send multiple reminders that are ignored.

    61. Arjay

      I’m a liberal arts person working with a lot of science-y people. Most of them aren’t familiar with the Melville story of Bartleby the Scrivener. I can only imagine their blank stares when I finally succumb to temptation one day and respond to an asinine request with a totally deadpan “I would prefer not to.”

      1. Chameleon

        I was just talking about writing a modern Bartleby where he answers everything with “nah, bro.”

    62. Weyrwoman

      I work in an email-based support environment, and I’m always super tempted to just write back “NO” in the biggest, reddest font possible when a customer asks a very obviously not-okay ‘hypothetical’.

      1. London Calling

        I ask for a lot of documents to be sent to me via email – we have our own address and it ends .london. I can guarantee that at least once a day I’ll recite the email address to a supplier, there’ll be silence of two beats and then I’ll be asked, ‘Uhhh, is that .london.co uk?’ So far – SO FAR – I have resisted the urge to say, ‘Listen, idiot, if it was .co.uk I’d have said .london.co.uk, wouldn’t I?’ but it’s getting stronger,

    63. I'll come up with a clever name later.

      Oh…so many things but this month I’d love to be able to tell off some of the patient’s I deal with. My job involves verify coverage with their health insurance, obtaining authorizations, etc. Occasionally I’ll verify coverage and find out that their insurance requires them to use another provider or that the service isn’t covered at all. This month six different patient’s have threatened to sue the company I work for, me personally, and Obama because their company issued insurance doesn’t cover the service or they need to use another (equally capable) provider because of insurance mandates. I would just love to say “First, Obama has nothing to do with your company issued policy. They didn’t get this on the exchange. Second, good luck with that law suit. And Third – complain to the people at your office who have the power to make changes with your insurance. I can’t change your insurance. If I could we’d all have universal health care but given that you want to sue Obama, I doubt you’d agree.”

      Ohhh…that felt good just typing that out. :) Cathartic. Welp…back to the tranches for me. hopefully the next patient who yells at me won’t get to me like before. :)

    64. Justme, The OG

      I really really really want to blast some profanity-laden rap music. The faculty around me are gone right now, so it might be

    65. What's with today, today?

      Ha! I’m on the radio five hours a day in a small town with lots of fun small town politics. You just can’t know how much shit I want to talk.

    66. Angela

      Love this question!

      Mine: Sometimes, I would love to curl up under my desk and take a nap. Give me a yoga mat and a blanket and I’d be nice and cozy!

    67. Aleta

      I have wildly fantasized about, when a customer calls and immediately leads in their order, just going “Sure thing, we’ll get that right out to you!” and hanging up. It was more annoying when we had a paper ticket system and I didn’t want to write anything down until I knew they were in zone and they’d get annoyed when I asked them for their complicated order again. Now there’s a digital system that can accommodate it, but not all digital systems can! The one we had at a certain freaky fast sandwich shop was VERY strictly phone number –> name and address –> order.

    68. Environmental Gone Public Health

      Ask the homeowners/contractors who call to ask why the (swearing) permit isn’t (swearing more) ready yet???! whether they legitimately believe that their project is the only building project in the entire county. Well, did you ask your designer if they sent in the required design? Because I don’t have one. Or, they sent it 15 minutes ago, and I have 10 ahead of you in queue.

      There are also many days that I’d love to write “are you f*cking kidding me???!” on some designs that get submitted to me. Fun fact: water doesn’t flow uphill. You cannot put a septic system in that is supposed to somehow gravity flow the effluent uphill. That’s not how gravity works. Yet I have some designers that take 5-10 revisions of me telling them the same thing over and over again.

    69. Teapot librarian

      I sent a survey yesterday and desperately wanted to say “it’s short enough that you can do it while you’re in the bathroom.”

    70. Triplestep

      After I learned what the Dunning-Krueger effect was (I believe we talked about it here) I really, REALLY wanted to send a link about it to someone at my last job and say “Thought this might interest you …”. It just explained so much!

    71. Amy Farrah Fowler

      omg… so many things.

      I do hiring of part-time remote employees, so we do a phone interview, a skype interview, and then online training before they’re up and running. I can’t tell you how many times I will invite someone to a phone interview (send an email and leave a voicemail), wait a couple days, send a second invite by email (and sometimes a 2nd voicemail as well) before finally send them an email to close the loop. SOOO many people reply to that email with “yes, I’m still interested”.

      You didn’t read my email… you didn’t respond to the AT LEAST 3 other communications I sent you… Sometimes I want to reply with something equally unhelpful like: “Good for you” or “Sorry not sorry”

      I do not do this ever… but man the temptation!

    72. Kelly S.

      I just noticed the links to previous posts. I must say I’m intrigued by Nerf gun battles in the office. ;)

    73. JustShutUpAlready

      Tell the evil diva drama queen who sits next to me, who spends hours snickering, grunting and howling on personal calls bitching about how she hates her job to JUST F***KING LEAVE and make us all happy!

    74. hiptobesquared

      I work in IT and for sure sent out a fake spam email and last time I used the Hampster Dance as the link. I’m totally going to rickroll them next time.

      1. This Daydreamer

        Ha! I use that as my alarm clock. It’s the only thing I’ve found that is guaranteed to wake me up.

    75. KTM

      Whenever I get changing requirements from a PM or customer, after I’ve already done a ton of work and now will have to redo it, I always want to shout at them during the meeting/phone call “Once again, things that could have been brought to my attention YESTERDAY” a la Adam Sandler in the Wedding Singer

    76. strawberries and raspberries

      Yesterday the only thing that got me through the day was listening to the backmasked version of “Stairway to Heaven,” and I so so so wanted to play it out loud instead of with headphones, but it would have vindicated the coworkers that already think I’m a devil worshiper, so.

    77. Catherine from Canada

      I work for a company that makes fiber optics equipment. There are rolls of fiber all over the place. I want to snap one – just one!

    78. brightbetween

      Back when I worked in a library branch, we would do announcements over the PA to notify patrons that we were closing (“the library will be closing in 15 minutes…” etc). At closing time, we did one final announcement — “Thank you for visiting the library. We are now closed, we will reopen at…”. I always wanted to tack on “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here!”

      1. Sparkly Librarian

        Those were very fun in already-empty branches. I clearly recall singing, “The library is shut! The library is shut! We scream and shout — You must get out! The library is shut!” over the loudspeaker. We also had a young patron who would hang around until the final announcement so he could warn anyone left that they would be eaten by vampires, etc., if they did not leave on time.

        1. This Daydreamer

          When I was still working at the bookstore, I had a manager who once said, over the PA system, “Attention all employees. You have five minutes to get to the break room before we release the attack dogs.” I think all of the customers had finally left for the day…

        2. TardyTardis

          Our library has a tasteful gong which is sounded first fifteen minutes till closing, and then five. You don’t want to hang around too long after that one, you get put to work…

    79. Slippin' and slidin'

      This week? Scoop up all the %^(*&^ snow that my boss is too cheap to have plowed and dump it on/around his car. Box him in. We’ve had 2+ feet of snow this week, the business is down a quarter mile lane from the road (where no street parking is allowed) and he just thinks we should all buy SUVs like he does. Because a guy who is too cheap to plow the lot at his business also pays crap wages, too.

    80. Argh!

      My job involves a small amount of writing. I write about the same amount for the web as for internal customers. My boss nitpicks everything I write for internal customers but doesn’t even look at what I put on the web. One time I’d accidentally dragged and dropped half a paragraph into a different paragraph. My boss never noticed.

      So… I’d love to write “My boss is an idiot” in the middle of a paragraph to see what happens, but of course, it’s the web. Can’t do that.

    81. Cedrus Libani

      Ever since I started my job, my work phone has received 2-3 calls per day (EVERY SINGLE DAY) from the same telemarketer. They’re selling some sort of trade magazine.

      Fortunately, phones aren’t really used in my office, so nobody else calls me. I’ve turned off the ringer. But I’m sufficiently annoyed by this point…if I wasn’t working for a giant corporate entity that’s touchy about its public image, I’d be having some fun with these calls. I desperately want to transfer them to one of those phone lines that makes non-committal noises of agreement on an infinite loop.

    82. Anonymous for this fantasy

      I work at a large natural history and science museum, where we have elevated walkways on two floors in our work area that overlook the public floor below us. I fantasize about taking a squirt gun and shooting water at people below me and then ducking so they can’t see me. My after-hours fantasy is to run around with my co-workers and have an enthusiastic squirt gun battle all over the public floor and in the aquarium. That would be so awesome.

    83. G

      I get really tempted to bring my phone into the kitchen to use it to play music. A lot of the time we don’t get the radio however we always do after 8 and at that time of the night it’s always playing classical music. Classical music is okay but it’s not exactly motivational when there are a whole load of tired employees. There needs to be something more up tempo playing.

    84. This Daydreamer

      My job now is so laid back that there isn’t much temptation. 95% of the job description is “Be there in case the phone rings or a resident needs something.” So, it’s 5:30 in the morning, and I’m taking a break from doing beadwork. I’ll watch some Doctor Who when I’m done reading here.

      I had some fun with my old bookstore job, though.

      One time, there was a sign in the back that was waiting to be displayed in the cafe. It was a massive picture of a slice of carrot cake with thick icing and had everyone drooling. The store manager was especially vocal about it making her hungry and she wished it would be moved away from the door to the staff area where she had to keep walking by it. She didn’t actually move it, of course. So I did. When she found the poster on her desk, she hit the PA system with a very sarcastic “Thank you, Daydreamer”. What? She wanted it moved and I moved it.

      Another day, I arrived for my shift in the middle of a sudden downpour. I didn’t mind it so much, but the guy in the parking space next to mine seemed a bit upset when I paged him. “Attention customers, if you drive a BMW, license plate xxx xxxx, you might want to put the top up.” Too bad about those leather seats.

      Finally, there was the incredibly frustrating day when I was the only one at the cashwrap and no one was responding to my pages. Even worse, I kept on inadvertently answering a phone call when I tried to page for help. The entire store was treated to the PA message of “Head cashier to the front, please. Head cashier to the front. Manager to the front, please. Manager to the front. Manager line one, please. Manager line one. Fergus line two, please. Fergus line two. Customer service line three, please. Customer service line three. Customer service to information one, please. Customer service to information one. Customer service to information two, please. Customer service to information two. Customer service to children’s, please. Customer service to children’s. Any available cashier to the front, please. Any available cashier to the front.” How I got through the whole thing without a single stumble I will never know, but it paid off. The entire line of customers who had been glaring at me cracked up. All of the sudden, I was not the only employee in the store any more. There was a swarm of coworkers who rushed the front desk and all of the phone lines were picked up. And I think that’s when they started having me do the dreaded closing announcements.

      Oh, and there was the one and only time I picked up a cell phone at the cashwrap, again with a long line. Nobody seemed to mind. “Thank you for calling a cell phone left at the front desk at Barnes & Noble. This is Daydreamer. How can I help you?”

    85. Miles

      I used to work in a sound archive (think library for old music, just not self-service) Sometimes when we got a large donation of materials that included a bunch of duplicates of stuff we already had too much of, my manager would play Frisbee with the dumpster using all the 78`s we had to throw out

    86. Triple Anon

      When working with kids, I get really tempted to just stop being the Responsible Adult and act like a kid. “Yes, your homework sucks. Yes, let’s watch funny videos instead. It is more fun. Ok, we can have a food fight. No, I don’t care if you use foul language. I won’t tell your parents.” Argh, but they are paying me and I would get in so much trouble if anyone found out . . .

  2. Where to find part-time remote work?

    Has anyone here used platforms such as Flex Jobs or Virtual Vocations? Did they work for you? I am looking into applying for remote, part-time jobs so I can get more experience in what I think I would like to do in my next job. Before shelling out money for these platforms though, I wanted to see if anyone in this community has used them or if they had any tips for searching for remote, part-time work!

    1. Chupalupe

      WeWorkRemotely tends to have the best reviews in my opinion – but it depends on what kind of part time work you want to do. Skip UpWork entirely, it’s very hard to make it on there.

      1. Izzy

        Someone recommended Upwork to me for free lance editing work. After I spent a lot of time creating a profile and submitted it for approval, they denied my “application” because they already had enough editors. Then they sent me an email asking if I already had clients, inviting me to join Upwork if I could bring my clients with me (so they could pay me through their platform instead of directly, and UW would get their cut). Right, why would I want to do that?

    2. anna green

      I had a subscription to Flex Jobs for a few months when I was looking. If you can get the intro deal, its not that expensive and might be worth a try. One thing I found was that some job listings on Flex jobs are still active on that site, but when you look them up on the company site they are old and inactive. The field I was looking in didn’t end up having too many remote options so it never got me anywhere really, but I felt like I learned about different companies/jobs I wouldn’t have known about. So I think it depends on whether you can afford / get a deal on the pricing.

    3. Roja

      I got my last job through FlexJobs. I figured I’d pay for a month’s access for $15 and if I didn’t find anything by the end at least it was only $15. I think I found the job in less than a week.

    4. Samata

      I am commenting mainly for easy reference, but am looking for the same type work. I have a FT job but am looking remote PT jobs to gain more experience in my field, too. I have had the same questions about paying for Flex Jobs.

  3. Anonymous Educator

    Anyone else with a humanities (or similar) background working in tech (broad umbrella term that could cover tech support, database administration, programming, etc.) experiencing imposter syndrome? How have you dealt with that?

    1. BeepBoopBeep

      Holy Moly, I did not know there was a term for my over-dedication to my work. I went to look this up and the definition fit me to a T. I do not work in tech, so maybe my answer isn’t relevant. I am a project manager/operations director that oversees customer service and a website, so maybe it is.

      I guess I don’t deal with it- but you’ve made me reflect a little bit, so thank you. I definitely tend to judge my less-than-productive coworkers (most of the time it is justified because they never meet deadlines). I could ease up a bit though.
      Really, thank you for posting this, I was not aware of this term at all.

      1. Teapots for Llamas

        Oh, man. I’m trying to get into a different industry, in a tech-heavy area. I’m reading job postings and terrified about this. Intellectually, I know that the jobs that I am looking at are positions that use my skills. If I get one of those jobs, I will update you on that!

    2. Turkletina

      Yep! I work as a (say) teapots project manager. It’s a job that combines technical skills — automatically finding and correcting errors in the design and execution of the teapots, manipulating the colors and design elements that are available to the teapot builders, etc. — with project management — being in constant contact with the freelancers who build the teapots as well as the client-facing project managers, managing quality, budget, and timeline for multiple teapot-types, etc.

      I definitely have imposter syndrome related to the technical parts. Even when I’m feeling like I belong in the role, I tend to frame my skills as “I’m really good at writing a script to find structural problems with the teapots, but that’s too specific and not a real skill that people are hiring for”. That’s maybe strictly speaking true, but in another job I’m sure I could learn quickly to write a script that finds problems in coffee pots or fish tanks. I wish I could believe that!

      What actually helps me is to focus on the parts of my job that I KNOW I’m good at. I have a humanities PhD and did A LOT of teaching in grad school. So when I need to train new teapot builders and teach them about the very specific nuances of our process, I am fantastic at coming up with examples and anticipating questions. So I can tell myself that even if my technical skills are garbage (they’re not; that’s the impostor syndrome talking) I’m worth keeping around because I do have real skills that other folks with a different background might not have in the same quantity.

      If you’re coming from a humanities background, remember that knowing how to think about and approach problems from different angles is a real skill! In a lot of tech work, it’s extremely valuable to be flexible and considered in your approach, especially when it allows you to anticipate risks and problems before they arise.

      1. Tabby Baltimore

        “If you’re coming from a humanities background, remember that knowing how to think about and approach problems from different angles is a real skill! In a lot of tech work, it’s extremely valuable to be flexible and considered in your approach, especially when it allows you to anticipate risks and problems before they arise.”

        Performing arts major here, working far away from her original discipline. Thank you so much for writing this. I’m going to copy and paste your entire response and email it to myself.

        1. Turkletina

          Aww, this made my day! I’ve struggled a lot with recognizing my own value as an employee and I’m so glad my experience can be helpful for someone else. :)

      2. Mbarr

        This! I’m a History major, and I’ve worked in medical industries, tech industries (as a Tech Writer), and now I’m in a Finance industry. I know I lack a lot of the technical know-how my coworkers do, but I bring a much more varied skillset to the team that offsets their one-mindedness at times. Plus, you can pick up new skills along the way that you’d never learn in our Humanities education…

        1. TardyTardis

          But history makes it easier to spot it when governments are trying to default on a bank a la Fugger et al. Then again, using a bank to finance the purchase over the Suez Canal over a quiet weekend has its charms, too.

    3. ExcelJedi

      Oh my goodness yes. I have a research psychology background (BA & MA), and about half my job is tech/database work and the other half is analytics. Whenever I’m working on a database, I wonder if they shouldn’t just get someone with a CS degree for this (even though my work is solid and I’ve had great reviews at all the companies I’ve done this for).

    4. Higher Ed Database Dork

      Ooooh yes. I have a BA English and I work as a database developer. I love what I do, my bosses are very pleased with me and tell me I do great work, but I constantly feel like I’m always behind in what I should know. I learned all my tech stuff on the job – I’ve had some training classes here and there, but I’ve never done anything like “IT infrastructure 101” or programming fundamentals. I feel like my knowledge gaps center around not knowing basic IT infrastructure (like basic networking/firewalls, hardware, etc), and programming best practices. I got into this work by starting out doing para-IT application support and then slowly migrated into IT proper.

      I deal with it by reminding myself that the kind of knowledge I crave comes with experience and time – and that it can be learned. What my bosses like about me are things that aren’t easily taught – a good work ethic, helpfulness, and the ability to see the big picture. We are all aware of my knowledge shortcomings, but they’ve told me time and time again they appreciate that I’m a solid, hard-working employee, and all the technical stuff can be taught. And they are teaching me, so it’s getting better.

      So when I feel like a piece of crap next to the IT dude who’s been programming since birth and knows all there is to know about IT, I just remind myself that 1) different person, different path 2) knowledge takes time to acquire 3) I have many valuable skills – skills that were developed by doing my English degree, like critical thinking – and those help me to acquire the knowledge and skills I need.

    5. Roza

      Goodness yes! I have a social science background and got somewhat “teched up” in grad school, but just don’t have the same depth of knowledge about and comfort discussing some things that my coworkers who always studied math/engineering/physics/etc have. I’m transitioning into a tech lead role and have to manage the efforts of people I think are waaaay more qualified to be doing this than me, and it is often terrifying.

      One thing I’ve found helpful is to really focus on the teapots I’m tech lead for–rather than thinking about whether I’m the right one for the job, think entirely about how we can make this teapot line as awesome as possible and how Math Wizard Colleague X and Genius Programmer Y can make that happen. Often this involves delegating a lot of decision-making to them. At the end of the day you got this job for a reason, and if you focus on outcomes the skills that got you the job will shine!

    6. Katriona

      YES. I work for a software company and part of the reason they hired me was my non-techy background (so I can spot things that might be confusing for end users) but when we’re in internal meetings I always feel a few steps behind. I don’t really have good advice for dealing with it, but I’ll be watching this thread with interest.

    7. Coalea

      Not exactly what you describe, but similar! I’ve recently been assigned to a team where literally everyone else has a PhD in microbiology, molecular biology, biochemistry, etc. I have a BS in a social science and an MPH. The last “hard science” course I took was biology when I was in high school back in the 1990s. I feel woefully inadequate! I try to focus on the things I do well, and volunteer for tasks where my background won’t be a hindrance. I have been very upfront with my colleagues about my knowledge gaps and have asked for additional guidance when needed. To be honest, it kind of sucks at the moment – but I’m hopeful it will get better with time!

    8. You're Not My Supervisor

      YES. SQL Server DBA (new to this position, formerly a Tech Writer) who has a degree in writing, of all things. I deal with this on a daily basis.

      Don’t have practical advice for you, just wanted to commiserate.

    9. Polaris

      Not tech, but I have a History and Archives degree and feel so weird working at this law firm doing nothing related to any of my degrees.

    10. DC Limey

      Yup.

      I have a Theatre Degree and I am a programmer.

      (I also have a Masters in Computer Science, though.)

    11. QA tester

      My degree is in linguistics with minors in editing and political science but I work as a software tester and have done tech support.

      I haven’t really had much impostor syndrome, sometimes I feel a little of it when I look at the job requirements for QA jobs (both internal and external) which usually require CS degree or something; I feel like if I had applied for my current job now rather than 5 years ago I wouldn’t have gotten an interview based on the qualifications they now put in the job posting. But I love my job, just had my yearly review from my team lead and got a “consistently exceeds expectations” rating. I am well respected in my work place and got a promotion last year (with a nice raise). When I do occasionally feel that maybe I’m out of my depth I usually stop, take a breath, remind myself that while I may not know everything I am qualified for my job and that it is ok to ask questions in order to fill in the gaps of your knowledge/skills to further develop your qualifications.

    12. Hey Anonny-Nonny

      When my imposter-brain takes over, I just write a phrase that my therapist gave me over and over. After telling her how personally invested I was in every word I wrote for work, she told me, “You know, all they want is the project done. It’s not a judgement of you or who you are. They don’t care how you feel about it. They just want it done and on their desks.”

      So, I just write, “All they want is the project done” in a word document 5-30 times and then do my best to get on with it.

      (And yes, I’m pretty much in your exact situation! It is not easy!)

    13. IT Squirrel

      *waves* yup, massive case of it over here!

      Not humanities, but I have a design degree, then accidentally ended up doing HR support for a while, before I got my current job doing teapot security because someone left, I was interested in the job and had an aptitude for it, and it was easier/quicker for my employer to move me over and train me up than go through the hiring process!

      I had no formal tech training; everything I know has been learnt on the job and even though my employer is hugely supportive and I’ve been given lots of training, I’m still painfully aware of how much I don’t know, and how much of that is basic IT knowledge (just like Higher Ed Database Dork) which I feel like I should just know already!

    14. Zathras

      Yup yup yup. Humanities BA, and I work in a very technical role. I just had my performance review and every year I am surprised to discover that what feels to me like flailing around blindly falling over things is perceived by my boss as me kicking ass at my job.

    15. theletter

      yes, very similar similar situation, and I felt out of my depth, especially since, during the first year, I was often accused of not knowing how to do the job – but then that guy was fired. Turns out he didn’t know what he was doing.

      I now often meet or work with people with CS degrees who don’t know skills/tools that I’ve learned on the job.

      It’s helpful to stay fearless with new technology – a lot of stuff is new enough that people who graduated with a CS degree five years ago wouldn’t have covered it in school. A lot of stuff can be picked up with some tutorials online. I’ve found that people with humanities degrees are great at finding patterns, and great at seeing the big picture in the small details. We’re great at asking tough questions. We belong in technology – and technology needs us.

    16. AccidentalIT

      I’m not sure if this will help you, but I have an undergraduate and a graduate degree in the humanities, and I found myself as an accidental IT professional for the field I got my graduate degree in. I *loved* it, and I was pretty good at it, even though my background was not IT. I was a very hard worker, and I guess I’m also reasonably intelligent, so I was able to figure most things out and make it work.

      But I always felt like I was holding our organization back. I never was able to let go of that. BTW my mentor, who retired and I replaced about a year after she hired me, was in the same boat, and I always sensed that she felt the same way. She was well respected though, and I have learned that I was also vwell respected.

      Anyway, I love my field and there were lots of other things I wanted to experience, and so when another position I had been eyeing came open, I took it. I had spent 5 years in IT. I was asked to assist in hiring my replacement, which I did gladly. I was disappointed that my boss did not interview a couple candidates I recommended and thought would be good because their asking price was a smidge (outside his comfort zone (but totally reasonable and worth it, he was a cheapskate), but we had a few others. ultimately IT in this org required a knowledge of IT, but a willingness to branch out and understand the particulars of the organization, which I did well. My boss ended up hiring someone who was solidly IT (I recommended very strongly hiring two candidates, the one he hired and another one in addition to this one who had more skills related to our field, and explained why…). It has not gone well. All my peers are unhappy, and I’ve heard many times that they miss me in that role.

      I don’t regret it, but I do miss it. I loved it. I love what I do now too, but I wish I had given myself more credit. A greater diversity of knowledge outside of IT actually made me better at that job than I realized.

    17. FroYoYo

      When you do something and do it well, write it down. Review when you feel low to remind yourself you got this!

      Since you name mentions Educator, I’d also say that you should apply the growth mindset for intelligence. It’s not that some people are born good at tech and some or not. Everyone can study up to become an expert at it, including the people around you. You know more than you think, more than some, and you’ll catch up to those who know more than you.

  4. BeepBoopBeep

    My future spouse has a job where we possibly could be moving around quite often. I have been thinking about leaving my current work environment because 1. it is stressful and toxic due to the gossipy and small nature of the company and 2. because no one takes responsibility for their own work. I have been debating searching for only remote/telecommute job openings. My experience with people working from home is that they don’t get nearly enough done, but it might just be because the people i work with are frankly, bad employees. I am worried that I am only moving from one bad situation to another. (I am a project manager/ operations director) Does anyone have remote positions with companies they like? Do they experience culture problems, or deadline issues? Are positions like this hard to get? I am also assuming remote companies to their due diligence when it comes to hiring, but someone, please, please enlighten me!!

    1. Chupalupe

      I’m a full time remote worker and a project manager as well funnily enough! I think it helps when the entire company is fully remote (my department is 100% remote, entire company is about 80% remote) – people are held more accountable because everyone’s always focused online vs. forgetting about those out of the office. I’ve had a couple of issues with slacker coworkers, but I think no more than I’ve had at previous in-person positions. I definitely have a lot more regular “check in” meetings with colleagues (not just my boss) than other jobs which really helps keep your key contacts on the ball.

    2. Currently Job Searching

      An important thing to consider is if you would be happy (and productive) working from home full time. Some people do very well and others feel isolated or have too many distractions.

    3. Turkletina

      I am a remote project manager, and I love it. We don’t have deadline issues (though we’re a global team in a global company, so sometimes “Thursday” means different things to different people). I wouldn’t really say that we have culture issues, either. It can be hard to get to know people, and it takes a long time to really feel like you’re part of the team (with a full understanding of how other folks fit into the team, too), but I’m honestly not sure how to avoid that in remote work.

      I went through a pretty normal hiring process. I had interviewed (via Skype) for a different remote position that I wasn’t a great fit for. When my position became available, they reached out to me and asked if I was interested in interviewing. I went through two Skype interviews (with my direct manager, the director of our department, and another manager), did a technical assessment that took about 2 hours, and responded to some written situational questions. They asked me a lot of questions about whether I thought I could thrive in a remote position, and were very honest about the challenges of working from home. I think that any reasonable company will be consciously looking for someone who’s suited to remote work.

    4. Emmie

      A significant portion of my coworkers and I are remote. It does not feel any different from my last position where I was mostly in office with 2 days remote. I still never met people in person who were a few floors down from my desk when I was in the office. The biggest thing, as someone else pointed out, is if you are suited for remote work yourself. It is isolating. You have to make significantly more effort to collaborate with your coworkers, so they know you are present and available for work. You must build your reputation when others won’t see your work, or see you personally. It is very difficult to turn off my work when it’s in my home. I love my job. But, some people have a glorified vision of what WFH is really like.

      1. NacSacJack

        This – It is very difficult to turn work off. My work desk is in my basement across from my couch and TV. I’ve come to realize this week that I have been avoiding watching TV because when I’m down there I can see my computer, which I usually leave on (locked, of course). This is very annoying to me and adds to my stress.

    5. Leela

      I’ve worked in several offices that do lots of remote (or even all under certain circumstances) employment. My impression is: individuals can totally function as well at home as they do in the office (although don’t always), but the team will never reach its maximum potential this way. There are things that just don’t get brought up naturally when everyone’s remote, and that sense of connection never builds as much as it could.

      I love having the option to work from home if there’s an appointment/something that needs to be done, especially now that many people don’t have the luxury of living that close to where they work, but I don’t prefer working that way and I don’t think it’s wise to have a fair amount of the team work this way either.

    6. Hey Anonny-Nonny

      It really depends on what you do. For me, WFH is invaluable since I can just turn off the internet connection when I need a 2-3 hour block of time to concentrate (with advance warning, of course), and blast through the majority of my work in that time. But, I work in tech and we don’t really communicate face-to-face anyway; everyone uses chatting apps, even if you’re sitting right next to the other person…so WFH fits the office culture to a T!

    7. SJPufendork

      Ah! This is one I can contribute on. I am actually an operations director in IT. I’ve managed various configurations of remote teams for going on 20 years. My current group is 10 people and everyone (including me) is 100% remote. we are the only 100% remote group in the large multinational who do our type of work and, based on current measurements, we are the 2nd most productive. I love it.

      The biggest challenges hiring wise is finding people who are 100% committed to working from home and understand that this means we have to be wholly cognizant of deadlines and productivity. So, I try to only hire people who have previous WFH experience and I want people who believe that they can be more productive both individual and as a team working that way. Anyone who thinks that people or groups will always get more work done in an office isn’t someone I want working for me.

      The other “soft” thing I probe for when I’m hiring is communication skills. Since we’re all remote, we all need to be prompt with emails, assertive in status reports, and willing to pick up the phone. If someone has a problem or question, they have to be willing to raise it proactively and not wait for me to ask “what is the status of the X?”

      Based on what I see, the positions are indeed out there and, at least in my experience, compensated very well. The biggest challenge I see is finding out who has them and what level they are hiring at (all of my folks have 15+ years of experience).

    8. HelenofWhat

      I’ve had mostly or partly remote jobs at varying points in my career, and I’m moving into one where I’ll be remote with the option of working from an office not far from home. I really like escaping the commute! I can take breaks to stretch on a yoga mat by my desk or sweep the floor while I contemplate an issue. Video calls are a possibility so I still shower & dress. I’ve never had an issue with me or coworkers getting things done. Of course, I’ve had very visible assignments and would have had a tough time not doing things like updating the website or answering help tickets that others on the team could see. The more transparent the work is, the more likely people are going to hold themselves accountable. You also hope people are ambitious and excited about the work they’re doing.
      I also liked my teammates a lot, we chatted on instant messages often and advised one another and shared gifs & funny customer stories. Since you’re a project manager, I imagine your job involves a lot of conversations with others, so hopefully that minimizes isolation. When interviewing, keep an eye out for signs of dysfunction and ask lots of questions about how people communicate and what expectations are around evaluations and accountability.
      Definitely check out the recent thread about making remote work tolerable. You’ll want to think about the whole “not being required to go outside” thing.

  5. Bad Job Refugee

    My last job was a short term job that went badly. Long story short, my boss said some racist things and I made an HR complaint. That made my boss go ballistic and tell the rest of management I was making BS complaints because I was a low performer. HR wasn’t acting on my boss being a lunatic, so I found a new job and quit on the spot.

    The problem is that my new job is a couple of blocks up the street from my old job. So I’ve run into former co-workers a few times. I’m not comfortable with telling them the entire story about what happened with my boss, so what should I do?

    1. K.

      I would just stick to polite pleasantries and keep it moving. If they ask why you left, keep it vague. “I found a new opportunity.”

      1. Bad Job Refugee

        Cool. That’s what I’ve been doing, if I talk to people. Sometimes I keep my head down and leave my headphones on, but other times I say something generic like “it’s too bad it didn’t work out at Acme Co, but I found a new job that I’m really happy at. Everything good with you?”

        1. K.

          I think that’s a fine response! Doesn’t go into more detail than you want to share, and changes the subject.

        2. Doodle

          This seems totally fine, especially if accompanied by the shrug I described below. “It’s too bad it didn’t work out” is delightfully neutral phrasing.

    2. Doodle

      I think there are two basic strategies:

      One is to tell the truth, but a more limited version of it. “I wasn’t comfortable with the way HR handled a complaint.” or “I made an HR complaint when Bob said ‘X’ and ‘Y’…” and then trail off and let them figure out the rest.

      The other is to treat it like you would in a job interview — say almost nothing bad about the old job. “Oh, yeah, I miss y’all at Teapots, Inc. too [even if you only miss that coworker], but I’m really excited about my new job glazing for Teapots R Us.”

      Just remember that the co-workers don’t need the whole story — they probably just miss you. But if you do think that knowing that they work for an unrepentant racist is good for them, it might be valuable to give them some version of the truth.

      1. Natalie

        I like your first suggestion. I understand not wanting to get into it, but personally I would be concerned that Boss was spreading around a lot of garbage and negatively affected my reputation. Mentioning the HR issue at least gives them a clue that there was more going on than just you supposedly being a poor performer. And it’s perfectly professional and factual.

        1. Bad Job Refugee

          You’re right. My old boss may be trashing my reputation at the old company; that’s a legitimate concern and I worry a little bit about it.

          But I’m not that worried about it, because 1) I was there for less than half a year, so I don’t even need to put the job on my resume, and 2) it was one of those megacorps where people tend to spend their entire careers, which really cuts down on the number of people who will ever hear about it. It sucks that I’m probably informally blacklisted from working there again, but I’ll be able to have a decent career in spite of that.

          Also I think I mentioned it in another comment but he actually emailed a bunch of people to say I lied to HR about him to cover up for being bad at my job. So anyone who’s reasonable will sympathize with me, and anyone who’s not reasonable was always a lost cause anyway.

          1. Natalie

            I mean, people do talk to folks at other companies and reputation can matter beyond just getting hired somewhere. But since he was very public with his nuttiness I think you’re probably right that pretty much everyone that witnessed it can figure out who’s the poor performer here.

            1. Bad Job Refugee

              You’re right. But what can I do about it?

              If he really wants to covertly tell people I suck, or I make fake/vexatious HR complaints, I don’t see what I can do about it. Unless someone directly tells me “we didn’t hire you because your old boss says you make fake HR complaints.” Is that overly defeatist?

              A couple of people at that company were sympathetic, and I figure that if I absolutely needed to get some sort of reference from it, I would plead my case to them.

    3. Naptime Enthusiast

      How much do they know from your former boss’ POV? If they don’t know anything, you could be very vague and say you couldn’t pass up this other opportunity. If they know there was drama of some kind, you could say there were some personality clashes that weren’t going to go away, so you looked for other opportunities instead.

      1. Bad Job Refugee

        I think most people actually know.

        After I made my complaint, my boss sent an email to everyone in management saying I was trying to make excuses for being a low performer. And, he CC’d me on the email. That’s why I said he was “being a lunatic.”

        Unfortunately most of the office kept their heads down or fell in line behind him. He’s one of those people with a reputation of being a temperamental rockstar. Can be really difficult to work with, but so much knowledge that he’s never going to see any blowback for weird/bad behavior. Unless he punched someone in the office or something.

        I don’t want to bring it up again though, because I don’t want to get a reputation as a weird bitter former worker.

        1. Doodle

          If people actually know (and reasonably should know that their boss is not. a. good. guy.) then I think my advice changes a little. You can definitely do the “excited to work at new company” bit, but it might seem like you’re overcompensating. For people you actually care about, I’d sort of shrug and tilt my head and say, “Oh, you know” or “Yeah, what ya gonna do?” and then change the subject. Kind of a “wink wink” that shows that you know the boss is badmouthing you, but you’ve moved on?

          And then you can transition to talking about the new job, or the weather, or that new flavor of scone, or whatever.

          1. Bad Job Refugee

            So most of the people in that office were lifers. They were either with the company for 10+ years or 10-15 years older than me. A lot of people who knew about what went down adopted an attitude of “this kid needs to toughen up.”

            Honestly I don’t think it’s worth interacting with those particular guys if I run into them. They’re going to have negative feelings about me no matter what. Might as well say “I’m okay, in a rush. See ya.” if I need to say anything at all

            1. Not So NewReader

              Not something to say out loud, but the rebuttal to “this kid needs to tough up” is “you need to expect a professional behavior in a workplace” (OR “If you wanna work in a s-hole, you have that prerogative and I will not interfere there.”)
              The toughen up thing is pretty lame, worse yet, it’s a crutch for allowing abusive behaviors to continue rather than calling people out on their behavior. These people are tending to perpetuate the problem.

              1. Bad Job Refugee

                Yeah. I didn’t bother saying anything because I didn’t think a response would improve anything. My internal reaction was “okay, this is proof that this job can’t work out. Need to resign myself to that now to make it easy and hopefully avoid extended unemployment.”

        2. hbc

          I don’t think you’ll get a reputation as bitter if you can say something calmly that is entirely believable. “He said some racist things, HR backed him up, and it became clear I wasn’t going to be happy there.”

          But if you’re worried, you can be more vague without it being a problem.

    4. Murphy

      You can tell them that you don’t want to get into it and you’re trying to move on. You can say it a friendly way. “Oh, let’s not get into all that. I’m glad that’s over now!”

    5. Falling Diphthong

      Anecdotally, whenever people suggest real zinger comebacks in the comments here, they strike everyone else as bad ideas that convey the opposite of the “I’m beyond this” intended.

      I would channel old Miss Manners’s advice to the person who did not initiate the divorce–conveying that you are quietly pleased at the way things turned out is going to beat any in depth explanation of why the other party stinks, any zinger, etc. “Boss and I just weren’t going to see eye to eye” if it comes up.

      1. Bad Job Refugee

        Yeah, I keep up with a guy who left another old job. While he’s smart, happy, and had legit grievances with the place we worked together, he just sounds so transparently bitter whenever we talk about that company.

        that’s why I want to keep it brief and pleasant. I’m glad that “I’m OK, found a new job I like, I hope you’re OK too” is generally seen as acceptable.

      2. Lissa

        The thing with the zingers is that in my experience, they rarely have the intended effect. The audience is usually confused, uncomfortable or annoyed depending on the situation. It’s a nice fantasy but wouldn’t be all that satisfying in practise most of the time.

    6. Bagpuss

      I don’t think you need to tell them anything. If anyone specifically asks, then I think something like “I raised concerns with HR about some unacceptable behaviour, and chose to leave as a result of the response” – and then firmly changing the subject, would be fine.

      I also think you would be OK to say “Why do you ask?” – if it seems they are just gossiping or trying to make conversation, you can just say, “It was an unpleasant situation and I’d rather not discuss it”, if there is another reason, for instance they are themselves being bullied or suffering retaliation then you might at that point decide to tell them a little more – it’s possible that someone might ask because they were in a similar situation and wanted advice

    7. KR

      Maybe something like, “Oh it’s a long story but my current job is going great! I have to go finish a TPS report/head home/get to a meeting.”

  6. Anonymous Lady

    Lately, I’ve found myself wondering where the line is between coincidence and systemic discrimination. I’m a woman in a male-dominated field, and I don’t like to play the gender card because I realize that women have it better now than ever before. When I was younger and more naive, I actually believed that gender discrimination was mostly a thing of the past, but I’ve increasingly come to notice the subtle ways it’s still a widespread issue.

    I’ve been in my job for five years, and in that time there have been 12 managers in my department (including my boss and grand-boss). Only one was a woman, and she was demoted to a non-management position four years ago — not for performance reasons but because of a company-wide downsizing. She was replaced by a man from another department whose position had been eliminated. Ok, so it’s a male-dominated field, and I’m sure there are more male candidates than female, but 11 consecutive male managers seems like more than a coincidence.

    My company talks the talk about diversity and equal opportunity, and I’m fairly sure that nobody is consciously deciding to discriminate against women, but I strongly suspect that they are subconsciously biased. When a manager is hired, there is a strict hiring process that is intended to be fair to all candidates. The hiring process, however, takes several months, so an interim manager (chosen at the whim of the hiring manager) is appointed in the meantime. By the time the hiring decision is made, the interim manager has a leg up on everyone else because he now has several months of management experience. Unless he has done a horrible job, it would be foolish of the hiring manager to choose anyone else for the position. In the last five years, 100% of the appointed interim managers have been male and 100% of them have been selected for the permanent position.

    This has been bothering me more lately because I have started to try to move into management, and I feel as though I am not getting a fair shake. Three times in the past year, one of my peers, Joe, was offered the opportunity to become interim manager, and he declined it all three times. Coincidentally (or not), our grand-boss is good friends with Joe and wants to help him follow in his footsteps. Although I’ve expressed interest in a management position (I applied for the permanent position the last two times there was an opening), I haven’t been offered the interim position. I have twice as much experience as Joe and better performance in every measurable way, but he is considered to have better “soft skills” than I do (for example, he is often praised for showing leadership by pushing back on management decisions, but wouldn’t you know, when I do that I’m just an abrasive shrew).

    I certainly can’t prove that I’m not getting the same chances as men just because I’m a woman, and I’m sure management has what they believe are good reasons for their selections every time they appoint a man as an interim manager, but I am really starting to think that when it’s time for them to select an interim manager, it doesn’t even occur to them to choose a woman because women don’t fit their mental image of a manager. But if I even raise the issue of gender discrimination, everyone is going to say that I’m trying to get an unfair advantage by playing the gender card!

    1. Anonymous Educator

      Well, if there is systemic discrimination (subconscious or not) against women in a male-dominated work environment, that would be quite typical and definitely not the exception to the rule. In fact, your workplace would have to go out of its way to fight society’s scripts.

      But if I even raise the issue of gender discrimination, everyone is going to say that I’m trying to get an unfair advantage by playing the gender card!

      This itself is already systemic discrimination. Men can feel that their gripes are legitimate, because they’re individuals, but you have to feel your gripes are not legitimate because of your gender. Do you have any male co-workers who are woke-ish, who can help you identify and work on problems? Perhaps that would take some of the emotional labor off of you and also get rid of this idea that fighting sexism is only looking out for your self-interest.

      1. Anonymous Lady

        I don’t think any of the men would really support me on this, because it’s not overt discrimination, and they probably have the same view that I did before I was really in the middle of it — that women get the same opportunities as men nowadays. I have heard men making comments about women who have been promoted, like, “She got the job because she has big boobs,” or “She fills a quota.” It is also true that many of the women here expect and get some special treatment, like getting men to do tasks they don’t want to do, and some of the men are already bitter about that (“She can just bat her eyelashes at the IT guy and he’ll print the TPS cover sheet for her.”). Incidentally, I am unattractive, so I do not get any advantage by batting my eyelashes at men or wearing a low-cut shirt.

        1. WellRed

          If you work in a place where a. men make such comments, b. women do take certain advantages (not clear if that’s the case or its the men complaining unfairly again) and c. it has you making comments about batting your eyelashes, then you work in a place that is messed up and probably does have more overt discrimination then you realize. I mean, you know these throwback back comments about boobs aren’t a thing at most decent companies, right?

        2. Anonymous Educator

          If men say these sorts of things at your workplace, that isn’t subconcious discrimination, that’s quite overt gender discrimination and borderline sexual harassment (particular the 1st and 3rd remarks):

          “She got the job because she has big boobs”
          “She fills a quota”
          “She can just bat her eyelashes at the IT guy and he’ll print the TPS cover sheet for her”

          I would say if you don’t want to take any immediate action because of fear or retaliation (which is illegal, but it’s a real thing that happens), at the very least document everything big or small that bothers you, with exact dates/times, locations, and who said what and what people’s reactions were. You may never use that for anything, but if you need it, you’ll have it. And it may even be just for your own sanity that you aren’t imagining things.

          1. Anonymous Lady

            Well, the people who have said these things are non-management employees. I have never heard anyone in management (i.e., anyone with any hiring authority) make this type of comment. The comment about big boobs has been said about one specific female manager who, quite frankly, I don’t think was qualified for the job. However, a man with a similar lack of qualifications was hired for a similar position a short time later, and nobody suggested it had anything to do with his looks!

            1. Anonymous Educator

              But whether they’re in management or not, their comments contribute to the work environment and culture.

            2. Science!

              Even though the comments are coming from non-management employees doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. A lot of a company’s culture comes from the top, I bet they’ve heard that before because they seem pretty comfortable saying those things. At the very least they have (pretty) good reason to believe that saying “she fills a quota” won’t get them in trouble.

            3. Natalie

              I’m not sure if you’ve heard the phrase “hostile work environment” before – it gets used incorrectly a lot, but you’re describing an actual one. It is a category of unlawful discrimination. It does not have to come from management, but management has a responsibility (legally and morally) to put a stop to it.

            4. KTM

              Yikes. If ANYONE said that at our company there would be major repercussions and likely a firing. I feel like from some of your comments you may have been normalized to a lot of things that are Not. Okay. due to your particular workplace experience.

            5. neverjaunty

              Anonymous, it’s heartbreaking, isn’t it? To think it’s 2018, and you know you can do the work, and you have a mentor who’s sort of helping you, and wanting to find reasons you’re being passed over when Joe gets a free hand up and the dudes are making sexist comments and…

              It’s tempting to wish that maybe your workplace is different and you’re overreacting, because if that’s true, you can maybe control the outcome and you still have a shot. I’m sorry to say that it isn’t and you can’t, not at this place.

          2. Not So NewReader

            Keeping a log book at home is a great idea. Write down a few of the things that happen each day. Trust your gut to pick the correct things to write about. Over a period of weeks you should notice patterns as you review your log book.

            I did this with a toxic boss. The first thing that happened was she dialed back on her behaviors, I guess she could “smell” the log book or something? The next thing that happened was I started seeing patterns in her chaos. She was fond of saying, “I never said that.” So I decided to repeat back instructions to her the moment she gave them. Later when she told me she never said to do x, I would say, “This is why I repeated it back to you and you said, “Yes, do x.”

            I went through numerous other problems in a similar manner. It won’t take long for the patterns of behaviors to jump out at you. I would build a plan to deal with that particular behavior. You may decide it’s not a fight worth fighting or you may decide to do something about it.

            1. Natalie

              With this kind of group, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out “flirting with IT” is actually just being normal level polite or possibly even churlish but in possession of breasts.

              1. Zathras

                Or standing there while the IT guy flirts inappropriately with you, because putting up with it is the only way to get what you need.

        3. Temperance

          That’s straight up overt sexism. The default at your workplace is that men are qualified, and that women flash their boobs to get what they want. Women at your shitty org are just “quota fillers” or undeserving.

          I might be tempted to point out that, sure, Jane flirts with Bob in IT to do tasks, but John the Manager keeps giving Joe opportunities because they’re golfing buddies or whatever. See how they respond.

        4. She Persisted

          @Anonymous Lady, if the quotes you list here from your male co-workers are accurate, you could very well be in a “hostile work environment”. I’ve linked to the EEOC page on this in my username. Here’s the info from their website (I’ve bolded what I feel applies to your situation):

          “Offensive conduct may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation,ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance. Harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including, but not limited to, the following:

          The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, an agent of the employer, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
          The victim does not have to be the person harassed, but can be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
          Unlawful harassment may occur without economic injury to, or discharge of, the victim.

          I strongly encourage you to start documenting these “comments” privately. Record dates, times, names and a description of the incident. Then spend some time reviewing both the legal definition of hostile work environment and your company’s written policies regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. If you choose to lodge a complaint, you will need to follow all of the companies reporting procedures (even if they refuse to) whether you choose to keep your complaint within the company or file a public complaint with your city/state civil rights office.

          Your promotion situation is at best questionable and, at worst, heinous. However, you will have a very hard time proving discrimination without more direct evidence like an email outlining why you were not selected for a promotion or someone on the hiring committee making an overtly sexist comment within earshot of several witnesses. In my opinion, you won’t get very far with this complaint as presented so far (even though I completely agree with you that this is discrimination, intentional or not) and risk damaging your reputation with the company.

          I’m sorry you’ve found yourself in this situation. I wish you luck on getting the promotion you deserve.

    2. Temperance

      Have you had a chat with your boss about your interest in one of the interim management positions, and asked what you can do to get one? I might then slide in there that Joe is getting a lot of opportunities that you would also like.

      1. LKW

        This – women are coached to believe that hard work is all that it takes for a merit based promotion. Men are coached to tell management what they want. So if men are in leadership positions and they are following the established pattern that people who want to move up ask to move up, then by not asking then they have no idea that you want it. A good mentor/manager will ask people – “What do you want” or they’ll say “I think you can do this.” but again, if these guys haven’t seen this behavior, then it might not occur to them to follow a different way of managing.

        1. ket

          While I agree, the poster says she’s applied twice for these management positions. It is striking that Joe is chased down even though he’s stated out loud that he is unwilling, and the poster will get a line like, “You never said you were interested! I thought those two written applications for the position were just…. … … you fake-saying you were interested…?”

    3. LCL

      Looking at it from outside, it seems your company is using the interim manager positions to game the hiring process and hire who they want. Hopefully someone with experience on how to deal with this institutionally will post with real advice. My only suggestion is to stop worrying about what other people say about playing the gender card. When you raise the issue about discrimination, raise it in a way that has a better chance of success. That way is what the other posters will provide, I hope.

    4. Lynca

      When you say you have expressed interest, have you directly discussed moving into management as a goal with your boss? In my job that’s a discussion we do have with our supervisors. And that discussion boils down to what do you need to do in order to be considered? I might even ask why I wasn’t considered and talk proactively about professional development to help me be considered in the future.

      Also the big problem I run into is mentorship. My bosses don’t tend to mentor the female staff, only the male staff. There are also few opportunities in my field for mentorship for women or at my current job.

      1. Anonymous Lady

        Yes, I have discussed moving into management specifically as a professional development goal. My manager has given me advice/things to do (he had me take a management aptitude test, gave me a book to read, had me meet with a career development specialist in HR, made me the lead on a project so I can develop leadership skills), but none of it has given me any more opportunities. Also, Joe did not do any of this before he was offered the interim manager position (although he has taken the management aptitude test since then).

        1. LKW

          Yeah – I made a comment before I saw this so yeah -it’s time to move on. You are working with a bunch of bigots.

        2. As Close As Breakfast

          It sounds like 2 problems at this point. 1) Your grand-boss’s relationship with Joe is (almost assuredly) resulting in Joe getting opportunities (that he may or may not deserve, I mean really, even if he deserves it, why do they keep offering him the position after he’s turned it down several times?) 2) After Joe has turned it down, then the (not so) overt sexism is coming into play when they are offering the position to the next choice. The ‘Joe’ part of this definitely sounds like a combo friend-potism and underlying sexism.

        3. StrikingFalcon

          Would your boss be willing to be the person to put your name in front of the higher ups and push for why you are qualified? I read an excellent article recently (Why Men Still Get More Promotions Than Women, by the Havard Business Review) that showed that it’s not that women lack mentors, it’s that they lack sponsors – people willing to put their name in front of the decision makers. Joe obviously has one. Link in the name.

    5. Buffy

      I believe there absolutely is! In fact, I’m taking a graduate course now on Women and Leadership and it is CHOCK FULL of research that demonstrates the impacts you’re speaking of. (Did you know that women make up 50% of middle managers but only 3% of the positions higher?)

    6. Tuxedo Cat

      I’ve faced this to some extent, except I didn’t bother raising the issue. I had already raised an issue (with some colleagues) regarding race and that was met horribly. We used the kind of language people suggest in this blog, and it was met really badly. This was higher ed, in an office that allegedly was for equitable education.

      I think some of other folks here will probably have good advice on scripts you can use if you want to raise the issue. My personal suggestion would be that if you are interested in management and moving up, is that you find a job at another company and one that supports women. Even in male-dominated fields, those companies can exist.

    7. neverjaunty

      It is not “playing the gender card” to wonder if you are experiencing sexism, open or otherwise. (The greatest trick an unfair society ever played was teaching us to gaslight ourselves.)

      I am not aware of any male-dominated profession that is free of bias, let alone unconscious bias. Don’t doubt yourself; let yourself see what’s right in front of you. These dudes may intellectually think women are capable, and they’ll blab about “diversity” to their last breath, but they’ll always find some “logical” reason to justify their own bias.

    8. The New Wanderer

      It sounds like you work for my former company. Huge international company paying lip service to diversity and yet staffed to an extreme degree with white males at all levels of management. The telling thing is how it makes the news when they promote a woman or minority to a leadership role. The other telling thing is how layoffs seem to affect women/minorities more than white males (not just the one I was involved with, but my own group’s diversity percentage went way down after mine). I had 13 first level managers and 5 second level managers during my decade-long stint – only one was a minority, zero were female.

      So, yeah. It continues to be an uphill battle until the percentage near the top starts moving toward 50% male/female and much more representative for minorities.

    9. Kj

      Might you do better by looking for a management position outside your company? Frankly, your company/department seems to suck at equality. Thus, I’d suggest you update your resume and start looking for other opportunities at other companies. I might also be sure you are involved in your professional society and try to get some leadership roles there. I also might seek out a mentor who is in a leadership role in your field.

      You shouldn’t HAVE to do any of this. But from experience, sometimes leaving is the only way to get the pay and promotion you deserve. I sadly have found if you suggest that sexism is at the root of something people do, they get defensive and that won’t help you at work. I think you need to leave.

      1. Lily Rowan

        And even it’s not sexism (it is sexism), if people have you slotted as “not management material,” you definitely have to go somewhere else for the promotion.

        1. Anonymous Lady

          Yes, that is part of my dilemma. It seems that I have been labeled as “not management material,” but I don’t know if that’s because I’m legitimately not management material or if there’s a discriminatory aspect to it. Maybe if there were a woman here who had more management potential, she would get the opportunities. There are a couple of men in my department who apply for every promotion and never get an opportunity, either, and from my perspective, it’s for obvious reasons — they are poor performers with bad attitudes (they will only do the bare minimum they can get away with) — but they are always surprised and think it’s unfair when they don’t get promoted. I would look pretty stupid if I made accusations about discrimination when everybody else thinks there’s a legitimate reason I’m not getting promoted. I don’t think that’s the case, because I know I’m regarded as a top performer, and management has no problem giving me more responsibility in my current role, and I scored pretty well on the management aptitude test, but I can’t really be sure that there’s not a legitimate thing holding me back.

          1. Lily Rowan

            In this case? It’s definitely discriminatory! But you don’t have to make accusations and you can still look for a job elsewhere, no? When you get a better job somewhere else, that will be the proof for you.

          2. RainyKeyboard

            Personally, I would talk to your manager about the specific, most recent role and push him on why you were not put in as interim. Then I would continue to press for specifics about what it’s going to take to get you there and every time you see another person chosen, ask why you were not considered. Finally, I would candidly ask him if he thinks there is a path for women into management in this organization? Cite statistics (ex: 50% of jr level employees are women, but 95% of the executive team are men). Express your concern about the process from opening – to interim – to promotion could be a barrier for women. And…see what he says. Essentially you are asking him to examine what he has always considered the status quo and to articulate where/if you are falling short in your work. This isn’t a one and done conversation.

            The reality is that there likely is sexism going on, and unfortunately as a female leader, I have experienced some degree of this in every organization I have ever worked for. In my experience, pushing on specifics helps. What also helps is seeking advice/advocacy from other female leaders, especially if they have been lucky enough to break into the top.

          3. As Close As Breakfast

            I get what you’re laying down. It’s like pre-imposter syndrome! But it truly sounds like you at least have potential for management potential! And here is why I think so:
            1. You’re actually wondering if you do. This is a level of self awareness that many people lack.
            2. When you expressed your interest to your boss, he didn’t shut you down. True, his advice and actions haven’t gotten you anywhere, but it doesn’t sound like he tried to dissuade you. Doesn’t sound like the HR specialist shut you down either.
            3. You have been given more responsibility, including project leadership experience. If that project went well (or even just ok) that’s a good sign.
            The only way you’ll ever really know is to get the opportunity to do it, right? And it seriously sounds like you will need to look elsewhere for that opportunity. Try to remember, that if you get a management job offer, at the very least it means that they think you have management potential!

    10. Lora

      “Only one was a woman, and she was demoted to a non-management position four years ago — not for performance reasons but because of a company-wide downsizing. She was replaced by a man from another department whose position had been eliminated.”
      “In the last five years, 100% of the appointed interim managers have been male and 100% of them have been selected for the permanent position.”
      “I have twice as much experience as Joe and better performance in every measurable way, but he is considered to have better “soft skills” than I do (for example, he is often praised for showing leadership by pushing back on management decisions, but wouldn’t you know, when I do that I’m just an abrasive shrew).”

      Your company is indeed biased. Whether they intend to be biased or not is irrelevant, the fact is they are acting in ways which result in biased outcomes. It sounds from your other comments that you are not going to get ahead at the company; your manager may be giving you well-meaning, reasonable advice, but if you do the things that are supposed to put you in line for a management position and then none of those things actually yield a management position and Unqualified McN00b gets the job without doing any of that, then yeah, your manager is essentially blowing you off.

      You’ll probably have better luck being hired into a management role at another company. And I guarantee the folks at your current company will be surprised when that happens.

      First job out of grad school was at a huge company you’ve heard of. I had the most technical projects of anyone in the department, and then was told I was somehow not technical enough. After one of my very successful projects which was supposed to be a rockstar project got killed by senior management, they offered a male colleague a project with a promise that this would make him a rockstar. He said he wouldn’t take it because 1) he was overloaded already and 2) he frankly didn’t believe them about the rockstar thing. They were aghast and said “but but but this is a very hot field right now with–” and he replied, I saw what you did to Lora’s project and that was bullsh!t, no way. Of course, “oh but it would be different FOR YOU!” Really? Why would it be different for a man?!? Hmmmm?

      My next job was in a management role. My direct manager was not surprised but senior management was. Why, I don’t even have an MBA! What is this sorcery?!?

    11. Bacon pancakes

      Ugh. That is super frustrating! I am also a woman in a male-dominated profession. Until recently, I was the only full-time, permanent female on staff in an office of 10. Recently another woman joined full-time, perm… the secretary. Who was employed for almost 20 years as a seasonal clerk, then as part-time only. I have sat in my office and listened to people voice their displeasure about me being hired (my job requires a BS. You don’t have one so stop saying you should have my job) and that I am not qualified (I also have a MS and six years of field experience. I am qualified). Our customer base regularly acts surprised when I answer the phone as the Head Llama Wrangler and I have had more than one ask to speak to “one of the guys” or “when (guy) gets in from the field tell him to give me a call”. It is frustrating.

    12. A tester, not a developer

      I wrote a long and detailed reply, but then IE ate it, so here’s the short version…

      My company has put in a mentoring program specifically to link up women and/or minorities with our (white, male) senior leadership. There’s been recognition that a lot of promotion in our organization comes from one senior person telling another about ‘how great a guy Joe is’. Sadly, a lot of them seem to think that if they mentor a man, everyone knows it’s professional, but if they speak positively about a woman, it must be because they have pantsfeelings for them. Eww…

      Maybe if you approached it as looking to create a more formal mentorship program, that would help you and other women get a toehold in the interim manager/ ‘I know a guy…’ network?

    13. Thlayli

      It seems like there is a mix of reasons why there are more men in management positions. Some are not discriminatory (male – dominated field means there are simply more men) and some are discriminatory (man being applauded for good leadership when woman doing same thing is accused of being an abrasive shrew). If you want to address this you need to make sure you steer clear of blanket accusations that can be explained away by non-discriminatory reasons and focus on the discriminatory ones. For example don’t say “my last 12 bosses have been men” because that doesn’t prove anything and can potentially be explained by a combination of the high male/female ratio and random probability. Also in my experience and in general women are more likely to choose to let their career take a back seat when their kids are young. For example taking long maternity leaves or career breaks, working shorter hours etc.this is of course a valid lifestyle choice (I myself took 2.5 years off when I had my kids) but it absolutely impacts your career and contributes to the lower number of women in management positions.

      If you decide to raise it in a general manner, rather than specific to you yourself you can frame it something like “20% of our llama groomers are female. But only 5% of llama grooming managers are female. I am concerned that this may be a symptom of unconscious bias among the selection committees.”

      But you can definitely address the specifics that relate to you personally. For example “I’ve noticed that there is a tendency for people to applaud male colleagues for pushing back on management decisions, however when female colleagues including myself have pushed back on a management decision We have been criticised for it (examples).”

      Also, I don’t know if someone actually called you an abrasive shrew either to your face or behind your back, or if you were you exaggerating, but if that was actually said then I think you should absolutely raise that with HR. That is an unacceptable thing to say about a colleague and is a sexist insult.

      I haven’t read the other responses since I’m low on time today so apologies for any duplication.

      1. Anonymous Lady

        No, nobody has actually called me an abrasive shrew (not that I’ve heard, anyway), but I do pick up on that attitude when I question something — as though any response I get is just to appease me, as opposed to a response to Joe where they actually address his concern. And although I make sure to be respectful when questioning something, I have had comments on my performance review saying that I have been disrespectful towards management, although they cannot give me any specific examples.

        1. Lora

          “I have had comments on my performance review saying that I have been disrespectful towards management, although they cannot give me any specific examples.”

          YES. They should be able to give examples, and the examples should be pretty clear cut.

          Have gotten quite a bit of hand-waving “oh you have sharp elbows” at jobs where I was being perfectly professional but requesting data to support a given conclusion rather than some rando’s feelings about it. Also have gotten attitude about treating a manager higher in rank *as an equal*: literally, I said, “in my experience, when I did this at MegaCorporation it’s actually been XYZ, can you explain how you got ABC?”

          You aren’t going to win at this company. Look elsewhere, you’ve been in Piggyland long enough.

        2. GG Two shoes

          I know you said that they say he has better, “soft skills than you” have you ever asked them to clarify that? I would be interested to hear the answer to, “I would like to move into management and I know that you said before you thought Joe has soft skills I don’t have. I would love some suggestions on how to improve on this. It important for my career that I can grow and I feel like I don’t have that opportunity right now.” Then, depending on the answer, you could see pretty clearly if it’s legitimate (some folks- of both genders- do need to work on soft skills) or if it’s a gendered response. If it’s gendered, you could do the “play dumb” role- as in make him explain, in detail, how your soft skills aren’t as good as Joe’s. It could clearly be a bias that he doesn’t realize he has until he is there explaining it to you in real time.

          I’ve seen this work when someone says, “oh I thought you would want to do that” i.e. help clean up, take notes,etc. Then you say, “oh, why is that?” They probably won’t say, “because you are a woman” they will try to think of a different reason and when they come up blank it makes them realized they were showing gender bias.

        3. designbot

          One thing to remember about general broad-based comments about attitude and soft skills is that they can be true and still be gendered. For example I got called ‘prickly’ in a performance review, and I felt like I could see where that was coming from, it felt like a criticism I should own. However as weeks and months went by, I realized that yes I am a bit prickly, but so are plenty of other people (men) who manage to succeed just fine here. I think it’s fine to address this in some ways, like say “it was my impression that management usually values feedback, but somehow my feedback is being taken in a different way than say Joe’s. His seems appreciated and acted upon, but mine is dismissed and now I’m hearing that you value me less because of it. Can you help me understand the reason for this different reaction?”

          1. ket

            The difficulty with some of the responses here (on getting more feedback on what needs to be changed in the poster before she’ll be “management material”) is that because she’s the one asking, there will always be something new that needs to be changed. There’s a lot of research that shows that people change the criteria for a job based on the demographics of who applies. You can look up “constructed criteria” to find some studies on this. The writer needs to change companies, or she needs to push so hard they can’t deny her. The soft approach of, “what can I work on?” will lead higher-ups to every-more-convoluted post hoc justification of why she’s not management material, and the only way to cut through that will be to document, document, document everything including criteria for promotion for others and then threaten a lawsuit. I’ll post links to some studies in my next comment.

            1. designbot

              That’s why I wouldn’t recommend ‘what can I work on?’ We can ALL work on something. The key to me is understanding why the things they tell her to work on are holding her back, when they haven’t held back others.

            2. Oilpress

              I agree, and I vote for changing companies. If she concludes that she is being discriminated against then it’s time to leave. Why stick around for more punishment?

    14. Mbarr

      It’s called the Glass Elevator effect – men get pushed to be promoted even if they don’t want to be. :(

      I myself am very conscious when I notice a lack of female leaders in my organization. In my previous job, nearly every leader in my department was female, and they were kickass. I miss my old team…

    15. only acting normal

      Yeah. You’re not playing the gender card THEY are.

      I was once young and naive and thought we were pretty much there with equality. It took a few jarring experiences to disabuse me of that, but I am thoroughly disabused. True things aren’t as bad as they were – I’ve never worked anywhere that someone would openly put hands on me sexually for example. But I’ve seen soooo many mediocre men succeed over stellar women it’s horrifying. I’ve worked in a professional office with nudey posters on the wall. I’ve been subject to jokes blue enough to *literally* make a sailor blush. I’ve had two much older male colleagues compare me unfavourably to the stripper they saw at an exspensed night out. I’ve been called “my little girl” by a boss. I was held back from promotion for 3 years by toxic grandboss, while he openly credited my work to a male subordinate, then promoted a barely competent male colleague in my stead (more than one person came and shared their horror with me at that one). I’ve watched junior men get the plum technical programming jobs while I was pushed toward project management (which I loathe doing with the passion of a thousand suns). I’ve inherited the same programming work years later and boggled at how rubbish their work was. I’ve seen a man put in charge of the equality drive at work who has some *serious* issues with gaslighting and scapegoating an older female colleague for his failings. I could go on, but this is depressing me!

      You are not imagining it. The only thing to decide is where you go from here.

    16. Jules the Third

      ‘Abrasive shrew’ is kinda a text book example of sexist appraisal. If those words were used in a review of your work, that is a huge red flag indicating sexism. If that was written anywhere, or part of your official review, then that means the reviewer wasn’t afraid of the sexist language being noticed or censured by their bosses.

      The whole letter does indicate you’re facing sexism. Not the ’11 male managers’ but the words being used about women in the company. The manager part is *probably* part of it, but without the words backing up the *reason* for why you’re not being considered, it’s hard to get proof of the sexism.

      In most fields, there are some companies who ‘get it’ and would be happy to hire you and work with you towards a mgmt role.

  7. minhag

    I’ve been job searching for the past six months and have gotten some pretty tough rejections. Friends are being supportive but I’m getting rote responses that don’t really help. Sometimes, they say self-esteem boosters, like “You’re great! You’re smart and capable and don’t let this get you down” or, it’s an appeal to fate, like “This just means that job wasn’t right for you. You will definitely get another offer soon.” That doesn’t help because there is definitely a non-zero chance that I will not get an offer, sooner or later.

    Does anyone here have a unique or unusual approach to getting rejections? Anything that makes them laugh or cheer after a rejection?

    1. Kay

      I am in academia, where it’s not uncommon to apply for every single open job in a hiring year and never hear back from most of them, so it got to a point where even receiving a rejection at all felt like a perverse victory! I ended up creating a Rejection Bingo card with a big reward for myself if I got bingo. It had a lot of the tropes (“strong applicant pool”, “proceeding with another candidate”) and some weird, academic-specific ones thrown in, but making it into an activity helped me let go of the specifics of the rejection and see it as just part of the process.

      1. Sydney Bristow

        When applying at a gazillion firms as the end of law school was approaching, I also made it a game. My friend group was going out to dinner celebrating every time someone landed a job so I made them go to dinner with me when I reached a certain number of rejections. (I was trying to move across the country and get a job so my search was a bit different than theirs).

    2. Trillion

      I cry then drink. Then get angry for a little bit. Then hit the job boards.
      I don’t have a healthy way of dealing with things.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        Ha! Are you me? I do the same thing (and add chocolate – I eat lots and lots of chocolate).

    3. ginkgo

      I’ve only been job hunting for a month or so, but I’m also finding that pep talks aren’t that helpful for exactly the reason you state. I know I’m smart and capable and DESERVE a great job in my field of choice, but I may not get one, for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with me. It helps me more to know that I will be okay even if things don’t work out the way I want. (In my case this is true – I have savings, I have some opportunities for work that won’t get me where I want to be in life/career but will keep food on the table, I have survived far worse.)

      I don’t have a specific response to rejections that’s helpful, but I’ll be watching this thread in case others do!

    4. Buffy

      Sorry to hear about the rejections. I went through many years of stinging ones but have thankfully landed a job I really love. I came across the quote, “You’re never a loser until you stop trying” that really resonated with me.

    5. Tuxedo Cat

      I’m in the same boat you are.

      I do something like take a nap or go for a walk. I’m getting more numb to this, at this point, because it’s happened so often.

    6. Ms. Meow

      Since rejections are usually form letters, I just imagine a robot is rejecting me. “I guess I couldn’t please the robot overlords” makes me chuckle and feel a little better.

    7. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister

      I just try to believe that everything does happen for a reason, and not getting a job does mean it wasn’t the right one for me at this time in my life. It’s hard when it’s a job that seems perfect and I really, really want it, but I go back to what Alison always says – there is no dream job, and every job I’ve had that looked amazing from the outside ended up being bad in at least one way. Maybe try to remember all the ways in which that job probably sucks?

    8. nonymous

      Maybe focus less on the rejections (easy for me to say!) by creating a pleasant ritual around the application part, so that it doesn’t feel like time wasted if you get a rejection. When I had a crappy job that made me feel like a loser, I would drive in a little bit earlier to visit the library around the corner.

      I mean ideally you’ll get a job, eventually, but in the meantime application/interview time == premium chocolate snack or a trip to the lys or checking out a new hiking trail. My husband and I do this thing where if one of us is putting in long hours at work (and job-hunting totally qualifies!) the other one uses the same amount of time to do chores around the house. So if one person spends 2hrs working on applications, the other half will vacuum or mow the lawn or fix that squeaky door. Job hunting with no reward is pretty unpleasant, so it’s a nice trade off to get a pass on some other unpleasant life duty.

      1. Ten

        That’s a great arrangement! I imagine it would also be really good for your marriage too, teaming up to support each other like that. =)

    9. Jennifleurs

      I 100% sympathise. I went to 12 interviews last year and 2 so far this year and no success with anything. I understand people are trying to be encouraging, but often they are come across as cluelessly relentlessly positive, which is draining to deal with.

      I tend to get upset, spend a day fighting the impulse to quit my current job on the spot, and angrily spam applications for new vacancies. Often this does actually lead to more interviews! But then I don’t get them. *sigh* I am working on my interview technique but it’s really difficult – I have that strand of perfectionism where if you know you can’t do it right first time you get anxious about doing it at all.

    10. k

      I saw an artist who did an art show of all of her art application rejection letters.

      It was exhibited at the gallery I was on the board of, and it made me feel a lot better about my own :). And also made me be like, I don’t have enough of these, I should be trying for more opportunities (and I’m sure you are already applying for tons of things, that was a personal reflection I had, not advice for you).

      I was also really glad I did co-op in my undergrad because you just had to write so many applications that you didn’t have time to worry about ones you were rejected from because you were onto the next 10 applications.

    11. Triple Anon

      Ugh. Those cheerful rejections are the worst. They sound so condescending. Just say, “You were not selected,” and get it over with.

  8. Onnnnn

    Removed — I’m sorry, I tried to leave it up with a note that this wasn’t the place for this discussion, but people kept leaving responses anyway so I’m removing the temptation. (For people who didn’t see it, the issues was politics and guns.)

  9. Nervous Accountant

    Re the slacker coworker.

    1. I gave her a return and gave her a phone call (clients schedule appts so we either take htem or distribute them). I found out she passed a return along to someone else, just so that she wouldn’t have to take the call. I asked her why she did that. She wouldn’t admit it st first but when I showed her it shows a history, she said she didn’t know she was supposed to take calls. I had made a very clear note that the call was to go over tax information/tax return that SHE WAS WORKING ON. I told my manager, he didnt’ buy that excuse, and we emailed her a warning. She again said she didnt’ know she was supposed to take phone calls.

    2. A client had a Q about his taxes. She asked me the question, I answered. She still didn’t get it, I told her I’m going out to lunch and lets see wheN I get back. My expectation was that she would google or figure it out somehow. 4hours later, she asks again. it literally took 30 seconds to find the answer to her question—there was no reason the client had to wait 5 hours for a response.

    3. I gave her a payroll and we just integrated to a new system. I told her that one of the supervisors in charge of this whole project can help her. He said “I went over this in training”…..she was there. for all of them. I was not (vacation then bereavement). I told her she should have known this bc she was IN THE TRAINING. She laughed it off.

    After a year, my manager finally agrees wiht me that she’s trying to weasel out of work on purpose. We have another person on our team who seems to be doing this (maybe I’ll post more about her later). I’ve documented tf out of this person but I have no power or standing to fire her.

    1. Bea

      She’s lazy AF but I’m also concerned she’s in a position she can’t handle if she’s defaulting to not trying to figure things out and letting things sit for others to deal with.

      I’ve seen so many people screw up in accounting because they’re out of their element it’s unsettling.

      1. Nervous Accountant

        I’d say she’s fairly good at accounting. She has her CPA but she has 0 social skills, and based on that appointment switch, lacking in integrity as well. Idk if there’s any accounting jobs for people who hate communicating w others…for us here that’s a huge part of th job.

        1. Natalie

          Oh, in my experience it’s a popular (and not totally inaccurate) stereotype that accountants hate communicating with others. My professors will literally always make comments on it when they assigned us to group projects.

          Here’s a joke I heard from a recruiter I work with:
          “An introverted accountant looks at her own shoes when talking to you. An extroverted accountant looks at your shoes.”

          1. Bean counter soup

            An optimist thinks the glass is half full. A pessimist half empty.

            An accountant thinks it’s too big.

          2. Nervous Accountant

            Haha. I’ve heard those too but honestly no one in my office is like that. Majority of us are gregarious. We deal w clients all the time. Our work events are never boring. Can’t say anyone here lives up to the boring stereotype.

            1. Natalie

              It hasn’t really been my personal experience either, at least as far as interacting with other accountants goes, but it does seem to be more common with clients and/or colleagues in other departments (if you’re in house).

        2. Bea

          If I had a dollar for every licensed professional who does bang up well for exams but sucks at doing their jobs in the real world, what a rich woman I would be. Licensed professionals can still be bad at huge portions of their occupations.

          Lots of bad doctors fall into this gap but people don’t question their abilities because they graduated and have their medical licenses.

          1. MissCPA

            agreed. We have had a few licensed CPAs in my small office who did well in school, got licensed with no problem, but just don’t perform well. It sucks because they interview so well but they don’t deliver in the office!

          2. Wordy Nerd

            It’s like the old joke: What do you call the person who graduated last in their class at medical school? Doctor.

            1. Nervous Accountant

              Hahaha. My acc professor had a variation. “What do you call a CPA who scored 65 vs a CPA who got a 95? “

              “CPA. (And he probably had more of a social life)”

              (I’m not a CPA)

        3. Close Bracket

          > Idk if there’s any accounting jobs for people who hate communicating w others…for us here that’s a huge part of th job.

          General comment on this, not aimed at your situation:

          Like engineering, accounting a job that makes use of systemizing skills. A study on the jobs of the fathers of people on the spectrum found both engineering and accounting to be overrepresented. Given that parents of people on the spectrum commonly exhibit spectrum traits, I wonder if there is a higher-than-typical percentage of accountants who are really bad at communicating with others.

    2. Samata

      I work with one of these. She is an “oh yeah, I forgot”-er and a “I didn’t realize that was an option”-er….A Serious Work Diverter. After 2 years of my boss telling me I was exaggerating & making mountains out of mole hills she had to work a few projects directly with her. Now she gets it. Still not doing anything, but at least now she is seeing it and I am confident is at least documenting and making steps towards realizing she is not a good fit.

      So, no advice. Just commiserating. It’s a hard position to be in.

      1. Rebecca

        Oh, I’m in that boat. My coworker, who is supposed to be helping me, is one of these. Avoid, deflect, don’t do, whatever…but she sure has time to talk to her family members multiple times per day, deal with personal issues, surf Facebook, monitor things for sale on the local sell and swap site, and take every possible minute of accrued time off as soon as it posts. It is so frustrating! My manager’s response? I have to keep reminding her to do things. Why? She was hired to do a job! She should just do it!!

    3. Close Bracket

      > I told her I’m going out to lunch and lets see when I get back. My expectation was that she would google or figure it out somehow.

      This calls to mind the questions that Allison gets sometimes from a manager at their wits end with a direct report where Allison will ask, “Are you SURE you’ve been direct with them?” In this case, you left her the out not to do any research on her own by telling her you would revisit it after lunch. There’s nothing to document here, except maybe that she didn’t come to you directly when you got back.

      1. Nervous Accountant

        Well I’ve said it to her directly several times that she should be more proactive about researching and finding the answer before coming to us or waiting on us to give her an answer.

  10. TW

    Speaking to a role that I left off my resume…I posted last week about this but didn’t get any bites however I have an interview today that I’m really excited about! The position has the same title as a role that I had a few a years ago but I was only at that role for 8 months so I don’t list it on my resume. A lot of the experience would align with the position I’m interviewing for today but is it weird to speak to it? I left because of a better job offer. I do have the position on my LinkedIn account which I noticed the hiring manager looked at yesterday. Just wasn’t sure what was recommended.

    1. Not a Real Giraffe

      If the experience is going to make you a stronger candidate and if your strongest answers to their interview questions will be from experiences at that role, you should absolutely talk about it. You can say, “I was actually a Teapot Analyst at Acme Corporation back in 2015 — I left it off my resume since I was only there for 8 months — but my experience in that role blahblahblah.”

      Clearly they like what they saw in your existing resume, so I think having directly matching experience should be a bonus to them, so long as you can explain that you left that job on good terms.

    2. Jessie the First (or second)

      Not that this helps, but why did you leave it off your resume? I leave jobs off mine sometimes, but never if I think that a particular job in my history matches up well with a job I am applying for. (I don’t send the exact same resume to all employers – often I do, but a job I frequently leave off I will add back in if it seems relevant to a job posting).

      So I guess going forward, before you submit a resume make sure you’ve considered whether the resume has on it the things you’d want to talk about in an interview.

      If it is on your LinkedIn and the manager looked at it, she may ask you about it, in which case you can just mention since your time there was short you left it off your resume, but it was a really valuable experience nonetheless and will help you with this job because (and then why). Perhaps that kind of intro to it will work even if manager does not mention it.

    3. Close Bracket

      It’s now the end of the day, how did it go? I hope it turns into an offer. For the future, if someone has looked at your LinkedIn profile, it might be weird NOT to bring it up. They know it’s there, and they might be wondering why it’s not on your resume. Some people question things like that.

  11. Nervous Accountant

    I’ve increasingly become curious about this, bc this happened literally 5 times this month alone, when its usually 2-3x a YEAR.

    Why does someone request a female accountant to work with?

    Anything that involves a physical presence (therapist, doctor, physical trainer, etc), I would understand. I don’t see them face to face so there’s no physical presence there.

    IME (and trust me I was nice and understanding in the beginning but after my experience for 3 years, I’ve come to this conclusion)….I feel like they (male and female) request a female so they can bully them around. Case in point, the dingleberry client from a few weeks ago.

    I guess I should be glad I’ve never had someone say “I only want to work with a man!” or “I don’t want to work with a Muslim.” But after my experience so far, I feel like they just want someone who they can push around. almost all the ones who ask for a female accountant end up being unreasonable to a point.

    1. Temperance

      Oh that stinks. I typically request women because I want to balance out all of the tools who think that men are smarter/better with numbers, but I honestly never thought about someone requesting a woman because they wanted to be a douche.

      1. Nervous Accountant

        I have one client like that but her job/business is about empowering women so I get that. The rest have just been super weird

        1. Lil Fidget

          I would have initially thought female clients might well request a female accountant because money stuff can be very personal and intimate (“this income is from the married man I’m sleeping with, but it’s gifts right” / “my husband doesn’t let me see my w-2 so how can I file this?” / “I think I’m going to be filing for divorce this year but nobody can know this, how do I handle the tax withholdings if he’s currently supporting me”) but it sounds like your clients are unusual for that.

        2. Jaydee

          I would similarly have thought that a lot of the women would either 1) want to support a woman in a traditionally male field or 2) would want someone they thought would be less likely to talk down to them or assume they don’t understand money or math. But it sucks if they are just doing it because they think they can push you around.

    2. Rusty Shackelford

      One, that’s really odd, and two, since you never see them face to face, could your organization just pretend to assign them to a female accountant? Who never likes to talk on the phone?

      1. Nervous Accountant

        Nah, we have to communicate by phone. No one is allowed to not talk on the phone (except for my incompetent slacker cw from above).

    3. Jess

      I have requested female driving instructors, plumbers, etc because I look young for my age and tend to come across as ‘sweet’ and I’m totally fed up of being condescended to and patronised by middle aged men. Not all men obviously, but it happens often enough that if there’s a way to avoid it with a female who will talk to me as if I’m on the same level as them, I will.

      I’m really sorry you’re having a different experience with why people request you :(

      1. Lil Fidget

        True if there is one woman in a very high likelihood of man-splain-y circumstance (tech stuff, car stuff) I would be more likely to want her. She may still condescend to me or have to explain it ten million times because I don’t get it, but I’ll feel better if it’s coming from her :P

    4. Fake old Converse shoes (not in the US)

      Diversity quotas? There are some companies that are so desperate to look relatable to everyone that would push rules like “all deparments must have a 45% of female, 20% PoC, 10% latino employees”.

    5. AngelicGamer aka that visually impaired peep

      I simply feel more comfortable hearing something from a woman than a man and they’re less likely to brush me off if I can’t fully explain what’s wrong. Case in point – my stove / oven has been acting weird. I couldn’t explain it – it was a strange noise that I knew was wrong – but it would only happen every so often. One tech that came out was a guy – sped through everything and said it was all fine – and was in and out in 20 minutes with the oven / stove on for like 15 of those minutes. I felt he didn’t listen to me at all and we were still having the same issue. Call back, request a woman tech, and she comes out. She spends 2x the time, fixes the issue, and was pleasant the entire time, and explained how I could explain the issue to a guy in case it happened again. The stove / oven has been fine since she came out to fix it. She got a five star review and a call to her manager to sing her praises.

      1. Nervous Accountant

        I’m glad she was helpful and you had a good experience with her. I can see your point, but I personally feel that being professional and providing great service isn’t limited to gender.

        1. bohtie

          You literally ignored the point of the entire comment just to be snippy about someone feeling more comfortable with a woman.

          1. Nervous Accountant

            I was not being snippy? This and a few comments above were helpful in understanding why people make certain requests.

        2. AngelicGamer aka that visually impaired peep

          I agree – I’ve had a number of techs out to the house for our AC that were male and wonderful – but I also wanted to give a point of view of why I’m more likely to ask for a woman. With the stove / oven, it was because I just didn’t want to possibly deal with the same guy again. With others, it just seems that I get nicer service. Now, I’m also nice and polite back, no matter the gender, but I feel more heard with a woman. It’s just how it is for me.

          1. Nervous Accountant

            I can totally understand that; ultimately everyone should be comfortable w the person they are working with. Thank you for sharing your experience, certainly didn’t mean to be snippy!

            1. AngelicGamer aka that visually impaired peep

              It didn’t read as snippy to me, but more asking as clarification. :)

    6. Wolfram alpha

      I feel like any client who requests a specific sex sfor any back office work is being sexist and yuck. It’s different if say, you prefer a female gyno or male proctor but anything else is just flag to me.

    7. Bea

      Some women do not deal with men because of personal reasons. I think it’s rarely to be able to push anyone around, I’ve had bad experiences with both genders and I’ve rarely known an accountant of either sex to be susceptible to bullying given laws and regulations are the end all.

      1. Nervous Accountant

        They don’t bully over tax laws or rules that are set in ston but are more like…
        “I don’t get the warm and fuzzies from her, this person isn’t holding my hand enough, they’re not communicating well enough”

        In my case, the most recent ones were “I don’t care that she was away for a funeral, I should have been notified in advance!/I wanted to talk to her!”

        1. Close Bracket

          > “I don’t get the warm and fuzzies from her, this person isn’t holding my hand enough, they’re not communicating well enough”

          That sounds very much like gendered expectations of women’s behavior. Women are expected to be warm and fuzzy and hold peoples’ hands and communicate well. Men are not expected to be warm or fuzzy or hold people’s hands, and they are given more latitude with communication. I don’t know why people ask for a female accountant in the first place, but gendered expectations of behavior are why they subsequently make those kinds of complaints once they get one.

          1. Nervous Accountant

            Oh Don’t even get me started on that BS (not what you said but the expectations itself). Early on I was coached on being more nice and accommodating and flexible and give ppl warm and fuzzy and reduce their anxiety and bending over backwards and sugarcoating and being fluffy. Meanwhile, my (male) coworkers can straight up say no to a client and they don’t get in trouble.

            (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

    8. Armchair Analyst

      I was a female paralegal. (well, I still am female…) Calling people who were owed money by our bankrupt customer.
      One lady only wanted to speak to a male attorney. Apparently, I yelled at her. I had no idea. People came in from down the hall to see what I was yelling about!
      And the other paralegal told me that she once had someone who only wanted to hear the exact same news from a Jewish Attorney.
      Ugh, people.
      (And I’m Jewish!) (But not a lawyer. And obvs. not a male…)

      1. Thursday Next

        Someone actually requested a “Jewish attorney”? I should not have just taken a sip when I read that. Wow.

          1. Book Lover

            I’ve seen that in medicine. They think they are being complimentary and not anti Semitic in saying how good Jewish doctors are and don’t realize how unpleasant it is for the doctor.

            1. LostInTheStacks

              I remember a funny exchange on the TV show My Name Is Earl like that. The characters learn that their friend is in a coma, and one of them says she wants an opinion from “a real doctor. You know, a Jewish one.” The doctor replies. “I’m Indian. We’re the new Jews!”

    9. I'm A Little TeaPot

      I personally request a female vet because my older cat does better with women than men. In accounting? Ego somehow.

    10. Blue Eagle

      I request a woman whenever possible in male dominated fields so that management realizes that the public wants to see women in that field. Sort of like women empowerment – – – if I don’t ask to work with a woman, who will ask to work with me?

    11. LilySparrow

      I think there is probably correlation between (a) people who are excessively nervous about being talked down to/”mansplained” and (b) people who are demanding and unreasonably aggressive.

      Not one-to-one. Plenty of reasonable people might be in group a. But I think group b people are likely to be in group a as well.

      In my experience, the most irrational, demanding people see themselves as very sensitive and vulnerable. They tend to believe everyone is trying to intimidate or take advantage of them, all the time, and the only way to protect themselves or get their due is to constantly escalate their demands.

      1. Betsy

        In my opinion, the correlation is more likely to be ‘people who are aware that they might be condescended to’ and ‘feminists, or others who are aware of gender inequalities’.

        I’m pretty aware that I have a condescending co-worker (although he’s condescending to men too) and recently had to plan an event with a guy who was almost hilariously condescending, given our respective backgrounds in the area we were discussing.

        I have met the kinds of demanding people who think they’re extra vulnerable and enjoy that, so I know the kind of person you’re talking about, but I think they’re a small minority of people. However, most women I know have had experiences where they’ve been condescended to by older men, particularly, so we’re aware that this is a thing that happens.

  12. Lalaith

    I had an interview yesterday. Yay! I’d really like this job, not least because it’s at the university where I got my Master’s degree :) But I’ve been going over and over the interview in my mind, and I think I may have botched the tech portion (it’s for a web developer position). I know there are things I didn’t explain well or forgot/left out due to nerves. Is there any way I can address this with them? Maybe in the thank-you note? I’m guessing probably not, but just wondering if anyone has managed to do it.

    1. [insert witty user name here]

      Yes, I would email them and say something like, “Upon further reflection, I let my nerves get the better of me during our interview, due to my excitement for this position. I’d like to clarify what I said about XYZ…..” Keep it brief, but show your stuff and let them know you were a little nervous/excited. good luck!

      1. Bye Academia

        I think this is too much information/sounds like an excuse. It’s normal for people to be nervous for an interview, but it isn’t really normal for people to cite it this heavily afterwards. It’s a little too familiar. I do think it’s good to reiterate excitement for the position and add in one (maybe two) pieces of info you forgot. Think through the most important point you missed saying during the interview, and focus on that.

        Something like:

        “It was great talking to you yesterday! I was thinking more about [specific topic], and I wanted to add [most important qualification]. After everything else we discussed, I am still very excited about the position and I hope to hear from you soon.”

        Plus anything else you normally add in your thank-you emails. Good luck!

        1. Sherm

          I like this advice, and remember that 1) everyone else who was interviewed was nervous, and 2) these interviewees more than likely had brain freezes of their own. If you feel that they were impressed with you, there’s probably no damage control that needs to be done, but the note can always be used to reiterate your strong points. I know there is some good “thank you” advice in the AAM archives.

          1. Lalaith

            Heh. I’m the first person they interviewed. I guess I can just hope that the rest have the same problems I did :-P

        2. LAI

          Agreed with the second one. Don’t apologize – most people are nervous in interviews, and there’s a decent chance that you weren’t any more nervous than anyone else they interviewed. But yes, you can absolutely include new information in your follow-up email.

        3. Lalaith

          That sounds good. All of it was fairly small stuff, though, I just feel like all put together it didn’t give a great impression. I think I ended on a strong note with the exercise they gave me, though. Crossing fingers! Thank you :)

  13. finding a reasonable boss?

    My last few bosses were terrible at understanding how much time tasks actually take, when we had too much on our plate, and overpromising to their bosses. Talking to them never helped in the past jobs, and my current boss will acknowledge that I have too much on my plate, but will then go ahead and promise to her bosses that we’ll do things that add more to my workload. Last year I told her I would start looking for a new position if the workload was the same as/more than the past year, and she went into a meeting with her bosses and came out with a schedule for me that increased my workload.

    So — is this just how bosses are? I’m currently looking for a new position, and wondering if there are any questions or things to look out for in an interview process that will help me avoid getting into yet another situation like this.

    1. Longtime Listener, First time Caller

      Maybe ask them a question about how they prioritize work for their team? How do they handle competing deadlines from higher-ups? Have they even been in a situation where their bosses wanted a deliverable, but their team was already overburdened? How did they handle it?

    2. hbc

      Not all bosses are like that. I’d figure out a few questions to ask the hiring manager about their style*, and include something like “What did you do the last time an employee told you they were overloaded?” Or “Do you ever have targets set by you or those above you that your team has trouble meeting?” While no one will admit that they over-promise and pass on the stress, there will probably be hints one way or the other.

      *You definitely don’t want to make it the only question or they’ll infer that you can’t get your work done.

      1. JustinCase

        “Do you ever have targets set by you or those above you that your team has trouble meeting?”

        This is a fantastic question. I’m hanging on to this in case I ever need it in an interview, thanks.

    3. Irene Adler

      Might ask how the prospective new boss supports their reports.
      Then ask about different scenarios- how is the work load managed (planned vs. last minute scrambles vs. overtime to tackle things). Does the boss take an active role in your work tasks (such that they’ve done the work themselves in recent times)?

      Some bosses just think that if you managed your time “better” then you could tackle all the work assigned to you. So, might ask them for some time management tips to tackle the ever increasing work load your boss assigns to you. Sometimes it takes them actually digging into the work load themselves for them to see just how great the work load is.

    4. Ramona Flowers

      You could also look out for any interview questions that cover this. In my interview for my current job, they asked: tell me about a time when you couldn’t get everything done, as they wanted to hear about how I would prioritise. That turned out to have been a really good sign.

      Not all bosses are like this but some are. I had one who used to say “well you’ll just have to make time.” Out of what, I just don’t know.

      Also be on the lookout for mentions of how they all stay late to get things done.

    5. LKW

      No not all bosses, but when pressure is coming from above, it’s hard for some bosses to push back. I worked for someone who was the only one making the ridiculous demands. We figured she just wanted to show that she could make miracles happen. The clients would make a request -our boss would pass on the request and then without consulting us would demand it be completed by a certain date. We’d rush the work and the client would be like “Wow, I didn’t need this for another 2 months!” meanwhile all of our current work was being delayed.

      I asked her to stop multiple times but her ego was too big.

      1. WellRed

        “it’s hard for some bosses to push back”

        Agreed, but it takes a special kind of talent for a manager to bring even more work back to the employee.

    6. Thlayli

      Not all bosses are like this. Given that you’ve already discussed it with her, I think this is a case of “your boss sucks and isn’t going to change”.

      For comparison, when I get overwhelmed I go to my boss with a list of tasks on my plate, estimated time to complete (or time per week for ongoing ones) and a first attempt at priority order, and he helps me figure out the priority order and sometimes reassigns stuff.

    7. Finding a reasonable boss?

      Thanks for giving me hope that not all bosses are like this. And thanks for some great ideas for questions to ask, I’m definitely going to keep these for my next interview. I’ve had a couple so far, and am hoping that one of them works out. I wish I had asked these questions though! Would it be weird to ask them even after they offer me the job (if that happens, fingers crossed)?

    8. Earthwalker

      I realized late in my career that I wanted not only a good boss, but a good grandboss, something I eventually started asking about in interviews. A bully grandboss can make a good boss irrelevant by demanding that he make his team do more than they possibly can. A strong boss will push back, of course. But if he find that he can’t change anything, a good boss will resign, making room for a bad boss, and a bad boss will overcommit his team.

    9. Miles

      I’ve had one boss so far that wasn’t like this. He actually looked out for his team and I think that made the difference.

      But it also depends on the management culture of the workplace. If it’s cliquey at all or if your boss’s bosses get upset when they get told ‘no,’ then the actually effective boss won’t get to keep that job unless e sells out eir team.

      As for how to know that going in, I’ve asked on here before and the consensus always seemed that the interview process is not the place for it.

      The only method that I’ve found that seems to work is to get a lateral promotion to escape the bad ones.

  14. Nervous Accountant

    I’m losing my patience and I know I”m going to sound mean but I want to vent.

    I’ve been coaching a coworker for a few weeks now. Client feedback has been not so great. Some legit (that she’s not confident) and just ridiculous af (digs at her accent–whcih btw is perfectly fine, those ppl r jerks)… One client even said that they thought this was a scam and htey were talking to a call center rather than a real accountant. *ickkkk*

    Anyway, so a few days ago, someone calls in on the weekend (we work weekends during tax season but our billing and other depts are closed). She talks to the client and puts them on hold and asks me what to say. I coach her to tell them that our billing Dept is closed and we’ve created a ticket for them, and the client will be contacted during normal business hours. I got busy in my own work and didn’t listen to what she said but she puts them on hold again and says “are they open for the holiday?” I tell her to tell them that billing will reach out during normal business hours. Right after, she says “dept is closed, you have to call back later”… facepalm.

    I let it go. I thought she was new to working and didn’t have a lot of experience. That’s OK, I was there too, I used to have a difficult time as well…so I try to be sympathetic and remember I made mistakes too…..but then i found out that she has the same license as me, more prestigious and this is her second or third long term job. So I’m just face palm at all of this and finding myself more impatient with her. Which I guess is wrong but it feels like a second coming of slacker cowroker. I talked to my mgr about it and he was facepalm too at the exchange….he told me that it seems like she’s doing that deliberately to get out of doing work.

    1. UtOh!

      Um, so what is manager going to DO about it if she seems like she’s doing it deliberately to get out of doing work?! Your manager sounds like mine…lip service in response to any and everything.

      1. Nervous Accountant

        I know he would want to coach as much as we can, and if it doesn’t work then cut them loose…right before the deadline we can’t afford to lose ppl for small things like this.

  15. Lipsy Magoo

    Perhaps I’m tired of the corporate culture and struggling in my current job but I’m very curious…

    I’ve been here two years and we keep introducing new visions/change management models and nothing is really working… we had a vision and employee recognition program and this was rolled out to all staff and the management team was surprised that people weren’t more excited…

    The recognition program has started to suffer not receiving nominations which then caused a big analysis that I’m not sure yielded anything… not sure where it stands at the moment…

    Then the management team worked on a change management model… and it was supposed to be rolled out to staff and they were supposed to get trained… there was a change management task force that was then disbanded by HR…

    And now there is a new model… that I assume will be rolled out soon…

    I have never seen this anywhere else, in the sense of all the focus on putting these things in place AND then not really following through completely. I’ve also never seen such a formalization of the process – in other places when change was needed it was addressed in a much more direct way.. perhaps it’s the dysfunction and my level of disgust with it that is coloring my view as well.

    Is this the way these programs/models usually go? Have any of these worked anywhere else and if so are there any best practices? The staff literally rolls their eye when they get wind of something new coming, in part I’m sure because they are usually out of the loop anyway.

    1. Dovahkiin

      I work in corporate and in my experience…yeah. “Employee recognition programs” that aren’t tied to bonuses/extra PTO/real rewards that aren’t just your name in a newsletter usually face a lack of enthusiasm. As far as the formality goes, it sounds like your HR is taking employee morale seriously, but they’re trying to do it without a budget for things that actually makes employees happy (like stipends for fitness memberships or on-site childcare).

    2. Luna

      Yeah employee recognition programs are not as great as they sound. Half the time it’s just a pat on the back or something meaningless. Even when there is real money at stake, there is a lot of favoritism involved in the nomination process and the programs can actually really damage morale.

    3. SpaceNovice

      Sadly, dysfunction in processes can be pretty common. It sounds like this process is going to be incredibly dysfunctional, as the people affected are not being involved with it and it’s not being communicated very well at all. (You can already see this in how people are rolling their eyes.)

      Formalized processes SHOULD have feedback built into them to work properly. There should be training. There should be a contact for people to come to if they need additional 1-on-1 training or they find their item isn’t covered under the process. I don’t know much about formalized best practices, but I know what works: a process that is clearly communicated, documentation that is easy to fill out to complete a part of the process, makes sense for the organization, has gatekeepers that follow through on their parts, has a person that can modify/reduce pinch points, and provides status/information on work that is, was, or will be done that is easily accessible. Clear communication about any changes made to the process and when/where various meetings for the process are held is also important. Being able to create and query reports is essential as well, because there’s no point in having information if it’s not in a usable format. If all these things are done, people generally stop violating the process and will easily admit when they need help or if there’s an issue.

      These are all things that I did to make the process at one company work. Instead of violating the process because they didn’t have time to deal with it and get work done, people became very proud of their work. Time that used to be wasted wondering what to do would be saved by getting a quick answer or a solution from calling me on the phone. “You don’t know the process? That’s fine, let me log into the demonstration environment and show you how it works, let me know if you have any questions.” People don’t like feeling like idiots; they knew I respected them, so they came to me, and the process worked. I ended up tailoring reports and queries to give them actionable information as well as information they could report to their higher ups (“I closed 300 tickets this year, look at how awesome I am”).

      These sorts of processes are more common in companies that have mission critical (think: something horrible could happen if it was down) systems, have a system that the federal government is working, or if the company is big/established.

      Tl;dr: Yes, more formal processes are common in certain types of companies. Yes, this is a dysfunctional process being created because it’s not involving the people that will use it and is not being followed through. (Probably because they’re afraid people are going to react badly, so they’re unconsciously noping out of finishing it.) Yes, you should be at least annoyed. The design of a proper formalized process would not go this way at all in an ideal world. Your management is putting up psychological roadblocks that will prevent it from working well, I suspect. But if the right person is within the organization, they can shepherd the process into actually serving the people using it.

      Wow, this got long.

    4. DCompliance

      Were the employees given the opportunity to have a say in what type of reward program they would like to see? Were the managers given say? How did HR respond to the fact that the change management task force was supposed to roll out this model?

      1. Lipsy Magoo

        Thanks for asking… The employees were not given the opportunity to provide feedback before or even after the program stalled. Only a few people on the management team were involved in creating the recognition program, they also didn’t ask for feedback from managers before implementing.

        HR said that they would train all staff on the model but never did. When I asked why I was told they had been busy with other projects and now there is a new model. Laminated cards were just made up and like last time they are only for management.

        The model had been worked on and finalized on in our “Leadership Forum” which is only comprised of management and often ideas there don’t make it out to all levels.

        People are used to this way of operating but I find it very frustrating and discouraging that the “front line staff” (non-exempt employees) are so easily forgotten…

    5. Annie Moose

      Oh my wooooord this is my old company. I had four managers in two years because they kept reorganizing our department. They’d introduce some Bold New Direction!! for the company, and three months later no one remembered what it was about. They constantly were talking about change management this and process alignment that and never bothered to actually try something for more than six months straight.

      Nobody ever had any clue what the actual processes we should follow were, because they kept changing all the time… so we pretty much would just do things the way that made sense to us on a team level, and pay lip service to whatever the hot new program of the day was.

      I have a lot of fondness for my old company, but as time goes on, I find I miss it a great deal less than originally.

      1. Earthwalker

        Me too. Once Bold New Direction was announced and the Management of Change slide sets had been presented, no one ever followed up. People would be saying, “Wait, is this my job now?” and others saying, “No, that’s my job,” and “Is not!” “Is so!” Without any leadership after the big roll-out to settle such questions, people tended to gravitate back to the familiar, doing their old jobs as usual and recovering old working relationships. But they kept their new titles and threw around some Bold New Direction verbiage as cover for backsliding into pretty much the Same Old Way. It was thin cover but none of the change authors ever seemed to notice.

    6. Positive Reframer

      It sounds like everything is being implemented from the top down. Which just makes people feel even less listened too.

      Overall, people want a way to provide feedback that will actually change something, or even if it doesn’t that they get some sort of an explanation why.

      As far as recognition of a job well done. I enjoy what my company does. There is a kudos area on our internal web page that allows people to give a shout out to coworkers who are going above and beyond (it is moderated prior to posting). Sometimes this comes directly from customer feedback. They also post articles and videos of things that people have been recognized for outside of the company. Yearly they re-post the ones that got the most likes/comments.

    7. Anecdata

      Yes, and in my experience, 90% of the time continually rolling out new employee recognition programs is a band-aid over not getting the fundamentals of management right. If I know what my role is, what excellence looks like, what advancement opportunities are available and how to get there, am treated respectfully and compensated fairly, and get an occasional sincere kudos, I’m going to be perfectly happy without a coffee cup celebrating my commitment to Innovation and Integrity.

      And when you don’t have that, all the celebratory certificates and congratulatory gift cards in the world won’t make an engaged and happy workforce.

      (Of course, I’d definitely be happy having both – and some workplaces do.)

    8. k

      We have a non-monetary recognition program that actually works reasonably well – it’s called The Trophy of Great, and it’s a trophy, and it’s given out at the monthly all-staff meetings, and each person who gets it adds something to it and picks the next winner. It’s definitely not like “fair” or anything, but I guess since we all understand each decision is an individual decision, it’s not too like … fraught.

      Also, I think people try to give it to someone new each month, so it’s not like the same awesome person gets it all the time.

      We also had one on our department that was pretty cool – at the end of the year quarterly meeting, everyone drew a name and had to make and give the other person a creative / fun / silly award. Some people took it in different ways the first time we did it, but by the second time we were in the groove, and it felt nice to have to figure out awesome traits of people you may not always work with (though of course some people drew names of people they work with a lot). Sort of like Recognition Secret Santa.

      That’s just recognition programs. We do not have very good change management programs, even though we ought to, we’re based on design thinking principles. And our internal processes also suffer from not enough piloting or feedback. Sometimes they do try, though. Unfortunately when really weird things happen is when you need the processes and feedback most, and also when people implementing those things feel least secure and most like the just need to DO SOMETHING (or maybe we have a lot of bias-to-action people on our management team, and not so many bias-to-people people).

  16. Chameleon

    Just a rant today: I’m currently an adjunct at a community college. Two (two!) full-time tenure track positions have opened at another local CC. One position is teaching the subject I have been teaching for the past two years, the other is in the subject I got my doctorate in. Both would pay nearly twice what I currently make. I also have an acquaintance who borders on a friend who works there.

    And I can’t make myself freaking sit down and write the damn application materials. URRGH. Self, why you have to be so lazy? (Or to be more honest, why do I have to respond to fear by avoidance?)

    1. Tara S.

      I know the feeling, when you see an opportunity you’re actually excited about, and your brain just slams on the brakes. Sometimes I try and tell myself just to fill out the application, but you don’t have to send it. (Usually by the time I put it together I want to send it out, but somehow it takes the pressure off temporarily?)

    2. Not a Real Giraffe

      why do I have to respond to fear by avoidance?

      Ugh, same. Overwhelmed by how much stuff you HAVE to do? The answer is to procrastinate, obviously!!!!

      I am kicking myself hard this week because I was scared of how much work I am responsible for and instead of doing some of the work ahead of schedule, I am now scrambling to get it all done by the end of the week.

      Anyway, I feel you, Chameleon.

    3. Kix

      You can do it! It took me working with a career coach external to my organization to shake me silly and wake me up to the fact that it was time to leave #OldJob. This was around the time that a new opportunity opened up in a program I’d worked in previously and is currently managed by a previous manager who knows me and my skillsets very well. Long story short, I had to practically glue myself to the chair to get the application done, but it was worth the self-flagellation because I did get the job. I’m 100% happier in my new role, and I actually have a work-life balance now.

    4. July

      I have a technique for this! I hire myself to do the job. If my job required doing some fear-inducing personal task for someone else, I could totally do it without a whimper. So, when this kind of thing comes up, I put on a blazer that signals “work” to me and say out loud the steps I need to take, referring to myself in the third person. It’s very silly, but it does create enough distance between me and the task I can get through it much more easily.

      1. JustaTech

        I should try this. I used to have a terrible time with cover letters until I tried thinking about myself as someone else (who I liked) or (when it was really bad) as though it was a school report and “I” was a character in a book.

    5. Chameleon

      One of my major issues, honestly, is that writing of any sort has always been painful to the point of pulling teeth for me. Even if I know the topic like the back of my hand simply putting it on (virtual) paper is crazy hard. So talking myself up (hard) in writing (harder) for something that is fairly high-stakes–yeah.

      1. Ramona Flowers

        Try talking first indeed. To your cat or a pot plant or whatever works – I find that can really help me work out how to write something.

      2. hermit crab

        I think we might be the same person! When I was a kid I learned that, as part of the mummification process, the ancient Egyptians would pull out a deceased person’s brain through their nose with a special hook. THAT is what writing feels like to me – pulling out your brain in a way that it is not supposed to go. I was one of those students who was always told they were a good writer, and perhaps I am, but oh it is just so so hard.

        But you can do it!! It’s ok that it’s hard. You will feel so good afterwards. :)

    6. Overeducated needs a new name

      Oh man. “If I don’t bother to apply, they can’t reject me!” I know that feeling. It’s tough, maybe do some combination of carrot and stick (force yourself to do it but promise yourself a treat), and take it in small bites if it’s one of those complicated academic applications.

    7. Simone R

      Are you me? Including the choice of username! Anyways, what has helped me a lot is knowing that I’ve always got this stuff done in time. It might be in at the hour of the deadline, but it’s gotten in, and it’s worked out for me! My undergrad and PhD applications were all finished at the last minute but were very successful. As it seems to have for you, since you have a doctorate! Accepting that the whining, grumping, and procrastination are all part of the process and not something to battle against has made me slightly calmer (if not happier). I will never be the person that has the application in early.

    8. Longtime Listener, First time Caller

      Whenever I have a hard time getting myself to do something, I set timers. I love the Pomodoro Technique: https://tomato-timer.com/

      I set the timer for 25 minutes, don’t let myself get distracted and buckle down and do it. Then I set a timer for a 5/10 minute break. Once it’s over, I set another 25 minutes timer and get back to work.

      Also, one of my favorite quotes that I repeat ad nauseum when I am avoiding work: “Nothing will make you feel better than doing the work.”

      1. Annie Moose

        Going along with this, when I get paralyzed on something, I break it down to very small pieces and go, “OK, you just have to do this one tiny piece today.” (as in, something I can finish in five minutes) And when I’m done, if I feel like continuing, I can, but if I feel that I can’t, that’s OK–I got at least one thing done, and that’s a victory.

    9. Delta Delta

      I’m way into rewards. You deserve a hot fudge sundae/massage/long walk with the dog, but only when you get your application done. At least, that’s how I get myself to do things I can’t seem to get started on.

    10. Reba

      I know the avoidance thing well.

      Chameleon, don’t be afraid to let your excellence out! Show up for these cover letters! It’s ok to care about them, to feel weird about them, to write shitty first drafts!

      Wishing you lots of luck with the applications.

    11. Not So NewReader

      Are you sure it is laziness/fear?

      Sometimes when my gut says NOOOOO I need to listen to that. Take a minute to find out some background. Are other people truly happy there or is the place a hellhole.

    12. Roja

      Ugh. This is totally me today too. I’ve done everything for an adjunct opening application except the cover letter, and I’m so terrified of it I’m putting it off. No words of advice, just solidarity.

    13. Jiya

      Hey, you know what? You’re okay. You have a job right now, so you’re applying from a position of strength. If you get rejected, things will be no different than they are now. There are only upsides to filling out that application!

  17. Anonsy

    Speaking highly generally, I have a stalker, but I am needing to look for a job since I’ve hit the ceiling at my current place/stalker knows I work here. I haven’t job hunted with stalker before. Any tips on how to do this?

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      Instead of putting your resume/general information up for the world to see on places like Monster or Indeed or whatever isn’t sketchy these days, I would look at specific company websites. Most of them will have a ‘careers’ section where you can apply in a targeted fashion to specific jobs.

      I don’t know how much you know about your stalker — if you know where they do/don’t work, etc — but that’s a good way to keep a lower profile.

    2. PoniezRUs

      Apply through recruiters that will hopefully keep your information confidential. Do you know who your stalker hangs out with? Are you able to avoid this person’s social circle that could potentially tip him off about job hunting (accidentally)? Keep your search quiet from your social circle too. I wish you the best of luck!

    3. Tara S.

      I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this. Maybe leave your address off your resume, in case they get ahold of it?

    4. Detective Amy Santiago

      Maybe use a temp agency/headhunter to help with your job search so your contact information isn’t being blasted all over the place.

    5. Curious Cat

      In this realm but not directly job related — a good friend of mine had a stalker a couple years ago and was trying to switch apartments, so she used myself/other friends to be a third party and do her apartment hunting for her so there were no paper trails and she wouldn’t be followed. So, I’m agreeing with everyone else that you should try to use a third-party or very direct way to apply for jobs (i.e. emailing hiring managers directly when you’re able to/makes sense to), or using a recruiter. I’m sorry you’re going through this — it’s just a sucky situation.

    6. TheCupcakeCounter

      Recruiter and direct applications are probably your best bet. Sorry you have to deal with a stalker.

    7. Tuxedo Cat

      You could get a Google number that you just use for your job search. I haven’t had any luck with job boards so I don’t post there anyway, but you could leave off your address. If you’re worried about being followed to interview locations, I would make a point of scheduling interviews so that you leave from home to interview location.

    8. Bea W

      I did this. I applied directly or through recruiters. I don’t make my LinkedIn current or old positions available to anyone who is not a connection. I did not talk about it on social media or online in general.

      My stalker did manage to find my new work somehow and get my direct desk phone number. I suspect he did that by chatting up the front desk or calling random people and pretending he had a wrong number. I assume he did the same praying on unsuspecting people at my old job until he found someone who was not aware of who he was. He also had access to some databases used by law enforcement. So that may have been another avenue of investigation, but more likely he just made a lot of calls and just kept spewing the BS and manipulating people until he got the information he wanted.

      He would have found out I left when he called and whoever was assigned my desk next picked up the phone. That’s pretty inevitable with a stalker. If you can, make your co-workers aware not to divulge any information about you. You don’t even have to tell your old job where you’ll be going if you’re afraid someone will accidentally spill the beans.

    9. Traveling Teacher

      Speaking from experience: move abroad to a country where he doesn’t speak the language. Change your name if you can, too, without affecting your professional life!

      1. Traveling Teacher

        This is the nuclear option, of course, but if things are getting more serious/dangerous, it can be something to seriously consider.

    10. neverjaunty

      For your phone I recommend the Burner app. It lets you generate new and “throwaway” numbers and to block incoming calls you don’t want.

    11. MaltaKano

      Ugh I’m so sorry. I’ve been there, too. I like the others’ suggestions – while job hunting, I just kept all my info off LinkedIn or any visible social media and just applied directly to the organizations. On my resume, I used an old home address in the same city, so the employer knew my general area, but my stalker wouldn’t have my new address if somehow my resume got public.

      My stalker was someone at my old job, starting up after I’d only been there about 9 months, and my company did a terrible job handling the whole thing. It was such an overwhelming part of my life – I had to move, work from home and remote offices, all while making time to meet regularly with the police and a detective our HR department hired – and half of the office was convinced I was doing these things to myself for attention! It was challenging not to mention anything about it job interviews, but I couldn’t well say “I’m leaving my job because a deranged coworker slashed my tires and follows me home,” and just cited professional reasons for moving on. Thankfully I found a job that was a much better fit in a new, wonderfully safe area. The police could never 100% identify the person, even though eventually it became pretty clear who it was, so she still works there. I hear from old coworkers that she still tells wild stories about me from time to time.

      My whole first year at my new job, I was petrified this person would find me and somehow ruin my new gig (a lot of what she had done was send letters to my bosses alleging all this bizarre “misconduct” I’d committed). Looking back, I should have given my new boss a heads up just in case, but I was so mixed up from not really being believed by my old company at first, so ultimately I didn’t mention anything. I didn’t want to seem potentially difficult. After about a year in my new position, I started to breathe easy, certain I am known, valued, and trusted here. Even now, though, I find it hard to talk about it at my new workplace. I know my colleagues believe me, but it’s such a strange thing that no one really knows how to respond, and so very few people ask follow-up questions or offer helpful support when I share that I had a stalker. I think people just don’t know what to say.

      All that to say – you’ve got this. It will absolutely get better. And, when you find a great new job, I wouldn’t be afraid to go to your new company and ask them to keep your name off anything public, just so they’re in the loop. Best of luck.

  18. Lavender

    Had a bit of a weird week in the last week! The tl;dr of my questions are: What’s the right way to ask about work/life balance in an interview? Also, was this entirely on my mistakes or was this kind of odd?

    The backstory: Had an interview on Wednesday, first and only in person interview. They sent me an offer on Friday. I emailed with some questions over the 3 day weekend – part tell me more about the benefits you offer, but also I realized I didn’t get a chance to ask about work/life balance in the interview so I asked that too. (Directly: What is the work/life balance like?)

    The hiring manager and I set up a call for Tuesday and when I brought up my question about work/life balance the conversation turned quick. What I was trying to get an understanding of is how people work – is it more of a 9-5 or more of an 8-8 type of office, and if someone gets an email at 10 pm or on a Saturday are they expected to respond to it right away or is it okay to hold it until work time? I’m understanding that it was a salaried (not hourly) position and that hours change and sometimes there are occasional nights where people work late, and I’m fine with that, but I wanted to have an idea of the full picture before committing to the offer. The hiring manager gave me answers that felt very vague about how things are always changing and she expected everyone to get their work done. I did ask her if people ever take their work home with them and she said she’d be very concerned if people couldn’t finish their day at the office. All in all, it seemed reasonable to me, but she said my questions made her nervous about my candidacy and we ended the conversation with her saying “take some time to really think about if you want this position or not and let me know.”

    There are definitely more details that I’m leaving out (it’s been a whirlwind), but in the de-evolution of the conversation she also asked me: “What are you really looking for in a job?” “If you could have any job right now, regardless of circumstance, what would it be?” “If your current manager came to you in 6 months offering you a full time position, would you take it?” (I am a contractor looking for full time work. My attempt at finding something internally full time have not worked out, and I’m ready to move onto a new place. My current manager acted as glowing reference for me – because of the setup of the position, she knows I’m looking and is supportive of me finding something else.) The whole conversation only lasted about 15 minutes as well.

    I reached out to her the next day saying I’ve thought about it and would like to continue with the position, but she instead pulled the offer.

    I’m only a few years out of school, and I realize in hindsight that my questions could make me seem flaky, which was not my intention. I know there were probably ways to get a clearer answer with less scary questions, but I’m not sure what they are. I’ve had interviews with other companies in the past where they’re clear about the scope of the position, if there are required weekend hours or how long days normally are. In this situation, I was thrown off by what seemed like a pretty simple conversation with other companies turning so quickly. Have I been doing it wrong this whole time?

    Ultimately I know this outcome was for the best: I don’t want to work with someone who doesn’t want to work with me, even though I really need a full time job. There were also some things that weren’t my favorite, such as the fact that this is a less than 10 people company and her multiple notes about how the staff is “like a family,” but I thought I could handle it for a few years at least.

    Sorry that this is so long! What I’m trying to figure out is this: was this all on me, and I was fully in the wrong for asking about work/life after having already received an offer, or were her actions somewhat sudden and turning? What’s the best way to understand work/life balance in an interview?

    1. C.

      From my perspective, I think asking directly like you did might have put her off, but she also handled it weirdly. Even though it’s such an important factor, it’s hard to get straight answers because everyone’s work-life balance is different based on what’s going on in their lives – you might be asking about hours, they might think you’re asking about PTO and ability to work from home. I think the questions you said you’ve asked in the past, like weekend work, what times people usually are in the office, are good ones to keep asking! But asking “What is the work/life balance like” outright is too vague and hard for someone to answer without knowing what sort of issues you’re concerned about.

      1. Anony

        I agree that asking specific questions may work better (such as asking about what hours are typical and if you are expected to take work home).

        Overall I think you were right to ask. I also think they may have been right to pull the offer if they do not actually offer the work-life balance that you need. The way I read it, you were sending signals that you want a typical 9-5 (or 8-6) job and don’t want to have to work on the weekends regularly. It sounds like that was not this job. If you are not looking for a job that has regular (and reasonable) working hours, then you may want to try adding some more context to your questions. For example, if you are willing to work more hours but would need a higher salary you could bring it up more in the context of salary negotiation.

        1. Jerry Vandesic

          You dodged.a.bullet. It might not feel that way OP, but her inability to answer (or even deal with) your questions means she doesn’t understand what work/life balance is about.

    2. Probably Nerdy

      I’ve just asked directly before and no one had an issue – in fact mostly they were proud to demonstrate how great the work/life balance was. Like, “we know this is an issue industry wide but we are tackling it head on” sort of thing.

    3. Madeleine Matilda

      I’m a manager and I don’t think your question was a bad one. My agency really values work/life balance so if a candidate for a position asked about it I wouldn’t find anything strange about the question. However, it’s possible the place where you interviewed doesn’t value work/life balance. To avoid a similar situation in the future, you might ask about the office culture, but really I think it is fair to ask about the things you did.

      1. Margery

        I don’t think there was anything wrong in asking and I actually think you’ve dodged a bullet. What if you took it and ended up working 80 hours a week!

        Good luck with your job search.

    4. TheCupcakeCounter

      Work/life balance was a big part of why I left my last job so I was quite blunt about it in my interviews. The response was mixed but I was blessed to be in a position where I could take my time choosing and I didn’t want to do it wrong. Current company does not even issue laptops and really feels like they failed you if you have to work more than 30 minutes past the “normal” leave time more than twice in a week.

    5. AliceW

      I might be better and you may get a clearer response if you ask more specific questions such as how busy is a typical day? When are your busiest periods during the year? Is there a good ebb and flow to the workload? Are there important deadlines I need to meet daily, monthly, quarterly? Some firms want to hire young people because they are full of energy and are willing to work hard to prove themselves (e.g. okay with crazy hours). If that is what they were hoping for, your general questions about work/life balance might have scared them off.

      1. Safetykats

        I agree that more specific questions are likely to be more effective and less easily misinterpreted. For example, you could ask what the normal working hours are, and also ask how often overtime is required. This is both more direct and more work-oriented than the similar questions you asked. In general, I think it’s a poor practice to ask these kinds of questions in a way that makes it sound like you want a special schedule, or don’t recognize there is likely a standard schedule. You can also ask about things like company support of community programs, policies on accumulation/use of paid vacation time, and things like that which are likely to give you an idea of whether everyone uses all their vacation every year or not, and whether the company supports employees volunteering on or outside company time. These kinds of things are work-life balance indicators.

        Note that it’s possible to research things like community involvement up front, which enables you to ask specific questions about things that are important to the company, which is always impressive.

        You can also always ask whether it’s possible to talk to someone at the working level about their typical workload or workday, which will give you an opportunity to ask these kinds of questions Of someone other than the hiring manager.

    6. DDJ

      Ok! These are all the things I found to be flags:

      -things are always changing: if you like any kind of stability, this isn’t good. Most people will acknowledge that you can’t always know how things will go, but to just say “things are always changing” suggests a lot of upheaval.

      -she’d be very concerned if people couldn’t finish their day at the office – note that she didn’t say she’d be concerned if people couldn’t finish their work through a regular work day. When you asked about taking work home, she probably thought that if anything was left, you’d just stay at the office until it was finished.

      -my questions made her nervous – questions about work/life balance really shouldn’t make a hiring manager nervous. Unless they’re trying to hide something, or if they know that their work/life balance sucks. If work/life balance is important to you, then you need to make sure you don’t end up at a company that has no concept of it.

      -multiple notes about how the staff is “like a family” – combined with everything else, this is a 100-foot red flag. My guess is that long hours are normal, and no one is allowed to complain about it. And you will NOT be adequately compensated. Because I mean, you’re family, right? What’s money between family?

      I think this one may have been a case of the universe helping you out in making the decision for you that this would have been a terrible fit.

      In the future, no vague questions! Find out what you want to find out. If having a good work/life balance means getting your weekends off and not being expected to regularly work overtime, then focus your questions there. And I think you’ve almost nailed it with what you wrote: “is it more of a 9-5 or more of an 8-8 type of office, and if someone gets an email at 10 pm or on a Saturday are they expected to respond to it right away or is it okay to hold it until work time?”

      Those are great questions! And actually ones that I’ll keep in mind in case I end up job hunting in the near future. I’ve gotten really used to leaving work at work, and I don’t think I could move into an environment where I couldn’t do that. I don’t check my work email on the weekends. Yes, I do sometimes put in extra hours, and yes, I have occasionally come in on a weekend to meet a deadline. But those were one-off situations, and were in no way a reflection of the usual expectations.

    7. Wolfram alpha

      Bullet dodged imo. Sounds like she did not want to answer truthfully that “you are expected to work late in the office on short notice frequently and wfh is frowned upon” and then tried to gaslite you with dedication crap.

    8. Someone else

      To me, her response was red flaggy. She seemed to interpret your asking at all as some sort of…resistance, which from what you’ve said here, doesn’t sound like it’s the case. Her non-responses are also weird to me because different offices do things differently. Like her comment about being concerned about people not finishing during work hours…ok that’s a valid concern but also I’d sort of expect that to go hand in hand with a more 9-5 culture. If she were simultaneously stressing that it’s exempt and things change and you need to be available to do what needs doing…that’s a different culture than one where no one ever takes work home or works weekends. That’s a weird contradiction. The comment to really consider what you want is a logical one…but not when she evaded answering the question.
      I do think this is a tricky topic to get into because it should be reasonable for one person to just say flat out “so what’s it like here” without necessarily stating or insinuating a particular preference. I want this to be the sort of thing employers and employees can just discuss directly and then decide what’s a fit, rather than one side judging the other or guessing what the other preferred based on the question being asked in the first place. Asking shouldn’t be treated as some sort of hidden test, but in reality some people react that way.

    9. Lavender

      Thank you everyone to your advice! I’m really glad that this didn’t end up working out for me now, and will definitely look to being clearer in future interviews.

      I think part of the fear I’m facing is that I worry if I ask too many questions about life outside of work in an interview and not just about the work itself it’ll seem like I’m only in it for the benefits and not the work itself (but that probably plays into a larger cultural conversation about how work is your life when you’re 25 and the pressure to make your career your identity). Just gotta find something that respects the balance!

    10. Espeon

      Bullet-dodged on so many levels, Lavender!

      When I was last job hunting I interviewed at a fun-seeming company. They were offering flexible hours, I interviewed and asked about this, they were happy enough to invite me for a second interview, and then after the second interview they sent a seriously nasty email about me to the recruiter… saying what an awful person I was for enquiring about the flexible hours THAT THEY OFFERED IN THE FIRST PLACE. I think they actually called me ‘disgusting’. The moral of this story is, there are some weird and F-ing awful companies out there.

      I told the recruiter who helped me get my current job this story, and she basically guessed which company it was – apparently they’re notoriously horrid, and a lot of recruiters won’t work for them anymore.

    11. Jennifer Thneed

      > her multiple notes about how the staff is “like a family,”

      Hugest red flag in the universe. If the *employees* say that, that’s one thing, but if the management says it, well, that’s bad. (Because nobody can really know what it’s like to work for themselves. It’s just a fact of our human brains.)

      I know it feels crappy that they pulled the offer, but try to feel good about it your escape. And search around in the archives here for horror stories associated with companies that regard themselves as “like a family”.

    12. Close Bracket

      Something to think about in the future is asking to talk with your future co-workers. If the answer is no, that tells you something right there. If the answer is yes, ask them behavioral-style questions like, tell me about how you handle late night or weekend requests.

  19. NewVaca

    How would you handle this situation? I’ve just been offered a position counter offered, and am still waiting to hear back. The recruiter followed up with me that they are still working on it.

    At the end of May, I have a trip booked. This is my first time countering an offer so in the past I’ve always just said ‘I just want hiring manager to know I have a trip in X months. If that’s ok with hiring manager, I accept/can start in two weeks’. But, since I countered, was I supposed to bring it up then with the counter, or not until I’m in a position to accept the offer?

    1. Emmie

      I would have brought it up in the counter offer, but it’s not too late to correct it. I’d reach out today to tell them.

      1. NewVaca

        Ok thanks, I just called and left a voicemail. I hate that there can be all these nuances for negotiating, always worried that a small misstep could cost the job :/

        1. Emmie

          That worry is so stressful! The good news is that you probably don’t have much experience negotiating job offers, and you’re probably a very loyal employee. Good luck!!

        2. Close Bracket

          I would have waited for them to get back to me. You can’t tell what a stranger will find off putting, but my concern would be that multiple conditions at once would not go over well. Of course, for every manager who balks at multiple requests at the same time, there will be another who wishes you would bring everything up at once.

    2. Slartibartfast

      My Spanglish kicked in, and I spent far too much time just now trying to figure out why your screen name was “new cow”

  20. Eric

    Has anyone ever lost a job that they loved? How did you get over it and move on?

    I had a job at a nonprofit. I loved it. I loved the mission, I loved my colleagues, I loved everything about the job. I enjoyed it so much it didn’t even feel like work.

    The board made a decision that they wanted the staff to reflect the population the nonprofit serves. Anyone who did not meet this was fired and escorted out.

    No other job I have found compares. I miss that job so much. Since I don’t meet the criteria (am not the population they serve) and never will I am not eligible for rehire there. They only hire people who meet the criteria with no exception.

    Does anyone have any tips for how I can accept that I will never work there again. I want to move on from that job but so far I’m not having any luck. I see jobs posted for that place that they are having a hard time filling that I’d be perfect for but I have no chance and will never get hired. How can I move forward?

    1. Trillion

      Yes! I was laid off from a small company that I loved so much. It was terribly difficult because I was the breadwinner (I lived with my sister who was finishing University and had a part time job).

      I cried, a lot (common theme with me.) Allow yourself to mourn. This can be super traumatic.

      But please know that there are other super awesome jobs out there with great bosses, cool coworkers, and engaging work. Believe that you WILL get another one of these in your life.

      I’m not going into the hokey lie that if you just “WANT it enough and TRY enough”, you’ll get hired at one of these jobs, but it’s much much more likely that you won’t get one if you keep telling yourself that you won’t. That doubt will likely come across to interviewers. You have to be confident that you could get hired there (and why not, you said you’d be perfect for the job!) Even if you have to lie to yourself, you only have to believe the lie for short amounts of time.

      Besides, it’s not a lie. You’re perfect for the job, so all you have to do it show that to the interviewers!

      I’m so sorry about your job :( It’s hard to lose your job, and even harder when it’s one you loved.

    2. EmilyAnn

      I think you have to accept that it was an organization that doesn’t align with your values. You feel you could serve their mission and they don’t think you have the correct identity to serve that population. It seems very shortsighted on their part. Maybe there are legitimate reasons why all their employees should check certain boxes, but it seems strange to me. Are there other organizations who do the same work? You seemed to love the mission, but hopefully you can serve the mission in a different place than this particular organization.

    3. Goya de la Mancha

      Wow, that just seems completely off to me! I’ve never had a job I loved…so I don’t know how to help you there, but to fire anyone who doesn’t reflect a certain population, regardless of work performance feels….not kosher. I can understand wanting to make an extra effort in future hirings, but to say “You do awesome work, but you’re not a Vet (or homeless, low-income, “insert non-profit service population”), there’s the door” is that even legal?

    4. Susan K

      Wow, that is really tough, and I’m sorry this happened to you. How long ago did you lose this job? I think maybe it could be similar to losing a loved one, in that you might never completely “get over it,” but over time, the sadness and sense of loss will fade and you will find new things that bring you happiness. Have you started working at another job yet? When you do (if not already), look for things to appreciate about the new job — good pay or benefits? Short commute? Free snacks? Try not to compare it to the other job, because the old job is not an option anymore. Look at the new job as the best option you have right now.

    5. ExcelJedi

      Wow, that sucks! I’m sorry to hear you lost a great job like that!

      What criteria are they using to determine that? Did they do their firing based on protected classes? Sorry…this just seems bizarre to me!

      I’d suggest looking for jobs at other non-profits – particularly non-profits that your old job worked with in the area. Do you have contacts at other non-profits that you met in your last position? That might be a good place to start networking.

    6. TheCupcakeCounter

      Wow…this seems really weird to me. I can see making a concerted effort to make sure any new staff reflect the population but firing current employees (who I am assuming are doing a good job) seems really extreme and not in the best interests of the NP (at least in the short-term).
      I’ve never worked for a non-profit and do absolutely understand wanting the staff to reflect the population being served but I would think someone who was that passionate about the mission and had been working there for a while would at least deserve the courtesy of a 3-6 month notice as opposed to being walked out like they were a criminal. I would think that would also be in the NP’s best interest in terms of continuing to serve the population during the hiring and training process.
      Personally being let go in that manner would have soured me on the job but I understand that I don’t have the passion or experiences Eric does so can’t really relate.

      1. paul

        To expand: My mind’s immediately going to age/race/gender here, with a side possibility of cultural background. That can open them up to a world of legal hurt if they’re in the US. Even if it’s not an issue of protected classes–say they only wanted to employ abuse survivors, or they only wanted to employ veterans, or something–it is still incredibly short sighted to nuke your staff like that.

        Do you have any other contacts in local non profits? My experience is that (at least in small towns) the non profit community tends to be kind of interconnected. That can be a useful foot in the door. Also, apply even if you don’t think you have a chance. It sucks to do (I know, I’ve been doing it lately).

    7. Safetykats

      I not only lost a job I loved (my grandboss was fired, and shortly thereafter all her direct reports were replaced, although a bit more gently). I then was offered another job I was convinced was my dream job, but at a salary that was too low to consider taking. I was fortunate enough to be offered a job at an affiliate of the company that let me go – really fortunate, as I found out much later some folks in management at the old company and the affiliate worked pretty hard to make that happen. But the whole thing was so unpleasant that it took a long time before I was able to really appreciate how good the new job is.

      I think, as with any other loss, you just have to mourn. It’s okay to feel bad about losing your old job, and it’s okay to feel bad about the really unfair way in which that happened. You will probably feel that way for a while. (It took me about a year to feel like I was happy, and fortunate, to have landed where I did,)

      It’s probably not helpful to keep looking at the job postings at your old non-profit. It’s like checking your ex’s FB or instagram – there’s no point in it, and it doesn’t help you let go or move on.

      It might be helpful to connect with ex coworkers who were also let go. I say “might” because whether this is helpful or not depends on whether you can be supportive of each other or whether you just relive the crappiness of the whole thing. At a minimum, those people understand how you feel, and that can be really validating.

      If you have landed somewhere decent, I guarantee there are things about your new job that you can (and maybe should) be passionate about. It does take some work to find those things. It’s definitely harder to do when your still mourning the old job. Practicing gratitude, and living in the moment, is helpful. Find something about your new job, or your new coworkers, that you can appreciate every day. Even just a little thing. Concentrate on that thing. Find out what other people like about your new company. Get involved in some of those things. Appreciate those things and those people.

      Maybe your new job isn’t where you will stay, or ultimately where you will be happiest. But once you’ve made yourself able to be happy enough there, and once you’re done mourning the old job, you will be more likely to make good decisions about future jobs.

      I know, because almost 4 years later I’m very happy where I landed, and have decided it was ultimately all for the best. In fact, so much so that I’ve recruited several former coworkers (who are all pretty happy too). It really is a great place for me, and I’m so glad I stayed long enough and worked hard enough to figure that out.

      1. Observer

        It’s probably not helpful to keep looking at the job postings at your old non-profit. It’s like checking your ex’s FB or instagram – there’s no point in it, and it doesn’t help you let go or move on.

        I mostly agree with this. But one thought comes to mind. Eric, they are having a hard time filling the job. WHY? You don’t really need the answer, and I agree that spending time and energy trying to figure out the reason will keep you tied to them, and that’s not healthy. But you SHOULD realize that something is not right with your former employer – it’s no longer the place you remember. If it were that great, they would not be having such a hard time filling the post.

    8. Nan

      Is that even legal? Most states are hire/fire at will, but they are also bound by equal opportunity laws. If it’s a Jewish org, they can’t not hire you because your Catholic. If it serves Hispanic people, they can’t not hire you because you are African American. If it serves men only, they can’t not hire you because you are a women. Or fire, you either.

      Even if I think of it from an income status, say you serve people in poverty. Great! If they hire someone and pay them crap to keep them in poverty they suck, and if they fire once someone makes enough money not to hit the demographic, they suck, too.

      How is that legal? Someone? Anyone?

      1. Anecdata

        It depends on what “the population they serve” is, and whether it’s based on a protected class.

        So, if they serve women and want to hire only women, it’s probably illegal (gender is a protected class). If it’s something like “We only hire people who have personally experienced homelessness” (not a protected class), that’s probably legal.

      2. JD SAHE

        Actually, if its a religious organization, they legally can discriminate on the basis of their religion. And challenges to this get struck down all the time.

    9. Not So NewReader

      I can’t tell for sure, but you have not found anything yet? It will get better once you see your life moving forward, which your life WILL move forward. Right now is probably the worst it will be. As others have said, cry. Mourn the loss.

      I quit a job I had for eight years. It was THE job of my life. (Did not realize 8 years is too long to wait to figure out if the job will become something.) I had a nine week long migraine. It was one of the worst headaches I have ever had. I decided to return to school to pick up other pieces of my life. I think I was about a month into classes and I realized my headache was mostly gone.

      Because this was such a bfd for me I started doing an autopsy of what happened here:

      1) *I* made the job so important. My universe rested on this job. This is such a bad plan. Our lives cannot be centered around one thing or person, we need to develop our lives so that if one thing tanks we have another aspect that is still going well. I decided that I made too large a commitment to this employer and would never make this size commitment again.

      2) Looking back there were signs that I probably should have left earlier. I chose to ignore them. OR I could have chosen to do the job part time and develop myself at a full time job. I did not look around with eyes wide open. I was love blind. I figured out that I needed to think about what is best for ME, rather than hoping and praying an employer eventually promotes me. I needed to make decisions on facts not emotions.

      3) This was the most devastating part. These people were not who I thought they were. This part was even worse than letting go of the job. How come there was such a gap between reality and my impression? Some of that was my fault and some was not. I was in my early twenties, now I think I probably got played a little bit on that one because of my lack of work world experience. My take away on this part was not to stay at a job just because of the people, there has to be more reasons than “good folks” to stay. I started to beef up my expectations about an employer.

      What your employer did to you was horrid, OP. Sometimes people turn out to be something different from who we think they are. It’s an awful feeling. Promise yourself not to get mixed up with these people ever again, they are not trust worthy. Don’t skate by this point, promising yourself to move on to something better is a big deal. Make that promise to yourself.

    10. Beancounter in Texas

      Give yourself time to mourn and heal.

      I had a job I loved so much it didn’t like work too. Then the owner (my boss) sold the company and while I retained my job title & pay & benefits, my job duties were outsourced to a corporate office and I was just the person who forwarded their work to them. I was miserable and our vendors hated it, but I’ll not tangent off to complain.

      I found a job that a was an okay fit and I was depressed at having lost the job that was so awesome. It’s taken me seven years now, but I’m pretty happy at the job I have now. It’s my second favorite job I’ve ever had. Good luck.

    11. Observer

      Well, I suspect that the job has changed in significant ways, and some of them would be ways that would make the job much less enjoyable to you.

      I also suspect that some less than perfectly legal stuff is going on as well.

  21. EA

    So on the theme of profanity.

    My work blocks all gmail/yahoo. I know my boss uses her work email to email her husband (when she trained me I saw) I occasionally email my husband on my work email. Like once every few weeks, mostly bc gmail is blocked. I emailed him yesterday (my email was not inappropriate) and he responded with profanity. A lot of f words. He works in a more lenient industry and apparently lacks common sense.

    My work filtered out the email and I never got it. I assume it got filtered out as spam due to the profanity. One time I emailed myself a link and never got it, then weeks later I got an email quarantine report.

    My bosses are all very profane, so I am not afraid of getting in trouble if they are contacted. Obviously told my husband to cut it out. What will IT do with this? Is it the system that filters, or is it something more like internet monitoring?

    1. Lumen

      It’s most likely an algorithm scanning the emails, but at work, always assume everything you do on the internet is being monitored in some fashion.

      Also, this is ridiculous. Not you; this rule.

    2. LKW

      They are unlikely to do anything. Using profanity and having someone write you an email that contains profanity shouldn’t be a big deal. The email was likely spammed due to an unknown address than the content.

      Email filters are more for security & protection than scouring for inappropriate content. Obviously there are exceptions but most of the filters are to protect the system from malware.

    3. KayEss

      It’s unlikely IT is paying attention on that level or cares at all, unless you have such an outrageously high volume of flagged emails as to indicate that your account has been compromised in some way. In that case they’re probably looking for large numbers of sent emails being blocked/returned, because that would suggest your account has been appropriated to send spam.

      If you find your filter settings to be too restrictive, it’s possible that you can adjust them in whatever filter/quarantine system is being used. If that’s possible and your IT people are reasonable, they should be able to help you with that so that links you email yourself don’t vanish.

    4. Thlayli

      My old job used to quarantine everything with any swearwords in it. Or anything that looked like spam. It was an algorithm and it was really annoying. Tell ur DH to use 5 for c in the f-word and so on otherwise you won’t get the mail!

      1. Observer

        No, that’s MORE likely to trigger a good filter. They are “trained” to look for that kind of stuff.

    5. Science!

      My work email apparently has profanity filters. I didn’t know about this (I’m very formal in email) but I heard a funny story about when the filters were first introduced:

      my co-worker was trying to email to an outside collaborator about some work they were doing together and it didn’t go through because one of the words triggered the filter. The word he used? Cleavage…because he was studying early cellular development when cells are undergoing cleavage events! So a perfectly legitimate word used in the scientific community but the people who made the filter didn’t think about it that way.

      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister

        That happened to my sister, only it censored her name! Our last name contains letters that, on their own, are a slur against lesbians which apparently triggered the filter – she couldn’t send any emails for like a week until they fixed it!

      2. Middle School Teacher

        We had to get our firewall relaxed (? I guess… I don’t know the word, but make it less strong) because any time someone looked up assessment, we got blocked :/ Ass in any word got blocked.

      3. This Daydreamer

        There’s a website that I spend a lot of time on that filters profanity (adds an a to the word) and slurs, often in ways that are hilarious. Sometimes deliberately – the n word becomes “Attractive and successful African American”. I’m sure there were some bigots who were infuriated.

        Sometimes it’s not so deliberate. My favorite example was in a conversation about bathroom habits. One man was trying to explain that, because he was male, “it’s hit or miss”. The filter turned the full sentence into “Well, I’m a guy so it’ shiat or miss”.

    6. MLB

      There’s most likely a program looking for certain words or phrases to filter out inappropriate emails. I wouldn’t worry too much about it, but realize that everything you do with company email is monitored in some way, as well as internet usage. But in most cases, monitoring this 24/7 for all employees is not something a company can do and will only be used in a case where they’re looking for a reason to get rid of an employee.

      1. Observer

        Actually, it’s generally not used for that, either. Not efficient. One thing a lot of these filters are used for is just to cut down on the garbage. Ask your your IT people, but the stats I’ve seen (on our system and in general) is that for many people something like 80+% of email coming is spam. So, even if no one ever looks at the filter, if it does a halfway decent job, the people who are the highest recipients of spam are having a few boatloads of trash cleared away for them, before they even get to see it. It also means a MUCH lower load on the email servers, because the filter is before the server. And we only have to worry about the possibility of retention for stuff that actually hits our servers.

        Security conscious companies that are proactive also look for patterns that indicate a problem, or specific signs of an attack.

        What no one is doing is sitting a looking at every email and getting bent out of shape because there is too much profanity in an incoming email. No one has the time for that.

    7. London Grammar

      I have the Gmail app on my personal iPhone, so I use that if I need to e-mail friends and family when I am at work. It works really well and I don’t have to worry about work filtering my personal e-mails.

      I doubt that IT will do anything about this. I expect the e-mail may have been flagged by a spam filter.

  22. tree on a hill

    I started my training for my new job last week. I worked 8 days in a row, and put in 91 hours in those 8 days (I worked 40 hours Friday to Sunday alone). My trainer was nice, but would not work one minute more than he had to, so every day he was leaving me with a ton of stuff to figure out and then every morning I got to come in and be yelled at for all my mistakes, and then trying to fix them while desperately trying to keep up with that days work. I’m exhausted, completely demoralized and wishing I would have gone part time instead of full time (I would have been financially able to do so). I was off yesterday and am off today and am still mentally and physically exhausted. I know (hope) that it will slowly get better from here. Anyone have any advice for grinding through the first months when you start a job that is extremely demanding and stressful?

    1. rosenstock

      the hours sound a lot like my job, lol. i try to completely turn off when i’m not at work (unless i’m on call or something). 30 to 60 minutes of total zone out time when i get home. for me i’ll watch something dumb on tv or play animal crossing. after that hour or so of being zonked out i actually perk up and am ready to focus on non-work stuff. hope that helps!

    2. WellRed

      Were you expected to put in 91 hours of training in that time period? I mean, if you are being trained, by a trainer who OF COURSE wouldn’t work one minute more (why should he), it seems you shouldn’t have had to work without him. Or, did you place that expectation on yourself. Either way, it doesn’t sound good.

      1. tree on a hill

        I was scheduled 80 hours, which is a schedule I accepted, because it gives me 8 days on and 6 days off rather than having random days off scattered throughout my week. It is also expected you work overtime if needed, which I also understood going in to this, however under company policy I could have waited until the next day to do these specific tasks. But I was specifically told by my trainer that I was NOT allowed to leave until all the work for that day was done.

        I assumed this was normal when one was training, but I had 2 different people come up to me my last two days who sympathized and said this was not normal, my trainer should not have 1.assigned me all this work and 2.left me to finish it alone and that I should complain. Which I could, but this is an industry known for long stressful hours and since I am brand new to it I don’t have a feel for what I can complain about. I don’t want to be known as the person who couldn’t take the pressure and was whining in her first week, especially since I desperately want to make it in this industry.

        1. New Offer

          Maybe phrase it in a way that you accept that the position requires overtime work and are committed to doing so when necessary but that you’re concerned you are not being trained to be successful in the role, given that you’re being required to do untrained work so early on.

          1. tree on a hill

            That’s a really good way to word it! Thankfully I’ve been officially “cut loose” from my trainer so now if I have questions or concerns I can go straight to the supervisor on duty (and all the ones I’ve met so far have been amazing and very much “hey you are brand new we have all been there if you have ANY questions please call us that is why we are here”). Right now I’m just trying to get over the exhaustion and the stress to get prepped for next week because I am really having a hard time wanting to go back. I actually sat down yesterday morning alone in my home and bawled my eyes out, partly from relief that the week was over and partly from just feeling so overwhelmed. I really need to get my confidence back because after the past week I feel like I am utterly incapable of doing this job, and I really want it so it’s not like I can just quit. I’ve worked too hard to get here.

        2. TheCupcakeCounter

          Is your trainer your manager? If not bring it up to him/her asking about the right way to do this. Along the lines of “I attempted to finish some tasks last week per direction of my trainer but since I wasn’t fully up to speed it took me longer and there were some errors. That obviously became an issue the next day so I am curious if it would be better to wait until my trainer is back vs attempting to do them on my own until I am more familiar with the process.” That way it might come across less compainy and more “what is best for the company?”.

          1. tree on a hill

            Ooh, also a good idea. I was really afraid to speak up because I honestly thought that this was normal and expected of me, and I didn’t want to be seen as that “special snowflake who can’t handle it”. This is an industry where you are expected to be on your own most of the time, and you can call a supervisor if you need one, but mostly are expected to be self reliant. Unfortunately it really wasn’t until the end of my week that I was talking to a co-worker and she was appalled that I was getting trained this way. I actually felt better after this because before she said that it wasn’t normal I thought it was my fault I was so stressed and frustrated and felt that I was so far behind where I needed to be. I did tell my supervisor that I felt completely overwhelmed with all the new things I was learning at once and he was completely sympathetic and told me to just hang in there. I think if I can get through this initial bump and learning period I’m really going to like this job. I keep telling people I just want it to be 6 months in the future when I know what I’m doing and aren’t so stressed out.

    3. Bea

      The long hours are fine. Trying to figure things out is a good skill to readily develop. Being yelled at unless this industry means life or death is absolute bullshht. Complain that you weren’t trained properly and when TRYING to complete tasks, mistakes were treated poorly. Yelling is not ever acceptable unless something is about to hit you and they’re screaming to get out the way.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        Exactly. This situation sounds incredibly…unhealthy. I don’t know what this industry is or why you really want to be in it at all, but if you can, I’d either ask for a new trainer or start looking for something else within said industry. No grown adult should be yelled at in the workplace by other grown adults they work with unless, like stated above, it’s a life or death situation. This is too much.

  23. rosenstock

    still having the same trainee probs i posted about a few weeks ago… it’s like, once things get the slightest bit stressful she goes to pieces. she just skips over huge steps in procedure even though we have a checklist for this stuff that i encourage her to check each time. also she asks me questions that could be answered in a 2 minute google search. but i don’t want to be mean and say “go figure it out” especially since i DO want people to feel comfortable asking me questions, just not silly ones. i also recently found out she is a gossip – i told her something about boss X to make it easier for her to work with him (i really like him but it’s just that he leaves stuff til the last minute, nothing bad, and it’s true), and she’s been telling people what i said and i think it may have gotten back to him! he doesn’t care at all, but how embarrassing for both of us, ugh!

    1. Lumen

      It’s perfectly fair to tell someone you’re training “Okay, remember what I suggested when we went over this last week? Your next step is to…” and honestly, let her fill in the blank. If she can’t, she needs to own that. Maybe talk to her about what is getting in her way. Is she extremely forgetful? Is there a learning disability at play? Is she just really really nervous about getting it wrong, so she’s not stepping up and figuring things out? Figure out what she believes her obstacle is, and then ask her to suggest ways she might work around them. The onus is on her to a) explain what her problem is and b) find a way to overcome it, but she may be able to do that once she knows that you’re on her team and are willing to offer her resources in implementing her new plan.

      As for gossip: I just wouldn’t disclose to her again. If her discretion comes up again I’d address it, but personally I just wouldn’t share any such information with her.

      1. rosenstock

        thank you, this is incredibly helpful. i think she’s just nervous. which i totally understand since i have a diagnosed anxiety disorder lol. i think i could/should be doing more to address her anxiety though. thanks!

        1. LKW

          Her nerves are not yours to manage. You’ve given her numerous tools. You have an open door policy. I have said to you before (and I’m repeating it now): She may not be cut out for the position.

          I have a cousin who studied and trained to be a court stenographer. During all of her practice -spot on. During tests – crumbled. Because the stress was too much. She would freeze and you can’t stop a court room so that the stenographer can collect themselves.

          Sometimes people just aren’t cut out for a job. This may be the situation. It’s not your fault. It’s not her fault. Sometimes that’s just the way things are.

        2. Observer

          You cannot and should not try to do more about her anxiety. It’s possible that if she tells you that she actually has anxiety and would benefit from x, y and z, that you could accommodate her, depending on what she’s asking for. And, sure you should try to accommodate whatever is practical. But at this point, it’s on her to manage her anxiety and ask for whatever help she needs.

    2. Madeleine Matilda

      Is there a middle ground between “google it” and giving her the answer to the question? If she says, “rosenstock, I need to X and I can’t figure it out.” perhaps you could ask here what she thinks she should do and work with her through the steps so she does them with your guidance.

    3. Odyssea

      I feel you, because we had a new employee who had the same issues with procedure – even though we have excellent documentation for our processes, if she was left on her own, she would just start doing steps in any random order until she messed everything up. Unfortunately, I don’t have much advice because we ended up letting her go at the end of the probation period. I don’t know why some people choose to self-sabotage like that! She wasn’t expected to have it memorized, just to follow the steps even if it took a while. It was so frustrating. Keep documenting the issues you are having and the steps you are taking to try and rectify – it might help in the long run.

    4. Observer

      It’s not mean to tell someone to figure it out, if it’s something that she really should be able to figure out. It’s part of her training.

      Also, you need to do more than encourage her to check the check list. It stinks, and it’s a black mark against her, but you need her to start actually checking off the check list with a data and time stamp as each thing gets checked off. So, when she says “I finished the Osborne order” you need to ask her for the check list which would look like:

      Got the Order 2/22 3:00pm
      Confirmed with Nancy 3:30
      Ordered the required parts 5:00
      Finished the drawings 2/23 10:15

      Etc.

      She’s not going to like that, and it feels really micro-managey, but she’s dropping large parts of the process even when you’ve really tried to break it down for her. The only way this can be salvaged – or you can see that it cannot be salvaged – is to essentially force her into making sure that she actually checks every box.

      The goal here is not to manage her this way for the long term. But for her to really get the hand of the process and to get to a point where she can be trusted to do this without having to give you this kind of breakdown.

    5. AcademiaNut

      I think you might need to be less concerned with being kind and sensitive, and more with being clear and firm – tell, don’t encourage, because the more gentle approach is not working.

      So you need to tell her “in this job, it’s important to be able to figure basic stuff out on your own. So before you come to me with a question, I need you to google and see if you can find an answer.” And when she comes to you and says she couldn’t find it, ask what she searched for. Then give her a better search term, and let her do the google herself.

      You need to tell her “I need you to follow this checklist exactly, every time.” And provide her with a checklist with boxes to tick off that she needs to return to you after finishing the job. If she can’t do that, then you physically stand next to her while she does the job and ticks off the checklist, item by item. If she can’t do the checklist after that, she probably needs to be let go.

      If she falls to pieces, you can give her a moment to collect herself, but you pick up where you left off and keep going.

      Be firm and calm when doing this. Being too gentle could easily hurt her in the long run – she may well not pick up on the fact that her performance is so bad that if she were an employee, she’d be fired, until you get so frustrated that she is fired.

      And honestly, the anxiety is not your thing to address. For one thing, it’s armchair diagnosing – you’re building up a story where she’s a potentially good employee who is just anxious, and you have no idea if it’s true. For another, it’s not something you can fix. You might have one conversation where you tell her that this level of mistakes is not acceptable in this job, and suggest that she might need to seek outside help dealing with it – I’m not sure quite how you’d word it, though.

      And even if she did have an official diagnosis of something, if she can’t do the basic job tasks with appropriate accommodation (like a detailed checklist), then she isn’t able to do the job.

  24. Hedgehog

    Does anyone have any advice about moving on to a different job after struggling with burn out (and internally tying their job to their identity)? I’ve been trying really hard to manage my mental health at work after having to go on medical leave a few months ago and have slowly come to the conclusion that direct service work with traumatized people is not the right fit for me anymore. So I know I need to move on- I’m just really struggling with dealing with feelings of self-worth and self-doubt as I search for something new. I’d love to hear other people’s advice about how they recovered/moved on after being in a bad place mentally and career-wise!

    1. Trillion

      I have no advice, just commiseration because I struggle very much with the same things.

      I’ve promised myself when I get a new job (actively searching now!) that I’ll start going to weekly or monthly therapy with at least one of the goals being “How do I get over wanting to quit my job once it becomes more challenging?”

    2. TheCupcakeCounter

      I would try to figure out a career adjacent to what you are doing so that your experience is valued and you don’t feel you are abandoning something you worked for. Maybe admin/management for a similar place where you can support the people who work in your former role to take some of the load off them? Also try to build in a little break before starting the new job and do some stuff that you know if beneficial for you (mini-vaca, time with family, netflix and chill, etc…).

      1. Betsy

        That’s what I’m doing too. I’m feeling exhausted after the last year, having taken on a job that wasn’t what I expected.
        I’m moving to a more research/admin based role in the same industry, rather than a people-facing one.

        I know a lot of social workers and people who work with traumatised people, and I know that most people move on eventually- some I’ve known have moved into social policy roles or academia. It sounds like a tough gig! Even one of the toughest people I know moved on after about a decade in the industry.

    3. Babayaga

      Yes, this is me. I was working in what was my dream job- but the people and environment were so intolerable + depression + anxiety = total, absolute, irretrievable burnout. I tried and tried to not let it ruin the job for me, but in the end it did. Maybe it won’t be forever, but frankly I think it will be. I was in a service role at a university and while there are certainly great faculty members, the structure of academia is just stacked against the lowly staff member. No matter how accomplished we are in our own right.

      Since I knew I didn’t really want to continue on that exact career path, there was a program that if you were in good standing you could work in another department for a few hours a week and help on a project. I leveraged the training I got into applying for an entry level position in that field at another university. Again, yes, it’s another uni. But I’m now in a career that I have some foundation in, actually feel enthused about, and the environment here is COMPLETELY different.

      The only thing that I’m struggling with is literal PTSD from the former job. I worry that it damaged me so much that it will prevent me from growing in this job. But I’m working on it. Therapy has helped.

    4. Bea

      Yes. I worked for over a decade at a place that was my entire life and tied to my youth. I watched it slip out if control and start financial death spiral and my boss was dealing with rapidly declining health (he developed Dementia so declining health is an understatement).

      I had to leave. Detach from what I thought was all I would ever have. And how do you explain all that to a new employer?

      After shifting and getting out into the world looking for a new job, it lifted. I had a healthy work life balance.

      Then 2 yrs later we relocated. I found myself in a job that was exploiting their knowledge of my loyalty and willingness to fight for my employer. They even talked to my former bosses wife who took over-ish from the outside at least who sang my praises and all that jazz.

      I found leaving that hellhole easier given my last experience and thankfully my hatred for them as humans helped.

      The escape is the hardest but you will be rejuvenated and alive again when you’re free. You are more than just your job. As a workaholic, that was the hardest to come to terms with. You are important and worth taking care of. You will find another job that won’t cause you all these burnt out feelings.

    5. Not So NewReader

      This sounds pretty normal for people in human services. Once the burn out hits, it’s over.

      Think of it this way, we cannot give and give and give. What happens is we drain everything out of ourselves in the process. Picture a water faucet and a sink. The water only flows one way, right? We never expect the water to go back up into the faucet. But people are different, we have to recharge and replace what gets drained out of us. And this is where you are (and I was) we have to spend the time putting good things in to our bodies and our minds. So we are talking good self care, regular rest, fruits and veggies, hydration, perhaps some walks a few times a week.
      Walks are great, they help us to reconnect with the immediate world around us. Not only is walking good for the body, it’s good for the mind. If walking is too hard, ask a friend to join you.
      Another good thing to look at is what are you reading or watching. Try more often than not try to read/watch things that are uplifting. I liked to read Chicken Soup books because it was candy for my brain.
      Develop other aspects to your life so that your job is only one aspect of your identity. You can be Hedgehog who coordinates the annual family picnic, organizes the food drive in the apartment complex every Christmas, started a book group at the library and oh, by the way, also does X for a living. It takes time to build something like this so allow time for your version of these things to fall together.
      Right now focus on getting your core built up. You are doing a life reset, you can frame it that way. It’s okay to say, “I want something else and I am going to slowly and carefully build a new life for me.”

    6. banana&tanger

      Program management. I was deeply committed to direct service and was disappointed with myself. Now I work for a funding agency, overseeing the types of programs I used to work in. The fact that I’ve done the work makes me better at it.

    7. Slartibartfast

      Work in progress on that front. I’m taking a few classes for a new certification, we’ll see wherr it takes me. Similar work, broader range of companies hiring.

    8. Jiya

      Give it time. Know that the feelings you’re having don’t have to be permanent – they aren’t you, they’re just a place where you are right now. If you can afford a counselor or therapist, they might be able to give you the outside perspective you need. If not (or even if you can), find unrelated places where your competence can go to work. Volunteer. Take an easy, dumb temp job that you can definitely handle. Get your feet under you.

      When I had to move on from direct service work it took me well over a year to really get over it, but it did happen, and I’m not special. I know you can get there too. :)

  25. PoniezRUs

    I need some advice on how to cope in this job until November 2018. I work in a dysfunctional organization. It has made me realize that I am talented and worth more than this. Please tell me what I can do to focus on my end goal. This job pays well and it is enabling me to travel and pay down debt.
    1. My boss is about as ineffective at managing behavior as one can be. He ignores arguments between my teammates the whole office can hear and generally stays out of situations where he could do some damage control. He also lets his own reports get steamrolled by other managers without intervening. He is very much out for himself. His managers are happy with him and that is all that matters. He is not all bad though. He can be nice sometimes.
    2. My teammate who is one level above me likes to manage me. I have told him to back off in person and via IM. He says he is looking out for me because he thinks I have so much potential and deserve better opportunities. Frankly, it is not his concern. He is not my boss and at this point I do not value his opinion. He also is hell bent on becoming a manager because he believes he can turn this ship around, so to speak. He thinks our boss is ineffective. While this may be true, I have told him our boss is not his obstacle and he needs to respect him and not try to undermine him with all his side projects and schemes.
    3. Day to day I am between bored and overwhelmed. Some days ae super busy, which I like, and other days like today I am sad to be sitting here with little to occupy myself with. I am studying for the GMAT, am active in my community, and play sports. My life is more than just this job but 8-10 hours a day in a miserable place is wearing on me. I am becoming numb and drown out the noise with music. I avoid my boss and focus on doing well at my own stuff. If my bossy coworker does get promoted, I do not know if I can make it until November. That month is important because I need a letter or recommendation from one of the higher ups here, I have about 3 trips planned, and I need to stay here at least two years to avoid looking like a job hopper.

    HELP

    1. Falling Diphthong

      There is a psychological rule that you can tolerate anything for 3 months. Longer that that and it’s your life. Not that what you’re proposing is undoable, just have that in mind that come August, this might get a lot easier because the end date will feel much more in sight. If there’s any way to fit in some rewards to look forward to around May and August, that might help.

      The three things you list–studying for an exam, community connections, sports–are all the right things: something outside of work that gives your life meaning. Try to put your “why am I doing this” focus there–you are paying down debt at this miserable job, which connects to your future goals.

    2. Lala

      Sounds like you just have to keep reminding yourself that you have a end point to all of this. You can survive until November. You absolutely can! It’s only a few months away.

      I would try as much as possible to just ignore the coworker trying to manage you–it’s not his job to be your boss, he’s not your boss, so you don’t actually have to listen to him/do what he says.
      Accept that your boss is not going to change–that can be very freeing sometimes.

      On the days that are super boring, try to find things you can do that will make you a better job candidate/employee/human when you leave in November–are there articles you should be reading? Videos/Tutorials you could be watching? Skills you could be learning (tech programs, etc.)? Prep for GMAT that could justifiably be something related to work? Projects you could give yourself? At the very least, are there procedures you do that aren’t documented–could you start slowly doing whatever prep that might be useful to whoever might inherit your job when you leave in November?

    3. LKW

      Who cares if you job hop? If you’re staying because of the trips – ok. That’s fine. But unless you’ve had three jobs in a year (like I did) – I ‘m not getting the issue about job hopping.

    4. DDJ

      1. Your boss is ineffective as a manager and just generally sucks. That doesn’t mean he’s a bad person, just that he’s a bad manager. It’s just…going to suck. Try to focus more on yourself and less on what’s happening to his other reports. It’s not your job to manage him or his reports, and if they’re unhappy, then they’ve got to do something about it or confront your manager. That’s not on you to do.

      2. When he tries to manage you: “Thanks for your input, but I really need to get back to this.” That’s all. Don’t tell him you agree or disagree, just “Thanks for your input, but I really need to get back to this.” When he’s talking badly about your manager, just say “It’s not constructive to keep going over the same points, and it’s creating a really negative atmosphere. I’m going to get back to work.”

      3. If your coworker does end up getting promoted, just keep thinking, “My coworker (or boss, or both!) sucks and isn’t going to change.” You can make it until November. You might have to detach a little bit. But it sounds like you have a lot of really enriching things going on outside of work, so just focus on those things. This job is just a paycheque and an opportunity to gain skills that will take you to something better. Plus, it’s helping you to meet goals like travel and pay down debt. That’s great! Maybe make yourself one of those thermometers with your financial goals on it, and every week, fill in the amount of your pay that you’re contributing to those things. Then you can see the real impact that sticking with it is having for you. It’s just a step on the path to your end goals.

      Good luck. 9 months isn’t so bad! And the closer you get, the more relieved you’ll feel. And maybe if you start job-hunting around September (to make sure you have enough time to get something lined up), it will help make the fact that you’re moving on…more real.

      1. Anecdata

        Oof. What helped for me was figuring out a financial plan where I /could/ leave if I really needed to. I was in a similar position, where I had a date I wanted to make it to (and knew I would be leaving then, for grad school); but when it was a year out, it felt interminable & impossible. Giving myself permission to leave if I really needed to actually made it easier to say – it helped me reset my mindset from “I’m stuck here for 12 MORE MONTHS” to “I could implement Plan Leave Now, or I can stay a while longer. The pros of leaving are xyz; the pros of staying are: having a longer stint on my resume, getting experience in abc project, having x more $ saved for grad school, etc. What do I want to do?”. It felt more like a choice.

    5. Not So NewReader

      Looking back on my life many things I thought I had to do, I actually did not have to do. I am a big fan of self checks. Are you sure you must stay there until November?

      I will assume the answer is yes and I am going to talk about staying there.

      Buy or make a calendar journal that covers from now until November.

      Take each month and write goals for each month. If possible break the monthly goals down into weekly goals.
      Yes, I am saying fill up your time. One good way to make time fly is to set a number of personal goals. How are your teeth? Now might be a great time for that dentist appointment. (My teeth are having problems that is why I think of this specific example.)

      For me, I would take the calendar /journal start in November and work back. So what do I want November to look like? Give notice, start new job. So how soon do I start looking for a new job?
      What will I need in place by November that I do not have now?
      You are going to be interviewing, do you have something to wear that makes you comfortable with how you look?
      Do you own a car and if yes is it running reliably? You will need your car for those interviews.
      You see the overall idea. If you want a new job in 9 months get involved with the nuts and bolts of that process.

      I have mentioned before but it fits here, decide that you now work for your resume not your boss. You want to do things that look great written out on a resume. The heck with the absentee boss and the overbearing coworker, put them in the background like a watermark because your resume and your new job in 9 months are the important things to you now. One thing I have done to con myself is to tell myself that every place has “personalities”, I can try to develop new skills for dealing with old problems stemming from “personality”. This also can be helpful for the next job, because it makes the new cohorts look SO MUCH easier to work with.

  26. Foreign Octopus

    I think I just need some common sense knocked into me.

    For the last four months of last year, I had a student who would come to me for two hours a day, three days a week and I thought that he was happy with the lessons. He certainly never complained. Our last lesson together was in the last week of December when I wished him a happy new year etc, etc. He said he’d book again in January. It’s now February and he hasn’t booked again although I know he’s had lessons with other teachers.

    I guess I’m just a little put out that he didn’t say goodbye, or that he was planning to change teachers (all my students are welcome to do that because I offer conversational classes, not grammar, which is what some want after a certain period of time). I think I would have liked a clean ending to our working relationship rather than him just ghosting on me after nearly 100 lessons.

    (I should note that my teaching schedule is now full so fitting him in would be difficult and it’s not about the money but rather the fact that he just disappeared that I’m struggling with.)

    Can someone beat me over the head with sensible advice please?

    1. Inspector Spacetime

      This sucks, but ultimately you had a professional relationship, not a personal one, so you shouldn’t take it personally. It certainly would have been more polite for him to tell you he wasn’t coming back, but (forgive me if I’m assuming wrong) he’s just a kid, so you can’t expect too much. I’m 24, and I still struggle with stuff like this! I could totally see myself not knowing how to say something directly, telling myself I’d email later, and then chickening out.

      1. Foreign Octopus

        I know it was professional, it was just a really fun professional relationship and it sucks a little bit.

        In regards to his age, he’s actually fifty and has a very good job in his home country so I kind of expected a little bit of professional courtesy in ending it but hey-ho. These things happen, and it has left the door open for other opportunities, which is great.

    2. Colette

      It’s not about you. He probably thought about his lessons over the holidays and decided he wanted another teacher (because he wanted grammar, because he wanted another approach, because his schedule is changing and doesn’t mesh with yours anymore – it doesn’t matter why). Once he’s made that decision, he’s not going to book a session with you to tell you, and there’s likely not a good way to let you know without booking a session. (Maybe there is, but this is also the kind of thing that people don’t like saying, so it’s possible he just didn’t do it.)

      It’s business, it’s not personal. He had no commitment to keep coming back, and you’re not entitled to end things the way you want to. That’s just how it goes.

      1. Anony

        I was thinking the same thing. It is entirely possible that he thought he would be booking more lessons but then either reevaluated what he needed to work on, changed his course selection or money/time got tight and he had to prioritize which classes to take. He may have either thought that wouldn’t want to hear from him just to say goodbye or felt awkward telling you.

      2. Foreign Octopus

        I know he had no commitment. I actually tell my students that I understand their needs change over time, which is exactly how it should be. Maybe Anony is right and he felt awkward about it.

    3. Lumen

      I’m having a total ‘kids these days’ moment where I wish I had a cane to shake at The Youths. I really have seen a generational shift here… it was bad enough with people my age, but it seems to be getting worse. The anxiety over telling someone you are ending a relationship (whether personal or professional) seems to be so intense that the answer is “manners? what are those?”

      It was rude, but remember that this wasn’t about you. This was about your student. They made a bad choice and over time, hopefully they will learn that this sort of behavior makes them look bad to others (and hurts people’s feelings). You, however, are an adult who recognizes that this was really disappointing behavior. Not malicious, just a bummer. You have the experience and understanding to take this is in stride. Tell yourself that a few dozen times and maybe it’ll start to sting less. :)

      1. Colette

        I don’t agree that it was rude. It would have been nice to let her know, but it’s not required. If I decide to not go back to a doctor or hairdresser or clothing store or restaurant, I just have to not go back (and cancel any outstanding appointments) – I don’t need to announce I won’t be back

        1. Foreign Octopus

          Lumen and Colette – he’s actually in his fifties, which is kind of why I expected more of a response than just radio silence.

          I suppose I just need to start getting used to losing long-term students, it’s just that every time a long-term student has ended lessons with me, it’s always been a natural end. They’ve taken the exams they were preparing for, they’ve done what we set out to do, etc. This is the first time I’ve had one just no show so it’s a little jarring.

          1. Betsy

            I’m afraid I did this recently to a language teacher. :( I always meant to write an email, but ended up ghosting out of guilt. I went on a holiday for a few weeks and just didn’t contact him again. One main reason was that I was working very long hours and just wanted one day a week with no commitments at all. The other reason was that the classes just followed worksheets exactly, and that was fun sometimes, but not always. Apologies on behalf of ghosters, in general.

    4. Valancy

      I don’t know how long you’ve been teaching, but this is soooooo normal with adult students that unfortunately you’ll have to get used to it. Students come and go, and it sounds like you teach ESL in which case, the lives of your students can be subject to unexpected change. I also think sometimes it doesn’t even occur to people that you might be waiting to hear from them. I’ve had students disappear and then reappear more than a year later asking for more lessons, without any explanation!

      I know it’s easy to say don’t take it personally, but it probably has nothing to do with you or your teaching skills. But if you might find it useful to sit down and write out a self-reflection on his lessons to see what you think was working and what wasn’t, if you haven’t done that already.

      1. Foreign Octopus

        I’ve been teaching for nearly two years but the first year was teaching at a language academy where my students were mainly children.

        I like your idea of the self-reflection. I think I let him dominate the conversation too much, if that makes sense. We would start talking and just see where the conversation took us and maybe it got a little repetitive for him. I’ve already changed that with my other students, becoming a bit more focused.

        Thanks for the tip.

    5. Anita-ita

      I think he should have let you know. I take Spanish lessons online several times a week and have been with the same teacher for quite some time. If I needed to stop taking lessons or take a break, I would let him know.

      On the flip side, if I were the one giving lessons and someone did this to me I would be hurt and find it shitty but ultimately move on. Maybe it’s an uncomfortable conversation that person didn’t want to have, which is more of a fault on their part that they would rather ghost than be an adult and send a quick email.

      1. Foreign Octopus

        I do the same with my Spanish teacher – I sent both of my teachers a note when I decided to go in a different direction and that was only after five lessons with each of them. It feels a bit shitty and I just wish it had been handled differently.

        1. Anita-ita

          Sorry you’re having to go through that! I feel like I have become friends with my teacher and I’ve only had 33 lessons with him, after 100 I would feel like besties! haha. But I’m also a very personable and outgoing person.

        2. Not So NewReader

          This is your first person that you have lost in this manner? You could just decide to ease up on you. And you could think about what you want to do differently.

          Perhaps you can give them surveys to fill out. Perhaps you can set up lessons for a time frame and when the time frame is up you can ask them if they wish to continue for another set time frame. These types of things would give you more opportunities for inputs.

          I am thinking with him being in his 50s he probably had life stuff going on. There might have been a sudden illness in his family or something like that. Not trying to wish bad things on him, but this is how life goes with throwing curve balls at us. I have ghosted on people because I suddenly have someone in ICU and it’s years before I come up for air. I tried to remember to contact people, but I know I missed people. You are saying you enjoyed the lessons, I think it is safe to assume he did also.

      2. Courageous cat

        Iiii mean they’re paying for a service, it’s not like you have a personal relationship. I don’t think it’s un-adult to stop paying and going without an explanation – they don’t owe anyone anything.

    6. Blue Eagle

      I left two different instructors because I wasn’t happy with how things were going. In both cases I chickened out and said my work schedule had changed and wouldn’t be able to continue at that time – but, of course, never went back.

      Someone who is paying you for a service is not required to tell you that they don’t like how it is going. Here is my question for you – – you mentioned that you thought it was going great, but have you ever asked for feedback from the person? Had I been asked for feedback by these people I would have offered it, but it is difficult to volunteer feedback that you don’t like something because most people don’t want negative feedback and would say – “if you don’t like how I’m doing it, go somewhere else”.

      So, in the future, consider asking for feedback on a periodic basis and it may result in less ghosting.

    7. Kuododi

      Oh my dear….losing clients is an occupational hazard particularly in private practice. All one can do is call to follow up, talk with them about what is going on, if they are still not wanting to come back then understand it is not about you. You know you provide a quality service…. however, you are not going to be able to be all things to all people. Best wishes!!!!

    8. Courageous cat

      I much prefer to Irish Goodbye it when I have some sort of ongoing relationship with someone because it’s just sooooo much easier not to have to explain myself or do goodbyes. Both of those things are honestly the worst sometimes. I wouldn’t take it personally, there is really no good way to do that, especially if you’re younger and not really used to doing things like it.

  27. Paranoid

    Is there anyway to ask in an interview how they handle it if you make a mistake or if there is a problem? I’ve worked in intense places where you get screamed at if you make a mistake, so I’m wondering how you ask how they approach things. I’m just worried that they’ll think that you can’t handle tasks or make too many mistakes, so is it best not to bring it up? (Would asking about their management style cover it?)

    1. Mananana

      Few interviewers are going to admit to screaming at employees for making a mistake, and asking about how they handle mistakes may come off as weird. You can certainly ask about management style, but, again, they’ll probably not come right out and admit to verbally berating staff.

      Here’s my question to you: is your field a high-pressure one where screaming at folks is normal? Or have you just had the misfortune of working with jerks? Because I’ve been working since I was 16 (now 52), and have never worked where screaming was the norm.

      1. Paranoid

        A bit of both? One was a bad job, though the manager DID say during the interview that if you can’t handle yelling, then the job wasn’t for you. The other one was in a high-pressure company.

      2. Betsy

        I would say that it’s pretty much the norm in hospitality. Or at least from places I worked when I was younger and from things others have told me. Should really be called hostility. :P

    2. Lumen

      I would ask specifically something like “How do you handle coaching and correction?” I don’t think they expect that you will be 100% perfect all the time from the moment you step in the door; coaching and correcting employees is part of managing them, and I think it’s wise to find out if you and your new manager are going to mesh in this regard. If their coaching style is a casual one-sentence thing as they pass your desk and you respond best to 1:1 chats where you can ask questions, you may both need to adjust in order to work well together. I think it’s a fair question.

      However: no one is going to admit that they scream at employees. They might, however, give body language signals or make jokes about how they’re an ‘intense’ workplace, and that’ll give you a bit of a red flag.

      1. Wolfram alpha

        In addition to lumens question – be sure to pay attention to office moral and onterview a co-worker or the whole team if you can.

      2. Not So NewReader

        That’s a good question. People who don’t know how to handle coaching and correction in a professional manner will not be able to answer it.

    3. Irene Adler

      To the prospective boss:

      “How do you deliver criticism?”
      “How do you deliver feedback” or “What types of feedback do you give to your reports?”
      “How is [employee] success measured here?”
      “What form does communication take between boss and report?”

      1. zora

        These are perfectly appropriate questions to ask in an interview. But then, the key is to read between the lines. Someone who screams at people isn’t going to admit that out loud, but they also won’t give a very convincing answer. They might try to be vague, or they might try to make a joke like the person above said.

        However, if someone gives a good, detailed explanation of their reasonable communication practices, you can be pretty sure they are a good boss. If they avoid the question, run away run away!!!

        1. Irene Adler

          True.

          When I asked one prospective boss “How do you support your reports?”
          the response was: “No one can yell at you except me- just kidding!” But then she didn’t provide any further response.
          Nuff said.

    4. MMM

      I’ve asked about how feedback is handled, both formally and informally. The answer usually covers frequency of formal performance reviews, and gives some insight into the manager’s personal preference for correcting/giving ongoing feedback (which obviously works best if you are interviewing with the person who will be your manager).

    5. Bea

      I straight out say I don’t respond well to explosive confrontations and screaming isn’t tolerated. Every boss I’ve had after they heard that in an interview was appalled that I’ve ever dealt with that behavior and make a point to approach me in a calm manner.

      You want to put them on warning here. What’s the worst that happens? An abusive ass of a boss decides to not hire you because he’s a screaming putz?! Good. You don’t want that boss!!! Nobody reasonable is turned off by you explaining you’ve been in stressful situations and that’s cool but you do not accept pisspoor behavior when errors pop up.

  28. Mary mary

    “She may not look it, but she’s tough” I’ve had this phrase said about me in two workplaces now. What’s the point? I’m quite shy and quiet, but I do socialize. I don’t understand- why do people say this? What are they trying to prove?

    1. Andy

      Just throwing this out there, but it seems like a compliment. A neg compliment, but still? It’s like, “you’re going to assume that she’s a pushover but that would be a mistake.”
      So, on the one hand they’re saying you look easily manipulable (or women are/look manipulable) but THIS woman is NOT (even tho for realz the wimmins be easy to push around regs)
      It’s a hot take on ‘one of the good ones’, with a modern hashtag metoo twist.

    2. Anonymous Educator

      I think they’re well-intentioned but extremely misguided. They mean it to be a (back-handed?) compliment, but it’s really kind of undermining. Kind of hard to deal with this, because if you confront it directly, they’ll probably brush it off as no big deal or your being oversensitive, but if you don’t address it, it just gets under your skin. Microaggressions…

    3. grace

      I think it’s a compliment! I’ve had friends say that about me to people they know might be rude or mean, and they always mean it as a positive – she’s tough, don’t mess with her. I wouldn’t let it get to you that much.

    4. [insert witty user name here]

      I would take it as a compliment. My thinking is “tough-looking people are often (rightly or wrongly) seen as grouchy, aggressive, and not too pleasant; I am seen as approachable but appropriately assertive”

    5. AvonLady Barksdale

      To me it sounds like a reproach to someone else. As in, don’t underestimate her based on your assumptions.

    6. Thlayli

      I would absolutely take that as a compliment. But that’s me, you’re entitled not to feel complimented.

    7. Bea

      It’s a misguided misogynistic “compliment” said to confirm that despite your appearance and womanhood, you’re not to be messed with. I loath this approach.

    8. Not So NewReader

      I would take it as you work and you work hard. If something difficult comes up you just keep going.

      I have had a couple bosses comment that I never ask for anything. I can make a go of it on next to nothing. Yeah, that’s kind of true. I watch waste a lot and try to reuse. I do little repairs sometimes. It adds up.

      Probably you just get through tough situations and keep doing your job. The speaker might be telling a person that they should do the same as you do instead of complaining all the time or asking for things or expecting other people to do it for them.

  29. AnonGerman

    New office setup, and I get more desk space but am next to a couple of orthodox Jewish coworkers.

    Me with 100% German ancestry feels awkward. I feel like I should possibly apologize for my ancestors wrongdoings but that would feel stupid now. I don’t want to make them nervous though.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      Unless you’re identifiably German (not just German-descended, I’m talking like your birth certificate says Deutschland) I would not worry about it. At least in the US, German descent is EXTREMELY common and not really worth remarking on.

      1. AnonGerman

        Nah, it’s more that the fact I speak fluent German is often remarked on because it’s super helpful for work, and people are interested to know how I know it. I also travel a lot and like to talk about my trips, including to Germany.

        1. C.

          If it’s helpful for work, that makes me think you have German clients or your work involves the country to some extent? If that’s the case, then if your co-workers haven’t had a problem with that, they won’t have a problem with you.

    2. ABK

      They are probably used to being around people with ancestors who oppressed them and this is more about your discomfort/white guilt. With that in mind, it’s generally not a good idea to put minorities/oppressed people in the position of having to make their oppressor feel more comfortable (like offering an apology with the hopes that they will say “oh, it’s ok, we don’t think about the holocaust anymore/it’s not your fault”). Maybe give money to a Jewish remembrance museum or the ACLU or something along those lines.

      1. K.

        Yeah, I’ve had white coworkers say stuff like that to me, usually after they’ve seen something that highlights Black suffering at white hands (e.g. they’d gone to see “12 Years a Slave” that weekend) and I really wish they wouldn’t. I just want to do my job; I don’t want to be responsible for absolving them of their guilt. I don’t appreciate being put in that position. In those instances I have said “Okay” and changed the subject back to work. “Okay. So, about those TPS reports …”

        1. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize

          Years ago I had a co-worker who regularly told me that she “doesn’t see colour” and had nothing against me because I’m non-white. If you don’t have a problem with me, then stop telling me you don’t have a problem.

            1. Andy

              The Statement “I’m not…(bad thing)” has been shown in my experience to have direct corrolation with the fact that THEY ARE

      2. Countess Boochie Flagrante

        +5000

        Every time someone apologizes to me on behalf of men who oppress women (because I’m female) or straight people (particularly Christians) who oppress LGBT folks (because I’m gay) — I’m not offended precisely but I’m usually rolling my eyes internally. You don’t speak for everyone you’re supposedly apologizing on behalf of, and it doesn’t make homophobia or sexism less of a thing I need to deal with on the regular, so please just don’t.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

          (The LGBT example especially is silly to me, because while I’m a lesbian I’m also passionately Christian myself. So you’re apologizing to me… on behalf of a group that includes me…?)

          1. D'Arcy

            You are presumably not included in the “large subset of Christians who are virulently homophobic and transphobic”, which is really what’s being apologized for.

      3. Annie Moose

        Honestly, sometimes I get wracked with guilt about [insert X topic here], and it helps settle me to donate to good organizations. I’m blessed to be in a good financial place and always am wanting to donate more money anyway, so it works out for everybody. I used this a lot in the past year… some politician pissing me off? Here’s another $50 for an organization you dislike!

        (obviously this solution is not financially available to everyone! But it does help me to be like, here is a concrete thing I can do about [anti-semitism/racism/sexism/poverty/etc.]. Maybe for someone else, it’s writing emails to/calling their legislators, or volunteering with a local nonprofit, or donating items they don’t need, or committing to stop telling a type of joke, or whatever, but doing SOMETHING helps me with the nebulous guilt feelings)

      4. HannahS

        OMG yes. Am Jewish, descended from Holocaust survivors…what do you want us to do, forgive you? For something you didn’t do? There’s nothing to forgive there. Forgive your ancestors? Never. That’s not my place. Also, under Jewish law, you can’t forgive on behalf of someone else. So I can’t forgive Nazi Germany on behalf of my grandparents, and my grandparents can’t forgive on behalf of their siblings and parents who were murdered, and you can’t ask for forgiveness on behalf of anyone else. Apologizing would literally be pointless. Also, frankly, we are well accustomed to being around the descendants of people who violently and bitterly oppressed us.

        I don’t mean to be facetious here, but, dude, we’re just people. With hobbies and relationships. We are perfectly capable of talking about them. And I think you need to do a bit of soul searching as to why you’re so uncomfortable around Orthodox Jews, particularly. Would you be less uncomfortable around people like me, young people in “regular” clothes? But I’m the direct descendant of a woman who survived Auschwitz, and you don’t even know that those Orthodox people around you had family involved! You see “Jew” and think “Holocaust.” Teach yourself to stop.

        1. Penny Lane

          Some of us are both of Jewish ancestry AND of German non-Jewish ancestry. What are we supposed to do, forgive ourselves?

          And I agree. It seems that their Orthodox-ness “triggers” something in you that makes you feel bad – but the secular or Reform Jew who is munching on a ham sandwich could easily have lost entire branches in the Holocaust. For that matter, so could the Catholic whose family had Jewish relatives.

          Maybe we should all stop apologizing for things we personally didn’t do, and work on apologizing for things we actually did do that were wrong.

          I mean, I’m white, but as Northern as they come, and I’m not apologizing for slavery since none of my ancestors engaged in it. Let the descendants of those who did own slaves do the apologizing. My hands are clean.

    3. anon24

      I don’t think you need to. My family was in US during the war but reportedly some of them were sympathetic to the German side. I am absolutely disgusted by what happened to the Jews and other minorities during that time. Why should I have to apologize for views my ancestors had, when I do not share those same views? They are not me, and I did not do those things.

    4. jenniferthebillionth

      Don’t do that. Just treat them like you would any other coworker.
      — A (sometimes) religious Jewish person

    5. Simon

      Please don’t do this. I’m Jewish and if anyone did this to me I would give them major side eye and question whether or not they were okay.

      You don’t have to apologize for something you did not do. Don’t fall into that trap. You are not an “opressor”. You are not bad. You did nothing wrong and having nothing to feel guilty for.

    6. Nita

      Don’t do it. An apology like that, out of nowhere, over something neither you nor them were personally involved in, would be just weird. You’re not a representative of the entire German people, and they’re not the representatives of the entire Jewish people. You’re just coworkers. If it ever comes up in conversation, certainly, say that you’re ashamed on behalf of Germans, but don’t steer conversation to this topic yourself. It’s one of those things that never really drops out of one’s mind (because he who does not learn history is doomed to repeat it) but is very personal, and not exactly water-cooler small talk material.

    7. Trillion

      I do get where you’re coming from (I’m a white southern American whose family very likely owned slaves some time and I sometimes feel that irrational urge to apologize to a black person even though I find it to be a horrific, barbaric part of history.) (Sorry, Alison, if I’m starting a race debate here, that’s not my intention!!)

      But you personally did nothing wrong. Please know that, in the US, national origin is a protected class. If your Jewish coworkers harass you for having German ancestry, that’s very likely punishable at your company.

      But they probably won’t even think anything of it.

      1. Lil Fidget

        View it as one small act of apology to the group in question that you do *not* bring this up, unsolicited, in a work situation where they would likely be extremely taken aback. Don’t make this their problem to deal with, and remind them of those circumstances in a situation where they are probably just trying to get through the day like anybody else. Grant them the agency to bring this up themselves if they wish to.

        If you are feeling guilt around the issue, you can “pay it forward” to someone *else*in an appropriate venue, like making a donation to a cause that supports victims of genocide or whatever else.

        1. MarnieH.

          I’m German (born in Germany to German parents). My family emigrated when I was four. If someone brought it up with the expectation of me apologizing I would not know what to say. I hold no ill will to anyone who is Jewish. My job is to help new immigrants and people who have experienced hate crimes. But what happened in Germany was half a century before I was born. I had nothing to do with it. I think it was disgusting and awful and should never be forgotten. But I don’t feel bad or guilt over it.

          1. Lil Fidget

            It sounds like OP does feel conflicted emotionally though. I don’t think its an issue if you don’t. I don’t think it’s likely that these coworkers are going to approach anybody and demand an apology, but OP should remember that they can bring it up if they want and this isn’t something she needs to fix.

        1. Sci Fi IT Girl

          Yep – me. :-) Definitely don’t apologize, it would be weird. You are you, not the past. I have both relatives from the camps and the Nazi side and the hiding neither side- I’d be crazy if the past history defined me and my family. There is a bunch of literature on how Germans struggle with guilt and even have issues with national pride, almost a nation of guilt. Hopefully we Germans are moving beyond that. For the Jewish part – I still think it would be weird – to the point of like “hmmm, what are they up too that they need to apologize to me ” I suspect most folks belonging to a group that was singled out don’t expect modern people to apologize for things they had nothing to do with. Remember we Jews weren’t always the nicest to other groups either in the past. We all have good and terrible things in our historic backgrounds.

    8. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)

      Adding to the chorus of people saying don’t do it. I’m Jewish (but not Orthodox), and I would find it highly weird, especially since my Jewish ancestors weren’t in Europe then (and there’s no guarantee your coworkers’ ancestors were either).

      1. Lil Fidget

        Honestly even if you knew for certain your ancestors were perpetrators of violence against a certain group, I wouldn’t approach someone in that group like this.

    9. Tuxedo Cat

      Don’t. I’m a woman of color, and I feel like things like that are putting the onus on me to forgive and behave differently. It feels very performative and self-serving for the apologizer, more about them than me.

      Treat your coworkers as normal people.

    10. EmilyG

      I am not German but I speak German, and I think part of the reason you may feel this way is that atonement for past crimes is still an active part of the conversation in Germany. The difference, though, is that they were trying to form, and are trying to run, a nation in the wake of past crimes which requires ongoing thought and action (for example, considering how to welcome new immigrants/refugees). You’re not a nation, just an individual!

    11. Jessica

      You’re not responsible for what your ancestors did, but you’re responsible for what YOU do… and don’t do So focus on that. Race/religious prejudice, scapegoating of minorities, rise of authoritarianism, emboldening of violent hate groups—a lot of the things that happened in 1930s Germany and led up to the Holocaust are also, in varied forms, happening in the U.S. (where I’m assuming you are) right now. If you don’t want the atrocities that you feel sorry about in the past to happen again, take steps. What are you doing to fight the oppression and disenfranchisement of minorities in your own time and place? Put your energy there if you really care, not in empty apologies for a past you didn’t perpetrate.

    12. Not So NewReader

      IF your family taught you this then you need to make a conscious decision to let it go. It was something your family taught you and may/may not have been relevant or useful for their time. We live in different times now and we handle that ancestral guilt differently.

      My father was second generation American. I don’t think his father gave him much idea on how to live in America. We can’t teach what we don’t know. Compounding matters his father was abusive, so lots of layers going on there.
      In 1940 my father was 20. Psychologists now say that what happens to us in our 20s leaves a major impression on us for the rest of our lives. My father signed up to help fight the war. With a German surname.

      After the war he spend over a decade looking for work. People with German surnames did not always get hired. I remember when I was in first grade, I asked what nationality we descended from. He said Irish. The kids at school called me a Nazi. I asked my father what a Nazi was. I will never forget, he said “Don’t you have more questions about where babies come from?” He was serious. Fast forward, he was extremely upset when I wanted to study German in school. He had spent so much time detaching and here I was re-attaching.

      What I am trying to show here is how the guilt is subtly installed in us by our families. Not all families do this, hopefully this does not apply to you. It’s good to realize that things shift, they change. I have not been called a Nazi since grammar school. One point I could never get through to my father is that the sins of a nation did not rest on HIS shoulders. He could not hear me. It caused difficulties for him that were avoidable.

      Stay in current time and be the best person you can be. That is all there is that we can do.

    13. strawberries and raspberries

      I understand the impulse, but rather than coming across as sympathetic, you will probably come across as even more anti-Semitic than you mean to be. Like, what are you afraid they’re going to do when they find out you’re German?

      As a Jewish grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, if someone came up to me apologizing for being German and their ancestors’ wrongdoings, my response would be, “Wow, you’ve never actually met a Jew before, have you?”

      1. Observer

        As a Jewish grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, if someone came up to me apologizing for being German and their ancestors’ wrongdoings, my response would be, “Wow, you’ve never actually met a Jew before, have you?”

        I’m not a grandchild, but a child of a Holocaust survivor, but so much this.

    14. Observer

      You’ve got a lot of good responses. Please heed them.

      Also, please think about why it matters that these happen to be Orthodox Jews?

      And why does it matter that you are now near them? They didn’t matter before? They matter now? How does the physical proximity change things?

      The one thing you could do that might be useful is to avoid being to fulsome about the beauties of Germany or the wonders of German culture – especially the wonders of German culture. I don’t mean that you never talk about it at all, and CERTAINLY don’t make a big production about not talking about it. But, just maybe that shouldn’t be a major topic of conversation for you. Because, yeah, German culture has a lot to answer for. And some of us children of survivors are not so enthused about that culture.

    15. Jiya

      As folks have been saying – don’t. I doubt your coworkers want to be representative of All Judaism any more than you want to be representative of All Germans. You’re coworkers – just act like that.

  30. Stainless109

    Hi all, I have a bit of a problem I hope the hive mind could help me with. I’m applying for my first 9-5 after being self employed for 4 years. I was commiserating my lack of success with a friend and she suggested the reason I wasn’t getting many interviews was because employers thought as soon as my freelancing picked up or if the job wasn’t as advertised i’d be gone.

    Is there any language I can use in my cover letter and interviews to convey I’m not going to leave if the freelancing picks up?

    Thanks!

    1. ThatGirl

      I think in the cover letter you could say something like “After 4 years of self-employment, I’ve realized I miss the stability the office provides” or something like that – review what you’ve accomplished in those four years but then also mention why it’s not the right fit anymore.

      1. WorkRobot

        And maybe add that s/he realized that s/he really missed being part of a team/collaborative environment while freelancing, because of X and Y (X and Y being things one wouldn’t likely find in a solo freelancing gig, but could easily find in 9-5 setting).

        Just a thought.

        1. Ramona Flowers

          This advice is well-intentioned but might be problematic. I don’t know that you should suggest a lack of collaboration or teamwork – I would emphasise how you’ve had that but say you want to be dedicated to one role.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago

      Why are you looking to transition out of freelancing and back into ‘regular’ employment?

      Explain that in your cover letter.

    3. Rusty Shackelford

      If the truth works in your favor, use it. “After being self-employed for four years, I’ve realized that I love designing teapots but I hate being responsible for my own marketing and accounts receivable, so I’m looking forward to leaving those tasks in someone else’s hands and concentrating on teapot design again.”

      If the truth is more like “I’d love to stay self-employed but I don’t get enough business,” make something up. ;-)

    4. Undine

      Why are you going full time? Use that. The reasons I gave had to do with wanting to be part of a team, having other people I could work with and who had my back. The reason I didn’t give was money. Both were true, and I had a lot of stories that could back up the first one.

    5. Ramona Flowers

      Ex-freelancer here. A lot of people think freelancing means you aren’t a team player or are flaky. It’s really frustrating because obviously it takes commitment and dedication to nurture and stick at a business.

      What I did was really emphasise things like relationship building. I didn’t just talk about projects I worked on, but about building long-term relationships with clients and supporting their teams. I talked about how being a freelancer had required me to be able to manage multiple priorities and I was really clear that I did not want to continue with it. The gist was: I learned x, y and z as a freelancer and I want to go use all that in a job.

    6. Bea

      I’ll be real, most places don’t look at your freelancing as experience and that is the roadblock more so than them thinking you’ll be leaving if the freelance picks up. 4 years of self employment reads as 4 years of no employment to many who are hiring.

      I wish you luck and know you’ll find somewhere willing to give you a chance. Just sell the heck out if yourself in your cover letter as mentioned above.

  31. July

    I am an adult student at a university that really emphasizes participation in a professional networking platform called Handshake. I tend to think that it’s unlikely anyone’s going to hire me based on the strength of some research papers I upload to my portfolio there and that any hiring that does take place there will be pretty entry level. Does anyone have a sense whether my read on this is correct? My instinct is that Linked In and, you know, actual IRL networking is the way to go here.

    1. Rilara

      My grad school has also been pushing Handshake very strongly. I don’t see the point in bothering with it either, so I’m curious to see if others have a different opinion or positive experience with it! In my experience with the career portal at another university, none of the jobs that were supposed to be in my field were particularly relevant to me, and all the interviews and jobs I’ve gotten were through applying online or in person networking.

    2. ContentWrangler

      Yeah, my college had some kind of alumni professional networking platform they pushed too. I don’t think you’ll be hurt by participating – sometimes alumni connections can be great for informational interviews or leads. But definitely put more energy into LinkedIn.

    3. Adaline B.

      I’ve done intern recruiting and there was one university that exclusively used Handshake. I think a lot of Universities use something similar where employers can post jobs and only students/graduates can look at them. I can definitely see it only being an intern/entry level thing. Any higher level recruiting we do is through jobs posted directly on our website.

      I’m not really proficient in Handshake all that well though because said University didn’t confirm my credentials I requested in May until….2 weeks ago >.>

    4. Quiet Please

      Last year during my performance review, my manager praised all my work, ethic, and growth over the past year, but ended the conversation by saying I needed to work on talking to people less at my desk.

      I was pretty shocked, as I don’t have casual conversations at my desk that often. When I do, I ask that people whisper so they don’t distract anyone in the area. Our area might be quieter than most in the company, but my grandboss and coworker are both loud on a daily basis. My thought is that I’m the only person my manager can really ask to be quiet, so she is.

      I spent the next year trying to keep people away from my desk, but now when I have legitimate work conversation with people who stop by, I’m on edge wondering if it’s going to affect my next performance evaluation. We’re due to have a discussion in the next week, and I’m worried about 1) did I do well enough keeping people away this year (legit work conversations and otherwise) and 2) how do I respond if she brings it up again?

      Boss is otherwise great in every way. This seems to be a weird quirk.

      Advice for this year’s pending performance eval?

      1. Argh!

        Was the complaint last year about noise or about time spent chatting?

        If you have time to read over your evaluation before meeting with your boss, and there’s nothing said about it, you might just not mention it.

        My take on what you’ve said is that your boss felt that she had to say something negative because nobody is perfect, so she fished around in her mind for something to bring up.

        If it is brought up again, getting clarity about expectations would be the next step. You could say “Visits are work-related conversations only, and I have kept the volume down. What would you have me do differently?”

        The possible solutions would depend on the complaint. If coworkers find it distracting, you could divert conversations that might take time to a different space, like a conference room, or conduct more business by email or chat. Or you could ask for an office if you’re in cubeville. (I know that never happens but it made me happy to say it!)

        But seriously…. you should be able to have conversations with people one-on-one without having to explain yourself.

  32. SodaCrackerandPop

    Wow, just learned from board minutes that my boss is no longer working with the school. Very quiet way to go about it, and now since I’m the last hired, I’m worried.

    1. Amelia

      Sorry to hear that! If it was super quietly done its likely your boss stepped out of line somehow. I wouldn’t worry. just make a point of being friendly to the board and to whoever is going to be hiring your new boss.

  33. Wannabe Disney Princess

    I’m really weary of my job this week. (Probably not helped by the personal email hack and fraudulent purchases I’m now unraveling, so my willingness to tolerate BS is at an all-time low…) Before I start my rant, yes – I AM actively job searching.

    I’m sick of the blatant favoritism. I’m sick of the Queen Bee getting away with murder. I’m tired of being left off the free food emails because my boss is too lazy to approve me to be added to the email list (which I should be on anyway because it’s the frigging department I support). I’m tired of the insane demands and expectations: I am expected to perform at a 100% rate of perfection even though, last time I checked, I am a human and not a robot. I’m tired of being expected to perform miracles because people are too thoughtless/lazy to understand there are processes I have to go through and can’t just leapfrog over them.

    I’m bored, burnt out, and unsupported.

      1. Wannabe Disney Princess

        If it was the first or second time it happened, I’d be annoyed. But we’re approaching double digits now. It’s incredibly insulting. Especially since I’ve brought it up. I even tried to get myself on the list…but Boss has to approve it.

        1. Simone R

          There’s a great Conan O’Brien video where he discovers that he’s left off the free food emails and does a setup to shame coworkers. Might give you some amusement/inspiration?

          1. Wannabe Disney Princess

            If my coworkers notice, they’ll loop me in. So if it’s food coming to the office, I usually find out. However, when the boss takes everybody out to lunch I usually find out….right as they’re leaving.

            1. Not So NewReader

              Whaaattt? Some people should not be in positions of power. If he can’t handle a lunch list what else is he messing up?

    1. SpaceNovice

      The fact your boss didn’t feel guilt and immediately add you the first time or two this happened is like… this boss has absolutely no empathy. Everything else just proves that not only doesn’t he have empathy but he’s a jerk. Hope you get a new job soon, because that is absolutely unacceptable you’re being treated like that.

  34. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend

    Merit raise question: if I’m already getting paid above market value for my position in my region, should I still ask for a raise? I’m doing good work, and my boss just gave me a glowing review, but I still feel overpaid based on my research (though I make under $40K a year, so I’m not exactly rolling in dough). If I ask for a raise, how should I frame the ask? Does anyone have tips on how to make me feel less weird about it?
    Thank you, lovely commenters!

    1. BeepBoopBeep

      I’ve in the opposite predicament- i’m paid market value for my “title” but my job goes way outside these lines, so I SHOULD have a much higher title.

      SO, I would suggest asking for more responsibilities and, then, maybe after you prove yourself, a title change with a raise. Longer route, but if you are feeling weird about it, this would solidify your reasoning, with more than just your work as proof.

    2. Bagpuss

      I think it is fine to ask for a raise. Presumably they hired you at the salary they are paying because they thought your were worth that, you’ve proved them right by doing a great job and getting great reviews.

      I’d focus on the things which your boss identified as particular positives in your review, and at the same time that you can express willingness to take on additional responsibility etc.

      Do you think that you are really overpaid, or is it possible that what you are actually doing is, in practice, different to other similar roles / roles with similar titles, which might throw off your ‘market rate’ research?

    3. Bea

      Market based research has it’s place but we are FINALLY coming out of the stagnant wages from the recession. You deserve to be paid well and we are conditioned these days to be glad we have work and to be able to pay bills, that doesn’t mean you’re overpaid and shouldn’t make more.

      Ask. If the company has money and is doing well fiscally they want to retain talent. You do that with wages and benefits.

    4. Sam Foster

      It sounds to me like the standard method of asking for a raise still applies: Demonstrate the value you provide to the company and use hat to justify an increase in salary. At the same time, prepare an argument countering the “well the market is ___ to ___.” I would work up a polite way of saying “yes, that’s the market, but, here, I am worth ‘x’ because of ‘y’ and ‘z’ and feel that because my responsibilities increased this year (sales went up, whatever your earlier evidence was) I deserve ‘q’% increase.

  35. overcaffeinatedandqueer

    Today I wore my “nevertheless she persisted” t-shirt, and coworker wore one that said “hey snowflake! No one owes you a participation trophy!” for casual day.

    Could have ended very badly but instead we got another person to take our picture together.

    1. HisGirlFriday

      Today, I am wearing a T-shirt with a picture of the Death Star and the words, “That’s not a moon” written underneath.

      I love casual Fridays. But sadly, no one else has a funny shirt for a photo op.

      1. NewBoss2016

        My t-shirt today has a cat’s face peeking out of the chest pocket. Little do my co-workers know, if you pull the pocket down the kitty is flipping double birds. Totally not work appropriate, but nobody has to know!

          1. NewBoss2016

            I am posting the link. In case it gets stuck in moderation, the company is called RipNDip Clothing. If you google “cat flipping off shirt” (I know, mature!) there are cheaper versions made. Mine is a pretty heather gray color I bought at Zumiez in the mall.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago

          I occasionally wear a pair of socks with one foot that says “if you can read” and the other foot says “f*ck off I’m busy”. The words are on the bottoms, so the only way anyone would see it is if I had my shoes off for some reason, but it amuses me when I’m having a bad day.

      2. Polaris

        I have a Death Star t-shirt with the words “Ceci n’est pas une lune,” because I am that much of a nerd. I wish we could get a picture together! My work does not do casual days, unfortunately.

    2. Goya de la Mancha

      My reading comprehension is at an all time low today….I read this as you wore the shirt and a coworker SAID that to you….and I was very confused on how you settled upon a picture as a way to solve this. Thank goodness for the weekend!

      1. NewBoss2016

        That is how I read it too. I didn’t understand until you posted your comment. My brain is ready for the weekend.

    3. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize

      I have the “nevertheless” t-shirt as well! Sadly I had to explain to several people.

      1. The Curator

        I picked up a t-shirt at a conference last week for Mr. Curator. It says, Books Turn Muggles Into Wizards. He said “What’s a Muggle?” He wasn’t kidding. I love him anyway.

        1. Chaordic One

          My local Barnes and Noble stores have a whole bunch of throw comforters that say “muggle worthy.” You should get one for hubby. (They’re in the clearance area.)

    4. I'm A Little TeaPot

      My “casual day” means I can wear nice jeans. Lucky. I have some awesome geeky t-shirts I could wear otherwise.

    5. Totally Minnie

      I’m jealous that people get to wear shirts with words on them for casual Friday. We’re allowed to wear jeans (but only nice once, preferably dark wash), but not t-shirts.

    6. IT Squirrel

      I have my ‘How to be an adult’ shirt on, which has a cartoon kitty sitting behind a book with that as the title, with just his tail and head down to his eyes peeking out! I’m on nights so only my shift buddies will see it today.

      I have many t-shirts with cartoons and slogans like this, and it brightens my day every time I wear them :)

  36. Banana

    My office has started stocking free snacks. The bananas are most popular. People are bringing them into meetings. I have a food allergy to them (nausea, vomiting, migraine) that is irritating but not life threatening. The whole thing is driving me bananas.

    1. Thursday Next

      Ugh, I’m sorry. It’s hard to be allergic to something most people don’t think of as an allergen. Does your allergy worsen dramatically with proximity? If so, could you let people sitting near you in a meeting know you’re allergic? If word gets around, eventually banana-eaters might avoid sitting near you.

    2. BeepBoopBeep

      You should mention something to management/HR. Be assertive! Don’t suffer on someone else’s behalf.

    3. Rusty Shackelford

      You vomiting in a meeting isn’t going to be anybody’s idea of a good time. I think pointing out that this is a possibility might get some traction.

    4. LCL

      I think its reasonable to ask coworkers not to eat them around you. That includes in meetings. Just say, don’t eat bananas around me. I am so allergic they make me vomit. I have done exactly that. Bananas are a more common allergen than you might think.

    5. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)

      Ugh, that sucks. I don’t think I’m officially allergic to bananas (apparently I ate them a lot as a young child, although I don’t remember ever doing so), but the smell makes me really sick. I think it’s okay to ask people not to eat bananas near you.

      1. Enough

        It’s not unusual to crave something that does not agree with you. My sister drank a lot of milk as a child. She has a mild intolerance to it.

    6. [insert witty user name here]

      Could your workplace restrict the eating of snacks to just the kitchen and people’s desks? IE – no food in the conference/meeting rooms? That seems pretty reasonable to me – you can avoid other people’s desks and the kitchen, but not where you need to be for meetings. And it’s not a terrible burden on anyone else (although, inevitably, some people will see it as such). Sorry you have to deal with that!

    7. Bagpuss

      I think it would be totally reasonable to go to your boss, or to HR, about this.

      It sounds as though you are not suggesting that they stop stocking free bananas, just that people don’t bring them to, or eat them in, meetings, which is a fairly minor adjustment to ask people to make.

      I’d suggest that when you speak to HR you specifically explain that it is a medical issue as you have an allergy which is triggered by proximity, and also be specific about the fact that you are not asking for them to be banned, just to be banned from meetings.

      If you are comfortable in doing so, then I also think that saying something yourself, when you go into a meeting, would also be absolutely fine. My experience is that the majority of people are reasonable when faced with a polite request and a reason for it, and in a meeting, even if you have the occasional jerk, peer pressure may well mean they fall in line!

      1. Anony

        Not bringing the bananas into a meeting is a very small accommodation. If it is making you feel sick you should say something!

      2. Reba

        I actually think it is reasonable to ask them (the company/office manager/whoever does the food buying) to stop stocking bananas altogether. There are plenty of other fruits in the world.

        1. Anony

          I think that depends on the degree of the allergy. Banning a popular food from the office (or asking the company not to provide it anymore) could upset people if the allergy is mild and contact is easily contained. If it is an anaphylactic reaction or the allergen can become airborne then it is entirely reasonable to simply not have it in the office.

          1. Reba

            Well, the OP’s allergic reaction as described certainly qualifies.

            Also, I mean, they are bananas, not like a famous delicacy that can only be acquired on the office premises. If people like bananas, they know where to get them, and bananas are really unlikely to be the kind of perk that people are really attached to–although having food you like in general might be.

      3. Susan

        Yeah – if they haven’t been told it’s a problem they aren’t going to guess. Just ask that bananas be not stocked would be my request; if that feels overly pushy, settle for asking they not be in certain areas.

    8. Annie Moose

      This is a terrible problem that I hope you are able to resolve soon with a minimum of side effects, but I wanted you to know how much I appreciate you saying it’s driving you bananas. I cackled.

  37. Spooky

    At what point do colleagues need to be informed of medical conditions?

    We have a man in our office. He’s probably only middle aged, but he seems much, much older. In the last year, his health has dramatically declined, to the point that he can no longer remember people’s names (even people he has known for years), loses or forgets things all the time, and visibly trembles constantly.

    I’m not here to armchair diagnose him (although we do deal with confidential information, so several people in my office have quietly voiced some concerns that his memory issues might raise a security problem.) I trust that his supervisors have some knowledge of his condition. However, his health has been so dramatically bad recently that people have started wondering what we should do if he collapses. Since none of us know what is wrong, no one knows how we should treat him in case of an (increasingly likely) emergency. By that I mean, if someone were diabetic and passed out, you’re treat them entirely differently than, say, someone with a heart condition who passed out.

    So my question is this: At what point do you inform employees of a coworker’s condition? And if we do (hopefully not, but if) ever have to call medical services, what do we tell them? (He does not wear any visible medical bracelets.) I don’t feel like we need to know what’s going on with him and I have no desire to invade his privacy or embarrass him, but I know several of us would feel a lot better if we had a protocol to follow.

    I feel gross and invasive even asking this question, but I’m worried about him. :(

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      Oh man, that’s tough!

      I think what you might do is go to either him or your manager and ask your specific procedural questions. Not for details of his condition, but for ‘what should we do if X?” or ‘is Y likely to happen?’ Focus on the stuff that’s actionable for you.

    2. Colette

      Honestly, you are going to treat someone who passes out the same way regardless of why. 911, check for breathing, CPR/defibrillator as appropriate. But 911 is first, and they will help you figure it out. You really don’t need to know what he is dealing with. (I understand that you’d feel more in control if you did, but from a first aid perspective, if someone passes out, why doesn’t matter.)

      1. Anony

        It can matter. If someone is diabetic and passes out they should be treated differently (check sugar and give insulin or glucose ASAP). Some medications can also affect treatment. However it is his choice not to wear a bracelet to provide any relevant medical information.

        1. Colette

          You don’t give glucose to someone who is passed out, and you certainly don’t start injecting them with insulin. Medical personnel might, but unless you (as a member of the general public) can get in a lot of trouble for administering medications you aren’t authorized to administer. You call the paramedics.

          1. Anony

            I meant the EMTs. The OP mentioned wanting to be able to tell the paramedics information that could help treat them.